It may be an understatement to say that the Phillies have had trouble with the Mets in recent years. They haven’t had a winning record against the Mets in a season series since 2011, and the head-to-head record for the past seven seasons is a ghastly 50-82.
Sometimes one team will hold mastery over another team for an extended period of time, but much like Sunday’s game, things that may seem interminable eventually do come to an end. And sometimes, when the fates change, they change dramatically. These are no longer the Phillies of Reid Brignac, Michael Saunders, and (possible double agent) Asdrubal Cabrera. These are the Phillies of Bryce Harper, Jean Segura, and J.T. Realmuto, and it’s time to get some payback.
New York Mets
Record: 9-6, Second place in National League East
What’s new with the Mets?
The Mets made a few big moves in the offseason, most notably adding All Star second baseman Robinson Cano, utility man Jed Lowrie, and former Phillie Wilson Ramos.
Just as we expected, the Mets are built around offense
The thinking was that the Mets would be carried by their pitching staff, specifically a starting rotation that led the National League in wins above replacement in 2018. However, the Mets’ pitchers currently have a 5.44 ERA which is second highest in the National League.
Meanwhile, the hitting has exceeded expectations, and the Mets have scored 91 runs, second most in the NL. This offensive output is especially surprising since they’ve received little from Cano, who was expected to become the centerpiece of the offense.
When Robinson Cano played for the Yankees, I hated him. Now, he plays for the Mets. I still hate him.— Scott Munroe (@sdmunroe) April 15, 2019
So how are they doing it?
Cano’s disappointing performance aside, the Mets’ lineup has few holes, and a few guys - Michael Conforto and Pete Alonso in particular - are hitting especially well.
All aboard the Pete Alonso hype train
Many people suspected that rookie first baseman Alonso wouldn’t begin the season on the major league roster. It seemed inevitable that the Mets would play the “He still has things to work on” game, so that they could keep him in the minors just long enough to gain another year of team control.
A player texts this regarding service time manipulation:— Andy Martino (@martinonyc) March 13, 2019
“I don’t want to tweet this bc I don’t want to offend the MLBPA and I think the rule is insane but any GM that doesn’t put a guy in triple a for two weeks to get an extra year of control is a dummy”
Surprisingly, the Mets decided that having the best possible roster to start the season was more important than worrying about how much a player might cost years from now. Alonso was on the Opening Day roster, and has rewarded the Mets by crushing the ball. He has six home runs in the early going, and his 1.219 OPS is third in the National League.
Of course, he wouldn’t be the first rookie to start out hot and then fizzle out. If you recall, Scott Kingery actually got off to a solid start in 2018. But I’m sure the never-hyperbolic New York media isn’t getting too excited about the kid.
You don’t want to go crazy too soon into a major league career, but Pete Alonso looks like an absolute game changer. That is some sort of natural power. You just don’t see it very often.— Steve Gelbs (@SteveGelbs) April 12, 2019
As for him reaching free agency a season early, I doubt it will even matter. Based on the recent extension signed by Ronald Acuna, the Mets will likely sign him to a below-market deal long before that time ever comes.
Nola vs. Thor: It sounded good on paper
After last season, a pitching matchup between Aaron Nola and Noah Syndergaard seemed like must see viewing. However, based on early season results from the two pitchers, it seems just as likely that we get a high-scoring affair instead of a pitchers’ duel.
Nola has had trouble with walking batters and keeping the ball inside the park, which are generally two very bad things for a pitchers to have trouble with. It isn’t clear why he’s struggling, but the Phillies need him to turn things around quickly.
Syndergaard’s strikeout numbers have been good, but his overall performance (4.74 ERA) has been far from dominant. The Phillies were successful against him in 2018, and he had great difficulty in keeping them from stealing bases.
As for the other scheduled starters
The Phillies will also face Steven Matz and Zack Wheeler. One of those pitchers has been very good this season, while the other has not. (I’ll let you decide which is which.) Both of them have solid career numbers at Citizens Bank Park, but as mentioned above, this year’s Phillies’ lineup is a bit more imposing than recent versions.
Nobody was able to guess that Martin Prado was the Marlin with the second highest salary.
Can you guess which team’s relievers have the worst ERA in the National League?
Here’s a hint
It isn’t the Mets! Their relievers have an ERA of 6.50 which is only second worst in the NL. However, their relievers have contribute -0.6 WAR which does rank dead last.
Closer Edwin Diaz and setup man Robert Gsellman have been fine, but if the Mets have to turn to a reliever before the eighth inning, it’s been ugly. In other words, this would be a really good time for the Phillies to be patient, and hopefully get the starters out of the game early.
Nola will finally look like his 2018 self as the Phillies take the opener. After a setback in game two, the Phillies will win Wednesday afternoon’s rubber match to take the series and show the Mets that 2019 is a brand new year in this rivalry.