For a last-place team, the Boston Red Sox have performed surprisingly well of late against some of the best pitching Major League Baseball has to offer.
They smacked around reigning American League Cy Young winner Corey Kluber, torched Seattle’s Felix Hernandez, beat up on Kansas City Royals ringer Johnny Cueto and finished off a miserable series against the White Sox last month by taking Chicago’s ace, Chris Sale, to school.
The Red Sox now will be tasked with replicating that trick not once, not twice, but three times as they visit a New York Mets team that boasts three of the game’s most formidable young arms. The Sox will see all three this weekend.
First up for the Mets — who enter the series with a 6 1/2-game lead in the NL East and are seeking their first playoff berth since 2006 — will be Matt Harvey, their top dog. After weathering a rough patch from late May to early June, the 2013 NL All-Star starter has been nothing short of dominant. How dominant? Well, over his last four starts — spanning 28 2/3 innings — he’s allowed just two total runs and boasts a superb 25-1 strikeout-to-walk ration.
Oh, and when Boston sees Harvey on Friday night at Citi Field, he’ll be pitching on 11 days rest after skipping his last turn in the rotation.
After Harvey comes Jacob deGrom, last season’s NL Rookie of the Year. deGrom leads the Mets’ staff in wins (12), ERA (2.29) and strikeouts (161), and New York has won each of the 27-year-old’s last eight starts — including his 2 2/3-inning, eight-run meltdown last weekend in Philadelphia.
When deGrom is pitching at home, as he will be Saturday afternoon, that already-stellar ERA shrinks to a minuscule 1.46.
Speaking of at-home dominance, the Mets will close out the three-game set by sending Noah Syndergaard to the mound for a Sunday matinee. The former Toronto Blue Jays prospect has been the shakiest of the trio since making his major league debut May 12, but Citi Field has been his sanctuary.
In nine home starts, the man known as “Thor” to Mets fans is 7-1 with a 1.82 ERA and a strikeout-to-walk ratio of 65-8. On the road, he’s far less effective: 1-5, 4.91 ERA, 61-20.
There might be no better collection of starting pitchers than the crew they’ve compiled down in Queens. Add to the mix the Mets’ sudden offensive awakening — no team has scored more runs or recorded more extra-base hits since the All-Star break — and the Red Sox are in for a serious challenge.
Thumbnail photo via Bill Streicher/USA TODAY Sports Images
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