The New York Mets (16-15) embark on a six-game road trip that begins with a three-game rematch against the Milwaukee Brewers (17-16). The Mets enter play today in second place in the National League East, while the Brewers reside in third in the National League Central.
The Mets have not fared well in Milwaukee in recent years and have not won a series at Miller Park since taking two out of three back in 2013. They have lost eight of their last night in the Brewers’ home park dating back to the 2016 season. Miller Park is set to undergo a name change, as the Brewers announced a long-term deal with American Family Insurance over the offseason that includes naming rights for the team’s stadium beginning in 2021.
The Mets are coming off a series split with the Cincinnati Reds in which the two teams alternated victories. In their two losses on Monday and Wednesday, the Mets turned to closer Edwin Diaz in the ninth inning of a tie game. In each instance, Diaz quickly retired the first two batters he faced before serving up a game-deciding solo home run. On Monday, it was Jesse Winker playing villain—a role he embraced throughout the series—while it was Jose Iglesias driving in the deciding run in a 1-0 loss on Wednesday.
The Mets earned their first walk-off win of the season on Tuesday after Jeurys Familia blew a two-run lead with two outs in the ninth. National League Rookie of the Month Pete Alonso came through in the clutch with a game-winning sacrifice fly to drive home Jeff McNeil, who put together his fifth career four-hit game and led off the tenth inning with a double. On Thursday afternoon, Noah Syndergaard stole the show by turning in the best pitching performance by any Met this year. Syndergaard tossed a complete game four-hit shutout on just 104 pitches while striking out ten batters. He also provided all the offensive support, as he hit a solo home run to left field to help get himself the win. Thor became the first Mets pitcher to toss a complete game 1-0 shutout in which the only run was driven in by a home run from the pitcher. His dominant outing could not have come at a better time, as the bullpen was beyond taxed and badly needed a breather heading into this series.
After a rough month of April pitching-wise, Mets starters turned in their best series of the year, albeit against the offensively-challenged Reds. A combination of Zack Wheeler, Jason Vargas, Jacob deGrom, and Syndergaard combined to allow earned runs in just two innings, with the latter two starters shutting out the Reds’ lineup. The Mets posted a 1.65 ERA in 27.1 innings while allowing 17 hits and recording 25 strikeouts.
True to form, the team’s offense went into repose just as the pitching began to awaken. The Mets scored nine runs on 24 hits across the four games, with Syndergaard’s solo home run accounting for the only run the team scored over the final 18 innings. Brandon Nimmo had a rough series, as he went hitless in 13 at-bats while walking twice. He found himself in the third spot in the lineup with Robinson Cano out on Monday and Tuesday while returning to the sixth spot once the second baseman returned. The aforementioned Cano went 2-for-7 in the final two games against the Reds and now sits two hits away from 2,500 for his career. He also remains three runs away from 1,200.
Since last we saw the Brewers, they returned home and earned a split of their own against the Colorado Rockies. They managed the split without the help of 2018 National League MVP Christian Yelich, who exited last Sunday’s game against the Mets with what is being described as lower back discomfort. Yelich remains day-to-day but appears on schedule to return to the lineup this weekend, undoubtedly to torture the Mets and inflict maximum damage with his bat.
After taking two of three at Citi Field last weekend, the Brewers opened their four-game set with back-to-back wins on Monday and Tuesday night. From there, the rest of the series was a nightmare for Milwaukee, as they dropped a Wednesday night game 11-4 before falling in a Thursday matinee by a score of 11-6. Pitching remains a primary concern for the Brewers, as they own a National-League worst 5.23 ERA and 5.03 FIP, while their 1.71 HR/9 is the second-worst mark and their 4.11 BB/9 ranks third from the bottom among NL clubs.
Friday, May 3: Steven Matz vs. Brandon Woodruff, 8:10 p.m. on SNY
Matz (2019): 29.1 IP, 29 K, 8 BB, 6 HR, 3.68 ERA, 4.72 FIP, 1.09 WHIP
A seventh-inning two-run home run by Mike Moustakas was the only blemish on what was otherwise a spotless outing for Matz against the Brewers. Matz earned his third win of the year by pitching a season-high seven innings and allowing two earned runs on five hits. He only registered four strikeouts but, more importantly, he did not walk a batter for the first time since his season debut against the Miami Marlins on April 1. Matz was efficient with his pitches, needing only 101 to get through the seven innings as he helped his team avoid a sweep. Aside from his disastrous six-run, no-out start against the Philadelphia Phillies, he has allowed just six earned runs in his other five appearances combined. It’ll be interesting to see if he can find the same success against Milwaukee while facing them for the second time this week.
