Category Archives: Game/Series Previews

Last Chance

The Mets head on a road trip today that will last 7 games against the only two NL teams with worse offenses than the Mets themselves.  Facing Houston for 4 games and Pittsburgh for 3 gives the Mets a slight chance of crawling back in the direction of the wild card race, perhaps.  After the road trip, the Mets then play 6 games again the Marlins and Astros.  With 13 straight games against teams worse than they are, the Mets have an opportunity.

The Mets turn Jon Niese tonight knowing that the more they waste these opportunities (see: Arizona series, road trip vs Atlanta and Philly, etc), the less likely it is that they can match the talk coming from the front office and the players that “it’s not over”.

Once again, the Mets have a chance to right themselves.  The offense needs to come alive, starting with David Wright and Carlos Beltran.  Neither have been the offensive stars they can be since the All-Star Break, and neither has been particularly effective recently.  Ike Davis has struggled, and the offense as a whole needs a spark.  The pitching has been outstanding, and that needs to continue.  But, unless both the hitter, and pitching come alive (and the fielding improves), there’s no way the Mets can claim to be alive, let alone a serious contender.

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Mets vs. Phillies 8/13-8/15

New York Mets (57-57, fourth place/NL East) vs. Philadelphia Phillies (64-50, second place/NL East)

Probable Pitchers

Friday: R.A. Dickey (7-5,2.65) vs Cole Hamels (7-8, 3.45)
Saturday: Pat Misch (11-4, 3.23 in AAA) vs Roy Halladay (14-8, 2.34)
Sunday:  Mike Pelfrey (11-6, 3.95) vs Kyle Kendrick (7-5, 4.60)

Series Outlook

The Mets have managed to hang by a thread onto their hopes to be in contention.  While almost no Met fans actually believe the team will compete, there have been bigger comebacks both happy and miserable (1969 Mets, 2007 Phillies, etc.)  They won their series against the Rockies, and after this Phillies series, the Mets have 13 games against the Astros, Pirates, and Marlins, all of whom have been worse than the Mets.

If the Mets can win (or even better sweep) this series, they can maybe pull themselves into a race, or at least fool us fans into thinking they are in it.  The pitching matchups seem to favor the Phillies, and with K-Rod unavailable for at least tonight’s game if not the whole series, the Mets may have trouble winning this series.

The Mets have thrown 17 shutouts this season, 3 of which came in consecutive games against the Phils in late May.  The pitching, led by Johan Santana, R.A. Dickey, and first half-Mike Pelfrey, has buoyed the inconsistent offense, and the Mets need that to continue.

Hopefully David Wright, Carlos Beltran, and the rest of the offense can get back to how good we know they are and give the pitching some more leeway.  Wright got the day off yesterday, and should come back today well rested.  Jose Reyes has started to run more, and is starting to look like the Reyes of old.  If anything, the Mets probably won’t compete this year, but this naive fan is starting to believe they might in 2011…

Let’s Go Mets!

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Mets vs Phillies 8/6-8/8: Manuel’s Last Stand?

New York Mets (54-54, third place/NL East) at Philadelphia Phillies (60-48, second place/NL East)

Probable Pitchers:

Friday: Jon Niese (7-5, 3.78) vs Joe Blanton (4-6, 5.86)
Saturday: Johan Santana (8-6, 3.20) vs Cole Hamels (7-7, 3.56)
Sunday: R.A. Dickey (7-4, 2.36) vs Roy Halladay (13-8, 2.17)

Series Outlook

After losing the series this week to the first place Braves, the Mets are in bad shape.  They need to win, and they need to win now, or else they’ll be arranging tee times before the end of August.  While there are still at least 10 reasons to be happy (according to Jason Fry), it is far from easy to accept that the 2010 season for the Mets is likely over in terms of contending.  I mean, did anyone expect the key matchup in an August Mets/Phillies game to be Roy Halladay vs R.A. Dickey?!?

The Mets have not played well since the homestand against the Twins and Tigers at the end of June.  Mike Pelfrey has completely fallen apart, the hitting has not been there, and the fielding is starting to take a hit.  Perhaps this is the team that the Mets were all year, and they simply overachieved for the first half…but can the Mets be THIS bad?

