The Phillies will travel to play the Mets to see who looks worse heading into the All-Star break. It’s no longer the mid-summer Classic because we’ve surpassed the halfway point in games. July 4th is a good barometer for how teams are doing, and both of these teams aren’t doing much. I’ll appease Phillies fans and say, “You’re in the Wild Card race” but so is half the league.
The Braves are running away with the division for two reasons. They draft and develop extremely well from within and the pickups of Josh Donaldson and Dallas Keuchel have solidified them as the leader while the other two teams get to watch them breeze their way through the rest of the season.
The problem with the Phillies is their starting pitching. They spent money in the offseason on everything but that. They’ve let that go and had no plans to upgrade until the trading deadline which could be too late since the NL Central is a much better division with teams already outpacing them or getting ready to.
The Mets have completed front office dysfunction that spills into the clubhouse and affects everything from days off to pulling pitchers prematurely to getting the wrong bullpen free agents, again, and signing old, washed up players like Robby Cano and Jed Lowrie (remember him?). Lowrie is due back August 1st or should I say ready to make his Mets regular season debut then. The Mets could have lit the $10 million dollars they gave Lowrie (and he has another year on his deal) on fire and that would be more of a contribution than he’s given the team this season. Wilson Ramos was a successful pickup; the rest is a graveyard of mediocrity.
Both teams will struggle to keep fans in the stands in the second half. Tickets sold or not fans don’t show up like they used to especially when they think their team isn’t very good. Being exciting can keep fans but neither team is that. Even the Bryce Harper excitement has leveled off in Philadelphia for now. His season isn’t terrible at all but the expectations were he’d hit a lot more home runs in a hitter-friendly ballpark. Considering the flattened laces on the ball have made it harder for pitchers to grip and therefore artificially raising home run totals, he hasn’t felt that bump, at least not yet.
Teams seem to employ heavy marketing strategies over the winter to sign a few players, get fans excited enough to buy tickets and then subsidize the rest of the season with giveaway nights or bands to get through the season. The Mets are ranked 13th in home attendance. The Phillies are ranked 8th. The Angels and Rockies are ahead of these teams.
The Phillies will face Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard this time. The last time they missed both of them and destroyed the Mets as a result. Since then things haven’t gone great for the Phillies and they now sit in third place. The Phillies are 18-25 on the road. This could set a good tone for them if they win this series. The Mets have to win this series for a lot of reasons. One team will win the series by default.