The Mets (69-69) head back to Florida in the hopes of turning the tables on the Marlins (57-80), who beat them in three out of four in loanDepot park in early August. That series catalyzed the team’s rapid slide out of first place, which was officially completed that weekend when New York was swept in Philadelphia. The Mets did just sweep the Marlins at Citi Field last week, and the two clubs have split 12 games in 2021.
The Mets won three out of five against the Nationals over Labor Day weekend. On Friday, the Mets narrowly avoided disaster, blowing a game in the ninth but ultimately coming away with a 6-2 victory in extras. Rich Hill turned in his best outing in orange and blue, shutting out Washington over six innings. The Mets plated runs in the second on a Michael Conforto single and in the third on a Pete Alonso triple. Things remained that way until the ninth. In that inning Edwin Díaz surrendered a leadoff homer to Juan Soto, and a Riley Adams doubled tied up the score. With a man on third and less than two outs, Díaz buckled down and got out of the inning, which set the stage for a four-spot in the tenth. Alonso put the Mets ahead, and Kevin Pillar’s two-run double added some insurance, which helped the Mets earn a hard-fought victory.
The two teams split a doubleheader on Saturday, finally making up all the games that were postponed during opening weekend because of the COVID-19 outbreak on the Washington roster. The Mets jumped out to a 9-run lead in the opener, with homers from Javier Báez and Conforto highlighting the offensive charge. Marcus Stroman struggled, though, allowing three runs in the fourth but exiting after five with the chance to win. The Nationals completed the comeback with four off Miguel Castro in the sixth and two off Seth Lugo in the seventh. The game again went into extras, with Francisco Lindor’s 150th career homer in the ninth serving as the tiebreaker and giving the Mets a 9-7 victory.
In the nightcap, the Mets jumped to a 1-0 lead with a Jonathan Villar walk and hits from Alonso and Conforto. With runners on first and third and a run already across, the Mets failed to capitalize further, which would prove costly. In the bottom half of the frame, Lane Thomas hit a leadoff homer off Tylor Megill, and Washington added another run to take a lead that they would not relinquish. Megill settled down but served up a two-run shot to Alcides Escobar in the fifth. The Mets got that back thanks to Pillar’s two-run homer in the sixth, but that was as close as the Mets would get in a 4-3 loss.
The Mets scored a lot of runs on Sunday, resulting in a 13-6 drubbing of the Nationals. The club belted four home runs, including shots from Villar, Báez, Lindor, and Pillar, the latter of which was a grand slam that blew the doors off the game in a six-run ninth. Taijuan Walker struggled and couldn’t escape the fifth, but the bullpen threw 4.2 hitless innings to help secure the win.
The Mets endured a crushing defeat on Monday, falling 4-3 on Labor Day to fall back to four games out of first place. The Mets and Nationals traded runs in the first and the fourth, but both teams struggled with runners in scoring position. In the sixth, Alonso’s solo homer off Patrick Corbin gave the club their third lead of the game, and the score held until the ninth. In that fateful inning, Díaz blew his second save of the series, but this time he couldn’t hold the game long enough to get into extra innings. The Nationals scored two runs to hand the Mets another heartbreaking loss.
Despite the series win this weekend, the Mets suffered a big blow when Brandon Nimmo landed on the IL with right hamstring tightness. Since returning from the IL on July 3, he leads all Mets hitters in OBP (.413) and fWAR (2.0), while his 130 wRC+ and .794 both come in third. Nimmo did say that he believes he can return at some point this season, but it’s always tough to predict recovery times for hamstring injuries.
This will open the door for Pillar to get a lot of playing time, and so far, the veteran outfielder has delivered. Pillar leads the Mets with a 159 wRC+ since the start of August, hitting .283/.356/.604 with five homers and a 0.7 fWAR in 22 games. Since August 27, he owns a 322 wRC+ and a 1.625 OPS, with four homers and in eight games. With that, he has raised his wRC+ on the season to 90, and the Mets will need him to continue that level of production for the foreseeable future if they want their recent offensive upswing to continue.
Villar has also played his best ball of the season, slashing .322/.381/.557 with seven homers, a 155 wRC+, and a team-best 1.4 fWAR in 33 games since August 1. He has hit three homers while posting a 218 wRC+ and a 1.192 OPS since August 27. He will also be vital with Nimmo out, as Villar now mans the leadoff spot and will need to continue getting on base and setting the table for the rest of the team.
Báez also had a tremendous weekend, picking up six consecutive hits at one point. In going 4-for-4 with a home run and a steal on Sunday, he did something that hadn’t been done by a Met since Kevin McReynolds in 1988. Since August 27, El Mago is hitting .324/.359/.703 with four home runs, a 184 wRC+, and a 0.4 fWAR in 10 games.
