One down, three to go (Mets Game 132 Preview) August 30, 2016Posted by tomflesher in Baseball.
Tags: Marlins, Mets, Mets Game 132, Tom Koehler
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Rafael Montero exceeded expectations last night, tossing five innings of two-hit baseball; his command wasn’t where we’d hoped, but his six walks didn’t end up hurting the team. Jose Reyes manufactured a tying run and Yoenis Cespedes‘ tenth-inning homer snagged the win for Josh Smoker.
Smoker has pitched each of the last three games; Terry Collins obviously didn’t want to use him last night, but the tenth inning left him few options. (I half expected Bartolo Colon to warm up.) The night did get Jim Henderson some rest, though, and Jerry Blevins is rubber-armed. Collins isn’t shy about using Addison Reed and Jeurys Familia every night in key situations. Hansel Robles is also available and may need to redeem himself. It was telling that Collins went to the exhausted Smoker rather than Robles for a back-to-back outing.
The Marlins will start Tom Koehler tonight against Seth Lugo. The Mets’ bullpen is where the Marlins are likely to get an edge; however, Koehler has had a solid August, with a 2.61 ERA and a .237/.278/.381 slash line allowed with a .278 BAbip. That’s slightly luckier than his 4.18 ERA, .262/.348/.394 and .307 BAbip through July. Koehler may be turning it up, or he may be benefiting from slightly better or luckier defense.
Travis d’Arnaud has hit Koehler hard: he’s 7-17 (.412) but has four walks in 21 plate appearances. Jay Bruce is also 2-3 with a walk, with Neil Walker and Jose Reyes other Mets at or above the .500 OBP mark against Koehler. Cespedes and Asdrubal Cabrera have OPS marks above 1.0. Koehler has a 4.09 ERA in two starts against the Mets this year, allowing 1.364 baserunners per inning pitched but with a 4.9 K9. A well-constructed lineup with a healthy Cabrera-Walker middle infield would go a long way tonight, but the Mets should still be able to put this one away behind Lugo.
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Dig Deep, Rafael (Mets Game 131 Preview) August 29, 2016Posted by tomflesher in Baseball.
Tags: Marlins, Mets, Mets game 131
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The Mets open a four-game series against the Marlins tonight. The Marlins are 8 games behind the first-place Nationals with a magic number of 25; the Mets can be eliminated from NL East contention by any combination of wins by the Nationals and losses by the Mets totaling 24. With 32 games left for each of those teams, even a .500 finish by the Nationals would require the Mets to go 25-7 over the stretch. That means nearly 4 wins for every loss – difficult to achieve.
Meanwhile, the Mets are 2.5 games behind the second wild card in the NL (St Louis) and 5 games behind wild card leader San Francisco. Since overtaking the second wild card necessarily involves passing the Marlins, this series is crucial – up to an 8-game swing hangs in the balance.
Surely, the Mets are bringing their best hurlers, right?
Rafael Montero starts for the Mets tonight against Jose Fernandez. In 24 games in relief for AAA Las Vegas, Montero has a 6.54 ERA. Although that’s a bit inflated, he’s still got a 2.95 ERA at AA Binghamton, and has started only twice. Montero is, of course, a bit of a sore spot for Mets fans after Terry Collins_going_to_see_injured_ra.html”>taking most of last season off. With Montero’s depth in question, and with him making his first major league start of the year, the Mets’ bullpen will be crucial. However, Josh Smoker and Jim Henderson each pitched both of the last two games; Hansel Robles has had a difficult August following a fantastic July, carrying a 10.38 ERA in 13 innings over 12 games. Addison Reed and Jeurys Familia are both available, and Jerry Blevins pitched only 2/3 of an inning last night, but otherwise the bridge to the 8th inning will be Sean Gilmartin.
With Seth Lugo starting tomorrow’s game, this is a crucial win for the Mets. Tomorrow, Henderson and Smoker will be rested and Terry Collins will have a bit more flexibility. If ever there was a time for Montero to dig deep, it’s today.
Do the Mets have it right against the Diamondbacks? August 7, 2016Posted by tomflesher in Baseball.
