The Mets continue their West Coast trip with three games against the Dodgers this week. The road trip got off to an interesting start, to say the least, with the weekend series in Oakland. Some ugly baseball was played on both sides—although far more of it by the team with the worst record in baseball. The end result was the Mets’ first sweep of the season,
In Friday’s series opener, the Mets got on-base early and often, ultimately accumulating a whopping 17 walks AND runs on Oakland’s beleaguered pitching staff. Kodai Senga didn’t pitch great, but... well, you did read the part about the Mets scoring 17 runs, yes? So it hardly mattered much.
The Mets had a tougher battle on their hands on Saturday, as they were shut down for large portions of the game by Shintaro Fujinami. But solo homers by Pete Alonso and Mark Canha and an RBI double by Brandon Nimmo gave the Mets all the runs they needed, as four shutout innings from the bullpen on top of two runs in five innings from Carlos Carrasco gave the Amazins their second win in the series.
In the series finale, the Mets completed the sweep—but it was another close affair. After spot starter José Butto held the Athletics to one run through five innings, the Amazins had a 2-1 lead late in the game thanks to solo homers by Tommy Pham and Francisco Lindor. But John Curtiss gave up two runs in the eighth inning, and the A’s headed into the ninth threatening to deny the Mets a sweep. But Alonso tied things up with yet another home run, Jimmy Yacabonis(!?) got out of trouble in the bottom of the frame to send the game into extra innings, and a wild pitch in the tenth scored a run to make it 4-3 Mets. David Robertson then pitched a scoreless inning to secure the sweep.
The Mets now turn their attention to a slightly more challenging opponent: the reigning National League West champion Dodgers, who are coming off a series loss to the Chicago Cubs. One of the most exciting things to watch out for in this series is the much-anticipated return of Brett Baty, who—after failing to make the team out of spring training due to some developmental objective nonsense—finally got the call back to the majors after hitting out of his mind for the first couple weeks in Syracuse. A corresponding roster move has yet to be announced, but Baty will presumably get the chance to take over the third base job for the struggling Eduardo Escobar beginning tonight.
After an uncharacteristically quiet offseason which saw them lose star shortstop Trea Turner, the Dodgers may be hard-pressed to match their remarkable 111 win 2022 season. They’ve only managed a .500 record thus far in 2023, but they still show plenty of signs of being a dangerous ballclub. They currently have a +18 run differential with 85 runs scored, which is the second-most in the National League. Their powerful offense, combined with a strong starting rotation, makes it all but a certainty that the Dodgers will be somewhere towards the top of the National League standings before it’s all said and done this year.
They’ve gotten hot starts from several of the regulars who led them to the best record in baseball last year, including Mookie Betts, Freddie Freeman, Max Muncy, and Will Smith (the last of whom will unfortunately—or fortunately, from the point of view of Mets pitchers—miss this series due to being placed on the concussion IL). However, they’ve also seen surprisingly solid production from rookies James Outman and Miguel Vargas—not to mention key early-season contributions from veterans Trayce Thompson and Jason Heyward. On the flip side, after losing Gavin Lux for the season in spring training, veteran Miguel Rojas has served as the starting shortstop and struggled in the early going.
If there’s an area of weakness for the Mets to exploit in this series, it may be the Dodgers’ bullpen, as they have thus far struggled to find consistency from their group of relievers. Collectively, they have a 4.76 ERA entering today’s game compared to the 3.64 ERA of their starting pitchers. Of course, it’s hard to put too much stock into those kinds of numbers just sixteen games into the season—particularly for relievers, when one bad game can make the stats look a whole lot worse (closer Evan Phillips, for instance, had a rough outing against the Giants last week in which he gave up two homers and saw his ERA and FIP balloon despite not allowing runs in any of his other six outings this year). Nevertheless, the best game plan for the Mets may be to try to get the Dodgers starters out early and attack the bullpen.
Monday, April 17: David Peterson vs. Dustin May, 10:10 PM EDT on SNY
Peterson (2023): 14.2 IP, 16 K, 8 BB, 2 HR, 4.91 ERA, 4.59 FIP, 1.841 WHIP, 0.1 bWAR
It’s been a very David Peterson-y start to the year for David Peterson: that is to say, he’s walked too many and struggled to go deep into games, but has been able to limit the damage in two of his three starts. In his last start against the Padres, he made it through 5.2 innings, giving up six hits and two walks but limiting the San Diego bats to just two runs while striking out six. The Mets have lost each of the three games that Peterson has started thus far and will try to stop that streak against the Dodgers.
