5 things to watch as Mets and Giants play three-game series at Citi Field

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Francisco Lindor smiles on field with batting helmet on July 2021
Francisco Lindor smiles on field with batting helmet on July 2021

The Mets and San Francisco Giants play a three-game series this week at Citi Field.

Here are five things to watch...

The return of Francisco Lindor

Lindor, who is on the verge of returning from the IL, has not played since July 16, which was the first game after the All-Star break.

A lot has changed for the Mets in the month-plus they've been without Lindor, and his return -- which could come as soon as Tuesday night -- will be a welcome sight.

Lindor was hitting .333/.489/.500 in 12 games in July, and had been rounding into form after a rough first few months at the dish.

The return of Lindor will also mean the debut of what is expected to be an electric middle of the infield with Lindor at shortstop and Javier Baez at second base.

None of the Giants' aces are scheduled to pitch

The Mets faced Kevin Gausman, Logan Webb, and Anthony DeSclafani during their series against the Giants last week in San Francisco.

As things currently stand, the Mets won't face any of the Giants' aces in Queens.

The Giants are set to start Sammy Long (5.72 ERA/1.27 WHIP) on Tuesday, Johnny Cueto (3.89 ERA, 1.28 WHIP) on Wednesday, and Alex Wood (4.11 ERA, 1.22 WHIP) on Thursday.

Can Mets gain ground in NL East?

While the Mets are playing the Giants, the Atlanta Braves will be hosting the Yankees and then facing the Giants and Los Angeles Dodgers.

Aug 13, 2021; New York City, NY, USA; New York Mets starting pitcher Tylor Megill (38) pitches against the Los Angeles Dodgers during the second inning at Citi Field.
Aug 13, 2021; New York City, NY, USA; New York Mets starting pitcher Tylor Megill (38) pitches against the Los Angeles Dodgers during the second inning at Citi Field.

Eleven of Atlanta's last 13 wins have come against the Miami Marlins, Washington Nationals, and Baltimore Orioles, with the other two coming against the Cincinnati Reds.

The Braves lost to the Yankees on Monday night and wrap up that two-game set on Tuesday.

The Philadelphia Phillies face the Tampa Bay Rays this week before another series against the Arizona Diamondbacks, who swept Philly last week.

Pete Alonso is on fire

Alonso is scorching hot, riding a nine-game hitting streak and with seven hits in his last 19 at-bats -- including a pair of home runs.

He is three homers away from reaching 100 home runs for his career. And if Alonso reaches the 100-homer mark at any point in his next 22 games, he will become the second-fastest player ever to reach 100 homers. The fastest was Ryan Howard, who accomplished the feat in 325 games.

Can lockdown bullpen keep it up?

Edwin Diaz, Aaron Loup, Seth Lugo, Trevor May, and Jeurys Familia have been close to automatic lately, and the Mets will need their top relievers to keep it going against the best team in baseball.

Diaz hasn't allowed a run since Aug. 6, Loup is unscored upon since July 4 (!), and Lugo has allowed two base runners over his last six appearances while holding the opposition scoreless since Aug. 3.