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Mets look to gain ground in playoff race as they face Cardinals

The Mets will get a chance to take down a team directly ahead of them in the Wild Card standings.

MLB: St. Louis Cardinals at Milwaukee Brewers Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

The Mets (72-72) continue their homestand as they face off for three games with the Cardinals (73-69). Earlier this season, New York and St. Louis split four games at Busch Stadium.

The Mets took two out of three from the Yankees in a thrilling conclusion to the 2021 Subway Series. The series kicked off with a highly entertaining 10-3 win on Friday night, as the Yankees played more like the Mets than their usual selves. The Yankees and Mets traded runs in the first, with Gary Sanchez’s horrific late tag of Jonathan Villar at home allowing the Mets to tie the game. Joey Gallo’s second inning home run gave the Bronx Bombers a brief one-run lead, but things unraveled for them in the third, leading to five runs for the Mets. It started with Pete Alonso drawing a bases loaded walk, and continued when Javier Báez grounded out to third and Gio Urshela threw the ball wildly to home, allowing the go-ahead run to score. Jeff McNeil then executed a perfect bases loaded bunt for the fourth run of the game, and the Mets added two more in the frame. Meanwhile, Tylor Megill went a career-best seven innings and struck out a career-high ten to pick up his third win.

Saturday night was the 20th anniversary of the September 11th attacks, and the two clubs took the field together for a touching and emotional pregame ceremony. When the game began, Taijuan Walker served up three dingers for five runs in the second—as we have come to learn, the Yankees seemed to be whistling to indicate what pitch was coming, something Villar pointed out to Walker—but settled down to retire the final 13 batters he faced. The Mets scored three in the second, and Báez brought the Mets to within a run with a laser beam home run in the third. The Mets went ahead in the sixth on James McCann’s two-run home run, and a Kevin Pillar single in the seventh added an insurance run. Things went south in the eighth, however, as Aaron Judge launched a majestic two-run home run off Trevor May to tie the game up, and, later in the inning, Báez threw wildly on a double play attempt to allow the winning run to cross the plate. The Mets had their opportunities to tie it in the eighth and ninth but could not capitalize.

Sunday night’s game was one of the more entertaining regular season baseball games you will ever see, and ended in an incredible 7-6 Mets victory to take the Subway Series. Carlos Carrasco’s first inning troubles continued as he let up two runs, but the Mets got one back in the bottom of the frame. Francisco Lindor then hit a three-run homer in the second, which was the beginning of what would become his signature night in Flushing. The Mets added a run to make it 5-2, but the audibly foul-mouthed Jeurys Familia served up a two-run homer to Gleyber Torres in the sixth to bring the Yankees to within a run. Lindor’s second homer of the game made it 6-4 in the sixth, and the shortstop mocked the Yankees’ whistling as he rounded the bases (Buster Olney eventually broke the story of the whistling coming from the Yankees’ bench during Walker’s troubles). Brad Hand, who relieved Miguel Castro in the eighth, gave up a game-tying two-run bomb to Giancarlo Stanton, and Stanton chirped back at Lindor, which resulted in a brief benches clearning incident. Cooler heads prevailed, and that set the stage for Lindor to send Citi Field into a frenzy with an eighth inning homer—his third of the game—to put the Mets ahead for good. Edwin Díaz made things interesting in the ninth, but ultimate he closed out the game.

With his three-homer game yesterday, Lindor now has 17 on the season and has improved his wRC+ to 102 for 2021. For the month, he is slashing .273/.377/.727 with six homers, 14 runs scored, 14 runs driven in, and a 185 wRC+ in 44 at-bats. However, that doesn’t tell the whole story. Since May 29, he is hitting .260/.346/.511 with a 133 wRC+ in 63 games. The narrative around his year will be that he has failed for large portions of the season, but he has basically hit right around or above his career norms since the end of May, and had he not missed six weeks with an injury, his season line would not look too far off from the typical Lindor year that the club would expect from their star.

The Braves won two out of three over the weekend, so New York’s deficit in the NL East race remained at five games. However, the Mets narrowed their deficit in the Wild Card race. They now trail the Padres and the Reds by three games, and they are two games back of the Cardinals and a half-game back of the Phillies. Their next two series are against...the Cardinals and the Phillies. If nothing else, the Mets can really help their cause this week with some solid play.

The Cardinals helped their own cause over the weekend by winning two out of three games against the Reds to cut their deficit in the Wild Card race to a single game. They have won four out of their last five games, which included two wins against the Dodgers to earn a split in that series. Overall, they have won six and lost six in the month of September.

The Cardinals’ lineup is anchored by two superstars at the corner infield positions. Paul Goldschmidt, who has held down the fort at first for the Redbirds since 2019, is having the kind of season you would expect from a player of his caliber. In a team-leading 139 games, he owns a .283/.353/.478 slash line, with 24 homers, a 126 wRC+, and a 3.6 fWAR. Nolan Arenado, the star third baseman whom the Colorado Rockies paid the Cardinals to take off their hands, is hitting .255/.309/.502 with a team-leading 31 home runs and 96 runs batted in. On top of that, he has a 114 wRC+ and a 3.5 fWAR in 138 games. Tyler O’Neill, the fourth year left fielder, is having a breakout season for St. Louis, slashing .276/.346/.520 with 25 homers. He has a team-leading 133 wRC+ and a team-best 3.8 fWAR in 118 games.

