The Mets (55-66) closed out their ten-game homestand with a series win against the Pirates. Now they begin a week on the road with a four-game series against the Cardinals (54-67) in St. Louis.
Winning two of three against Pittsburgh should not exactly be surprising, given that they are hardly world-beaters themselves. Still, we’re talking about a Mets squad that was swept by the Kansas City Royals just two weeks ago. Any level of success will be surprising on some level from here on out. But while we have quite justly bemoaned the sudden presence of less than stellar names in the team’s everyday lineup, the Mets have suddenly gotten some production from some of those nobodies. Jonathan Araúz hit two home runs in the Pittsburgh series! DJ Stewart hit three! Rafael Ortega got on-base three times yesterday! Someone named Tyson Miller pitched two scoreless innings and got the win on Monday—and then was quickly sent back down! Baseball is weird sometimes, man! While Mets fans with an eye for the future will be far more invested in the performances of players who will be on the team in 2024 and beyond, one must learn to enjoy the weirdness of random players making contributions down the stretch in times like these, and we’ve certainly been witness to a few instances of that in recent times.
Now the team turns its focus to St. Louis. While the Cardinals probably haven’t been quite as disappointing as the Mets have been this year, they are certainly up there on the list of underperforming teams in 2023. Last year they were led to an NL Central title on the backs of career years from Nolan Arenado and Paul Goldschmidt; this year the two are still very good, but not quite as otherworldly, and the rest of the team has not made up for the difference in production. To be fair, though, the Cardinals do still present a lineup filled with some pretty damn good hitters, even aside from their top duo. They’ve gotten solid seasons from the likes of Lars Nootbar, Nolan Gorman, Brendan Donovan (though he is currently on the injured list), Willson Contreras, and Tommy Edman. Each of the aforementioned player has been worth at least 2 fWAR, and that list does not include Jordan Walker, who—despite offering some less-than-stellar defense in the outfield which depreciates his overall value—has shown a fair bit of promise with the bat.
The team’s pitching staff has had its ups and downs (most notably in the form of Adam Wainwright—more on him in a moment), and the fact that they traded several of their better arms (Jordan Montgomery, Jack Flaherty, and Jordan Hicks) at the trade deadline certainly hasn’t helped matters. Still, the fact remains that the Cardinals are indeed in a similar position to the Mets where one looks at the roster of players the team came into the season with and wonders how things could have gone so horribly wrong. Nevertheless, both teams are now in the position of having to pay more attention to the draft lottery positioning than the playoff race. Battles between two clubs in that position always tend to be baseball at its finest, don’t they?
Thursday, August 17: José Quintana vs. Adam Wainwright, 7:15 p.m. on Fox
Quintana (2023): 29.2 IP, 20 K, 10 BB, 0 HR, 3.03 ERA, 2.93 FIP, 1.281 WHIP, 0.8 bWAR
Quintana makes his return to St. Louis, where he played following the 2022 trade deadline. His terrific performance for the Cardinals last year—when he put up a 2.01 ERA in twelve starts—undoubtedly played a big role in the Mets’ decision to pursue him as a free agent, and if he hasn’t been quite as good as he was during that half-season (which the front certainly did not expect him to be), he has certainly been exactly what the team has needed since his return from the injured list last month. Unfortunately, they have still lost every game he’s started, primarily thanks to a lack of run support—the team has been shutout in each of his last two starts, including his most recent one against the Braves in which he allowed just one run in six innings. They will try to finally get Quintana a win tonight—and they may finally get him some run support, given the guy taking the mound opposite him.
Wainwright (2023): 66.2 IP, 39 K, 26 BB, 14 HR, 8.78 ERA, 6.05 FIP, 2.085 WHIP, -2.3 bWAR
Father Time is undefeated in baseball, but it’s hard to remember him bringing any player to his knees as badly as he’s done so to Adam Wainwright this year. Following a solid 2022 season, the 41-year-old veteran decided to return for one more year—a decision he may well be regretting, given how poorly he’s performed. A short trip on the injured list in July did not resolve his problems, and his two most recent starts have been particularly brutal. His most recent outing may well have been the worst pitching performance of his life, as he gave up nine hits and eight runs in just one inning of work against the Royals. Wainwright remains just two wins away from 200 on his career, so he will likely continue to suit up for the Cardinals to try to reach that milestone before hanging up his cleats. But given how things have gone for him, it’s fair to question whether he will be able to accomplish that goal.
Friday, August 18: TBD vs. Zack Thompson, 8:15 p.m. on SNY
The Mets have yet to announce a starter for tomorrow’s game. If they go to the minors for an arm, Joey Lucchesi—who has been rehabbing an injury in recent weeks—could be an option.
