Good morning, Phillies fans. You’re one day closer to the home opener. But first, the Phillies will play this afternoon against the Mets in a game being aired exclusively on Facebook. Allow the Phillies to distract you from those always enjoyable political takes that are filling your timeline or the 400th photo that your high school classmate — that guy you haven’t seen since graduation — just posted of his baby. The Phillies fell to the Mets, 2-0, Tuesday night, and Wednesday’s 1:10 p.m. start is the first of 25 MLB games Facebook will air this season. The Phils will be on there again April 26 against Arizona. John Kruk will be in the broadcast booth today alongside former Mets outfielder Cliff Floyd and MLB Network’s Scott Braun. MLB.com’s Alexa Datt will be a reporter. Enjoy. And then go back to looking at pictures of what your co-worker had for lunch.
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Phillies hope seeing pitches leads to runs
It ended up being a non-factor Tuesday, but the Phillies were able to chase Mets starter Matt Harvey from the game by making him work deep counts. The Phillies averaged 4.77 pitches per plate appearance as Harvey shut them out for five innings. They made the Mets go to the bullpen, but the relievers were just as dominant. The Phillies did not have success against Harvey, but they were at least straining the pitcher. It’s been the team’s strategy this season as the Phils have seen the most pitches per plate appearance (4.30) in all of baseball. That rate is nearly a half-pitch higher than the team’s average from last season. It did not translate into runs Tuesday, but the Phillies believe it eventually will.
“Over the course of time, I think we’re going to score a lot of runs with that approach,” manager Gabe Kapler said. “I think grinding down opposing pitchers is the key to getting the best pitchers out of the game early and then making relievers tired. I’m really proud of the way we battled.”
The Phillies were shut out Tuesday night by Matt Harvey and the Mets bullpen. It was a defensive shift by the Phils that led to both Mets runs. The Phillies have shifted heavily this season and have no plans to stop. This was just a case of bad luck.
Gabe Kapler spent the two off days in New York reflecting on how he can do a better job after a rough opening series in Atlanta. The manager wrote new guidelines for how the Phillies will use their bullpen and met with his coaching staff and front office.
Click here for the update on Tommy Hunter, but stay for the great quotes from the reliever who might have the biggest personality in the Phillies clubhouse. Matt Klentak does not seem to concerned about Hunter and Pat Neshek, the two relievers he signed this winter, who opened the season on the disabled list.
Today: Aaron Nola vs. Noah Syndergaard, 1:10 p.m.
Tomorrow: Nick Pivetta starts the home opener, 3:05 p.m.
Saturday: Vince Velasquez starts vs. Miami, 6:05 p.m.
Sunday: Jake Arrieta’s debut, 1:35 p.m.
Stat of the day
Hoby Milner faced two batters in the eighth inning Tuesday to become the first Phillies pitcher since J.C. Romero to appear in each of the team’s first four games. If Milner pitches today, he will be the first Phillies pitcher to pitch in each of the team’s first five games.
From the mailbag
Question for the newsletter: if Hernandez and Kingery continue to be the Phillies best two infielders, what positions do you think they'll eventually settle at, considering they're both natural second basemen? Can they co-exist long-term in the same line-up?
— Dan May (@dannmaal) April 3, 2018
Answer: The Phillies have yet to play Scott Kingery at second base this season, but he’s still the team’s second baseman of the future. Expect Cesar Hernandez to either assume a reserve role here or be moved. Hernandez is still under club control for two more seasons, so the Phillies don’t have to move him just because. A 2019 Phillies infield shapes up to be Carlos Santana, Kingery, J.P. Crawford, and Maikel Franco or a free-agent third baseman.