Baseball is funny sometimes.

It was just 22 days earlier that the Phillies were swept in New York by the Mets, a team that has owned their division rivals, leaving the Phillies season teetering on the brink. At that point, the Phils had fallen to 25-31, matching their lowest point in the season at six games under .500.

Meanwhile, the Mets were starting to heat up. They had won 10  of 14 and had closed to within 3 1/2 games of the first place Atlanta Braves and were in the second wild card position, 4 1/2 games ahead of the Phillies.

What a difference three weeks makes.

The Phillies defeated the Mets 5-1 Friday at Citizens Bank Park, snapping a nine-game losing streak against New York. But the fortunes of the two teams have changed dramatically since that last meeting three weeks earlier. Including Friday, the Phillies have gone 14-5 since being swept out of Citi Field while the Mets have gone 4-14.

The Phillies saved their season with dominant pitching this month, especially from the starters:

Taijuan Walker has been a big part of it, and he was again on Friday. He held the Mets to just three hits and one run over six strong innings while striking out five.

It was a big difference from the last time Walker faced his former team, which just so happened to be that game on June 1st, where he lasted just four innings because his velocity was way down and manager Rob Thomson yanked him after just 74 pitches.

Since then, Walker has been sensational:

The last four matches a 2017 stretch for the best four consecutive starts in Walker’s career, in the sense that he has allowed one run or fewer in each start while going at least five innings.

In 22 days, Walker went from being talked about as a free agent bust to being revered as a better option than most teams have coming out of the No. 4 spot in the rotation.

Walker’s success has been attributable to a few things:

  1. His velocity is up and has remained there. He had a dozen pitches break the 94 MPH threshold. By comparison, in that start against the Mets on June 1st, he had one.
  2. He’s throwing strikes. In his first 12 starts he was averaging 4.08 walks per nine innings pitched (BB/9). In his last four starts he’s trimmed that to 2.42 BB/9.
  3. He’s throwing his cutter with much more confidence and authority and it’s really become a nice third pitch weapon in his arsenal. His ability to throw it for strikes really keeps batters off balance as the now have a hard time recognizing the difference between a sinker, a cutter and splitter coming out of Walker’s hand, all moving differently.

It took the Phillies’ pitchers a while to get in a groove, but man, are they there right now. They are the best in the sport this month and when they are going like this, they are going to be tough to beat with any consistency.

Meanwhile, the Mets need to replace the nameplate on the back of every player’s jersey with either Barnum or Bailey because they’ve become such a three-ring circus:

And the Mets are a mess. I don’t have the data to prove it – and there’s nothing to actually prove just yet, because there’s still a lot of baseball to be played, but I bet if we went back through every season of professional sports and found the team with the highest payroll in each season and looked at where the ended up at the end of the year, this Mets team just could be the biggest flop of all time.

At 34-41 the Mets are already 14 games out of first place in the N.L. East and sit eight games out in the wild card race.

Let’s check in on everyone’s favorite Mets fan Frank the Tank:

Yeah, what he said.

It’s not a good clubhouse right now either. Kodai Senga, who actually didn’t pitch all that bad, wasn’t too pleased with the Mets mistakes:


Really folks, that was the game Friday night. Nimmo’s error turned into a two-run inning for the Phillies on a bloop single by Bryce Harper and a sacrifice fly by Bryson Stott. They added a third run on that missed pop up by Lindor and tacked on the last two runs on an RBI single by Trea Turner.

The only other modicum of excitement from the game was when Bryce Harper got tossed after striking out swinging for some comment he made to home plate umpire Mike Estabrook who, in Harper’s defense, was absolutely brutal behind the plate all night for both teams:

Harper has been frustrated lately. You can see it mounting with him. He’s still getting on base by working walks, getting some singles and doubles, but his power has gone AWOL, he can’t hit a lefty at all, and he’s being fed a steady diet of breaking pitches because he’s crushing fastballs, and nothing else.

Will he figure it out? Yes. But is it possible this is just a boiling point for him in the moment? Also yes.

Hey, it’s a long season, Bryce. Want something to cheer you up? At least you don’t play for the Mets.

Finally, a few notes from before the game:

  • The Phillies officially announced Rule 5 Draft selection Noah Song will begin a rehab assignment next week. He is throwing a second consecutive bullpen session Saturday, so it’ll probably be mid-week. He needs to be activated soon or else the Phillies will have to return him to the Boston Red Sox, or work out compensation to keep him.
  • Andrew Painter threw his fourth bullpen session on Friday. This one was 30 pitches. The next step is live batting practice. He’s still trending for a possible August return.
  • The Phillies re-signed Michael Plassmeyer to a minor league contract. He was released last week when they had to take catcher Rafael Marchan off the 60-day I.L. and needed a spot on the 40-man roster. Not being on the 40-man makes Plassmeyer a break-glass-in-case-of-emergency option pitcher for the Phillies, but the team is still intrigued in him enough to keep him in the organization despite a terrible season at Lehigh Valley thus far.