New York Mets Series Preview: Los Angeles Dodgers (6/22-6-24)

The New York Mets had a disappointing end to their road trip, but return home to face the Los Angeles Dodgers. The Mets went 3-7 on their road trip and finally saw their bats come back to life. Unfortunately, the Mets pitching suffered badly in the hitter friendly conditions in Colorado. The Dodgers had a disappointing start to their season but they have a 38-35 record and are 2.5 games out of first place. The Mets lost all seven games they played against the Dodgers last season.

Probable Pitching Matchups:

(6/22, 7:10 PM) Alex Wood (2-5, 4.22 ERA) vs. Zack Wheeler (2-5, 4.82 ERA)

(6/23, 7:15 PM) Clayton Kershaw (1-4, 2.76 ERA) vs. Jacob deGrom (5-2, 1.51 ERA)

(6/24, 1:10 PM) Rich Hill (1-2, 4.99 ERA) vs. Jason Vargas (2-6, 8.60 ERA)

Hitting, But No Pitching

The Mets finally figured out how to score some runs on the road trip, but that should be taken with a grain of salt. They played in two very hitter friendly environments and have not hit well when they return to Citi Field. Jacob deGrom was able to put together a terrific start in Colorado because he is on another level right now. The Mets should look to take advantage of sub-par pitching and Kershaw opting to make a MLB start right off the DL.

The Mets made some roster moves after their final game in Colorado. They sent down Chris Flexen and Paul Sewald to Triple-A and moved A.J. Ramos to the 60-day DL. Hansel Robles was designated for assignment which made room for Kevin Kaczmarski and Drew Smith on the Mets roster. Kaczmarski was hitting .346 and Smith had a 2.88 ERA before being called up.

Dodgers Ace Has Returned

Around 5:30 on Friday, the Dodgers announced Clayton Kershaw is opting to pitch Saturday against Jacob deGrom instead of taking a rehab start. He was originally scheduled to come back on June 28 from a back injury. Kershaw vs. deGrom has the makings of a pitcher’s duel, but in his last start before heading to the DL, Kershaw’s velocity was down. He did not hit 90 mph at any point for the first time in his career.

The Dodgers have had their fair share of injuries cost them this season. Pedro Baez, Corey Seager and Kershaw headline just a few of the names that have spent time on the shelf this season. Met nemesis Chase Utley will be activated for this weekend’s series and will receive his typical welcome from the Mets fans. Matt Kemp has been healthy this season and has seen a resurgence in his game. He is hitting .322 with 12 home runs and 43 RBIs and has slowly returned to the Matt Kemp of old.

Matchups to Lookout For

Chase Utley vs. Jacob deGrom: 4-17 (.235) Double, 4 Walks, 4 Strikeouts

Wilmer Flores vs. Clayton Kershaw: 3-15 (.200) 4 Strikeouts

Chase Utley vs. Zack Wheeler: 4-15 (.267) Double, Home Run, Walk, 2 Strikeouts

Wilmer Flores vs. Alex Wood: 5-14 (.357) 2 Doubles, Home Run, 2 Walks, 5 Strikeouts

Interesting Stats

Matt Kemp w/RISP in 2018: 20-49 (.408) 3 Doubles, 4 Home Runs, 5 Walks, 9 Strikeouts

Michael Conforto at Citi Field in 2018: 13-88 (.148) Double, 2 Home Runs, 13 Walks, 28 Strikeouts

Eli Manning On The Return Of Giants’ Odell Beckham Jr. – 2018 Expectations

Eli Manning is surely going to enjoy having his good friend Odell Beckham Jr. back on the playing field this season. The New York Giants lost Beckham Jr. to a broken ankle in week five of the 2017 regular season after a Los Angeles Charger fell on his leg, causing the significant injury.

The super athlete began his rehab immedietly after surgery, posting videos of his recovery and workouts throughout the rehabilitation process. One video even saw Beckham pull an SUV up a small hill. Here it is!

