Let's tell it as it is:
The Pirates are among the best teams in baseball.
So are the Mets.
The two teams - the Pirates, first in the NL Wild Card and trailing the league-best Cardinals in the division by 6 games - and the Mets, up 4.5 on the Nationals for the NL East meet this weekend at Citi Field in what is sure to be a compelling series between two teams likely to make the playoffs.
There are those that say the Pirates have been playing as the best team in baseball over the past two months; some others say the Mets have accomplished that feat over the past two weeks. This weekend, they get set for a showdown in Queens. Let's look ahead.
Game 1 - Friday, 7:10 PM
Big Bartolo Colon (10-11, 4.76 ERA) gets the call on Friday night to get the series underway. He faces J.A. Happ (4-7, 4.78 ERA) for Pittsburgh. Bartolo has been all over the place this season and there's no telling what version of the big man will show up. Happ is nothing special - this one is a toss up.
Game 2 - Saturday, 7:10 PM
The Mets' Jon Niese (7-9, 3.46 ERA) goes up against Charlie Morton (7-4, 4.48 ERA) on Saturday. Niese has pitched exceptionally well of late, forcing reporters and writers alike to refer to the Mets pitching as a FOUR-headed monster, not just the lethal trio of deGrom - Harvey - Syndergaard. Niese should keep rolling.
Game 3 - Sunday, 1:10 PM
The series finale is on national TV and features The Dark Knight Matt Harvey (11-7, 2.61 ERA) versus Jeff Locke of the Pirates (6-7, 4.43 ERA). Harvey has been on fire recently and looks unhittable. If the Mets split the first two games of the series, they have to like their chances of coming away with a win on Sunday afternoon.
The Mets are getting a big break in this series. Yes, they're facing the Pirates, but they're missing Pittsburgh's two best pitchers in Gerrit Cole (who is a top 5 pitcher in the league) and Francisco Liriano.
The Pirates swept the Mets when the two teams last met earlier this season, embarrassing them in a three game set in Pittsburgh. But, as we all know, this is a different Mets team than the one the Pirates faced a short time ago. Now, the Mets are built for the playoffs, and if they think the Mets - who have won 11 of their past 13 - are going to roll over and die just because they're playing a good team, they've got something else coming.