After concluding a winning road trip with a tough series loss in San Francisco, the New York Mets (45-54) return to Citi Field for the first time since the break as they welcome the struggling San Diego Padres (47-52). Earlier this season, the Mets dropped two out of three at Petco Park in a series that featured some manufactured drama between rookies Chris Paddack and Pete Alonso.
The Mets began their nine-game road trip with four wins in five games against the Miami Marlins and the Minnesota Twins. After that step forward, the club took two giant steps back over the weekend as they dropped three out of four against the San Francisco Giants, with each loss coming in extra innings. The bullpen and starting pitching was mostly fine while the offense deserved the lion’s share of the blame after turning in three pitiful performances despite erupting for 11 runs on Saturday.
Thursday’s series opener featured a marquee pitching matchup between Noah Syndergaard and Madison Bumgarner that lived up to the hype. Both starters dominated, and the score remained tied as the game dragged on into extra. The Mets failed to score in innings two through fifteen but finally broke through in the 16th, as Alonso connected for his 32nd home run. After the bullpen provided eight stellar scoreless innings of relief, they were unable to make that run hold up. Chris Mazza, in his last appearance before being demoted back to Triple-A, gave up two runs without recording an out, resulting in a 3-2 defeat.
Friday’s game was more of the same from the offense, as the Mets once again squandered a fantastic Jacob deGrom outing. The lineup was unable to touch the Giants’ Tyler Beede, who tossed eight scoreless innings. Each team managed to pick up just three hits apiece in the game, but it was the Giants who came out on top in the tenth when Dominic Smith dropped a routine fly ball in left field, allowing the winning run to score. Smith, who is not a natural left fielder, missed the ball while trying to avoid a collision with Amed Rosario.
The offense made up for their lackluster performances on Saturday by pounding Giants’ pitchers to the tune of 11 runs and 17 hits. Smith made up for his defensive miscue by picking up three hits, including a solo home run, and driving in four runs. Alonso came off the bench and drove a three-run home run to the deepest part of Oracle Park. Jeff McNeil and Todd Frazier also hit homers, while J.D. Davis and Rosario each picked up three hits. Walker Lockett provided five fine innings to earn his first major league victory.
The good vibes lasted approximately 27 hours, as the team lost in the twelfth on Sunday to finish off a demoralizing trip to San Francisco. Michael Conforto and Rosario each hit a solo home run in the second, but they would not score again on the afternoon. Steven Matz was solid over six, but the game remained tied from the fourth inning up until the twelfth. After cleaning up Jeurys Familia’s mess in the eleventh, Robert Gsellman was left in to navigate the next inning. He was unable to replicate his escape act and promptly surrendered a one-out home run to Mike Yastrzemski.
Despite the team’s struggles, no Mets hitter has been hotter than shortstop Rosario. In nine games since the break, the 23-year-old is slashing .412/.459/.735 with two home runs, a .324 ISO, and a 212 wRC+ with a 0.6 fWAR. Conforto has also bounced back from a rough patch, posting a .297/.350/.439 slash line with two home runs and a 118 wRC+. Davis, meanwhile, is hitting .370/.414/.407 with a 128 wRC+ in seven games since the break. While Alonso leads the club with three home runs since winning the Home Run Derby, he is struggling with a .118/.244/.382 slash line and a 66 wRC+.
The Padres won on Sunday to temporarily halt their downward slide. Prior to defeating the Chicago Cubs 5-1 on Sunday, they had lost the previous two games to them after losing two of three to the Marlins. The Padres have lost seven of their last nine games, which has dropped them into a tie with the Colorado Rockies for last place in the National League West race.
The Mets will get their first look at rookie Fernando Tatis Jr., who was on the injured list the last time these two squads squared off. Tatis Jr. has had a stellar start to his highly-anticipated career, slashing .324/.388/.595 with 16 home runs, 49 runs scored, a .271 ISO, a 154 wRC+, and a 3.3 fWAR in 64 games. In addition to the 20-year-old star-in-the-making, the Padres are led by Manny Machado, whom the Mets expressed little-to-no interest in signing over the offseason. In 96 games, the 27-year-old infielder is hitting .268/.337/.511 with 25 home runs, 57 runs scored, a .243 ISO, a 119 wRC+, and a 2.4 fWAR. Outfielder Hunter Renfroe, meanwhile, leads the club with 28 home runs and a .341 ISO while posting a .247/.308/.588 slash line and a 125 wRC+ with a 2.3 fWAR.