Well, by the looks of it, Beckham is well on his way to a 100% recovery. Manning must be happy, we know the fans are happy, but Dave Gettleman probably isn’t so happy… Now he has to pay him $18 million per-season! We all know he deserves it, and for those who think peeing like a dog negates his talent and justifies letting him walk, just remember that he was the reason the Giants made the playoffs in 2016.

Eli’s take on Beckham returning to the Giants as per Kimberly Jones of NFL Network:

“He wants to get back to scoring touchdowns & celebrating & having fun again. I think he misses that part of his life. … If Odell catches an 80-yarder, we will go into an electric slide or something.”

Let me tell you, I’m excited as well.

As for Manning’s future in the NFL and realistic goals:

“Obviously it has been an unbelievable run but I want to continue doing it. It’s not over. I know that. ..I’m excited for this upcoming yr & really prove that I can still play at a high level. We can win games. We can win championships.”

At 37 years-old, Manning is on the back end of his career, but according to head coach Pat Shurmur, he’s the most in-shape 37 year-old he’s ever seen. Of course age takes its toll, but Shurmur will play to Manning’s strengths, which undoubtedly are at the line of scrimmage and in the play-action. Being that Ben McAdoo never utilized the play-action with Manning, it will be interesting to see if he still has the arm strength to throw off his back foot or on the run to receivers moving away. Luckily, one of Beckham’s best routes is the deep button-hook, meaning he will be running back towards Manning to make the throws more manageable.

Eli also spoke about Shurmur and his methods:

“He tries to keep the game simple, which I enjoy. He’s not trying to make it over-complicated & it’s been great in practices & watching film with him after. We have a great relationship & are on the same page.”

What The Pre-Season Means For Davis Webb And The Giants

Flashback to 2017 when the New York Giants were plagued with mismanagement and inadequate decisions made by the deranged coaching staff. Ben McAdoo made the final go-ahead decision to bench Eli Manning in favor of Geno Smith to start against the Oakland Raiders. Manning’s streak ended and McAdoo came one step close to losing his job.

But the player that was left hanging in the wing was rookie quarterback, Davis Webb. The third-round pick had followed Manning around like a puppy for the entire season in preparation of a potential opportunity later in the year. Jerry Reese and McAdoo managed to take that away from him in favor of starting Smith, who was never going to be the future of the Giants and struggled mightily in his debut with Big Blue.

Why the pre-season is so significant for the Giants:

While seeing first-round pick Saquon Barkley in action and taking a look at Will Hernandez on the offensive line will be an interesting spectacle, the most intriguing player will be Webb. He will have the opportunity to run with the first-team, as the Giants will likely keep Manning healthy and off the field for the majority of  pre-season.

The Giants chose to pass on quarterbacks Sam Darnold and Josh Rosen in favor of Barkley, who was the most impressive player in the draft, and the most enticing athlete in the last 30 years, according to GM Dave Gettleman.

This move instilled a new sense of faith in Webb, despite the drafting of Kyle Lauletta. Some fans believe that the former Richmond quarterback has the skill-set to develop beyond Webb and take the job out from under him. Personally, I disagree. A year under Manning as his primary mentor helps Webb exponentially, giving him a one-year leg up on Lauletta.

Is Webb prepared to be the Giants future QB?

Over the course of the offseason, Webb trained relentlessly to add tools to his tool-box and refine his existing skills. While some may write the narrative that videos in shorts making 30 yard out-route passes on the dime doesn’t prove his abilities, we will see them in first-person in just a few weeks.

The Giants’ backup quarterback has the strength and size to be a prototypical signal caller in the NFL, but his consistency needs work, as he tends to miss reads and overthrow passes at times. Getting some live-game action before the regular season starts will give the front-office an idea of what to expect from Webb and the state of his current development.

Ultimately, it will be a first-interview for the young QB, and he will further learn his weaknesses so that he can be prepared when Manning finally takes off his cape and hands the torch over to his understudy.