After getting swept by the division leading Washington Nationals wasn’t enough, the New York Mets (40-37) now have an even tougher task. They must face the Chicago Cubs (51-26) who own the best record in baseball. This four-game set is the first meeting between these two teams since last season’s National League Championship series. The Cubs remember all too well the Mets sweeping them at Wrigley Field to reach the World Series. Now it seems the tables have turned with the Cubs red hot and the Mets trying to find answers. It will be a true test for the Amazin’s to see how they stack up against one of the league’s best ball clubs.
Thursday 7:10 PM: Steven Matz (7-3, 3.29 ERA) vs. John Lackey (7-4, 3.29 ERA)
The Mets may have found the answer to Matz’s pitching woes as examinations found bone spurs in the starter’s left elbow. GM Sandy Alderson stated he will need surgery to have it removed, but the team hopes Matz can deal with it until after the season. He struggled significantly in his last start against the Braves letting up six earned in 4 1/3 innings.
Lackey’s stat sheet almost mirrors that of Matz which is a huge feat for the 37-year-old. Lately, though, he has been struggling going 0-2 in his last three starts. Against Miami last Saturday, Lackey allowed seven earned runs on seven hits in 4 1/3 innings.
Pitching Edge: It is hard to say who gets the edge here, but with Lackey struggling due to command instead of an apparent injury like Matz, he gets the upper hand.
Friday 7:10 PM: Jacob deGrom (3-4, 2.67 ERA) vs. Jason Hammel (7-4, 2.58 ERA)
deGrom must be pleading for run support at this point after his brilliant shutout performance in eight innings against the Braves Saturday resulted in a no-decision. He has not won a game since April 30 and has six no-decisions in ten starts since then.
Hammel hasn’t had the best of luck in his last four starts earning three losses in that span. One of those losses came against Miami in his last start where two earned runs in six innings was enough to beat the Cubs.
Pitching Edge: deGrom has the edge even with the lack of run support.
Saturday 7:15 PM: Bartolo Colon (6-4, 2.86 ERA) vs. Jake Arrieta (12-2, 2.10 ERA)
Colon performed well in his start after getting hit in his pitching thumb, but still earned the loss to the Braves. The righty went seven strong innings allowing one earned on six hits, but couldn’t get any run insurance to secure the victory.
The 2015 Cy Young award-winning Arrieta is in the run for the coveted trophy yet again this year as he has been on a tear. He currently sits fourth in ERA in the league and second behind the White Sox’ Chris Sale for most wins as well.
Pitching Edge: Arrieta is the clear favorite in this matchup.
Like Matz, Syndergaard was found to have bone spurs in his pitching elbow as well. He denied rumors that he did have the injury, but after getting smacked for a season-high five earned against the Nationals, he admitted something was wrong. “Thor” did state, though, that the injury doesn’t affect him and he will be ready to go against the Cubs.
After five straight victories, Lester has had back-to-back no-decisions. It is nothing to worry about considering he has gone at least seven innings in each of those starts with three earned runs combined in them as well.
Pitching Edge: In the best pitching matchup of the series, it’s hard to pick a favorite to come out on top. But, Lester dominating against formiable opponents all season, should get the edge.
More About This Series:
It is funny how eerily similar the Mets have been compared to last season. At this exact time last year, both teams had a 40-37 record. However, it is hard to imagine this year’s squad can make the second-half push that got them in the position to reach the World Series in 2015. Each week bring new tribulations, first beginning with offensive injuries in David Wright and Lucas Duda. Now, the starting rotation has worries of their own in Syndergaard and Matz. The Mets have crawled back into third place in the NL East losing six of their last ten games, but in all this darkness surrounding the team, there is some light that should help ease the minds of the Amazin’s. They only sit half a game out of the wild card behind the Dodgers and Marlins who also have troubles of their own. The Mets don’t need a miraculous boost like last season. Instead, they must bear down and win with what they got and it starts with this Cubs series.