After a particularly ugly two-game series against the Nationals, the Phillies will travel to New York for a four-game series against the first place Mets. With a five-game gap separating the teams, this could be an opportunity for the Phillies to finally get their act together and make up some ground. Or it could be a chance to get themselves buried in the standings, and let us stop pretending that this team has a chance to make the playoffs.
New York Mets
Record: 38-31 (First place in National League East)
The last time they Met
After seemingly playing the Mets every other series in the first month of the season, it’s actually been a minute since we’ve seen these guys. You may have (fortunately) forgotten that the Phillies seemed to be en route to a series win when the triumvirate of Brandon Kintzler, Jose Alvarado, and (sigh) David Hale combined to give up six runs in the eighth inning of the rubber game.
Catching up with the Mets
As mentioned, the Mets have gotten themselves into first place, mostly thanks to a strong month of May where they went 17-9. June has thus far been less successful, as they’re just a game above .500 at 12-11.
It’s kind of amazing that the Mets are in first place considering they rank dead last in the National League in runs scored. That rank is largely due to having the least number of walks and the most strikeouts, which is not an ideal combination. That would lead one to think that the Mets have a good pitching staff, and they do indeed rank second in the league in team ERA.
As much as we can talk about the injuries to the Mets pitching staff right now, this lack of offense needs to get some attention.— Ryan Finkelstein (@FinkelsteinRyan) June 23, 2021
The rotation couldn't carry this team the whole year. At some point the lineup has to step up.
When the Phillies went cheap in their pursuit of rotation help - and neither Chase Anderson nor Matt Moore have been worth even the low prices they paid for them - the Mets spent a little more money in bringing back Marcus Stroman and signing Taijuan Walker. Those two have exceeded expectations, and along with human cheat code Jacob deGrom, have given the Mets an excellent top of the rotation.
Least valuable player
That’s not to say ALL of the Mets’ starters are good. After the aforementioned top three, the quality drops off a cliff to David Peterson. The second year lefty gets a fair share of strikeouts, but he also walks a lot of batters, which is the main reason his ERA sits at 5.31.
Stop tweeting, Nationals
Nobody expected Francisco Lindor’s batting average to continue hovering around the .200 mark as it was for the first two months of the season. He seems to have gotten hot lately, and naturally, the hot streak may have been prompted by yet another bad tweet from the Washington Nationals’ team account.
Following this tweet, Francisco Lindor is now 3-for-3 with two home runs and five runs batted in… all today. Not saying Turner hasn’t had a better year, but Lindor might not be a guy to pick on. https://t.co/JrujRK3xx3— Devan Fink (@DevanFink) June 19, 2021
Yeah, their dig on Ben Simmons was funny, but that seems to be the proverbial nut that the blind squirrels running that account found.
We like Eick
One player on the Mets who I am rooting for is Jerad Eickhoff. The guy looked like he was establishing himself as a solid starter for the Phillies a few years ago before a nerve injury derailed his career.
There definitely was a brief time where you could make a convincing argument that Eickhoff > Nola, which is weird looking back— Franzke & LA (@FranzkeLA) June 22, 2021
He’s now back in the majors with the Mets, and in his first start, pitched four shutout innings.
I’m not saying I want him to become a star, and I certainly don’t want him to enact any sort of revenge on his former team this weekend. But he seemed like a good guy, and it would be nice if he could re-establish his career.
Speaking of Nola
I’ve beaten the “Is Aaron Nola an ace” joke into the ground, so I don’t want to re-hash it here. I think we can all agree that he’s having a disappointing season, and has not been the best starting pitcher on the Phillies in 2021.
Jon Miller: Aaron Nola, the ace of the Phillies.— Destiny Lugardo (@destiny_lugardo) June 19, 2021
Half of the Phillies fanbase: pic.twitter.com/w7Hw7t3ofg
That said, it would be really nice if he comes out and pitches a strong game against a division opponent. He gets the start in the first game of the doubleheader, and considering the recent level of success of the Phillies’ bullpen, it would be superb if he could capably handle at least six of the seven innings.
Things better than David Hale
As of this writing, reliever David Hale is still on the Phillies’ roster, despite there being absolutely zero evidence that he belongs on a major league roster, let alone used in key situations. For each series that he remains on the team, I’ll list something I think is better than David Hale is as a pitcher. (My hope is that this does not become a recurring feature.)
The final season of Game of Thrones: Yes, they didn’t exactly stick the landing here, but the scene when Arya killed the Night King was far better than anything Hale has done this year.
Punchable face analysis
The Mets have another former Phillies on their roster in the person of Aaron Loup. You may not remember much about Loup, since he only appeared in nine games for them 2018 (with four innings pitched total, something that could probably not be repeated under the three-batter rule). But you should remember that he possesses a punchable face.
I think the punchability of his face comes from that “aw shucks” expression, which is infuriating for a reliever when he’s on your team and just gave up runs.
Now if he wants to give up some runs this series, I certainly wouldn’t complain.
Last series’ answer: This one was tough, because for some reason, I am one of the few people on the planet who distinctly remember Terrmel Sledge or that he hit a home run against the Phillies on Opening Day in 2005. (I’m pretty sure Angelo Cataldi railed about giving up a homer to “Sister Sledge” the next morning.) SLDH correctly remembered the player, even if he messed up his name a bit.
This series’ question: Five players have hit more than five home runs at Citi Field in their career while members of the Phillies. Name all five.
Since people responded with a resounding “whatever” when I helped answer the last TGP mailbag, I thought I’d open things up to some questions here. If you have serious questions about stats or prospects, I suggest you save those for the smarter writers like schmenkman or Jay. But if you have an offbeat Phillies (or not, I have a wealth of non-Phillies knowledge too!) question that you want answered, you can ask me on Twitter (@TheSmartyJones), in the comment section below, or via email (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Please indicate that it’s a mailbag question, so I don’t think you’re just being oddly curious or trying to troll me.
What to expect
- The Phillies will actually score runs against deGrom. It probably won’t be a lot, but at this point, scoring any runs against him seems like a victory in itself.
- Alec Bohm will build off his strong series against the Nationals and hit a home run.
- The Phillies will probably split the series, because they seem determined to just keep stringing us along this year.
Closing thought that may or may not be relevant to the series
Through the first three episodes, I’m not really feeling Loki. It took me a few episodes to really get into The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, so my opinion may change, but it just seems like very little has actually happened on this show.