SB Nation Blog
The Opponent in one sentence
After getting off to a red-hot start in April, the Mets’ season went in the toilet immediately and they have suffered through another season out of contention.
Red Sox 0, Mets 0
Although the season as a whole has not gone according to plan for the Mets, they’ve played much better baseball in the second half. They’ve won five of their last six, and the strong play goes well beyond that. New York has lost only three games this month, and if you go all the way back to the start of August they’ve only lost two series. This is a better team than their reputation may let on.
9/14: Hector Velazquez vs. Noah Syndergaard, 7:10 PM ET
Velazquez continues to bounce back between the rotation and bullpen, and while he may not be rewarded with a playoff roster spot he’s done what the team has asked for him all season long. That being said, it’s hard to be overly confident in the righty at this point despite solid numbers. Even in the outings where he posts good results, it feels like he’s always escaping danger. Either way, don’t expect him to pitch long as his starts have have generally lasted three-to-four innings. Brian Johnson or William Cuevas will likely have a multi-inning stint out of the ‘pen Friday night at Fenway.
Syndergaard is one of the most talented young pitchers in baseball and he showed a couple years ago that, when healthy, he is terrifying to face. The hard-throwing 25-year-old has suffered through some health issues this season, but he has still made 21 starts on the year with 128 1⁄3 innings. He’s been good, but not great, in that time, at least depending on what metrics you look at. By ERA, he’s been slightly above average at 3.44 (108 ERA+), but the peripherals are better. Thanks to more than a strikeout per inning, solid control and a good ability to keep the ball in the yard he has a really good 2.66 FIP as well as an elite 2.58 DRA. He’s been mostly mediocre (at least by his standards) over this strong run by the Mets, though he did put on a great nine-inning, eleven-strikeout performance two outings ago against the Giants.
9/15: Rick Porcello vs. TBD, 4:05 PM ET
As the Red Sox look ahead to October, they could really use Porcello to get back on track. He hasn’t been a total disaster of late, but he’s not pitching deep into games as we’re accustomed to and his home run issues aren’t going away. Since the start of August, he’s had one start without a long ball and three in which he’s allowed more than one. Chances are he’ll give up at least one homer on Saturday, but the real key is making sure he avoids baserunners beyond that and seeing him record at least six innings for the first time since August 20.
The Mets haven’t announced a starter for Saturday. If I had to guess, I’d say Corey Oswalt will get the start. He is their long reliever and has made nine starts this year, and he hasn’t been good. In 53 innings he has a 6.62 ERA with fewer than six strikeouts per nine innings and 13 homers allowed.
9/16: Chris Sale vs. Jacob deGrom, 1:05 PM ET
On Sunday, the Red Sox ace is making his second start as he tries to ramp himself back up for the postseason. He only threw 26 pitches and one inning in his first outing back, but they expect him to go about three innings this time out. It’s clear Alex Cora wants to ease Sale back into things rather than just letting him loose, which is frustrating for fans who want to make sure he can go deep before the playoffs and also those who want to see him win a Cy Young. Still, you don’t want to mess with shoulder injuries, and there’s a history of Sale struggling down the stretch. October performance is the priority right now, and the Red Sox need to do what they think is best for that.
deGrom has been the topic of much conversation of late surrounding his Cy Young candidacy, but really there isn’t a good argument against him. The Mets righty has been nothing short of amazing this season, and the issue has been entirely on his teammates failing to back him up. Despite being the clear best pitcher in baseball this season, he has an 8-9 record and somehow we’re at a point where that’s still held against pitchers. Moving beyond that, he has pitched to a 1.71 ERA (216 ERA+) along with a 2.02 FIP and a 2.20 DRA. There’s basically nothing he hasn’t done well, besides getting his teammates to score him some runs.
Yoenis Cespedes spent just 51 games with the Red Sox and was pretty disappointing on that short amount of time. He’s been with the Mets for three-and-a-half years now, though, and when he’s been healthy he’s been great. Unfortunately for both him and his team, he hasn’t been healthy very much this year and he’s currently on the shelf.
Notable Position Players
Michael Conforto is a bright spot for the Mets future and though he hasn’t exactly been a star this season there are clearly building blocks. His high strikeout rate certainly isn’t ideal, but he counteracts it with plenty of walks and good power. If he can develop a little more power and cut down his strikeout rate a little bit, he’ll be a fun player in the Mets outfield.
Brandon Nimmo has had a huge year for the Mets, finally getting some regular playing time. He’s similar to Conforto with the power, walks and homers, though in 2018 his power has played up much more and he’s lapped Conforto on batting average in balls in play.
Jay Bruce is still inexplicably getting playing time for the Mets despite having no place in the team’s future and being bad this year. To be fair, he is seeing less and less as time goes on, though he’ll probably still appear in a game or two this weekend.
Amed Rosario was one of the top prospects in baseball a year ago, but he’s had a relatively tough season. His future is still bright, but with his aggressive style he’ll have to hit the ball with a little more authority to take the next step.
Todd Frazier is still who he’s always been. He’s got some pop and is a threat to go deep every time he comes up, but he’s also going to carry a low BABIP that brings down his overall production.
Jeff McNeil has come pretty much out of nowhere lately to become a major part of this Mets lineup. He doesn’t walk much, but he’s got a little sneaky pop and almost never strikes out, setting up a decent floor even if/when his BABIP falls a bit.
Kevin Plawecki has always been a little underappreciated as the Mets backup, and he’s a good hitting catcher given the low expectations that come with the position. He’s another high-strikeout, high-walk hitter.
Robert Gsellman, Seth Lugo, and Anthony Swarzak all combine to fill the late innings and close for the Mets, and while it’s a solid group there’s no one standout that is terrifying to see on the mound late in games.
Jerry Blevins is the top lefty in the Mets bullpen, and though he’s been solid this year the 34-year-old seems to be on his decline and is more fine than great.
David Wright hasn’t played all year, and he’s scheduled to play just one game in 2018. He’ll suit up in Queens on September 29 for one last game in front of the home crowd before calling it quits for good and retiring. It’s a bummer for a career that had so much potential.
Cespedes, as mentioned above, is injured. He’s out with a foot injury that is also going to cause him to miss the start of next season.
Travis d’Arnaud went down in April and underwent Tommy John surgery. He’s not coming back this year, though he should be ready for the start of 2019.
Juan Lagares is a premiere defensive outfielder, but he tore a muscle in his foot and will miss the rest of the year.
A.J. Ramos struggled in a set-up role early this year before undergoing season-ending shoulder surgery in June.
T.J. Rivera was hoping to return to action this month, but the Mets have decided to shut down the infielder for the rest of the year.
Rafael Montero underwent Tommy John surgery just before the start of the regular season and could miss the start of 2019.
Bobby Wahl went down with a hamstring injury in August, and he’ll be out the rest of the year.
Phillip Evans fractured his tibia shortly after the trade deadline and won’t return in 2018.
It is shaping up to be a really nice weekend in Boston. In fact, on Sunday, Accuweather calls for “abundant sunshine.”