Meet the Mets, Meet the Mets, step right up and beat the Mets. It’s the Subway Series for two-games in the Bronx.
Their Story Thus Far
At 32-33, the Mets sit right on the edge of contention in a jam-packed National League. They’re 11th in baseball with a 102 team wRC+ and are in the middle of the pack in most offensive categories. Their baserunning is tied for last according to Fangraphs.
On the pitching end of things, they are 12th with fWAR and 18th in ERA. They’re strong with a 24 percent strikeout rate and they’re 11th in K-BB rate. However, they sport the seventh worst bullpen ERA thanks to lack of depth and Jeurys Familia’s struggles.
The Yankees get lucky and avoid the Mets’ top two starters in Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard.
The Mets’ hitting depth has taken a hit this spring with injuries to Robinson Cano (quad), Jed Lowrie (knee/hamstring) and Brandon Nimmo (neck), none of whom are expected to play in this series. Yoenis Cespedes is out for the eyar with heel and ankle surgeries.
On the pitching side, former Yankee Justin Wilson is on the IL with elbow soreness, as is LHP Luis Avilan. Drew Smith is out for the year with Tommy John surgery.
Player Spotlight: Peter Alonso
For the first time, Peter Alonso will step into the confines of Yankee Stadium. Let the dingers begin. In just 64 games, the first baseman already has 21 homers. He’s tied for second in baseball with Gary Sanchez in maximum exit velocity at 118.3 mph (Vladito is No. 1 with 118.9). He can hit the ball a mile or two with ease.
On the season, he’s batting .258/.337/.597 with a 145 wRC+. Despite the Mets not calling him up at the end of last season, it’s clear his bat is MLB ready and his glove can be worked around. He’ll probably DH both games this series.
While some of his numbers are downright Judgian, his walk rate hasn’t quite measured up with just 21 walks this year. His strikeouts are a little higher than league average, but his power makes up for it.
- Jeff McNeil, 2B (.335/.411/.454, 138 wRC+)
- Peter Alonso, DH (.258/.337/.597, 145 wRC+)
- Michael Conforto, RF (.260/.388/.510, 141 wRC+)
- Dominic Smith, 1B (.360/.455/.587, 182 wRC+)
- Wilson Ramos, C (.280/.357/.419, 110 wRC+)
- Todd Frazier, 3B (.265/.336/.455, 115 wRC+)
- J.D. Davis, LF (.260/.331/.440, 110 wRC+)
- Carlos Gomez, CF (.210/.279/.355, 74 wRC+)
- Amed Rosario, SS (.249/.290/.422, 90 wRC+)
The Mets’ bench consists of backup catcher Tomas Nido, OF Juan Lagares (who will at least get the chance to play the outfield this series) and former Yankees defensive whiz Adeiny Hechavarria.
Monday (7:05 PM ET) Masahiro Tanaka (vs. Mets) vs. Jason Vargas (vs. Yankees)
Much maligned for his poor 2018 in Queens, Vargas has had an impressive bounce-back in 2019. He’s coming off a shutout, albeit of the lowly Giants, while he’s allowed one run or fewer in six of last seven starts.
The slow-pitch southpaw can nibble around the plate and try to junk ball opponents into soft contact. Despite low velocity, he’s been able to get that done more often than not this year.
Don’t think for a second I’m lying about the low velocity. This is a Jamie Moyer-esque repertoire with an 85-mph average fastball, slowest in MLB. His changeup sits 80 mph and while his curveball is in the low 70s. He’s mostly a fastball-sinker-changeup pitcher, and hitters haven’t been able to tee off on the fastball quite as well this season.
Tuesday (7:05 PM ET) James Paxton (vs. Mets) vs. Zack Wheeler (vs. Yankees)
Wheeler has put up a poor ERA with strong peripherals this season. The fire-balling right-hander has given up too many homers (11 despite a career-high of 15), which has led to a 4.61 ERA in his follow-up to a breakout 2018. His FIP is a reasonable 3.56 with his strikeouts up as they were to end last season while his walk rate looks identical to 2018.
The right-hander is all about his fastball. It averages 96.8 mph and can consistently touch the upper 90s. He throws the pitch 57.2 percent of the time while relying on his slider and curveball as off-speed offerings.
Edwin Diaz sits at the back of the Mets’ bullpen with a 39.5 percent strikeout rate and filthy stuff to back it up. Though he’s blown a few leads this year, you don’t want to mess with him.
Seth Lugo has been the best of the Mets’ setup men this year with his high-spin curveball. Fellow righty Robert Gsellman has been so-so despite fine underlying numbers, while Jeurys Familia has been a downright disaster and has seen lower leverage spots recently.
Beyond them sits a quartet who could fill a variety of roles. Wilmer Font and Paul Sewald are righties who can take on long relief outings or be thrust in to middle relief. Hector Santiago is the lone southpaw while Tim Peterson has yet to see significant action this year.
Keys to watch:
Yankees’ bullpen readiness
The Yankees used everyone in their bullpen over the last two days and will have an arm going out with Masahiro Tanaka’s return. Each of their top four guys gave up runs over the last week. Can the Yankees’ most reliable group hold up in the inevitable battle of the bullpens?
Yankees’ best starters vs. strong lineup
This Mets lineup both has depth and power and will prove a strong challenge for Masahiro Tanaka and James Paxton. Certainly more than the Blue Jays, who both starters faced last.