In a rematch (including starting pitchers) of the 2016 National League Wild Card Game, the New York Mets will begin a three-game series against the San Francisco Giants on Tuesday night. At home, the Mets are slight -135 favorites.
This will be the last leg of San Francisco’s East Coast road trip. The Giants are 3-3 thus far against the two of the worst teams in baseball, dropping two of three to the Marlins but taking two of three against the Orioles. They are currently 10 games under .500 and have the second-fewest wins in the National League.
Meanwhile, the Mets are coming home after a West Coast swing. After a stretch of six wins in seven games, the Mets went 2-5 against the Dodgers and Diamondbacks over the past week, with their leaky bullpen being the scapegoat. The poor road trip dropped the Mets to three games under .500 and 4.5 games off the pace in the NL East.
Noah Syndergaard will start on Tuesday, just as he did against the Giants in the 2016 Wild Card Game. However, the man they call Thor is in the middle of the worst season of his career. He’s managed to stay healthy, which has been the lone positive. Over his 12 starts, he’s 3-4 with a 4.90 ERA. To his credit, he’s had some outstanding outings, including a complete-game shutout against the Reds. However, he’s been hittable this year, even struggling against some of the lesser teams in the league.
Meanwhile, the Giants are one of the most disappointing offensive teams in the league this season. Of their regulars, only Brandon Belt has an OPS over .800. Belt is also 0 for 12 in his career against Syndergaard. He and Brandon Crawford have been San Francisco’s best hitters during the current road trip, but no one else has produced with much consistency.
Madison Bumgarner, who opposed Syndergaard in the 2016 Wild Card Game, will also oppose Syndergaard and the Mets on Tuesday. The lefty is also having a down year, at least by his high standards. In 12 starts, Bumgarner is 3-5 with a 4.01 ERA, which is solid and respectable but far from dominant. In all but two starts this year, Bumgarner has allowed at least two runs, as the days of him completely shutting teams down appear to be close to over.
Of course, the Mets have plenty of guys that can do damage, most notably rookie Pete Alonso, who has 19 home runs and an OPS of .940. Todd Frazier and Wilson Ramos both have good numbers in their career against Bumgarner, so the middle of the New York lineup could be a challenge for San Francisco’s starter. The Mets are missing some key guys on the IL, but the players they are missing are left-handed hitters, so Bumgarner should be prepared to face a right-hand heavy lineup against the Mets.
On paper, the Mets should find a way to win this game. But with Syndergaard’s struggles, it’s not a certainty that he’ll handle a weak Giants lineup. The New York bullpen has also not been trustworthy lately. It’s not worthwhile to bet on the Mets as a favorite, so bet on the Giants to beat them on Tuesday.