The New York Mets (68-78) begin their final 2018 road trip in Beantown as they battle baseball’s best team, the Boston Red Sox (101-46). This is the team’s first visit to Boston since 2009, when they won two out of three. The last time these two clubs squared off, the Mets lost two out of three at Citi Field in 2015.
Even before getting to the recent resurgence, the big news surrounding the club is the announcement that David Wright’s playing career will end following the 2018 season. Wright, who was diagnosed with spinal stenosis in 2015 and has been plagued by injuries for the past few seasons, has served as the team’s Captain since the 2013 season and is one of the greatest players in the franchise’s 57-year history. While the news is certainly sad and somber, the announcement will allow fans and teammates alike to share happy memories and to honor his legacy over the next two weeks, leading up to his final start at third base on September 29.
The Mets ride into Boston on a high note after taking the last three games from the Miami Marlins in a rain-ravaged four-game set. They have now won four consecutive series and nine out of 12 games in the month of September. Since the All-Star break, the team is 29-23.
The series started off on a sour note as the Mets once again squandered a brilliant Jacob deGrom outing on Tuesday night. The loss dropped the team’s ace and the Cy Young hopeful to 8-9 on the season, despite his sizable lead in ERA (1.71), ERA+ (216), and FIP (2.06). The offense only provided him one run of support until a Kevin Plawecki ninth-inning home run tacked on two ultimately meaningless runs.
After that, the bats came alive in the final three games, especially in Wednesday night’s wild (and wet) 13-0 victory. Michael Conforto continued his torrid pace, collecting six hits in 16 at-bats, including a game-tying home run with two outs in the ninth in game one of yesterday’s doubleheader. He has hit a home run in four of his last six games, and is two off his career high mark of 27, which he set last season.
During the month of September, Conforto is hitting .286 with a 157 wRC+ and a .953 OPS in 12 games. A little over a year after his gruesome shoulder injury, Conforto looks like he has worked his way back and is contributing at a much higher level than he was earlier in the season. On the year, he is slashing .238/.342/.433 with a 2.2 fWAR and a 113 wRC+.
Austin Jackson, on the other hand, has been mired in a dreadful slump after getting off to a sizzling start with his new club. He started three of the four games against Miami and went hitless in nine at-bats. He also struck out five times in yesterday’s doubleheader. In his last 20 games dating back to August 21, he is hitting .169 with a 17 wRC+ and a .014 ISO while striking out over 30% of the time.
The Red Sox have had few offensive problems to speak of in 2018. They’ve scored the most runs in all of baseball with 790 and lead all clubs with a .268 team batting average while ranking second to the Houston Astros with a 110 wRC+. They are coming into this series having swept the Toronto Blue Jays at home and have won their last four games.
The Red Sox are no strangers to winning in 2018, as they are the only team to reach 100 victories so far and are on pace to win 111 games. They have all but clinched the American Lead East, as they have opened up a ten-and-a-half game lead on the New York Yankees. They lead the Baltimore Orioles, the last place club in their division, by an astronomical 58-and-a-half games.
The Red Sox are led by MVP candidates Mookie Betts and J.D. Martinez, who are both having tremendous seasons. Betts, in his fifth season, is leading the American League with a .340 average and has a 1.059 OPS to go along with a 181 wRC+. He ranks first in all of baseball with a 9.2 fWAR, second in OPS and wRC+ behind Mike Trout, and second in slugging behind his teammate Martinez.
The Red Sox signed Martinez in late February — after Spring Training had already begun — and the move has paid immediate dividends for the team. Martinez is slashing .330/.400/.634 in 138 games while posting a 172 wRC+ and a 5.2 fWAR. He is tied with Khris Davis for the American League lead in home runs with 41 and is first with 122 runs batted in. He is just ten points off the pace in the batting average category, which gives him a legitimate chance to complete the Triple Crown this year.
