Mets visit Phillies with Collins' job security uncertain

PHILADELPHIA -- As the Philadelphia Phillies and New York Mets enter their final series of 2017, both organizations have learned more about what their team may look like next season. Or in the Mets' case, what it might not look like.

Multiple local and national media outlets have reported that the Mets will part ways with manager Terry Collins after the season.

The Mets have won three straight entering the series opener in Philadelphia. They sent Collins out with a win in what was possibly his final home game in a New York uniform, beating the Atlanta Braves 7-1.

Preparing a team full of young players fighting for a spot on the roster this season and Opening Day in 2018 has been a challenge for Collins amid all of the speculation surrounding his future.

"This past week, only because all of the questions, has it been hard to deal with," Collins told the New York Post. "My focus is trying to get the team ready, and every day it is something else about me not being here."

Matt Harvey (5-6, 6.60 ERA) will take the mound for the Mets on Friday, facing the Phillies for the second time the season. Harvey picked up the win over Philadelphia on April 11, lasting 5 2/3 innings in a 14-4 victory.

Of Harvey's 34 career victories, seven have come against Philadelphia. He is 7-2 with a 2.70 ERA in 10 career starts against the Phillies. Facing them could be what he needs to end his season after struggling mightily since returning to the Mets on Sept. 2, going 1/3 with an 11.78 ERA this month. He missed more than two months due to a right shoulder injury.

Harvey will oppose rookie right-hander Ben Lively, who, like every Phillies starting pitcher not named Aaron Nola, is fighting for a spot in manager Pete Mackanin's rotation for 2018 and beyond.

Lively (3-7, 4.35 ERA) is 1-1 with a 2.03 ERA in two starts against the Mets this season, most recently leading the Phillies to a 9-1 victory over New York on Sept. 5 when he threw seven innings of one-run ball in arguably his best start of the season.

For much of the season, Philadelphia's offense struggled to support their starters. That changed, however, when the Phillies got immediate impact from some new bats in the order.

Outfielders Nick Williams and Rhys Hoskins catcher Jorge Alfaro and most recently infielder J.P. Crawford have completely changed the dynamic of the Phillies going forward.

"When you're not hitting and you don't have the offense, it looks like the team is getting down. You hear that all the time," Mackanin told the Philadelphia Inquirer. "There's no energy. Well, when nobody gets on base, it's hard to have energy. But I'm proud of the guys, the fact that they (played) hard the entire season in my opinion.

"We just didn't have the offense clicking the first half and that was part of our problems. But in the second half, things started clicking. We started playing better baseball."

That improvement not only allowed Mackanin and fans to be confident in the lineup, but it also allowed the manager to get a better look at his starters and relievers pitching in higher-pressure situations.
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