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First installment of 2019 Subway Series begins with Mets visiting Yankee Stadium

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The Mets are coming off back-to-back series victories at Citi Field.

New York Yankees v New York Mets Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images

It’s everybody’s favorite time of the year (/sarcasm), as the Subway Series begins tonight at Yankee Stadium—weather permitting, of course—with a pair of games that pit the New York Mets (31-32) against the New York Yankees (40-24). The Mets have routinely served as the Yankees’ punching bag since Subway Series play began in 1997, winning just 49 while dropping 69 regular season games against their cross-town rivals. The Mets and Yankees split their six games last season, with the road team taking two out of three in each series.

Much like their series against the San Francisco Giants, the Mets dropped the opener to the visiting Colorado Rockies before rebounding to snag the middle game and the rubber game. Tuesday night felt like a 2018 redux, with Jacob deGrom pitching well and getting no support from his offense. Save for a Michael Conforto solo home run, the Mets’ bats were silent. Meanwhile, deGrom labored through six but escaped allowing just two earned runs while striking out 10 batters. Tempers flared in the eighth when Drew Gagnon unintentionally hit Ian Desmond with a pitch after he had already allowed three runs, which resulted in both benches clearing (but no punches being thrown). Hoopla aside, the game ended with the home team on the losing side of the 5-1 score.

The Mets bounced back with a 5-3 win on Saturday night thanks to a gutsy performance by Steven Matz, who struck out ten in six innings while throwing a career-high 120 pitches. Carlos Gomez hit a two-run home run in the second, and Pete Alonso added his 21st homer in the seventh as New York evened the series. The Mets cruised to victory on Sunday behind Noah Syndergaard, who allowed one hit while striking out seven over seven strong innings. Todd Frazier hit a three-run home run in the first, which set a new franchise record with 16 consecutive home games with a long ball. Frazier added a run-scoring double later in the game to continue his torrid pace as the Mets won 6-1.

With Sunday’s victory, the Mets completed their homestand with a 4-2 record to climb to within one game of the .500 mark. The starting pitchers had a particularly impressive six games, posting a 2.16 ERA (10 earned runs in 41.2 innings) on 26 hits while striking out 45 batters. In two starts during last week, Syndergaard was charged with three earned runs on six hits with 11 strikeouts in 13.2 innings.

Frazier continues to be the Mets’ hottest hitter as of late. In eight June games, Frazier is slashing .333/.467/.750 with a team-high three home runs and a 218 wRC+. Conforto has also begun to turn things around after some offensive struggles following his return from the Injured List. The 26-year-old has posted a .267/.324/.500 slash line in eight June games. In 30 at-bats, he’s hit two home runs and a double with a 117 wRC+ during the month. Meanwhile, Alonso is hitting .214/.333/.464 with a 118 wRC+ in 28 at-bats this month. His two home runs have now put him just five away from tying Darryl Strawberry’s club rookie record, and he’s just four home runs behind Cody Bellinger’s record for home runs by a rookie before the All Star game.

The Yankees, meanwhile, have endured what can best be described as a Met-like amount of injuries in 2019, yet they have persevered and find themselves tied with the Tampa Bay Rays for first place in their division at the start of the Subway Series. They’ve hit their first minor rough patch in some time over the last week, as they’re coming off back-to-back series losses to the Toronto Blue Jays and, most recently, the Cleveland Indians. In both instances, the Yankees dropped the first two games before salvaging the finale. Prior to that, the Yankees had won 21 of their previous 28 games dating back to May 3.

The Yankees are still without Giancarlo Stanton, Aaron Judge, Dellin Betances, Luis Severino, Miguel Andujar, and Greg Bird—among others—and just placed Domingo German on the Injured List on Sunday. German was leading the American League in wins with nine while pitching to a 3.86 ERA and 4.03 FIP before suffering his injury. The Yankees have slowly been getting some of their pieces back throughout the season, most recently reinstating Didi Gregorius to the active roster. Gregorius picked up right where he left off before undergoing Tommy John Surgery last year, contributing four hits—including a home run—in two games in Cleveland.

