For the first four months of the season, the Yankees and Mets have been two of the best teams in baseball — the Yanks still holding that title with their 66-31 record.
On Tuesday comes the first collision course, and perhaps a preview of what might be possible in October if both teams take care of business in their respective leagues. It’s just a two-game set at Citi Field before they get together at Yankee Stadium for two more in August, but it will be a highly anticipated showdown nonetheless.
The Mets won the season series last year, taking two of three in The Bronx on July 4 weekend before doing the same in Queens on the weekend of Sept. 11. The series finale at Citi Field included some fireworks, stemming from the Mets believing that the Yankees may have been whistling from their dugout to tip pitches. The benches eventually cleared, but only words were exchanged.
Here’s a look at how the teams match up this week:
At the plate
Getting on base
While the Mets’ offense has been in a funk of late, highlighting one of their areas of need before the trade deadline, both teams are among MLB’s better clubs in terms of getting on base. The Yankees are second in on-base percentage at .332 while the Mets are sixth at .324 — though they get to those numbers in different ways. The Yankees supplement their big-time power by leading the lead in walks, whereas the Mets lean on their contact-oriented offensive approach, striking out less but with less hard contact.
This category isn’t much of a competition as the Yankees are blowing most teams in the league out of the water with their power. Behind Aaron Judge’s chase for 60 home runs (he’s currently at 37), fellow thumpers Giancarlo Stanton (24) and Anthony Rizzo (22), a resurgent Gleyber Torres (15) and a surprising Matt Carpenter (14), the Yankees lead MLB with 165 homers. Pete Alonso (25) has packed plenty of punch on his own, but besides Francisco Lindor (16) and the occasional hot streak from Eduardo Escobar (11), the Mets haven’t gotten much power from the rest of their lineup.
On the basepaths
The Yankees are much improved in this area from last year, running into fewer outs on the bases and also becoming a steady threat to steal bases even without a certified speed threat. Their 65 swipes were tied for third in MLB entering Monday, with Isiah Kiner-Falefa (14) leading the way. Starling Marte (12) and Lindor (10) have accounted for the bulk of the Mets’ steals, with the rest of the team only responsible for 11. The Yankees (-2.6) and Mets (-2.9) grade similarly on FanGraphs’ baserunning metric (BsR).
In the field
Infield: Another aspect in which the Yankees have made major improvements this season. Among their infield unit, they have one player in the top-six for Defensive Runs Saved (per Fielding Bible) at each position — led by third baseman Josh Donaldson (10 DRS) — plus Jose Trevino leading all catchers with 15 DRS. Overall, their infield has piled up 27 DRS, which trails only the Cardinals (42). The versatile Luis Guillorme is the Mets’ best defender, though Statcast’s Outs Above Average also ranks Lindor as one of the game’s top shortstops.
Brandon Nimmo has turned himself into one of the better center fielders in the game to anchor the Mets’ outfield. Jeff McNeil has also been above-average in left field, sharing it with Mark Canha, and Marte has been strong in right field. Judge’s move to center field has worked well for the Yankees, both in upgrading their defense and allowing them more lineup flexibility.
Carpenter is turning from a bench piece into more of an everyday player, but either way he has provided the Yankees with better depth since signing in May. Also, with their lineup staying mostly healthy, they usually have one regular on the bench each night to give them another weapon late in games. Guillorme has been invaluable — and, like Carpenter, has taken on an even bigger role — but the Mets’ bench isn’t as potent, though the recent addition of Daniel Vogelbach should help against righties.
On the mound
The Mets are lined up well for this series, set to roll out their best two (healthy) starters in Taijuan Walker on Tuesday and Max Scherzer on Wednesday. Walker has been a consistent force atop the rotation, especially with injuries to Scherzer and Jacob deGrom, and Scherzer has gotten right back to business since coming off the IL. Jordan Montgomery, in the midst of another solid season, will start Tuesday with Domingo German, who got roughed up in his return from the IL on Thursday, in play for Wednesday if he gets another start.
Both teams will likely be in the market to add at least one reliever before the trade deadline, but the need is more pressing for the Mets even though the Yankees just took a big hit with the loss of Michael King (elbow fracture). Edwin Diaz and Clay Holmes have both been dominant closers — Diaz has struck out 77 of the 151 batters he’s faced — but the Yankees have some more depth beyond Holmes in Wandy Peralta, Lucas Luetge, Albert Abreu and Ron Marinaccio. Adam Ottavino has been a strong setup man for Diaz, but inconsistency from Seth Lugo and Drew Smith has hurt the Mets.
Aaron Boone is back for his fifth year of the Subway Series while Buck Showalter will be experiencing it for the first time — interleague play wasn’t a thing yet when he had Boone’s job. Both men are known for their even-keel temperaments, with Showalter also displaying his inside-out knowledge of the rulebook in his first year in Queens.
The Yankees haven’t done much losing this year but enter the series having dropped eight of their last 13 games. The Mets have also lost three of their last four and have the Braves breathing down their neck atop the NL East. Both teams will be looking for a shot in the arm to get back on track.
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