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On The Horizon: Cubs vs. Mets Series Preview

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Let's try this again.

Andy Marlin-USA TODAY Sports

From August 2014 through July 2015, the Cubs won nine straight games against the Mets.

Beginning with last year's NLCS, the Mets have now defeated the Cubs eight consecutive times.

All right, I'm going to call that even, and it's time for the Cubs to start winning again.

Steven Schreiber of our SB Nation Mets site Amazin' Avenue updates us on his team since we saw them in New York about three weeks ago.

In the 10 games since the Mets swept the Cubs in a glorious four games at Citi Field two weeks ago (sorry), they've merely gone 5-5 in a stretch against the Marlins, Nationals, and Phillies. Things were looking up after the Cubs series, as the offense appeared to be perking up in their series against the Marlins and in the first game against Washington when they came back three separate times to defeat the Nats 9-7.

Unfortunately, Yoenis Cespedes injured his quad the next day and the offense went back into a funk as they lost the final 3 games to DC. Further, Noah Syndergaard left that same game with what appeared to be a devastating injury, as his velocity completely disappeared on his final two pitches. It was ultimately diagnosed as arm fatigue and Syndergaard insists he's fine but he was held out of last week's All-Star game and will make his return to the mound this series.

Syndergaard's injury scare couldn't have come at a worse time because, as you might have heard, Matt Harvey is done for the year after being diagnosed with Thoracic Outlet Syndrome. Harvey struggled all season so the downgrade to Logan Verrett isn't as big as you would think but it's still a downgrade, as Verrett's sporting an ugly 41:28 K:BB ratio in 62 innings. For a guy who sits 88-90, you can't be walking batters at a 10% clip, and Verrett's command has looked horrific at times. Luckily, it appears he won't pitch this series. Otherwise, it might be ugly.

The good news for the Mets is that Cespedes returned to the lineup on Sunday in Philadelphia and the Mets also swapped Brandon Nimmo for Michael Conforto, who spent the past few weeks beating up on PCL pitching after a two-month slump in the majors. In less good news, Cespedes is now having second thoughts about playing center field due to the toll it plays on his legs. That means the Mets suddenly have a logjam in the corners with Conforto and Cespedes vying for at bats in left field and Curtis Granderson in right. It's a strange situation given how poorly the Mets' offense has played but these guys are all incredibly important to the offense, so it'll be interesting to see how Terry Collins sorts this out.

The Mets head into a rough stretch here with the Cubs, Marlins, and Cardinals. They're already six games behind the Nationals and even in the standings with the Marlins. Despite what happened two weeks ago in that incredible four-game set at Citi Field, this is still going to be a tough series and a vital one for this club if they don't want to get buried in the race before July ends.

Fun fact

Maybe it's a good thing that the Mets swapped out Nimmo for Conforto. In the series in New York last month, Nimmo went 4-for-13 with four runs scored and a three-run homer. (He's hitting just .211 against everyone else.) Conforto was one of the only Mets who didn't hit Cubs pitching in the NLCS -- he went 0-for-8 with four strikeouts.

Pitching matchups

Monday: Jon Lester, LHP (9-4, 3.01 ERA, 1.084 WHIP, 3.97 FIP) vs. Steven Matz, LHP (7-5, 3.38 ERA, 1.229 WHIP, 3.43 FIP)

Tuesday: Jake Arrieta, RHP (12-4, 2.68 ERA, 1.093 WHIP, 3.06 FIP) vs. Noah Syndergaard, RHP (9-4, 2.56 ERA, 1.079 WHIP, 2.05 FIP)

Wednesday: Kyle Hendricks, RHP (8-6, 2.41 ERA, 1.022 WHIP, 3.47 FIP) vs. Bartolo Colon, RHP (8-4, 3.11 ERA, 1.208 WHIP, 4.04 FIP)

Times & TV channels

Monday: 6:05 p.m. CT, WPWR, ESPN (outside Chicago and New York markets)

Tuesday: 6:05 p.m. CT, CSN Chicago, ESPN (outside Chicago and New York markets)

Wednesday: 1:20 p.m. CT, ABC7 Chicago, ESPN (outside Chicago and New York markets)

Prediction

The Cubs seem to have righted the ship with their series win over the Rangers. They will have to hit pitchers who have been tough on them in the past in this series, but they have good pitchers of their own in the set. The Mets have a winning road record, but have lost six of their last 10 away from Citi Field. The Cubs will take two of three.

Up next

The Cubs are off Thursday, then head to Miller Park for a three-game set against the Milwaukee Brewers beginning Friday night.