SB Nation Blog
The opponent in one sentence
The Mets have some real talent on their roster but they’ve been a consistently underperforming bunch and find themselves all but officially out of the playoff race.
Red Sox 2, Mets 0
Down. The Mets, with their shiny new outspoken billionaire owner along with the blockbuster trade and subsequent extension of superstar shortstop Francisco Lindor, were primed to take over the rather lackluster NL East. Instead, they own a losing record in September, entering Tuesday’s game 8-10, having been swept by the St. Louis Cardinals, and losing two of three from the Philadelphia Phillies. The Mets are 5.5 games behind the division-leading Atlanta Braves, and 7.0 games behind for the second National League Wild Card.
9/21: Eduardo Rodriguez vs. Marcus Stroman, 7:10 PM ET
The Red Sox hand the ball to Eduardo Rodriguez to help start the short two-game series off on the right foot. Rodriguez’s season has been the textbook definition of inconsistent. As much as Rodriguez has struggled, he’s also been rather unlucky, as his 3.46 FIP and 3.48 xFIP are career bests. A pitcher is simply more than his ERA, especially when the defense behind him has been abysmal. In Rodriguez’s last start against the Mariners, he went six innings and gave up six hits, two runs (one earned) and one walk while striking out six.
Opposing Rodriguez will be veteran right-hander Marcus Stroman for the Mets. Since being diagnosed with a UCL strain, the best pitcher on planet earth, Jacob deGrom, has been on the injured list, leaving Marcus Stroman as the most consistent starting pitcher for the Mets. Stroman enters his start with a 2.88 ERA and a 1.12 WHIP in 169 innings this year. His ERA is a bit better from his peripherals, as he owns a 4.08 xERA, 3.27 FIP, and a 3.51 xFIP. Rodriguez has a better xERA and xFIP than Stroman on the season, with the latter having better results. The former Blue Jay will feature a low-90s two-seam along with a slider, splitter, and cutter.
9/22: TBD vs. Tylor Megill, 7:10 PM ET (ESPN for out-of-market)
The Red Sox relegated Tanner Houck to the bullpen last week, an inspired decision, no doubt, given the Red Sox possess off days on either end of the Mets and Yankees series. The off days will allow for the Red Sox to work with a rotation of Nate Eovaldi, Chris Sale, Eduardo Rodriguez, and Nick Pivetta on normal rest. As of right now, game two on Wednesday is TBD. If the Red Sox are able to handily win game one, look for any one of these options, Pivetta to get the start on short rest, a spot starter, or a bullpen game. If the Red Sox lose game one, Chris Sale most likely slides into a game two start.
The Mets have announced that game two starter will be rookie right-hander Tylor Megill. In 16 starts Megill has posted a 4.57 ERA, 3.72 xERA, 4.38 FIP, 3.82 xFIP, and a 1.29 WHIP in 80 2⁄3 innings pitched. Megill posses a 4-seam fastball, changeup, slider and curveball. Look for Megill to use his fastball most of the time, which the Red Sox should use to the team’s advantage, as the righty is the 23rd percentile of hard hit percentage.
The Red Sox will be seeing lots of old freinds this series. Heath Hembree, who was traded, along with Brandon Workman in 2020 to the Phillies for Nick Pivetta and Connor Seabold was claimed off waivers by the Mets from the Reds in August.
Kevin Pillar, who spent 30 games with the Red Sox in 2020 before being dealt at the trade deadline, signed a two-year contract this offseason with the Mets. Pillar has appeared in 115 games for the Mets and is slashing .223/.270/.413 and a wRC+ of 88. Needless to say, Chaim Bloom made the correct decision in not looking to re-add Pillar into the outfield mix for the 2021 season.
José Peraza, another player Boston tried out during the 2020 season, has spent all of 2021 with the Mets. The Red Sox were right again to look toward other options for infield help in 2021, as Peraza is hitting just .209/.266/.403 with an 85 wRC+.
