The Mets didn’t do all they could have at the trade deadline, but fans should be in a good mood heading into this three-game set against the Rockies, because top prospect Amed Rosario will finally be wearing a major league uniform and putting his skills to the test against the best players in the world. New York might not have blown us away with its returns for Lucas Duda and Addison Reed, but if Rosario plays well for the rest of the season, the future will feel like it’s in good hands.
That’s not to say that the phenom is capable of carrying the Mets on winning streaks just yet. The team will likely struggle this week against National League postseason contenders Colorado and Los Angeles, as the front office made it clear with its moves on Monday that the next two months are about getting ready for 2018. That should mean getting Rosario, Michael Conforto, and Brandon Nimmo as many at-bats as possible while veterans like Asdrubal Cabrera, Curtis Granderson, and Jay Bruce take a back seat more regularly.
There will also be changes in the bullpen, where AJ Ramos should take over as closer in the wake of the Reed trade. The Texas Tech product has struggled with walks throughout his Miami career but has kept his ERA below 3.00 during the past three seasons. On the other hand, he’s far from an elite relief pitcher, so Terry Collins shouldn’t hesitate to give younger guys like Hansel Robles a chance at the ninth-inning role if Ramos continues to struggle like he did in his Mets debut on Sunday.
While the Mets got younger at the trade deadline, the Rockies added a veteran catcher in the hope of boosting both their offense and defense down the stretch. Jonathan Lucroy joined the club for a minimal return after a disappointing few months with Texas. It seems like a great buy-low opportunity for Colorado since Lucroy doesn’t have to do much to outperform Tony Wolters and Ryan Hanigan, the catching duo that the team was working with before the trade.
Although Lucory is batting just .242/.297/.338 this season, his contact rate is nearly 90 percent and his defense is still rock solid. If he can rediscover the power that made him such an attraction at the 2016 deadline, the Rockies will have made themselves a solid deal.
Another batter for the Mets to watch out for is Gerardo Parra, who has gone on a 27-for-61 tear since missing a month from early June to early July with a quad injury. The journeyman flopped as a part-time outfielder for Colorado last season, but now that he’s got a full-time role playing left field and batting cleanup, Parra is having the best season of his career. A walk rate of just four percent and a .382 BABIP makes him seem less than legit, but against the Mets last month, he collected four hits and a home run in three games.
The Rockies also added to their bullpen at the deadline, bringing in Pat Neshek from Philadelphia to give them a reliable right-handed option leading up to their excellent closer Greg Holland. With Jake McGee on the DL with a back injury and Adam Ottavino struggling with control issues, look for Neshek with his 47 strikeouts and just five walks to take hold of the eighth-inning job.
Tuesday, August 1: Steven Matz vs. Jeff Hoffman, 8:40 p.m. on SNY
Matz: 47.1 IP, 34 K, 11 BB, 9 HR, 5.51 ERA, 4.95 FIP, 1.50 WHIP
You can now make it three out of the last four starts in which Matz has failed to complete the fifth inning. Last Wednesday in San Diego, he got just nine outs while allowing nine runs, and the lefty was even worse against Colorado on July 16. In that game, Matz was lifted with the score 7-0 before he could record the first out in the second inning, so I can’t imagine he’s feeling good about this upcoming Coors Field appearance.
Hoffman: 69.1 IP, 58 K, 24 BB, 8 HR, 5.58 ERA, 4.19 FIP, 1.38 WHIP
This former Toronto prospect gave the Rockies a nice boost upon getting called up in May with a 2.25 ERA through his first five starts, but lately he’s struggled with at least four runs allowed in each of his last four outings. Although high altitude has been an issue for Hoffman so far — he’s given up 28 runs in 32.1 innings at home — he also has allowed 11 total runs in his last two road starts, totaling just 10 innings.
Wednesday, August 2: Chris Flexen vs. Tyler Chatwood, 8:40 p.m. on SNY
Flexen: 3.0 IP, 2 K, 4 BB, 1 HR, 9.00 ERA, 11.15 FIP, 3.00 WHIP
Sexy Flexy has been excellent with Binghamton in 2017 with a 1.29 walks-per-nine figure that’s even lower than his 1.66 ERA. However, that control didn’t carry over to his big league debut, as the 23-year-old walked four batters in just three frames. If Flexen is able to regain his ability to throw strikes and induce ground balls, he might just have an easier time in Denver than he did in San Diego.
Chatwood: 107.1 IP, 88 K, 62 BB, 15 HR, 4.78 ERA, 5.11 FIP, 1.46 WHIP
Chatwood hasn’t made a start since injuring his calf in a 9-3 loss to the Mets on July 15 in which he gave up four runs and only recorded a single out. The 27-year-old did make one appearance out of the bullpen when he came off the disabled list last week, and this next outing could determine if he sticks in the rotation or is ousted in favor of someone like Antonio Senzatela. Despite allowing a home run during each of his five starts in June and walking eight batters in a single game against the Dodgers, Chatwood posted a 2.76 ERA for the month. Unfortunately for him, that luck didn’t carry forward into July.
Thursday, August 3: Rafael Montero vs. German Marquez, 3:10 p.m. on SNY
Montero: 56.2 IP, 57 K, 31 BB, 6 HR, 5.56 ERA, 4.26 FIP, 1.73 WHIP
Montero got off to another solid start on Friday night, but in the fifth inning he fell into some old habits, walking three batters and setting the table for Seattle to take the lead. With all the injuries and inconsistent performances in New York’s rotation this year, Montero has emerged as an unlikely candidate for the 2018 rotation, but he’s got to continue to keep his walks down.
Marquez: 97.0 IP, 95 K, 30 BB, 10 HR, 4.08 ERA, 3.64 FIP, 1.29 WHIP
Marquez is one of the best pitchers that many fans have never heard of, and he seems to be getting better with 39 strikeouts and just seven walks during five starts in July. Perhaps even more impressive is that the 22-year-old Venezuela averaged 100 pitches per outing for the month. He also finished the seventh inning the last two times he took the mound, a fact that makes him look like the diamond in the rough of the McGee trade from two winters ago.
Prediction: Mets win one of three.
How will the Mets fare in Colorado this week?
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Feeling Rocky Mountain high after a sweep!
Win two of three.
Win one of three.
These good Rosario vibes are only going to last so long.