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Red Sox at Mets Series Preview

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A look at this week’s two-game set down in Queens.

Washington Nationals v New York Mets Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images

SB Nation Blog

Amazin’ Avenue

The Opponent in one sentence

A team that saw its fortunes dramatically change with a change in ownership last offseason, the Mets come in armed with the best shortstop in baseball and a pitching staff with renewed depth to complement their homegrown offensive talent.

Record

9-8

Head-to-Head Record

0-0

Trend

Steady. The Mets are 5-5 in their last ten games with some disappointing losses in Chicago, but they did take two of three from the Nationals with a pair of shutouts.

Pitching Matchups

4/27: Garrett Richards vs. David Peterson, 7:10 PM ET (ESPN for out-of-market)

Richards’s season so far has been a disaster, as he’s been battling inconsistency and wildness. This Mets lineup is good, so they’ll be able to take advantage of him if he’s not on his game. To illustrate some of the issues here, Richards is one of five starters in all of baseball to have a negative strikeout to walk ratio.

David Peterson is filling in for injured starter Carlos Carrasco, and the lefty’s been hit or miss so far this year. He got bombed in his first start, then threw six one-run innings while striking out ten against the Phillies, then got bombed in Chicago by the Cubs. The stuff isn’t outrageous, and in order to succeed he needs good command. He doesn’t really have anything to challenge right-handed hitters with second and third time through the lineup. Peterson will feature a sinker, a slider, a changeup and a four-seam.

4/28: Nick Pivetta vs. Jacob deGrom, 7:10 PM ET

Pivetta was very good last time out, but command problems still plagued him by the end. He’s walking 16.5% of batters this year, higher than his teammate Richards and seventh worst among starters with at least 10 innings this season. He’s going to struggle with his fastball command and ultimately for success he needs hitters to chase the breaking ball and swing under the fastball. If he can’t do that, there’s a good chance he will have a rough night.

Toronto Blue Jays v Boston Red Sox Photo by Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images

The line of succession for best pitcher in the world has gone from Clayton Kershaw to Max Scherzer and now to Jacob deGrom, who only seems to be getting better. Going by the 20-80 scouting scale, deGrom has an 80 fastball, 80 slider, and 80 command. You can also make the case for an 80 changeup. In his last start, he threatened to strikeout 20 batters. In the start before that, he struck out 9 consecutive batters. His closest comparison point is peak Pedro Martinez. He’s increased his fastball velocity for the fifth year in a row, sitting now at 99 MPH. Your best hope is that someone runs into a fastball he leaves over the plate or that he has a slightly off night. He’s started throwing way more fastballs this year, cutting his slider usage by nine percentage points and changeup usage by seven points, so opportunities could be there to sit fastball. Not that that makes it any easier when the guy is throwing 99 with pinpoint command.

Old Friends

Kevin Pillar. Last year’s Opening Day right fielder in Boston might be playing himself out of a job in Queens. He’s not an all-world defender anymore, isn’t hitting, and is repetitive with Albert Almora, who is a better defender than him. He is 3-22 in this young season with one walk.

Notable Position Players

Brandon Nimmo has been one of the best hitters in baseball this season. He’s not going to keep the average up, but his 15.2% walk rate is in line with his career. Nimmo is an on-base machine, always in a hurry to get to first.

Francisco Lindor is the best shortstop in baseball. Acquired in a steal of a deal from the Cleveland Indians, Lindor signed a franchise-record 10-year, $341 million extension to make him a Met for life. He’s gotten off to a cold start with the bat, but he’s been excellent in the field and there’s no cause of concern for the offense. The Mets have struggled to get into a rhythm this year due to a series of rainouts and postponements, which has an effect on players.

Dominic Smith is the everyday left fielder for the Mets. This has gone about as well as you’d expect, and he would greatly benefit from a designated hitter in the National League. He’s shown promise with the bat over parts of the last two seasons, putting up a 148 wRC+ over 396 plate appearances, but questions still linger given the sample size, and playing him in an outfield corner isn’t doing him any favors.

Pete Alonso is back in form after an underwhelming COVID season. He has top-end, 80-grade power and knows how to tap into it. There’s a reason they don’t bench him for Dom Smith.

Michael Conforto, set to become a free agent after this year, has stumbled out the gate to open the season. He’s all out of sorts at the dish. Like I mentioned before with Lindor, the Mets have had their season stop and start so many times and haven’t been given the chance to get into a rhythm yet. He’s a mess right now but he could get it together at any moment.

J.D. Davis is playing third base but is woefully unqualified to play there. He’s a good hitter, but not good enough to make up for the bottom-of-the-barrel defense he provides at the hot corner. Luis Guillorme would be a better fit here if only for his defense.

Jeff McNeil is an exceptional hitter off to a slow start. He’s hitting the ball right at dudes. He’ll get over this and start playing like the role-6 infielder he is.

James McCann signed with the Mets this offseason for four years and $40.6 million and the early returns haven’t been good. He’s looked more like Tigers-era James McCann than White Sox-era James McCann that got him the four-year contract in the first place.

Bullpen Snapshot

Edwin Díaz hasn’t been able to repeat his lights out 2018 with the Mariners since being traded to New York, but the stuff is still there and it is electric. It’s near 100 mph heat and a sharp, 90+ mph slider. Command is his biggest issue. He can leave the fastball down the heart of the plate, leaving it open for punishment if you can time the heat out of his hand.

Trevor May is a fastball/slider reliever that strikes a ton of dudes out. His four-seamer sits in the high 90’s and has good life on it. He’ll mix in a change every now and then, but predominantly relies on the heat and a sharp, darting slider. In Luis Rojas’ push button bullpen, he’s the eighth inning guy. Trevor is also online and has two YouTube channels where you can see him talk about his arsenal among other things.

Miguel Castro throws extremely hard, routinely hitting 100 MPH with his sinker. Unlike May, he is a three-pitch pitcher, mixing in his slider and changeup with regularity. The problem is that he doesn’t know where it’s going a lot of the time so he regularly runs walk rates above 10 percent. A fun thing about the relievers I mentioned is that none of them throw as hard as Jacob deGrom.

Injuries

Carlos Carrasco strained his hamstring late in spring but is expected back by the second week of May.

Seth Lugo underwent surgery to remove a bone spur in his pitching elbow early in spring. He’s thrown two bullpens and is on track to return in May.

Dellin Betances was moved to the 60-day IL on Saturday with his right shoulder impingement. Things aren’t looking good for him.

Noah Syndergaard is rehabbing from Tommy John surgery. He just had his first rehab outing and hit 97. It’ll be June until he returns, however.

Weather Forecast

We’re looking at clear skies both nights with chilly temperatures dipping into the 50’s on Tuesday with a relatively warm reprieve coming on Wednesday with temperatures in the low-60’s.