The Mets (56-52) head to the City of Brotherly Love for a three-game showdown with the second-place Phillies (56-53). The Mets hold a slim half-game lead in the division heading into this series, so they can either build upon that lead or find themselves in second when all is said and done. The good news for New York is they have won eight out of 13 against the Phillies this year, so they will have to hope their past success against their division rivals will be indicative of how they will perform this weekend.
The Mets are coming off a series loss against the Marlins down at loanDepot Park. On Monday night, the Mets fell behind 4-0 in the first after Lewis Brinson hit a grand slam with no outs against Tylor Megill. The rookie right-hander recovered to give his team five innings, but the early deficit was too much to overcome. The Mets came back with two in the second, and Pete Alonso hit his 24th homer of the year to cut the lead to one in the third, but the offense went to sleep after that, and Miami tacked on a couple of insurance runs to put the game out of reach to make it a 6-3 loss.
Tuesday night’s 5-4 defeat was eerily similar, as the Mets fell behind 4-0 behind Taijuan Walker, and their rally attempt fell short. The Mets scored a run in the fourth on a Dominic Smith sac fly, and two more in the sixth on a Smith sac fly and a J.D. Davis double, but Seth Lugo gave up a huge insurance run in the eighth, which made it a two-run Marlins lead. James McCann doubled home a run in the ninth, but Brandon Drury could not bring the tying run home.
The Mets ended their three-game skid with a 5-3 win on Wednesday night. They plated three runs in the third, highlighted by Javier Báez’s incredible slide to evade a tag at home and score the second run of the game. Carlos Carrasco was great through four, but he tired in the fifth as Miami drew closer, and a Jesús Aguilar homer in the sixth tied up the game. Báez hit the go-ahead homer in the eighth, and the Mets held on for the win.
New York completed a disappointing weekend by dropping their Thursday matinee 4-2. In this game, they stranded 15 runners on base and stranded the bases loaded three times. They had a bases loaded, no out opportunity in the first but failed to score. In the third, a Michael Conforto error on a single had a hand in the first Marlins run against Rich Hill. The Mets tied it up on a Jonathan Villar single in the sixth, but Miami broke through for three runs in the eighth off of Jeurys Familia. The Mets pushed one across in the ninth, but Albert Almora Jr.—already three-for-four on the afternoon—grounded out to end the game.
In the week immediately after the All Star Game, the Mets were averaging 6.67 runs-per-game, and it looked like the offense may have finally figured out their early-season struggles. Since then, they have scored 44 runs in 15 games, for an average of 2.93 runs-per-game. They remains second-to-last in the league with a 3.82 runs-per-game average. Francisco Lindor is not set to return for two or three more weeks, but they will need to figure something out. It was originally believed that, by the time the pitching regressed later in the year, the offense would have risen out of its doldrums, but that has not been the case, and it needs to happen sooner rather than later.
The Phillies just got done sweeping away the Nationals, who very recently threw out everything but Juan Soto and the kitchen sink. In two of the games, they entered the ninth trailing but came back against Washington’s bullpen, and in yesterday’s game they were down to their final strike before pushing four runs across and hanging on for a one-run victory.
The Phillies’ offense is red-hot, as they have scored 43 runs over the course of their five-game winning streak. Their 5.58 runs per game since July 1 is second only to the Dodgers. Leading the charge for Philadelphia has been Bryce Harper, who has quietly had an incredible season. The right fielder, who hit a home run in yesterday’s win, is hitting .407/.557/.712 with a 230 wRC+ since the break.
Friday, August 6: Marcus Stroman vs. Kyle Gibson, 7:05 p.m. on SNY
Stroman (2021): 122.0 IP, 101 K, 28 BB, 11 HR, 2.80 ERA, 3.49 FIP, 1.13 WHIP, 1.8 bWAR
Stroman was cruising in his last start, but a homer off the bat of Max Schrock in the fourth eventually broke the ice, and he really fell apart in the sixth before he was lifted. In that inning, he was tagged for three runs, and ended up giving up four earned over 5.2 innings. It was the second straight start that he allowed eight hits, and the third time in four outings, with the other being his one-hit performance against the Reds. With his last outing, he has now failed to complete at least six innings in seven of his last eight starts, which is something the Mets can ill afford given the current state of the team’s rotation.
