5 things to watch as Mets and Yankees play Subway Series in the Bronx

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Francisco Lindor, Pete Alonso, Aaron Judge, Gary Sanchez TREATED ART
Francisco Lindor, Pete Alonso, Aaron Judge, Gary Sanchez TREATED ART

The Mets and Yankees play the first installment of this year's Subway Series when they face off for three games in the Bronx beginning on Friday.

Here are five things to watch...

Yankee Stadium = more Mets offense?

The Mets entered their series against the Braves earlier this week having averaged fewer than 2.5 runs per game over their last two weeks or so. They performed only marginally better against Atlanta, scoring nine runs total in the three-game set.

Could the inviting right field porch (and left field porch and right center field porch) at Yankee Stadium help?

In order for it to help, the Mets will have to start hitting balls in the air with more authority than they have been.

But there have been some promising signs lately, including Dominic Smith's two home runs on Thursday, Pete Alonso's recent power display, and Francisco Lindor's solid month of June.

Gerrit Cole vs. the Mets

The Yankees will miss Jacob deGrom, who pitched on Thursday night, but the Mets will not be as fortunate when it comes to Cole.

Cole is set to pitch against Marcus Stroman on Saturday, in what will be his first start after getting lit up for six runs (five earned) on eight hits in 5.0 innings against the Boston Red Sox on June 27.

Cole, who has been under the microscope during his last couple of starts after the sticky substance crackdown, will almost certainly be out for blood on Saturday. And that could be bad news for a Mets team that has struggled to put any kind of consistency together at the plate.

The return of Brandon Nimmo

This isn't the first time we've teased the possible return of Brandon Nimmo in one of these preview pieces, but it seems like it really will happen this time.

Nimmo, who had initially been expected to return this past Tuesday against the Braves, had that timeline pushed back in order to get him some more at-bats during his rehab assignment with Triple-A Syracuse.

Apr 5, 2021; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; New York Mets outfielder Brandon Nimmo (9) reacts after hitting a single in the fourth inning against the Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park.
Apr 5, 2021; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; New York Mets outfielder Brandon Nimmo (9) reacts after hitting a single in the fourth inning against the Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park.

The expectation (yes, we've been here before) is that Nimmo will return during the Yankees series.

That could be a nuisance for the Yanks and a boon for the Mets, who are in dire need of their leadoff hitter -- especially with Jeff McNeil's struggles at the plate worsening and Michael Conforto still in a funk.

Tylor Megill on Sunday night

Megill's first two big league starts have been strong, and he's shown poise during both of them.

And on Sunday night, he'll be on the big stage at Yankee Stadium and in front of a national TV audience.

After his second start, Megill said he didn't have the jitters he had during his debut, and there has been no indication that he isn't ready for the pressure that comes with being a big leaguer in New York City.

The Yanks have not yet announced a starter for Sunday night.

The NL East and AL East races

The Mets carry a 2.0 game lead in the NL East into the start of the Subway Series, while the Yankees trail the Boston Red Sox by 9.0 games for first place in the AL East (and trail the Tampa Bay Rays and Oakland Athletics by 5.0 games for one of the two Wild Card spots).

Things have gotten tight for the Mets, who have been bombarded by doubleheaders over the last few weeks as their offense has struggled, and have seen their lead in the division shrink due to the Washington Nationals winning 14 of their last 18 games.

A bad weekend for the Mets in the Bronx could put their status atop the division in perilous shape.

As far as the Yankees, a bad weekend for them and a good one for the Sox could leave the Bombers dangerously close to being done for in the division and having to put all their eggs in the Wild Card basket.