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Phillies - Mets Series Preview: Can the Phillies keep the top spot in the NL East?

The Phillies begin a 4-game series at the New York Mets with a doubleheader on Tuesday, looking to ride the high of a controversy-free Sunday night win in Atlanta that I'm sure didn't get anyone mad. Philadelphia will take on the slow-starting Mets, who have come out of the gate with a record of 2-3, and had their last game paused due to a rain delay after just 9 pitches. So first, we’ll take a look at the pitching matchups in each of the four games and then everything else that could play a factor. If you want to read more about the Phillies last series, you can do that right here:

Game 1: Anderson vs. Peterson

The Phillies Chase Anderson will face off against David Peterson, who in his first start of his sophomore year allowed 7 hits, 2 home runs, and 6 runs in only 4 innings, in addition to walking two, hitting one, and striking out 5. In Anderson’s one start this year, he went 5 innings, threw 80 pitches, and let 2 runs cross the plate, before he was relieved by Vince Velasquez. Here’s a statistical comparison of Anderson’s 2019 (because he pitched around 30 innings in 2020) and Peterson’s 2020, who didn’t reach 50 innings but it was his rookie season, and we have nothing else to go off of. (Anderson’s numbers are first.)

ERA: 4.21 vs. 3.44

WHIP: 1.266 vs. 1.208

ERA+: 106 vs. 127

H/9: 8.2 vs. 6.5

For reference, here are what those stats mean:

WHIP: Baserunners per inning

ERA+: Adjusted ERA accounting for difficulty of batters faced, ballparks, etc. 100 is average, so 150 would mean that pitcher is 50% better than league average

H/9: How many hits the pitcher, on average, allows over 9 innings

Game 2: Nola vs. Walker

Phillies Ace Aaron Nola takes the mound against Taijuan Walker. Nola will look to repeat his first performance, where he went 6.2 innings and allowed one two-run shot over his second start, in which he allowed 6 hits and threw 92 pitches in 4 innings. Walker’s last start included two earned runs, four strikeouts, and two walks in six innings. Walker has a career ERA+ of 109, meaning he’s just above average. For Nola’s career, that number is 122, and last year it was 135. As long as Nola upholds his end of the bargain, it’s on the Phillies bats to win this game.

Game 3: Wheeler vs. Lucchesi

The Phillies trot out Zack Wheeler against Joey Lucchesi. Lucchesi made his first appearance against the Phillies out of the bullpen, and pitched two scoreless innings, allowing one hit and facing 7 total batters with 36 pitches. Lucchesi last started with San Diego in 2020 and pitched 5.2 total innings with an ERA of 7.94. In the two years before that with the Padres, his ERA hovered around 4 as well. Wheeler’s first time out was great, as he went 7 strong with 10 strikeouts, and with the bat in his hands had more hits than he allowed. But in his second start, he threw 92 pitches across 4.2 innings and allowed 7 hits, walked as many as he struck out, and let up a home run. The Phillies lineup should be able to score some runs against Lucchesi, but which version of Wheeler Joe Girardi gets should be the determining factor in this one.

Game 4: Eflin vs. DeGrom

Jacob DeGrom, perennial Cy Young contender and winner of two of the past three, will face Zach Eflin to round out the series. The last time the Phillies faced DeGrom, he was mysteriously taken out after a dominant 77 pitch, 7 strikeout stretch across the first 7 innings of play. In his last time out vs. The Marlins, DeGrom lasted 8 innings, threw 95 pitches, struck out 14 batters and his only blemish was a solo home run. Both of Eflin’s starts have come against Atlanta. In his first, he was strong while allowing one solo shot in 7 innings of work. In the second, he gave up 7 hits, 4 runs and only struck out 2 in 6 innings. Even if Eflin recreates his first start, the advantage is clearly in the Mets corner and the Phillies one and only strategy should be to make DeGrom work and get him out of the game as soon as possible. Last time after DeGrom was pulled early, the Phillies scored 5 runs in one inning to secure the win.

Lineup Notes:

  • Bryce Harper has hit a home run in each of the past two games and has hit 27 bombs against the Mets in 139 games against them

  • Didi Gregorius has recorded a hit in every one of the Phillies games this year, including a three-run shot in their series finale against the Braves

  • Rhys Hoskins hasn’t walked so far this year after recording 29 of them in 41 games last season

  • Roman Quinn, who’s been splitting time in CF, has a .063 batting average so far

  • JT Realmuto has recorded 16 total bases in 30 at-bats this season

  • Francisco Lindor, the Mets big acquisition is only hitting 3-17 his season, with 1 RBI

  • Brandon Nimmo is batting a blistering .412 for the Mets this season

  • In his career, Bryce Harper has an OPS of .916 against Jacob DeGrom. That’s higher than JT Realmuto, Alec Bohm, and Didi Gregorius combined

Series Overview

Out of this 4-game series, it’s important for the Phillies to win at least two to not fall too far behind in the NL East race. As of right now, they’re still two games above Atlanta. Their best chances to win are the second and third games of the series, as Nola and Wheeler face off against the back end of the Mets starters. Going against DeGrom, it’d be great to pull out a victory but in reality, you can’t expect or count on anything against a pitcher of his caliber. The first game, on Monday night, will largely depend on the Phillies lineup. The best you can hope for from Chase Anderson is that he goes 6 innings and doesn’t let the game turn into a home run derby. If Bryce Harper can continue his hot streak, as well as Rhys Hoskins, Realmuto and Didi, their chances will come down to the bullpen. It's been a mixed bag so far this year. Hector Neris has allowed only 1 hit in 5 innings, Jose Alvarado has notched two wins on the young season, and Conor Brogdon hasn’t allowed a run in over 4 innings. On the downside, the Phillies might give relief work to Vince Velasquez, who has a career ERA nearing 5, and that spikes to an ERA of 27 after his one appearances this season. It's important to watch how the Archie Bradley injury impacts who is used when.

The Phillies and Mets Face off in a 4-game series starting with Tuesday’s doubleheader at 4:10 PM. You can watch on NBC Sports Philly and listen on 94 WIP. You can follow along here at Philly Sports Today, and on our Twitter, @PHISportsToday.

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