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Old news: Phillies vs. Mets series preview

Can the Mets’ old roster hold up to the rigors of a 162-game season?

New York Mets v Washington Nationals
Starling Marte hasn’t gotten off to a good start in New York
Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images

While most pundits spent the offseason being impressed by the flashy moves the Mets were making (Max Scherzer! Chris Bassitt! Starling Marte!), they overlooked one important detail: Most of these guys are old.

Now, early-to-mid-thirties isn’t really old in the grand scheme of life on the planet, but as far as a baseball team is concerned, that generally puts the players on the back nine of their careers. For example, everyone who thought that Jacob deGrom was going to easily bounce back from last year’s injury struggles forgot that he is 34, and a 34-year-old body doesn’t always bounce back the way it did ten years prior.

That’s not to say this season won’t go well for the Mets. The old, but talented players might continue to play well, and get through the season without any problem. But if the team starts to struggle, and more injuries start creeping up - Scherzer has already had to deal with a hamstring issue - some of the Mets players might check out and become more interested in what time Matlock is on.

The last time they Met

Neither the Phillies nor Mets distinguished themselves in the final month of the 2021 season, but the Mets distinguished themselves a little less, going 12-18 in September and October. That record included dropping two out of three to the Phillies at Citi Field in the middle of the month.

How’d their opening series go?

The Mets won the first three games against the Washington Nationals before dropping the series finale. While you can only beat the teams on the schedule, based on their roster, nobody should be all that impressed by beating the Nationals. The series featured some tension as the Nationals kept hitting the Mets with pitches.

The Mets dropped the finale partly because of bad defense. Guess the Phillies aren’t the only team in the division who makes the occasional error, huh?

Not much of a spark so far

Starling Marte was supposed to provide a spark at the top of the Mets’ lineup. It hasn’t happened thus far with just three hits and no walks through the first four games.

Same old Max?

The Phillies will be facing longtime nemesis Max Scherzer this series. That sounds daunting considering how many times he’s dominated them in the past. Then you remember that he’s one of the aforementioned old heads, and those past Phillies lineups didn’t feature the likes of Kyle Schwarber or Nick Castellanos.

If Josh Bell can do this to Scherzer, just imagine what the Phillies’ sluggers are capable of:

Ranger time

I’ve gone on record as being fully on board the Ranger Suarez hype train, having declared that he’ll prove his 2021 season wasn’t a fluke and will make the All-Star game. He’ll get his first chance to justify my love on Monday. The Mets aren’t a bad opponent for him to start with considering he struck out seven of them in just 4.2 innings last year.

The bad news is that due to getting a delayed start to Spring Training, Suarez won’t be fully stretched out, and probably won’t be able to go longer than five innings. But I’ll take five innings of strong pitching, especially if the bullpen can continue to get the tough outs necessary.

Come back, offense

After the Phillies scored nine runs on Friday, and hit three home runs on Saturday, Sunday’s one-run offensive output was a bit disappointing. I suppose we need to remember that even the best teams lose a game here and there during a 162-game season, and even the best lineups will have off days, especially when the weather was as miserable as it was on Sunday.

With temperatures projected to be up this week, I fully expect the Phillies to take an extra day’s worth of frustration out on the Mets’ pitching staff.

Early birds

One thing working in the Mets’ favor this series is the earlier start times in place for 2022. Phillies home games will start at 6:45, and combined with Wednesday’s afternoon game, the Mets’ senior citizens should be able to get back to their hotel and into bed at a reasonable hour. (Hopefully, after recovering from a vicious beating at the hands of the Phillies.)

Trivia

Last series’ answer: The player who recorded the Phillies’ only two hits against the A’s was future Gold Glove winner J.P. Crawford. SLDH got it right.

This series’ question: In the most recent game played between the Mets and Phillies, both a former Phillie and a future Phillie appeared in the game for the Mets. Who were they?

Non-Phillies thought

Remember a month ago, when the Sixers’ title hopes seemed so bright? The trio of Joel Embiid, James Harden, and Tyrese Maxey was going to lead the Sixers to the promised land!

And now? Harden looks old and slow, the coach insists on playing a backup center who can’t move, and their best defensive player isn’t eligible to play any road games in their first round series because he “did his own research.”

The Sixers still may prevail because sometimes throwing a lot of talent at a problem is enough, but I’m not gonna lie to you: I probably won’t be making any bets on them making the NBA Finals this year.

Closing thought

Thanks to the more balanced MLB schedule in place, the Phillies won’t have nearly as many games against the Mets as in years past. With fewer head-to-head matchups, there won’t be as many opportunities to directly gain or lose ground in the division standings. Therefore, it would behoove the Phillies to take advantage of the opportunities they do have and pulverize the Mets pitching over the next three days.