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This is a Bit of a Mess: Phillies vs. Mets Series Preview

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The Phillies travel to New York where the Mets have fallen upon hard times

MLB: Tampa Bay Rays at New York Mets
Jose Reyes is having a deservedly bad year
Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

The Phillies’ six-game win streak was snapped on Sunday, but they’ll have a great opportunity to earn more wins this week when they travel to New York to face the dreadful Mets. Not only will the teams match up for four games, but they’ll even play two games in one day! (Otherwise known as a doubleheader.)

After getting off to a hot start, things have fallen apart for the 2018 Mets. It’s hard to believe that this team started the season 11-1 and was 17-9 at the end of April. Since that month ended, they’ve staggered their way to a brutal 18-41 record. Their 35 wins are fewest in the National League (although that’s mostly because they’ve played six fewer games than the Miami Marlins.)

The Last Time They Met

The Mets - who had not yet devolved into garbage at that point - visited Philadelphia in mid-May. The Mets won the first game, the second game was postponed (hence Monday’s doubleheader), and the Phillies won the finale.

And Since Then?

Shortly after that series, the aforementioned devolving into garbage began. They went through a stretch in which they lost 12 out of 13 games, and then followed up with another stretch where they dropped 10 of 11.

They’re not coming into this game especially hot as they’ve been shut out in two straight games, and nearly had a perfect game pitched against them on Sunday.

Mets Pitching vs. Phillies Offense

The Mets boast two of the NL’s best starting pitchers on their roster. Unfortunately for them, one of those pitchers (Noah Syndergaard) is on the disabled list and will not be able to pitch in this series.

Instead, they’ll go with Zack Wheeler in the opener. Wheeler has served in somewhat of an inning-eater role this season. He’s pitched into the sixth inning in all but three of his starts this season, but the quality of those six innings has varied. The Mets hope that Wheeler can pitch relatively deep in the game, because rookie Corey Oswalt will pitch the nightcap of the doubleheader, and he hasn’t made it out of the fifth inning in any of his three starts this season.

MLB: New York Mets at Toronto Blue Jays
Zack Wheeler pitches a lot of innings. Some of them are quality, some are not.
Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports

The Mets have yet to announce a starter for Tuesday’s game. They might be forced to utilize the dreaded bullpen game. That leads to the question: Is the Mets’ bullpen any good? It’s hard to base a bullpen’s quality just based on stats. That said, the stats are not flattering. They rank next to last in the majors in relief pitcher WAR, and rank near the bottom in both ERA and FIP.

The Mets have a glimmer of hope on Wednesday as their ace Jacob deGrom is scheduled to pitch. deGrom has had a lot of success against the Phillies in his career with a 6-1 record and 2.74 ERA. His previous start against the Phillies this season was unusual. He was coming off a stint on the disabled list, and only lasted one inning in which he threw 45 pitches - but he didn’t allow any runs.

It sounds like deGrom would totally be okay with it if the Mets decided to undergo a total rebuild and traded him to a team that didn’t suck.

This group of pitchers will try to shut down a Phillies offense that continues to rank near the middle of the pack in most categories (although those rankings have slowly been improving over the past month). You might be surprised to see that their two best hitters over the past two weeks have been Andrew Knapp (albeit in a part-time role) and Maikel Franco. (Who needs Manny Machado, right?)

Phillies Pitching vs. Mets Offense

The Mets’ roster is loaded with familiar names: Adrian Gonzalez, Asdrubal Cabrera, Todd Frazier, Yoenis Cespedes, Jay Bruce, Jose Bautista, and Jose Reyes are all some of the well-known players who have suited up for the Mets at some point this season. Of course, many of those players are injured, and for the most part, the others have been ineffectual.

Is there anyone who isn’t hurt or washed up? Cabrera is having a surprisingly strong year, and is on pace for a career high in home runs. Bautista has found some new life in his bat since coming over the National League. As far as players who weren’t All-Stars in the past, Brandon Nimmo has emerged as a rare positive.

MLB: Tampa Bay Rays at New York Mets
All those big name players, yet Brandon Nimmo has been the best
Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

The Mets aren’t going to have an easy time of it in Monday’s doubleheader. Aaron Nola will pitch the nightcap, and he was very deservedly named to his first All-Star team yesterday. The first game goes to Zach Eflin, who has actually been better than Nola over the past few weeks. And yes, this means that this game will feature a thrilling Zack vs. Zach matchup! We may finally determine which is the proper way to spell the nickname! (I’m on team H)

For the second time this week, a Phillies pitcher will be making his first major league start. Enyel De Los Santos has been called up for Tuesday’s game, and we’ll see if the rookie’s minor league success (1.89 ERA in AAA) carries over to the big leagues. I hope he succeeds, because that will help quiet down the “should’ve kept Freddy Galvis” club.

The finale goes to Vince Velasquez who is making his return from the disabled list. The last time we saw Velasquez, he was making an amazing play:

Velasquez has been successful at CitiField in the past. In three starts, he’s 1-0 with a 2.12 ERA.

Trivia

Only one player on the Phillies’ 40-man roster has ever hit a home run off of Jacob deGrom. Name that player.

Boo This Man

In recent years, Jose Reyes has been accused of domestic violence and failure to pay child support to one of his mistresses. This season, his play on the field has been garbage as well, as his OPS is under .500. Can anyone explain why the Mets keep him around? Do fans have glowing memories of the times that Reyes-led teams choked a decade ago?

Prediction

Since the Phillies fall from contention began in 2012, it seems like the Mets have brought out the absolute worst in them. Not only did they lose most of the games (a cumulative 42-71 record), but most of those games were painful to watch. (By my estimation, of those 113 games, Bartolo Colon started about 50 of them.)

That kind of dreadfulness can’t last forever. Seeing as how the current Phillies are good and the current Mets are not, this week seems like a good time for that to turn around. Asking for a four-game sweep is too much, but I feel comfortable picking the Phillies to win three out of four.

Note: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that Aaron Nola would pitch in the first game of the doubleheader and Zach Eflin would pitch the second. It also had a prediction of the Phillies winning two out of three in a four game series. Apparently, looking at the Mets’ roster for too long can destroy your brain.