The first-place Mets (58-35) return from the All Star break and prepare for the pennant chase as they welcome the Padres (52-42) to Citi Field for three games. San Diego took two out of three at Petco Park earlier this season.
The Mets ended the first half with a 2.5 game lead in the NL East after taking three out of four against the Cubs. The easiest of those wins came on Thursday night, as the Mets handled Chicago 8-0. The Mets’ bats busted out for 12 hits, including homers from Brandon Nimmo and Pete Alonso. New York also went 4-for-11 with RISP, which is something they have been struggling with as of late. Carlos Carrasco was solid over six shutout innings, and Trevor Williams went the final three for the save.
After Friday’s game was rained out, the two sides played a doubleheader, with the Mets winning both of them in extra innings. In the day game, the Mets went 1-for-9 with runners in scoring position but scored in the 11th to earn the victory. Alonso drove him a run in the fourth with a double, and Chicago’s Frank Schwindel tied it with a single in the bottom half of the frame. Things remained that way until Alonso’s sacrifice fly in the 11th. It wouldn’t have even gotten to that point if not for J.D. Davis’ improbable scoop of a low throw in the bottom of the tenth, which prevented the extra runner from scoring the winning run.
In the nightcap, the Mets escaped with a 4-3 victory in another close affair that went into extras. The Cubs got on the board first with a run in the second, but the Mets scored in the third and fourth, the latter coming on an Eduardo Escobar homer, to take the lead. Chicago tied it in the bottom half of the fourth, and things remained that way until the tenth. In extras, the Mets loaded the bases on a Starling Marte single and a Francisco Lindor intentional walk, and the wild Mychal Givens walked Alonso to force home a run. After getting Mark Canha to hit into a 1-2-3 double play, Givens threw an ill-advised and errant pick-off throw to second, which went into center field and allowed another run to score. That proved to be huge, as Yoan López, working his second inning, had trouble in the bottom half of the inning. With a run home and the bases loaded with one away, López got a perfectly-placed double play hit by Schwindel, which ended the game and preserved the victory.
The Mets failed to sweep the series, falling 3-2 on Sunday. David Peterson was really good over five innings, and the pen held a 2-1 lead into the eighth. However, Drew Smith faltered and gave up two runs to the Cubs. It was the first time Chicago had put up a crooked number in an inning in 55 innings, and it came at a great time for them (and bad time for New York). David Robertson, who was perhaps auditioning for a role in the Mets’ bullpen this series, retired the side without allowing a run to end the Mets’ four-game winning streak and Chicago’s nine-game losing streak.
With the Braves taking three of four from the Nationals, the Mets entered the break with a 2.5 game lead in the NL East, which is really good when you consider they did it without Jacob deGrom for the entirety of the season and Max Scherzer for half of the season, along with some other nagging injuries to key players along the way. Despite their recent offensive struggles, which seemingly have gone on for as long as we can remember, the Mets have remained one of the best offensive teams in the league. At the break, they are third among National League teams in runs scored (437), trailing only L.A. and Atlanta. Meanwhile, their 110 wRC+ ranks second (again, behind L.A.) while their .721 OPS is more middle-of-the-pack, coming in at seventh among 15 NL squads. They’ve achieved their success mostly without the help of the long ball, as their 92 dingers are ninth in the NL.
Unsurprisingly, it was their All Stars leading the way for New York. Alonso, who fell short of his quest for a Home Run Derby three-peat, led the club with a 139 wRC+, 24 homers, and 78 runs batted in. The latter broke David Wright’s club record for most RBI before the break. He did all this while hitting .265/.339/.517 and posting a 2.0 fWAR in 92 games. Marte, who opted to sit out the All Star game, entered the break slahing .295/.345/.458 with nine homers, 52 runs scored, a 133 wRC+, and a 1.8 fWAR in 77 games. Jeff McNeil finished off the first half with a .300/.362/.418 slash line, a 128 wRC+, and a 2.4 fWAR in 81 games.
The other big hitters for the Mets also had solid first halves and, you could argue, deserved consideration for the Midsummer Classic as well. Lindor, coming off an underwhelming first season in New York, led the club with a 3.5 fWAR while hitting .248/.324/.432 with 16 homers, 66 runs batted in, and a 117 wRC+ in 92 games. Brandon Nimmo, meanwhile, is slashing .271/.358/.437 with nine homers, a team-high 59 runs scored, a 131 wRC+, and a 3.1 fWAR in 85 games.
The Padres come into this series in New York on a downward trajectory, having lost ten of their 16 games in July and 15 of their last 23 games dating back to June 23. They did end the first half on a somewhat high note, taking two out of three from the Diamondbacks. If the season ended today, San Diego would find themselves as the second Wild Card team, which would earn them a date with the Braves in a three-game set that would be played at Truist Park.
Part of the reason for San Diego’s struggles is the continued absence of star shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr., who has been kept out all season as he works his way back from a fractured wrist. He has just recently started swinging a bat, so a return could be on the horizon. Meanwhile, All Star Manny Machado has been their best player, leading the club in wRC+ (150), OPS (.890), homers (15), runs batted in (51), batting average (.303), OBP (.377), SLG (.513), and fWAR (4.4) in 83 games. Jake Cronenworth was a late addition to the All Star roster after hitting .241/.335/.394 with nine homers, a 111 wRC+, and a 2.8 fWAR in a team-leading 92 games.
