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Orioles visit Mets for a quick interleague series

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After getting swept by the Cubs, the Mets look to bounce back against the team with the worst record in baseball.

MLB: New York Yankees at Baltimore Orioles Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Mets (27-30) continue their current winless home stand against the struggling Baltimore Orioles (17-41) after getting swept by the Chicago Cubs in a four-game series. The Orioles currently possess the worst record in the majors and have the largest divisional deficit: 23 games behind the first-place Boston Red Sox in the American League East.

The Mets’ offense is on life support, having scored just six runs total in the four losses against the Cubs. Asdrubal Cabrera, the Mets’ leader in home runs, RBIs, and batting average, has gone cold, going just 1-for-14 in the series. Jay Bruce and Devin Mesoraco were both 1-for-10, and Michael Conforto went 2-for-11 with a solo home run. If Conforto, Brandon Nimmo, and Adrian Gonzalez didn’t play all weekend, the Mets would not have scored any runs against the Cubs. With the arrival of Todd Frazier from his Triple-A rehab stint and the looming return of Yoenis Cespedes, a pair of defibrillators are coming to shock the lifeless offense back to life.

The comatose offense put pressure on a Mets bullpen that has not been well-equipped to handle ties and leads, as solid starts from Seth Lugo, Zack Wheeler, Jacob deGrom were wasted late in games. Saturday night’s game was almost an exception, as Mets pitchers set a franchise record with 24 strikeouts in a single game, 13 of which came from deGrom. But when the game came down to Buddy Baumann and Gerson Bautista in the 14th inning, the bullpen well ran dry and yet again led to a loss.

The Mets will look to pick up the pieces and rebound against a team who is caught in a state of flux. After six seasons of competitive baseball and three postseason appearances, the Baltimore Orioles are saddled with the burden of trying get something valuable back from trading the expiring contract of All-Star shortstop Manny Machado, who is on pace to have a career year, and managing a team full of under-performing veterans and fringe Triple-A ballplayers. Besides Machado and Adam Jones, only Mark Trumbo and Danny Valencia have batting averages higher than .250 in the Baltimore lineup. First baseman Chris Davis, in the third year of a lucrative seven-year, $161 million deal, has posted an awful .154/.234/.239 line so far this year. Free agent pitching signings Alex Cobb and Andrew Cashner have struggled mightily, and rookie David Hess is the lone starter with an ERA under four.

Injuries have also played a major role in the Orioles’ recent struggles. Chris Tillman, a once reliable front-end starter for the team, has fallen off a cliff, with a combined 8.42 ERA and 1.96 WHIP in 31 games since the start of 2017 and is now shelved on the DL with a lower back strain. Third baseman Tim Beckham has been out since April 23 with a left groin strain. The dominant back-end bullpen combination of Zach Britton and Darren O’Day have been on and off the DL, with Britton having surgery to mend a ruptured Achilles and O’Day dealing with a hyperextended right elbow.

Probable Pitchers

Tuesday, June 5: Alex Cobb vs. Jason Vargas, 7:10 p.m. on SNY

Cobb (2018): 46.1 IP, 25 K, 12 BB, 9 HR, 6.80 ERA, 5.40 FIP, 1.81 WHIP

Cobb was one of the last major signings in free agency, inking a 4-year, $57 million deal with Baltimore on March 21, and it just hasn’t panned out so far for the O’s. Without much of a spring training to knock off the rust, Cobb was lit up in his first three starts of 2018. Although he has shown some signs of the pitcher the Orioles expected him to be, Cobb has yet to allow fewer than five hits in a start.

Vargas (2018): 25.1 IP, 23 K, 12 BB, 6 HR, 8.53 ERA, 5.80 FIP, 1.85 WHIP

Vargas may be better off pitching without the regular four days’ rest, as he has won starts where he has had 14 days and three days rest, the latter coming in Atlanta after filling in for the injured Noah Syndergaard. Vargas has a reputation as an innings-eater and has yet to pitch more than five innings in a start this season. Consistency from Vargas is one of the many things that need to change immediately if the Mets have any hope of turning their season around.

Wednesday, June 6: Dylan Bundy vs. Zack Wheeler, 1:10 p.m. on SNY

Bundy (2018): 68.2 IP, 83 K, 20 BB, 16 HR, 4.46 ERA, 4.73 FIP, 1.30 WHIP

Bundy’s issue in 2018 has been the long ball, as evidenced by his horrible May 8 start against the Royals, during which he failed to record an out and gave up four home runs in the first inning. Since then, he has been able to limit the damage in his starts. His last start against the Nationals saw him surrender 11 hits and home runs to Bryce Harper and Mark Reynolds, but he gave up just three runs in six innings.

Wheeler (2018): 56 IP, 57 K, 21 BB, 7 HR, 5.14 ERA, 3.88 FIP, 1.48 WHIP

Wheeler had a solid start with six shutout innings against the Cubs on Friday night, but once the seventh came around, the wheels fell off. After back-to-back hits from Addison Russell and Tommy La Stella, Wheeler was pulled from the game and the bullpen blew the game.

Prediction: Mets split with the O’s.

Poll

How will the Mets fare against the Orioles?

This poll is closed

  • 47%
    A two-game sweep to get back on track.
    (53 votes)
  • 30%
    Win a game, lose a game.
    (34 votes)
  • 14%
    O no, get swept by the worst team in baseball.
    (16 votes)
  • 7%
    Pizza!
    (8 votes)
111 votes total Vote Now