The New York Mets (64-60) return home for a nine-game homestand and look to replicate their recent run of dominance at Citi Field against the Cleveland Indians (74-51). The Mets have never hosted the Indians at Citi Field, and have only faced them once in New York back in 2004, when they took two of three at Shea Stadium. The last time these two teams squared off in 2016, New York took two out of three in Cleveland. Overall, the Mets have won 10 of 15 games against the Indians.
The Mets completed a 3-3 road trip by winning two games over the weekend against the Kansas City Royals. The bats were silent in the Friday night opener, and the lineup had no answer for Mike Montgomery and the Royals’ bullpen. Noah Syndergaard’s string of six consecutive starts of at least seven innings came to an end, although he was relatively effective through six despite battling a cold that noticeably fatigued him. In the end, the team managed just one run as they fell 4-1.
They returned the favor with a 4-1 victory on Saturday. Once again, Jacob deGrom was brilliant as he went seven strong while allowing one earned run to lower his ERA on the season to 2.61. Meanwhile, the Mets got three hits from Pete Alonso and from Juan Lagares, who collectively drove in three of the team’s four runs in the victory. Seth Lugo bounced back from a disastrous performance in Atlanta on Wednesday to pick up the save with a scoreless ninth.
The bats broke out in a big way on Sunday afternoon to guide the Mets to a series victory. The club scored 11 runs on 16 hits while getting three-hit performances from Amed Rosario, Joe Panik, and Alonso. The Polar Bear also set a new National League rookie record by clubbing his 40th home run of the season. Zack Wheeler provided another uneven performance, but in the end his offense lifted him up. Despite giving up a run, Jeurys Familia pitched two innings to pick up the victory.
With his home run on Sunday, Alonso became just the fourth Met in franchise history to hit 40 home runs in a season, joining Carlos Beltran (41 in 2016), Todd Hundley (41 in 1996), and Mike Piazza (40 in 1999). Alonso has the chance to break the single-season franchise record over the next nine games in front of the home crowd. He also sits 12 home runs behind Aaron Judge, who set the all-time rookie record with 52 long balls in 2017. Over the last two weeks, he’s posted a .388/.483/.796 slash line with six home runs and a 224 wRC+ in 13 games.
With the injuries to Jeff McNeil and to Robinson Cano, the newly-acquired Joe Panik has ingratiated himself to his new squad. In 29 at-bats, he’s slashing .333/.379/.444 with a 121 wRC+ and seven runs scored in nine games. Meanwhile, Rosario continues to rake in the second half and has been one of the team’s most consistent hitters in August. In 16 games this month, he’s hitting .384/.408/.521 with a 148 wRC+.
On June 13, 2019, the Indians were 34-33 and a season-high 11 games back of the first-place Minnesota Twins in the American League Central. Since then, Cleveland has gone 41-18 and have climbed to within two-and-a-half games of Minnesota while leading the American League Wild Card. The Indians split a four-game series with the New York Yankees over the weekend while putting up a whopping 19 runs in Thursday night’s win. Prior to that, they dropped two of three to the Boston Red Sox.
A big reason for their recent success has been the performance of their starting pitching. Since June 13, the Indians rotation boasts an AL-best 3.35 ERA and 7.7 fWAR while owning the second-best FIP (3.84). Their bullpen hasn’t been far behind, posting a 3.58 ERA, which is good for second among all AL squads.
After spending last season with the Philadelphia Phillies, Carlos Santana returned to Cleveland this year and was named to the All Star team for the first time in his career. The first baseman leads his team with 29 home runs and 89 runs scored while slashing .292/,.14/.548 with a 147 wRC+ and a 4.3 fWAR in 122 games. After missing the first three-plus weeks of the season, star shortstop Francisco Lindor returned without missing a step. The 25-year-old is batting .299/.354/.518 with 21 home runs, a 121 wRC+, and a 3.9 fWAR in 106 games.
