Thanks to the Philadelphia Phillies, the New York Mets’ path to the playoffs in 2018 just got significantly harder.
— Bob Nightengale (@BNightengale) March 11, 2018
Before this move, the Mets had one legitimate divisional foe to worry about—the Washington Nationals. Miami, thanks to New York Yankees legend Derek Jeter, is essentially fielding a Triple-A team in 2018, while Atlanta and Philadelphia were thought to be at least another year away from contending.
Think again. For with Arrieta, the Phillies are a legitimate threat. Not to take down the Nationals for the NL East, mind you, but to claim one of the two National League Wild Card berths.
The same two spots that the Mets were expected to contend for in 2018.
Sure, the Mets went 12-7 against the Phillies in 2017. But they only outscored Philadelphia by three runs over those 19 games, 95-to-92. With Arrieta toeing the rubber in a handful of those games, runs will be at a premium.
Despite the Mets sticking it to him in Game 2 of the 2015 NLDS, Arrieta has had the Amazin’s number. Take a look at how Mets batters—minus pitchers and David Wright, who remains unlikely to play again—have fared against the 2015 NL Cy Young Award winner.
|Adrian Gonzalez||27||.269||.835||3 (2)||1||6|
|Todd Frazier||18||.222||.778||2 (2)||0||7|
|Jay Bruce||17||.188||.485||1 (0)||1||8|
|Asdrubal Cabrera||15||.357||1.186||2 (2)||1||3|
|Yoenis Cespedes||15||.286||.905||2 (1)||1||2|
|Wilmer Flores||13||.231||.538||1 (0)||0||2|
|Jose Reyes||6||.333||1.000||1 (0)||0||3|
That works out to a combined .252/.284/.465 slash line. Now you might say “Hey, those numbers aren’t so bad.” But consider this.
Asdrubal Cabrera hasn’t gotten the ball off the ground against Arrieta since 2012, recording one groundball single in six at-bats, with two swinging strikeouts.
Adrian Gonzalez is 2-for-14 with a home run and six strikeouts against Arrieta since mid-2014 when Baltimore traded him to the Cubs. As everyone knows, Arrieta became a completely different pitcher in Chicago than he was with the Orioles.
In fact, of all the Mets with at least 10 plate appearances against Arrieta, only Yoenis Cespedes—who has gone 3-for-10 with a double—has had any real success against the post-Baltimore version of Arrieta.
Over six starts against the Mets since 2014, Arrieta has gone 2-1 with a 1.80 ERA and 1.00 WHIP over 40 innings, averaging a strikeout-per-inning while walking only 10. He did not face the Mets in 2017.
While the Mets bolstered their lineup with the addition of Todd Frazier and re-signing Jay Bruce, neither one has had much success against Arrieta. Meanwhile, the Phillies added on-base machine Carlos Santana to a lineup full of young, up-and-coming talent.
It’s true that he has limited exposure to the Mets, having spent his entire career up to this point in the American League with Cleveland. But he’s produced when he’s faced them, posting a .824 OPS with three extra-base hits, nine walks and four strikeouts over 39 career plate appearances against the Amazins.
If Santana hits second, as projected, there’s a high probability that he’ll be on base for the likes of Odubel Herrera, Rhys Hoskins, and Nick Williams. That could be a major problem for the Mets, especially when Arrieta is on the mound.
None of this is to say that the Mets season is doomed because Arrieta landed in Philadelphia. But getting to the promised land of October has become a far more difficult task than it was just a few days ago.
So much for brotherly love.