Wednesday’s game in Washington was postponed due to rain, and that means that the Mets had their chance to gain ground on the Nationals pushed pack until after the All-Star break. With the way things are going, that game might not ever be made up, but at least Mets fans still get to see Jacob deGrom make one more start in the first half. The fact that he’ll pitch against St. Louis instead of Washington gives him a better chance of having another wonderful outing.
It’s not like the Cardinals are chopped liver, though. Despite batting just .231 (mostly due to a .248 BABIP), Matt Carpenter is one of the best leadoff men in the business with his league-leading 60 walks and team-leading 14 home runs. Plus, the man behind him is one of the most underrated hitters in baseball. That would be Tommy Pham, who at age 29 is a full-time outfielder for the first time in his major leage career. He’s taking advantage of the opportunity by hitting .289/.377/.492 with 10 home runs and nine stolen bases.
Another not-so-familiar name putting up big production for St. Louis is Jedd Gyorko, the former San Diego prospect who has reinvigorated his career over the past two seasons with the Cardinals. Now the starter at third base, Gyorko has boosted his walk rate to a career-high 9.6 percent and is hitting .304/.369/.519 in the middle of the lineup. He recently missed a couple of games with a mild groin injury, but rebounded with two hits in St. Louis’s win over Miami on Thursday.
A lot of New York’s offensive production this weekend will depend on who takes the field. Curtis Granderson missed the last three games with a hip injury but was scheduled to return to the lineup before Wednesday’s game was rained out. He’ll be expected to return to the leadoff spot and relegate Brandon Nimmo back to the bench. Nimmo has done a solid job in the big leagues so far with three hits in Tuesday’s blowout loss, but he hasn’t yet rediscovered the power that allowed him to hit a modest 11 home runs at Triple-A last year.
Along with Granderson, we could also see Michael Conforto return to action this weekend. It’s been a surprisingly quick recovery for the young slugger, who suffered a bruised wrist on a hit by pitch just two weeks ago. Earlier this week, Conforto said he hopes to be activated on Saturday to play against St. Louis, and he made a solid statement in his rehab game on Friday with three hits including a double with High-A St. Lucie.
This weekend will be one last chance for New York’s bullpen to build some confidence before the four-day vacation. Addison Reed remains the one consistent asset of the group that struggled once again in the shortened Washington series. On Tuesday night, Chase Bradford was the only one of five Mets pitchers (including starter Seth Lugo) to not surrender a run. Meanwhile, Matt Bowman, who was selected from New York’s roster by the Cardinals in the Rule 5 Draft before the 2016 season, is having a nice season for the Cardinals with 31 strikeouts and nine walks in 37 innings.
Friday, July 7: Jacob deGrom vs. Carlos Martinez, 8:15 p.m. on SNY
deGrom: 104.0 IP, 125 K, 38 BB, 14 HR, 3.55 ERA, 3.62 FIP, 1.22 WHIP
After having this start pushed back due to the postponement in Washington on Wednesday, deGrom will try to continue his streak of pitching at least seven innings with fewer than two runs allowed. The four-game run has produced four Mets wins as well as a 0.84 ERA for deGrom, who could still sneak into the All-Star Game depending on how the rosters shake out.
Martinez: 111.1 IP, 124 K, 42 BB, 12 HR, 3.15 ERA, 3.54 FIP, 1.12 WHIP
Now with two straight seasons under his belt with around 30 starts and a 3.00 ERA, the only thing standing between Martinez and becoming one of the best pitchers in baseball is the length of his outings. Even though he totaled 60 starts over the past two years, he fell short of 200 innings in each campaign. However, Martinez is on pace to throw 214 innings in 2017 thanks in part to a compete game shutout against Philadelphia last month. The Dominican right-hander hasn’t been as sharp in his last four outings, and he was downright bad last weekend against Washington with five runs allowed in five innings and more walks than strikeouts.
Saturday, July 8: Zach Wheeler vs. Adam Wainwright, 4:10 p.m. on SNY
Wheeler: 70.0 IP, 65 K, 31 BB, 11 HR, 5.01 ERA, 4.80 FIP, 1.51 WHIP
The Mets haven’t announced starters for Saturday and Sunday yet, but there’s a decent chance that Wheeler makes an appearance since he last pitched on Saturday and is looking for a positive performance before another extended rest period. In his return from tendinitis against Philadelphia, he allowed two runs and failed to finish the fourth inning on 82 pitches. It’s now been a month since Wheeler’s last quality start, so the Mets may want to build his confidence with the start here, but they could also continue to rest him and conserve innings.
Wainwright: 90.1 IP, 82 K, 33 BB, 9 HR, 5.48 ERA, 3.86 FIP, 1.55 WHIP
Wainwright has gone back and forth this year between looking like his old self and looking like a washed up version of his old self. He had a 2.64 ERA in May thanks to a three-start run in which he allowed just one run. June was a weird month for the veteran as he was mostly solid except for two disaster road outings in Cincinnati and Baltimore that totaled 18 earned runes in fewer than six innings. On Monday against Miami, Wainwright allowed six runs in five innings, but he also struck out eight batters with just one walk for the second straight game. In a nutshell, we don’t know what we’re going to get from the longtime ace this weekend.
Sunday, July 9: Steven Matz vs. Lance Lynn, 2:15 p.m. on SNY
Matz: 34.0 IP, 22 K, 9 BB, 5 HR, 2.12 ERA, 4.57 FIP, 1.03 WHIP
Thanks to another seven innings of superb pitching on Monday, Matz appears likely to make one more start before the All-Star break on Saturday or Sunday. The latter option would put him on extra rest, so it’s probably the one New York will go with as it looks for a win in the series finale. It will also be fun to see how long Matz can keep this up with a strikeout rate below six per nine innings.
Lynn: 95.1 IP, 91 K, 37 BB, 20 HR, 3.87 ERA, 5.36 FIP, 1.17 WHIP
Lynn’s strikeout and walk rates are nearly identical to the one he posted in 2015 before Tommy John surgery. However, this year his BABIP is much lower and his home runs allowed are much higher. That could just be a product of more hard-hit balls leaving the park, but Lynn seemed to be much better off with the moderate BABIP and lower home run rate since his ERA was 3.03 in 2015. The good news is that he’ll probably trend that way since it’s really hard to allow more than 35 home runs in a year like he’s on pace to do in 2017. Since the start of May, Lynn has just two starts without a home run allowed.
Prediction: Mets win two of three.
How will the Mets fare in St. Louis this weekend?
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Enter the break with momentum and a sweep!
Win two of three.
Win one of three.
I guess we really need a break from this team.