After getting swept by the Mets in New York, the Marlins returned to Miami and picked up wins in two out of three games against the Phillies. They blew out Philadelphia in the Friday night game and came from behind with a three-run eighth inning on Saturday before dropping the Sunday finale in extra innings.
Tuesday, September 7: Carlos Carrasco vs. Edward Cabrera, 6:40 p.m. on SNY
Carrasco (2021): 28.2 IP, 28 K, 5 BB, 7 HR, 6.59 ERA, 4.91 FIP, 1.22 WHIP, -0.5 bWAR
Carrasco got off to a rocky start his last time out, surrendering a homer on his first pitch and leaving the inning down by two runs. He recovered and was solid until he ran into trouble in the sixth, at which point he was removed from the ballgame. Overall, he was charged with three earned runs on four hits, with one walk and five strikeouts in 5.1 innings. He lasted into the sixth for a second consecutive outing and threw a season-high 82 pitches in the outing. Home runs continue to be a challenge for the veteran right-hander, as he owns a 2.2 HR/9 so far in his seven starts. Carrasco made his second start of the year against Miami, allowing two earned runs on five hits over 4.1 innings back on August 4.
Cabrera (2021): 10.1 IP, 4 K, 3 BB, 3 HR, 5.23 ERA, 7.62 FIP, 1.36 WHIP, 0.0 bWAR
Cabrera will make his third career start, and his second straight against the Mets. His last outing was against New York, and he was saddled with his first career loss as he gave up three earned runs on seven hits. In the defeat, he struck out two and didn’t issue a walk. In his major league debut against the Nationals, Cabrera, went 6.1 innings and was charged with three earned runs on four hits, with two strikeouts and three walks.
Wednesday, September 8: Rich Hill vs. Sandy Alcantara, 6:40 p.m. on SNY
Hill (2021): 133.0 IP, 119 K, 45 BB, 19 HR, 3.92 ERA, 4.56 FIP, 1.18 WHIP, 1.0 bWAR
Hill turned in his finest start as a Met to date, as he pitched into the sixth inning for only the second time and completed six for the first time in New York. He scattered three hits over six scoreless frames, walking two and striking out four. Unfortunately, he was unable to secure his first victory as a Met, as Díaz blew the save opportunity in the ninth. Still, it was a terrific showing from the veteran left-hander. The last time he faced the Marlins back on August 5, Hill allowed one unearned run on three hits over five innings.
Alcantara (2021): 171.2 IP, 164 K, 47 BB, 18 HR, 3.36 ERA, 3.56 FIP, 1.12 WHIP, 3.0 bWAR
Alcantara has been a real bright spot for the Marlins this year as he has continued to establish himself as one of the premiere young starters in the game. He comes into Wednesday’s start with the fourth-most innings among NL starting pitchers while ranking 13th in ERA, FIP, and WAR. The Mets actually got to him in his last start, as he ended up allowing four earned runs on eight hits over 6.1 innings to take his 13th loss of the season.
Thursday, September 9: Marcus Stroman vs. Jesús Luzardo, 6:40 p.m. on SNY
Stroman (2021): 156.2 IP, 136 K, 39 BB, 14 HR, 2.93 ERA, 3.43 FIP, 1.15 WHIP, 2.8 bWAR
Stroman was staked to a nine-run lead in his last start, but he didn’t have his sharpest stuff. He had a high pitch count from the jump and struggled with his command and his execution. He allowed a three-spot in the fourth but was able to fight his way to five innings, which unfortunately was not enough to earn his tenth win of the season. In all, Stroman tossed five and allowed three earned runs on six hits, with three walks and three strikeouts. He leads the NL with 29 starts.
Luzardo (2021): 34.0 IP, 31 K, 20 BB, 6 HR, 7.00 ERA, 5.75 FIP, 1.68 WHIP, -1.6 bWAR
Luzardo arrived in Miami as part of the Starling Marte trade and has gotten the opportunity to show what he can do. He has a lot of potential but, to date, has not put it together at the major league level. His first outing for the Marlins came against the Mets, when he allowed five earned runs on four hits, with three walks and five strikeouts over five innings to pick up the win back on August 2. In his most recent outing, he settled for a no-decision, going 5.2 innings and allowing three earned runs on five hits. He is two starts removed from his best outing of the season, when he one-hit the Reds over six scoreless frames. In seven starts for the Marlins, he has a 7.15 ERA, a 5.75 FIP, and a 1.68 WHIP in 34.0 innings.
Prediction: The Mets drop two out of three to the Marlins.
How will the Mets fare in their three game series against the Marlins?
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The Mets duplicate their Citi Field results by sweeping the Marlins!
The Mets take two out of three down in Miami to finish this stretch on a high note.
The Mets steal one, but drop another series in Miami.
The Mets are fried by the fish in a three-game sweep.