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Mets greeted at home by the best team in baseball

The Mets will have their hands full with the 31-11 Rays.

MLB: Tampa Bay Rays at New York Yankees Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

The Mets (20-22) are back at Citi Field to kick off a six-game homestand against two American League opponents. First up: The Rays (31-11) who have the best record in MLB. The Mets last hosted the Rays during the pandemic-shortened 2020 campaign, losing two out of three against them. They faced them in Tampa Bay in 2021, and were unceremoniously swept. All time, New York has won 14 and lost 16 against the Rays.

The Mets settled for a split in their four-game set against the Nationals. They kicked things off with a 3-2 win on Friday night. Tylor Megill wasn’t his sharpest but was able to limit Washington to two runs over five innings. The Mets surrendered another first inning run and trailed by two runs, when Francisco Lindor hit a bases-clearing single (yes, single) in the sixth after the Mets left a small army on base in the earlier innings. The bullpen from there was extremely impressive over the final four innings to secure the win.

The teams played two innings and change of their Saturday afternoon game before rain rendered the field completely unplayable. After the Nationals forced fans to sit through over four hours worth of a rain delay, the game was suspended and picked up on Sunday. The Mets had allowed a first-inning run for the sixth consecutive game before play was suspended, but they tied it up on the first pitch on Sunday thanks to a Brandon Nimmo sacrifice fly. Washington jumped ahead in the fourth on a CJ Abrams single, and New York knotted it up at two in the seventh on a Jeff McNeil sacrifice fly. Abrams would land the deciding blow, hitting a solo homer off Dominic Leone in the bottom half of that inning. Martín Pérez was the star of the game for the Mets, providing four hits in Francisco Álvarez’s place in the lineup.

The offense exploded in an 8-2 victory in the originally-scheduled Mother’s Day affair. Max Scherzer made his first start in 11 days after experiencing neck spasms and looked better than he has in a while, allowing one earned run over five innings. Things remained that way until the sixth, when New York broke out for eight runs—a whole week’s worth of runs the way they’ve been playing. Mark Canha broke out with four hits, while Starling Marte and Lindor each contributed two hits in the win.

Washington paid the Mets back with a 10-3 drubbing on Monday. David Peterson gave up six earned runs over five innings, which made his ERA rise to 8.08—the highest among starting pitchers with at least 30 innings pitched in 2023. In all, the Mets gave up runs in seven of eight innings. On offense, they mustered 11 hits but brought home only three runs. Jeff McNeil did have two hits after picking up just four in his previous 27 at-bats.

On May 2, the Mets began a stretch against the Tigers (10-17) in Detroit, the Rockies (12-20) at home, and the Reds (14-20) and Nationals (16-21) on the road. Against teams with a combined .422 winning percentage at the time they faced them, the Mets went 4-9, which is simply inexcusable, no matter how badly you are struggling. The Mets wake up today in fourth place in the division, 6.5 games back of the Atlanta Braves—Atlanta has cooled off a bit over the past couple of weeks, which has helped keep New York within arm’s reach. Thankfully, they are only a half-game back of a Wild Card spot.

The Mets have not homered in 52 innings, which runs almost six full games. Their last long ball was Alonso’s blast off Hunter Greene in the second inning of Wednesday’s win against the Reds. They enter play with 41 home runs, which ranks 22nd in MLB. For contrast, the team New York is about to play lead MLB with 81 homers (to be discussed later). Over the past five-and-a-half games, dating back to the fifth inning of Wednesday’s win against Cincinnati, the Mets have been held scoreless in 43 of their last 50 innings. It’s great when they can get a bases-clearing hit like they did on Friday, or score eight in an inning like they did on Sunday, but seeing that many zeroes on the box score is not a recipe for long-term success.

The Rays come into series after splitting their series with the Yankees. They won the series opener and closer, but blew the two middle games, as the Yankees mounted comebacks on Friday and Saturday to take down the first place Rays.

Despite that, Tampa Bay have been a juggernaut in every sense of the word this year. As a team, they lead MLB in runs scored (260) and wRC+ (141), the latter by a pretty comfortable margin. They have also hit the most home runs (81) in all of baseball and have the highest ISO (.232) and OPS (.856), again by pretty healthy margins. On the pitching front, their rotation sports the best ERA (3.03) and third-best FIP (3.33) in MLB, while their relievers are seventh in in MLB in ERA (3.51).

