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On The Horizon: Cubs vs. Mets series preview

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The Cubs have a chance to extend their winning streak, but they’ll have to get through a couple of tough pitchers first.

Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

The Cubs swept the Mets in a four-game series at Citi Field at the beginning of June and gave them just six total runs in the four games, which turned out to be almost five games’ worth of innings, because one of those wins was a 17-inning affair.

For more on the Mets, here’s the managing editor of our SB Nation Mets site Amazin’ Avenue, Chris McShane:

To say things have changed for the Mets since the last time they faced the Cubs would be a massive understatement. As the teams began their four-game series in Queens on the last day of May, the Mets were wrapping up a rough month that had seen them squander much of their 11-1 start to the season but still sitting a game above .500 at 27-26.

Although they had suffered some brutal losses, they were about to embark on one of the worst stretches of baseball in team history. They were swept by the Cubs in that series and lost four more games in a row after that—two each to the Orioles and the Yankees—before winning one against the Yankees and immediately proceeding to lose four more games in a row. They won three straight after that but lost seven more in a row, had a walk-off win, and lost three more games in a row to finish up the month of June. When July began, they were 32-48 and 14½ games out in the National League East. They’ve been a halfway decent team in terms of their record since then, but the only thing they’re really contending for is a top-five draft pick in 2019—and they might not even be bad enough for that.

On top of all the losing, Yoenis Cespedes, A.J. Ramos, and Juan Lagares saw their seasons end very early because of injuries and their subsequent surgeries. Jay Bruce just returned after missing several months, and he wasn’t much good before that. And Noah Syndergaard hasn’t quite been his dominant self since his return from hand, foot, and mouth disease, a condition that struck him not long after he came off the disabled list because of a ligament issue in one of his fingers.

The Cubs will see Syndergaard in the series opener, and they’ll see Jacob deGrom, who has quite simply been the best pitcher in baseball this year, on Tuesday evening. Despite the Mets’ lack of run support and his W-L record reflecting that, he should be considered the favorite for the Cy Young in the National League. The Cubs will get Jason Vargas, who has finally had a couple of good starts recently but has been awful overall this year, in the series finale. They’ll miss Zack Wheeler, who has been a revelation over the past few months and one of the best pitchers in the game in August, during which he has a 1.09 ERA.

On the offensive side of things, second baseman Jeff McNeil finally got promoted a few weeks ago and has been hitting really well ever since. He left Sunday’s game early with a quad issue, though, so we’ll see how much he plays against the Cubs. Brandon Nimmo has had a fantastic season, but he’s missed some time after getting hit by a pitch and is still on the disabled list as of this writing. Jose Reyes is still on the roster for some reason, and Bruce is now seeing time at first base at the expense of major league reps for either Dominic Smith or Peter Alonso, the latter of whom has been hitting home runs at a rapid pace throughout the minor league season. Shortstop Amed Rosario might have turned a corner with the bat recently, as he’s hit really well over the past couple of weeks.

The Mets aren’t interesting at all as a team right now, but there are some interesting parts. Just don’t ask about the bullpen.

Fun fact

The Mets started 11-1 this year. Since then they are 47-71, the second-worst record in the National League in that span.

Pitching matchups

Monday: Jon Lester, LHP (14-5, 3.64 ERA, 1.322 WHIP, 4.74 FIP) vs. Noah Syndergaard, RHP (9-3, 3.38 ERA, 1.238 WHIP, 2.62 FIP)

Tuesday: Cole Hamels, LHP (4-0, 0.79 ERA, 0.941 WHIP, 2.36 FIP) vs. Jacob deGrom, RHP (8-8, 1.71 ERA, 0.971 WHIP, 2.07 FIP)

Wednesday: Alec Mills, RHP (0-0, 1.17 ERA, 0.522 WHIP, 0.94 FIP) vs. Jason Vargas, LHP (4-8, 6.96 ERA, 1.608 WHIP, 5.47 FIP)

NOTE: Hamels’ numbers above are with the Cubs only. Overall this year in 25 starts: 9-9, 3.82 ERA, 1.274 WHIP, 4.54 FIP

Times & TV channels

Monday: 7:05 p.m. CT, NBC Sports Chicago

Tuesday: 7:05 p.m. CT, WGN

Wednesday: 1:20 p.m. CT, NBC Sports Chicago, MLB Network (outside Chicago and New York markets)

Prediction

The Cubs face two top starters in this series, but they have two really good pitchers of their own going in those games. The Wednesday matchup... well, that’s just weird. Don’t know what to think about it. The Cubs are on a roll, and the Mets just got torched 15-0 by the Nationals... but before that, they had won six of eight and allowed only 14 runs in those eight games.

So I’ll play it safe and say two of three.

Up next

The Cubs head to Atlanta for a rainout makeup game against the Braves on Thursday evening, then to Philadelphia for a three-game series against the Phillies beginning Friday night.

Poll

How many games will the Cubs win against the Mets?

This poll is closed

  • 22%
    3
    (96 votes)
  • 54%
    2
    (230 votes)
  • 20%
    1
    (87 votes)
  • 2%
    0
    (11 votes)
424 votes total Vote Now