What's next for Mets: Trying to get back on track against these two struggling NL teams (2024)

The last week against the Tigers and Rockies was supposed to be a chance for the Mets to find their form, but either the offense seemed to disappear or the pitching caved.

The result was a sweep on the road in Detroit and then a series loss at home to the Rockies. With five losses in six games on the week, the Mets fell to 17-18 and under .500 for the first time since April 5.

"We control it. It's not like there's some outside elements, just play better," Mets manager Buck Showalter said. "It's not really quite as difficult as people may perceive. It's up to us to identify some of those things and get better at it and get back to things we do well and have done, not only last season but this season. That's where our hope is."

The Mets will try to get back on track against more teams near the bottom of the National League when they head out on a seven-game road trip against the Reds (14-19) and Nationals (13-20) this week.

Here is what to know about the Mets for the week ahead:

Struggles for Starling Marte

Showalter does not want anyone questioning Starling Marte's toughness.

The 34-year-old outfielder made a stunning return from a non-displaced fractured finger for the playoffs last season and played at less than 100 percent. Now, on the heels of double groin surgery and a neck strain, Marte has struggled to settle into the 2023 season.

In his first 30 games this season, Marte is slashing .213/.292/.278 with one home run, eight RBI and 11 RBI. Showalter had Marte in his office on Sunday, but he would not use health as an excuse for poor performance.

"He feels good, really good. It's a real tribute to him. You give him a lot of chances to grab an excuse and he wants no part of it," Showalter said. "He said, 'I've been through this before,' just having trouble finding his rhythm and tempo to hitting."

Some of Marte's downturn is hard luck, his 32.2 hard-hit percentage is down slightly from last season when he finished with a .292 average and .842 OPS. But his average exit velocity is in the bottom quarter of the league.

Before Saturday's game, Showalter said he had considered moving Marte down from his No. 2 spot in the lineup but that it could create more challenges.

Mets injury updates

The Mets could have a left-hander back in the bullpen next weekend as Brooks Raley will pitch Wednesday as he works back from left elbow inflammation. Raley was placed on the 15-day IL on April 19 and is expected to return next Saturday against the Nationals.

Carlos Carrasco might be a little farther off in his recovery from right elbow inflammation and a bone spur in his elbow. The Mets' veteran starting pitcher had to have his rehab start pushed back from this past weekend as he was dealing with a stomach virus. He now might need two rehab starts before returning to the rotation.

Showalter also said Tim Locastro is "coming along well" as he works back from back spasms. In four games between Single-A and Triple-A, Locastro is 1-for-18 with three runs and a stolen base.

Mets at Reds probable pitchers

Tuesday, 6:40 p.m.:Max Scherzer (2-2, 5.56) vs. Luke Weaver (0-2, 7.88)

Wednesday, 6:40 p.m.:Justin Verlander (0-1, 3.60) vs. Hunter Greene (0-2, 3.74)

Thursday, 1:10 p.m.:Kodai Senga (4-1, 3.38) vs. Nick Lodolo (2-1, 6.29)

Analysis: The Mets finally have their starting rotation lined up with their aces in a row.

Scherzer will be making his second start since returning from a 10-game suspension for violating Major League Baseball's foreign substance rules. Scherzer's velocity was down a tick and he gave up six earned runs on eight hits in 3.1 innings.

Verlander is making his second start since returning from a low-grade teres major strain. He settled in after giving up back-to-back home runs and ended up striking out five across five innings. He threw 79 pitches and will expect a heavier workload on Wednesday.

Kodai Senga is coming off one of the Mets' best starts of the 2023 when he tossed six scoreless innings with four strikeouts, two hits and four walks. He was the first Mets pitcher to eclipse the 100-pitch mark this season.

Next up: Mets at Washington Nationals

The last series between the Mets and Nationals in late April was the first in a four-series losing streak for the Mets.

The alarm bells should have been triggered then when the Nationals' top young arms, Josiah Grey and MacKenzie Gore, combined to hold the Mets to one run in a pair of losses. The Mets avoided a sweep by outslugging the Nationals in a 9-8 victory, behind a go-ahead RBI triple by Jeff McNeil and three RBI by Francisco Lindor, in the series finale.

After this weekend, the Mets are closer in the standings to the Nationals (2.5 games up) than the Braves, who they trail by seven games.

What's next for Mets: Trying to get back on track against these two struggling NL teams (2024)


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