The New York Mets (27-29) will finish off their west coast road trip with a three-game set against the Arizona Diamondbacks (28-29). The Mets emerged victories in the season series against the Diamondbacks in 2018, which included a sweep at Citi Field and a split at Chase Field. Since Arizona joined the league in 1998, the Mets own a 74-72 record against them.
The Mets are coming off a series loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers that saw them drop two games below .500 on the season. The Memorial Day series opener featured a marquee pitching matchup that didn’t quite live up to the billing, as Jacob deGrom and Clayton Kershaw both struggled. The Mets led 3-2 into the bottom of the sixth, at which point three relievers had a hand in coughing up six runs. Tyler Bashlor and Daniel Zamora were the main culprits, as each were charged with three earned runs on three hits over one-third of an inning. The end result was a 9-5 loss in the series opener.
The Mets rebounded on Tuesday behind another encouraging start from Steven Matz. After Todd Frazier tied up the game in the fourth with a solo home run, Michael Conforto added the big blast with a grand slam in the seventh to put his team ahead for good. Robert Gsellman let a run score in the seventh, but the Mets got the run right back in the eighth and cruised from there to a series-tying 7-3 victory.
Wednesday night’s loss will almost definitely be one the team looks back on and regrets at the end of the season. Noah Syndergaard pitched six cromulent innings and was aided by four home runs—two by Pete Alonso, one by Amed Rosario, and one by Dominic Smith—before handing things off to the bullpen in the seventh. The good vibes ended right there, as a combination of three trustworthy relievers poured gasoline all over the game and lit the match. First, it was Gsellman who again gave up a run in his inning of work. He was followed by Jeurys Familia, who let up a run of his own in the eighth. The topper was Edwin Diaz, who was tattooed for four earned runs as he took the loss.
Thursday’s game featured a lopsided pitching matchup, with Jason Vargas going for the Mets against National League ERA leader Hyun-Jin Ryu. Vargas unexpectedly held his own and turned in the best pitching performance of the series for New York, pitching a season-best seven innings while limiting the dynamic Dodgers’ offense to one earned run over seven. Predictably, the Mets’ lineup was unable to score and turned in just four hits en route to a 2-0 loss.
After owning the best bullpen ERA for the month of May coming into this final series for the month, the Mets’ relievers had a particularly rough run in Los Angeles. In total, the bullpen was charged with 15 runs on in 9.1 innings (14.46 ERA) while allowing a staggering 25 hits and striking out only five batters. Bashlor, Zamora, and Diaz each allowed at least three runs over one-third of an inning at some point during the series, while Gsellman allowed a run in each of his two outings.
One person who did not have a bad series was first baseman and Rookie of the Year candidate Alonso. Polar Bear Pete set a team rookie record for his tenth home run in a calendar month—he hit nine in April, which put him in a tie for that record—and also equaled Mark McGwire’s feat of hitting 19 home runs before the month of June. If Alonso continues this pace, he has a legitimate shot of challenging the franchise record of 41 home runs in a season, which was accomplished by Todd Hundley in 1996 and Carlos Beltran in 2006. In total, Alonso went 7-for-16 with three home runs and now owns an .898 OPS, a .372 ISO, and a 132 wRC+ in 94 May at-bats.
Adeiny Hechavarria has also gotten off to a better-than-expected start with his new club and has received far more playing time than originally anticipated after Robinson Cano landed on the Injured List with a quad injury. Although he went hitless in Thursday’s loss, he picked up three hits on Monday night and two more on Wednesday. So far, the 30-year-old middle infielder is slashing .234/.280/.489 with a 103 wRC+ in 50 plate appearances with the Mets.
The Mets are catching Arizona at an opportune time, as the Diamondbacks return home after being swept by the Colorado Rockies over the last four games. Aside from Tuesday night’s loss, each game was decided by one run, with Colorado walking off on Thursday afternoon thanks to a Daniel Murphy single in the tenth inning. Prior to the sweep, the Diamondbacks took care of business against the lowly San Francisco Giants, winning all three games against their divisional counterpart while outscoring them by a 34-8 margin.
The Mets will miss seeing old friend Wilmer Flores this series, as Walk Off Wilmer suffered a fractured right food earlier this month and likely will not return to action until the end of June at the earliest. Prior to the injury, Flores was slashing .281/.326/.398 with two home runs and a 90 wRC+ as an everyday starter for the Diamondbacks. The Mets will also miss seeing outfielder David Peralta, who was off to a tremendous start this season. The 31-year-old owns a .309/.357/.524 slash line with a 126 wRC+ in 46 games for the Diamondbacks. Peralta, who suffered a right shoulder injury, is eligible to come off the Injured List on Saturday but has yet to begin baseball activities.
Two players the Mets will see and try to contain over the next three days are second baseman Ketel Marte and third baseman Eduardo Escobar, both of whom are excelling through the first two months of the season for the Diamondbacks. The 25-year-old Marte is currently posting career-bests in wRC+ (118), batting average (.279), ISO (.243), and OPS (.856) and is only two home runs behind his career high of 14, which he set last season. The veteran Escobar is hitting .286/.347/.558 with 14 home runs and a career-high 132 wRC+ through 56 games this season.