Probably not.  The Mets have looked terrible since the All-Star Break, but I think that this team actually lies somewhere between the 10 games over .500 we saw in June and the .500 team that they are now.  In reality, most people pegged the Mets as a 78-82 win team, and that’s likely what they will be.  Coming into the season, I expected 80-85 wins, and I expect they will be in that vicinity come October.

I do think that between now and next March the Mets need to shake things up if they want to win.  Oliver Perez, Luis Castillo, and Jeff Francoeur must be let go.  These players have drained the life force from the Mets all season, and they cannot be allowed to have this same negative impact on a season that might matter next year.  Francoeur is a perfect non-tender candidate, and will likely be let go.  As for Castillo, it was just 4 years ago that the Mets traded a 2B who many thought was overpaid and untradeable in Kazuo Matsui.  Will the Mets make a move, I don’t know, but they’d be best served getting Luis and his balky knees off of the roster.  Ollie will be the toughest to swap with another team, but if that proves impossible, the Mets need to understand that that money is spent whether he pitches or not, and the Mets will be better if he doesn’t pitch for them.

Jerry Manuel, nice a guy as I’m sure he is, must be gone.  Whether it’s his style or his strategy, Jerry is not working out as Mets manager.  It’s unlikely that losing this series to Philadelphia will result in Jerry’s firing, but a poor showing could certainly be the first step towards him becoming a lame duck.  I hope the Mets win, and I hope that they go on an extended hot streak that carries them into October, but realism says that that is extremely unlikely.  The lone bright spot is that once this series (and the Mets playoff hopes) are over, the team can hopefully start working on 2011.

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Mets vs Diamondbacks 7/30-8/1: Looking For Revenge

New York Mets (52-50, third place/NL East) vs. Arizona Diamondbacks (37-65, fifth place/NL West)

Friday: Mike Pelfrey (10-5, 4.00) vs Ian Kennedy (5-8, 4.10)
Saturday: Hisanori Takahashi (7-5, 4.52) vs Barry Enright (2-2, 2.73)
Sunday: Jon Niese (7-4, 3.43) vs Rodrigo Lopez (5-9, 4.68)

Series Outlook

The Diamondbacks, as I previewed about a week ago, are just not a very good team.  They do not hit or pitch well, their bullpen is worse than the 2008 Mets, and their offense strikes out as much as a 28 year old pokemon fan who still lives with his parents.  Sure, they can hit Home Runs, but that requires guys like Mark Reynolds to actually make contact.

The Diamondbacks do not throw any imposing pitchers in this series, unless you count rookie Barry Enright, who shut the Mets down just last week.  Additionally, despite the fact that the Mets were swept at the hands of these very Diamondbacks just a week ago, the pathetic Diamondbacks are a respectable 24-29 at home, and just 13-36 on the road.  The Mets on the other hand are 20-33 on the road, but 32-17 at Citi Field.  The Mets have the overall pitching matchup advantage, have a better bullpen, and are the hometeam in the series.  All of that seems to be in the Mets’ favor, which is good, because this is a series (leading up to the Philly/Atlanta roadtrip) that the Mets can’t afford to lose.

The Diamondbacks are 3-7 in their last 10, yes, with all 3 wins against the Mets.  The Mets, meanwhile are 6.5 games out of the NL East lead and 5.5 out of the wild card.  The team is managing to hang on, and the opportunity to play a relatively lousy team at home should only help them climb closer (I hope).

Random Mets vs. Diamondbacks Memory

Only one Mets/Diamondbacks memory immediately comes to mind.  It was 1999, the Mets were a win away from winning the NLDS, and everything was peachy…except for Mike Piazza’s thumb.  Because of the injury, light-hitting backup Todd Pratt started the game at catcher.  Al Leiter pitched well into the 8th inning, and it seemed like an Edgardo Alfonzo solo Home Run and a Benny Agbayani RBI Double would be enough to carry the Mets to the NLCS.  Unfortunately, Armando Benitez came in and allowed both of Leiter’s baserunners to score, putting the Mets in a 3-2 hole.  Roger Cedeno tied the game in the 8th with a sacrifice fly, and in the 10th (after a shutout inning of work each from Benitez and John Franco), Todd Pratt was the second batter of the inning.

