New York Met Series Preview 05/27/2016

The Mets like every other team the Dodgers have faced in October since 1988, broke their fans hearts last year in a deciding game that was in the Dodgers favor with three innings in the book.  The ultra reliable Grienke had a 2 – 1  lead, but yet another left-handed hitter did the Dodgers in again, in October, as Daniel Murphy played the previous roles of Matt Stairs, Matt Adams, and Matt Carpenter. Once Murphy had worked his magic in the deciding game, the only shock to Dodger fans was that his name was Daniel not Matt.

Fast forward to 2016 and Daniel Murphy can’t lead the Mets to victory against the Dodgers anymore as he took his magic bat to the Nationals.

The 2016 Mets are 27 – 19 and trail the Nationals by only one game.  In May the Mets have gone 12 – 12. The Mets and Dodgers have already met four times with the teams splitting the four game set at the Ravine in early May.

Injury List:

  • Lucas Duda is out for this series with a bad back
  • Travis d’Arnaud is out for this series with a bum shoulder
  • Asdrubal Cabrera is day-to-day but is expected to play this series
  • Wilmer Flores has been on the DL but is expected to be activated for this series
  • Zack Wheeler is still recuperating from Tommy John and is not expected to return until July.

Positional Breakdown:

1st Base – Wilmer Flores is expected to replace Lucas Duda when he is activated off the DL. If  not, expect to see Eric Campbell. Flores is normally a middle infielder but from what I’ve read the Mets plan to play him at 1st. He has only played 1st base two times.  Flores was horrible in April but was having some success in May before hitting the DL. Hard to put any credence in his 2016 numbers because he has had so few at bats. If Flores does not play 1st it will probably be the right-handed Eric Campbell. He has shown no history of being able to hit, but he can sure take a walk. In only 479 major league appearances he has garnered 50 walks.

2nd Base – As great as Daniel Murphy has been for the Nationals (best hitting 2nd baseman in the NL) Walker has done his best to fill the void.  The switch hitting Walker has slugged eleven home runs already. His career high is 23, but he normally hits between 12 – 16 home runs over a full season. His wRC+ is at 119 putting him 5th in the NL for 2nd baseman.  This year he has four home runs with an OPS of 1.040 against LHP in only 34 plate appearances so Urias / Kershaw best be ready.

SS – The switch hitting Asdrubal Cabrera is doing as expected. He’s a fairly consistent hitter, notching in a tad below average since his hey days back in 2011/2012. This year he’s been right about average.

3rd Base – Thirty three year old David Wright is long way from his salad days as the main cog in any Met offense earlier this century. Hard to believe he’s been around since 2004. At least he’s playing this year after playing only 38 games in 2015. He’ll surpass that number this weekend. The triple stat line headed into the weekend is .226/.352/.421. He is not hitting for average but can still take a walk and pop a home run.

Catcher – Right handed Kevin Plawecki is seeing most of the time behind the plate with the injury to Travis d’Arnaud. Plawecki is having a horrible offensive season and that may just be who he is. His career triple stat line is now .210/.282/.267.

Right Field – Curtis Granderson leads off for the Mets and given his OBP is .297 he’s not setting the table very effectively for Cespedes and Conforto. Granderson started the season in fine fashion with a solid April but has hit the skids in May with a triple stat line of .155/.245/.333. That won’t get it done for a lead off hitter. Or any kind of hitter. I’m sure he’ll get straightened out but how much does the 35-year-old outfielder have?

Center Field – Yoenis Cespedes sees the most time in CF but he will also play some LF when a left-hander is starting. Cespedes must love something about the Mets. He was always an above average player but since becoming a Met last summer he has become almost other worldly. His career OPS is .820. Since becoming a Met, in 421 plate appearances he has hit 32 home runs, slugging % of .627, and an OPS of .981.  Cespedes signed a three-year deal with the Mets but can opt out after the 2016 season.

Left Field – belongs to one of better young hitters in baseball.  The 23-year-old left handed Michael Conforto seems to be the consummate hitter against right hand pitching. Left hand pitching is another story, but the Mets haven’t let him have much opportunity yet with only 45 plate appearances so far in his career. Looks a bit like a peek Andre Ethier.

 

Utility Outfielder – Since the Dodgers are throwing the two best left handers in the NL at the Mets, you can expect to see Juan Lagares twice this weekend. He was once regarded as one of the best fielding center fielders in the game, but his offense kept him from being a regular. He does however hit left handers well enough to get burn when a southpaw faces the Mets.

Rotation:

Game One – Jacob DeGroom has seen his K rate (K per nine) drop substantially from 9.7 in 2015 to 6.6 in 2016. The walk rate (BB per nine) has increased from an optimal 1.8 to 2.4. He has also been much more hittable and thus is sporting a WHIP of 1.244 compared to last years elite .979.  In limited sample size he’s been dominant at home but can’t seem to strike out anyone on the road.  Urias will probably need to shut out the Mets for five innings for the Dodgers to have a chance to win this game 1 – 0.

Game Two – Thor (Noah Syndergaard) – for all the talk of Jake Arrieta I’d think if I was a right-handed major league hitter I’d rather face Jake than Thor. How could the Blue Jays ever trade someone like this? Career K rate double digits, career walk rate below 2. At age 23 he already is one of the elite pitchers in baseball. It is a shame this game does not match up Kershaw against Thor because it would have 1-0 written all over it.

Game Three – The ageless Bartolo Colon just keeps rolling along. He’s now 43 and it looks like he’ll throw another 190 or so innings of solid baseball. He’s joined the select company of pitchers who have thrown 3,000 innings, struck out over 2,000,  while walking only 867. Only eight major league pitchers have accomplished this.

Bullpen:

The closer is Jeurys Familia and while he’s only been at it barely more than a calendar year, he’s already one of the best in the game at closing the door. His setup man this year is Hansel Robles, along with Addison Reed, and Jim Henderson. Robles hits around 95 with his fastball. Trayce Thompson hit a walk off home run off of Robles earlier this month, the only home run Robles has given up this year. The lefties out of the bullpen are old stand byes Jerry Blevins and Antonio Bastardo. Blevins has been excellent this year, while Bastardo has the highest walk rate among Met pitchers.

Recap:

At least Urias did not draw Thor in his first major league assignment, but DeGroom at home may prove to be just as tough a draw. The Dodgers will have their work cut out with back to back starts against DeGroom and Thor, hoping to finagle a low scoring win. The best game for the Dodgers is of course any game Kershaw starts, but Colon is no easy picking. This will be a tough series for a team struggling with offense.

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