The New York Mets and Philadelphia Phillies will meet on ESPN Sunday Night Baseball in the MLB Little League Classic in Williamsport with plenty on the line for the Phillies. Philadelphia is in a fight for the NL East with the Braves and needs to take advantage of this extended series with the lowly Mets, particularly Sunday night’s game with Jason Vargas on the mound for New York. The Phillies will counter with Nick Pivetta.
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ESPN Sunday Night Baseball– New York Mets vs. Philadelphia Phillies
Date and Time:Sunday, August 19, 2018, 7:10 p.m. ET
Location: BB&T Ballpark, Williamsport, Pennsylvania
2018 MLB Betting Odds at BETCRIS:(Check Back Later)
Mets vs. Phillies 2018 MLB TV Coverage:ESPN
Sunday night will be Nick Pivetta’s first start since he held the Red Sox to a single run over six innings. Even with a no-decision in that start, that’ll give him confidence coming into a game against a far inferior offense.
The 25-year old right-hander is one of the junior most members of the Phillies’ rotation and is also the one with the highest ERA, though at 4.37 ERA with a hitter’s haven as his home park, Pivetta has pitched to a 96 ERA+, putting him right around league average according to that stat. Meanwhile, he’s got a 3.49 FIP, suggesting he’s been better than the numbers suggest.
With 153 strikeouts and 34 walks in 125.2 innings, he’s got a good strikeout to walk ratio and while he does allow some long balls, he’s given up just 18 in 25 games.
While Pivetta’s last start was very good, it was his third straight quality start. In his three August starts, Pivetta is just 1-0, but has allowed only three total runs in 18 innings of work.
Meanwhile, on the other side of this matchup, the Mets will be hoping that Jason Vargas’ last start is a sign of things to come. He had a quality start against the Orioles, allowing just two runs in six innings. Then again, it was against Baltimore, the worst team in baseball.
Prior to that start, the aging southpaw managed just a single out against the Reds on August 7 and didn’t pitch more than five innings in any of his 12 starts.
Overall, the lefty is 2-8 and the Mets are 2-11 when he takes the ball. He’s pitched horribly with an 8.10 ERA, 1.781 WHIP, 6.14 FIP and 13 homers allowed in only 53.1 innings.
According to rWAR this year, the gap between Pivetta and Vargas is over three wins in the Phillies’ favor.
Meet the Mets
This isn’t your father’s Mets. This isn’t even Sandy Alderson’s Mets from the start of the year. After getting off to an 11-1 start, there was optimism that this Mets team could overachieve, but that was short lived and things starting going wrong.
Yoenis Cespedes is a key part of this offense, but he’s started just 38 games all year. Jay Bruce was expected to have a good year after a good showing last year and is on the shelf, too. Todd Frazier is healthy and was brought in to add OBP and power, but has 12 home runs and a .306 OBP. Adrian Gonzalez has been released and Asdrubal Cabrera is on the other side of the field in this matchup.
The Mets’ lineup is now Jose Bautista, Jose Reyes and Austin Jackson. That trio would have been fearsome five years ago, but none of them have aged particularly well.
On the active roster, Wilmer Flores, Michael Conforto and Brandon Nimmo represent the cream of the crop. Aside from Conforto who is only hitting .235, the other two were supposed to be role players for this team, not its offensive stars, but—then again—nothing has seemingly gone right for the team from Queens.
Looking for Relief
The Mets trio of GMs dealt Jeurys Familia to the A’s at the deadline for a hope and a prayer, leaving the ninth inning vacant in New York. Seth Lugo and Jerry Blevins each have a save now and Robert Gsellman is the replacement closer with seven saves, but the bullpen has been lacking.
Even with Familia, the reliable options available to Mickey Callaway were limited. Lugo and Gsellman made the transition to the bullpen this year and it seems to have been a good one. Those two have been solid though both are still walking their share of batters, but have combined for nine wins and eight saves. Beyond those two, however, Blevins is a fine situational left, but there’s little else and in a game with Vargas on the hill, the pen will need to cover at least four innings.
The options for the middle innings could allow the Phillies’ bats to have a field day, going from one struggling pitcher to the next.
Early Returns on the Newest Philly Bats
The Phillies strength is in their pitching, but the team tried to beef up the offense via trade, adding Cabrera from the Mets, Wilson Ramos from the Rays and, most recently, Justin Bour from the Marlins.
Cabrera is moving around the infield, adding depth and giving Gabe Kapler matchup options at a couple different positions, but he’s been primarily getting the nod at shortstop.
The 32-year old is no longer a plus defender at short, but his bat represents a massive upgrade over that of Scott Kingery. He’s only hitting .220 in 16 games since joining the Phillies, but has a couple home runs and provides more pop and a better overall average than they’re used to at the position. He’s got a .270/.323/.472 slash line overall this year.
Cabrera helps to improve an offensive position of need, but Ramos and Bour may be the more impactful offensive additions.
Ramos just made his Phillies’ debut, coming off the DL, and went three for four with a triple and two doubles. He’s got pop and is a good clutch hitter that fits into the middle of the order, deepening the lineup quite a bit. Meanwhile, Bour won’t get the chance to start too much on a team with Carlos Santana, but he’s a good pinch hit option late and can help Kapler move guys around to get the best matchups possible and improve the offensive production as the team pushes towards October.
Late Inning Concerns
Earlier this year, Seranthony Dominguez stepped into the closer’s role in Philly taking the spot from a struggling Hector Neris. Dominguez spent the better part of the first half dominating, but has hit a bit of a bump in the road. In the second half, Dominguez has allowed five runs in nine innings, walking seven. He’s blown two of six save chances. Both those blown saves have come in August.
With Dominguez’s latest struggles, Kapler has turned to veterans Tommy Hunter and Pat Neshek in a couple of saves chances to try and slam the door closed. They were successful in those chances and the two vets have stepped up to pitch well the last month.
Victor Arano and Adam Morgan are also throwing well, but with the issues around Dominguez there’s a level of uncertainty late in the game at a crucial time for the Phillies.
New York Mets vs. Philadelphia Phillies Free Picks
The Mets are terrible and so is Vargas, don’t expect his good outing against the Orioles to be anything more than a good outing against a bad team. The Phillies are a much better team with much more incentive. Count on Philadelphia to get to Vargas early and often and then exploit a weak bullpen for even more runs, adding onto the lead as the game progresses.
On the other side, the Mets’ offense isn’t healthy enough to expect more than a run here and there in the game. Pivetta showed he can navigate a good lineup last time out and the Mets only have a handful of quality bats to worry about and none to the level of Mookie Betts or J.D. Martinez who he navigated around in his last start.
New York Mets vs. Philadelphia Phillies Pick: Bet the money line and take the Phillies to win this in a landslide over the Mets.
New York Mets vs. Philadelphia Phillies Score Prediction: Phillies 8, Mets 3
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