5 things to watch as Mets and Twins play three-game series in Minnesota

Kodai Senga
Kodai Senga / Mark J. Rebilas - USA TODAY Sports

Here are five things to watch when the Mets and Twins play a three-game series in Minnesota starting on Friday...

Spectacular Kodai Senga

If not for the tremendous season Corbin Carroll is having for the Arizona Diamondbacks, Senga -- who starts Friday's series-opener -- would be running away with the National League Rookie of the Year award. Alas, he'll likely have to settle for second place in that voting along with lots of votes for the Cy Young award.

Senga's ascension in his first season in the majors -- as he gets used to a new country, new league, new ball, and new schedule -- has been remarkable, and he's been absolutely locked in over his last 10 starts, with a 2.48 ERA (2.79 FIP) in 61.2 innings, allowing just four homers and 20 walks during that span while striking out 75.

Just as impressive as Senga's ability to miss bats and keep runs off the board has been the improvement he's made when it comes to bases on balls.

After walking four or more batters in seven of his first 15 starts, Senga has not walked more than three batters in any of his last 10 -- limiting the walks to one or two in eight of those games.

Is Francisco Alvarez coming out of it?

Alvarez was sizzling in July and equally cold in August, but he seems to be turning the corner.

The rookie has hits in each of his last three starts, including a big night on Tuesday against the Nationals in Washington where he went 2-for-3 with a mammoth three-run homer and a walk.

The Mets have been watching Alvarez's workload, with the team splitting time behind the plate more evenly between Alvarez and Omar Narvaez lately. Alvarez has played 109 games so far this season after playing a career-high 112 games in 2022.

Ronny Mauricio looks to stay hot

Mauricio has been a force at the plate over his first five big league games, with hits in each one, and has played flawless defense at second base. 

Overall at the plate, he has gone 8-for-19 while slashing .421/.421/.474, with three stolen bases without being caught.

The switch-hitting Mauricio, who has mostly pulled the ball when batting lefty, is making loud contact, with a hard hit percentage of 50 percent, an average exit velocity of 92.3 mph, and a max exit velocity of 117.3 -- which was the double he stung to right field for his first big league hit.

Can David Peterson and Tylor Megill make an impression?

The Mets have just two locks for the 2024 starting rotation -- Senga and Jose Quintana. Beyond that, everything is up in the air, though GM Billy Eppler has said numerous times that the team will dip into free agency to help fill out the rotation.

No matter who the Mets add during the offseason, Peterson and Megill will likely be counted on as either key depth pieces or options for the No. 5 spot in the rotation entering next season.

But Peterson (starting on Saturday) and Megill (starting on Sunday) haven't done much to impress since returning to the rotation in August.

Peterson has eclipsed four innings just once in six starts, and Megill has a 5.52 ERA in his six starts.

The standings (no, not those)

The Mets' Wild Card hopes sailed when they waved the white flag at the trade deadline, and the best outcome for them now would be finishing with one of the worst records in MLB -- which would give them a better chance of receiving a top-six pick in the 2024 MLB Draft.

A lottery will determine which team picks where, and the Mets' chances of nabbing one of those top-six picks will be higher the worse their record is. If the Mets do not get a top-six pick (which is protected), their pick will drop 10 spots due to the level they've exceeded the luxury tax threshold by.

There are currently eight teams with worse winning percentages than the Mets (64-75).