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Mets blow into the Windy City for three-game set with Cubs

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The Mets will try to make it three consecutive series wins as they face the scuffling Cubs.

National League Wild Card Game 1: Miami Marlins v. Chicago Cubs Photo by Nuccio DiNuzzo/MLB Photos via Getty Images

The Mets (7-4) look for their third consecutive series win as they travel to Chicago for a three-game set against the Cubs (6-9). The Mets have not visited The Friendly Confines since June 2019, when they split four games with the Cubbies.

The Mets were again victimized by bad weather, as a Friday snowstorm forced them to play their second doubleheader in four days. This time around, they weren’t able to complete the sweep and had to settle for a split. In the first game, Jacob deGrom was again masterful, matching his 14 strikeouts from his start against the Marlins. At one point, he had recorded nine straight strikeouts and was staring down baseball immortality. Sadly, Josh Fuentes hit a ground ball to second, which Jeff McNeil could not handle cleanly. The error opened up a three-run inning, and deGrom was once again staring down a loss while his ERA sat at an unbelievable 0.45. Thankfully, Pete Alonso’s homer in the sixth brought the Mets back to within one, and the club scratched two runs across against Daniel Bard in the seventh to finally get deGrom the well-earned win.

In the second game, the Mets couldn’t do much against Rockies’ ace Germán Márquez, while Joey Lucchesi gave up three runs in three innings of work. The Mets climbed back in the game, courtesy of a two-run double from McNeil, but Jacob Barnes was burned for four runs in the fifth to put the game out of reach. The bats remained silent from there, and the Mets fell 7-2.

Marcus Stroman turned in his best performance of the young season on Sunday to help the Mets claim the series win. Stroman was superb, utilizing his full arsenal to attack Colorado and keep their hitters off-balance. At his best, Stroman is a ground ball machine, and that was on full display on Sunday. In the notoriously hitter-friendly Coors Field, Stroman limited the Rockies to one run on three hits over eight terrific frames. He also made a bizarre but highly entertaining backhanded grab on the mound, with a seven-hop throw to first that will be talked about and replayed for much of the season, if not longer. On offense, the Mets eked out two runs, which was enough to get Stroman his third win in as many starts.

Despite playing in a ballpark that is notorious for high-scoring affairs, the Mets managed just eight runs across the three games, and aside from their ninth inning rally in Game One on Saturday, they again struggled in high-leverage situations. Michael Conforto started to show some signs of breaking out of his early-season doldrums, ending an 0-for-16 stretch with a 4-for-10 series and registering multiple two-hit games over the weekend. Pete Alonso also had a good weekend, contributing the team’s lone home run and going 4-for-11. On the season, Polar Bear is slashing .250/.311/.450 with a 110 wRC+ and a 0.1 fWAR.

The offensive standout was, once again, Brandon Nimmo, who extended his on-base streak to 24 games and currently leads the team with a 201 wRC+, a .447 batting average, a .543 on-base percentage, a .526 slugging percentage, and a 17.0% BB%. The Mets enter this series tied for fifth in the National League with a 97 wRC+.

They were bailed out, as they have been for much of this season, by their starting pitching, which has been nothing short of brilliant. The Mets got great starts from Stroman and deGrom this weekend, and their 2.26 staff ERA is second in the NL, behind only the Brewers, while their 2.69 FIP is tops in the league. If you focus on just deGrom, Stroman, Taijuan Walker, and David Peterson, their combined ERA is 1.95. deGrom and Stroman current rank first and fourth in the NL, respectively, in Earned Run Average.

The Cubs limp into this series with the Mets, losers of eight of their last eleven. Chicago’s problem is, quite simply, that they are struggling to hit the ball, save for a 13-run outburst against the Braves. Even with that offensive explosion, they are fourth from the bottom in the NL with 51 runs, which also accounts for two teams in the Nationals and Mets who have played fewer games due to postponed games. Their 84 wRC+ is also 12th in the NL, while their .192 team batting average is last in the league and their .285 OBP is second-from-the-bottom. They are also striking out at a higher clip that any other team in the NL with a 28.2% K%.

Former future Met Kris Bryant has been leading the way for the Cubs. In presumably his final year in Chicago, the third baseman is slashing .265/.362/.653 with a 166 wRC+ and a team-best 0.9 fWAR. He has five home runs on the season, which puts him in a tie for the team lead with Wilson Contreras. The Cubs’ catcher also leads the team with a 170 wRC+ and is second with a 0.7 fWAR. Javier Baez, whom is another potential extension candidate for Chicago, is hitting .214/.267/.464 with four home runs, a 98 wRC+, and a 0.4 fWAR in 15 games. Former Met Jake Marisnick has played 10 games with his new club and is slashing .200/.294/.200 with a 48 wRC+.

