The first-place Mets (16-13) are looking to cap off a successful homestand as they welcome the Baltimore Orioles (16-19) to Citi Field for a two-game set. The two teams split four games last year, while Baltimore won three of four in 2018 against New York.
The Mets are coming off a sweep of the Arizona Diamondbacks, which catapulted them back into first place in the National League East. Things were looking dire for New York on Friday night, as David Peterson failed to make it past the second inning and put his club in a 3-0 hole before being lifted. After Robert Gsellman gave up a run in the fourth, the bullpen proceeded to shut Arizona out for the rest of the evening. The Mets chipped away with a run in the third and a run in the sixth before Francisco Lindor tied the game with a two-run blast in the seventh, shortly after a highly-publicized and over-analyzed disagreement with Jeff McNeil over the type of rodent they saw in the tunnel leading to the clubhouse. Following the brief tiff, the Mets won in the tenth, with Patrick Mazeika playing the unlikely hero with a bases-loaded dribbler that plated the winning run.
The Mets went with a bullpen game on Saturday night, using Tommy Hunter to open before Joey Lucchesi picked up the bulk of the work. Following Friday’s excitement, Jeff McNeil launched a two-run homer in the third, and Francisco Lindor walked, stole second, and scored when the ball ricocheted into the outfield. The bullpen was in cruise control from there, tossing a stellar game with contributions across the board in a 4-2 victory.
New York completed the sweep on Sunday in Jacob deGrom’s return to the mound, although the ace had to be removed after experiencing right side tightness. deGrom was perfect through four but never really seemed comfortable, and he looked especially bothered in the fifth, when he walked two and allowed a run. The offense was able to come through, scoring two runs in the third, one in the sixth, and one in the seventh. The D’Backs threatened but never broke through, and the Mets secured a 4-2 win to finish off Arizona. The Mets eventually announced that they would be placing their ace on the injured list, despite the MRI coming back clean.
A key to the team’s sweep, and their recent success, has been their bullpen, which has posted a major league-best 1.71 ERA since April 22. During the three-game series, Mets relievers tossed 21.1 innings, allowing three earned runs (1.27 ERA) on 18 hits with 17 strikeouts. Overall, their bullpen’s 2.80 FIP is tops in the majors, while 3.04 ERA is second only to the San Diego Padres in the National League and their 25.8% K% is fourth in the NL.
Following his five-out save on Sunday, Edwin Díaz has a 3.14 ERA and a 3.37 FIP with a 31.0% K% in 14.1 innings. Trevor May has been tremendous since a disastrous debut, pitching to a 1.46 ERA and a 0.99 FIP with a 33.3% K% in 12.1 innings. Jeurys Familia has regained his form after some down seasons, posting a 0.93 ERA, a 2.27 FIP, and a 22.7% K% in 9.2 innings. Aaron Loup has been everything the club could have hoped for when they signed him and currently owns a 1.04 ERA, a 1.83 FIP, and a 29.4% K% in 8.2 innings. The Mets have gotten positive contributions from many other unlikely sources as of late, including Sean Reid-Foley, Jacob Barnes, and Tommy Hunter.
The Orioles enter this short series in last place in the AL East. After dropping their first three games at home to the Boston Red Sox, they were able to salvage their finale yesterday to avoid the sweep. In all, they have won four games and lost five this month. The most talked about story of this series will be Matt Harvey’s return to Flushing to take on his former club in the matinee finale. While Harvey did return as a member of the Cincinnati Reds in 2018 following the trade earlier that year, he did not face the Mets. In six years, with the Mets, The Dark Knight posted a 3.66 ERA, a 3.43 FIP, a 1.19 WHIP, and recorded 612 strikeouts in his 109 appearances. He also started the 2013 All Star Game at Citi Field as a member of the club, and pitched Games 1 and 5 of the 2015 World Series.
