Boy, these Mets are really rolling now! After dropping two out of three to the Marlins and finishing off the season-opening homestand, New York traveled down the turnpike to the City of Brotherly Love and also many, many home runs. Philadelphia has been kind to the Mets ever since the Phillies stopped winning division championships, and this week was no exception. Our boys in orange and blue stomped their rivals three straight times while hitting 10 home runs, including seven during a 14-4 barrage on Tuesday night.
Can the momentum continue in Miami? The Marlins have played just two games since we last saw them, with one win and one loss in a short series against the Braves. It could have been a miniature sweep for the Fish, but Atlanta’s Ender Inciarte matched Giancarlo Stanton’s two home runs to help his team overcome a 4-3 eighth-inning deficit.
Home runs! We knew the Mets would need a lot of the sexiest play in baseball to be successful this year, and thanks to three days in Philadelphia, Terry Collins’s team is now tied with Texas for the most home runs in the majors. It’s true that seven of New York’s 16 home runs came in one crazy night, but does that make the stat a fluke?
Hopefully the Mets’ home runs are most spread out from now on, but they could continue to hit a lot of them. That’s just how this team was built. The lineup is stacked with five players that have the potential to hit 30 home runs each, and now we’ll get to watch Terry Collins work his magic, because it turns out that four of those players are outfielders!
Despite the lack of regular playing time, Michael Conforto is swinging that bat just like he did when he made believers of us all last April. In his only two starts this year, the Oregon State product has three hits, two home runs, and two walks. Since Jay Bruce and Yoenis Cespedes are also approaching nuclear levels of hotness, Collins could opt to have Curtis Granderson come off the bench in Miami.
With impressive athletes like Dee Gordon and Christian Yelich in the starting lineup, Miami has a much more balanced offense than New York when it comes to speed and power. That’s not to say the Fish can’t mash, though. Marcell Ozuna appears to be headed for another 20-homer season after hitting two in one game on Tuesday while driving in six of his team’s eight runs. Stanton crushed a pair of his own on Wednesday, which helped make up for him not hitting any home runs in Miami’s first seven games of the year.
Although he has almost no power in his game, the guy who can give the Mets the most trouble is Gordon due to his speed on the basepaths. The good news for New York is that Gordon has had trouble getting on base since returning from his PED suspension last year. While playing mostly in the second half of the campaign, Gordon hit just .268 with a .305 on-base percentage despite a .319 BABIP. In 2017, he’s off to a similar start with a .321 BABIP, but an OBP of only .294 thanks to zero walks so far.
Thursday, April 13: Wei-Yin Chen
Important stats: 6.0 IP, 5 K, 1 BB, 0 HR, 1.50 ERA, 1.80 FIP, 1.33 WHIP
Favorite pitches: four-seam fastball (91 mph), changeup (83 mph), curveball (73 mph), slider (83 mph)
Last week we predicted that Chen could have a bounce-back campaign if he kept pitching with great control and kept the ball in the yard. He got off to a great start against the Mets, spinning six innings of one-run ball with five strikeouts, one walk, and zero home runs. Even better, he got his first major league hit to break up an 0-for-51 skid. Isn’t the National League great?
Mets starter, Robert Gsellman: Pitching against these same Marlins last Saturday, Gsellman allowed one run in each of the first three innings en rout to an 8-1 defeat. The good news is that he got the strikeouts and ground balls that we like to see from the 23-year-old, and he appeared to get stronger as the game wore on. The process was solid for Gsellman, and if the Mets score for him this time around, we might get a pleasant result as well.
Friday, April 14: Adam Conley
Important stats: 5.0 IP, 6 K, 3 BB, 1 HR, 1.80 ERA, 4.97 FIP, 0.80 WHIP
Favorite pitches: four-seam fastball (90 mph), slider (84 mph), changeup (83 mph)
One of the reasons the Mets had so much success in Philadelphia is that the Phillies don’t have a left-handed starter in their rotation. With Chen and Conley, the Marlins have two, and that could cause problems for the lineup that has looked like a juggernaut this week. Last Saturday, Conley held the Mets to one run in five innings, with the one run (and only hit) coming on a Lucas Duda home run. New York did walk three times against Conley, and that small-sample FIP suggests that he could be lit up if he continues to demonstrate a lack of control.
