After their victory in Sunday’s Little League Classic and taking three out of five from the Phillies, the New York Mets (54-69) return home from Williamsport for a four-game series with the San Francisco Giants (61-64). The Mets find themselves in the middle of an arduous schedule in the dog days of August, playing 21 games in 20 days with their next scheduled off day not coming until August 30.
The Mets’ lineup has seen an offensive explosion in recent weeks, culminating in back-to-back blowout wins against the Orioles and Phillies. Jose Bautista recorded a career-high seven-RBI day in Thursday’s 24-4 win in Philadelphia, while Austin Jackson continues his torrid production as a Met, hitting .377/.422/.558 in 22 games with New York. Brandon Nimmo, after a five-for-five night in Baltimore on Wednesday has been on the shelf this past weekend nursing his left index finger after being hit by a pitch Thursday afternoon.
Corey Oswalt was moved to the bullpen to accommodate Steven Matz’s return to the rotation, and he had a rocky start in his return from the DL as he was knocked out after two innings. Jacob deGrom reiterated his case for the Cy Young with yet another stellar performance on Saturday afternoon, going the distance for the first Met complete game of the season and sees himself matched up with Madison Bumgarner for what could be a stellar pitcher’s duel in the series finale with the Giants.
The Giants have been a team stuck in the middle of the pack in the National League for most of the year. With their record never more than five games above or below .500 at any point in 2018, the Giants find themselves seven games back in both the competitive NL West as well as the NL Wild Card race. Whatever playoff hopes the Giants had entering the weekend seemed to evaporate after a poor showing in Cincinnati as they were swept by the last-place Reds after taking two of three from the rival Dodgers in LA.
The Giants made big splashes in the trade market last offseason, going after veteran stars Andrew McCutchen and Evan Longoria to add into their veteran offensive core of Buster Posey, Brandon Crawford, and Brandon Belt. Unfortunately, the addition of more household names hasn’t bolstered the offensive production as expected, with San Francisco trending towards the bottom of the league in home runs, RBI, and OPS.
The rotation has been plagued with injuries all year, with ace Madison Bumgarner missing the first two months of the season with a left hand fracture, Johnny Cueto undergoing Tommy John Surgery, and Jeff Samardzija out with right shoulder inflammation. Yet another blow hit the rotation with rookie Dereck Rodriguez landing on the 10-day DL with a strained hamstring as a result of the benches-clearing altercation between Yasiel Puig and Nick Hundley. Rodriguez, son of Hall of Fame catcher Ivan “Pudge” Rodriguez, had been making a name for himself, providing a reliable presence in the Giants rotation with a respectable 2.25 ERA and 65 strikeouts in 80 innings.
With a middling offense and injury-plagued rotation, the bullpen has proven to be the Giants’ strength in 2018. Will Smith, owner of a sparkling 1.77 FIP, and Hunter Strickland have shared the closer role to great success, while rookie Reyes Moronta has had a breakout season as the primary setup man, notching 65 strikeouts in 55-and-two-thirds innings with just 26 hits allowed.
Monday, August 20: Derek Holland vs. Zack Wheeler, 7:10 p.m. on SNY
Holland (2018): 129.1 IP, 132 K, 48 BB, 16 HR, 3.83 ERA, 3.91 FIP, 1.30 WHIP
Holland went four-and-two-thirds innings in last start against the Dodgers on Wednesday, allowing six hits and four walks but no runs and seven punch-outs. Holland has been the most reliable starter and statistical leader in strikeouts and innings pitched this season for the Giants, primarily due to his good health and ability to take the ball every fifth day.
Wheeler (2018): 139.1 IP, 136 K, 46 BB, 12 HR, 3.75 ERA, 3.43 FIP, 1.22 WHIP
Wheeler got through through five innings of one-run ball in Baltimore Wednesday night, earning his sixth straight victory after exiting with a high pitch count and the Mets pouring on the runs in the top of the sixth against the O’s. Since the Mets elected not to deal Wheeler at the trade deadline he’s been on a tear, posting a 1.41 ERA and a .188 opposing batting average his last five starts.
Tuesday, August 21: TBD vs. Steven Matz, 7:10 p.m. on SNY
Matz (2018): 109.2 IP, 101 K, 42 BB, 19 HR, 4.60 ERA, 4.97 FIP, 1.37 WHIP
Matz showed plenty of rust in his return from his latest DL stint on Thursday night, giving up six runs on five hits in just two innings, including home runs to Rhys Hoskins and Scott Kingery. With no persisting health issues in his arm according to Matz, he will look to continue to pitch in 2018 and finish strong.
Wednesday, August 22: TBD vs. Noah Syndergaard, 7:10 p.m. on SNY
Syndergaard (2018): 100.2 IP, 105 K, 21 BB, 6 HR, 3.40 ERA, 2.69 FIP, 1.25 WHIP
Syndergaard took the loss on Friday against the Phillies, going five-and-two-thirds innings with four runs given up on eight hits and five strikeouts. Syndergaard continues to be prone to the stolen base, allowing five thefts on the basepaths including two to opposing catcher Jorge Alfaro, who had no prior career steals.
Thursday, August 23: Madison Bumgarner vs. Jacob deGrom, 1:10 p.m. on SNY
Bumgarner (2018): 85.2 IP, 73 K, 34 BB, 8 HR, 3.05 ERA, 3.90 FIP, 1.29 WHIP
Bumgarner had a very un-Bumgarner-like start in Cincinnati on Saturday, surrendering six runs on eight hits and two walks in six innings in his worst start of the season. The Giants’ ace did not get much help from his offense as Matt Harvey kept them in check, no-hitting them into the sixth inning.
deGrom (2018): 168 IP, 204 K, 36 BB, 8 HR, 1.71 ERA, 2.09 FIP, 0.96 WHIP
deGrom notched yet another sterling gem under his belt with a complete game, nine strikeout performance on Saturday against the Phillies. One unearned run was allowed on seven hits, lowering deGrom’s ERA to an MLB-best 1.71.
Prediction: Mets split with the Giants
How will the Mets fare at home against the Giants?
This poll is closed
Destroy the Giants’ playoff hopes with a four-game sweep
Take three out of four
A perfectly balanced split
Win one but lose the rest
Pizza (eaten without forks)!!!