5 things to watch as Mets head home for three-game set with Cubs

New York Mets shortstop Francisco Lindor (12) is congratulated by New York Mets second baseman Jeff McNeil (1) for hitting a home run against the Chicago Cubs during the ninth inning at Citi Field

Here are five things to watch as the Mets return home to Citi Field for a three-game set with the red hot Chicago Cubs starting on Monday at 7:10 p.m. on SNY.

1. McNeil’s slowly turning things around

Not much has gone right for the Mets over the past two weeks but one good sign is Jeff McNeil has looked more like himself at the plate.

He went hitless in two of the three games in Baltimore but was able to put together a 2-for-4 performance on Saturday night. He launched a two-run homer and picked up an RBI double, driving in all three of the Mets’ runs.

For McNeil, it was his fourth home run of the season and his first since June 11 against the Pirates. He’s not up to a .257 average and .659 OPS with 22 extra-base hits and 37 RBI through 110 games.

While he’s still not where the Mets need him to be, McNeil is hitting .288 over his last 15 games. He’s also produced a .354 on-base percentage and .861 OPS with nine RBI over that span.

Getting the former batting champ back to his regular form would be a huge boost for the Mets heading into next season.

2. Lindor’s settling into a groove

McNeil’s not the only Mets that’s been heating up at the plate. The second baseman’s double-play partner, Francisco Lindor, has also been red hot with the bat of late.

The star shortstop has hits in all but one game during the month of August and he’s hitting a scorching .316 with a .391 OBP over his last 15 games. Lindor has also produced three homers, eight RBI, and four stolen bases over that span.

Looking at things even further, he has 12 homers, 29 RBI, and a .938 OPS over his last 50 games.

Despite being snubbed at the All-Star game, Lindor has absolutely been one of the top shortstops in baseball this season. He remains among the tops of the leaderboards at the position in almost every category.

Lindor’s now hitting .241 with a .798 OPS, two triples, 25 doubles, 22 homers, 69 RBI, and 18 stolen bases on the year. Him and McNeil will look to keep things going this week back at home against the Cubs.

Jul 15, 2023; New York City, New York, USA; New York Mets starting pitcher Kodai Senga (34) pitches against the Los Angeles Dodgers during the second inning at Citi Field.

3. Can Senga be the stopper?

The Mets need someone to step up and put this six-game losing streak to an end. They are certainly hoping that will be Kodai Senga when he takes the ball in the series opener Monday night against the Cubs at Citi Field.

Senga is coming off a rough start in which he allowed three runs on a season-high 11 hits while striking out six against the Orioles. He held them to nine singles but it was enough damage to hand him his sixth loss of the year.

The All-Star right-hander now has a 3.25 ERA, 1.29 WHIP, and 136 strikeouts through 20 starts this season. He has fared better back home at Citi Field, posting a stellar 2.40 ERA at the ballpark.

When Senga faced the Cubs earlier this season at Wrigley Field, he issued five walks (which is tied for his career-high) and allowed three runs on six hits while striking out six in a 4-2 Mets loss.

With Justin Verlander and Max Scherzer out the door, Senga is officially now the ace of this Mets rotation. They’ll need him to step up and pitch like one tonight as they hope to bring the long losing streak to an end.

4. The red hot Cubs

Just a few weeks prior to the deadline, the Mets and the Cubs were in a very similar situation. Both teams were on the outside looking in at a Wild Card spot, but weren’t all too far off from making a run.

While the Mets began trending in the wrong direction and decided to sell, the Cubs went the other way. Chicago turned things around completely and clawed their way right back into the thick of things.

With their series win over the Braves this weekend, they’ve now won seven of their last ten and six consecutive series. Their surging offense has been leading the way with the most runs in baseball scored since the All-Star break (164).

Cody Bellinger is right in the thick of things with a resurgent season at the plate. He’s hitting a scorching .326 with 18 doubles, 16 homers, 53 RBI, and a .925 OPS through 81 games this season.

The Cubs took two out of three when these teams faced off earlier this season at Wrigley. With them red hot and the Mets ice cold, we'll see what happens this time around.

We'll see what happens this time around.

5. Peterson looks to build off strong shortened start

David Peterson looked strong in his return to the big-league rotation.

The left-hander, still not fully stretched out, lasted just three innings and threw 53 pitches. He was extremely effective though, allowing just one hit and three walks while striking out one in a scoreless effort.

He’s now allowed just two earned runs while striking out nine across 11 innings of work for a strong 1.54 ERA in his last seven appearances. After a stint in Triple-A and trip to the bullpen, Peterson has looked much more confident and comfortable.

With Scherzer and Verlander gone, it presents a huge opportunity for him and Tylor Megill over the final two months of the season. If Peterson can pitch well it would be huge boost heading into next year.

He’ll look to build off his strong abbreviated start when he takes the ball in the series finale against Kyle Hendricks (4-6, 4.09 ERA) on Wednesday at 7:10 pm. on SNY.