Game: New York Mets @ Philadelphia Phillies
Time: 6:45 p.m. ET
Odds: Mets +140, Phillies -150
Two teams that will push Atlanta for the NL East Division crown begin a three-game series today in Philadelphia. The Phillies, fresh off a 2-1 series finish against Oakland, will send Ranger Suarez to the mound to face the Mets’ Taijuan Walker. New York comes into the series after winning three of four games against the Washington Nationals.
Suarez was transitioned to the Phillies’ starting rotation late last season. He made 12 starts and showed promise with a 1.51 ERA and a 2.35 FIP. While those numbers are very respectable, it is worth noting that nine of the 12 starts came against many of the worst teams in baseball – Pittsburgh, Baltimore, and Arizona to name a few.
If Walker starts the 2022 season like he did the 2021 campaign, the Mets will surely be happy. What they would like to avoid is Walker’s second-half collapse of a year ago. Walker started last season 7-3 before the MLB All-Star game. On July 3 last season, Walker beat the Yankees and had a 2.61 ERA.
Over the last half of last season, Walker fell apart. His ERA for the second half ballooned to 7.13 and his FIP was 6.79 over his last 64.1 innings of the season. In 13 starts in the second half of 2021, Walker’s strikeout percentage was 18.6 with a walk rate of 9.1 percent. Digging deeper, Walker owns an 8.02 FIP against the current Phillies roster. Suffice to say, it’s not the best matchup for Walker.
New York is also without its top reliever Edwin Diaz. He is on the Mets’ bereavement list which leaves New York with one solid left-handed pitcher in the bullpen – Chase Shreve. The issue there is that Shreve threw 22 pitches on Sunday in the Mets’ lone loss to the Nationals.
The Phillies have a solid lineup too. Walker will have to contend with the likes of Bryce Harper, Nick Castellanos, Rhys Hoskins, and Kyle Schwarber. Then, there is 2B Jean Segura who is off to a great start in 2022. He’s hitting .364 with two home runs in the Phillies’ three games so far. Philadelphia put up nine runs against Oakland in the season opener.
The Mets lineup is equally as talented. Former NL Rookie of the Year Pete Alonso hit 37 home runs last year and is off to a good start in 2022. He hit his first career grand slam in the Mets’ 5-0 win over Washington on Saturday. Starling Marte, Francisco Lindor, Robinson Cano, and Eduardo Escobar are all very capable hitters. Third baseman Jeff McNeil is off to a strong start hitting .438 with a homer and three RBIs.
The quality of both lineups is why tonight’s total is set at 9. Neither starting pitcher is what you would call a “shutdown” guy and the bullpens probably can’t be trusted to hold a late lead. Plus, Citizens Bank Park is one of the more friendly hitters’ parks in the majors.