The New York Mets will look to build upon their opening series win against the Washington Nationals as they head to Florida to take on the pesky Miami Marlins. The Marlins enter play on Monday with a 2-2 record after dropping their first two games but recovering to win their last two against the Colorado Rockies.
Although the Marlins are the consensus pick to finish in last place in the National League East, they have often been a thorn in the Mets’ side. They typically play New York tough, especially in seasons when they are not expected to be a threat in the division. Last year, the Mets were able to win 12 out of 19 against last-place Miami, including six of nine at Marlins Park. The Mets closed out their 2018 campaign by defeating the Marlins 1-0 in each of the final two contests of the year, which included David Wright’s emotional farewell game.
Over the weekend, the Mets went to Washington and took the first two against the Nationals before losing yesterday on a walk-off home run. Even in defeat, the team was able to erase a 5-2 deficit in the eighth against Tony Sipp, Trevor Rosenthal, and closer Sean Doolittle and tie the game at five before Trea Turner connected on a walk-off home run against Justin Wilson in the ninth. At the very least, the Mets made life difficult for the Nationals and showed that they could hang with one of the National League’s toughest teams.
The story of the series was Pete Alonso, who contributed six hits — including three doubles — and two walks in 14 plate appearances in his first three games in the majors. He knocked in three runs and consistently drove the ball to the opposite field while demonstrating excellent discipline at the plate. In addition to Alonso, Jeff McNeil picked up where he left off last season and during spring training, as he had his fourth career four-hit game on Saturday afternoon. He also drove in two runs and scored two runs in the series while seeing time both at third base and in left field. The Mets offense had an impressive showing in Washington D.C., as they scored 18 and strung together 32 hits in the three games.
With a lot of new faces on the team, there were plenty of firsts during the series. Edwin Diaz, the team’s hard-throwing new closer, earned his first two saves as a Met, while Justin Wilson picked up his first win and his first loss in back-to-back contests over the weekend. In addition to Alonso’s first hit, Robinson Cano connected on his first home run with his new club, which represented the only long ball the Mets would hit during the three games. Wilson Ramos also picked up four hits and three runs batted in as he began his Mets’ tenure.
The Marlins opened up their season with back-to-back losses against a very tough Rockies team in Miami before taking games three and four on Saturday and on Sunday. After being outscored 12-4 in their two defeats, they held the Rockies to just three runs while they scored ten runs on 21 hits in their two victories.
Miami’s offseason was dominated by trade talks surrounded All Star catcher J.T. Realmuto. The early part of those discussions involved the Mets, who were interested in acquiring Realmuto to provide some much-needed offense behind the plate. Miami’s exorbitant asking price — at times, the Marlins were requesting two of Brandon Nimmo, Michael Conforto, and Amed Rosario, or a straight-up trade for Noah Syndergaard — ended up scaring Brodie Van Wagenen away and resulted in the team signing Ramos instead. The Marlins eventually traded Realmuto to the division rival Philadelphia Phillies instead for a package that centered around top pitching prospect Sixto Sanchez.
With Realmuto gone, Martin Prado — who is entering his fifth season in Miami — is the longest-tenured member of the Marlins. Miami also brought in two former Mets — outfielder and fan-favorite Curtis Granderson along with infielder Neil Walker — during the offseason to serve as veterans for their young team. Both Granderson and Walker hit a home run during the Rockies series.
Monday, April 1: Steven Matz vs. Caleb Smith, 7:10 p.m. on SNY
Matz (2018): 154.0 IP, 152 K, 58 BB, 25 HR, 3.97 ERA, 4.62 FIP, 1.25 WHIP
Matz will take the mound in 2019 looking to prove that he can stay healthy, as he did last season. Matz made 30 starts for the first time in his career in 2018 while avoiding the big injury that has so often plagued him. His actual on-field performance was mostly inconsistent from start-to-start and was marked by high highs (six shutout innings in his final start against he Marlins) and low lows (seven earned runs in two-thirds of an inning in the 25-4 loss to the Nationals). Matz has typically handled the Marlins well in his career, as he owns a 2.82 ERA in 44.2 innings against them. Over his last three starts at Marlins Park, he hasn’t allowed an earned run in 18.1 innings.