The Rays have gotten tremendous contributions from all of their top players, including shortstop Wander Franco, who leads the club with a 2.2 fWAR while hitting .301/.354/.521 with a team-leading 12 stolen bases and a 145 wRC+ in 40 games. Left fielder Randy Arozarena shares a tie for the team lead with 10 homers while leading his club with 35 RBI to go along with a .320/.400/.567 slash line, a 171 wRC+, and a 1.8 fWAR in 40 games. Third baseman Yandy Díaz is having an All Star-caliber season, leading the team with a 188 wRC+ while slashing .321/.429/.593 with 10 homers, a team-high 33 runs scored, and a 2.0 fWAR in 39 games. Díaz leads the American League in both batting average and OBP.

Tuesday, May 16: Jalen Beeks vs. Justin Verlander, 7:10 p.m. on SNY

Beeks (2023): 20.0 IP, 16 K, 10 BB, 2 HR, 5.40 ERA, 4.65 FIP, 1.25 WHIP, -0.2 bWAR

Tampa Bay will go with a bullpen game on Tuesday, turning to Beeks to open things up. The left-hander has made three starts this year and has pitched two innings twice and three innings once. His high water mark in terms of pitches on the year is 41, so expect him to throw about that many in the series opener. After a rough April, he has had a much better go of it in May. Over 6 23 innings this month, he has allowed one earned run on four hits, with eight strikeouts and two walks.

Verlander (2023): 12.0 IP, 12 K, 3 BB, 2 HR, 2.25 ERA, 4.21 FIP, 0.83 WHIP, 0.4 bWAR

Verlander turned in the exact kind of performance the team expected from him when they signed him to that monster contract. The reigning AL Cy Young award winner tossed seven innings of one-run ball, allowing two hits while striking out seven and walking two. In doing so, he picked up his first win in orange and blue, and the 245th of his impressive career. He also moved up to 3,210 strikeouts on his career, which is nine behind teammate Scherzer. The Flushing Faithful will now get their first chance to experience a Verlander start as a member of the Mets. Because he spent the majority of his career in the AL, he has only made two starts at Citi Field. He gave up five earned runs over two innings in a start back in 2010 while a member of the Tigers. He fared much better in 2022 as a member of the Astros, when he hurled eight shutout innings of two-hit ball for the victory.

Wednesday, May 17: TBD vs. Kodai Senga, 7:10 p.m. on SNY


The Rays have not named a starting pitcher for Wednesday’s game against the Mets.

Senga (2023): 37.0 IP, 43 K, 23 BB, 6 HR, 4.14 ERA, 4.94 FIP, 1.51 WHIP, 0.2 bWAR

After turning in the best start of his major league career, Senga struggled out of the gate his last time out. While he got eight days of rest before the six shutout frames he threw against the Rockies, he received a more standard five days of rest before his most recent start against the Reds, which is the amount the team is trying to give him in between outings. He got hit hard right off the bat, allowing four runs on five hits in the first, though a couple of those hits weren’t exactly his fault. He cruised after that until he surrendered a solo homer to his second-to-last batter. Everything after the first had to have been encouraging to New York, though the eight hits he surrendered were a season high. On the positive side, he only walked one batter after walking four in each of his previous four starts.

Thursday, May 18: TBD vs. Tylor Megill, 1:10 p.m. on SNY


The Rays have not named a starting pitcher for Thursday’s game against the Mets.

Megill (2023): 40.1 IP, 31 K, 22 BB, 5 HR, 4.02 ERA, 5.22 FIP, 1.51 WHIP, 0.3 bWAR

Megill once again struggled with his command but otherwise excelled at limiting the damage in his last start against the Nats. The right-hander hurled five innings and was charged with two runs (one earned) on four hits, with four strikeouts and four walks. Over three starts and 15 13 innings this month, he’s walked 10 batters, which is something the Mets would like to see him cut down.

Prediction: The Mets drop two of three to the Rays.


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

This poll is closed

  • 13%
    The Mets sweep the best team in baseball at home!
    (25 votes)
  • 15%
    The Mets pick up a series win against the Rays.
    (28 votes)
  • 34%
    The Mets take one, but drop yet another home series.
    (63 votes)
  • 24%
    The Mets suffer a sweep at the hands of Tampa Bay.
    (44 votes)
  • 11%
    (21 votes)
181 votes total Vote Now