Quick Preview: Mets vs. Rockies
The Rockies head into Flushing for a four-game series beginning today at 7:10 PM.
After a rough start, the Rockies rebounded with a rollicking 21-7 run in June, and is 13-8 so far in July, though heating up again — they’ve won 8 of their last 11 ballgames.
Though they’re unlikely to catch up to the Dodgers in the NL West, they are ten games over .500 and two games ahead of the Giants at the top of the Wild Card standings. Their biggest bugaboo has been the bullpen, but they recently acquired veteran setup man Rafael Betancourt, who has been perfect in his first two outings as a Rockie. One thing to note regarding their relief depth: Colorado is 0-4 in extra innings this year.
Game One: Oliver Perez (2-3, 7.68 ERA) vs. Ubaldo Jimenez (7-9, 3.85 ERA)
Could this be a more fitting matchup? Both pitchers have been enigmas this year, though Jimenez has been far and away more productive than Perez. Though, they are similar in that both have the ability to dominate on any given night, and both are prone to streaks of unexplained wildness. The one major contrast between the two? In Perez’s case, a 6-inning, 4-run outing would be considered a step forward, while for Jimenez, such a start would be a step back.
Game Two: Mike Pelfrey (7-6, 4.99 ERA) vs. Jason Marquis (12-6, 3.49 ERA)
Pelfrey, like Perez, can dominate on any given night, or can be knocked out before the fifth inning — and there’s no rhyme or reason for either. Staten Island native Marquis, however, has been a model of consistency all year, and all he’s done is eat innings and win, win, win. The one thing going for the Mets is that Marquis has been struggling with blisters recently, which could affect his performance. We can only hope.
Game Three: Johan Santana (11-7, 2.92 ERA vs. Jason Hammel (5-5, 4.28 ERA)
On the surface, this would appear the “gimme game” for the Mets, but nothing this year is a given. And though Hammel’s stat line looks ordinary, he’s put together a few strong starts against some good-hitting teams. For example, this sinkerballer held the Dodgers to a .176 batting average (coupled with a 0.92 ERA) through ten innings, and the Astros to .229 (2.19 ERA). Also of note, he has a 7.20 ERA at Coors Field, yet a svelte 1.93 ERA and .229 batting average against in visiting ballparks. These numbers aren’t surprising when you consider that his issues are tied to leaving the ball up in the zone. In many ways, he’s like Mike Pelfrey — he’s 6’6″, throws a 92-94 MPH darting fastball, a hard curve, has generally good command, but occasionally gets the yips with runners on base. Methinks he’ll enjoy pitching at Citi Field.
Game Four: Jonathan Niese (0-0, 5.91 ERA) vs. Jorge De La Rosa (8-7, 4.78 ERA)
This one is up in the air, though we Mets fans would like to believe that Niese will continue to generate hope with another strong outing. Like Hammel, De La Rosa prefers to pitch away from Coors, though the difference in performance isn’t nearly as drastic (5.43 ERA vs. 3.89). What’s interesting, though, is that he hasn’t pitched nearly as poorly as his ERA would indicate — its bulging figure is due mainly to three absolutely awful outings in which he gave up a combined 21 runs against the Tampa Bay Rays, Phillies, and Braves. Otherwise, he’s fared well in most of his starts, and has feasted on poor-hitting teams such as the Diamondbacks and Giants.
We gave up on predictions a long time ago. For me, this series is about watching Troy Tulowitzki, who I still believe is a superstar in the making, and scouting the Rockies as a whole — are they a serious postseason contender?