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Game #85 Preview: Wheeler vs Estrada

Mets (33-48) vs Blue Jays (39-45)

MLB: Detroit Tigers at Toronto Blue Jays Kevin Sousa-USA TODAY Sports

The Blue Jays welcome Jose Bautista and the Mets into Toronto for a quick 2 game series. Today’s game is at 7:07 ET.

Blue Jays’ Starter

Marco Estrada looks to extend his excellent June into July and beyond. After limping out of the gate to a 2-6 record with a 5.68 ERA over his first 11 starts, Estrada has turned his season around going 2-1 with a 2.35 ERA in 5 June starts. In that stretch, his strikeout rate was a lot closer to normal (7.92 per 9 innings) while he did an excellent job limiting walks (2.05 per 9 innings) and probably most importantly only allowed 2 home runs over his 30.2 innings. That ability to limit home runs isn’t likely to continue to that extent going forward, as he allows a lot of fly balls and occasionally someone will square one up, but the strikeouts and walks being vastly improved is an excellent sign.

Mets’ Starter

It feels like yesterday that the Mets traded Carlos Beltran to the Giants for Zack Wheeler, a trade that was bringing the Mets their next Ace. Safe to say that the Mets never got that Ace, as his early career was derailed by injuries, and when he did pitch his control issues made him more meh than great.

His 2018 season is on the side of meh again, although not to the extent of his poor 2017 season. Through his first 15 starts in 2018, Wheeler is 2-6 with a 4.47 ERA. He has been able to cut his walk rate to a career low mark, sitting right about league average. He is getting strikeouts at a slightly above average rate as well. But his big improvement this year over last is the slashing of his home run rate. In 86.1 innings last year, he allowed 15 home runs, while through 88.2 innings this year, he has allowed just 9. Add all of that up, and he has a 3.67 FIP, 0.60 points better than his ERA.

Wheeler faced the Jays earlier this season, struggling through 4 innings. He allowed 6 runs on 7 hits and 3 walks, while surrendering home runs to Smoak and Hernandez as the Jays ultimately won 12-1.

Blue Jays’ Lineup

Curtis Granderson has gotten the last 2 starts against right handed pitchers at the DH postion. He could very well be in that position again tonight, or perhaps in the outfield giving one the regulars a day off.

I’m still hoping that Lourdes Gurriel gets a start at SS. Aledmys Diaz has started every game at SS since coming back from injury, and hasn’t been hitting well. While the batting average is high (.273) since his return, he has just a .291 OBP and only 6 extra base hits in just over a month. He really could use a couple days off, because I can’t imagine his ankle is 100% coming back so quickly then playing every day. If it was me, I’d give him both games in this series off and let him come back fresh this weekend.

Mets’ Lineup

Jose Bautista is obviously the big story here. After struggling through a dozen games at 3B with the Braves before being released, the Mets have picked him up and he is doing quite well. Through 110 PA, Jose is hitting .250/.418/.476 with 3 home runs and 10 doubles. He has more walks (24) than hits (21), and more doubles (10) than singles (8), which is really just fun with small sample sizes, but interesting to see. I’m happy he’s doing well, and the chances are probably pretty good that he’ll find himself on the bench of a contender within the next month (perhaps reunited with Edwin in Cleveland).

Brandon Nimmo has been amazing this year. He is batting .264/.381/.528, good for a 151 wRC+ which is second in the NL just behind Eugenio Suarez at 152.

The list of Mets on the DL is pretty impressive, as it always seems to be.

  • Catcher Travis d’Arnaud went down again earlier this year, undergoing Tommy John Surgery after just 4 games. That prompted the Mets to trade for Devin Mesoraco in May.
  • David Wright is perpetually on the DL, as he works through chronic back problems.
  • Backup infielder T.J. Rivera has been out since last September, making him and d’Arnaud the rare pair of position player teammates going through Tommy John Surgery.
  • Yoenis Cespedes was on a rehab assignment with a strained hip flexor, but that has since been shut down, and he’ll likely be gone through the All Star Break.
  • Jay Bruce has been out for a couple weeks now, but is expected to start hitting soon.
  • Juan Lagares went down for the season in mid-May with a torn toe ligament.

And that’s just the position players. One other player I should note is that Noah Syndergaard, who probably would have lined up to start tomorrow, was scratched from his last start and has also landed on the DL with a strained finger.

Yesterday’s Heroes

Matt Kemp went 5-5, hitting a double and a home run to earn the Monster Bat award as his Dodgers publicly humiliated the Pirates 17-1.

Mike Fiers was the WPA King and Pitcher of the Day yesterday with his 8 innings against us. He allowed 3 hits and a walk and just the one run, and since it was a close game throughout, he also added a .517 WPA.

Milestone Watch

Marco Estrada is still looking to climb into a tie for 22nd on the franchise wins list, getting up to 38 and into a tie with Shaun Marcum, Ted Lilly and Josh Towers.

Kendrys Morales needs 2 home runs for number 200 in his career.

Find the Link

Find the link between Wheeler and the best player in baseball.