The series against the Orioles didn’t go so well, but there’s no need to re-hash the past. Instead, let’s look ahead and see that the Phillies have an impending series against a team with a losing record. While there’s been little correlation between the quality of the opponent and the Phillies’ level of success, that will hopefully change this weekend.
New York Mets
Record: 9-11 (Third place in National League East)
The last time they met
For years, the Phillies seemed to save their worst performances for when they faced the Mets, but in 2019, things finally turned around. The Phillies went 12-7 against the Mets, and the final series between the two came in early September when the Phils took two out of three at CitiField. The finale saw the Phillies use seven relief pitchers, which doesn’t seem like a formula for victory these days, but most them actually pitched pretty well that game.
The Mets somehow fired not one, but two managers this offseason. First to go was Mickey Callaway, because he was inherited by general manager Brodie Van Wagenen, and Van Wagenen isn’t the type to put up with someone else’s hire for very long.
They replaced him with Carlos Beltran, and everyone seemed happy for a minute. Then, apparently people decided that because he was a participant in the Astros sign-stealing scandal, he would have to be fired as well. Still, Beltran will go down as one of the more successful managers in team history.
If the Mets fire Carlos Beltran, he will have a .500 career winning percentage as a manager. How many Mets managers can say the same?— Josh Newman (@Joshua_Newman) January 15, 2020
Scrambling to find a replacement, the Mets looked around their organization, and decided that Luis Rojas would do as well as anyone. He obviously wasn’t their first choice - he had interviewed for the position before Beltran’s firing - and the Mets might already be thinking about finding a replacement.
Brodie Van Wagenen: Mets close to naming Luis Rojas new manager https://t.co/3S6iWqBNKS Total speculation: If it doesn't go well with a rookie manager this year, the Mets would have the flexibility to pursue A.J. Hinch after he completes his suspension.— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) January 22, 2020
What’s new with the Mets
The Mets used to have an excellent rotation, but it doesn’t seem nearly as imposing these days. Sure, they’ve still got Jacob deGrom, but the rotation behind him seems a bit thin. Zack Wheeler took a lot of money to join the Phillies, Noah Syndergaard had his UCL snap (this is actually bad for the Phillies as they’ve done well against Syndergaard), and Marcus Stroman decided that playing for the Mets wasn’t worth the risk of getting COVID-19.
Marcus Stroman on what changed his mind: Marlins/Cardinals outbreaks, spikes elsewhere in the country, players across baseball not following protocols and the Mets' upcoming trip to Miami all factored in.— Tim Healey (@timbhealey) August 10, 2020
In their place they’ve got Rick Porcello, Steven Matz, and rookie David Peterson. Porcello is a career mediocrity who is overrated due to one superb outlier of a season. Matz is a career mediocrity who doesn’t even have that outlier to his credit. It doesn’t appear that 2020 is going to be it for him either as he’s already surrendered a league-leading eight home runs this season. Peterson started off the season well, but he had to leave his last start with shoulder soreness, which doesn’t bode well for his future.
Steven Matz allowed eight runs in 4.1 innings tonight.— Anthony DiComo (@AnthonyDiComo) August 11, 2020
Matz has a 7.23 ERA. Rick Porcello has a 6.92 ERA. Noah Syndergaard is out for the season. Marcus Stroman is gone from the team. Michael Wacha is on the injured list.
The Mets have a rotation problem.
Jeff McNeil has done extremely well against the Phillies in his brief career. So it wasn’t great news for the Mets that he had to be carted off the field on Thursday.
Jeff McNeil is being carted off the field after making this catch. He attempted to walk back to the clubhouse under his own power, but was unable. pic.twitter.com/1FJoK6QIR7— Anthony DiComo (@AnthonyDiComo) August 13, 2020
X-rays came back negative, so he’ll probably be back on the field sooner rather than later. But it seems doubtful he’s going to be doing much terrorizing of the Phillies this weekend.
Spotlight on: Pete Alonso
Mets first baseman Pete Alonso burst onto the scene in 2019 hitting a league-leading 53 home runs and capturing the National League Rookie of the Year Award. Naturally, the New York fans and media declared him to be the best thing ever. And because New Yorkers are occasionally prone to hyperbole, his early struggles this season led to some “one-hit wonder” talk.
Alonso has picked it up as of late, but Mets fans are likely going to have to accept that they simply have a very good player on their hands, and probably not the next great power hitter in baseball.
Am I saying Pete Alonso is a one-year wonder? No, but excessively lofty expectations after a historically good rookie season may lead to disappointment.— Luke Arkins (@luke_arkins) August 2, 2020
This might be my version of the Gambler’s Ruin, but I’m confident that the Phillies’ bullpen can’t possibly perform as poorly as it has all season. If they can start to normalize from “worst ever” to just “bad,” the team’s rotation and (parts of the) lineup should allow them to win a decent amount of games. Hopefully that will start this weekend as the Phillies take two out of three.