PHILLIES SHORT HOPS
Acquired from the Houston Astros in December, Vince Velasquez has allowed six hits and three walks while striking out 25 in 15 scoreless innings to open the season. Velasquez is coming off a complete game against the San Diego Padres during which he retired 22 of the final 23 batters he faced. Velasquez became the fourth pitcher since 1893 -- when the mound went to 60 feet, 6 inches -- to toss a shutout with 16 or more strikeouts, no walks and three or fewer hits. The others: Kerry Wood (1998), Roger Clemens (1998) and Max Scherzer (2015, in a no-hitter against the Mets). Velasquez also became the third pitcher in MLB history age 23 or younger to throw a shutout with no walks and at least 16 strikeouts, joining Dwight Gooden and Wood. Velasquez became the fourth pitcher in the modern era to strike out 25 or more in his first two starts, joining Curt Schilling (2002), Nolan Ryan (1978) and Karl Spooner (1954). The 15 scoreless innings by Velasquez are the most to open a Phillies career since Marty Bystrom in 1980 (19 innings).
Ryan Howard hit career homer No. 361 on Friday, matching Hall of Famer Joe DiMaggio for 81st on the all-time list. Next up: Lance Berkman with 366, followed by Ralph Kiner and Todd Helton with 369 apiece. Howard, now in a platoon with Darin Ruf at first base, is hitting .189 but has four homers this season. 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.
Odubel Herrera (.244/.415/.390) leads the majors in pitches per at-bat. He also has 12 walks this season, and seven in his past four games. Herrera did not draw his 12th walk last season until his 327th plate appearance, which came on Aug. 5.
Jeanmar Gomez is 4-for-4 in save conversions since ascending to the closer’s role.
Reliever Daniel Stumpf, a Rule 5 pick from the Kansas City Royals, was suspended for 80 games on Thursday after testing positive for an anabolic steroid, Major League Baseball announced. He faced the Mets in New York in two of his three career appearances. Left-hander Elvis Araujo was promoted from Triple-A Lehigh Valley to take Stumpf’s roster spot.
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 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.
Manager Pete Mackanin succeeded Ryne Sandberg in an interim capacity on June 26 of last season. Mackanin subsequently signed an extension through next season, with a team option for 2018.
The Phillies hired Matt Klentak as general manager on Oct. 26. At age 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.
METS SHORT HOPS
David Wright has the most homers by a visitor in Citizens Bank Park history. Wright has hit .292 with 20 homers and 67 RBIs in 97 career games at the ballpark.
Michael Conforto had a big weekend in Cleveland after rising from sixth to third in the lineup. The 23-year-old Conforto hit .417 (5-for-12) with three doubles, one homer and three RBIs during the interleague series.
Logan Verrett makes a second start in place of Jacob deGrom on Tuesday. Verrett tossed six scoreless innings last week against the Miami Marlins with deGrom scratched because of right lat tightness. DeGrom physically is ready to return against the Phillies, but a medical issue with his newborn son has kept him away from the team. DeGrom is expected to throw a simulated game in Port St. Lucie, Florida, on Tuesday. His week-old son, Jaxon Anthony, may be discharged from the hospital on Monday.
Bartolo Colon tied Pedro Martinez for second in career wins among Dominican-born pitchers at No. 219 with a victory on Friday in Cleveland. Only Juan Marichal (243) amassed more.
Yoenis Cespedes plans to return to the outfield on Monday after serving as the designated hitter in all three games in Cleveland. Cespedes was nursing sore legs as the result of diving into the stands last Wednesday while pursuing a foul ball at Citi Field.