The trade deadline has passed, and now we have firmly entered the new reality the Mets (50-58) find themselves in in the aftermath. Following a series in which that reality became fully evident, the team turns its focus to the Orioles (67-42), as the team begins a three game series in Baltimore against one of the best teams in all of baseball.
We knew things had taken a turn for the worse for the 2023 squad after they traded away a half dozen of their better players prior to the series in Kansas City. Still, nothing could have prepared us for the ineptitude that started on Tuesday night. That game, despite its humiliating ending, was actually the most competitive one the Mets would play against the Royals, as they overcame a two-run deficit in the eighth inning and, despite giving up a lead in the bottom of that frame, went into extra innings and took a two-run lead on a Francisco Alvarez two-run homer. But new closer Brooks Raley then blew that lead, and Grant Hartwig came on to replace him only to then load the bases himself (though he was assisted by a Brett Baty error). Josh Walker then came on to try to get the final out of the inning, but before he could throw a single pitch, he balked in the final run to give the Royals a 7-6 win.
On Wednesday, the Mets turned to their now-ace Kodai Senga to claw some of the good vibes back, but he had an uncharacteristically shaky start. He surrendered eleven hits against the Royals, and—despite overcoming some early struggles—still could not make it through six innings and gave up three runs in total. New Met reliever Phil Bickford, who was added at the trade deadline for cash, also surrendered a home run in the eighth inning, but it hardly mattered, since the Mets couldn’t get a single run across the board regardless. They did have plenty of opportunities—they collected nine hits and three walks on the day—but were not able to cash in any clutch hits against any of the Royals pitchers. Thus, the team lost its second straight game to Kansas City with a 4-0 defeat.
In the series finale, Carlos Carrasco continued to look like his major league career is all but over. He did not strikeout a single Kansas City batter in his entire outing, and while he did make it through six innings and entered the seventh having given up “only” three runs, he very quickly surrendered two singles and a homer before being taken out, making it six runs in six innings of work for Cookie. Josh Walker ended up giving up three more runs in the eighth inning, which brought Danny Mendick—yes, the not-a-pitcher Danny Mendick—onto the mound to get the final couple outs. Again, this was all largely irrelevant, because the Mets once again could not get any runs on the board against starting pitcher Brady Singer. A ninth inning two-run homer off the bat of Francisco Lindor is the only thing that saved the Mets from the embarrassment of getting shutout in back-to-back games, but nothing could spare them from their ultimate humiliation: a 9-2 loss to make it a series sweep against the second-worst team in all of baseball.
Again, we all knew that this was going to be a bad team in the aftermath of the trade deadline. But try telling the you from a few months ago that the August 2023 Mets would be rocking a lineup which included Jonathan Araúz, Rafael Ortega, and Danny Mendick hitting back-to-back-to-back, or that D.J. Stewart would be hitting second. These are the types of players the team has turned to in this new world, Given the cast of nobodies who are now playing important roles on the team, and given how this past series has gone, it’s hard not to start turning one’s attention to the lottery for next year’s draft.
In fairness, part of the reason the lineup got so bleak in this series was because they were missing some of their regulars who still remain on the team; Brandon Nimmo missed the series with quad tightness, and Starling Marte remains on the injured list for the time being. Both players could return shortly, adding some amount of depth to the lineup. Additionally, at some point the Mets may decide to give Ronny Mauricio a chance—there are a number of reasons to be skeptical that he will be immediately productive in the majors, but he’d at least give us another interesting player to watch and hold our interest. But we’re grasping for straws here, really. One way or another, this team is not gonna be all that fun to watch for these last couple months, folks.
If the Mets couldn’t muster up even one win against a team as bad as the Royals, one shudders to think what they will do against Buck Showalter’s old team. Just two years after they finished with the worst record in baseball, the Orioles are following up a surprisingly strong 2022 season with an even better 2023 which currently sees them atop the standings in the powerhouse American League East. They’ve accomplished this goal predominantly through an eclectic group of talented homegrown players. Former top prospects Adley Rutschman (124 wRC+, 2.7 fWAR) and Gunnar Henderson (123 wRC+, 2.5 fWAR) have been the flashiest examples of that, but don’t be fooled: other players who have been members of some of the Orioles teams that have wracked up 100+ losses over the past few years have contributed mightily to this team’s success, including guys like Cedric Mullins (currently on the injured list, though Baltimore is hoping he will return soon), Anthony Santander, and Austin Hays. This group of homegrown talent, combined with the other guys they have coming in their elite farm system, means that we can expect to see the Orioles towards the top of the baseball standings for years to come.
