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Friday, July 5, 2019

Slumping Phillies visit struggling Mets prior to MLB All-Star break

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Phillies visit Citi Field just prior to the 2019 All-Star break

It was just 10 days ago that the Philadelphia Phillies (45-42) season was on life support. Seven straight defeats and losses in nine of their previous 10 games had dropped the club to just a game over the .500 mark.
Turned out the temporary cure at that time was arriving at Citizens Bank Park in the form of the New York Mets, a club perhaps struggling even more than the Phillies.
Now here we are, a week and a half later, and the Phillies season appears to once again have relapsed. Since that visit to South Philly by the Mets, the Phillies have dropped two of three games to both the last-place Miami Marlins and first-place Atlanta Braves.
The Phillies are not only looking up at the Braves in the NL East standings, they are also now trailing behind the Washington Nationals by a game in the loss column. This marks the first time all season that the Phillies have fallen below second place in the division. In fact, they have now also slipped out of even an NL Wildcard playoff slot.
Could the Mets once again prove to be just what the Phillies need to feel a bit rejuvenated heading into next week’s four-day MLB All-Star Game break? As this weekend before that Mid-Summer Classic break begins, the Phillies will visit Flushing, Queens for three games at Citi Field.
The Mets slipped to fourth place in the division back on June 19 and have been stuck there ever since. They are coming off a split in their two-game Subway Series match-up with the New York Yankees and had the day off on Independence Day. Losers of eight of their last 10, the Mets have not won three games in a row since mid-May.

NEW YORK METS

TOP LINEUP THREATS

Michael Conforto: 26-year-old right fielder slashing .247/.361/.477 with 16 homers, 32 extra-base hits, 43 RBIs, 47 runs.
Jeff McNeil: 27-year-old left fielder slashing .349/.411/.516 with 7 homers, 31 extra-base hits, 35 RBIs, 38 runs.
Amed Rosario: 23-year-old shortstop with 9 homers, 42 RBIs, 36 runs.
Todd Frazier: 33-year-old third baseman with 11 homers, 34 RBIs, 27 runs over just 236 plate appearances.
Wilson Ramos: 31-year-old catcher slashing .275/.348/.414 with 9 homers and 41 RBIs played with Phillies in late 2018.

SPOTLIGHT PLAYER

Pete Alonso: 24-year-old rookie first baseman slashing .278/.372/.623 with 28 homers, 50 extra-base hits, 64 RBIs, 55 runs. The Tampa, Florida native was the Mets second round choice at 64th overall in the 2016 MLB Draft out of the University of Florida.
Phillies pitchers have proven to be among the few who have been able to keep Alonso under control. The 6’3″, 240 pounder has slashed just .229/.357/.286 with no home runs and two doubles in the 10 games (9 starts) in which he has played between the two teams this season.
In a recent poll of five MLB scouts, three chose Alonso as having a better long-term career outlook than Yankees young slugging phenom Aaron Judge. “Right now, I’d take Alonso,” one scout told Matthew Cerone of SNY. “Like most of the league’s power hitters, they both use the popular ferris wheel swing, inside out style, but Alonso tends to square up better and often faster.
The Phillies offense has to face three tough pitchers this weekend. Continuing to find a way to keep Alonso under control will prove a major challenge, but one that will be vital to picking up more wins against the struggling Mets.

SCHEDULED STARTING PITCHERS

FRIDAY – Jacob deGrom (31/RH): 4-7, 3.32 ERA, 1.107 WHIP, 92 hits over 103 IP across 17 starts with a 128/22 K:BB. After winning the 2018 NL Cy Young Award, deGrom struggled a bit in the early going. But over his last eight starts, deGrom has allowed as many as three earned runs just once, and has a 2.65 ERA and .235 batting average against. This will be his first start of the year against the Phillies.
SATURDAY – Noah Syndergaard (26/RH): 5-4, 4.56 ERA, 1.242 WHIP, 98 hits over 100.2 IP across 16 starts with a 98/27 K:BB. After spending two weeks on the IL in late June, “Thor” returned to the Mets rotation last week. Just seven of his 16 outings have resulted in Quality Start efforts. The Phillies got to him for five earned runs on nine hits back on April 15 at Citizens Bank Park.
SUNDAY – Zack Wheeler (29/RH): 6-5, 4.42 ERA, 1.246 WHIP, 110 hits over 114 IP across 18 starts with a 123/32 K:BB. Wheeler, set to become a free agent after this season, has been the subject of trade speculation for over a year now. If the Mets don’t spurt back into the race in the next couple of weeks, he is likely to be dealt. He is making the price go up of late, as over his last three starts the righty has allowed just 12 hits and four earned runs over 19.1 IP with a 20/4 K:BB. Wheeler has already made three starts against the Phillies on April 17 and 23, and June 27. The Mets lost the first and last, but on April 23 he tossed a gem, striking out 11 over seven shutout frames.

THE SKIPPER

Mickey Callaway: There was intense speculation that Callaway could be canned after the Phillies swept his club at the start of last week. But the second-year skipper has survived to this point.
The 44-year-old native of Memphis, Tennessee has a 116-133 record at the helm of the Mets. He was recently involved in a high-profile altercation with a member of the New York media and has come under much negative scrutiny in the press over the last two weeks.
Just a week ago, Callaway even seemed to throw in the towel on his team’s 2019 chances. His club sat 6.5 out of a Wildcard berth with seven teams standing between them and the second NL Wildcard slot at the time. “We’re in a tough spot. It’s gonna take a miracle,” The Mets manager told WFAN’s Mike Francesa. ‘I’ve seen miracles before … We’re down in the win-loss column. That’s the bottom line.

THE BALLPARK

Citi Field is located in the Flushing Meadows-Corona Park area of New York City in the borough of Queens. It was built adjacent to the former Shea Stadium, which had been home to the Mets since 1964, and opened to replace that old ballpark for the 2009 season.
There is a normal seating capacity of 41,922 and can fit up to 45,000 when taking standing room into account. The dimensions are 335 and 330 down the left and right field lines. Left-center is a close 358 feet, it is then 385 to deep-left center and 408 to straightaway center field. The deep-right center field fence is 398 feet away, and right-center is at 375 feet.
As homage to a tradition from Shea Stadium, the Home Run Apple, a giant apple which has a Mets logo on the front that lights up, rises from its housing in the center field batter’s eye whenever a Mets player hits a home run.
There is a Mets Hall of Fame & Museum located adjacent to the Jackie Robinson Rotunda at the front entrance to the ball park on the first base side. The museum includes plaques honoring inductees to the team’s Hall of Fame, replicas of the two World Series trophies won by the organziation, and other memorabilia.
An extreme pitcher’s park in it’s first few years, changes to the fences for the 2012 season were made to allow the park to play much more fairly. However, Citi Field still ranks just 22nd in all of Major League Baseball in the ESPN Park Factor rankings for runs scored.

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