The New York Mets (63-76) return home after a winning road trip to face off with the playoff-hopeful Philadelphia Phillies (73-66). The Mets, who have taken the season series from the Phillies in each of the past six years, have won eight out of 13 against their division foes in 2018 and 59 out of 89 since the start of the 2014 season.
The Mets return home after winning five out of nine games against some difficult competition on their most recent road trip. They took two out of three against the Los Angeles Dodgers, who came into the series leading the National League West. The Monday night victory put an end to the team’s 12-game losing streak against Los Angeles.
Jason Vargas had a rough outing on Tuesday night to end his recent run of solid performances, but Jacob deGrom and Zack Wheeler delivered great performances. Wheeler continued his improbable resurgence by pitching seven strong innings and allowing three earned runs to earn his tenth victory. He also survived being hit by a comebacker off the bat of Justin Turner and was able to stay in the game and finish off his outing. Overall, the Mets rank first in the National League with a 3.02 FIP and fourth with a 3.32 ERA in the second half.
Brandon Nimmo was the offensive star of the Dodgers series despite Mickey Callaway slotting him in the eighth spot in the lineup on Tuesday and Wednesday against two lefty starters. Nimmo picked up five hits — including a pinch-hit, game-winning three run home run on Monday night — in nine at-bats. In a lost season, Nimmo’s development has been one of the most enjoyable aspects of watching the team on a nightly basis.
Since August 5, Nimmo is hitting .413 (26-for-63) in 18 games with a 1.200 OPS and a whopping 226 wRC+. He remains tied with MVP candidate Christian Yelich for second in the National League with a 149 wRC+ and trails only Matt Carpenter of the St. Louis Cardinals. He is ninth in the National League in OPS (.897) and 13th in fWAR (3.9).
Amed Rosario also had himself a great series against Los Angeles to continue his torrid offensive pace. He collected eight hits in 13 at-bats to raise his average on the season to .259. Since August 8, he has raised his average by 29 points and is hitting .355 (38-for-107) with three home runs, an .898 OPS, and a 149 wRC+ during that time. Rosario has found a home in the leadoff spot and is hitting .274 in 175 at-bats from that spot.
The Phillies limp into Citi Field after losing two out of three to the last-place Miami Marlins. Since dropping three out of five to the Mets last month, Philadelphia has lost their next five series and are five and ten in their last 15 games. As a result, they have fallen three games back in the National League East race and four-and-a-half games off the pace in the Wild Card race. They have seven games remaining with the first-place Atlanta Braves, which will likely determine who advances to October.
Offense has been the key issue for the Phillies, as they’ve managed just one run in three of their last four games. In the second half, their 91 wRC+, their .239 team batting average, and their .713 OPS all rank in the bottom five in the National League. They have mostly been carried by their starting pitching, which is headlined by Cy Young contender Aaron Nola and prize offseason free agent acquisition Jake Arrieta. The Phillies hold the third-best FIP (3.66) and the sixth-best ERA (3.86) in the National League.
Ex-Mets Asdrubal Cabrera and Jose Bautista will make their return to Citi Field for the first time since being traded. The Mets parted with Cabrera on July 27 in exchange for Double-A pitcher Franklyn Kilome and shipped Bautista out to Philadelphia on August 28 for a player to be named later or cash considerations. Cabrera, who has primarily played shortstop since the trade, is slashing .235/.273/.424 in 132 at-bats with the Phillies, while Bautista is 3-for-10 with his new squad.
Friday, September 7: Aaron Nola vs. Steven Matz, 7:10 p.m. on SNY
Nola (2018): 181.2 IP, 188 K, 49 BB, 11 HR, 2.23 ERA, 2.76 FIP, 0.97 WHIP
Nola has put together a strong case for the Cy Young award, as he ranks in the top four among National League starting pitchers in bWAR (8.8), fWAR (5.4), ERA (2.23), FIP (2.76), WHIP (0.97), H/9 (6.3), and HR/9 (0.54). After allowing just four earned runs in 34 innings (1.06 ERA) during the month of August while holding opposing hitters to a .185 average , he slipped up in his last start and allowed four earned runs in 5.2 innings to the Chicago Cubs. The loss inflated his ERA from 2.10 to 2.23, which leaves him ahead of Max Scherzer but over a half-run behind deGrom in that category.
