Sunday is the finale in a four-game series between the New York Mets and the San Francisco Giants from Oracle Park. The first two games were both low-scoring affairs, with the Giants winning 3-2 followed by a 1-0 shutout on Friday. Saturday, however, was a different story, as the Mets exploded for 11 runs en route to an 11-4 victory.
Both teams are very much out of their respective division races, as they are both more than 10 games out of first place. Fortunately for both teams, two clubs will make it into the playoffs via the Wild Card. And with it only being July still, the Mets and Giants (mathematically) are very much still alive. The Giants are only 2.5 games out, while the Mets are six games out.
For the Mets, Steven Matz will take the hill for his 20th game and his 18th start. It has been a very up-and-down season for Matz that has led him to his current 5-6 record with a 4.87 earned run average. Matz has never really reached the full potential that Mets fans thought was there after his rookie and sophomore campaigns. An abundance of injuries have plagued the former second-round pick from ever exceeding the 160-inning mark.
That is a true shame, after his first two seasons saw him go a combined 13-8 with an ERA around three. He was supposed to be a part of a vaunted Mets rotation with Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom, and Noah Syndergaard but none of those really (big exception being deGrom) have worked out. After a brief bullpen stint, Matz returned to the rotation July 16 and pitched four innings, giving up only one run. In his only start at Oracle Park in 2018, Matz struck out 11 batters.
For the Giants, it’s going to be rookie Conner Menez getting the first start of his career. Menez, who started the year in Double-A, was selected from the Sacramento River Cats to take the place of Drew Pomeranz in the starting rotation. Pomeranz, who signed a one-year, $15 million deal this offseason, has had an abysmal year with a 2-9 record and an ERA over 6. Good news for Giants fans is that Menez has shown promise this year in the minors. He had a K/9 of 10.56 in Double-A with a 2.72 ERA and a 13.50 (!!) K/9 and a 3.82 ERA in Triple-A this year.
Batter To Watch
The Mets have one of the most dynamic young hitters in the game, and his name is not Pete Alonso. Jeff McNeil is having the greatest season that no one has ever cared about. He doesn’t hit a lot of home runs, which may be why he doesn’t get the attention, but what he does hit is — well — everything. In 352 plate appearances, McNeil is batting .344 with a 144 wRC+. It is no small sample size either, as he hit .329 in 248 plate appearances in his rookie season last year.
Call me crazy, but the Giants are kind of rolling, and the Mets are not. I’m putting my faith in a rookie pitcher with crazy strikeout numbers in the minors. Take the Giants.