Series preview: Phillies look to topple the Mets

MLB: SEP 20 Orioles at Phillies
PHILADELPHIA, PA – SEPTEMBER 20: Philadelphia Phillies first baseman Matt Vierling (19) during the Major League Baseball game between the Baltimore Orioles and Philadelphia Phillies on September 20, 2021 at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia, PA. (Photo by Cody Glenn/Icon Sportswire)

The Phillies got their season started on the right track after winning their opening series against the Oakland Athletics. Two teams with a rich history of playing baseball in the City of Brotherly Love was the perfect way to start the 2022 season. After a solid offensive start in the first two games and some quality pitching overall, the Phillies will take on their division rivals—the New York Mets.

Drama in the Nation’s Capitol

The Mets are coming off a four-game series against the Washington Nationals. They took three of the four games in the series. Things got very intense, and a lot of drama took place just a few games in. The Nationals pitching staff hit 5 Mets hitters in this series. In Game 2 of the series, Met’s shortstop Francisco Lindor was hit in the helmet with a pitch, and the benches cleared. The benches would erupt again later in the series, and the Nationals and Mets feud will be one to watch for the Phillies.

Pitching Matchups

Game 1:

Start Time: 6:45 pm est

Ranger Suarez (0-0) vs. Taijuan Walker (0-0)

Ranger Suarez will make his 2022 season debut Monday night against the Mets. Suarez had a breakout season in 2021, and the Phillies are looking to see whether or not Ranger can repeat that success. Expect a limited pitch count for Ranger in his first outing due to his delayed start in an already delayed Spring Training.

Ranger will be opposed by Mets’ starter Taijuan Walker. Walker was an All-Star in 2021 and had an incredible first half of the season for the team in Queens. In the first half of the season, Walker was 7-3 with a 2.66 earned run average. In the second half, Taijaun was 0-8 with a 7.13 earned run average. Like Ranger Suarez and the Phillies, the Mets are trying to find out what they truly have in Taijaun Walker.

Game 2:

Start Time: 6:45 pm est

Zack Wheeler (0-0) vs Tylor Megill (1-0, 0.00 era)

Zack Wheeler had one of the best seasons for a Phillies starting pitcher in franchise history in 2021. Wheeler finished second in the National League Cy Young voting and was arguably more deserving. Wheeler was brilliant for the Phillies but after leading the league in innings pitched last season and some shoulder soreness this off-season, the Phillies are slow playing Wheeler’s return to the mound. Wheeler also got off to a late start to Spring Training this year. The Phillies’ number one priority is going to be keeping Wheeler healthy. Like Suarez in Game 1, don’t expect a long outing from Wheeler in his first start of 2022.

Tylor Megill would not be the first name that comes to mind if asked who the starting pitcher would be for the Mets on Opening Day. After an injury to Jacob DeGrom and a minor setback to Max Scherzer, manager Buck Showalter gave the nod to Tylor Megill. Megill delivered for the team and had a solid start to his 2022 season. He pitched five shutout innings on Opening Day while tallying six strikeouts to earn the win over Washington.

Game 3:

Start Time: 1:05 pm est

Aaron Nola (1-0, 6.00) vs. Max Scherzer (1-0, 4.50)

The final game of this series should be a great one. Aaron Nola will take on Max Scherzer in what should be a pitcher’s duel. After years of dominance in Washington with the Nationals, Scherzer’s capabilities are no secret to the Phillies or their fans. For the Phillies, it’s the same thing, just a different color uniform when it comes to Mad Max. Scherzer pitched fairly well against his former team on Friday night; however, it wasn’t the Max Scherzer we are used to seeing. Max allowed three earned runs on three hits, including a home run to Josh Bell. His final stat line for the game was 3 ER, three hits, six strikeouts, and one walk in 6 innings of work. The Phillies will hope to face a similar version of Scherzer on Wednesday.

Aaron Nola looked good on Opening Day until he ran out of gas. Nola was cruising along at his first start of the season until he allowed a two-strike solo homerun to Chad Pinder in typical Aaron Nola fashion. Aaron would seemingly move past this mistake and keep churning outs. He struck out seven A’s batters and did not allow a walk. In the seventh inning, however, Nola just ran out of stuff. A leadoff double was followed by a single and then a three-run home run off the bat of Seth Brown. This took the air out of the fans, and doubt began to creep in. Nola looked really good until he didn’t on Friday. Whether it was the lack of stamina from a shortened Spring Training or just missing his spots, Aaron can’t afford to repeat those mistakes against a much better Mets lineup.

The Playoffs Start Now

If the Phillies want to be serious contenders in the NL East and for a playoff spot, these are the games that will matter the most. Beating the rebuilding Athletics was not much of a challenge. The Mets are built to win, and their team is without its best player, Jacob Degrom. The Phillies need to win these divisional games early, not only to show they are legit but to build a lead in the National League East. While it’s only the second series of the season, these games are the ones that come back to haunt you in late September. The Phillies need to show the Mets and the rest of baseball that they mean business.

Photo by Cody Glenn/Icon Sportswire