Tonight, after we all recover from a crazy deadline in which the Mets (50-55) found themselves on a very different side of things from what they expected, the team will turn their attentions to the Kansas City Royals (32-75), one of the worst teams in all of baseball.
The Amazins are coming off a four-game series with the Washington Nationals - AKA the one team lower in the NL East standings. To the benefit of the sanity of Mets fans everywhere, the team won three out of four, securing their place in fourth for the time being. Game one of the series saw them almost waste a solid start by Kodai Senga, as the offense could not muster any offense against Josiah Gray for six innings. But they finally broke through in the eighth inning—in-between a lengthy rain delay—for two runs thanks to an RBI single by Daniel Vogelbach and a sacrifice fly by Mark Canha, and the Brooks Raley (instead of normal closer David Robertson) got the save to secure the 2-1 victory.
Game two of the series saw a sterling Max Scherzer outing. He did give up a home run—as has been his wont this year—but that run was the lone way he surrendered in seven innings of work. Meanwhile, Pete Alonso led the way for the offense with two home runs—the first a three-run shot off starting pitcher MacKenzie Gore, and the second a two-run shot against the Nationals’ dreadful bullpen. Mets relievers, meanwhile, once again held down the fort for the final two innings, and the team had a 5-1 victory for their second straight win.
The next day went in quite the opposite direction, however. Carlos Carrasco started and continued to look like a shell of his former self, getting walloped by a mediocre Nationals lineup for eight runs in 2.1 innings. The bullpen mostly held down the fort for the rest of the game—until Grant Hartwig came on for the ninth and surrendered three more runs. The bats did do some damage against Patrick Corbin and the Nationals bullpen, with home runs being hit by Tommy Pham, Francisco Lindor, Francisco Alvarez, and Mark Vientos (the latter two being back-to-back shots in the ninth), but it was nowhere near enough. The two-game winning streak was thus snapped with an 11-6 loss.
The series finale saw the Mets resume their winning ways to secure the series victory. Justin Verlander gave up a first inning run but otherwise shut the Nationals down for 5.1 innings. The Mets, meanwhile, put up five runs against former teammate Trevor Williams—including on a home run by Lindor, his second in as many days—which proved to be enough. The bullpen once again performed admirably, surrendering just a lone unearned run following Verlander, and the Amazins exited the division battle with a 5-2 win.
So that was nice, save for Saturday’s ugliness. Of course, the main thing to talk about as we enter the next stretch of play is that the over the course of this past series, the team established itself as firm sellers and as such looks decidedly different now than it did a week ago. You might have noticed several names mentioned above who are no longer employed by the New York Mets. David Robertson? He gone. Max Scherzer? He gone. Mark Canha? He gone. As these words are being written, those are the trades that have been consummated—but that may well change by the time you read these words, if not by the time I finish writing this sentence. The full extent of the damage to the 2023 squad won’t be known until the trade deadline has passed at 6:00, but nevertheless, it is clear that the team we’re watching the rest of the way will look very different from the one we’ve watched up to this point.
But the show must go on, and the Mets will begin their post-deadline reality with a series against the Royals in Kansas City. If the baseball you’ve seen in 2023 has disappointed you, take heart—it still has been nowhere near as dreadful as the baseball that Royals fans have been subjected to. While nobody expected Kansas City to be particularly good coming into the season, their current .299 winning percentage has surpassed even the most cynical of predictions. And things have been bad on every single front—the team has scored the second-fewest runs in baseball (403, behind only the Athletics) and given up the third-fewest (572, behind the Athletics and the Coors Field-aided Rockies). Save for Aroldis Chapman, who was traded to the Rangers last month, the Royals haven’t even had the luxury of shipping off any exciting trade chips for prospects. In short, it’s been a grim year for Kansas City, and it doesn’t look to be getting better any time in the near future.
Bobby Witt Jr. has been the best player on the squad (3.3 fWAR), though a lot of that is based on his solid defense at shortstop. However, while he has been middling offensively for a large portion of the season, he has been hitting the cover off the ball in more recent times, putting up a 139 wRC+ in the month of July. Otherwise, there are not many players on this squad particularly worth highlighting. Salvador Pérez is still kicking at 33 and still putting up decent power numbers (17 home runs), but aside from him and Witt, no Royals hitter has hit double-digit dingers this year. Carlos Hernández has been the most interesting pitcher with a 3.57 ERA and 63 strikeouts in 53 innings of work, pitching primarily in relief. The pitching staff is otherwise filled with unremarkable names in both the rotation and the bullpen. In theory, even the post-deadline Mets should have no trouble getting some easy wins against this squad—but of course, if they fail to do so it will hardly be the first disappointment that 2023 has given us.
