The Mets just finished a fun weekend series against Oakland in which Wilmer Flores hit a walk-off home run, Michael Conforto got raging hot, and the team nearly extended its winning streak to five games. However, thanks to yet another Sunday matinee loss, the effort probably wasn’t enough to keep the front office from hearing offers on anyone with a year or less remaining on his contract.
With the trade deadline just a week away, the Mets are still looking like sellers despite their solid play since the All-Star break. It’s no fun to just thinking about impending doom, though, so let’s enjoy that Terry Collins hasn’t allowed the squad to completely fall apart. Even that darn bullpen is playing well, with just two runs allowed in the recent weekend series. And Hansel Robles pitched twice! Believe it or not, that guy could be hours away from being named New York’s closer, so it’s nice to see him get his act together.
Next up is a west coast swing to San Diego, Seattle, and Colorado. The first four games are at Petco Park, so the Mets have a chance to bank some more wins against the lowly Padres and inch their way back into postseason contention. On the other hand, San Diego isn’t exactly a doormat these days with three out of four wins over San Francisco in its most recent series and a 10-8 July record.
Andy Green’s club has been hitting the ball solidly despite a concussion suffered by regular catcher Austin Hedges right after the All-Star break. One of Hedges’s replacements, Hector Sanchez, went on a tear as soon as he was put into action. The former Giants backup hit a home run in three straight games following the Hedges injury and added a fourth during a three-hit performance in San Francisco on Friday night. Although Sanchez has split time with 21-year-old Venezuela backstop Luis Torrens, expect to see more of Sanchez this week if Hedges continues to be unavailable.
San Diego’s more accomplished hitters are also playing well as Wil Myers has home runs in three straight games to give him 20 for the season. Although Myers isn’t stealing as many bases or making as much contact as he did last year, he should approach 30 home runs again and continue to anchor the middle of Green’s lineup. He’s one guy we know isn’t going anywhere thanks to the six-year extension he signed this winter.
Another 26-year-old corner infielder playing well for the Padres is Cory Spangenberg. The former first-round pick still doesn’t hit enough to be considered an above-average third baseman, but he’s got his wRC+ approaching 100 thanks to a recent eight-game hitting streak that includes three home runs and five two-hit games.
The lack of potential free agents on offense mean that any trades the Padres make are likely to come from the pitching staff. The guy who has received the most attention so far is Brad Hand, a southpaw that the Mets know well from his time in Miami. He wasn’t anything special with the Marlins, but during the past two years in San Diego, Hand has flourished into one of the top relievers in the league with 66 strikeouts and 14 walks in 51 innings this season. He even worked for a little while as the closer while Brandon Maurer was struggling. It’s no surprise that general manager A.J. Preller is looking to move the valuable lefty, but so far the asking price has been too high.
Monday, July 24: Jacob deGrom vs. Clayton Richard, 10:10 p.m. on SNY
deGrom: 125.2 IP, 144 K, 40 BB, 18 HR, 3.37 ERA, 3.69 FIP, 1.18 WHIP
Fans were probably underwhelmed when deGrom only struck out three batters in his last start, but what’s really important is that he allowed fewer than two runs for the sixth time in seven starts. He also walked fewer than two batters for the fifth straight time, so there was a lot to like in the win over St. Louis. deGrom’s ERA and FIP just continue to shrink and resemble the figures he put up during his first three years in the majors.
Richard: 119.1 IP, 82 K, 35 BB, 16 HR, 5.35 ERA, 4.51 FIP, 1.60 WHIP
Richard was pitching surprisingly well earlier this season, as he did things like throw a complete game against Arizona and allow just one run in seven innings at Texas. Those are feats we don’t expect a journeyman like Richard to perform, but his bubble has burst over the past two months and it doesn’t look like he’ll be the trade asset he could have been. On the other hand, Richard is left-handed and knows how to get ground balls, so he could probably help out in someone’s bullpen.
Tuesday, July 25: Seth Lugo vs. Jhoulys Chacin, 10:10 p.m. on SNY
Lugo: 46.2 IP, 33 K, 14 BB, 4 HR, 4.05 ERA, 3.87 FIP, 1.35 WHIP
Writing something new about Lugo every week can be a struggle because he’s so consistently mediocre, but against St. Louis last Thursday he tied a season best with one run allowed in six-plus innings. That’s about as solid an effort as the Mets are going to get out of Lugo, who has been worth nearly one WAR since his June debut just by taking the mound and not being terrible.
Chacin: 114.0 IP, 96 K, 40 BB, 15 HR, 4.26 ERA, 4.37 FIP, 1.29 WHIP
Unlike Richard, Chacin got off to a dreadful start this year but has made up for it by being consistently good since the start of June. During that span, the former Colorado starter has made nine outings with seven being quality starts, and the two that weren’t just missed the cutoff. Even better for Chacin is that the Padres have won each of his four July starts, and he’s allowed just six runs in 23.1 innings for the month.
Wednesday, July 26: Steven Matz vs. Trevor Cahill, 10:10 p.m. on SNY
Matz: 44.1 IP, 30 K, 11 BB, 8 HR, 4.67 ERA, 4.89 FIP, 1.40 WHIP
Giving up three runs in five innings isn’t anything to write home about, but Friday was a good bounce-back outing for Matz, who struck out five batters with no walks or home runs allowed. That’s a big improvement over the previous two starts in which he allowed three home runs and two walks combined over five-plus frames. Now that the lefty’s BABIP and ERA have normalized, the Mets need him to either raise his strikeout rate or stop allowing so many home runs so that he can get back to being a reliable starter.
Cahill: 61.0 IP, 72 K, 24 BB, 6 HR, 3.69 ERA, 3.40 FIP, 1.34 WHIP
Before 2017, Cahill hadn’t started more than three games in a season since 2014, when he had a 5.61 ERA for Arizona. Although he returned to relevance as a reliever with the Cubs last year, it was hard to predict the 29-year-old being this solid as a starter for the Padres. Ground balls have always been a calling card for Cahill, but this season he’s obliterating opponents with 10.62 strikeouts per nine, which is four above his career average. The key appears to be fewer sinkers and more breaking balls thrown, which has led to less contact and more swings and misses outside the strike zone.
Thursday, July 27: Zack Wheeler vs. Luis Perdomo, 9:10 p.m. on SNY
Wheeler: 86.1 IP, 81 K, 40 BB, 15 HR, 5.21 ERA, 5.03 FIP, 1.59 WHIP
For the second start in a row, Wheeler walked four batters and failed to finish the sixth inning. The difference in this most recent outing was that most of the damage against Wheeler came in the first inning, with two walks and four runs coming before the Mets had a chance to bat. The Georgia native has flirted with greatness this year, but lately he’s been inconsistent with his control, which is something that’s held him back even when he was a more effective pitcher back in 2014.
Perdomo: 91.2 IP, 73 K, 35 BB, 10 HR, 4.71 ERA, 4.32 FIP, 1.54 WHIP
Perdomo made the rare jump from High-A to the majors after San Diego purchased him from Colorado in December 2015. That made for a rough 2016 campaign for the Dominican right-hander, as he posted a 5.71 ERA despite a 59-percent ground ball rate. Perdomo’s second shot at the big leagues is going a little better thanks to an even higher ground ball rate and fewer home runs allowed. The next step for him is to limit his walks to force even more batters to hit the ball into the ground.
Prediction: Banana split.
How will the Mets fare this week in San Diego?
This poll is closed
No sleep, but at least we get a sweep!
Win three of four.
Keith’s favorite: a banana split!
Win one of four.
Whoops! Fell asleep on the couch again.