Last, but not least, the oldest of friends, Rich Hill. Hill, a native of Milton, Massachusetts, pitched for the home town team 2010-2012 and again in 2015. Hill was traded at the 2021 deadline to the Mets from the Tampa Bay Rays.
Notable Position Players
The most notable, shortstop Francisco Lindor and his monster, 10 year, $341 million contract has been underperfoming from the start of the year. For the season, in 113 games, Lindor is batting .229/.323/.401, with a wRC+ of 103. What Lindor lacks in offense for the 2021 season he at least makes up for in defense with a 5.4 dWAR. For the sake of the Mets organization, let’s hope Lindor is more the 7.2 win player he was in 2018 moving forward in his career, and not the 2.8 win player he is right at the moment. The Mets paid for the 7.2 win player.
Another notable is Lindor’s fellow countryman, Javier Báez. Báez was traded from the Cubs to be Lindor’s double play partner at second for the rest of the 2021 season. The Mets gave up OF prospect Pete Crow-Armstrong, who settles in nicely as a top five prospects in the Cubs organization, for a player that will most likely be a rental, and a rental that also most likely will not help them get to the postseason.
Slugger Pete Alonso continues to be just that, a slugger. He’s mashed 33 home runs, and is slashing .261/.341/.510, with an .850 OPS and a 131 wRC+. Red Sox fans should hope and pray that Bobby Dalbec becomes a Pete Alonso type of player. Dalbec possesses the tools to be a player like Alonso.
J.D. Davis has been one of the more productive offensive players for the Mets this season. Davis is batting .295/.389/.451 with a wRC+ of 135, yet Davis has only played in 71 games due to nagging injuries.
A big issue for the Mets lack of success does have a bit to do with injury, but a heck of a lot more to do with the guys brought in to help, and the overall lack of success. The Mets decided to go after catcher James McCann instead of catcher J.T. Realmuto, who has put up a 109 wRC+ to McCann’s 83 wRC+.
The Mets bullpen ranks right below the Red Sox with a 3.97 ERA, which is sixth best in the National League. The Mets do not necessarily have a bad bullpen, but they have an injured one. Edwin Díaz has posted up 30 saves and a 2.64 FIP, while offseason addition Trevor May 3.67 FIP in 58 2⁄3 innings and lefty Aaron Loup has a 2.64 FIP. A major blow to the bullpen came when Dellin Betances pitched only a single inning before having season-ending shoulder surgery. Díaz, Loup, and May are the real threats in the bullpen, so beating up on the starter and getting into the pen early would be an ideal game plan for the Red Sox. Facing May, Loup and Díaz while trailing in a game could spell late-inning trouble for the Red Sox.
The biggest, most devastating injury for the Mets is the UCL strain injury to ace Jacob deGrom. He previously had Tommy John surgery in 2010 while in the minor leagues. Another surgery would potentially be a disaster, and let’s hope it does not come to that, because Jacob deGrom is not just for Mets fans, he’s for all fans of baseball. There is not a better pitcher right now in MLB better than Jacob deGrom, and watching him pitch is a pleasure and a privilege.
Dellin Betances was previously mention to be on the IL, after season ending surgery. Starter Noah Syndergaard has not thrown a pitch yet for the Mets in 2021 coming off Tommy John surgery. There is hope for Syndergaard to pitch and that his next outing might just be with the big club. The Mets, for the most part, are back to as much as full health as they can be, aside from the men that went on the IL with season ending injuries.
According to the Weather Channel, Tuesday at Fenway Park will be cloudy, with a slight chance of sunshine, high of 73, and a chilly 54 at night. Bring something warm if you’re planning on attending the game this evening. Wednesday does not look much better weather wise, high of 79 and a low of 64, but the evening will be more pleasent at game time. No rain in the forecast, which is always a win for New England baseball. Play ball!