Phillies-Nationals 5 things: Can Phils' bats keep momentum vs. Stephen Strasburg?

Phillies-Nationals 5 things: Can Phils' bats keep momentum vs. Stephen Strasburg?

Phillies (2-3) vs. Nationals (3-2)
1:35 p.m. on CSN and streaming live on and the NBC Sports app

The Phillies are coming off quite a high after putting up a 17-spot on the Nationals Saturday night. It feels somewhat remarkable that the Phillies have outscored the Nats 23-10 in this series but are just 1-1. That's baseball for you.

Anyway, here are five things to know for Sunday afternoon.

1. Breaking out the bats
Whoa. That's the main way to react to seeing Saturday's box score. Watching the onslaught the Phillies had against Jeremy Guthrie in the first inning was mesmerizing, putting up 12 runs before the Nats could even get three outs. 

Four hitters had two-hit games and two had three hits -- Michael Saunders and Howie Kendrick. Saunders was a home run from the cycle. Nice to get the newcomers in on the action early. Cesar Hernandez had a pair of extra-base knocks, including a stand-up triple, and Tommy Joseph had his first two hits of the season, raising his average to .118.

The only starter not to get a hit was Freddy Galvis (Aaron Nola even picked up a single). However, Galvis got a run in via a sac fly, so he didn't go home completely empty-handed.

After a game like that so early in the season, you're bound to see some eye-popping numbers. Here are some: Kendrick sports a .444/.474/.667 batting line. Odubel Herrera has a .522 on-base percentage. Guthrie, perhaps pitching in the final game of his 13-season career, now has a 135 ERA, tied with Francisco Liriano for the worst in baseball.

It'll be tough for the Phillies to produce another 17 runs with the guy they'll be facing Sunday.

2. The $175 million man
Stephen Strasburg, now an eight-year veteran, is making the second start of his in the big leagues.

After signing a $175 million extension last season, Strasburg figures to be in Washington for a long time, which means the Phillies will have to continue competing with the overpowering right-hander. Along with Max Scherzer, Strasburg helps create a pretty daunting duo atop the Nationals' rotation for the foreseeable future.

Strasburg made just one start against the Phils last season, getting a win despite allowing four runs in seven innings. For his career, he's 8-2 vs. the Phillies, sporting a 2.37 ERA in 110 innings. It's his best ERA against a division opponent and he's dominated the Phils at times, striking out 138 in 110 innings.

In his opening day start, Strasburg picked up a win over the Marlins. He averaged 95.8 mph on his fastball, touching 98 on MLB's PitchFX system. He struck out just three batters, but didn't walk anyone and gave up just two runs over seven innings. After needing the bullpen for over seven innings Saturday, the Nationals could use another long outing from Strasburg to save some of their arms.

3. Can Hellickson repeat opening day?
For the second straight season, Jeremy Hellickson put together a strong performance on opening day in Cincinnati. And for the second straight year, he'll also be making his first home start against the Nationals. He's hoping it goes much better than last season.

On that game last April 15, the Nationals tattooed him for six runs, five of which were earned, in just three innings. That game distorted his overall numbers against the Nats last season (1-2 with a 5.09 ERA). In his other three starts, he had a 3.60 ERA and even beat the Nats later in April.

The veteran righty, who turned 30 on Saturday, was the Phillies' de facto ace last year and was particularly good at CBP. He was 7-4 with a 3.16 ERA in 99 2/3 innings at home and he seemingly got better as the season went on. His opening day start vs. the Reds was encouraging even though he lasted just 5-plus innings. You'll take a starter holding the opponent to just one run every single time and, unlike last season, the team was able to hold the lead.

4. Players to watch
Phillies: Odubel Herrera really seems to be seeing the ball well in the early going. His quick start to 2017 got him an All-Star appearance and there's no reason he can't do the same this year.

Nationals: After a lackluster 2016, Ryan Zimmerman worked on lifting the ball with authority going into this season. It's been mostly successful with two home runs and a double with a .650 slugging percentage after he had just a .642 OPS (.370 SLG) last year.

5. This and that
• The Phillies had lost seven straight games to the Nationals at CBP before Saturday's win. They haven't won a home series vs. the Nats since Sept. 25-27, 2015.

• Guthrie's loss yesterday tied him with former Pittsburgh Pirate Jim Rooker for the third-most career losses (109) by a pitcher from Oregon. Guthrie has the fifth most wins (91) of any Oregonian. Former Tigers great Mickey Lolich leads both categories.

• Hernandez is 5 for 15 with two doubles off Strasburg. Maikel Franco is 3 for 10 with a home run and two RBI.

• Jayson Werth, Stephen Drew and Daniel Murphy each have one career homer off Hellickson. Bench bat Adam Lind and catcher Matt Wieters have seen him the most of any Nationals, going 10 for 32 and 6 for 30 against the righty, respectively.

Mets promote Tim Tebow to high Class A St. Lucie

Mets promote Tim Tebow to high Class A St. Lucie

COLUMBIA, S.C. -- Tim Tebow is moving up and heading south -- to some very familiar territory.

Tebow has been promoted to the New York Mets' high Class A affiliate in St. Lucie, Florida. The 29-year-old Tebow led the University of Florida to two national championships in football and won the 2007 Heisman Trophy during his stellar career with the Gators.

"I'm not sure how much of an additional challenge it will be," Mets general manager Sandy Alderson said Sunday in San Francisco. "Clearly it's a step up. I certainly think he can handle it."

Tebow began his first pro baseball season with Class A Columbia, drawing huge crowds at home and wherever the Fireflies went in the South Atlantic League. He entered his final Fireflies game batting .222 with three home runs and 23 RBIs.

"I wouldn't say he has excelled there, but at the same time, what he's done there -- given all the circumstances -- justified the promotion to Port St. Lucie," Alderson said.

Phillies play wait-and-see game with Jerad Eickhoff and Howie Kendrick

Phillies play wait-and-see game with Jerad Eickhoff and Howie Kendrick

PHOENIX -- Jerad Eickhoff and Howie Kendrick both tested their achy body parts on Sunday.

Eickhoff, on the disabled list with an upper back strain, threw two 15-pitch "innings" in the bullpen and was pleased with the results.

"It felt good, no sense of pulling," he said. "We'll see how it feels tomorrow."

Eickhoff's turn in the rotation will come up Wednesday in Seattle. If he can't make the start, Mark Leiter Jr. will. Leiter pitched six shutout innings in his first big-league start on Friday night.

As for Kendrick, who is battling left hamstring tightness, he was not in the starting lineup for a fourth straight game on Sunday. He did run some sprints under the watchful eye of head athletic trainer Scott Sheridan before the game.

"He still feels it, but he's available to pinch-hit," manager Pete Mackanin said.

Is this getting close to being a situation that would require a trip to the disabled list?

"Hopefully not," Mackanin said. "Hopefully he's better tomorrow. If not, I'm hoping he can at least DH in Seattle (on Tuesday). He's one of our best hitters and I want to get him in there. But I've got to be cautious."

Kendrick already spent six weeks on the disabled list with an abdominal injury earlier this season. He's played well when healthy, hitting .355 (43 for 121) with a .414 on-base percentage in 31 games.

The Phillies need to be certain that Kendrick is healthy when they turn him loose because he could hold some trade value in the month of July and a full-blown injury would hurt that.