The Mets (42-48) are back from the All Star break as they host the Dodgers (51-38) for three games. The Mets took two out of three games at Dodgers stadium back in April, before things fell apart for the Amazins.
The Mets finished their first half by dropping two of three games to the Padres at Petco Park. Things got off to a promising start with a 7-5 win one week ago, which extended the club’s winning streak to six games. New York jumped ahead with a bases loaded infield single by Daniel Vogelbach, but they quickly found themselves down 3-1 after two innings, with some sloppy play contributing to the deficit. Francisco Lindor homered to bring the Mets to within one, and they tied it up in the fifth with another Vogelbach single. Things remained knotted at three until the Mets pushed four across in the top of the tenth. They held off the comeback attempt in the bottom half of the frame to preserve the victory.
The offense began their All Star break early, taking the final two games off. They dropped the Saturday game 3-1 as they couldn’t get much going against the resurgent Blake Snell. They were fanned 11 times by the left-hander and, had Francisco Alvarez not hit his 17th homer of the year, they would have had nothing to show against him. But the catcher’s solo dinger was not enough, despite another perfectly cromulent outing by David Peterson, who allowed all three of the runs in the second inning.
The Mets lost the rubber game, falling 6-2 on Sunday. Joe Musgrove, as he did in Game 3 of the Wild Card series last year, stymied the Mets. Manny Machado hit two homers—a three-run shot and a two-run blast—off Max Scherzer, and that was all Musgrove would need. The Mets got two runs in the eighth thanks to a Mark Canha double, but they wasted their opportunity to do more damage and would settle for just the two runs.
With that loss, the Mets dropped to 18.5 games behind the Braves in the NL East, which hardly matters anymore, as their hopes at winning their first division title since 2015 are, realistically, finished. If you have your eyes set on the Wild Card, wll, they’re seven games back of the Giants, who hold the final spot in the race. They still need to climb over the Cubs, the Padres, the Brewers, and the Phillies to even get to San Francisco though, so they have their work cut out for them.
Brandon Nimmo finished the first half leading qualified Mets hitters in wRC+ with 128, while he’s currently third on the club with a 2.6 fWAR. Lindor leads the club with a 3.1 fWAR and 90 games played, which makes him one of just a handful of major leaguers to appear in each of his team’s games. He concluded the first half slashing .239/.320/.478. Alonso led the club with 26 homers and 61 runs batted in, while his 50 runs scored placed behind Lindor (56) and Nimmo (52) and his 123 wRC+ ranks behind Nimmo. Besides the power, Lindor struggled mightily, especially since returning from a wrist injury, and he currently sports an unsightly .211/.310/.497 slash line despite making the NL All Star game.
If things continue to go south, this season will be all about watching the kids, especially Alvarez, who has impressed by hitting .238/.295/.514 with 17 homers, 35 runs batted in, a 121 wRC+, and a 1.9 fWAR in 66 games for the Mets this year. Brett Baty has struggled a hit and is hitting .244/.315/.354 on the year, with five homers, a 91 wRC+, and a 0.5 fWAR in 65 games.
The Dodgers enter this series on a four-game winning streak after sweeping an abridged two-game set against the Angels. Prior to that, they won three of four against the Pirates at home. With their recent winning streak, they have overtaken the Diamondbacks for first place in the NL West, albeit by mere percentage points.
Unsurprisingly, Los Angeles is led by the usual suspects. Mookie Betts is having an MVP-caliber year, slashing .276/.379/.586 with a club-leading 26 homers, 72 runs scored, and 62 runs batted in, while also leading the Dodgers in wRC+ (157) and fWAR (4.2) in 86 games played. Certified Met Killer Freddie Freeman isn’t far behind Betts, slashing .320/.396/.556 with 17 homers, 72 runs scored, 61 runs batted in, a 155 wRC+, and a 3.8 fWAR in a team-high 89 games. J.D. Martinez, meanwhile, has seen a resurgence with the Dodgers, hitting .255/.303/.570 with 22 homers, 62 runs batted in, a 128 wRC+, and a 1.2 fWAR in 73 games.
