Young pitchers such as Kyle Kendrick helped the Philadelphia Phillies win the NL East last season. Mike Pelfrey, meanwhile, was part of a group of fill-ins that are partly to blame for the New York Mets’ meltdown.
Kendrick looks to bounce back from a subpar start and lead the Phillies to their 10th straight win over the Mets when the teams play the middle game of their series Wednesday night.
Last season, Philadelphia (4-4) took advantage of New York’s struggles in September to win the NL East for the first time since 1993. The Phillies played a big role in the Mets’ collapse, beating them in their final eight meetings last year.
Philadelphia featured a rotation anchored by Kendrick (1-0, 7.20 ERA) and Cole Hamels, who combined to go 25-9 while each posted an ERA under 4.00.
Kendrick went 2-0 with a 3.00 ERA in his last three starts of his rookie season, but struggled in his first outing of 2008. The 23-year-old right-hander allowed four runs and eight hits in five innings as Philadelphia beat Cincinnati 8-4 on Friday night.
Kendrick also struggled in spring training, giving up 19 earned runs in 17 2-3 innings. He has, however, earned a win in his only start against the Mets, surrendering two runs and six hits in 6 2-3 innings as the Phillies won 5-3 on July 1.
He can help give Philadelphia its first series win of the season after it lost four of its first seven games. The Phillies beat the Mets 5-2 on Tuesday in the final home opener at Shea Stadium to extend their run versus New York. The Mets haven’t beaten the Phillies since an 8-3 victory on June 30.
“If we’re in their head, we’re in their head. It’s not for me to say,” Philadelphia right fielder Shane Victorino said. “We’re not going out there saying, ‘We own the Mets.’”
New York (2-4) will try to rebound with Pelfrey making his first start of the season. Pelfrey went 3-8 with a 5.57 ERA in 13 starts and two relief appearances in 2007, and is partly to blame for the Mets’ late-season collapse.
New York dropped 12 of its final 17 games and blew a seven-game lead in the NL East, missing the postseason after one of the biggest flops in baseball history. Orlando Hernandez was hobbled by a foot injury during that span, and the Mets had a tough time replacing him in the rotation.
Pelfrey, Philip Humber and Brian Lawrence combined to post a 9.00 ERA in four starts in place of Hernandez down the stretch. Pelfrey made two of those starts and was the only one to receive a decision, going 1-1 with a 7.59 ERA.
Pelfrey is back in New York’s rotation because Hernandez has been slow to recover after having surgery to remove a bunion from the second toe on his right foot during the offseason.
The 24-year-old right-hander matched up with Kendrick in his only career appearance against Philadelphia, giving up three runs—two earned—and four hits in five innings on July 1.
On Tuesday, the Mets got a strong start from Oliver Perez, but their bullpen gave up five runs - three earned - in 3 1-3 innings. The Mets will move to Citi Field next year.
New York has lost three straight after opening the season with two wins in three games against Florida.
“Definitely not the start we wanted to get off to,” Mets star third baseman David Wright said.
Philadelphia, meanwhile, has won two straight on a seven-game road trip that ends Thursday night at Shea Stadium.