Series Preview: Phillies look to gain traction in division in series vs. Mets

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Philadelphia Phillies’ Bryson Stott, right, celebrates after his home run against the Arizona Diamondbacks with Phillies’ Alec Bohm (28) during the second inning of a baseball game Thursday, June 15, 2023, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

It’s National League East divisional week for the Philadelphia Phillies. For fans who’ve sat in the seats at Citizens Bank Park, the past couple of games against the Atlanta Braves were not ideal.

Atlanta brought the brooms and the Phils were swept in the two games they were able to play. Next up are their I-95 neighbors the New York Mets.

Like the stretch of I-95 in Philadelphia that collapsed, the team is hoping their 2023 postseason hopes don’t do the same. Hosting the Mets for a three games series has a chance to bring back the momentum.

Phillies are Dancing On Their Own Path

The iconic song was adopted by Philadelphia during their 2022 World Series run. It’s been brought back and coupled with having first baseman Rhys Hoskins back in the dugout, things are going well.

Minus the last series.

A major issue defensively is Kyle Schwarber. He’s become a full-blown liability in left field. He has a -16 defensive runs saved (DRS) this season, which is the worst mark of his career. Schwarber has constantly said he’s not dealing with any physical issues but he’s slow and sluggish at the position. But there has to be a reason and hopefully, there is something revealed to both the team and fans.

Phillies Kyle Schwarber
Philadelphia Phillies’ Kyle Schwarber reacts after grounding out to end the sixth inning in Game 5 of baseball’s World Series between the Houston Astros and the Philadelphia Phillies on Thursday, Nov. 3, 2022, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

The offense also struggled against Atlanta. Granted, they held the Braves 0-0 until the 10th inning. But it wasn’t a blazing performance. They mustered one run to avoid being shut out. J.T. Realmuto was on second base, and Bryson Stott singled to put runners on first and third. Alec Bohm hit a sacrifice fly to bring Realmuto home, making it 5-1.

Only Brandon Marsh, Stott, and Bohm recorded hits in the loss. On the whole, Philadelphia has been an offensively mixed bag. The Phillies are eighth in baseball in strikeouts, with 680. According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, manager Rob Thomson isn’t worried yet about them.

“Just track record,” he said. “That’s all I can base it off of. I know (Bryce) Harper is going to hit home runs at some point. I know Trea Turner is going to hit home runs at some point. (Nick) Castellanos, and J.T. I mean, at some point, it’s going to happen.”

Rob Thomson, 6/23/23

Bring the Brooms to Citizens Bank Park

Ideally, no team wants to be swept again. Even more so when they’re hosting their NL East rival. Philadelphia is 38-36 and sits third in the division. New York is below them with a record of 34-40 and sits below .500. The Mets are coming off a series loss against the 2022 American League champion Houston Astros. As an aside, the Phillies and Mets will square off in London on June 8 and 9, 2024.

The last series between these two teams saw New York win the whole thing. That also ended up being the last time the Mets won a series in 2023.

Losing in Houston just pushed the Mets deeper into a hole. In the past 22 games, they’ve scored 7+ runs seven times. In those games, they have a 1-6 record. They have no problem putting runs on the board but keeping a lead is a struggle. Their offense is in the bottom half of the league in most major statistical categories, and that includes everyone up and down the lineup. Add in a pitching rotation that a 5.01 ERA on the season and it’s a bad recipe. That rotation is also fifth-worst in baseball and third-worst in the NL.

Probable Pitchers

Game 1: Taijuan Walker (7-3, 4.31 ERA) vs Kodai Senga (6-4, 3.53 ERA)

Game 2: Cristopher Sanchez (0-0, 3.24 ERA) vs Carlos Carrasco (2-3, 6.34 ERA)

Game 3: Zack Wheeler (6-4, 3.48 ERA) vs Max Scherzer (6-4, 4.04 ERA)

There are two very spicy matchups over the weekend series: Walker and Wheeler against Senga and Scherzer respectively.

Senga has been on a trend of one good start/one bad start, where he earned his fourth loss against the St. Louis Cardinals. So far this season, he’s struck out 87, allowed nine home runs, and has a 1.33 WHIP. He’s better on the road than at Citi Field but CBP is a hitter’s park. That road ERA is his downfall at 4.78. Walker has been on a roll, lowering his overall ERA on the season by almost a run-and-a-half. In his last outing, his shutout streak stopped at 14 innings. All was not lost at over eight innings he struck out eight and walked no one.

Scherzer and Wheeler is the jewel of the weekend. There was concern about Wheeler and those fears have been put to rest as of late. Since allowing seven earned runs in 3.2 innings against the Washington Nationals on June 2, he’s a new man for the Phillies He’s made three more starts since then and allowed two runs (one earned) on 111 hits, with 19 strikeouts and four walks. The Phillies won those games and that’s a favorable outlook. For Scherzer, it’s been tough as Met but he’s done well in his last outing. The righty threw for eight innings and allowed four hits, one walk, and eight strikeouts.

There’s a chance with the Mets’ poor offensive output, the Phillies can sweep them at home. The Braves were a tough awakening of why they’re leading the division. But Philadelphia can creep closer with three wins over New York.

Photo Credit: AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin