Opposite dugout: Mets close out July looking toward future

Thumbnail image for mets-logo-square.jpgManager: Mickey Callaway (1st season)

Record: 44-59

Last 10 games: 5-5

Who to watch: 1B Wilmer Flores (.262/.318/.440, 34 RBIs), LF Michael Conforto (14 HR, 39 RBIs), CF Brandon Nimmo (13 HR, 31 RBIs), RF José Bautista (24 RBIs), RHP Noah Syndergaard (6-1, 2.89 ERA), RHP Anthony Swarzak (3 saves)

Season series vs. Nationals: 6-4

Pitching probables:

July 31: LHP Steven Matz (5-8) vs. RHP Tanner Roark (4-12), 7:05 p.m., MASN2
Aug. 1: RHP Noah Syndergaard (6-1) vs. LHP Tommy Milone (0-0), 12:05 p.m., MASN2

Inside the Mets:

Sitting a half-game above the Marlins in the National League East cellar, the Mets officially became sellers July 21, when they dealt veteran closer Jeurys Familia to the Athletics for a couple of minor leaguers and some international bonus slot money. Then on Friday, the Mets made an intra-divisional trade, sending middle infielder Asdúbel Cabrera to the Phillies for a Double-A pitcher. It's a far cry from the first couple weeks of the season, over which the Mets went 11-1. Injuries to outfielders Jay Bruce, Yoenis Céspedes and Juan Lagares, infielder Todd Frazier and catcher Travis d'Arnaud have eaten away at the team. Of the eight position players that started opening day, just three are available to skipper Mickey Callaway now. The Mets rank dead last in the league in batting average (.228) and next to last in runs scored (407). Add to all this the release of veteran first baseman Adrián González and the decline and fall of former All-Star starter Matt Harvey - whom the Mets traded to the Reds after he declined a stint in the minors - and you've got a recipe for a very sad season.

Infielder Wilmer Flores, on the other hand, is still with the Mets, three years removed from a trade deadline drama centered on him. Since his mid-June return from the disabled list, Flores has been the team's most consistent hitter, batting .274 over that stretch with six homers, nine doubles and 21 RBIs. With Cabrera gone, left fielder Michael Conforto and center fielder Brandon Nimmo lead the Mets in home runs, with 14 and 13, repectively. Nimmo is just 4-for-37 over his last 11 games, but he's 4-for-6 lifetime against the Nats' starter for tonight, Tanner Roark. Over his last 13 games, Conforto is 14-for-42 (.333). José Bautista has settled in over in right field since the Braves released him in May. The longtime Blue Jays slugger has homered six times and driven in 24 runs in 58 games with the Mets.

Lefty Steven Matz (3.89 ERA) starts the opener of this two-game series. Matz has gotten through at least five innings in each of his last 12 starts. He's 2-3 in five July appearances. He last pitched July 26 in Pittsburgh and gave up just three hits over six innings. He got the victory there, but two of those hits were homers, and Matz did surrender four runs that day. Right-handed star Noah Syndergaard (2.89 ERA) is slated to come back from the disabled list to start the Wednesday matinee. He only missed one start, but his being sidelined by a childhood malady - hand, foot and mouth disease - goes to show just how snakebit the Mets have been this year. Syndergaard got the win in four of his last five starts, and in each of his last two. On July 13 at Citi Field, the Nats collected seven hits over five innings against him, but they only netted one run out of it. At Yankee Stadium on July 20, Syndergaard allowed eight hits over five frames, but again surrendered only a run.

Since Familia's departure, the Mets' saves leader is right-hander Robert Gsellman (4.27 ERA), who has five. Unfortunately for the Mets, he's had 11 opportunities. Anthony Swarzak (6.30 ERA) has converted each of the two save chances the Mets have had since the Familia trade, last Wednesday against the Padres.and Sunday against the Pirates.

Injection has Strasburg optimistic he'll be back s...
Game 104 lineups: Nats at Marlins

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