Let’s play two. The Phillies were postponed Monday night so they’ll play a doubleheader Tuesday against the Mets in Queens, starting a stretch of 27 games in 27 days. The Mets had their game suspended on Sunday after just two batters and have played just five games this season after their opening series was postponed because of Washington’s COVID-19 outbreak.

The forecast calls for clear conditions Tuesday, and the Mets are desperate to get their season rolling while the Phillies are set to begin a tough stretch. They’ll play two.

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— Matt Breen (extrainnings@inquirer.com)

JoJo Romero is back in the majors after smashing success

JoJo Romero first smashed a can of Red Bull against his arm in college as a joke with his teammates, not knowing it would make the reliever a viral sensation years later when he debuted in the major leagues.

“First outing, I had it there with me and it was something to fire me up,” Romero said. “It kind of just took off from there.”

Romero was impressive last summer as a rookie, one of the few bright spots in the brutal 2020 Phillies bullpen. He entered with flair — chugging the final sips of his energy drink and then crushing the can — and struck out nearly a hitter per inning, posting scoreless appearances in eight of his 12 outings.

Romero wasn’t perfect, but he flashed potential after transitioning to the bullpen from being a starting pitcher in the minors. The left-hander started this season in Allentown as the last reliever trimmed from the roster, but he’s back in the majors after Archie Bradley injured his oblique.

It’s an opportunity for Romero. And he’s bringing plenty of Red Bull.

“I’ll be mixing it in there,” he said last month.

Romero worked this offseason on his slider, which he threw last season for 27% of his pitches. He tinkered with the grip and studied it during spring training. By the end of camp, Romero said the pitch was “a step up” from where it was last season.

Romero’s fastball last season averaged 95 mph, the fastest by a Phillies reliever. The team upgraded its bullpen this winter with an emphasis on adding velocity, but Romero’s power still plays. He joins Jose Alvarado as the bullpen’s lone left-handers, giving manager Joe Girardi two powerful lefties from whom to choose.

“I could use JoJo all over the place,” Girardi said Monday. “I could use him as an early lefty to come in and get out of a jam. I could use him for multiple innings. With his stuff, JoJo has the ability to get right-handed hitters out, so I don’t worry about that. He’s a guy who could do a little bit of everything.”

The Phillies should have a better idea Tuesday about the severity of Bradley’s injury, but oblique injuries tend to linger. Bradley’s absence not only brought Romero to the majors, but should also throw Connor Brogdon — another bright spot from last season — into more higher-leverage spots.

Brogdon needed just 10 pitches Sunday night to retire the three Atlanta batters he faced in the sixth inning. He hasn’t allowed a run in his first four appearances, and he’s a candidate to handle Bradley’s set-up role.

“It increases his opportunity,” Girardi said. “I feel really good about the way Connor is throwing the ball, and he’s going to get plenty of opportunities.”

Romero benefited this spring from knowing what his role would be. Last spring, the Phillies were unsure if Romero was a reliever or starter. He had to be ready for both. But this camp was different. Romero used his time in Clearwater to better understand what it takes to hang in the bullpen, picking the brains of the veteran relievers at spring training.

“Asking questions when they needed to be asked,” Romero said. “Like how do they prepare and ways I can improve my preparation when it comes to the bullpen role. Learning as much as I can from these guys.”

Romero, after a strong rookie season, is even more prepared for his second taste of the majors. And he has plenty of Red Bull cans to smash.

“A week later, the video went viral and in front of my locker I had like 12 cases of Red Bull,” Romero said of the company that sent him free drinks. “Gave them out to whoever wanted one. They’ve been hooking me up through the offseason.”

The rundown

The Braves might not agree, but Girardi said MLB’s replay system is “doing its job” despite Sunday’s controversial ruling.

A 14-year-old Phillies fan in Atlanta went viral this weekend after giving a home run ball to a Braves fan. The Phillies rewarded Josh Scott’s good deed.

The Phillies were rained out Monday night, and Scott Lauber has the details on the pitching forecast for the week.

Important dates

Today: Phillies play doubleheader against the Mets, 4:10 p.m.

Tomorrow: Zack Wheeler faces his old team at Citi Field, 7:10 p.m.

Thursday: Zach Eflin starts against Jacob deGrom, 12:10 p.m.

Friday: Phillies open three-game series at home vs. Cardinals, 7:05 p.m.

Stat of the day

Harry Kalas died 12 years ago today at Nationals Park hours before the Phillies played in Washington. The Phillies played the game and won, 9-8. A few players honored Kalas before the game by taking a drag of a cigarette in the dugout. “Throughout most of his 39 seasons as a Phillies broadcaster, Kalas loved celebrating with a heater and a cold adult beverage, and the players, who considered Kalas a teammate, knew that,” Jim Salisbury wrote in The Inquirer.

A day before, Kalas called his final game in Colorado as the Phillies won. His final home run was a two-run blast by Matt Stairs to put the Phillies ahead in the ninth: “Long drive into deep right-center field, this ball is outta here. Matt Stairs with a two-run pinch-hit home run and the Phillies have taken a 7-5 lead in the ninth inning and battled all the way back.”

From the mailbag

Send questions by email or on Twitter @matt_breen.

Question: Don’t the Phillies need a RH bat off the bench sooner rather than later? — Ed Palmer (@HuckPalmer) via Twitter

Answer: Thanks, Huck. Yes, they definitely do. I think it’s telling that Girardi has now twice used J.T. Realmuto as a pinch-hitter and used his second catcher, something a manager usually tries to avoid at all costs. But that’s really his only option.

Roman Quinn is a switch-hitter but he’s struggling, and Ronald Torreyes is right-handed but he’s not much of a pinch-hitting option. The bench has two left-handers in Matt Joyce and Brad Miller, but needs a right-handed bat.

Scott Kingery would be that hitter, but he’s in the minors working on his swing after a difficult spring training. Girardi said Monday that Kingery is not yet ready. It feels like an area that needs to be addressed soon. I’m curious to see how they fix it.