Coming off an extremely disappointing series against the lowly San Diego Padres, the New York Mets look to rebound in Pittsburgh as they face the last place Pirates in a weekend three game series. Abysmal starting pitching and poor bullpen management resulted the Padres taking two of three, including a heartbreaker in game two where a tired Mets bullpen gave up the lead.
Mets starting pitching has left much to be desired of late. At this point in the year, Jacob deGrom and Zack Wheeler are the best bets to deliver a quality start on any given night. With Harvey struggling, and the Rafael Montero and Tommy Milone experiments faring even worse, the Mets rotation holds the worst ERA in baseball.
Despite recent struggles, however, this series in Pittsburgh could represent a turning point in the season, if the Mets take advantage. With Steven Matz and Seth Lugo doing rehab work in Vegas, and Yoenis Cespedes presumably beginning a rehab assignment soon himself, reinforcements could finally be on their way.
A decisive series win here, with our best pitchers on the mound, could set the scene for a nice June in which the Mets find themselves back in the wild card race.
The Pittsburgh Pirates, coming off a four game split with the Atlanta Braves earlier this week, are hovering around the .500 mark in what has been quite the tumultuous for them so far. Their starting third baseman, Jung Ho Kang, is stuck in Korea due to a series of DUIs. Arguably their best player, Starling Marte, has been suspended 80 games for a positive PED test, and Andrew McCutchen, a one-time MVP award winner, is barely batting above .200. Entrenched in the cellar of a very strong National League Central, the Pirates are hoping the long awaited return of Gregory Polanco can jump start their offense.
With Polanco’s return, the Pirates are currently sporting a pretty formidable, albeit top heavy lineup- despite McCutchen’s monumental struggles. Young Adam Frazier is hitting well, and Josh Harrison continues to be a steady presence for Pittsburgh. Mets pitchers will have to limit the damage from the top of the Pirates lineup in order to be successful. Light hitting going from the middle of the order down, if Frazier and Harrison can be pitched to effectively, the Pirates may have a hard time getting runs across on Mets pitching, especially deGrom and Wheeler.
Here are the probables for the three-game set:
Jacob deGrom (3-1 3.56 ERA)
Chad Kuhl (1-4 5.85 ERA)
Zack Wheeler (3-2 3.74 ERA)
Gerrit Cole (2-5 3.36 ERA)
Matt Harvey (3-3 5.36 ERA)
Tyler Glasnow (2-3 6.69 ERA)
What to watch for
- With the return of Asdrubal Cabrera from the disabled list, it will be curious to see how Terry Collins plays the infield. With Wilmer Flores and Lucas Duda swinging hot bats, it may be Jose Reyes that takes a seat.
- Aside from Ivan Nova, whom the Mets will miss in this series, and Gerrit Cole, the Pirates starting rotation has been decidedly mediocre. If Zack Wheeler can keep up with Gerrit Cole in game two, the Mets may be in prime position to take at least two of three. That is, if Harvey can settle in and deliver a quality outing.
- Bullpen management has become a hot button issue for Terry Collins. One could argue that Wednesday’s ball game was lost on Tuesday, with Terry wasting top relievers Jerry Blevins and Paul Sewald in a 9-3 game. They were needed desperately the next night as the Mets bullpen melted down and blew a four run lead late. Here’s hoping Terry can start pushing the right buttons in Pittsburgh.