Mets/Nationals Preview: Home Opener Series

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It’s that time again–time to take that [hopefully] packed 7 train out to Flushing, rush past those aggressive scalpers [desperately] pushing [well-under-priced] tickets, and finally enjoy a home game [or just Shake Shack]. After an interesting road trip where the Mets beat the Florida Marlins 2-1, and almost took two games from the Phillies, the Mets will now face yet another division “rival” in the Washington Nationals (2-4 this season). However, unlike past Nationals teams, the 2011 version features some new and improved faces.

PITCHING MATCH-UPS

GAME 1: 4/8/11 (4:10 PM)
R.A. Dickey (2011: 1-0, 0.00 ERA, 1.33 WHIP): One of the greatest stories of 2010 was how R.A. Dickey, a 35 year-old cast-off pitcher, was able to hone his newly-found knuckleball, and enjoy, by far, the best season in his career. The veteran posted a superb 2.84 ERA, 1.18 WHIP, 11 Wins, and 2.48 K/BB ratio in 174.3 IP in 2010. To the delight of Mets fans, Dickey picked up right where he left off last season in his first 2011 appearance, shutting out the Marlins over 6 innings, allowing only 5 hits, 3 walks, and striking out 7 batters. There’s little reason to think that Dickey won’t continue his success in 2011. (Career vs. Nationals: .264/.346/.330 line with a 1-1 record, 4.18 ERA, 1.43 WHIP, and 1.10 K/BB ratio)

Jordan Zimmermann (2011: 0-1, 3.00 ERA, 1.16 WHIP): Since recovering from his 2009 Tommy John surgery, Jordan Zimmerann is finally ready to prove why there’s been so much talk about his future in the bigs. The right-handed hurler came back in the latter part of 2010, and posted 4.94 ERA, 1.32 WHIP, 2.70 K/BB ratio in 31 IP last season. Zimmerman pitched 6 solid innings against the Braves, giving up 4 hits, 2 earned-runs, 3 walks, and striking out 2 batters. Now with a clean bill of health, Zimmerman is looking to help lead the Nationals out of the cellar. (Career vs. Mets: .253/.326/.392 line with a 1-1 record, 3.54 ERA, 1.37 WHIP, and 2.25 K/BB ratio)

GAME 2: 4/9/11 (7:10 PM)
Chris Capuano (2011: 0-0, 13.50 ERA, 6.00 WHIP): Chris Capuano’s career started with the Brewers in 2004, and posted two back-to-back successful seasons in 2005 and 2006, winning a combined 29 games with a 4.01 ERA, 1.31 WHIP, 7.2 K/9 IP, and 2.8 BB/9 IP. However, the lefty was forced to opt for his second career Tommy John surgery before the 2008 season, knocking him out until mid-2010. While Cap did not pitch the entire length of the 2010 season, he did post a 4.14 ERA, 1.35 WHIP, 6.7 K/9 IP, and 2.27 BB/9 IP in 9 starts. The Mets skipped his turn in the rotation the first week, but he did see some action out of the bullpen. “Cappy” showed some promise towards the end of 2010, so hopefully he’ll be able to build on it in 2011. (Careers vs. Nationals: .253/.312/.384 line with a 1-2 record, 3.58 ERA, 1.15 WHIP, and 3.43 K/BB ratio)

Tom Gorzelanny (2010: 7-9, 4.09 ERA, 1.49 WHIP): Gorzelanny first showed major league success when he won 14 games with a 3.88 ERA, 1.39 WHIP, and 135 K’s in 201.6 IP for the Pirates. However, the big left-hander followed up a solid campaign, with a horrendous one in 2008 (6.66 ERA, 1.80 WHIP, 5.7 K/9 IP, and 6.0 BB/9 IP), which led to his departure in 2009. Needing a filler for the injured Ted Lilly, the Cubs gave Gorzelanny a chance to start, and he responded with an impressive 2.45 ERA, 1.04 WHIP, 7.0 K/9 IP, and 2.86 BB/9 IP in April/March. Due to the Carlos Zambrano situation, Gorzelanny kept his rotation spot, but lost his sparkling control as the season marched on. Overall, his 2010 was pretty mediocre–a 4.09 ERA, 1.49 WHIP, 7.9 K/9 IP, and 4.5 BB/9 IP–but the still Nationals took a chance on the lefty, and he’ll serve as their fifth starter. (Career vs. Mets: .227/.355/.330 line with a 2-3 record, 5.11 ERA, 1.50 WHIP, and 0.88 K/BB ratio)

