Six games into the season, the results don’t mean much.
That said, it is a far more enjoyable feeling to be 4-2, as the Mets are, than 2-4, as the Phillies are. And if the Mets are an inning from being 3-3 (and what an inning it was; to see the Marlins basically give the game away by keeping Juan Pierre in left field, then bringing the infield in with the Mets trailing 3-2 and runners on second and third… well, it was a rare treat), the Phillies are blowing two 4-0 leads away from being 4-2 themselves.
But take it from me. I was there on Friday, and have been immersing myself in Philadelphia media and Twitter all weekend to write this piece for Sports on Earth: those who follow the Phillies, collectively, are freaking out. Listening to WIP’s morning show, you’d honestly think that manager Charlie Manuel is a 50-50 bet to survive his Tuesday radio spot at Ponzio’s. I don’t mean keep his job. I mean live.
The panic is probably overblown. The Phillies have a 7.10 team ERA so far, powered by a 7.79 ERA from the relievers. That’s likely to improve. So is the MLB-worst 6.75 ERA among starters. By a lot. Matt Gelb points out that of the past 100 Phillies pitching staffs, one has started worse.
But this is not a team equipped to score many runs, and shortly, they’ll be running Delmon Young out there, fighting an out plague with an out machine.
This isn’t a great Phillies team, as far as I can tell. They are probably better than the Mets; they are also probably roughly as good as last year’s Phillies, who went 81-81. That won’t feel like progress to Phillies fans, and it isn’t from a team that made the postseason five straight years from 2007-2011. But the signs are unmistakable that this is a team on the downswing.
And no one on the Mets is better equipped to maximize the panic on the streets of Philadelphia than Matt Harvey, who pitches Monday night. Another stellar Harvey start, especially if he beats longtime Mets bete noir Roy Halladay in the process, and things could get ugly for Manuel tomorrow at Ponzio’s over challah French Toast (full disclosure: delicious).
In a season that doesn’t promise a pennant race, in all likelihood, getting thrills like seeing the once-mighty Phillies humbled before your favorite team’s phenom pitcher is pretty high on the list of potential highlights. If this one goes the way it looks like it should, enjoy it, and then stream WIP afterwards for some good old fashioned schadenfreude.