This week we’ll dive into two east coast teams making ground in their division races.
New York Mets (58-57, 4th Place NL East, 8.5 GB)
For whatever reason, the New York Mets are hot. Getting negative press throughout the whole season, the Mets are on a sneaky good roll. Their bullpen showed that it was potentially one of the worst in the league, but by keeping Edwin Diaz at the deadline it looks like they have faith in him to get it together.
Everyone expected the Mets to sell at the deadline, but instead they bolstered their rotation by adding Blue Jays ace Marcus Stroman. The Mets rotation on paper looks amazing. deGrom, Syndergaard, Wheeler, Matz and now Stroman round out the rotation. Wheeler and Syndergaard’s names were floating around in trade rumors, but it appears that the Mets believe they have a chance at contending for a postseason spot and they elected not to deal either of them.
The Mets, winners of nine of their last ten, faced the Pirates over the weekend in the Steel City. The struggling Steven Matz took the bump and he shared some of the same struggles Friday night against the Buccos. Matz would only pitch 3.2 innings as he gave up five runs. New York was able to score two quick runs in the 1st frame, but that lead would last for just three innings. The Pirates put up five runs in the fourth inning, giving them the 5-3 lead. Later on, in the 7th inning, Starling Marte blasted a three-run homer to put the game out of reach. The Pirates would go on to take the first game 8-4.
Marcus Stroman made his Mets debut in Saturday’s matchup. He would only go 4.1 innings while giving up three runs. Both teams’ bats were alive as the Mets gathered twelve hits and the Pirated gathered ten. Wilson Ramos had a 4-for-5 evening with a solo homer and six RBI’s. On the Pittsburgh side, Bryan Reynolds went 4-4 with three runs scored, and Starling Marte went 3-5 with yet another three-run homer. Jeff McNeil continued his All-Star season with a pinch-hit home run in the 7th. The Mets late-inning offense proved too much for the Pirates as they took game two 7-5.
Noah Syndergaard was on the mound for the finale of the series on Sunday. His counterpart, Joe Musgrove, got shelled, giving up eight runs in just 3.1 innings pitched. Syndergaard was phenomenal over his seven innings pitched. While he only struck out three, he gave up just one run in the Sunday massacre in Pittsburgh. The Mets got things going early with Michael Conforto and J.D. Davis hitting a solo homer and two run homer in the first inning, respectively. Todd Frazier went 3-for-5 on the afternoon collecting three RBI’s. Jeff McNeil went 2-for-4 with a two-run homer and four runs scored. The Mets quadrupled the Pirates hits on the day with 16 and won the game with ease, 13-2.
After winning both games of a doubleheader Monday, the Mets will play the Miami Marlins at home Tuesday for game three of their four-game series. Zack Wheeler will get the nod and face Jordan Yamamoto in the NL East matchup.
Tampa Bay Rays (65-49, 2nd Place AL East, 9 GB)
The Tampa Bay Rays have been one of the better teams over the last two seasons. Even though they constantly finish bottom three in the league in average attendance, they have a young and entertaining team.
This team has done all they can to try and find ways to win the game. They were the pioneers of the “opener” which is when a bullpen pitcher (usually with decent stamina) will start the game and pitch just a few innings, maybe even one. They made one of the best trades in recent memory last year. The Rays shipped Chris Archer to Pittsburgh in return for Austin Meadows, an All-Star this year, Tyler Glasnow, and high-ranked prospect Shane Baz. It was a highway robbery. The Pirates gained a player in Chris Archer who has struggled what seems like his entire career. His pitch movement is fantastic, but he continues to lack command and locates poorly. His potential is a plus, but unless he finds a way to revive his career, the Rays fleeced the Pirates in this trade.
The Rays improved their team at the deadline, acquiring both Jesus Aguilar from the Brewers and Eric Sogard from the Jays. On Saturday, they faced the Marlins at home for an in-state matchup. With both teams having the worst attendance in the league, I’m sure this was a real thriller to watch.
Reliever Diego Castillo opened up Friday’s matchup on the mound for the Rays. Eric Sogard welcomed himself to Tampa Bay with a two-homer game for his 11th and 12th round-trippers of the season. Austin Meadows and Willy Adames both launched solo homers late in the game to gain an 8-6 lead in the 8th inning. Emilio Pagan closed it out in the 9th for his 9th save of the season, giving the Rays an 8-6 victory.
Sunday again belonged to Tampa Bay, as Jesus Aguilar launched his first homer as a Ray. Michael Brosseau collected three hits on the afternoon, including a solo homer in the 3rd. Yonny Chirinos pitched great for Tampa pitching five innings, striking out four, and allowing one earned run. Avisail Garcia also collected two RBI’s on the afternoon to go 2-for-4. The Rays would go on to win 7-2 and complete the quick two-game sweep of the Marlins.
Tampa Bay will kick off the second game of their series against the Jays at home on Tuesday. The Rays currently hold the 2nd Wild Card spot and can look to make a postseason appearance for the first time since 2013 if they keep their groove.
Waiver Wire Targets
Adam Duvall (23.4% owned/ESPN)
Duvall was acquired at last season’s trade deadline by the Braves. He was recently promoted to the MLB roster and has been a beast. In his 35 AB’s, he’s collected 14 hits while launching five homers and driving in eight runs. Since he’s hitting .400 since he’s been called up, make sure to pick him up quickly before his hot streak ends.
Dustin May (21.6% owned/ESPN)
Dustin May, or Gingergaard, has been called up by the Dodgers and was immediately placed in the rotation. It’s not even like anyone is hurt. He was called up because he was shining in the minors, and as the top pitching prospect for the Dodgers he was ready to be promoted to the big leagues. In his first career start against the Padres, he let up three runs over 5.2 innings while striking out three. With his first start out of the way, it’s well worth the gamble to pick him up with how high is potential can reach.
Retired Little League baseball utility player.