Series Preview: Mets vs. Marlins
The Mets come out of a tough series with the Braves to face the Marlins, who are tied with the Phillies for third place, 6.5 games behind the Mets. Other than young stars Hanley Ramirez and Miguel Cabrera, their offense has struggled, especially lately. Their pitching staff is still a work-in-progress, as they’ve suffered several injuries to key arms and have yet to find a closer.
The most detailed info on the Marlins’ pitchers can be found at MetsGeek. We’ll do a quick summary here.
Game 1: Orlando Hernandez vs. Sergio Mitre
El Duque returns to make his first start since April 24th. Other than one start against the Nationals (April 14th), Hernandez had been brilliant before succumbing to bursitis in his shoulder. He has only thrown side sessions, and no minor league rehab appearances, so suffice to say he’ll be rusty. How he’ll do is anybody’s guess, but this particular game is not as important as seeing if El Duque is indeed healthy and able to reclaim his rotation spot. His first start has to be sometime, so it may as well be against a currently struggling Marlins lineup.
Mitre is something of an enigma, with decent talent but having never translated it into performance. If he keeps his sinker down, and can throw his curve for strikes, he’ll be tough for the Mets — a decidedly high-ball-hitting team that has trouble with good curveballs. He also has the Wandy Rodriguez effect going for him, as the Mets have never faced him before.
Game 2: John Maine vs. Wes Obermueller
It’s time for Maine to get over his last few starts and come back with a fair performance. Notice I didn’t say “strong” nor “dominating” — he simply needs to give the Mets a solid six innings. If the Mets don’t score at least 4-5 runs off Obermueller, then it’s time to make some trades.
It’s not that Obermueller is a bad pitcher — but he’s a guy the Mets must mash. He’s similar to a high school pitcher, in that he has more pitches in his repertoire than his catcher has fingers, yet he can’t throw any of them consistently for strikes. If the Mets take their team approach of taking pitches and getting into deep counts, they’ll draw at least 4-5 walks against this guy, and should have him knocked out by the end of the fifth inning. Then they can feast on the Marlins’ questionable bullpen.
Game 3: Jorge Sosa vs. Scott Olsen
This matchup is up in the air, with both pitchers a crapshoot. Sosa was dominating in his first three starts, but fell to pieces in his most recent appearance against the Braves. Similarly, Olsen has been both outstanding and awful at times this season. Interestingly, Sosa and Olsen share a common approach as well, with both relying heavily on a sharp slider. Olsen, however, can mix in a good changeup — sometimes. If Olsen’s change is flat, he could be in for a long day. If it’s on, the Mets batters may be doing a lot of head-shaking on their way back to the dugout.
Jose Reyes has cooled off in the last few games, and needs to get back into the habit of waiting longer on pitches. He’s done a good job of taking pitches with nobody on, but he’s returned to his over-aggressive ways with runners on base. It’s not so much taking pitches as it is waiting on them; with runners in scoring position, Reyes seems to be leaping at pitches, and is usually way ahead.
Carlos Delgado is slowly getting back into the groove, mostly by hitting the ball the other way. He needs to keep that strategy for at least a week or so — and if he does, his average will climb considerably, as teams insist on shifting everyone to the right.
Paul LoDuca continues to swing a hot bat, and should stay in the five hole. David Wright’s sombrero vs. John Smoltz is not a huge deal, as all Smoltz threw him were sliders. No one on the Marlins (or on the planet) has a Smoltzlike slider, so D-Wright should be back to his bashing this weekend. Shawn Green has been cool, but is getting the bat on the ball and hitting line drives, for the most part.
I have a feeling that Carlos Beltran is a sleeping giant, and is about to go on a maniacal offensive tear … or it could be wishful thinking.
This team has been ice-cold lately, and slugger Mike Jacobs is on the DL. Jeremy Hermida finally returned from the DL, and was red-hot for a while, but is currently cool. The only hot bats are Hanley Ramirez (.355 over the last 7 games) and Miguel Cabrera (.313 over the same span). Everyone else is .250 or below for the last week.
Mets must take two out of three, and should be capable of doing so. Now would be a fine time for the bats to wake up — particularly those of Reyes and Delgado.