The Cardinals have finally met their match. With match in this case meaning the match between the disappointing seasons. The Mets have a single win more than the Cardinals, despite a payroll that, well, let’s put it this way. The difference between the Mets’ Opening Day payroll and the Cardinals is larger than the Cardinals’ payroll. Yes, the Mets had a payroll of $380 million, which thanks to trades, is now at a measly $346 million. The 2022 Mets also won 101 games last year. Yes, I would say they are more disappointing than the Cardinals.
Are they like the Cardinals, in the sense that it doesn’t make any sense how their record is so bad? Well their pythag record is identical to their actual record, they are 19-18 in one-run games and they’re even 6-2 in extra-inning games. Okay but does their performance suggest it should be getting better results?
The 2023 Mets have a 101 wRC+ as a team, which is exactly average, but are 20th in runs scored. Okay there is step one. Mets fans reading this, the Cardinals have a team wRC+ of 112, which is 6th in baseball, but they are 11th in runs scored. So their offense isn’t quite getting the results they should.
How about pitching? They have a team ERA of 4.55 and a team FIP of 4.65. The ERA ranks 20th, and the FIP ranks 24th. That’s not unlucky. I don’t know if cancels out the offensive end, but they seem to have arrived at their record, more or less fairly. This is reflected in BaseRuns, where they have a record of 55-65, which is just one more win than their actual record. (The Cardinals are 61-59)
Are injuries to blame? Yes and no. Obviously, they lost Edwin Diaz to a torn patellar tendon, but they’ve blown just 14 saves this year, which is the 5th fewest and since they have 25th best ERA, their bullpen appears to be bad because it never lets the offense have a chance, but Diaz isn’t changing that because he’s not pitching without a lead. Their starters have been hit with injuries, but aside from Jose Quintana, have made most of their starts. They just haven’t been very good.
Thanks to recent injuries to Luis Guillorme and Starling Marte, plus the trades of Tommy Pham and Mark Canha, the Mets’ lineup is a tale of two halves. The first half is the established guys, all pretty much playing to expectations: Brandon Nimmo, Francisco Lindor, Pete Alonso, and technically he doesn’t count as established quite yet, but Francisco Alvarez is playing as well as can be expected too and was a huge prospect.
Then there’s the other group, the group that can hit a homer and see their wRC+ rise 30 points. Daniel Vogelbach has been with the team all year (hitting at an average wRC+) and Mark Vientos has been not very good, but the rest of the team has less than 100 PAs on the season. It’s filled with players I imagine the Mets do not intend to keep: Rafael Ortega, Danny Mendick, DJ Stewart, Jonathan Arauz.
Thursday - 6:15 PM (FOX)
Jose Quintana (3.03 ERA/2.93 FIP/5.03 xFIP) vs. Adam Wainwright (********************)
Whether he’s shaking the rust off or not, Quintana has not been particularly impressive, good ERA notwithstanding. He has struck out just 16% of batters and is still walking 8%. If it holds true, he’ll have struck out less than last year, walked more, and gotten less groundballs. Not a good combo for a 34-year-old.
Wainwright well, if Wainwright has a good start, whatever you’re wearing, whatever you’re doing, you have to figure out a way to do the exact same thing on his next start.
Friday - 7:15 PM
Joey Lucchesi (4.43 ERA/5.15 FIP/4.87 xFIP) vs. Zack Thompson (3.96 ERA/3.03 FIP/2.77 xFIP)
I don’t actually know who is starting this game, but Roster Resource lists Lucchesi as the starter so that’s what we’re going with. He’s also currently in the minors, so I assume they think this for a reason. Lucchesi had a fantastic first start this year - his first since 2021 - but he wasn’t particularly good in his other appearances.
Thompson will get more of a test here than in his previous two. The Mets’ offense is a bit tougher of an opponent and he’ll be expected to last longer now that it’s an official start. Let’s hope he’s up to the challenge.
Saturday - 6:15 PM
Kodai Senga (3.30 ERA/3.55 FIP/3.77 xFIP) vs. Miles Mikolas (4.27 ERA/3.86 FIP/4.64 xFIP)
Senga brings with him many strikeouts and many walks. He has struck out 28.4% of batters this year while walking 11.3%. He’s usually good for 2 or 3 walks per game and at least six strikeouts. He struck out 8 Cardinals the last time we faced the Mets, while walking just one, but we also hit two homers off him and scored 4 runs.
Sunday - 1:15 PM
Carlos Carrasco (6.40 ERA/5.83 FIP/4.98 xFIP) vs. Dakota Hudson (4.03 ERA/4.93 FIP/4.72 xFIP)
Whoever is tuning into this one will not be expecting a pitcher’s duel, but because this is baseball, I fully expect a pitcher’s duel.