The Mets (7-7) return to Citi Field after dropping all three games to the Cubs at Wrigley Field. New York will look to get back on track as they host the last-place Nationals (7-9) for three games. This will be the first time the two division rivals will meet this season after the opening weekend series was postponed following a COVID-19 breakout on Washington’s roster. The Mets dropped six of ten to the Nationals in 2020, including the season’s final three games.
The Mets arrived in Chicago in first place and riding high after taking two of three against the Rockies, but they had a tough time in The Windy City. On a frigid Tuesday, the bats remained ice-cold as the Mets had no response to Jake Arrieta and the Cubs’ bullpen. Taijuan Walker lived up to his last name by issuing six free passes, and J.D. Davis had a rough go of it in the field with a couple of throwing errors, the first of which directly led to the first run of the game. A messy fourth inning pushed home two more Chicago runs, which was more than New York’s lackluster offense could recover from. Davis’ solo home run in the fifth was the only run the club would get, and they ended up losing 3-1.
Wednesday night’s game is one that is better off wiped from our collective memories. When looking at the final score, it’s hard to believe the Mets held a 2-0 lead following Francisco Lindor’s first home run as a Met in the first and a Davis run-scoring double in the third. David Peterson threw three hitless frames before the roof caved in on him and his team in the fourth. The ugly seven-run frame included the third error in two games by Davis, an error by Lindor, six Chicago hits, and a bizarre conclusion on Happ’s single. All told, Peterson gave up six runs (three earned) and was eventually pulled for Robert Gsellman, who ended up giving up four runs (two earned). Luis Guillorme pitched in this 16-4 laugher, which is all you really need to know. Oh yeah, and Pete Alonso hit an absolute missile out of Wrigley Field, which registered a 115.4 mph exit velocity.
The Mets went to extras with the Cubs on Thursday before succumbing to the sweep. With Joey Lucchesi on the mound, New York fell behind 3-0 in the third, but climbed back to within a run after Pete Alonso smoked another two-run homer. The recently-recalled Sean Reid-Foley entered in relief and provided three impressive shutout innings. A Davis pinch hit double in the seventh drove home Jonathan Villar for the tying run, and the team danced around a leadoff triple by Jake Marisnick in the eighth to keep the game tied. In the top half of the tenth, the Mets got the runner on second to third thanks to a wild pitch, and they eventually loaded the bases with one out. Dominic Smith, who had two hits to that point in the game, grounded into an inning-ending double play, which felt like the ballgame at that point. In the bottom half, the Cubs also loaded the bases, and Jason Heyward came through with the game-winning hit off Edwin Diaz to seal New York’s fate.
Not to sound like a broken record, but the Mets were once again pitiful with runners in scoring position. New York went 3-for-20 in Chicago with RISP, stranding 25 in total on the bases as they managed just eight runs against the Cubs and 16 total runs during their six-game trip. The Mets currently rank dead last in MLB with 3.21 run per game.
Alonso went just 2-for-12 in the series, but those two were mammoth, memorable home runs. Lindor hit his first long ball with the club, but otherwise his woes continued as he bookmarked his 3-for-4 Wednesday with 0-for-4 performances as his OPS sits at .668 for 2021. Brandon Nimmo’s 24-game on base streak came to an end, and he failed to reach base in his six plate appearances in Chicago.
Davis proved to be the most frustrating player of all. His three errors illuminated his defensive woes at the hot corner, but he continued to be the team’s hottest bat after contributing five hits in his eight at-bats. At this point, it seems Davis is best suited to be the team’s first bat off the bench, but the way the team is hitting, it’s hard to limit the number of plate appearances he gets when others aren’t hitting their weight. Guillorme’s sparking defensive play to start Thursday’s game only complicated matters, as his glove continues to prove invaluable.
The Nationals enjoyed a Thursday off-day after back-to-back wins against the Cardinals to take that series. Washington enters play tonight as winners of six of their last nine games, but they will be without Juan Soto, who hit the injured list with a left shoulder strain. The Mets will also miss Max Scherzer in this series, as the imposing right-hander last pitched on Wednesday.
Trea Turner has led the way for the Nationals, hitting .302/.343/.540 with a team-high four home runs, a 164 wRC+, and a team-best 0.9 fWAR. In nine games, Josh Harrison leads the club with a 180 wRC+ while posting a .387/.472/.548 slash line and a 0.4 fWAR. The team’s two biggest offensive acquisitions from this winter, Josh Bell and Kyle Schwarber, have gotten off to slow starts with their new club. Bell is hitting .161/.250/.323 with a 57 wRC+ and a -0.1 fWAR in nine games. Schwarber, meanwhile, is slashing .200/.238/.350 with a 52 wRC+ and a -0.2 fWAR in ten contests. In total, the Nationals are 28th in baseball with 3.44 runs per game, just ahead of New York in that category.
