5/16/23 Game Preview: Tampa Bay Rays at New York Mets

Justin Verlander, New York Mets.

Just when it looked like the New York Mets (20-22) had figured things out, they delivered another stinker against the Washington Nationals yesterday. David Peterson was rocked again as the Mets got blown out in Washington to close out a 4-9 stretch against four of the worst teams in baseball. The Mets are now back home to kick off a six-game home stand against the best team in baseball, the Tampa Bay Rays (31-11). First pitch for the opener of this three-game set is scheduled for 7:10 p.m. at Citi Field.

The Rays had a solid season in 2022, going 86-76 to finish in third place in the American League East, 13 games back of the first-place New York Yankees. That record was good enough to help Tampa Bay earn a postseason spot but they were swept by the Cleveland Guardians in the Wild Card Series. The offseason was also a typical one by Tampa Bay standards as they gave out a few extensions, made a bunch of trades, and made one free-agent pickup when they signed Zach Eflin to a three-year deal to bolster their rotation. The early returns have been great for the Rays, who started the season 13-0 and are now trying to build a big cushion in the tough AL East. This team will be a big test for a Mets’ team that has been scuffling for the past month.

Right-hander Justin Verlander (1-1, 2.25 ERA) is set to make his Citi Field debut for the Mets tonight. Verlander earned his first win as a Met in his last start, allowing one run in seven innings against the Cincinnati Reds last Wednesday in a game that allowed him to become just the 21st pitcher to defeat all 30 major league teams. The Rays will counter with lefty Jalen Beeks (1-2, 5.40 ERA), who is expected to serve as an opener ahead of righty Yonny Chirinos. Beeks last pitched on Saturday, tossing two scoreless innings of relief against the New York Yankees.

Local Coverage:

Television: SNY

Radio: WCBS

New York Mets Lineup:

Pre-Game Notes:

    The Rays swept the Mets in a three-game series when the teams last met at Tropicana Field in May of 2021.

    The Rays haven’t been to Citi Field since September of 2020 when they won two out of three against the Mets.

    Verlander is 10-4 with a 3.17 ERA in 20 career starts against Tampa Bay.

    Beeks has never faced the Mets before.

    Brett Baty is back in the Mets’ starting lineup after sitting against lefty Patrick Corbin yesterday. He will start at third base and hit seventh.

    Daniel Vogelbach is out of the Mets’ lineup for a second straight day. Tommy Pham will serve as the designated hitter and bat fifth.

    Christian Bethancourt (1 for 3, HR, 2 RBI), Yandy Diaz (2 for 7, 2B) and Brandon Lowe (2 for 8, 2B) are the only active Rays with experience against Verlander.

    Francisco Lindor (2 for 3) and Pham (2 for 3, HR, 2 RBI) have done well against Beeks in a limited sample size.

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