Tuesday, July 23: Chris Paddack vs. Jason Vargas, 7:10 p.m. on SNY
Paddack (2019): 90.0 IP, 95 K, 19 BB, 13 HR, 2.70 ERA, 3.75 FIP, 0.87 WHIP
Tatis Jr. isn’t the only rookie excelling for the Padres, as Paddack has made a name for himself in his first major league season. Mets fans were first made aware of Paddack when the 23-year-old pitcher expressed some misguided frustration about Alonso winning Rookie of the Month in April. He followed that up by holding the Mets to four hits over 7.2 scoreless innings to earn his third victory. He struck out a career-high 11 in that game, which included fanning Alonso twice. After a bit of a rough run towards the end of May and beginning of June, he’s gotten back on track as of late. In his last start against the Marlins, he flirted with a no-hitter and was just six outs away before Starlin Castro crushed his dreams by leading off the eighth with a solo home run.
Vargas (2019): 82.2 IP, 68 K, 32 BB, 13 HR, 4.25 ERA, 4.82 FIP, 1.28 WHIP
Vargas benefited from an offensive eruption to pick up his fourth win of 2019 in his last start. That’s not to say Vargas didn’t deserve the victory, as he provided six quality innings while holding the tough Twins’ lineup to three runs. While he surrendered two home runs, he was able to limit the damage and keep them to solo shots. Since returning from the injured list to start on May 25, Vargas has posted a 3.55 ERA and a 4.39 FIP with a 1.17 WHIP in 58.1 innings pitched. In that time, he has a 20.1% strikeout rate and an 8.4% walk rate.
Wednesday, July 24: Dinelson Lamet vs. Noah Syndergaard, 7:10 p.m. on SNY
Lamet (2019): 14.0 IP, 19 K, 6 BB, 4 HR, 5.14 ERA, 5.72 FIP, 1.43 WHIP
Lamet, who missed all of 2018 after undergoing Tommy John surgery, has now made three starts for the Padres since his return. In 2017, he debuted for the Padres and made 21 starts while posting a 4.57 ERA, a 4.35 FIP, and a 1.24 WHIP. The 27-year-old right-hander allowed three earned runs on three hits with seven strikeouts over five innings in his return against the Los Angeles Dodgers on July 4 and followed that up by giving up four earned runs on five hits with seven strikeouts over five innings against the Atlanta Braves. In his last go-around, he lasted just four innings and threw a season-high 85 pitches. In the end, he was charged with three runs (one earned) over six hits with five strikeouts.
Syndergaard (2019): 119.2 IP, 118 K, 31 BB, 14 HR, 4.36 ERA, 3.67 FIP, 1.23 WHIP
Syndergaard went toe-to-toe with Bumgarner on Thursday and put forth a terrific outing in a game that went on for nine innings after he was pulled. Thor allowed one earned run on a sacrifice fly in the seventh but was otherwise overpowering as he punched out eight Giants and gave up six hits. After a rough outing against the Philadelphia Phillies to start July, he’s put together two consecutive stellar starts as the trade deadline approaches. While it remains unlikely that the team will unload their hard-throwing right-hander, the possibility still exists as rumors continue to float around that playoff contenders are interested in his services.
Thursday, July 25: Eric Lauer vs. Jacob deGrom, 12:10 p.m. on SNY
Lauer (2019): 96.0 IP, 79 K, 28 BB, 11 HR, 4.31 ERA, 4.03 FIP, 1.33 WHIP
Lauer made his first start since the All Star break on Friday and couldn’t make it out of the fifth. In 4.2 innings, the left-hander was charged with five earned runs on six hits with seven strikeouts and three walks. In his last four starts, Lauer has posted a 3.32 ERA, a 3.41 FIP, and a 1.25 WHIP with 20 strikeouts in 21.2 innings. The Mets have not seen Lauer this season, but they did rough him up in his rookie season last year. On July 24, 2018, Lauer gave up six earned runs on six hits in four innings at Citi Field to absorb the loss.
deGrom (2019): 122.0 IP, 154 K, 31 BB, 14 HR, 3.02 ERA, 3.05 FIP, 1.11 WHIP
In a completely predictable outcome, the Mets lost deGrom’s last start after scoring zero runs. The offense was nowhere to be found with their ace on the mound, which deprived him of a well-deserved win. It’s hard to pitch better than deGrom did in San Francisco, as he scatted three hits and walked three while striking out ten over seven innings. He is now close to lowering both his ERA and his FIP below three after struggling a bit earlier in the season. Since June 1, deGrom has a 2.29 ERA, a 2.42 FIP, and a 1.03 WHIP with 77 strikeouts in 59 innings.
Prediction: The Mets drop Tuesday’s series opener but rebound to win on Wednesday and Thursday to take the series.
How will the Mets fare in their three game series against the Padres?
This poll is closed
The Mets pound the Padres in a three-game sweep!
The Mets walk away with two wins to earn a series victory.
The Padres prove too much for the Mets, who eke out a win.
The Mets tip their cap and call the Padres their daddies as they’re swept.