When I opened the 2018 Mets’ Baseball Reference page, I was greeted with a disabled list that made me gasp.
There are five or six lineup starters on that list and a bunch of key relievers as well. The Mets’ medical staff has been the source of Online Comedy for several years now. Basically, if they report that a guy has a minor injury and will be out a couple of days, you can rest assured that he has a major, life threatening injury and will be out for weeks or months.
The foolishness doesn’t stop there, however. The Mets’ rookie manager Mickey Callaway has defended his decision to give 35-year old Jose Reyes 202 plate appearances (and counting) despite below average defense and a .605 OPS. The Wilpons still own the team, using team revenue to replenish their depleted family wealth following the Madoff scandal rather than reinvesting in the team. The Wilpons were swindled and the Mets fans have been ever since.
Starting pitching is still what makes the team go. Jacob deGrom has a 1.71 ERA and 204 strikeouts in 168 innings (good for an astonishing 219 ERA+), Zack Wheeler has been solid and consistent all season long, Noah Syndergaard has 105 strikeouts in 100.1 innings (105 ERA+), and their rotation fWAR is good for 6th in MLB at 11.8. Their team FIP (Fielding Independent Pitching) is also 3.81, good for 6th.
The Mets just played 11 games in a row on the road with a weird schedule that involved a couple of makeup games: after a three-game series against the Marlins, they played one makeup game from July in New York against the Yankees before a two-game interleague set against the Orioles in Baltimore; then, they played their next five against the Phillies, beginning with a doubleheader that made up a rainout from May. Surprisingly, the Mets went 7-4 in this hellacious span.
They also scored the most runs in one game in their franchise history during this road trip and set an MLB record for the most unearned runs scored in a game (11) in a 24-4 win against the Phillies in Philadelphia. I probably should’ve opened with that. 37-year old José Bautista (yes, that one) hit a grand slam and had a career-high 7 RBI.
This will be a battle of a bad team (the Mets are 54-69) against a baddening team (as you know, the Giants were just swept by the
Mets Reds), and when these two forces collide, we usually see some weird stuff.
Pitcher to watch
Zack Wheeler opens up the 4-game series and although he’s already had four career starts against the Giants and the trade for Carlos Beltran was seven years ago, this is supposed to be the refined, “he’s reached his ceiling” version the Mets have been waiting for all these years. He’s struck out 136 in 139.1 innings and has a 3.75 ERA in 23 starts, but his ERA+ is 100: league average. If this is the best version of Zack Wheeler, the Giants have a shot.
Hitters to watch
I can’t decide. 37-year José Bautista seems like a great starting point. He could mess up Derek Holland and Madison Bumgarner as they try to navigate shaky innings. Amed Rosario is 22 with a sub-.300 on base percentage but has 14 stolen bases in 21 tries, meaning he’s a speedster who will probably hit a bunch of doubles and steal third base and then there’s Michael Conforto, a left-handed power hitter.
But the real answer is #ForeverGiant Austin Jackson, whose .980 OPS in 83 plate appearances (2 home runs, 6 doubles, 1 triple, 6 walks, 27 strikeouts) could mean he’s ready for revenge.
I got too cocky with my last prediction against the Reds (Giants win 2 out of the 3). I figured that after winning 2 out of the 3 in LA, they’d go into Cincinnati fired up and able to hold their own against a bad team. Instead, they were unspeakably awful and most of the lineup continued its two-month “slump”. Maybe it all just is a slump and not the result of an aging curve. Maybe the Giants are cursed in Cincinnati (when it’s not the postseason). Whatever the reason and no matter what kind of a wake up call a sweep might’ve been, the Giants can only hope to split this series.