It’s Memorial Day. Today is for honoring our nation’s veterans of the past and present as well as consuming meat with ketchup on top. Whatever you’re doing today, I hope it’s both meaningful and fun. If your activities include watching Mets baseball, there’s a good chance that the experience will be neither of those things.
Just kidding. Even if Mets baseball is a meaningless cycle of injuries and questionable management choices, we should still do what we can to make it as fun as possible. That’s why the Mets are playing in the middle of that afternoon today. It’s late enough that you don’t have to wake up early to get to the ballpark on time but early enough that you don’t have to put the kids to bed in the seventh inning. If every Monday were like this, baseball would be even more fun.
Of course, baseball is also more fun when your team wins games, and the Mets did exactly none of that during their road trip to Milwaukee two weeks ago. Starting today, New York will try to make up for past failures when it wraps up the season series with the Brewers in a four-game set.
Milwaukee has gotten off to a nice start this year thanks to the amazing play of Eric Thames and solid contributions from Domingo Santana and Travis Shaw, but it remains to be seen if Craig Counsell’s motley crew can fend off St. Louis and the Cubs now that Thames has cooled off a bit and Ryan Bruan has landed on the disabled list with a calf injury. Dynamic athletes like Jonathan Villar and Keon Broxton have the potential to be major factors on offense, but Villar is no longer hitting enough line drives to make up for his sky-high strikeout rate, and Broxton strikes out even more often than Villar does.
It’s not often you see a three-true-outcomes player who can also steal bases, but Broxton is on that path. The problem is that he’s striking out even more and walking less than he did last year, and that’s going to shrink his on-base percentage in a hurry if his BABIP comes down to Earth.
The Mets have a lot of issues, but scoring runs hasn’t been one of them lately. Lucas Duda was leading the way with his streak of five games in a row with multiple times on base. Even though that got broken up on Sunday night in Pittsburgh, the big guy still hit a home run for the third time in four games. If he stays healthy for the remainder of the season, there’s no reason Duda can’t approach 30 home runs again with an on-base percentage around .350 like he did in 2014 and 2015.
Another Met who is finally rounding into form is Curtis Granderson. The veteran outfielder could be a part-time player in the near future with Yoenis Cespedes inching his way towards a return, but for now Granderson is an important full-time member of New York’s lineup. Starting on Wednesday, he had a hit and a walk in four straight games before ripping off three hits on Sunday. With a BABIP of .207 (and it was lower before this recent upswing), it’s only a matter of time before Granderson sees his wRC+ rise closer to 100.
Monday, May 29: Matt Garza
Important stats: 35.0 IP, 27 K, 6 BB, 6 HR, 3.60 ERA, 4.21 FIP, 1.14 WHIP
Favorite pitches: two-seam fastball (92 mph), slider (82 mph), four-seam fastball (92 mph)
It’s been a season of revival for Garza, whose numbers would look even better if he wasn’t just roughed up by Toronto for three home runs in five-plus innings. Although he doesn’t have the swing-and-miss stuff he had back when he was a youngster with Tampa Bay, the veteran has done a great job cutting down on his walks. When he faced the Mets earlier this month, Garza held our boys to two runs in six innings with four strikeouts and a pair of free passes.
Mets starter, Robert Gsellman: Gsellman made his triumphant return to the rotation last Wednesday with an economical start that saw him get through six innings with just 84 pitches. He might have earned the win as well if the bullpen didn’t give away the two-run advantage he left with. Even though Gsellman was pulled sooner than many fans would have liked, the outing was a good sign for him. Before being skipped a turn in the rotation, the young right-hander was having a lot of trouble working deep into games.
Tuesday, May 30: Zach Davies
Important stats: 52.1 IP, 39 K, 21 BB, 10 HR, 5.33 ERA, 5.38 FIP, 1.64 WHIP
Favorite pitches: two-seam fastball (90 mph), changeup (79 mph), curveball (73 mph)
Davies got off to a rough start this season, but he’s begun to right the ship recently with quality starts in his last two outings. Still, those decent performances can’t be considered predictors of future success because during them Davies totaled five strikeouts, four walks, and three home runs allowed. Those home runs have been a major bugaboo for the 24-year-old from Washington State, as he’s only got two starts this year with no long balls surrendered. Back on May 13, Neil Walker tagged him for one in an 11-4 Mets loss.
