The Mets (41-46) prepare for one final series before the All Star Break, as they get set for a Wild Card series rematch against the Padres (41-46). The Mets welcomed San Diego to Citi Field earlier this year, and took two of three games. The two teams enter with identical records and sit 6.5 games back in the NL Wild Card race, which makes this a pivotal series for both clubs.
The Mets are coming off a series sweep against the Diamondbacks, as their good July fortune continued following a beyond-dismal June. The Mets slugged their way to an 8-5 victory on the Fourth of July, a game which featured six total homers between the two clubs. For only the second time in 2023, the Mets had a three-run homer and two-run homer in the same game, courtesy of Starling Marte and Francisco Alvarez, respectively. The latter put New York ahead in the seventh inning. Brandon Nimmo also contributed a homer. Max Scherzer gave up three long balls of his own, but stuck around long enough for the win. Things got dicey when Drew Smith entered with a four-run lead in the ninth, and David Robertson was called upon to record a one-out save.
The Mets picked up a dramatic 2-1 win on Tuesday to secure the series victory. Kodai Senga, in his final start of the first half, dazzled with eight innings of one-run ball while recording 12 punch outs. New York was quiet on offense until there were precisely two outs in the ninth. That’s when Alvarez connected on a 3-2 homer to tie the game up, a play that was so exciting it caused Gary Cohen to throw his pen out of the booth. Two batters later after Brett Baty reached base, Mark Canha tripled him home, and the Mets went from staring a loss straight in the face to picking up their fourth consecutive victory.
The Mets walloped the D’Backs 9-0 on Thursday to complete a sweep in the desert and extend their winning streak to five games. Like they did in the ninth inning on Wednesday, they used a triple and a homer to plate two in the first inning, although this time it was Lindor with the triple—one of two he would have on the game, to go along with a homer—and Pete Alonso contributed his 26th homer. The Mets then scored five in the third, highlighted by Alvarez’s third home run in as many games. Carlos Carrasco, in his final start of the first half, cruised through eight shutout innings, by far his longest stint of the year.
As mentioned, the Mets have not lost a game since the calendar turned from ‘June’ to ‘July’. Their five wins this month almost match their seven wins from last month, which took them 26 games to reach. The Mets didn’t win their fifth game in June until the 19th of the month. No one, and I mean no one has been hotter this month than Alvarez, who has homered four times in five games this month and has blown past the franchise’s record for homers by a rookie catcher, while climbing the ladder for home runs by a catcher aged 21 or under in MLB history. In five games, he is slashing .353/.421/1.059 with a team-high seven runs batted in and 287 wRC+, as well as a 0.5 fWAR. The other Francisco, Lindor, isn’t doing too poorly either, hitting .368/.478/.947 with two homers, six runs scored, a 269 wRC+, and a 0.6 fWAR in five games.
The Padres are coming off sweeping the Angels and, in general, have won four of their last five games since dropping six straight. Like the Mets, they have an astronomical payroll. Like the Mets, they have had a very disappointing season relative to their expectations. Like the Mets, they enter this series on a roll.
For all their star power, San Diego will only send two players to Seattle for the All Star game. Juan Soto, whom Mets fans are more than familiar with, is one of those players. Soto leads his club with a 153 wRC+ and a 3.4 fWAR while hitting .272/.426/.490 with 15 homers, 50 runs scored, and 47 runs batted in in 87 games. The other is Josh Hader, who owns a 1.11 ERA, a 2.49 FIP, a 1.02 WHIP, 20 saves, and 48 strikeouts in 32 1⁄3 innings.
Fernando Tatis Jr., in his first year back from a suspension, is back to his old form, although it wasn’t good enough to get him an All Star nod. The shortstop-turned-outfield is hitting .287/.347/.532 with a team-high 16 homers, 50 runs scored, 44 runs batted in, 14 stolen bases, a 139 wRC+, and a 3.4 fWAR in 67 games. The Mets will also miss Old Friend Seth Lugo this time around. Lugo, now a full-time starter (as he always wanted), is having a great first year in San Diego. He has pitched to a 3.39 ERA, a 3.37 FIP, and a 1.24 WHIP in 12 starts for the Padres. He has struck out 59 and walked 13 in 63 2⁄3 innings.
