The New York Mets (11-10) limp home following a 4-6 road trip as they begin a ten-game homestand with the first-place Philadelphia Phillies (12-9). New York will also host the Milwaukee Brewers and the Cincinnati Reds at Citi Field over the next eleven days. The Mets, who have played 16 of their first 21 games on the road, dropped two of three against the Phillies last week.
The Mets jumped out ahead of each of their opponents on their road trip but did not come away with a single series victory. They won the first two against the Atlanta Braves before dropping the next two, and then opened their series against the Phillies and the St. Louis Cardinals with wins before the team turned in two losses in each set.
Prior to first pitch on Friday, the Mets revealed that Jacob deGrom would be heading back to New York for an MRI on his “barking” right elbow and would be landing on the Injured List. Just 24 hours later, the club pulled an about-face and said that they would not be sending their ace for an MRI after all. The team then took the field on Friday with Jason Vargas on the mound and came away with a 5-4 victory thanks to a Pete Alonso solo home run in the sixth. The club jumped out to a 5-1 lead heading into the bottom of the sixth, but the bullpen gave three runs back before Edwin Diaz sealed the deal in the ninth inning.
On Saturday, Chris Flexen was called up to take deGrom’s turn and was knocked around for six runs (five hits) in 4.1 innings. Aside from Jeff McNeil becoming the fastest player in franchise history to reach 100 career base hits (291 at-bats), there were not really any positives to take away from this 10-2 beatdown. On Sunday, the club looked to Noah Syndergaard to pick them up, but he was not up to the task as he allowed six runs (four earned) in five innings. He did connect on his first home run of the season, but it was not enough. Alonso, Michael Conforto, and Robinson Cano also hit solo home runs in the team’s 6-4 loss.
Cano, who was mired in an early-season funk, broke out against the Cardinals with six hits in 12 at-bats, including his second and third home runs as a Met. Unfortunately, he exited Sunday’s game after getting hit on the right hand on a play that was ruled a foul ball by the umpire. While X-Rays did come back negative, he was wearing a soft cast following the game and seemed to hint that more tests might be needed.
The team’s defense has been alarmingly putrid so far this season. The Mets currently own the worst DRS (-21) among all National League clubs and have committed the second-most errors with 17, trailing only the Chicago Cubs. Amed Rosario’s defensive play has been especially troubling, as he has been charged with five errors in his last five games after committing two costly errors on Sunday, while J.D. Davis’s defense at third — specifically, his arm — has been a cause for concern as the team tries to get him at-bats. The Mets’ pitching staff also owns a league-worst 5.66 ERA in 2019. Aside from their dynamic offense, which has been a lot of fun to watch, the team has not done a lot to inspire confidence in their ability to realistically contend against a very competitive division and National League.
Perhaps the only thing keeping the Mets close to first at this early juncture in the season has been the inconsistent play of the remaining National League East teams. The Washington Nationals have lost five of their last nine and just dropped two out of three to the last-place Miami Marlins. The Braves have lost four out of six since the Mets split a series with them at SunTrust Park.
The Phillies, meanwhile, enter the series after losing three out of four to the Colorado Rockies over the weekend at Coors Field. The Phillies have endured several unfortunate injuries to key contributors in the past week. The team placed Jean Segura, Scott Kingery, and Victor Arano on the Injured List on Sunday after losing Odubel Herrera and Andrew McCutchen to injuries recently. Bryce Harper continues to excel with his new club, as he leads the Phillies with a 1.0 fWAR while hitting .289/.426/.566 with five home runs, a 154 wRC+, and a .276 ISO.
Monday, April 22: Jake Arrieta vs. Steven Matz, 7:10 p.m. on SNY
Arrieta (2019): 28.0 IP, 18 K, 12 BB, 3 HR, 2.25 ERA, 4.70 FIP, 1.11 WHIP
Arrieta dominated the Mets last Wednesday to guide the Phillies to a series win. Arrieta pitched a season-best eight innings and was charged with two earned runs on six hits while striking out three and walking two. In general, he has found a lot of success against the Mets in his career and owns a 2.33 ERA and a 1.04 WHIP in 11 career starts against them. Rosario has especially struggled, going 0-for-10 against the Phillies starter. Arrieta has recorded a quality start in each of his four outings so far in 2019.
