Mets sweep bumbling Phillies; Rivera replacement pitches like early Rivera

Mariano Rivera. (Alex Abboud via flickr)
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As impressive as the Mets' three-game sweep of the Phillies was, complete with a 10-6 comeback victory Wednesday night, it says a lot more about the losers than the winners.

To start, the Mets trailed in all three games because Philadelphia's starting pitching was better than New York's. But the Philadelphia bullpen put up a 14.73 E.R.A. over the three games. To put that in perspective, the nightmare 2008 Mets bullpen had a second-half E.R.A. of 5.02, or roughly a third of what Philadelphia allowed.

And while that is almost certain to come downa number of relievers are underachieving early, while a group headed by Jonathan Papelbon and supported by Chad Qualls, Antonio Bastardo and David Herndon should manage to get some outsthe Phillies clearly have an offense problem that is far harder to solve.

As a team, the Phillies are ninth in the National League in runs, but even that is deceiving. By O.P.S., the team is 11th, with a team O.P.S. of .672. The double-play combination of Jimmy Rollins (.549) and Freddy Galvis (.572) is even worse than that. And Chase Utley, the incumbent at second base, is battling chronic knee injuries, with no guarantee he'll return anytime soon, nor stay on the field once he does. Ryan Howard, the expensive first baseman, is still recovering from the injury that he suffered on the final play of the 2011 season. And Howard is not the impact performer he once was, either.

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In the outfield, Shane Victorino is underperforming, while John Mayberry Jr., last year's breakout performer, has regressed badly. In fact, only the .917 O.P.S. from catcher Carlos Ruiz, one almost certain to come down, has kept Philadelphia at even this level of hitting.

It is shocking to consider when looking at the team's starting rotation. Roy Halladay has been solid this year, down a bit from years past, but still putting up an E.R.A.+ of 114, well above league average. And he's been the least effective of the starting five.

The team the Mets are facing this weekend, the Miami Marlins, offer a much better gauge of where they are as a team right now. 

Elsewhere around New York sports:

YANKEES

Panic in the streets! David Robertson blew a save opportunity, leading inevitably to questions whether he can measure up to the performance of Mariano Rivera. Who blew three of his first six save opportunities when he took over as closer in 1997.

Unrelated: Rivera is not only battling a knee injury but a blood clot in his leg, too.

RANGERS

There will be a Game 7 at Madison Square Garden Saturday, with the Rangers falling to the Capitals, 2-1 in Game 6. 

RED BULLS

New York won again, 1-0 over Houston, thanks to another goal from Kenny Cooper. Missing Rafa Marquez, a late scratch due to an ankle injury, the Red Bulls excelled with Dax McCarty in his place.

BIG EAST

The St. John's basketball roster came together in Wednesday's announcement unveiling six new players, five of whom will play next season. Included in the group is a pair of Top 100 players. Added into the mix with the five returning players, St. John's should have enough talent to compete in the Big East. The return to health of coach Steve Lavin, who missed almost the entire season in 2011-12 recovering from prostate cancer, will be every bit as important.

Meanwhile, the future of the league will be determined by the next commissioner. But it won't be interim commissioner Joseph Bailey III, who said he would not be a candidate for the full-time position in a Wednesday afternoon conference call. He said he'd have nothing to do with negotiations over the next television contract, which is what will actually determine whether the Big East will be lucrative enough to keep its remaining members.