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Phillies vs. New York Mets for 2020

 

By Tal Venada, Sports Talk Philly Contributor

While the Philadelphia Phillies faithful focus on their relief corps, this glaring flaw has distracted many from a rotation some had doubted during the offseason. And those locals argued the five-man staff doomed the Fightins to fourth place, but others said a third place tie or worse. Yeah, dead last?    

                                           

Northern Neighbors:

For Phillies and New York Mets fans, this is the third summer where both organizations are competitive. Usually, one doesn’t have a shot at postseason glory, but injuries on both teams have been more than enough to sink those chances since 2008.     

IN OTHER WORDS:

“Such seems to be the disposition of man, that whatever makes a distinction produces rivalry.” - Samuel Johnson

In ‘20, the injuries are piling up for muscles, backs and ligaments at an alarming rate aside from COVID-19 incidents. Every day, the number of players placed on the IL (injured list) increases despite precautionary measures.                

The why is the downtime between March and July: Some players had more resources than others. Additionally, the shorter ramp-up time and the start-and-stop circumstances have roughly doubled the injury problem.  

The 2019 finishing order for the National League East based on months missed was the Atlanta Braves (four months), the Washington Nationals (five months), the Mets (19 months) and the Phils (40.5 months). Unsurprisingly, it matches their position in the standings as well.

2019 Time on the IL:

#

Phillies

Mos

Mets

Mos

Nationals

Mos

Braves

Mos

1

McCutchen

4

Cespedes

6

Zimmerman

3.5

Vizcaino**

1.5

2

Herrera*

4

Lowrie

6

Turner

1.5

Markakis  

1.5

3

Bruce

1.5

Nimmo

3

   

Swanson

1

4

Dickerson

0.5

Smith

2

       

5

Robertson

6

Cano

2

       

6

Hunter

6

           

7

Arano

6

           

8

Dominguez

4

           

9

Neshek

3.5

           

10

Morgan

3

           

11

Arrieta

2

           
 

Total Mos.

40.5

 

19

 

5

 

4

#

*Suspension

4th

 

3th

 

2nd

**Traded

1st

For the third consecutive season, my prediction is the healthiest club has the best shot to capture the NL East pennant. Healthwise, no team has a guarantee of good fortune every campaign.  

During the course of previous 162s, Braves fanatics usually had no issue with me posting on their site because they were competitive the last two years. But this summer, they frowned on an honest assessment of both organizations. Translation: The Braves are in a fleeting position atop the division.             

I expected the usual from the Atlanta faithful about losing to the Miami Marlins and Baltimore Orioles, but they were in no mood to knock the red pinstripes. Therefore, the reality of having only one dependable starter is a buzzkill, and he faded after his first 10 performances in 2019.   

Following their World Series victory, Washington is off to a slow start due to the virus, injuries, and their bullpen shortcomings. Plus their five-man staff  is down to Max Scherzer, Patrick Corbin, a struggling veteran, and a five-slot replacement because Stephen Strasburg still has a hand-related malady involving nerves.                       

In Gotham, Metropolitans fans had expected --like ‘19-- to have a contenting squad, and they did until their rotation was Jacob deGrom, a rookie and three journeymen. So, finger-pointing is everywhere: the owners, the second-campaign general manager, the rookie skipper, their drafting record, etc. Sound familiar? 

In March and June, many locals here were unhappy with the rotation, but now it’s the pen and struggling regulars: Most hitters are streaky. Yeah, Richie Ashburn won the 1958 batting title with a .350 mark despite a two-week slump, but some may expect more consistency today.         

Rotation: 

While the envied rotations of their rivals have suffered injuries and reduced effectiveness, no one in March had foreseen the Phillies having a decent five-man staff in the NL East due to six healthy hurlers. The Mets, thought, haven’t been as fortunate with their top pitchers having either season-ending surgery or opting-out.    

While the Fightins have Aaron Nola (2-1, 2.05 ERA), Zack Wheeler (3-0, 2.81 ERA), Jake Arrieta (1-3, 4.95 ERA) and Zach Eflin (0-1, 5.14 ERA) with his one clunker in every three outings, the Mets have deGrom (2-0, 1.93 ERA). In ‘20, though, Noah Syndergaard and Marcus Stroman will not be toeing the rubber.     

The others on their five-man staff are Rick Porcello (1-3, 5.76 ERA), Robert Gsellman (0-0, 7.71 ERA), and Seth Lugo from the bullpen, while Michael Wacha (1-2, 6.43 ERA) is on the IL. Like the Braves, they will rely too heavily on their pen especially with a growing-pains rookie.              

Barring an improvement, this will catch up to them because deGrom skipped his opportunity against the Phillies with a stiff neck after a blister-marred appearance previously. And left-handed rookie David Peterson (3-1, 2.91 ERA) is now on the IL with left shoulder fatigue.

