The Mets will end the month of April in the same place where it began.
The Mets (9-10) will try to kick-start their flat-lining offense as they head to the City of Brotherly Love to face the Philadelphia Phillies (12-13). New York has already played their divisional rivals six times this year, with two rain outs and a single-admission doubleheader in there for good measure. The Mets started the season by dropping two of three at Citizens Bank Park, but bounced back to sweep the Phillies in a rain-shortened three-game set at Citi Field the following week.
The Mets are coming off a pitiful offensive display against the Boston Red Sox. The Mets picked up just seven hits in 60 at-bats (.117) and scored one lonely run in those two games. On Tuesday, David Peterson gave the team a solid six inning effort but was outdueled by Garrett Richards and his 6.48 ERA. The Mets were no match for the right-hander, who hurled seven innings of one-run ball while striking out ten. The lone run came on a Jeff McNeil second inning home run—his second of the year—which gave the Mets a brief lead before Boston stormed back with a run in the third to tie and a run in the sixth to go ahead for good. Jeurys Familia, Trevor May, and Miguel Castro combined for three scoreless innings, but the offense couldn’t do much of anything in the 2-1 loss.
In Wednesday’s finale, Jacob deGrom wasn’t quite as electric as he was in his incredible 15-strikeout complete game shutout, but he was still pretty damn good. The ace struck out nine to match Nolan Ryan’s mark of 59 strikeouts through the first five starts of a season, and he allowed one earned run—only his second allowed on the season—on three hits in six innings of work. The offense was more inept than usual, managing just two hits against the immortal Nick Pivetta and a trio of Red Sox relievers. In the end, the Mets fell 1-0.
With that woeful showing, the Mets are averaging 3.00 runs-per-game, which is the second-worst mark among the 30 MLB teams, while their .671 OPS is the second-worst in the NL and their 93 wRC+ is 17th overall in the majors. It doesn’t help that a majority of the team’s bats are hitting well below their career norms at the same time. Francisco Lindor, who has heard boos from some impatient and ill-advised Mets fans, is slashing .203/.317/.261 with a 72 wRC+. Dominic Smith has also looked lost at the plate, hitting .203/.224/.328 with a 54 wRC+ and a -0.4 fWAR. His lackluster defense in left on Wednesday also directly led to the lone run of the game. On the bright side, Michael Conforto has started coming around, with 11 hits in his last 39 at-bats (.282/.333/.462) dating back to the beginning of the series against the Colorado Rockies on April 17. On the season, Conforto has raised his wRC+ to 96.
Unlike the offense, the bullpen’s performance has been a positive development. Mets’ relievers logged six shutout innings with 11 punch outs over the two games. On the season, the bullpen owns a 3.83 ERA, but that number has brought down by some bad performances. Overall, the main core of relievers has performed well in Seth Lugo’s absence. Edwin Díaz and his banger of an entrance song has led the way, posting a 2.00 ERA and a 1.98 FIP with 11 strikeouts and a 0.2 bWAR in nine innings. Miguel Castro has been a revelation, pitching to a 2.25 ERA and a 0.34 FIP with a bullpen-leading 14 strikeouts and a 0.2 bWAR in 8.0 innings. The new additions have also been a big boost. After two stellar performances against Boston, Trevor May now owns a 2.45 ERA and a 0.36 FIP with a 43.3% K% in 7.1 innings. Aaron Loup has not allowed an earned run and has not walked a batter while posting a 31.3% K% in 4.1 innings.
Since the Mets last saw the Phillies, they have gone 6-7. They just completed a seven-game road trip where they dropped two of three to the Rockies and split four with the St. Louis Cardinals, losing their matinee finale yesterday 4-3 in 10 innings after coming from behind to tie the game late.
Like the Mets, their offense has been the main culprit of their early-season inconsistency. Their 90 wRC+ puts them at 22nd overall in baseball, while their .690 OPS places them squarely in the middle of the pack in baseball. They are currently averaging 3.88 runs-per-game, which is only ahead of the Mets and the Washington Nationals in the NL.
Bryce Harper was hit in the face with a fastball on Wednesday, but thankfully appears to be relatively fine after the terrifying incident. He should likely be back in the lineup tonight after missing Thursday’s series finale. On the year, the outfielder leads the club with a 184 wRC+ and is hitting .321/.448/.615 with six home runs and a 1.2 fWAR. J.T. Realmuto is also having a great month of April so far after signing that five-year deal over the offseason with Philadelphia. The catcher is slashing .329/.425/.507 with a 154 wRC+ and a team-leading 1.3 fWAR. Rhys Hoskins leads the club with eight home runs to go along with a 119 wRC+ and a 0.3 fWAR. Met killer Jean Segura will most likely miss the series while he is still recovering from a strained right quadriceps.
