The Phillies almost had me fooled. After winning nine of their last twelve games, including a sweep of the first place Washington Nationals, I began to think that things might be improving. I began to consider the possibility that they had actually turned things around and would make the remainder of this season moderately enjoyable for the fans.
And then I checked the schedule.
I realized that much like the other few times they flashed some semblance of competence, this was nothing more than a tease. I realized that they would soon go back to playing bad, uninspiring baseball, and it would likely start this weekend.
The reason for my pessimism: They’re playing the Mets.
The Phillies have played poorly against the Mets this season. Admittedly, with a 61-72 record, the Phillies have played poorly against quite a few teams. But they seem to save their absolute worst performances for when they play the Mets.
The teams have faced off 16 times this season, the Mets have won the vast majority of them, and most of the games have been awful games that were downright painful to watch.
It would be one thing if the Mets were a good team; but at 62-71, they’re only one game better than the Phillies. If not for their 11-5 record against the Phils, they would be buried in last place.
So forgive me for not being excited about yet another series against the Mets. The good news is that this is the last time the teams will play each other this season.
The last time they met
The Mets won three out of four games, and like most of the games the teams have played against each other, they weren’t much fun to watch.
One of the games was won thanks to a three-run home run by some guy named Anthony Recker. Would you be surprised if I told you that heading into that decisive at bat, Recker was in an 0-18 slump?
What’s new with the Mets?
Because the Mets can’t seem to win against anyone besides the Phillies, they’ve gone 5-9 since the last meeting. The problem seems to be mostly with their offense, as they’re 25th in the majors in runs scored over the past two weeks.
Mets player who isn’t entirely horrible
Juan Lagares is not an especially good offensive player. His .283 average is respectable, but nothing special. His true value lies in the excellent defense he plays in center field.
According to Fangraphs, he’s has the second best defensive WAR in baseball. You may not quite understand what that means; heck, I don’t quite understand what that means. But I trust the good people at Fangraphs, so if they say he’s really good on defense, then I’ll take their word for it.
Mets player who is horrible
The Mets thought they were getting a quality outfielder when they signed Curtis Granderson as a free agent. I’m guessing they expected more than a .218 batting average, and defensive play that most analysts have rated as below average.
The good news for Mets fans is that he’s only under contract for three more years. And lots of players spontaneously get better after age 33! (Yes, I realize that the Phillies have one such player on their roster. But Marlon Byrd seems more the exception than the rule.)
Starting pitching preview
deGrom has had a solid rookie season, although he might be fading down the stretch. He’s given up eight runs over his last two starts.
Fun fact: Ryan Howard has homered against deGrom. In past seasons, there would have been a lot of pitchers who could make that claim. But in 2014, it’s a much more exclusive list.
Yes, the Phillies get to face the ageless wonder Colon yet again this season. In three starts against the Phillies this season, he’s 3-0 with a 1.59 ERA. You’d think that means the Phillies were due to hit well this time around, but that’s probably not the case.
Fun fact: Colon is the best player to ever be traded in exchange for Cliff Lee.
Speaking of pitchers the Phillies have faced a few times, this will be Gee’s fourth start against them this season. The last time he faced them, he held them to one run in seven innings.
Fun fact: I have nothing. There is absolutely nothing fun about Dillon Gee.
Reason for optimism
Well, the Phillies are on a four-game winning streak, so I suppose it’s possible that they could continue playing well.
Reason for pessimism
Like I said, this series seems poised to kill whatever momentum the Phillies have.
Here’s what’s going to happen: These games will be long, and they will be chock full of lousy baseball. One of the games will likely go into extra innings, and the Mets will most likely win two of them.
When it’s all said and done, all the momentum the Phillies had entering the series will be gone, and we can all go back to looking forward to the Eagles’ opener next week.
Tags: Philadelphia Phillies