Stats through Aug. 20:

Rotation

ERA

NL #

MLB #

Phillies

4.10

7

11

Nationals

5.23

12

22

Mets

5.23

12

22

Braves

5.38

14

26

Relief Corps:

In the bullpen, Joe Girardi has Hector Neris, Jose Alvarez, Tommy Hunter, Adam Morgan and Blake Parker. And the other relievers are youngsters Girardi hopes one or two will take advantage of this situation, while they mop up lopsided contests. Meantime, David Robertson and Ranger Suarez are ramping up in Allentown.

Rule of thumb: Four out of every five outings must be acceptable, not perfect. However, 75 percent is the minimum after two months. 

Phillies relievers' results toward 75-80 percent (through Aug. 20):  

  • Neris: 4 good, 0 so-so and 3 bad (0 blowups) out of 7 total for 57.1%.
  • Alvarez: 5 good, 2 so-so and 1 bad (0 blowups) out of 8 total for 87.5%.
  • Morgan: 5 good, 1 so-so and 2 bad (0 blowups) out of 8 total for 75%.
  • Hunter: 4 good, 1 so-so and 3 bad (0 blowups) out of 8 total for 57.1%.
  • Parker: 3 good, 1 so-so and 0 bad (0 blowups) out of 4 total for 100%.
  • Everyone else: 6 good, 2 so-so and 24 bad (5 blowups) out of 32 total for 25%.
  • Results take into consideration inherited runners.

For Mets supporters, they are again depending on 2019’s closer Edwin Diaz with 2018’s ninth-inning man Jeurys Familia in a setup role. Yes, both were ineffective in ‘19. And they also have lefty Justin Wilson, an effective set-up man, free-agent signing Dellin Betances, and demoted starter Steven Matz (0-4, 9.00 ERA).  

Mets relievers’ stats through Aug. 20:

  • *Lugo: 9 Gms., 10 ⅓ Inn., a 2.61 ERA with 3 Saves and 2 BS.
  • Diaz: 11 Gms., 10 ⅔ Inn., a 2.53 ERA with 1 Save and 2 BS.
  • Familia: 11 Gms., 11 ⅓ Inn. and a 4.76 ERA.
  • Betances: 11 Gms., 9 Inn. and a 6.00 ERA.
  • Wilson: 10 Gms., 8 ⅓ Inn. and a 4.32 ERA.
  • * Now a starter.

Stats through Aug.20:

Bullpen

ERA

NL #

MLB #

Braves

3.17

3

7

Nationals

4.13

5

14

Mets

4.62

6

16

Phillies

8.07

15

30

Offense: 

For the Phils, JT Realmuto is hitting .274 with eight bombs and 21 RBIs: This projects to 62 round-trippers and 162 RBIs for 162 games. And as I wrote during the winter, expect a dramatic increase in his stats due to a full summer without learning an entire pitching staff again.          

Meanwhile, Bryce Harper is averaging .338 with six homers and 16 RBIs (46 blasts and 123 RBIs), and Didi Gregorious is batting .315 with three home runs and 15 RBIs (23 bombs and 116 RBIs): both projecting for 162 contests. Plus Jay Bruce and Jean Segura have four and three long balls respectively: 23 and 31 for a 162. 

Stats through Aug. 20:

Offense

Runs 

Games

Avg. Runs/Gm.

Braves

124

25

4.96

Mets

123

26

4.73

Phillies

116

21

5.52

Nationals

99

21

4.71

Overall

fWAR *

NL #

MLB #

Mets

4.7

4

7 tie with NYY

Phillies

3.6

5

10

Braves

2.0

10

21

Nationals

0.5

14 

28

* Fangraphs Wins Above Replacement

In Queens, their faithful expected production from Pete Alonso, Jeff McNeil and Michael Conforto. But Alonso had started slowly before Dominic Smith (the better defender) challenged him for his first base job. Now, Alonso is hitting .247 with five homers and 13 RBIs projecting to 31 blasts and 81 RBIs. 

Smith has launched six bombs with a .323 average and 21 RBIs: This equals 37 home runs and 131 RBIs for 162 games. Meanwhile, Robinson Cano is batting .373 with four long balls and 13 RBIs projecting to 25 long balls and 81 RBIs. And JD Davis is at .284 with three homers and 12 RBIs: 19 four-baggers and 75 RBIs.  

While McNeil has a .269 mark, Conforto is averaging .312 with four round-trippers and 13 RBIs, which projects to 25 blasts and 81 RBIs for a full year. But Cano, Davis and Smith don’t have sustainable production, although New York (NL) has played 26 contests (43.3 percent of 2020).                          

In their three-game series at the Bank, the red pinstripes scored 18 runs to nine for the Metropolitans. Ergo, hitters pad their stats against moundsmen not named Nola and Wheeler. And what two words did Dutch Daulton have to describe the situation against the bottom two rungs of other rotations? Hittin’ time!     

 

NEXT:

Phillies vs. Atlanta Braves in 2020

Rsz_robertson

 

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