The Mets (59-58) continue their brutal stretch of games against the two best team in the National League as they head to The City By The Bay to face the Giants (76-42). No team in Major League Baseball currently sports a better record than the Giants, who have established themselves as the biggest surprise in the league and a potential World Series favorite. These two squads last squared off in 2019, when the Mets dropped four out of seven to the Giants, including three out of four games in California.
The Mets were swept at home by the Dodgers in a demoralizing weekend series. The Mets lost a heartbreaker on Friday night, falling 6-5 in ten innings. Tylor Megill did not have his best stuff but fought through five innings of three-run ball, but he kept the Mets in the game. A fourth run scored in the sixth, thanks in large part to an error when James McCann made an errant throw to Drew Smith following a strikeout, allowing Chris Taylor to reach third—Taylor would eventually come around to score on a Billy McKinney sacrifice fly. The Mets could not touch Julio Urías through five, but they finally broke through against L.A.’s bullpen with four runs in the fourth in a thrilling inning of baseball that hyped up the crowd of over 38,000+ fans. The game remained tied until the tenth, when Jeurys Familia, pitching for the third straight day, allowed a leadoff two-run home run to Will Smith. The Mets mustered one run in the bottom half of the frame, but could not tie it up.
The Mets suffered an equally brutal loss on Saturday, falling 2-1 in ten innings to the Dodgers, who had previously owned a 1-12 record in extra innings. Taijuan Walker had one of his best starts of the year for the Mets, pitching six no-hit innings to start this outing. Walker Buehler, a top Cy Young contender who leads the National League in ERA, was equally good but served up a homer to Michael Conforto in the fourth to break the scoreless tie. Things remained 1-0 until the seventh, when Smith hit a one-out home run to break up the no-hitter and the shutout. The game remained tied until the tenth, when Cody Bellinger hit a one-out double against Yennsy Díaz, and the Mets were again unable to tie the game up in the bottom half of the inning.
The less we say about Sunday’s game, the better. Suffice to say, the Mets used two position players to pitch the ninth inning, which should paint a pretty clear picture of the pain the team and its fans had to endure in that 14-4 loss.
There is no greater cause for the team’s current woes than their offense, specifically their hitting with runners in scoring position. Over the last two losses, they went 0-for-21 with RISP, and they went 2-for-29 overall against the Dodgers. In total, they left 26 men on base. While it likely would not have done much for yesterday’s game, one more big hit here or there would have gone a long way towards getting the team a big win on either Friday or Saturday night, and we could be feeling a little bit differently about the outlook of the club heading into this series. Alas...
The Giants head into this series as winners of seven of their last eight, nine of their last 11, and 11 out of 14 overall in the month of August. They have four more wins than any other team in MLB, their +144 run differential trails only the Dodgers and the Astros, and their 4.93 runs-per-game is third in the NL behind the Dodgers the Reds. To contrast that, the Mets, at 3.79 runs-per-game, are second-from-the-bottom in the National League, and third-worst in all of baseball.
San Francisco, a team that has not had a winning record since earning a Wild Card spot in 2016, has shocked the baseball world with contributions across the board from their veterans, many of whom have performed at or above their career norms. The team currently leads the NL with 176 home runs, and their 106 wRC+ and .764 OPS rank second in the league behind the Dodgers and the Reds, respectively.
Buster Posey, who earned his seventh career All Star game nod, has led the charge for the Giants. The catcher is slashing .331/.426/.549 with 15 home runs, a team-high 163 wRC+, and a team-best 4.1 fWAR in 77 games. Shortstop Brandon Crawford, who earned his third All Star game nod, leads the club with 19 home runs while hitting .298/.364/.536 with a 138 wRC+ and a 3.9 fWAR in 97 games. Old friend Wilmer Flores actually leads the Giants with 106 games played and has posted a .248/.325/.442 slash line with 15 home runs, a 109 wRC+, and a 1.0 fWAR.
Monday, August 16: Rich Hill vs. Kevin Gausman, 9:45 p.m. on SNY
Hill (2021): 113.1 IP, 103 K, 43 BB, 16 HR, 4.05 ERA, 4.65 FIP, 1.19 WHIP, 0.5 bWAR
Hill took the ball for his first relief appearance since 2018 his last time out, which was a result of the suspended game against the Nationals on Tuesday night. After allowing Carlos Carrasco’s run to score, he pitch a scoreless third and fourth before faltering in the fifth. Ultimately, he was charged with three earned runs on four hits over three-plus innings out of the pen. In four appearances for New York so far, the veteran left-hander owns a 5.00 ERA, a 5.12 FIP, and a 1.33 WHIP in 18.0 innings.
