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Again?: Phillies vs. Mets series preview

Can’t they play someone else?

Philadelphia Phillies v New York Mets Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images

Didn’t we just see these guys?

Thanks to a scheduling quirk (I’m blaming Covid), these National League East rivals will meet for the third time to season, then they’ll meet again in late May, then not again until August. Baseball!

New York Mets

Record: 18-9 (1st place in the National League East

The last time they met

The Mets took two of three from the Phillies in Queens last weekend, the last game stirring up a bit of bad blood between the two.

Since then...

The Mets are a good team. They have the second best batting average (.257) in the game, right behind Colorado (!) for the lead in the National League and in all of baseball. The Phillies have had the pleasure of watching that up close and personal, having already played them six times this year, going 2-4 against them. While the Phillies were swept by the Rangers, the Mets split a four game series with the Braves thanks to a doubleheader that they took from them. Now, they’ll play another four game series in Philadelphia.

Atlanta Braves v New York Mets - Game One Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

Who’s hot, who’s not

One of the guys the Phillies need to stop is Jeff McNeil. He has been their best hitter over the past week, slashing .360/.407/.440 in the past week. It would also behoove the team to not allow Dominic Smith to get four hits in a game again. Also swinging a hot bat has been Mark Canha (.353/.333/.588) in the last seven days.

Someone as cool as the other side of the pillow (still miss you, Stuart) is Francisco Lindor. Much has been made of his resurgence this year, justifiably so since his 125 wRC+ is pretty much in line with his career, but these past seven days have not been kind to the shortstop (.154/.267/.154 over 30 plate appearances). Keeping him ice cold would go a long way to helping the Phillies’ chances.

Atlanta Braves v New York Mets Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

Pitching matchups

Thursday: Aaron Nola vs. Taijuan Walker
Friday: Kyle Gibson vs. Max Scherzer
Saturday: Zach Eflin vs. Chris Bassitt
Sunday: Ranger Suarez vs. TBA

This will be the first time the Phillies have seen Bassitt this season. In his five starts for the Mets, he’s been a revelation for New York, striking out 34 in 31 innings pitched, walking only eight. His fastball/changeup combination could present problems for a team that has struggled with that type of repertoire this year. Seeing Scherzer listed on the matchup list feels daunting, but the team did hit him a bit on Sunday night, especially Kyle Schwarber.

One thing that we should take note of. The Mets recently placed Trevor May on the injured list with what has been diagnosed as stress reaction in the humerus. That’s a big piece of the New York bullpen that will be missing.

Prediction

We’ve already seen the Phillies’ upcoming schedule and talk about how tough it looks. That part of the schedule starts with this matchup and it has to be something the Phillies step up for. It’s too early to start thinking about division titles, but the Phillies are in an unusual situation. The Mets look like the best team in the division and to make hay against those teams, you have to beat them when you play them. Since the Phillies won’t be playing them much at the end of the year when they might be tantalizingly close to the playoffs, it makes these games that much more important. They have to gain ground against them when they can. Though it will be tough, the two teams don’t actually feel all that far apart at the moment. Being at home should help a bit, but I’m predicting the Phillies take three of four this weekend. It’s certainly not based on their recent play, but being at home makes me slightly more confident that they can take this series.