The New York Mets and Pittsburgh Pirates are a couple of teams trending in starkly different directions. The Mets looked like they were dead and buried before the All-Star break, while the Pirates looked like a team primed to compete for a division title or Wild Card berth. Since the break, though, both clubs have reversed course. The Mets are arguably the hottest team in baseball, while the Pirates look like they’re ready to raise the white flag.
Fresh off a sweep of the Chicago White Sox, the Mets have suddenly won 7 straight games to climb to within 2 games of the .500 mark. There are still a handful of teams separating New York from either of the Wild Card spots, but they’ve clearly been playing their best baseball of the season recently. Pittsburgh, meanwhile, has been absolutely abysmal. The Bucs have dropped 16 of their last 19 games overall to fall well out of the postseason picture.
The Pirates traded Corey Dickerson on deadline day, while the Mets acquired a solid starter in Marcus Stroman last weekend. At this time a month ago, few would’ve expected the Mets to be buyers and the Pirates to be sellers, but that’s what happened. The 2 teams are set to square off for a 3-game weekend series in Pittsburgh this weekend. Trevor Williams will take the ball in the opener for the Pirates, while Steven Matz will go for the Mets.
2019 ATR Home
2019 ATR Away
2019 O/U Home
2019 O/U Away
Matz’ Career Night
Matz faced these Pirates last weekend in New York. He enjoyed the best game of his career that night, twirling his first big league complete game shutout in a 3-0 victory. He struck out 7 while allowing just 5 hits across 9 innings of work in a dominant showing.
Matz has been up-and-down all year long, but there’s little reason to believe he can’t enjoy another solid outing tonight against the same ballclub. The Pirates have really struggled to hit left-handed pitching all season long. The Pittsburgh projected lineup tonight has a low collective ISO of just .170 against southpaws this season with a collective K-rate of 22.4 percent.
This lineup just lacks talent, especially from the right side of the plate. Josh Bell is at his best as a left-handed hitter, and he’s really struggled since the All-Star break. The most threatening right-handed hitter in the Pirates’ lineup is Starling Marte, but after that Matz will get a bunch of nobodies. Kevin Newman, Jose Osuna, Melky Cabrera and Jacob Stallings don’t exactly strike fear into opposing pitchers.
Matz has a strikeout rate of 21.4 percent on the season with an xFIP of 4.45. He’s been about league average in a number of statistical categories, which is actually pretty solid considering he’s New York’s No. 5 starter these days. Most teams would kill to have a fifth starter of Matz’ caliber.
Pirates Fading Away
Pittsburgh put up a good fight in the first half of the season, but they have come crashing back to earth in a big way. They were swept by the Mets just last weekend before dropping 2 of 3 in Cincinnati during the week. Coming home should help them gain a little bit of confidence, but it’s suddenly looking like a lost season for the Buccos.
Trevor Williams has been his usual solid-if-unspectacular self. The right-hander is 3-4 through 15 starts on the season with a 4.87 ERA and a 4.79 xFIP. He isn’t a big strikeout guy (19.6 percent), but he doesn’t get himself into trouble with walks and he rarely gets blown up.
However, Williams has struggled with left-handed hitters, and the Mets have a few solid lefty bats to throw his way. Williams has yielded a hefty .378 wOBA to left-handed hitters (.298 vs. RHB) and New York has Michael Conforto, Jeff McNeil and Robinson Cano waiting for him. He’ll also have to deal with the massive power of Pete Alonso. The Home Run Derby champ has a massive .292 ISO with a .387 wOBA against same-handed pitching so far this season.
I think the Mets keep it rolling tonight. I’d be surprised if Matz was as dominant in his last start considering this will be his second straight outing against the same lineup, but the Pirates’ ineptitude against left-handed pitching really can’t be overstated. This is a weak lineup and the ballpark is favorable for pitching. PNC Park kills right-handed power, and right-handed power has been Matz’ primary weakness over the years.
The Mets can cover the runline at +140, but the slightly safer play is to just take New York to win outright on the moneyline at -115. The Pirates don’t look like a team with the stomach for the fight these days, while the Mets are the hottest team in the game.
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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