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On The Horizon: Cubs vs. Mets series preview

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The Cubs haven’t done well on the road this year. This series, then, is a critical test.

Photo by Paul Bereswill/Getty Images

On July 24, the Mets lost to the Padres and were 46-55, 13 games out of first place in the N.L. East and 7½ games behind the second wild-card spot.

Since then, they have the best record in baseball (21-8), despite being swept by the Braves over the weekend. They’re just two games behind that second wild-card spot which is currently held by... the Cubs.

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

The Mets are coming off what was easily their worst series thus far in the second half. Having gone on their 15-1 run that catapulted them back into relevance from late July into early August, they cooled off a little bit before rattling off five more wins in a row. But then came this weekend, which saw them lose all three games to the Braves. Thankfully, the Cubs having been swept in their three-game series with the Nationals helped the Mets remain just two games back of the second wild card.

That the Mets are even contending for anything right now is somewhat of a miracle. At the plate, they’ve gotten excellent production from Jeff McNeil, J.D. Davis, Amed Rosario, Michael Conforto, and Pete Alonso in the second half. Robinson Cano was hitting very well in the second half, too, before suffering a torn hamstring that might keep him out the rest of the season. Wilson Ramos has been hitting well, too, and Juan Lagares has been hitting very well and looking like his old self center field. Among hitters who have played with any regularity, only Todd Frazier has struggled. Both Adeiny Hechavarria and Aaron Altherr had been brutal at the plate in the second half and were designated for assignment over the past few weeks. And collectively, the position players have been playing much better defense, especially on the infield.

Combine all of that with the Mets’ pitching, which has an MLB-best 3.11 ERA in the second half, and you have a team that has the potential to actually get into the Wild Card game. Mets starters have a 2.71 ERA in the second half, with Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard both pitching like aces since the break. Steven Matz and Zack Wheeler have been good, too, and Marcus Stroman, who was acquired at the deadline, has been a joy to watch despite his 4.58 ERA thus far as a Met. And even the Mets’ bullpen somehow has a 3.85 ERA that ranks sixth-best in baseball since the break. Seth Lugo has been the anchor of the ‘pen all year, and Justin Wilson and Luis Avilan have been great lately. Jeurys Familia has been solid, too, despite walking nearly as many batters as he’s struck out.

The Cubs get Stroman, Syndergaard, and deGrom in this series, which feels as much like a playoff series as possible in late August. On paper, the Mets have the starting pitching advantage in the series as a whole, but all baseball fans know that doesn’t guarantee anything. On our end, we’re hoping these games resemble the 2015 NLCS.

Fun fact

The Cubs swept a four-game series from the Mets at Citi Field in 2018, outscoring them 19-5. A repeat of that (well, a three-game sweep) would be welcome.

Pitching matchups

Tuesday: Yu Darvish, RHP (4-6, 4.43 ERA, 1.164 WHIP, 4.77 FIP) vs. Marcus Stroman, RHP (1-0, 4.58 ERA, 1.780 WHIP, 4.89 FIP in four starts with Mets; 7-11, 3.18 ERA, 1.303 WHIP, 3.70 FIP in 25 total starts with Mets and Blue Jays)

Wednesday: Kyle Hendricks, RHP (9-9, 3.20 ERA, 1.095 WHIP, 3.77 FIP) vs. Noah Syndergaard, RHP (9-6, 3.71 ERA, 1.176 WHIP, 3.37 FIP)

Thursday: Jon Lester, LHP (10-9, 4.49 ERA, 1.446 WHIP, 4.26 FIP) vs. Jacob deGrom, RHP (8-7, 2.56 ERA, 1.037 WHIP, 2.68 FIP)

Times & TV channels

Tuesday: 6:10 p.m. CT, NBC Sports Chicago, MLB Network (outside Cubs and Mets market territories)

Wednesday: 6:10 p.m. CT, NBC Sports Chicago

Thursday: 6:10 p.m. CT, ABC7 Chicago, MLB Network (outside Cubs and Mets market territories)

Prediction

I’m going to say the Cubs will win two of three here, mainly because they pretty much have to in order to stay in contention for the N.L. Central title.

Up next

The Cubs return to Wrigley Field on a quick turnaround after Thursday’s night game in New York to host the Milwaukee Brewers Friday afternoon, the first of a three-game series.

Poll

How many games will the Cubs win against the Mets?

This poll is closed

  • 15%
    3
    (35 votes)
  • 18%
    2
    (41 votes)
  • 39%
    1
    (87 votes)
  • 25%
    0
    (57 votes)
220 votes total Vote Now