The Philadelphia Phillies (12-11) haven’t found themselves this close to the .500 mark since sweeping their opening series at home against the division-rival Atlanta Braves.
But now after dropping the first two games of their current series in the Big Apple against the New York Mets (13-10) the injury-depleted Phillies are just a game above that break-even mark and the club is reeling.
Having dropped five of their last six games the Phillies will try to avoid a sweep at the hands of the host Mets in the Wednesday night series finale at Citi Field.
The chief culprit of late has been a suddenly anemic offensive attack. The Phillies have scored three runs or fewer in eight of their last 11 games. Over the last two nights in New York the club has scored just one run and recorded only eight hits, just three for extra-bases.
Now a little extra drama seems to be injecting itself into the proceedings. As the game was winding to a close, a heretofore anonymous relief pitcher with the Mets apparently was used to deliver some sort of message.
With two outs in the 9th inning and his team leading by an overwhelming 9-0 score, 26-year-old right-hander Jacob Rhame making just his second big-league appearance of the season fired a pair of offerings over the head of Phillies slugger Rhys Hoskins.
— SNY (@SNYtv) April 24, 2019
This followed on the heels of two Mets batters getting hit by Phillies pitching in Monday night’s series opener. Now there appears to be a question of retaliation as the two clubs prepare to meet for the last time until late June.
Hoskins quite obviously felt that it was intentional. Patrick Gordon of the Philadelphia Baseball Review quoted him: “I would assume teams are pitching me in because that’s where they think they can get me out, and that’s fine. That’s part of the game. Again, I think most guys are capable of pitching inside and not missing that bad.”
During an appearance on local Philly SportsRadio 94WIP’s Morning Show on Wednesday, manager Gabe Kapler stated “I think that we have to get together as a group. We have to decide how to handle the situation. Those are matters that are handled internally, we don’t talk about those publicly. I know that it’s something that would be nice to kind of have out on a show like today, but not gonna happen. There’s no chance.”
Bryce Harper addressed the situation with the following statement per Corey Seidman of NBC Sports Philadelphia: “I understand that two of their guys got hit yesterday. But, I mean, if it’s baseball and you’re going to drill somebody, at least hit him in the ass. Not in the head. You throw 98, it’s scary now. You could kill somebody. Lose your eyesight. That’s bigger than the game.”
Whether the Phillies retaliate or not, the bigger issue will be getting a win and avoiding a series sweep at the hands of their division rivals. The Phillies won two of three against the Mets last week at Citizens Bank Park. They would like to escape from New York with the hosts doing no more than the same.
WEDNESDAY STARTING LINEUPS AND PREVIEW
- McCutchen LF
- Realmuto C
- Harper RF
- Hoskins 1B
- Franco 3B
- Hernandez 2B
- Rodriguez SS
- Velasquez P
- Quinn CF
PHILLIES HOT & COLD
Not many truly “hot” hitters with the Phillies these days, but one exception has been Maikel Franco. The third baseman is slashing .400/.455/.550 over his last five games, though he has no RBIs and just one run scored in that time.
J.T. Realmuto is slashing .367/.375/.633 with two home runs, nine RBIs, and six runs scored in his last 32 plate appearances over eight games.
Righty Hector Neris could be considered the Phillies closer at this point. He has allowed just four hits and two runs over 9.2 innings with a dominating 15/2 K:BB ratio. Lefty Adam Morgan remains unscored upon over his first nine innings, allowing just three hits with a strong 10/1 K:BB ratio.
Young ace Aaron Nola has not pitched to last year’s Cy Young-contending levels this season. After a Quality Start on Opening Day in which he walked five batters, Nola has allowed 28 hits and 19 runs, 18 of those earned, over his last 19 innings and four starts.
- McNeil LF
- Conforto RF
- Cano 2B
- Ramos C
- Smith 1B
- Frazier 3B
- Rosario SS
- Lagares CF
- Vargas P
METS HOT & COLD
This little tidbit courtesy of Newsday Mets beat writer Tim Healey: utility player Jeff McNeil, who now seems to be emerging as the latest in a long line of noted Phillies-killers, has a 400 batting average with two strikes. As Healey said, that is “just silly.” McNeil is hitting .368 with a .446 on-base percentage over his last 65 plate appearances across 15 games.
Rookie first baseman Pete Alonso, one of the leading early candidates for the NL Rookie of the Year honors, went 0-4 on Tuesday. But prior to that, Alonso was slashing ..325/.419/.725 with eight homers, 21 RBIs, 16 extra-base hits, and 18 runs scored in his first month of big-league action.
Right fielder Michael Conforto is enjoying an All-Star caliber campaign to date, slashing .302/.419/.593 with six homers, 13 extra-base hits, 13 RBIs and 19 runs scored. He was a 2017 NL All-Star previously.
Robinson Cano, who had done nothing during his first few weeks in a Mets uniform, appears to be finally coming around. The veteran second baseman is slashing .417/.440/.667 with four extra-base hits over 25 plate appearances in his last seven games. He blasted his first home run for New York this past Sunday.
New closer Edwin Diaz continues to be strong at the end-game: seven Saves with a 16/2 K:BB ratio across 8.2 innings in which he has yielded just one run. Righty setup man Robert Gsellman has also been strong with a 14/2 K:BB ratio, a 2.57 ERA, and a 1.143 WHIP.
SHIBE VINTAGE SPORTS STARTING PITCHING MATCHUP
- Vince Velasquez: 0-0, 2.55 ERA, 0.962 WHIP, 13 hits allowed over 17.2 innings across four games (three starts) with a 16/4 K:BB ratio.
- Jason Vargas: 1-0, 9.58 ERA, 2.323 WHIP, 17 hits allowed over 10.1 innings across four games (three starts) with a 6/7 K:BB ratio.
- The 36-year-old Vargas is a 14-year big-league veteran who signed with the Mets as a free agent in February 2018. He pitched four years in Seattle and four in Kansas City, and was a 2017 AL All-Star with the Royals during a season in which he won a career-high 18 games. The left-hander finished fifth in the NL Rookie of the Year Award voting all the way back in 2005 with the Marlins.
PHILLIES NUGGETS PREGAME NOTES
- Prior to the game the Phillies optioned pitcher Drew Anderson and infielder Mitch Walding back to Triple-A Lehigh Valley, calling up utility player Sean Rodriguez and right-hander Enyel De Los Santos. They also announced that lefty reliever James Pazos as been DFA’d. He came from Seattle as part of the Jean Segura trade.
- Conforto has Velasquez in his personal home run ledger three times thus far with seven RBI, hitting .500 against the Phillies starter.
- For a hurler with as much experience as Vargas, the Phillies have no hitters with much experience facing him. There are 17 total career at-bats by players on the active roster against the southpaw, and none have homered off him.
- When the Phillies return home they will wear the old powder blue uniforms for a “Throwback Thursday” event in the opener of a four-game series with the Miami Marlins.
WEDNESDAY PROGRAMMING INFORMATION
- First pitch scheduled for 7:10 pm EDT at Citi Field in Flushing Meadows, New York City
- TV coverage: NBC Sports Philadelphia (ESPN covering out-of-market only in Philly and NY)
- Radio: SportsRadio WIP 94.1 FM , WTTM 1680 (Spanish)