Tags: Diamondbacks, Mets, Platoon splits
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The Mets are idle on Monday but begin a homestand on Tuesday against the Arizona Diamondbacks. They’ll also see the San Diego Padres before heading to Arizona to face the Diamondbacks and play a four-game series against San Francisco and three against the Cardinals.
The Dbacks are notable as one of the most right-handed lineups in the majors. Arizona’s left-handed batters have made only 1149 plate appearances as of Sunday morning; for comparison, the Phillies have had 1896, Miami 1477, Washington 1881, and Atlanta a whopping 2386. Fortunately, the rotation is leaning toward some of our least effective starters against lefties.
Although Tuesday night starter Steven Matz is a southpaw, he takes a beating against lefties. He allows a .308 OBP to righties but a .348 OBP against left-handers. Wednesday night starter Bartolo Colon is about even (.298 OBP regardless of handedness), and Thursday afternoon starter Noah Syndergaard allows a .333 OBP to left-handers but holds right-handers to a .257 mark.
Outfielder Jake Lamb is likely to be the hardest lefty to get rid of. Fortunately, Erik Goeddel has held lefties to a .219 OBP in 32 plate appearances (.220 vs right-handers in 59 PA). Goeddel has really been a sleeper for the Mets this year, although those numbers are deflated a bit by a lower-than-average BAbip. That means that the Mets can confidently use Goeddel regardless of the arrangement of batters. In addition, traditional LOOGY Josh Edgin is available for crucial outs, even as alleged left-handed specialist Jerry Blevins has allowed a .275 OBP to left-handers against a .250 OBP to right-handers.
Future Mets closer Hansel Robles has continued his weird reverse split; he’s holding lefties to a .272 OBP while allowing a .333 OBP to righties (inflated a bit by a high BAbip). That’s not as good as Addison Reed (.193 vs RHB, .262 vs LHB), but it’s still fairly solid. Robles, incidentally, is 5-0 with 3 holds and a 2.28 ERA on a very slightly high BAbip since his 3 2/3 of relief for Bartolo Colon. Although he melted down against Mark Teixeira, he’s still maintained a 3.0 KBB ratio in those last 16 games.
Tags: Dodgers, Mets, Mets game 47, Previews
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Friday night, the Mets host the Dodgers for the home portion of their season series. The teams split their early May series with wins for Mets starters Steven Matz and Noah Syndergaard, Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen, and the Koufaxian Clayton Kershaw. The Mets will start Jacob deGrom against the debuting Julio Urias.
deGrom started against the Dodgers on May 10; he pitched seven innings, allowing two runs on 8 hits, 4 strikeouts, and no walks. He was lifted after 103 pitches, and a ninth-inning home run by Trayce Thompson off Hansel Robles won the game for Kenley Jansen. In two starts since, deGrom has had a confusing set of numbers – he’s held opponents to a .220 batting average and a .313 OBP, along with a luckier-than-average .233 BAbip, but allowed 7 earned runs in 11 1/3 innings pitched for a 5.56 ERA. Current Dodgers have hit deGrom fairly well; first baseman Adrian Gonzalez has hit a monstrous .375 against deGrom in 18 plate appearances, plus a walk for a .389 OBP; though he’s struck out 8 times, he’s hit two home runs for a .750 slugging average. In 14 plate appearances, Justin Turner (3B) has hit .357/.357/.571 with two doubles. Likely leadoff hitter Chase Utley (2B) is hitting .267/.353/.333, followed up by shortstop Corey Seager at .333/.333/.556. With Gonzalez, and then Turner, following up, there’s a huge chance (about 57%) that Gonzalez will come up with at least one man on base and 0 or 1 out. On the other hand, deGrom tends to strike out opposing hitters at an alarming KBB of 4.33 (13 Ks, 3 walks) the first run through the order. The second time through, the strikeouts stay high but the walks climb (2.00, 12K to 6 BB). In the 3rd, 4th, and 5th innings, though, deGrom’s ERAs are 1.29, 2.57, and 1.29; deGrom shows the confusing trend of having stronger batting-against stats but allowing more runs in the early innings. As long as he can get through that first run through the Dodgers infield, deGrom can serve as a strong bridge to the bullpen with Hansel Robles, Addison Reed, and Jeurys Familia.
