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The Mets can spoil the Yankees’ season in the Subway Series

The upcoming set will span four days and two boroughs.

MLB: New York Yankees at Toronto Blue Jays Kevin Sousa-USA TODAY Sports

Remember when these two teams played in the World Series? That could have gone better, but at least the Mets have a more recent Fall Classic appearance than the Yankees do. The Bronx Bombers plan on putting a stop to that in 2017, however, as they lead the American League Wild Card hunt and have their sights set on taking down Boston in the East.

That means the Mets get to play spoiler, and winning two or three games this week would be a fun way to poke at Yankees fans. After all, with the Mets trading away all their good players and the Yankees adding mercenaries to their squad, this four-game set is supposed be a walk in the park for Aaron Judge and company.

Speaking of Judge, the new king of New York hasn’t been such a beast lately. His 32-percent strikeout rate hasn’t held him back so far thanks to a .383 BABIP and an absurd 35-percent home run to fly ball rate, but Judge is hitting just .158/.333/.263 during August. He’s also riding a streak of 30 straight games with at least one strikeout after whiffing three times on Sunday night against Boston.

The good news for the Yankees is that they have some other decent offensive players who can prop up the team when Judge isn’t mashing at maximum proficiency. For example, Didi Gregorius is hitting .309/.332/.505 while playing excellent defense at shortstop. He may not walk much, but 18 home runs for a guy who was previously thought to be a glove-only player is pretty darn good. His combination of contact, power, and defense makes him one of the most valuable shortstops in the league.

Another great two-way player for the Yanks is Aaron Hicks. The former Minnesota prospect was once thought of as a bust, but this year he’s pumped his walk rate up to 15 percent while hitting for a 139 wRC+ with solid defense. If Hicks hadn’t missed all of July with an oblique injury, Judge would probably have more than 78 RBI right now.

Even with all the exciting young players on offense, the Yankees’ strength might be their bullpen that houses two of the greatest strikeout artists in baseball with Dellin Betances and Aroldis Chapman. However, with Betances struggling through walk issues and Chapman posting a surprisingly pedestrian 3.48 ERA, general manager Brian Cashman felt the need to grab his former closer David Robertson as well as Tommy Kahnle from the White Sox in a mid-July trade.

The Mets should be at a big disadvantage towards the end of games this week considering the state of their bullpen compared to the All-Star squad in the Bronx. At least the rag-tag group of Mets relievers is coming off a solid weekend in Philadelphia. Especially impressive was Paul Sewald with just one hit allowed in three-and-one-third innings during the series. The Las Vegas native now has 58 strikeouts, 15 walks, and a 3.20 FIP in 49.2 frames, so look for him to continue to get high-leverage work in the Subway Series.

Another Met who had a fun weekend down I-95 is Michael Conforto. The 24-year-old has hit three home runs since Thursday in a surge that I’m sure will be attributed to Terry Collins beginning to bat him in the cleanup spot. Conforto, of course, was hitting just fine in his leadoff role, but you can’t blame Collins too much for putting him in a position to drive in more runs. On the other hand, the move allows the skipper to put less talented players in second spot, so we’ll see how this works out now that Neil Walker is gone again.

Probable pitchers at Yankee Stadium

Monday, August 14: Rafael Montero vs. Luis Cessa, 7:05 p.m. on SNY & ESPN

Montero: 65.1 IP, 68 K, 35 BB, 9 HR, 6.06 ERA, 4.64 FIP, 1.81 WHIP

On Wednesday against Texas, Montero allowed at least four runs for the third straight start, and he’s now allowed seven home runs over his last four starts. There was a nice stretch from late June to July where it looked like Montero might be developing into something useful, but his more recent outings have been ugly. With Matt Harvey, Robert Gsellman, and Tommy Milone all making rehab appearances in the minor leagues, it’s only a matter of time before Montero is supplanted in the rotation. If he wants to keep making starts down the stretch, he’s got to improve right away.

Cessa: 31.2 IP, 25 K, 16 BB, 5 HR, 4.83 ERA, 5.41 FIP, 1.48 WHIP

This start was up in the air when Masahiro Tanaka hit the disabled list with shoulder inflammation over the weekend. It looked like Bryan Mitchell, or recent call-up Caleb Smith might have been able to go, but instead it will be Cessa, the 25-year-old Mexican right-hander who last appeared in the majors on July 30. He’ll give the the Mets a decent chance in the series opener, as only one of his four big league starts this year has gone five innings.

