The Mets have been able to stay around .500 despite having to deal with a lot of injuries but the rivalry just isn’t the same as it was a few years ago. With the Phillies dominate play both against the Mets and in the standings, the dislike between the teams has faded. But as a Phillies phan it is still fun to beat them while they are down, I would want to see them lose if they were 100 games back. Tonight the Phillies start a 3 game series with the New York Mets at Citi Field. This will be the Phillies 2nd visit to Queens this season and have had moderate success against the Mets. They will enter the series 6-3 against them overall and 2-1 while playing in New York.
The Phillies have already received at least one thing from the long four day all star break. The National League Winner will have home field advantage in the World Series thanks to the stellar pitching from Doc, Lee and the rest of the NL pitchers. They were also able to get some much needed rest to a banged up and battered roster. It gave Rollins and Utley a chance to rest there previously injured knees and gave some extra time for Closer Ryan Madson to get 100 percent. Today the Phillies activated Madson off the DL but sadly the time off wasn’t long enough for Polanco to get healthy as he was placed on the 15 day disabled list earlier today.
The Polanco move is retroactive to July 6 and he will be eligible to return a week from today. But the team has not commented on his status and he might need a little more time to get healthy. Victorino is eligible to be activated off the DL on Tuesday and it looks like he should be ready to go by then. Brad Lidge is in the middle of his rehab and Roy Oswalt is reportedly progressing and barring any setbacks they could be back by the end of the month. The outlook doesn’t look as good on pitchers Jose Contreras and Joe Blanton, both have made little progress and the team has been very quiet on their status. While Blanton’s return looks closer, there isn’t any known timetable for either players return.
Meet the Mets
Just like the Phillies, the Mets have also been bit with the injury bug. They have played the entire season without former Ace Johan Santana and a large chunk without David Wright and 1B Ike Davis. Jose Reyes was having a career year and was the front runner for the NL MVP until he tweaked his hamstring in a game against the Yankees a few weeks ago. He was placed on the disabled list and will not play during the series. They enter play tonight with a 46-45 record and are 11 games behind the Phillies in the division and 7.5 games behind the Braves in the wild card race. With their financial outlook and their large gap in the standings, they may end up being sellers at the deadline. The selling has already started as they sent unstable Closer Francisco Rodriguez to the Brewers on Tuesday night. Carlos Beltran and Jose Reyes have also been rumored to be available at the deadline for the right price.
The Mets enter the series 7th in the Majors in batting average , 14th in runs and 25th in Homeruns. The reason for the difference in the offensive statistics is due to the canyon of a ball park they play in. Citi Filed is one of the most pitcher friendly and homerun angry ball parks in the Majors. Even with the huge park, they are just 17th in baseball in ERA and are 19th in quality starts.
Friday June 15, 7:10: RHP Vance Worley vs. RHP R.A. Dickey
The Phillies have one of the most talented rotations in the history of the game and its not one of the 4 aces who has the best ERA as a starter so far this season. That honor goes to the 23 year old righty Vance “Vanimal” Worley. The Phillies wanted to keep Worley on a regular scheduled to they sent him back to the minors during the break to keep him stretched out. He pitched 6 shutout innings for the Pigs in his start on Saturday night. Vanimal had been on a tear since his previous return from the minors. In those 4 starts, he is 2-0 and has only given up 2 earned runs in 25 innings! He is now 4-1 with a 2.20 ERA and a 1.22 WHIP in his 10 games (8 starts) this season. Worley has given up just 15 runs in 49 innings so far this season, but 8 of those runs came in just 3 innings in the team’s last visit to New York. It was his worst start of his career and he was sent to the minors after the game. Despite the one poor game, he is still 1-1 with a 4.50 ERA during his career against the Mets.
The Mets will send the 36 year old knuckle baller to the hill to face Worley tonight. R.A Dickey revolutionized his career last year with the Mets after failing to make an impact at the major league level throughout his career. Prior to last season, he had just 22 career wins and spent a lot of time being shipped back in forth between the majors and the minors. Last season he went 11-9 with a 2.84 ERA and signed a 3 year contract with the Mets during the offseason. He hasn’t been as good as he was last season but he has still had a solid year. Dickey is currently 4-7 with a 3.61 ERA and a 1.32 WHIP. He has made 4 previous starts versus the Phillies, in those games he is 2-2 with a 2.25 ERA.
