3 thoughts as Phils turn page to series vs. Mets

August 17th, 2022

CINCINNATI -- Seranthony Domínguez had not allowed a run since July 10, which is just one reason why the Phillies (65-52) hold the second NL Wild Card with 45 games to play.

Domínguez has been incredible, but even pitchers in the middle of career-best seasons are not unbeatable. He allowed a walk and a pair of singles in the ninth inning in Wednesday afternoon’s 1-0 loss to the Reds at Great American Ball Park. The Phillies went 3-3 on their road trip against the Mets and Reds. They were shut out in each loss.

In fact, the Phillies have been shut out in each of their past four losses.

“Well, in New York we faced a couple good pitchers,” Phillies interim manager Rob Thomson said. “And today, we faced a guy [rookie Nick Lodolo] that we'd never seen before. They just couldn't pick up his slider it seemed like. And then he threw that high heater above the barrel. Pitched good. That's probably his best outing of his Major League career anyway. We won the series, but it would've been nice to win the road trip.”

The Phillies do not play Thursday. They open a four-game series Friday night against the Mets at Citizens Bank Park.

Here are three considerations heading into the Mets series:

Schwarber's absence felt
Kyle Schwarber strained his right calf in last Thursday’s shutout loss to the Marlins. Maybe it is a coincidence, but the last three shutout losses have come without him in the lineup. Schwarber said he expects to start at DH on Friday against the Mets.

The Phillies need him.

“We’re battling,” Schwarber said. “We’ve been in striking distance in every single game and we’ve had traffic on the bases. That’s just kind of the game of baseball there, where you look to try to get that big hit. Unfortunately today that didn’t happen, but I think we walk away with a positive outlook going into the series. Enjoy the off-day and be ready to roll.”

Suárez in a groove
Major League Baseball released its postseason schedule Monday. There are fewer days off between games and series, which should favor teams with deep rotations. The Phillies could be one of those teams.

It starts with Zack Wheeler and Aaron Nola, but Ranger Suárez, Kyle Gibson and Noah Syndergaard have each thrown the ball well recently. Suárez allowed three hits and two walks in seven scoreless innings Wednesday against the Reds. He struck out eight. Since Suárez returned from the 15-day injured list (lower back spasms) before the All-Star break, he is 2-0 with a 1.02 ERA in six starts. He has struck out 33 and walked eight in 35 1/3 innings. Opponents have batted .190 with a .505 OPS against him.

“It's huge, you know?” Thomson said. “He was locating his fastball today. I didn't think he had the same zip as he usually has, but he really pitched well. He got a lot of soft contact. When he's going good, that's what he does.”

If the Phillies clinch a postseason berth before the final series of the season and set up the rotation how they want, Suárez makes a strong case to start one of the potential three games in an NL Wild Card series.

A tough opponent
The Phillies have won season series against the Dodgers (4-3), Padres (4-3), Cardinals (4-3) and Brewers (4-2). They are 6-6 against the Braves. But they are just 4-11 against the Mets, losing each of their first five series against them.

It would be a nice confidence boost to beat the Mets this weekend. The two teams could meet again in the postseason, after all.

“Trust me, in 2015, when I was with the Cubs, we swept the Mets in the regular season [7-0] and they swept us in the [NLCS], so it doesn’t really matter,” Schwarber said. “We were feeling as high as we could be, and the next thing we didn’t have a lead. So, obviously, we want to win these games. I feel like we’ve played some good baseball games against them and the more we continue to do that, good things will happen. We’ll see where we are at the end of the year, and if we run into them, we run into them. It’s not going to change our mindset just because we haven’t won a series. Take it one at a time against them and see what happens.”

Thomson recalled how the 2009 Yankees split the regular-season series against the Angels, 5-5, but beat them in the ALCS, 4-2.

“It’s always important to play well, especially against the good teams,” Thomson said. “But I think we've proven, by beating the Dodgers, beating the Padres, beating the Cardinals, all those teams in season series, that we're a good club.”