Quick Preview: Mets vs. Phillies

phillies-oldlogoNote: this series has importance.

Game One: Johan Santana (7-3, 2.00 ERA) vs. J.A. Happ (4-0, 2.47 ERA)

Santana has looked more like a mere mortal over his past few starts, but still has been stellar. J.A. / JA Happ still refuses to put a “y” at the end of his first name, but is much improved in comparison to the rookie the Mets saw last year. His WHIP is a Santana-like 0.98 and he has a 1.16 ERA away from Citizens Bank Park. If Happ can keep his cool, this could turn out to be a pitchers’ duel.

Game Two: Mike Pelfrey (4-2, 4.85 ERA) vs. Cole Hamels (4-2, 4.40 ERA)

Big Pelf is coming off the worst start of his career, but I’m not worried — I’m chalking it up to the unusual start time (12:30 PM) and being due for a bad game. Hamels has struggled all spring with a nagging injuries to his ankle and arm, and is not the lights-out guy he was last year. That said, and with Pelfrey looking great prior to his last outing, suggests that this will be a more even matchup than one might expect.

Game Three: Tim Redding (0-2, 6.97 ERA) vs. Jamie Moyer (4-5, 6.27 ERA)

The finale pits two struggling veterans who offer no clue as to how this game might turn out. Redding is coming off one of his two best performances of the season, but nonetheless seemed ever on the brink of disaster. Moyer was awful in April and May, but was very good in his last two outings, allowing a combined 3 runs on 7 hits and no walks in 13 innings against the Dodgers and Nationals. What worries me is Moyer’s remarkable ability to pull a gem of a game out of nowhere … one of those games that has a quick but uneventful rhythm, where before you know it, it’s the 8th inning and the Mets are down 2-1. The expanse of Citi Field will contain the fly balls of Howard, Utley, etc., but what concerns me more is the Phillies’ ability to put the bat on the ball against Redding, who has not been hurt by the long ball but rather a multitude of line drives and grounders that find holes.

Closing Thoughts

Much is being made of the fact that the Phils are sending three lefties to the mound in this series, but I don’t see it as a major issue one way or the other — if anything, it means that Gary Sheffield will be somewhere in the middle of the lineup, and that’s a good thing for the Mets.

The Phillies are coming off a four-game split Los Angeles, one that could have been a sweep for Philly had closer Brad Lidge not blown the middle two games in heartbreaking, emotionally draining fashion. Lidge’s confidence is visibly shaken, and he’s leaving fat, flat sliders over middle of the plate, and his ERA has swelled to 7.27. In many ways, he resembles the pitcher Houston couldn’t wait to get rid of in 20006-2007, and Charlie Manuel may elect to defer to Ryan Madson in a ninth-inning save situation. If Lidge does remain the closer, this series could be a turning point one way or another for veteran righthander.

More good news for the Mets is that Jimmy Rollins is still struggling — mightily. He’s hitting only .222 with a .261 OBP and is sinking further and further down the lineup. It’s gotten to the point that Eric Bruntlett is taking at-bats from him.

Thus far this year, the Phillies’ success has been due to solid starting pitching, but Brad Lidge has singlehandedly removed that factor from the equation recently. The pitching matchups look pretty even on paper, and if Lidge continues to struggle, the Mets have a definite edge, particularly if these games are as low-scoring as I suspect. Considering the players missing from Mets’ roster, they’re running into the Phillies at a good time, in the right place.


Joe Janish began MetsToday in 2005 to provide the unique perspective of a high-level player and coach -- he earned NCAA D-1 All-American honors as a catcher and coached several players who went on to play pro ball. As a result his posts often include mechanical evaluations, scout-like analysis, and opinions that go beyond the numbers. Follow Joe's baseball tips on Twitter at @onbaseball and at the On Baseball Google Plus page.
  1. isuzudude June 9, 2009 at 2:14 pm
    There are three main things I’m keeping an eye on in this series:
    1. As promised, I’m going to log, as best I can, the GBIPI and GBOOPI for each team in these contests, with the goal in mind of seeing if the Phillies are better at hustling and being gritty than the Mets, and if that’s the reason why they have been so much more successful over the past 2+ seasons. I’ll give it a test run tonight and see how it goes.
    2. I want to see if CitiField is going to contain the big-bashers in the Philly lineup. I would imagine the Mets could take full advantage of their home field confines, in this series and in years to come, if they concentrate more on line drives and heady base running, while the Phillies try to hit the long ball in every scoring opportunity just to have everything caught at the warning track. If all goes according to plan, then the bellyachers complaining about the lack of home runs at Citi should shut their yap and start thinking more of how the Mets could build their team around their stadium rather than tailoring their stadium around the notion of seeing more home runs.
    3. I think the selling point on signing Tim Redding this winter was his ability to pitch well against the Phillies, evidenced by his 3-1 record, 3.41 ERA, 1.14 WHIP, and .219 opp avg in 5 starts against Philly in 2008. With that in mind, I want to see Redding go at least 6 strong innings on Sunday.

    Honestly, I could care less if the Mets win or lose all 3 games. If they win all three than it would shut up a lot of the critics who think the Mets need a team of all-stars to be competitive and are demanding the team make a trade. Yet, I’m afraid if they win, Omar will believe the Mets are good enough to make the playoffs, and thus start making bad moves to acquire more veterans who will come at the expense of valuable prospects. However, if they lose all three it’s going to suck, just because I hate losing to the Phillies. Though, if they do lose all 3, I think that puts the organization a step closer to realizing the season is lost and to start focusing more on 2010 than the 2009 postseason, which I am advocating.

    In summation, I just hope the Mets play hard, play smart, and not embarass themselves (or us for rooting for them).