The New York Mets and Miami Marlins have spent most of the season bringing up the rear in the NL East, but one of them has turned things around of late. Miami is still alone in the cellar of the division, but New York has made quite a push since the All-Star break. The Mets are 9-1 over their last 10 games, a stretch that includes a sweep of the Marlins in a doubleheader on Monday at Citi Field.
The Mets still have a couple of teams standing between them and a Wild Card spot, but entering play Tuesday New York is just 2.5 games back of the Phillies and Nationals, who share the Wild Card lead. The Cardinals are 2 games up on the Mets, while the Brewers are 1.5 games in front. New York has closed the gap incredibly quickly for a team that looked dead as recently as a month ago.
While it’s been a good run, they can’t afford to let up. The Mets need to keep winning, and they need to keep beating mediocre teams like the Marlins along the way if they have real hopes of sneaking into the postseason. New York gets 2 more games with Miami this week before a huge weekend series at home against the Nationals.
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The Mets will send Zack Wheeler to the mound on Tuesday night. Wheeler was the subject of rampant trade rumors late last month, but the Mets obviously decided against dealing the young right-hander. Wheeler started the first game after the deadline, and all he did was twirl 7 shutout innings in a 4-0 win over the White Sox.
Jacob deGrom is the clear headliner in this rotation, but Wheeler shouldn’t be overlooked. The 29-year-old is 8-6 with a 4.45 ERA on the season, but his underlying numbers are more impressive. He has an xFIP of 3.77, which shows that his ERA is the victim of some unfortunate luck. Wheeler also has a strikeout rate of 26 percent with a walk rate just over 6 percent. Injuries have plagued him often in previous seasons, but now that he’s healthy the Mets are finally getting the pitcher that looked like one of the top prospects in baseball several years ago.
There’s little reason to expect Wheeler to have much trouble tonight. The Marlins have one of the most punchless lineups in all of baseball. The projected lineup tonight has a collective ISO of just .127 against right-handed pitching with a strikeout rate nearing 27 percent. The power is well below-average, while that strikeout rate is way above average. In his only other start against Miami this season, the right-hander allowed 2 runs on 9 hits with 10 strikeouts over the course of 7 innings of work.
Yamamoto Counters for Miami
The Marlins will be sending a rookie to the mound in Jordan Yamamoto. The right-hander was one of the key pieces of the trade that sent Christian Yelich to Milwaukee prior to last season. Through his first 9 big league starts, the Hawaii native is 4-2 with a tidy 3.94 ERA.
Yamamoto has a K-rate of 25.3 percent, though his walk rate over 11 percent is cause for concern. Racking up the walks has a way of driving up his pitch count, which tends to limit how deep he can pitch into games. Yamamoto’s xFIP of 4.81 is also quite a bit more pedestrian than his aforementioned ERA, so the rookie has been getting lucky to this point.
The Mets don’t have the most fearsome lineup, especially with Jeff McNeil and Robinson Cano sidelined. McNeil isn’t expected to play tonight as he continues to nurse a calf issue, while Cano tore his left hamstring over the weekend and may be done for the season.
Still, the lineup is a lot more daunting than the one the Marlins will be rolling out there. Even without McNeil, the Mets still have several hitters dotting the lineup with above-average power. Chief among them is Pete Alonso, who has become one of the biggest home run threats in all of baseball during his rookie campaign. Michael Conforto (.266 ISO vs. RHP), J.D. Davis and Wilson Ramos have all shown massive power potential in the past, as well.
While Yamamoto is an intriguing young pitcher, he clearly profiles worse than his counterpart in this spot. Wheeler has a breezy matchup against a righty-heavy Marlins lineup in his spacious home ballpark. Wheeler has held right-handed hitters to a low .270 wOBA on the year, and, other than Isan Diaz, he may face nothing but righties in that lineup this evening.
This looks like an easy win for the Mets. I expect them to get to Yamamoto, while I expect Wheeler to do his job on the other side. Give me New York to cover the runline at -120.
Taylor Smith has been a staff writer with GamblingSites.org since early 2017. Taylor is primarily a sports writer, though he will occasionally dabble in other things like politics and entertainment betting. His primary specialties are writing about the NBA, Major League Baseball, NFL and domestic and international soccer. Fringe sports like golf and horse racing aren’t exactly his cup of tea, bu ...
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