Here are five things to watch when the Mets and Philadelphia Phillies play a three-game series at Citi Field over the weekend …
Is there a chance for fireworks?
After getting hit by 19 pitches in their first 20 games – by far the most in baseball – things finally boiled over for the Mets on Wednesday against the Cardinals in St. Louis during a benches-clearing brawl that was incited by Nolan Arenado following an up and in pitch from Yoan Lopez.
Will any of that anger carry over to this weekend’s series against the Phillies, whose pitchers drilled the Mets five times earlier this season? What happens if the Phillies, who couldn’t control their pitches a few weeks ago, have one or two more get away?
The Mets and Phillies had recent bad blood before this season, stemming from Dominic Smith‘s altercation with reliever Jose Alvarado last May. So be on the lookout for some potential fireworks.
Walker will be activated from the IL and start Saturday’s game, which will be his second start of the season.
After experiencing a right shoulder issue, Walker left his start against the Phillies on April 11 after 2.0 perfect innings and was placed on the IL due to shoulder bursitis. Walker also left his final spring training start early (due to a knee issue), which necessitated a rehab start last week and a sim game on Monday so he could build up his stamina and innings.
Walker expects to be able to go five innings and / or 80-to-85 pitches on Saturday.
The Mets’ suddenly power-starved middle of the lineup
The Mets entered play on Thursday with the second-most runs scored in baseball (94) and third-best run differential (+33). And even though they’ve kept winning, the middle of their order has been pretty cold in the power department.
Pete Alonso has 10 hits in his last 31 at-bats, but hasn’t had an extra-base hit since April 17.
Francisco Lindor has two extra-base hits in his last eight games, and is in a 1-for-13 skid.
Eduardo Escobar has just one homer this season and recently emerged from a 2-for-18 slump.
Some of this has been a league-wide thing, with power down all over. But can the Mets’ big bats wake up against Philly?
Can Mets contain the Phillies’ hot offense?
The Phillies are winners of four games in a row entering play on Friday, having beaten up on the Colorado Rockies while scoring 32 runs in those four games at Citizens Bank Park.
Philadelphia’s offense has been potent recently even with a rough start from Kyle Schwarber and the so-so start of JT Realmuto.
Of the Phillies’ vaunted sluggers, it’s been Bryce Harper and Nick Castellanos leading the way, while Didi Gregorius and Alec Bohm have also been hitting well.
Scherzer, who dealt with a hamstring that wasn’t 100 percent during his first start and adjusted to a healthy hamstring during his second start, has been lights out over his last two starts.
On April 19 against the Giants, during what was his first home start as a Met, Scherzer flirted with a no-hitter and eventually allowed one run on one hit while walking three and striking out 10 in 7.0 innings.
On April 25 against the Cardinals, Scherzer was dominant over 7.0 innings, allowing two hits, walking three, and striking out 10.
Scherzer’s last two starts have come after an extra day of rest, and he will again be on an extra day of rest for Sunday night’s game.