Folks, we have entered the danger zone. Actually, we’ve been in the danger zone. But this upcoming series against the New York Mets at Citi Field feels kind of dangerous. It’s partially the Mets, partially the 2021 St. Louis Cardinals. You see the Cardinals have suckered some of us in at this point, winning two out of three against the Cincinnati Reds to close the gap to a game in the wild card chase. And based off the rest of this season, this is the exact moment the Cardinals let us down.
But it’s not just the Cardinals. The Mets are coming off a thrilling series win against the New York Yankees, and specifically last night, they won the kind of game that may just motivate your team into feeling like it’s their year. Giancarlo Stanton hit a two-run shot to tie the game, and then jawed off at both Francisco Lindor and Javier Baez while rounding the bases. Benches cleared. Lindor homered to take the lead, and the Mets won. Nobody in baseball is more pumped up right now than the Mets. Like I said, danger zone.
The Cardinals and Mets haven’t seen each other for a while, having two separate series about as far apart as possible. When they last played, Adam Wainwright went into the game with an 0-3 record. Three of the four starters who pitched for the Cardinals in that series are not in the starting rotation right now, and Jack Flaherty was not one of them. The Cardinals will only face one of the Mets starters who pitched in that series, but to be fair that’s because we somehow miss Tajiuan Walker this time around and one of the four was a bullpen game due to a doubleheader.
In other ways, nothing has changed. The Cards split with the Mets back then, which put the Cardinals at four games above .500. The Mets went a game above .500. Now? The Cardinals are four games above .500. The Mets are at exactly .500. Two mediocre teams getting different but remaining mediocre. Weird how that worked.
I don’t tend to watch other teams if they aren’t playing the Cards - not an active choice, I just don’t have the time - but the last time I saw Pete Alonso, he was mashing homers in the Home Run derby. So my assumption was that Pete Alonso was still Pete Alonso, and that assumption was correct. He has 32 homers, and 130 wRC+ on the season.
Soon-to-be free agent and once screwed over by the Mets Met Michael Conforto has been having a down year with a 105 wRC+ and 0.7 fWAR in 410 PAs. But the man had a 132 wRC+ from 2017 to 2020, so you know I’m not going to feel comfortable with him at the plate. Another familiar Met with a down year is Jeff McNeil, with a 91 wRC+ compared to his 125 wRC+ career. He has a little bit less of a track record than Conforto though with the equivalent of two full seasons prior to this one.
Marcus Stroman has a career low ERA at 2.87, but he appears to be the same pitcher he’s always been - his career ERA is nearly the exact same as his career FIP and xFIP, and his FIP/xFIP this year is 3.35 and 3.58. But it could also just be playing at Citi Field instead of in Toronto in that park and against AL East offenses. Edwin Diaz has 1.8 fWAR, and somehow has also blown six saves.
The New Metropolitans
We’re all pretty familiar with Javy Baez, having played him a lot in the past six years. He has found a new level with the Mets, with a 156 wRC+ and I don’t have his updated 2-4 in those numbers from yesterday’s game. And his K rate has gone from an insane 36.3% with the Cubs to 28.2% with the Mets.
I know we played the Mets in April, but i didn’t know Jonathan Villar was on the Mets. He has 115 wRC+ and 2.4 fWAR. Dude is rivaling Eric Hosmer for flip flopping good and bad years (helps that Hosmer has decided to just have bad years now). Someone I did know the Mets have and who gave me the feeling that the Mets didn’t actually change with the new owner: James McCann. What a phenomenally stupid signing that was. In a shocking twist, McCann has reverted to what he always was, which is an 87 wRC+ hitter (86 career hitter). Sorry guys I can’t get over how stupid this signing was.
Francisco Lindor still has a scary contract, however, he’s trying to make up for lost time, including hitting THREE homers yesterday and has raised his wRC+ to 102. Let’s hope he got that all out of his system and not hit any homers against the Cards, mmkay? Kevin Pillar is their starting CF according to Roster Resource and he’s playing exactly like you think Kevin Pillar is playing.
Good, but somehow not steady bullpen?