Gausman (2021): 137.1 IP, 162 K, 43 BB, 12 HR, 2.29 ERA, 2.94 FIP, 0.97 WHIP, 5.0 bWAR
Gausman accepted a Qualifying Offer during the offseason, which has turned into a big positive for the Giants. Gausman was elected to his first career All Star team in 2021, and has established himself as a legitimate Cy Young contender. He currently owns the fourth-best ERA and fourth-best FIP among qualified starters in the NL. The 30-year-old hurler has set himself up for a big payday come this offseason. He picked up his eleventh win of the year in his last outing, though it wasn’t one of his sharpest. He went five innings against the Diamondbacks and held them to two runs (one earned) on four hits, while walking four and striking out five. He faced them in his prior start as well, and struck out eight without issuing a walk over six one-run innings.
Tuesday, August 17: Marcus Stroman vs. Logan Webb, 9:45 p.m. on SNY
Stroman (2021): 132.1 IP, 114 K, 31 BB, 12 HR, 2.79 ERA, 3.45 FIP, 1.13 WHIP, 2.3 bWAR
Stroman had by far his gutsiest start of the year, as he battled intense heat to give his team 5.1 strong innings. At one point, action had to be paused so the right-handed could get a drink of water under the 100+ degree afternoon heat, but he rebounded. He had five shutout innings before tiring out in the sixth, and in the end was charged with one earned run on three hits, with two walks and eight strikeouts. He has now pitched at least five innings in eight straight starts, dating back to July 4, and he has been by far New York’s most dependable pitcher throughout the season. In a strange and random bit of trivia, seven of his 24 starts this year have come in a doubleheader—eight of 25 if you include the start he made in that suspended game back in April.
Webb (2021): 85.0 IP, 90 K, 26 BB, 7 HR, 2.96 ERA, 3.23 FIP, 1.14 WHIP, 2.0 bWAR
Webb was drafted in the fourth round of the 2014 MLB Draft. In his first two go-arounds in the majors in 2019 and 2020, his numbers were nothing to write home about, to put it kindly. However, in 2021, the right-hander has turned it all around and has become a force out of San Francisco’s rotation. Webb originally was the pitcher filling in for injured pitchers, but he has forced his way into the plans with his performance. He did endure two separate IL stints with a right shoulder strain, the latter of which cost him the entire month of June, but he has not missed a beat since returning on July 9. Since then, he has posted a 1.75 ERA, a 3.10 FIP, a 0.94 WHIP, and a 25.9% K% in 36.0 innings across seven starts. His last start against the Rockies was his best since returning, as he tossed six scoreless innings while limiting Colorado to three hits. In the win, he struck out eight while walking two.
Wednesday, August 18: Tylor Megill vs. Anthony DeSclafani, 3:45 p.m. on SNY
Megill (2021): 50.0 IP, 54 K, 13 BB, 7 HR, 3.42 ERA, 3.74 FIP, 1.16 WHIP, 1.0 bWAR
Megill battled in his last outing, and kept the Mets in the game against the mighty Dodgers lineup. He allowed three runs on six hits over five innings while walking one and punching out six batters. It was the first time since July 23 that he didn’t allow a home run in his start, which was a positive sign. On a less encouraging note, he owns a 6.75 ERA, a 4.41 FIP, and a 1.30 WHIP in 14.2 innings during the month of August. That regression could very easily be due to fatigue, as the right-hander has tossed 90.1 innings between the minors and majors this year after not throwing a pitch last season. That number also eclipses the 71.2 innings he threw in 2019, which was a career high for the 26-year-old. While the team has not said anything officially, he may have an innings limit that they will continue to monitor as the season wears on.
DeSclafani (2021): 131.1 IP, 122 K, 35 BB, 13 HR, 3.29 ERA, 3.73 FIP, 1.08 WHIP, 2.6 bWAR
DeSclafani is yet another Giant who has been fixed by whatever magic they are working over there in San Francisco. After pitching to a 7.22 ERA with the Reds last year—he finished his tenure in Cincinnati with a 4.19 ERA in 112 appearances across five seasons—the right-hander owns a 3.29 ERA this season, and has been a big addition to the Giants’ rotation after signing a one-year deal over the winter. He earned his eleventh win of the 2021 season his last time out against the Rockies, as he tossed five innings and allowed two earned runs on five hits with four strikeouts. He has hit a bit of a rough patch as of late, with a 6.00 ERA, a 4.72 FIP, and a 1.46 WHIP in 24.0 innings over his last five starts.
Prediction: The Mets drop two of three to the Giants.
How will the Mets fare in their three game series against the Giants?
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The Mets come up big in a three game sweep!
The Mets take two out of three out west.
The Mets win a game but drop the series.
The Mets suffer a giant step back in a sweep.