Quick Preview: Mets vs. Orioles

oriole-logoThe Mets travel to Baltimore to take on the Orioles for a three-game series of interleague action.

Game One: Mike Pelfrey (4-2, 4.68 ERA) vs. Jeremy Guthrie (4-6, 5.52 ERA)

Guthrie is more or less the Baltimore ace, and it wasn’t so long ago that he was a highly coveted young hurler expected to evolve into a front-of-the-rotation starter. Something happened on the way to that projected success, as Guthrie is now 30 years old and going backwards. He’s a crafty righty who has to hit his spots and get ground balls to win, and can be susceptible to losing focus.

Pelfrey is coming off a strong start against the Phillies, and has shown flashes of both greatness and horridness this season. The Orioles lineup tends to be aggressive and will tee off on Pelf if he doesn’t mix in his curveball and change speeds.

Game Two: Tim Redding (0-2, 6.18 ERA) vs. Koji Uehara (2-4, 4.37 ERA)

Uehara is a Japanese import that the Mets considered briefly in the offseason as a reliever; the Orioles were one of the few MLB teams who felt he could be a big-league starter, and thus far he’s been surprisingly effective. Not great, but effective, especially considering the competition in the AL East. Like Guthrie, he relies on pinpoint accuracy (only 12 walks in 10 starts) to succeed, spotting a fastball, a changeup, and a “shuuto” (which is essentially what Americans call a “sinker” or a “down and in” — a two-seam fastball that rides in and down on RH hitters). His penchant for the gopher ball in Japan has yet to follow him to the USA — again, surprising considering the sluggers he’s faced.

Redding has been good enough for us to think he’s the answer at the back end of the rotation, and bad enough for us to believe his career is over. What he’ll do on Thursday is anyone’s guess.

Game Three: Livan Hernandez (5-1, 4.33 ERA) vs. Jason Berken (1-3, 7.32 ERA)

Berken is a smaller guy with so-so stuff and a lot of heart — along the lines of a Jason Marquis or a Jason Vargas (what is it with the little attitude-filled Jasons?). In four starts this year he’s pitched one gem, been rocked twice, and had one decent outing. Like the other two Baltimore starters, he pitches to contact and won’t walk many hitters.

Livan is coming off a difficult start against the Yankees, but has otherwise been about as solid as you can expect from a back-end starter. He should have fun with the aggressive swingers in the Oriole lineup.

Final Thoughts

The Orioles are 27-36, 11 games behind the leaders and in last place in the AL East, with very little chance of making a wild card run. That said, this series may be more of a showcase for the Mets’ brass, as veteran hitters such as Melvin Mora, Aubrey Huff, Luke Scott, and Ty Wigginton will be made available for trade.

My biggest concern from the Mets’ point of view is the fact that few of the Mets hitters have faced these three starters.

Perhaps the most exciting thing about this series will be the chance to see phenom centerfielder Adam Jones and catcher Matt Wieters in action.

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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.