Mets starter, Noah Syndergaard: After seeing his team lose twice in a row to the Marlins, Syndergaard stepped on the mound last Sunday and dominated with nine strikeouts and no walks in seven innings. Old-school sportswriters love when the No. 1 starter puts a stop to the losing streak, so they have to be impressed with Thor’s awesome outing. Nerds like me will point out that it would have all been for naught if the Mets struggled to score like they did in the first two games against the Fish. At least we can all agree that Syndergaard is off to a great start in 2017.
Saturday, April 15: Edinson Volquez
Important stats: 11.0 IP, 13 K, 2 BB, 2 HR, 3.27 ERA, 3.51 FIP, 1.18 WHIP
Favorite pitches: sinker (93 mph), changeup (83 mph), knuckle curve (81 mph), four-seam fastball (94 mph)
Look, it’s another starter who the Mets faced last weekend! This one the team was able to hit a little bit, as Volquez strayed too far into the middle of the strike zone too often and let New York tee off on his stuff. The Mets scored three runs in the first inning off the veteran before getting insurance in the form of home runs by Bruce and Conforto. Volquez has done a great job limiting walks this year, but he’s got to be careful not to make his pitches too appealing for opponents.
Mets starter, Jacob deGrom: deGrom is in a familiar situation this year in that he’s pitching wonderfully but still being overshadowed by another Mets hurler. That’s probably okay for the low-key right-hander, and it’s fine by fans as well. deGrom delivers stability and excellence to a rotation that is ever-changing, and with two potential starters already nursing injuries, the team needs him as much as ever.
Sunday, April 16: Dan Straily
Important stats: 8.1 IP, 5 K, 4 BB, 2 HR, 7.56 ERA, 6.70 FIP, 1.56 WHIP
Favorite pitches: four-seam fastball (91 mph), slider (84 mph), changeup (84 mph)
This former Oakland prospect had the best season of his career last year in Cincinnati. While toiling away for the rebuilding Reds, he set career bests in innings pitched, ERA, and WHIP. That prompted a trade to Miami, where the Marlins were looking to fortify a rotation that was crushed by the loss of Jose Fernandez. Straily struggled in his first start for the Marlins, allowing five runs in fewer than four innings to Washington, but he bounced back with a decent outing against Atlanta. As a fly-ball pitcher without great strikeout stuff, his success is often tied to his ability to keep the ball in the park.
Mets starter, Matt Harvey: I’m not sure even the Mets know who they would call up if another injury were to befall their rotation. That made the recent hamstring tweak by Harvey all the more scary, but it turns out that the handsome right-hander is going to be okay. He’s been hurt (figuratively) by the home run ball so far, but 10 strikeouts and one walk in 12.1 innings is a good sign that Harvey is ready to replicate his 2015 success.
There’s a school of thought out there that says that a manager’s best relievers should be used in the highest leverage situations. Terry Collins made it clear he does not subscribe when he sent out Hansel Robles on Wednesday night to deal with Maikel Franco in a bases-loaded jam. The result was a grand slam that nearly ruined the evening for many a Mets fan. Although Robles can look like a future closer at times, at others he looks utterly useless. Maybe Collins’s confidence in the 26-year-old was bolstered by two straight decent outings, but some Mets fans are still ready to run for cover any time Robles is called upon in a close game. His high-for-a-reliever 1.35 WHIP last year was a little more telling than his benign 3.48 ERA.
Brad Ziegler has been the guy that Don Mattingly has turned to most often during this first 10 days of the season, and it’s not hard to see why. The veteran has seen almost every situation during his 11-year career and he’s coming off of one of his best campaigns in 2016. He should be someone that either helps the Marlins make a surprising run this year or serves as a trade chip should the team fall out of the running over the summer. The good news for Mets fans is that Ziegler, like every other pitcher in Miami’s bullpen, isn’t left-handed, and that could be a big advantage in late-and-close situations.
Prediction: Banana split.
How will the Mets fare this weekend in Miami
This poll is closed
South Beach sweep!
Win three of four.
Keith’s favorite: a banana split!
Win one of four.
Left to flop around on the deck.