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Mets vs. Phillies: The Mets head to Philly for their first road series of the season

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Can the Mets rise above their current .500 mark?

MLB: Miami Marlins at New York Mets Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

After dropping the first two games of the Marlins series, the Mets rebounded last night with a 5-2 win to pull to 3-3 on the year. This next series against the Phillies marks the third of ten straight against divisional opponents to start the season. The Mets will head on the road for the first time this year and hope to leave Philadelphia with a winning record.

This will be no easy task however. The Phillies, who finished fourth in the NL East with a 71-91 record last year, are coming off a series in which they just outscored the Nationals 27-13 over three games including a 17-3 beating on Saturday. They too are currently sitting at 3-3. The Mets should be up to the challenge, after winning 12 of their 19 contests against the Phillies last season.

Phillies offense

The biggest changes to the Phillies’ offense this season are the departure of longtime first baseman Ryan Howard and the arrivals of Howie Kendrick and Michael Saunders. Although early in the season, the Phillies are currently scoring the second most runs per game in the National League with 5.8. Kendrick and Odubel Herrera have led the charge thus far. Kendrick, the 33-year-old outfielder who the Phillies traded for this offseason, is batting .429/.478/.667 with five RBIs in five games. Herrera has continued to prove himself worthy of his 2016 NL All-Star team selection. The third-year center fielder is batting .364/.481/.455 through six games. Their lineup also features shortstop Freddy Galvis who has already slugged two home runs and Maikel Franco who has struggled so far with just three hits in his first 22 at-bats.

Mets offense

Through six games, the Mets’ offense has struggled to produce runs, scoring just 21. Asdrubal Cabrera and Jay Bruce have been swinging hot bats and Lucas Duda has been decent but beyond them, there has not been much. Curtis Granderson, Travis d’Arnaud, Yoenis Cespedes, Neil Walker, and Jose Reyes are all regulars who are hitting .200 or below early in the year.

Michael Conforto hit a home run last night but without a starting spot in the Mets’ crowded outfield, he won’t see enough at-bats in the series to make a real impact. Lefty-killer Wilmer Flores also won’t see much time this series with three right-handers slated to start for Philadelphia.

Probable pitchers

Monday, April 10: Jerad Eickhoff

Important stats (2016): 197.1 IP, 167 K, 42 BB, 30 HR, 3.65 ERA, 4.19 FIP, 1.16 WHIP

Favorite pitches: Four-seam fastball (91 mph), Curveball (75 mph), Slider (82 mph)

Eickhoff was a 3.5 bWAR player for the Phillies in 2016. The 26-year-old had a 2.63 ERA in four starts against the Mets last year. Looking to build on his successful 2016 season in his first start of 2017 against the Reds, he went 6.2 innings letting up two earned runs and six baserunners while striking out six.

Mets starter, Jacob deGrom: I recently wrote about why Jacob deGrom is primed for a huge 2017 and he showed us why in his fist start of the season. deGrom allowed no runs on two hits and one walk in six innings of work against the Braves. More importantly, however, his average fastball was 94.5 mph in that game, up from the 93.4 he had last year.

Tuesday, April 11: Clay Buchholz

Important stats (2016): 37 G, 21 GS, 139.1 IP, 1.69 K/BB, 4.78 ERA, 5.06 FIP, 1.328 WHIP

Favorite pitches: Four-seam fastball (92 mph), Cutter (89 mph), Curveball (78 mph)

The 32-year-old two-time All-Star looks to be on the downswing of his career at this point. After spending his entire career in Boston where he won a World Series in 2013, Buchholz was traded to the Phillies this offseason for minor league second baseman Josh Tobias. Buchholz worked as both a reliever and a starter for the Red Sox last year.

Mets starter, Matt Harvey: Harvey once looked like he was going to be a top-five pitcher in baseball. Tommy John surgery and a brutal 2016 season have derailed that for now, but Harvey seems like a good candidate for a bounce back in 2017. Now the senior member of the Mets’ young rotation, a good year from Harvey would benefit the Mets immensely. In his first start he gave up only three hits, but two of them were solo home runs. He went on to get the win in that game and will look to stay undefeated on Tuesday.

Wednesday, April 12: Vince Velasquez

Important stats (2016): 131 IP, 152 K, 45 BB, 21 HR, 4.12 ERA, 3.96 FIP, 1.328 FIP

Favorite pitches: Four-seam Fastball (94 mph), Slider (84 mph), Changeup (87 mph)

Velasquez had one really bad month in 2016; in 26.1 innings in August he had 7.52 ERA. If you take out that month from his season, he would have had a 3.28 ERA. The 24-year-old third-year pitcher will look to improve upon his consistency this season as he clearly has the raw stuff to develop into a good starter.

Mets starter, Zack Wheeler: In his first start back from a two-year absence, Wheeler let up five earned runs in four innings of work. It’s expected that he will have an adjustment period after such a long hiatus from the sport and being thrust into the starting rotation due to a multitude of Mets injuries. The peripherals were encouraging in that game, though, as Wheeler even hit 97 mph on the radar gun in the first inning. Look for Wheeler to get his season on track this Wednesday night.

Bullpens

With Jeurys Familia currently six games through a 15-game suspension, the Mets’ other late-inning relievers have filled the void nicely. Addison Reed, Jerry Blevins, and Fernando Salas have yet to let up a run in a combined 9.1 innings of work. Beyond that and a seemingly resurgent Josh Edgin, the Mets’ bullpen has been shaky at best. Rafael Montero has yet to show that he deserves a spot on the big league club with his inability to throw strikes. Hansel Robles is still looking to take that next step forward after a couple of solid seasons. Flamethrower Josh Smoker has had a couple of rough outings and newcomer Paul Sewald got roughed up last night. These small sample sizes are not indicative of how the season will go, but it would behoove the Mets for the bullpen to right the ship in this series.

Even after having a 4.85 ERA in 2016, Jeanmar Gomez remains the Phillies’ closer. In three innings so far this year he has already let up five earned runs. 27-year-old Hector Neris, who led their bullpen in innings last season, has yet to let up a run in 3.1 innings and could push Gomez for his job if he continues to struggle. Joaquin Benoit, Edubray Ramos and Pat Neshek should also play key roles in the Phillies bullpen this year.

Prediction: Mets win two of three

Poll

How will the Mets fare against the Phillies?

This poll is closed

  • 38%
    Sweep ‘em in Philly!
    (89 votes)
  • 45%
    Take two of three.
    (106 votes)
  • 4%
    Salvaged a game.
    (10 votes)
  • 2%
    Ack, everything has gone wrong!
    (6 votes)
  • 9%
    Pizza!
    (21 votes)
232 votes total Vote Now