The New York Mets (71-68) begin their penultimate homestand, which runs for ten days, with a three-game set against the Philadelphia Phillies (72-67). Last weekend, the Mets took the first two games from the Phillies before dropping the series finale on Sunday Night Baseball. In losing 10 of their first 16 games against Philadelphia in 2019, New York dropped their first season series to their long-time division rivals since 2011.
The Mets concluded a 4-2 road trip by taking two out of three against the Washington Nationals. It was a good road trip, but all in all it could have been significantly better. On Labor Day, the Mets jumped out to a 7-0 lead against Joe Ross, while Noah Syndergaard rebounded from the worst start of his career by throwing seven shutout innings to earn the win. Jeff McNeil hit a home run, while J.D. Davis contributed three hits and Rene Rivera picked up his first two hits in the major leagues in 2019. An Asdrubal Cabrera ninth inning three-run home run against Tyler Bashlor cut the lead to four, but Edwin Diaz recorded the final out to finish the victory.
By now, everybody knows what happened on Tuesday night. The Mets jumped on Max Scherzer for four runs in the fourth, which included a Joe Panik two-run homer. McNeil’s eighth inning home run made it 5-2, but a Juan Soto two-run shot in the bottom half of the frame off Jacob deGrom cut New York’s lead to one. After Seth Lugo escaped the inning, the team tacked on five in the ninth, punctuated by a two run home run by Pete Alonso. The six-run lead led to Mickey Callaway removing Lugo and turning to Paul Sewald. The series of unfortunate events that followed included three relievers combining to give up seven earned runs and culminated in Diaz surrendering a walk-off three run home run to Kurt Suzuki. It was the worst ninth inning collapse in franchise history and marked the first time in 807 tries that the team blew a lead of six or more in the final frame.
The Mets recovered from that absolutely unfathomable collapse to take the rubber match by an 8-4 score. They opened up a seven-run lead for the third straight game and were able to hold on this time around. Alonso hit his 45th, while Juan Lagares hit a solo home run of his own. Zack Wheeler only went five, but he went deep enough to earn the victory. Jeurys Familia gave three runs back, but Luis Avilan was able to retire Soto on his second try. Lugo pitched two scoreless, and Justin Wilson shut the door in the ninth. It was the team’s 12th win against the Nationals in 19 tries in 2019.
Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end, and Wilson Ramos’ 26-game hitting streak finally ended in Wednesday afternoon’s victory. The impressive streak, which ran from August 3 until September 3, began with a four-hit afternoon in Pittsburgh. During the run, Ramos hit .430/.452/.590 with seven doubles, three home runs, and a 178 wRC+ in 100 at-bats.
On a positive note, Alonso has gotten back into a home run groove. After going five straight games without a long ball, Polar Bear has three in his last four games to further bolster his case for National League Rookie of the Year and increase his franchise record mark to 45. In his last ten games, the slugging first baseman is hitting .286/.348/.595 with four home runs, nine runs scored, and a 144 wRC+ in 42 at-bats.
Despite two subpar outings (by his standards), deGrom has fully re-entered the National League Cy Young discussion after Los Angeles Dodgers’ left-hander Hyun-Jin Ryu has regressed over his last four starts. With Ryu’s ERA rising up to 2.45, deGrom is now within striking distance with a 2.76 ERA on the season—good for fourth in the National League behind Ryu, Mike Soroka’s 2.53 ERA, and Scherzer’s 2.60 ERA. On top of that, he leads all National League starting pitchers with a 6.0 bWAR and 200 strikeouts while placing second to Scherzer with a 2.86 FIP and third with a 11.25 K/9.
Meanwhile, the Phillies won their first two games against the Cincinnati Reds earlier this week before dropping the final two games in the series to fall four games off the pace in the National League Wild Card race. In yesterday afternoon’s game, the Phillies lost on an 11th inning walk-off home run to drop to five games over .500 on the season. At the start of play tonight, the Mets trail Philadelphia by one game. Despite losing three of their last four, the Nationals continue to lead all Wild Card hopefuls, with the Chicago Cubs maintaining a comfortably-but-not-yet-secure three-and-a-half games lead for the second Wild Card spot. The Arizona Diamondbacks, winners of nine of their last ten games, are their closest competition, followed by the Phillies and then the Mets and Milwaukee Brewers. The latter lost to the Cubs last night to fall to five games back.
Friday, September 6: Zach Eflin vs. Steven Matz, 7:10 p.m. on SNY
Eflin (2019): 135.0 IP, 106 K, 37 BB, 22 HR, 4.33 ERA, 4.72 FIP, 1.34 WHIP
Eflin will do his best to replicate his success from his last start against the Mets on Sunday, which saw him go seven innings and allow one earned run on three hits. He was beat by Alonso for a first inning home run but cruised from there over his final six innings of work, although his bullpen cost him a victory in the eighth. It was his longest start since he went eighth innings in a loss at home against the Diamondbacks on June 12. He only needed 84 pitches to get through his outing, and tossed 59 of them (70%) for strikes. In his lone start at Citi Field this season, Eflin allowed four runs (three earned) on four hits over four innings back on April 23.
