The Mets (55-34) travel to the Windy City for four games with the Cubs (34-54) before the All Star break. The Mets were swept at Wrigley Field last season, and dropped four of seven overall to the Cubs.
The Mets took two out of three games in their series against the rival Braves. The Mets won the series opener 4-1 behind a dominant Max Scherzer on Monday night. The right-hander allowed just a solo home runs and three total hits while striking out nine over seven innings. On offense, the Mets got on the board with two runs in the third, thanks to a double from Pete Alonso and a fielder’s choice ground out by Luis Guillorme. The Mets tacked on runs in the eighth and ninth to put some distance between them and Atlanta. Adam Ottavino pitched an effective eighth, and Edwin Díaz struck out the side in a dominant ninth.
On Tuesday, Atlanta returned the favor with a 4-1 victory of their own against the Mets. New York got on the board first with a Francisco Lindor run-scoring triple in the fifth after making Spencer Strider work hard over the first four innings. They were able to knock him out of the contest in the fifth, but the Braves’ bullpen held them to just one walk over the final four innings. Meanwhile, David Peterson was solid, allowing just one hit and two walks over the first five innings before tiring in the sixth. He walked Dansby Swanson, mainly thanks to a missed third strike call by the home plate umpire, and then surrendered a two-run blast to Matt Olson that carried over the center field wall. Seth Lugo served up a two-run homer to Adam Duvall in the seventh, which put the game well out of reach for New York’s struggling offense.
The Mets’ bats busted out in the matinee Wednesday finale in a 7-3 victory to take the series over Atlanta. The Mets got jumped on the board with an Eduardo Escobar solo homer in the second, and Lindor’s three-run homer in the third made it 4-0. Mark Canha got in on the fun with a solo shot in the fifth, though Olson got that one back in the bottom half of the frame with a solo homer of his own. Still, the deficit was too much for Atlanta to overcome, and the Mets added two more in the seventh to put the game away.
The series win is all the more impressive when you consider the team was missing Jeff McNeil (paternity list), Starling Marte (groin), and James McCann (oblique). You would forgive most fans for being weary of the series with the lineup the Mets were putting out there—Guillorme was hitting cleanup yesterday!—but the Mets pulled it off. They head into Chicago with a 2.5 game lead in the NL East and the second-best record in the NL, and it’s hard not to feel good about the team’s current standings with Jacob deGrom also set to return in the near future.
The Cubs enter this series on a six-game skid after getting swept in back-to-back series by the Dodgers (four games) and the resurgent Orioles (two games).
The Cubs’ best hitter this year has been All Star catcher Willson Contreras, who will likely be on the Mets’ radar around the trade deadline. The backstop is slashing .262/.377/.473 with 13 homers, a 141 wRC+, and a 2.6 fWAR in 75 games. Patrick Wisdom has also had a solid season for Chicago, hitting .227/.321/.453 with a team-leading 17 homers, a 115 wRC+, and a 1.2 fWAR in a team-high 86 games. Seiya Suzuki, who signed in the offseason, has had a solid start to his major league career, hitting .256/.345/.452 with six homers, a 120 wRC+, and a 0.8 fWAR.
On the other side, Jason Heyward has once again struggled mightily for the Cubs. The veteran outfielder is hitting .204/.278/.277 with a 59 wRC+ and a -0.3 fWAR in 48 games. He’s spent a bunch of time on the injured list and is currently on the shelf with a knee injury, so the Mets won’t see him this time around. Former friend Jonathan Villar also hasn’t had the best season, slashing .222/.271/.327 with a 66 wRC+ and a team-worst -0.7 fWAR in 46 games.
Thursday, July 14: Carlos Carrasco vs. Keegan Thompson, 8:05 p.m. on SNY
Carrasco (2022): 93.0 IP, 94 K, 24 BB, 11 HR, 4.55 ERA, 3.59 FIP, 1.34 WHIP, 0.4 bWAR
Carrasco had his second straight solid outing, this time against the Marlins. In that start, he went 5.2 innings once again while allowing two earned runs on seven hits. He struck out five and walked two. He left with a no decision, but the Mets ended up winning on a walk off on Keith Hernandez Day. Carrasco, who was having a solid season until his two starts against the Astros, will look to end the first half on a high note against Chicago.
Thompson (2022): 77.0 IP, 74 K, 25 BB, 7 HR, 3.04 ERA, 3.62 FIP, 1.17 WHIP, 1.9 bWAR
After debuting for the Cubs last year and posting a 3.38 ERA in 53.1 innings, Thompson has been having a great season while splitting time between the bullpen and rotation for Chicago. The right-hander, who has been starting consistently since the beginning of June, had one of the best starts of his young season his last time out. In that game against the Dodgers, he limited L.A. to two hits and one unearned run over 5.2 innings. He struck out eight, which is the third time in his last five starts that he’s struck out at least eight batters.