Mets starter: With Rafael Montero having finally been sent down to Las Vegas, this spot in the rotation is up for grabs. The favorite for the next crack at it is Tyler Pill, who had a 1.96 ERA in seven Triple-A starts this season. However, his major league debut on Saturday night didn’t go so well, as he loaded the bases in the top of the 10th before leaving the game and being charged with the winning run. With a fastball that struggles to reach 90 miles per hour, Pill will have to be crafty with his secondary stuff to succeed in the big leagues.
Wednesday, May 31: Junior Guerra
Important stats: 8.2 IP, 9 K, 3 BB, 2 HR, 3.12 ERA, 5.32 FIP, 0.81 WHIP
Favorite pitches: four-seam fastball (92 mph), splitter (84 mph), two-seam fastball (92 mph), slider (82 mph)
The former Mets farmhand came out of nowhere to make 20 solid starts for Milwaukee last year, but in 2017 he didn’t get off to an auspicious start. Guerra left his first outing of the year with a calf strain and didn’t return until last Friday. After allowing just one run in five-and-two-thirds innings against Arizona, he’s probably looking forward to getting back to business as one of baseball’s diamonds in the rough. In his one game against the Mets last year, Guerra allowed one run in six-and-two-thirds frames.
Mets starter, Jacob deGrom: Due partly to a blister and partly to weather, deGrom had a week off in between his last two starts, but we’re expecting him to rest the standard four games this time around. It’s probably a good idea for the Mets to get him back on the hill as soon as possible, because he’s coming off a pair of ridiculous performances. After shutting out the Angels for seven innings on May 19, the Stetson product struck out 10 batters while allowing one run and nearly going the distance in Pittsburgh.
Thursday, June 1: Chase Anderson
Important stats: 55.2 IP, 52 K, 22 BB, 5 HR, 3.72 ERA, 3.60 FIP, 1.35 WHIP
Favorite pitches: four-seam fastball (93 mph), two-seam fastball (93 mph), changeup (84 mph), curveball (78 mph)
Anderson averaged about five innings per start last year, and he’s been trending in a similar direction this year with three of his five starts in May failing to reach the sixth inning. However, Anderson rebounded in a big way during his most recent outing by going seven innings without giving up a hit against Arizona. The excellent performance came up short of legendary status when Nick Ahmed hit a single in the eighth, but 11 strikeouts in seven shutout frames has to feel like a big step forward for the Oklahoma product after his recent struggles.
Mets starter, Zack Wheeler: Like Gsellman, Wheeler pitched well in his most recent start only to be robbed of the win by New York’s terrible bullpen. The southern gentleman also suffered a blister that evening, so Mets fans are just hoping that he’s able to make his next scheduled appearance on Thursday. While Wheeler hasn’t been amazing this year, he’s missing enough bats and getting enough ground balls to give New York some decent innings, and those have been few and far between this year.
The Brewers paid Neftali Feliz to be their experienced closer during the offseason, but they eventually did the right thing and gave the most glamorous bullpen role to Corey Knebel, who has been doing a much better job getting outs this year. Knebel could be even more effective if he cut down on his walks, but it’s not like there are many alternatives with better control. Pretty much every Milwaukee bullpen contributor averages over four walks per nine innings expect for Carlos Torres, and he’s pretty darn close.
New York’s bullpen may be bad, but at least there are guys like Paul Sewald and Addison Reed who can throw the ball over the plate. Unfortunately, all that strike-throwing didn’t help Reed on Saturday night, as he gave up three hits to Pittsburgh and suffered his second blown save of the season. It’s been a bit of a rough go for Reed lately with a run allowed in each of his last two appearances, but if he keeps up with this awesome strikeout-to-walk ratio, he’ll end up just fine.
Prediction: Mets win three of four.
How will the Mets fare this week against the Brewers?
This poll is closed
Start June with a sweep!
Win three of four.
Keith’s favorite: a banana split!
Win one of four.
So much for optimism.