In their place, the Yankees were getting help from a number of role players, including Gio Urshela. The Yankees picked him up last August in a trade with the Blue Jays for cash considerations, and he has responded by becoming a key member of the Yankees’ lineup. In place of an injured Andujar, all Urshela has done is hit .309/.366/.448 with a 117 wRC+ and a 1.0 fWAR in 54 games.

Offseason acquisition DJ LeMahieu has also ingratiated himself to his new team, hitting .321/.367/.468 with seven home runs and a 123 wRC+ in 59 games with the Yankees. Meanwhile, Gary Sanchez has been a revelation in 2019 after finishing a dreadful 2018 that saw him struggle both offensively and defensively. Sanchez is hitting .260/.333/.624 with a 147 wRC+ and a team-high 19 home runs with a 1.5 fWAR in 45 games.

Monday, June 10: Jason Vargas vs. Masahiro Tanaka, 7:10 p.m. on SNY

Vargas (2019): 45.1 IP, 37 K, 19 BB, 5 HR, 3.57 ERA, 4.27 FIP, 1.35 WHIP

Perhaps it’s no longer appropriate to sarcastically speak of Vargas’ success, because the veteran left-hander has been on a legitimate tear since his April 13 start in which he allowed four earned runs in one-third of an inning and saw his ERA balloon to 14.21. Since then, Vargas has a sterling 1.85 ERA and a 3.63 FIP in 39 innings to go along with a 21.7% strikeout rate and a 9.8% walk rate in those seven starts. His earned run average is the third best among starting pitchers since April, trailing only Hyun-Jin Ryu’s 0.96 ERA and Mike Soroka’s 1.38 ERA. His last start was easily his best since resigning with the Mets prior to the 2018 season, as he pitched a complete game shut out while scattering five hits and one walk. He also struck out a season-high eight while earning his first victory since his first start of the season.

Tanaka (2019): 76.1 IP, 67 K, 19 BB, 11 HR, 3.42 ERA, 4.09 FIP, 1.19 WHIP

Tanaka will return from paternity list after he and his wife welcomed the birth of their second child (congratulations to the Tanakas!) Prior to his brief leave from the team, Tanaka allowed four earned runs on six hits over six innings in a loss to the Blue Jays. His previous start wasn’t any better, as he took a loss while allowing five runs (four runs) on nine hits in six innings against the San Diego Padres. The right-hander had one more year left on his contract after 2019 before becoming a free agent following the 2020 season.

Tuesday, June 11: Zack Wheeler vs. James Paxton, 7:10 p.m. on SNY

Wheeler (2019): 84.0 IP, 93 K, 25 BB, 11 HR, 4.61 ERA, 3.56 FIP, 1.23 WHIP

Slowly but surely, Wheeler continues to lower his ERA, one quality start at a time. Following another seven-inning outing against the San Francisco Giants, Wheeler, has now pitched into the seventh in eight of his last ten starts. His 93 strikeouts rank just behind deGrom’s 94 punch outs for most on the team. Meanwhile, he leads the club in innings pitched and is second on the team in FIP. He always shares the team lead in wins with five, along with Matz. He completed his last outing by allowing three earned runs on three hits with six strikeouts in seven innings.

Paxton (2019): 46.1 IP, 63 K, 18 BB, 4 HR, 3.11 ERA, 2.78 FIP, 1.17 WHIP

The Yankees acquired Paxton from the Seattle Mariners in exchange for prized pitching prospect Justus Sheffield to help bolster their starting rotation. Injuries have held Paxton back a bit, but he’s still been as good as advertised when he’s been healthy. His 2.78 FIP and his 12.24 K/9 rank fourth among American League starting pitchers who’ve tossed at least 40 innings. He missed a little over three weeks in May with left knee inflammation and has made two appearances since returning from the injury. In his return, the left-hander held the Padres hitless over four innings while striking out seven. In his next outing, he allowed four runs (three earned) on four hits while walking three and striking out four.

Prediction: The Mets and Yankees each come away with a win in this installment of the Subway Series.

Poll

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

This poll is closed

  • 26%
    It’s a Subway Series sweep for the Mets!
    (44 votes)
  • 45%
    The Mets and the Yankees each win one to split the series.
    (75 votes)
  • 15%
    The Mets’ trip to the Bronx doesn’t go as planned as they’re swept.
    (25 votes)
  • 13%
    Pizza!
    (22 votes)
166 votes total Vote Now