Friday, April 23: Erick Fedde vs. Jacob deGrom, 7:10 p.m. on SNY
Fedde (2021): 11.1 IP, 15 K, 6 BB, 1 HR, 5.56 ERA, 3.17 FIP, 1.68 WHIP, -0.2 bWAR
Fedde’s numbers this year are mostly the result of his first start of the year against the Braves, where he was chased after 1.2 innings while allowing six runs (five earned) on six hits. He has rebounded nicely from that disastrous effort, giving up one earned run in each of his last two starts. He earned the victory in his last outing, striking out a nine Diamondbacks in five innings, which matched a career high mark. He has typically struggled against the Mets, with a career 5.19 ERA in 26 innings.
deGrom (2021): 20.0 IP, 35 K, 3 BB, 2 HR, 0.45 ERA, 1.35 FIP, 0.70 WHIP, 1.2 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.
Saturday, April 24: Joe Ross vs. Marcus Stroman, 4:05 p.m. on SNY
Ross (2021): 15.1 IP, 14 K, 6 BB, 4 HR, 5.87 ERA, 6.02 FIP, 1.30 WHIP, -0.1 bWAR
Things can’t go much worse for Ross than they did in his last start, or at least he will have to hope that. After starting the year with back-to-back shutout performances (one over five innings, the next over six), Ross was bombarded by the Cardinals. He was charged with ten runs (all earned) on eight hits, with three walks and five strikeouts over 4.1 innings. He allowed four home runs in the loss, and his ERA climbed up to 5.87. In 12 appearances against the Mets, including eight starts, he holds a 5.73 ERA in 48.2 innings. Ross had opted out of the 2020 season.
Stroman (2021): 20.0 IP, 11 K, 3 BB, 1 HR, 0.90 ERA, 3.23 FIP, 0.65 WHIP, 1.3 bWAR
Stroman was again spectacular in his last start and has formed a pretty fearsome twosome along with deGrom at the top of the team’s rotation. Whereas deGrom is a strikeout master whose fastball sits in the triple digits, Stroman is a ground ball machine who utilized his full arsenal to attack Colorado and keep their hitters off-balance. In the notoriously hitter-friendly Coors Field, Stroman limited the Rockies to one run on three hits over eight terrific frames. On the year, he’s given up two earned runs on ten hits in his three starts. The highlight of his start was his backhanded play and the subsequent seven-hop throw he made to first base, which will be replayed for months/years to come.
Sunday, April 25: Patrick Corbin vs. Taijuan Walker, 1:10 p.m. on SNY
Corbin (2021): 12.1 IP, 11 K, 7 BB, 4 HR, 10.95 ERA, 7.71 FIP, 1.87 WHIP, -0.6 bWAR
Corbin’s 10.95 ERA is bad, until you realize his ERA before his last start was 21.32. It took six shutout innings against the Cardinals on Tuesday night to nearly cut that number in half. In that game, he threw 52 of his 76 pitches for strikes and didn’t walk a batter while allowing four hits and striking out five. That came after a calamitous effort against the Diamondbacks on April 15, where he was tagged for ten runs (nine earned) on six hits. He lasted just two innings in that game and served up three home runs to Arizona. Corbin has plenty of experience pitching against the Mets, and has a 4.25 ERA in 97.1 innings against them lifetime.
Walker (2021): 14.0 IP, 19 K, 11 BB, 0 HR, 3.21 ERA, 2.73 FIP, 1.43 WHIP, 0.1 bWAR
Walker had his first rough start as a Met after two solid efforts. He only allowed two hits on Tuesday, but he walked a season-high six and couldn’t escape a sloppy fourth inning. He was was charged with three runs (two earned) and struck out seven on the evening. His 12.2 K/9 is well above his usual career norms, as is his 7.1 BB/9, and both should likely fall back to his norms as the season progresses. The most concerning thing about Walker so far in this young season is that he always starts off strong and seems to lose it at right around the 70-pitch mark, which is a trend worth watching as the right-hander makes future starts with the club. It might just be that the team has to work around this, and Luis Rojas should be mindful to have someone ready once he starts getting up to that mark.
Prediction: The Mets take two out of three against a Soto-less Nationals to get back on the winning path!
How will the Mets fare in their three game series against the Nationals?
This poll is closed
Mets dominate the Soto-less Nationals in a sweep!
Mets get back to winning by taking two of three.
The Mets steal a game but drop another series.
The Mets are swept again.