Note that Familia is tied for second in the NL with 16 saves, behind only the Phillies’ Jeanmar Gomez.
The 19-year-old Urias is making his MLB debut. He’s been filthy at AAA this year, with a .780 WHIP, a 1.10 ERA and a 9.7 K9 in 41 innings pitched. Young pitchers have mixed success moving to the majors – you’ll always have your Clayton Buchholz types who take advantage of their unfamiliarity to opposing hitters, but you’ll also have young pitchers who need development to grow into their roles – so it’s tough to predict how Urias will do. When he was bumped from AA to AAA last season, for example, he started two games but allowed 9 runs in only 4 1/3 innings, leading to an unsightly 18.69 ERA. Mets fans can hope Urias has some difficulty adjusting tonight, considering the volume of the Citi Field crowd.
Dodgers numbers against deGrom are below:
Free at last! (Mets Game 16 Preview) April 23, 2016Posted by tomflesher in Baseball.
Tags: Braves, Freddie Freeman, Jhoulys Chacin, Matt Harvey, Mets, Mets Game 15, Mets game 16
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Matt Harvey finally notched his first win of the year, going 5 innings with 7 hits, 2 runs (both earned), 1 walk (to Nick Markakis), and 5 strikeouts. That walk came in the fifth inning, when Harvey has traditionally labored; fortunately, a dead-on throw from Yoenis Cespedes to Travis d’Arnaud kept A.J. Pierzynski from bringing Markakis home to end the fifth and get Harvey through the minimum.
Cespedes extended his streak of extra-base hits to 7; over those 7 games, he’s hitting .345/.406/.931 with a .400 batting average on balls in play. In the first 8 games of the season, he hit .233/.324/.333 with a .333 BAbip. The Mets were 3-5 during those first 8 games and 5-2 during Cespedes’ streak. Yo left the game after an extended rain delay due to aggravating his leg injury sliding into second for last night’s double; Juan Lagares may make the start in center tonight. Ces has never faced Braves pitcher Jhoulys Chacin, but Lagares is 2-6 lifetime against him with a double.
Curtis Granderson hit two home runs including one grand slam, along with a single, for 9 total bases and 5 RBIs. One of those RBIs came when Harvey made it to first on a throwing error by the pitcher, trying to force Asdrubal Cabrera out at third. On this road trip, Granderson is hitting .353/.476/.941 on a close-to-league-average .300 BAbip. Granderson is 1-2 with a walk against Chacin. Neil Walker is .333/.333/.556 against Chacin in 9 plate appearances.
Freddie Freeman extended his lifetime hitless streak against Matt Harvey to 9 plate appearances with a pop foul, a flyout, and a swinging K. Freeman hasn’t hit well this year (.167/.318/.241, compared to last year’s .276/.370/.471), but he’s been fairly good against current Mets: he has an OPS above 1 against 5 Mets pitchers, including starter Steven Matz(1-3, walk), relievers Addison Reed (1-2) and Jerry Blevins (3-7), and closer Jeurys Familia (5-11, walk, 2 home runs). Freeman hit .246/.317/.509 in his first 15 games last year, so his OBP isn’t too big a surprise – it’s really the last of extra-base hits that’s causing the Braves trouble.
Steven Matz is largely unproven against the Braves. His only previous start against Atlanta was in September of last year, allowing 6 hits and 2 walks for 1 run. Current Braves have hit him reasonably well, so it will be good to see whether Matz continues what he started last time out or whether he looks more like his first start against Miami.