Friday, September 14: Noah Syndergaard vs. Hector Velazquez 7:10 p.m. on SNY
Syndergaard (2018): 128.1 IP, 132 K, 31 BB, 7 HR, 3.44 ERA, 2.70 FIP, 1.28 WHIP
Syndergaard had a strange start against the Philadelphia Phillies last Saturday. Through five innings, he had given up four hits and three walks and it looked like he might cruise to an easy victory with the team up seven runs. Things unraveled a bit from there, as he allowed two runs on three hits in the sixth and two runs on five hits in the seventh. He exited after a Cesar Hernandez line drive struck him in the ribs, but his night was likely over after Hernandez anyway. In the end, Syndergaard was charged with four earned runs and a season-high 12 hits and five walks across 6.2 innings. The important thing, however, is that he appears to be fine after getting drilled and will make this start as planned.
Velazquez (2018): 76.2 IP, 48 K, 26 BB, 7 HR, 3.29 ERA, 4.34 FIP, 1.50 WHIP
Velazquez has primarily served as a reliever for the Red Sox this year and has made 41 total appearances. Of those, seven have been starts. The last time he took the mound to as a starter was on September 5 against the Atlanta Braves, when he lasted four innings and allowed two earned runs on five hits. As a starter, he has a 4.00 ERA in 27 innings pitched. He has not lasted past the fourth inning in any of his five starts since April.
Saturday, September 15: TBD vs. Rick Porcello 4:05 p.m. on WPIX
The Mets have not yet named a starter for Saturday afternoon’s game, though it stands to reason that the club will turn to Corey Oswalt and use most of their bullpen from there to complete the game.
Porcello (2018): 179.1 IP, 182 K, 44 BB, 26 HR, 4.27 ERA, 4.00 FIP, 1.18 WHIP
In his last start against the Astros, Porcello allowed four earned runs on seven hits across 5.2 innings. However, the line doesn’t quite do him justice, as the bullpen entered to allow three inherited runners to score in the sixth and cost him a shot at his 17th victory of the year. Porcello has rebounded nicely after a tough 2017 season in which he posted a 4.65 ERA and a 4.60 FIP. However, he has not come close to matching his 2016 season, when he put up a 3.15 ERA and a 3.40 FIP while leading the American League with 22 wins and claiming the American League Cy Young Award.
Sunday, September 16: Jacob deGrom vs. Chris Sale, 1:05 p.m. on SNY
deGrom (2018): 195.0 IP, 239 K, 44 BB, 9 HR, 1.71 ERA, 2.06 FIP, 0.95 WHIP
deGrom was great, the offense was not, and another gem was wasted. At this point, this sentence could describe most of his 2018 starts. Against the Marlins, he allowed two runs on three hits — all of which came in the fourth inning — but his offense could only spot him one run. The Mets ended up with five hits on the night, one of which came off the bat of deGrom. Jake has three more starts left in 2018 to cement his case for the Cy Young Award, but he remains stuck on eight wins and fell to below .500 with the loss. While wins should not matter in this case, it remains to be seen whether enough voters agree with this sentiment. Regardless, anyone who has watched deGrom pitch in 2018 knows that he has been the best pitcher in the National League,
Sale (2018): 147.0 IP, 221 K, 33 BB, 10 HR, 1.96 ERA, 1.95 FIP, 0.85 WHIP
Like deGrom, Sale leads his league in ERA (1.96), ERA+ (222), and FIP (1.95), as well as WHIP (0.85). With numbers like that, Sale should be the odds-on favorite to take home the American League Cy Young award. However, injuries have cost him a good portion of the second half of the season and could put that certainty in doubt. Since July 22, Sale has only started four games and pitched a total of 18 innings, though he has not allowed a run in that time. He returned for one dominant August start against the Orioles before heading right back to the disabled list. The Red Sox will be cautious with their top pitcher for the rest of the way, as they need him healthy in order to make a deep October run. He served as the “opener” on September 11 and pitched one inning against the Blue Jays, and the expectation is that he will throw three or four innings against the Mets on Sunday.
Prediction: The Mets will drop two out of three to the Red Sox.
How will the Mets fare in their three game series against the Red Sox?
This poll is closed
Mets shock everyone by sweeping the 100-win Red Sox!
The Mets keep on winning series as they take two out of three
Mets steal one from baseball’s best bunch
It’s a Beantown beatdown as the Mets lose all three