Colon, Hellickson match up for opener in Philly

Colon, Hellickson match up for opener in Philly

Two veteran pitchers off to good starts will be on the mound when the Braves and Phillies open a three-game series Friday night at Citizens Bank Park.

Phillies right-hander Jeremy Hellickson (2-0, 1.59 ERA) has pitched well each of his first three times out, while Braves right-hander Bartolo Colon (1-1, 4.24 ERA) is coming off a win over the Padres in which he allowed just one run on one hit in seven innings.

The Phillies and Braves are meeting for the first of 19 times this season. The Braves won the season series last year, 11-8, including five wins in nine games in Philadelphia.

Things to know about this game
• Hellickson and Colon matched up twice last season, when Colon was pitching for the Mets. Neither got a decision in a 5-4, 11-inning Phillies home win April 20, while Colon came away with a 5-3 win for the Mets on July 15, also at Citizens Bank Park.

• On a curveball, higher spin rate is what you want, and Hellickson has had one of the highest spin rates in baseball this year. Hellickson's average curveball spin rate is 2,962 rpm in 2017, third highest in the Majors behind the Rays' Austin Pruitt (3,016 rpm) and the A's Jesse Hahn (2,965 rpm).

• Reliever Pat Neshek, who the Phillies placed on the paternity leave list Wednesday, could possibly be back in the bullpen for Friday's game.

Danny Knobler is a contributor to This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.