Offensively, Baltimore is led by two of its homegrown stars: Cedric Mullins and Trey Mancini. Mullins is off to a raging-hot start, slashing .312/.373/.536 with six home runs, a 153 wRC+, and a 1.6 fWAR. The center fielder leads his club in pretty much every notable offensive category. Mancini missed the entire 2020 season after being diagnosed with stage 3 colon cancer. Thankfully, he was able to beat the disease and announced that he was cancer-free in November, clearing the way for his return to his team. So far, he is hitting .252/.311/.452 with a team-high seven home runs, a 107 wRC+, and a 0.1 fWAR in 35 games.
Tuesday, May 11: John Means vs. Marcus Stroman, 7:10 p.m. on SNY
Means (2021): 46.0 IP, 50 K, 10 BB, 5 HR, 1.37 ERA, 2.99 FIP, 0.67 WHIP, 2.4 bWAR
Means was as close to perfect as you could be without being perfect in his last start against the Seattle Mariners, tossing the first Orioles complete game no-hitter since Jim Palmer on August 13, 1969. The lone blemish against his record was Sam Haggerty reaching with one out in the third on a wild pitch following a strikeout. In all, he recorded 12 punch outs and needed 113 pitches to get through his outstanding outing. Means registered a game score of 99 in the no-no, which is the best for a pitcher during the 2021 season, edging out deGrom’s stellar performance against the Washington Nationals on April 23. The left-hander, who finished second in Rookie of the Year voting in 2019, has bounced back from a bumpy 2020 season and has established himself as an early AL Cy Young contender.
Stroman (2021): 34.0 IP, 29 K, 7 BB, 3 HR, 2.12 ERA, 3.25 FIP, 1.03 WHIP, 0.7 bWAR
Stroman pitched well enough in his last start against the St. Louis Cardinals, despite giving up a rocket of a homer to Paul Goldschmidt in the first inning. He bounced back after that, but his offense and defense did him no favors in game one of the doubleheader. At one point, Stroman, who is not known for his strikeout prowess, K’ed five batters in a row. He could’ve escaped with less damage, but a Lindor error extended his fifth inning and allowed Met Killer Paul DeJong to blast a two-run homer. In total, he allowed four runs (two earned) on seven hits with six strikeouts over five innings. Stroman has faced Baltimore 13 times in his career, posting a 3.36 ERA with 62 strikeouts in 75.0 innings.
Wednesday, May 12: Matt Harvey vs. Taijuan Walker, 12:10 p.m. on SNY
Harvey (2021): 35.0 IP, 25 K, 10 BB, 3 HR, 3.60 ERA, 3.82 FIP, 1.29 WHIP, 0.4 bWAR
Just over three years to the day after the Mets dealt Matt Harvey away to the Cincinnati Reds, the right-hander will make his first start against the club where he had his greatest success and his public fall from grace. After signing a minor league contract with the Orioles and making the club out of spring training, Harvey is having his best season post-Mets, pitching to a 3.60 ERA and a 3.82 FIP in seven starts. After earning wins in three consecutive starts, he only lasted four in his last appearance against the Red Sox, picking up the loss while allowing four runs (all unearned) on four hits in four innings. Over his last four starts, he owns a 2.61 ERA and a 3.64 FIP in 20.2 innings. There will certainly be a range of emotion for all those in the stadium when Harvey takes the Citi Field mound for the first time since May 2018.
Walker (2021): 34.0 IP, 35 K, 15 BB, 1 HR, 2.38 ERA, 2.84 FIP, 1.03 WHIP, 0.8 bWAR
Walker was positively wonderful in his last start, putting together his best outing in orange and blue. The right-hander allowed just one unearned run on one hit over seven strong innings, matching his season high with eight strikeouts while not walking a single batter. He threw 62 of his 92 pitches (67%) for strikes and exhibited masterful control all game long. At one point, he was interrupted by a brief rain delay, but it was short enough that he was able to return to continue his terrific work. After a single and an error to start the second, he retired the final 18 batters he faced to earn is second win.
Prediction: The Mets will sweep the two-game set to complete a perfect homestand.
How will the Mets fare in their two game series against the Orioles?
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The Mets pick up another sweep at home!
The Mets split a pair with Baltimore.
The Mets suffer a sweep at the hands of the Orioles.