Mets play another four-game road series, this time in Pittsburgh (2024)

Mets play another four-game road series, this time in Pittsburgh (1) Photo by Joe Sargent/MLB Photos via Getty Images

The Mets (42-43) are set to continue one of their weirder road trips in team history with a second-straight four-game series against the Pirates (41-45) at gorgeous PNC Park this weekend. Having squandered the opportunity to at least win their four-game series against the Nationals, the team will aim to do better in another series against one of the many teams in range of one of the National League Wild Card playoff spots.

Aside from yesterday’s one-hit whimper in the series finale against the Nats, the Mets’ lineup has been firing on all cylinders for weeks now. Since the beginning of June, Mets hitters have hit .269/.339/.493 with a 138 wRC+ that’s the best mark in all of baseball. By wRC+, it’s as if the entire lineup were made out of Brandon Nimmo—who should be an All-Star based on his excellent play thus far this season.

Over that same span starting on June 1, Mets pitchers haven’t been quite as good, but they’re sitting roughly in the middle of Major League Baseball with a 4.11 ERA and a 4.11 FIP, ranking 16th and 18th in those metrics, respectively. Very importantly, they’ll get Edwin Díaz back from his sticky stuff suspension in the second game of the series, as the bullpen has really struggled in his absence. If the team is intent on staying in this playoff hunt, it will need to acquire relievers from outside the organization to bolster its relief ranks—or strike gold with at least a couple more internal options like it has with Reed Garrett and Dedniel Núñez this year.

As for the Pirates, pitching has been a relative strength over those same past several weeks, as the team’s 3.91 ERA is the ninth-best mark in the sport since June 1. Their production at the plate, however, has been brutal. Pirates hitters have hit .231/.289/.373 with an 86 wRC+ over that span. That’s the fourth-lowest mark in baseball and tops only the Rockies, Tigers, and Marlins.

On an individual basis, Bryan Reynolds is the Pirates’ lead offensive talent and has a 125 wRC+. Joey Bart, who has only made 78 plate appearance thus far, is tied with him in that metric. After those two, Andrews McCutchen (107 wRC+), Connor Joe (105 wRC+), and Nick Gonzales (103 wRC+) make up the remainder of the Pirates’ hitters who have been better than league average. Oneil Cruz, still just 25 years old, is hovering just below that mark with a 98 wRC+.

Pittsburgh’s pitching took a blow with Jared Jones hitting the injured list, and the team hasn’t yet named a starter for the third game of this wraparound series as a result. The Mets will 22-year-old Paul Skenes in the series opener, and the 22-year-old is making an awfully strong case for Rookie of the Year honors with the way he’s pitched since he was called up to the big leagues.

It’s also worth noting that the Pirates’ starting pitchers have been much better than their bullpen. Over the course of the 2024 season, Pittsburgh’s rotation has a 3.57 ERA, but its bullpen has a 4.55 ERA that is the fourth-highest rate in Major League Baseball.

As the series gets underway, the Pirates are just 1.5 games back of the Mets in the Wild Card standings. On paper, you have to like the Mets’ chances, even with the tough matchup against Skenes in the first of these four games, but as the series against the Nationals demonstrated, there are no guarantees in baseball.

Friday, July 5: Luis Severino vs. Paul Skenes at 6:40 PM EDT on SNY

Severino (2024): 97.1 IP, 74 K, 32 BB, 9 HR, 3.42 ERA, 3.98 FIP, 88 ERA-

Severino’s last two starts have gone pretty well, as he’s thrown 13.0 innings in them with 13 strikeouts, just one walk issued, and one home run allowed. Of the four Mets pitchers who have thrown at least 50 innings this year, Severino owns the best ERA and the second-best FIP. He could very well keep the Mets in this game until both starters are out.

Skenes (2024): 52.1 IP, 70 K, 10 BB, 6 HR, 2.06 ERA, 2.60 FIP, 50 ERA-

Since getting called up to the big leagues, Skenes has been one of the best pitchers in baseball. With tons of strikeouts and barely any walks, there’s plenty to like about the 22-year-old’s game. If he’s had a weakness thus far, it’s been that opposing hitters do hit the occasional home run against him, and it would behoove the Mets to go yard once or twice against him if possible.

Saturday, July 6: David Peterson vs. Bailey Falter at 4:05 PM EDT on SNY

Peterson (2024): 33.1 IP, 22 K, 14 BB, 3 HR, 3.51 ERA, 4.63 FIP, 91 ERA-

After striking out 10.55 per nine / 26.8 percent of opposing hitters over the cours eof the 2021 and 2022 seasons, Peterson’s strikeout rate is drastically down thus far this year. He’s made it work somehow, but his starts haven’t been inspiring, and there’s an argument to be made that José Buttó should be in this spot in the rotation instead.

Falter (2024): 88.1 IP, 59 K, 26 BB, 12 HR, 3.87 ERA, 4.47 FIP, 94 ERA-

By ERA and ERA-, Falter has been better than league average this year, but the Mets’ lineup gets a much less intimidating assignment in the second game of the series than the first. The former Phillie was much worse last year, finishing the season with a 5.36 ERA, and deserves credit for taking a step forward. But with a low strikeout rate and his vulnerability to the long ball, the Mets should be able to score some runs in the early innings of this one.

Sunday, July 7: Sean Manaea vs. TBD at 1:35 PM EDT on SNY

Manaea (2024): 83.1 IP, 81 K, 36 BB, 7 HR, 3.67 ERA, 3.75 FIP, 95 ERA-

The Mets’ second-best pitcher to have logged at least 50 innings this year, Manaea has put together a nice four-start stretch in his most recent outings. In 22.2 innings of work against the Padres, Rangers, Yankees, and Nationals, he’s had a 1.99 ERA with 21 strikeouts, 11 walks, and one home run allowed. You’d like to see fewer walks—as is the case with the Mets’ pitching staff as a whole—but he’s been good.

Monday, July 8: Christian Scott vs. Mitch Keller at 12:35 PM EDT on SNY

Scott (2024): 33.1 IP, 27 K, 8 BB, 4 HR, 4.32 ERA, 3.91 FIP, 111 ERA-

Scott’s start against the Nationals went well until it didn’t, and the home run he surrendered late in the outing drove up his ERA in the big leagues rather significantly. Still, it was far from an awful start in his return from a temporary demotion to Triple-A Syracuse, and getting to see him make regular major league starts is a good thing.

Keller (2024): 103.1 IP, 96 K, 27 BB, 10 HR, 3.48 ERA, 3.63 FIP, 84 ERA-

Keller’s game hasn’t changed all that much from the past few years, but his ERA has been better to this point than any of his previous full seasons in the big leagues. He’s a respectable major league starter, and there’s nothing wrong with that.

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Mets play another four-game road series, this time in Pittsburgh (2024)

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