I’ve already mentioned Edwin Diaz, who is about as unsteady a 1.8 WAR pitcher could possibly be. They also have 1.5 WAR Aaron Loup (who’s not as good as his 1.15 ERA, but still good enough to have 1.5 WAR), Jeurys Familia, Seth Lugo, Trevor May, and apparently Brad Hand. This feels like a pretty good bullpen. I mean I’d feel more comfortable with this group than the Cardinals fairly easily. In theory anyway.
They’re tied for 4th in baseball in blown saves. The Cardinals are 26th. And while I’m not sure how many important situations they’re putting him in, they picked up Brad Hand, who has eight blown saves himself. Hand has two freaking blown saves with the Mets already and he’s pitched 5.1 innings. He’s allowed one run! This is a special talent!
Rich Hill (3.82 ERA/4.41 FIP/4.65 xFIP) vs. Adam Wainwright (2.98 ERA/3.51/3.75 xFIP)
The last time the Cardinals faced Hill, he was a member of the Minnesota Twins. It was a few games into the 2020 season, in late July. He pitched 5 scoreless innings in a Cardinals loss. At 41-years-old, Hill has thrown the most innings in a season since 2007. That is a weirdly true fact. But he’s not really that effective anymore. He’s craftier than he’s ever been though.
The Cardinals really need to win this game. They have Waino, their best pitcher on the mound. They are very good against left-handed pitchers, generally. Baseball is random and would pull a trick like lose this game, then win the next two. But this is easily the most favorable on paper matchup of the series. Probably also the oldest combined starting pitching matchup of the year, and maybe the oldest in a few years? If anyone has time on their hands, and wants to check....
Favorite: Uncle Charlie
Marcus Stroman (2.87 ERA/3.35 FIP/3.58 xFIP) vs. Jake Woodford (4.28 ERA/5.01 FIP/4.85 xFIP)
This matchup is a pretty good example why they really need to win tonight’s game. They could win the Woodford-Stroman matchup, but I’d really rather prefer they didn’t have to win this game. Fun fact though: Stroman really is due for regression. Every advanced stat we have suggest his ERA should be higher than 2.87. Which doesn’t mean it will happen the rest of this year, but does give me a strange sort of hope that I otherwise shouldn’t have.
Woodford, well Woodford, I don’t really believe in you. Not sure why we gave Kim’s spot to you. But if you can manage 4 innings of 1 run ball again, I’ll probably not change my opinion, BUT doing it tomorrow is the first step of me possibly one day changing my tune.
Favorite: The guy who has me blocked on twitter, for a tweet I did not tag him in, that got no engagement, and I found out I was blocked like three years later. (I called him the most overrated pitcher in baseball in his second or third year and I remember it making sense at the time, but it sure doesn’t make sense in hindsight). I can understand blocking someone once you’ve seen that tweet, I would not recommend athletes name search themselves, that’s a recipe for disaster though.
Tylor Megill (4.06 ERA/4.26 FIP/3.76 xFIP) vs. Jon Lester (4.75 ERA/5.42 FIP/5.19 xFIP)
Fun fact about that name. His parents I think intended it to be pronounced Tyler. His older brother, Trevor (also an MLBer), has a name ending in -or and they liked the idea of both brothers have names ending in -or, hence the spelling. BuT Tylor, well, he insisted everyone to spell out the O-R. Because he loved his name. I researched this for exactly this reason, because I was 100 percent going to make fun of his name but I kind of like how he just owned the stupid spelling and made it his own. I still think the parents’ reasoning for the different spelling is very, very stupid though, I’m not going to pretend otherwise on this one.
And he’s a halfway decent pitcher, certainly better than Jon Lester. The question isn’t so much is Lester good at this point, it’s can he magic his way to a good start. Mets appear to be the same exact team against RHP and LHP, so it’s not quite the same as the Reds situation.
Monday: 6:10 PM
Tuesday: 6:10 PM
Wednesday: 6:10 PM
After a weekend series which usually comes with three different times, and a Dodgers series which featured two games, it’s kind of nice to have a series with the predictability that this one has. 6:10, game is starting every day.