The Mets are 7-1 in August. They are 21-9 since July 2. They are half of a game out of a single wild card spot currently inhabited by both the Phillies and the Brewers.
Baseball only features so many head-clutching, collective-gasping, oh-my-gosh, can-you-believe-it comebacks in a season. Not every team can get hot, because some teams just exist to be trampled by the hot teams. Therefore, there’s only so many slots available for certain miracles, narratives, and unexpected events every season. The Mets seem to be running away with the National League’s 2019 opening for a miraculous second-half redemption story—they’ve got the wins, they’ve got Pete Alonso, and they’ve got Sports Illustrated asking: Were We Wrong About the Mets??? (The answer is, of course, it depends on what question you were asking).
The Phillies, with their strong lineup on paper and potentially serviceable pitching staff—I said potentially, everything is technically potential, shut up—were a contender to be the sexy fun team of the second half. They are not. Instead of a ‘heroic comeback’ story, the second-half Phillies are telling a ‘scared going-away’ story, and as they lose game after game to teams the Mets beat with ease, they soon won’t be part of the postseason conversation at all.
Which brings us to last night. Mets cast-off Jason Vargas made the start for the Phillies, and gave up four runs in five innings. Not great. The offense managed one hit through the first five innings and went 0-for-3 with RISP, lowering the already low team BA in that regard. Not great. Bryce Harper hit a home run in the ninth inning when the Phillies were down 6-0, in between the three strikeouts that ended the game. Very not great.
It is time to stop fixing. It is time to stop guessing. It is time to be what the Mets have become or, very soon, the Phillies will be nothing at all. Gabe Kapler says that most of the NL East teams have gone through rough patches, and the Phillies arejust going through theirs—though it’s fair to point out the Phillies haven’t really gotten to enjoy the opposite of a rough patch, either. Bryce Harper says that if the season ended today, the Phillies would be in the playoffs. “I’ll take it,” he told reporters—though it’s fair to point out that the season didn’t end today, which is sort of the problem.
The version of this team that can be successful for more than one or two games in a row has yet to show up this season. But that team is still somewhere in the Phillies clubhouse, Kapler says, and when it finally gets here, ho boy, you’re all gonna be real sorry.
.@GabeKapler- every team in our division sans the Braves have gone through times when not clicking on all cylinders. When our club plays our best baseball we’re going to be unbeatable.— Michael Barkann (@MBarkannNBCS) August 8, 2019
Any day now. That team will get here. Yes sir.
Yes sir, any day......