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Mets back at Citi Field for three-game showdown with red-hot Brewers

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The Mets will have their work cut out for them against first-place Milwaukee.

MLB: Milwaukee Brewers at Pittsburgh Pirates Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The Mets (43-37) return home to begin their final stretch of games before the All Star break with three against the scorching-hot Milwaukee Brewers (51-34). The Mets hold a 78-69 record all-time against the Brewers, although they dropped five out of six to Milwaukee the last time they faced them in 2019.

The Mets took Round 1 of the Subway Series from the New York Yankees over the weekend. After Friday’s opener was rained out, the two clubs kicked things off on Saturday, with the Mets picking up an 8-3 victory over the lesser New York team. Both offenses were silent until the fifth, when the Mets roughed up Jordan Montgomery for three runs before adding five more in the sixth against former friend Justin Wilson. The big hit was Dominic Smith’s two-run double, which came after he drove in the game’s first run in the fifth. Taijuan Walker carried a no-hitter into the sixth, but lost it with Aaron Judge’s one-out home run. Overall, he was tremendous, turning in 5.2 innings of two-run ball while the bullpen held the Yankees’ bats in check over the final three frames.

The two sides concluded the series with a split-admissions doubleheader on the Fourth of July. In the first game, the Mets jumped out in front on a Smith homer, but bad defense and an ineffective Marcus Stroman resulted to a 4-1 deficit. The Mets battled back against Gerrit Cole and tied it up at four, although a Brandon Nimmo baserunning blunder on Francisco Lindor’s game-tying single preventing the Mets from adding on. The Yankees took the lead in the bottom of the fifth, and the Mets faced the struggling Aroldis Chapman down a run in the top of the seventh. That’s when the floodgates opened, as Pete Alonso tied the game with a leadoff home run. Alonso’s heroics catalyzed a six-run outpouring of offense for the Mets against Chapman and Lucas Luetge, which stunned the Yankees fans in attendance. Seth Lugo pitched a perfect seventh to close out a 10-5 win for the Amazins.

The Mets were denied the opportunity to sweep their crosstown rivals as they fell 4-2 in the nightcap. The Mets turned to Corey Oswalt, who gave the club four solid innings, with a Gio Urshela three-run homer serving as the big blemish against his record. Alonso hit his second homer of the day to draw the Mets to within a run, but that was as close as they would get.

As expected, Jacob deGrom was named to his fourth All Star team on Sunday, although he is not expected to pitch in the game because he is scheduled to go on the Sunday before the break. Normally, he would have been a leading contender to start the exhibition for the National League, but his club is more than happy to see him get the extra rest. The team did not get have any other All Stars, although Taijuan Walker could find himself added as a replacement to an unavailable player, perhaps even in place of deGrom. Walker had a strong case, as he currently has the ninth-best ERA in the NL.

Dominic Smith has been tearing the cover off the ball over the last week, which has been a sight for sore eyes for the Mets. Over his last six games, he has three homers, two doubles, and eight runs scored while slashing .417/.440/.875 with a 258 wRC+ in 25 plate appearances. The outfielder/first baseman has seemed like a shell of the hitter he had developed into over the past two seasons, so this is hopefully a sign of things to come. Jeff McNeil has also started to come out of his post-IL slump, hitting .318/.400/.718 with a 115 wRC+ over his last seven games. Michael Conforto, on the other hand, has been mired in a never-ending slump. Since returning, he is posted a troubling .118/.275/.147 slash line with a 49 wRC+ in 12 games. On the season, he is hitting .204/.341/.293 with two home runs and a 91 wRC+ in 179 plate appearances.

The Brewers saw their 11-game winning streak snapped on Sunday, but they are still raging hot. At the time the streak began on June 22, Milwaukee was tied with the Chicago Cubs atop the National League Central, but they have since grown that lead to eight-and-a-half games over Chicago, with the help of the Cubs’ nine-game skid. In that stretch, the Cincinnati Reds have jumped into second place, but they still find themselves seven games back of Milwaukee. The Brewers took three out of four from the lowly Pittsburgh Pirates over the weekend. Prior to that, they swept the aforementioned Cubs and the Colorado Rockies.

The Brewers have been carried by their starting pitching, which has the second-best FIP (3.46), third-best HR/9 (0.96) and K/9 (9.95), and fourth-best ERA (3.30 ERA) among staffs in the National League. They are led by All Stars Brandon Woodruff and Corbin Burns, whom the Mets will see during this series (more on them later). Their offense, on the other hand, isn’t quite as daunting, as their 91 wRC+ and .692 OPS are both tenth in the NL. They are sixth in the league with 4.41 runs-per-game.

Milwaukee is led by former NL MVP Christian Yelich, who is not putting up quite the MVP-level production he did in 2018 and 2019 but is still having a solid season. In 52 games, the outfielder is hitting .250/.412/.396 with five homers and a 127 wRC+ with a 1.1 fWAR. Catcher Omar Narvaez leads the offense with a 135 wRC+ and a 2.6 fWAR while slashing .301/.393/.459 in 64 games.

