The Subway Series is here. Five games in three days, all at Yankee Stadium although the Mets will be the home team for a couple. The doubleheaders tonight and Sunday will include one game a piece that the Mets will have last licks. Those games are makeups of last weekend’s COVID-19 postponements. The other makeup game is scheduled for September 3rd at Citi Field. Let’s take a look at how the Yankees’ crosstown rivals are doing in 2020.
Their story so far
The Amazin’s are 13-16 entering this series. They just dropped two of three to the second place Marlins at Citi Field in the team’s first action since last weekend’s games were postponed due to COVID-19 positives on the roster. The Mets and Marlins were scheduled to play a fourth game yesterday, but both teams walked off in protest.
It’s good to see (some) MLB players and teams follow the NBA and WNBA’s lead, but unfortunately, the Mets organization and commissioner Rob Manfred had to trample all over this display of solidarity. The Daily News’s Bradford William Davis summarized everything that transpired between Brodie Van Wagenen, Rob Manfred, and the Wilpons last night. Gotta say, Brodie was right in the first place: Manfred just doesn’t get it. Of course the commish made this entire situation about himself. Today is Jackie Robinson Day around MLB, so we’ll see if the Mets (and Yankees) try to do better. The Yankees, mind you, haven’t done anything yet (despite pleas from a couple of the organization’s Black minor leaguers).
Typical Mets PR fiasco aside, let’s circle back to what’s going on for the team on the field. Even with the losing record and negative run differential (-13), the Mets aren’t far out of a playoff spot. They’re two games behind the Marlins (remember, every divisional second place team makes the playoffs). In the Wild Card hunt, they’re just a half game behind Philadelphia. The Rockies (16-15) and Phillies (12-14) are the two Wild Card teams at the moment. The Yanks’ crosstown rivals have a 50-50 chance at a postseason berth, per Baseball Prospectus.
The Mets’ calling card has been its offense this season. That’s somewhat surprisingly considering that it’s without Pete Alonso or Jeff McNeil hitting like their true selves yet. The team has a .266/.356/.435 (120 wRC+) batting line thus far. That wRC+ mark is second-best in baseball. Oddly enough, the Mets haven’t hit for much power. They’re 20th in MLB in home runs and isolated power.
Things get dicey when you look at the Mets’ pitching staff. The starting rotation has a 5.06 ERA, 8th-worst in the league. Keep in mind that mark is propped up by 35 innings of 1.80 ERA ball from Jacob deGrom. The bullpen has been a little better (4.67 ERA, 14th-worst). However, it is one of 12 teams with a negative win probability added.
- C Tomás Nido (Undisclosed)
- C René Rivera (Hyperextended elbow)
- SS Andrés Giménez (Undisclosed)
- INF Jed Lowrie (Knee discomfort)
- INF Eduardo Núñez (Knee contusion)
- OF Jake Marisnick (Strained hamstring)
- LHP David Peterson (shoulder fatigue)
- RHP Noah Syndergaard (Tommy John surgery)
Spotlight: Dellin Betances
It feels extremely wrong to see Dellin Betances in another uniform. The Mets signed the longtime Yankees’ relief ace to a one-year incentive-laden contract with player options for the 2021 and 2022 seasons. Betances was coming off downright unlucky 2019 health-wise, which ended with a partial tear of his achilles in his first game all season after dealing with shoulder trouble.
Betances had nothing short of a terrific career in (Yankees) pinstripes. He recorded a 2.36 ERA, 2.31 FIP, and a ridiculous 40.1 percent strikeout rate in 381 2/3 innings. He was arguably the best reliever in baseball from 2014 and onward. But the Yankees seemingly had no interest in bringing him back, whether it was because of last year’s injuries or lingering animosity. Hell, maybe Dellin didn’t want to return because of Randy Levine. Who could blame him?
Anyway, the Mets bet on Betances hasn’t really paid off (yet). He’s pitched in 11 games (9 innings) and owns a 6.00 ERA. He’s walked 5 batters and struck out only 7. Betances has actually only had two outings in which he’s allowed a run, but he’s clearly not been his dominant old self. A big part of the problem is fastball velocity, which simply hasn’t increased as the season’s gone on.
Dellin’s average fastball velocity is 93.2 MPH this year, a far cry from his heyday when he sat 98. His breaking ball is still absolutely filthy, and he does go to it more often than not (53.1 percent). But without that blazing fastball in the back of hitters’ minds, his breaking ball isn’t quite as devastating. Betances’ hardest-thrown fastball this season is 94.8 on the gun.
