Schwarber's status adds wrinkle to prove-it set vs. Mets

August 11th, 2022

PHILADELPHIA -- This certainly wasn't the way the Phillies wanted to go into one of their biggest series against the rival Mets in recent memory.

Along with having their seven-game winning streak snapped in a 3-0 loss to the Marlins on Thursday afternoon at Citizens Bank Park, the Phils watched as National League home run leader Kyle Schwarber exited in the fifth inning due to a mild right calf strain.

Though Schwarber is day-to-day, he said he's unlikely to play in Friday's series opener -- and his status for the rest of the three-game set at Citi Field is up in the air.

Potentially losing Schwarber, who has played in 109 of Philadelphia's 111 games, for any amount of time would be a significant blow, especially for a team already playing without Bryce Harper.

"I always pride myself on trying to be out there every single day," Schwarber said. "For something like this to just come up out of nowhere really and act up, it's definitely frustrating."

The timing is particularly troublesome for a Phillies offense that will face three-time Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer on Friday and two-time winner Jacob deGrom on Saturday. This also marks the first time the Phillies (62-49) and Mets (73-39) have squared off with both clubs this far above .500 since September 2008.

"It's always good to play good teams," interim manager Rob Thomson said. "And we're playing really well right now in all phases of the game. So it should be a good series. I'm looking forward to it."

Even with Thursday's loss, the Phils have still won 12 of their past 14 games, and their 41-20 record since June 1 is the third-best mark in the Majors. The Mets have the fourth-best record (39-22) during that span. As for the Phillies rattling off 41 wins in their last 61 games, the only other teams to win at least 41 games in any 61-game span this season are the Yankees, Astros, Dodgers and Braves.

"We've been playing great baseball for the last how many months?" Schwarber said. "Just because one guy's down doesn't mean [anything]. We've shown that, where everyone steps up. It's going to be the same kind of thing here.”

While the Phillies’ recent surge has them holding the second of three NL Wild Card spots, it’s worth noting that 21 of the aforementioned 41 wins came against the Nationals (10-2), Marlins (7-2) and Pirates (4-0) -- three of the NL's bottom feeders.

Now the Phillies get a chance to see where they stack up against the first-place Mets for the first time since suffering a three-game sweep from May 27-29 in New York. Overall, the Phils are just 3-9 against the Mets this season -- but they will meet seven times in the next 10 games.

So, does Philadelphia have something to prove?

"I don't think it's a weekend you hang your hat on, whether it's good or bad, and say, 'Hey, we've established ourselves' -- I think we've done that the last couple months," said Kyle Gibson, who allowed three runs (two earned) over six innings on Thursday. "We've established ourselves as a playoff team no matter how this weekend goes -- but you always want to go into a division rival and win a series."

That obviously would become a more difficult task without Schwarber, who had a two-homer game against Scherzer on May 1 this season -- especially considering the extent to which some of his teammates have struggled against the Mets’ two aces.

Though J.T. Realmuto has been scorching over the past month, he's just 7-for-58 (.121) lifetime against Scherzer and 4-for-30 (.133) vs. deGrom. Rhys Hoskins is 1-for-26 (.039) with 14 strikeouts against Scherzer and 4-for-21 (.191) against deGrom.

But Schwarber is confident the Phillies have enough depth to pick up the slack, just as they’ve done without Harper for the past month and a half.

“Even though I won't be able to play [Friday],” Schwarber said, “I'm sure someone's going to step up.”