Friday, July 14: Julio Urías vs. Justin Verlander, 7:10 p.m. on Apple TV+
Urías (2023): 64.1 IP, 63 K, 14 BB, 14 HR, 4.76 ERA, 4.90 FIP, 1.16 WHIP, 0.4 bWAR
Urías hasn’t had the season he or the Dodgers hoped for after finishing with 17 wins, a league-best 2.16 ERA, and a third place finish in NL Cy Young voting last year. A hamstring injury, which sidelined him from May 18 until July 1, is partially to blame, though he was having an up-and-down season even before that. His home runs are also way up—his 2.0 HR/9 would be a career high if the season ended today. He is coming off a Quality Start and his sixth win of the year, however, as he limited the Pirates to two earned runs on three hit, with eight strikeouts and a walk over six innings.
Verlander (2023): 70.0 IP, 57 K, 19 BB, 8 HR, 3.60 ERA, 4.00 FIP, 1.20 WHIP, 1.2 bWAR
Verlander concluded a disappointing first half with a Quality Start against the Padres. He allowed three runs (two earned) on five hits over six innings, and settled for a no decision in a game the Mets went on to win. Over his last three starts, he has allowed four runs (two earned) on 15 hits over 18 innings, with 13 strikeouts and six walks. Like his counterpart in this start, he led the league in ERA last year and, like his counterpart, he hasn’t had the season he would have wanted, partially due to an injury that sidelined him for a little over a month. If the Mets are to get back in the playoff race, the Mets will need more starts like the last three from the veteran right-hander.
Saturday, July 15: TBD vs. Kodai Senga, 7:15 p.m. on FOX
The Dodgers have not named a starting pitcher for Saturday’s game against the Mets.
Senga (2023): 89.2 IP, 113 K, 47 BB, 10 HR, 3.31 ERA, 3.85 FIP, 1.28 WHIP, 1.7 bWAR
Senga had a strong first half for New York, which earned him an All Star nod—he did not appear in the game, something that seems to have been his preference. He finished the half with one of his most impresssive outings, hurling eight innings of one-run ball against Arizona to pick up his seventh victory. He gave up just four hits, walked one, and matched his career high with 12 strikeouts. Senga’s 11.34 K/9 is the third-best among NL starters, although his 4.72 BB/9 remains the highest among NL starters. You take the good with the bad, however, and so far, there has been far more good than bad from Senga.
Sunday, July 16: TBD vs. Max Scherzer, 1:40 p.m. on WPIX
The Dodgers have not named a starting pitcher for Sunday’s game against the Mets.
Scherzer (2023): 87.2 IP, 101 K, 23 BB, 18 HR, 4.31 ERA, 4.54 FIP, 1.23 WHIP, 1.2 bWAR
Scherzer was knocked around in his last start, surrendering two homers to Machado which accounted for all five runs against him. In total, he allowed five earned runs on six hits, with seven strikeouts and two walks in five innings. He has allowed nine earned runs in 11 innings over his two July starts, but the more alarming thing is that he has served up five homers in those starts, and 18 total after giving up 13 in the regular season last year. If the Mets don’t turn it around, Scherzer could be one of the most marquee names on the trading block, and he has already said he would waive his no trade clause to go to a contender if things continue going south for the Mets. We’re still a ways away from that scenario, but with the deadline approaching, there’s not much time left to turn things around.
Prediction: The Mets take two of three from the Dodgers to kick off the second half.
How will the Mets fare in their three game series against the Dodgers?
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The Mets kick off the second half with a big sweep at home!
The Mets win two of three, as they did in Los Angeles earlier this year.
The Dodgers give the Mets a taste of their own medicine by taking two of three.
The Mets are swept at home as their skid hits five games.