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Mets visit first-place Brewers in Milwaukee

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The Mets meet the Brew Crew for a four-pack.

MLB: Arizona Diamondbacks at Milwaukee Brewers Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

The 24-21 New York Mets found themselves oh-so-close to completing an impressive 6-2 home stand, only for Jeurys Familia’s seeming hatred for Jacob deGrom and his burgeoning Cy Young campaign—three of his four blown saves this season coming in deGrom starts—to send the Mets to a disappointing series defeat to Miami and off to visit the Brewers on a sour note.

In Milwaukee, the Mets will meet a team sitting atop the competitive National League Central with an NL-best 31-19 record. The Brewers are coming off of a sweep of the struggling Arizona Diamondbacks, and are 8-2 over their last ten games.

For the Mets, Brandon Nimmo has continued to look strong with increased playing time. Since May 4, he’s started 13 games and continued to reach base at a .379 clip, posting a 132 wRC+ over that period, with two home runs along with a pair of stolen bases. Hopefully that playing time won’t be trimmed by the recent addition of Jose Bautista, who the Mets decided to take a flier on despite his lackluster .143/.250/.343 line over 40 plate appearances with the Braves before his release. Other veterans such as Jay Bruce—.290 wOBA, only three home runs over 161 plate appearances—and Jose Reyes—15 wRC+ over 59 plate appearances, along with two costly errors in Tuesday’s loss—continue to struggle mightily.

The Mets’ pitching has been doing a solid job lately in trying to compensate for the offensive struggles, posting a 3.03 ERA and 3.20 FIP over the last 10 games. Last night’s blown save notwithstanding, the bullpen has been impressive lately, led by the converted starter duo of Seth Lugo and Robert Gsellman, who have combined for 15.2 scoreless innings while striking out 15 over that span. Familia had been 1-0 with 4 saves over that period and a 2.00 ERA over that period prior to last night’s blown save.

Of course, that bullpen unit will likely need to be at the top of their game over this series to try to match a Brewers’ pen that has posted a league-leading fWAR of 3.2 thus far. While half of that comes directly from the otherworldly and well-coiffed Josh Hader—29.1 innings pitched, 1.23 ERA, 0.96 FIP, two wins, six saves, and 58 strikeouts in 102 total batters faced in 2018—the contributions of Jeremy Jeffress (three wins, three saves and 0.8 fWAR over 25.2 innings) and Matt Albers have also been impressive. Most of this has been accomplished in the absence of recently-returned closer Corey Knebel, looking to regain the form which led him to 39 saves and an 11.42 K/9 rate in 2017.

The Brewers’ offense has been led thus far by Travis Shaw (12 home runs thus far) and Lorenzo Cain, who has six home runs and 10 stolen bases, helping lead him to a 134 wRC+ and 2.1 fWAR thus far—if only someone like that had been available for the Mets to acquire this offseason. Their starting pitching has been unspectacular but solid, not going deep into games, but turning most over to that aforementioned bullpen in good shape.

Probable Pitchers

Thursday, May 24: Steven Matz vs. Zach Davies, 8:10 p.m. on SNY

Matz (2018): 36.2 IP, 36 K, 16 BB, 9 HR, 4.42 ERA, 5.89 FIP, 1.31 WHIP

Steven Matz continues to struggle getting deep into games, going only four innings while giving up four runs in his last start against Arizona before being bailed out late by Wilmer Flores and the offense. Matz will look solid for spells before struggling, but his uncharacteristic wildness (career high 10.2% walk rate) and sudden propensity for home runs (2.21 HR/9 rate) will need to be brought down if he hopes to see any improvement.

Davies (2018): 34 IP, 25 K, 12 BB, 5 HR, 4.24 ERA, 4.88 FIP, 1.26 WHIP

Zach Davies is trying to replicate his successes of the last two years, posting an fWAR of 2.7 in 2016 and 2.8 in 2017, when he won 17 games and posted a 3.90 ERA. Relying on an unusual repertoire featuring a fastball that rarely cracks 90 MPH, Davies will look to keep the ball in the yard and improve upon his 10.5% soft contact rate allowed thus far this season.

