The Mets (2-3), who have not played in close to 48 hours, will hope the rain will stay away as they seek revenge against the Phillies (6-3). The Mets opened their season at Citizens Bank Park and dropped two of those three games.
The Mets are coming into this four-game set after splitting two against the Marlins at Citi Field, with the rubber game getting suspended due to rain. New York’s home opener was an emotional affair, as the team welcomed fans back to the ballpark for the first time since 2019 and remembered the lives lost during the COVID-19 pandemic and the baseball legends who passed away in the last year. The game will be discussed for quite some time for its unusual ending, as the Mets won in walk-off fashion after Michael Conforto’s elbow was grazed by a pitch on a ball that was destined for the strike zone. Home plate umpire Ron Kulpa initially looked like he was signaling a strikeout, but changed his mind mid-call and ruled that the pitch had hit Conforto, ending the game. Don Mattingly and the Marlins protested, but to no avail. The call overshadowed a solid comeback by the Mets, as Jeff McNeil led off the ninth with a game-tying, solo home run into the Coca Cola Corner off of Anthony Bass. Up to that point, the club’s bats were silent.
The Mets continued their loss-win-loss-win pattern on Saturday with a disappointing defeat. Jacob deGrom was his usual dominant self, hurling eight innings of one-run ball while matching a career high with 14 strikeouts. He allowed his first run of his 2021 campaign on a Jazz Chisolm Jr. solo home run, which landed in the second deck in right field, but he was otherwise spotless. Unfortunately, as he and the team’s fans have become accustomed to, the offense did nothing to support him, as the lineup managed three meager hits against Trevor Rogers on the afternoon. Edwin Díaz put the game out of reach by allowing two runs to score in the ninth, but it hardly mattered with the way the offense was performing.
The early theme of the season continues to be the club’s ineptitude hitting with runners in scoring position. The Mets went 0-for-6 in both Thursday’s win and in Saturday’s loss, leaving 11 runners on in the former and four more on in the latter. That puts the Mets at 6-for-41 (.146) on the season with 45 runners left on base. Michael Conforto has been especially disappointing at this early juncture of the year, picking up just three hits in 21 at-bats while leaving 19 runners on base over five games. His K% sits at 33.3% early, while he’s only walking at a 4.2% rate. Before yesterday’s game was washed out, he was dropped from third to sixth in the club’s batting order, which is something to look out for tonight.
Since the Mets last saw the Phillies, they dropped two out of three over the weekend to the Braves at Truist Park. On Friday in Atlanta’s home opener, Zack Wheeler and the Phillies had no answer for Ronald Acuña Jr., who hit a mammoth home run and contributed two more doubles in an 8-1 Braves win. On Saturday, a Philadelphia defensive blunder led to a seventh inning Braves run that proved to be the difference in a 5-4 game. The Phillies salvaged the series finale, albeit thanks to an egregious call by the home plate umpire, which allowed Alec Bohm to score the game-deciding run. The ninth inning call led to swift and exasperated reactions across the league, including from the Mets’ own Noah Syndergaard, which included a jab at everyone’s favorite wifeless Amazin’ Avenue writer (whom you should follow on Twitter, if you aren’t already).
Through this early stretch of the 2021 season, the Phillies have maintained their lead on the National League East. Unsurprisingly, their main offensive contributions are coming from the usual suspects. Bryce Harper leads the club with a 163 wRC+ and a 0.4 fWAR while slashing .276/.447/.517. J.T. Realmuto, meanwhile, has gotten off to a red-hot start, hitting .333/.375/.533 with a 148 wRC+ and a 0.4 fWAR. Though he’s not drawing any walks so far, Rhys Hoskins has been crushing the baseball, posting a .306/.306/.639 with two home runs, a 151 wRC+, and a 0.3 fWAR. Jean Segura, who has tormented the Mets in recent years, has gotten off to a dreadful start, slashing .235/.270/.235 with a 34 wRC+ and a -0.2 fWAR.
On the pitching side, Jose Alvarado has become a player to watch for the Phillies this season. In 4.2 innings, he has posted a 17.36 K/9, with a 1.93 ERA and a 1.22 FIP in his five outings. To date, he has picked up one save and has a 0.2 bWAR. This Alvarado pitch was good enough to make Jerry Blevins take notice and express his jealousy on Twitter. Hector Neris has had a nice bounce back so far after a tough 2020 season, with two saves, a 0.4 bWAR, and no runs allowed in his five innings of work.
Monday, April 12: Chase Anderson vs. David Peterson, 7:10 p.m. on SNY
Anderson (2021): 5.0 IP, 3 K, 2 BB, 1 HR, 3.60 ERA, 6.39 FIP, 0.80 WHIP, 0.0 bWAR
In his first start for the Phillies, Anderson was solid but took the loss. The lone blemish against the right-hander was a two-run home run he surrendered to Smith in the fourth inning. Otherwise, he struck out three Mets, walked two, and allowed two hits. It was a respectable first start in Philadelphia, and if he can give the club similar performances this season, he will make a perfectly cromulent fifth starter.
