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Mets make rare trip to Minnesota for two-game set with Twins

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The Mets will try to build off their first road series win since April.

MLB: Texas Rangers at Minnesota Twins David Berding-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Mets (42-51) continue their road trip with a pair of Interleague games against the first-place Minnesota Twins (58-34). This will be the Mets’ second ever trip to Target Field, where have yet to lose a game after sweeping the Twins on their home turf back in 2013. Earlier this season, the two teams split a pair at Citi Field, with the Twins ending Jacob deGrom’s impressive quality start streak in the opening game.

The Mets are coming off their first road series win since April 1-3 after defeating the Miami Marlins in the final two games of their series. Things got off to a suboptimal start on Friday, as Jason Vargas turned back into a pumpkin—at least for one evening. New York actually jumped ahead in the third on a two-run single by Wilson Ramos, but everything fell apart in the bottom half of the frame as Vargas allowed four runs to score. Even with Todd Frazier adding a stats-padding two-run home run in the ninth, the club could only muster five hits in the 8-4 defeat.

Noah Syndergaard continued his run of excellence against the Marlins on Saturday as he manhandled them through seven strong innings. At one point, Syndergaard had struck out five batters in a row and retired the final 11 hitters he faced after relinquishing the two-run lead in the fourth. The Mets benefited from a two-run home run by Michael Conforto early in the game and a two-run home run from Robinson Cano late in the game, resulting in a 4-2 victory.

The Mets cruised to a 6-2 win on Sunday despite an uneven performance from Jacob deGrom. While he only allowed one run over five innings, he labored through much of his afternoon and was removed for a pinch hitter after an unusually-high 94 pitches in five frames. His offense lifted him up for once, as they took advantage of a poor defensive effort from the last-place Marlins and a subpar pitching performance from 23-year-old hurler Sandy Alcantara to give their ace his fifth win of the 2019 season. Jeff McNeil led the game off with a home run, and Cano added his second home run in as many days after not hitting one since June 17.

Cano had a big series for his club, belting home runs in back-to-back games after hitting just four through the first 90 games of the season. While the overall stats may not necessarily reflect it yet, Cano has actually been on somewhat of an offensive tear since June 25. In his last 14 games, Cano is slashing .358/.393/.509 with a 140 wRC+ in 56 plate appearances. It will be worth watching Cano in the second half to see if he can continue his recent resurgence, especially now that he appears to have fully recovered from his early-season injuries.

After winning the Home Run Derby and driving in two runs in the All Star Game, Pete Alonso had a letdown series in Miami. Alonso—who tied a franchise record with 30 first-half home runs—failed to knock one out of the park over the weekend while collecting just one single over his ten at-bats. He walked twice, was hit by a pitch, and drove in a run on a sacrifice fly in his final plate appearance on Sunday, but otherwise struggled. At times, he looked over-matched at the plate as he struck out seven times. Earlier this season, Alonso did manage to hit two home runs over the two games against the Twins at Citi Field.

Minnesota enters this series with a six-and-a-half game cushion in the American League Central after taking two out of three at Progressive Field against the Cleveland Indians. The Twins have held sole possession of the division lead since April 27 and have been up by as much as eleven-and-a-half games on the Indians this season. Prior to the break, the Twins took two out of three against the Texas Rangers.

The Twins have been powered by their offense, which is on pace to shatter the all-time home run record for a single season. The team has currently clubbed 171 home runs, nine more than the Seattle Mariners have hit so far. As a result, their offense leads the league with a .495 slugging percentage and a .224 ISO, to go along with their 115 wRC+. The 2018 New York Yankees hold the record for most home runs in a single season with 265, while the Twins are currently on pace to become the first team to belt 300 long balls in a season.

Minnesota has received offensive contributions from up and down their lineup, which is a big reason for their success. The Twins are currently the only team in baseball with ten players who’ve hit at least ten home runs in 2019. To date, Jason Castro, C.J. Cron, Jonathan Schoop, Jorge Polanco, Miguel Sano, Eddie Rosario, Max Kepler, Nelson Cruz, Marwin Gonzalez, and Mitch Garver have each reached double digits in home runs this season.

