5 things to watch as Mets and Giants play 3-game set at Citi Field

Here are five things to watch as the Mets and San Francisco Giants play a three-game series at Citi Field starting on Friday night...

The third base situation

Unsurprisingly, Carlos Mendoza hasn't made any proclamations about who the regular third baseman is right now, but it's pretty easy to decipher. And the answer is Mark Vientos.

Vientos started the last two games in Cleveland over Brett Baty -- each coming with a right-handed starter on the mound for the Guardians.

And in those games, Vientos continued to mash, going 3-for-7 with a deep homer to center field and a double down the left field line. In 31 plate appearances in nine big league games this season, Vientos has been scorching offensively, slashing .357/.419/.714.

It's possible Vientos doesn't have the defensive chops to profile as a long-term starter at third base, but he deserves to get a long look to see what he can do with the bat -- whatever his long-term position may be.

As far as Baty, while he drastically improved his defense at third base after working hard on it during the offseason, things simply haven't been working for him at the plate.

He is hitting the ball on the ground way too much, striking out far too often, and has been unable to generate much power -- with just six extra-base hits in 150 plate appearances this season. By comparison, Vientos has six extra-base hits in 31 plate appearances.

Edwin Diaz's confidence

Diaz hasn't been himself since May 13, when he allowed two runs to the Phillies at Citi Field. He blew the save in his next outing -- on May 16 against the Phils in Philadelphia -- and then had one of his worst outings as a Met on May 18.

Against the Marlins on the 18th, Diaz allowed four runs on four hits in just one third of an inning as he blew a 9-5 ninth-inning lead in an eventual Mets loss.

Speaking after the game, Diaz said he was dealing with a confidence issue.

"My confidence I feel like it's down right now," he said. "I’m making pitches, I’m throwing strikes, I’m trying to do my best to help the team to win. Right now, I’m not in that capacity."

In his first season back from a devastating knee injury that required surgery, Diaz has never fully looked like himself. And he's struggled with his fastball, which he has used sparingly at times.

Diaz hasn't pitched since his disastrous outing on the 18th, and Mendoza said that the closer's role is fluid -- meaning it's fair to expect Diaz's next outing to be in a non-save situation.

Christian Scott's second Citi Field start

After two strong starts to begin his major league career, Scott scuffled against the Marlins last Friday in Miami, allowing four runs on seven hits while walking one and striking out three.

In that start against Miami, there were seven hard hit balls against him -- the same amount of balls that were well-struck when he limited the Atlanta Braves to three runs in six innings on May 11.

By comparison, Rays batters hit just three balls hard during Scott's big league debut, when he fired 6.2 dominant frames.

May 4, 2024; St. Petersburg, Florida, USA; New York Mets starting pitcher Christian Scott (45) throws a pitch against the Tampa Bay Rays during the first inning at Tropicana Field.

Looking at Scott's advanced numbers via Baseball Savant, he's been above average-to-elite in every category except average exit velocity (45th percentile) and ground ball rate (17th percentile).

Scott's xERA (3.14) is more than a full run lower than his 4.32 ERA. And he has been terrific when it comes to chase percentage, whiff percentage, walk rate, and barrel rate.

Is the time now for Francisco Lindor?

If it feels like I've written a handful of times about whether this is Lindor's breakout, it's because I have.

But each time this season where it has seemed like Lindor had escaped the grasp of his season-long offensive funk, things got bad again.

What about now?

Lindor has multi-hit games in three of his last four, including a pair of doubles on Wednesday in Cleveland. Those doubles were hit 106.5 and 101.4 mph.

Even a handful of Lindor's outs in Cleveland were smoked, including one at 104.4 mph, one at 101 mph, and another at 95.2 mph.

And while it's indisputable that Lindor has had a very rough first few months, it's also indisputable that he's been unlucky on balls he's put in play. That seems to be starting to even out.

The Giants are hot -- and mostly healthy

With a 7-3 record over their last seven games, the Giants have improved to 24-26 and are firmly in the playoff race.

And aside from an injury to Jung Hoo Lee, they're healthy.

Jorge Soler is back after a two-week absence earlier this month, as is young catcher Patrick Bailey.

Pitching-wise, the Giants also got Blake Snell back, but he has been struggling badly (11.40 ERA and 2.07 WHIP in four starts) and will miss the Mets series since he pitched on Wednesday.

Kyle Harrison, Jordan Hicks, and Logan Webb are lined up to face the Mets this weekend.