Both teams are struggling and looking to regroup after series losses.
The Mets (41-36) are back in The Big Apple as they travel to The Bronx for a holiday weekend showdown against the crosstown rival New York Yankees (41-39). Last year’s iteration of The Subway Series had a little bit of everything, including a Mets walk-off home run at Yankee Stadium, the Mets blowing a five-run lead in the final frame, two doubleheader sweeps (one apiece), and Pete Alonso’s dramatic walkoff two-run home run to lead off the tenth. With rain in the forecast for tonight and for tomorrow afternoon, things could once again get messy, and more doubleheaders aren’t entirely out of the question.
The Mets concluded their stretch of 16 straight against the NL East by dropping two of three against the Atlanta Braves. On Tuesday night, the Mets turned to Tylor Megill for his second major league start, and he was solid over the first four before surrendering a three-run homer to Ozzie Albies in the fifth inning. The bats remained silent until the seventh, when James McCann unloaded on a game-tying three-run homer, and Francisco Lindor picked up the game-winning hit with a go-ahead single. From there, New York turned to Trevor May, Seth Lugo, and Edwin Díaz to complete the 4-3 win.
On Wednesday, the Mets gave up significantly more runs than they scored, and that’s all I’m going to say about that game.
The Mets fell 4-3 on Thursday to drop the series. The Mets grabbed an early lead in the first thanks to a Lindor walk and stolen base, and a Michael Conforto single, but their ace couldn’t make it stick. Jacob deGrom, who is so often perfect in the first, gave up a triple, a run-scoring single to Albies, and a two-run homer to Austin Riley to turn a one-run lead into a two-run deficit. After stumbling out of the gate in the second, he picked it up and retired the final 18 batters he faced, finishing his outing with 14 strikeouts over seven innings. The team drew even thanks to Dominic Smith home runs in the seventh and ninth, but they fell in the bottom half of the final inning. Seth Lugo loaded the bases, which brought up Met Killer Freddie Freeman. The first baseman lined an infield single off Lugo’s leg to grab a victory for Atlanta.
It feels overly redundant to keep bemoaning the state of the team’s offense, but it’s impossible to ignore. Hugh Quattlebaum has stressed sticking to “the process” but, so far, that process has not bred good results, and it’s become increasingly frustrating watching the lineup turn in bad at-bat after bad at-bat. The Mets currently rank 29th in MLB in runs-per-game (3.57), slightly ahead of the last-place Pittsburgh Pirates. Over their last 17 games, the club has pushed home just 42 runs (2.47 runs-per-game). In that span, the team is collectively slashing .198/.267/.322 with 14 home runs and a 68 wRC+.
The Yankees were off on Thursday, courtesy of Mother Nature, and it was a good opportunity for the club to regroup after a truly demoralizing defeat on Wednesday against the Los Angeles Angels. In that contest, the Yankees held an 8-4 lead heading into the ninth, but the bullpen, led by Aroldis Chapman, was tagged for seven runs, which turned it into an 11-8 loss. It’s worth noting that the Yankees put up a seven spot against Shohei Ohtani in the first. With the rainout, the Yankees dropped two of three to the Angels after getting swept by the Boston Red Sox in Fenway Park over the weekend. At the start of play tonight, the Bronx Bombers find themselves in fourth place in the American League East.
Unsurprisingly, Aaron Judge has led the way for the Yankees. The outfielder, who was just named an AL All Star starter last night, is slashing .285/.382/.522 with a team-high 18 homers and a team-best 147 wRC+ and 2.4 fWAR in 75 games. Giancarlo Stanton has missed some time, but he’s been on his game when he’s been in the lineup. In 60 games, he’s hitting .269/.366/.493 with 14 homers, a 135 wRC+, and a 1.1 fWAR. Gary Sanchez, after losing playing time to Kyle Higashioka earlier this year, has responded positively by hitting .238/.347/.495 with 14 homers, a 128 wRC+, and a 1.6 fWAR in 62 games.
On the other hand, two hometown stars who have struggled at the plate this year for the Yankees are Gleyber Torres and Clint Frazier. The shortstop has posted a .242/.325/.313 slash line with an 82 wRC+ and a 0.8 fWAR in 70 games. Frazier, meanwhile, is slashing .186/.317/.317 with an 83 wRC+ and a -0.8 fWAR in 66 games.
