Phillies place Aaron Nola on DL with back strain

Phillies place Aaron Nola on DL with back strain

The Phillies on Monday placed right-hander Aaron Nola on the 10-day DL with a lower back strain. The move is retroactive to April 21.

"Aaron experienced soreness in his lower back during his start on Thursday (against the Mets)," GM Matt Klentak said in a statement. "After receiving treatment over the last few days, the symptoms improved, but he still felt some tightness during his side session yesterday. Our hope and expectation is that this will not be a lengthy DL placement and that Aaron will miss only one or two starts."

Nola, who missed the second half of last season with an elbow injury, is 2-0 with a 4.50 ERA through three starts and his velocity has been up, a sign that the elbow healed.

His last start was his worst -- he was given a big lead against the Mets but allowed four runs and 11 baserunners over five innings.

Nick Pivetta, off to a dazzling start at Triple A and the focus of this week's Future Phillies Report, seems like the logical choice to replace Nola in the rotation. Pivetta is 3-0 with a 0.95 ERA, 24 strikeouts and two walks through three starts. Pivetta last pitched Thursday and is on the same rotation schedule as Nola.

Ben Lively, who was called up last week for three days when Pat Neshek went on paternity leave, would be another option. Both Pivetta and Lively are on the Phillies' 40-man roster.

With the new, 10-day DL structure, Nola would be eligible to return May 1. His next two scheduled starts were April 26 and May 1.

Phillies take down Noah Syndergaard for 'special' series win over Mets

Phillies take down Noah Syndergaard for 'special' series win over Mets

BOX SCORE

NEW YORK -- Noah Syndergaard came out firing Thursday night. The right-hander with the electric arm and the power forward's body struck out the Phillies' first three hitters on 14 pitches to open the game. Thirteen of those pitches were strikes. Three of them reached triple digits on the radar gun and five of them came up just a mile per hour short at 99.

A penny for your thoughts at that point, Pete Mackanin.

"It looked like he might be having one of his best nights," the Phillies manager said.

Syndergaard actually had a pretty good night. But the Phillies, as a team, had a better night and they managed to escape Citi Field with a 6-4 victory and just their third winning series against the Mets in the last 18 (see Instant Replay). The Phils' last series win over the Mets came in early April of last season.

"It sure is nice to win a series here against the Mets," Mackanin said. "It's always nice to win a series. But against these guys, it was special, as much as they've beat us up over the last year."

Syndergaard pitched seven innings and did not walk a batter while striking out 10. For the season, he has 30 strikeouts and no walks in 26 innings over four starts.

But the Phils, with the help of the Mets' sloppy defense, managed to get some baserunners and some big hits against Syndergaard. He gave up five runs, two of which were unearned.

Aaron Nola struggled to protect an early 5-1 lead but never relinquished it, and the bullpen was outstanding in locking down the win.

Lefty Joely Rodriguez got six huge outs to protect a one-run lead and Mackanin surprised folks by using Joaquin Benoit in the eighth inning and Hector Neris in the ninth to close it out. 

Last week, Mackanin installed Benoit as closer after Jeanmar Gomez lost the job. Mackanin used the qualifier "for now," when announcing that Benoit would close. The "now" did not last too long. Benoit blew a save in Washington over the weekend and now Neris is getting a look. He has the stuff -- a power fastball, a good splitter and more than 11 strikeouts per nine innings last season -- to do the job.

"I think [Benoit] looks more comfortable [in a setup role]," Mackanin said. "Over in Washington, I didn't see that good changeup. He spiked a couple of changeups and didn't have command of it. Tonight, he threw some great ones. So that was great to see. In general, we have two guys I feel comfortable with. I'll probably use Neris again. But it's nice to have somebody that when one guy's not available, the other guy is."

The Phillies' starting lineup included two guys -- Maikel Franco and Tommy Joseph -- who entered the game hitting under .160. Syndergaard did not figure to be the best guy to get right against, but baseball is a funny game. Franco extended his career-long slump to 0 for 22 in the second inning but came back in the fourth with an RBI double -- a liner over the left fielder's head on a 97-mph fastball -- against Syndergaard in the third inning. In the eighth, Franco homered to left against Fernando Salas.

Meanwhile, Joseph had three hits, including an RBI double down the right-field line on a 100-mph heater in the second inning to score the Phillies' first run.

