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Mets face Red Sox in battle of first place clubs

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New York will play a pair with Boston before heading off to Philadelphia

MLB: Washington Nationals at New York Mets Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

The first-place Mets (9-8) finish off their homestand with a brief two-game series against the AL East-leading Boston Red Sox (14-9). The Mets swept a pair at Fenway Park last July before the Red Sox returned the favor by sweeping the two games at Citi Field.

The Mets are coming off a series win against the Washington Nationals. Jacob deGrom provided a breathtaking performance on Friday, as the best pitcher in baseball was at the top of his game. He tossed a complete game shutout and struck out a career-high 15 batters—it was his third straight start with 14+ strikeouts—while limiting Washington to just two hits. He was also the offensive star, with two hits, including the game-winning RBI. deGrom the pitcher finished the game with a +36.4% WPA, while deGrom the hitter had a +15.6% WPA. In the 6-0 win, Brandon Nimmo had three hits, including a two-run homer in the eighth, and drove in four of the team’s runs.

The Mets suffered a hangover on Saturday and fell 7-1 in the middle game. Marcus Stroman wasn’t as sharp as he had been in his first three starts, and he was noticeably frustrated with the home plate umpire and visibly agitated on the mound. He only lasted four innings and gave up five runs (four earned) on eight hits. The offense didn’t get much going and left seven on base, with the lone run coming on Michael Conforto’s first home run of the season, although he also made an error that led to a run. The lone bright spot was Robert Gsellman saving the bullpen with three scoreless innings.

The Mets bounced back with their second shutout of the weekend in a 4-0 win on Sunday. Taijuan Walker didn’t have it at the beginning, but some sterling defense helped him sidestep potential disaster throughout the afternoon. He eventually settled down and gave his club seven shutout innings for his best start in orange and blue. J.D. Davis got the Mets on the board with a two-run blast in the first, which proved to be more than enough run support. Pete Alonso added a solo blast for good measure in the fifth.

The Mets continue to hover on the preferred side of the .500 mark, for now, thanks in large part to their starting pitching. Entering play tonight, New York’s rotation boasts the fifth-best ERA (2.69) in the National League, while their 2.52 FIP and their 31.1% K% lead the league. Their relievers also boast the best FIP (2.99) in the NL while coming in fourth with a 27.2% K%, although their 4.31 ERA is the fifth-worst mark in the league so far.

On offense, Nimmo got back on track after losing his on-base streak and not starting the last two games in Chicago. He leads the way for the Mets with a .370/.477/.500 slash line, a 177 wRC+, and a 0.9 fWAR. Alonso has been on a home run barrage as of late, with three long balls over the course of the last week, which gives him a team-leading five on the year. His .550 SLG and .283 ISO lead the ballclub, and his 149 wRC+ isn’t too shabby, either. Davis also remained red-hot, sporting a .414/.485/.690 slash line and a 222 wRC+ with a 0.4 fWAR in ten games as he tries to atone for his terrible defense at third.

The Red Sox were picked by many to finish towards the bottom of the American League standings, and after getting swept by the Orioles to start the year, it seemed that pessimism was justified. However, Boston turned things around with a rousing nine-game winning streak which helped them shoot up to the top of the East standings. They’ve cooled off a bit since then, going 5-6 over their last 11 games. They recently split a four-game series with the Seattle Mariners.

Boston has been led by its offense, which has surprised many around the league to start the year. They currently lead the majors with a .279 team batting average, a .798 OPS, a 121 wRC+, and a 4.7 fWAR, while their 22.2% K% is the fourth-best mark in baseball. J.D. Martinez has been an offensive force with a .370/.446/.753 slash line, seven home runs, a 231 wRC+, and a 1.4 fWAR. He is second in the AL in wRC+, SLG, OPS, and fWAR, behind only Mike Trout in those categories.

Xander Bogarts will be another player to watch, as he enters play on Tuesday hitting .366/.402/.573 with a 172 wRC+ and a 0.9 fWAR. Alex Verdugo, whom the Red Sox acquired in the Mookie Betts deal, has gotten off to a great start, slashing .325/.371/.538 with a 149 wRC+ and a 1.0 fWAR. Rafael Devers also owns a 149 wRC+ with a 0.9 fWAR while slashing .269/.356/.551 in 2021. Boston’s lineup will present perhaps the toughest challenge of the young season for New York’s pitching staff, and if nothing else, Wednesday night’s game will be a must-watch.

