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Mets face off against Pirates in a series with draft implications and little else

The Mets are bad. The Pirates are bad. Which team is more bad than the other? Let’s find out!

Cincinnati Reds v Pittsburgh Pirates Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images

The Mets (53-65) had themselves a predictably rough time over the weekend against the Braves, but did manage to salvage a win and avoid a sweep last night. Now, they will conclude this homestand with a three-game series against the Pirates (53-65), who are similarly just trying to play the rest of the year out in yet another losing season for Pittsburgh.

Last night’s win does not erase the sour taste in one’s mouth from this most recent series, though. Even given the talent disparities that exist between the Mets and Braves right now, being outscored 34-3 over the course of three games—as the Mets were this weekend—is not a thing that should happen, and demonstrates that every aspect of the team’s roster is contributing to the difficulties right now. In addition to their overall struggles, the team also struggled with some injury scares against Atlanta, as both Francisco Lindor and Brandon Nimmo missed games as a result of minor ailments. Both players returned to the team’s lineup before too long, and the Mets will need to hope that they remain healthy, as taking yet another major league caliber player or two quickly turns an already bleak lineup into something from a horror movie.

If nothing else, they have a much less daunting opponent for the next three games. It’s tough to remember now, but the Pirates were the big surprise team in baseball in the early going of the 2023 season following a 20-9 April. They’ve tapered off pretty mightily since then, but if nothing else they do still have a roster filled with some fairly interesting young players. This season has seen the much-anticipated debuts of top prospects Henry Davis and Endy Rodríguez, and while the results have just been so-so for them in the early goings (85 wRC+ in 192 plate appearances for the former, and 103 wRC+ in 75 plate appearances for the latter), there is still hope that they can join the likes of Bryan Reynolds, Ke’Bryan Hayes, and Jack Suwinski as members of the next good Pirates team. Additionally, this year has also had the feel-good story of Andrew McCutchen returning to Pittsburgh and having a pretty solid season (113 wRC+, 1.0 fWAR) serving predominantly as the team’s designated hitter. The Pirates are also bolstered by an excellent closer in David Bednar and a strong set-up man in former Met Colin Holderman (who sure would have looked nice in the Amazins’ bullpen this year...).

Of course, this series between two bad teams will have virtually no impact on the larger results of the 2023 season. It will, however, have an impact on the 2024 draft lottery, as the two teams are tied with each other in the standings. As a reminder: the Mets being over the luxury tax means that their first-round pick will be dropped ten spots unless it is a top-six pick. As things currently stand, the Amazins and Pirates are both tied with the Tigers for the seventh-worst record in the league. I am not here to tell you that you should be rooting for the Mets to lose this series. However, from an objective standpoint, their long-term interests would be best-served by them doing so. So take some small comfort in that should the Mets find themselves behind in these next three games (which, given the three starting pitchers they will be throwing out there, is a strong possibility).

Monday, August 14: Quinn Priester vs. Carlos Carrasco, 7:10 p.m. on SNY

Priester (2023): 23.2 IP, 20 K, 15 BB, 5 HR, 8.75 ERA, 6.35 FIP, 1.901 WHIP, -0.6 bWAR

Priester is currently listed as the Pirates’ sixth-top prospect in MLB Pipeline’s updated prospect list, and was promoted to the major league roster after putting up a 4.31 ERA across 18 Triple-A starts. His big league career has yet to take off through five starts, as he’s not made it past 5.1 innings in any of his outings and has given up at least four runs in all but one of them. In his most recent game, he lasted four innings against the Braves and gave up nine hits and four runs while walking one and striking out four. The Pirates will hope he has better luck against the Mets’ less formidable lineup.

