Phillies Look to Keep Momentum Going As Mets Start Season

MLB: SEP 20 Blue Jays at Phillies
PHILADELPHIA, PA – SEPTEMBER 20: Philadelphia Phillies center fielder Roman Quinn (24) and Philadelphia Phillies right fielder Bryce Harper (3)during the Major League Baseball game between the Philadelphia Phillies and the Toronto Blue Jays on September 20, 2020 at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia, PA. (Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire)

Following a good ol’ fashioned sweep of the Atlanta Braves, the Phillies will look to keep the streak going as they host the New York Mets. The Mets, 0-0, have yet to play a game this season as their opening series against the Washington Nationals was postponed due to the Nationals’ COVID-19 outbreak.

Phillies fans should feel sympathetic towards the Mets’ situation as it is similar to the Phillies’ stoppage in play due to an outbreak in the Marlins’ organization last year. That sympathy, however, stops today at 7:05 PM as game one of the three-game set kicks off.

The Matchups

Due to the Mets’ delayed start to the season, the Phillies will play host to Jacob deGrom’s first start of the season Monday night. The two-time NL Cy Young needs no introduction for Phillies fans. In 17 lifetime starts against the Phils, deGrom owns a 2.38 ERA with a 1.010 WHIP and 114 strikeouts in 102 innings pitched. As he is making the start three games later than anticipated, deGrom is mismatched as he faces off with the Phillies’ number four pitcher: Matt Moore.

Moore will make his first start for the Phillies as well as his first start in the majors since 2019. The journeyman owns a 4.51 career ERA in the majors and spent his 2020 season in Japan where he pitched for a 2.85 ERA. Moore held his own in four spring training starts, allowing eight earned runs in 15.2 innings pitched with 14 strikeouts.

Game two will feature the Phillies’ number five pitcher, Chase Anderson, going up against the Mets’ number two, Marcus Stroman. Anderson is the second starting pitcher to join the Phillies this offseason. Anderson owns a career 4.06 ERA. He would, however, like to leave 2020 in the past, as he pitched for a career-worse 7.22 ERA in seven starts for the Blue Jays. Stroman, meanwhile, elected to opt-out of the 2020 season in a move he deemed best for his family. With Stroman returning, the Mets regain a 2019 All-Star who threw for a 3.22 ERA in a full season’s workload in 2019.

In game three, the pitching mismatch plays in the Phillies’ favor. Ace Aaron Nola is scheduled to face sophomore starting pitcher David Peterson. Nola threw 6.2 innings against the Braves on Opening Day. His only blemish on the day was a two-run home run courtesy of Pablo Sandoval as the ace kept the Braves to six hits and allowed zero walks. Peterson, meanwhile, comes into his second season having pitched for a 3.44 ERA in his first nine starts for the Mets in 2020.

Phillies’ Keys to Success

The Bullpen

The Phillies have barely delved into their bullpen so far this season. Hector Neris has proven himself reliable through three appearances. Meanwhile, the Phillies have yet to see David Hale, Vince Velasquez, or new acquisitions Brandon Kinztler and Sam Coonrod this season. Given the Phillies are at the bottom of the rotation, Joe Girardi will likely delve further into the bullpen.

Neris, along with Connor Brogdon, Jose Alvarado, and Archie Bradley, have been dominant out of the pen so far. Combined, they have thrown 7.1 scoreless innings, allowing one hit and four walks while striking out 11. The continued success out of the bullpen is essential for the teams’ success this season.

Keep the Mets’ Bats Cold

Regardless who is on the mound for the Phillies, they will have their hands full dispatching this Mets’ lineup. From Pete Alonso to Dominic Smith to new acquisitions like Francisco Lindor and James McCann, the Mets’ lineup is every bit as frightening as the Phillies’. In 2020, the Phillies’ pitching staff pitched for a combined 5.06 ERA against the Mets.

Given the odd pause the Mets underwent, the Phillies will want to attack Mets’ bats early on. If they do, they can keep them off-balance and not allowing the team to get into any form of a groove while they can.

Be Aggresive at the Plate

This Phillies’ offense is the same one that averaged 5 runs per game in 2020. With additions like Brad Miller and Matt Joyce off the bench, the offense has only gotten better! So far, the Phillies have managed to win their games off pitching. If the Phillies’ early success is to continue, the offense will need to begin to heat up.

Especially against deGrom and Stroman, the Phillies’ bats will want to be aggressive early and often. Against those aces, each batter is likely only to get one good pitch, and they will need to execute. The Best Catcher in Baseball, J.T. Realmuto, hit for a 0.969 OPS against the Mets last year. Expect Realmuto to lead the charge from the clean-up spot throughout the series following his off-day on Monday.

Photo Credit: Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire