New York Mets (49-46, second place/NL East) at Los Angeles Dodgers (50-45, fourth place/NL West)
Thursday: Hisanori Takahashi (7-4, 4.69) vs. Hiroki Kuroda (7-8, 3.74)
Friday: Johan Santana (7-5, 2.87) vs. Vincente Padilla (4-2, 3.65)
Saturday: Mike Pelfrey (10-5, 4.01) vs. TBA
Sunday: R.A. Dickey (6-4, 2.73) vs. TBA
The Mets will use four pitchers in this series with something to prove, and hopefully each one of them is able to do just that, because this is a series the Mets NEED to do well in.
Takahashi’s starting slot is at risk. Whether anyone will say it or not, they can not and will not continue to let him start if he consistently needs to be pulled before the 5th inning. He’s struggled a lot after the first time through the batting order, and he needs to come through tonight as the first step to saving his job.
Johan needs to continue his stretch of excellent pitching. Prove to us all that this isn’t a streak, this is the Johan we’re getting over the next 3-4 years of your contract. Put this team on your back, Johan, we need you to.
Pelfrey has been terrible in his last three starts. He claims he’s healthy, and that he knows the issue. He and Jerry Manuel and Dan Warthen say he just needs to throw his fastball more, the one that sinks, the one that gets compared to a bowling ball. So, show us. Let’s see the Big Pelf that got snubbed from the All-Star Game, not the Big Pelf that can’t reach the 5th inning.
R.A. Dickey has had to prove himself every time out this season, and Sunday will be no different. Most baseball fans, including Mets fans don’t believe Dickey can be as good as he has been. I don’t know if he’ll maintain his sub-3 ERA for an entire season (or ever again), but if he can give the team another good start, maybe THIS TIME they’ll win for him.
The Dodgers offense has been somewhat inconsistent. They have averaged a little over 4.5 runs per game, have the 2nd best team Batting Average in the NL, and have the 5th most walks and 5th best On Base Percentage as well. They do NOT hit for power, having fewer Home Runs than every NL team except the Astros and the Pirates. They do have good team speed, having the 4th most stolen bases in the league. Overall, the Dodgers are a good offensive team without much power. The thing the Mets pitchers need to do is keep runners off base, because once they get on, the Dodgers can run, and they can score. Biggest hitter to watch out for is Andre Ethier. He’s hitting .310 with 16 Home Runs, and had 6 walkoff hits last season alone. He’s clutch, and he’s a major offensive threat, Mets pitchers have to minimize his impact on the series.
Dodgers pitching has also been pretty good. They have allowed the 6th fewest Home Runs in the National League, and have the 4th most strikeouts. They also have the 6th most walks, so they will put baserunners on at times. The Mets hitters need to take advantage of situations with runners on base, or else they WILL be frustrated. The Dodgers’ Closer Jonathan Broxton has blown just 3 saves all year, but has an ERA just above 3. He has not been unhittable, but he tends to get the job done when the Dodgers have a lead. He surrenders about a hit per inning, doesn’t walk many, and doesn’t give up Home Runs. Personally, our goal should be to avoid letting him enter the game with a Dodger lead. Most of the rest of the Dodger bullpen is up and down. They have a few relievers with ERA’s over 5, and a few that have been more effective. Biggest reliever to look out for is definitely Hong-Chih Kuo. Kuo was an NL All-Star, and has an ERA of just 0.89. However, as mentioned on the Mets broadcast last night, he has had 4 elbow surgeries, and at least one shoulder cleanup, and as such, the Dodgers will not let him pitch on back to back days. Kuo is good, and has not given up a hit to a lefthanded batter as the Dodgers’ 8th inning man, but if he can’t pitch on consecutive days, the Mets may have an opportunity to take advantage of the otherwise average Dodgers bullpen.
Random Mets vs. Dodgers Memory
The moment I started writing this post, I knew what game I was going to reference here. The last game I can remember the Mets playing in Chavez Ravine. I’m sure most of you remember it too, even though we have all tried to forget it. I’ll avoid a recap, and just give the bare details of why this game will never be forgotten:
* Tim Redding actually pitched well
* The Mets and their miserable looking lineup managed to tie the game in teh 8th
* The bullpen (including JJ Putz before he went to the DL) pitched well
* Ryan Church scored the winning run in the top of the 11th missed third base and cost the Mets a chance at victory
* The Mets committed 5 errors during the game
* Carlos Beltran and Angel Pagan watched an easy fly ball fall between them in the 11th, moving the winning run to third base
* With a 5 man infield and the bases loaded, Orlando Hudson hit the double play grounder the Mets were looking for. Unfortunately, he hit it to an outfielder playing first base, and Jeremy Reed threw the ball away. 5 errors. A missed base. A loss.
I’d like to say that I think the Mets will go and avenge the misery of that loss that hasn’t really faded, but the team really needs to prove that they have a burning desire to win right now. They need this series, but they have to take it one game at a time. So, for tonight, Let’s go Hisanori Takahashi (H-Tak), and…
Let’s Go Mets!