After narrowly missing out on a Canada Day holiday trip, the Mets will spend the American 4th of July holiday on a rare visit North of the Border, where they will take on the Blue Jays in a two-game interleague series. Sure, some might say the Mets have been on holiday for all of June, but...that would just be mean, wouldn’t it?
Not on vacation even during the team’s 5-21 June was the team’s starting pitching. Led by Cy Young candidate Jacob deGrom—“slumping” to the tune of two serviceable quality starts in a row, but still posting a 2.42 FIP with 49 strikeouts over 42 innings in June. Zack Wheeler (3.32 FIP) and Steven Matz (3.67 FIP) have also pitched well over the past calendar month, even if they (obviously) have few wins to show for their efforts.
The horrorshow that has been the Mets offense has been incredibly well-documented. Even early season shining light Brandon Nimmo has struggled to get his timing back since getting hit by a pitch in his right pinkie by Rich Hill on June 24. After missing a few games, Nimmo has struggled upon his return, going 1-for-19 with one walk and a 42.1% K% since his return.
With Nimmo out and struggling, in-season pick-up Jose Bautista and mid-season trade candidate Asdrubal Cabrera have carried the admittedly light load that is the team offense these days. Joey, who will return to the town where he put up his best numbers and flipped his greatest Bats, has put up a .300/.462/.650 slash line over his past 52 plate appearances. Cabrera meanwhile has bounced back from a slump to flash his early season form, with a .404 wOBA and 160 wRC+ over his past 62 plate appearances.
In Toronto, the Mets will face a 39-45 Blue Jays team that has fallen well out of playoff contention in the top-heavy American League. They have played better ball of late—particularly at home, where they had won 10 of their past 12 games before dropping the final two in their past series against the Tigers.
The Blue Jays offense is currently absent its biggest major league figure, Josh Donaldson, as the former AL MVP is on the shelf with a left calf injury. The team was initially unwilling—and is now unable—to replace him with its biggest minor league figure, consensus top prospect Vladimir Guerrero, Jr. The 19 year-old was tearing up AA to the tune of a .407/.457/.667 slash line before a patellar tendon strain sidelined him, meaning he likely will not make his MLB debut before his father is enshrined in Cooperstown later this month.
In the actual lineup, Justin Smoak is not quite matching his 38 home run breakout last year, but has been hot lately, slugging .622 over his last 13 games. Randal Grichuk continues to struggle with contact (0.27 K/BB rate), but hits it hard when he does (.245 ISO)—as he has done lately (three home runs and a .511 slugging percentage in his last 49 plate appearances. And old friend Curtis Granderson continues to do what he does well, getting on base via walk and flashing power between the strikeouts, with three home runs, a .390 wOBA and 150 wRC+ over his last 32 plate appearances.
The Mets will avoid one of Toronto’s best starters in the likely-to-be-traded J.A. Happ, but will face two pitchers going well now in Marco Estrada and Marcus Stroman. Toronto’s bullpen has performed well, especially in light of the absence of closer Roberto Osuna, currently serving a 75 game suspension for violating the league’s joint domestic violence policy. Ryan Tepera has served as the primary closer, with Tyler Clippard and Seung-hwan Oh contributing solid late inning work as well—the three have all struck out over 10 batters per nine innings and recorded at least one save over past month.
Tuesday, July 3: Zack Wheeler vs. Marco Estrada, 7:07 p.m. on SNY
Wheeler (2018): 88.2 IP, 86 K, 32 BB, 9 HR, 4.47 ERA, 3.67 FIP, 1.33 WHIP
Wheeler pitched quite well in June, throwing 38.2 innings while pitching to a 3.26 ERA, surrendering only two home runs in that span. He had two starts in the month where he went seven innings while surrendering zero runs, and was rewarded with a victory in neither—or any of his six starts in the month, for that matter. Wheeler did struggle mightily in his start against the Jays in Citi Field on May 16, surrendering six runs over four innings in a blowout loss.
Estrada (2018): 89.1 IP, 69 K, 24 BB, 14 HR, 4.53 ERA, 4.41 FIP, 1.30 WHIP
Generally an under-the-radar pitcher who outperforms his peripherals, Estrada posted a couple of superlative seasons for Toronto in 2015 and 2016. He had mixed results in 2017 and struggled early this season, posting a below-average K/9 of 6.95. He has begun to turn it around, though—much like his mound opponent Tuesday, Estrada had an excellent June, pitching 30.2 innings over five starts to a 2.35 ERA and 2.88 FIP. He went at least six innings and surrendered no more than two runs in each start except for his most recent against the potent Astros offense
Wednesday, July 4: Corey Oswalt vs. Marcus Stroman, 7:07 p.m. on SNY
Oswalt (2018): 7.1 IP, 5 K, 2 BB, 3 HR, 9.82 ERA, 8.29 FIP, 1.36 WHIP
After making his MLB debut in late April in St. Louis—turning in an impressive 4.2 innings of relief in a blowout loss—Oswalt returned to the majors to make his first MLB start on Friday, allowing the Mets to give Jacob deGrom an extra day to deal with a family issue. That start went...poorly, as Oswalt surrendered six runs—including two home runs—over 2.2 innings. The young right-hander will get at least one more turn in the rotation.
Stroman (2018): 49.1 IP, 41 K, 19 BB, 6 HR, 6.02 ERA, 4.18 FIP, 1.52 WHIP
After bursting on the scene in 2014, putting up a 3.0 fWAR over 130 innings in his rookie season, the New York native lost most of the 2015 season to a torn ACL in his left knee. Stroman bounced back to throw over 200 innings in each of 2016 and 2017. Stroman’s 2018 started out horribly, as his rate of hard contact allowed spiked to 44.1%, while his walk rate spiked to 3.47 BB/9—a combination which helps explain his current numbers. Since returning from the disabled list with a shoulder inflammation issue, Stroman has surrendered only one earned run in 12 innings, striking out nine and walking one.
Prediction: Blue Jays sweep
How will the Mets fare in their two-game series against Toronto?
This poll is closed
A maple syrupy-sweet Mets sweep.
Mets and Jays split the pair.
Blame Canada for the Mets’ latest two-game losing streak.
Pizza and poutine!