Even an optimist like myself would have a tough time saying something positive about the Phillies right now. That’s what a seven game losing streak - which includes a sweep at the hands of the lowly Marlins - will do to you. The only good news is that they’re about to face a team which is going through some drama of its own.
New York Mets
Record: 37-41, Fourth place in National League East
The last time they met
Back in April, when people thought this might be a good season for the Phillies, they visited Citi Field and lost two out of three. The teams traded shutouts in the last two games of the series, with Zach Eflin dominating the Mets, only to see the Phillies get shut down by Jason Vargas and a variety of relievers in the finale.
Speaking of Vargas...
The Mets pitcher made headlines this weekend, but it wasn’t for his performance on the pitching mound. It all started when Mets manager Mickey Callaway was holding his post-game press conference, and reporters started asking him pesky questions about why the team sucked and if he cared to explain his seemingly poor decisions.
Callaway didn’t appreciate such questions, and was hostile for the remainder of the press conference. Later, in the locker room, he apparently took offense to the presence of reporter Tim Healey and wasn’t shy about sharing how he felt. When Healey didn’t leave, Vargas decided that he would take it upon himself to remove the reporter.
Mickey Callaway told a reporter to leave the clubhouse, calling the reporter a motherfu**er multiple times.— Deesha Thosar (@DeeshaThosar) June 23, 2019
"Don't be a smartass, motherfu**er*," Callaway said.
Jason Vargas, defending his manager, said "I'll knock you the f**k out, bro."
So as it turns out, Gabe Kapler isn’t the most embattled manager in the National League East at the moment!
Part of the Mets’ problem is that they have been woeful away from home. They are just 17-27 on the road. Of course, considering the Phillies just lost a series at Citizens Bank Park to the Marlins, that doesn’t guarantee much of anything.
Home away from home
Not all of the Mets are going to be sorry to hit the road. Outfielder Michael Conforto is probably looking forward to this series considering his career numbers at Citizens Bank Park. In 31 games at the Park, he has a .953 OPS and 11 home runs. That’s topped by emerging Phillie-killer Jeff McNeil who has a 1.109 OPS at the stadium.
The Phillies made some big offseason moves, and most of the players they acquired aren’t living up to expectations. They’ll have good company with Robinson Cano. Since coming over in a trade, the multiple-time All-Star has an on-base percentage of just .276 with only four home runs to go along with it.
I thought Robinson Cano was still going to hit this year, I've been very wrong so far. His OPS is currently .648.— Michael Mayer (@mikemayerMMO) June 21, 2019
The Mets will pay Cano $20,250,000 per year the next 4 seasons.
Steven Matz has made two starts against the Phillies, and saw drastically different results. In the first, he gave up eight runs without recording an out. When he faced them again a week later, he allowed just one run in six innings.
The beginning of rookie Walker Lockett’s career has not gone well. He made three starts for the Padres in 2018 and had an ERA of 9.60. His debut start in 2019 was even worse. The Cubs tagged him for six runs in 2.1 innings, bringing his career ERA to 11.42.
The aforementioned Vargas has generally pitched well enough, but not particularly deep into games. He’s also been much worse away from home with an ERA that’s almost two points higher than his home mark.
The finale will be started by Zach Wheeler. After his bounceback season of 2018, Wheeler seems to have bounced back yet again, to his poor form of 2017. This will be his second start of the season in Philadelphia, and although he didn’t pitch horribly in the first, he took the loss.
Throwing it against the wall
I’ll give this to Kapler: He’s trying stuff.
Phillies manager Gabe Kapler says he will bring out a curve ball pitching machine for his hitters to practice hitting curve balls before the Mets series Monday and Tuesday but it does NOT sound like Bryce Harper is a fan and does NOT plan to use it@6abc#Phillies#BryceHarper pic.twitter.com/nHFObCpJuQ— Jeff Skversky 6abc (@JeffSkversky) June 24, 2019
Loser leaves town?
Now here’s an idea I can get behind! I’m always for professional wrestling concepts being used in other sports!
Gabe Kapler Vs Mickey Callaway in a Loser Leaves Town match should end in a double countout where they both lose. #Mets #Phillies Jason Vargas should be on the trading block for a bag of used balls now— PCreight (@PCreighton1) June 23, 2019
What do you get when two dysfunctional teams go head-to-head? Poorly played baseball and a series split!