Following an eventful All Star break for first baseman Pete Alonso, the New York Mets (40-50) resume their regular baseball schedule against the Miami Marlins (33-55). The Marlins are the only team in the National League with a worse record than the Mets at the start of play on Friday. New York’s season hit its first significant snag the last time they traveled to Miami, as they were swept in a pitiful three-game showing by the last-place Marlins. Prior to that, the team had won their previous five games this season against Miami.
The Mets concluded their first half by losing two out of three games to the Philadelphia Phillies last weekend at Citi Field. The Mets benefited from two run-scoring hits off the bat of Alonso in the Friday night contest, including his 29th home run of the season. However, the tying run was allowed to score in the seventh despite the fact that the runner, very clearly, was gunned down at home by Todd Frazier. With no review left after losing a challenge earlier in the game, the run stood and the game was tied at two. Edwin Diaz imploded in the ninth, and Jeurys Familia exacerbated the issue as five runs ended up scoring, which resulted in a 7-2 defeat.
The club responded on Saturday with a much-needed 6-5 win thanks to Tomas Nido’s bases-clearing double in the fifth inning off Jake Arrieta. There were some in-game fireworks prior to the post-game Stranger Things-themed fireworks, as Todd Frazier was hit by a pitch for the second consecutive night and let his frustrations be known. When umpires warned both benches, Frazier was ejected while arguing the fact, and Mickey Callaway was ejected two batters later after Amed Rosario was clipped by an Arrieta changeup, with Mickey not-so-nicely making the case that the Phillies’ hurler should have been tossed. In the end, the right-hander remaining in the game ended up working in New York’s favor, as he surrendered the game-deciding hit to the Mets’ back-up catcher. The bullpen somehow managed to hold a lead for four innings, leading to the victory.
The team slept walked through their Sunday first-half finale and, for a time, appeared destined to be no-hit by Phillies’ starter Aaron Nola. Things got off to an inauspicious start when Zack Wheeler coughed up four runs before most fans had found their seat, though he settled down for the next four innings. In the sixth, former Mets outfielder and current Mets killer Jay Bruce poured salt in the team’s wounds by connecting on a two-run home run to make it a six-run deficit. The offense finally ended Nola’s bid for a no-no, as Alonso connected on a two-run home run for the 30th long ball of his historic first half. However, it was too little, too late for the Mets, who fell 8-3, as Bruce added his second home run later in the loss.
The Mets sent three players to Cleveland earlier this week for the All Star Game, with Alonso making the headlines in his first trip to baseball’s mid-summer classic. In his first major league season, Alonso defeated fellow rookie sensation Vladimir Guerrero Jr. of the Toronto Blue Jays in a fascinating and entertaining Home Run Derby on Monday night that featured an incredible back-and-forth semi-finals round between Guerrero Jr. and the Los Angeles Dodgers’ outfielder Joc Pederson. In the end, Alonso set a derby record by hitting 23 home runs in the finals, eclipsing Guerrero Jr’s record, which was set four minutes prior to Alonso’s final round.
Then, on Tuesday night, Alonso again proved that he belonged with the big boys of baseball, driving in two runs on a single that shot right past New York Yankees’ shortstop Gleyber Torres in the eighth. Much like with his regular team, the contribution was far from enough to guide the National League All Stars to victory, as they fell 4-3 and dropped a seventh consecutive contest to the American League. In the loss, Jacob deGrom pitched a scintillating 1-2-3 third inning while needing only seven pitches to escape the top of his opponent’s lineup. He retired George Springer on a strikeout before setting down DJ LeMahieu on a first-pitch ground ball and getting Los Angeles Angels’ slugger Mike Trout to pop up to end the inning. Jeff McNeil entered later in the game to play left field and did not record a hit in his lone plate appearance. Even in a lost season, it continues to be a genuine joy watching these three play.
The Marlins dropped two out of three at SunTrust Park to the first-place Atlanta Braves prior to the All Star break. Before that, they were swept by the Washington Nationals in our nation’s capital. It has been an unsurprisingly rough season for Miami, who have the fifth-worst record in Major League Baseball entering Friday’s series.
A big reason for their struggles has been their offensive ineptitude. They enter play tonight with the worst team wRC+ (76), team ISO (.118), and team OPS (.655) in all of baseball, while scoring fewer runs (312) than every team except the Detroit Tigers (311). Their lone offensive bright spot this season has been 28-year-old first baseman Garrett Cooper, who is slashing .306/.375/.473 with eight home runs and a team-leading 128 wRC+ in 51 games. Third baseman Brian Anderson has also contributed positively for his club, posting a .251/.336/.421 slash line with a team-leading 11 home runs and a 104 wRC+ in 87 games.
On the down side, former Mets’ fan favorite Curtis Granderson has really struggled in Miami this season. The 16-year veteran is hitting .189/.272/.358 with seven home runs and a 68 wRC+ with a team-worst 1.1 fWAR in 76 games. Fellow former Met Neil Walker has put up a .266/.345/.402 slash line with five home runs and a 104 wRC+ in 63 games. He missed most of the month of June after suffering a right quad strain in late May.