Pratt came to the plate against tough D-Backs closer Matt Mantei, leaving most Mets fans expecting the game to continue.  Pratt had other ideas.  He drove a fastball deep to center field.  Gold Glover Steve Finley tracked the ball to the wall, and leaped to steal a possible Home Run…except Finley had taken about one step too far towards the wall.  As he jumped, his shoulder hit the wall a little bit early, keeping him from reaching his maximum height.  His arm still went up and every Met and Diamondback fan held their breath as Finley slid down the wall and looked in his glove

….to find NOTHING! Pratt had homered to win the series for the Mets! One of the greatest Mets walkoff victories…one of the greatest Mets victories in franchise history.

Final Notes

-The Mets do not appear to be looking to make a serious move before the Saturday Trade Deadline, though they may make a waiver trade in August if they stay in the playoff race.

-The Toronto Blue Jays asked the Mets for prospect Kirk Niewenhuis in a deal for lefty reliever Scott Downs, which Omar Minaya turned down.  Good call, I wouldn’t deal a good prospect like Kirk for a lefty reliever.  But in response, I’d agree with Ted Berg’s opinion…if the market for lefty pitchers is that high, perhaps the Mets should try to shop Pedro Feliciano.  He’s replaceable with Raul Valdes, and to get a well regarded prospect for him would be great for the Mets’ future.

The Mets look to get on a hot streak at home with 3 games against Arizona.  Hopefully the pitching continues to look as good as it has over the last few series, and the hitters keep coming through like they did 2 of the last 3 days.

Let’s Go Mets!

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7/23 Mets @ Dodgers: Johan, Jason keep Dodgers at Bay

In desperate need of a win, the Mets sent Johan Santana to the mound last night.  The team was looking for a win anyway they could get it, and Johan was looking to get his 1-2 runs of support and shut down the Dodgers.  Well, for once, the game actually went (somewhat) according to plan.  Johan went 7 strong innings, allowing just 1 run, and probably suffered a stroke when the Mets put up 6 runs of support for him.  “I Like Ike” Davis hit his 14th Home Run of the season, Carlos Beltran made a beautiful sliding catch, Angel Pagan made two outstanding catches, and Jason Bay made one of his own, slamming face-first into the metal part of the outfield fence, Aaron Rowand style.

Bay somehow holds on for the out

Luckily, Bay was healthy enough to stay in the game and deliver a 3 run double in the 8th inning to provide insurance for K-Rod in the 9th.

Hopefully this was a turnaround game for Bay, and we get to see him get on a hot streak for a while now, because his bat has been relatively non-existent for much of the season.  It was also nice to see Johan put up another stellar outing, proving he still is the ace that we’ve always known.  He struggled for a while when he seemed to be tipping his changeup, but that is solved, and he’s given up just 3 runs in his last 38 innings.

Jerry Manuel was ejected in the 2nd inning, arguing a poor call by Doug Eddings, calling Luis Castillo out on a bang bang play (where Castillo was safe).  Perhaps bench coach Dave Jauss should manage every day.  That play, however, may have been a make up for the Mets’ first run.  In the first inning, with Castillo on first, Jose Reyes on third, and David Wright batting with one out, Castillo broke for second as Wright struck out.  The throw beat Luis by 5-10 feet, but the Dodgers second baseman simply dropped the ball (despite Castillo failing to slide).  Reyes broke on the catcher’s throw, and managed to score on the drop.

Player of the Game: Jason Bay for his 3 run double that broke the game open, and his spectacular catch (and not getting hurt making it)

Mets Rumors

-The Kansas City Royals were rumored to have been interested in Jeff Francoeur, and now, their star outfielder David DeJesus is injured and out for the season.  Perhaps this will make them more desperate to trade for Frenchy?

-Ted Lilly could be traded sooner than later, and the Mets are one of the teams rumored to be most interested in the lefty.  If they don’t have to give up much in the form of talent, I’m accepting of trading for Lilly, as he is a type A Free Agent, and would give us two draft picks if he doesn’t return next season.

-John Maine underwent arthroscopic shoulder surgery yesterday to clean up scar tissue.  His season is over, and most likely, he will be non-tendered at the end of the season, ending his Mets career.

Today’s Game

The Mets will take the field at 4pm this afternoon, Mike Pelfrey facing Carlos Monasterios (3-2, 3.61).  Looking to guarantee a series split, the Mets could really use a victory.

