Role Reversal In The NL East?

Scott MaloneAnalyst IAugust 22, 2008

Yes, everyone knows what happened last year.

As of September 17, 2007, the Mets had a 2.5 game lead over the hot Phillies in the National League East, with a record of 83-66.

They proceeded to lose eight of their next 13 games, and promptly finished a game behind the Phillies for the division at season's end.

This time last season, the Mets sat at 71-54, and were playing a San Diego Padres team that was also in the playoff hunt. They had just come off of an easy stretch facing the Braves, Marlins, Nationals, and Pirates, and were heading into a slightly more difficult part of their schedule.

The Phillies sat at 66-58, 4.5 games back, and were in the process of dropping their series with the Los Angeles Dodgers at home. The Phils also were coming off an easy stretch, facing those very same teams as the Mets.

This year, the Mets currently are 71-57, 2.5 games up, and are heading into the final stage of an easy stretch against rebuilding teams. They have won nine of their last ten, beating up on the Nationals, Pirates, and Braves, and now head into a four game set at home against the Houston Astros.

The Phils once again are playing the Dodgers at home, and are 68-59 entering a brutal part of their schedule, with a four game set against the Dodgers, two against the Mets, and four at Wrigley.

It seems that the circumstances are eerily similar to this point last year, just with the two teams slightly closer in the standings.

However, unlike in previous seasons, the Phillies are actually cooling off in August. They were 17-12 in August last season, finishing on a six game win streak.

This year, they sit at 9-10 with the previously mentioned brutal schedule looming.

The "Amazin's" have been red hot in August, having gone 13-7 thus far, compared to last year's 15-13 mark for the month.

The Mets' offense has also turned it on. In this month: Jose Reyes is hitting .282, David Wright is hitting .316, Carlos Beltran is hitting .307, and Carlos Delgado is hitting .271. In addition, each of the big four has an OBP in the .370's or higher for the month.

By contrast, the Phillies' big four has been slumping. Chase Utley is hitting .243. Pat Burrell: .167. Ryan Howard: .164. Finally, Jimmy Rollins is hitting .211. All have OBP's less than .310, with the exception of Utley (.346).

The Mets, while having bullpen issues, continue to get quality starts by their rotation, even without the presence of John Maine. Their offense continues to produce runs, led by their big four as well as their rookies.

The Phillies only deserved to win one game of their past series with Washington, and that was Brett Myers' shutout performance.

They were bailed out in game one by Shane Victorino and Jayson Werth.

In the final game, they played sloppy defense all game, and as a result lost to the Nationals, who previously had not won in 12 games.

Until the Phillies' big four can learn how to hit again, the Mets have a great opportunity to make people forget about last season, and to bury the fading Phillies for the September stretch.

Final Prediction: Mets take division by three games.

But Phillies fans do have something else to do instead of close their eyes and hope: They can countdown to Eagles' opening kickoff.