The New York Mets (39-48) prepare to close the book on the first half of the 2019 season as they welcome the scuffling Philadelphia Phillies (45-42) to Citi Field for three games. The Phillies recently swept the Mets in a four-game series that saw New York blow late leads in every individual contest. In total, the Mets have dropped seven of ten to the Phillies this season, although they did take two out of three at Citi Field in April.
After splitting the Bronx round of the Subway Series in a June doubleheader, the Mets again settled for a split with their cross-town rival New York Yankees in Queens on Tuesday and Wednesday. Much like they did in their Sunday night victory, the Mets used an eighth-inning rally to erase a deficit on Tuesday and come away with a victory. In the process, they ended the Yankees’ 31-game home run streak and beat up one of the best bullpens in baseball. The big blows came off the bat of J.D. Davis, who put his team on the board with a sixth inning home run and then tied things up with a run-scoring double in the eighth, and Michael Conforto, who drove in the go-ahead runs with an opposite-field double.
On Wednesday, the Mets had no answer for Domingo German and the Yankees’ offense as they fell 5-1 to finish off the split. The team benefited from a leadoff home run by Jeff McNeil but couldn’t muster anything else, while the Yankees did enough damage against Jason Vargas and Wilmer Font to come away with a victory. With the loss and the Atlanta Braves winning on Wednesday and on Thursday, the team fell to twelve-and-a-half games back in the National League East and six-and-a-half back for the second Wild Card spot, which is currently held by the Washington Nationals.
Unsurprisingly, the team continues to be guided by their two young All Stars at the plate. Pete Alonso, who will make an All Star Game and Home Run Derby appearance in his rookie season, has hit .306/.432/.639 with nine home runs and a 181 wRC+ in 30 games since June 1. His friend and teammate, McNeil, has hit .373/.400/.600 with five home runs and a 166 wRC+ in 27 games since the start of June as well. He continues to lead all of baseball with a .349 batting average to go along with his .928 OPS, which ranks second on the club next to Alonso’s .995 OPS among qualified hitters.
The Phillies, meanwhile, fell to third place, behind the aforementioned Nationals, after dropping two out of three to the division-leading Braves this week. After squeaking by with a tidy 2-0 win on Tuesday night, Philadelphia was slaughtered 9-2 on Wednesday before being pummeled 12-6 in the Fourth of July finale. Things have been grim for the Phillies since the start of June, and just about the only thing that has gone right for them was that four-game series against the Mets. After entering June with a three-game lead in the division, they have gone on to drop nine-and-a-half games in the standings. They have gone 12-18 in their last 30 games as they begin play on Friday.
J.T. Realmuto will be the lone player representing his team for the National League All Stars in 2019. In his first season in Philadelphia, Realmuto is slashing .269/.325/.432 with 10 home runs, 51 runs scored, a 97 wRC+, and a 2.6 fWAR in 82 games. He’s had a solid week since the Mets last saw him, hitting .364/.417/.409 with a 124 wRC+ in six games. Bryce Harper has also had a tremendous week at the plate, hitting .333/.481/.619 with a 188 wRC+ and a team-high two home runs. On the other hand, Jean Segura and Cesar Hernandez have struggled mightily. Segura has posted a .280/.308/.320 slash line with a 67 wRC+, while Hernandez sits at .217/.240/.217 with a 20 wRC+ in those six games.
Friday, July 5: Vince Velasquez vs. Jacob deGrom, 7:10 p.m. on SNY
Velasquez (2019): 51.1 IP, 60 K, 23 BB, 12 HR, 4.73 ERA, 5.37 FIP, 1.42 WHIP
The Phillies have given Velasquez a number of opportunities to earn the fifth spot in the team’s rotation, but he has failed them at every turn. In 41.0 innings as a starter, he owns a 4.83 ERA and a 5.26 FIP, as opposed to a 4.35 ERA and a 4.31 FIP in 10.1 innings as a relief pitcher. Since rejoining the rotation on June 16, he has pitched to a 6.94 ERA and a 3.75 FIP in three starts. In his last outing against the Miami Marlins. He lasted 4.1 innings and yielded four earned runs on six hits while striking out six and walking two. Earlier this season, he shut out the Mets over five innings to pick up his first of two wins in 2019.
