With Chase Utley’s average continuing to rise, with Ryan Howard beginning to send some longballs over the fence and with the promotion of Maikel Franco, the Phillies have made strides to reassert themselves offensively. The improvements are showing as they have had the most extra base hits in the National League as of May 12. After a Howard blast last week against the Colorado Rockies, which landed 454 feet into the stands, I found myself, even if it was for a mere second, transported back to 2011. While the Phillies continue to show improvement compared to their struggles which they had in the month of April and the early weeks of May, they face a division rival which they have struggled against throughout the entirety of the season, the New York Mets. However, this time around, the Phillies prospects are looking high.
Entering this series against the Mets, the Phillies sit at 1-5 against their division rival scoring a meager 15 runs compared to 25 scored by the Mets this season. While the Phillies may have one of the better averages against Met’s ace Matt Harvey compared to that of the rest of the league, the rest of the Phils stats against the Mets so far this year have been dismal at best.
Yet, in saying this, this series could turn out very differently for the Phils for two reasons. The first reason being that the Mets and Phillies are sitting on the opposite end of the spectrum streak wise. The Mets started off the season as one of the best teams in baseball with an eleven game win streak in the beginning half of April. However, since May 12, the day which we have been pegging as the day the Phillies turned themselves around, the Mets have been 4-12. For the Phillies, since May 12, they have gone 8-5. In short, the Mets are cold, and in comparison to what we have been used to in Philadelphia, the Phils are hot.
With that, the Phillies are facing two Mets pitchers who are vulnerable at the moment, Bartolo Colon and Noah Syndergaard. Bartolo Colon has been struggling recently as his reliance on the fastball has been capitalized on by opposing offenses. Over his past two starts he has accumulated 13 earned runs over 9.1 innings pitched, ending in two losses. Noah Syndergaard, just recently called up, has been pitching well for a young rookie such as himself. However, being a young rookie, if the Phillies are able to get to him early it is inevitable that he will face the rookie jitters which can only end poorly for himself, and just great for our opposing Phillies.
Secondly, another reason that this series could very likely end differently than the previous two series is due to the fact that the Mets are currently riddled with injuries. Although David Wright has been absent since the Phillies’ second meeting with the Mets on April 14, the Mets are now missing other key players in catcher Travis D’Arnaud, infielder Dilson Herrera, and pitchers Bobby Parnell, Rafael Montero, Dillon Gee, Vic Black, and Jerry Blevins. One of the more loaded disabled lists in the league.
Put all of this into an equation, and the product of this three game division series looks promising for the Phillies.
With these prospects on our side in Philadelphia, this is also a series we must win if we want to begin to chip away at the division gap. With a series sweep, the Phillies could come within striking range of the better half of the National League East for the first time in quite a few years at this point in the season. While this in no way means that the Phillies will even come close to winning the division or even come close to being a wild card contender, it is all about pride at this point in Philadelphia. If the Phils can strike the better half of the NL East, even if it is for a few days in May or the beginning week of June, we can be entitled to some sense of pride for the Phillies – something we have unfortunately lacked in recent years.
All in all, statistics and predictions aside, is there really anything better than beating New York teams in sports, especially the Mets? No, there really isn’t.