After a less-than-stellar start to their second half, the Mets (43-50) continue their desperate- effort to turn their season around and give themselves some reason for optimism prior to the trade deadline with a three-game series at home against the Chicago White Sox (40-55).
The Mets came out of the All-Star break with a three-game series against the Dodgers. In the series opener, both teams were held scoreless through the first four innings of play, but Justin Verlander then walked the bases loaded in the fifth inning and proceeded to let all three runs score. The Dodgers would ultimately put up three more runs against the bullpen, but it hardly mattered, as the Mets—after getting a leadoff double off the bat of Brandon Nimmo—were held hitless for the remainder of the game.
The team finally got on the board in the fourth inning of game number two, thanks to a solo homer off the bat of Nimmo. Kodai Senga pitched six very solid innings, and the game was tied heading into the eighth inning. At this point, the bullpen once again faltered, as Adam Ottavino gave up a run in the eighth to put the Dodgers ahead. At this point the game was at least still close, but then Grant Hartwig surrendered three more runs in the ninth—thanks in part to an embarrassing misplay on a pop fly by Brett Baty. Thus, the Mets were treated to yet another demoralizing loss.
The Mets were thus in the position of trying to avoid a sweep in the series finale. They once again got a stellar performance from their starting pitcher—this time thanks to seven dominant innings by Max Scherzer—and once again saw their bullpen give up crucial late-inning runs, as Trevor Gott blew a one-run lead in the eighth inning. The game went into extra innings, and—thanks to a great performance by David Robertson, who tossed two scoreless innings and stranded the ghost in the tenth—the Mets had a chance to win the game in the bottom of the inning. They very quickly did so, as Luis Guillorme—after trying and failing to bunt the ghost runner over to third—knocked a hit down the first base line, giving the Mets a much-needed 2-1 victory.
Despite the exciting walk-off win, losing the first series out of the All-Star break was hardly what the Mets were hoping for as they inch closer to the trade deadline. Overall, the offense had a very sluggish start to the second half, as they managed only three runs on seven hits through the entire three-game series. Similarly, the bullpen gave up runs in each of the three games, as the team continues to struggle to achieve consistency in any facet of the game. The wild card deficit now stands at 8.5, and time continues to dwindle.
The good news for the Mets is that their next opponent is one who is arguably somehow even more helpless, as the White Sox are in the middle of a dreadful season. They did manage a surprising series win against the Braves to get their second half started, but nevertheless, being in a distant fourth place in a mediocre American Central division is hardly what the team envisioned for themselves entering the season. Other than an absolutely stellar season from Luis Robert Jr. (144 wRC+, 3.9 fWAR) and some decent power numbers from third baseman Jake Burger (21 homers, 116 wRC+), it’s been hard to find too many positives for the White Sox this year.
On the other hand, there have been plenty of negatives—chief among them Tim Anderson, who is in the middle of an unfathomably dreadful season (45 wRC+, -1.0 fWAR). Most of the other hitters on the team have ranged from similarly bad (Elvis Andrus, Yasmani Grandal, Gavin Sheets) to okay but not terribly threatening (Andrew Vaughn, Andrew Benintendi). The team’s beleaguered offense is also likely to be without Eloy Jiménez, who suffered a groin injury during the series against the Braves.
Meanwhile, the pitching has also been unimpressive. In the rotation, they’ve seen Dylan Cease take a step backwards after a dominant 2022 season, while Lance Lynn has looked entirely cooked and Mike Clevinger has been on the injured list for the past month. In the bullpen, they have some solid performers like Kendall Graveman, Gregory Santos, and Keynan Middleton, but there’s also a bunch of the thorough mediocrity that Mets fans are all too familiar with seeing from their relievers. Overall, the team is 11th in the American League in runs scored, and 13th in runs allowed. Not exactly a strategy for success.
Tuesday, July 18: Lucas Giolito vs. Carlos Carrasco, 7:10 p.m. on SNY
Giolito (2023): 112.1 IP, 117 K, 34 BB, 17 HR, 3.45 ERA, 4.21 FIP, 1.139 FIP, 2.9 bWAR
Giolito takes the hill tonight to get the series for the White Sox. The veteran righty is putting up some solid numbers for Chicago—particularly over the last couple months, as he’s put up a 2.45 ERA in seven starts since the beginning of June—and, with his status as an impending free agent, looks to be one of the most coveted starting pitchers on the trade market at the deadline. His last start of the first half saw him pitching seven innings against the Cardinals, giving up two runs while striking out five and walking three. He will look to further improve his trade value with a strong start against the Mets.
