Mets – Dodgers: Quick Preview
The Brooklyn Dodgers of Los Angeles come into Flushing with a 52-30 record, the best in MLB, with their guns a-blazing. They send three starters to the mound with ERAs under four, and none of them can be considered their “ace”. They have scored the third-most runs in the NL — 43 more than the Mets — and lead the league in team batting average (.272, or two points better than the second-place Mets). And they score without the longball — they have 64 HRs, which is 14 more than the Mets but far below average compared to the rest of MLB. Which means they play “small ball”, which happens to be the brand of baseball best suited to the vast expanse of Citi Field.
Oh, and they’ve accomplished all this without Manny Ramirez for three-quarters of their games. And Manny is back.
The only thing going for the Mets is the Dodgers have been “treading water” over their last ten games, with five wins against five losses.
Game 1: Mike Pelfrey (6-3, 4.26 ERA) vs. Clayton Kershaw (5-5, 3.49 ERA)
Big Pelf has really been an enigma this year, mixing in starts like his last against Milwaukee (nearly 8 innings, 6 hits, no runs) with debacles like his June 4th start in Pittsburgh (3 IP, 9 hits, 8 ER). Which version of Pelfrey will show up tonight is anyone’s guess.
Kershaw, in many ways, is the lefthanded version of Pelfrey. The 21-year-old can be absolutely dominating at times, while looking lost at others. He’s induced as many as 12 ground balls in a game, and struck out as many as 13. Rarely does he get past the fifth inning, and he’s often his own worst enemy, particularly when it comes to bases on balls. Could this be any more fitting a matchup?
Game2: Oliver Perez (1-2, 9.97 ERA) vs. Hiroki Kuroda (3-4, 3.91 ERA)
The Thirty-Six-Million-Dollar Man returns to a Mets uniform in an attempt to keep his ERA from going into the teens. In four rehab starts covering 17 innings, Ollie allowed 17 hits, 11 walks, 2 homeruns, and 10 runs total (6 earned). However, he did strike out 18, so there’s that.
Perez faces Hiroki Kuroda, who is averaging 6 innings per start and sports a svelte 1.01 WHIP. How good is Kuroda’s control? He’s walked 9 batters in 48 innings. However, he’s been roughed up in four out of his last five starts — though, three of those came against American League teams.
Game 3: Livan Hernandez (5-4, 4.56 ERA) vs. Randy Wolf (3-3, 3.49 ERA)
Can we glaze over Livan’s last start? I think so, considering that he powered through 7 innings in 5 of his 6 starts previous to Philly. Those days are going to happen, and with Hernandez, they’ve happened rarely (4 bad starts out of 16 is pretty OK for a scrap heap reject). In Livan’s last start against LA, he was on the wrong end of a 2-1 ballgame. If Joe Torre checks the stats prior to making out the lineup card, he may consider writing in Brad Ausmus (.323 lifetime vs. Hernandez) and Mark Loretta (.333), who along with Rafael Furcal (.333), Andre Ethier (.375), James Loney (.364), Casey Blake (.400), and Manny Ramirez (.600) are members of the Livan Hernandez Fan Club.
Wolf is the guy that all the Monday morning quarterbacks say the Mets should’ve signed instead of Oliver Perez. Well gee, thanks for that bit of afterward wisdom. Looking back, maybe the Mets should’ve signed him for no reason other than to prevent him from starting against them, as he’s become a Mets killer over the last few years. In his last start vs. the Mets, he held them to two earned runs — and that lineup included Carlos Beltran in the 3-hole and a red-hot Angel Pagan at leadoff.
Not much to talk about. The Dodgers are a better team than the Mets on paper, on the field, on the mound, at bat, and fundamentally. That doesn’t mean they can’t be beat. It does, however, suggest that the Mets will have their hands full.