May (2023): 18.1 IP, 12 K, 7 BB, 0 HR, 1.47 ERA, 3.20 FIP, 0.764 WHIP, 1.0 bWAR
After an incredibly promising start to his major league career, Dustin May missed most of the 2021 and 2022 seasons due to Tommy John surgery. Thus far in 2023, it certainly seems like the 25-year old pitcher is back to his old self, as he has been a very solid figure in the Dodgers rotation through three starts (though perhaps the low strikeout numbers are worth keeping an eye on). His last start was his shakiest thus far, as he walked four in 5.1 innings while giving up two runs and ultimately taking the loss against the Giants.
Tuesday, April 18: Tylor Megill vs. Clayton Kershaw, 10:10 PM EDT on SNY
Megill (2023): 16 IP, 13 K, 7 BB, 2 HR, 2.25 ERA, 4.68 FIP, 1.188 WHIP, 0.5 bWAR
Here’s something you wouldn’t have expected to read just a few short weeks ago: Tylor Megill has arguably been the best and/or most consistent starter in the Mets rotation up to this point in the season. He’s gone at least five innings in each start, not given up more than two runs in any of them, and has won every game he’s pitched thus far. He largely held his own against a solid Padres lineup last time out, giving up two runs (both on a first-inning home run to Juan Soto) in five innings of work.
Kershaw (2023): 18 IP, 17 K, 4 BB, 3 HR, 3.50 ERA, 4.48 FIP, 1.111 WHIP, 0.4 bWAR
Speaking of consistent pitchers, Clayton Kershaw keeps chugging right along for the Dodgers. The future Hall of Famer has gotten off to a solid start in 2023, going six innings in each of his first three outings and picking up the win in two of them. His last outing was a quality start against the Giants, as he gave up three runs (two earned) through six innings while striking out four and walking two. Collectively, active Mets players have struggled against Kershaw throughout their careers, with all of them putting up a combined .492 OPS in 107 at-bats against him, so they will be trying to fight back against that rough history in this outing.
Wednesday, April 19: Max Scherzer vs. Noah Syndergaard, 3:10 PM EDT on SNY
Scherzer (2023): 16.1 IP, 14 K, 7 BB, 4 HR, 4.41 ERA, 6.12 FIP, 1.224 WHIP, 0.2 bWAR
Originally scheduled to start in the series finale against the Athletics, Max Scherzer was pushed back a few days due to lingering back soreness. As we’ve seen with Justin Verlander, any minor issue with Scherzer’s health is going to be a source of anxiety given his age—and that is especially true when he has still been struggling to find his groove through his first three starts of the season. His last start—in which he still struggled with a high pitch count but nevertheless managed to throw five scoreless innings against the Padres—was an encouraging sign, and the hope is that he will follow it up with another step forward in his follow-up outing. Now, of course, the hope will also be that he is indeed able to make the start and comes out of it without any additional discomfort.
Syndergaard (2023): 16 IP, 17 K, 2 BB, 3 HR, 5.63 ERA, 4.43 FIP, 1.250 WHIP, 0.0 bWAR
After—ahem—dodging the Mets twice last year, Noah Syndergaard finally faces off against his former team for the first time. The strikeout-to-walk ratio certainly looks promising, but on the whole, Syndergaard is still trying to adjust to pitching without the high-90s velocity he had when he was with the Mets. His average fastball velocity through three starts is 92.6 MPH—a far cry from what it was pre-Tommy John surgery, and even below the 94.1 average velocity he had last season—and through his first three starts he has abandoned his slider for a cutter that still seems to be a work-in-progress. In his last start, he rebounded from a rough outing against the Diamondbacks, limiting the Cubs to three runs through six innings while striking out nine and walking two. One other thing the Mets may wish to note: baserunners are currently 6-0 stealing bases on Syndergaard, as the issue which plagued him during his Mets tenure continues to impact him.
Prediction: The Mets put up a solid fight against a tough opponent and some tough pitchers, but end up coming away with just one win in three games.
How will the Mets fare in their three-game series against the Dodgers?
This poll is closed
The Mets demolish the deadly Dodgers with a three-game sweep
The Mets leave LA with a lovely two out of three series win
The Dodgers manage the malcontent Mets by winning two of three
Amazins are annihilated with agonizing three-game sweep