There are few things in life I dislike more than Philadelphia sports teams. I dislike the guy who tells a little kid there’s no Santa less than I dislike Philly sports teams. I dislike Global Warming less than I dislike Philly teams. I dislike close-talkers less than I dislike Philly sports teams. I find Yanni and Desperate Housewives to be more likeable… than Philly sports teams. Finally, yes…I even dislike the NY Yankees LESS than I dislike Philly sports teams.
The first time I wrote a series preview, I said that you can ignore every “test,” people have wanted to use on the Mets and focus on how they handle the Braves, Dodgers and Phillies. Tonight is part 3 of that test, and the Mets have to come to Philadelphia and look to prove that they do belong on the same field and in the same conversations when it comes to the NL East.
This reminds me a little bit of back in 1986 (not saying this team is like the 86 team) when the Mets traveled to St. Louis in mid-April and they knew that no matter what they had done prior, or what they thought they could accomplish, it didn’t matter if they couldn’t take on the Cardinals. The Mets swept that 4 game series, and never looked back.
This series has a similar tone to it. I’m going to say this right now, and I hope all the Nancy-naysayers are reading. If the Mets win this series, you better hop on board for the season and quit looking for reasons to be unhappy. The Mets have tons to prove from the top all the way down, but assuming they show up for this series, you gotta just roll with the punches and take this season for what it is.
You know, in truth like the Mets like actually handle the Phillies pretty good and stuff. Like in 2008 like they were 13-7 and stuff and like in like 2009 which was last year like the Mets had lots of injuries so like I look at you know the 2008 and like the 2007 season results against the Phillies and stuff and I think the Mets play Philadelphia pretty good.
That was an example of what my blog would read like if Charlie Manuel wrote a guest paragraph!
But in all seriousness, the Mets when competitive and on the same level as the Phillies have faired quite well in this rivalry recently. The problem the Mets have had has been their inability to put the bad teams away.
So tonight’s game begins at 7:05 and Jon Niese will take the ball for the Mets hoping to get things started against a team who actually has struggled a little bit lately. The Phillies are just 4-6 in their last 10 games. For the Phillies, righty Kyle Kendrick will try and turn his season around. Kendrick has no decisions but is sporting a lovely 7.71 ERA.
Of course, Kendrick has faired well against the Mets in his career with a 2-1 record and a 2.63 ERA. Two guys who absolutely love to hit off of Kendrick though are Jose Reyes and Jeff Francoeur. Both are hitting over .400 against Kendrick, and will have to ignite the offense tonight.
Niese has never faced Philadelphia, so this will be a nice litmus test of Niese’s ability to step into a rivalry and perform in a big spot. I think we as Mets fans are comfortable with Niese on the mound. He’s not dominant, but he’s not giving games away.
Game 2 will be one that everybody has their eyes on. It’s a 3:10 start, and will showcase Mike Pelfrey against Roy Halladay.
Now there are 2 similar key aspects to this pitching matchup. This is Pelfrey’s time to shine. It’s his time to prove he may not be Santana, but the Mets can feel confident when he has the ball in his hand. He’s gotten into a little trouble with his walks, and got saved by the weather gods against Atlanta. You can’t put runners on base as frequent with Philadelphia. Pelfrey is a competitor though, and I look for him to bring his A game on Saturday. Pelfrey is a lifetime 4-2 with a 4.82 ERA versus Philadelphia. Philly’s best hitters have thrived off of Pelfrey though. Ryan Howard for instance is a lifetime .435 hitter, and Chase Utley has 4 HRs in 23 at bats.
For Halladay, he’s been dominant. Only a fool would try and deny his greatness. However, this is the first time Halladay has pitched in a rivalry game. This is where you’re going to see whether or not Halladay is a playoff caliber pitcher or if he just thrived when he had no pressure. I mean, to be fair, Halladay has been tucked away in Toronto, facing great hitters of course, but he hasn’t pitched a major league game with as much pressure as he’ll have on Saturday. In fact if the Mets manage to win Game 1 tonight, Halladay is gonna have his first taste of a “must win,” type game. Now granted, it’s May, but rivalries do not take a backseat to the calendar.
The Mets haven’t seen much of Halladay but when they have, they actually haven’t done so badly. Halladay is 2-2 with a 5.55 ERA. Jose Reyes is a nice 4-4 against Halladay. A guy who saw plenty of Halladay is Jason Bay, and he’s a career .278 hitter with 2 HR in 18 at bats.
Game 2 could end up being the type of game you look back on and say either “this is when we knew this team would compete” or “this is when we knew we needed Beltran.” If the Mets can find a way to win a game when the Phillies are throwing the best they got, that will be a huge boost of confidence for this team.
Game 3 is another Sunday Night ESPN game. For some reason, ESPN has heat for the Mets this year. So another night of no Gary, Keith & Ron. Bummer.
The Mets send Johan Santana to the mound, and you have to like that. I love Santana pitching in Game 3 of the series because he has the ability to either change the momentum of the team, or increase it by 100%. Not many pitchers can do that for a team. Santana shows up against Philadelphia boasting a 4-1 record with a 2.90 ERA. A guy like Raul Ibanez is the type of hitter who gives Santana problems because he’s a battler and doesn’t waste at bats. He’s somebody to watch for.
The Phillies send old man Jamie Moyer to face the Mets. Remember when some Mets fans were mad that the Mets couldn’t hit infielder’s pitching? Well, enter Jamie Moyer. It’ll be about the same. I hate watching Moyer pitch because somehow he makes batters look silly, and he doesn’t have great stuff. Moyer is a lifetime 9-5 with a 3.70 ERA against the Mets, but he’s also been pitching since 1962 so some of those wins don’t count!
These Mets own Jamie Moyer actually. Other than Pagan, only Reyes and Barajas have a career average of under .300 against Moyer, with Reyes at .279 and Barajas .250. David Wright tees off on Moyer with a .426, 3 HR, 11 RBI in 47 AB.
I wouldn’t be shocked if Gary Matthews Jr. is in the lineup against Moyer. He has an above .300 average against him, and with Pagan struggling and not holding a great average against Moyer, this could be a chance for Jerry to try and get Matthews’ bat going.
The Phillies scare you with their lineup and with Roy Halladay. Their bullpen doesn’t worry you, and you’re not nervous about what any other starter will do, including Cole Hamels. This series, the Phillies see our best 3 starters, and we see their game changer in Halladay. If the Mets win this series, the message will be sent that we have a team to watch on our hands.
Enjoy the games, and hopefully on Monday we’ll be talking about the exciting series victory of the hated rivals.