Manager: Mickey Callaway (1st season)
Last 10 games: 2-8
Who to watch: SS Asdrúbal Cabrera (.292 with 10 HR, 34 RBIs), 1B Adrián González (6 HR, 26 RBIs), LF Brandon Nimmo (.276, 14 RBIs, 6 SB), CF Michael Conforto (7 HR), RHP Jeurys Familia (2.25 ERA, 14 saves)
Season series vs. Orioles: First meeting (3-1 in 2015)
Inside the Mets:
Mickey Callaway’s first season at the helm of the Mets wasn’t supposed to be like this. The Mets have lost eight of 10 games, jsut got swept in a four-game series by the Cubs at home, rest in fourth place in the National League East and injuries have repeatedly prevented them from gaining any sustained momentum. They have 11 guys currently on the disabled list, including slugging outfielder Yoenis Céspedes, third baseman Todd Frazier and right-hander Noah Syndergaard (though Frazier and reliever Anthony Swarzak could be activated before Tuesday’s series opener). Even with the injuries and inconsistency, the Mets are sniffing .500 and only 6 1/2 games out of first place in the NL East, so not all hope is lost. But they’ll need to improve on their 12-17 home record, and they’re probably salivating at this two-game interleague series against the slumping Orioles. The teams meet again for a pair at Camden Yards on Aug. 14-15.
The Mets offense has been abysmal, ranking 27th in the majors in runs (230) and total bases (743), and 28th in slugging percentage (.383). It says a lot that veteran shortstop Asdrúbal Cabrera’s 10 homers and 34 RBIs are both team highs. The Mets were desperate enough to sign José Bautista to play third base in Frazier’s absence, and Bautista has batted .281 in 13 games (though Frazier’s imminent return makes him an odd man out). First baseman Adrián González is coming off a .289 May, but has yet to homer at Citi Field this season. The Mets are asking a lot of center fielder Michael Conforto (seven homers) and left fielder Brandon Nimmo (14 RBIs). With their catching ranks thinned by injury, the Mets acquired Devin Mesoraco from the Reds last month, and he hit five homers in his first 15 games with his new club, all in the eighth inning or later.
Left-hander Jason Vargas, who starts the Tuesday night opener, was a free agent target of the Orioles in the offseason before signing with New York. A broken right hand delayed his season debut, and he’s yet to pitch six innings in any of his six starts, twice topping out at five frames. At Citi Field, foes are slashing .325/.372/.575 off him, and he’s yielded six homers in 25 1/3 innings. He’s 10-9 with a 4.25 ERA in 25 career interleague starts, and 2-4 with a 2.24 ERA in nine career starts against the Orioles. Wednesday starter Zach Wheeler couldn’t secure a rotation spot out of spring training and started the season in the minors before being recalled in early April and taking Vargas’ spot in the starting five. The right-hander has gone at least six innings in seven of his 10 starts. He’s struggled with runners on, with opponents slashing .330/.378/.470 off him, and early in starts, with a .536/.588/.893 slash on his first 15 pitches of a game. Wheeler has never face the Orioles, but is 3-4 with a 6.26 ERA in 11 lifetime interleague starts.
Injuries have hurt the Mets’ setup ranks, and closer Jeurys Familia has been anything but money in the ninth inning, blowing four of his 18 save opportunities. Still, the right-hander has a 2.25 ERA and a 1.21 WHIP, so he’s at least been mostly effective.