The Phils scored three in the second and two in the third against Syndergaard. In both innings, the Mets made costly errors. Andrew Knapp started at catcher in place of Cameron Rupp and had an RBI double in the second inning.

"It's a tough chore," Mackanin said of facing Syndergaard. "We made him work. We scored early on him. It was great to see. He's a bulldog. He was still throwing 98 in the seventh inning. We just took advantage of some mistakes he made. I give the guys a lot of credit for battling him and not being intimidated.

"You never know what to expect. That's what's so unique about baseball."

Nola was not crisp. He had a ton of trouble putting hitters away with two strikes. He walked Syndergaard with two outs in the second inning after being up in the count, 0-2, and that came back to haunt him when Rene Rivera delivered an RBI single. In the third inning, Nola gave up a three-run homer to Neil Walker on an 0-2 curveball. That made it a 5-4 game.

"I had terrible two-strike pitches, especially 0-2," Nola said.

Nola lasted just five innings. He gave up seven hits and walked four as he ran a high pitch count. He got the win thanks to his mates' timely hitting and good bullpen work.

For the season, Nola has made three starts and given up 20 hits and eight earned runs in 16 innings. He has walked six and struck out 15.

Instant Replay: Phillies 6, Mets 4

Instant Replay: Phillies 6, Mets 4

BOX SCORE

NEW YORK -- The Phillies on Thursday night did something that is not easy to do. They beat Noah Syndergaard.

The Phils scored three times in the second inning and twice more in the third against the flame-throwing right-hander on their way to a 6-4 win over the New York Mets at Citi Field.

The Phils ended up taking two of three to win just their third series against the Mets in the last 18 tries.

Syndergaard entered the game with the fourth-best ERA in the majors (2.78) since the start of the 2015 season and he had allowed just two earned runs in 19 innings over his first three starts this season.

Tommy Joseph, Andrew Knapp and Maikel Franco all had RBI doubles against Syndergaard, whose fastball reached triple digits a number of times.

Franco's double in the third broke an 0-for-22 slump. He also smacked a solo homer off reliever Fernando Salas in the eighth.

Aaron Nola got the win despite allowing the Mets to chip away at his early 5-1 lead.

The Phils are 6-9. The Mets are 8-8.

Starting pitching report
Though he left the game with a one-run lead, Nola did not pitch well. He ran a high pitch count (96) and lasted just five innings. He gave up seven hits and four runs. He walked four and struck out two. Nola had trouble putting hitters away. He gave up four hits with two strikes on a batter, including a three-run homer to Neil Walker on an 0-2 breaking ball in the third inning.

Syndergaard was not supported by good defense. Two of the five runs he gave up were unearned. He went seven innings and did not walk a batter. He struck out 10. He has not walked a batter in 26 innings this season. He has 30 strikeouts.

Bullpen report
Lefty Joely Rodriguez came up huge for the Phils. He got six outs in protecting a one-run lead. He threw 17 pitches, 14 strikes.

Manager Pete Mackanin switched up his end game and used Joaquin Benoit for a scoreless eighth and Hector Neris for the save. Benoit was installed as closer just last week after Jeanmar Gomez lost the job.

At the plate
The Phillies had 10 hits. Franco and Joseph, who both entered the game hitting under .160, accounted for five of them. In addition to his two extra-base hits, Franco walked once. Aaron Altherr had two hits.

Walker's homer was the big hit for the Mets.

In the field
The Mets made three errors.

Lineup stuff
Michael Saunders was scratched from the starting lineup because of illness. He did pinch-hit in the sixth inning and lined a shot to the gap in left-center. Saunders was denied extra bases when Mets left-fielder Michael Conforto made a terrific grab running into the wall.

Up next
The Phils return home Friday night to begin a three-game series against the Atlanta Braves. Here are the pitching matchups:

Friday night -- RHP Jeremy Hellickson (2-0, 0.82) vs. RHP Bartolo Colon (1-1, 4.24)

Saturday night -- RHP Jerad Eickhoff (0-1, 2.75) vs. LHP Jaime Garcia (0-1, 4.67)

Sunday afternoon -- RHP Zach Eflin (0-0, 3.60) vs. RHP Mike Foltynewicz (0-2, 4.26)