METS (53-55) AT PIRATES (47-61)
7:05 p.m. ET; ATTSN-PT, SNY, MLB.TV
The Pittsburgh Pirates (+1.5), already stumbling, will be missing some personnel going into their weekend series against the visiting New York Mets (-1.5) beginning Friday.
Major League Baseball handed down several suspensions Thursday stemming from a benches-clearing brawl Tuesday between the Pirates and Cincinnati Reds (+1.5) and the incidents leading to it.
The Pirates have plummeted to last in the National League Central after sitting within 2 1/2 games of both a wild-card spot and the division lead at the All-Star break.
New York, still eyeing the postseason, stood pat at the trade deadline Wednesday, while Pittsburgh somewhat surprisingly made just one move, sending Gold Glove outfielder Corey Dickerson to Philadelphia without getting a major league player back.
“We’re going to make a run at this thing. With this rotation, anything is possible,” Mets manager Mickey Callaway told reporters.
That rotation includes Zack Wheeler and Noah Syndergaard — both of whom were thought to possibly be on the trade block before New York decided to be a buyer, not a seller — as well as Jacob deGrom and now Marcus Stroman.
New York acquired Stroman from Toronto three days before the trade deadline. He is expected to make his Mets debut Saturday.
The Mets did ship out one starter before the deadline day, trading Jason Vargas to Philadelphia.
“This team has shown resiliency,” Mets general manager Brodie Van Wagenen said. “This team has earned the right to now go play meaningful games over the course of the next two months.”
Further fueling the optimism, the Mets are on a season-best seven-game winning streak. That includes a three-game series sweep of Pittsburgh last weekend in New York.
The Pirates, meanwhile, have lost 10 of their past 11 and are 3-16 since the All-Star break. They are opening a six-game homestand and have lost six of their past seven games at PNC Park.
“While we’ve not put ourselves at the present time (in a place) to be a playoff-caliber club, the optimism remains there that we’re going to fight as hard as we can this year to turn that around,” Pirates general manager Neal Huntington said. “If not, we are going to work to be a postseason club next year. To have a player the caliber of Felipe Vazquez is incredibly helpful to do that.”
Matz threw a complete-game shutout against the Pirates on Saturday, striking out seven, walking none and allowing just five hits. Overall, he is 2-1 with a 3.00 ERA in four career starts against Pittsburgh.
Williams was the loser in that 3-0 game Saturday, striking out seven and giving up three runs on four hits in seven innings. He is 2-1 with a 1.80 ERA in three career starts against the Mets.
–Field Level Media