Series Preview: Mets @ Marlins

I’m not sure who is feeling better today, the Mets players or their fans? Sure, the Phillies didn’t have Howard or Utley, but they had Halladay and Lee and the Mets still swept them in Philadelphia!

Before the Arizona series, I explained how I thought that series through the Toronto series were going to tell us a lot about this Mets team.

So far, they are 5-1, and have 10 more games to go.

After a relaxing off day in Miami, the Mets have to turn it on again because the Marlins are red hot right now. They’ve won 8 out of their last 9, and in their last game, and Houston reliever Wilton Lopez may have woken a sleeping giant in Hanley Ramirez when he plunked him and then mocked the Marlins “did you see that” gesture. Thanks Mr. Lopez.

Despite the red hot May, closer Heath Bell lost his closer job to young Steve Cishek. Man, oh man, that makes me smile.

I’ve made it no secret that with Jose Reyes going to Miami, and all of the terrible PR this team has had, they have taken over the #1 spot on my most hated list, just ahead of Philadelphia.

Friday at 7:05 PM: Johan Santana v. Mark Buehrle

It’s game number 8,000 for our beloved Mets. Wouldn’t it be awesome if on game 8,000, Johan Santana tossed a no hitter? If the stars were ever aligned for that to happen, Santana is the guy I want on the mound and the Marlins are the team I want him to face.

Santana is 6-1 with a 1.46 ERA against the Marlins. Ice cold Gaby Sanchez may be licking his chops against Santana (.625 career average). I’m not as concerned with Sanchez as I am with Giancarlo!

Giancarlo (who I refuse to call anything but simply “Giancarlo”) is a monster right now. In 35 May at bats, he has 5 HR, 2 doubles, and 8 RBI.

Mark Buehrle for me is somebody I’ve always liked. So it pains me that he wears a Marlins uniform. In fact, a few years ago, I wanted the Mets to go get Buehrle when there were rumors of his trade availability.

Buehrle was a tough luck loser in his 1st outing against the Mets. He went 7 innings, allowing just 5 hits and 2 runs but was outpitched by Dickey.

Buehrle puts the ball in play, so it’s really on the Mets lineup to make things happen here tonight. This new Marlins park is perfect for a guy like Buehrle so the phrase “hit em where they ain’t,” couldn’t be more true for the Mets tonight.

I’m pretty amped for tonight’s game. Am I predicting a no-hitter? No. However, I just feel like it’s been that type of year for the Mets and what a story it’d be. I am expecting Santana to feed off of the sweep of Philadelphia, and have a big time performance tonight.

Saturday, 1:05pm: R.A. Dickey v. Ricky Nolasco

Dickey has a nice record against the Marlins as well. He’s 6-2 with a 3.57 ERA. With Dickey you never know what you will get. So much of his outing depends on so many unpredictable factors. You know he’s going to come to play, but if the knuckler doesn’t move, there’s not a lot he can do.

Omar Infante, Gaby Sanchez and Hanley Ramirez have been his biggest nemesis within the lineup. All three of them hit over .330 with a minimum 18 plate appearances.

With regards to Nolasco, the Mets have had a mixed history with him. He’s 5-7 with a 5.03 ERA. Recently there was discussion about David Wright hitting right handed pitching better than usual. Well, if history is to repeat itself than watch out Mr. Nolasco!

Wright is a career .386 hitter with 4 HR and 13RBI in 60 appearances against Nolasco.

Sunday, 1:10pm: Jon Niese v. Carlos Zambrano

Miami was likely the perfect place for Big Z. His time in Chicago was done, and the only way he could revive his career is to go somewhere that had a clubhouse environment that made him comfortable. Ozzie Guillen’s personality and the way he handles players is a perfect fit for Zambrano.

Niese’s history against Miami isn’t sparkling. He’s 1-4 with a 5.13 ERA. However, his last start was pretty solid. He went 7 innings, allowing 2 runs and 4 hits on April 26th.

Back to Zambrano, he has pitched very well this year. He’s coming off of a 3 hitter against Houston. His record is deceiving, he could easily have 3 or 4 wins.

View From Their Window

For this weekend’s series, I was able to have a chat with Michael Jong from who provided me with a Marlins fan perspective heading into this weekend!

