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Mets hope to salvage road trip with series against Pirates

The Mets head to PNC Park as losers of six straight and sinking fast.

St. Louis Cardinals v Pittsburgh Pirates Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images

The Mets (30-33) finish off their six-game road trip with a three-game set against the Pirates (32-29). The Mets dominated the Pirates last season, going 6-1 against them, including two of three at PNC Park. Amid their September swoon, they swept the Pirates to temporarily stop the bleeding.

The Mets were handed a serious blow as they were swept by the Braves, which dropped them 8.5 games back in the NL East race with just under 100 games left to play. They dropped the first game by a 6-4 score after taking a 4-1 lead off NL ERA leader Bryce Elder. The Mets got those runs courtesy of two-run blasts from Francisco Lindor and Pete Alonso—for Alonso, it was his second homer in as many games and his league-leading 22nd long ball. That lead lasted until the sixth, when Atlanta put up a four-spot against Carlos Carrasco, who was cruising until then, and Drew Smith. The Mets did not manage another hit once they fell behind.

In a similar outcome, the Mets lost 7-5 on Wednesday, again after taking a 4-1 lead. In this one, Tommy Pham contributed a two-run homer, and Francisco Álvarez hit his ninth dinger of the year, and the Mets led before Atlanta put up four in the sixth, this time against Max Scherzer. The Mets managed to tie this one in the seventh on a Pham sacrifice fly, which could have been a bases-clearing double if not for Ronald Acuña Jr.’s heroic catch against the wall in right. Michael Harris II’s go-ahead homer in the eighth off Adam Ottavino ended up sinking the Mets, who had no answer in the ninth. It’s worth noting that Alonso exited this game in the first after getting hit on the wrist by a Charlie Morton pitch.

If I told you the Mets, in Alonso’s absence on Thursday, would score 10 runs with Justin Verlander on the mound, you would probably assume they avoided the sweep. Well, you’d be wrong! The Mets fell 13-10 in 10 innings in a slugfest that went the Mets’ way early and the Braves’ way late. After falling behind 3-0 in the first, the Mets stormed back with a five-spot in the send, thanks to a Brandon Nimmo grand slam. Álvarez hit a couple of homers, and the Mets ended up scoring in innings two through six, including putting up eight runs against Spencer Strider. However, Atlanta’s bullpen kept them off the board for the final four frames, which proved to be the difference. With the score 10-7, Drew Smith surrendered a two-run blast to Travis d’Arnaud in the eighth, Orlando Arcia tied it up with a solo shot off David Robertson in the ninth, and Ozzie Albies’ three-run home run off Tommy Hunter in the tenth put a nail in New York’s proverbial coffin. This marked the first time in franchise history that the Mets lost three straight games in which they led by three runs.

The Pirates are coming off losing two of three to the Athletics at home. Prior to that, they were on a six-game winning streak. It’s been a strange season for Pittsburgh, who started out 20-8, then went 6-19 before pulling off six wins in a row. They find themselves in second place in the NL Central.

Pittsburgh’s strength is their bullpen, which comes into play with a 3.69 ERA, good for 2nd in the NL. Their pen is led by closer David Bednar, who enters with a 1.13 ERA and a 1.45 FIP in 24 innings. Dauri Moreta is also having an incredible season out of the bullpen, with a 1.61 ERA and a 2.93 FIP in 28 innings. Then there’s old friend Colin Holderman, who found himself in Pittsburgh as part of the Daniel Vogelbach trade. Holderman, who recently picked up his first save, owns a 2.74 ERA and a 2.85 FIP in 23 innings.

Their offense is more middle-of-the-pack, as their 99 wRC+ is eighth-best in the NL. Andrew McCutchen has been a nice story in his return to Pittsburgh, posting a .269/.381/.435 slash line with eight homers, seven steals, a team-best 125 wRC+, and a 1.0 fWAR in 54 games. Connor Joe, meanwhile, is tied for best fWAR on the club with 1.3 while hitting .251/.347/.474 with six homers and a 123 wRC+ in 53 games. Bryan Reynolds, who signed a six-year extension with the club, also owns a 1.3 fWAR while slashing .278/.341/.475 with seven homers and a 119 wRC+ in 58 games. Ke’Bryan Hayes, meanwhile, is hitting .250/.295/.404 with an 88 wRC+ and a 1.0 fWAR.