Smith (2018): 77.1 IP, 88 K, 33 BB, 10 HR, 4.19 ERA, 3.96 FIP, 1.24 WHIP
Smith will make his first start since last June, when he suffered a Grade 3 lat strain during a start against Colorado that prematurely ended his season. In his first year in Miami, the former New York Yankees’ 14th round pick made 16 starts and finished the year with a 4.19 ERA. One of his best starts of the year came against the Mets on May 22 at Citi Field, when he allowed one earned run on three hits while striking out eight in 6.1 innings.
Tuesday, April 2: Jason Vargas vs. Jose Urena, 7:10 p.m. on SNY
Vargas (2018): 92.0 IP, 84 K, 30 BB, 18 HR, 5.77 ERA, 5.02 FIP, 1.41 WHIP
The Mets elected to stick with Vargas as their fifth starter as opposed to entering the free agent market and signing a more established starter like Dallas Keuchel. It remains to be seen whether that decision will work out, but the Mets are hoping to get more of second-half Vargy and less of first-half Vargas in 2019. After an absolutely brutal start to the season in which his ERA consistently hovered around ten, he finally put together a string of strong starts beginning with a victory against the Phillies on August 19. He saved his best for last, as he inexplicably and unexpectedly threw seven shutout innings against the Atlanta Braves while scattering three hits and striking out seven. The performance helped him lower his ERA below six for the only time of 2018.
Urena (2019): 4.2 IP, 2 K, 1 BB, 1 HR, 9.64 ERA, 5.61 FIP, 2.14 WHIP
Speaking of saving his best for last, Urena won each of his five September starts and lowered his ERA from 4.56 to 3.98 to close out the year. In his five appearances, he tossed 30 innings and posted a 1.20 ERA while opponents hit just .183/.254/.279 against him. He did surrender three home runs and walked nine batters in those five appearances, which resulted in a 4.13 FIP despite the low ERA. Urena’s 2019 is off to a rough start, as he was charged with six runs (five earned) on nine hits while only striking out two in 4.2 innings in an Opening Day loss to the Rockies.
Wednesday, April 3: Jacob deGrom vs. Trevor Richards, 6:10 p.m. on SNY
deGrom (2019): 6.0 IP, 10 K, 1 BB, 0 HR, 0.00 ERA, 0.21 FIP, 1.00 WHIP
The calendar says 2019, but deGrom picked up right where he left off in 2018. He tossed six scoreless innings while striking out ten batters on Opening Day to lead the Mets to the victory. While he wasn’t at his very best, he was able to escape several jams early on and kept the Nationals of the board before handing things over to the bullpen. He extended his quality starts streak to a major league-record 30 and recorded his eighth career game of 10 strikeouts and zero earned runs over six innings or more. The Marlins were the only team to score more than three runs against deGrom during his scintillating 2018 Cy Young season.
Richards (2019): 6.0 IP, 4 K, 2 BB, 0 HR, 1.50 ERA, 2.71 FIP, 1.00 WHIP
Richards made his major league debut last April after going undrafted and signing with the Marlins in 2016. After a shaky start to his rookie season, he settled down and became a dependable pitcher for Miami in the home stretch of the season. He closed out his season with a 16.1 scoreless innings while allowing just nine hits and striking out 17 over his final two starts against the Cincinnati Reds and the Mets. Richards carried that scoreless streak and began his 2019 with five shutout innings, but he could not escape the sixth inning unscathed against Colorado. In total, he was charged with just one earned run on four hits in his first start of the year.
Prediction: The Mets will pick up their second straight road series win as they take two out of three in Miami.
How will the Mets fare in their three game series against the Marlins?
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The Mets go fishing and get themselves a sweep!
The Mets take two of three to finish off a winning road trip
Mets steal a game and return to Citi Field at .500
The Mets are swimming with the fishes as they’re swept in Miami