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Desperate times: Phillies vs. Mets series preview

Time is running out for these two National League East rivals

Philadelphia Phillies v New York Mets
The Phillies can’t let Jeff McNeil beat them
Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

As Marlins fans (They apparently do exist! Who knew?) have let me know on Twitter, the Phillies’ most recent series didn’t go so well. The bullpen continued to suck, and losing J.T. Realmuto, Rhys Hoskins, and Zack Wheeler to injury didn’t exactly improve the team’s overall quality of play. But there’s no time to dwell on the past. The Phillies - or at least the healthy members of the team - need to put the last series behind them and focus on beating the Mets.

New York Mets

Record: 21-26 (Fourth place in National League East)

The last time they met

The Phillies played poorly for much of the four-game series, but still came away with a split. Hopefully this series goes more like the last time the Mets visited Philadelphia, when the Phillies won all three.

Since then?

The Mets have gone 2-3 against the bird teams of the American League East.

Desperate and dangerous?

At five games under .500, the Mets’ playoff chances aren’t looking so hot right now. Some people might be worried because they’re desperate, and that desperation might make them play harder.

But its not like desperation often correlates with success in sports. The reason that baseball teams become desperate in September is because they’ve lost a lot of games. And the reason they lose a lot of games is because they’re not all that good to begin with.

So he’s a starter now?

Seth Lugo had served as the Mets closer, but faced with a dearth of good alternatives for the rotation, they decided to make him a starter. He’s been pretty good at it, with a 2.65 ERA across four starts - including one against the Phillies. However, as would be expected, he hasn’t pitched especially deep into games.

Lugo may have beaten the Phillies when he pitched against them in New York, but the last time he visited Citizens Bank Park, it didn’t go so well for the then-closer. Bryce Harper beat him with a game-winning single in the ninth inning.

Let’s not pitch to McNeil, okay?

The Phillies have had a heck of a time getting Jeff McNeil out over his three-year career. For example, in the last series between these teams, McNeil went 5-15 with two home runs.

I realize that hitting a home run off of David Phelps isn’t all that difficult these days, but he’s abused other Phillies pitchers too. So here’s my suggestion: Don’t pitch to him. Just walk him and let one of the Mets’ other annoying players try to get the job done.

Let’s try this again

The last time we had an Aaron Nola vs. Jacob deGrom matchup, it didn’t go so well for the Phillies. Nola didn’t pitch his best game, but was mostly undone by poor defense behind him. Thanks to the usual spiffy work from the bullpen, deGrom was given a total of 14 runs to support his effort, and even Vince Velasquez can (sometimes) win games with that kind of backing.

Nola is coming off of one of his finest starts of the year, and as long as the defense doesn’t implode again, he can hopefully do enough to neutralize the Mets’ ace. If that happens, then I like the Phillies’ chances to pull one out.

The fingernail of destiny

The Phillies’ playoff chances may literally be hanging on by a nail. Zack Wheeler’s well-publicized fingernail injury has put a huge hole in the Phillies’ rotation, and if he is unable to pitch again this season, it may kill their playoff chances. He threw a bullpen session on Monday, and it reportedly went well.

He’s expected to start Thursday’s game, and it might not be hyperbole to suggest that it might be the defining night of the season.


It’s easy to feel down about the Phillies’ chances, but for whatever reason, the Marlins seem to bring out the worst in the team. The Phillies have fared much better against the Mets the past two seasons, and I expect that to continue this week. It won’t be pretty, but the Phillies will win two out of three and get themselves back on solid footing.