Woodruff (2019): 31.1 IP, 38 K, 10 BB, 4 HR, 5.17 ERA, 3.59 FIP, 1.47 WHIP
Woodruff got the best of the Mets his last time out, holding New York to one run one six hits while earning his third victory of 2019. He struck out six, walked one, and did not allow an extra base hit over five innings of work last Saturday as he bested the inefficient Syndergaard. It was a bounce-back effort for Woodruff, who gave up five earned runs in his previous outing against the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Saturday, May 4: Zack Wheeler vs. Gio Gonzalez, 7:10 p.m. on SNY
Wheeler (2019): 35.2 IP, 37 K, 17 BB, 3 HR, 5.05 ERA, 3.53 FIP, 1.40 WHIP
One bad inning doomed Wheeler in his last start against the Reds. After a relatively uneventful opening frame, he was charged with four runs on three hits in the second inning to put the Mets in an early hole that they were eventually able to climb out of before faltering in the ninth. Meanwhile, he allowed a combined four hits without walking a batter in the first, third, fourth, fifth, and sixth innings and was able to give the team some length, despite the rocky second inning, and limit the damage. The walks remain a concern for Wheeler, as he’s issued three or more free passes in four of his six starts this season.
Gonzalez (2019): 5.0 IP, 2 K, 1 BB, 0 HR, 3.60 ERA, 2.92 FIP, 1.40 WHIP
Gonzalez made his season debut on Sunday against the Mets after signing a $2 million deal with the Brewers. Gonzalez never got his shot with the New York Yankees but was immediately inserted into the Brewers rotation without a trip to Triple-A and, while he appeared rusty to begin the game, he settled in and turned in a fine performance. After giving up a run in the first and a run in the second, he held the Mets to two hits over his final three innings in a game that the Brewers would go on to lose. Gonzalez’s success against the Mets has been well documented, but his best numbers against them have come at Citi Field. Now he’ll get a chance to build on his last start with a team that could really use the pitching help.
Sunday, May 5: Jason Vargas vs. Zach Davies, 2:10 p.m. on SNY
Vargas (2019): 20.1 IP, 15 K, 12 BB, 4 HR, 5.75 ERA, 6.12 FIP, 1.72 WHIP
It’s hard to tell how long this recent Vargas “surge” will last, but the Mets will be happy to take this recent string of good results after missing out on signing Gonzalez. With Vargas seemingly joined at the hip with the fifth spot in the starting rotation, he has posted a 1.93 ERA over his last 14 innings spanning three starts. In his last outing, he held the Reds to one earned run on three hits, but his final pitch to Eugenio Suarez was driven over the left field wall to deprive him of the win. Despite the long ball, Vargas was about as good as you can hope for him to be, and the team will hope that they can get a similar start from him on Sunday and throughout the season.
Davies (2019): 32.2 IP, 21 K, 13 BB, 2 HR, 1.38 ERA, 3.91 FIP, 1.32 WHIP
The Mets will go from facing then-National League ERA leader Luis Castillo in their last series to facing the current National League ERA leader Davies in this series. Through six starts, he’s been charged with five earned runs despite pitching into the seventh inning just once this year. In his last outing on April 29, he lasted 5.1 innings and allowed one run (zero earned) on three hits while walking three and striking out two). Even with his low ERA, he has a high FIP and WHIP, showing that while he’s kept runs off the board it hasn’t all been positive for the 26-year-old Davies. Still, after struggling for most of the 2018 season, the former 26th round pick has been a revelation for the pitching-starved Brewers.
Prediction: The Mets’ troubles at Miller Park continue as they drop two out of three.
How will the Mets fare in their three game series against the Brewers
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Mets bring their bats to Milwaukee as they beat up the Brewers in a three-game sweep
Mets flip the script and take two of three against the Brewers
The Mets drop the series but manage to steal a game
The Mets are badly beaten by the Brewers in a sweep