The Mets (72-75) will welcome the Phillies (74-72) to town as they finish up their nine-game homestand. So far this season, they have won five out of seven against Philadelphia at Citi Field, though they have split their 16 games overall so far in 2021.
The Mets are coming off a demoralizing sweep against the Cardinals, which all but put an end to their dim playoff dreams. They entered the series two games behind St. Louis with a chance to leapfrog them in the Wild Card standings, and instead laid an egg on Monday night after a thrilling victory on national television against the Yankees the previous evening. New York lost that first game 7-0, as the offense had absolutely no answer for Adam Wainwright and his still-annoyingly-good curveball. Rich Hill gave the team five innings of three-run ball, but nothing he could have done would have helped this team, short of pitching a shutout and hitting a home run.
The Mets had their best chance of a victory on Tuesday and squandered in, instead falling 7-6 in 11 innings. After another solid Marcus Stroman start, the Mets took a 3-2 lead into the eighth inning inning. That’s when Jeurys Familia served up a two-run bomb to Tyler O’Neill to put the Cards up ahead for the first time in the contest. Javier Báez came through with the team down to their final three outs, connecting on a solo homer to lead off the ninth and send the game off into extras. The Mets had a golden opportunity in the tenth after Heath Hembree pitched a scoreless top of the frame, but Francisco Lindor grounded into an unconventional double play to end the inning. Jake Reed, in his first action since returning from the IL, fell apart in the top of the eleventh and, while New York scored two in the bottom of the inning and loaded the bases, they did not have one final dramatic comeback left in them.
The Mets suffered an 11-4 shellacking on Wednesday to end the series on as low a note as possible. Tylor Megill got the nod and gave up five runs in the first, and the Mets never really recovered. Pete Alonso and Kevin Pillar hit solo homers, and the Mets kept threatening, but St. Louis always had an answer. Their best shot came in the bottom of the seventh, when Alonso almost hit a three-run home run that would have brought the Mets to within a run. Alas, Lars Nootbar, who came in as a defensive replacement, robbed him of a homer, and the Cardinals added some insurance runs in the next inning to put the game well out of reach.
With the three losses, the Mets fell five behind the Cardinals with 15 games to play, and remain 5.5 back of the Braves. Essentially, they are about as dead as a team that is not mathematically eliminated could be.
Just about the only bright spot of late has been the play of Báez. It’s unfortunate that he won’t get the recognition for it, but he is putting up numbers closely resembling what Yoenis Cespedes did in the latter half of 2015, but the club’s play will detract from his positive contributions. Since September 1, El Mago is slashing .400/.484/.745 with five homers, a .345 ISO, a 227 wRC+, and a 1.3 fWAR in 15 games. He is also visibly walking more and striking out less over the past two weeks. Since arriving in Flushing, he is hitting .300/.368/.583 with nine homers, and leads the club with a 156 wRC+ and a 1.5 fWAR in his 33 games. Compare that with Cespedes, who hit .287/.337/.604 with 17 homers, a 156 wRC+, and a 2.6 fWAR in 57 games after the club acquired him prior to the 2015 deadline, and the numbers look very similar. Unfortunately, the rest of the team has not risen to the occasion, resulting in their lackluster results.
The Phillies come into this series after taking two out of three from the Cubs at home. After splitting the first two, Philadelphia found themselves down by seven in yesterday’s contest before staging a big comeback.
Bryce Harper has had his best season for the Phillies and has inserted himself at the forefront of the conversation for National League MVP honors. After his 3-for-4 day yesterday, which included a homer and two doubles, the outfielder is slashing .314/.428/.627 on the season, with 33 homers, 92 runs scored, a 175 wRC+, and a 6.2 fWAR in 125 games. When examining his numbers since August 1, he is slashing .349/.467/.815 with 17 home runs, a 222 wRC+, and a 3.2 fWAR in 42 games. He currently ranks first among NL position players in wRC+, OPS, and fWAR, second in ISO, third in runs scored, and fourth in homers.
