The New York Mets return home to Citi Field Monday night after a decent road trip that saw them split two series to playoff contenders. The record on the nine game swing was 5-4, beating the Philadelphia Phillies and Miami Marlins and dropping a set to the Chicago Cubs. In the standing, the Mets are five games out in the National League East and half a game out of the second Wild Card. They now open a three game set against another contender, the St. Louis Cardinals, a team they have not faced yet this year. The Cards, at 52-46 are almost a mirror image of New York. They are a game off the second Wild Card and trail the Cubs in the National League Central by 7 1/2 games. St. Louis is also like the Mets in that they have dealt with a lot of injuries and ineffectiveness during 2016.
All-Star Matt Carpenter missed the Midsummer Classic and is still on the disabled list because of an oblique injury. Around the same time, Brandon Moss, who is tied for the club lead in home runs with 17, went on the DL because of an ankle sprain. Both players are looking to re-join the team by the end of the month. Jhonny Peralta, who missed the first two months of the season with a thumb injury, is again sidelined with a strained thumb ligament which is unrelated to his previous injury. Rookie shortstop Aledmys Diaz, who forced Peralta to third base because of his outstanding early season play, is heating up again after a tough stretch. He is hitting .319 over his last 30 games and leads the club in batting average and is second in on-base percentage. Second baseman Jedd Gyorko is in one of the hottest grooves of his career with five home runs over his last seven games and his hitting .370 in his last seven contests. Second year man Stephen Piscotty has filled in very well for the departed Jason Heyward. His 106 hits and 58 RBI’s are both team-highs.
It is in the rotation where St. Louis has faltered this year. Adam Wainwright, Michael Wacha and free agent signee Mike Leake all have ERA’s over 4.00. The only hurler out of this bunch the Mets will see is Wainwright who gets the ball on Wednesday. Carlos Martinez, who has been the club’s best starter is given the opening night assignment against Noah Syndergaard. Martinez is 9-6 with a 2.83 ERA in 18 starts and sports excellent control with 37 walks and 96 strikeouts in 114 1/3 innings pitched. Jaime Garcia will pitch the middle game against the ageless Bartolo Colon. Garcia is 7-6 with a 3.98 ERA in 18 starts. The Cards’ rotation isn’t the only part of the staff that has had issues. Closer Trevor Rosenthal has been removed in favor of Seung-hwan Oh. The hard-throwing Rosenthal has allowed 39 hits and 24 walks in only 32 1/3 innings. Meanwhile Oh, a 34-year old Japanese import, has converted four of his first five save opportunities and has 67 strikeouts in only 49 1/3 innings. He is holding opposing hitters to a .162 average and possesses a WHIP (Walks plus Hits per Innings pitched) of 0.85.
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