Matz (2019): 16.1 IP, 19 K, 6 BB, 4 HR, 4.96 ERA, 5.24 FIP, 1.35 WHIP
There is no place to go but up for Matz, who is coming off the worst start of his major league career against this same Phillies team. The Long Island lefty faced eight batters without getting a single one of them out and was removed after giving up eight runs (six earned) on four hits. Matz saw his ERA skyrocket from a commendable 1.65 to an atrocious 4.96. Prior to the meltdown, he was actually pitching quite well and was showing the team that he could potentially be someone who can be trusted. The Mets will have to hope that this was just a minor misstep and not a sign of bad things to come.
Tuesday, April 23: Zach Eflin vs. Zack Wheeler, 7:10 p.m. on SNY
Eflin (2019): 22.0 IP, 20 K, 4 BB, 5 HR, 3.68 ERA, 4.78 FIP, 1.36 WHIP
Eflin bounced back nicely after getting hit hard in a start against the Marlins on April 13 (four innings, six earned runs, ten hits) and held the Rockies to three runs (two earned) on seven hits in six innings in the notoriously hitter-friendly Coors Field. The improvement was not enough to help his team win, and he earned his second straight loss. The former first round pick got off to a great start in his first two outings, as he combined to go 12 innings while being charged with one earned run on nine hits.
Wheeler (2019): 22.2 IP, 22 K, 14 BB, 3 HR, 6.35 ERA, 4.73 FIP, 1.54 WHIP
Wheeler turned in his best performance of 2019 against the Phillies his last time out, as he completed seven innings and gave up three earned runs on five hits. Unfortunately, he picked up his second loss of 2019, as Arrieta was just a little bit better. Still, he’s recorded two consecutive quality starts on the road against quality divisional opponents, which is an encouraging sign after he began the season with two ugly performances against the Nationals. With the starters struggling as of late, Wheeler has been the team’s best pitcher over the last two turns through the rotation. The Mets need Wheeler to continue to perform as he has in his last two outings if they want to stay competitive in the National League East race.
Wednesday, April 24: Vince Velasquez vs. Jason Vargas, 7:10 p.m. on SNY
Velasquez (2019): 17.2 IP, 16 K, 4 BB, 3 HR, 2.55 ERA, 4.17 FIP, 0.96 WHIP
The Phillies have been waiting for Velasquez to take off, and he’s been showing some positive signs as of late for Philadelphia. The former second round pick has been solid in each of his three starts and has seen his fastball velocity consistently reach 95-plus miles-per-hour. In his last start against the Rockies, he recorded a season-high eight strikeouts and was charged with two earned runs on seven hits in 5.2 innings. Prior to that, he held the Marlins to one earned run on two hits in six innings.
Vargas (2019): 10.1 IP, 6 K, 7 BB, 3 HR, 9.58 ERA, 7.74 FIP, 2.32 WHIP
Perhaps “good” is too strong a word to describe Vargas’s last outing against the Cardinals, but it was good enough to help the Mets earn their lone victory in St. Louis. The left-hander made it through four innings and allowed one earned run on three hits. It’s a big improvement from his previous two appearances and was enough to earn him another start. Still, with Gio Gonzalez opting out of his current contract and Dallas Keuchel remaining unsigned, any misstep could result in the Mets jettisoning the beleaguered Vargas from the rotation in favor of a potentially more trustworthy option.
Prediction: The Mets will sneak a win away from Philadelphia but drop their third consecutive series as they fall to .500 for the first time this season.
How will the Mets fare in their three game series against the Phillies
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The Mets pick up a much-needed sweep to jump back into first place
The Mets draw even with the Phillies after taking two out of three
The Mets fall to .500 after dropping two out of three
The Mets aren’t feeling the love as they’re swept by the Phillies