Having just lost two of three to the lowly Cincinnati Reds, the New York Mets are not exactly in a great place right now. The team got swept in a six-game home stand just before the series in Cincy, losing three games to the Braves and three more to the Rockies. Going back to the middle of April, the Mets have won just one series—two wins in three games in San Diego—and find themselves just a game above .500.
Luckily, that tailspin has not knocked the Mets out of the division race—or the Wild Card one. The team is three-and-a-half games behind the first-place Braves, three behind the second-place Phillies, and one behind the third-place Nationals. Just about everyone has written about this team lately as if the season had actually ended when we haven’t even hit the halfway point of May just yet. There are issues on this team—some of them very significant—but making conclusions about an entire season this early is typically foolish.
Maybe things will end up that way, but the Mets’ incredibly bad run should probably be viewed with at least some skepticism, just as the 12-2 start to the season was. If you think the Mets suck, you might have even been excited to see such a bad stretch make you look like you were right—don’t believe the mirage at the beginning of the season, believe what you had already determined was going to happen. Confirmation bias at its finest.
As for what’s up with the Mets’ roster going into the weekend, Jay Bruce will be way for the birth of his child, opening the door for Dominic Smith to spend the weekend in the majors. He’s hit reasonably well in Triple-A Las Vegas with a .278/.390/.417 line, though that slugging percentage—and the two home runs he’s hit in 136 plate appearances in an extreme hitter’s league—are not super inspiring.
If the Mets make it official, Smith might also be joined by lefty reliever Buddy Baumann—with Hansel Robles hitting the DL. Baumann has limited major league experience, all of which came with the Padres, but owns a 3.58 ERA in 27.2 innings of work.
This is undoubtedly the most daunting pitching matchup of the weekend. Arrieta has not been his old Cy-Young-contending self, but he has been pretty good for the Phillies thus far. He has a 3.15 ERA and 3.69 FIP in 34.1 innings over six starts, even though his strikeout percentage is way down—16.1 percent so far this year compared to 23.1 percent last year. His swinging strike rate is down, too, and it’d be nice to see the Mets continue that trend.
As for Matz, things haven’t gone very well so far this year despite a career-high 26.7 percent strikeout rate. He has a 4.23 ERA and 5.15 FIP in 27.2 innings over six starts. That innings/starts ratio stands out when specifically compared to Arrieta.
While Syndergaard hasn’t dominated on the level that he might have hoped coming into this season, he’s still been good. With a 3.09 ERA and 2.80 FIP in 46.2 innings over eight starts, he could easily reclaim a spot in the top end of the pitching leader boards with a stretch of a handful of outstanding starts.
Eflin has thrown just 12.2 innings in the majors this year, but in that time, he has a 0.71 ERA. Last year, however, he had a 6.16 ERA with the Phillies, which was slightly worse than his 2016 mark: 5.54.
The biggest boost the Mets will get this weekend is undoubtedly deGrom’s return. The starting rotation beyond the two aces still looks like the team’s biggest problem right now, and having him back is a major improvement—no offense to P.J. Conlon. As per usual, deGrom has been one of the best starting pitchers in the game in the early going this season, and he’s rocking a 1.87 ERA and 2.10 FIP in his 43.1 innings.
As for Nola, he’s pitching better this year than he as at any point in the past. His first and third seasons in the majors ended with a 3.5-something ERA, while his second saw him finish at 4.78. But his 2.05 ERA and 2.55 FIP so far this year would be major leaps of improvement from his past major league performance. Maybe it’s just a fluky thing, but right now, he looks like a pitcher who the Mets can’t take lightly.
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Published at Fri, 11 May 2018 14:35:25 +0000