(Photo credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports)
Nick Castellanos signed a five-year, $100 million contract with the Philadelphia Phillies before last season.
Though the Phillies advanced to the World Series and came within two victories of a title, Castellanos struggled for much of the regular season and the playoff run. He had 13 home runs and 62 RBIs in the regular season.
It has been a different storyline in 2023 as the Phillies get closer to clinching a second consecutive playoff berth.
Castellanos homered, singled, had a sacrifice fly and knocked in four runs in a 5-4 win over the New York Mets on Thursday. He has 28 home runs, including four in his last four games, and has recorded a career-high 103 RBIs this season.
He looks so much more comfortable.
The Phillies, who hold the top wild-card spot in the National League, will host the Mets again on Friday in the second contest of a four-game series.
"Everything just lines up," Castellanos told Fox Sports in a postgame interview when talking about being confident at the plate. "Honestly, it's just like poetry in motion."
The career best in RBIs means more to Castellanos than the long balls.
"I take a lot of pride in driving in runs and scoring runs," he said. "Those are probably two statistics at the end of the season that I care most about."
Alec Bohm hit a solo home run and Bryce Harper had two hits on Thursday.
The Phillies will hand the ball to right-hander Taijuan Walker (15-5, 4.40 ERA) on Friday.
On Sunday, Walker allowed eight hits and five runs in seven innings in his last start against the St. Louis Cardinals.
"He attacked the hitters and he gave us some length," Philadelphia manager Rob Thomson said of Walker after the outing.
Walker is 1-2 with a 2.66 ERA in four career starts against his former team.
The Mets (71-82) will look to rebound in the second game of the series after falling to 10-9 this month.
Mark Vientos hit a home run, his third in two games, while Jeff McNeil added a single, double, triple and one RBI. Francisco Lindor had two hits and Brett Baty chipped in with an RBI single.
But the result was another loss in a rather forgettable season for the Mets. New York's loss guarantees a losing season. Just last season, the Mets finished 101-61.
Despite a hefty payroll, they've scuffled through losses, injuries and prolonged slumps.
"It sucks," McNeil said. "I think nobody here thought this was where we were going to be at this point in the year."
New York manager Buck Showalter agreed with McNeil's assessment.
"Our guys have been competing for a while," Showalter said. "They have a lot of pride. The scoreboard doesn't always show it."
Right-hander Tylor Megill (8-8, 4.94) is scheduled to start for the Mets.
In his most recent outing, Megill gave up three runs (two earned) on nine hits in 5 2/3 innings against the Cincinnati Reds last Saturday.
"He gave us a good chance to win," Showalter said of Megill. "We only scored five runs in 18 innings (the past two games). That's a challenge."
Megill is 2-1 with a 2.40 ERA in three career starts against the Phillies.
--Field Level Media