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Mets face off with defending World Series champs

The Astros beat the Phillies in last year’s Fall Classic, which all Mets fans can appreciate .

New York Mets v Houston Astros Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images

They say everything’s bigger in Texas, but the Mets (33-38) will hope that doesn’t mean the disappointment’s bigger there as well as they square off with the defending World Series champion Astros (39-33). The Mets faced Houston last year and were swept in two separate two-game sets. The Mets have lost seven straight overall to the Astros, who also swept them at Minute Maid Park in 2017. You have to go back to September 28, 2014 to find the last time the Mets won a game against the Astros.

The Mets are coming off a series that saw them drop two of three against the Cardinals. They kicked things off with Pride Night and a 6-1 win to hand St. Louis their sixth straight defeat. The Mets loaded the bases in the first before Francisco Lindor grounded into a 1-2-3 double play. Just when it looked like all hope was lost, Brett Baty picked up his teammate with a two-run double, and Tommy Pham brought him home with a single. Lindor redeemed himself with a run-scoring sac fly in the third, and Pham drove in another run with his second RBI single in as many at-bats. Daniel Vogelbach also homered later in the game, and the Mets cruised from there.

Despite several opportunities to come back, the Mets fell 5-3 on Saturday. Brandon Nimmo homered on the very first pitch of the game from nemesis Adam Wainwright, but St. Louis knotted things up on a Brendan Donovan single in the next inning. From there, Kodai Senga surrendered a two-run blast to Paul Goldschmidt in the second, and a solo homer to Jordan Walker in the very next inning. Luis Guillorme’s first homer of the season brought New York to within one, but the Cards got one back in the ninth to give them some breathing room.

On a day when the Mets got Pete Alonso (injury) and Lindor (birth of his second child) back in the lineup, the Mets fell behind early, fought back, but ultimately lost the game 8-7 and the series 2-1 to St. Louis. Carlos Carrasco was not sharp, surrendering five runs over three-plus innings of work, and the Mets found themselves in a 5-1 hole despite Lindor’s home run in his second plate appearance since his second daughter was born. The Mets fought back with a three-spot, as Eduardo Escobar’s run-scoring triple and Nimmo’s two-run double brought the Mets to within one. The game was eventually knotted up at seven with the help of a Tommy Pham two-run home run, but a Nolan Arenado solo shot off Adam Ottavino in the ninth—Arenado’s second homer of the game—gave the Cardinals a lead they would not relinquish.

With the loss, the Mets dropped 12.5 games back of Atlanta in the NL East, as the Braves are riding a six-game winning streak at the moment after their comeback win over the Rockies yesterday. Worse than that, they find themselves 5.5 game back of the final Wild Card spot. Only three teams in the National League currently have a worse record than New York: The Cardinals, the Rockies, and the Nationals. The Mets have a lot of work to do and a lot of teams to climb if they want to get back into the playoff race, and they have their work cut out for them, as they face the Astros, the surging Phillies, and the Brewers over the next ten days.

The Astros are on a skid of their own, as they were just swept by the Reds at home. That makes it four straight defeats for the Astros, who currently find themselves in third place in their division, 5.5 games behind the Rangers. They also trail the surprising Angels by one game.

Houston’s offense has been pretty middle-of-the-pack in the American League this year, which is not what we’re accustomed to from them. As a team, they’ve scored 321 runs, which ranks eighth in the AL, while their 99 wRC+ and .715 OPS rank seventh. Pitching is where Houston shines, as their 3.36 rotation ERA is second only to Tampa Bay in the American League, showing that they have not missed a step after losing Justin Verlander. Their bullpen, meanwhile, sports a 3.32 ERA, which is third-best in the AL.

Yordan Álvarez has had an MVP-caliber season for Houston, which is not too surprising. He’s slashing .277/.388/.589 while leading the team in homers (17), runs scored (41), runs batted in (55), wRC+ (167), and fWAR (2.2). Then there’s José Abreu, who signed a three-year, $58.5 million deal after spending his entire career with the White Sox. The first baseman has really struggled in his new home, hitting .227/.282/.312 with four homers, a 65 wRC+, and a -1.0 fWAR in 70 games.