Tags: Mets, Mets game 13, Phillies, Phillies bullpen
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Or, back to that wretched Phillies bullpenVince Velasquez is starting to look human, but don’t get too excited. Entering last night’s game, he was 2-0 on 15 innings pitched, 6 hits, 3 walks, a whopping 25 strikeouts, and no runs. He was coming off a shutout of the Padres on a monstrous 97 game score. Contrast that with last night: in 4 1/3 innings, Velasquez gave up 5 runs on 5 hits, although only two of them were earned because, in arguably the most important play of the game, Mets pitcher Logan Verrett reached on an error to start the third inning. Reconstructing the inning without the error:
However, because Verrett was safe at first, he was on base for Michael Conforto to single him over to second, and then for Yoenis Cespedes to bring them home on a home run. Although Conforto had already hit a wind-aided homer off Velasquez in the first, it’s debatable whether those hits would still have come at the beginning of an inning with a fresh pitcher. Since Conforto has been so problematic for pitchers, it’s likely he’d have made it to base in the phantom fourth inning, but Cespedes had struck out in the first, and the wind was certainly a factor in his homer; it’s plausible the fourth inning would have gone:
- Conforto singled
- Cespedes flied out to center
- Neil Walker flied out to right
- Asdrubal Cabrera grounded out to short
Then we enter the fifth inning with Velasquez down 2-0, rather than 5-0. That inning may have looked like this:
- Travis d’Arnaud grounded out to shortstop
- Verrett doubled.
- Granderson hit by pitch
- Wright struck out looking.
Now it’s the fifth inning, you have Conforto on deck, men on first and second, but the lead runner is a pitcher. Verrett is unlikely to score on a single. Even though Conforto beat Velasquez up pretty badly that evening, Velasquez is one out away from his fifth inning, making him eligible for a win if the Phillies turn it around. Additionally, entering last night’s game, Velasquez’ platoon splits were all in favor of having him face the lefty: he doesn’t strike lefties out as often, but they hit significantly worse. Bringing left-handed specialist Elvis Araujo in to face Conforto was a move that made sense if Velasquez was being beat up, but in this case I’d have been likely to leave him in as a development move. It’s not a given that Conforto would have hit him. Then, we have a totally different game.
Fortunately, the Phillies bullpen is terrible.
Araujo was perfect for two outs and Dariel Hinojosa pitched a perfect ninth, but Brett Oberholtzer allowed four runs on four hits and two walks in two innings; three (!) of those hits were home runs. James Russell allowed another two runs on three hits (one homer) and a walk. Russell was visibly shaken, although his ERA dropped .21 to 18.69. Meanwhile, Verrett gave us six scoreless innings; a rested Jim Henderson was perfect, and although Rafael Montero pitched relatively poorly (gave up one run, with at least one more saved by a killer catch by Juan Lagares in center), Hansel Robles got three outs on one hit. He was visibly pitching around Cameron Rupp (double) and Darin Ruf (struck out looking), both of whom handled the fact that Robles had attempted to murder them with grace and aplomb.
I’m not saying that last night’s game was a fluke. Conforto’s development has come at an alarming pace. Still, the two key plays last night that knocked Vince Velasquez out of the game boiled down to Logan Verrett reaching base twice. Pete Mackanin waved the white flag by leaving Brett Oberholtzer and James Russell out to eat innings, when an extra inning from Vince Velasquez may well have made this one a nailbiter. (Seriously, three and two thirds innings pitched by three different lefties?)
The Mets close out their series against the Phillies tonight. Bartolo Colon took a tough loss against the Phillies in his first start; Jeremy Hellickson has allowed a .256/.316/.430 slash line to current Mets. Yoenis Cespedes has hit .444 in 10 plate appearances against Hellickson; David Wright is .600 in five plate appearances. Juan Lagares, Wilmer Flores and Eric Campbell are each 1 for 3, while Granderson and Lucas Duda are both below the Mendoza line in 23 and 8 plate appearances, respectively.
Tags: Indians, Mets
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On Friday, Bartolo Colon started against his old Cleveland Indians team. Colon snagged the win on 5.1 innings pitched with 8 hits, 2 runs (both earned), 1 walk and 5 strikeouts for a game score of 48. This is Colon’s first win of the season and his first cheap win since May of last year. Bart has had exactly one cheap win each season as a Met.
On Saturday, Matt Harvey took his third loss of the season in a non-quality start. Harvey has raised concerns over the past several starts; though the Mets scored 5 runs in the game, Harvey’s run support has been 3.33 runs per game this year. Last year, the Mets averaged 4.37 runs per game behind Harvey; that’s the difference between above- and below-league-average support. On the bright side, that means the trend is unlikely to persist. Meanwhile, Corey Kluber – the Indians’ ace – is also 0-3 on a 6.16 ERA. Kluber took a tough loss to the Rays on April 12th but has otherwise pitched pretty poorly. He averages one run of support per game, with high hit totals and lots of extra-base hits.
