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The Mets have played the rest, and now they’ll play the best

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The Dodgers bring their world domination tour to Citi Field this weekend.

MLB: Los Angeles Dodgers at Atlanta Braves Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

It’s hard not to think of the Dodgers as the favorite to win the World Series this October. At 76-32, they have a winning percentage above .700, a 14-game lead in the National League West, and seven more wins than any other team in baseball. We know how unpredictable the postseason can be, so this team might not be the one that returns the Los Angeles franchise to the World Series for the first time since 1988. However, the odds are as good this year as they’re ever going to get.

That’s why baseball operations president Andrew Friedman took advantage of his team’s 20-3 blitz through July to address his squad’s few weaknesses at the trade deadline. On July 31, the Dodgers traded for Tony Watson and Tony Cingrani to beef up the left-handed side of their bullpen. Then, Friedman stunned the baseball world by acquiring Texas ace Yu Darvish just as the trade gates were about to close.

The best player on the team, Clayton Kershaw, is working his way from a back injury, so it looks like Los Angeles’s postseason rotation could feature the three-time Cy Young Award winner as well as Darvish, breakout star Alex Wood, and reigning NL Pitcher of the Month Rich Hill. Those four studs alone are enough to carry a team to the World Series, but the Dodgers also have a lineup featuring Corey Seager and Cody Bellinger, who are two of the best young players in the game.

It also doesn’t hurt that Justin Turner continues to be a line-drive machine in the era of uppercut swings or that Chris Taylor has come out of nowhere to become a leadoff hitter with double-digit totals in home runs and steals. These Dodgers are as well-rounded and dominant a team as you’ll see, and they’re expecting to roll over the Mets just like they have every other team for the past month.

Don’t expect New York to just lie down, though. Terry Collins’s team may have just lost two of three in Colorado, but it outscored the Rockies on aggregate thanks to a 10-run outburst on Wednesday as well as two one-run defeats. Asdrubal Cabrera boosted his trade value with a pair of three-hit games, while Amed Rosario showed off his wheels with two triples in his first three major league contests. Even more importantly, the bullpen bounced back from a poor performance on Tuesday to hold Colorado scoreless for a whopping six innings on Wednesday with seven strikeouts, no walks, and just three hits allowed.

Even though the Mets will be heavy underdogs in this upcoming series, it will be a fun one to watch just to see how New York measures up against the best team in the majors. Plus, Rosario is starting to do exciting things and every pitching performance gets us closer to organizing a future roster that has more arms than roles to fill.

Probable pitchers

Friday, August 4: Yu Darvish vs. Jacob deGrom, 7:10 p.m. on SNY

Darvish: 137.0 IP, 148 K, 45 BB, 20 HR, 4.01 ERA, 3.99 FIP, 1.17 WHIP

After missing all of 2015 due to Tommy John surgery, Darvish came back in the middle of last season and pitched wonderfully with a 3.41 ERA and nearly 12 strikeouts per nine innings. 2017 hasn’t gone as well for the Japanese flamethrower, but you know he’s still a force on the mound by the way his stats compare to deGrom’s. Now pitching on a loaded Dodgers staff thanks to a last-minute trade deadline deal between Los Angeles and Texas, Darvish will be looking to bounce back from a nightmare start against Miami that raised his ERA by more than half a run.

deGrom: 139.2 IP, 162 K, 43 BB, 19 HR, 3.29 ERA, 3.57 FIP, 1.15 WHIP

Last Saturday’s start in Seattle broke deGrom’s streak of eight straight outings in which he recorded an out in the seventh inning. Still, there was nothing to be alarmed about, as the Stetson product struck out 10 batters in his six frames while walking just one and allowing two earned runs. We’ll expect deGrom’s run of dominance to continue on Friday, especially since he’s returning to Citi Field, where he owns a 2.27 ERA compared to 4.23 on the road this year.

Saturday, August 5: Rich Hill vs. Seth Lugo, 4:05 p.m. on SNY & FS1

Hill: 78.0 IP, 90 K, 33 BB, 8 HR, 3.35 ERA, 3.72 FIP, 1.18 WHIP

There’s seemingly always something wrong with Hill’s health, but when he’s on the mound lately, he’s been very effective. While blister issues limited the southpaw to just five starts combined in April and May, he’s recovered to make 10 starts over the past two months. In July, Hill was on top of his game with 40 strikeouts and five walks with a 1.45 ERA. If he can keep this roll going into October, the Dodgers will be quite a handful for opposing lineups.

Lugo: 57.2 IP, 39 K, 14 BB, 8 HR, 4.53 ERA, 4.44 FIP, 1.37 WHIP

We knew that Lugo’s 2.67 ERA in 64 innings last year wasn’t totally legit, but the numbers this season are proving it anyway. Even though his strikeout-to-walk ratio is stronger than 2016’s, Lugo has seen his ERA rise nearly two runs in part due to his BABIP returning to a more sustainable level. Of course, his FIP is nearly the same in 2017 as it was a year ago. Thanks for hanging in there, FIP.

Sunday, August 6: Hyun-Jin Ryu vs. Steven Matz, 8:00 p.m. on ESPN

Ryu: 84.2 IP, 81 K, 26 BB, 15 HR, 3.83 ERA, 4.61 FIP, 1.37 WHIP

Ryu was a great asset for the Dodgers during his first two seasons after coming over from South Korea in 2013. However, his next two campaigns were nearly completely lost due to injuries. Ryu has proven resilient in 2017 by working consistently through the season’s first three months before hitting the disabled list with a foot injury for three weeks in July. He’s healthy again, though, and on Sunday he made his strongest start of the campaign with seven scoreless innings against San Francisco.

Matz: 52.1 IP, 36 K, 13 BB, 10 HR, 5.50 ERA, 5.07 FIP, 1.51 WHIP

Matz looked like he was back to his old self on Tuesday in Denver, as he rolled through the first five innings while getting a lot of ground balls and holding the Rockies scoreless. Then, he turned into a pumpkin in the sixth with four straight hits allowed, including a three-run home run by Nolan Arenado. The lefty’s stuff just isn’t fooling hitters like it did last year; not only is he’s allowing more contact, but more hard contact as well. If he’s not able to turn this around by the end of 2017, the Mets are going to have some hard decisions to make about his future role.

Prediction: Mets win one of three.

Poll

How will the Mets fare against the Dodgers this weekend?

This poll is closed

  • 9%
    Defy the odds with a sweep!
    (15 votes)
  • 9%
    Win two of three.
    (15 votes)
  • 23%
    Win one of three.
    (36 votes)
  • 38%
    Good thing we didn’t see these Dodgers in 2015.
    (60 votes)
  • 18%
    Pizza!
    (28 votes)
154 votes total Vote Now