Series Preview: Mets vs. Athletics
The soulless drones who dress up in New York Mets uniforms will be hosting the Oakland Athletics for a weekend series. Whether we’ll see a pulse from the boys in orange and blue remains to be seen, but in the event we do, here is a quick rundown on the matchups.
Game One: Tom Glavine vs. Lenny DiNardo
Glavine will make his umpteenth attempt to gain career victory #296. At this point he may as well forget about win 300, and focus instead on avoiding career loss #200 (he’s at 196).
Tommy seems to have serious issues when (a) the umpire has a tight strike zone; and/or (b) the opposing team is patient. While we won’t know who’s umpiring before the game starts, we do know about the strike zone discipline of the Oakland Athletics’ organization. It could be a long, long, three innings for Glavine, who will pray that Marco Scutaro is in the starting lineup. There is one advantage, however — the A’s strike out more than they walk. Now if only Glavine were a strikeout pitcher …
Meantime, the A’s send 6’4″ lefty Lenny DiNardo to the mound. Hmm … a lefty that the Mets haven’t seen before … the Wandy Rodriguez Phenomena will be in full effect.
Though technically, the Mets have seen him before — they drafted him in 2001, only to lose him to the Red Sox in the Rule 5 Draft a few years ago. DiNardo was used sparingly by the BoSox, pitching less than 80 innings in three years with the organization. He was put on waivers in February and Billy Beane jumped on him. So far, DiNardo has been a pleasant surprise, first pitching in relief and now spot starting. He comes into the game with a 2.21 ERA and 1.12 WHIP, relying mostly on a hard cutter and a slider — essentially, he is the lefthanded version of Jorge Sosa.
For the Mets to get to DiNardo, they must be patient and allow him to get wild and pitch himself out of the game. Can you see how this is looking like a REALLY bad game for the Mets?
Game Two: Orlando Hernandez vs. Joe Kennedy
As with Glavine, El Duque relies heavily on an agressive batters to flail away at his soft stuff. Unfortunately, there are few hitters like that on the A’s, so his curveball has to be breaking sharply and spot-on in order to keep the Athletic bats in check.
Kennedy is another lefty the Mets have never seen before — ’nuff said. He’s been something of an enigma since coming into MLB as a 22-year-old in 2001 — a big lefty with good stuff, but never able to convert that into consistent performance. His biggest issue is command, as he throws 17 different pitches but is the master of none. That said, teams that show patience at the plate can get him to beat himself. In other words, teams other than the Mets.
Game Three: John Maine vs. Joe Blanton
Maine has been fairly solid all year for the Mets, save for a few blips. He’s coming off a very strong, 7-inning, 4-hit performance against the Twins, and hopefully can perform at the same level against the A’s. The key for Maine will be his command; if he can keep the walks down, he should do well, and may induce a number of swings and misses from the A’s hitters, who are strikeout-prone.
Mets fans get their first chance to see Blanton since 2005, who was the subject of trade rumors all offseason. There’s nothing special about him — he’s a workhorse who throws a lot of strikes and eats up innings. He does, however, have a good overhand curve — and we know that’s the Mets’ kryptonite, even when they’re hot. Consider Blanton the Jeff Suppan of the A’s (so yes, it’s time to get nervous).
For a more complete analysis of the A’s pitchers, visit MetsGeek.
Julio Franco’s four walks this month lead all Mets other than Jose Reyes and David Wright. The first two starters the Mets will see prey on aggressive hitters. This does not make for a good combination.
On the bright side, Carlos Beltran showed signs of coming out of his slump, with a 3-for-4 day on Wednesday and several well-hit balls on Monday, including a double. The Mets need him to go ballistic this weekend.
If the Mets have any advantage, it is that the Athletics’ top hitters have not done well over the last week, save for Nick Swisher — who is hitting .370 over the last seven days. Eric Chavez, Bobby Crosby, and Dan Johnson are all struggling over the last few weeks, but Mark Kotsay is showing signs of life, as is Jason Kendall. Lately, the A’s have been getting major offensive jolts from unlikely sources, particularly Jack Cust (.440 with 2 HR in his last seven games), Mark Ellis, and Travis Buck. Cust has been primarily a DH (filling in for the injured Mike Piazza), so it should be interesting to see how manager Bob Geren shuffles his defense to get Cust’s bat in the lineup. Pitcher Joe Kennedy is 1-for-2 with a double this year, and Lenny DiNardo is also 1-for-2 — for what it’s worth.
A few weeks ago, the pitching matchups would favor the Mets. However, considering the offense’s refusal to exhibit anything resembling plate discipline, it looks today like the A’s have the advantage. Unless the Mets make an immediate change in their hitting approach, and receive remarkable pitching performances, it looks like another long weekend for Mets fans.