By Declan Finn
If the New York Mets were simply playing bad baseball on the road this season they would be leading the NL East with a nice cushion to boot. But the Mets aren't bad on the road, they are downright terrible. Fourteen games under .500 terrible. They hold the second worst road record in the majors, with only the Philadelphia Phillies putting forth a worse mark.
The Mets have won just 10 of 34 road games this season. Ten. That's all.
After sweeping a two-game set with the Blue Jays at home, the Mets dropped two straight at Toronto to finish off a home-and-home series. Then, the Mets were swept in three games in Atlanta this weekend, losing their stranglehold on first place in the NL East in the process. The Mets couldn't even win after getting vintage performances from Jacob deGrom and Matt Harvey, who lost 2-1 and 1-0, respectively.
With a record and stretch that bad on the road, it's amazing the Mets are still in contention in the NL East, but they are, trailing the Washington Nationals by 1.5 games. Of course, that's because the team is 26-11 at Citi Field, which is the second best home record in baseball, behind the St. Louis Cardinals.
Despite the fact the Mets next opponent is the second worst team in baseball, and the only team in the majors that's already realistically out of their division title race, the fact the three-game series will be on the road leaves the Mets and their fans with little to no confidence. But even though this series is being played in Milwaukee, the Mets have to find a way to take at least two of three from the Brewers. If the Mets drop another series, and worse yet, get swept, it could be the beginning of the end for the team's playoff hopes. Yes, this series is big, even with the underwhelming opponent.
Here's our inside look at the three-game series in Milwaukee.
New York Mets (36-35, 1.5 GB in NL East)
at Milwaukee Brewers (25-46, 21 GB in NL Central)
Tuesday, 8:10 p.m.
Jonathon Niese (3-7, 4.21) vs. Mike Fiers (3-7, 4.50)
Wednesday, 8:10 p.m.
Bartolo Colon (9-5, 4.81) vs. Jimmy Nelson (3-8, 4.64)
Thursday, 2:10 p.m.
Jacob deGrom (7-5, 2.34) vs. Taylor Jungmann (2-1, 3.50)
The Mets have lost five straight games, all on the road, and are 4-6 over their last 10. They are 8-12 so far this month. The Brewers are bad both home and away, and have lost eight of their last nine games. They lost two of three to the Colorado Rockies this weekend and were swept in four games by the Kansas City Royals before that.
Three Brewers To Watch
1. Ryan Braun is still the source of power for the Brewers, but is nowhere near the player he once was. Braun is batting just .249 in 67 games, but does have nine doubles, 14 home runs, 44 RBI and seven stolen bases. He's eighth in the NL in both homers and RBI. Braun had a big game Sunday, going 2-for-4 with a double, triple and RBI against Colorado, but before that, he was 2-for-23 (.087) over his previous six games. The Brewers have him locked up through at least 2020. Braun's salary will jump from $13 million this season, to $20 million each of the next three seasons, and then $19 million, $17 million and a mutual option for $15 million in 2021. I'm sure the Brewers wish they could tear up that contract.
2. Gerardo Parra has the highest batting average among Brewers regulars, hitting .292 with 16 doubles, four homers and 19 RBI this season. He's been on fire over the past week, going 11-for-29 (.379) with three runs scored, three doubles and a pair of RBI. He's had at least two hits in four straight games. Parra is on pace to have a career year, especially important since he'll be a free agent this offseason.
3. Mets fans will remember Francisco Rodriguez, their former closer who now holds the same position with the Brewers. Rodriguez has been very good for Milwaukee this season, with 13 saves, ninth best in the NL, and a 1.08 ERA in 25 games. He hasn't allowed a run in his last eight outings and has collected five saves during that time. He's yet to blow a save. Rodriguez is signed through 2016 on a two-year, $13 million deal with a team option for $6 million for 2017 (with a $4 million buyout). The latest rumor out of Milwaukee is the Blue Jays are possibly interested in trading for the closer.
The Mets return to the friendly confines of Citi Field for three games against the Cincinnati Reds starting Friday night.