Friday, July 2: Taijuan Walker vs. Jordan Montgomery, 7:05 p.m. on SNY
Walker (2021): 79.1 IP, 82 K, 25 BB, 5 HR, 2.38 ERA, 2.93 FIP, 1.03 WHIP, 1.8 bWAR
Walker bounced back from a tough start in DC, and two starts in which he looked fatigued and uncomfortable at times, and gave his club a solid effort in Game 1 of the doubleheader on June 25. Going toe-to-toe with Aaron Nola, he provided five innings of one-run ball, which kept his team in the game long enough to battle back against Philadelphia’s bullpen. He limited the Phillies to five hits, walked one, and struck out five in his outing, which represented the eighth time this year that he allowed either one or zero earned runs in a start. His ERA currently puts him at ninth in the National League as he continues to fight for a spot on the NL All Star team.
Montgomery (2021): 82.0 IP, 80 K, 23 BB, 9 HR, 4.06 ERA, 3.55 FIP, 1.21 WHIP, 1.6 bWAR
Montgomery has been having his best season since his 2017 rookie campaign, when he finished sixth in AL Rookie of the Year voting and pitched to a 3.88 ERA in 29 starts. After posting a 5.11 ERA in 10 starts in 2020, the left-hander owns a 4.06 ERA in 15 starts this year for the Yankees. In his last outing, he was saddled with his second loss of the year as he allowed three earned runs over six innings against the Red Sox. That broke a string of six straight starts of his that his team had won.
Saturday, July 3: Marcus Stroman vs. Gerrit Cole, 1:05 p.m. on WPIX
Stroman (2021): 88.1 IP, 78 K, 24 BB, 9 HR, 2.45 ERA, 3.60 FIP, 1.11 WHIP, 1.7 bWAR
Stroman was not his best in his last start, though this start came immediately after he announced the loss of his grandmother, which is a tough situation to have to go compete in. He didn’t have his best command and labored basically from the first batter, lasting only three innings while allowing four runs (two earned) on five hits with three walks and three strikeouts. His defense, which helped him out on the first two plays of the game, failed him later on in his start, but he gave up plenty of hard contact all afternoon as well. Aside from that start, and his one inning outing that he left with an injury, Stroman has been great for the Mets for most of the season, and he will look to get back on track at Yankee Stadium.
Cole (2021): 101.2 IP, 129 K, 17 BB, 14 HR, 2.66 ERA, 2.94 FIP, 0.91 WHIP, 3.8 bWAR
Over his first eight starts, Cole pitched to a 1.37 ERA, a 1.17 FIP, and a 0.68 WHIP, with a 40.8 K%, a 1.6 BB%, and a .199 opponents wOBA in 52.2 innings. In his eight starts following that remarkable start, he’s pitched to a 4.04 ERA, a 4.85 FIP, and a 1.14 WHIP, with a 25.8% K%, a 7.6% K%, and a .309 opponents wOBA in 49.0 innings pitched. So what’s the deal? Some can speculate that he’s pitching without the help of some sticky stuff, which could be leading to the dip in his results. It’s hard to say for sure, but the Mets will look to take advantage of his struggles on Saturday.
Sunday, July 4: Tylor Megill vs. TBD, 7:08 p.m. on ESPN
Megill (2021): 9.1 IP, 12 K, 4 BB, 2 HR, 4.82 ERA, 4.66 FIP, 1.29 WHIP, 0.0 bWAR
Through two starts, Megill has proven extremely effective through four innings before starting to slip in the fifth. In his debut, he mostly cruised before surrendering a two-run homer to Ender Inciarte in the fifth. In his last start—also against the Braves—Megill was again fine through four before the Albies three-run shot in the fifth. If he can continue to give his club around five innings while keeping the game close, he will be doing his job, and he will continue to earn opportunities to pitch at the major league level.
The Yankees have not yet named a starting pitcher for the Sunday evening finale against the Mets.
Prediction: The Mets take two out of three from the fourth-place Yankees.