Phillies still in playoff chase as they host Mets

September 17, 2018

The Philadelphia Phillies and New York Mets start their final series of the season Monday night at Citizens Bank Park with the Phillies are still clinging to slim playoff hopes and the Mets playing their best baseball since April.

Jake Arrieta (10-9, 3.66 ERA) for the Phillies and Zack Wheeler (11-7, 3.23) for the Mets will be on the mound in the series opener.

Despite two consecutive losses, the Mets are 10-5 in September, and they have taken 10 of the first 16 games against the Phillies this season.

The Phillies, meanwhile, are 30-36 against the National League East this season, even after winning a weekend series against the Miami Marlins. Philadelphia is 6 1/2 games back of the Atlanta Braves in the National League East and five games back in the wild-card race.

Arrieta has 18 strikeouts in his last two starts (12 1/3 innings). The veteran right-hander had seven strikeouts in his last start against the Washington Nationals on Tuesday, and Arrieta gave up three runs and three hits in five innings.

Arrieta got a no-decision in the game, as the Phillies coughed up a three-run lead in the ninth inning of a 7-6 loss.

"It's obviously not great, especially when we're trying to catch the team ahead of us," Arrieta told reporters afterward. "We got to pick it up, and if we don't, we're not going to be making the playoffs."

The Phillies are 2-2 since Arrieta's last start.

Arrieta has a 1.94 ERA and a 0.961 WHIP in nine career starts against the Mets. In two starts against them this year, he has allowed one earned run in 13 1/3 innings.

Wheeler, who is 3-1 with a 3.10 ERA in nine starts against the Phillies, has faced the Mets' divisional opponent just once this season. He gave up three runs in 4 2/3 innings on July 9, but the right-hander has been one of the best starters in the NL since then.

Wheeler is 9-1 with a 1.67 ERA in his last 11 starts. Opponents are hitting just .192 against him in that span, and he has 76 strikeouts in 75 2/3 innings.

He had his best start of the season last Wednesday. Wheeler threw eight scoreless innings against the Marlins. He gave up only four hits, did not walk a batter and had seven strikeouts in the 89-pitch outing.

"The competitor in me wants to go out there and throw nine every game," Wheeler told after the start. " ... We aren't going anywhere right now, so I want to be ready for next year and I just want to play it smart, especially with my history. If we're contending, I'm going back out there for sure."

Phillies second baseman Cesar Hernandez has homered in each of his last two games and is historically successful against Wheeler. Hernandez is 7-for-11 with seven singles in his career against Wheeler.