Following a rain-shortened 4-1 homestand, the first place Mets (25-20) head west for seven games, beginning with a three-game series against the skidding Arizona Diamondbacks (19-35). The two teams met earlier this month at Citi Field, with the Mets sweeping the series. The good news for the Mets is that, with their current road trip taking them to the climate-controlled Chase Field and then to San Diego, there is (almost) no chance of any weather-related shenanigans for at least the next week.
After starting their homestand by taking three of four from the Colorado Rockies, the Mets had their sights set on the division rival Atlanta Braves for a critical three-game weekend showdown. Unfortunately, Mother Nature had other plans, and the two teams managed to squeeze in just one game in amid pouring rain and uncomfortably cold temperatures. But the Mets made that one game count, clobbering Atlanta in a 13-2 drubbing to “sweep” the series.
The bats heated up on a cold Saturday night, and the Mets got home runs from five different players, including some unlikely contributors like Billy McKinney and Brandon Drury. James McCann had his best offensive showing in a Mets uniform, contributing four hits, including one of the aforementioned homers, and falling a triple short of the cycle. Francisco Lindor made a nice defensive play, dropped a bunt down for a hit, and then obliterated a baseball for his fourth homer as a Met. Cameron Maybin even got in on the fun, breaking his record-setting 0-for-27 start to his Mets career by dribbling a single down the third base line. Meanwhile, Taijuan Walker was terrific in his first outing off the IL, pitching five scoreless innings to improve his ERA to 1.84, which is the lowest mark for a Mets pitcher in his first nine starts since Al Leiter’s 1.49 ERA to start his Mets career.
The good news keeps coming for the first place Mets. Following yesterday’s rainout, it was revealed that the club would be getting Pete Alonso back for their Monday series opener. Alonso, who hasn’t played since May 18 while he recovered from a sprained right hand, was hitting .236/.336/.433 with a team-leading six homers and a 118 wRC+ in 37 games. The first baseman didn’t require a rehab stint before his return. With James McCann getting time at first—and performing admirably at the position—due to Tomás Nido’s recent performance, it it will be interesting to see how Luis Rojas splits the time between his two catchers with the Polar Bear returning to the lineup.
Mets fans can also expect a reunion of the *illar boys shortly, as Kevin Pillar is set to come off the injured list in the next day or two. Pillar hasn’t played since May 17, when he took a 95 mph fastball to the face and suffered multiple nasal fractures. He has been spotted around the ballpark since the incident, and has always appeared in good spirits despite the painful nature of the injury. He will also be back without a rehab stint, and will reclaim his spot in the starting outfield upon his return.
The Mets will also be very happy to get Seth Lugo back. The right-hander has not pitched this season after undergoing surgery in February to remove a loose body from his right elbow. Lugo has been the team’s best reliever in recent years, but he will come back to a pen that has been overperforming, for a change. Still, getting another dependable arm back there means Rojas doesn’t have to rely as heavily on Trevor May, Jeurys Familia, and Miguel Castro, and will give the team one of the most fearsome pens in the league. With the Mets getting players back from the IL instead of placing players on it, they will have some 40-man roster decisions to make. Some players who are in danger of getting designated for assignment include the aforementioned Maybin, Wilfredo Tovar, and Stephen Tarpley.
The Diamondbacks put an end to their 13-game losing streak on Sunday, defeating the St. Louis Cardinals 9-2 to avoid the sweep and pick up their first win of their homestand. Prior to that victory, their last win came on May 15 at home against the Washington Nationals. Their skid sunk them into last place in the stacked National League West division, one game behind the Rockies. Arizona owns an unsightly 5-23 record during the month of May, which is the worst mark in the majors.
Catcher Carson Kelly continues to lead the way for Arizona, with a team-best 163 wRC+ and .222 ISO to go along with a .303/.443/.525 slash line and a 1.5 fWAR in 34 games. Josh Rojas, who has primarily played second with Eduardo Escobar shifting over to third following Asdrubal Cabrera’s injury, has been a top performer for Arizona. The 26-year-old is hitting .283/.365/.465 with five homers, a 129 wRC+, and a 1.5 fWAR in 49 games. Escobar currently leads the Diamondbacks with 12 home runs while hitting .230/.277/.450 with a 96 wRC+ and a 0.6 fWAR in a team-high 53 games. The aforementioned Cabrera will miss this series against his old club while he recovers from a hamstring injury.
Offense hasn’t been the problem for the Diamondbacks, especially at home, as their 4.96 runs-per-game at Chase Field puts them tenth in the league for clubs at their home park. It’s been Arizona’s pitching that has let them down. Through 54 games, their rotation’s 5.05 ERA is second-worst in the National League, while their 4.50 FIP is fourth-worst. Their starters are only striking out batters at a 20.9% clip, which is the fourth-lowest mark in the NL. Their bullpen, meanwhile, has a 4.61 ERA as a group, which is the third-worst mark in the NL.
