Series Preview: New York Mets (15-23) at Chicago Cubs (17-23)

seriespreview

The Mets have lost seven of their last ten games, including a sweep by the Pirates and a near-sweep by the Cardinals. Luckily for the Mets, they have the Marlins in their division so it will be difficult to drop into last place. I was surprised to read that they've placed foruth in the division for four straight years – it seems like just yesterday they were blowing big leads in the standing late in the season. This is a team in much the same rebuilding situation as the Cubs with most of the talent in the farm system still in the low minors. They do however have Zack Wheeler, number eleven on BA's preseason prospect rankings, and also this Matt Harvey guy (though he's not officially a prospect anymore). After those two, it's pretty slim pickings for young players on the current roster who will be a big part of the next big Mets team. David Wright signed a big extension and will continue to be great, but Harvey and Wheeler are going to be making peanuts for a while. The only other youngish player with upside is 26 year old Ike Davis, who plays solid defense at 1b but has a much better reputation with the bat than he deserves. It's tough to stick at first base with a career .327 OBP. I was surprised when the host of the Mets podcast that Aisley recently linked was calling for the Mets to get rid of Davis, but now that I look at his numbers, both this year and in general…yuck.

Team Overviews

2013 NL ranks in parens

  Mets Cubs
wRC+ 90 (12th) 93 (10th)
BSR 7.4 (1st) -0.5 (7th)
UZR -13.6 (15th) -8.4 (14th)
DRS -11 (14th) -5 (11th)
SP FIP- 108 (10th) 95 (5th)
RP FIP- 117 (15th) 105 (12th)

Harvey has been amazing this year, but the rest of the Mets rotation has been pretty awful. The Mets bullpen has terrible numbers, but most of that seems to be due to a few fringe guys who pitched an inning or two getting lit up. Their top 7 relievers in terms of IP all have a FIP below 4. 

Injury News

Matt Garza looked sharp in his last rehab outing, and says he's ready to go. No word yet if the Superfriends agree with him. Luis Valbuena is day to day with a sprained finger on his right hand. Arodys Vizcaino is still a few weeks away from pitching, though oddly enough he's been rehabbing with the team instead of at Mesa, which is where Scott Baker has been working.

The Mets have a whole pile of pitchers on the DL, mostly relievers, but the biggest name is Johan Santana. He's out for the year (and maybe his career) after shoulder surgery in March for a torn capsule. IIRC that's what Prior ended up being diagnosed with when they finally opened up his shoulder. *pours one out*.

Top prospect Zack Wheeler had a scare when he developed some shoulder pain last week. It turned out to be just mild inflammation and he's only missing one start.

Random news and notes

Shawn Camp has hung the nickname "Kevin Gregg Maddux" on Gregg, and not just for his glasses and ability to paint the corners. The rest of the bullpen has been raving about his clubhouse presence out there, and that he's like an extra coach on the team. 

Mets outfielder and team lightning rod Jordany Valdespin has been in the Mets media lately after ranting about being thrown at in the last Pirates series. He spent a long time watching a HR of his and was plunked as a pinch hitter in the next game. The NY Daily News blasted Valdespin for his actions and the Mets for putting him out there when there was little doubt that he was going to be drilled. Mets manager Terry Collins defended his player, saying that "he doesn't answer to the fans".

Pitching Matchups

Friday: Matt Harvey, RHP (1.44, 61, 2.95, 3.53) vs Edwin Jackson, RHP (6.02, 88, 3.71, 3.63), 1:20 PM CT

Harvey is the proud owner of a 62:14 strikeout to walk ratio. He throws five pitches, but his main pitch is definitely his 95-96 mph fastball. That pitch is hit the hardest of his pitches, but sets up all the others. Per BrooksBaseball, Harvey has a TAv of .170, .116, .157, and .193 on his sinker, slider, curveball, and changeup respectively. Yowza. Here's a gif from a few weeks ago overlaying his fb and slider:

Jackson managed to pick up his first W of the year against his former team, but the numbers still don't look that great. He pitched less than six innings, walked two and struck out three. I know I'm a broken record here, but he's lost velocity on all of his pitches except his changeup dating back to last year. His peripherals are still great and he's had some bad batted ball luck, so there's still a silver lining there. 

Saturday: Jeremy Hefner, RHP (4.61, 149, 4.61, 4.54) vs Scott Feldman, RHP (2.53, 109, 4.17, 3.96), 12:05 PM CT

Hefner is basically Santana's replacement. His fastball tops out at 91, so he relies on a lot of movement to get outs. His cut fastball is probably his best pitch.

Feldman looked great again in his last start, giving up only a solo HR while striking out six. His peripherals are still meh-ish but he's looking like the pitcher that the Superfriends were hoping to get when they inked him this offseason. 

Sunday: Dillon Gee, RHP (6.13, 129, 4.74, 4.43) vs Travis Wood, LHP (2.03, 91, 4.47, 4.28), 1:20 PM CT

For some reason, I've heard a lot less grumbling about the Sean Marshall trade lately. Wood shut out the Rockies for seven innings in his last start and while he didn't strike many out, he only allowed two hits. The only difference that I can see in his approach through the pitchfx data is that he's throwing more sliders this year, but not that many more. He's had a lot of BABIP luck, especially on his relatively hittable fastball.

Gee has been a mess this year for the Mets. After posting two replacement level ish years in 2010 and 2011, Gee posted a 3.71 FIP in about 100 innings last year. This year, however, his strikeout and walk rates have regressed to near what they were in his first two seasons, and teams are making him pay. Gee throws mostly fastballs, changeups, and sinkers. 

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