The San Francisco Giants and the New York Mets made quite a lot of headlines this offseason but it was their mutual failure to land Carlos Correa that bonds them — at least for this season. Otherwise, their competing and relative free agent acquisition bonanzas made clear their respective strata in the sport.
The Mets have the money. They have the talent. They have the ability to woo talent. The Giants have the money and all of their talent is in their front office. The Mets added Justin Verlander, Kodai Senga, Jose Quintana, Omar Narvaez, Adam Ottavino, and David Robertson, and Tommy Pham while re-signing their own free agents: Brandon Nimmo and Edwin Diaz. Meanwhile, the Giants added former Met Michael Conforto, Mitch Haniger, Ross Stripling, Sean Manaea, and Taylor Rogers and re-signed their own free agent, Joc Pederson.
I’ve always thought of the Mets as the Giants’ cousin by reason that they took over as the New York NL team after the Giants left for San Francisco and, of course, they’ve got the orange in their team colors. When I compare the current results of their competing free agent acquisitions, that thought feels more real:
Mitch Haniger? Hurt. Joc Pederson? Hurt. Michael Conforto? Limited by injury. Ross Stripling? A disaster. Taylor Rogers? Shaky. Sean Manaea? TBD.
Omar Narvaez? Hurt. Edwin Diaz? Out for the season. Justin Verlander? Hurt. Jose Quintana? Hurt. Kodai Senga? TBD (5.21 FIP), but trending positively (124 ERA+). And I think here is where the comparison falls apart. Tommy Pham (118 OPS+), Adam Ottavino (2.25 ERA in 8 IP), and David Robertson (0.96 ERA in 9.1 IP, 4 saves) have been healthy and good.
The Mets’ lineup is 6th-best in MLB by fWAR (3.3), almost half a win better than the Giants (2.9). They’ve got a healthy Pete Alonso (164 OPS+), a healthy Francisco Lindor (136), a healthy Brandon Nimmo (134). That’s averaging 4.63 runs per game.
This isn’t a matchup the Giants win on paper. It’s not one people should expect them to win. It’s baseball and anything can happen, of course, but this is very much a David vs. Goliath matchup, if David was a drone operator sitting in an office cubicle at 3rd & King. The Mets are 5-1 on a 10-game West Coast road trip, so far having swept the A’s and taking two out of three from the Dodgers in LA. This doesn’t look like a tough matchup for them, so what chance do the Giants have?
Take a look at the Mets pitching! David Robertson, their emergency closer, is their most valuable pitcher 21 days into the season with 0.4 fWAR. Their pitching staff is 27th in MLB (0.2 fWAR), just ahead of the Diamondbacks (-0.1), Tigers (-0.4), and A’s (-2.4). This could be an opportunity for the Giants’ lineup to get going at home, where they’ve averaged just 3.33 runs through their first six home games (5.36 runs in 11 road games).
I think it’s unlikely, of course, but you never know. And, if the Giants get back Austin Slater at some point during this four game series, het could be an interesting equalizer, though the Mets feature just two left-handed pitchers at the moment: starter David Peterson and reliever Brooks Raley. Thanks to Max Scherzer using “sweat and rosin” to “assist” with his pitch spin, the Giants won’t have to face him this series (he’ll likely be serving a suspension).
It’s a perfect time for the lineup to light up.
Who: San Francisco Giants vs. New York Mets
Where: Oracle Park, San Francisco, California
When: Thursday (6:45pm PT), Friday (7:15pm PT), Saturday (1:05pm PT), Sunday (4:10pm PT) National broadcasts: FOX (Saturday, 1:05pm Pacific), ESPN (Sunday, 4pm Pacific)
Thursday: Sean Manaea vs. Kodai Senga
Friday: Anthony DeSclafani vs. TBD
Saturday: Logan Webb vs. David Peterson
Sunday: TBD vs. Tylor Megill
Where they stand
Record: 6-11, 4th in the NL West
Run differential: -6, 8th in the NL
Postseason standing: 5.0 games out of the Wild Card, 4.0 games out of the division
Momentum: 1-game winning streak; 3-7 in their last 10 games
Record: 12-7, 2nd in NL East
Run differential: +11, 6th in the NL
Postseason standing: 2nd Wild Card, 2.0 games out of the division
Momentum: 1-game winning streak; 7-3 in their last 10 games
Three Giants to watch
Michael Conforto: The first of two former Mets who could probably be playing in some zone of payback against, Conforto’s extra innings home run in Miami to salvage a win pumped up the dugout. He’s comically Three True Outcomes right now — four of his ten hits are home runs, he has no other extra base hits, and he has 9 walks in 53 PA against 17 strikeouts. If he can keep the pitch selection and power going through these next four games, he could have a big series.
J.D. Davis: And then there’s former Met #2 who might be even more in the payback zone because the Mets traded him away last deadline and all he’s done since is get healthy and hit the crap out of baseballs. He also had some solid defensive plays in Miami, and while the Giants have limited his exposure on the field, if they’ve also managed to improve the modest glove skills that he does have, they might’ve just coached up a guy who was already a threat into a borderline All-Star. It’s easy to dream on Conforto and Davis mashing the Mets.
Wilmer Flores / Darin Ruf: And let’s just round this out with two more former Mets, one of whom (Flores) has had enough time away from the team to not even think about payback and the other (Ruf), who played so poorly for them that he should be apologizing, especially if he’s hitting anything against them. Because of the few lefties on the Mets, though, we might not see too much of either this series, but it would be really something if one or both of them did anything of note. I don’t like it when Mets fans are made miserable — they’re not Dodgers, Yankees, Cardinals, or Dallas Cowboys fans, after all — but it sure is funny.
Three Mets to watch
Kodai Senga: Here’s the guy the Giants tried to woo this offseason and another guy we can toss on the pile of free agents who spurned the fifth-most valuable franchise (according to Forbes) in MLB. Here he is using his ghost fork to haunt the Marlins in his debut:
He’s averaging 96 mph on his four-seam fastball, so that’s a lethal combination. However, the Giants can hit four-seamers really well, so it could come down to guessing right. Senga’s still adjusting to the new league, too, and his 2:1 strikeouts to walk ratio could also help the Giants if they can be patient.
Brett Baty: The Mets’ top hitting prospect was tearing it up in Triple-A, forcing them to call him up despite veteran 3B Eduardo Escobar on the roster. But Escobar has literally a 6 OPS+ and Baty was 14-for-35 with four home runs and 7 walks against 9 strikeouts in 9 Triple-A games, so they’re giving him a look in hopes of balancing the lineup. The 23-year old lefty made his season debut on the 17th against the Dodgers and is thus far 1-fpr8 with a walk and two strikeouts. Hopefully, the Giants can avoid him getting hot...
Tommy Pham / Mark Canha: Two Giants killers, one doing well so far this season, the other not really doing much, and the Giants need to watch out for them. The rest of the lineup, particularly Brandon Nimmo whom I haven’t mentioned much beyond his OPS+ but tortured the Dodgers this last series, is tough to pitch against and these seem like the guys who could be tough third outs to get, particularly in key RBI situations.
Giants vs. Mets - How will it go?
This poll is closed
Giants win 3-1
Mets win 3-1