Cubs @ Mets: Series Thread (Games 66-69)
The Cubs swept the Cardinals at Wrigley to remain tied for first with the Brewers, and to push the Cards all the way to 4th in the division. They return to the jet-set life with a four-game series against the Mets. This will be their second time taking on the Mets. The Cubs took three out of three at Wrigley April 20-22. This time, they are not fortunate enough to dodge Jacob deGrom. The Mets enter the series first in the NL East thanks largely to their pitching staff; they lead the NL in fWAR on the pitching side while their offense rates at near the middle of the pack. See below for the pitching matchups.
Game 66, Monday, June 14, 6:10 pm central
CHC: RHP Jake Arrieta (5-6, 4.97 ERA)
NYM: LHP David Peterson (1-5, 6.32 ERA)
After two bad starts, Arrieta had a nice rebound in San Diego. He allowed one earned run and struck out six in five innings of work. He earned a win against the Mets back on April 20, allowing one earned run on three hits and three walks in five innings pitched.
David Peterson lasted only 3.1 in a loss to the Cubs on April 21, when he allowed six runs, only three earned, due largely to some rough defensive play behind him. His last two starts have been pretty ugly. He's pitched 0.1 and 2.2 innings and allowed nine earned runs on eleven hits.
Game 67, Tuesday, June 15, 6:10 pm central
CHC: RHP Alec Mills (2-0, 6.08 ERA)
NYM: RHP Taijuan Walker (5-2, 2.07 ERA)
Mills is projected to get his first start since April 13, when he went four innings and allowed two earned runs to the Brewers. Since then, he's pitched out of the bullpen including a handful of multi-inning appearances. He pitched three shutout innings against the Mets on April 21.
Walker has been a significant boon to the Mets, as one would expect a healthy version of him to be. Last time out, he pitched seven innings and collected nine strikeouts while allowing only one earned to the Orioles. He suffered a loss to the Cubs when he allowed three runs, two earned, in 3.2 innings pitched on April 20.
Game 68, Wednesday, June 16, 6:10 pm central
NYM: RHP Jacob deGrom (6-2, 0.56 ERA)
There's been few reports on Trevor Williams since he was placed on the IL following an emergency appendectamy. He resumed throwing back on June 6, but I'm guessing this will be Kohl Stewart's turn until we hear otherwise. Stewart has made three fill-in starts for the Cubs, looking good in his debut and less good each time since. Unlike the Padres, whom he held to one hit in his first start, the Giants and the Cardinals were able to square him up for 13 hits in 7.2 innings.
According to Fangraphs projection systems, the Cubs have only a 25.3% chance at winning this one. That's their lowest such projection on the season. The reason for that is that they face the baseball equivalent of a wizard. Jacob deGrom has improved not only his strikeout percentage but his fastball velocity each of the last five years, despite being on the wrong side of the aging curve. His walk and homerun rates are on the absurdly stingey side. Best to set expectations going into this at around, "I look forward to watching one of the best pitchers of a generation do his thing."
Game 69, Thursday, June 17, 6:10 pm central
CHC: RHP Kyle Hendricks (8-4, 4.46 ERA)
NYM: RHP Marcus Stroman (6-4, 2.33 ERA)
Kyle Hendricks's fWAR number is all kinds of messed up, but really he's had like two terrible starts and otherwise been recognizably himself. Perhaps that's how he has managed to earn a decision in all but one of his starts, and he's won six in a row. You have to go back to April 28 to find a start in which he didn't at least finish the fifth inning. One encouraging sign has been that his groundball percentage is inching closer to his career average, standing at 46.5% since May. This will be his first 2021 start against the Metropolitans.
Marcus Stroman has pitched well enough in 2021 to be considered the ace on most staffs. His last loss came on May 16, and since then he's made five starts in which he's gone at least six deep and allowed no more than three earned runs in an outing. He's featured reverse splits this season, bringing a getting more value from his cutter and changeup than in previous seasons.