Series Preview: Mets vs. Phillies

After losing two of three games to the Arizona Diamondbacks over the weekend, the Mets have a day off before facing the Philadelphia Phillies at Shea for a three-game series.

Though they started off slumping, the Phillies have pecked away gradually, and now stand 8 games behind the Mets, in third place. That may seem like a comfortable lead for the Shea Faithful, but consider that a three-game sweep by the Phils would put them only five games behind, and right in the thick of things.

Watching the Mets offense — which has been offensive to view — getting swept by the Phillies doesn’t seem so unrealistic. If the New York bats continue to struggle to score runs, wins will be increasingly difficult to come by — and the rules stipulate that you must have more runs than the opposition in order to win a game.

Perhaps my paranoia is unfounded. Maybe Carlos Beltran will return 100% and ready to mash. And it’s possible that David Newhan will suddenly become a hit machine (isn’t it?).

Or, Willie Randolph’s “aggressive” style of play will produce more than one run a game against tough pitching. We’ll see.

Game 1: Tom Glavine vs. Jamie Moyer
The battle of old and creaky puss-ballers is revisited. Glavine won the first match 5-3, though both pitchers threw nearly identical games. This one could go either way, and without much offense behind him, Glavine may need to be extra sharp.

Game 2: Orlando Hernandez vs. Adam Eaton
What was the bigger bust this year? Wes Helms at third base or Adam Eaton in the rotation? Eaton has gone from bad to worse as the season progresses, and completed only two innings (4 walks, 6 hits, 5 runs) in his last start against the San Francisco Giants.

El Duque has pitched at an astounding level all season — before and after going on the DL with shoulder bursitis. He could be due for a bad start, but even still the Mets shouldn’t have a problem replacing him early if necessary — Aaron Sele hasn’t pitched in 11 days — and the AAA batters should beat up on Eaton.

Game 3: John Maine vs. Cole Hamels
John Maine has pitched well in his last two starts after a three-game slump. His most recent performances are more indicative of his ceiling than the four-start hot streak he rode in April and early May. That said, he can be counted on to pitch six strong innings, allowing around three runs to the potentially potent Phillie lineup. Unfortunately, that might not be good enough against Hamels, who likely will be facing a watered-down Mets offense. Either the bats need to wake up, or Maine has to throw like he did at the end of April, to take this game.

Mets Bats

There is nothing to report, other than the fact that Carlos Delgado is finally hitting the ball fairly consistently, and Jose Reyes is back on track. Otherwise, the lineup as currently constructed can be described as anemic.

Phillies Bats

Freddy Garcia is currently outhitting Pat Burrell. Wes Helms is ice-cold and proving not to be Philadelphia’s answer at third base. The yapping terrier Jimmy Rollins is hitting .207 in his last seven games.

However, Chase Utley is on a hot streak, Aaron Rowand has yet to cool off, and Ryan Howard is back and hitting monster shots.

Bottom Line

With Utley, Howard, Rowand, and a bit of help from the unexpected (i.e., Jayson Werth, Shane Victorino, Abraham Nunez), the Phillies can outhit the Mets this week. However, the Phillies do not have anyone to rely on for middle, setup, nor closing relief. The Mets’ approach should be to take, take, and take some more, and force the Phillie starters out of the game by the sixth inning or sooner. A battle of the bullpens should be won by the effective and well-rested Mets’ relievers.

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. sincekindergarten June 5, 2007 at 4:52 am
    Joe, I wouldn’t be too sure about Eaton being beaten. He’s something along the lines of 6-1 lifetime against the Mets.

    I think that Beltran having the D’Backs series off will pay off. He knows that his bat is needed against the Phillies, Tigers, Twins, etc. I could see Willie substituting for both Beltran and another outfielder late in each game. Endy will go to center and Newhan will go to left, which means that either Ben Johnson or Carlos Gomez goes to right.

  2. joe June 5, 2007 at 7:51 am
    If you are right about Eaton, then I’m REALLY concerned about getting swept.

    Do we know for sure that Beltran can play? And is he enough of a boost to help the lineup? He seems to let a bit of pressure get into his head / game, and if he truly feels he’s “needed”, he may press. The good thing is that Delgado is hitting again, to take some of the pressure off.

  3. sincekindergarten June 5, 2007 at 9:17 am
    Jamie Moyer will make it through five, maybe six, giving up four or so runs. Glavine will have his usual solid outing–three runs, six or seven innings. As for Hamels, it’s a matter of driving that pitch count of his through the roof in five innings, because the Phillthie bullpen isn’t quite the caliber of ours (put mildly).
  4. joe June 5, 2007 at 10:36 am
    I hope you’re right about Moyer, because I don’t see the Mets scoring much off of him — especially after witnessing the despicable disgrace of a performance against the similarly styled Doug Davis.

    You’re right about Hamels, though — if they can make him throw pitches, and get him out of the game early, we’ll win the battle of the bullpens.

  5. sincekindergarten June 5, 2007 at 12:41 pm
    Joe, I think that would apply to all three of the Phillthie starters–get the pitch counts up. Willie knows this, too. That’s why he’ll have Carlos Beltran back in there, if only to get Beltran to see a lot of pitches, to drive pitch counts up. (We all know that that’s not the only–or even primary–reason to have Beltran back in there.)

    As for Davis, things happen. The Mets–hell, any team, unless you’re the Royals–are going to win 60 games no matter what they do. They’re also going to lose 60 games no matter what they do. It’s the other 42 that determine the status within the division (for every team, except the Royals). And now that I look at the PECOTA Postseason Odds sheet that Baseball Prospectus has, even the expletive-deleted Royals are projected to win 61 games this year.

  6. joe June 5, 2007 at 1:18 pm
    You’d think the fact that Bill Pecota played for the Royals would help their score a little bit … how did that 60-60-42 formula work for the 1962 40-120 Mets (though Bill James says they should have won at least 50) ? Good thing they didn’t have to make up those other two games LOL !

    Too bad Shawn Green is still out … he’s been averaging close to four pitches per at bat.

  7. sincekindergarten June 5, 2007 at 1:53 pm
    The 1962 Mets were an anomaly. As such, no team should be allowed to break, or even tie, that record–ever.
  8. joe June 5, 2007 at 2:12 pm
    How about the Seattle Mariners and the Toronto Blue Jays of the 1970s- early 1980s ? The 1979 A’s ? The ’75 Tigers?

    Scarily, the ’77 Mariners actually outperformed their Pythagorean W-L (58-104) by six games (actual record: 64-98)