The Phillies somehow made it to the World Series in 2022 which, if you recall last season, seemed as improbable then as it does now. However, the team is currently in the first Wild Card position and likely to make a second straight post-season appearance for the first time since 2010-2011. The team has had a bit of an up and down month but, because of the instability of literally every team with a worse record still in the playoff hunt, the Phillies are likely feeling pretty confident in their postseason berth.
The Mets continue to be the most confusing team in baseball, taking two of three from the Marlins, who now find themselves a half game out of a playoff position as play begins today. This is after they lost two of three to the Reds, after taking three of four from the Diamondbacks, after losing two of three to the Twins. There’s a pattern emerging of two steps forward, one step back late in the season. The Mets have seemingly been seven to nine games out of a playoff spot for about a month now, unable to make any progress towards tanking and securing a better draft position or making a run at the postseason.
Don’t get me wrong, the Mets aren't’ going to make the playoffs and likely never were this season, but it is weird to see the team so locked in this back and forth record after selling off everything that wasn’t nailed down in late July.
Thursday, September 21: David Peterson vs. Ranger Suárez, 7:10 PM EDT on SNY
Peterson (2023): 100.0 IP, 113 K, 44 BB, 15 HR, 5.22 ERA, 4.45 FIP, 1.590 WHIP, 0.3 bWAR
The good news is that Peterson has added some length to his starts as of late. When he first rejoined the rotation in August, his first three starts saw him fail to get out of the fourth inning, but he’s subsequently five starts where he recorded at least twelve outs. This is faint praise, but for a team that has needed length from their starters up and down the rotation, it’s a sign of progress.
The bad news is that Peterson still looks a lot like his numbers: a 5ish ERA who lets too many men on base.
Suárez (2023): 113.2 IP, 109 K, 44 BB, 12 HR, 3.80 ERA, 3.90 FIP, 1.339 WHIP, 2.8 bWAR
Now in his second full season as a starter at the major league level, Suárez has established himself as a quality arm, even if this season he is lagging a little behind 2022 in terms of success. Having taken almost a half a run off his ERA since the end of July, Suárez is peaking at a good time for the Phillies, as they attempt to lock down the first Wild Card spot in the National League.
Friday, September 22: Tylor Megill vs. Taijuan Walker, 7:10 PM EDT on SNY
Megill (2023): 113 IP, 92 K, 55 BB, 17 HR, 4.94 ERA, 5.18 FIP, 1.655 WHIP, 0.1 bWAR
Remember how I said that Peterson was going longer into games but looking basically like his stat-line? That’s essentially true of Megill as well, though Megill has had marginally better results as of late.
An interesting late-season note for Megill: when he is walking more folks, he’s surrendering less runs than when he has better control. Without digging too deep into the numbers, it looks like when he is on, his pitches are outside the zone, leading to weak contact and walks, as opposed to when he’s missing middle/middle and getting rocked.
Walker (2023): 159.2 IP, 131 K, 66 BB, 19 HR, 4.40 ERA, 4.53 FIP, 1.328 WHIP, 2.4 bWAR
Old friend Tai is having a slightly down year from his excellent 2022 with the Mets, and has had a rough stretch of three starts giving up at least four earned runs. Much like the man who replaced him in the Mets’ rotation, José Quintana, Walker is striking out fewer and walking more batters than his career norms.
Saturday, September 17: José Quintana vs. Zack Wheeler, 7:10 PM EDT on SNY
Quintana (2023): 65.2 IP, 45 K, 24 BB, 2 HR, 3.02 ERA, 3.38 FIP, 1.279 WHIP, 2.0 bWAR
Let us continue to praise the job that Quintana has done since returning from the IL. While I’m not sure a full season of Quintana would’ve changed the Mets’ playoff fortunes much, he would’ve been a wonderfully reliable starter for those months of the season where the Mets couldn’t buy a quality start from a pitcher not named Senga.
Quintana’s success has been through weak contact, even more so than throughout his career, which was never really built on the strikeout. Even with an elevated walk rate, Quintana is limiting runs and remains among the best in the game at suppressing the home run.
Wheeler (2023): 181 IP, 201 K, 37 BB, 20 HR, 3.63 ERA, 3.22 FIP, 1.066 WHIP, 4.2 bWAR
Sunday, September 17: José Butto vs. Cristopher Sánchez, 1:40 PM EDT on WPIX
Butto (2023): 26.0 IP, 23 K, 18 BB, 1 HR, 3.46 ERA, 4.07 FIP, 1.462 WHIP, 0.5 bWAR
All three of Butto’s starts in September have been of the ‘oh wow, maybe there’s a useful back end of the rotation projection in there somewhere’ variety. While it is a small sample size, Butto has limited the walks that have been his bugaboo in the minors, and limited hard contact as well.
While he should absolutely not be in the Mets’ top five or even six rotation slots for next season, Butto has proven to be a quality spot-starter candidate.
Sánchez (2023): 91.1 IP, 85 K, 18 BB, 15 HR, 3.55 ERA, 4.12 FIP, 1.095 WHIP, 1.8 bWAR
The 26-year old lefty is having his career best season thus far in Philadelphia, already more than doubling his career innings and strikeouts, while somehow allowing less walks in 91.1 innings than he did in 40 last season. The only real blemish on the season is an increased home run rate but, it still is not an onerous stat. Like the rest of the Phillies’ staff, his September hasn’t been easy (0-2 in three starts), but he’s building an impressive season for himself.
The Phillies maintain their Wild Card position by splitting the series with the Mets.
How will the Mets fare in their three-game series with the Phillies?
This poll is closed
Didn’t I Blow Your Mind This Time (The Delfonics) - The Mets sweep!
Right On (The Roots) - The Mets take three of four
Sleepwalking (Slaughter Beach, Dog) - The Mets split the series
Back Stabbers (The O’Jays) - The Mets lose three of four
I Can’t Go For That (Hall & Oates) - The Phillies sweep the Mets
Pizza with Cheesesteak topping!