“Game’s the same, just got more fierce” – Slim Charles
Once again, the Mets will take on a team from the American League (B)East. Trips to the Bronx and Toronto did not fare so well, but amazingly the offense teed off in Tampa. This is a tough stretch for the Mets pitching staff (the Rays really had nothing, especially with Longoria hurt) as they face the Orioles and Yankees again. As good as the Mets starters have been, they have been susceptible to teams that can go yard — except for R.A. Dickey; only kryptonite can stop him. For those unfamiliar with the birds from Baltimore, let’s see who to watch out for:
“They chew you up, they gotta spit you back you” – McNulty
Players to Watch:
Adam Jones: A good example of how to stick with your prospects, Jones has fully developed into an All-Star this year. He’s batting .310 with 18 home runs and 39 RBI to go along with 13 doubles and 9 steals. Yep, he’s a problem. He has been the heart of their offense all year, and one of the major reasons for the team’s turnaround.
Matt Wieters: His average has fallen to .255, but he still remains one of the best catchers in baseball. Wieters has slugged 9 bombs and thrown out 36% of base stealers. Another good all-around player who is fun to watch.
J.J. Hardy: This is quietly one of the O’s best acquisitions of the last few years. His OBP is very low at .301, but from the shortstop position he has launched 11 souvenirs, 13 doubles and driven in 28. His defense is always consistent.
Chris Davis: He has been a power prospect for years, but never made enough contact. However, the Orioles have given him consistent ABs and are reaping the rewards this year. Shockingly, Davis is batting .301 with a .358 OBP (not a typo) and also is in double digit home runs with 12.
Mark Reynolds: Yes, he only has 5 HRs, but he’s had a very good week. If he’s starting to figure it out, this lineup gets even deeper, as he has the ability to launch a ball 450 feet at any time. Of course, he can also wear a golden sombrero at any time.
Probable Pitching Matchups:
Monday, June 18th 7:10pm: Jake Arrieta (3-8, 5.89 ERA) vs R.A. Dickey (10-1, 2.20 ERA)
Arrieta has long been touted as one of the up-and-comers of the Orioles farm system. Despite some good stuff, he has yet to consistently put it all together — and yet to finish a season with an ERA below 4.66. If the Mets keep a patient approach, they should be able to dent the scoreboard.
Tuesday, June 19th 7:10pm: Tommy Hunter (3-3, 5.58 ERA) vs Johan Santana (4-3, 3.23 ERA)
After an excellent season in 2010 (13-4 3.73 ERA), the league seems to have caught up with him. He does not walk many batters, but gives up a ton of hits (84 hits in 71 IP). The Mets might need get a little more aggressive to take advantage of this.
Wednesday, June 20th Brian Matusz (5-7 4.94) vs Dillon Gee (4-5 4.43)
Wow, another starter with an ERA near 5. It’s amazing Baltimore has the record they have. At one point, I thought Matusz was going to be the best pitcher of the O’s toted young guns. Despite the average numbers, he has the ability to present problems for the Mets hitters. This matchup can easily turn into 9-7 game, though.
The Orioles have an excellent bullpen. Former Mets (snakebitten baby!) Darren O’Day and Luis Ayala (seriously?) have been excellent, and Jim Johnson has been straight-up filthy as the team’s closer. Pedro Stropp and Troy Patton have been lights-out as well. Doesn’t Troy Patton sound like a snobby 80s movie character?
Baltimore sports a tidy 19-13 record on the road and a nice start to the month of June so far at 9-5. Thanks to their bullpen they are 11-5 in one-run games.
“What do you say Johnny? What do you say to any questions?” – Sobotka
Maybe the Mets caught a break missing the resurrected Jason Hammel and the out-of-nowhere Wei-Yen Chan for this three-game set. Everything is lined up for taking 2 out of 3. With Dickey and Johan lined up for the first two games, I believe they hold the advantage if they can keep this from being a HR derby.
About the Author
David Gogel is a lifelong Mets fan. Follow him on Twitter @troonooyawker.