On Sunday, Steven Matz bounced back from a difficult first start and grabbed a brilliant 78 game score in 7 innings of 3-hit baseball. Matz walked 2 and struck out 9.
As DH in Cleveland, Yoenis Cespedes hit a monstrous .417/.462/1.083; this included a .600 batting average on balls in play, indicating that he got lucky on a few of those hits. Meanwhile, honorary Met Juan Uribe had a .444/.545/.546 weekend against the Mets, starting all three games at third base.
The Mets bullpen allowed 5 earned runs in 8 innings for a 5.63 ERA, but inherited six runners with none scoring. Hansel Robles, Antonio Bastardo, and Jim Henderson all looked like strong options coming out of thrower jail, with Jeurys Familia notching an ugly but effective one-out save to bail out Addison Reed on Friday.
Mets Weekend Roundup (Games 4 and 5) April 11, 2016Posted by tomflesher in Baseball.
Tags: Marlins, Mets, Mets Game 4, Mets Game 5, Mets Game 6
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Yoenis Cespedes finally homered in the Mets’ 5-2 loss to the Phillies. Cespedes’ home run chased starter Jeremy Hellickson in the bottom of the 6th inning, coming on Cespedes’ third plate appearance of the day. In the first four games of the season, Yoenis had 2 hits and 2 walks on 18 plate appearances, so his homer came on his 21st plate appearance of the season. Last year, Cespedes played 10 games in New York before homering, hitting .262 with a .279 OBP. For Detroit, Cespedes homered 18 times in 427 plate appearances for an average of 23.72 plate appearances per homer; his Mets numbers were significantly better, at 17 homers in 249 plate appearances, for one home run every 14.65 plate appearances. His BAbip in Detroit was .333; in New York last year, it was .306. Ces has never been an OBP guy, but his BAbip this year is .222, meaning he may be suffering more than would be expected from good defense by the Phillies and Royals. Still, even assuming last year’s New York stats were accurate, you’d expect a 20-PA homer-free streak with probability (1 – (17/249))20, or about 24.3%. My hunch is that Cespedes won’t reach last year’s numbers, but he’ll probably nail 30 home runs this year.
Over the weekend, Bartolo Colon took a tough loss, in both the common and technical senses, when he pitched a 6-inning, 7-K, 1-run ballgame for a game score of 65. Colon pitched to a game score of 65 or better 11 times in 2015, recording a 7-2 record. The Phillies bullpen did not collapse as predicted, meaning that giving up one run was enough to lose the game. Phillies starter Vincent Velasquez outpitched Colon, and the bullpen just held up enough.
Steven Matz starts tonight’s game against the Marlins’ Jarred Cosart. Matz and Cosart faced off last year in September; Tyler Clippard blew the save. Current Marlins are 4-17 against Matz for a .267/.353/.467 line; current Mets slash .264/.349/.472 against Cosart. Cosart was chased after 4 2/3 last time. The Marlins bullpen has pitched to a respectable 3.89 ERA this season and closer A.J. Ramos has converted his only save, so the Mets need to score early and often to get this one under control.
Don Kelly is currently hitting .286/.500/.286 for AAA New Orleans and is unavailable from the bullpen.
Tags: Mets, Mets Game 4, Phillies
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Yesterday’s Mets home opener was joyous – Jacob deGrom‘s son decided to wait a little while longer, we got another masterful performance from Lazarus I Mean Jim Henderson, and Michael Conforto was firmly in Good Lucas Duda Mode. Besides, the Phillies had to go to their bullpen after 5+.
Despite a solid performance by young Jerad Eickhoff – in which he hit a double and scored one of two runs for Philadelphia – the Phillies starter ended up in trouble in the sixth when Duda doubled, Neil Walker singled him home, and Conforto doubled Walker home. Jim Henderson pitched a perfect seventh, and the Mets bullpen allowed only one run (unearned) after Peter Bourjos reached on an E5. Hansel Robles got a K, allowed Bourjos on, and then allowed a hit to Cesar Hernandez before Jerry Blevins came in to clean up lefty-batting Odubel Herrera and Hernandez on a double play. Antonio Bastardo finished the game with two strikeouts, allowing one single.