Friday, May 25: Noah Syndergaard vs. Junior Guerra, 8:10 p.m. on SNY

Syndergaard (2018): 58.2 IP, 68 K, 13 BB, 4 HR, 2.91 ERA, 2.55 FIP, 1.19 WHIP

Such is Syndergaard’s talent and expectations that his season thus far has been considered a disappointment in some quarters. Syndergaard went some way towards answering recent critics by going seven innings in his last start against the Diamondbacks. While seeing him eat up more innings would be preferable, his 10.43 K/9 rate, 2.55 FIP and 1.7 fWAR thus far will play just fine.

Guerra (2018): 42.1 IP, 41 K, 20 BB, 3 HR, 2.98 ERA, 3.73 FIP, 1.23 WHIP

The journeyman and onetime Mets farmhand (circa 2008) finally found a home in Milwaukee as a 31 year-old rookie in 2016. After a down 2017, Guerra started this season on fire, allowing only two earned runs over his first four starts. He has slumped a bit since, allowing 12 runs over 21.1 innings in his last four starts. Guerra has done an unusually impressive job keeping the ball in the yard this season (0.64 HR/9 rate), whereas his struggles with walks thus far is not atypical, with his 4.25 BB/9 rate for the season just a bit above the 4.05 BB/9 rate he has posted for his career.

Saturday, May 26: Jason Vargas vs. Chase Anderson, 4:10 p.m. on SNY

Vargas (2018): 17.1 IP, 16 K, 8 BB, 5 HR, 9.87 ERA, 6.57 FIP, 2.08 WHIP

It took 11 years and six starts, but Jason Vargas finally had a successful start as a member of the New York Mets, going five scoreless innings while striking out seven in recording the victory against the Marlins Monday night. That this outing brought his 2018 numbers down to those seen above is a start reminder of how painful his first few outings were this season. The Mets will hope that Vargas is still rounding into form after missing the end of spring training and beginning of the season due to injury.

Anderson (2018): 51.1 IP, 33 K, 19 BB, 11 HR, 3.86 ERA, 6.01 FIP, 1.13 WHIP

A surprising revelation in 2017, Anderson went 12-4 last year, posting solid peripherals (8.47 K/9) to go along with his 2.74 ERA. This season Anderson’s rates are back down at or below norms, with his 5.79 K/9 rate and 86.1 LOB% contributing to a 6.01 FIP that indicates that, sooner or later, Mr. Anderson’s luck is going to run out.

Sunday, May 27: Zack Wheeler vs. Jhoulys Chacin, 2:10 p.m. on WPIX

Wheeler (2018): 44 IP, 47 K, 17 BB, 6 HR, 5.32 ERA, 3.97 FIP, 1.50 WHIP

Wheeler pitched well in his most recent start, giving up only one earned run while walking none and striking out nine Tuesday against the Marlins, falling victim to two Jose Reyes errors which helped lead him to the loss. Wheeler has been up-and-down over his last four starts, allowing eight, one, six, and one earned runs, respectively.

Chacin (2018): 52 IP, 42 K, 27 BB, 5 HR, 3.32 ERA, 4.30 FIP, 1.32 WHIP

Chacin has looked strong of late, allowing only four runs over his last four starts, spanning 23.1 innings while striking out 22. His struggles with control have not ceased over that stretch though, as his 1.56 K/BB rate indicates. His impressive ability to keep the ball in the yard continues unabated, with his 0.79 HR/9 rate this season right in line with his 0.85 career mark—all the more impressive given the number of those innings spun in Colorado.

Prediction: Splitsville!

Poll

How will the Mets fare against the Brewers this series?

This poll is closed

  • 6%
    Mets sweep it their way, making their dreams come true.
    (7 votes)
  • 8%
    Three out of four for the Mets would make me hops.
    (9 votes)
  • 29%
    Split the four-pack.
    (31 votes)
  • 32%
    Mets win one, barley avoid a sweep.
    (34 votes)
  • 13%
    Mets get canned, packed and swept away.
    (14 votes)
  • 9%
    Pizza! (and beer!)
    (10 votes)
105 votes total Vote Now