Tuesday, August 20: Shane Bieber vs. Steven Matz, 7:10 p.m. on SNY
Bieber (2019): 162.1 IP, 200 K, 33 BB, 23 HR, 3.27 ERA, 3.33 FIP, 1.01 WHIP
Bieber is as much a reason for the Indians’ recent success as anybody. Since June 13, the second-year pitcher owns the best fWAR (3.2) among American League starters to go along with the best FIP (2.44) and the fourth-best ERA (2.54). In that time, he is striking out 31.8% of batters, with opposing hitters managing a meager .204/.245/.320 slash line against him. He currently leads the league with three complete games. In his last start against the Red Sox, he absorbed the loss while allowing two earned runs on seven hits with seven strikeouts over six innings.
Matz (2019): 116.1 IP, 109 K, 35 BB, 20 HR, 4.33 ERA, 4.59 FIP, 1.35 WHIP
After getting knocked around by the Pittsburgh Pirates on August 2, Matz has rebounded with two consecutive quality starts. In his last outing against the Atlanta Braves, he was charged with one earned run on two hits with five strikeouts over six innings. He allowed the only run in the second inning and responded by retiring the final 14 batters he faced. He was removed after throwing just 79 pitches, curiously after Mickey Callaway left him into bat for himself in the seventh. Prior to that strong showing, Matz went 6.2 innings against the Miami Marlins and gave up two earned runs on seven hits with seven strikeouts.
Wednesday, August 21: Adam Plutko vs. Marcus Stroman, 7:10 p.m. on SNY
Plutko (2019): 71.1 IP, 42 K, 11 BB, 19 HR, 4.67 ERA, 6.09 FIP, 1.19 WHIP
Plutko was a beneficiary of an offensive onslaught, as he picked up the win while his team put up 19 on the Yankees. The right-hander allowed three earned runs on six hits with three strikeouts over six innings. It was only his fifth quality start in 12 tries this year. He started the year battling a right forearm strain, but has since gotten healthy and has gotten several opportunities thanks to a myriad of injuries among the Indians’ other starting pitchers.
Stroman (2019): 140.1 IP, 116 K, 44 BB, 13 HR, 3.21 ERA, 3.71 FIP, 1.30 WHIP
Stroman has yet to have a vintage Stroman start since arriving in a trade prior to the deadline, but the team has nevertheless won each of his three starts in orange and blue. In his last outing, the right-hander was charged with three runs (two earned) on four hits with five strikeouts over 5.1 innings. He picked up his first win for the Mets thanks to his lineup putting up ten runs against the Braves. Since arriving in New York, Stroman has posted a 5.17 ERA and a 5.26 FIP with 17 strikeouts in 15.2 innings.
Thursday, August 22: Aaron Civale vs. Noah Syndergaard, 7:10 p.m. on SNY
Civale (2019): 24.0 IP, 22 K, 6 BB, 0 HR, 1.50 ERA, 2.14 FIP, 0.96 WHIP
Civale entered the season as the 24th ranked prospect in Cleveland’s system according to MLB Pipeline and finally got his chance in June. In his major league debut, he whirled six shutout innings while holding the Detroit Tigers to two hits and picking up his first victory. The 24-year-old has since returned to make three solid starts in August, although he has been unlucky and picked up two losses and a no-decision in those outings. Each of his four appearances have been quality starts, with the right-hander tossing six innings in each effort. His last time out against the Yankees, Civale allowed three runs (two earned) on eight hits with four strikeouts and two walks.
Syndergaard (2019): 154.0 IP, 151 K, 42 BB, 15 HR, 3.86 ERA, 3.44 FIP, 1.21 WHIP
Battling a cold in his last start against the Royals, Syndergaard still managed to throw six innings of two-run ball on five hits. He kept Kansas City off the board in five of those six innings but tired later in his outing and gave up two runs in the fifth. The right-hander refused to let his illness excuse his performance, which was still good despite the loss. Still, he saw his streak of six consecutive starts with at least seven innings end. Despite that, it was his seventh straight quality start. During that stretch, Syndergaard owns a 2.05 ERA, a 2.23 FIP, and a 1.06 WHIP with 50 strikeouts in 48.1 innings.
Prediction: The Mets will continue to roll at Citi Field by taking two out of three.
How will the Mets fare in their three game series against the Indians?
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It’s another home sweep for the Mets!
The Mets win another home series by taking two of three from Cleveland.
The Mets steal one but drop the series.
The Mets’ home fortunes run out as they’re swept by the Indians.