Series Preview: Phillies home to finish series with Mets

Phillies ranger suarez
Philadelphia Phillies’ Ranger Suarez pitches during the first inning of a baseball game against the Atlanta Braves, Tuesday, June 20, 2023, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

The Phillies and Mets might have left New York, but they are not done with each other quite yet. Pulling inspiration from the NBA, Philadelphia and New York are kicking off the second part of a home-and-home series tonight at Citizens Bank Park.

Two contests took place in New York the previous two days, and Philadelphia was victorious in both. On Monday, after being down entering the ninth inning, Bryson Stott took Mets closer Edwin Díaz deep. After Philly loaded the bases, Alec Bohm put his body on the line, taking a hit-by-pitch with the bases loaded to tie the score. In the top of inning No. 10, Stott was the hero ago – driving in Bryce Haper with a sac fly.

Philadelphia Phillies’ Alec Bohm reacts after being hit by a pitch during the ninth inning of a baseball game against the New York Mets, Monday, May 13, 2024, in New York. (AP Photo/Noah K. Murray)

Tuesday was a day game, and there were no worries about extras or close scores in this one. Aaron Nola pitched a gem, going the full nine innings, allowing just four hits and no walks while striking out eight. Dominance was once again the name of the game for Phillies pitching as Nola was perfect through the first five innings. It was the Phillies starting staff’s second complete game of this young season – surpassing the one they threw in all of 2023.

If you thought a no-hitter would’ve been cool to see, you saw something even more rare from Nola in the seventh frame – a three-pitch inning! That’s right, you didn’t misread that. Aaron needed just three pitches and 85 real-life seconds to get through his half-inning. Take a look for yourself:

Philadelphia secured their 30th win of the season, the first club to reach that mark in 2024. They continue to look very strong through mid-May, a different experience compared to the last two seasons. But that’s enough about the first two games, let’s preview the home half of the series.

Phillies vs. Mets Pitching Matchups

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Philadelphia Phillies starting pitcher Ranger Suarez throws to an Atlanta Braves during the second inning of a baseball game Sunday, March 31, 2024, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Derik Hamilton)

Tonight’s contest will see Ranger Suárez (7-0, 1.50 ERA) face off against the Mets Joey Lucchesi, making his first major league appearance of the season. The veteran left-hander started the year in AAA Syracuse, going 2-1 with a 2.58 ERA over seven starts.

Lucchesi had a strong, albeit small, sample last season, his first in New York, pitching to the tune of 2.89 ERA in nine starts (none against the Phillies) but his WHIP and BAA lead you to believe he may have performed better than he should have. He has had success against Philadelphia in his career – two starts, 14.0 IP, 1.50 ERA, 6 hits, 5 walks, 13 Ks.

However, this current iteration has minimal experience against the crafty lefty. Only four hitters have faced him on the roster – Bohm, Harper, J.T. Realmuto, and Kyle Schwarber. They have combined for 10 at-bats and just one hit (Harper) against him.

Ranger, on the other hand, has plenty of experience with this Mets squad. Although his career numbers are average against New York, he has held this current crop of players at bay for the most part:

  • Pete Alonso: 0-for-12, 1 RBI
  • Francisco Lindor: 3-for-12, 1 HR, 1 RBI
  • Brandon Nimmo: 3-for-16, 1 RBI
  • Starling Marte: 4-for-12

Some of their younger players have gotten to him a little, but in smaller samples. Mark Vientos is 2-for-6 with a homer and Brett Baty is 1-for-3 with a RBI against Suárez. Mr. Rager is pitching the best he ever has, so past success may mean nothing against the version teams have seen in 2024.

Tomorrow night will see Taijuan Walker (3-0, 4.82 ERA) toe the rubber opposed by Jose Quintana (1-4, 5.44 ERA). Walker has absolutely cruised through the sixth inning in his first two starts before giving up damage via the long ball in the seventh in both games, taking his ERA up significantly. In start No. 3, he tossed just six frames, allowing only one run.

Phillies Taijaun Walker
Philadelphia Phillies’ Taijuan Walker pitches during the first inning of a baseball game against the San Francisco Giants, Sunday, May 5, 2024, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

Despite the overall numbers, Walker has looked strong through six innings in all of his starts since returning from the injured list. Despite being a member of the Mets for two seasons prior to coming to Philadelphia, he has six starts against the franchise in his career and has pitched well against them – a 3.24 ERA and 1.170 WHIP. He has handled the current Met hitters well for the most part, but J.D Martinez has his number. The big DH has gone 7-for-14 against him with a 1.286 OPS. Marte, Lindor, and Alonso have combined to go 4-for-31 (.129 AVG) against Walker in their careers.

Other notes

Philadelphia has not lost a series this year since their second series ended on April 3. The undefeated streak is their best in nearly 30 years.

If the home-and-home counts as one series, then the mark will be 12, regardless of the outcome of these next two games. If they are separate series, then they could match their second-highest streak (13) in franchise history before the weekend.

With Treat Turner going down, some Phillies hitters need to step up. Nick Castellanos seems to have caught fire at the perfect time. He is slashing .282/.378/.513 with three doubles, two home runs, and seven RBIs over the last 10 games. The man mostly replacing Turner in the infield, Edmundo Sosa, shouldn’t be looked over either – he’s been stellar since Turner’s trip to the injured list.

Philadelphia has a chance to beat up on some division rivals now through the weekend. They will need to in order to keep the slim lead they have over the always-tough Atlanta Braves.