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Mets conclude west coast road trip with four games against Padres

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The Mets are riding high with a 4.5 game in the division entering play tonight.

MLB: Seattle Mariners at San Diego Padres Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports

The first place Mets (27-21) head to Petco Park to conclude their seven-game road trip with four against the second place San Diego Padres (34-23). The last time these two clubs squared off out west, Chris Paddack and Pete Alonso were beefing, and things got unnecessarily weird and personal on social media between the Padres fanbase and Polar Bear Pete after that. During that season, the two teams split their six games, with each side winning two out of three at home.

The Mets finished off a 17-9 May with a 6-2 win on Memorial Day against the Arizona Diamondbacks. Jacob deGrom made his second start off the IL and was spectacular, striking out eight and scattering two hits over six scoreless innings. Pete Alonso also returned to the lineup with a bang, launching his seventh home run of the year and driving in four of the team’s runs. Billy McKinney hit his second homer in as many games, and Francisco Lindor, Dominic Smith, and José Peraza each contributed two hits in the victory.

The calendar turned to June, and the Mets suffered an all-too-familiar frustrating June loss. The Mets grabbed a four-run lead, thanks to a two-run homer by Smith in the fourth, a Lindor triple in the sixth, and a Smith sac fly in the same inning. Marcus Stroman was cruising through the first five innings, but the right-hander ran into trouble in the sixth and surrendered a three-run blast to Nick Pavin to bring Arizona to within a run. The game remained 4-3 until the ninth, when Josh Rojas singled with two on against Edwin Díaz to tie the game. The Mets pushed a run across in the tenth, but the Diamondbacks countered with two off Trevor May to steal a victory from the Mets.

New York secured a series win on Wednesday, defeating the D’Backs 7-6 in a Youtube-streamed game. The Mets got off to a rousing start, with the first six batters picking up hits as they built a four-run lead against the ineffective Madison Bumgarner. David Peterson, unfortunately, was equally ineffective and couldn’t escape the first as the lefty was tagged for five earned runs. The Mets tied it up in the second on a James McCann single, and went ahead in the fifth thanks to a Brandon Drury run-scoring hit. The Diamondbacks knotted it up in the sixth against Seth Lugo in his second inning of work in his first game back, and the game remained that way until the ninth. That’s when Alonso pushed home the game-deciding run with a single to plate Lindor. One night after blowing his first save of the year, Díaz successfully closed the door.

The Mets, who still seem to be weeks away from getting Jeff McNeil, Michael Conforto, Brandon Nimmo, or J.D. Davis back, were happy to see Alonso and Kevin Pillar return to the lineup. Alonso, who looked uncomfortable at the plate prior to landing on the injured list, looked significantly better as he went 5-for-13 while driving in five runs and scoring three. Pillar, who got his first start on Wednesday, contributed three hits in seven at-bats.

In the meantime, the Mets have been seeing some positive signs from their stars as of late, which is absolutely critical with reinforcements still so far away. Smith broke a 138 at-bat homerless draught during the series and, in general, has seen better results lately. In his last six games, Smith is slashing .474/.542/.737 with a homer, two doubles, four runs driven in, and a 242 wRC+. Lindor, meanwhile, has broken out of his seasons-long doldrums, hitting .310/.333/.517 with a homer, a double, a triple, six runs scores, and a 135 wRC+ over his last seven games. No one has come around quicker than McCann, who is slashing .357/.400/.786 with three homers, nine runs batted in, five runs scored, and a 221 wRC+ in his last eight games.

The Padres lost their hold on first place in the National League West after getting swept by the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field. San Diego enters this series as losers of four straight, and they could be without their star, Fernando Tatis Jr., for a little while, after he left Tuesday night’s loss with right oblique tightness. There is no word yet on his status for the upcoming series or beyond, but oblique injuries are tricky, and his club could look to exercise caution to make sure they have him for the long run.

Prior to the injury, Tatis Jr. had been enjoying an MVP-caliber season. Despite 50 fewer plate appearances than Ronald Acuña Jr., he trails him by just one home run in the NL leaderboard. He currently leads the Padres with his 16 homers, a 179 wRC+, a .400 ISO, and a 2.1 fWAR, while hitting .279/.376/.693. The Mets may also miss Trent Grisham, who is eligible to return on Friday but might require a short rehab stint before being activated. The center fielder is slashing .301/.383/.515 with six homers, a .213 ISO, a 149 wRC+, and a 1.8 fWAR in 36 games. Second baseman Jake Cronenworth has had a great offensive season for San Diego, as he’s put up a .282/.350/.418 slash line five home runs, a 115 wRC+, and a 1.5 fWAR in a team-high 56 games. Manny Machado, who finished third in NL MVP voting in 2020, is hitting .239/.330/.402 with six home runs, a 105 wRC+, and a 1.0 fWAR in 50 games.

Thursday, June 3: Taijuan Walker vs. Yu Darvish, 10:10 p.m. on SNY

Walker (2021): 49.0 IP, 49 K, 19 BB, 1 HR, 1.84 ERA, 2.62 FIP, 0.94 WHIP, 1.4 bWAR

Walker returned from the injured list and dominated the Atlanta Braves, tossing five shutout frames to earn his fourth victory as a Met. He walked one and gave up two hits while matching a season-high with eight strikeouts. He now sits at fifth in the National League with a 1.84 ERA, which is also the lowest ERA for a Met through nine starts since Al Leiter posted a 1.49 ERA in his first nine appearances with the club. He continues to be a pivotal part of the team’s rotation, and has proven to be one of the best starting pitchers signed over the offseason, and at a fraction of the cost of a certain drone-flying Los Angeles Dodgers starter. Walker has a 1.33 ERA and a 0.59 WHIP in 27.0 innings against San Diego in his career.

