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Mets look to pounce on struggling Tigers

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The Mets are coming off a fun series sweep against the Nationals, while the Tigers are mired in a long losing streak.

Washington Nationals v New York Mets Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images

The New York Mets (24-25) welcome the Detroit Tigers (18-29) to Citi Field for a three-game set for the first time since 2013. In that series, the Tigers swept three from the Mets, with New York dropping two of three at Comerica Park the last time these two faced off in 2016. The Mets have dropped 12 out of 21 to the Tigers since Interleague Play began in 1997.

The Mets are coming off a much-needed series sweep against the Washington Nationals, which came on the heels of the team getting swept by the woeful Miami Marlins. Despite the victories, New York lost Brandon Nimmo, Jeff McNeil, and Robinson Cano for at least the next ten days, which means that the players regularly relegated to the bench will play a big role over the next few weeks. This includes the likes of Adeiny Hechavarria, Rajai Davis, Dominic Smith, and Luis Guillorme.

After failing to score a run on Saturday and Sunday, New York got on the board right away on Monday night with solo home runs by Amed Rosario and Pete Alonso to back Wilmer Font. Things got dicey later in the game, but the Mets prevailed by a 5-3 score to end their five-game losing streak.

The team’s offensive woes reared their ugly head through the first six innings on Tuesday, but Zack Wheeler pitched well enough to keep his team tied until the seventh. Following a Brian Dozier two-run home run, the Mets rudely greeted Washington’s bullpen and scored five over the final three innings to earn the 6-5 win. J.D. Davis got things started with a three-run home run in the seventh to give New York a 4-3 lead, followed by an Alonso game-tying solo home run in the eighth inning after Jeurys Familia coughed up the lead. With the score knotted up at five and runners on second and third, Amed Rosario beat out a grounder to short for an infield single that resulted in the winning run crossing the plate.

The offense struggled again on Wednesday, albeit against three-time Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer. Jacob deGrom provided his team with six solid innings of one-run but left trailing after Scherzer pitched six shutout innings. After a scoreless seventh, New York’s lineup of irregulars erupted for six runs against Washington’s woebegone bullpen. The offensive outburst was highlighted by a Juan Lagares bases-clearing double and punctuated by a Davis three-run home run in his first at-bat as a Met, which came after he took an Uber from Lehigh Valley to get to Citi Field for the game.

The Mets finished off the sweep on Friday thanks to former top prospect Carlos Gomez. After Steven Matz provided the team with six strong innings, the team scratched out two runs in the bottom of the sixth to take the lead. Robert Gsellman—who has been fairly reliable as of late—imploded in the eighth and allowed three runs while Mickey Callaway refused to go to his closer for the four-out save. In the end, it didn’t even matter, as Gomez connected on a three-run home run into the Party Deck to put his team back in front. Edwin Diaz entered in the ninth to earn his 12th save in 12 chances this season. The Mets earned the sweep in large part by feasting on the unspeakably awful Nationals bullpen, which owns a National League-worst 8.47 ERA in the month of May. Conversely, the Mets own a National League-best 2.37 ERA in the month of May.

With so many negatives stories surrounding the club heading into Monday, seeing them sweep the reeling Nationals was a welcome sight. The Mets dropped Washington to a season-worst 12 games under .500, which represents their lowest mark since 2011. While Callaway was on the hot seat heading into Monday, it now appears Nationals manager Dave Martinez is the one feeling the heat. With three very winnable games ahead of them, New York will have the opportunity to further improve their fortunes before heading out on a very difficult west coast road trip against the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Arizona Diamondbacks.

The Tigers enter play on Friday having lost nine games in a row following three consecutive sweeps. Much like the Mets, Detroit was just swept by the Marlins in a three-game set. Prior to that, they were swept in three games by the Oakland Athletics and the Houston Astros, which includes a suspended game that they were also losing. Their last victory came on May 12 against the Minnesota Twins. During their losing streak, they’ve tallied a grand total of 21 runs.

The Tigers have been the American League version of the Marlins offensively. They currently own the worst strikeout rate (26.3%), OPS (.650), wRC+ (72), and fWAR (-1.3) of all American League clubs while scoring the fewest runs (158) and hitting the fewest home runs (37). Their best hitter so far this season has been 27-year-old shortstop Ronny Rodriguez, who is hitting .262/.293/.570 with a team-leading six home runs, a 119 wRC+, and a team-best 0.9 fWAR. Outfielder and first baseman Brandon Dixon has also had a fine season, slashing .291/.316/.526 with a 121 wRC+.

This will likely be the last time Mets fans will have the opportunity to watch future Hall-of-Famer Miguel Cabrera play against their squad. The 17-year veteran is 34 home runs short of 500 for his career, but has exhibited a lack of power this year after suffering a ruptured biceps tendon in 2018 and missing all but 38 games. So far, the 36-year-old Cabrera is hitting .298/.370/.363 with one home run, a 101 wRC, and a 0.1 fWAR in 47 games. Cabrera is second to Albert Pujols among active players in career runs batted in (1654) and home runs (466). He owns a .316/.394/.547 career slash line and is the most recent player to win the Triple Crown in Major League Baseball, achieving the celebrated feat in 2012.