Monday, June 19: Max Scherzer vs. Hunter Brown, 8:10 p.m. on SNY

Scherzer (2023): 56.2 IP, 60 K, 14 BB, 10 HR, 4.45 ERA, 4.35 FIP, 1.24 WHIP, 0.6 bWAR

For the second straight start, Scherzer was staked to a big lead by his offense, and for the second straight start, he couldn’t make it stand up. His start against the Yankees was one of his most disappointing to date, as he lasted just 3 13 innings and was tagged for six earned runs on seven hits after the Mets gave him a 5-1 lead heading into the fourth inning. He only struck out two, and he surrendered two homers while also hitting two batters. He has now allowed 11 earned runs on 18 hits over nine innings in his last two starts after allowing four runs (three earned) over his previous 25 innings across his four prior starts.

Brown (2023): 75.1 IP, 83 K, 26 BB, 6 HR, 3.35 ERA, 3.29 FIP, 1.20 WHIP, 1.4 bWAR

Not many players can say they won a World Series ring before what is technically considered to be their rookie season, so Brown can brag about this, as he made several appearances during the team’s title run last year. Houston selected Brown in the fifth round of the 2019 MLB Draft, and he made his debut with the club in 2022. He’s gotten the chance to start consistently this year, breaking the rotation out of Spring Training and excelling so far. He’s coming off one of his better starts this year, as he hurled seven shutout innings against Washington while scattering four hits, striking out four, and walking three.

Tuesday, June 20: Justin Verlander vs. Framber Valdez, 8:10 p.m. on SNY

Verlander (2023): 45.0 IP, 39 K, 13 BB, 7 HR, 4.40 ERA, 4.43 FIP, 1.22 WHIP, 0.5 bWAR

Verlander turned in a stellar outing against the Yankees after a bad outing against the Braves. Verlander went toe-to-toe with his former Astros teammate Gerrit Cole in a classic pitcher’s duel. He went six innings and allowed one earned run on three hits. He struck out six and he didn’t walk a batter as he kept his team in the game long enough for them to pick up the win. This match-up will be much discussed, as it marks JV’s return to Houston, where he won two titles and earned two AL Cy Young awards in five-plus seasons.

Valdez (2023): 91.0 IP, 95 K, 20 BB, 6 HR, 2.27 ERA, 2.83 FIP, 1.03 WHIP, 2.8 bWAR

After finishing fifth in AL Cy Young voting last season, Valdez has returned in 2023 with an even better showing. His 2.27 ERA is second only to Tampa Bay’s Shane McClanahan among qualified AL starters, while his 0.58 HR/9 is third. After leading the league last year with three complete games and 201 13 innings, he’s again doing well in those two categories, giving his team length in most of his starts. He’s coming off an outing in which he went seven and allowed one earned run on five hits, with six strikeouts and no walks against the Nationals. Over his last starts, he owns a 1.32 ERA, a 2.38 FIP, and a 0.88 WHIP in 34 innings.

Wednesday, June 21: Tylor Megill vs. Cristian Javier, 2:10 p.m. on SNY

Megill (2023): 69.0 IP, 56 K, 35 BB, 9 HR, 4.83 ERA, 5.04 FIP, 1.61 WHIP, -0.2 bWAR

Megill is coming off perhaps his best start of the 2023 season to pick up his sixth victory of the year. In his start against the Cardinals, he turned in six strong innings, allowing one earned run on four hits with a season-high seven strikeouts, a number he also reached on the Home Opener. More impressive than anything was the fact that he did not walk a batter, which marks the first time he has done that this season. It was his best (and longest start) since his outing against the Rays on May 18, which also resulted in a win.

Javier (2023): 80.2 IP, 76 K, 19 BB, 9 HR, 2.90 ERA, 3.58 FIP, 1.04 WHIP, 2.1 bWAR

Javier’s season hasn’t been quite as flashy as Valdez’s, but he’s given Houston a great 1-2 punch at the top of the rotation. He’s gone at least six innings in nine of his 14 starts, and he has given up three earned runs or fewer in 12 of those starts. In his last start, he tossed six shutout innings against Washington, scattering five hits and striking out two without issuing a free pass. Over his last eight starts dating back to May 5, he owns a 2.49 ERA, a 3.39 FIP, and a 0.98 WHIP in 47 innings.

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


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

This poll is closed

  • 8%
    The Mets sweep the defending champs!
    (11 votes)
  • 6%
    The Mets bounce back with two of three in Houston.
    (9 votes)
  • 22%
    The Mets break their losing streak to the Astros, but drop two of three.
    (29 votes)
  • 50%
    The Mets are swept by the Astros for a fourth straight time.
    (66 votes)
  • 11%
    (15 votes)
130 votes total Vote Now