Tuesday, August 1: José Quintana vs. Zack Greinke, 8:10 p.m. on SNY
Quintana (2023): 11.0 IP, 8 K, 3 BB, 0 HR, 3.27 ERA, 2.64 FIP, 1.364 WHIP, 0.1 bWAR
Quintana was signed to be a steady presence in the back of the rotation. Now, after missing the majority of his season and only recently making his return, he will need to be a steady presence as either the second or third best starting pitcher on the roster. Best laid plans and all that. Still, the Mets will watch the remainder of Quintana’s season with great interest, as he is under contract for 2024 and the team will need him to be the effective starter he’s been in the past if they want to rebound next year. His most recent start saw his second-straight outing in which he pitched fairly well but nevertheless took the loss, as he gave up three runs (two earned) in six innings against the Yankees while walking three and striking out five.
Greinke (2023): 101.2 IP, 66 K, 15 BB, 20 HR, 5.49 ERA, 5.07 FIP, 1.279 WHIP, 0.1 bWAR
The fact that Zack Greinke is still pitching in 2023—and for the same team for which he made his debut almost two decades ago—is impressive, to be sure. But don’t be fooled: this is not the same Zack Greinke of yore. Pitching wins and losses should never be used to evaluate the effectiveness of a pitcher—particularly when he plays for a team as bad as the Royals, where you expect the losses to pile up regardless of how well you perform—but nevertheless, you can’t help but cringe at his current 1-11 record. Of course, his regular stats—other than perhaps his low walk total—are more than enough to point to the fact that retirement is probably coming sooner rather than later for the once-great pitcher. His most recent start saw him give up four runs in five innings with just one strikeout against the Guardians.
Wednesday, August 2: Kodai Senga vs. Alec Marsh, 8:10 p.m. on SNY
Senga (2023): 105.0 IP, 130 K, 53 BB, 11 HR, 3.17 ERA, 3.79 FIP, 1.238 WHIP, 2.2 bWAR
With the Mets now firmly looking ahead to future seasons, Kodai Senga will perhaps be the most interesting pitcher to watch in the starting rotation. This season has seen him get better and better as time has gone on and he’s continued to adjust to life in the major leagues. July was easily his best month, as he posted a 1.93 ERA and (perhaps even more impressively, given some of his earlier troubles with baserunners) a 0.857 WHIP in four starts. If he is able to put up production even close to that level in these final months, the Mets will feel very, very good about the pitcher they have heading into the 2024 season. He ended his July on a high note with his six-inning, one-run outing against the Nationals.
Marsh (2023): 23.0 IP, 27 K, 14 BB, 9 HR, 7.04 ERA, 8.37 FIP, 1.652 WHIP, -0.3 bWAR
Our sister site Royals Review ranked Marsh as the team’s 19th top prospect this past offseason, and he made his major league debut at the end of June. Things have not gone quite as planned for the young righty, as he’s been hit hard across five starts and taken the loss in each one. He had one very strong start against the Rays in which he struck out eleven in six innings, but he still surrendered two home runs in that outing. The long ball has been a massive issue for him, as he’s given up at least one bomb in each start, and the Mets will look to take advantage. Marsh’s most recent outing was perhaps his worst one, as he lasted just 2.2 innings and surrendered four runs against Cleveland.
Thursday, August 3: TBD vs. Brady Singer, 2:10 p.m. on SNY
The Mets have yet to announce who will start in place of Scherzer on Thursday. David Peterson and Tylor Megill were mentioned as possibilities by Buck Showalter.
Singer (2023): 113.2 IP, 100 K, 38 BB, 12 HR, 5.46 ERA, 4.08 FIP, 1.460 WHIP, 0.3 bWAR
If you want to think about how badly things have gone for the Royals in 2023, look no further than Brady Singer. After a strong 2022 season in which he put up a 3.23 ERA and 4.5 bWAR, Kansas City was no-doubt hoping he would follow that up with another encouraging season in which he continued to be a strong part of the team’s rotation. Instead, he’s taken a step back in just about every way, contributing to the team’s overall downfall. To be fair, Singer has been much better in recent times after a putrid start to the season in which he put up an 8.49 ERA in April and a 5.47 ERA in May. The Royals will hope that a strong final two months to the season can at least partly salvage his overall 2023 outlook. His most recent outing was a pretty strong one, as he allowed two runs in five innings while striking out a whopping ten batters against the Twins.
Prediction: After a trade deadline which cemented just how disappointing this year has been, we need some optimism in our lives. So let’s go ahead and predict a series sweep against the second-worst team in baseball.
How will the Mets fare in their three game series against the Royals?
This poll is closed
We’re still in it, baby! - Mets sweep the Royals.
We’re still not THAT bad, okay? - Mets win two of three.
Next two months gonna be rough, huh? - Mets lose two of three
[screams into the void] - Mets get swept