Coming off one of the worst losses of the season and a rainout, the Yankees are not quite where they want to be coming into the first Subway Series of the season. To add insult to injury, the Other New York Team is currently sitting in first place in the NL East, three games ahead of the Washington Nationals. Standings aside, the Mets and the Yankees have had some interesting parallels in the 2021 season, including floundering offenses, great performances from ace pitchers, and a litany of injuries.
The Yankees are hoping to capitalize on the Mets’ relative weakness on the road, where they’re just 17-25 this year, and are lucky to miss Jacob deGrom’s turn in the rotation this weekend.
Their Story So Far
The Mets, who finished 4th in 2020, have made something of a turnaround this year. This can be almost entirely accredited to their pitching, which has picked up a pretty miserable run-scoring offense (sound familiar?).
On the offensive side, the Mets have actually been worse than the Yankees. They currently sit dead last in the majors in runs scored with 275, and have just a 90 OPS+ as a team. Pete Alonso has had a decent season so far, slashing .260/.344/.464 (127 OPS+) with 13 home runs and 40 RBIs. Otherwise, the lineup is consistently below average, with no other non-injured starter cracking the 100 OPS+ mark (Jonathan Villar, currently out with a calf injury, had a 110 OPS+ through 183 at bats).
The saving grace has been the pitching – the Mets have a 117 ERA+ as a team, fourth best in the NL. This has obviously been bolstered by Jacob deGrom’s insane season (despite last night’s loss, he still has an almost unbelievable 405 ERA+), but their pitching has been quite good even outside of deGrom. Taijuan Walker has had a great start to the season with a 2.38 ERA over 14 starts, and Marcus Stroman has been quite good as well, pitching to a 2.45 ERA despite a 6-6 record over 16 starts. The bullpen has also been overall good – closer Edwin Diaz has racked up 17 saves with 41 strikeouts in 31.2 innings, reliever Aaron Loup has pitched to a 255 ERA+ over 23.2 innings, and Trevor May, Miguel Castro, and Jeurys Familia have all been solid.
|Dellin Betances||RP||Shoulder||Out for the season|
|David Peterson||SP||Side||Out until at least mid-July|
|Jeurys Familia||RP||Hip||Expected back this week|
|Jose Martinez||DH||Knee||Out until at least early September|
|Tomas Nido||C||Wrist||Expected to be back this week|
|Brandon Nimmo||CF||Finger||Out until at least early July|
|Johneshwy Fargas||CF||Shoulder||Out until at least mid-July|
|Jonathan Villar||3B||Calf||Out until at least early July|
|J.D. Davis||3B||Hand||Out until at least early July|
|Joey Lucchesi||SP||Elbow||Out for the season|
|Robert Gsellman||RP||Lat||Out until at least late August|
|Matthew Allan||RP||Elbow||Out for the season|
|Tommy Hunter||RP||Back||Out until at least late July|
|Carlos Carrasco||SP||Hamstring||Out until at least mid-July|
|Noah Syndergaard||SP||Elbow||Out until at least September|
|Jordan Yamamoto||RP||Shoulder||Out until at least late July|
Spotlight: Taijuan Walker
Every Mets pitcher not named Jacob deGrom has been wildly overshadowed this year, but Taijuan Walker has thrived in his first year in New York. So far this year, he has posted a 6-3 record, a 2.38 ERA (161 ERA+) with more than a strikeout per inning and just a 1.034 WHIP. Since his debut at age 21 in 2013, Walker has always been solid when he’s pitched, but hasn’t started more than 25 games in a single season since 2017 – he hit the IL early in 2018 and then underwent Tommy John surgery. He returned in 2020 to pitch six excellent games for the Blue Jays. When the Mets signed him to a 2-year, $20 million contract this past offseason, the primary concern was whether he could stay healthy, and in 2021 it’s been so far so good.
Walker is a fastball-sinker-slider guy who will occasionally mix in a splitter and curve. He has really started to diversify his pitch repertoire well over the past few years, correlating with his increased success. This season has been highlighted by an increased strikeout rate, including a 7-inning, 12 K performance against the Cubs on June 15.
Yankees are lucky to miss deGrom in this series, but could still have their hands very full with the Mets’ #2.
Below is Roster Resource’s projected starting lineup for the Mets.
- Jeff McNeil, 2B (.226/.312/.321, 81 OPS+)
- Francisco Lindor, SS (.213/.304/.357, 87 OPS+)
- Michael Conforto, RF (.216/.341/.309, 87 OPS+)
- Pete Alonso, 1B (.260/.344/.464, 127 OPS+)
- Dominic Smith, LF (.249/.319/.384, 99 OPS+)
- Kevin Pillar, CF (.218/.261/.408, 86 OPS+)
- James McCann, C (.248/.312/.386, 97 OPS+)
- Luis Guillorme, 3B (.247/.389/.260, 90 OPS+)
Friday, July 2, 7:05pm
RHP Taijuan Walker
Walker held the Phillies to one run on three hits over five innings in the first game of a double header last week, continuing his strong season but taking a no-decision in an eventual 2-1 win. Walker hasn’t given up more than 4 earned runs in any start this season.
LHP Jordan Montgomery
Montgomery, whose start was pushed back by yesterday’s rain delay, pitched reasonably well in Boston last weekend, surrendering 3 runs and striking out 5 over 6 inning in a 4-2 loss. Montgomery has been one of the Yankees’ more consistent performers this year, and hopes to get the team off to a good start this weekend.
Saturday, July 3, 1:05pm
RHP Marcus Stroman
Stroman, who has spent the past week on the bereavement list after the passing of his grandmother, will return to the team on Saturday to face the Yankees. Stroman, despite overall good numbers, has not gone deep into a game for a while – he pitched only three innings last weekend against the Phillies, and exited his previous start against the Braves after one inning with an apparent hip injury, although it did not land him on the IL.
RHP Gerrit Cole
Cole is coming off his worst start of 2021 – last weekend he surrendered 5 earned runs in 5 innings in an 8-4 loss to Boston. His season numbers are still excellent, with a 2.66 ERA, an 0.905 WHIP, and 129 strikeouts in 101.2 innings, and he hopes to get back on track this weekend.
Sunday, July 4, 7:08pm
RHP Tylor Megill
Tylor Megill made his major league debut less than 10 days ago, on June 23, and so far has recorded 12 strikeouts in 9.1 innings over two starts. In 5 starts at AAA Binghamton this year, Megill struck out 42 in 26.0 innings to earn his big league call up.
The Yankees will likely start either Michael King or Jameson Taillon on Sunday.