Phillies-Mets 5 things: Phils need longer outing from Vince Velasquez

Phillies-Mets 5 things: Phils need longer outing from Vince Velasquez

Phillies (3-5) vs. Mets (5-3)
7:05 p.m. on TCN; streaming live on and the NBC Sports App


The Mets came into Citizens Bank Park and had themselves a home run derby, one even more eye-popping than last April 19 when the Mets came here and hit six homers.

This time, they hit seven. Yoenis Cespedes hit three (411 feet on the first, 428 on the second, 382 on the third), Lucas Duda hit two (448 on the first, 375 on the second), Asdrubal Cabrera hit one (393), as did Travis d'Arnaud (354).  

The Mets have a tendency to make Citizens Bank Park look like a little-league field and they did it again Tuesday.

1. Straight dominance
The Mets are 28-12 in their last 40 games against the Phillies

They've hit 27 home runs against the Phils in 11 games since the start of 2016 -- no National League team has more homers in any opposing ballpark over that span.

The Mets had 20 hits and 14 extra-base hits last night. The last team in the majors to do that was actually the Mets vs. the Phillies in August 2015. Prior to that, no team had done it since 1999. 

It's been done only 10 times since 1940. 

2. Pitching shakeup
After the game, the Phillies optioned LHP Adam Morgan to Triple A. The Phillies have recalled Luis Garcia from Lehigh Valley to get the Phillies a fresh arm in the bullpen.

Morgan had an ugly outing in relief of the injured Clay Buchholz last night, no doubt. But just keep in mind how difficult the role of "long man in a blowout" can be. You're entering a situation where the other team is comfortably ahead, numerous hitters are locked in and feeling confident and playing with nothing to lose. Typically, a long man is a long man because he doesn't have great stuff. We saw Brett Oberholtzer struggle continually in the role last season and Morgan did the same last night.

It's a shame for Morgan, "a tough pill to swallow," as he called it, but he also deserves credit for standing there and facing the questions from reporters Tuesday night. A lot of guys would have packed their stuff and gotten out of there ASAP. 

Who knows if this is the last we see of Morgan, but last night's outing certainly had to make the Phillies wonder whether he's worth carrying in that role.

3. Innings needed from Velasquez
Vince Velasquez exceeded six innings in only three of his 24 starts last season. Pete Mackanin and Bob McClure are really hoping he does so tonight.

The Phillies didn't use any of their back-end bullpen pieces last night, saving Hector Neris, Joaquin Benoit, Edubray Ramos and Pat Neshek in the blowout. But a longer outing tonight for Velasquez would be important for his confidence and really for the entire team's psyche given the Mets' recent ownership of their starting pitchers.

Velasquez's first start was almost an exaggerated version of who he was last season: lots of flashes, lots of strikeouts, lots of pitches, early exit.

Against the Nationals, Velasquez lasted four innings, giving up four runs and two homers, walking three and striking out 10. It was his fourth 10-strikeout game already as a Phillie.

Velasquez has tended to struggle against better offensive teams like the Cubs and Nats, but the Mets have so much swing-and-miss potential in their lineup that this could be a productive night for him as long as he's spotting his fastball. 

Current Mets have hit .213 off Velasquez with 18 strikeouts in 47 at-bats and only two have homered off him: Cespedes and Michael Conforto.

4. Wheeler's long road back
The Mets tonight start 23-year-old right-hander Zach Wheeler, the sixth overall pick in 2009 who they acquired from the San Francisco Giants in 2011 for a half-season of Carlos Beltran.

Wheeler impressed in 2013 and 2014 with the Mets, going 18-16 with a 3.50 ERA and 8.5 strikeouts per nine innings over 49 starts. 

Then in March 2015 he was diagnosed with a torn UCL and required Tommy John surgery. He missed all of that season.

He continued rehabbing in 2016, beginning the year on the 60-day DL and not making a rehab start until Aug. 6. He threw 17 pitches in that game before exiting and being diagnosed with a flexor strain in his right arm. The Mets eventually shut him down for the season.

Wheeler made his return last week, allowing five runs in four innings to the Marlins. His fastball was in the 93 to 95 mph range but he couldn't locate his slider and changeup, throwing only 12 of 21 for strikes.

Look for Wheeler to try to get a feel for those pitches early.

Because he spent the last two years on the shelf, only two active Phillies have ever seen the 6-4 right-hander: Cesar Hernandez and Andres Blanco are each 1 for 2.

5. This and that
• The Phillies are third in the NL with 42 runs scored but, of course, 17 of them came in the one game last Saturday against Washington. In their other seven games, they've averaged 3.57 runs, which is even lower than last season's 3.77.

• Hernandez was the only Phillie to have a multi-hit game last night. He and Howie Kendrick have done their job so far atop the order, though it's surprising that Hernandez hasn't attempted a stolen base a week into the season.

