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The Mets welcome the first place Diamondbacks to Queens

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Impressive pitching matchups highlight this weekend series at Citi Field.

MLB: Washington Nationals at Arizona Diamondbacks Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

The 21-20 New York Mets continue their homestand as they welcome the first place Arizona Diamondbacks (25-18) to Citi Field for a three-game series that is rife with interesting pitching matchups.

The Amazin’ momentum with which the Mets started the season continues to elude them, as exemplified by their recent two-game interleague series with the Blue Jays, in which a spirited 12-2 victory was followed up by a painful, near-identically inverse 12-1 drubbing the following afternoon. In fact, the Mets have still yet to win two straight games since the conclusion of the nine game streak which marked the end of their 11-1 start.

On the offensive side, the Mets lineup will clearly miss the officially sidelined (finally) Yoenis Cespedes, as he was placed on the 10-day disabled list Monday with his hip/leg issues. Asdrubal Cabrera continues to pace the Mets offense with his .906 OPS and 150 wRC+ thus far, and while his .359 BABIP might not seem sustainable, his career-high 42.3% hard contact rate offers some signs this renaissance can continue.

In smaller sample sizes, Devin Mesoraco has offered some hope that the Mets may see a bit of an upgrade in production from the catcher position, with two home runs and three walks (good for a .391 wOBA) over 18 plate appearances since his acquisition. Also, as nicely documented here, Amed Rosario has shown some positive signs of late, hitting .344 over his last 10 games.

While still in first place by two games in the N.L. West, the Diamondbacks enter the series with struggles of their own, on an identical 3-7 stretch over their last 10 games as the Mets. Also like New York, Arizona enters this series with its best outfielder on the shelf. After pacing the Diamondbacks offense for much of 2018, the oft-injured A.J. Pollock (11 HRs, 9 SBs, .620 slugging over his first 40 games) landed on the disabled list last week with an avulsion fracture in his left thumb, and is expected to miss 4-8 weeks.

Pollock’s absence leaves Arizona in more need than ever for Paul Goldschmidt to emerge. That the Diamondbacks have been successful thus far amid the struggles of their perennial all-star first baseman is as impressive as it is surprising. Goldschmidt is 5-for-55 with just one extra-base hit and one RBI in May. Since 2013, he has posted an fWAR ranging from 4.3-7.2, and an ISO lower than .241 once. With four home runs in 183 plate appearances in 2018, his .208/.333/.364 slash line (95 wRC+) thus far is off the map from his consistent excellence.

Whether it’s the newly-installed humidor at home, or simply the more circuitous development of some young pitching, Arizona features an impressive staff, even with strikeout machine Robbie Ray on the shelf with an oblique injury. This weekend, the Mets will face a couple of emerging young starters this weekend in Zack Godley—still a bit off of last year’s breakout, but solid thus far with a 4.08 ERA and 4.20 FIP over 46.1 innings and Patrick Corbin—taking it to the next level with an 11.84 K/9 rate. 2.53 ERA and 2.75 FIP over 57 innings—before the series will conclude with the marquee pitching matchup of Noah Syndergaard against wily veteran Zack Greinke.

Probable Pitchers

Friday, May 18: Zack Godley vs. Jacob deGrom, 7:10 p.m. on SNY

Godley (2018): 46.1 IP, 43 K, 19 BB, 6 HR, 4.08 ERA, 4.20 FIP, 1.42 WHIP

After bouncing back-and-forth between the minors and the majors for a few years, Godley had a breakout season last year at the age of 27, posting a 3.37 ERA and 3.41 FIP over 155 innings while striking out 165. Godley, who relies on an impressive curve that he has been throwing 39.2% of the time this year when going well, has been around league average this year, has surrendered eight runs over 12 innings over his last two outings.

deGrom (2018): 44.1 IP, 56 K, 14 BB, 2 HR, 1.83 ERA, 2.22 FIP, 1.02 WHIP

deGrom’s stellar start to the 2018 campaign was rudely interrupted on May 2 when he hyperextended his priceless right elbow batting against the Braves. After a lot of speculation and sleepless nights on the part of Mets fans, deGrom returned after a brief stint on the 10-day disabled list to an odd start against the Phillies, where he Houdini-ed his was out of a 45 pitch first inning that abruptly ended his afternoon. But as long as he is healthy, the Mets can hope for continued excellence (20.1 straight scoreless innings) from deGrom.

Saturday, May 19: Patrick Corbin vs. Steven Matz, 1:10 p.m. on WPIX

Corbin (2018): 57 IP, 75 K, 14 BB, 6 HR, 2.53 ERA, 2.72 FIP, 0.86 WHIP

Now a few years removed from Tommy John surgery, Patrick Corbin closed out 2017 strong, only to emerge as one of the best pitchers in the league thus far in 2018. Corbin has come down to earth a tad after an otherworldly start (4-1 over his first 5 games, including a one-hit shutout of the Giants on April 17). While some regression (82.2% LOB rate) could be expected, Corbin’s increased reliance on his slider (38.5% usage) and ensuing uptick in strikeout rate could indicate sustainable success.

Matz (2018): 32.2 IP, 34 K, 15 BB, 7 HR, 3.86 ERA, 5.50 FIP, 1.26 WHIP

Matz has been a bit of an enigma thus far in 2018, continually failing to work deep into games (6 innings against Colorado on May 5 a season high) while running up high pitch counts and having control issues—sporting what would be a career high by far 4.13 BB/9 rate. A more aggressive Matz working deeper into games would be a welcome development for the Mets staff.

Sunday, May 20: Zack Greinke vs. Noah Syndergaard, 1:10 p.m. on WPIX

Greinke (2018): 54.2 IP, 58 K, 7 BB, 7 HR, 3.46 ERA, 3.18 FIP, 1.01 WHIP

While he’ll likely never again reach the rarefied heights of the 19-3, 1.66 ERA season in 2015 that garnered him a six year, $206.5 million contract from the Diamondbacks, Greinke has settled in nicely over the last couple of years, providing consistency and stability to their rotation. Greinke has given up two runs or fewer over his last four starts.

Syndergaard (2018): 51.2 IP, 61 K, 12 BB, 4 HR, 3.24 ERA, 2.72 FIP, 1.22 WHIP

Syndergaard emerged victorious Tuesday in his second start against his old organization, but his problems working deep into games continued, as it took him 103 pitches over five innings to secure that win. He continues to be consistent and solid—not giving up more than three runs in a game since Opening Day—though the Mets and their fans are still waiting for a breakthrough, dominant game.

Prediction: Diamondbacks win two out of three.

Poll

How will the Mets fare against the Diamondbacks this series?

This poll is closed

  • 20%
    Mets sweep away snakes!
    (11 votes)
  • 29%
    Jacob, Noah... we can take two out of three.
    (16 votes)
  • 18%
    Above would involve us winning consecutive games, so DBacks win two of three.
    (10 votes)
  • 16%
    Mets swept, but that Mr. Met Han Solo bobblehead looks pretty cool.
    (9 votes)
  • 16%
    Pizza!
    (9 votes)
55 votes total Vote Now