Keston Hiura has been a disappointment this year for the Brewers, and spent some time in Triple-A trying to figure out his offensive troubles. In 48 games, the second baseman is hitting .166/.265/.303 with four home runs, a 60 wRC+, and a -0.5 fWAR. Former Future Met Jackie Bradley Jr. has struggled for his new club, slashing .175/.254/.297 with six homers, a 53 wRC+, and a 0.0 fWAR in 76 games. Lorenzo Cain will miss the series as he continues to recover from a hamstring strain, which has had him on the shelf since June 1.

Monday, July 5: Brandon Woodruff vs. Tylor Megill, 7:10 p.m. on SNY

Woodruff (2021): 101.0 IP, 119 K, 24 BB, 9 HR, 1.87 ERA, 2.79 FIP, 0.78 WHIP, 4.2 bWAR

If not for Jacob deGrom’s historic season, Woodruff would be squarely in the NL Cy Young conversation, and might even be considered the frontrunner. The right-hander, who was named to his second straight All Star game, has been the Brewers’ best pitcher this year, ranking third in the NL in ERA and in bWAR among starting pitchers. He was especially dominant in May, when he pitched to a 1.07 ERA, a 2.46 FIP, and a 0.67 WHIP across 42.0 innings and six starts. In his last outing, he earned a win while holding the Cubs to one run on three hits over six innings. Prior to that, he beat the Arizona Diamondbacks by allowing one earned run on three hits over seven innings.

Megill (2021): 9.1 IP, 12 K, 4 BB, 2 HR, 4.82 ERA, 4.66 FIP, 1.29 WHIP, 0.0 bWAR

Through two starts, Megill has proven extremely effective through four innings before starting to slip in the fifth. In his debut, he mostly cruised before surrendering a two-run homer to Ender Inciarte in the fifth. In his last start—also against the Braves—Megill was again fine through four before the Albies three-run shot in the fifth. If he can continue to give his club around five innings while keeping the game close, he will be doing his job, and he will continue to earn opportunities to pitch at the major league level. The Mets opted to go with Megill on Monday rather than Sunday in the hopes that he can give them more length and prove more useful in a nine-inning game than a seven-inning game.

Tuesday, July 6: Brett Anderson vs. Jacob deGrom, 7:10 p.m. on SNY

Anderson (2021): 48.0 IP, 31 K, 15 BB, 7 HR, 4.69 ERA, 4.82 FIP, 1.46 WHIP, -0.5 bWAR

Anderson will make his return from the injured list to pitch against the Mets on Tuesday. It’ll be his first appearance since June 21, when he exited against the Diamondbacks after 1.1 innings with a right knee contusion. It was his second IL stint of 2021, after he missed a little over two weeks between April and May with a right hamstring strain. The left-hander hasn’t given his club much length this year, as he has gone 4.2 innings or fewer in seven of his 12 outings. His best start came right before the one he exited with a knee injury, as he one-hit the Reds over seven shutout innings on June 15.

deGrom (2021): 85.0 IP, 136 K, 11 BB, 4 HR, 0.95 ERA, 0.99 FIP, 0.54 WHIP, 4.8 bWAR

It says a lot about what people expect of deGrom that, after a rough first inning and two straight starts in which he gave up more than one earned run, people were legitimately expressing concern over the potential plight of the ace. In his last start, he streak of perfect first innings ended, and he gave up three runs in the first and allowed the first two batters in the second to reach, which had everybody scratching their heads. From there, it was vintage deGrom, as he sat down the final 18 batters he faced while recording his fourth 14-strikeout performance of the 2021 season. To put that into perspective, there have only been seven 14-strikeout games from starting pitchers this season, and he owns more than half of them. I think deGrom is going to be just fine.

Wednesday, July 7: Corbin Burnes vs. TBD, 7:10 p.m. on SNY

Burnes (2021): 82.0 IP, 120 K, 15 BB, 3 HR, 2.41 ERA, 1.44 FIP, 0.90 WHIP, 2.6 bWAR

Burnes made a name for himself earlier this year when he set a major league record by striking out 58 batters without issuing a walk to start the season, shattering Kenley Jansen’s previous mark. Since setting, and subsequently losing, his streak on May 13 against the St. Louis Cardinals, he has walked 15, but he’s still second in the NL among starters with at least 80 innings pitched with an 8.00 K/BB (deGrom is first at 12.36). The right-hander turned in two terrific outings during Milwaukee’s winning streak, limiting the Pirates to one run on four hits over 7.1 innings in his last start, and allowing one run on three hits over six innings to the Rockies.

TBD

The Mets have not yet announced a starting pitcher for Wednesday night’s game against the Brewers.

Prediction: The Mets win the middle game but drop two out of three overall to Milwaukee.

Poll

How will the Mets fare in their three game series against the Brewers?

This poll is closed

  • 6%
    The Mets beat up the Brewers in a three game sweep!
    (13 votes)
  • 51%
    The Mets take two of three from first-place Milwaukee.
    (105 votes)
  • 27%
    The Mets steal a game, but drop the series at home.
    (56 votes)
  • 4%
    The Mets are no match for Milwaukee as they’re swept away.
    (10 votes)
  • 8%
    Pizza!
    (18 votes)
202 votes total Vote Now