Wednesday, February 8, 2023

Mets-Dodgers: Prediction, TV channel, three things to know as National League powerhouses square off

Tuesday night, the owners of the two best records in the National League open a three-game series at Citi Field in Queens. The Los Angeles Dodgers are visiting the New York Mets in what very well might be an NLCS preview.

Here are the top of the MLB standings as of Tuesday morning:

  1. Los Angeles Dodgers: 89-38
  2. Houston Astros: 82-47 (8 GB)
  3. New York Mets: 82-47 (8 GB)
  4. Atlanta Braves: 79-50 (11 GB)
  5. New York Yankees: 78-51 (12 GB)

“It matters,” Mets co-ace Max Scherzer told MLB.com about the Dodgers series. “They’ve had a great season so far in what they’ve been able to do. You play this game to face the best. Obviously, they’ve been one of the best teams in all of baseball. For them to come into town, you want to beat them. It’s a great opportunity for us, a great challenge for us to go out there and face them.”

Here are the details for this week’s three-game series in New York. Select games can be streamed on fuboTV (try for free).

Tues., Aug. 30

7:10 p.m. ET

LHP Andrew Heaney (2-1, 1.94) vs. RHP Taijuan Walker (10-3, 3.38)

SNY, SportsNet LA, TBS

Weds., Aug. 31

7:10 p.m. ET

LHP Tyler Anderson (13-2, 2.69) vs. RHP Jacob deGrom (3-1, 2.15)

SNY, SportsNet LA, MLB Network

Thurs., Sept. 1

4:10 p.m. ET

RHP Dustin May (1-1, 1.64) vs. RHP Chris Bassitt (11-7, 3.34)

SNY, SportsNet LA

With Scherzer missing the series (he pitched Sunday) and both Walker Buehler (Tommy John surgery) and Clayton Kershaw (back) injured, the pitching matchups lack star power, but it’s hard to complain when a 3.38 ERA is the worst among the six scheduled pitchers. These two teams are stacked. It’s no coincidence they’re atop the National League standings.

“It’ll be a good series for the fans,” Mets manager Buck Showalter told MLB.com. “You don’t look forward to it, necessarily. What you look forward to is the competition of facing a really good team.”

Here are three things to know about this week’s Dodgers vs. Mets series at Citi Field, with a prediction thrown in for good measure.

1. The season series even

The Dodgers and Mets split four games in Los Angeles in June and the run differential was one plus-1 in favor of New York. It was an evenly matched series. Here are the scores:

Mets first baseman Pete Alonso has crushed the Dodgers throughout his career, particularly at Dodger Stadium, and he went deep three times in that four-game series. Buehler allowed five runs in 2 1/3 innings in that June 4 game. It proved to be his second-to-last start of the season before needing elbow surgery.

The Dodgers have a significant lead for MLB’s best record, so the chances the tiebreaker comes into play are small, but it’s worth noting the winner of this week’s series will win the season series, and thus secure home-field advantage should the two clubs finish with identical records and meet in the postseason. Again, it’s unlikely, but I’d rather have the tiebreaker than not.

2. Timmy Trumpet will be on hand

Mets closer Edwin Díaz is enjoying a dominant season — he’s struck out exactly half of the batters he’s faced — and whenever he enters a game at Citi Field, his entrance song “Narco” electrifies the crowd. It’s quite the scene:

Timmy Trumpet, the Australian musician who teamed with the Dutch duo Blasterjaxx to create “Narco,” will be on hand for Tuesday’s game. He promised to perform the song live should Díaz enter the game.

“Nothing makes me happier,” Mr. Trumpet told MLB.com about Díaz using his song to bring the Citi Field crowd to life. “That is exactly what this song was meant to do.” 

Díaz last pitched Friday, so he will certainly be well-rested entering Tuesday’s game. There’s even a chance he’ll pitch in a non-save situation just to get some work to stay sharp. And, if it happens, the crowd will be treated to a live version of “Narcos.”

3. Who’s hot, who’s not

The baseball season is long and full of peaks and valleys. As such, some players enter this week’s series at a peak, while others are stuck in a valley. Here are three Mets players who has been at their best the last two weeks:

Canha has three homers in his last nine games, all of them clutch late-inning shots, after hitting three homers in his previous 66 games. He recently told The Athletic he made a mechanical adjustment at the plate not too long ago, specifically widening his stance, and it helped him rediscover his power stroke.

On the flip side, Alonso (.218/.271/.345) and fellow All-Star Francisco Lindor (.228/.290/.316) enter the Dodgers series having slumped the last two weeks. Now here are three Dodgers players at the top of their game:

Stalwart Justin Turner has turned things around following his slow start and he’s hit .333/.407/.458 over the last two weeks. Even then, the Dodgers have something of a top-heavy lineup. Betts, Turner, and Freeman (the 1-2-3 hitters) entered Monday’s game hitting a combined .307/.368/.520. The rest of the Dodgers are hitting .242/.323/.420, which is above average but not otherworldly.

Cody Bellinger (.205/.289/.333) and Chris Taylor (.216/.302/.378) are the two notable Dodgers hitters who haven’t had much success the last two weeks.

4. Prediction

This is truly a heavyweight matchup. It might be the best, most compelling series we see all regular season. For our prediction, I’m going with the Dodgers win two of three. Los Angeles is a cut above the rest of the league, Mets included, and I would be tempted to predict a sweep if not for deGrom starting Wednesday. Should be a thrilling series. I just like Los Angeles bit more right now.

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