Here are five things to watch when the Mets and Seattle Mariners play a three-game series at Citi Field starting on Friday…
Jarred Kelenic’s return
For the first time since the infamous trade that sent Kelenic to the Mariners in the deal that brought Edwin Diaz and Robinson Cano to New York before the 2019 season, Kelenic will face the Mets.
Kelenic’s Mariners career has gotten off to a disastrous start, with him slashing .181/.265/.350 during his rookie season in 2021 and hitting even worse this season. Kelenic entered play on Thursday batting .140/.219/.291 with three homers and two doubles in 96 plate appearances over 30 games.
Still, despite some revisionist history and those who are now attempting to paint a positive picture of the trade, it simply won’t ever be a good one. No matter what Kelenic becomes, the Mets can’t erase the fact that they wasted Kelenic’s immense value as a top prospect by including him in a trade where his name never should’ve been allowed to come up.
The words bounce back are in quotations above because what Scherzer, who gets the ball on Friday, is looking to bounce back from only qualifies as such because of the ridiculously high bar he has set.
Over his last two starts, Scherzer hasn’t looked as dominant as he did earlier this season. But he’s still been impressive. And he was done in by some wildly bad BABIP luck during his last start.
Scherzer gave up four runs (including three homers) in six innings against the Philadelphia Phillies on May 1, and allowed three runs (on 10 hits) in six innings against the Phillies on May 8. But as is noted above, Scherzer’s start on May 8 featured an inordinate amount of soft hits finding grass.
George Kirby Meets the Mets
The Mariners’ top pitching prospect and one of the best pitching prospects in baseball, Kirby dazzled during his big league debut against the Tampa Bay Rays this past Sunday.
In six shutout innings, Kirby allowed four hits, walked none, and struck out seven while unleashing an arsenal that features a fastball that averaged 96 mph and a plus slider. Kirby also mixes in a changeup and curve.
Kirby will face Chris Bassitt on Saturday night.
Despite having a much-improved offense this season, most of the Mets’ main cogs (except Jeff McNeil and Brandon Nimmo) have gone through a rough patch at one point or another. But Escobar’s has been deeper than others.
Escobar’s bat has slowed since a hot start, and despite him getting on base at a clip near his career average, his power hasn’t been there — he has just one homer this season and is hitting .216/.326/.342 ,
Escobar’s advanced stats tell an ugly tale, but it’s fair to believe it’s just a matter of time before he corrects what’s ailing him.
Robbie Ray on Sunday
The American League Cy Young award winner in 2021, Ray left the Toronto Blue Jays to sign with the Mariners during the offseason, and has had a bit of an uneven start.
Ray has a 4.22 ERA (4.13 FIP) and 1.17 WHIP in 42.2 innings over seven starts, while giving up six home runs. He allowed 33 homers in 32 starts last season, so being victimized by the long ball is nothing new for him.
One thing to note is that Ray isn’t getting as many strikeouts as usual. He’s striking out 8.6 per 9 this season (down from 11.5 per 9 last season).