There are four teams in the National League who have won 35 games already. The Mets (30-24) play two of them during their upcoming homestand that begins on Friday night.
First up, three with the Padres (37-27), who split a series with the Mets last weekend in San Diego. The first-place Chicago Cubs (35-27) file in for a four-gamer after the Friars, making their first pilgrimage to Citi Field since August 2019. The Cubs swept the Mets in a three-game series in April, delivering the 16-4 loss that stands as the most lopsided of the Amazin’s season.
Here’s what to look for over the treacherous seven-game homestand, besides the Jeff McNeil bobblehead available at Friday and Saturday’s games.
TWO SCOOPS OF DEGROM
Fans will have two opportunities to watch the best pitcher in baseball go to work. Jacob deGrom is expected to pitch on Friday against San Diego’s Blake Snell and then again on Wednesday vs. Chicago’s Kyle Hendricks.
DeGrom has been his typical self all season, a warlock draped in blue and orange. The king of fastballs has not allowed more than five hits in any start this season. His season-high for earned runs in a single start is one. Practically every stat from his first nine starts reads like something out of a Matt Christopher novel.
There’s the 0.62 ERA, the 93 strikeouts to just eight walks and the fastball that averages 99.2 miles per hour. But the most illuminating depiction of his greatness comes from ERA+, a statistic designed to normalize a player’s ERA by accounting for things like ballpark factors and strength of opponents. League average ERA+ is always 100. deGrom’s career-high for a season was 218.
This year, he’s at 623.
ALONSO LONG BALLS?
Pete Alonso missed nine games with a bum hand and since returning he’s hitting as though he needed to dish out extra punishment to make up for the time he missed.
Alonso has a hit in each of the games he’s started following his stint on the injured list. A late inning substitution on June 3 accounts for his only 0-fer since spraining his hand. Most recently, Alonso made Camden Yards his personal playground, parking three home runs in the Baltimore crowd during the two-game set. That included two round trippers on Tuesday, his first multi-homer game of 2021.
The Mets’ first baseman already has a four bagger under his belt against Snell, but has yet to homer against Joe Musgrove or Chris Paddack, the two probable starters for Saturday and Sunday. Alonso is 2-for-10 with three punchouts against Musgrove and Paddack.
GUILLORME IN THE LINEUP?
Infielder Luis Guillorme started a rehab assignment on June 4 and suited up for five games at Triple-A Syracuse. The Mets are expected to activate him from the 10-day IL, where he landed with a right oblique strain, prior to the homestand.
Guillorme gives manager Luis Rojas a left-handed bat to spell righty Jose Peraza, the light-hitting defensive specialist who’s been error-free across three infield positions. At the major league level, Guillorme has only played third base this season. However, he made two starts at second during his stay in Syracuse, a position he’s manned for 176 innings in his Mets career.
Guillorme has a .478 on-base percentage; Peraza’s is .264. This discerning eye at the plate led to five walks in 23 plate appearances before going down with the oblique strain.
GREATEST CITI IN THE WORLD
Citi Field has been the site for several of the Mets’ most indelible moments of the season. There’s been four walk-off wins, deGrom’s 15-strikeout complete game shutout and an eclectic parade of big-league debuts.
It’s also protected the Mets from evil, as the home team is 15-5 in Flushing. Most aspects of the Mets’ game improves when they’re in the comfort of their own home, a place where they’ve scored 74 runs and allowed 38. The hitters have a .703 OPS at home compared to .689 in all other settings. The pitchers have an astounding 1.81 Citi Field ERA with a WHIP under 1.00. That balloons to 3.97 and 1.24 in away games.
Seven games in Queens is a welcome sight on the Mets’ schedule, both because of their winning percentage, but also because rain outs have caused the club to play 14 more games on the road than they have at home thus far. Speaking of which …
NO MORE RAIN
The five-day forecast in Queens calls for some rain on Sunday and Monday with potential lightning on Tuesday.
Postponed games are nothing new for these Mets, but with the team playing good baseball as of late (9-4 in their last 13, 9-1 in their last ten home games), each day stuck inside threatens to steal some of their budding mojo.