Peterson (2021): 4.0 IP, 5 K, 2 BB, 2 HR, 13.50 ERA, 9.44 FIP, 2.25 WHIP, -0.3 bWAR
Things can’t go much worse for Peterson in his second straight start against the Phillies...right? In a Matz-ian performance at Citizens Bank Park, the lefty allowed four in a 38-pitch first and effectively taking his team out of the game early. Rojas decided to stick with the youngster and, to his credit, he rebounded for efficient innings in the second, third, and fourth. Unfortunately, he faltered again and was tagged for two more in the fifth, failing to retire a single batter in the inning. This will be Mets’ fans first chance to see Peterson in person at a game.
Tuesday, April 13: Aaron Nola vs. Taijuan Walker, 7:10 p.m. on SNY
Nola (2021): 10.2 IP, 11 K, 2 BB, 1 HR, 2.53 ERA, 3.19 FIP, 1.31 WHIP, 0.2 bWAR
After a dominant first start against Atlanta, his second go-around of 2021 against the Mets was a bit of a mixed bag. He only allowed one run, and he was cruising over the first three innings, but New York worked his pitch count in the fourth, which forced him out of the game without the chance to pick up the win. He struck out five, but allowed six hits and walked two over the course of four innings, but he threw north of 30 pitches in that fourth frame and was pulled at 92 pitches.
Walker (2021): 6.0 IP, 4 K, 2 BB, 0 HR, 3.00 ERA, 2.86 FIP, 1.00 WHIP, 0.1 bWAR
Walker made a fantastic first impression at the Mets’ home opener. In his first outing for the club, he faced the minimum through four before allowing his first hit with one out in the fifth. He finannly cracked in the sixth, allowing two runs in the frame, but still gave his club a solid effort and put them in a position to win. More impressive than anything was his velocity, as his fastball sat at 97 mph during the start. That will be something to keep an eye on over his next few starts, and could be a welcome sight for the Mets.
Wednesday, April 14: Zack Wheeler vs. TBD, 7:10 p.m. on SNY
Wheeler (2021): 11.2 IP, 14 K, 4 BB, 1 HR, 2.31 ERA, 2.93 FIP, 1.03 WHIP, 0.6 bWAR
Wheeler will try to stick it to his old club as he takes the Citi Field mound. Wheeler was terrific in his first start of the year, tossing seven one-hit innings while striking out 10 against the Braves. Atlanta got him back his last time out, scoring three runs against him. Wheeler walked four and allowed seven hits, needing 92 pitches while not be able to escape the fifth inning. While Wheeler pitched once at Citi Field last year, this will also be the first chance Mets fans have to watch Wheeler take the mound in another uniform. In three starts against New York last season, Wheeler tossed 20.1 innings and allowed eight earned runs on 21 hits.
The Mets have not yet named a starter for Wednesday’s game. This was originally supposed to be Joey Lucchesi’s spot, but Rojas may opt to use Stroman here since he didn’t really pitch on Sunday in the washed out game. If Stroman isn’t ready to go, they will hand the ball to Lucchesi for his first start as a Met.
Thursday, April 15: Zach Eflin vs. Jacob deGrom, 12:10 p.m. on SNY
Eflin (2021): 13.0 IP, 10 K, 2 BB, 2 HR, 3.46 ERA, 4.07 FIP, 1.00 WHIP, 0.3 bWAR
Eflin has taken on the Braves twice so far this season, with varied results. In his season debut, he hurled seven strong innings at home against the Braves, holding them to just one run on a two-out Travis d’Arnaud home run in his final inning of work. Otherwise he allowed four hits and struck out 8. In his last start in Atlanta, things didn’t go quite as well, as he gave up four earned runs on seven hits over six frames while only striking out two. This will be the first time the Mets have seen Eflin since the 2019 season, as they avoided facing him over the course of the 2020 campaign.
deGrom (2021): 14.0 IP, 21 K, 2 BB, 1 HR, 0.64 ERA, 1.55 FIP, 0.71 WHIP, 1.1 bWAR
Look, I don’t mean to sound by a broken record, but get a load of those numbers. Just...please look at those numbers! That man has one loss and a no decision this season. The Mets have proven themselves to be the Jacob deGrom of not scoring runs for Jacob deGrom, dating back to his historic 2018 campaign. Jake was positively sublime in his Saturday start, striking out 14 Marlins without walking a batter and surrendering just the one home run on five hits in his eight innings. It was the fourth time he struck out 14 in a game, and his third time against the Marlins. The ace was equally impressive in his first start against the Phillies, tossing six scoreless innings and striking out 7 on just 77 pitches. What more can he do to get this team a win?
Prediction: Weather permitting, the Mets will split their four with the Phillies, bookending the series with wins but dropping the two middle games.
How will the Mets fare in their four game series against the Phillies?
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The Mets dominate the Phillies in a four game sweep!
The Mets bounce back by taking three out of four!
The Mets earn a split against Philadelphia.
The Mets escape the series with one win.
The Mets’ woes continue as they’re swept by the Phillies.