Friday, May 31: Zack Wheeler vs. Jon Duplantier, 9:40 p.m. on SNY
Wheeler (2019): 70.0 IP, 78 K, 24 BB, 7 HR, 4.63 ERA, 3.24 FIP, 1.31 WHIP
Wheeler gave up three runs in the first three innings of his last start, but held the Detroit Tigers off the board for the final 4.1 innings of work to earn his fourth win of the season. He pitched into the eighth inning for the first time in 2019 and needed only 102 pitches to do so. He struck out eighth while holding Detroit to five hits on one walk. Wheeler, who celebrated his 29th birthday yesterday, has a 4.19 ERA and a 2.87 FIP in 24.1 innings in the month of May.
Duplantier (2019): 12.0 IP, 12 K, 5 BB, 0 HR, 2.25 ERA, 3.40 FIP, 1.08 WHIP
Duplantier will make his first career start in place of an injured Luke Weaver, who landed on the Injured List on May 27. The 24-year-old entered the season as Arizona’s second-ranked prospect, and the number 67 prospect overall according to MLB Pipeline. Duplantier has made five relief appearances so far this season, pitching to a 2.25 ERA and a 3.40 FIP in those 12 innings. After four scoreless outings to begin his major league career, the right-hander allowed three earned runs on four hits over three innings his last time out.
Saturday, June 1: Jacob deGrom vs. Zack Greinke, 10:10 p.m. on SNY
deGrom (2019): 63.0 IP, 77 K, 18 BB, 9 HR, 3.71 ERA, 3.55 FIP, 1.18 WHIP
deGrom labored through five innings against the best offense in the National League, in a start that was reminiscent of his Game 5 outing in the NLDS back in 2015. He was without his best stuff but he plodded through, and the end result was two earned runs on seven hits over five innings. He struck out a season-low two batters while walking one, but he left with a lead against Kershaw before the bullpen imploded and promptly blew the game. He has now given up two earned runs or less in five of his six May appearances after allowing three earned runs or more in his last three April outings.
Greinke (2019): 77.2 IP, 73 K, 11 BB, 10 HR, 2.78 ERA, 3.36 FIP, 0.88 WHIP
After struggling in his first season with the Diamondbacks in 2016 following a near-Cy Young year in 2015, Greinke has quietly regained his ace form and has been just about everything Arizona could have hoped for over these past three years. Heading into this start, he owns the fifth-best ERA among qualified National League starters, and he’s been even better since his fourth start of 2019. After allowing seven runs, four runs, and three runs in his first three starts, he has only given up three runs twice while allowing two earned runs or less in seven outings. Since April 14, he owns a 1.61 ERA and a 2.71 FIP in 61.1 innings with opposing batters posting a .485 OPS against him. In his last start, he went six innings and allowed one earned run on four hits with six strikeouts against the Rockies.
Sunday, June 2: Steven Matz vs. Merrill Kelly, 4:10 p.m. on SNY
Matz (2019): 50.2 IP, 51 K, 16 BB, 10 HR, 3.55 ERA, 4.70 FIP, 1.34 WHIP
Matz has mostly flown under the radar this year and been overshadowed by concerns over the rest of the team’s starting pitchers, but he currently owns the best ERA on the staff. Since his Philadelphia implosion, he’s allowed 11 earned runs over 34.1 innings (2.88 ERA), although he did miss about three starts in between after landing on the Injured List. His last outing might have been his best of the season, as he held an offensively-potent Dodgers club to just two earned runs on four hits over six innings of work. The lone blemish against him was a Cody Bellinger two-run home run, but he was otherwise very efficient and needed only 93 pitches to to earn his fourth win of the season.
Kelly (2019): 53.2 IP, 54 K, 22 BB, 5 HR, 2.68 ERA, 3.84 FIP, 1.30 WHIP
It’s been a long road for Kelly to make it to the major leagues. After being drafted in 2007 by the Baltimore Orioles (37th round), in 2000 by the Cleveland Indians (22nd round), and in 2010 by the Tampa Bay Rays (8th round), he never made it to the show after spending five years in the Rays’ system. Since then, he played three seasons in the Korea Baseball Organization before getting a call from the Diamondbacks in December 2018. He finally got the nod on April 1 and won his first career start, pitching six innings of three-run ball in the victory. He has struggled a bit in May and has allowed four earned runs in each of his last two starts. In his last outing against the Rockies, he lasted 6.2 innings and gave up six hits while striking out five in defeat.
Prediction: The Mets pull off a much-needed series win by taking two out of three against the Diamondbacks.
How will the Mets fare in their three game series against the Diamondbacks?
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The Mets pull off a sweep to return home over .500
The Mets take two out of three to finish off their west coast trip on a high note
The Mets steal one but drop another series out west
The Mets are snakebit as they suffer a sweep at the hands of the Diamondbacks