Tuesday April 20: Taijuan Walker vs. Jake Arrieta, 7:40 p.m. on SNY

Walker (2021): 10.1 IP, 12 K, 5 BB, 0 HR, 2.61 ERA, 2.23 FIP, 1.16 WHIP, 0.3 bWAR

Although he wasn’t quite as sharp as he was in the home opener for the Mets, Walker was still effective his last time out. He hit a road block in the fifth, at which point he was removed in favor of Miguel Castro during the 7-inning affair, but he still held Philadelphia to one run on three hits. He did walk three, but he recorded 8 strikeouts in the outing, and his velocity was again around the mid-to-high 90s, topping off at 97 mph. He had his full arsenal working and has already proven to be a solid get for the club. Walker will look to continue his success against the Cubs, a team he has only faced once in his career.

Arrieta (2021): 17.0 IP, 14 K, 5 BB, 1 HR, 3.18 ERA, 3.27 FIP, 1.29 WHIP, 0.3 bWAR

Arrieta is back in Chicago, where he found his most successful seasons, and the results have been fairly positive so far. After a rocky three-year stint in Philadelphia, he’s posted solid numbers across the board through three starts with the Cubs. His last start was his worst to date, as he was handed the loss while allowing three earned runs on four hits in five innings of work. He picked up the win in each of his two previous starts, going six inning in each. He’s been very effective against the Mets in his career, posting a 3.09 ERA with 88 strikeouts in 102 innings against them. This includes two wins last September, when he combined to allow three runs in 12.1 innings in two of his better starts of the year.

Wednesday, April 17: David Peterson vs. Zach Davies, 7:40 p.m. on SNY

Peterson (2021): 10.0 IP, 15 K, 2 BB, 3 HR, 6.30 ERA, 4.90 FIP, 1.20 WHIP, -0.1 bWAR

Don’t let his unsightly overall numbers fool you, Peterson was terrific in his last start after shaking off the cobwebs following a rough first outing at Citizens Bank Park. Peterson outdueled the former Met Zack Wheeler, holding the Phillies to one run on three hits. He didn’t allow a walk in the outing and matched his career best with 10 punch outs. He only needed 80 pitches to get through his six innings while throwing 71% of them for strikes. This start will be brand new territory for Peterson, as he has never faced a team outside of the NL or AL East before in his young career.

Davies (2021): 11.1 IP, 8 K, 9 BB, 1 HR, 10.32 ERA, 5.22 FIP, 2.21 WHIP, -0.6 bWAR

To say the early days of Davies’ Cubs tenure has been a disaster would be putting it kindly. Since arriving in the Yu Darvish trade from San Diego over the winter, Davies has been an utter disaster. His numbers are even more stark when you consider he earned the win in his Cubs debut, hurling 5.2 innings of two-run ball while striking out five at Wrigley against the Pirates. In his next start at PNC Park, he recorded just five outs while allowing seven runs (all earned) on five hits with two strikeouts. Looking to bounce back against the Braves in his last outing, he did marginally better, giving up four earned runs on a season-high seven hits in four innings. In that appearance, he struck out just one batter, and he has walked three in each of his three starts. Chicago will have to hope they can get more out of Davies, who posted a career-best 2.73 ERA in 69.1 innings for the Padres last year.

Thursday, April 22: Jacob deGrom vs. Trevor Williams, 7:40 p.m. on SNY

deGrom (2021): 20.0 IP, 35 K, 3 BB, 2 HR, 0.45 ERA, 1.35 FIP, 0.70 WHIP, 1.1 bWAR

The Mets finally flipped the script in a deGrom start at Coors Field, rallying in the final two innings of their 7-inning contest to get their finally pitcher a win. For much of the outing, it looked like a standard deGrom affair: Lots of strikeouts, a terrific performance, a lack of offense, and bad defense, but the ending was finally a happy one. At one point, Jake struck out nine straight batters, falling one short of matching Tom Seaver’s MLB record. He punched out 14 batters for the second straight start, and fifth time in his career, but it was almost not enough, as a McNeil error opened the floodgates to three unearned runs in the fifth. Thankfully, the offense scored three in the final two frames to get deGrom his 71st career victory. His 0.45 ERA and his 15.8 K/9 lead the league.

Williams (2021): 14.1 IP, 13 K, 7 BB, 0 HR, 7.07 ERA, 3.17 FIP, 1.61 WHIP, 0.1 bWAR

The former Pirates pitcher has been inconsistent in his first year in Chicago. He earned the win in his first start by allowing two runs in six innings of work against the Brewers. He got roughed up his next time out against the Pirates, allowing five runs on ten hits in 3.1 innings. He then bounced back against the Braves, earning the victory with five innings of one-run ball, although he did walk a season-high three. If you ascribe to this pattern, he maybe due for a bad start this time around, although with deGrom on the mound opposite him, he can probably feel good about his chances at quieting the Mets’ bats.

Prediction: The Mets take two out of three to win their third straight series!

Poll

How will the Mets fare in their three game series against the Cubs?

This poll is closed

  • 21%
    The Mets sweep the Cubs in the Windy City!
    (30 votes)
  • 53%
    The Mets make it another series win by taking two of three
    (73 votes)
  • 1%
    The Mets snag one win but head home with a series loss.
    (2 votes)
  • 1%
    The Mets are blown away in Chicago as they’re swept by the Cubs.
    (2 votes)
  • 21%
    Pizza! (New York style only, no deep dish allowed)
    (30 votes)
137 votes total Vote Now