Totally biased Philadelphia Phillies vs. New York Mets series preview
By Mike Lacy
Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports
It’s a start. While taking two out of three games from the Arizona Diamondbacks isn’t exactly a reason to start printing playoff tickets, it’s certainly better than what they had been doing.
With a little bit of momentum on their side, the Phillies will head into Citi Field and take on the New York Mets. Could they shock the world and actually win two series in a row? If my unwarranted sense of optimism is correct, the answer to that question is: YES!
The last time they met
Jun 2, 2014; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Phillies relief pitcher Phillippe Aumont (48) pitches in a game against the New York Mets at Citizens Bank Park. The Mets won 11-2. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports
When the Phillies and Mets faced each other in late May/early June, they threatened to set baseball back a few years. The teams engaged in five of the ugliest games that you’ll ever have the misfortune to watch.
The series featured three consecutive extra inning games, a couple of horrid appearances from Phillippe Aumont, and a growing sense that 2014 was not going to be the Phillies’ year.
What’s new with the Mets?
Since they last saw the Phillies, the Mets have continued to play mostly unremarkable baseball this season. The overall mediocrity of the National League East has kept them in pseudo-contention, but at 50-55, they’re closer to last place than they are to first.
The Mets’ strength has been their pitching staff. Without phenom Matt Harvey, the Mets were left with a seemingly underwhelming collection of starting pitchers. Yet, the rotation has been strong, ranking sixth in the majors in quality starts.
Don’t worry, Phillies fans. That pitching staff hasn’t been able to overcome an offense that ranks just 29th in slugging percentage. Is David Wright still blaming Citi Field’s large dimensions for his lack of home runs?
Mets player who isn’t entirely horrible
At age 28, first baseman Lucas Duda is experiencing a breakout season. With 18 home runs, he’s already topped his previous season high, and he’s complimented that power with a strong .356 on-base percentage.
The key to Duda’s success would appear to be that the team has been limiting his at bats against lefthanded pitchers. He only has 65 plate appearances against lefties, and based on his .470 OPS in those appearances, the team probably isn’t going to change this approach any time soon.
So let me get this straight: A team has a power hitting first baseman who struggles against lefty pitchers, and they DON’T have him bat cleanup against them? Bizarre.
Mets player who is horrible
Travis d’Arnaud. Image Credit: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports
The Phillies may one day regret trading away catcher Travis d’Arnaud. But so far in his career, d’Arnaud has done little to think the Phillies made a mistake in including him in the package sent to acquire Roy Halladay.
d’Arnaud has spent two stints on the disabled list this season, and hasn’t hit well when healthy. Catchers aren’t necessarily expected to be great hitters, yet the Mets probably were hoping for more than a .290 on-base percentage.
He’s still young, so it is likely that he’ll improve. But for 2014, he’s been a liability in the lineup.
Reasons why the Phillies will win
It’s a given that the Phillies will win this series, so it was tough limiting the list of reasons to only three. These seemed to be the most prominent:
Grady Sizemore. Image Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports
1. Grady Sizemore is superior to Bobby Abreu in the matchup of lefthanded hitting former All-Star outfielders making a comeback after being out of baseball.
2. Ryan Howard is back! Well, probably not. But he has hit pretty well against the Mets this season, so maybe?
3. On the other hand, Chase Utley really does hit well in Citi Field.
Reasons why the Mets could win
I suppose it’s possible that the Mets might luck their way into a win. Here are a couple of reasons they might come away with a victory:
1. Kyle Kendrick is pitching the finale. Is it me, or does it seem like Kendrick pitches more often than once every five days?
2. For some odd reason, Cole Hamels is less awesome against the Mets than he is against all other teams.
The Phillies appear to be headed in the right direction. That’s bad news for the Mets, as the Phils will win two of the games.