max scherzer mets
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The Mets weren’t even supposed to be here. If we were having this conversation about a month ago, there’d be shocking looks from some Mets fans about playing in the Wild Card series. Even with what transpired over the final stretch of the regular season, there were reasons for optimism in New York’s matchup against the Padres.

Max Scherzer was on the mound in front of a home crowd that was bound to be rowdy. After all, they’ve been waiting six years for another Mets playoff game in Queens. Unfortunately, they’ll have to wait at least one more night before having a chance at cheering for a prolonged period of time.

Wild Card Game 1 Win Probability graph

mets game 1

Prior to this game, FanGraphs’ ZiPS projections not only gave the Mets a 59.8% chance to win this series but also 57.7% odds of being victorious in Game 1.

Things immediately got off to a bad start thanks to a two-run homer from Josh Bell. That was followed by a solo homer from Trent Grisham in the following frame.

How unlikely were these two to both go yard? Bell had hit just one home run since September 1st and three since the start of August. Grisham also had just one homer since the start of September, and he paired it with a 1 wRC+ over his final 60 plate appearances.

Jurickson Profar added a three-run homer and Manny Machado piled on a 110-mph laser over the left-field wall to end Scherzer’s night. Boos rained down on the right-hander on his way into the dugout.

Standout performers

We talked about how Yu Darvish had given the Mets fits during the regular season. That continued on Friday night at Citi Field. The veteran right-hander looked in control all night, allowing one run on six hits, no walks, and four strikeouts in seven innings.

On the Mets’ side of things, New York’s bullpen kept San Diego scoreless in relief of Scherzer. Obviously, it was too little, too late. At the plate, the only real bright spots were Eduardo Escobar and Starling Marte.

Escobar homered and doubled, while Marte singled in his first plate appearance of the night. He followed that up with two stolen bases as he tried to make something out of nothing before adding an infield single in the ninth. Brandon Nimmo also tripled.

Key Takeaways

RISP troubles. Throughout the year, the Mets have been a solid team with runners in scoring position. This hasn’t been the case over the past month or so.

Even after Bell and Grisham went deep, New York put runners on base in the following half inning both times. Unfortunately, they left runners stranded at third base twice. That was their opportunity to get back into this ballgame — and, more importantly, get the crowd back into it — but they were unsuccessful.

Overall, the Mets stranded eight runners and went 1-for-11 with runners in scoring position. That ain’t gonna get it done, folks.

HR ball bites Max. The final line on Scherzer was the ugliest we’ve seen from him in a Mets uniform. He allowed seven runs on seven hits (four homers) in 4.2 innings. Those four dingers are the most he’s allowed in a start all season.

He’s watched six pitches fly out of the yard against him in his last two starts. In 17 starts before this stretch, he allowed seven total homers.

Marte looks healthy. Without much encouraging news about his status over the past couple of weeks, Marte’s inclusion on the Wild Card series roster was a shocker. He was busy at the dish and in the field in Game 1. Even if that finger is bothering the outfielder, he looks completely normal.

One would have to assume Marte will be back in the two-hole on Buck Showalter’s lineup card Saturday night.

Trying too hard on offense. A strength of this club has been getting deep into counts and making opposing pitchers work more than they’d like. Darvish didn’t get to 100 pitches until the seventh inning.

One player who looked particularly lost was Pete Alonso, who struck out in each of his first two at-bats. He stepped into the batter’s box in the bottom of the first with runners on the corners, and you could tell he was trying to make it a 3-2 ballgame.

Updated odds to advance

Now that the Mets dropped Game 1, that means Jacob deGrom will get the ball Saturday night with New York’s season on the line. He’ll face Blake Snell.

FanGraphs’ ZiPS projections give the Mets a 61.7% chance of extending this series. They also give them a 31.0% of winning two straight to advance to the NLDS.

If you talk to any Mets fan after Friday’s showing, though, those odds are probably a little generous.

Matt Musico can be reached at [email protected] and you can follow him on Twitter: @mmusico8.

Matt Musico is an editor for ESNY. He’s been writing about baseball and the Mets for the past decade. His work has been featured on numberFire, MetsMerized Online, Bleacher Report, and Yahoo! Sports.