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Mets try to cool off red-hot Diamondbacks over next four games

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Wilmer Flores returns to Citi Field for the first time as a visiting player.

MLB: Milwaukee Brewers at New York Mets Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Mets (72-70) will be tasked with slowing down the Arizona Diamondbacks (75-68). Earlier this season, the Mets dropped two out of three against the Diamondbacks at Chase Field. New York has won 75 and lost 74 all time against Arizona.

The Mets needed a series win at worst—and, ideally, a series sweep—to keep pace in the National League Wild Card race. Instead, they laid an egg and fell in two out of three to the Philadelphia Phillies over the weekend. On Friday, the Mets overcame another ninth-inning meltdown by Edwin Diaz to earn a 5-4 victory. With the score tied at two, the home team pushed two runs across in the bottom of the eighth against Philadelphia’s bullpen. With Seth Lugo unavailable, Mickey Callaway entrusted Diaz to pitch the ninth, and at first it looked like he might get through it after blowing away the first batter he faced. He then surrendered a hit and a two-run home run to J.T. Realmuto to even up the game. The Mets persevered in the bottom of the frame, as they put together a two-out rally that begain with back-to-back hits by Juan Lagares and J.D. Davis and ended with a Pete Alonso walk-off walk.

The Mets suffered a hangover from their late-inning win on Saturday and only managed five hits against Drew Smyly and two Phillies’ relievers. They left nine runners on base an went hitless in 11 at-bats with runners in scoring position. Meanwhile, Cesar Hernandez hit a lead-off home run off Marcus Stroman that gave Philadelphia all the runs they would need. They also put together a four-run fourth which ended an ineffective Stroman’s evening. On a positive note, four Mets relievers combined to toss five scoreless innings in defeat.

The Mets slogged through a Sunday afternoon as they fell 10-7 in another disheartening defeat. The Mets teed off on Vince Velasquez in the first with back-to-back home runs by Wilson Ramos and Robinson Cano to give Noah Syndergaard a 3-0 lead, but the Phillies chipped away slowly. They scored one in the third, one in the fourth, two in the fifth, three in the sixth and three in the seventh off Syndergaard and a revolving door of Mets’ relievers. The Mets tied it up at four in the fifth and had a chance to go ahead with the bases loaded and one out, but Amed Rosario grounded out, forcing Mickey Callaway to pinch hit for Thor with Todd Frazier. The pinch hitter struck out to end the threat, and Philadelphia went ahead for good in the following inning. At four hours and 29 minutes, it clocked in as the longest nine-inning game in franchise history and the second-longest nine-inning game in National League history.

In the loss, Alonso reached base for the 33rd straight game. The feat matched the franchise’s single-season record, tying Darryl Strawberry in 1987 and Jose Reyes in 2008. He can break the record on Monday night, although he still has a little bit to go to match John Olerud’s record of 44 games, which he accomplished at the end of the 1998 season and extended into 1999. Over the course of those 33 games, Alonso is slashing .308/.391/.609 with 11 home runs, seven doubles, and a 157 wRC+.

The Chicago Cubs lost on Saturday and Sunday, so while the Mets did not lose any ground, they missed out on a fantastic chance to gain some ground before Chicago settles in to play the easy part of their schedule. In addition to residing four off the pace for a playoff spot, they sunk to two games back of the Phillies and the Milwaukee Brewers and find themselves two-and-a-half back of the Diamondbacks ahead of their visit.

Arizona entered Sunday as winners of 12 out of 13 games before falling to the Cincinnati Reds. The two losses they’ve suffered in their last 14 games happened in their opponent’s final at-bat. Even with yesterday’s loss, the Diamondbacks remain the hottest team in the National League as they have moved within a stone’s throw of the Cubs for that playoff spot.

For the first time in his major league career, Wilmer Flores will suit up against the Mets rather than as a member of the orange and blue. Flores missed the earlier series this season in Arizona after landing on the injured list. Expect Flores,, who became a fan favorite after nearly getting traded to the Brewers in 2015 in the now-infamous failed Carlos Gomez trade and showed his emotions on the field, to get a video tribute and a huge standing ovation from the Flushing faithful.

Along with being a reliable bench bat, Flores set the franchise record with 10 walk-off hits during his time with the team. After batting injuries early on, Flores has been raking lately and has played his way into the everyday starting lineup for the Diamondbacks. In 75 games this season, he’s hitting .319/.362/.486 with seven home runs, a 119 wRC+, and a 0.9 fWAR.

Monday, September 9: Merrill Kelly vs. Jacob deGrom, 7:10 p.m. on SNY

Kelly (2019): 157.1 IP, 132 K, 48 BB, 26 HR, 4.69 ERA, 4.62 FIP, 1.35 WHIP

The Mets will catch Kelly coming off one of the best starts of his major league career. The rookie scattered three hits over seven shutout innings against the San Diego Padres to earn his tenth win. He struck out nine and walked two in a very impressive outing. It was only the second time that he’s pitched beyond seven innings since the All Star break, and prior to this start he failed to get out of the fifth inning in his previous two starts. The right-hander dominated the Mets back on June 2, holding them to one earned run on six hits with a career-high ten strikeouts over 7.2 innings to pick up the win.

deGrom (2019): 176.0 IP, 220 K, 42 BB, 18 HR, 2.76 ERA, 2.82 FIP, 1.05 WHIP

It was another one of those starts for deGrom where the stat line doesn’t tell the full story. For the second straight start, he went seven innings and allowed four earned runs. Over the first seven innings, he allowed two earned runs but he labored and battled without his best stuff at his disposal. Mickey Callaway left him in for the eighth, which resulted in a quick two-run home run by Juan Soto that ended his night. For once, his offense put up a ton of runs for their ace as it looked like the Mets would cruise to an easy victory after erupting for five runs in the ninth. Of course, everybody knows what happened next, and deGrom once again had to settle for a no-decision. The right-hander has four more starts to make his case for a second consecutive Cy Young award as he competes with Hyun-Jin Ryu, Max Scherzer, and Mike Soroka, among others in the field.