• Noah Syndergaard tweeted last night: "Home team stadium started the WAVE tonight. Lost 14-4. Coincidence?"

The man has a point. Perhaps the wind created from all those waving arms provided the extra juice on Lucas Duda's 448-foot homer or Cespedes' 428-footer.

But in general, I agree with Syndergaard: Ban the wave.

Gabe Kapler names Jim Gott Phillies' bullpen coach

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Gabe Kapler names Jim Gott Phillies' bullpen coach

Gabe Kapler on Friday added to his coaching staff by naming Jim Gott the Phillies' bullpen coach.

Gott was the minor-league pitching coordinator for the Angels the last five seasons and the pitching coach for the Arizona League Angels the three years prior to that role.

He played for the Blue Jays, Giants, Pirates and Dodgers over 14 major-league seasons as a starter and reliever. Gott, now 58 years old, compiled a 3.87 ERA while making 96 starts and converting 91 saves.

Kapler and the Phillies still need to name a pitching coach and first-base coach. Last week, they named Dusty Wathan third-base coach and hired John Mallee as hitting coach, while retaining Rick Kranitz, who was the assistant pitching coach last season (see story). He could fill the main pitching coach vacancy, although his role is currently to be determined.

In 2017, Bob McClure served the Phillies as pitching coach and Mickey Morandini was first-base coach.

MLB Notes: Astros' Jose Altuve, Marlins' Giancarlo Stanton claim MVP awards

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MLB Notes: Astros' Jose Altuve, Marlins' Giancarlo Stanton claim MVP awards

Houston Astros dynamo Jose Altuve has won the American League MVP award, towering over New York Yankees slugger Aaron Judge by a wide margin.

The 5-foot-6 Altuve drew 27 of the 30 first-place votes in balloting by members of the Baseball Writers' Association of America.

Altuve batted a major league-best .346. He hit 24 home runs with 81 RBIs, scored 112 times, stole 32 bases and showed a sharp glove at second base.

The 6-foot-7 Judge won the AL Rookie of the Year award Monday. He set a rookie record with 52 home runs.

Jose Ramirez of the Cleveland Indians finished third. The award was announced Thursday.

Altuve helped lead the Astros to their first World Series championship. Voting for these honors was completed before the postseason began.

Miami Marlins slugger Giancarlo Stanton won the NL MVP award, barely edging Joey Votto of the Cincinnati Reds.

In the closest MVP vote since 1979, Stanton became only the sixth player to win from a losing team. Stanton led the big leagues with 59 home runs and 132 RBIs (see full story).

MLB: Manfred says pace changes will happen with or without union
Major League Baseball will change rules to speed games next year with or without an agreement with the players' association.

Management proposed last offseason to institute a 20-second pitch clock, allow one trip to the mound by a catcher per pitcher each inning and raise the bottom of the strike zone from just beneath the kneecap to its pre-1996 level at the top of the kneecap. The union didn't agree, and clubs have the right to impose those changes unilaterally for 2018.

Players and MLB have held initial bargaining since summer, and MLB chief legal officer Dan Halem said this week he would like an agreement by mid-January.

"My preferred path is a negotiated agreement with the players, but if we can't get an agreement we are going to have rule changes in 2018 one way or the other," baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred said Thursday after a quarterly owners' meeting.

Nine-inning games averaged a record 3 hours, 5 minutes during the regular season and 3:29 during the postseason.

There are ongoing talks for a new posting system with Japan to replace the deal that expired Nov. 1, one that would allow star Japanese pitcher/outfielder Shohei Otani to leave the Pacific League's Nippon Ham Fighters to sign with a big league team (see full story).

Mariners: Team makes trade, raises available money for Japan's Otani​
The Seattle Mariners have gained more flexibility if they want to try to sign star Japanese pitcher/outfielder Shohei Otani.

They acquired an additional $500,000 for their international signing bonus pool from the Chicago White Sox in a trade for Brazilian right-hander Thyago Vieira.

Otani, a 23-year-old right-hander, would be limited to a minor league contract with a signing bonus under Major League Baseball's new collective bargaining agreement. The trade announced Thursday increases the Mariners' available money for a signing bonus to $1,557,500. Seattle has spent $3,942,500 on bonuses in the signing year that started July 2 from a pool that rose to $5.5 million with the trade.

The 24-year-old Vieira made his major league debut with a scoreless inning against Baltimore on Aug. 14, his only big league appearance. He was 2-3 with two saves and a 3.72 ERA in 29 games this year for Double-A Arkansas and 0-1 with two saves and a 4.58 ERA in 12 games for Triple-A Tacoma.

Chicago is restricted to a maximum $300,000 signing bonus because it exceeded its pool in a previous year under the old labor contract.