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Can the Mets keep winning in Arizona?

New York finally won two games in a row. Who says we can’t make it three?

Arizona Diamondbacks v New York Mets Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

It finally happened. After a more than a month of wandering through the baseball wilderness, the Mets finally strung together two straight victories over the weekend to take a home series from San Diego. It’s easy when you get the kind of starting pitching the Mets got on Saturday and Sunday, when Jacob deGrom and Steven Matz led the way with dominant performances.

Getting large stretches of scoreless innings is going to be tougher against an Arizona lineup that gave the Mets fits last week, but there are some measures going in the Mets’ favor as they start a new three-game series with the Diamondbacks on Monday night.

First of all, Arizona has struggled mightily in its home ballpark this year, going 19-39 at Chase Field and 29-30 everywhere else. The Diamondbacks aren’t carrying much momentum home with them, either, as they just got swept by Boston during a three-game set at Fenway Park. During the weekend series, Arizona pitching gave up 31 runs after allowing just five to the Mets at Citi Field.

Under normal circumstances, the Mets would get to see one of the Arizona starters who struggled in Boston, but instead the Snakes are switching up their rotation and removing Patrick Corbin because he’s allowed at least four runs in nine straight starts for an ERA of 7.68 during that span. I know, I know, that makes him a virtual lock to throw seven scoreless innings against the Mets, right? Just let the Diamondbacks do what they want.

Mets offense

Whether you think it’s a good thing or a bad thing that the Mets will miss Corbin, New York will hopefully see its offense improve with the reintroduction of Jose Reyes. The controversial shortstop came off the disabled list on Saturday, returned to his old shortstop position — because nostalgia is way more important than defense these days — and "sparked" the Mets by reaching base twice in two games.

It’s great that Reyes got a hit, stole a base, and then scored a run on Sunday, but can we resist calling him a spark plug until his on-base percentage eclipses .300? Just because Reyes was in the lineup during the two games the Mets won doesn’t mean he was the key factor in those victories. It’s like saying that ice cream causes sun burns because people eat ice cream and also get sun burned during the summer.

Diamondbacks offense

On the Arizona side, we’ll probably see less Brandon Drury in the outfield. He was filling in for Yasmany Tomas, who sat out the Citi Field series with a stiff neck. With Tomas back in action and the designated hitter no longer in play, Drury will likely be relegated to the bench against New York. The 23-year-old outfielder looked to be having a breakout season during April and May when he hit .287/.321/.494, but he’s cooled off considerably since then.

Another guy I didn’t think the Mets would have to worry about last week was Michael Bourn, who it turns out the front office did a great job not signing when he was a free agent back in 2013. You wouldn’t know that by the way he played at Citi Field, though, as the veteran had five hits including a key two-RBI triple last Tuesday night that put Arizona in front for good. Bourn continued his hot hitting in Beantown with two hits in each of his last two games and a home run on Sunday.

Meanwhile, the guy the Mets were supposed to be worried about continues to struggle. That would be third base sensation Jake Lamb, who has zero hits in his last six games. Perhaps the only Arizona batter playing like he’s supposed to is Paul Goldschmidt. The talented first baseman had six hits, two doubles, a home run, two stolen bases, and four RBI during the sweep in Queens, and you can bet he’s hungry for more.

Probable pitchers

Date Time Television Mets Probable Starter Diamondbacks Probable Starter
August 15, 2016 9:40 PM SNY Bartolo Colon Robbie Ray
August 16, 2016 9:40 PM SNY Noah Syndergaard Braden Shipley
August 17, 2016 9:40 PM SNY Jonathon Niese Zack Godley
Robbie Ray

Important stats: 128.0 IP, 156 K, 47 BB, 17 HR, 4.57 ERA, 3.67 FIP, 1.45 WHIP

Favorite pitches: four-seam fastball (94 mph), slider (84 mph), two-seam fastball (93 mph)

Ray has exactly two starts this year in which he has issued zero walks. One of those came against Philadelphia in late June. The southpaw still gave up four runs during that game and suffered the loss. The other was last Wednesday when Ray pitched seven scoreless innings against the Mets for one of his finest outings all season. I suppose you have to give the Mets a little credit for only striking out four times against Ray since he’s averaging 11 strikeouts per nine innings. If they do that again, perhaps they’ll find some more hits.

Mets opponent: What was a bigger accomplishment? The Mets winning two straight games or Colon putting together two straight quality starts? Colon’s drought goes back a little further than the team’s, so maybe we should be super happy that the sexy right-hander has held his last two opponent to just one run each. Even more impressive was the way Colon struck out eight Arizona hitters last Tuesday. That matched his season high and made us confident that he’ll continue to be an asset going forward.

Braden Shipley

Important stats: 24.1 IP, 17 K, 12 BB, 4 HR, 2.96 ERA, 5.36 FIP, 1.32 WHIP

Favorite pitches: four-seam fastball (91 mph), curveball (80 mph), changeup (85 mph), two-seam fastball (90 mph)

Shipley showed why he is such a highly valued prospect last week when he tossed seven scoreless frames against the Mets and led his squad in a 9-0 romp. The outing was the finest of the 24-year-old’s young major league career, so hopefully he’ll crash down to earth in his rematch with the Mets on Tuesday. In two of his three previous starts, Shipley struggled with his control, although it wasn’t an issue for him in the Triple-A Pacific Coast League this year. Maybe the guy who aced the Mets is the version of Shipley who can lead Arizona out of mediocrity.

Mets opponent: What do you do with a problem like Syndergaard? Okay, we’re not quite at that point yet, but the big right-hander once again pitched below standards despite a very good strikeout rate last Thursday. The good news is that he broke his streak of five straight starts with multiple walks and didn’t allow a home run to Arizona that day. On the other hand, he still let up three runs while throwing 91 pitches in five innings.

Zack Godley

Important stats: 44.2 IP, 35 K, 13 BB, 6 HR, 5.24 ERA, 4.39 FIP, 1.37 WHIP

Favorite pitches: cutter (90 mph), curveball (81 mph), sinker (91 mph), four-seam fastball (91 mph), changeup (83 mph)

The 26-year-old out of Tennessee hasn’t quite lived up to his last name this season, but to be fair, that’s hard for any mortal man to do. What’s also hard is limiting the Red Sox to one run in five-and-one-third innings, but that’s exactly what Godley did in relief of Corbin last Friday. The performance inspired Arizona to give him Corbin’s spot in the rotation this week, so he should be motivated to make the most of it.

Mets opponent: Just like Godley, Jonathon Niese will be filling in for a starter who has been very ineffective lately. After Logan Verrett gave up 14 runs over two starts against Detroit and San Diego, the front office finally said enough is enough and handed the roster spot to Niese, who was working for Pittsburgh until August 1. It was a bit shocking to see the Mets trade for a player that they had dealt away just months earlier, but the move made sense given the team’s need for pitching depth. Now Niese will have a real shot at winning back New York fans with a key start during a pennant race.

Prediction: Mets win two of three.

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