Saturday July 16, 4:10: LHP Cole Hamels vs. LHP Jon Niese
Hamels was selected to participate in the all-star game on Tuesday night but wasn’t able to pitch because he had pitched on Sunday. If he would have been eligible to pitch, he would have had a strong case to be named the starting pitcher for the NL. Hamels is now 11-4 with a 2.32 ERA and a 0.93 WHIP in 19 starts this season. He has received 28 runs from his offense during his last 2 starts after only getting 3 runs of support in his previous 3 starts. Cole has not had a lot of success against the Mets during his career but he pitched great in his last start against them. In late May, he went 7 innings and only gave up 2 runs on route to a 5-2 Phillies win. In 15 starts versus them during his career, he is just 3-9 with a 4.22 ERA. He has made 5 starts at Citi Field and is 1-3 with a 3.73 ERA. Current Mets hitters are a combined 38-131 (.290) while facing Hamels during their careers.
Niese will be sent to the mound in a battle of lefty’s tomorrow afternoon. The 24 year old lefty has had a solid start to his young career but I doubt he will ever be a top of the rotation type pitcher. Niese is in his 2nd full year of starting and looks to be a solid middle of the rotation type pitcher for New York for the next few years. So far during his career he is 19-19 with a 4.21 ERA. He has been able to improve on his career numbers this season, in 18 starts (19 games) he is 8-7 with a 3.88 ERA and a 1.36 WHIP. Niese has made 6 career starts versus the Phillies, in those games he is 2-3 with a 3.11 ERA. Current Phillies hitters are a combined 20-83 (.241) while facing Niese during their careers.
Sunday July 17, 1:10: RHP Kyle Kendrick vs. RHP Mike Pelfrey
The Phillies elected to give Halladay and Lee an extra day of rest and will have Kyle Kendrick the start in the last game of the series in New York. Kyle Kendrick is who he is, he is not the type of pitcher who will dominate the opposing lineup but he can give you some quality innings and keep your team in the game. Kyle is the team’s 7th best starter and phans have to temper their expectations when he pitches. So far this season in 22 games (7 starts), he is 4-4 with a 3.58 ERA. Surprisingly he has the best numbers of the 3 pitchers going this weekend for the Phillies against the Mets. In 12 games (9 starts), he is 3-5 with a 3.07 ERA. Kendrick has pitched in 3 games (2 starts) at Citi Field and is 1-1 with a 2.45 ERA in those games.
Last season as Pelfrey was in the middle of an amazing first half, bias Mets fans tried to claim that the man they call “Big Pelf” was a better pitcher than Cole Hamels. Now try to stop yourself from laughing and try to regain your focus. Pelfrey’s career numbers do compare to a Phillies pitcher, but that player isn’t Cole Hamels, Roy Halladay or even Vance Worley, that Phillies pitcher is his opponent on Sunday Kyle Kendrick. Pelfrey is 48-49 with a 4.34 ERA during his career, compared to Kendrick’s 38-29 record and his 4.57 ERA. His performance this season has made some Mets fans call for the team to part ways with the 27 year old righty. So far this season he is just 5-8 with a 4.55 ERA in 19 starts. In his 16 career starts against the Phillies, he is just 6-5 with a 5.01 ERA. Current Phillies hitters are a combined 59-203 (.291) while facing Pelfrey during their careers.
As a Phillies phan, I couldn’t be happier to see Jose Reyes out of the Mets lineup during this series. His absence will make the Phillies job a lot easier during the series as he has been thorn in the Phillies side for the last few years. When he is able to get on the base paths, he instantly creates a mess for the Phillies. With Charlie Manuel as the skipper, the Phillies have always been a better team during the 2nd half of play. This fact is a scary thought for the rest of baseball as the Phillies had the best record in the game during the 1st half of the series. I predict the Phillies will Meet the Mets, Beat the Mets, Step right up and SWEEP THE METS!
Brotherly Love Nation Writer