After, for lack of a better term, getting the crap kicked out of them by the St. Louis Cardinals this week, the Milwaukee Brewers hope to get back in the win column and make progress toward clinching the NL Central this weekend against the struggling New York Mets in their final home games of the regular season.
After being buyers at the trade deadline, acquiring names like Javier Baez and Rich Hill, the Mets have completely collapsed (again) down the stretch, going 25-39 so far in the second half of the season after ending the first half 48-40. They went a nightmarish 9-19 in August, and come into this weekend at 73-79 overall after losing 8 of their last 10 games.
This is far from the same team the Brewers saw last just after the 4th of July in a very competitive series in Queens. Now they’re largely just playing out the string while facing more potential upheaval in the front office this offseason.
The Mets may have gone on a slide after acquiring Baez, but it’s not his fault. He’s been excellent for the Mets so far, hitting .307/.383/.555 with 9 home runs and 29 runs scored in 39 games — much better than the .248/.292/.484 line he had put up in 91 games with the Cubs before the trade. He may have rubbed fans the wrong way with the dumb “thumbs down” controversy, but he’s been one of the few bright spots on an offense that’s among the three worst in baseball by runs scored.
Outside of Baez, who will undoubtedly kill the Brewers this weekend, Pete Alonso remains the biggest threat in the New York lineup. He enters the weekend hitting .260/.3441/.517 and is the team leader in home runs by far, hitting 35 out to this point in the season. If this is any indication of how the Mets have struggled to find impact bats this year, the next-highest home run total on the team after Alonso belongs to Old Friend Jonathan Villar, who has hit 18 home runs while hitting .254/.327/.429 overall this year.
Francisco Lindor has proven to be a huge disappointment for New York, leading to some immediate buyer’s remorse as he’s hit .232/.328/.404 in 115 games this year after signing a 10-year, $341 million extension in April.
Brandon Nimmo tends to fly under the radar given all the drama surrounding Baez and the distaste for Lindor in the New York papers, but he’s quietly been very good this year despite missing almost all of May and June. He’s hitting .299/.409/.424 in 82 games this year, so he’s at least getting on base, even if there isn’t anyone capable of driving him in.
The Probable Pitchers
Friday, 7:10 p.m. CDT - Tylor Megill vs. Eric Lauer
Megill is a very large human, standing at 6’7” and listed at 230 pounds. He’s made 18 starts since joining the Mets rotation in late-June, and he’s been a solid-if-unspectacular arm for them in the second half of the season. He comes into this outing having struck out 91 batters in 80.2 innings but carries a 4.57 ERA — although by Statcast’s metrics, that number should be closer to 3.75. He throws his 95 mph fastball about 57% of the time and ranks in the top third of the league in strikeout rate. He’s had a mixed bag in his last couple starts, striking out 10 Yankees over 7 innings while allowing just 2 runs on September 10th, but then getting crushed by the Devil Magic Cardinals in his most recent start, allowing 6 runs on 9 hits and 2 walks in 3 innings on the 15th.
Saturday, 6:10 p.m. CDT - Rich Hill vs. Corbin Burnes
Now 41 years old, we may as well call Hill “Two Pitch Rich” by now — his fastball and curveball account for 94% of the pitches he’s thrown this season. It’s worked well for him, too, as despite not throwing anything harder than 88 mph, he comes into this outing with a 3.87 ERA in 30 games (29 starts), with 138 strikeouts and a WHIP of just 1.19 in 148.2 innings. If there’s something promising for the Brewers here, it’s that Hill has been an extreme flyball pitcher this year, with a groundball rate of just 35.9% this year and 28.7% with the Mets. Close the roof Saturday night and watch the ball fly.
Sunday, 1:10 p.m. CDT - Carlos Carrasco vs. Freddy Peralta
Carrasco came to the Mets in the same deal as Lindor, and has likewise been disappointing. A torn hamstring kept him out until late July, and in 10 starts since, he’s been just ok. His 5.24 ERA to this point is largely due to two bad back-to-back blowup outings on August 10th and August 15th, when he gave up 4 runs on 4 hits in 1 inning against the Nationals and 6 runs in 2 innings to the Dodgers. He has put together a nice September, though, with a 3.38 ERA in 4 starts so far, including 6 innings and 2 earned runs in his most recent outing against Philadelphia.
Statistics courtesy of Fangraphs and Statcast