The Philadelphia Phillies emerge from the All-Star break with reasons for optimism.
The New York Mets, meanwhile, emerge with reasons for concern.
The teams open the season's second half on Friday night with the first of three games in Citizens Bank Park, and each will send a hot pitcher to the mound. Right-hander Jeremy Hellickson (6-6, 3.92 ERA) gets the start for the Phillies against right-hander Jacob deGrom (5-4, 2.61).
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Hellickson is 2-0 with a 1.50 ERA in his last three starts and deGrom is 2-0 with a 1.35 ERA in his last three.
DeGrom and the ageless Bartolo Colon are, however, the only constants for a Mets rotation that has been wracked by injury — a big reason the defending National League champions dropped their last three games before the break to fall to 47-41, leaving them in a second-place tie with Miami in the National League East.
Matt Harvey recently underwent season-ending surgery to repair thoracic outlet syndrome, which according to clevelandclinic.org is “a term used to describe a group of disorders that occur when there is compression, injury or irritation of the nerves and/or blood vessels (arteries and veins) in the lower neck and upper chest area.”
Right-hander Noah Syndergaard and left-hander Steven Matz have been plagued by bone spurs in their pitching elbows, and Syndergaard departed his July 8 start against Washington after 4 2/3 innings with what was described by the team as “arm fatigue.”
Nor has the everyday lineup been spared from the spate of injuries. Third baseman David Wright is out, possibly for the season, after undergoing surgery to repair a herniated disk in his neck, and first baseman Lucas Duda is on the disabled list with a bad back.
Outfielder Yoenis Cespedes also missed the last two games before the break with a quadriceps strain.
“I said something to the coaches: 'Man, when do you think this is going to stop? Can things possibly get worse?'” manager Terry Collins said, according to NJ.com. “And the next day, they continue to get worse.”
Neither Syndergaard nor Cespedes played in Tuesday's All-Star Game in San Diego, and Collins told the New York Post that he is hopeful Syndergaard can make his start next Tuesday against the Chicago Cubs. Cespedes' status is less certain.
“I feel better, but I'm not sure if I'm going to play on Friday,” Cespedes told reporters through a translator after missing Sunday's loss to Washington.
The Phillies, meanwhile, had the worst record in the majors last season (63-99) and dropped 26 of 32 games after getting off to a surprising 24-17 start this season. They won 12 of their last 17 before the break, however, to improve to 42-48, good enough for fourth place in the NL East.
Their offense, dormant most of the season, was a big reason for the turnaround. Outfielder Peter Bourjoas has hit at a .408 clip in his last 18 games to raise his average from .217 to .274, and third baseman Maikel Franco has hit .400 in his last 16, bringing his average to .269. He also leads the team with 18 homers and 52 RBIs.
Center fielder Odubel Herrera, the team's lone All-Star representative, is slashing .294/.378/.427. Herrera, who leads the Phillies in average, on-base percentage and steals (12), also has 10 homers and 33 RBIs.