Here are five things to watch as the Mets head to Camden Yards to take on the high-flying O’s in a three-game set starting on Friday at 7:10 p.m. on SNY.
1. McNeil’s finding his groove
It’s been a pretty disappointing 2023 season for Jeff McNeil.
After taking home the batting title last season, and signing an extension this offseason, the 31-year-old has struggled mightily. McNeil has been chasing more and the results have dragged him down to a .253 average through 106 games.
Thankfully for the Mets, though, he’s been able to get back to doing his thing lately.
With Brandon Nimmo sidelined, McNeil was bumped up to the leadoff spot for the Royals series and he enjoyed a three-hit night on Wednesday, which continues a stretch of good play for him.
Dating all the way back to the Boston series, which started on July 21, McNeil has a hit in nine of his last 12 games. While he has just one extra-base hit (a double) over that stretch, it does include four multi-hit games.
Looking just a little further, he’s now hitting .310 with a .355 on-base percentage and eight RBI over his last 15 games. McNeil still isn’t where the Mets need him to be but it’s certainly a step in the right direction.
If he can finish this season on a high note and go into 2024 with some confidence it would be huge for both him and the Mets. McNeil will look to keep his hot streak going this weekend in Baltimore.
2. Alonso’s good Camden Yards numbers
Pete Alonso has finally been able to settle back into a groove at the plate for the Mets.
After a strong stretch to close out July, in which he took home the National League Player of the Week, the slugger continued to mash to open up the road trip in Kansas City.
He launched his 32nd homer of the season and picked up an RBI single in a series opening loss on Tuesday at Kauffman Stadium. After going hitless Wednesday, he picked up two more knocks in the series finale.
Alonso is now hitting .298 with five homers and 15 RBI over his previous ten games. He’s up to 31 homers and 77 RBI on the season, both of which are good enough for third in all of baseball.
Alonso and the Mets now head to Camden Yards, where the slugger has put up good numbers in his career. In four games at the park, he’s recorded a strong 1.576 OPS, a double, four homers, and eight RBI.
Camden Yards has changed a little bit since the Mets last played there, but Alonso will look to keep swinging a hot bat this weekend.
3. Peterson and Megill back in the rotation
After shipping Justin Verlander and Max Scherzer out at the trade deadline, the Mets have a few openings in their rotation. With that presents a huge opportunity for David Peterson and Tylor Megill over the next two months.
Both starters began the year in the rotation thanks to injuries and they struggled mightily.
Peterson, who is scheduled to pitch the series opener, posted a 6.46 ERA, 1.63 WHIP, and struck out just 60 batters across 11 appearances. He was ultimately sent down to Triple-A, and upon being called back up began working out of the bullpen.
The lefty has looked more confident and comfortable and has held opponents scoreless over his last five appearances.
Megill, who is expected to be announced as Saturday’s starter, had a bit of a longer stay in the rotation but he also struggled to get into a groove. After starting off the year with a solid month of April (3.96 ERA), he regressed the rest of the year and also found himself in Syracuse.
The 28-year-old righty posted a 5.17 ERA, 1.66 WHIP, 39 walks, and 58 strikeouts over 15 outings. He also struggled mightily in the minors (8.67 ERA) but is coming off a strong last start prior to being called back up.
They’ll look to get on a roll back in the big league rotation starting this weekend against Baltimore. If either of them can step up and pitch to their potential to finish the year it could be a huge boost for a rotation that desperately needs big-league caliber arms next season.
4. The high flying O’s
The Orioles are finally seeing all these years of rebuilding pay off.
Baltimore is one of, if not, the most exciting young ball clubs in baseball this season. They currently sit alone in first place in the AL East with a record of 67-42 and winners in seven of their last ten games.
They’ve seen some unexpected rises from guys like Kyle Bradish, who will start Sunday, and 30-year-old first baseman Ryan O’Hearn. They also have some solid complementary pieces who have been around in outfielders Austin Hays and Anthony Santander, infielder Adam Frazier, and righty Kyle Gibson (Saturday’s starter).
They have all of this impressive talent and that’s not even getting into their top-tier farm system. The Orioles are for real this season and they’ll certainly be sticking around for the foreseeable future.
Mets fans will get a good look at some of that young and exciting talent this weekend.
5. Nimmo, Marte potentially back
While speaking with reporters prior to Thursday’s series finale against the Royals, Mets manager Buck Showalter told reporters that he’s “hopeful” outfielders Brandon Nimmo and Starling Marte will be able to return for Friday’s game.
Nimmo was scratched from Tuesday’s lineup after experiencing some quad tightness during batting practice. He missed all three games of the series in Kansas City and was described as day-to-day.
The 30-year-old has 15 homers, 17 doubles, and a .784 OPS on the season. Getting him back in the leadoff spot would be a huge boost for the struggling Mets lineup.
Marte has been on the Injured List since July 17 due to a migraine issue. He was first eligible to return for Tuesday’s game, but was not ready to do so.
The veteran outfielder did tell reporters on Thursday that he’s been feeling much better compared to previous weeks.
“I’ve been working out there to try to get better,” Marte said. “God willing I’m able to continue to stay healthy and continue to be on the right track so I can stay out there on the field.”
Marte has struggled mightily in his second season in the Big Apple, but prior to the injury he was hitting .280 with a .357 OBP over his previous seven games.
Source: Yahoo Sports