Tuesday, August 15: Jacob deGrom vs. Sonny Gray, 7:05 p.m. on SNY

deGrom: 151.1 IP, 179 K, 46 BB, 21 HR, 3.21 ERA, 3.53 FIP, 1.14 WHIP

deGrom pitched brilliantly in Philadelphia on Thursday with nine strikeouts, zero walks, and zero runs allowed in six-and-two-thirds innings. The performance might have been even better if the right-hander hadn’t been hit in the arm by a line drive, but he was at 100 pitches when he left anyway. Fortunately, the injury was diagnosed as a bruise, and deGrom is on track to show off his stuff to the Yankees on Tuesday.

Gray: 109.0 IP, 106 K, 37 BB, 8 HR, 3.39 ERA, 3.19 FIP, 1.18 WHIP

After establishing himself as one of the top pitchers in baseball in 2015, Gray struggled with injuries last year and saw his home run rate spike before ending the campaign with a 5.69 ERA. This year, he’s done a great job showing that 2016 was the fluke by striking out nearly a batter per inning and posting a career-high 56-percent ground ball rate. Although the Vanderbilt product’s control has been shaky since joining the Yankees, the real problem for him has been a lack of run support, and that might continue to be an issue while working against deGrom.

Probable pitchers at Citi Field

Wednesday, August 16: Jaime Garcia vs. Seth Lugo, 7:10 p.m. on SNY & ESPN

Garcia: 130.0 IP, 102 K, 51 BB, 14 HR, 4.50 ERA, 4.17 FIP, 1.38 WHIP

Garcia is now on his third team this year after being traded by both Atlanta and Minnesota during the last week of July. His Yankees career isn’t off to a great start, as he’s allowed nine runs and pitched just 10.1 innings in two outings, but this southpaw knows how to beat the Mets. Back on June 11, Garcia held them to two runs in seven innings while striking out a season-high nine batters. He’ll probably have to rely more on his ground ball rate this time around, but the Yankees would love to see the veteran give them the length that made him so valuable to the Braves earlier this year.

Lugo: 68.2 IP, 52 K, 20 BB, 10 HR, 4.85 ERA, 4.48 FIP, 1.41 WHIP

Although Lugo established a season high with eight strikeouts on Friday in Philadelphia, he was also lit up for five runs in fewer than six innings while setting a season high in walks with four. Lugo appeared to be trending in the right direction in July, but his last four starts tell a different story. He’s now part of the mosh pit of hurlers behind deGrom who are trying to prove themselves worthy of the 2018 rotation. And that pit is only going to get bigger once Harvey and Gsellman return.

Thursday, August 17: Luis Severino vs. Steven Matz, 7:10 p.m. on PIX11 & MLBN

Severino: 143.2 IP, 166 K, 38 BB, 15 HR, 3.32 ERA, 3.08 FIP, 1.11 WHIP

There are other young stars on this Yankees team that attract more attention from fans and media, but Severino is clearly one of the most valuable players in pinstripes. Not only has he been consistently excellent all season long, but he’s only 23 years old and has several years of team control remaining. His most recent outing was a dud with eight runs allowed against Boston, but the Dominican right-hander will have no trouble reestablishing dominance if the Mets aren’t on top of their game.

Matz: 63.1 IP, 44 K, 17 BB, 11 HR, 5.54 ERA, 4.91 FIP, 1.47 FIP

On one hand, Matz’s Saturday start in Philadelphia was encouraging, as he didn’t allow a hit until the fifth inning and only allowed two runs, which is the lowest output against him in his last seven trips to the hill. On the other, you’d think the southpaw would be able to complete the sixth inning after such a great start. Matz also only struck out one batter in that game compared to two walks. In other words, we’re probably going to spend another evening trying to figure out the local boy on Thursday.

Prediction: Banana split!


How will the Mets fare against the Yankees this week?

This poll is closed

  • 15%
    Earn bragging rights with a sweep!
    (27 votes)
  • 18%
    Win three of four.
    (32 votes)
  • 36%
    Keith’s favorite: a banana split!
    (63 votes)
  • 16%
    Win one of four.
    (29 votes)
  • 4%
    Jets vs. Giants is more important, anyway.
    (8 votes)
  • 8%
    (14 votes)
173 votes total Vote Now