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Mets welcome Cardinals to Citi Field for four-game series

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The Mets own a 5-5 June record as they enter play today.

MLB: Game Two-New York Mets at New York Yankees Andy Marlin-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Mets (33-34) will look to climb above the .500 mark as they take on the struggling St. Louis Cardinals (33-33) at Citi Field. Earlier this season, the Mets traveled to Busch Stadium and dropped the final two games of their weekend series after winning the Friday night opener.

In between a Monday off-day (rain out) and a Wednesday off-day (scheduled), the Mets played a Subway Series doubleheader with the cross-town rival New York Yankees. The result was a split that saw the Mets fall in the afternoon behind poor pitching and subpar defense and win in the nighttime behind solid pitching and timely hitting.

Zack Wheeler was bombarded in game one, resulting in a career-high nine runs, although some of it could be attributed to terrible defense behind him. After taking a three-run lead on a Jeff McNeil home run, the Mets crumbled in the fourth and found themselves trailing 7-4. They never recovered and end up absorbing a 12-5 defeat.

Things went significantly better in game two thanks in large part to another commendable outing from their ace, Jason Vargas. The lefty navigated past a bad third inning where he surrendered three runs, but was otherwise able to keep the Yankees in check through six. By that time, the Mets had already put together two three-run innings of their own, which started when they took a 3-0 lead on Pete Alonso’s 22nd home run of the year in the first. J.D. Davis and Carlos Gomez added homers later in the game, and the Mets cruised to a 10-4 victory.

After returning from an Injured List stint that began in late-May, McNeil has picked up right where he left off. In seven games since his return, he’s had 11 hits in 30 at-bats (.367 average) with one home run and four runs scored. In that time, he’s posted a .900 OPS and a 142 wRC+. He currently sits at 18th among National League outfielders in All Star voting. Meanwhile, his teammate and good friend Pete Alonso has cooled down a bit, although his power has not wavered. He is currently hitting .200/.333/.486 in June with three home runs and a 121 wRC+ in 35 at-bats. Alonso is fifth in All Star voting for National League first basemen, trailing Josh Bell, Freddie Freeman, Anthony Rizzo, and Max Muncy.

The Mets should be getting some reinforcements back in time for their season-defining 11-game road trip. Brandon Nimmo is currently rehabbing with in Syracuse after completing a short go-around with the St. Lucie Mets, and should be returning to the club fairly soon, barring any setbacks. Similarly, Justin Wilson pitched one scoreless inning of relief on Tuesday for the team’s Triple-A affiliate. After landing back on the Injured List, Robinson Cano went 3-for-3 in his first rehab game on Tuesday and 0-for-3 with a walk on Wednesday, although he will likely require more time than his teammates to recover from his injury after being rushed back earlier this month.

The Cardinals arrive at Citi Field as losers of five of their last eight games after getting steamrolled by the Miami Marlins 9-0 last night. Despite the loss, they still managed to take two out of three from last-place Miami after winning 4-1 on Monday night and 7-1 on Tuesday night. The series wins comes immediately after the team was swept in a three-game series by the Chicago Cubs.

St. Louis has been a fairly middle-of-the-road team this season, as evidenced by their .500 record through 66 games. On offense, they currently rank eighth in the National League in wRC+ (94) and fWAR (8.7), 10th in OPS (.729) and in runs scored (304), and 12th in ISO (.159) and in home runs (80). Those numbers have dipped considerably in June, with the team collectively hitting .218/.276/.351 with a 67 wRC+. Their pitching hasn’t been much better this month, with their starting pitchers owning a 4.36 ERA and a 4.78 FIP in June while their relievers have pitched to a 4.19 ERA and a 4.20 FIP. Despite all that, the Cardinals, like the Mets, enter the series with a 5-5 June record.

One Cardinals hitter who has not missed a beat this month is Marcell Ozuna, who is hitting .378/.410/.568 with two home runs and a 160 wRC in 39 plate appearances. He continues to lead the way with 18 home runs, a .276 ISO, and a 126 wRC in 64 games on the season while ranking second on the team with a 1.8 fWAR. The top spot belongs to Paul DeJong, who is slashing .269/.362/.475 with 10 home runs, a .207 ISO, a 123 wRC, and a 2.8 fWAR in 65 games. Old foe Yadier Molina, on the other hand, has not had the best of seasons, hitting .265/.297/.398 with four home runs, an 83 wRC+, and a 0.2 fWAR in 52 games.

Thursday, June 13: Jack Flaherty vs. Jacob deGrom, 7:10 p.m. on SNY

Flaherty (2019): 68.1 IP, 73 K, 23 BB, 12 HR, 4.08 ERA, 4.39 FIP, 1.20 WHIP

Beginning with his April 28 outing against Cincinnati Reds, Flaherty put together a seven-start stretch that saw him post a 2.88 ERA and a 3.59 FIP with opponents hitting .186 with a .568 OPS against him in 40.2 innings. That run was temporarily halted on June 8, when he lasted 3.2 innings and gave up four earned runs on five hits to the Cubs. The 23-year-old right-hander ended up fifth in the National League Rookie of the Year voting last season after he finished with a 3.34 ERA, a 3.86 FIP, and a 1.11 WHIP in 28 starts.

deGrom (2019): 75.2 IP, 94 K, 20 BB, 9 HR, 3.45 ERA, 3.12 FIP, 1.15 WHIP

It’s been deja vu for deGrom as of late, as he’s either been let down by his bullpen or his offense over his last few starts. In his June 7 outing against the Colorado Rockies, deGrom plodded through a six-inning performance in which he escaped allowing two runs on six hits. He didn’t have his best stuff but he managed to strike out 10 batters for the first time since he recorded 14 punch outs in Miami on April 3. He threw 71% of his 112 pitches for strikes and tossed a season-high 80 strikes in the defeat.

