The New York Mets (20-22) will look to improve on their perfect record against the Miami Marlins (10-31) as travel to Marlins Park for a three-game series. The Mets swept the Marlins in Miami from April 1-3 and swept them in a rain-shortened two-game set at Citi Field last weekend.
The Mets missed out on a golden opportunity to take down the Washington Nationals, who had lost eight consecutive series in which Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg did not pitch. Everything was coming up Milhouse on Tuesday night, as the team coasted to a stress-free 6-2 win behind a dominant Noah Syndergaard. The slumping Wilson Ramos drilled a grand slam in the opening inning, and the team never looked back as they found their way back to .500.
The good vibes were short-lived, as New York fell on Wednesday night behind a predictably inefficient Wilmer Font. In his second start for the club, Font allowed three runs in the first to put his team behind the eight ball right away. Meanwhile, the offense could not touch Patrick Corbin, who allowed one run in eight innings. The loss evened up the season series between the two clubs at four wins apiece heading into the rubber game on Thursday.
The Thursday afternoon finale was an all-around frustrating mess. Zack Wheeler’s third start against the Nationals in 2019 went about as well as his first two went. Right off the bat, Washington scored four in the first to put the Mets at an early disadvantage. New York recovered and knotted the game up at four thanks to a Michael Conforto three-run home run. Wheeler couldn’t hold his opponent at bay, however, and he relinquished the lead on a two-run Gerardo Parra home run. The Mets valiantly fought back against opposing closer Sean Doolittle, but it was too little too late, and Keon Broxton whiffed with the bases loaded to end the threat.
Meanwhile, the injury bug reared its ugly and unwanted head, as both Jeff McNeil and Conforto exited with injuries. While it is unclear if McNeil will be well enough to play in Miami, Conforto will miss at least the next seven games with a concussion. The Mets are calling up outfielder and former top prospect Carlos Gomez to fill in for Conforto while he recovers.
Meanwhile, Miami’s offensive woes carried into their series with the Tampa Bay Rays. The Marlins were swept in a two-game set against the American League East-leading Rays as they were shut out in back-to-back games. The last-place Marlins have now scored eight runs over the course of their six-game losing streak and are dead-last in baseball in team wRC+ (64), OPS (.587), home runs (24), and runs scored (105). Those paltry stats have resulted in Miami being the only team with a negative offensive team fWAR (-1.8). Former Met Neil Walker continues to lead the club with a 127 wRC+ and an .810 OPS in 39 games. On the negative side, veteran infielder Starlin Castro has been a disappointment with a 58 wRC+ and a .226/.275/.289 slash line through a team-leading 41 games.
Things have only been slightly better for Miami’s pitching. Their 5.33 bullpen ERA is currently the second-worst in the National League behind the Nationals, with their 5.09 bullpen FIP being the worst among the 15 NL clubs. Their starting pitching has slightly more favorable numbers, although much of that is the result of Caleb Smith’s impressive season. So far, Smith has a 2.25 ERA and a 2.93 FIP in eight starts. As a whole, the Marlins’ rotation has a 4.38 ERA and a 4.33 FIP, which puts them squarely in the middle of the league.
Friday, May 17: Jacob deGrom vs. Trevor Richards, 7:10 p.m. on SNY
deGrom (2019): 47.0 IP, 64 K, 14 BB, 6 HR, 3.26 ERA, 3.12 FIP, 1.11 WHIP
deGrom earned his third win of 2019 after pitching seven terrific innings and limiting Miami to one earned run on five hits. He has now pitched seven innings in each of his three May starts as he finally looks to have put his April struggles behind him. deGrom has a 1.29 ERA and 2.43 ERA with a 0.7 fWAR in the month of May while limiting opponents to a .469 OPS. deGrom has made more starts against the Marlins than any other team and owns a 3.24 ERA against them in 114 innings.