Monday, May 31: Jacob deGrom vs. Merrill Kelly, 9:40 p.m. on SNY
deGrom (2021): 45.0 IP, 74 K, 7 BB, 3 HR, 0.80 ERA, 1.18 FIP, 0.60 WHIP, 2.3 bWAR
deGrom assuaged any fears about his injury with his sharp return to the mound on Tuesday. The best pitcher in baseball struck out nine Rockies over five innings while pumping triple-digit fastballs. He allowed one earned run on a Ryan McMahon homer but was otherwise efficient while allowing just three hits. He only needed 63 pitches to navigate his five innings, but his club opted to remove him instead of push him in his first start back. Among 55 NL starting starters with at least 40 innings pitched, he is first in ERA (0.80), WHIP (0.60), and K% (46.5%), while ranking second only to Corbin Burnes in FIP (1.18). deGrom has dominated the Diamondbacks in five starts, posting a 1.65 ERA with 47 strikeouts in 32.2 innings while earning the win in four of those games.
Kelly (2021): 57.2 IP, 52 K, 16 BB, 8 HR, 4,84 ERA, 4.01 FIP, 1.32 WHIP, 0.0 bWAR
Kelly has been the anchor to Arizona’s underperforming rotation this season, especially as of late. He’s pitched at least 5.2 innings in each of his last six starts and has a string of three straight quality starts for Arizona. In his last six outings, he is pitching to a 3.19 ERA, a 3.31 FIP, and a 1.17 WHIP, with opposing batters posting a .663 OPS against him. During that stretch, he is striking out batters at a 26.0% clip while walking 7.3% of batters he’s faced. In his last outing, he went six innings and allowed two earned runs on five hits with six strikeouts in six innings against the San Francisco Giants. Prior to that, the right-hander went seven against the Los Angeles Dodgers and struck out a season-high twelve, though he got the loss after giving up three earned runs.
Tuesday, June 1: David Peterson vs. Caleb Smith, 9:40 p.m. on SNY
Peterson (2021): 44.0 IP, 49 K, 17 BB, 8 HR, 4.91 ERA, 4.64 FIP, 1.27 WHIP, -0.5 bWAR
In his most recent outing against the Rockies, Peterson gave the club about the type of start you would expect from a fifth starter, and remained as frustrating as ever. The good: He gave his team six innings, and allowed five hits. The bad: He walked three and gave up two homers. He now owns a 1.64 HR/9 on the season, which is the sixth-worst mark among National League starters with at least 40.0 innings pitched in 2021. With the setbacks to Syndergaard and Carrasco, Peterson will keep his rotation spot for at least the next two months, and the club will hope he can give them more of the good than the bad.
Smith (2021): 33.0 IP, 40 K, 16 BB, 3 HR, 3.27 ERA, 3.61 FIP, 1.36 WHIP, 0.3 bWAR
Smith will get only his second start for the Diamondbacks after beginning the year in Arizona’s rotation. The left-hander allowed four runs (three earned) on five hits with three walks and four strikeouts in three innings against the San Diego Padres on April 3. Since then, he’s pitched 30.0 innings out of the bullpen and posted a 2.70 ERA with 36 strikeouts. He has yet to record more than nine outs in any given outing this year, either as a starter or out of the bullpen. In terms of pitches, he has topped out at 63, and has only gone beyond 50 pitches twice, so expect him to reside in that range for this start.
Wednesday, June 2: Marcus Stroman vs. Madison Bumgarner, 3:40 p.m. on SNY
Stroman (2021): 58.1 IP, 46 K, 13 BB, 6 HR, 2.47 ERA, 3.65 FIP, 1.05 WHIP, 0.9 bWAR
In his last start, Stroman did what Stroman does best. In six innings, the right-hander got 10 outs via the ground ball, which is what the team looks for from him. Besides that, he struck out three, walked two, scattered three hits, and held the Rockies off the board for six innings. He showed some signs of fatigue in the sixth and, while he could have continued into the seventh and was only at 90 pitches at the time, Rojas smartly chose to go to his closer in a 7-inning game to finish off the game. Stroman won his fourth game of the year, and his first since rattling off three straight victories in his first three starts this season.
Bumgarner (2021): 57.2 IP, 60 K, 18 BB, 9 HR, 5.15 ERA, 4.32 FIP, 1.16 WHIP, -0.1 bWAR
Bumgarner is no longer one of the most fearsome pitchers in the game, as he once was with the Giants. After a disappointing start to his tenure in Arizona last year, the southpaw has once again failed to live up to expectations in his second season with the Diamondbacks. He’s given up seven runs in each of his last two starts and has been saddled with the loss in each of his last three starts. Against the Cardinals on May 28, the lefty lasted only four innings and was charged with seven runs (six earned) on five hits, with a season-high four walks and only four strikeouts. In four of his 11 starts this year, he has failed to complete five innings of work. Bumgarner did have one highlight this year, when he no-hit the Braves in a complete game, though because it came in a 7-inning affair, it hasn’t been logged in the history books as an official no-hitter.
Prediction: The revitalized Mets sweep the struggling Diamondbacks on the road!
How will the Mets fare in their three game series against the Diamondbacks?
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The Mets sweep the struggling Diamondbacks!
The Mets take two of three in the desert.
The Mets win one, but drop a series to last-place Arizona.
The Mets are snake bitten in a three-game sweep.