Series Preview: Can the Phillies finally beat the Mets?

Dodgers Phillies Baseball
Philadelphia Phillies starting pitcher Zach Eflin throws during the third inning of a baseball game against the Los Angeles Dodgers, Sunday, May 22, 2022, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Chris Szagola)

To conclude this week’s road trip, the Phillies will head to Queens to take on the first-place New York Mets. Heading into Friday night’s game, New York currently has a 7.5-game lead in the NL East. The Phillies will head into New York coming off a four-game series split with the Atlanta Braves. They should have taken three of four, but poor management and disgraceful baseball lead to a blown lead on Tuesday.

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Take Advantage of Injury

The New York Mets have been dealing with injuries in the starting rotation for what seems like forever. One of the best pitchers in the history of the game, Jacob deGrom has not yet played in 2022. Starters Max Scherzer and Tylor Megill have joined the Mets ace on the Injured List and will both miss this series against the Phillies.

The Phillies will have the benefit of facing the depth of New York’s rotation instead of the club’s best. This means the Phils need to take advantage. They will face Carlos Carrasco (4-1, 3.50 ERA) and Taijuan Walker (2-0, 2.70 ERA) on Friday and Saturday. The Mets have not yet announced their starter for Sunday’s afternoon game.

Major or Little League Baseball?

The Phillies’ offense has scored a lot of runs but they haven’t been consistent in doing so. The club will need to give their pitching the best leads they can. As we saw a few weeks ago in South Philly, no lead is safe for this team, especially against the Mets. Strong performances from the starting rotation will be huge this weekend in New York. The less the bullpen has to pitch, the better. This not only allows for the Phillies to keep their better arms rested but gives Joe Girardi fewer chances to push the wrong buttons.

The Phillies have to play a cleaner and more professional brand of baseball this weekend and going forward. Poor baserunning decisions, horrific defense, and a lack of focus have killed this team for the past few seasons. The mistakes that this team has shown recently can be just as easily seen at your local little league fields. Playing a fundamentally sound game has been hard for this club to accomplish and it is not acceptable. Joe Girardi needs to hold his players to a higher standard and discipline his guys when they don’t play up to standard. If he refuses to use a relief pitcher in three straight games, he should refuse to play guys who make boneheaded choices on the field.

Probable Pitching Matchups

Game 1:

Bailey Falter (0-1, 3.75 ERA) vs Carlos Carrasco (4-1, 3.50 ERA)

Making a spot start on Friday night will give Bailey Falter another chance to shine. In his last big league start, Falter looked strong as he shut down the Seattle Mariners. In 4.2 innings pitched, he allowed just one earned run while striking out four batters. The Phillies could really use some length out of Bailey and anything more than 5 innings would be huge on Friday night.

Game 2:

Zach Eflin (1-3, 3.65 ERA) vs (Taijuan Walker (2-0, 2.70 ERA)

If the Phillies can get the Zach Eflin they saw on Sunday against the Dodgers for the rest of the season, lookout. Eflin was downright filthy against LA and struck out a career-high 12 batters. Outside of two solo homeruns, Eflin silences one of the best lineups in baseball. While Zach did not get credit for the win, there is no shot the Phillies win that game without his performance on Sunday. The Phils could use a similar performance on Saturday when he goes toe to toe with Taijuan Walker.

Game 3:

Zack Wheeler (3-3, 3.78 ERA) vs TBD

The ace has returned. Like I said at the beginning of the season there was no doubt that Zack Wheeler would once again be the ace of this staff. Wheeler’s dominance just shows that his delayed start to the season was the correct move by the club. His velocity is sitting around 96/97 mph on his fastballs and his stamina picked up right where he left off in 2021. While Wheeler is going to have to really shine if he looks to finish in the top three for the Cy Young vote again, being a consistent bright spot for the team is good enough for the Phillies. Expect more dominance on Sunday as a red-hot Zack Wheeler looks to shine against his former club yet again.

Photo Credit: AP Photo/Chris Szagola