Fresh off another series loss, the Mets (34-40) end their road trip against last year’s AL and NL Champs with a three-game set against the Phillies (38-36). The Mets swept the Phillies earlier this month at Citi Field, which was, coincidentally, the last time New York won a series in 2023. As an added bit of intrigue heading into this weekend series, MLB officially announced today that these two clubs will square off in London on June 8 and 9, 2024.
The Mets dropped two of three to the Astros at Minute Maid Park to begin their road trip. Much like they did against the Cardinals, they won game one but dropped the final two. The opener was a laugher, as New York dominated in an 11-1 victory thanks to five-spots in the third and ninth innings. In the third, they got a solo homer from Daniel Vogelbach and a three-run blast from Francsico Lindor, and that was more than enough for Max Scherzer, who hurled five terrific frames. Lindor drove in two more in the ninth to add to his RBI total.
The offense had no answers for Framber Valdez on Tuesday, resulting in a 4-2 loss. The left-hander was perfect through the first 16 batters of the game before surrendering a hit to Mark Canha to break it up. By then, Justin Verlander had already given up a three-spot, highlighted by a two-run homer by Alex Bregman. The Mets put up a fight with two runs in the eighth, but it was too little, too late.
Wednesday was a sloppy 3:32 slog that resulted in a 10-8 loss for the Amazins. Neither starting pitcher escaped the third, and the first three innings in general felt like five uninspiring baseball games combined. In the first inning alone, the Mets loaded the bases twice without scoring—this included a baserunner interference by Pete Alonso—as well as a catcher’s interference and two wild pitches in the bottom of the frame to plate Houston’s first run. The Mets got those runs back with a Starling Marte two-run double and a Lindor sac fly in the second, which gave them a lead, which they extended with a Vogelbach double in the fourth. Houston dropped four in the third, and the Mets tied it up at six thanks to Vogelbach’s two-run single. However, Houston put up three in the bottom of that frame, which put them ahead for good. Pete Alonso did hit his NL-leading 23rd home run of the year to draw the team to within a run at one point.
Wednesday’s loss continued a troubling trend for the team. In the past 22 games, they’ve scored 7+ runs seven times. In those games, they have a 1-6 record. That includes yesterday’s loss, Sunday’s loss to St. Louis, the 14-7 defeat at the hands of the Pirates on June 9, the 13-10 loss to Atlanta one day earlier, an 11-10 loss to the Rockies on May 28, a 10-7 loss to that same Colorado Club on June 7. The lone win came in Monday’s 11-1 rout of Houston. We can continue lamenting the offense all we want—they deserve plenty of play for their subpar play, and that includes everyone up and down the lineup—but the pitching remains the major culprit of this season so far. At the start of play today, Mets starters have a 5.01 ERA on the season, which is fifth-worst in baseball and third-worst in the NL. Their relievers, meanwhile, have a 4.21 ERA, which is 11th-worst in MLB and in the middle-of-the-pack among NL squads.
One bright side is that Vogelbach has come alive since his long mental break. He’s coming off arguably his best game of the year on Wednesday, and he is now 7-for-18 since his return with two home runs and a double. His 246 wRC+ leads the team since June 12. Lindor has also come also come alive since that time, slashing .227/.406/.636 with two homers, a team-high eight runs batted in, and a 172 wRC+ in those eight games. The Mets also continue to steal bases at an impressive clip, swiping four more bags on Wednesday, including Marte’s 20th of the year. They now have stolen 30 consecutive bags and are 56-for-62 on the year, the best success rate in MLB.
The Phillies are coming off a rain-shortened two-game set against the Braves that saw them get swept. Prior to losing both games, the Phillies were on a six-game winning streak and were one of the hottest teams in baseball. In all, the Phillies are 13-4 in their last 17 games, and have climbed to within three games of the Dodgers for the final NL Wild Card spot.
Friday, June 23: Kodai Senga vs. Taijuan Walker, 7:05 p.m. on Apple TV+
Senga (2023): 71.1 IP 87 K, 41 BB, 9 HR, 3.53 ERA, 4.24 FIP, 1.33 WHIP, 1.2 bWAR
Senga has been on a trend of one good start/one bad start, which continued when he allowed four earned runs over 6 2⁄3 innings against St. Louis to pick up his fourth loss of the year. This start wasn’t without its positives, as the right-hander only allowed one walk and he did strike out eight batters. This represents just the third start of his major league career that he’s walked fewer than three batters, and the fourth that he’s struck out eight or more. However, Senga’s been significantly better at home than on the road, and Citizens Bank Park is a notorious hitter’s park, which could spell trouble for him. He owns a 4.78 ERA in six road starts, as opposed to a 2.52 ERA in seven home outings.
