Shane Victorino and the Phillies will try to pull even in the win column and move out of last place against the New York Mets. (Philliedelphia/Kevin Durso)
For the second time this season, the Phillies are playing host to the New York Mets. If not for a late rally in the series finale, the Phillies would have been swept in that series.
It's hard to say if that is a different team than the one entering this series tonight, but the Phillies did play a similar game yesterday, and did win by piling on late runs. Could that start a turnaround for the Phillies? That remains to be seen.
The Phillies enter the series dealing with a Mets team that remains stuck in neutral after a surprisingly hot start. Still, at 15-13, the Mets can hold claim to third place and a better record than the Phillies at this point.
The Mets come in to the series with a roster that isn't all that scary on paper. However, David Wright, Ike Davis and Lucas Duda had a great series the last time these two teams met. Not to mention that between Daniel Murphy, Ruben Tejeda, Justin Turner and Phillie-killer Scott Hairston will get their fair share of chances to contribute.
Here are the pitching matchups for the series.
In the opener, Roy Halladay (3-2, 3.40 ERA) goes against Jon Niese (2-1, 4.08 ERA) – Halladay had one of the worst starts of his career against the Braves last Wednesday when he allowed eight runs in the fifth and sixth innings, failing to escape the sixth. He took a no-decision in the Phillies' 15-13 loss in 11 innings. In his career against the Mets (11 starts), Halladay is 9-2 with a 2.88 ERA.
Niese had his worst start of the season his last time out against the Astros on Tuesday, allowing five runs over three innings. He pitched 6 2/3 shutout innings against the Phillies on April 14. In his career against the Phillies (nine starts), Niese is 4-4 with a 3.58 ERA.
In the middle game, Joe Blanton (3-2, 2.83 ERA) takes the mound against Miguel Bautista (0-1, 6.92 ERA) – Blanton pitched one of his best games in years, and easily his best in a Phillies uniform on Thursday against the Braves, blanking them in a three-hit, complete-game shutout. In his career against the Mets (nine starts), Blanton is 3-1 with a 3.50 ERA.
Bautista, primarily a relief pitcher, will be making a spot start in the series in place of Chris Schwinden. In his career against the Phillies (26 games, eight starts), Bautista is 3-3 with a 4.42 ERA.
In the finale, Cliff Lee (0-1, 1.96 ERA) gets the start against Dillon Gee (2-2, 4.50 ERA) – Lee is coming off the DL to make his first start since his no-decision in a ten-inning shutout effort against the Giants. Still in search of his first win, Lee suffered his only decision of the season to the Mets on April 13, allowing four runs in seven innings in a losing effort. In his career against the Mets (four starts), Lee is 2-1 with a 1.29 ERA.
Gee took a no-decision in his last start to the D'Backs, allowing a pair of runs in six innings of work. In his career against the Phillies (four games, three starts), Gee is 2-1 with a 7.85 ERA.
Prediction:May 7 – Phillies 5, Mets 2May 8 – Phillies 4, Mets 2May 9 – Phillies 6, Mets 3
You did not read that wrong, folks. The Phillies will not only put together their first three-game winning streak of the season, but they will sweep these Mets.
There's no way Roy Halladay loses tonight's game in my opinion. When he has a rough night, he tends to make up for it in a big way. I see that coming tonight.
This just in, Phillies fans…Joe Blanton has been good this season. If his career numbers hold true, he'll have another good start against the Mets this week.
Finally, with Cliff Lee still in search of a W, there's no way he lets this one get away, offense or no offense.
The stars are starting to align for the pitching of this team. This series is one where even a minimal offense may be enough of one. That being said, look for at least one game where they string a few solid hits together.
The Phillies will have a day off on Thursday before taking on the Padres in a weekend series. They will round out an eight-game homestand with a brief two-game series with the Houston Astros early next week.
Kevin Durso is a contributor for Philliedelphia. You can follow him on twitter @KDursoPhilsNet.