Friday, July 15: Taijuan Walker vs. Marcus Stroman, 2:20 p.m. on SNY
Walker (2022): 85.2 IP, 68 K, 23 BB, 4 HR, 2.63 ERA, 3.00 FIP, 1.10 WHIP, 2.4 bWAR
Much like he was against Houston when dueling Justin Verlander, Walker was fantastic against Sandy Alcántara and the Marlins. He tossed seven shutout frames, scattering three hits and walking one while striking out seven. Much like in the aforementioned pitcher’s duel against Houston, he left with a no decision, and also like in that game, his team lost 2-0. Still, Walker has had another tremendous first half and could very easily be an All Star. He has given the team everything they could have asked for in the absence of Scherzer and deGrom.
Stroman (2022): 51.1 IP, 48 K, 13 BB, 8 HR, 4.91 ERA, 4.03 FIP, 1.19 WHIP, 0.4 bWAR
Former Met Alert. After inking a three-year, $71 million contract in the winter to leave New York for Chicago, the right-hander hasn’t lived up to the price tag so far. He also missed about a month with right shoulder inflammation and just recently returned with a start against the Dodgers. He was actually solid in that start, going 4.0 innings and allowing two hits while striking out three. In his last start prior to hitting the IL, he was tattooed by the Cardinals for nine earned runs over 4.0 innings.
Saturday, July 16: Max Scherzer vs. Drew Smyly, 2:20 p.m. on WPIX
Scherzer (2022): 62.2 IP, 79 K, 11 BB, 6 HR, 2.15 ERA, 2.60 FIP, 0.83 WHIP, 2.4 bWAR
Scherzer showed you why he is one of the best pitchers of this generation in his last start against Atlanta. To kick off a crucial series for the Mets, Scherzer set the tone with a dominant performance. The lone blemish against his record was a solo homer from Riley, but otherwise he was sublime. He allowed the one earned run on three hits, with nine strikeouts over 7.0 innings. He was fired up on the mound and in the dugout, and it proved yet again why the Mets shelled out over $100 million to get him on the team for the next three years.
Smyly (2022): 44.2 IP, 35 K, 11 BB, 8 HR, 4.43 ERA, 4.68 FIP, 1.34 WHIP, 0.5 bWAR
Like Stroman, Smyly is coming off a long IL stint. For Smyly, he missed the entire month of June with an oblique injury, and he returned in a start against the Dodgers right after Stroman. In that game, the left-hander tossed just 2.0 innings and allowed four earned rtuns on five hits. He walked one and struck out one, topping out at 56 pitches in the outing.
Sunday, July 17: David Peterson vs. Adrian Sampson, 2:20 p.m. on SNY
Peterson (2022): 67.1 IP, 76 K, 30 BB, 8 HR, 3.48 ERA, 4.00 FIP, 1.25 WHIP, 0.8 bWAR
It’s a shame Peterson was saddled with the loss in his last start, because he was really quite good. Over the first 5.0 innings, he allowed just one hits and walked two, but it was clear he was tiring in the sixth. On the 105th pitch of the evening—a season high for the lefty—Peterson gave up a homer to Olson which ended his evening. He ended up allowing two earned runs on two hits with nine strikeouts over 5.1 innings. It was a great start for Peterson, who has had a solid first half after having to step into the rotation thanks to all the injuries.
Sampson (2022): 27.0 IP, 22 K, 5 BB, 3 HR, 3.33 ERA, 3.48 FIP, 1.11 WHIP, 0.3 bWAR
It’s been a weird ride for Sampson this year, as he was designated for assignment by the Cubs, claimed by the Mariners, designated for assignment, and re-claimed by the Cubs. Since mid-June, he’s been part of Chicago’s rotation and has done a fairly solid job, all things considered. His last time, the right-hander allowed three earned runs on six hits over 5.1 innings to Baltimore. Prior to that, he allowed one earned run on four hits in 5.2 innings to the Brewers.
Prediction: The Mets escape Chicago with three wins in the four games!
How will the Mets fare in their four game series against the Cubs?
This poll is closed
The Mets sweep the Cubs to end the first half on a high note!
The Mets take three of four at Wrigley.
The Mets and Cubs split their four games.
The Mets steal one in Chicago, but they drop three.
The Mets are swept away in the Windy City.
Pizza! (New York pizza > Chicago pizza forever)