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Series Preview: Diamondbacks @ Mets

The D-Backs travel to New York to take on the Mets and their impressive pitching staff.

New York Mets v Detroit Tigers Photo by Dave Reginek/Getty Images

Arizona Diamondbacks (45-66) @ New York Mets (57-54)

The season is turning around! The D-Backs are absolutely unstoppable, with their first series win in the last 3 weeks coming over the weekend. Hooray! Look out for them to make a late run on the Giants, as they sit a mere 18 games out of first in the West.

State of the Mets

The Mets are right on the bubble of a playoff spot right now, 2 games out of the second wild card and 9 games out of 1st in the East. The starting rotation, expected to be absolutely dominant, has come up a bit of expectations due to injuries and ineffectiveness. They still allow the third fewest runs in the majors per game, 3.60, so pitching isn’t really their problem. The problem arises when you look at their ability (or lack thereof) to score runs. They are putting up a measly 3.72 runs per game, 3rd-to-last in the majors. Injuries certainly haven’t helped the lineup, as 5 of their main guys are all on the DL for one reason or another. Even when healthy though, the lineup has been very underwhelming. Only Yoenis Cespedes has an OPS+ higher than 107, and he’s stuck on the DL right now. Expect a low scoring series on both ends.

Good News
  • Yasmany Tomas has been tearing it up since the all-star break, with a 1.088 OPS and 8 homers.
  • The Mets have hit a bit of a rough patch, having lost 8 of their last 12.
  • Most of the Mets offense has gone cold. Of the 11 players with more than 25 plate appearances in the last 2 weeks, 7 are hitting below .225.
Bad News
  • The D-Backs bullpen has an 8.09 ERA since the all-star break. No bueno. The Mets’ pen, on the other hand, has an ERA of 3.03.
  • Mets’ second baseman Neil Walker has an OBP of almost .500 over the past 2 weeks. Not bad
D-Backs Injury Report
  • David Peralta was just placed on the DL Sunday with right wrist inflammation.
  • Zack Grienke will return after almost a month and a half stint on the DL.
  • A.J. Pollock has begun his rehab assignment, and expects to return in late August.
  • There are a handful of other guys on the DL, but no new updates for them
Mets Injury Report

We shall categorize the Mets injuries into out for season, out for this series, and could return for this series, because there are a whole lot injuries

  • Out for Season: Lucas Duda, Matt Harvey, David Wright
  • Out for Series: Asdrubal Cabrera, Yoenis Cespedes, Juan Lagares, Justin Ruggiano
  • Could Return Soon: Jose Reyes
Probable Pitchers

Game 1: Zack Greinke RHP (10-3, 3.62 ERA, 1.16 WHIP) vs Steven Matz LHP (8-8, 3.63 ERA, 1.27 WHIP)

It is good to see Greinke back in the rotation after being out with an oblique injury for a little over a month. It would have been nice to see him back sooner, but hey, no reason to rush someone back from injury in a season like this. He made one rehab start up in Reno, which certainly didn’t go as planned... he went 5 innings and gave up 5 runs. I wouldn’t expect an amazing, top of the rotation start in his first game back from injury, but he should definitely have a solid performance.

Matz has hit been in a bit of a rut for a while now, with a 4.73 ERA since the beginning of June. He certainly has not been helped by a lingering bone spur injury, which has been bothering him since June 27. His pitch repertoire consists of a mid 90s fastball, an average curve, and a change-up. The change-up was the key to his success in 2015, but he has not thrown it as well this season, a big reason for his higher numbers this season. I’ll give a slight edge to the D-Backs in this one.

Game 2: Robbie Ray (5-11, 4.83 ERA, 1.50 WHIP) vs Bartolo Colon RHP (10-6, 3.46 ERA, 1.20 WHIP)

While it can be frustrating to watch him throw 90-100 pitches in 5 innings almost every night, Robbie Ray is showing the potential to be an important part of the rotation next season. There was a very interesting article by August Fagerstrom of Fangraphs on Ray’s crazy high strikeout numbers. If you don’t feel like reading it, the points that stood out to me are:

  • His 28% strikeout rate is 6th in the majors, behind Kershaw, Strasburg, Scherzer, and Fernandez
  • In high leverage situations, Ray has a .422 BABIP against him, implying bad luck when it matters most.
  • Batters have a 1.038 OPS against him in the third time through the order.

The potential for greatness is there for Ray. Keep those strikeout numbers high, and he may become one of the more consistent guys for next year.

Bartolo Colon is 43 years old, and the guy is still putting up an ERA well below league average. He’s getting by on fastball command alone at this point, his mid-high 80s fastball being thrown about 90% of the time. He’s gonna just keep on trucking, giving solid starts year after year until his body finally gives out... if it gives out. Maybe he pitches till he’s 60. Ya never know. Slight advantage to New York for this match-up.

Game 3: Braden Shipley RHP (1-1, 4.15 ERA, 1.62 WHIP) vs Noah Syndergaard RHP (9-6, 2.64 ERA, 1.16 WHIP)

Take out one bad inning in his debut start, and Shipley’s ERA would be sitting at 2.65. Unfortunately, removing the bad appearances isn’t how stats work, so you can’t really do that. Shipley has shown some promise, with 2 consecutive quality starts. At this point, all I really care about is looking toward 2017 and beyond, and Shipley is making a good case to be a part of that future.

Surprise surprise, Thor is having another dominant season. He’s striking out almost 11 batters per 9, while walking just under 2. A .348 BABIP suggests that he has been a bit unlucky this year, yet still is dominating everyone. With his fastball that averages 98 MPH, it’s gonna be really tough for the D-Backs to get anything going against him. If Arizona wants a chance, the left handed batters will have to be the ones to get it done: Syndergaard has been a bit vulnerable against them, with a .281/.333/.405 triple slash.

Key to the Series
  • Mediocre D-Backs pitching vs. mediocre Mets offense: The D-Backs have one of the worst pitching staffs in the league, and the Mets have one of the worst offenses. Which will be less bad?

The D-Backs win in Greinke’s return, but drop games 2 and 3.