The New York Mets (31-24) travel to the Steel City to face the Pittsburgh Pirates (30-26) in a National League battle. The Amazin’s could not get the sweep of the Miami Marlins Sunday as Jose Fernandez continued his dominance, but two out of three keeps them two games behind the lead in the NL East. The Pirates, on the other hand, are in a bit of a slump losing seven of their last ten games. Because of their hot start to the season, they currently sit in second place, but are nine and a half games behind the Chicago Cubs who are staying red hot. These two teams will try to pick up some ground in this three-game set.
7:05 PM Monday: Steven Matz (7-1, 2.60 ERA) vs. Jonathan Niese (5-2, 4.36 ERA)
Matz could not keep his consecutive win streak going, but he also didn’t earn a loss in his last start against the Chicago White Sox. In five and two-thirds innings, he allowed seven hits and walked two for three earned runs. This is the most he has given up since his first start of the season, and being so dominate of late, this wasn’t the Matz fans have been used to. He will try to turn things around Monday night.
Niese will be facing his former team for the first time since the December trade that sent Neil Walker to the Mets. He seems to like Pittsburgh, though, as he has been throwing solid innings. In his last four starts, Niese has earned two victories putting him at five now. His ERA is a tad high for a starter to have the record he does, but with a potent “Bucs” offense Niese seems comfortable on the mound.
Pitching Edge: Matz should be the lefty to come out with the win in this one. However, Niese may have something up his sleeve to ruin his former ball club.
7:05 PM Tuesday: Jacob deGrom (3-1, 2.62 ERA) v Juan Nicasio (4-4, 4.75 ERA)
Same statline yet same result came deGrom’s way in his start on Wednesday against the White Sox. Another no-decision after a brilliant performance must be annoying the right who has been dealing, but cannot pick up the win. This is now five straight without a decision, but it is good to see deGrom still pitching up to par.
Nicasio also earned a no-decision in his last start in Miami against the Marlins on Thursday. He went six strong allowing three earned runs on six hits while walking three. Runners coming across the plate has been a big issue for Nicasio recently as he has had at least three earned in five straight starts.
Pitching Edge: deGrom has been consistent even without the victories. It’s only a matter of time before he gets one.
7:05 PM Wednesday: Noah Syndergaard (6-2, 1.91 ERA) vs. Francisco Liriano (4-5, 5.25 ERA)
How does Syndergaard bounce back after being ejected in his last start? With a win, of course. He dominated the Marlins lineup allowing two earned on six hits while striking out nine batters. With that performance, he has now reached 90 strikeouts on the season. This start also marks the first earned run Syndergaard has let up since May 11.
Liriano hasn’t had the same good fortune as his opponent. He has lost four of his last five starts including a 10-hit, seven run beat down from the Dodgers in his last start. With 11 earned runs allowed in his last two starts, his ERA has skyrocketed and it could get worse Wednesday night.
Pitching Edge: Syndergaard is clearly the favorite to win this matchup.
More About This Series:
In his most recent article, ESPN’s Joel Sherman noted an outstanding discovery about the Mets offense. Though they are star-studded, they have not been putting up the numbers fans believe them to be having. The Mets were scrutinized for their offense woes of last season, yet Sherman points out the 2016 team has “three fewer runs than at the same point last season.” The lineup was hot to start off the season, but a steady decline has showed in players such as Michael Conforto, who in the month of May, had a .167 average compared to his team-leading .365 average in April. If the Mets want to back up their National League title of last they will need to begin producing the way a contender needs to.