Friday, July 12: Jason Vargas vs. Caleb Smith, 7:10 p.m. on SNY
Vargas (2019): 71.2 IP, 63 K, 30 BB, 9 HR, 3.77 ERA, 4.37 FIP, 1.31 WHIP
It’s hard to believe that Vargas was the team’s second-best starting pitcher through their first 90 games, setting him up to be one of their most intriguing trade pieces at the deadline. It’s almost unfathomable that anybody would’ve wanted him heading into this year—the final season of his two-year contract—but after posting a sub-four ERA, he could be a serviceable rotation piece for a team looking for rotation depth as they contend for a postseason berth. He took the loss in his last start before the All Star game against the Yankees at Citi Field, as he lasted 5.1 innings and allowed three earned runs on seven hits with six strikeouts and two walks. He allowed two runs right away in the first, but settled down through the fifth inning. On his 100th and final pitch of the evening, he served up a solo home run to Didi Gregorius.
Smith (2019): 72.0 IP, 88 K, 21 BB, 15 HR, 3.50 ERA, 4.38 FIP, 1.01 WHIP
After one start in June, Smith landed on the Injured List with left hip inflammation, and missed exactly one month. He returned in time to make one final start prior to the All Star break on July 6, and pitched well enough to earn a victory against the Braves. He allowed four runs (three earned) on five hits with six strikeouts over six innings. He had hit a bit of a rough patch prior to landing on the shelf, allowing 11 earned runs in 13 innings over his three starts prior to the injury, which increased his ERA from 2.38 to 3.41. Smith faced the Mets on April 1 and limited them to two earned runs over five innings.
Saturday, July 13: Noah Syndergaard vs. Zac Gallen, 6:10 p.m. on WPIX
Syndergaard (2019): 105.2 IP, 101 K, 30 BB, 14 HR, 4.68 ERA, 3.98 FIP, 1.28 WHIP
Syndergaard continues to be an enigma for the Mets. He has all the talent in the world but has plodded through a subpar season. He’s been healthier than he’s been in quite some time but is having his worst year in the majors. Despite all that, there appears to be no shortage of teams lining up to inquire about what it would cost to pick up the hard-throwing right-hander at the trade deadline. It remains to be seen whether any of those clubs are willing to meet the team’s high asking price, but there is a possibility that his days as a Met could be numbered. In his last start, he went five innings and was charged with four earned runs in seven hits, with a season-low three strikeouts to go along with three walks. Thanks to Nido’s well-timed hit, he was able to pick up his sixth win of the season.
Gallen (2019): 12.0 IP, 16 K, 5 BB, 1 HR, 4.50 ERA, 2.87 FIP, 1.42 WHIP
The Mets will get their first look at 23-year-old Gallen, who originally hails from Gibbsboro New Jersey. The right-hander was called up in June and has made three starts so far in his big league career. In his debut, he held the St. Louis Cardinals to one earned run on five hits with six strikeouts. He endured his first loss on June 26 against the Nationals, allowing three earned runs on five hits with a career-best eight strikeouts. He was only able to make it through two innings in his third start—also against the Nationals—although a 76-minute rain delay was really to blame. In the effort, he surrendered two earned runs on three hits with two strikeouts and one walk.
Sunday, July 14: Jacob deGrom vs. Sandy Alcantara, 1:10 p.m. on SNY
deGrom (2019): 110.0 IP, 138 K, 25 BB, 14 HR, 3.27 ERA, 3.14 FIP, 1.09 WHIP
deGrom impressed in Cleveland on Tuesday night, as he made quick work of the three batters he faced in the bottom of the third inning. He needed only seven pitches to coast through his All Star Game appearance. It was deGrom’s second consecutive year in the exhibition game, and the third time in his career. While deGrom has not been able to match his Cy Young-wrthy statistics from last season, he has still been a top-five pitcher int he National League this season. Against the Phillies last Friday, he went seven innings and gave up two earned runs on three hits with 10 strikeouts and three walks, although he once again failed to pick up a win before the offense lost it in the ninth.
Alcantara (2019): 101.1 IP, 70 K, 47 BB, 10 HR, 3.82 ERA, 4.61 FIP, 1.40 WHIP
The Mets will face Miami’s lone All Star in the series finale. Like deGrom, Alcantara tossed a scoreless inning. He entered in the eighth inning and worked around a hit while striking out a batter and inducing a double-play. In his final start before the break, Alcantara tossed 5.2 innings against the Nationals and took the loss after allowing two earned runs on four hits with four walks and five strikeouts. His final start of June was a clunker, as he gave up six earned runs on seven hits with just one strikeout over six innings. Alcantara was masterful in Miami against the Mets on May 19 to help his squad finish off the sweep. The right-hander tossed a complete game, two-hit shutout and struck out a season-high eight batters, all while needed just 89 pitches to pick up the victory. In his previous start against the Mets one week prior to that gem, he allowed four earned runs on eight hits over 5.2 innings and ended up taking the loss.
Prediction: The Mets take advantage of a floundering Miami team and win two out of three.
How will the Mets fare in their three game series against the Marlins?
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The Mets shoot out of the gate with a sweep!
The Mets enact a small level of revenge by taking two of three.
The Mets steal a win but lose their second straight series in Miami
The Mets’ woes continue as they’re swept again by the lowly Marlins.