The New York Mets (28-36) continue their ten-game road trip in Phoenix with a four-game set against the Arizona Diamondbacks (37-30). The Mets’ offense has been historically bad of late, as they’ve slashed just .137/.221/.227 during the month of June with a 27 wRC+. They have scored 14 runs over the past 10 games — including three shutouts — and have won just once.
The offensive woes were magnified during a two-game sweep at the hands of the first-place Atlanta Braves. Zack Wheeler took the mound on Tuesday and was strong for the first five innings, allowing just one run on four hits. The Mets took a rare lead in the top of the sixth on a Jay Bruce two-run double — another rarity over the past month — but the Braves quickly answered in the bottom of the inning as Freddie Freeman hit a home run off the first pitch Wheeler threw in the inning. From there, Atlanta piled on with six runs off Wheeler and Paul Sewald in the sixth en route to an 8-2 victory.
On Wednesday, it was more of the same in another wasted Jacob deGrom start. As usual, deGrom was brilliant as he allowed just one run on seven hits with seven strikeouts over seven innings while throwing just 86 pitches. Unfortunately, New York could only muster two hits off Mike Soroka — a Michael Conforto seventh-inning single and a Brandon Nimmo ninth inning double — and the Mets fell 2-0. The loss is nothing new for deGrom, who managed to lower his season ERA to 1.55, as he has put up a 0.87 ERA in his past ten starts while the team has only won twice.
The Diamondbacks are trending in the opposite direction, as they’ve reclaimed their spot atop the National League West Division while winning nine of their 12 June games. Arizona just saw their five-game winning streak snapped on Wednesday at the hands of the Pittsburgh Pirates. Prior to that, the offense put up eight runs or more in each of their five previous wins as they outscored their opponents 51-27. During the month of June, the Diamondbacks have scored 86 runs.
Arizona, who struggled throughout much of May and were swept at Citi Field, have turned it around with the help of first baseman Paul Goldschmidt. The five-time All Star, who hit just .209 with seven home runs through June 1, has hit .458 with five home runs and a 1.482 OPS in June. His recent run of success earned him National League Player of the Week honors last week, making him the third Diamondback player this year to receive the honor. Overall on the season, Goldschmidt ranks fourth among National League first basemen in fWAR (2.0) and wRC+ (135).
The Mets will be without Bruce tonight, who is expected to sit out with soreness in his upper butt/top of the hip area. The right fielder has been mired in a season-long slump as he has managed to put up a -0.1 fWAR and 74 wRC+, along with just three home runs and 17 RBI in 61 games. Chris Beck, whom the club picked up off waivers from the Chicago White Sox, is also expected to be available out of the bullpen tonight in Arizona.
Thursday, June 14: Jason Vargas vs. Matt Koch, 9:40 p.m. on SNY
Vargas (2018): 30.1 IP, 27 K, 12 BB, 6 HR, 7.71 ERA, 5.17 FIP, 1.75 WHIP
Vargas has been better after an abysmal start to the season. In his last two outings, he has allowed two runs in ten innings while lowering his ERA from 10.62 to 7.71. In the process, he has managed to lower his walk rate from 10.1% to 8.3% while raising his strikeout rate from 13% to 18.8%. However, he has not yet pitched more than five innings in any of his starts.
Koch (2018): 60.0 IP, 33 K, 14 BB, 12 HR, 4.20 ERA, 5.50 FIP, 1.22 WHIP
After posting a 2.13 ERA in his first five starts of 2018, Koch has had an up-and-down run of late. He has allowed eight, one, five, zero, and five earned runs in his last five outings, including a win at Coors Field against the Colorado Rockies his last time out. The righty, who was drafted in the third round by the Mets in 2012, has struggled with the long ball this season, allowing 12 in 60 innings.
Friday, June 15: Seth Lugo vs. Zack Godley, 9:40 p.m. on SNY
Lugo (2018): 45.2 IP,47 K, 9 BB, 3 HR, 1.77 ERA, 2.61 FIP, 0.85 WHIP
The lone Met win this month came from Seth Lugo, who defeated the New York Yankees on Sunday with six shutout innings. He has yet to give up a run in either of his two starts and has struck out 11. He is fourth in baseball with a 1.77 ERA among pitchers with at least 40 innings. Lugo has gotten the opportunity to start as Noah Syndergaard continues to rest his injured finger.
Godley (2018): 70.2 IP, 70 K, 35 BB, 10 HR, 4.97 ERA, 4.61 FIP, 1.54 WHIP
Godley rebounded from a rough start on June 4 against the San Francisco Giants (three-and-one-third innings, seven earned runs) and allowed just two runs in five-and-two-thirds last Sunday against the Rockies. Command has been the big issue for Godley, as he ranks sixth in baseball with 35 walks allowed and first with seven wild pitches.
Saturday, June 16: Steven Matz vs. Patrick Corbin, 10:10 p.m. on SNY
Matz (2018): 58.2 IP, 54 K, 27 BB, 11 HR, 3.53 ERA, 5.33 FIP, 1.26 WHIP
Matz was originally slated to pitch the series opener but was pushed back to Saturday due to a blister. In his last outing against the Yankees, Matz allowed three earned runs in six innings while striking out six. After not allowing a home run in three prior starts, he allowed long balls to Gleyber Torres and Miguel Andujar. Overall, he has been much better since the start of May and has lowered his ERA from 4.98 to 3.53 in that span.
Corbin (2018): 87.0 IP, 110 K, 25 BB, 10 HR, 3.21 ERA, 3.03 FIP, 1.00 WHIP
Corbin has been Arizona’s most reliable pitcher in 2018, leading their starters in ERA, FIP, and WHIP and ranking fourth in the National League with 110 strikeouts. In his last start against the Pirates, he started off strong but faltered late and put together his shortest outing of the season (five-and-one-third innings pitched) while allowing five earned runs.
Sunday, June 17: Zack Wheeler vs. Clay Buchholz, 4:10 p.m. on PIX
Wheeler (2018): 68.2 IP, 64 K, 26 BB, 8 HR, 4.98 ERA, 4.01 FIP, 1.44 WHIP
Wheeler was enjoying a strong string of starts dating back to May 22 against the Miami Marlins, but it all came crashing down in the sixth inning of his last appearance in Atlanta. Overall, he allowed six earned runs in five-and-two-thirds innings while striking out only two and walking four. The Mets have not won a game that Wheeler has started since the 14-2 victory against the San Diego Padres on April 29.
Buchholz (2018): 28.0 IP, 23 K, 5 BB, 4 HR, 3.21 ERA, 3.95 FIP, 1.04 WHIP
The Diamondbacks signed Buchholz to a minor league deal on May 4, and brought him up just 16 days later to start against the Mets. The former first round pick has mostly rewarded the confidence of his new club as he allowed just five earned runs in his first 24 innings while striking out 21 in those four appearances. He had his first real blemish on June 12 when he allowed six runs (five earned) in four innings against the Pirates.
Prediction: Mets lose three out of four to the Diamondbacks.
How will the Mets do in their four-game series against the Diamondbacks?
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A sweep would be sweet. Mets take all four!
Three wins would be plenty
Mets split four with Arizona
Mets steal one game
Mets feel snakebit as they get swept again
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