Thompson (2023): 25.0 IP, 34 K, 12 BB, 2 HR, 3.96 ERA, 3.03 FIP, 1.480 WHIP, 0.2 bWAR
Thompson has spent the majority of his two major league seasons up to this point pitching in the bullpen, and has been quite effective in that role. However, thanks to both the starting pitchers the Cardinals have traded away and former Met Steven Matz going on the injured list, the 25-year-old lefty is now getting a chance to start for St. Louis and could potentially pitch his way into the team’s 2024 rotation if he performs well in the role. He made his first start of the year on August 6th and gave up one run in four innings while striking out eight against the Rockies, and his last outing saw him also pitch four solid innings when he came on in relief for Wainwright’s aforementioned clunker against the Royals. That last outing saw him throw 73 pitches, which is the most he’s thrown this year, so odds are he may still be on a somewhat limited pitch count.
Saturday, August 19: Kodai Senga vs. Miles Mikolas, 7:15 p.m. on WPIX
Senga (2023): 122.2 IP, 149 K, 59 BB, 11 HR, 3.30 ERA, 3.55 FIP, 1.288 WHIP, 2.8 bWAR
Senga’s last outing was an interesting one: he got off to an awful start against the Braves, giving up three runs in the first inning. However, he managed to shut their powerful offense down for the rest of his night, ultimately lasting six innings and picking up the win. Being able to bounce back from a disappointing inning and ultimately gut his way to a solid performance was a perfect demonstration of Senga’s resilience and gave the Mets another reason to be thrilled about the kind of pitcher he has proven himself to be. Now he will turn his focus to picking up where he left off in those last five innings on Saturday against the Cardinals. Senga started against St. Louis when the two teams faced off against each other in June, striking out eight while walking just one in 6.2 innings but also giving up four runs in that time and ultimately taking the loss.
Mikolas (2023): 147.2 IP, 103 K, 29 BB, 14 HR, 4.27 ERA, 3.86 FIP, 1.280 WHIP, 2.0 bWAR
As has often been the case in years past, Miles Mikolas has been one of the primary stalwarts in the St. Louis rotation. While he’s never going to light up the box score with gaudy strikeout numbers, he does offer pinpoint control and reliably takes the mound every fifth day. Mikolas had a rough start against the Mets earlier this year, giving up six runs in six innings of work in June. He’ll look to do a bit better this time around against a lineup that will look quite different compared to the one he faced previously. His most recent outing was also a less than stellar one, as he surrendered four runs in 6.1 innings against the lowly Athletics.
Sunday, August 20: Carlos Carrasco vs. Dakota Hudson, 2:15 p.m. on WPIX
Carrasco (2023): 84.1 IP, 62 K, 38 BB, 16 HR, 6.40 ERA, 5.83 FIP, 1.625 WHIP, -0.9 bWAR
Carrasco will take the mound for the Mets in the series finale on Sunday. Buck Showalter has understandably had a quicker hook with the veteran righty in recent times. Two starts ago, Cookie was taken out after five innings despite only being at 75 pitches and having given up just two runs. In his most recent outing against the Pirates, it took him a whopping 88 pitches to make it through three innings, and Showalter elected to go to his bullpen rather than trying to squeeze out another inning from his starter. It is not surprising that Buck has taken this approach, given how poorly this season has gone for Carrasco, but it is something that will be worth monitoring in the final month and a half, as the bullpen will likely need to be well-rested every time he takes the mound. Cookie had one of his many rough 2023 outings in his June start against the Cardinals, as he lasted just three innings while giving up six runs (five earned) during that time.
Hudson (2023): 38.0 IP, 25 K, 12 BB, 5 HR, 4.03 ERA, 4.93 FIP, 1.316 WHIP, 0.4 bWAR
Despite having spent the better parts of five seasons in the majors, Dakota Hudson has spent a large amount of this season in Triple A, as he has lost quite a bit of velocity since requiring Tommy John surgery in 2020. He pitched poorly in the minors—putting up a 6.00 ERA in eleven starts—but made it back to the majors at the beginning of July and is now getting a chance to start given the many departures in the Cardinals’ rotation. While there are still plenty of question marks surrounding his current abilities, he has done fairly well in three August starts thus far, putting up a 3.86 ERA in 18.2 innings of work. His most recent outing saw him last 6.2 innings against the A’s, during which time he gave up just two runs.
Prediction: The Mets and Cardinals each hold their own against each other, with each club winning two and losing two this weekend.
How will the Mets fare in their four-game series against the St. Louis Cardinals?
This poll is closed
Sweep in St. Louis! Mets take all four games.
Series win! Mets win three of four.
More like Split Louis! Mets win two and lose two.
That’s unfortunate! Mets lose three of four!
F*** my life! Mets get swept.