Walker (2023): 77.1 IP, 66 K, 31 BB, 10 HR, 4.31 ERA, 4.53 FIP, 1.28 WHIP, 1.2 bWAR
Since facing the Mets on June 1, Walker has been on a roll and has lowered his overall ERA on the season by almost a run-and-a-half. He tossed seven shutout frames against the Tigers and five shutout innings against the Dodgers, allowing just two hits in each of those wins. In his last outing, his shutout streak ended at 14 innings, but he tossed eight innings of one-run ball while striking out eight and walking none. He will look for a better start this time around against his old club, after he was charged with three earned runs on two hits, with two strikeouts and three walks over four innings.
Saturday, June 24: Carlos Carrasco vs. Christopher Sánchez, 4:05 p.m. on WPIX
Carrasco (2023): 44.0 IP, 28 K, 21 BB, 10 HR, 6.34 ERA, 6.66 FIP, 1.55 WHIP, -0.5 bWAR
That solid two-start run for Carrasco to end May seems like a distant memory. He’s really scuffled over his past three starts, specifically his last time out against St. Louis. While he did not factor in the decision, he was tagged for six runs (five earned) on five hits over three-plus innings of work. He struck out four, walked three, and could not record an out in the fourth before he was pulled on Father’s Day. He has now allowed 12 runs (11 earned) in three starts this month. One of his better starts this year did come against Philadelphia, when he tossed six innings of one-run ball to pick up the win on May 31.
Sánchez (2023): 8.1 IP, 10 K, 3 BB, 0 HR, 3.24 ERA, 1.96 FIP, 1.08 WHIP, 0.2 bWAR
Sánchez will make his third start of the year after a recent call up to take the fifth spot in the rotation. The left-hander was destined to make the club out of camp before a hamstring injury derailed his plans. He is coming off four shutout innings against the Athletics, which saw him allow just one hit, walk one, and strike out five. His only other major league outing this year was a spot start against Colorado on April 22, when he allowed three earned runs on five hits over 4 1⁄3 innings. He did have some command issues in the minors this year, walking 29 batters over 49 2⁄3 innings in Triple-A, which should be something the Mets look to exploit on Saturday.
Sunday, June 25: Max Scherzer vs. Zack Wheeler, 1:35 p.m. on WPIX
Scherzer (2023): 64.2 IP, 68 K, 15 BB, 11 HR, 4.04 ERA, 4.22 FIP, 1.16 WHIP, 1.0 bWAR
Scherzer is coming off easily his best start of the year, and maybe his best start as a Met. The right-hander tossed eight innings of one-run ball, with a solo homer being the lone blemish against a pretty sterling outing otherwise. He allowed four hits, struck out eight, and walked one. He only needed 91 pitches to get through his start, which is a good sign for Scherzer. He’ll look to build upon this outing as he tries to get his season back on track after a disappointing start.
Wheeler (2023): 88.0 IP, 98 K, 20 BB, 5 HR, 3.48 ERA, 2.67 FIP, 1.11 WHIP, 1.8 bWAR
Since allowing seven earned runs over 3 2⁄3 innings against the Nationals on June 2, Wheeler has gone on a tear. Over his last three starts, he’s pitched more like the Wheeler we’re accustomed to seeing. In those three games, he’s recorded 19 1⁄3 innings pitched and allowed two runs (one earned) on 111 hits, with 19 strikeouts and four walks. His team has won each of those three games, with the right-hander picking up the victory in two of them. Wheeler has dominated his old club, posting a 3.29 against the Mets in 12 career starts.
Prediction: The Mets drop two out three to the Phillies to conclude a losing road trip.
How will the Mets fare in their three game series against the Phillies?
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The Mets sweep them once again!
The Mets finally win a series as they take two of three.
The Mets drop two of three for a third consecutive time.
The Phillies get payback by sweeping the Mets at home.