The wild card phase of the 2016 MLB playoffs will conclude with the NL Wild card game, featuring the San Francisco Giants and the New York Mets, as a delicious pitcher’s duel of Madison Bumgarner and Noah Syndergaard awaits.
You can say the season turned around for the Mets during their 4-game series with the Giants in August. From two games under .500, they went 27-13 through the final 40 games of the season, which was enough to blow past the Miami Marlins and leave the St. Louis Cardinals behind. The Giants did win their final four games of the season, but they were just 30-33 in the second half of the season, which almost cost them a playoff spot after having the best record in the majors.
Previously this season: There have been two series between the Mets and the Giants this season. The New York Mets took 2-for-3 at home, and the most recent meeting was in a four-game series in San Francisco, with the two teams splitting the four games, as the Mets won the second half of the encounter. Noah Syndergaard, who will be on the mound for the wild card game, pitched for the Mets in their most recent game against San Francisco, winning 2-0. Syndergaard was on the mound for 8 innings, giving up only 2 hits in the game.
Starting pitchers: Syndergaard is one of the remaining few healthy pitchers on the Mets. The 22 year old made his debut only 16 months ago, but has established himself as the best pitcher on the Mets roster, posing a 2.60 ERA through 31 games this season, posting the best FIP in the NL (2.29). He’s striking out 10.7 batters per nine innings, and giving up less home runs than anyone else, only 0.5 per nine innings. We’ve already mentioned one of his appearances against the Giants, but he didn’t do that well at home back in May, giving up 4 runs in 5.2 innings in a Mets loss. Hunter Pence is the only player on the Giants giving up a home run against Syndergaard, who had trouble only against Pence and Buster Posey.
Madison Bumgarner needs no introduction. A difference maker in more than just pitching: The 2014 World Series MVP hit 3 home runs this season, although his batting dropped to .186, which could end his streak of winning the Silver Slugger award for his position. He faced more batters his season than anyone else, and posted a 2.74 ERA, the best of his career. He also struck out a career high 10 batters per nine innings, although it did slightly hurt his k/bb ratio. Like Syndergaard, he has one very good appearance against the Mets and another forgettable one, the more recent one. He has pretty favorable numbers facing Jay Bruce, Yoenis Cespedes and Curtis Granderson, although Jose Reyes could present some problems.
Hot bats: The Mets carry two very hot players into the postseason. Curtis Granderson has the best OPS in the National League over the last 30 days, hitting 7 home runs through 23 games, getting a 1.105 OPS. Asdrubal Cabrera has a .908 OPS over the same time period, hitting four home runs in his last 25 games. Brandon Belt has done very well for the struggling Giants, batting .313 with 3 home runs this month, and so has Hunter Pence with a .327 average and 3 home runs. Both teams aren’t very special when it comes to scoring, but the Giants do have a problems generating big hits, being 25th in the majors in slugging, posting a .398 this season.