Carrasco (2023): 61 IP, 43 K, 27 BB, 12 HR, 5.16 ERA, 5.96 FIP, 1.426 WHIP, 0.1 bWAR
Carrasco makes his second half debut after a first half that can’t be described as anything other than disappointing. Despite his wholly middling season numbers, he pitched just well enough in recent starts to avoid getting the boot from the rotation with Quintana’s return from the injured list. He certainly helped his cause by providing his best outing of the year in his last start before the break, tossing eight shutout innings against the Diamondbacks. The Mets will hope that that performance is a sign of things to come for Carrasco in the second half.
Wednesday, July 19: Touki Toussaint vs. Justin Verlander, 7:10 p.m. on SNY
Toussaint (2023): 24 IP, 22 K, 18 BB, 1 HR, 3.38 ERA, 4.49 FIP, 1.375 WHIP, 0.7 bWAR
Toussaint is set to make his fourth start and seventh overall appearance of the year tomorrow. The former top prospect finds himself with the White Sox after beginning the season in the Guardians organization. In his limited outings so far this year, he has performed better out of the bullpen (2.31 ERA) than in the rotation (4.38)—although in both roles, the number of walks he’s issued has plagued him, as has often been the case for him throughout his career. His last appearance came on Friday against the Braves, when he came on in long relief and tossed 5.1 innings, giving up one run on three hits while striking out four and walking four.
Verlander (2023): 75 IP, 63 K, 25 BB, 8 HR, 3.72 ERA, 4.03 FIP, 1.227 WHIP, 1.2 bWAR
Verlander is set to make his fourteenth start for the Mets tomorrow on regular rest. It’s often felt like it’s been two steps forward, one steps back for the future Hall of Famer this season, as he’s made some fine starts but has struggled to put together the kind of prolonged stretch of dominance that the Mets were hoping they’d be getting when they signed him. His last start against the Dodgers was one of his more frustrating ones, as he only surrendered two hits but also issued a whopping six walks, ultimately giving up three runs in five innings of work and taking the loss.
Thursday, July 20: Michael Kopech vs. José Quintana, 1:10 p.m. on SNY
Kopech (2023): 86.2 IP, 97 K, 53 BB, 18 HR, 4.47 ERA, 5.89 FIP, 1.408 WHIP, 1.3 bWAR
Kopech takes the mound for the White Sox in the series finale. After a solid season in the rotation for the 2022 White Sox, the right-hander has regressed somewhat this year, as he’s put up a middling ERA that could easily be much higher due to gaudy walk and home run totals. He did have a stretch of solid numbers between May and June—pitching to a tune of a 2.83 ERA in those eleven starts—but his last start (after a brief stint on the injured list due to right shoulder inflammation) was a disaster, as he walked four, gave up a grand slam, and could not get out of the first inning against the Braves last Friday. He will try to rebound from that rough outing on Thursday.
Quintana (2022): 165.2 IP, 137 K, 47 BB, 8 HR, 2.93 ERA, 2.99 FIP, 1.213 WHIP, 3.6 bWAR
He lives! Probably! After being on the injured list for the entirety of the 2023 season up to this point due to a lesion on his ribs, the veteran left-hander is set to finally make his Mets debut on Thursday. That start was originally scheduled to come a day earlier, but the team pushed him back one day more to help him recover from the flu. But there will hopefully be no further delays for Quintana, who was signed to a two-year deal this past offseason to give the Mets a reliable stalwart in their rotation. If he can come close to replicating his terrific 2022 numbers, he will be a big boon for the pitching staff. Whether or not that contribution is too little too late remains to be seen.
Prediction: The Mets prevail in an epic mid-off with a two out of three series win.
How will the Mets fare in their three game series against the White Sox?
This poll is closed
We’re so back! Mets sweep.
Some progress! Mets win two out of three.
More disappointment... Mets lose two out of three.
Welp... Mets swept.