|Max Scherzer throwing a pitch in his start against the Padres in July. Photo by Jason Schott.|
The Mets will host the San Diego Padres on Friday night to start the playoffs in the Wild Card Series, a best-of-three series with all the games at Citi Field.
The first pitch on Friday night will be at 8:07, while Saturday and Sunday (if necessary) will start at 7:37, with all games on ESPN.
The Mets finished the regular season with a record of 101-61, claiming the top Wild Card spot after the Atlanta Braves snatched the National League East crown from them in the final week.
The Padres finished 89-73, the second wild card team, a spot they were pretty much locked into as they finished 22 games behind the Los Angeles Dodgers in the National League West, and also likely would not have caught the Mets or Braves for the first Wild Card.
Max Scherzer will get the start for the Mets in the opener, coming off a season in which he went 11-5 with a 2.29 ERA (earned run average) in 23 starts, with 145 1/3 innings pitched, with 173 strikeouts, and allowed 39 runs (37 earned) on 108 hits and 24 walks, which gave him a WHIP (walks and hits plus innings pitched) of 0.908.
The Padres will be sending their ace Yu Darvish to the mound, and he went 16-8 with a 3,10 ERA in 30 starts, and threw 194 2/3 innings, with 197 strikeouts, and allowed 67 runs (all earned) on 148 hits and 37 walks (WHIP of 0.950).
This will be the second time Scherzer and Darvish will face each other this season. The first time was on July 22, as they came out of the All-Star break, and San Diego won 4-1 on another Friday night at Citi Field. Darvish went seven innings, allowing just one run (earned) on four hits and a walk, with nine strikeouts. Scherzer went six innings, and allowed two runs (both earned) on five hits and a walk, with eight strikeouts.
Darvish also beat the Mets on June 7, in a 7-0 Padres win, as he threw seven shutout innings, and allowed just two hits and no walks, with six strikeouts.
Those were two of the Padres' four wins in the six games they faced the Mets in the regular season, as they won two of three in San Diego in June, and did the same in New York in late July.
"The Padres are obviously a really good club, we've got our work cut out for us," Mets Manager Buck Showalter said on Wednesday afternoon. "This time of year, the type of pitching we've seen really the last month, you're going to see again the rest of the way. Obviously, that's one of the things that teams in the playoffs, they have good starting pitching. We've seen a lot of it lately, and will continue to, and that's something that jumps out at me about them. Good lineup, all the things you see in the playoffs."
San Diego's lineup is one of the best in baseball, starting off with third baseman Manny Machado, who had one of the best seasons in his career, as he hit .298, with 32 home runs and 102 RBI, along with a .366 on-base percentage and a .531 slugging percentage.
Second baseman Jake Cronenworth had a slash line of .240/.333/.394, with 17 home runs and 88 RBI; shortstop Ha-Seong Kim hit .251 with a .325 on-base percentage, and he hit 11 home runs with 59 RBI; and left fielder Jurickson Profar had 15 home runs with 58 RBI, and had a slash line of .243/.331/.391.
Their lineup also boasts right fielder Juan Soto, whom they acquired in a blockbuster deal at the trade deadline on August 2 from the Washington Nationals, so he is no stranger to big games at Citi Field. In 52 games with the Padres, Soto hit .236, but his on-base percentage was .388, as he hit six home runs, had 16 RBI, and in 228 plate appearances (182 at-bats), he had 43 hits and 44 walks.