The New York Mets (50-66) will look to keep on rolling as they travel to Maryland to take on the Baltimore Orioles (35-84), owners of the worst record in Major League Baseball. Back in June, the O’s swept a two-game series at Citi Field in two low-scoring affairs.
The Mets are playing their best baseball in nearly three months as they head to Baltimore. They were victorious in six of their last nine games and have won two consecutive series — against the Cincinnati Reds and the Miami Marlins — for the first time since mid-April. They will have a chance to make it three in a row against the last-place Orioles.
The rotation, outside of Jason Vargas, has been excellent lately. In August, Mets starting pitchers lead MLB with a 2.55 FIP. Against Miami, they allowed a total of eight earned runs on 17 hits while striking out 18 batters in 20 innings. They were backed up by a bullpen that has also posted significantly better numbers after a dreadful July. Mets relievers own a 1.95 ERA during the month of August (third in MLB), which represents a sizable improvement from the 6.18 ERA they ended up with last month. The bullpen allowed just one earned run in 8.1 innings of work against Miami.
The stellar pitching continued, unsurprisingly, last night in the Bronx with Jacob deGrom on the mound against New York Yankees ace Luis Severino. The Cy Young hopeful bested his counterpart in the battle of New York aces, allowing three runs (two earned) with 12 strikeouts in 6.2 innings against a potent Yankees lineup. While Severino was serving up long balls, deGrom was working his usual magic and ended the night with a league-leading 1.81 ERA and 2.13 FIP.
The Mets also connected for a season-high five home runs in the victory. Amed Rosario led things off with a solo shot, which set the tone for the rest of the evening. Todd Frazier, Jose Bautista, Brandon Nimmo, and Michael Conforto joined Rosario with home runs. For the second straight start, the offense was able to put up eight runs to support their ace.
The team’s outfield has accounted for much of the offense during this stretch. With his home run yesterday, Conforto continued his recent hot streak which extends back to July 20. Since the All-Star break, he’s hitting .316 (25-for-79) with a .978 OPS and a 163 wRC+. His quality of contact has improved considerably, as his hard% is a solid 53.6 % since the All-Star break as opposed to 33.5% before it. Nimmo has also bounced back after his first cold stretch of 2018. In his last seven games, he’s collected eight hits, including five doubles, and scored seven runs while posting a 1.015 OPS and a 174 wRC+. Austin Jackson has also ingratiated himself with his new club, putting up a .413 batting average, 1.058 OPS, and 192 wRC+ in 46 at-bats with the Mets.
The Orioles are suffering through a historically miserable season. They own a league-worst .294 winning percentage and are on pace to win just 48 games. They were officially eliminated from playoff contention last Friday with 46 games left to play. Over the weekend, they were manhandled in a four-game sweep by a superior Boston Red Sox team.
In looking at the team’s overall numbers, it’s not hard to see how they got to where they are today. They own a 5.04 ERA and a 4.83 FIP, both of which rank as the second-worst marks in MLB. Their pitching also has the third-worst HR/9 (1.39) and fifth-worst BB/9 (3.67) this season. Offensively, they have the fourth-worst batting average (.237) and the sixth-worst OPS (.697) and wRC+ (88) in MLB. The club has embraced a rebuild by trading away their All-Star shortstop and impending free agent Manny Machado as well as second baseman Jonathan Schoop, starter Kevin Gausman, and reliever Darren O’Day over the last month.
Chris Davis, the team’s first baseman, is also having a historically bad season. Among 152 qualified batters, he is last in batting (.158), on-base percentage (.242), and fWAR (-2.4), and is second-to-last in slugging (.281), OPS (.541), and wRC+ (45). He also has a 36.5% strikeout rate, which leads all batters. Over the weekend, he went 2-for-14 with 10 strikeouts against Boston.
The weekend did offer Baltimore a glimpse into their future as they called up outfielder Cedric Mullins, who ranked as the number seven prospect in their system by MLB Pipeline ahead of the season. Mullins became the first player in the team’s history to collect three hits in his debut. He finished 5-for-13 in the four games with four runs scored and two runs batted in.
Tuesday, August 14: Jason Vargas vs. Andrew Cashner, 7:05 p.m. on SNY
Vargas (2018): 47.1 IP, 43 K, 20 BB, 12 HR, 8.75 ERA, 6.09 FIP, 1.84 WHIP
Vargas had his shortest outing of the year thanks to a thunderstorm that halted play after just four batters. Still, there’s no guarantee that he would have lasted long into the game anyway, as the Cincinnati Reds were hitting him hard before the delay. He was charged with three earned runs while recording only one out when all was said and done. Among all starting pitchers with at least 40 innings, Vargas has the league’s highest ERA (8.75) and HR/9 (2.28) while sporting the fourth worst FIP (6.09). Still, all signs seem to point to Vargas having a spot on next year’s roster because of the two-year deal he signed last offseason.
Cashner (2018): 121.0 IP, 88 K, 51 BB, 17 HR, 4.83 ERA, 4.87 FIP, 1.51 WHIP
Cashner reached seven innings for only the second time in 2018 during his last start. He allowed three runs (one earned) on three hits against the Tampa Bay Rays. It was a solid bounce back effort after he let up a career-high 10 earned runs on seven hits while lasting only 1.2 innings on August 2 against the Texas Rangers. Cashner’s biggest Achilles heel has been the walk, as he has the fourth-worst K/BB (1.73) and the 10th worst BB/9 (3.79) in baseball. Of all Mets batters, Todd Frazier has had the most experience and success facing Cashner, racking up five hits in 13 at-bats.
Wednesday, August 15: Zack Wheeler vs. TBD, 7:05 p.m. on SNY
Wheeler (2018): 134.1 IP, 133 K, 44 BB, 12 HR, 3.82 ERA, 3.41 FIP, 1.22 WHIP
Wheeler had his scoreless inning streak snapped at 23 as he allowed a two-run home run to Miguel Rojas with two outs in the seventh his last time out. Nevertheless, he was able to retire the next batter to finish off a stellar seven-inning performance against the Marlins en route to his fifth straight victory. In those five appearances, he has a 2.08 ERA, a 2.47 FIP, and a 0.87 WHIP in 34.2 innings. If he continues to pitch at this level, he will serve as a fantastic third starter option going into the 2019 season behind deGrom and Syndergaard.
The Orioles have not named a starter for Wednesday night’s game.
Prediction: The Mets will split the two games with the Orioles.
How will the Mets fare in their two-game series against the Orioles?
This poll is closed
The Mets keep the good vibes rolling with a sweep
Win one, lose one and on to Philadelphia
Swept by the Orioles for a second time this year