Friday, June 14: Daniel Ponce de Leon vs. Steven Matz, 7:10 p.m. on SNY

Ponce de Leon (2019): 5.0 IP, 7 K, 3 BB, 1 HR, 1.80 ERA, 4.75 FIP, 1.00 WHIP

The Cardinals will turn to Ponce de Leon (no, not the Spanish explorer) to start in place of Adam Wainwright, who landed on the Injured List with a hamstring strain after being removed from his last start. The 27-year-old former ninth round draft pick made one start earlier this season on April 23 and pitched relatively well. He struck out seven and walked three while allowing two hits. The lone run he surrendered came on an Orlando Arcia home run to lead off the fifth inning. Ponce de Leon made his major league debut last season and pitched well in limited action with the big league club. In 33 innings, he posted a 2.73 ERA, a 3.34 FIP, and a 1.12 WHIP with 31 strikeouts and 13 walks. In Triple-A this year, he owns a 3.90 ERA in 55.1 innings.

Matz (2019): 62.2 IP, 66 K, 20 BB, 12 HR, 3.88 ERA, 4.63 FIP, 1.37 WHIP

Matz bounced back from a rough outing in Arizona and picked up his fifth win of the year against the Rockies on June 8. Against a hot lineup that included some tough right-handed bats, Matz went six innings while allowing three runs (two earned) on six hits. Like deGrom, he struck out 10 batters in his outing, which was a season high for the left-hander. Matz has now gone exactly six innings in each of his last four starts after lasting just 3.2 innings in his first start back from his injury on May 18. The Cardinals have not been kind to Matz in his career, as the 28-year-old owns an 8.49 ERA in three starts against them.

Saturday, June 15: Michael Wacha vs. Noah Syndergaard, 7:10 p.m. on WPIX

Wacha (2019): 56.0 IP, 52 K, 34 BB, 12 HR, 5.63 ERA, 5.90 FIP, 1.71 WHIP

Wacha is laboring through the worst start of his seven-year career at he heads into his Saturday start. His 5.63 ERA, 5.90 FIP, 1.71 WHIP, and 1.9 HR/9 would all be the worst numbers in his career if they were to hold up through the end of the season. He has already allowed more home runs (12) than he did in 2018 and is just two walks behind last year in 28 fewer innings. His 1.71 WHIP is the worst among National League starting pitchers with at least 50 innings, while his 13.2% walk rate and his 5.30 BB/9 is the second-worst in the league. He is coming off his best start of 2019, however, as he defeated the Marlins on June 10 with six shutout innings while scattering five hits and two walks.

Syndergaard (2019): 89.0 IP, 88 K, 22 BB, 10 HR, 4.45 ERA, 3.47 FIP, 1.20 WHIP

Syndergaard is uncertain to make this start after it was announced on Tuesday that he is dealing with strep throat, but as of now the club is proceeding as if he will be ready to go. If he does start, it will be interesting to see which Syndergaard shows up. In his last start against the Rockies, Thor surrendered one hit in the second inning and struck out seven in seven stellar innings to even his record at 4-4. Prior to that, he gave up 12 earned runs in 18 innings over three starts. Before that, he gave up four runs in 15 innings in two starts. It’s been that sort of see-saw season for Syndergaard in 2019, but the club is hoping the see-saw is tipping permanently towards the dominant side rather than the inconsistent side.

Sunday, June 16: Dakota Hudson vs. Jason Vargas, 1:10 p.m. on WPIX

Hudson (2019): 72.2 IP, 51 K, 33 BB, 9 HR, 3.47 ERA, 4.80 FIP, 1.50 WHIP

Hudson—a first-round pick in the 2016 MLB draft—debuted for the Cardinals last season and made 26 relief appearances while posting a 2.63 ERA and 3.86 FIP in 27.1 innings. This year, he’s primarily been a starting pitcher aside from one relief outing earlier in April. He’s been especially effective since giving up eight runs (two earned) and picking up the loss in a May 7 start against the Philadelphia Phillies. In six subsequent starts, he’s pitching to a 2.39 ERA and a 3.33 FIP in 37.2 innings. He’s currently in his best stretch of 2019, allowing one earned run in each of his last three starts.

Vargas (2019): 51.1 IP, 40 K, 21 BB, 5 HR, 3.68 ERA, 4.15 FIP, 1.36 WHIP

Coming off a complete-gate, five-hit shutout against the San Francisco Giants on June 5, Vargas may have had his most impressive start of 2019 at Yankee Stadium on June 11. After his team had already lost Game 1, the lefty toed the rubber against a tough offensive team in a hitter’s ballpark and earned his third straight quality start. He only really ran into trouble in the third but limited the damage to three runs after the Yankees had already pushed a run across and had the bases loaded with no outs. Vargas was charged with three earned runs on seven hits over six innings as he picked up his second consecutive victory.

Prediction: The Mets win three out of four against the Cardinals at Citi Field.

Poll

How will the Mets fare in their four game series against the Cardinals?

This poll is closed

  • 15%
    Mets sweep the Cardinals? You betcha!
    (27 votes)
  • 40%
    Three out of four ain’t bad as the Mets roll over St. Louis
    (73 votes)
  • 27%
    It’s a split, with both teams winning a pair at Citi Field.
    (50 votes)
  • 3%
    The Mets steal a game but otherwise suffer a disappointing series loss.
    (7 votes)
  • 3%
    The Mets are left seeing red as they’re swept by St. Louis.
    (7 votes)
  • 8%
    Pizza! (One more slice for the road)
    (15 votes)
179 votes total Vote Now