Matz (2018): 128.2 IP, 124 K, 45 BB, 21 HR, 4.20 ERA, 4.61 FIP, 1.27 WHIP
Matz has quietly put together two superb starts in a row against the Washington Nationals and the San Francisco Giants. He went seven innings in back-to-back games for the first time since his first two starts of 2017 and limited the damage to one earned run each time. He also set a career high by striking out 11 batters in his last start. In his last four appearances, he’s posted a 1.89 ERA and a 2.57 FIP in 19 innings. Despite some bumps along the way, he has been able to avoid the serious injuries that have plagued him career and has put together a nice season with a 4.20 ERA (69 runs in 128.2 innings).
Saturday, September 8: Zach Eflin vs. Noah Syndergaard, 7:10 p.m. on SNY
Eflin (2018): 111.0 IP, 102 K, 27 BB, 14 HR, 4.05 ERA, 3.74 FIP, 1.26 WHIP
Eflin carried a 3.15 ERA into the All-Star break, but has since seen that number rise by almost a full run. After not pitching in April, he had a strong start to the year that carried into July before a blister injury sidelined him going into the All-Star break. Upon his return, he struggled to the tune of a 5.53 ERA and a 4.88 FIP in eight starts spanning 42.1 innings. In his last outing against the Cubs, he lasted five innings and allowed four runs (three earned) on seven hits. Eflin did earn his last win against the Mets on August 16 when he allowed four earned runs in 6.2 innings.
Syndergaard (2018): 121.2 IP, 128 K, 26 BB, 6 HR, 3.33 ERA, 2.50 FIP, 1.21 WHIP
Syndergaard finally gave the Mets what they were looking for in his last start, as he went the distance for the first time in 2018 and had his way with the Giants lineup. He allowed just one earned run on two hits while tying his season high with 11 strikeouts. Syndergaard, who playfully told the media back in May that he was getting his mediocre starts out of the way so he could “dominate in September”, held true to that promise and finally displayed the dominance and the swagger that everyone has come to expect from him. With four starts left to go in 2018, a strong finish would be a welcome sight for the team and its fans.
Sunday, September 9: Vince Velasquez vs. Jacob deGrom, 1:10 p.m. on SNY
Velasquez (2018): 134.0 IP,, 148 K, 54 BB, 14 HR, 4.10 ERA, 3.62 FIP, 1.25 WHIP
Velasquez allowed three earned runs in five innings his last start against the Miami Marlins on Labor Day. It was the fifth straight start in which he was unable to pitch into the sixth inning, and his 13th time overall in 2018. He has a 5.75 ERA and a 3.84 FIP during his last five starts. He did pitch one of his best games this year against the Mets back on July 11, when he held them to two hits and zero runs over six innings.
deGrom (2018): 188.0 IP, 230 K, 42 BB, 9 HR, 1.68 ERA, 2.08 FIP, 0.96 WHIP
deGrom’s greatness in 2018 will be talked about for years to come, but one of his most underrated and underappreciated qualities is his ability to succeed even without his best stuff. In his start against the Dodgers, he clearly was not at his best and allowed a first inning home run to Turner. After that, he was able to settle down and navigate through six innings while allowing just the one run and holding the Dodgers to two hits. In the process, he became the first pitcher since 1913 to allow three runs or less in 25 consecutive games and broke a club record with his 20th straight quality start. He also knocked in a run on a single but did not come away with a win because it was the only run the offense would score until Nimmo’s game-winning home run in the ninth. Despite that, deGrom has cemented himself as the Cy Young frontrunner in the National League.
Prediction: The Mets will take two out of three from the Phillies
How will the Mets fare in their three-game series against the Phillies?
This poll is closed
Mets sweep the Phillies to decimate their playoff hopes.
Mets win two games to clinch a season series victory.
Mets steal a game but drop the series.
Mets are feeling no love as they’re swept away by the Phillies.
Pizza is better than cheese steaks!