Carrasco (2023): 81.1 IP, 57 K, 35 BB, 16 HR, 6.42 ERA, 5.93 FIP, 1.598 WHIP, -0.9 bWAR

By his 2023 standards, Carlos Carrasco’s last start was a good one: he pitched five innings against the Cubs last week and allowed just two runs while walking two and striking out five. Still, it was the first time in a month that Cookie gave up fewer than four runs in a game, showing just how rough the veteran righty has had it in recent times. In most other scenarios, it’d be a wonder how he managed to hold onto his rotation spot for this long. But given the reality of this Mets team and the lack of suitable alternative options, odds are that Carrasco will keep on making his regularly scheduled starts right up until the end of the season.

Tuesday, August 15: Bailey Falter vs. David Peterson, 7:10 p.m. on SNY

Falter (2023): 48.1 IP, 33 K, 11 BB, 9 HR, 5.21 ERA, 5.00 FIP, 1.552 WHIP, -0.3 bWAR

After playing the first two and a half years of his major league career with the Phillies, Falter made his way to the Pirates at the trade deadline in exchange for Rodolfo Castro. He’s lasted just four innings in each of his first two starts for Pittsburgh, and in his last game surrendered eight hits and four runs to the Braves during that time. During his time in Philadelphia over the past few years, Falter faced the Mets three times and holds a 3.27 ERA in eleven innings across those outings, though he has yet to face them this year.

Peterson (2023): 69.0 IP, 74 K, 30 BB, 10 HR, 5.61 ERA, 4.44 FIP, 1.609 WHIP, -0.1 bWAR

“I didn’t envision myself growing up being a depth piece,” Peterson said recently when talking about auditioning for a 2024 roster spot over the final month and a half of the season. Well, unfortunately for Peterson, he has not shown himself to be anything better than a depth piece in 2023. He will indeed get the chance to establish himself as something more, but right now he still needs to get his pitch count back up after spending most of July in the bullpen. In his first two starts since the trade deadline, he has not made it out of the fourth inning—that is certainly something he will need to improve upon in his next few starts. His most recent outing saw him give up two runs in 3.2 innings against the Cubs—though he did also rack up five strikeouts.

Wednesday, August 16: Johan Oviendo vs. Tylor Megill, 1:10 p.m. on SNY

Oviendo (2023): 136.1 IP, 121 K, 56 BB, 14 HR, 4.42 ERA, 4.28 FIP, 1.306 WHIP, 1.5 bWAR

Along with Mitch Keller, Oviendo has been one of the primary stalwarts in the Pittsburgh rotation this year. After being acquired from the Cardinals at last year’s deadline as part of the deal which sent José Quintana to St. Louis, he’s consistently been a steady if unremarkable starting pitcher for them. He’s done quite well in the second half thus far, putting up a 3.50 ERA across 36 innings in six starts since the All-Star break. Oviendo’s last start was a rough one, though, as he gave up six runs in five innings of work against the Reds last Friday.

Megill (2023): 81.1 IP, 64 K, 40 BB, 11 HR, 5.64 ERA, 5.07 FIP, 1.697 WHIP, -0.6 bWAR

Megill remains in the exact same boat as Peterson: trying to use this last month and a half as a de factor 2024 audition. However, the results have still not been there for Megill in the two starts he’s made since coming back to the majors after the trade deadline. He pitched well for the first few innings in his most recent start against the Braves, but the wheels ultimately fell off and he ended up surrendering nine hits and six runs (five earned) in 5.1 innings pitched. Megill will at least get a slightly less daunting opponent this time around, but time is running out for him to prove that he deserves to remain in the Mets’ plans moving forward.

Prediction: The Mets “win” the battle of the draft lottery, losing two out of three to the Pirates.


How will the Mets fare in their three-game series against the Pittsburgh Pirates?

This poll is closed

  • 7%
    Mets find buried treasure, sweep the Pirates
    (13 votes)
  • 26%
    Mets sail to two out of three series victory
    (47 votes)
  • 35%
    Mets marooned by Pirates, lose two out of three
    (64 votes)
  • 14%
    Mets trip over the plank, get swept by Pirates
    (26 votes)
  • 16%
    (29 votes)
179 votes total Vote Now