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Series Preview #19: New York Mets at Arizona Diamondbacks

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The other New York team comes to town

MLB: Chicago Cubs at Arizona Diamondbacks Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

While the New York Mets have taken a somewhat different route to get here, there are many similarities that have lead to them being at more or less the same place as the Diamondbacks as teams enter play on May 31st.

With a 27-29 record, they are just 0.5 games worse than the Dbacks who have a 28-29 record. They are 9 games back in their division and 3 games back in the Wild Card. The DBacks are 10 games back in the division and 2.5 games back in the Wild Card.

The Mets started out 5-1, then dropped to 20-25 by May 19th. A four game sweep of the Washington Nationals was followed up by a series win against against the Detroit Tigers, bringing them up to .500 at 26-26. However they are coming off a 1-3 series loss to the Dodgers, putting them at a similar point as the DBacks.

The Mets have also had a slew of injuries that have seriously impacted their competitiveness. Yoenis Cespedes has not played a game for them this year, nor will he, after a suffering a season ending ankle fracture on his ranch. Robinson Cano has been on the IL, and is eligible to come back on Sunday. But his season has been an injury marred disappointment to date. Jed Lowrie is on the 60 day DL and is not expected to return before mid June. Outfielder’s Jeff McNeil and Brandon Nimmo are both on the IL. Relievers Seth Lugo, Luis Avilan, and Justin Wilson are all on the IL as well. Lugo might possibly be activated for this series though.

The offense has been lead by rookie sensation Pete Alonso, who has hit 19 homeruns so far this season, hitting 9 in April and 10 in May. He comes in with a 157 OPS+. Michael Conforto has a 149 OPS+ but has been slumping of late. Still, the Mets have gotten good contributions from bench players such as Dominic Smith, Adeiny Hechavarria and JD Davis.

In all, they have a team 102 OPS+, which ranks 3rd best in the National League. Remember Citi Field is a strong pitcher’s park, so looking at park adjusted measure is important when sizing up the Metropolitans. Their Runs per game of 4.62 ranks just 10th, but when you allow for their home park, they have been a good offensive team. The DBacks by comparison have a team 100 OPS+, which ranks 5th in the NL. As we are all aware, this number and ranking has been slipping of late.

The Mets pitching on the other had has been a disappointment. They carry a team ERA+ of 89 into this series, which ranks 14th of 15 in the NL. They also rank 11th in Runs Allowed, (4.89). The DBacks have a team ERA+ of 107, which ranks 5th in the NL.

The mets vaunted rotation ranks just 12th in the NL in park adjusted Starters ERA, compared to the DBacks who rank 6th. And their bullpen also ranks 12th in park adjusted ERA, compared to the DBacks who rank 6th. So as much as we have felt betrayed by the pen here in Arizona, take comfort in knowing it could be much worse.

It’s all added up to a -25 run differential for the Mets, and their Pythagorean Won Loss of 27-29 mirrors exactly their actual record . They are 10-10 in one run ball games. In short, the Mets are a mediocre team, who if theyhad a bit better luck with injuries, (all teams have them), might be a .500 team. Sound familiar ?

The DBacks of course have a +42 Run differential, and have fallen well short of their expected Won Loss 32-25. The 4 game gap is largely due to a 9-15 record in one run ballgames. Strangely, over the last 14 days, the DBacks bullpen ERA is just 3.31, and actually ranks as the best in the NL...??? While absolutely true, it sure doesn’t feel like it !

Perhaps if the offense would pick it up in situational hitting it wouldn’t feel like every run surrendered by the pen is the end of the world. In High Leverage situations, the DBacks rank 13th in Batting Avg and 11th in OPS

Pitching matchups:

The hard throwing Wheeler (96.8 MPH avg FB) has been getting deep into games, going at least 7 innings in 4 of his last 5 games. His FIP is 1.4 runs better than his ERA, on the strength of 78 K’s in 70 innings and a good HR/9 rate. Don’t be mislead by his ERA, he is pitching well. In five career starts vs. the DBacks he is 2-1 with a 2.30 ERA.

Jon Duplantier is making his first start of the season after 5 relief appearances. In his two most recent starts in AAA Reno he threw 65 and 60 pitches. So I presume he will be on a 70-75 pitch count limit. Unless he’s very efficient, don’t expect more than 4-5 innings from him tonight. EDIT: Torey indicated they will try to stretch JD out 15 pitches beyond last time, so pitch count limit tonight should be around 80

Note the 7:10 Start time for this marquee matchup

Last year’s Cy Young winner Jacob Degrom has not been nearly as dominant as last year. However in 6 starts in May he only had one bad start against Miami, and has allowed just 0, 1 or 2 runs in the other 5. Making his 7th start of the month, look for Degrom to be his usual tough customer.

Zack Greinke continues to deliver excellent innings to the team, baffling hitters with his pitch mix, changing speeds, and command. The only complaint perhaps is that the team could really use him going a little deeper in games,

The Matinee game of the series is a winnable for the DBacks.

Lefty Steven Matz is getting credit for being the Mets most consistent starter lately, but that is built on some peripherals that don’t suggest he’s really been that good. The DBacks hit left hand pitching really well, and I’d look for that to continue against Matz.

Merrill Kelly had a strong outing ruined by a late two run two out homerun in the 7th inning vs. Colorado in his last start. Kelly has been straining the boundaries a bit of “league average”, but this is what a league average starter looks like. A mid 90’s ERA+ and one good one bad start. I expect a good start from him this game however.

This series is a coin flip. The first game matchup heavily favors the Mets, and the second game matchup is even, while the third game should favor the DBacks. Hopefully the home field advantage comes into play, however I’d also expect plenty of “Let Go Mets” chants at Chase this weekend.