The Arizona Diamondbacks stumble into New York coming off a three-game sweep at the hands of the Miami Marlins, having been outscored 20-4. That dropped the team record to 15-16. They’re in 4th place in the NL West, 3 games back of the 1st place Giants. They’re 1.5 games out of the Wild Card with 5 teams in front of them.
The last time the D-backs went into Citi Field to face the New York Mets was September 9-12 , 2019 . The team was just 1.5 games back for the second Wild Card at the time. But they were outscored 26-4 in a four game sweep effectively knocking them out of the race. The year before, in May 2018 they were swept three straight in Citi Field in the midst of a record breaking offensive slump. In fact, dating back to August 23rd 2017, the Diamondbacks have an 8-game losing field in that ballpark.
The Mets are 13-13, 1 game back of the Phillies in the NL East, and 1 game back of the Dodgers and Brewers in the Wild Card. They’re coming off a 4 game series split with the Cardinals in St. Louis. That series included a rainout and a double header.
The Mets were purchased by hedge fund billionaire Steve Cohen last November and made a series of big off season moves, running up their payroll close to $200M and making them a favorite to win the NL East. They traded for All Star shortstop Francisco Lindor and subsequently signed him to a 10 year, $341M contract. He’s off to a terrible start however, currently sporting a .163/.297/.207 triple slash with just one homer. He finally broke an 0-26 streak with a base hit in the 9th yesterday. He also walked three times in that game, so he may be getting ready to go on a hot streak.
They also acquired veteran right hander Carlos Carrasco in that trade with Cleveland, but he has yet to pitch for the Mets, having just transferred to the 60 day IL due to his hamstring injury.
They signed former D-back Taijuan Walker to a 2 year, $20M deal, and in 6 starts he has a 2.38 ERA and 2.83 FIP. He just pitched 7 strong innings yesterday however so we will not have to suffer the indignity of a former D-back sticking it to the team once again.
Outfielder Kevin Pillar was signed this past off season to a one year, $6.4M deal. He’s been hot lately after a slowish start, going 9 for 21 with a couple of homers in his last 5 games to elevate his season OPS+ to 102. His defense is in the black in small sample size too. Perhaps those advocating for the D-backs to sign him were on the right track. But even that modest contract was too rich for Arizona’s 2021 payroll.
2019 rookie of the year Pete Alonso is bouncing back from somewhat of a down year in 2020. He’s batting .280 with 5 homers, a 876 OPS, 145 OPS+
Noah Syndergaard is still recovering from Tommy John surgery and is not due back until June. 2020 trade deadline acquisition Marcus Stroman has been tearing it up this year, with a 2.12 ERA in 6 starts, but he just pitched in that double header and we’ll miss him as well.
Summing up the injury report for NY, Brandon Nimmo just went on the IL with a finger injury and J.D. David has an injured hand. That puts a dent in their offense as they’ve been two of their best hitters.
The story for the Mets has essentially been great pitching in front of an inconsistent offense that will now be even more challenged with the injuries mentioned above. They have a team 128 ERA+, 3rd best in the NL, to go with a team 94 OPS+. They have the lowest bullpen FIP in MLB, 2.67, and 3rd best bullpen ERA in the NL. (3.45) Edwin Diaz is closing and right handers Trevor May, Miguel Castro and Jeurys Familia have been dominating.
STARTING PITCHING MATCHUPS:
Zac Gallen will look to get Arizona back in the win column and break both losing streaks mentioned at the top of the article. Zac struggled with control in his last start against Colorado throwing just 57 of 93 pitches for strikes while giving up 4 runs in 4 innings in a loss. The game before that he threw a 7 inning, 1 hit shutout.
25 year old Lefty David Peterson had an excellent rookie year in 2020 going 6-2, 3.44 ERA. He throws a 92 MPH sinker, a slider, four seam and changeup. He’s pitched better than his 2021 YTD numbers indicate. He had a bad first start of the year but since then in the next 4 he’s thrown 20.1 IP giving up just 6 earned runs and a .622 OPS against while striking out 24 and walking just 6. He does have a .366 xwOBA however and gives up some hard contact.
The rest of the pitching matchups are still showing as TBA. However Merrill Kelly was just activated from the IL and will probably start for Arizona on Saturday. He had a good start in his last outing and seems to have turned things around on his season. The key for Merrill as always is to be aggressive and go after hitters and throw strikes and let the chips fall where they may.
Former Padre Joey Lucchesi has struggled so far this year and was bombed in his last start against St Louis, giving up 7 runs on 7 hits and 2 homers in just 2.2 IP. His turn in the rotation is due Saturday but the Mets have not yet committed to having him make that start as of this writing. It’s possible they may use an opener before turning the ball over to Lucchesi, or go to some form of bullpen game for this one. You’ll want to check the game preview on Saturday for updates.
Riley Smith has not been named for this start, but he pitched on Tuesday against the Marlins, (5 IP, 3 ER ) and could go on 4 days rest Sunday. It’s not clear why the team has hesitated to name him for that game.
Perennial Cy Young Award candidate Jacob deGrom is dealing with a lat injury causing him to miss his last start. He had an MRI that only showed some inflammation however and he’s scheduled to throw a bullpen today. If that bullpen goes well then he will most likely start on Sunday, according to Anthony DiComo, Mets Beat writer for MLB
The Mets are notorious for failing to score when he pitches or seeing their bullpen blow his leads. He’s probably making the best case possible to simply ignore pitcher W-L records in future Cy Young and HOF voting. Since 2018 he’s made 81 starts, has a 1.99 ERA and 199 ERA+. but has just 27 wins and 21 losses ! He’s made 188 career starts, has a 2.55 ERA and a 154 ERA+, but has just 72 career wins, and a single season high of just 15. This lack of run support and bad bullpen support, coupled with a late start to his career, (he’s already 33) is going to vex HOF voters someday.