Phillies (4-8) at Mets (7-6)
7:10 p.m. on CSN; streaming live on CSNPhilly.com and the NBC Sports App
After taking Monday off to recover from the frustrating walk-off loss to Bryce Harper and the Nationals Sunday afternoon, the Phillies are back at it tonight.
It's another series against the Mets -- when it's over, the Phillies will have played their last 12 games all against the Nationals and Mets.
Let's take a look at the opener:
1. Eflin's season debut
Zach Eflin was recalled from Triple A Lehigh Valley early Tuesday afternoon when the Phillies placed Clay Buchholz on the disabled list.
Buchholz had surgery Tuesday to repair a torn flexor tendon in his right forearm and is out 4 to 6 months, essentially ending his season (see story).
That means Eflin will have an opportunity to solidify a spot in the Phillies' rotation beyond tonight if he can piece together the type of efficient outings he had in seven of 11 starts last season.
Eflin, 23, underwent two knee surgeries late last season to relieve a chronic condition he's had since he was 10 years old. The condition ended his 2016 after 11 starts.
Eflin's numbers as a rookie looked worse than his actual performance -- 3-5 with a 5.54 ERA. He pitched two complete games with one shutout, and in seven starts from June 19 through July 22, he averaged nearly seven innings per start and posted a 2.08 ERA with a 0.86 WHIP.
Four awful performances -- his MLB debut in Toronto and his final three starts before going on the shelf -- skewed the stats somewhat, though it was an also an indication of what can happen when Eflin isn't hitting spots perfectly. He doesn't miss many bats so he relies on soft contact and groundballs to get him through.
Eflin had just a 5.7 percent swinging strike rate as a rookie, well below the league average of 10.1 percent. To succeed at this level he's going to need to live low in the zone with his four-seam fastball and sinker. His groundball rate last season was 36.2 percent, a pretty average number for a sinkerballer.
Eflin was pretty much four-seam, two-seam, slider as a rookie, throwing one of those three pitches 89 percent of the time. He occasionally mixed in a curveball and a changeup to lefties. His fastball and sinker are in the 92 to 94 mph range.
Eflin faced the Mets once last year and had a quality start in a 5-0 Phillies loss, allowing three runs over six innings. Curtis Granderson took him deep, and the Phils had just one hit that afternoon against a lights-out Jacob deGrom.
2. Another look at Wheeler
The Phillies face Mets right-hander Zack Wheeler for the second time in six nights. They lost to him last Wednesday, putting up five zeroes before chasing him in the sixth inning.
Wheeler, who was making just his second start since 2014 after missing two years with Tommy John surgery and a few setbacks, loaded the bases with two outs in the sixth and was lifted after 85 pitches. Hansel Robles came in and gave up a grand slam to Maikel Franco, uglying Wheeler's line.
In truth, the Phillies' offense looked meager against Wheeler for most of the night. He was throwing heat, averaging 95 mph with his fastball and sinker and maxing out at 97.4 mph. And every offspeed pitch put in play against him -- three changeups, three sliders and three curveballs -- was an out.
The Phillies have seen little of Wheeler and Cesar Hernandez is the only player with multiple hits against him. Hernandez is 3 for 5, and he saw 14 pitches in three at-bats against Wheeler last week so he definitely knows what he's up against.
3. Nothin' but the East
We've gone over the Phillies' tough start to the season but the Mets' April schedule is even stranger. The Mets' first 32 games of 2017 are all against division opponents. They don't play a team outside the NL East until May 8 when they host the Giants.
When this stretch comes to an end, the Mets will have played 10 games against the Braves, 10 against the Marlins and six against the Phillies and Nationals.
That means just 44 of the Mets' final 130 games -- almost exactly one-third -- will be against division opponents.
The Mets were 40-36 against the NL East last season and that was basically the difference between them and the Nationals, who went 51-25 against the East and won the division by eight games.
4. Since we saw them last ...
The Mets dropped three in a row at Marlins Park this week, their boom-bust offense hitting a low point Sunday when they didn't have a hit through seven innings. They finished 5 for 32 with five singles against five Marlins pitchers.
Jay Bruce has cooled off since the Phillies series, and Granderson and Jose Reyes still aren't hitting. Granderson is at .174 and is still without a homer, while Reyes is 4 for 46 (.087) with one extra-base hit and 13 strikeouts.
5. This and that
• Mets closer Jeurys Familia is eligible to return on Thursday from a 15-game suspension for violating MLB's domestic violence policy.
Familia makes the Mets' bullpen a whole lot better. He had a 2.20 ERA with 94 saves and 9.8 strikeouts per nine innings the last two seasons.
Without him, the Phillies will have their chances in the ninth inning against the eminently hittable Addison Reed, king of the straight 92 mph fastball.
• Franco has a .158 batting average on balls in play. It's very early in the season and it will normalize closer to his .271 career mark, but it explains some of his poor performance. Some, not all -- Franco's April has been a mix of bad luck and a bad approach at times. He's yet to find the kind of multi-week consistency that would make him a true difference-maker in the middle of an order.
• Cesar Hernandez since 2016: .299 batting average, .373 on-base percentage in 678 plate appearances. Only four other players in the National League have that high a batting average and OBP since last opening day: Joey Votto, D.J. LeMahieu, Freddie Freeman and Daniel Murphy.
• The Mets have won 42 of the 60 meetings between these teams since 2014 and the dominance isn't limited to one venue. The Phillies are 9-19 during that span at Citi Field and 9-23 against them at Citizens Bank Park.