The Yankees have been as good as advertised, trailing only their division rival Boston for the best record in the majors. At five games below .500 and 7.5 games out of first in the NL East, the Mets are coming dangerously close to falling out of contention. The series with the Yankees may not help the Mets get back on track, but if the Mets walk away winners, it would certainly set a better tone than the previous six games.
Didi’s Downturn: After the baseball world seemed to be collectively chanting “Jeter who?” when Didi Gregorius mashed 10 homers and had a .327/.421/.735 slash line through the end of April, the Yankees shortstop cooled quickly in May. He only hit one home run and had a .151/.186/.215 slash line in 22 games. One possibility for his struggles could stem from secondary pitches. Gregorius’ whiff rate increased on breaking pitches from 11.9% to 15.5% and on offspeed pitches from 13.7% to 30.8% from April to May. He swung at a higher percentage of both of those groups of pitches too (39.6% to 46.4% on breaking pitches and 57.5% to 66.7% on offspeed pitches), compounding the problems. As a result, his walk rate also deteriorated in May, as he walked only a 4.1% clip compared to 14.9% in March/April. The sample size in June is too small to draw conclusions, but he has been better than the May iteration of himself.
Severino’s Velo: As good as Luis Severino was in a breakout season last year, he has been even better in 2018. By ERA (2.20 to 2.98), FIP (2.17 to 3.05) and DRA (2.37 to 2.63), Severino has outperformed his 2017 numbers. Part of that success could be his increased velocity, as his fastball has averaged 98.3 mph, up from 97.8 last year (his velo has increased every year in the majors and is the hardest four-seamer among starters in 2018). The whiff percentage on the fastball is up too (10.8% to 11.2%), as is the ground ball rate (36.6% to 40.4%). Look to see how Mets hitters respond to the fastball, as Severino is slated to start Sunday night on ESPN.
Aroldis’ Adjustments: Aroldis Chapman’s fastball is averaging below 100 mph for the first time since 2013, but his effectiveness has returned after some signs of decline in 2017. His DRA (1.51) and FIP (1.07) are at the lowest they have been in his career. He has almost completely ditched his changeup (he has thrown just one this year) and is throwing his slider a little more (23.9% in 2018, 19.8% in 2017). The whiff percentage on the slider is up to 25%, an improvement from 17.6% in 2017, so the increased usage seems justified.
The Good: The Yankees lead the majors with 98 home runs. At their current rate, they would beat the single season home run record for a team by (the 1997 Seattle Mariners had 264). The Mets are 25th with 59 home runs.
The Bad: Sonny Gray has been better of late, but his DRA is still a paltry 5.59.
The Ugly: As good as the Yankees offense was touted going into the year, only Aaron Judge has a TAv above .300 among batters with at least 100 plate appearances. That means Daniel Descalso, Max Muncy and Matt Kemp would all be the best hitter on the Yankees (by TAv).
Jose Bautista’s sample size with the Mets is still incredibly small (43 plate appearances), but it is worth pointing out his performance with the Mets versus his performance with the Braves has been night and day. His TAv with the Braves was .215, while his TAv with the Mets is .366.
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