It is too little and way too late, but the Mets are finally beginning to play like a competent baseball team. That’s not an insignificant thing when you consider the downgrades that Stevie Cohen and Billy Eppler made to this New York roster before the trade deadline. The Mets are 6-4 in their last 10 and that is against three opponents in Arizona, Cincinnati, and Miami that are desperate for wins in the National League Wild Card race. Not only are we starting to see some promise from the Mets’ prospects like Ronny Mauricio and Mark Vientos, but the pitching rotation looks as strong as it has all season even though Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander have been replaced by Jose Butto and Joey “Meatball” Lucchesi. Mauricio is playing so well that Eppler looks like a complete fool for holding him back in the minor leagues for the first five months of the season, while Vientos showed off his power with a pair of home runs in a 8-3 win over the Marlins on Wednesday night. Plus, Butto and Lucchesi look like they can be assets in the middle of next year’s rotation.
Mark Vientos' 2nd homer of the night! pic.twitter.com/Ieu0qEEfd4
— SNY (@SNYtv) September 21, 2023
Even Brett Baty got in on the action with a home run, and I’ve already written him off as a complete bust. He has given the Mets almost nothing with his .212/.282/.323 hitting and inconsistent defense that ranges from brilliant to Daniel Murphy depending on the night. Now the Mets have 10 games left in the regular season with seven against the Phillies and three vs. the Marlins. It would be just splendid if the Mets could ruin both of their seasons to get us fans some vengeance for the disasters of 2007 and 2008. For the Marlins, that is very possible since they are on the outside of the Wild Card hunt looking in. For the Phillies, the Mets would probably have to win all seven games since Philadelphia has a four-game cushion. A man can dream, though, and I am more excited for this Mets vs. Phillies game tonight than I have been for a baseball game in a long time. I love beating Philly! It’s just a shame that they won’t have to see Kodai Senga since he pitched last night and should make his final start of the season on Wednesday against Miami.
That brings up an interesting question: Am I more excited for the Mets or New York Football Giants tonight? The Giants are 10-point underdogs in San Francisco for Thursday Night Football and they are missing two of their most impactful players on offense with RB Saquon Barkley and LT Andrew Thomas out due to injury. After all the good vibes that came from Sunday’s comeback win against Arizona, we could be headed back to another beatdown reminiscent of the 40-0 nightmare vs. Dallas in Week 1. How do the Giants at least give us a sign that the team has grown since then and is capable of competing against the top teams in the NFC? It starts with not having a field goal blocked and returned for a touchdown. In fact, cutting down on turnovers all together would at least force San Francisco to put some work in on offense to get ahead. The Cowboys did not have to do that 11 days ago.
Eliminating turnovers is easier said than done with Thomas out and Nick Bosa foaming at the mouth on the other side of the line of scrimmage. Jones is going to be under pressure, and the pressure will be worse when the Giants are facing second- and third-and long. The key will be completing short passes on first down. Barkley only managed 3.7 yards per carry against Arizona, so I very much doubt Matt Breida will make a dent in this San Francisco rush defense. The Giants ought to cut the run game out in the early going and put San Francisco on its heels. Get Darren Waller going and set up some longer throws to Jalin Hyatt, who was only targeted twice last Sunday, but he made those targets count with two catches for 89 yards.
On defense, the Giants need the fourth quarter rush defense from last Sunday to show up, and not the rush defense that let James Conner run over them for most of the game. If Christian McCaffrey gets going, it will set up everything the 49ers want to do, and the game will snowball from there. The Giants need to get to the point where Brock Purdy has to make a play, but even if they get there, the pass rush is so feeble that he will probably make those plays. I am counting on Wink Martindale dialing up some creative blitzes to get someone in the backfield. The four-man rush was almost useless against Arizona except for when Dexter Lawrence was bullying interior linemen. The “star” pass rusher Kayvon Thibodeaux has been the Giants’ version of Baty: highly touted, but not effective at all so far.
The Giants need way too much to go right for them to have success in San Francisco tonight. I will settle for them not getting completely humiliated and hopefully covering the spread.