Friday, September 17: Zack Wheeler vs. Taijuan Walker, 7:10 p.m. on SNY
Wheeler (2021): 195.1 IP, 225 K, 42 BB, 16 HR, 2.86 ERA, 2.66 FIP, 1.02 WHIP, 6.8 bWAR
Every Wheeler start against the Mets is a reminder of the club’s abject stupidity in letting him get away right as he was reaching his peak. The right-hander hit a slight rough patch, allowing at least four earned runs in four straight starts after his scintillating outing against the Mets, but he has since corrected course. He has pitched at least six innings in every outing since the All Star break and has gone at least seven in five of 11 starts. He currently leads the league in innings pitched, complete games, shutouts, strikeouts, and batters faced, and he should figure to stand a good chance of winning the NL Cy Young Award. His best start of the year came against the Mets on August 8, when he two-hit New York in a complete game shutout that saw him strike out eleven. His ERA ranks sixth in the NL.
Walker (2021): 144.2 IP, 137 K, 50 BB, 27 HR, 4.29 ERA, 4.46 FIP, 1.19 WHIP, 0.6 bWAR
It’s hard to properly evaluate Walker’s last start. In it, he surrendered three home runs in a rough second inning, though it became known later on that the Yankees were whistling from the dugout in what appeared to be relaying signs to their hitters. After Jonathan Villar pointed this out to Walker, he set down the final 13 batters he faced. In total, he allowed five earned runs on six hits, with one walk and eight strikeouts over eight innings. The homers continue to be a concern, as he has surrendered six over his last three starts. His 1.48 HR/9 is the fifth-worst mark among NL starting pitchers with at least 140 innings pitched.
Saturday, September 18: Aaron Nola vs. Carlos Carrasco, 7:15 p.m. on FOX
Nola (2021): 163.0 IP, 202 K, 35 BB, 24 HR, 4.58 ERA, 3.41 FIP, 1.12 WHIP, 2.5 bWAR
Nola continues to muddle through a subpar year for Philadelphia, and he has allowed three earned runs or more while going fewer than six innings in each of his last three starts. In his most recent outing, he surrendered three earned runs on five hits with ten strikeouts over 5.1 innings against the Colorado Rockies. He currently sports a 1.3 HR/9, which is the highest of his major league career to date. The last time Nola faced off against the Mets, he tied Tom Seaver’s record by striking out ten straight batters.
Carrasco (2021): 38.2 IP, 37 K, 10 BB, 7 HR, 5.59 ERA, 4.38 FIP, 1.29 WHIP, -0.6 bWAR
Carrasco’s first inning troubles continued in his last outing, as he gave up his only two runs in the first frame. With that, 14 of the 27 runs he has allowed during his 2021 campaign (51.8%) have come in the first inning. He settled down after that, and ended up going five while allowing two earned runs on three hits. He did walk a season-high four while striking out five. He threw a season-high 96 pitches in the start. He should get about three more starts as he continues to try and improve from his early-season struggles.
Sunday, September 19: Kyle Gibson vs. Rich Hill, 7:08 p.m. on ESPN
Gibson (2021): 165.0 IP, 132 K, 59 BB, 14 HR, 3.49 ERA, 3.85 FIP, 1.23 WHIP, 3.8 bWAR
Gibson has struggled in September after getting off to a great start with the Phillies post-deadline. In three starts this month, he has a 9.00 ERA, a 4.83 FIP, and a 1.73 WHIP in 15.0 innings, and Philadelphia has lost each of his last three appearances. The right-hander gave up four earned runs on five hits in five innings his last time out, as he struck out seven without walking a batter. Overall, he has a 4.85 ERA, a 4.05 FIP, and a 1.35 WHIP in 52.0 innings for the Phillies. He was solid against the Mets back on August 6, as he limited them to one earned run on four hits with four walks and three strikeouts over six innings.
Hill (2021): 144.0 IP, 131 K, 47 BB, 20 HR, 3.88 ERA, 4.44 FIP, 1.18 WHIP, 1.2 bWAR
After his two best starts as a Met, Hill reverted back to a performance that is more in line with his previous starts were like. He went five innings against the Cardinals and allowed three earned runs on six hits, with two walks and four strikeouts in five innings. He allowed his first home runs since his August 21 outing, but he was otherwise solid. He couldn’t do much to help his club, as the offense did nothing against Wainwright on the evening, and he endured his third loss as a Met. The lefty now owns a 3.88 ERA, a 4.23 FIP, and a 1.21 WHIP in 48.2 innings with the Mets.
Prediction: The Mets continue their fall in the standings by dropping two out of three.
How will the Mets fare in their three game series against the Phillies?
This poll is closed
The Mets leapfrog the Phillies with a series sweep.
The Mets take two out of three from Philadelphia.
The Mets win one, but they still manage to drop the series.
The Mets are swept once again to really fall out of the race.