The (32-33) New York Mets are traveling from Flushing to the Bronx to face the (40-24) New York Yankees in the latest iteration of the iconic Subway Series (Game 1 – today, 7:05 PM ET Monday).
On June 16th, 1997, nearly 22 years ago to the day, the Mets and Yankees met for the first time in what has since been named, the “Subway Series,” due to the proximity of the two teams from each other. While both teams had been around much longer, MLB didn’t introduce interleague play until the late 90s, thus only allowing the American League Yankees and National League Mets to meet in exhibition games to that point. In 1997, with interleague play in full force, the Mets and Yankees met at Yankee Stadium for the first time. The game was won by the Mets, 6-0.
Over the course of the 22-year series, the Mets and Yankees have played each other in at least one series for each of those years. In all, 118 games have been contested in the Subway Series, with the Yankees holding the edge, 69-49. The two teams also met in the World Series once, in 2000, with the Yankees defeating their interstate rivals, 4-1.
Outside of the Boston Red Sox, the Mets are the Yankees’ biggest rivals and as far as interleague play goes, the Mets/Yankees rivalry has often been regarded as one of the best of all AL/NL pairings. And right now, both teams are once again playing at a top-level of competitiveness, making the series and its games that much more exciting and entertaining to watch.
Probable Pitchers – (NYM) Jason Vargas vs (NYY) Masahiro Tanaka
When the 2019 MLB season began, the 30-year-old Masahiro Tanaka was pitching as well as anyone in baseball, owning a 2.15 ERA in his first five starts. Meanwhile the lefty, Jason Vargas, was not pitching well at all and after a handful of starts and a 14.21 ERA, almost found himself demoted to the minor leagues. Entering this series, the tides have shifted a bit for these two veteran arms. Tanaka, following a brief paternity leave, has given up eight earned runs in his most recent 12 innings pitched. Vargas on the other hand, owns a pristine and MLB-best 1.85 ERA in his last seven outings, including a complete game shut-out in his most recent start.
So, who has the edge in this one? The first thing that is always worth looking at is how each team’s hitters bat statistically over the course of their careers against each pitcher. With both Vargas and Tanaka being around long enough, it’s not surprising to see several hitters with significant at-bats against both guys.
Yankees hitters, overall, have found much success against Vargas. Of batters with six at-bats or more, three of the four, are hitting over .300. Aaron Hicks, who holds the most at-bats against Vargas with 13, it hitting .308 with one home run and three RBI. Didi Gregorius, who is back in the lineup for NYY after missing the first two months of the season, is hitting a team-high .429 in seven at-bats with a home run and three RBI against Vargas. Tanaka has seemingly found more success against the Mets hitters, with only Carlos Gomez and Adeiny Hechavarria hitting over .300 while having at least five at-bats. On paper, it seems the early edge would go to Tanaka.
Vargas is the hottest, most dominant pitcher in baseball right now and that’s definitely worth something. It’s also worth noting however, that Vargas hasn’t always pitched well against the Yankees, holding an 8.10 ERA against them and a 4.50 ERA at Yankee Stadium in the last three years (2016-18). Tanaka, in the same timeframe, has a 5.56 ERA against the Mets and 3.69 ERA at Yankee Stadium. This year, his ERA is 3.02 at home.
Tale of the Tape
Beyond just the two starting pitchers who will be on the mound for today’s game, here is how the rest of the pitching and offensive lineups stack up:
The Yankees are better than the Mets in nearly every offensive category including runs scored, home runs (Yankees rank fifth highest in MLB), RBI, batting average and OPS. The Mets have more hits however, as well as doubles and triples. On the mound, the Yankees hold the edge as well. NYY has a 3.91 ERA overall compared to 4.47 for the Mets. The Yankees also have more saves, have allowed less walks and hold an MLB-top 5 .235 batting average against. The Mets, unsurprisingly have more strikeouts given their power arms. They also have one more shut out than the Yankees with four to NYY’s three.
While these stats are relevant, what is even more relevant is what the teams are going through now. The Yankees have been bit hard by the injury bug, 21 times in the first two months of the season to be exact. It has affected the bullpen, it’s affected the starting staff, it’s affected the lineup. Yet the Yankees have still managed to sit atop the AL East, doing so with the fourth best record in baseball. The Yankees, to this point, have managed to overcome their ails, but they may be starting to take their toll nevertheless. Even a team with as much depth as NYY is going to feel it at some point. Coming home could be a nice respite but the Mets have been playing well and won’t go away easily, especially not with Vargas and Zack Wheeler, who has been one of the most consistent starters in MLB, on the mound this series.
Our Preview’s New York Mets vs New York Yankees Picks & Predictions Verdict
Odds for tonight’s game favor the Yankees, backed by Tanaka. The runline is 1.5 in favor of the NYY starter, with the Yankees given -194 to win the game. The run total is set at 9.5. Here are our Mets at Yankees predictions for this preview: