Mets' young guns will test Phillies

Kyle Kendrick will get the call Friday for the Phillies as they resume play in New York. YONG KIM / Staff Photographer
Kyle Kendrick will get the call Friday for the Phillies as they resume play in New York. YONG KIM / Staff Photographer
Posted: July 20, 2013

NEW YORK - Fresh off the all-star break, the Phillies will begin a nine-game road trip Friday, starting with a three-game series against the New York Mets at Citi Field.

And rest assured, Mets ace Matt Harvey will be healthy.

Harvey was skipped in his final start before the break because of a blister on his right index finger. But he pitched two scoreless innings in Tuesday's All-Star Game.

"It feels fine, and I was able to finally throw my slider, which was definitely a big help," Harvey said after his stellar showing at Citi Field. "I am glad everything is healthy going into the second half."

Harvey (7-2, 2.35 ERA) will pitch in Sunday's series finale. He will face Cliff Lee (10-3, 2.86) in a highly anticipated matchup of all-star pitchers.

The Mets will throw some serious young talent against the Phillies in this series.

On Friday, Phillies righthander Kyle Kendrick will oppose Mets righthander Jeremy Hefner. Cole Hamels faces Mets righthander Zack Wheeler on Saturday.

The Phillies (48-48) will face a Mets team that is just 41-50, but is 16-11 in its last 27 games.

Starting pitching has been a major reason for New York's improvement.

The Phillies will face strong pitching throughout this road trip, which includes stops in St. Louis and Detroit.

All three opponents are in the majors' top 10 in starters' ERA. St. Louis is second (3.33), Detroit is seventh (3.73), and the Mets are ninth (3.78).

By comparison, the Phillies are 12th (3.87); they stand 28th in bullpen ERA (4.78).

The Phillies can't afford to look ahead at division leaders St. Louis and Detroit because the Mets pitchers will provide a challenge.

In his last eight starts, the 27-year-old Hefner is 3-1 with a 1.74 ERA, 40 strikeouts, and eight walks in 51 innings.

Wheeler, 23, made 13 starts at triple-A Las Vegas before joining the Mets. He has had three good starts and two subpar ones. Wheeler is coming off a strong outing, allowing just one earned run in seven innings of a 7-2 win over the San Francisco Giants on July 10.

The Giants drafted Wheeler and traded him to the Mets for Carlos Beltran and cash in 2011.

While Hefner and Wheeler have had their moments, the talk of baseball is the 24-year-old Harvey. He allowed a leadoff double to Mike Trout of the Los Angeles Angels in the All-Star Game and then did not surrender another hit in two innings, throwing 32 pitches and striking out three.

Harvey throws in the high 90s and has actually pitched much better than his 7-2 record indicates. He is second among major-league starters in WHIP (walks plus hits per innings pitched) at 0.92, just behind Los Angeles Dodgers lefthander Clayton Kershaw (0.91).

Harvey also leads the National League in strikeouts with 147 in 130 innings.

In two games against the Phillies covering 13 innings, Harvey is 2-0 with a 0.69 ERA, 15 strikeouts, and three walks.

Then again, the Mets will be facing a strong Phillies trio that has been bolstered by Hamels' improvement. Hamels has allowed four earned runs over his last 23 innings.

The Phillies have won nine of their last 13 games.

"The Phillies have been playing well and have a great staff," said Washington's all-star outfielder, Bryce Harper. "Having Lee, Hamels, and Kendrick, those three are throwing really well and they are going to be a tough team down the stretch."

Contact Marc Narducci


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