Snakes-Mets: Battle of the Slumping Teams in Queens

Friday, May 18, 2018 12:14 PM UTC

Friday, May. 18, 2018 12:14 PM UTC

The Mets open a three-game home series against Arizona at 7:10 ET. The Mets are heavy chalk. Despite being in a slump, they promise to deliver.

Arizona Diamondbacks (25-18) at New York Mets (20-19)Free MLB Pick: Mets MLBest Line Offered: 5Dimes

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This looks like a gross game. The Diamondbacks have lost seven of eight and the Mets 10 of 14. But consider that the Mets are 7-2 after a day off and 4-0 after a day off following a loss. Expect a strong bounce-back performance.

New York’s Jacob deGrom (3-0, 1.83 ERA) returns from the DL. He had made his official return last Sunday but was interrupted by a rain delay and threw only 45 pitches, an amount similarly tiny to what he threw on May 2 before getting injured. He is healthy and extremely well-rested, so it’s worth noting that, with six days’ rest, his career ERA is 2.42.

DeGrom is primed to prolong his 19-inning scoreless streak. He is building off his improvement from the first half of last year by striking out more batters and surrendering fewer homers. His sinker, slider and change have enjoyed an uptick in velocity. He is rediscovering his comfort with his favorite pitch, the fastball, which had declined in usage in 2017 but has recovered its usual usage. In three of his past four months, opponents are slugging under .200 against it, whereas they had slugged over .300 against it in four of the five months prior to September. His fastball, like his slider, is inducing a higher percentage of whiffs. Mechanically, deGrom has reduced the variation of his vertical release points, which shows that he is more comfortable repeating his delivery, which a pitcher needs to find consistency.

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Arizona's Zack Godley (4-2, 4.08 ERA) is a great pitcher ... for the first three innings. His FIP (like ERA, but factors out luck) spikes to 6.01 when pitching for the second time through the order and 4.49 the third time. These struggles have been inapparent in his career against the Mets with five runs allowed in 19 innings. Active New York batters are hitting .179 in 39 at-bats against him, and they will miss the help of injured Todd Frazier, Yoenis Cespedes and possibly Juan Lagares.

Godley had been a reliever. He had relied primarily on a sinker-cutter-curve combo until he reduced his cutter usage because opponents were slamming it and replaced it with more curveballs. As typical with ground-ball pitchers, he loves to throw his breaking stuff at the batter’s knees. He did this last season against the Mets with smashing success both times he faced them. On May 15, three of his four most frequent pitch locations were in the most bottom row in the strike zone. On Aug. 23, his five most frequent locations were there. This detail is essential because, since 2017, the Mets rank third in slugging against the sinker and curve in the bottom row of the zone. Godley has therefore been anomalous in his success against the Mets. However, this year Godley has deteriorated in that his pitches are losing significant velocity, particularly as he gets deeper into outings. His opposing FIP after the first time through the order are career highs.

Both lineups are slumping: Arizona's is averaging less than two runs in its past eight games. The Mets are averaging fewer than two runs in their past five games, with the exception of one blowout. But the Mets will exploit Godley’s problem with endurance, plus his matchup difficulty as a ground-ball pitcher and protect the lead with its fresh bullpen. Seth Lugo and Robert Gsellman have sub-3.05 ERAs. Paul Sewald has yet to allow a run in consecutive outings.

If the Mets are too chalky for you for a Friday MLB pick, feel free to parlay it with a game of your choosing, with the "under," stick it in an open parlay, or simply reduce your wager size.

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