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It’s late early: Phillies vs. Mets series preview

If the Phillies have any interest in winning the East, they need to start acting like it

MLB: Philadelphia Phillies at Seattle Mariners
When’s a good time to use James Norwood? How about never?
Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

Once again, the Phillies are scheduled to play the Mets. I will be so thankful when we get a more balanced schedule next season, and we won’t have approximately ten series against the same team before Memorial Day even rolls around.

Speaking of Memorial Day, some baseball pundits consider that the demarcation point as to when it is no longer “early” in the season. With that in mind, it’s probably not a good thing that the Phillies already find themselves 7.5 games out of first place. If the team is going to find it’s groove at some point this season, that point needs to happen soon, preferably during this series against the team which they are 7.5 games behind.

New York Mets

Record: 29-17 (First place in National League East, 7.5 games ahead)

The last time they Met

The Mets visited Citizens Bank Park in early May and won two out of three games. The Phillies would have had the series advantage had the bullpen not blown a seven-run ninth inning lead in the first game.

That meltdown was largely because Scott Norwood wasn’t able to handle mop-up duties. You’d think that might have prompted the removal of a 28-year-old “Quad A” pitcher from the roster. After all, if you can’t use a guy with a seven-run lead, when can you use him? If you’re Joe Girardi, the answer is apparently to put him in higher leverage spots, and see if that works out any better. (SPOILER ALERT: It hasn’t!)

Since then?

Despite losing ace Max Scherzer to injury in the time since we last saw them, the Mets have gone 9-7 in that span. They do come into the series having lost two in a row, so maybe they’re starting to cool off a bit?

Who’s cold?

After not giving up an earned run in April, the Mets have leaned heavily on reliever Drew Smith in May, and it hasn’t gone well. He has a 5.40 ERA in nine appearances, and just suffered a blown save in which he allowed three runs in 0.2 innings.

We can’t even slump right!

It seems that Mets hitters have mostly avoided big slumps this season. Compare that with the Phillies, who always seem to have at least two players who are automatic outs at any given time.

I mused on Twitter that Phillies hitters can’t just slump like a normal hitter where they go a little cold. It feels like they’re either doing well or enduring a 1-20 stretch in which the only time they make contact is to hit into a double play.

For instance, over the past seven days, Rhys Hoskins is batting .143, Nick Castellanos is at .182, and Kyle Schwarber checks in at a relatively robust .217. If you thought they’re at least making up for that with power, their one combined home run would say otherwise. (And before you ask, no, they are not playing good defense either.)

Bullpen usage in the year 2022

I wish that starting pitchers were still allowed to pitch deep into games, and managers didn’t act like even the slightest blip after they’ve thrown 100 pitches was cause to turn to the bullpen. But if you’re going to adhere to that philosophy, then you sure as heck can’t baby your relievers as well.

Maybe this strategy works on teams where you have eight dependable guys who can all be used in high-leverage situations. The Phillies are not that team. Nick Nelson has showed promise and has been good in a mid-inning role. That’s a far cry from being asked to cover two innings in a one-run game.

And if you are going to make relievers unavailable because of arbitrary usage rules, then is it too much to ask to use some foresight in how they’re deployed? Why bring in your closer to protect a four-run lead if that means he’s going to be unavailable the next night?


Last series’ answer: Aaron Nola, Vince Velasquez(!), Zack Wheeler, Zach Eflin, and Kyle Gibson have all had eight strikeout games at Truist Park. Phrozen got them all.

This series’ question: We associate the 2011 with great pitching, but during that season, one Phillies pitcher gave up eight runs in an appearance at Citi Field. Who was he?

Non-Phillies thought

Interesting that both Netflix and Disney+ put out major releases today in Stranger Things 4 and Obi-Wan Kenobi. The two services differ in their release model with Stranger Things dumping the whole series in one burst (Perfect for binging over the holiday weekend if that’s your thing!) while Disney+ continues with their weekly approach and only gives us one episode.

For those who plan to watch both, what’s your order of preference? Do you do Obi-Wan first so you can then tear through Stranger Things? Or do you mix and match to break up the monotony a little?

Closing thought

The Phillies need to win at least two games this series. But we can rest assured that the manager will have the team in the right mindset, and they’ll come out ready to play! Or wait, no, we can’t be assured of that at all.