The Philadelphia Phillies were not expected to be fighting for the NL East lead this late in the season. But nothing has gone according plan in the division. The Fightin Phils enter the weekend within striking distance of the Atlanta Braves for the top spot and winning games against the New York Mets will certainly help their chances as they aim for their first division title and playoff appearance since 2011.
A recent hot streak has lifted the Metropolitans out of the cellar in the NL East and they’ve scored runs at an alarming rate. The Mets entered the series with wins in seven of their previous 11 games and scored 16 times in a win over the Orioles on Wednesday. The teams split a doubleheader on Thursday with the Mets plating a club record 24 runs in the opener. Over their last nine games the Mets have scored nearly nine runs per outing. Nick Pivetta will look to slow the Mets down when he faces lefty Jason Vargas in the finale on ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball.
New York Mets vs Philadelphia Phillies
Date and Time: Sunday, August 19, 2018, 7:10 p.m. ET
Location: Citizens Bank Park, Philadelphia, PA
MLB Odds: (Click Here)
Probable Pitchers: Jason Vargas vs. Nick Pivetta
Mets at Phillies TV Coverage: ESPN
The Mets got plenty of help in their 24-4 series-opening win on Thursday. The Phils committed four errors and New York scored 11 unearned runs thanks to the miscues, leading to a club record. The Mets were coming off a 16-5 win over Baltimore giving them 15 or more runs in consecutive game for the first time in franchise history. The Mets scored only six runs in the nightcap and failed to get the sweep in a 9-6 loss.
Thanks to the recent offensive outburst, the Mets have averaged nearly nine runs per game over their last nine outings, cashing the over six times. They will need their bats to stay hot with Vargas and his 8.10 ERA scheduled to take the hill on Sunday.
We’re not quite sure what’s more embarrassing: giving up 24 total runs or allowing 11 unearned runs. Both are bad and the Phils got no help from their defense, committing four errors in the game. At least it’s not a complete surprise. The Phils are the second-worst defensive team in baseball with 93 errors. Despite the shortcomings on defense, the Phils have stayed near the top of the standings behind a solid rotation.
Nick Pivetta is a big part of the staff and he looks to build off a recent hot stretch. The righty held MLB’s best offense to one run and three hits over 6.0 innings in his last outing. However, he got little run support and took a no-decision in a 2-1 loss to Boston. In his last three starts, Pivetta has allowed just three runs while completing 6.0 innings each time. The Phillies are 14-11 in games he’s pitched this year and they average over four and a half runs when he starts.
Pitchers’ Duel – Vargas vs Pivetta
It’s been a rough year for Jason Vargas ( 2-8, 8.10 ERA ), who’s enduring the worst season of his career. The lefty pitched into the sixth inning for the first time this season in his last start, giving up five hits and two runs to the Orioles. Vargas didn’t factor into the decision in a game the Mets lost 6-3. That came after his shortest stint of the year when he got only one out in a loss to the Reds. The Mets have lost his last seven starts and are just 2-11 in games Vargas has started this year.
Nick Pivetta ( 7-9, 4.37 ERA ) had one of his better outings the last time out, limiting Boston’s explosive offense to one run and three hits across 6.0 innings, but he didn’t get a decision. It continued a strong stretch for the righty since the start of August. He’s allowed three runs and 12 hits over 18 innings for a skimpy 1.50 ERA in three starts this month. Pivetta will face the Mets for the first time this season after starting four times against them with a 2-1 record and 4.89 ERA last year.
Mets vs Phillies Picks
We’ll see how the Phils fare now that they are in a pennant chase in the middle of August. They are just 4-6 in their last 10 games and they’ve struggled against the Mets this season, posting the same record in the first 10 matchups of the season series.
The pitching matchup favors the Phils with Pivetta throwing the ball as well as he has in months. He silenced the BoSox in his last outing, something few hurlers have been able to do. Vargas has been awful and there’s something about a Mets uniform that he doesn’t like. The Phils don’t hit for a high average, but they have power and Vargas has given up the long ball. That will bite him again as the Phils stay close in the division race.
Mets at Phillies Pick: Phillies and the Over
Mets at Phillies Score Prediction: Philadelphia 7, New York 4
Check out the latest MLB betting odds.