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Moving on: Phillies vs. Mets series preview

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A series against the Mets might be just the thing for the reeling Phillies

New York Mets v Philadelphia Phillies
Giving up home runs has become Steven Matz’ thing
Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

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 manager

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.

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.

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.

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.

McNeil down

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.

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.

Prediction

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.