Friday, July 22: Yu Darvish vs. Max Scherzer, 7:10 p.m. on SNY
Darvish (2022): 108.1 IP, 100 K, 22 BB, 11 HR, 3.41 ERA, 3.45 FIP, 0.99 WHIP, 1.9 bWAR
After stumbling a bit in his July 2 start against the Dodgers—five earned runs on eight hits in 6.0 innings, resulting in his first loss since June 1—Darvish responded with solid starts in his back-to-back outings before the All Star break. First, he allowed one earned run on three hits, with six strikeouts and two walks in 7.0 innings against the Giants. Then, he allowed three earned runs on five hits, with nine strikeouts and two walks in 7.0 innings against the Diamondbacks to earn his eighth win of the year. He had a tremendous start against the Mets back in June, limiting them to two hits over seven shutout innings.
Scherzer (2022): 69.0 IP, 90 K, 12 BB, 6 HR, 2.22 ERA, 2.37 FIP, 0.88 WHIP, 2.6 bWAR
Had he not missed almost two months with an oblique injury, there’s no doubt that Scherzer would have been an NL All Star, and may even be in the conversation for the NL Cy Young. He has come back with three great starts, though his last one against Chicago was far from his best. He allowed two earned runs over 6.1 innings, but he was hit hard and often, allowing eight hits in the outing. Still, even without his best stuff, he was able to strike out 11 Cubs batters while walking just one. Buck Showalter opted to start the second half with his current ace, which will allow him to get the most possible starts in the second half.
Saturday, July 23: Blake Snell vs. Chris Bassitt, 7:10 p.m. on WPIX
Snell (2022): 50.0 IP, 66 K, 31 BB, 5 HR, 5.22 ERA, 3.69 FIP, 1.48 WHIP, -0.2 bWAR
After getting scratched in his season debut on April 10 and missing Snell a little over a month, Snell’s season has not been great since his return. The left-hander actually put together two good starts to kick off July, including a start against the Giants that earned him his first win of 2022. In that outing, he allowed one earned run on three hits in 6.0 innings and struck out 11, which game him 23 strikeouts across those two starts. However, he stumbled a bit in his last appearance, giving up five earned runs on four hits in 3.2 innings against the Rockies. His control was the culprit against Colorado, as he walked a season-high five over those 3.2 innings. He faced the Mets earlier in the season and gave up five runs (four earned) on seven hits in 4.0 innings pitched.
Bassitt (2022): 102.0 IP, 104 K, 28 BB, 14 HR, 3.79 ERA, 3.83 FIP, 1.14 WHIP, 1.5 bWAR
After scuffling a bit towards the end of May and beginning of June, Bassitt rebounded with five straight Quality Starts to end the first half. During that stretch, he has posted a 2.41 ERA, a 2.93 FIP, and a 0.89 WHIP while striking out 30 in 33.2 innings. His last start against Atlanta was one of his biggest against a division rival, allowing one earned run on five hits with six strikeouts and two walks in 6.0 innings, which helped him earn his seventh win of 2022. He did have one of those previously-mentioned rough starts against San Diego, allowing seven earned runs on eight hits in 3.1 back on June 8.
Sunday, July 24: Joe Musgrove vs. Carlos Carrasco, 7:08 p.m. on ESPN
Musgrove (2022): 104.0 IP, 102 K, 23 BB, 9 HR, 2.42 ERA, 3.08 FIP, 0.97 WHIP, 2.7 bWAR
Musgrove has been San Diego’s best pitcher so far this year, and his terrific performance earned him his first All Star game appearance. In the game, he walked one and struck out two over a scoreless inning of work. Prior to the break, he had one of his worst starts of the year, allowing five earned runs on a season-high nine hits over 5.0 innings against Colorado. That followed one of his best starts of 2022, when he allowed just one hits over seven scoreless innings against San Francisco on July 7.
Carrasco (2022): 99.0 IP, 100 K, 26 BB, 11 HR, 4.27 ERA, 3.51 FIP, 1.33 WHIP, 0.9 bWAR
Carrasco has bounced back after those two dreadful starts against the Astros to close out June and finished off the first half on a high note. In his last start, he shut out the Cubs over 6.0 innings, scattering five hits while striking out six and walking two. With that start, he has now pitched to a 1.56 ERA, a 2.53 FIP, and a 1.33 WHIP with 19 strikeouts in 17.1 innings. He did face San Diego earlier this year and earned the victory, allowing two earned runs on five hits with a season-best 10 strikeouts over 7.0 innings. Carrasco will remain a big part of the team’s rotation going into the second half, whether or not deGrom is able to return and contribute as you would expect him to.
Prediction: The Mets start off the second half by taking two of three against the Padres!
How will the Mets fare in their three games series against the Padres?
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The Mets begin the second half with a bang, sweeping San Diego!
The Mets take two of three against the Padres.
The Mets lose two of three to the Padres once again.
The Mets stumble out of the gate as they’re swept by San Diego.