Blue Jays vs. Mets Series Preview: Bassitt faces Verlander, former team

Toronto Blue Jays starting pitcher Chris Bassitt delivers during the first inning of the team's baseball game against the Houston Astros, Tuesday, April 18, 2023, in Houston. (Eric Christian Smith/AP Photo)

The Toronto Blue Jays will be looking for their third series win in a row when they face the New York Mets this weekend.

Since a 2-9 run against American League East rivals, Toronto has won four of six against the Minnesota Twins and Milwaukee Brewers.

The competition figures to get tougher this weekend in New York against the high-salaried Mets, who seem to be gaining momentum after a so-so start to the season.

Here’s a look at the series.

Probable Pitchers

Friday, 7:10 p.m. ET / 4:10 p.m. PT: Toronto RHP Chris Bassitt (5-4, 3.80 ERA) vs. New York RHP Justin Verlander (2-2, 4.80 ERA)

Saturday, 4:10 p.m. ET / 1:10 p.m. PT: Toronto RHP Jose Berrios (5-4, 3.86 ERA) vs. New York RHP Tylor Megill (5-3, 4.67 ERA)

Sunday, 1:40 p.m. ET / 10:40 a.m. PT: Toronto LHP Yusei Kikuchi (5-2, 4.56 ERA) vs. TBD

All games on Sportsnet and SN NOW.

Latest on the Blue Jays

The Blue Jays (30-27) escaped from the bottom of the AL East standings by taking two of three from the Milwaukee Brewers this week at Rogers Centre.

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Kevin Gausman (6.2 innings, no runs, five hits, 11 strikeouts) pitched a gem in the finale, while Bo Bichette and Matt Chapman provided all the offence with home runs in the first inning, as the Blue Jays won 3-1.

The two-run shot by Chapman on the first day of June could give a boost to the third baseman, whose numbers were well down in May after being named AL player of the month for April. Chapman also had two doubles Wednesday.

Toronto is fourth in the East, 9.5 games behind the division-leading Tampa Bay Rays.

The New York Yankees, who hold the final wild-card spot, are 3.5 games up on Toronto.

Latest on the Mets

The Mets (30-27) are coming off a sweep of the reigning National League-champion Philadelphia Phillies, extending New York’s home win streak to eight games.

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Max Scherzer held the Phillies to one run on five hits and struck out nine in seven innings as the Mets won 4-2 in the finale on Thursday.

Outfielder Mark Canha homered for the second game in a row, giving the Mets the lead for good with a two-run shot off former Blue Jay Taijuan Walker.

The Mets are second in the NL East, 3.5 games behind the Atlanta Braves. New York holds the second wild-card spot in the NL.

Marquee Matchup

The opener sees Bassitt going against his old team. Meanwhile, three-time Cy Young winner Verlander is on the mound for the Mets.

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Traded by the Oakland A’s to the Mets before last season, Bassitt was good for New York, going 15-9 with a 3.42 ERA. But he was roughed up in his final regular-season start against the Atlana Braves, who overtook the Mets for the division title, and also struggled in New York’s playoff ouster by the San Diego Padres in Game 3 of a wild-card series.

The right-hander signed a three-year, $63-million deal with the Blue Jays this off-season.

The 40-year-old Verlander signed a two-year, $86.7-million contract with the Mets after helping the Houston Astros win the World Series last year. He co-anchors the Mets’ rotation with 38-year-old Scherzer.

Verlander missed the first month of the season with a muscle strain near his pitching shoulder, so this will be just his sixth start of the season. He’s coming off his worst performance of the season, giving up six runs on nine hits in five innings in a 10-7 loss against the Colorado Rockies.

Starting Issues

Mets starters Kodai Senga, Carlos Carrasco and Scherzer combined to allow just two earned runs against the Phillies in 20 innings this week.

That’s a step in the right direction for a rotation in which Scherzer (injuries and suspension), Verlander and Jose Quintana (both with injuries) all have missed time.

Quintana hasn’t pitched yet this year after suffering a rib injury in spring training. The Mets are hopeful he’ll be ready next month.

The Blue Jays have their own starting concerns, with Kikuchi and Alek Manoah both huge question marks. They’re also back-to-back in the rotation, which makes it hard to get on much of a winning streak.

Two Big Bats at First

Mets first baseman Pete Alonso leads the majors with 20 home runs.

A two-time All-Star and the NL rookie of the year in 2019, when he led the league with 53 home runs, Alonso already is halfway to his 40-homer 2022 season.

While fellow first baseman Vladimir Guerrero Jr. isn’t putting up Alonso’s kind of numbers this year, the Blue Jays star may be finding his rhythm after a rocky stretch. Guerrero had two loud outs and a single against the Brewers on Thursday to go along with a three-hit game on Tuesday.

Last Time Out

The Blue Jays and Mets most recently squared off in July 2021, when New York won two of three at home.

Megill won the opener with six innings of shutout ball while allowing just two hits.

Up Next

The Blue Jays return home for a four-game series against the Astros.

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