deGrom (2019): 103.0 IP, 128 K, 22 BB, 13 HR, 3.32 ERA, 3.12 FIP, 1.11 WHIP
deGrom was recently selected to his third career All Star game, marking the second straight year that he has earned the honor. Despite going through some rough stretches this season, deGrom has been more-or-less dependable and has begun to resemble the pitcher the Mets had hoped they’d signed to a five-year extension over the offseason. Entering play today, deGrom ranks third among qualified National League starting pitchers in fWAR (2.9) and K/9 (11.18), fifth in FIP (3.12), and eighth in BB/9 (1.92) and ERA (3.32). He finished June with six quality starts in six outings after pitching six innings and allowing three earned runs on six hits with seven strikeouts against the Braves.
Saturday, July 6: Jake Arrieta vs. Noah Syndergaard, 7:15 p.m. on FOX
Arrieta (2019): 103.2 IP, 81 K, 40 BB, 18 HR, 4.43 ERA, 5.15 FIP, 1.42 WHIP
Arrieta continues to be plagued by walks and home runs as he plods through an uneven season. He currently owns the tenth-worst BB/9 (3.47) and the fourth-worst HR/9 (1.56) among qualified National League starting pitchers. In five June starts, he posted a 5.65 ERA and a 5.97 FIP, with a 14.6% strikeout rate and a 10.0% walk rate in 28.2 innings. Despite the subpar numbers, he’s picked up wins in each of his last two starts and in three of his last four outings. His last time out, he gave up four earned runs on eight hits with six strikeouts over six innings. He has faced the Mets three times already this season and has allowed 11 runs (10 earned) over 22 innings.
Syndergaard (2019): 100.2 IP, 98 K, 27 BB, 12 HR, 4.56 ERA, 3.74 FIP, 1.24 WHIP
Syndergaard came back off the Injured List on Sunday and finished one out short of registering a quality start against the Braves. He allowed three earned runs on seven hits with five strikeouts and three walks in 5.2 innings. He lost the strike zone in his final inning, walking three of the six batters he faced in the sixth before being lifted for a relief pitcher. Despite coming off the injury, Callaway let him throw 106 pitches and allowed him to try and finish his inning of work before exhausting all options and going to the bullpen.
Sunday, July 7: Aaron Nola vs. Zack Wheeler, 1:10 p.m. on WPIX
Nola (2019): 104.0 IP, 118 K, 41 BB, 14 HR, 3.89 ERA, 4.05 FIP, 1.33 WHIP
Nola has really turned a corner in his last three starts and has begun to resemble the pitcher who finished third in the National League Cy Young race in 2018. Nola carries an 18-inning scoreless streak into Sunday’s game after shutting out the Braves through eight innings and earning his seventh victory of the year. In the start, Nola scattered four hits and struck out eight while walking three. Prior to that, he one-hit the Mets through seven shutout innings while striking out 10. In his last three appearances, Nola has pitched to a 0.39 ERA and a 2.25 FIP with a 32.2% strikeout rate and a 5.8% walk rate and opponents posting a .407 OPS against him. Despite the recent revival, Nola still owns the eighth-worst BB/9 (3.55) among qualified National League starters.
Wheeler (2019): 114.0 IP, 132 K, 32 BB, 15 HR, 4.42 ERA, 3.63 FIP, 1.25 WHIP
With Wheeler’s days in a Mets uniform likely dwindling down, the right-hander impressed against the Yankees on Tuesday night as he auditions to other teams. Wheeler only had one bad inning, when he allowed two earned runs on three hits to the Yankees, bu otherwise was in control and rebounded nicely from a nightmarish start at Yankee Stadium on June 11. Wheeler closed out his evening by retiring 16 of the final 18 Yankees he faced and allowed five hits total with eight strikeouts and one walk in 6.1 innings. In his last three outings, Wheeler has pitched to a 1.86 ERA and a 2.44 FIP with a 27.0% strikeout rate and a 5.4% walk rate and opponents posting a .471 OPS against him in 19.1 innings.
Prediction: The Mets will take two out of three to end the first half on a positive note.
How will the Mets fare in their three game series against the Phillies?
This poll is closed
A big sweep to enact some revenge and cap off the first half.
Two out of three ain’t a bad way to enter the All Star break.
A single victory but a series loss nonetheless.
An unfortunate sweep to limp into the All Star break.