Richards (2019): 42.1 IP, 40 K, 23 BB, 7 HR, 4.46 ERA, 5.20 FIP, 1.37 WHIP
Richards was charged four earned runs in five innings while allowing seven hit and walking two batters. He also surrendered two home runs for the third time in four starts, and his 1.49 HR/9 is the eighth worst among qualified National League starting pitchers. His 4.89 BB/9 and his 12.4% walk rate both rank behind only Chicago’s Yu Darvish as the worst mark among qualified starters in the league. Richards missed the Mets’ series last weekend but picked up his first loss of 2019 against them on April 3 when he gave up three earned runs in six innings. Richards is still searching for his first victory of the season.
Saturday, May 18: Steven Matz vs. Pablo Lopez, 4:10 p.m. on SNY
Matz (2019): 35.0 IP, 32 K, 9 BB, 8 HR, 3.86 ERA, 5.10 FIP, 1.20 WHIP
After suffering from radial nerve discomfort, Matz will come off the Injured List and make the start on Saturday after he declared that he feels “ready to go” following a 45-pitch bullpen session on Wednesday. He last appeared for the Mets on May 3 and earned the loss after lasting 5.2 innings and allowing three earned runs on nine hits. In each of his last three outings, every run Matz has allowed has come via the home run, which has been one of his biggest downfalls in 2019. Matz’s 2.06 HR/9 currently ranks as the fifth-worst mark among National League starters with at least 30 innings pitched. On a positive note, his 2.31 BB/9 is a significant improvement from his 3.39 BB/9 last season. Outside of one truly horrific start, Matz has been one of the team’s best starting pitchers this season.
Lopez (2019): 41.0 IP, 42 K, 11 BB, 5 HR, 5.93 ERA, 3.81 FIP, 1.29 WHIP
Lopez had a first inning to forget against the Mets in his last start. He was tagged for eight earned runs—Amed Rosario’s grand slam proved to be the exclamation mark—and allowed eight hits. It was a never-ending barrage of pain for Lopez, who was left in by his manager to absorb more damage in the second and third innings. He allowed a solo home run in each of those innings and was mercifully removed having allowed a whopping 10 earned runs as his ERA rose from 4.03 to 5.93.
Sunday, May 19: Noah Syndergaard vs. Sandy Alcantara, 1:10 p.m. on WPIX
Syndergaard (2019): 57.0 IP, 60 K, 13 BB, 8 HR, 4.74 ERA, 3.61 FIP, 1.23 WHIP
Syndergaard’s up-and-down season found another peak on Tuesday, as he earned the victory by beating the Nationals with eight strong innings. Syndergaard allowed four hits and walked one while striking out six. His only real blemish on the evening was a two-run home run by Victor Robles, who has tormented Thor all year and now has three of his seven home runs against the Mets’ right-hander. After exhibiting some command issues in April, Syndergaard has greatly improved on that in May. In 23 innings this month, he has struck out 21 batters against just three walks. Synderaard was supposed to face the Marlins on Mother’s Day, but the game was rained out. In eight career starts against Miami, he owns a 1.64 ERA and a 0.95 WHIP in 55 innings and has never lost to them. He also owns a 2.77 ERA in 33 career daytime starts.
Alcantara (2019): 44.0 IP, 28 K, 23 BB, 6 HR, 5.11 ERA, 5.24 FIP, 1.64 WHIP
Alcantara faced the Mets last Saturday and absorbed his fourth loss in eight starts this season. He served up home runs to Conforto and Pete Alonso and ended up allowing four earned runs on eight hits while striking out only one. Much like his rotation mate Richards, Alcantara has struggled with walks this season. His 4.70 BB/9 is the third-worst among qualified starters in the National League, while his 1.22 K/BB is the worst in the NL.
Prediction: The Mets improve to 8-0 against the Marlins with another sweep and climb above the .500 mark.
How will the Mets fare in their three game series against the Marlins?
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The Mets feast on the Marlins in a three-game sweep
The Mets are handed their first loss against Miami, but win the series
The Mets drop a series to the last-place Marlins
The Mets enter a full-blown free fall as they are swept in Miami