In addition to leading the team with 23 home runs, Kepler has also been one of their all-around best hitters this year. To date, he is slashing .263/.334/.530 with 58 runs scored, a 123 wRC+, and a 3.0 fWAR. Polanco, meanwhile, leads the club with a 128 wRC+ and a 3.1 fWAR while posting a .311/.367/.508 slash line in a team-high 88 games. Prior to landing on the injured list, Rosario was also putting together a solid season of his own. In 75 games, Rosario was hitting .282/.312/.529 with 20 home runs, a 116 wRC+, and a 1.2 fWAR.

Tuesday, July 16: Steven Matz vs. Michael Pineda, 8:10 p.m. on SNY

Matz (2019): 81.0 IP, 78 K, 29 BB, 18 HR, 4.89 ERA, 5.40 FIP, 1.48 WHIP

Matz will jump back into the rotation make his first start since June 29. His last two outings came out of the bullpen, which is as much a product of the team’s inconsistent schedule and the All Star break as it is about his recent struggles. His two relief outings went relatively well, as he picked up his first hold in the July 6 victory and retired the one batter he faced against the Yankees on July 3. His last start saw him go only two innings thanks to an hour-plus rain delay, but in that outing he allowed two more first inning runs. His last full outing was a nightmare, as he was tattooed for seven earned runs on 10 hits—including three more home runs—over 4.1 innings. Matz has the fourth-worst HR/9 (2.00) among all pitchers with at least 80 innings pitched, which could spell trouble against the home run-happy Twins.

Pineda (2019): 92.2 IP, 84 K, 16 BB, 16 HR, 4.56 ERA, 4.29 FIP, 1.189 WHIP

Pineda is looking to turn a corner in his first year in Minnesota after getting derailed by injuries during his tenure with the Yankees. Although he missed about two weeks with tendinitis in his knee, he has already matched the number of starts he made in 2017. After missing all of 2018, he has had an up-and-down year with the Twins, although he is coming off his two best starts of 2019. On July 6, he held the Rangers to one earned run on five hits with a season-high nine strikeouts in six innings as he picked up his sixth win of the season. Prior to that, he limited the Chicago White Sox to one earned run on four hits with eight strikeouts over six innings in the win.

Wednesday, July 17: TBD vs. Martin Perez, 1:10 p.m. on SNY

TBD

Zack Wheeler was originally slated to make the start on Tuesday, with Matz toeing the rubber on Wednesday. Those plans were derailed when the club announced that Wheeler was heading to the injured list with shoulder fatigue. The team has not yet announced a starter for Wednesday afternoon’s game.

Perez (2019): 95.0 IP, 85 K, 40 BB, 7 HR, 4.26 ERA, 3.70 FIP, 1.37 WHIP

After pitching to a 4.63 ERA and a 4.44 FIP in seven seasons with the Rangers, Perez is pitching to slightly better numbers in his first season in Minnesota. The 28-year-old has been unable to post a season as good as his 2013 rookie campaign, when he finished sixth in the American League Rookie of the Year voting, but has been mostly solid for the Twins this season. In his last start, he earned his eighth win of 2019 by pitching six innings while allowing four earned runs on seven hits with three strikeouts and two walks. While it wasn’t his best effort, his offense backed him up with 15 wins to get him the victory. While he did not start against the Mets earlier in the year, he did come out of the bullpen in the April 10 loss and allowed three earned runs on three hits with four strikeouts while pitching the sixth and seventh.

Prediction: Like they did at Citi Field in April, the Mets and Twins will split a pair.

Poll

How will the Mets fare in their two game series against the Twins?

This poll is closed

  • 11%
    The Mets charge into Minnesota and sweep the Twins!
    (13 votes)
  • 24%
    The two clubs replicate their April series with another split.
    (28 votes)
  • 59%
    The Mets are thumped by the Twins in a two-game sweep.
    (67 votes)
  • 4%
    Pizza!
    (5 votes)
113 votes total Vote Now