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Mets @ Los Angeles Dodgers 7/22-7/25

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

Series Outlook

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

http://newyork.mets.mlb.com/news/wrap.jsp?ymd=20090518&content_id=4804386&vkey=wrapup2005&fext=.jsp&team=away&c_id=nym

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!

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Mets @ Arizona Diamondbacks 7/19-7/21

New York Mets (49-43, second place/NL East) at Arizona Diamondbacks (34-58, fifth place/NL West)

Pitching Matchups

Monday: Mike Pelfrey (10-4, 3.58) vs. Ian Kennedy 4-7, 4.12)

Tuesday: R.A. Dickey (6-3, 2.63) vs. Barry Enright (1-2, 3.45)

Wednesday: Jon Niese (6-4, 3.44) vs. TBA

Note: Pitching Probables from MLB.com

Changes On The Horizon

*Luis Castillo will likely be activated today from his rehab stint, which will likely send Ruben Tejada back to AAA to play everyday.

I actually like this move, I think Tejada has shown that he’s “a ballplayer”, but he needs more time in AAA, more seasoning, to get to the point where he’s a starting player on a contender.  I’m no fan of Castillo and Cora, but for the sake of the future, this is the right move.  The other option is to send down Justin Turner…but the problem I have with that is that you’re sitting Tejada on the bench and risking stunting his growth as a player.

*Josh Thole will reportedly catch R.A. Dickey on Tuesday, and then be sent back to the minors.

This move, I’m unsure of.  Thole has produced more than anyone expected, but the fact is, offensively the Mets are getting nothing out of Barajas and Blanco.  As long as Thole keeps up the success, I’d keep him in the majors, and maybe even play him 4 games a week.

*Oliver Perez will be (unfortunately) re-joining the team before the end of the road trip.  He will apparently be in the dugout tonight, but it is unknown if he will be activated yet.  When he is, I imagine the team would send down either Turner or Tejada(whoever they already hadn’t), in order to keep the extra pitcher (Valdes) in the bullpen.

*Jose Reyes is expected to return to the lineup tonight.

There’s really not much to say here, this is huge for the Mets, and hopefully he is coming back HEALTHY.

Series Outlook

The Mets throw 3 pitchers in this series who have been very successful all year.  Big Pelf, Dickey, and Niese have been far better than anyone imagined (outside of Pelfrey’s last 3 starts).  The key to this series going as well as the Mets need it to is having Pelfrey pitch well tonight.  If he pitches well, and we win our 2nd game in a row, we can probably win this series.  If he pitches like he did just before the All-Star Break, and the Mets lose, we may see the team fall apart over the rest of this roadtrip (and the tough schedule with the Cardinals, Phillies, and Braves coming up).

The Diamondbacks have scored 4.5 runs per game this season, and have allowed nearly 6 runs per game.  Their batters have struck out 846 times this season, most in the Majors.  By comparison, the Florida Marlins have the second most K’s in the Majors, and are 125 behind Arizona.  Arizona has however hit the 6th most Home Runs in the Major Leagues, and can be a dangerous offensive team when guys like Mark Reynolds and Chris Young get on a roll.  They’re also below the league average in On Base Percentage, and have the 6th worst team Batting Average in the MLB.

The Arizona pitching hasn’t been very good either.  Their bullpen is considered one of the worst in the MLB with Chad Qualls and Aaron “Sour Face” Heilman getting most of the Save Opportunities.  They have the highest team ERA, have allowed the most Home Runs, and have walked the 5th most batters in all of baseball.  Overall, the Diamondbacks just aren’t very good.

The Mets certainly struggle on the road, but they need to handle this series the way they handled their Baltimore/Cleveland road trip.  These are games against teams that you cannot afford to lose to.  Pelf, Dickey and Niese should be capable of at least keeping the Mets in every game in the series, and even the Mets anemic offense should be able to score off the horrendous pitching staff of the D-Backs.  Plus, the Mets always seem to perform well in Arizona, from “Super” Joe McEwing against Randy Johnson, to Mike Jacobs hitting 3 Home Runs in 3 games, Chase Field has been kind to the Mets.  Let’s hope that continues.

Let’s Go Mets!

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