Tuesday, September 10: Zac Gallen vs. Zack Wheeler, 7:10 p.m. on SNY

Gallen (2019): 68.1 IP, 82 K, 32 BB, 5 HR, 2.50 ERA, 3.34 FIP, 1.23 WHIP

For the second straight night, the Mets will face a rookie, and for the second straight night it will be a rookie coming off one of the most impressive outings of his young career. The 24-year-old started the year with the Miami Marlins and was traded at the deadline as Miami looked to address other needs. The right-hander has stepped in admirably for the Diamondbacks, who had a hole to fill in their rotation after unloading Zack Greinke. In his last outing, Gallen allowed just one hit over seven shutout innings while striking out eight against the Padres. Gallen took on the Mets once before as a member of the Marlins and went five innings while allowing two earned runs on four hits with five strikeouts and five walks.

Wheeler (2019): 166.1 IP, 163 K, 47 BB, 20 HR, 4.33 ERA, 3.68 FIP, 1.31 WHIP

Wheeler plodded through a five inning performance against the Washington Nationals in his last start but left with a win thanks to his offense. It took him 101 pitches to get through the outing, with most of those coming in the first two innings. Through two, he was at over 50 pitches but was able to escape having only allowed one run. He allowed seven hits and struck out three while walking two. Wheeler likely has only four more starts this season to make a case for a big contract in the offseason. It remains to be seen whether he will price himself out of New York’s range, but his inconsistency could keep his contract low enough that the Mets may entertain bringing the right-hander back.

Wednesday, September 11: Robbie Ray vs. Steven Matz, 7:10 p.m. on SNY

Ray (2019): 156.1 IP, 207 K, 73 BB, 25 HR, 4.03 ERA, 4.10 FIP, 1.32 WHIP

Ray struggled for his second straight start on September 6 against the Reds. He went 4.1 innings and was charged with three earned runs on three hits with three walks and eight strikeouts. It was his fourth straight start without making it it out of the fifth inning. He was removed with a blister but he is not expected to miss a start following the injury. In his previous appearance, he allowed four earned runs on eight hits with three walks and six strikeouts. Ray has allowed the fourth-most walks among starting pitchers behind Trevor Bauer (78), Julio Teheran (77), and Sandy Alcantara (76), so it will be important for the Mets’ hitters to be patient against him if they want to win.

Matz (2019): 139.1 IP, 132 K, 42 BB, 23 HR, 4.00 ERA, 4.48 FIP, 1.32 WHIP

Matz was in control through the first four innings on Friday night against the Phillies but faltered late and escaped without the chance at earning a win and falling one out short of a quality start. He was burned by a missed call on a Jean Segura double that should’ve been a foul ball, which immediately led to the first run he allowed. After getting to two outs, he couldn’t put the Phillies away in the sixth and was lifted for Luis Avilan. At the end of the day, the left-hander allowed six hits, walked three, and struck out four. He threw 109 pitches in his outing, which was the most he’d thrown in a start since June 14.

Thursday, September 12: Alex Young vs. Marcus Stroman, 1:10 p.m. on SNY

Young (2019): 66.2 IP, 58 K, 19 BB, 9 HR, 3.38 ERA, 4.17 FIP, 1.05 WHIP

The Mets will face their third rookie pitcher over the four-game series on Thursday afternoon. In his last start, the 25-year-old set a new Diamondbacks rookie record by striking out 12 Reds’ hitters en route to his seventh win. He lasted a career-best eight innings and scattered two hits while walking one to pick up the win. After making his major league debut on June 27, he’s been a big boost to Arizona’s rotation as they’ve made their move in the NL Wild Card race.

Stroman (2019): 160.1 IP, 136 K, 49 BB, 17 HR, 3.42 ERA, 3.81 FIP, 1.34 WHIP

Stroman had another rough outing for the Mets as he continues to search for answers and some level of success in his new surroundings. The right-hander went just four innings and gave up five runs (four earned). He allowed a career-high ten hits and struck out six. Since arriving in New York, he has been bitten by the home run ball, which is not a problem he encountered this year with the Toronto Blue Jays. After serving up ten home runs in Toronto, he’s already given up seven in six starts with the Mets. After winning his first five starts, the Mets have now lost each of Stroman’s last three starts.

Prediction: The Mets and Diamondbacks will split their next four games.

Poll

How will the Mets fare in their four game series against the Diamondbacks?

This poll is closed

  • 19%
    The Mets destroy the Diamondbacks over a four-game sweep!
    (23 votes)
  • 22%
    The Mets get back on track by taking three out of four.
    (27 votes)
  • 21%
    The Mets and Diamondbacks play to a split.
    (26 votes)
  • 17%
    The Mets continue to stumble backwards but steal one game.
    (21 votes)
  • 11%
    The Mets’ season comes crashing down as they’re swept away by Wilmer’s new team.
    (14 votes)
  • 6%
    Pizza!
    (8 votes)
119 votes total Vote Now