The hope was that the Mets would use their series against the mediocre White Sox to get themselves back on track. After a string of games in which the offense struggled mightily, the Mets’ bats finally broke out in the series opener on Tuesday with a whopping eleven runs—including two two-run homers from Francisco Alvarez along with solo homers from Brett Baty and D.J. Stewart (?!). By all accounts, it should have been a stress-free win. Alas, the Mets’ pitching staff made it a stressful one, as Carlos Carrasco gave up four runs and the bulllpen gave up a whopping six in 4.1 innings of work. David Robertson gave up one of those runs in the ninth to bring the game within one and even put the tying and go-ahead runs in scoring position, but managed to secure the final out to get a much-needed victory.
In game two of the series, the Mets finally got themselves a elusive stress-free win, Brett Baty homered for the second straight game—an encouraging power demonstration for the rookie third baseman who has struggled in that department this year—and the Mets scored four runs in the fourth inning against White Sox starter Touki Toussaint. That was more than enough run support for Justin Verlander, who tossed one of his best starts as a Met. The future Hall of Famer made it through eight innings and gave up just a single run, and Adam Ottavino tossed a scoreless final inning to give the Amazins an easy victory.
The Mets hoped to get themselves a sweep in yesterday’s series finale, but were unable to get it done. The game did see the much anticipated season debut of José Quintana, and while he did give up runs in his first two innings of work, he did ultimately make it through five innings giving up just those runs and looked pretty solid doing so. Unfortunately, the offense was not able to do much against starting pitcher Michael Kopech—an Omar Narváez solo homer was the only run they were able to put on the board against him—and before they even had the chance to stage a late comeback, Drew Smith put the game out of reach by giving up four runs (albeit just one of them earned) in the sixth inning, and things were basically over at that point. A meaningless run in the eighth inning did little to change the disappointment of the loss to close the series out.
In ordinary circumstances, it’s hard to be disappointed with a series victory. But the Mets are at the point where every single loss makes their already diminishing playoff chances even more remote, and the only way they can realistically get themselves back into contention is to go on an extended winning streak. In order to do that, they need to have all components of the team clicking, and it’s still a struggle for them to get there. While there are plenty of things that the Mets were no doubt happy to see in their three games against Chicago—including solid starting pitching performances from Verlander and Quintana and two home runs apiece from Alvarez and Baty—there were also some of the continued struggles from numerous guys on the offense and bullpen. Additionally, injuries to Starling Marte and Tommy Pham (the latter of whom needs to be healthy enough to remain a suitable trade piece, should the Mets indeed decide to sell) will further challenge the team’s ability to go on the stretch they need to.
For their part, the Red Sox are in the midst of a pretty solid season, but one in which they have the misfortune of playing in the best division in baseball. Their record would be good enough for first place in the much less competitive AL Central; in the AL East, however, they stand in fourth place—8.5 games out of first. They are also currently sitting on the outside looking in in the wild card race, though there they are a much more manageable three games out. Nevertheless, they too are in a position where every game is important for them as they look to make a run into the postseason.
The calling card for this Red Sox team has been their hitting, as they’ve scored the third-most runs in the American League so far in 2023. One of the primary leaders on the offensive end has been Japanese outfielder Masataka Yoshida, as he has put up big numbers (140 wRC+, 1.8 fWAR) in his first season in the states. Additionally, former Met Justin Turner—playing his first year in Boston after spending nine years with the Dodgers—is still producing at 38-years-old, as he’s been one of the best hitters in the Red Sox lineup (15 homers, 126 wRC+). And the team is also undoubtedly quite pleased with Jarren Duran establishing himself as a quality player—his 2.4 fWAR leads the team, though he is buoyed by a remarkably high BABIP (.414). The Red Sox have also gotten solid production from some of the usual suspects like Rafael Devers (122 wRC+) and Alex Verdugo (115 wRC+) to help round out what is a decidedly solid lineup.
Conversely, the Boston pitching staff has left something to be desired—particularly their starting rotation. Injuries have not helped them on that front, as guys like Chris Sale, Tanner Houck, Garrett Whitlock, and Corey Kluber are all currently on the injured list (although to be fair, most of those guys were struggling before they went down). Overall, their rotation holds a 4.79 ERA on the year, which as of yesterday was the fifth-worst in all of baseball. Their bullpen has fared a bit better; veteran Kenley Jansen has served capably as the closer, and they’ve also gotten solid performances from guys like Josh Winckowski, Chris Martin, and Brennan Bernadino.