Matz (2019): 133.2 IP, 128 K, 39 BB, 23 HR, 4.04 ERA, 4.50 FIP, 1.31 WHIP
Matz exorcised some Citizens Bank Park demons on Saturday by pitching relatively effectively at a ballpark that has not treated him well in 2019. After returning to the place where he’s given up 15 runs (13 runs) over two starts, Matz went five and gave up three runs (two earned) on seven hits with six strikeouts as he inched his ERA on the season back towards four. He blanked the Phillies through five but ran into a bit of trouble in the sixth, which resulted in his exit from the game. Still, it was a big win for the left-hander, who picked up his ninth win of 2019. Over his last five starts, Matz has a 2.10 ERA and a 3.58 FIP with 31 strikeouts in 30 innings pitched.
Saturday, September 7: Drew Smyly vs. Marcus Stroman, 7:10 p.m. on SNY
Smyly (2019): 43.1 IP, 46 K, 15 BB, 10 HR, 4.57 ERA, 5.20 FIP, 1.36 WHIP
Smyly has bounced around in 2019, beginning the year with the Texas Rangers before getting designated for assignment and released in June. From there, he latched on to the Brewers and made three appearances in Triple-A San Antonio before electing free agency and getting snatched up by the Phillies. The inconsistent left-hander had two great start to kick off his tenure in Philadelphia, going a combined 13 innings while allowing one earned run on eight hits with 13 strikeouts. From there, he had an awful August and ended up posting a 7.20 ERA, a 7.10 FIP, a 3.2 HR/9, a 3.2 BB/9, a 9.0 K/9, and a 1.081 opponent OPS in 25 innings. He bounced back a bit in his last start, going 5.1 innings and holding the Reds to one run on four hits with eight strikeouts and three walks to pick up his second win as a Phillie.
Stroman (2019): 156.1 IP, 130 K, 49 BB, 16 HR, 3.28 ERA, 3.82 FIP, 1.31 WHIP
Stroman had his first quality start as a Met on Sunday night, but it was not good enough to best Eflin and the Phillies. The right-hander went six innings for the second time in orange and blue and allowed two earned runs on seven hits with six strikeouts. He allowed all of his runs in the second inning with one coming on a home run. The rest of his appearance was much smoother, and he finished off with 98 pitches (65 strikes) in his outing. Since joining the Mets prior to the deadline, Stroman owns a 4.55 ERA, a 5.05 FIP, and a 1.64 WHIP with 31 strikeouts and 14 walks in 31.2 innings.
Sunday, September 8: Vince Velasquez vs. Noah Syndergaard, 1:10 p.m. on SNY
Velasquez (2019): 99.1 IP, 108 K, 37 BB, 22 HR, 4.80 ERA, 5.22 FIP, 1.35 WHIP
Velasquez labored in the first inning but settled down of his last start against the Reds on Tuesday. In a move that clearly agitated the right-hander, he was removed for a pinch hitter in the fourth inning and was not able to continue on after his rough start. The move resulted in a meeting between the starter and manager Gabe Kapler following the conclusion of the team’s 6-2 victory. In total, Velasquez went three innings and was charged with one earned run on four hits with five strikeouts and two walks while throwing 67 pitches. Velasquez has pitched twice against the Mets this year, with both starts coming at Citi Field and the Phillies coming away with the win each time. He shut out New York over five innings of three-hit ball on April 24 before limiting them to two earned runs on six hits during his July 5 outing in Flushing.
Syndergaard (2019): 170.0 IP, 171 K, 43 BB, 18 HR, 3.97 ERA, 3.45 FIP, 1.18 WHIP
The Mets were happy to see vintage Syndergaard back on the mound on Monday after enduring the worst start of his major league career in a loss to the Cubs. Thor utterly dominated what had been up until that point a red-hot Nationals’ lineup. Over seven innings, he scattered three hits and struck out 10 without walking a batter. He was lifted after his team opened up a seven-run lead, even though he was only at 90 pitches. While he undoubtedly could have gone deeper into the game, Callaway appeared willing to give him some extra rest and save his bullets for his starts down the stretch. The performance helped Syndergaard lower his ERA back below four on the season.
Prediction: The Mets drop two out of three to begin their homestand.
How will the Mets fare in their three game series against the Phillies?
This poll is closed
Only a sweep will do, and that’s exactly what the Mets do!
In a repeat performance from last weekend, the Mets take two of three!
The Phillies flip the script on the Mets by taking two of three on the road.
The Mets endure a third straight home sweep as they fall to the Phillies.