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Series Preview: Philadelphia Phillies vs. New York Mets

Baseball returns to Citi Field on Monday.

Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

I can't remember if it was Gary Cohen or Howie Rose who once said that the Mets and Phillies are like two ships passing in the night. Whenever one team is up, the other is down, and that's why the two teams haven't developed a rivalry as intense as some of the best squabbles in the game. Just think of what it would be like if every year were like 2007 or 2008—besides, you know, the ending. We'd have people complaining that the Mets are on Sunday Night Baseball too often!

When you put it that way, maybe it's for the best that the Mets are loaded with young pitching talent while the Phillies are still trying to unload the holdovers from their glory days. As a villain, Chase Utley pales in comparison to John Rocker, anyway.

Can the Phillies still be fun this year?

As much as we want the Phillies to be miserable in 2015, they probably won't be. That's because they play baseball and baseball is still fun! I mean, there's a reason we keep on rooting on these Mets through years of futility, right? Just look at what happened to the Phils on Saturday night. Despite trailing 2-0 heading into the bottom of the eighth inning, they won 3-2 in ten innings thanks to a surprisingly awesome defensive play by Ben Revere and a walk-off double from rookie center fielder Odubel Herrera.

Even if our Mets fall short of expectations this year, we can hopefully still take pleasure in depriving the Phillies of this sort of joy.

But fun doesn't put fans in the seats

Mets fans are used to conversations about attendance. Ownership needs to sell more tickets to spend more money, but people won't buy tickets until the team invests in some winning players. Hopefully that theory is tested this season as the frugal front office has slowly but surely built a young roster that promises to get plenty of bang for its buck. On the other hand, I've never understood why winning was so closely correlated with attendance.

Sure, people love to see the home team win, but baseball is one game in which anything can happen in any given game. Isn't fun at the park nowadays more about having a good time with friends outdoors while gorging yourself on increasingly absurd food items?

That's the way it ought to be, but even when you have crap weather and it's not Dollar Dog night, you can still have fun if Jeff Francoeur is on your team because of "rebuilding" and he runs into a hanging slider.

In spite of that sort of thrill, the Phillies are having issues getting people to come out and enjoy Citizens Bank Park. In fact, they just had their lowest attendance for a single game since moving out of the Vet. Hopefully we'll see a lot of blue and orange there when the Mets visit later in the season. And maybe the Mets' "plan" of moving Matt Harvey off the home opener to boost attendance will pay off.

No Cole Hamels, no problems (yet)

A scheduling quirk may have spared the Braves from showing the Mets their worst pitchers, but Philadelphia won't have such luck. Unable to fill their rotation with young, inexperienced pitchers, the Phillies have resorted to bringing in a pair of guys who are almost as old as Bartolo Colon.

Date Time Television Phillies Probable Starter Mets Probable Starter
April 13, 2015 1:10 PM SNY, MLBN Aaron Harang Jacob deGrom
April 14, 2015 7:10 PM SNY David Buchanan Matt Harvey
April 15, 2015 7:10 PM SNY Jerome Williams Jon Niese

Just like Colon, though, both Harang and Williams got off to a great start last week. The former Met Harang allowed just three men on base while striking out eight in over six innings versus Boston on Wednesday. Two nights later, Williams held the Nationals to one run in six innings before the Phillies finally burst through in the seventh to post a 4-1 victory. Sure, both veterans may be washed up and not fit to start for several major league clubs, but they looked splendid in their 2015 debuts.

It has been the 25-year-old sophomore David Buchanan who has gotten roughed up the most so far. Known for his command and ability to keep the ball in the yard, Buchanan only lasted three innings against Boston on Thursday. Seven hits, four walks, and just one strikeout will do that to you, but he pitched well in three starts versus the Mets last year and will be looking to get back on track against a New York lineup that isn't quite as intimidating as that of the Red Sox.

Even with the Phillies carrying some momentum into the series, the back-to-back combo of Harvey and Jacob deGrom could dominate with no Hamels around to hold down the Mets.

Prediction: Sweep!

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