The New York Mets (31-41) return to Citi Field to face the Los Angeles Dodgers (38-35) after dropping their final three games with the Rockies despite taking the opener on Monday. A three-game win streak in Arizona and Colorado was sandwiched between four-game and three-game losing streaks during the Mets’ latest road trip.
It seemed as if a trip to Coors Field was just what the doctor ordered for the anemic Mets offense, which broke out in a big way Monday night by scoring 12 runs, the most since May 15. Led by Brandon Nimmo’s two home runs (including a leadoff inside-the-park homer) and additional blasts from Wilmer Flores and Devin Mesoraco, Jacob deGrom shut down the Rockies for eight innings to secure his first win since May 18. However, the rest of the Mets starters did not fare as well. Jason Vargas and Seth Lugo were chased early, and Steven Matz struggled out of the gate, leaving a shaky bullpen to deal with the red-hot Nolan Arenado, who slugged three home runs and drove in nine runs in the series.
With Jay Bruce on the DL, Dominic Smith got the chance to play in the outfield for the first time in the big leagues. It wasn’t exactly pretty, as he showed very limited range in left field, but he did collect five hits in three games. The good news is that more outfield depth is on the way, as Kevin Kaczmarski (slashing .363/.413/.450 in triple-A) will be recalled in time for the weekend series with the Dodgers.
The Dodgers, after coming within one win of a World Series title, have dealt with injuries to some of their key pieces. Ace Clayton Kershaw has been on and off the DL with various back ailments, young star shortstop Corey Seager is lost for the season after undergoing Tommy John Surgery, and third baseman Justin Turner missed the first month and a half with wrist fracture. Even Met nemesis Chase Utley has missed time with a thumb injury, but is eyeing a return to the Dodgers just in time to hear the cacophony of boos from Mets fans.
Despite their injury struggles, the Dodgers have gotten plenty of help from unexpected places and sit only two and a half games behind the first place Diamondbacks after starting the year 16-26. After initially being labeled as an afterthought or a possible spring training roster cut, former All-Star outfielder Matt Kemp has made a case to be a current All-Star again. The long-time Dodger who took detours in San Diego and Atlanta the last three years found his way back to LA via trade and has had a renaissance season, hitting .322 with a .908 OPS. Utility man Max Muncy has come out of nowhere for the Dodgers, much like Chris Taylor in 2017, to lead the team in home runs (13) and OBP (.394). Swingman Ross Stripling has a 1.99 ERA and 1.03 WHIP in 72.1 innings, and former Met reliever Erik Goeddel has been lights-out since coming over from Seattle with a 0.59 ERA and 17 strikeouts in 15.1 innings.
The Mets will look to take the positives from their last road trip home with them. The offense looks to be heading in the right direction after a heart-stopping comeback on Father’s Day in Arizona and scoring plenty of runs in Colorado. The pitching will need to settle back down to earth from the mile-high shenanigans at Coors Field if the Mets want to steal a series from LA.
Friday, June 22: Alex Wood vs. Zack Wheeler, 7:10 p.m. on SNY
Wood (2018): 74.2 IP, 68 K, 15 BB, 8 HR, 4.22 ERA, 3.30 FIP, 1.18 WHIP
Wood has been a bit inconsistent in 2018 after a breakout 16-win campaign in 2017 and has been dealing with a hamstring injury. He did manage to earn his second win of the season against the Giants on Saturday, with one earned run allowed in 5.2 innings.
Wheeler (2018): 74.2 IP, 72 K, 28 BB, 8 HR, 4.82 ERA, 3.80 FIP, 1.39 WHIP
Wheeler was solid Sunday against the Diamondbacks, pitching six innings with two earned runs on three hits and eight strikeouts for a quality start. Wheeler bounced back after a scary fourth inning of allowing four straight D-Backs to reach base and limited the damage to two runs.
Saturday, June 23: Caleb Ferguson vs. Jacob deGrom, 7:15 p.m. on FOX
Ferguson (2018): 10.2 IP, 12 K, 6 BB, 2 HR, 7.59 ERA, 5.53 FIP, 1.40 WHIP
Ferguson makes his fourth major league start on Saturday. Despite a rough debut in Pittsburgh where he was pulled in the second inning, Ferguson has shown steady improvement in his last start with six strikeouts and two hits allowed in a loss to the Giants.
deGrom (2018): 95.1 IP, 120 K, 24 BB, 4 HR, 1.51 ERA, 1.97 FIP, 0.98 WHIP
deGrom FINALLY won a game in his last start against the Rockies, going eight innings at Coors Field (an achievement in itself) with seven punch outs and two runs allowed. deGrom forced Rockies hitters into 12 ground ball outs and hammered the strike zone with 19 first-pitch strikes.
Sunday, June 24: Rich Hill vs. Jason Vargas, 1:10 p.m. on SNY
Hill (2018): 30.2 IP, 31 K, 15 BB, 7 HR, 4.99 ERA, 5.50 FIP, 1.56 WHIP
One of Hill’s main issues the last few years has been dealing with blisters, and it caused him to miss a month this season. His first start back on Tuesday was solid, going six scoreless innings against a potent Cubs offense.
Vargas (2018): 37.2 IP, 32 K, 14 BB, 11 HR, 8.60 ERA, 6.54 FIP, 1.83 WHIP
Vargas was bad again on Tuesday. Real bad. After three straight respectable five inning starts, the wheels fell off again for Vargas as he served up back-to-back-to-back jacks to Nolan Arenado, Trevor Story, and Ian Desmond in the third inning and left with seven earned runs and nine hits allowed in just 2.1 innings.
Prediction: Mets lose two of three to LA.
How will the Mets fare at home against the Dodgers?
This poll is closed
Beat LA for a sweep!
Take two out of three.
Steal a game, but drop two.
Offense flatlines again, swept by LA.