Tuesday, April 27: Garrett Richards vs. David Peterson, 7:10 p.m. on SNY

Richards (2021): 16.1 IP, 12 K, 13 BB, 2 HR, 6.48 ERA, 5.74 FIP, 1.86 WHIP, -0.6 bWAR

Richards hasn’t quite found his footing in Boston after signing a one-year, $10 million deal in early February. So far, he’s given up 14 runs (12 earned) in his four starts with the Red Sox, and his club has lost three of his four starts. The biggest problem for Richards so far has been his command. On the season, he has thrown 58% of his pitches for strikes, and in his last outing he threw only 48 of his 92 pitches for strikes (52%). He walked a season-high six in his last start and has walked 13 batters against just 12 strikeouts in his four outings. He picked up the loss his last time he took the mound, as he was tagged for four earned runs on four hits in 4.2 innings against the Toronto Blue Jays. Garretts, who has spent the majority of his career in the American League (except for two years with the San Diego Padres) has never faced the Mets before.

Peterson (2021): 13.1 IP, 18 K, 4 BB, 3 HR, 6.75 ERA, 4.45 FIP, 1.35 WHIP, -0.5 bWAR

Peterson was perfect through three in his last outing, and then it all came crashing down in a catastrophic fourth inning. After recording the first, he gave up four hits walked two batters, and was the victim of some poor defense behind him. All told, he gave up six runs (three earned) and only lasted 3.1 innings before getting pulled. It was a step back after his stellar second start in which he matched a career high with 10 strikeouts, but the cold weather and the defensive miscues played their part, so it will be interesting to see how he rebounds on Tuesday evening. Peterson made his first career start against Boston last year, earning the win while tossing 5.2 innings of two-run ball at Fenway Park on July 28.

Wednesday, April 28: Nick Pivetta vs. Jacob deGrom, 6:40 p.m. on SNY

Pivetta (2021): 20.2 IP, 18 K, 14 BB, 1 HR, 3.48 ERA, 4.02 FIP, 1.36 WHIP, 0.6 bWAR

The change of scenery has been a welcome one for Pivetta, who was running a 5.50 ERA in parts of four seasons with the Phillies. In six starts since getting traded last August, Pivetta has posted a 2.93 ERA, a 3.81 FIP, and a 1.34 WHIP with a 1.2 bWAR. While a small sample size, it is a considerable improvement from how he was performing with his old club. In his last start, he hurled six innings and allowed two earned runs on one hit with four strikeouts. Control remains the main concern with Pivetta. The right-hander has issued the most walks in the American League, and his 6.10 BB/9 is the worst among AL starters who’ve thrown at least 20 innings. Pivetta owns a 6.08 ERA in 37.0 innings against the Mets.

deGrom (2021): 29.0 IP, 50 K, 3 BB, 2 HR, 0.31 ERA, 0.86 FIP, 0.55 WHIP, 1.9 bWAR

I could type a whole lot of words about deGrom’s last start, but none of them would do it any justice. The best pitcher in baseball was at his best on Friday night, striking out a career-high 15 and tossing a complete game two-hit shutout in a completely masterful performance. He managed to lower his ERA from 0.45 to 0.31 and now owns an absurd 1238 ERA+. He put up a 0.8 bWAR in that one start alone, and set the record for the most strikeouts through a starter’s first four outings of the season. Oh yeah, and he also broke the ice with a run-scoring double and picked up two hits in total on the evening. He now owns 72 career hits and 72 career wins. What can Jake possibly do for an encore on Wednesday?

Prediction: The Mets and Red Sox split a pair.

Poll

How will the Mets fare in their two game series against the Red Sox?

This poll is closed

  • 47%
    The Mets sweep the Red Sox!
    (64 votes)
  • 32%
    The Mets settle for a split in their series against Boston.
    (44 votes)
  • 5%
    The Mets are swept away by the first place Red Sox.
    (8 votes)
  • 14%
    Pizza!
    (19 votes)
135 votes total Vote Now