After losing three games in a row to the Baltimore Orioles and four of their last five games overall, the Phillies have plenty of things to worry about going into a three-game series with the rival New York Mets.
But Jacob deGrom isn't one of them.
The Mets scratched their ace pitcher and the two-time defending National League Cy Young Award winner from his scheduled start Friday night because of neck tightness. He told New York media that the issue cropped up after his start last Sunday against the Miami Marlins and has lingered throughout the week, preventing him from throwing off the mound. Tests didn't reveal structural damage, and he's hopeful of throwing a bullpen session this weekend.
That's welcome news for the Phillies, who will instead have to face spot-starting Mets right-hander Walker Lockett, who has not yet pitched in the majors this season.
The Phillies will counter with touted rookie Spencer Howard, who allowed four runs in 4 2/3 innings of his major-league debut last Sunday against the Atlanta Braves.
DeGrom has flashed his usual dominance through four starts this season. He's 2-0 with a 2.45 ERA, having allowed 16 hits in 22 innings with a 28-to-5 strikeouts-to-walks ratio.