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Leaning in: Phillies vs. Mets series preview

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Can the Mets find ways to win without assistance from the umps?

MLB: Miami Marlins at New York Mets
Michael Conforto didn’t exactly make a huge effort to avoid this pitch
Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

I started writing this preview yesterday afternoon before the Phillies had won their Sunday night game in controversial fashion. At that point, I was prepared to thoroughly rag on the Mets for winning a game due to a questionable decision by an umpire. But given the events of Sunday night, I began to worry that it might be slightly hypocritical of me to mock the Mets for their undeserved victory.

I could go into detail about how the Phillies victory should be considered more legitimate than the Mets’ was, but to save you time, I’ll simply say this: Screw the Mets, screw the Braves, go Phillies!

The last time they met

When these teams faced off in Philadelphia last week, the Phillies took two out of three. The finale saw the Phillies’ offense finally come to life as they were powered by three-run home runs from Alec Bohm and J.T. Realmuto.

Since then?

The Mets won the aforementioned game in which Michael Conforto stuck his heavily armored elbow in the way of a strike, drawing a game-wining hit by pitch. I’m not saying the Mets didn’t deserve to win that game (okay, I am), but when your own announcers are calling it weak, then you probably didn’t deserve to win.

The Mets went on to get shut out in the following game, and had Sunday’s contest called due to rain after nine pitches. This had the effect of wasting Marcus Stroman’s turn in the rotation, which is notable since he had some success in his last start against the Phillies. On the other hand, he might have caught a bit of a break, because as we saw last weekend, facing the same team twice in a week’s time is often to the advantage of the hitting team.

Stop walking Nimmo

By now, we’re all sick of watching Brandon Nimmo’s lame routine of drawing a walk and then sprinting to first base, and pointing to the sky, as if a higher power caused the pitcher to throw four pitches out of the strike zone. But after it happened for about the tenth time in the last series, I started becoming more angry at the Phillies’ pitchers who seemed allergic to throwing him a strike.

That makes sense

I suppose I can understand why Conforto stuck his elbow in the way of that pitch. When a player is batting an anemic .143, he might take every chance he gets to reach base, even if he doesn’t really deserve it.

Quick look at the Mets scheduled starters

As a member of the National League East, David Peterson will likely make a lot of starts against the Phillies. If he wants a lengthy career, he’s going to need to find ways to get them out. The Phillies had their way with him last week, putting his career ERA against the Phils at 16.50.

The Mets proclaimed confidence in Taijuan Walker before the season, even though it seems odd to have a lot of faith in a guy who has made only 15 total starts since the 2017 season. His first start in a Mets uniform went pretty well, with the caveat that it came against the offensively challenged Marlins.

Joey Lucchesi will make his first start of the season after coming from the Padres in an offseason trade, and may find himself missing the spacious confines of San Diego’s Petco Park. Before this season, his ERA at home was more than two full points lower than his road numbers.

Jacob deGrom will start the finale. It’s almost certain that he will pitch well, and even more certain that the Mets will somehow waste his good start. Major League Baseball might have to come up with a new stat for pitchers who pitch really well, but their team seems hellbent on losing the game anyway.

As for the Phillies starters

I’m happy that the Phillies’ bullpen has been much improved so far this season. But they’ve been over-relying on the relievers lately, and that’s probably not a good long-term plan for success. The Phillies haven’t gotten a quality start since Zach Eflin’s outing against the Braves last Sunday. They’ll need the starters - particularly Aaron Nola, Zack Wheeler, and Eflin - to pitch past the sixth inning if they want to keep winning games.

Punchable face analysis

Each series, I take a look at a player on the opposing team who has a particularly punchable face. There are a lot of good candidates on the Mets roster, but I ultimately settled on James McCann.

MLB: New York Mets-Media Day USA TODAY NETWORK

He’s not as good as J.T. Realmuto on offense or on defense, but he does have the advantage in the punchable face department. Unlike many of his peers, McCann has chosen not to grow a beard to hide his unspectacular face. I’ll give him some credit for that, but I also have to take away credit for not knowing how to wear his hat high enough so his ears don’t bend.

Trivia

Last series I asked who was the first Phillies player to homer in Atlanta’s Truist Park. Congrats to our own Leo Morgenstern for being first to come up with the correct answer of Tommy Joseph.

This series’ question: The first game the Phillies played at Citi Field was June 9, 2009. Who was the leadoff batter for the Phillies in that game?

What to expect

  • The Phillies take advantage of the Mets bullpen and pull off a late comeback victory in one of the games.
  • The Phillies don’t do quite as well against Peterson this time about. But they’ll still do enough to beat him.
  • Rhys Hoskins has found Citi Field to be hospitable in the past (Eight home runs and .965 OPS in 25 career games), and his bat will remain hot for this series.

Closing thought that may or may not be relevant to the series

Now that Apu won’t be on The Simpsons anymore, I wonder if the “Ny Mets” are still his favorite squadron.

There’s always room for you on the Phillies’ bandwagon, Apu!