Darvish (2021): 66.2 IP, 79 K, 16 BB, 6 HR, 2.16 ERA, 2.92 FIP, 0.93 WHIP, 1.5 bWAR

Darvish has stepped in and taken up the mantle as ace of the Padres’ rotation since arriving from Chicago. After finishing second in the Cy Young voting for the Chicago Cubs last season, he ranks sixth among qualified NL starters in ERA, sixth in WAR, sixth in K/9, seventh in FIP, seventh in WHIP, eighth in K% (30.0%), and 13th in BB% (6.1%). He is coming off his worst start since Opening Day, however, as he allowed five runs (four earned) in five innings pitched against the Houston Astros. Besides allowing four earned runs on Opening Day and on May 29, he’s allowed two earned runs or fewer in each of his other nine starts. His best start came on May 17 against the Colorado Rockies, when he struck out ten and pitched seven shutout innings. In five starts against the Mets in his career, he has a 3.24 ERA and a 0.81 WHIP with 38 strikeouts in 33.1 innings.

Friday, June 4: TBD vs. Blake Snell, 10:10 p.m. on SNY

TBD

The Mets have not yet named a starter for Friday night’s game against the Padres. It will most likely be Joey Lucchesi, but the team could opt for an opener instead.

Snell (2021): 47.0 IP, 70 K, 31 BB, 8 HR, 5.55 ERA, 4.41 FIP, 1.60 WHIP, -0.5 bWAR

The Tampa Bay Rays always seem to know a little something about dealing away an ace at the right time, and that principle seems to apply with Snell as well. The left-hander, whose last outing with the Rays involved him being removed from Game 6 of the World Series when he was cruising in an overly-scrutinized decision, has not lived up to the hype with his new club. Snell has not given his team length, pitching into the sixth inning just two times while registering one quality start in 11 tries. In his last two starts, he’s gone a combined 6.2 innings and allowed 12 earned runs on ten hits. Among NL starting pitchers with at least 45.0 innings in 2021, he has the third-worst BB% (14.2%) and the fifth-worst ERA and WHIP, though he also has the seventh-best K% (32.1%).

Saturday, June 5: Jacob deGrom vs. Joe Musgrove, 10:10 p.m. on SNY

deGrom (2021): 51.0 IP, 82 K, 7 BB, 3 HR, 0.71 ERA, 1.09 FIP, 0.57 WHIP, 2.8 bWAR

deGrom is ridiculous. There is simply no other way to describe the best pitcher in baseball. In his last start, he put together a remarkable string of pitches that sat at 101 mph, topping out at 102 mph in the start. He struck out eight, didn’t walk a batter, and scattered two hits over six innings pitched. His club continued to exercise caution with their ace and removed him after just 70 pitches. Under normal circumstances, he could have very easily completed the game, but he is two starts removed from an IL stint. The Padres will present one of the tougher challenges deGrom has faced this year, as his last three outings have been against the weak-hitting Diamondbacks and the Rockies. But if anyone is up to the challenge, it’s deGrom.

Musgrove (2021): 60.2 IP, 79 K, 12 BB, 6 HR, 2.08 ERA, 2.75 FIP, 0.76 WHIP, 1.3 bWAR

Musgrove has been everything the Padres could have hoped for when they acquired him from the Pittsburgh Pirates in a three-team deal—the same trade that netted New York Lucchesi—over the offseason. Musgrove, who grew up rooting for the Padres, threw the first no-hitter in San Diego’s 53-season history in his second start for the club on April 9 against the Texas Rangers. Two starts after that incredible feat, he punched out a season-high 13 in a seven-inning effort against the Milwaukee Brewers, one he would go on to lose after giving up two earned runs. He currently has a 17-inning scoreless streak, having shut out his opponents in his last three outings, which includes five innings out of the bullpen on May 30 in his last outing. Among NL starters who’ve thrown at least 50 innings in 2021, he is fifth in K% (34.5%), seventh in WHIP, and ninth in ERA.

Sunday, June 6: Marcus Stroman vs. TBD, 4:10 p.m. on SNY

Stroman (2021): 64.1 IP, 52 K, 13 BB, 7 HR, 2.66 ERA, 3.63 FIP, 1.06 WHIP, 0.9 bWAR

Stroman was cruising in his last start, until he wasn’t. He gave up exactly one hit in each of his first four innings, but only allowed one runner into scoring position, and then he pitched a perfect fifth. Leading into the sixth, all looked normal, as his team held a three-run lead, but things turned quickly in the sixth. He gave up two hard hit singles and, after briefly recovering to strike out David Peralta, he surrendered a no-doubt-about it homer to Pavin. He escaped the inning and his outing did register as a quality start, as he was charged with three earned runs on seven hits with six strikeouts. It was his second start this year without issuing a walk, and his first since April 13. In total, he threw 74% of his 90 pitches for strikes. Over his last three starts, he’s allowed five earned runs in 18 innings pitched.

TBD

The Padres have not yet named a starting pitcher for Sunday afternoon’s series finale against the Mets.

Prediction: The Mets and Padres will split their four games at Petco Park.

Poll

How will the Mets fare in their four game series against the Padres?

This poll is closed

  • 6%
    The Mets shock the Padres in a four-game sweep!
    (20 votes)
  • 21%
    The Mets take three of four in San Diego.
    (67 votes)
  • 45%
    It’s a series split to end the road trip.
    (141 votes)
  • 13%
    The Mets swipe one game but drop the series.
    (40 votes)
  • 3%
    The Mets call the Padres their daddies in a four-game sweep.
    (11 votes)
  • 9%
    Pizza!
    (28 votes)
307 votes total Vote Now