At least the Mets won a game before their cross-country flight; I imagine it would not be fun to get swept, then fly for five and a half hours. It will be interesting to see how much things have settled down between the Mets and Dodgers since Chase Utley broke Ruben Tejada’s leg in the 2015 playoffs. Utley’s still the Dodgers starting second baseman, but we saw Noah Syndergaard retaliate last year. Now he’s on the disabled list and Tejada is an Oriole, so there aren’t many people left on the field to perpetuate this silly fight. The Dodgers may be a little less feisty now that they’ve won a playoff series.
That being said, it’s hard to imagine a worse time to play the Dodgers. They’re won nine of their last 10 games and currently lead the National League in run differential. The Dodgers are a bit like the Mets, except they have a lot more depth thanks to a bigger budget and more aggressively calling up young players with upside. To top it off, the Mets get to face Clayton Kershaw in game one of the four-game series.
WHEN AND WHERE
Game 1: Monday @ 10:10 p.m. from Dodger Stadium (TV: SNY; RADIO: 710 WOR, ESPN Deportes)
Game 2: Tuesday @ 10:10 p.m. from Dodger Stadium (TV: SNY & ESPN (out of market); RADIO: 710 WOR, ESPN Deportes)
Game 3: Wednesday @ 10:10 p.m. from Dodger Stadium (TV: SNY & ESPN (out of market); RADIO: 710 WOR, ESPN Deportes)
Game 4: Thursday @ 10:10 p.m. from Dodger Stadium (TV: SNY & MLB Network (out of market); RADIO: 710 WOR, ESPN Deportes)
Special note for Los Angeles Mets fans: It looks like ESPN is carrying Tuesday and Wednesday locally, getting around the Dodgers cable network’s long standing impasse and mlb.tv’s local blackouts.
Monday: Stereotypical sunshine. Low of 64F.
Tuesday: More sunshine. Low of 65F.
Wednesday: We don’t get summer weather in LA. Low of 66F.
Thursday: Seriously, the most boring forecast. Low of 65F.
PROBABLE PITCHING MATCHUPS
Monday: LHP Clayton Kershaw (9-2, 2.23 ERA, 2.79 DRA, .213 TAv, 3.0 WARP) vs. RHP Zack Wheeler (3-4, 4.48 ERA, 5.80 DRA, .261 TAv, -0.2 WARP)
Clayton Kershaw is striking out 28.1% of batters in 2017. For most pitchers that would be extraordinary. For Kershaw, it’s part of his worst season since 2013 and being a bit worse this year makes him one of the league’s best, instead of being completely peerless in his era. Zack Wheeler looked like he was improving in the last month and a half, before getting hammered and watching his ERA leap by a full run. It’s probably too much to expect consistency from a pitcher as wild as Wheeler.
Tuesday: RHP Brandon McCarthy (5-3, 3.14 ERA, 3.51 DRA, .226 TAv, 1.4 WARP) vs. RHP Robert Gsellman (5-4, 5.50 ERA, 6.15 DRA, .305 TAv, -0.5 WARP)
Brandon McCarthy has thrown as many innings for the Dodgers this year as he did in his last two seasons combined. One of baseball’s best tweeters is also off to one of the best on-field starts of his career. McCarthy’s strong ground ball tendencies have been a good fit with one of baseball’s best fielding teams. Robert Gsellman shows what happens when you put a ground ball pitcher in front of the defense that is the worst at turning batted balls in to outs. He hasn’t shown enough strikeout ability to consistently work his way out of jams, whether they are caused by his mistakes or the fielders’ lack of range.
Wednesday: LHP Rich Hill (3-3, 5.14 ERA, 7.28 DRA, .294 TAv, -0.7 WARP) vs. TBA
Rich Hill enjoyed an out-of-nowhere late career revival over the last two years and 2016 was his strongest season in the big leagues since 2007. However, Hill has crashed this year. He’s only made eight starts, and two of his six starts since coming back from the disabled list have been awful. Hill could fit in with the Mets’ struggling starters – he’s yet to go longer than five innings this year. Meanwhile, the Mets have yet to announce a starter. They were planning on going with a six-man rotation before Matt Harvey went on the DL Steven Matz is scheduled for Thursday, so it may be Rafael Montero Wednesday. Better oil up bullpen cam.
Thursday: Alex Wood (7-0, 1.90 ERA, 2.45 DRA, .192 TAv, 2.1 WARP) vs. LHP Steven Matz (1-1, 3.21 ERA, 5.86 DRA, .244 TAv, 0.0 WARP)
The Dodgers traded for Alex Wood in 2015 to be a back of the rotation innings eater with some upside. He didn’t make the postseason rotation, and didn’t pitch much in 2016. Los Angeles started 2017 with Wood as the long man in the bullpen and an emergency replacement for their brittle rotation. Now he leads the National League in ERA. He will probably regress to the mean somewhat, but all peripheral stats suggest real improvement. Matz wasn’t as strong in his second game back, when his mistakes got hit hard, and it looks like he has put away his slider long term.
Dodgers LF/1B Cody Bellinger (11-for-30 with 7 home runs his last seven games)
Dodgers 3B Justin Turner (.400 BA, .500 OBP in seven games since returning from the DL)
Mets OF Yoenis Cespedes (.458/.490/.792 since returning from the DL)
Mets OF Jay Bruce (.365/.375/.714 in June)
Cubs 2B Chase Utley (batting .205 with only three extra base hits in June)
Dodgers C Yasmani Grandal (.431 OPS in the last three series, may be losing playing time)
Mets 1B Lucas Duda (2-for-28 with 13 strikeouts in the last three series)
Mets IF Wilmer Flores (3-for-23 in the last week)
WHEN WE LAST MET
The Mets and Dodgers played both series relatively early last year. Aside for the game where Noah Syndergaard threw behind Chase Utley and got ejected for it, the series wasn’t particularly memorable. Both teams looked like they were gearing up for a playoff rematch. But that playoff rematch never happened and now the Dodgers are one of the best teams in the NL while the Mets are falling further below .500
It’s literally a 10-day DL
Las Vegas is pretty close to Los Angeles if the Mets change their mind on Amed Rosario (editor’s note: don’t get your hopes us), or need to shuttle someone in in case of another injury.
“I think I got lucky,” deGrom said, laughing about his first home run. “I was running pretty hard. I didn’t know it was gone.”
“Don’t pick up the newspapers. Just go win baseball games. The only thing you can control is how you play. If you go win games, you’ll get back in the race.” – Terry Collins, flipping to page five in the big book of managerial clichés. No update for the digital age?
Photo credit: David Richard – USA Today Sports