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At least our owner stays off Twitter: Phillies vs. Mets series preview

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It could be worse. We could have to deal with John Middleton tweeting through it.

New York Mets v Washington Nationals
Taijuan Walker needs his spider tack back
Photo by Will Newton/Getty Images

Ah yes, the Mets. The Phillies have been a source of frustration to their fans, and some of their organizational decisions make us question why we continue to cheer for the team. But then you look towards what’s happening in Queens, and suddenly it doesn’t seem quite so bad.

Sure, the Phillies front office continues to be a dysfunctional mess, and most of the players on the team have disappointed to some degree. But thankfully, our best players pander to the fans instead of showing outright disdain for them. And I can only imagine how bad it would get if John Middleton decided to get himself a Twitter account and share his thoughts directly with the fans.

New York Mets

Record: 72-75 (Third place in National League East)

The last time they Met

When the Mets ventured into Philadelphia in early August, things were looking pretty good for the Phillies. The stadium was rocking, and the Phillies were rolling. The three-game sweep capped off an eight-game winning streak that made us briefly think that it was all smooth sailing from there.

Was it all smooth sailing from there?

Ha, no.

What about the Mets?

Things haven’t gone so well for them either. Much like the Phillies, they mix in the occasional stretch of good play - they had a six-game winning streak not that long ago - but in the end, always fall back to their usual level of disappointment. Their record since the last meeting is 15-20 which should have eliminated them from contention, but NL East gonna NL East.

That doesn’t seem so bad

The Mets aren’t good, but there are a lot of teams with worse records. But the Mets manage to make everything seem that much worse. First they’ve got an owner who really should stay away from Twitter.

And then there was the whole “We’re going to give fans a thumbs down when we do well,” thing which went over with the fans about as well as would be expected. Unsurprisingly, other teams are now mocking them for it.

Francisco Lindor and Javy Baez - two of the more prominent players involved in “Thumbgate” - have actually played well since that story broke. Because correlation always equals causation, I’ll assume that the controversy sparked their improved play, rather than it just being a case of two good players who had been slumping finally starting to play up to their talent level.

Perhaps the saddest thing about the Mets is that Lindor and Baez have played well in September, and the team still has a losing record for the month.

Least valuable player

Carlos Carrasco was once in the Phillies organization, and turned out to be a reasonable return for Cliff Lee. But his days as a good starter appear to be in the past. Since joining the Mets’ rotation at the end of July, he’s mostly been a liability, turning in a 5.59 ERA and being worth negative 0.6 wins above replacement. Most of his problems have come in the first inning, so it would be a good idea for the Phillies not to get off to a slow start when they face him on Saturday.

Obligatory tribute to Bryce Harper

If the Phillies ultimately fall short of the playoffs, they’ll have wasted what might turn out to be the best offensive season in team history. (Apologies to Mike Schmidt in 1980. And really, apologies to Schmidt’s entire career for having the misfortune of taking place in the pitcher-friendly ‘70s and ‘80s.)

We’ve come to expect nightly greatness from Harper, and even with those expectations, I still found myself impressed by what he did against the Cubs on Thursday night. 3-4, two walks, three runs scored, four RBIs, and and a second deck home run. That might have been his best night ever, and sadly, those numbers represent a good series for many of his teammates.

Harper’s career numbers at Citi Field are merely very good (.824) as opposed to the amazing numbers he’s put up at other stadiums. But with the roll he’s been on lately, you could probably put him in Yellowstone Park, and he’d still find a way to hit one out. (#HorseJoke).

Prime time!

ESPN chose to move Sunday’s game to prime time. This works out well for many fans who can now be disappointed by the Eagles in the afternoon, have a nice leisurely dinner, and then be disappointed by the Phillies in the evening. (Just kidding, I’m actually optimistic about the Eagles’ chances on Sunday. And I’ll be at the game, so if anyone wants to say hello, I’ll be the guy in the Eagles jersey.)

I like the matchup for the Phillies, since they’ll be facing 41 year old Rich Hill, and old people tend to enjoy going to bed early on Sunday nights. He’ll probably be cranky over having to stay up late, and pitch poorly.

Trivia

Last series’ answer: On September 11, 2015, Kyle Schwarber hit two home runs at Citizens Bank Park as a member of the Cubs. He also hit one there this season while a member of the Nationals. SteveH2331 with the correct answer.

This series’ question: Nine different Phillies have had four hit games at Citi Field, but only one player has had two four hit games at the stadium. Who was it?

What to expect

  • After scoring 17 runs on Thursday, does anyone really expect them to put more than three on the board on Friday? One thing in their favor is that they’ll face Taijuan Walker who has been awful since the league’s crackdown on foreign substances. So maybe they’ll get up to like four runs?
  • I’m not sure why teams are throwing him anything close to a strike at this point, but I don’t think Harper is capable of not hitting a home run at some point this series.
  • We get another start from Aaron Nola, and at this point, it almost feels like he wants the “Bad in September” narrative to continue. His underlying numbers make me think he’ll be fine going forward, but he’s got a big 2009 Cole Hamels “I just want this year to be over” vibe about him.

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

People are rightfully bashing the Phillies’ offseason moves; most of the players they added or retained have been disappointments. However, the offseason plan I came up with personally included signing Jake Odorizzi, Mike Foltynewicz, and Brad Hand. I was also very much in favor of retaining Didi Gregorius because his “left-handed bat fits so well in their lineup.”

Instead, we got this:

So I’m stupid. On the other hand, the Phillies have highly-paid baseball “experts” on staff armed with full analytics teams. And I’m just a horse who writes on a blog.