Friday, July 21: Kodai Senga vs. James Paxton, 7:10 p.m. on SNY
Senga (2023): 95.2 IP, 122 K, 49 BB, 11 HR, 3.20 ERA, 3.87 FIP, 1.265 WHIP, 2.0 bWAR
With a number of inconsistent performances elsewhere in the rotation, Senga has firmly established himself as the best starting pitcher on the Mets’ roster in recent times. After some struggles early in the season as he adjusted to major league pitching, the All-Star has a 2.61 ERA in his last ten starts and has mitigated (if not completely eliminating) some of the control problems that were plaguing him early in the season. His most recent start was yet another solid one, as he tossed six innings against the mighty Dodgers while allowing just one run and striking out nine.
Paxton (2023): 59 IP, 68 K, 17 BB, 9 HR, 3.51 ERA, 3.94 FIP, 1.034 WHIP, 1.5 bWAR
The veteran lefty Paxton is in the midst of his first season with the Red Sox after missing almost all of the last two seasons due to Tommy John surgery. After making his return to the field in May, he had himself an outstanding month of June, putting up a 1.74 ERA in five starts. His most recent start, however, was likely his worst of the season thus far, as he surrendered six runs in three innings of work against the Cubs last Saturday. Still, Paxton overall is likely very happy with how his season has gone up to this point, and he will try to rebound from his rough start tonight.
Saturday, July 22: Max Scherzer vs. Kutter Crawford, 4:10 p.m. on WPIX
Scherzer (2023): 94.2 IP, 107 K, 26 BB, 18 HR, 3.99 ERA, 4.42 FIP, 1.183 WHIP, 1.7 bWAR
As we inch closer to the trade deadline, there continues to be speculation on whether or not Scherzer could fine himself on the market. His sky-high salary makes it difficult to imagine a trade ultimately happening, as does his largely middling 2023 numbers. His last start was a good one, though, as he threw seven shutout innings against the Dodgers las weekend. Scherzer also believes he may have uncovered a reason for why he was giving up so many homers on his slider in his last start, so we will see if he shows some improvement on that front moving forward.
Crawford (2023): 67.1 IP, 67 K, 17 BB, 10 HR, 3.74 ERA, 4.08 FIP, 1.129 WHIP, 1.4 bWAR
Crawford takes the mound against the future Hall of Famer in game two of the series. The 27-year-old righty began the season primarily pitching in the bullpen, but has been a member of the Red Sox rotation since the beginning of June. His ERA as a starter (4.73) is noticeably higher than as a reliever (1.66), but given the injury struggles that the Red Sox have had amongst their starting pitchers, his services have been needed there. His most recent start saw him give up just one hit and rack up nine strikeouts (albeit along with four walks) in six shutout innings against the Cubs.
Sunday, July 23: Carlos Carrasco vs. TBD, 7:10 p.m. on ESPN
Carrasco (2023): 65.2 IP, 48 K, 29 BB, 13 HR, 5.35 ERA, 5.96 FIP, 1.447 WHIP, 0.0 bWAR
Carrasco’s rough season continues to chug along with a start on national television. If Cookie’s numbers were anything close to his 2022 season—when he put up a 3.97 ERA in 29 starts—we would likely be talking about him as a potential trade piece right about now. Instead, Carrasco will continue to take the mound for the Amazins until or unless they decide that they would rather give the spot in their rotation to one of their younger starters like Tylor Megill or Joey Lucchesi. The Mets’ offense gave him a big lead in his last start against the White Sox, but he was not able to translate it into a win, as he only made it through 4.2 innings and gave up four runs on six hits.
The Red Sox have yet to announce who will be starting for them in Sunday night’s game.
Prediction: Facing the superior of the two Sox teams, the Mets lose two out of three.
How will the Mets fare in their three game series against the Red Sox?
This poll is closed
Mets ball out in Boston with a three-game sweep
Mets have fun in Fenway with a two out of three series victory
Mets stumble down the City on a Hill, lose two out of three
Mets get beatdown in Beantown, get swept by Sox