(cover photo thanks to Section 247 Sports Blog)
Since my last Phillies post, the team has gone 6-6 and now sits at 23-27, 5th in the NL East. The only highlight we need to see from that span comes from the bat of the Big Man. After Chase Utley tied the game at 3-3 in the 9th inning last night, Ryan Howard stepped up to the plate with two runners on:
Howard’s home run capped off a series in which he batted 5 for 9 with 2 home runs and 9 RBI. Utley batted 6 for 14 putting this team-high batting average at .335. Both are heating up at the right time: when the Mets come to town.
New York Mets (24-28) vs. Philadelphia Phillies (23-27)
Thursday at 7:05 ET: Zach Wheeler (1-5) vs. David Buchanan (1-0)
Friday at 7:05 ET: Rafael Montero (0-2) vs. A.J. Burnett (3-4)
Saturday at 3:15 ET: Jacob deGrom (0-2) vs. Kyle Kendrick (1-5)
Sunday at 1:35 ET: Jonathon Niese (3-3) vs. Cole Hamels (1-3)
Monday at 7:05 ET: Bartolo Colon (4-5) vs. Roberto Hernandez (2-2)
Originally scheduled to be a four-game set, this series now has five games to it because of a rain-out on April 30th that pushed the game to Monday. The Phillies have already sealed a sub-.500 May as they’re currently 10-14 with three games left this month but the good news for our Phightin’s is that they are only four games back of the Atlanta Braves in the NL East, and only one of the Mets. Seemingly every team in the division is injury-ridden, especially in Starting Pitching, so now is the time for the Phillies to make a move.
As I mentioned before, Chase Utley and Ryan Howard’s performances against the Rockies have them heating up just as New York comes to town. Howard is batting .266/.342/.541 with 38 home runs and 108 RBI in 131 career games against the Mets which bodes well for his current .240 average. Utley, on the other hand, is batting .280/.376/.521 with 31 homers and 88 RBI in 157 career games. Given Utley’s .335 average, those already great career numbers should be even higher after this crucial five-game series.
This series should be VERY close, or at least that’s what the
basic math tells. The lineups for Thursday have been released and should stay relatively the same throughout the five game. Of the eight position players, the Mets are averaging an on-base percentage of .316 while the Phillies are averaging an on-base percentage of .318. Why am I looking at OBP? Because that’s how you buy runs. For pitching, the Mets’ starters’ ERA is 3.89818 while the Phillies’ starters’ ERA is 3.89004.
No matter which way you look at this series, it’s exciting to see. A five-game series doesn’t come around very often for a team, especially against a rival. The extra game also gives Philadelphia a chance to see Bartolo Colon take some cuts.