The red hot Mets (53-55) finish off their short road trip in Pittsburgh, where they play the Pirates (47-61) in a three-game set at PNC Park. While there has only been one series between now and when these two teams last faced each other, a lot has happened for both teams since then.
The Mets continued to roll after sweeping the Pirates by also sweeping the White Sox in Chicago. Instead of being sellers at the trading deadline, the Mets find themselves four games back of a Wild Card spot, having retained both Zack Wheeler and Noah Syndergaard, who were each brilliant in their most recent outings. Since the Mets last saw the Pirates, they also traded Jason Vargas to the Phillies and acquired Marcus Stroman, who is set to make his Mets debut on Saturday.
In the intervening series between the two matchups with the Pirates, the Mets continued to win on the back of superb pitching—something that was certainly not a refrain for them in the first half the way it has been in the second half so far. Noah Syndergaard did not earn the win for his stellar 7 1⁄3 inning performance thanks to a blown save by Edwin Diaz in the ninth. But the Mets rallied and Jeff McNeil and Michael Conforto hit back-to-back home runs in the bottom of the eleventh to snag an extra-inning win. It was the first time the Mets have hit back-to-back home runs in extra innings in franchise history.
Diaz bounced back to earn the save on Wednesday, allowing a solo homer, but striking out the other three hitters he faced. This came in relief of Jacob deGrom, who struck out eleven batters over seven innings and was his usual brilliant self. It was a strange game of awkward bounces and near misses, but the Mets came out on top 4-1.
Zack Wheeler also shut out the White Sox for seven innings yesterday, striking out seven batters and walking none. He allowed just four hits. Robinson Cano and Wilson Ramos provided the bulk of the offense, each driving in two runs—one of which was a solo homer by Cano. The Mets also played spectacular defense, with Jeff McNeil, Michael Conforto, and Amed Rosario all flashing the leather in the 4-0 victory.
The Pirates lost two out of three to the Reds this week, but that is not at all the storyline from that series. With bad blood already existing between them, the teams made headlines again for a benches-clearing brawl when Pittsburgh reliever Keone Kela threw at Derek Dietrich in response to Dietrich celebrating a home run he hit off Chris Archer earlier in the season. Both managers and a whopping six players have been suspended as a result of the incident, but all six players have decided to appeal, so it is unlikely any Pirates will be serving their suspensions during the coming series.
Friday, August 2: Trevor Williams vs. Steven Matz, 7:05 p.m. on SNY
Williams (2019): 88 2⁄3 IP, 75 K, 20 BB, 15 HR, 4.87 ERA, 4.57 FIP, 1.32 WHIP
Williams will face off against Matz, in the exact same matchup as Saturday’s game. Saturday was Williams’ return from a stint on the injured list, as he has struggled to stay healthy this year. But he put up a strong showing at Citi Field on Saturday in his return when he was out-dueled by Matz, going seven innings and striking out seven. He held the Mets scoreless until the sixth and surrendered a pair of home runs in the sixth and seventh innings.
Matz (2019): 100 IP, 93 K, 31 BB, 19 HR, 4.32 ERA, 4.88 FIP, WHIP
Matz, of course, pitched a complete game the last time he faced this team and gave up just five hits. Matz has been on fire lately. He carries a 1.80 ERA over the past 30 days and since rejoining the rotation after a brief stint in the bullpen prior to the All-Star break, he’s been nearly spotless.
Saturday, August 3: Chris Archer vs. Marcus Stroman, 7:05 p.m. on SNY
Archer (2019): 101 2⁄3 IP, 116 K, 51 BB, 25 HR, 5.58 ERA, 5.73 FIP, 1.44 WHIP
The former Rays ace that the Pirates traded two big name prospects for has not been the pitcher the Pirates hoped he would be, but he has been better since the All-Star break. That said, his home run rate remains a staggering 2.21 per nine innings and he struggled against the Mets on Sunday, giving up six runs—only five of them earned—on five hits over five innings of work. He also worked four batters, which has been another bugaboo for him this season.
Stroman (2019 - Blue Jays): 124 2⁄3 IP, 99 K, 35 BB, 10 HR, 2.96 ERA, 3.52 FIP, 1.23 WHIP
Stroman joins fellow Long Island native Steven Matz in the rotation and makes his Mets debut on Saturday. As has been widely discussed in the aftermath of the trade, Stroman does not carry the high strikeout rate of the rest of the Mets starting staff and relies heavily on ground balls to be successful, which brings up questions of how he’ll fare playing in front of the Mets infield, which is poor defensively. “I was praying we didn’t trade any of those guys that were being rumored about, [Zack] Wheeler and [Noah] Syndergaard,” Stroman said after the trading deadline. “Because I actually think we can have the best staff in all of baseball.” Since the All-Star break at least, that has been true, and the Mets will be eager to see what Stroman contributes to his new team.
Sunday, August 4: Noah Syndergaard vs. TBD, 1:35 p.m. on SNY
Syndergaard (2019): 134 IP, 134 K, 37 BB, 14 HR, 4.10 ERA, 3.47 FIP, 1.24 WHIP
Noah Syndergaard’s message just ahead of the deadline couldn’t be more clear: don’t trade me. Look what I can do. With trade rumors swirling, Syndergaard delivered arguably his best performance of 2019, striking out 11 over 7 1⁄3 innings of one-run ball. He even made a celebratory tweet after being pulled off the trade market on Wednesday. If the Mets have any chance of staying in the race into September, they’re going to need Syndergaard to put up a lot more performances like his most recent outing. Since the All-Star break, Syndergaard holds a 1.91 ERA.
The Pirates have yet to announce a starter for Sunday, likely because of a combination of things, including the pending suspensions and injuries—Jameson Taillon is likely out for the season and Steven Brault is currently on the injured list as well.
Prediction: The Mets keep rolling and take two of three in Pittsburgh.
How will the Mets fare in their three-game series against the Pirates?
This poll is closed
Sweep the deck! 10 in a row, baby!
Ahoy, matey! Two out of three.
They plunder just one win.
They walk the plank and get swept.