NEW YORK METS (1-1, second place/NL East) vs. PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES (0-3, fifth place/NL East)
PHILLIES SHORT HOPS
The Phillies were swept in their season-opening series in Cincinnati. Philadelphia is off to its first 0-3 start since 2007. That year, Jimmy Rollins had labeled the Phillies the “team to beat.” So the Philadelphia Daily News ran the mocking cover headline “THE TEAM TO BEAT … AND BEAT AND BEAT” after the opening three games in ’07. Of course, Mets fans know how that season ended. The Phillies’ longest losing streak to begin a season came in 1934, with an 0-7 start, against the New York Giants and Brooklyn Dodgers. Philadelphia has endured three straight losing seasons. Its last four-year sub-.500 streak came from 1997 to 2000. The Phillies draft first in June. They've had the No. 1 overall pick only once before in franchise history and selected Pat Burrell in 1998.
Ryan Howard has reached the final guaranteed season of a five-year, $125 million contract. He is due to earn $25 million, plus another $10 million as a buyout of a $23 million team option for 2017. The 36-year-old Howard is relegated to platooning with Darin Ruf at first base. Ruf pinch hit for Howard on Monday against Reds left-handed reliever Paul Cingrani. Two days later, Ruf started over Howard against southpaw Brandon Finnegan. Howard hit .256/.304/.499 and had 20 homers in 367 at-bats against right-handed pitching last season. Ruf hit .371/.447/.660 and had eight homers in 97 at-bats against left-handed pitching last season.
The Phillies’ underwhelming outfield suffered a major blow when projected right fielder Aaron Altherr suffered an ECU tendon sheath tear in his left wrist during Grapefruit League play, which required surgery and may cost him four to six months. Peter Bourjos now mans right field, with Odubel Herrera in center field and lefty-hitting Cedric Hunter and righty-hitting Tyler Goeddel sharing left field. Goeddel, a Rule 5 pick from the Tampa Bay Rays, is the brother of Erik Goeddel, who is opening the season in Triple-A Las Vegas’ bullpen. Herrera’s 3.8 WAR led all rookie outfielders last season.
On the one-year anniversary of being traded from Tampa Bay to Arizona, the Diamondbacks sent Jeremy Hellickson to the Phillies for minor league right-hander Sam McWilliams. Hellickson allowed one run (none earned) on three hits in an Opening Day no-decision at Cincinnati.
The Phillies are “auditioning” for a closer, manager Pete Mackanin indicated. Jeanmar Gonzalez appears poised to get the next shot. David Hernandez and Dalier Hinojosa had opportunities to pitch in critical spots in Cincinnati. They have combined to allow five runs in 2 1/3 innings so far this season, with Hernandez getting charged with the loss in the opener and Hinojosa blowing the save in Game 2.
Mackanin succeeded Ryne Sandberg in an interim capacity on June 26 of last season and was handed a one-year extension on Sept. 22.
The Phillies hired Matt Klentak as general manager on Oct. 26. At 35, he became the youngest GM in franchise history.
Philadelphia’s payroll is down to $84 million, which ranks 25th in the majors. It marks a precipitous drop from its $133 million level last year and $174 million level in 2014.
Maikel Franco had nine spring-training homers -- the most in the majors.
METS SHORT HOPS
Barring the birth of his first child disrupting his outing, Jacob deGrom will start the Mets’ home opener for a second straight season. Manager Terry Collins indicated Bartolo Colon would be ready to step in if deGrom needs to be scratched to join his wife Stacey in Florida. Despite success, deGrom's velocity mostly sat at 91-93 mph during spring training.
Colon has 218 career wins. His next victory will match Pedro Martinez for second-most in MLB history by a Dominican-born pitcher. Juan Marichal ranks first at 243.
Hansel Robles returns from a season-opening two-game suspension. Robles had received the punishment for throwing in the direction of Cameron Rupp’s head in Philadelphia on Sept. 30. Robles appealed the original three-game suspension, which delayed it until 2016. It was reduced by a game as the result of a spring-training settlement.
David Wright already has two steals, matching his total in 38 games last season.
Since blowing a save last July 30 on a homer by Justin Upton, Jeurys Familia has converted 17 straight regular-season chances. He has limited opponents to four runs in 30 1/3 innings during that span, for a 1.19 ERA.
Yoenis Cespedes went 1-for-9 with two walks during the season-opening two-game series in Kansas City.