If there’s a fault to the Orioles, one can probably point to a largely middle of the road rotation—though the team did acquire Jack Flaherty from the Cardinals at the deadline to try to address that issue. However, that minor weakness is largely mitigated by one of the better bullpens in the league led by the two-headed monster that is Félix Bautista and Yennier Canó. The former, pitching in just his second big league season, has an otherworldly 0.87 ERA and 17.6 K/9 rate closing games for Baltimore. The latter, acquired from the Twins for Jorge López at last year’s deadline, as come out of nowhere to become one of the best setup relievers in baseball. In other words, if the Mets find themselves trailing in any of these games after seven innings, it’s probably safe to turn off the game and go read a book. Of course, given the quality disparity that exists between these two teams, you might want to just go ahead and do that from the first inning anyway.
Friday, August 4: David Peterson vs. Dean Kremer, 7:05 p.m. on SNY
David Peterson (2023): 62.1 IP, 68 K, 25 BB, 9 HR, 5.92 ERA, 4.31 FIP, 1.620 WHIP, -0.3 bWAR
Welcome back to the rotation, David Peterson. After struggling so mightily as a starter in the beginning of the year, he spent most of July pitching out of the bullpen for the Mets. He performed fairly well in the short time he served in that role, putting up a 2.25 ERA in his past six relief outings. But now he finds himself back as a starter—likely for the rest of the season. He and the Mets will hope that a good final two months will set him up well for future seasons. His last start came almost a month ago in San Diego, where he gave up three runs in 5.1 innings while striking out seven and walking two against the Padres.
Dean Kremer (2023): 119.2 IP, 111 K, 35 BB, 23 HR, 4.66 ERA, 4.92 FIP, 1.337 WHIP, 0.8 bWAR
Kremer has been a steady presence in the Orioles’ rotation throughout the entire 2023 season. After establishing himself as a capable major league player last year, he’s continued to be a perfect representation of Baltimore’s cadre of “unremarkable but competent” starting pitchers. He had a solid month of July, pitching to the tune of a 3.45 ERA in 28.2 innings across five starts. His last start came against the other New York team, against whom he surrendered seven hits and three runs in four innings while walking two and striking out seven.
Saturday, August 5: TBD vs. Kyle Gibson, 7:05 p.m. on SNY
The Mets have yet to announce who will start on Saturday, which would have been Justin Verlander’s turn in the rotation. Tylor Megill has previously been mentioned as a possibility to re-enter the rotation, and his last start for the Syracuse Mets came last Saturday, so he may be the likeliest candidate.
Gibson (2023): 133 IP, 108 K, 42 BB, 11 HR, 4.53 ERA, 3.78 FIP, 1.308 WHIP, 1.1 bWAR
After a poor season with the Phillies in 2022, Kyle Gibson was Baltimore’s primary rotation addition this past offseason. While Orioles fans likely wish their team had gone after one of the more exciting options out there, the veteran righty has been a bit better this year and, like Kremer, has served as a consistent presence in the team’s rotation. With an arsenal of pitches that has always been led by his sinker, Gibson’s game plans has always been to generat a large number of ground balls, and that has continued to be the case this year with his 48.5% ground ball rate. His last start was a solid one against the Blue Jays, as he tossed six one-run innings in the division match-up.
Sunday, August 6: José Quintana vs. Kyle Bradish, 1:35 p.m. on SNY
Quintana (2023): 17.2 IP, 10 K, 5 BB, 0 HR, 3.57 ERA, 2.99 FIP, 1.302 WHIP, 0.2 bWAR
The Mets are still searching for their first win in a game in which Quintana starts. None of the results in these games were his fault, despite the fact that he took the loss in two of them. In general, the Mets have been happy with the results that Quintana has given them, and amidst all the uncertainty that exists elsewhere in the team’s rotation, they will hope that he continues to give them solid, sturdy production every fifth day. He pitched into the seventh inning in his last start, giving up three runs while walking two and striking out two against the Royals.
Bradish (2023): 111.0 IP, 102 K, 28 BB, 12 HR, 3.32 ERA, 3.73 FIP, 1.117 WHIP, 2.6 bWAR
Pitching in his second season after a fairly unremarkable rookie season, Kyle Bradish has taken a nice step forward this year and emerged as one of Baltimore’s better starters. He has more bWAR than any other starting pitcher on the team’s roster and has been especially good at home, pitching to the tune of a 2.29 ERA in eight starts at Camden Yards. In his last start, he tossed seven innings against the Blue Jays while giving up three runs and striking out seven.
Prediction: Well, I went for some optimism in my Royals series preview by predicting a sweep, but I picked the wrong team. So, uhh, we’re going in the opposite direction this time around. Orioles sweep the Mets. Draft lottery flags fly forever?
How will the Mets fare in their three game series against the Baltimore Orioles?
This poll is closed
Mets provide dramatic turnaround by sweeping first-place O’s
Mets claw back some good vibes by winning two of three in Baltimore
Mets continue their descent by losing two of three in Birdland
Draft position, baby! Orioles sweep Mets