1) The Marlins are on fire lately. Is it mostly Giancarlo’s red hot bat that is carrying this team? Who else has been major contributor to the recent success?

Everyone has been contributing, but Stanton’s bat has been especially strong lately. The team’s other starters like Hanley Ramirez and Jose Reyes, players who were expected to do well to start the season, are beginning to play up to their talent level, and that has helped the team win eight out of nine games on their road trip, even as some other hitters like Emilio Bonifacio struggle.

2) The Marlins will see Johan-Dickey-Niese, as a Marlins fan, which pitcher do you think your lineup will have the most trouble against in this series?

You know, that’s a tough one, because the Marlins will certainly have difficulty with a revived Johan Santana, but the team has always has problems facing a good knuckleballer like Dickey.

And this does not even get into Jon Niese, who may be the Mets’ second best starter. If I had to name someone, I would probably say Johan Santana, as the Fish have struggled with lefties thus far.

3) What was the general consensus from Marlins fans after Reyes signed his 6 year deal, and what is the view of his performance to date?

The consensus when the Marlins signed Reyes to his six-year deal was that he would the catalyst at the top of the lineup that would get on base and wreak havoc for the offense with his speed. Thus far, the Marlins have not garnered much benefit from Reyes, as he has struggled at the plate.

However, those struggles are tied to poor placement on balls in play that may not be out of his control, so simple bad luck may be the problem here. As Reyes returns to normal, fans will be happy with their newest Marlin.

4) The Mets will see Carlos Zambrano in the series finale. He’s probably pitched well enough to have 4 wins this year. Is he back?

Zambrano has certainly changed for the better, having incorporated a new splitter pitch that he is using as an out pitch akin to his slider. He is also throwing more two-seam fastballs and slowly whittling away the usage of his weakened four-seamer, which is down in velocity to almost 89 mph.

With more movement on his pitches, he is getting more whiffs from hitters and is rebuilding his strikeout rates while maintaining his typical Zambrano (lack of) control. He may not be “back,” but he may be a new pitcher entirely.

4) If the Marlins win the series, who is the player of the series? If the Marlins lose the series, who is to blame?

The Marlins will go where their offense takes them. Thus far, their limiting factor has been how many runs the team can put up, as their pitching staff has done a decent enough job of keeping runs off the board.

If the Fish struggle against the Mets’ three top starters, the series may not go well. If the team’s bats wake up from their season-long slumber (aside from the most recent hot streak), then the Fish have a good chance of taking the series.

Series Summary

The Marlins offense is heating up, so can the Mets starters cool them down from jump street? This series is all about taming the beast in Giancarlo, and not allowing a potential Met killer in Gabby Sanchez to heat up.

Also, I am curious to see if the Marlins decide to run on the Mets in this series. Nickeas and Johnson aren’t exactly quick to 2nd base, so if Reyes and Bonifacio get on base, it could be trouble.

Other than Heath Bell, this bullpen for Miami has been extremely reliable. When they’ve come into a jam, they have left 74% of base runners on base.

A late inning rally is less likely against the Fish than it was against the Phillies. So the offense has to get started early, and get their starters the support they need.

OVER/UNDER RUNS:: (6-2 on the season) Tonight’s run line is set at 7. If I am to assume Johan and Buehrle will both have good outings, then I have to consider that the Saturday/Sunday game lines will be slightly higher than tonight. So I’ll set it at 24 (which is pretty high), and shoot for the underdog pick and go OVER.

METS POTS:: I’m going to take Johan Santana, only because if I tease a Mets no hitter (have I jinxed it yet?) then how could he not have a huge performance tonight?

KEEP YOUR EYES ON:: Jose Reyes. He’s still struggling, but I think the boo’s at Citi Field gave him a little bit of fuel for this series in his new home. I myself hope he goes 0 for 12, but I can see him having a big series if the Marlins take 2.

I’LL BE DRINKING A::Ten Penny Ale. It is brewed in CT, but is distributed in some NY area stores and bars, give it a shot if you get the chance!

Enjoy the series, and Let’s Go Mets!

About Michael Branda 267 Articles
Michael Branda grew up a Mets fan watching the mid 1980's teams and his favorite Met of all-time is (and was) Wally Backman. When it comes to sabermetrics versus old school thinking, he's in the middle and believes adopting new ways to get answers is helpful, especially when the old way has not produced results.