Gibson (2021): 119.2 IP, 99 K, 43 BB, 9 HR, 2.86 ERA, 3.69 FIP, 1.17 WHIP, 3.6 bWAR
Gibson, who was named to his first career All Star team on the American League side, was traded at the deadline from the Rangers over to the Phillies. His first performance for his new club was a solid one, as he allowed two earned runs over 6.2 innings against the Pirates and earned the win. In the start, he gave up five hits, struck out five, and walked two batters. He’s been having one of the best years of his career, but the walks have remained a concern. In his last start for Texas, he issued eight free passes. In general, July was his roughest month of the year, as he pitched to a 6.26 ERA, a 5.47 FIP, and a 1.83 WHIP in 23.0 innings across four starts for the Rangers prior to the trade.
Saturday, August 7: Tylor Megill vs. Ranger Suárez, 4:15 p.m. on SNY
Megill (2021): 40.1 IP, 43 K, 11 BB, 5 HR, 2.68 ERA, 3.53 FIP, 1.12 WHIP, 0.9 bWAR
The Mets were down in Megill’s last start before you could even blink, as the first three Marlins’ batters reached before Brinson hit a grand slam that effectively sealed his club’s fate. It was the first time in his major league career that Megill had allowed runs in the first or the second innings. To his credit, he settled down and gave the team five innings when it looked like he wouldn’t even make it out of the first, which is a big deal given how taxed the bullpen has been. He will look for a better showing this time around as he makes his first career start against the Phillies.
Suárez (2021): 43.1 IP, 43 K, 15 BB, 3 HR, 1.04 ERA, 3.32 FIP, 0.83 WHIP, 2.4 bWAR
Suárez, until very recently, had been serving as Philadelphia’s closer and was a force coming out of their bullpen, but with the team needing help in its rotation, they have transitioned him to become a starting pitcher. His first showing was a good one, as he held the Nationals hitless in his three innings of work. He struck out one and walked one in the outing, and needed just 33 pitches. It’s unclear whether he will be able to go longer into the game this time around, but regardless, he is still a tough competitor who will present problems for the Mets’ hitters.
Sunday, August 8: Taijuan Walker vs. Zack Wheeler, 1:05 p.m. on SNY
Walker (2021): 105.0 IP, 101 K, 40 BB, 13 HR, 3.85 ERA, 4.08 FIP, 1.23 WHIP, 0.5 bWAR
Walker continued his stretch of rough starts since the All Star break his last time out, allowing four earned runs on eight hits in 5.2 innings. On a positive note, he recovered nicely after a rough start and set down nine of the final ten batters he faced on the evening, but he still earned a loss in his third straight outing. The most alarming trend from his recent performances has been the uptick in home runs he’s allowed, as he’s now served up seven long balls over his last three starts after giving up six in his first 17. Citizens Bank Park, unfortunately, is not an ideal spot for him to make his next start, given those struggles. In his lone start in Philadelphia this season, he allowed four earned runs over six innings.
Wheeler (2021): 147.0 IP, 170 K, 33 BB, 10 HR, 2.57 ERA, 2.49 FIP, 1.03 WHIP, 5.7 bWAR
With Jacob deGrom’s injury, Wheeler has emerged as a Cy Young favorite in the National League. The ex-Met currently leads the league in innings pitched, strikeouts, and FIP, heading into his Sunday showdown against his former club. In his last start against the Nationals, he carried a no-hitter into the sixth before eventually giving up four earned runs over 7.1 innings. He has been a workhorse for the Phillies and has now gone at least seven in three consecutive starts, and five of his last seven. He opposed Walker back on May 1, and gave up four earned runs over seven innings in that outing, which the Mets went on to win.
Prediction: The Mets hold on to first place by taking two out of three against Philadelphia!
How will the Mets fare in their three game series against the Phillies?
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The Mets sweep the Phillies to grow their lead!
The Mets hold on to first by winning two of three in Philadelphia.
The Mets drop two out of three as they fall out of first.
It’s never sunny in Philadelphia for the Mets as they’re swept by the Phillies.