Friday, June 9: Tylor Megill vs. Rich Hill, 7:05 p.m. on SNY

Megill (2023): 59.1 IP, 48 K, 32 BB, 8 HR, 4.40 ERA, 5.19 FIP, 1.62 WHIP, 0.1 bWAR

Megill wasn’t at his sharpest in his last game, but he did well to limit the damage. In his outing against the Blue Jays, he walked a season-high five while striking out five and allowing five hits over 5 13 innings. However, he was able to hold Toronto to just one earned run, and gave the offensively-challenged Mets a chance to win—they did not win, in the end. It was an encouraging start in many respects after he only lasted four innings and 3 23 innings in his last two starts, each of which ended up with him allowing six runs (four earned).

Hill (2023): 65.1 IP, 61 K, 21 BB, 10 HR, 4.41 ERA, 4.42 FIP, 1.38 WHIP, 0.3 bWAR

Like the Energizer Bunny, Hill just keeps on going, and going, and going. Now in his 19th major league season with his 12th major league club, Hill continus to pitch right around how you would expect Hill to pitch, putting up fine numbers for a man who turned 43 before Opening Day. His last start was one of his better ones this year, as he went 6 23 innings and allowed one earned run on four hits, with six strikeouts in three walks against the Cardinals. The victory was the 87th of his career.

Saturday, June 10: Kodai Senga vs. Johan Oviedo, 4:05 p.m. on SNY

Senga (2023): 57.2 IP, 73 K, 37 BB, 7 HR, 3.75 ERA, 4.20 FIP, 1.44 WHIP, 0.7 bWAR

For the first time in his major league career, Senga pitched on five day’s rest, and it did not go well. Senga only lasted 2 23 innings and was tagged by Toronto for four runs (three earned) on four hits. His command was off, as he walked five batters while striking out only three. This followed the best outing of his career, as he pitched seven one-hit innings with nine strikeouts against the Phillies to start the homestand. It will be intersting to see how this outing influences the way Senga is used going forward, but for at least the next three weeks or so, the off days will allow the Mets to use him with extra rest without rearranging their rotation. The next time the team would need to use him on regular rest would be in the final week of June, likely against the Brewers.

Oviedo (2023): 65.0 IP, 58 K, 32 BB, 5 HR, 4.29 ERA, 4.07 FIP, 1.48 WHIP, 0.7 bWAR

In his last start, Oviedo matched his season high by going seven innings against Oakland. He allowed three runs (two earned) on four hits and struck out five against two walks, though he did not factor in the decision—Pittsburgh eventually won the game 5-4. Prior to that, he only lasted 4 13 innings against the Giants and allowed one earned run on three hits, but his season-high five walks shot his pitch count up to 92, which led to the early exit.

Sunday, June 11: Carlos Carrasco vs. Mitch Keller, 1:35 p.m. on SNY

Carrasco (2023): 36.1 IP, 23 K, 15 BB, 7 HR, 5.94 ERA, 6.09 FIP, 1.40 WHIP, -0.3 bWAR

Carrasco was in the middle of a solid start before imploding in the sixth. He entered that inning having allowed one earned run over five, and he escaped with four earned runs on his record, as he was unable to record an out in the sixth. It broke a streak of solid starts he had put together against the Cubs and the Phillies. Still, he flashed some encouraging signs in the early innings of that game in Atlanta, and just tired out towards the end. Buck Showalter could look to have a quicker hook next time around, to make sure it doesn’t come to him tiring out like that.

Keller (2023): 80.0 IP, 94 K, 21 BB, 8 HR, 3.60 ERA, 3.17 FIP, 1.16 WHIP, 1.3 bWAR

Keller has been, by all accounts, Pittsburgh’s ace this year. The right-hander leads the NL with seven wins, which already tops his career-high of five, which he reached last year and in 2021. He also leads the NL in starts (13), complete games (1) and batters faced (332). However, he comes into this on his worst run of starts of the year. Over his last three outings, he’s posted a 7.79 ERA, a 4.96 FIP, and a 1.85 WHIP, with opposing batters slashing .347/.407/.569. He got tattooed in his last start, allowing five earned runs on eight hits with four walks against an offensively-challenged A’s team.

Prediction: The scuffling Mets drop two of three to the Pirates.


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

This poll is closed

  • 6%
    The Mets even up their road trip with a much-needed sweep!
    (6 votes)
  • 24%
    The Mets take two of three to right the ship.
    (24 votes)
  • 32%
    The Mets manage to win one this time, but lose two to drop another series.
    (32 votes)
  • 24%
    Argh! This team blows! The Mets suffer a third straight sweep.
    (24 votes)
  • 12%
    (12 votes)
98 votes total Vote Now