What a difference a month makes. Coming out of the All-Star Break, the Mets were down-and-out in the National League playoff race, sporting a slim 4.9 percent chance of making the postseason, according to FanGraphs Playoff Odds. Today, those odds stand at an impressive 40.4 percent and New York enters the week just two games back of the Chicago Cubs for the final Wild Card spot in the NL. Meanwhile, Cleveland has taken control of the Wild Card race in the American League, securing the top Wild Card spot with a little over a month left in the regular season. They come into the week just two games back of the AL Central-leading Minnesota Twins. Can the Mets continue their climb up the standings with a strong showing in Game 2 of their series against the Indians on Wednesday night?
Kluber suffers setback during rehab assignment
Cleveland was demolished in Game 1, losing 9-2 in a rough night for the Tribe. Oscar Mercado made an embarrassing error in the field and the bullpen surrendered five runs to add insult to injury, as the Indians lost for the fifth time in seven games. Mercado dropped a routine fly ball in shallow left field, opening the door for Michael Conforto to hit a tie-breaking two-run home run with two outs.
— ESPN (@espn) August 18, 2019
The Tribe were also dealt another blow on Monday when it was announced that right-handed ace Corey Kluber suffered an oblique strain in a rehab start for Triple-A Columbus. Kluber threw 20 pitches before leaving the game and the setback could keep him from rejoining the starting rotation for the rest of the regular season. According to manager Terry Francona, Kluber will be re-evaluated in two weeks. The two-time AL Cy Young Award winner has not pitched in a big-league game since he was struck by a line drive on May 1.
The Indians are scheduled to send right-hander Adam Pultko to the hill at Citi Field for the penultimate game of their series against the Mets. Plutko is fresh off limiting the New York Yankees’ prolific lineup to just three runs in six innings of work during his last start — a 19-5 Tribe victory. The Indians’ right-hander had been improving since the All-Star Break, pitching into the sixth inning or later in each of his last six starts. He’s gone 2-2 with a 4.37 ERA during that span and is 5-3 with a 4.67 ERA in 13 games (12 starts) so far this year. This will be Plutko’s first career start versus the Mets.
Stroman seeks to build off first win with Mets
Newly-acquired right-hander Marcus Stroman will take the ball for the Mets on Wednesday evening. New York has won each of Stroman’s three starts since the trade deadline, but the right-hander has not pitched well since being dealt. Stroman is coming off arguably the best start with the Mets last time out versus the Atlanta Braves. The 27-year-old surrendered just two earned runs in 5 ⅓ innings of work to earn his first win with the Mets. Stroman enters with a 7-11 overall record and a 3.21 ERA in 24 starts, but he owns a 5.17 ERA in three starts since joining the Mets.
— New York Mets (@Mets) August 16, 2019
Stroman has made eight career appearances versus Cleveland (seven starts), compiling a 1-2 overall record despite posting a slim 2.87 ERA during those matchups. He’s seen the Tribe twice already in 2019, tossing quality starts on both occasions. The Mets’ right-hander has allowed just four runs in 13 combined innings of work (2.77 ERA) versus the Indians so far this year. According to Baseball Savant, current Indians’ hitters are batting .252 in 129 plate appearances off Stroman heading into Wednesday’s matchup.
- Indians are 7-1 in their last 8 interleague road games.
- Indians are 5-1 in their last 6 interleague games vs. a right-handed starter.
- Indians are 16-5 in their last 21 road games.
- Mets are 5-11 in their last 16 Wednesday games.