Friday, May 24: Gregory Soto vs. Noah Syndergaard, 7:10 p.m. on SNY

Soto (2019): 10.0 IP, 7 K, 6 BB, 2 HR, 10.80 ERA, 6.08 FIP, 2.20 WHIP

Last year, Soto spent the entire season with with Single-A Lakeland. After making one start for them in 2019, and three starts with Double-A Erie, Detroit called on the 24-year-old to make his major league debut after a slew of injuries to their starting pitchers. So far, the youngster has gotten off to a rough start to his career. He struggled badly with walks last year for Lakeland, issues 70 free passes in 113.1 innings. So far, he’s walked six in 10 across his three starts for the Tigers. He was rocked in his major league debut, giving up seven earned runs on nine hits in four innings. After lasting just two innings in his second start, he went four innings again in his last outing while allowing three earned runs on four hits.

Syndergaard (2019): 64.0 IP, 63 K, 14 BB, 8 HR, 4.50 ERA, 3.53 FIP, 1.18 WHIP

Syndergaard was the victim of a non-existent Mets offense last Sunday as he absorbed his fourth loss of 2019 despite a great effort. Syndergaard pitched seven innings and was charged with two earned runs on five hits while striking out three and walking one against the weak Marlins lineup. Syndergaard was cruising for much of the game and faced one batter above the minimum through five after tossing four perfect innings to start the game. He finally cracked and allowed a run in the six and a run in the seventh before exiting. He was only at 82 pitches, but was removed anyway after trainers came out to examine his hand in his final frame. It seems as if nothing came from that, and he’s good to go for the series opener.

Saturday, May 25: TBD vs. Jason Vargas, 4:10 p.m. on WPIX

TBD

The Tigers have not announced a starter for Saturday afternoon’s game.

Vargas (2019): 24.1 IP, 20 K, 12 BB, 5 HR, 5.92 ERA, 5.71 FIP, 1.56 WHIP

Barring any last-minute setback, Vargas will almost definitely make his return to the mound 20 days after landing on the Injured List with hamstring tightness. In his last start against the Milwaukee Brewers, he lasted four innings before departing with the aforementioned injury and was tagged for three earned runs on three hits. Prior to that, he had actually put together a string of three acceptable outings in which he allowed a total of three earned runs over 14 innings. The best the team can expect him Vargas is four or five innings, but his return likely moves Wilmer Font to the bullpen which gives the team somebody to piggy-back off of Vargas when he’s unable to pitch deep into games.

Sunday, May 26: Spencer Turnball vs. Zack Wheeler, 1:10 p.m. on WPIX

Turnball (2019): 53.2 IP, 54 K, 22 BB, 5 HR, 2.68 ERA, 3.84 FIP, 1.30 WHIP

In his first full year in the majors, Turnball leads the Tigers staff in ERA and is second in FIP while being one of only two pitchers on the team with at least 50 innings pitched. He’s picked up the slack for Detroit with guys like Michael Fulmer and Matt Moore done for the season. In his last start against the Marlins, Turnball pitched five innings and was charged with three earned runs on seven hits in a game his club would go on to lose. In his four May starts, he’s pitched to a 2.91 ERA and a 4.14 FIP to go along with a 9.55 K/9 and opposing batters posting a .783 OPS.

Wheeler (2019): 62.2 IP, 70 K, 23 BB, 6 HR, 4.74 ERA, 3.19 FIP, 1.37 WHIP

After three dreadful starts against the Nationals, Wheeler finally figured out how to handle them in his last start. Wheeler pitched seven strong innings and allowed three earned runs on four hits while striking out six in the no-decision. After allowing a long Juan Soto home run to lead off the second, he retired ten straight batters before slowing down late in the game. Wheeler ended up tossing 118 pitches on the evening, which is the second-most of his career. Wheeler should be happy to see the Tigers, who own a league-worst 68 wRC+ and .630 OPS against right-handed pitching.

Prediction: The Mets finish off their homestand on a high note as they take two out of three against the Tigers.

Poll

How will the Mets fare in their three game series against the Nationals?

This poll is closed

  • 40%
    A second straight sweep to complete a perfect homestand!
    (43 votes)
  • 40%
    Can’t win ‘em all, but two out of three gets the Mets back to .500.
    (42 votes)
  • 5%
    The Mets are bested by their American League opponent but manage to steal a game.
    (6 votes)
  • 3%
    A letdown ensues as the Mets are devoured by the Tigers in a three-game sweep.
    (4 votes)
  • 9%
    Pizza!
    (10 votes)
105 votes total Vote Now