NL East rival Mets add veteran pitcher to help Bryce Harper's MVP case

The Mets announced Wednesday that they signed two-time All-Star Julio Teheran, a familiar foe Bryce Harper loves hitting against.
The New York Mets have signed right-handed pitcher Julio Teheran
The New York Mets have signed right-handed pitcher Julio Teheran / Patrick McDermott/GettyImages
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Week one of the 2024 season comes to a close on Sunday. Excitement has been boiling over for players and fans alike for months to see the Philadelphia Phillies reestablish themselves as perennial threats in the postseason. A big factor in that dream of capturing World Series glory is Phillies newest full-time first baseman, Bryce Harper.

Fresh off his three-home run performance capped off by a grand slam on Tuesday night, the question begs, could this be another year filled with moments that leave us sitting on the edge of our seats?

MLB media seems to think so. Per MLB Network, Harper ranked as the 11th best player in baseball before the start of the season, leaving Harper haters to come up with another excuse to downplay those "moments."

Since joining the Phillies in 2019 on a massive free-agent contract, Harper has lived up to the hype. In five-plus seasons with the Phillies, he is averaging a .284 batting average, a .395 on-base percentage, and a .538 slugging percentage, good for a .933 OPS.

Harper, who has already won the NL MVP Award twice, in 2015 as a Washington National and in 2021 as a Phillie, is in for a streak of good fortune after the New York Mets signed right-hander Julio Teheran, per Jon Heyman of the New York Post.

MLB.com's Anthony DiComo reports that Teheran's deal is for one-year, worth $2.5 million. The 33-year-old is most notable for being a longtime starter for the Atlanta Braves from 2011 to 2019. He has since moved around to the Angels, Tigers, Brewers and now, the Mets.

Bryce Harper's stats against Julio Teheran are out of this world

Per Statmuse, Harper has ridiculous career numbers against Teheran. In 63 plate appearances, the lefty slugger has 20 hits, including nine home runs and three doubles, with 21 RBI and 13 walks to only seven strikeouts. That's a .408 average and a 1.560 OPS — all in just 22 games.

For some context, that puts his expected statistics for a full 162-game season at 147 hits, 66 home runs, 22 doubles, and 155 RBI, with 96 walks to 52 strikeouts in just 464 plate appearances. Barry Bonds couldn't even keep up that kind of pace.

Harper must be licking his chops at another chance to face Teheran in the future. We'll all have to just wait patiently until May 13, when the Phillies head to Citi Field to face the Mets for the first of 13 bouts this year.

The Phillies, unfortunately, won't have as many chances to beat up on Teheran and company since MLB moved to a more balanced schedule in 2022 to incorporate more interleague games, as MLB.com's Mark Feinsand reported.

That's okay. It just means that more American League teams will be second-guessing where to pitch to the newly polished regular season MVP and October legend that is Bryce Harper.

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