It isn’t clear why the schedule makers chose to have these teams play three series in the month of April. If familiarity breeds contempt, these teams should have a lot of contempt for each other at this point.
New York Mets
Record: 9-10 (Somehow tied for first in the National League East)
The last time they Met (Get it? I’m being very clever today)
The Phillies struggled when they travelled to Citi Field earlier this month, losing the first three games of the series, and then having the fourth postponed due to rain. (It’s not good when about 95% of Phillies fans were thankful for the rainout.)
The Mets have gone just 4-7, and in their most recent game, they were dominated by Red Sox starter Nick Pivetta.
The Mets making Nick Pivetta look like the pitcher I falsely thought he could be for years.— D.J. Short (@djshort) April 29, 2021
Wait, did you say Nick Pivetta?
I did. He’s actually off to a really good start to the season, but I don’t want to talk about him right now. Except to mention that he just out-dueled Jacob deGrom.
Is deGrom still the unluckiest pitcher in baseball?
It’s hard to argue against it considering he’s given up a grand total of two earned runs across his five starts this season, and somehow the Mets are just 2-3 in those games. The Phillies won’t be facing him this series, and I can’t tell if that’s a good thing or a bad thing.
Are you allowed to call it “deGrom Day” when your team loses more often than they win when he starts? Feels like they should be dreading his starts at this point.
What about the Mets’ vaunted lineup?
The Mets currently rank dead last in the National League in runs scored, and that’s even with leadoff man Brandon Nimmo seemingly walking every other time he’s at the plate. If the Phillies accomplish nothing else this series, I hope they manage to avoid walking him.
But didn’t they add a superstar?
I’m old enough to remember when adding Francisco Lindor was going to make the Mets lineup into a force. Lindor has hit the ground with a giant thud in New York, and the ever-patient fans have begun to voice their displeasure.
Francisco Lindor on being booed at Citi Field: "It's interesting and it's funny and it sucks. It doesn't feel right for sure. Interesting because it's the first time it's happened in my career. ... I get it. They're booing because they expect results. I expect results."— Anthony DiComo (@AnthonyDiComo) April 28, 2021
Quick look at the Mets’ scheduled starters
Marcus Stroman has had his way with the Phillies’ hitters in his first two starts against them this season, and it hasn’t been fun watching him coax ground ball after ground ball. But making three starts against any one team in the same month is tough. The Phillies certainly shouldn’t be taken by surprise this time around.
Thus far, Taijuan Walker looks like a sound free agent investment by the Mets. However, if he doesn’t bring down his walks (6.0 BB/9), he’s going to have a tough time keeping it up. I for one, appreciate his wildness because I always enjoy when players are aptly named. Anyway, this would be a good game for the Phillies to rediscover their patience at the plate.
David Peterson has been the weak link the Mets’ rotation so far this season. Like Stroman, he’s already made two starts against the Phillies, so familiarity may be a factor. His previous start at Citizens Bank Park went very poorly for him, so perhaps something about the stadium doesn’t agree with him.
The centerfield situation: It is bad
Remember last year when the bullpen started off horribly, and we figured they couldn’t possibly continue to perform at a historically awful rate for the entire season? Remember how wrong that belief was? And remember how they kept adding new relievers, and no matter how well they had performed before arriving, the whirpool of ineptitude sucked them in as well?
Well, the bullpen might be better this season, but the whirpool of ineptitude seems to have simply shifted its way to centerfield.
Phillies centerfielders are now— John Clark (@JClarkNBCS) April 29, 2021
Just yesterday I was saying that they should go with Roman Quinn, since his speed at least makes him dangerous on the few times he lucks his way onto base. He was promptly picked off base. Scott Kingery is probably the best fielder of all the candidates, so maybe go with him for a little bit? (I’m fully prepared to watch Kingery both a routine fly ball at some point this series.)
Punchable face analysis
Lots of series against the Mets means lots of punchable faces to discuss. This time I’ve chosen to feature infielder J.D. Davis.
Davis’ face seems to be about twice as large as it should be, and when you’ve got a double chin, perma-stubble probably isn’t the best choice. Either keep it clean to avoid drawing attention, or go with a full beard to conceal it. Add in the clear disdain he has for everyone looking at him, and we’ve got a very punch-worthy face.
I botched last series’ trivia question. Bilzo2 identified my blunder, so kudos to him.
This series question: The first Phillies vs. Mets game at Citizens Bank Park was played on May 31, 2004. Three former Phillies and one future Phillie saw action for the Mets that day. Name one of them.
What to expect
Lindor will show some life, hitting at least one home run. (Is this an attempt to “reverse black cat” him since in the past, my attempts to talk smack on an opposing player have often backfired? Maybe.)
Chase Anderson starts the first game of the series and will make it into the fifth inning, a feat he hasn’t accomplished in his past three starts.
The Phillies defense will cost them a run at some point. (I know, I’m really going out on a limb for this one.)
Closing thought that may or may not be relevant to the series
No word yet on Bryce Harper’s status for this weekend. (I’m still amazed he’s alive.) But considering the lineup they rolled out on Thursday, the offense could really use him back.