Monday, September 13: Adam Wainwright vs. Rich Hill, 7:10 p.m. on WPIX

Wainwright (2021): 184.1 IP, 163 K, 43 BB, 18 HR, 2.98 ERA, 3.51 FIP, 1.03 WHIP, 3.3 bWAR

As most Mets fans, I wish Wainwright would just go away and stop haunting us with bad memories of the 2006 NLCS. And yet, at age 40, Wainwright is still around and better than ever. The veteran right-hander is turning in one of his most impressive seasons to date, and his 2.98 ERA is his best since 2014, when he last made the National League All Star team and finished third in Cy Young voting. Speaking of which, he has inserted himself into the conversation for the award, as his ERA is currently tied for ninth in the NL. He came within two outs of a complete game in his last start, going 8.1 and allowing four earned runs on seven hits against the Dodgers. He has earned wins in eight of his last nine starts, and owns a 1.86 ERA, a 2.67 FIP, and a 0.84 WHIP with a 21.0% K% and a 4.0% BB% in his last ten starts, dating back to July 21. Despite The Strikeout (shudders), the Mets have handled Wainwright surprisingly well. In his career, he has a 4.95 ERA in 80.0 innings versus the Mets.

Hill (2021): 139.0 IP, 127 K, 45 BB, 19 HR, 3.82 ERA, 4.41 FIP, 1.17 WHIP, 1.2 bWAR

Hill has turned in two really impressive outings in a row since picking up losses in back-to-back starts against the Dodgers and Nationals. The 41-year-old struck out eight for the second time in three outings, and allowed one earned run on five hits without walking a batter in six innings against the Marlins. He went toe-to-toe with Sandy Alcantara, who was having his own terrific evening in Miami. In his start prior to that, he went six and allowed no runs on three hits, with two walks and four strikeouts against the Nationals. The Cardinals will be a step up in competition, so it will be interesting to see how Hill fares against a more formidable foe.

Tuesday, September 14: Jake Woodford vs. Marcus Stroman, 7:10 p.m. on WPIX

Woodford (2021): 48.1 IP, 40 K, 19 BB, 7 HR, 4.28 ERA, 5.00 FIP, 1.39 WHIP, -0.1 bWAR

Woodford made his debut for the Cardinals in 2020, and has bounced around between the minors and majors this season. He mostly served as a relief pitcher through the first three months of the season, but since returning in July, he has primarly been a starting pitcher. His best start was his first, when he went 5.2 innings against the Cubs and allowed one earned run on six hits with no walks and six strikeouts to earn a win. In his last start, he went four innings against the Dodgers and allowed one earned run on three hits, with two walks and three strikeouts. So far, he owns a 5.09 ERA in 17.2 innings as a starter, versus a 3.82 ERA in 30.2 innings as a relief pitcher.

Stroman (2021): 163.0 IP, 143 K, 39 BB, 14 HR, 2.87 ERA, 3.35 FIP, 1.13 WHIP, 3.1 bWAR

Stroman was tremendous once again in his last outing. He was cruising through five before running into some trouble and giving up a run in the sixth. He pitched into the seventh before being lifted, as a defensive lapse on his part ended his night. In total, he allowed one earned run on four hits with no walks and seven strikeouts over 6.1 innings. It was his 13th consecutive outing of at least five innings. He continues to be the rock of the 2021 Mets, and he currently leads the NL with 30 starts. If all goes well, he should make around 34 this year, and he has given the team stability in a year wrought with injuries and bad luck.

Wednesday, September 15: Jon Lester vs. Tylor Megill, 7:10 p.m. on SNY

Lester (2021): 119.1 IP, 72 K, 48 BB, 20 HR, 4.75 ERA, 5.42 FIP, 1.54 WHIP, -0.3 bWAR

In need of some pitching help, the Cardinals acquired Lester from the Nationals at the trade deadline. Lester has been having a rough go of it, but he has been slightly more effective since arriving in St. Louis. Since the trade, he owns a 4.30 ERA, a 5.41 FIP, and a 1.46 WHIP in 44.0 innings, against a 5.02 ERA, a 5.42 FIP, and a 1.59 WHIP in 75.1 innings for Washington. He is coming off his best start as a member of the Cardinals his last time out, as he went seven and limited the Reds to two earned runs on three hits, though he did walk four and surrender two homers in the game. Over his last four starts, he owns a 1.90 ERA, a 5.53 FIP, and a 1.14 WHIP in 23.2 innings.

Megill (2021): 77.2 IP, 88 K, 20 BB, 15 HR, 4.06 ERA, 4.26 FIP, 1.20 WHIP, 1.0 bWAR

For a while, Megill’s Friday night start against the Yankees seemed to be another one where he would get hit early and often. But then, after surrendering a homer to Gallo, he buckled down and turned in the best start of his young career. The right-hander went seven for the first time at the major league level and struck out ten for the first time. He allowed just four hits and walked one in the outing as he picked up his third career victory. He looked poised on the mound in the big stage and, when given a big lead, he made it stick. He has now gone at least five innings in each of his last three starts and has gone six and seven in his last two.

Prediction: The Mets drop two out of three to the Cardinals.


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

This poll is closed

  • 26%
    The Mets leapfrog the Cardinals with a three game sweep!
    (48 votes)
  • 43%
    The Mets pick up another series win with two wins.
    (78 votes)
  • 14%
    The Mets win one, but drop the series.
    (25 votes)
  • 6%
    The Mets are left seeing red as they’re swept by the redbirds.
    (11 votes)
  • 8%
    (16 votes)
178 votes total Vote Now