NEW YORK METS (47-41, second place/NL East) at PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES (42-48, fourth place/NL East)
PHILLIES SHORT HOPS
Brothers Travis d'Arnaud and Chase d'Arnaud faced each other for the first time in the majors last September in Philly. Now another set of brothers are poised to square off at Citizens Bank Park for the first time at any level -- Mets reliever Erik Goeddel and Phillies outfielder Tyler Goeddel. A Rule 5 pick from the Tampa Bay Rays in December, Tyler is hitting .209 with three homers and 13 RBIs in 158 at-bats this season. He has platooned in left field with lefty-hitting Cody Asche. "I've never faced him or been on his team before at any level," said Erik, who was in the minors earlier this season when the Mets and Phillies met. "There's a four-year age difference, so he got to Little League right when I left, got to high school right when I left, and was always a level or two behind me in the minors."
Eickhoff, who was acquired from the Texas Rangers at last year's non-waiver trade deadline in the deal for Cole Hamels, was roughed up at Coors Field in his final first-half start. Eickhoff allowed eight runs in 5 1/3 innings against the Colorado Rockies. That added a half-run to his ERA, which had stood at a solid 3.30 before the start.
Rookie Tommy Joseph is hitting .255 with 11 homers and 21 RBIs in 153 at-bats this season. Since May 22, he has started 34 games at first base, while Ryan Howard has started only 12 at the position. Joseph was acquired four years ago when the Phillies sent Hunter Pence to the San Francisco Giants at the non-waiver trade deadline. Howard is hitting .154 with 12 homers and 27 RBIs in 201 at-bats. Still, Howard's 45 career homers against the Mets are the most of any active player. Ex-Phillie Chase Utley ranks second with 38. Giancarlo Stanton has been charging hard, though. At age 26, Stanton already has 26 homers against the Mets. This is expected to be Howard's final season with the Phillies. The Phillies can exercise a $10 million buyout of a $23 million team option for 2017. The Philadelphia Inquirer reported this week that Howard is unlikely to face discipline from MLB related to a December report from Al Jazeera claiming a link between Howard and performance-enhancing drug use.
There should be no shortage of scouts in Philly watching Jeremy Hellickson's outing. Hellickson is among the starting pitchers across MLB who should be available as the Aug. 1 non-waiver trade deadline approaches. Hellickson, 29, signed a one-year, $7 million contract in January.
Third baseman Maikel Franco hit .400 (26-for-65) with six homers and 15 RBIs in his final 16 games of the first half.
Closer Jeanmar Gomez is 24-for-26 in save conversions. Gomez's 24 saves matched the Phillies record for a first half. He joined Steve Bedrosian (1987) and Jose Mesa (2001). Gomez entered the season with one career save, which came in an 11-inning win with the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2014.
Aaron Altherr, who had been slated to open the season as the right fielder, began playing in the Gulf Coast League on July 8. Altherr underwent left wrist surgery March 9 after tearing the tendon sheath.
METS SHORT HOPS
Yoenis Cespedes departed last Friday's game after three innings with a strained right quadriceps. The Mets hope Cespedes' muscle has healed enough that he can start the second-half opener.
The Mets set their rotation for the second half to provide maximum rest for Noah Syndergaard. He will start Tuesday in Chicago, in the fifth game after the All-Star break. Syndergaard was forced to depart his final first-half start with what the team described as "arm fatigue." No MRI was performed.
No Mets appeared in the All-Star Game, although four were selected. Cespedes and Syndergaard were unavailable because of medical issues, while manager Terry Collins was holding back Jeurys Familia for a save chance that never materialized and Colon was only going to be used in extra innings.
Verrett, at least for the time being, takes over the rotation spot vacated by Matt Harvey. Harvey is poised to undergo season-ending surgery to address thoracic outlet syndrome. In his first opportunity in that fill-in role for Harvey, Verrett allowed five runs on four hits and five walks in 6 2/3 innings Saturday against the Washington Nationals.