The Phillies bullpen has been awful this year, and this game is a microcosm of why. Eickhoff pitched well, but his bullpen couldn’t get a handle on it. Dalier Hinojosa got two outs and, despite a difficult at-bat, rule 5 draftee Daniel Stumpf finally recorded an out. In the seventh, James Russell got a single out, but allowed two walks and three singles; David Hernandez allowed another run before closing out the inning. This season, the Phillies’ starters have posted a 3.80 ERA and a 0.98 WHIP – both quite respectable, especially considering Charlie Morton‘s rough start. The bullpen, however, has pitched to a 12.66 ERA and a 2.44 WHIP, meaning for every inning pitched they allow almost three men to reach base.
Pete Mackanin has used Hinojosa in three of four games thus far, lefties Stumpf and Russell twice each, and Hinojosa and Hernandez three times. In those, Hinojosa and Russell each have one blown save. Stumpf is unproven but being used in relatively high-leverage situations, while Hector Neris is coming in in low-leverage situations despite having some of the best stats on the team. I recognize that Stumpf is young and being broken in – catcher Cameron Rupp came out and put his arm over Stumpf’s shoulder several times in yesterday’s game – but the Phillies seem to be treating his development as a goal that comes at the expense of the team.
Bartolo Colon starts tonight against the Phillies; current Phillies have hit .267/.301/.371 against Bartolo. Odubel Herrera is 4-13 against Colon, and a handful of Phillies are above the .300 mark. Meanwhile, the only Met starter Vincent Velasquez has faced is Alejandro De Aza, who is 1-2.
Bartolo’s stats against current Phillies:
Bring On The Phils (Mets Game 3 Preview) April 8, 2016Posted by tomflesher in Baseball.
Tags: Mets, Mets game 3, Phillies, Previews
add a comment This afternoon, the Mets host the Phillies to open their season series. No love lost here: keep in mind, it was Philadelphia’s Cameron Rupp who future closer Hansel Robles was suspended for completely accidentally attempting to quick-bean. Robles was also accused of attempted murder when he executed his quick-pitch on Darin Ruff in August. Since the Phils and the Mets have never quite gotten along, this will probably turn ugly quickly. Rupp played in Wednesday’s game and Ruf has appeared in every game so far; expect Robles to get no end of chatter from the Philly bench this series.
Philadelphia is coming off three losses to Cincinnati. The season opener featured a loss by David Hernandez and a blown save by James Russel, spoiling an excellent start by Jeremy Hellickson (game score of 70). Dalier Hinojosa blew the save and took the loss on Wednesday, flushing an 8-strikeout, 1-run, 7-inning start by Aaron Nola down the drain (game score of 73). Thursday, starter Charlie Morton finally lost his own game, getting bounced after 5 runs in 3 2/3 innings. Hinojosa acquitted himself reasonably, pitching a two-hit 8th but giving up no runs. Rookie Daniel Stumpf walked two and allowed a home run before being hooked, leading him to the rare infinite ERA. Long man Brett Oberholtzer gave up one run in 3 1/3 innings.
The Philly bullpen is beat up. On a day game after a night game, and with Friday the third consecutive game day, it’s difficult to see Hinojosa pitching for the third consecutive day. Hernandez is fresh, but it’s not inconceivable we could see Stumpf in middle relief to try to shake out the yips. Jerad Eickhoff, who cannot spell his own name, will start Friday for Philadelphia. Eickoff pitched 51 innings in 8 games to a 2.65 ERA last year. He had a slightly lucky .257 BAbip with an 8.6 K9 and a 3.77 KBB. His work against the Mets is mixed. Michael Conforto has taken him to school (4-8 with a homer and a walk, despite two Ks); Yoenis Cespedes had a tougher time (1-6, 2 Ks).
The story of the game is that the Mets plan to start Jacob deGrom, who will leave immediately if his wife goes into labor. If that happens before the game, Bartolo Colon and Steven Matz are likely fill-in candidates. deGrom has had a tough time with the Phillies – though he’s 1-0 against them, he’s allowed a 4.41 ERA and a .313/.352/.463 line against them. His numbers against current Phillies are below: