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On The Horizon: Cubs vs. Mets series preview

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The Cubs face another 2016 postseason team that’s struggling.

Photo by Daniel Shirey/Getty Images

The Mets have had a rough go at 2017 so far, although they have won four of their last five coming into this series.

Steve Schreiber of our SB Nation Mets site Amazin’ Avenue tells us a bit about his team.

It's been a turbulent couple of months for the Mets. Fresh off of consecutive postseason appearances for only the second time in franchise history, it looked like the Mets had the roster to be a force in the National League but they've been anything but that so far despite one of the easiest schedules in the league. A team that appeared to be built on its pitching prior to Opening Day, the offense has shockingly been the strength of the club –– they're 10th in the majors in runs scored, tied for 8th in wRC+, and 6th in hitting with RISP after hitting a league worst .226 in such situations a year ago. Michael Conforto has been the team's best player after crashing and burning in May and June of last year and they've also gotten positive contributions from Neil Walker, Jay Bruce, Wilmer Flores, and Lucas Duda.

The biggest problem for the Mets thus far has been the utter implosion of the pitching, a weakness few saw coming a couple of months back. After finishing 3rd in team ERA in 2016 and 4th in 2015, Mets pitchers currently sit 25th in the majors, tied with the Baltimore Orioles at 4.76. The vaunted rotation has sustained multiple injuries as Steven Matz, Seth Lugo, and Noah Syndergaard have all spent significant chunks of time on the disabled list. Matt Harvey's recovery from Thoracic Outlet Syndrome surgery has left him a shell of his former self –– he still has the velocity but his fastball command and secondaries have been come and go at best. Jacob deGrom has racked up the strikeouts but also has had walk and home run issues and he's been rocked to the tune of 15 runs in his last two starts.

As a result, Zack Wheeler has surprisingly been the Mets best starter after missing two seasons due to Tommy John complications. The rotation has received a bit of a boost as Robert Gsellman has turned in four strong starts in a row and the Mets got the much needed returns of Matz and Lugo this past weekend. Each tossed 7 innings apiece, which was a big help for their beleaguered bullpen. Missing closer Jeurys Familia, out for the long haul after having surgery for a blood clot in his shoulder, the Mets have struggled to lock down close games and have suffered a number of devastating losses as a result. Addison Reed hasn't been as dominant as he was a year ago, Hansel Robles pitched so poorly for a stretch he got himself demoted to Las Vegas, and middle relief guys like Fernando Salas, Josh Smoker, and Rafael Montero have either been overworked by Terry Collins or pummeled by big league hitters. Really only Jerry Blevins has been a consistent bright spot out of the pen, as he always is.

Along with the two starters returning, the Mets also got Yoenis Cespedes back this past weekend and managed to take three of four from the Braves in Atlanta. With basically the entire offense back and much of the pitching here beyond Syndergaard and Familia, the Mets appear to be as healthy as they've been all year. That still might not be enough to combat the Cubs powerful bats but if the Mets have a run in them this year, it'll have to start now. They've already dug themselves a gigantic hole.

Fun fact

The Cubs are 14-7 against the Mets in the regular season since 2014. That consists of three Cubs sweeps over the Mets (two at Wrigley, one in New York) and one Mets sweep of the Cubs (last year in New York).

Pitching matchups

Monday: John Lackey, RHP (4-6, 5.12 ERA, 1.365 WHIP, 5.07 FIP) vs. Jacob deGrom, RHP (4-3, 4.75 ERA, 1.444 WHIP, 3.95 FIP)

Tuesday: Jon Lester, LHP (3-4, 4.13 ERA, 1.349 WHIP, 3.74 FIP) vs. Zack Wheeler, RHP (3-3, 3.45 ERA, 1.356 WHIP, 3.90 FIP)

Wednesday: Mike Montgomery, LHP (0-3, 2.43 ERA, 1.279 WHIP, 4.06 FIP) vs. Matt Harvey, RHP (4-3, 5.02 ERA, 1.462 WHIP, 5.84 FIP)

Times & TV channels

Monday: 6:10 p.m. CT, CSN Chicago

Tuesday: 6:10 p.m. CT, ABC7 Chicago

Wednesday: 6:10 p..m. CT, CSN Chicago, MLB Network (outside Chicago and New York markets)

Prediction

If you look at those pitching matchups, you’d think neither of these teams could win these games, at least not by strong pitching. However, I think the Cubs are on the verge of breaking out of .500ness, so I’ll say they’ll take two of three.

Up next

The Cubs have Thursday off before heading to Pittsburgh for a three-game series against the Pirates beginning Friday evening.

Poll

How many games will the Cubs win against the Mets?

This poll is closed

  • 16%
    3
    (31 votes)
  • 40%
    2
    (76 votes)
  • 28%
    1
    (55 votes)
  • 14%
    0
    (28 votes)
190 votes total Vote Now