The NL East has been one of the most surprising divisions in baseball outside of the Atlanta Braves at the top. The Marlins have found something to propel them into second place, while the Phillies and Mets are down in third and fourth.
The Phillies are on the upswing, though, and that coincided with former closer Jonathan Papelbon placing them as the number five team in his MLB power rankings.
Papelbon made a few big declarations about the Phillies and Mets during his appearance on the Audacy Original Podcast “Baseball Isn’t Boring” this week.”
“8-2 in their last 10 games. Harper’s back. Castellanos is ripping the ball. You got Schwarbs doing what Schwarbs always does,” Papelbon said (8:59 in player above). “The pieces are coming together. That is what I was trying to talk to you about that crystal ball. I saw it. I saw all these pieces coming together. I’m telling you, wild card spot, look out.”
On June 2nd, the Phillies lost the series opener in Washington after getting swept by the Mets at Citi Field. They were seven games under .500 – their lowest mark of the season – at 25-32. Since then, however, they’ve gone on a 10-2 run, including that 8-2 since Papelbon had the Phils fifth in his MLB power rankings.
Papelbon isn’t backing down. In fact, he’s doubling down on the Phillies.
“I think they will be back in the World Series, I do, because I think they’re going to make a big move because I think by the end of July, if you have the Phillies at .500, a little bit over .500 by the end of July, book it,” he said. I’m going to take them because that means that they’ve gotten their piece that they need at the trade deadline.”
The Phillies’ 5-4 victory in Arizona on Thursday got them back over .500 (35-34) for the first time in over a month. They beat the Rockies on May 13th to move to 20-19.
“Here’s the thing in Philadelphia, man, The band is back together. You got Castellanos protecting Schwarber. You got Schwarber hitting bombs. You got Harp back. Their pitching is coming around,” Papelbon said. “I’m telling you, man, the band is back, baby.”
While the Phillies are surging, the Mets continue to struggle. New York is at 32-36 through 68 games after splitting the Subway Series with the Yankees. The Mets are just 2-9 since sweeping the Phillies to begin the month.
“The Mets are going to go in the exact opposite direction I believe. First off, you got Pete Alonso that got hit in the hand. Hand injuries, hamate bones, all that bull—t is tough, tough to play with,” Papelbon said. “Every little tiny thing with your hands in baseball, once you injure those you have to change what you’ve been doing. You have to change your swing, the way you throw. I don’t see him coming back too quick.”
Alonso has 22 home runs in 62 games this season. He’s been out of the lineup since getting hit on the hand on June 7th. Alonso is reportedly progressing well, but the injury could be something that affects him all season.
New York’s pitching hasn’t been up to snuff this season and the two Mets aces are under fire.
“You got Scherzer, he’s doing well but he’s had the whole pine tar issue,” Papelbon said. “You got Verlander, who’s not himself back and forth from the trainer room and IL.”
The Mets are in fourth place in the NL East and 10.5 games back of the Braves. However, if they turn it around they could eye up a wild card spot as they’re just four games back. But Papelbon’s crystal ball doesn’t see a turnaround for the Mets.
“I’m going to tell you what my crystal ball said this morning,” he said. “He gave them a 28% chance to go to the playoffs. My crystal ball, he projected them at below 80 wins this year. 79.5 projected wins.”