Friday, April 30: Marcus Stroman vs. Chase Anderson, 7:05 p.m. on SNY
Stroman (2021): 24.0 IP, 15 K, 5 BB, 1 HR, 2.25 ERA, 3.13 FIP, 0.96 WHIP, 0.7 bWAR
Stroman’s last start was filled with bad vibes as he took his first loss of the season. Entering the outing with a 0.90 ERA and coming off his fantastic eight-inning performance, he allowed a season-high five runs (four earned) and eight hits while walking two and striking out four. He had issues with the umpire’s strike zone and looked visibly uncomfortable, never quite settling into a rhythm as he had in his first three starts. Stroman will hope his early season success against the Phillies will continue, as he earned wins in each of this two starts against Philadelphia this year. In those two outings, he went a combined 12.0 innings and allowed one earned run on seven hits.
Anderson (2021): 16.2 IP, 13 K, 8 BB, 3 HR, 6.48 ERA, 5.67 FIP, 1.44 WHIP, -0.2 bWAR
Anderson had his worst start of the year on Sunday against the Colorado Rockies. He was tagged for six earned runs on six hits in 3.2 innings, as his ERA ballooned from 4.15 to 6.48. The Phillies have not yet won a game that Anderson has pitched in this season. He has already faced the Mets twice, pitching to a 4.00 ERA in those two appearances. In the first outing at Citizens Bank Park, he took the loss while allowing two earned runs in five innings, and he got a no decision at Citi Field one week later, allowing two earned runs in his four innings of work.
Saturday, May 1: Taijuan Walker vs. Zack Wheeler, 6:05 p.m. on SNY
Walker (2021): 21.0 IP, 23 K, 14 BB, 0 HR, 2.14 ERA, 3.04 FIP, 1.24 WHIP, 0.5 bWAR
Walker battled in his last start to give the club seven terrific innings one day after Stroman failed to give the club length. He didn’t have it early on, but a few defensive gems helped keep runs off the board, which gave him time to settle in and find his groove. In the end, he held Washington to three hits and no runs while walking three and striking out four. Walker now sports the second-best ERA among starters on the Mets, behind deGrom, and he has been a fantastic late find for the club to round out the rotation. In his first start against the Phillies in game one of a doubleheader, he went 4.1 innings and struck out a season-high eight while allowing one run on three hits.
Wheeler (2021): 31.2 IP, 35 K, 11 BB, 4 HR, 3.13 ERA, 3.66 FIP, 1.11 WHIP, 1.0 bWAR
Wheeler is coming off his best start of the young season on Monday against the Cardinals. In that start, he went eight innings and limited St. Louis to one run on one hit with nine strikeouts. He threw a season-high 114 pitches, with 73 of them (64%) going for strikes. This comes after a start against the San Francisco Giants where he served up three home runs and was charged with four earned runs over 5.2 innings. In his first start against his old club on April 14, he took the loss while allowing three earned runs over 6.1 innings. In four total starts against the Mets between last year and this year, he has a 3.71 ERA in 26.2 innings.
Sunday, May 2: David Peterson vs. Zach Eflin, 7:08 p.m. on ESPN
Peterson (2021): 19.1 IP, 21 K, 6 BB, 4 HR, 5.59 ERA, 4.69 FIP, 1.24 WHIP, -0.5 bWAR
You couldn’t ask for much more from Peterson in his last start. He held a potent Boston offense to four hits and two earned runs over six innings, but it wasn’t enough to help him avoid his third loss in four starts this year. So far, Peterson has traded one good start for one bad start, which is par for the course with what you would expect from your fifth starter, but that doesn’t bode well for him on Sunday night pitching in front of a national TV audience. He will hope things go better than they did in his first start in Citizens Bank Park, where he was tattooed for six earned runs in four-plus innings and endured a catastrophic first frame.
Eflin (2021): 32.2 IP, 27 K, 2 BB, 3 HR, 3.58 ERA, 2.81 FIP, 1.07 WHIP, 0.8 bWAR
Eflin took his first loss of the season on Tuesday, allowing a season-high five earned runs and nine hits while striking out eight over 6.2 innings against the Cardinals. As a result, his ERA jumped from 2.77 to 3.58. He has allowed the most hits in the National League (33), but he has only issued two free passes and his 0.55 BB/9 and 1.6% BB% are the second-best marks among qualified National League starters behind only Corbin Burnes. It’s still early, but the signs so far for Eflin have been very positive, and he could finally be establishing himself as the pitcher the Phillies always hoped he would be.
Prediction: The Mets drop two of three in Philadelphia for the second time this season.