The Phillies are reeling. They haven’t won any of their last nine(!) series, and the only reason they’re still in playoff contention is because the Braves haven’t been able to take advantage. With the Phillies in desperate need of some wins, who is the next team that the schedule makers have sent their way? You guessed it: The New York Mets.
Yes, the Phillies need to be at their best, so of course they’re going to New York to play the team that for whatever reason brings out the worst in them. The Mets aren’t a good team, yet that hasn’t mattered one bit when these teams have played each other. The Phillies usually look like the team that is buried in the standings.
The Phillies can either figure out a way to beat these guys, or they’re not going to make the postseason.
The Last Time They Met
These teams played a five-game series in Philadelphia last month, and as usual, the Mets won the majority of them. The series didn’t get off to a good start when the Phillies lost the opener by a score of 24-4. It didn’t end too well either as the Phillies’ bats were stymied on national TV by something called Jason Vargas.
And Since Then
The Mets have done pretty well for themselves, going 9-7 since the last series. Not that anyone should have expected a series against the Mets to be easy, but they are certainly not rolling over for anyone these days.
Who’s Hot on the Mets?
Does it really matter? A player on the Mets could be ice cold heading into this series, and he’ll end up going on a tear. On the other hand, a player who is already hot is likely to stay hot. That would describe Brandon Nimmo and Amed Rosario who both have an OPS over 1.000 over the past week.
And Who’s Not?
Like I said, it probably doesn’t matter that Austin Jackson and Wilmer Flores haven’t been hitting well lately. At least one of those two is probably going to homer this weekend, and it wouldn’t shock me if both of them did.
Friday: Aaron Nola vs. Steven Matz
Friday feels like a must-win game for the Phillies. It’s the only game where they have the clear pitching advantage and if they find a way to lose a third straight Nola start, that doesn’t bode well for their chances. The Phillies faced Matz in their most recent series, and were able to knock him out of the game after just two innings.
Saturday: Zach Eflin vs. Noah Syndergaard
Eflin hasn’t been a disaster in his last two starts, but he hasn’t been that good either. Since the start of July, Eflin has allowed fewer than three runs in a start only twice. The Phillies fared well against Syndergaard the last time they faced him. They figured out that they could run on him, and had five stolen bases in a rare display of aggressiveness.
Sunday: Vince Velasquez vs. Jacob deGrom
It seems clear that manager Gabe Kapler has a very short leash as far as Velasquez is concerned. If he gets into any sort of trouble past the third inning, Kapler won’t hesitate to go to the bullpen. The Phillies could use another start like the one he had against the Mets in July when he pitched six shutout innings.
As for deGrom...at some point, the Phillies might actually have a good game against him, right? One good first step would be to actually score a run against him. I know the guy’s a great pitcher and is having a historic season, but in the 18 innings he’s pitched against them, the Phillies haven’t scored a single run. You read that correctly: 18 innings, zero runs allowed.
I know pitcher wins don’t mean much, but based on his 8-8 record, other teams have found a way to win games when deGrom starts. Maybe the Phillies could try it too?
Maikel Franco’s Return Provides a Glimmer of Hope
The one Phillie who’s had a little bit of success against deGrom this season is Maikel Franco. Franco has recently struggled with a wrist injury that kept him out of a couple games, but he’s expected to return for this series.
And What About J.P. Crawford?
Considering all the problems the Phillies have had at shortstop this season, it seems like it might be a good idea to try their former top prospect - who actually profiles as a good defender and a threat to draw a walk - at the spot for a few days. Or at the very least, they could use the guy as a pinch hitter instead of say, Pedro Florimon who is 0-14 in that role.
Or they could just keep him glued to the bench. That might start working too.
Boo This Man
All of them. Boo all of the Mets endlessly.
The recently retired Ryan Howard hit 13 career home runs at St. Louis’ Busch Stadium. That ties him for the record for a visiting player. Which current member of the Mets is he tied with?
Aaron Nola won’t let them down, and they’ll take the opener. However, they’ll spend the next two games doing the same awful things they’ve done against the Mets all season, and another series will go by without a win by the Phillies.