Friday, July 7: Justin Verlander vs. Yu Darvish, 9:40 p.m. on SNY
Verlander (2023): 64.0 IP, 55 K, 16 BB, 8 HR, 3.66 ERA, 3.99 FIP, 1.19 WHIP, 1.2 bWAR
After giving up four earned runs in his return to Houston Verlander on June 20, Verlander hasn’t allowed an earned run over his last two starts. His most recent starts was one of his better ones of the season, as he held the Giants to one unearned run on five hits, with one walk and six strikeouts over seven innings. In the process, he has lowered his ERA by almost a full run while also getting his FIP below four. He’ll try to end the first half on a high note and propelled the Mets to another victory. For those still counting, he now sits three victories away from 250 for his career.
Darvish (2023): 80.0 IP, 85 K, 25 BB, 10 HR, 4.84 ERA, 3.88 FIP, 1.23 WHIP, 0.1 bWAR
Like many on the Padres, it hasn’t been the best year for Darvish, whose 4.84 ERA would be his highest in a season since his 2018 campaign with the Cubs. His last three starts have been especially tough, as he’s allowed 14 earned runs over 16 1⁄3 innings (7.71 ERA) while giving up 20 hits, walking seven, and striking out 17. He’s picked up losses in his last two starts, to the Giants and the Rays. The Mets handed him his first loss of the season, scoring five earned runs on six hits over 6 1⁄3 innings against him on April 10. That start aside, Darvish has dominated the Mets in his career, posting a 3.05 ERA in nine starts and 59 innings pitched against them.
Saturday, July 8: David Peterson vs. Blake Snell, 10:10 p.m. on SNY
Peterson (2023): 49.0 IP, 53 K, 20 BB, 8 HR, 6.61 ERA, 4.60 FIP, 1.67 WHIP, -0.5 bWAR
Peterson will get quite possibly his last major league start for a while with José Quintana set to return post-break. Peterson’s last start was brief, as he was pulled after four innings and 61 pitches. He said after the game that he could have gone longer, but Buck Showalter decided to pull the plug on Sunday Night Baseball, a game the Mets would go on to win against San Francisco. He allowed one earned run on three hits, though he did walk three while also striking out three.
Snell (2023): 92.0 IP, 121 K, 46 BB, 11 HR, 3.03 ERA, 3.78 FIP, 1.26 WHIP, 1.9 bWAR
Snell has quietly been having another solid year for San Diego as the team continues to languish near the bottom of their division. The left hander is coming off hurling five shutout frames against the Angels, a game which saw him scatter seven hits, walk four, and strike out seven. As has been the case in recent years, his command remains a concern. Snell sports a 4.5 BB/9, which is third-worst among qualified starting pitchers in the NL, trailing only Kodai Senga and Jack Flaherty of the Cardinals. On the positive side, his 11.84 K/9 is second-best among qualified NL starters, behind only Spencer Strider of the Braves.
Sunday, July 9: Max Scherzer vs. TBD, 9:40 p.m. on WPIX
Scherzer (2023): 82.2 IP, 94 K, 20 BB, 16 HR, 4.03 ERA, 4.37 FIP, 1.20 WHIP, 1.4 bWAR
Scherzer’s last start was a mixed bag. On the bright side, he went six innings and earned his 209th career victory. He also struck out nine for the second straight start, and he has punched out 34 batters over his last four outings. He did, however, serve up three home runs (four earned runs in total), and he has given up nine dingers in his last six starts. His 1.74 HR/9 is third-worst among NL starters with at least 80 innings pitched, trailing Trevor Williams of the Nationals and Austin Gomber of the Rockies. Scherzer, who has had an eventful first half between his up-and-down play, his suspension, and his injury, will look to cap it off on a positive note.
The Padres have not named a starting pitcher for Sunday’s series finale.
Prediction: The Mets keep the good times rolling by taking two of three from San Diego.
How will the Mets fare in their three game series against the Padres?
This poll is closed
The Mets sweep San Diego to conclude a perfect road trip!
The Mets see their winning streak end, but win two of three.
The Mets steal one, but drop two at Petco Park.
The Mets get a taste of their own medicine as they’re swept away in San Diego.