Betances still has half the season remaining to regain some of his lost velocity. He historically has been a guy who builds up his velocity after the first month or so anyway. Unfortunately for him, he’s running out of time unlike a traditional 162 game campaign. I’d have to imagine that means Dellin will be back with the Mets next year. He’s got a $6 million player option for 2021, though it’s really a $3 million decision as he would receive a $3 million buyout should he opt out. It may be hard for him to get a larger payday without a velocity uptick soon.
- Brandon Nimmo, CF (.253/.413/.495, 155 wRC+)
- Michael Conforto, RF (.324/.444/.520, 171 wRC+)
- J.D. Davis, 3B (.293/.411/.457, 144 wRC+)
- Dominic Smith, LF (.315/.402/.699, 190 wRC+)
- Robinson Canó, DH (.382/.419/.632, 186 wRC+)
- Pete Alonso, 1B (.225/.358/.402, 109 wRC+)
- Jeff McNeil, 2B (.267/.341/.320, 90 wRC+)
- Wilson Ramos, C (.221/.299/.299, 72 wRC+)
- Amed Rosario, SS (.202/.202/.315, 38 wRC+)
On the bench: C Ali Sánchez (-100 wRC+ in 3 PA), INF Luis Guillorme (189 wRC+ in 36 PA), OF Billy Hamilton (-58 wRC+ in 22 PA), and OF Juan Lagares (yet to hit).
This is Wacha’s first start off the injured list (shoulder inflammation). His last start came on August 7th. In 3 starts and 14 innings, Wacha owns a 6.43 ERA and 4.65 FIP.
Monty’s set for his fifth start of the regular season. He comes into this one with a 4.66 ERA and 4.34 FIP in just over 19 innings logged. Last time out, rain cut short a solid outing in which he allowed just one run in 3 2/3.
Later today: TBD vs. TBD
Neither side has announced the pitchers for the nightcap. Have to imagine it’ll be a bullpen game on both sides. It’s quite possible that former starter Robert Gsellman gets the ball for the Mets. He’s opened twice for them this season already. Maybe Jonathan Loaisiga gets the ball for the Yankees as I proposed here.
Tomorrow, 1:05 p.m. EDT: JA Happ (vs. Mets) vs. TBD
Again, no announcement here for the Mets. Could be Gsellman here too.
Unhappy JA Happ will make his fourth start tomorrow afternoon. At this point, it’s going to be next to impossible for him to reach the 10 start or 61 1/3 inning threshold to trigger his vesting option for 2021, though it sounds like he’s gearing up for a grievance. So far this season, he has a 6.39 ERA and 8.68 FIP in 12 2/3 frames. Happ actually pitched a little better in his last start on the 16th: 5 2/3 innings and one run vs. Boston.
Sunday, 1:05 p.m. EDT: Rick Porcello (vs. Yankees) vs. TBD
The Mets will throw a familiar foe against the Yankees Sunday in Porcello. The ex-Boston pitcher has been dreadful for the Mets so far. He’s got a 6.43 ERA in 22 innings.
Decent chance the Yankees counter with Clarke Schmidt or Deivi García here. Exciting!
Later Sunday: Seth Lugo (vs. Yankees) vs. TBD
Lugo is back as a rotation regular for the first time since 2017. He’s made it clear in the past that he wants to start, and now that the Mets have seen injuries and ineffectiveness pile up, he’s getting his wish. He started against the Marlins in one of the doubleheader games on Tuesday and threw three perfect innings. His ERA stands at 2.03, mostly all in relief of course. He has been the Mets’ best reliever since 2018.
For the Yankees, Schmidt and/or Deivi could go here too.
RHP: Edwin Díaz, Dellin Betances, Brad Brach, Jeurys Familia, Jared Hughes, Corey Oswalt, Walter Lockett
LHP: Justin Wilson, Chasen Shreve, Steven Matz
So many ex-Yankees! Dellin, Chasen Shreve, and Justin Wilson were all in pinstripes before, of course. The pen is fresh after not playing yesterday. Only Díaz (13 pitches), Wilson (16), and Brach (17) pitched Wednesday. Familia (23), Shreve (16), Hughes (22), and Oswalt (59) threw on Tuesday.
Under normal circumstances, I’d expect the Yankees to handle the Mets with ease. But this series could be trouble: Gerrit Cole and Masahiro Tanaka won’t pitch, leaving the Yankees’ potentially exposed. Especially against an offense as good as the Mets’. On the bright side, the Bombers do avoid Jacob deGrom. Maybe this pitching staff from Queens is just what the Yankees’ bats need to wake up.