GAME 3: 4/10/11 (1:10 PM)
Chris R. Young (2011: 1-0, 1.69 ERA, 1.68 WHIP): Despite only pitching 96 innings between 2009 and 2010 due to injuries, Chris R. Young’s promising 0.90 ERA, 1.05 WHIP, 2 Wins, and 1.36 K/BB ratio in 20 IP (4 starts) towards the end of ’10 was enough for the Mets to take a chance on the former Princeton graduate. Young made his debut against Cole Hamels and the Phillies, and looked particularly sharp through the first four innings, but was obviously winded by the fifth. He managed to record the win while pitching 5.3 innings, giving up 5 hits, just 1 earned-run, 4 walks, and striking out 7 batters. Young also showed off with the bat, going 3-3 with a RBI and run scored. Young main goal in 2011 is obviously stamina, but his first start was promising to say at least. (Careers vs. Nationals: .207/.284/.359 line with a 3-1 record, 2.42 ERA, 1.07 WHIP, and 2.67 K/BB ratio)

Jason Marquis (2011: 0-0, 2.84 ERA, 0.94 WHIP): Jason Marquis, who grew up in Manhasset, NY, only started 3 games in 2010 before finding out he had bone chips in his right pitching elbow. Marquis came back in August, but pitched an overall 6.60 ERA, 1.70 WHIP, and 1.29 K/BB ratio. Despite the lackluster 2010, Marquis looked anew against his former team, the Braves, hurling 6.3 innings, surrendering 6 hits, 2 earned-runs, zero walks, and striking out 2 batters. The Nationals are praying the righty will make due on the two-year, $15 million contract they handed him before the 2010 season. (Career vs. Mets: .291/.362/.434 line with a 6-7 record, 4.65 ERA, 1.52 WHIP, and 1.22 K/BB ratio)

OVERVIEW OF NATIONALS HITTING ADDITIONS

The Nationals signed Jayson Werth to a historic seven-year, $126 million contract this past off-season, and plan to bat him second in the batting order. The addition of Werth gives the Nationals a nice power/speed combination at the top of their lineup. Also, former Twins top prospects Wilson Ramos will get a shot at sharing the catcher duties with Ivan “Pudge Rodriguez.” Ramos owned a .285/.332/.431 line in the minors, and his as many as 13 HR in 2008. In addition to Ramos, the Nationals handed the keys over to their own second base prospect, Danny Espinosa. Espinosa posted a .268/.337/.464 line with 22 HR, 69 RBI, 80 R, and 25 SB between Double-A and Triple-A last season. The 23 year-old will certainly be a fixture in the Nationals middle-infield for many years to come.

BATTING LINE-UPS SPLITS

Mets vs. Left-Handed Pitching (Tom Gorzelanny)
SS Jose Reyes (.310/.310/.379 line with 0 HR, 0 RBI, 4 R, and 2 SB)
CF Angel Pagan (.227/.393/.364 line with 1 HR, 3 RBI, 5 R, and 3 SB)
3B David Wright (.346/.393/.538 line with 1 HR, 5 RBI, 5 R, and 1 SB)
RF Carlos Beltran (.176/.300/.235 line with 0 HR, 2 RBI, 4 R, and 0 SB)
1B Ike Davis (.348/.423/.609 line with 1 HR, 6 RBI, 3 R, and 0 SB)
LF Scott Hairston (.125/.222/.125 line with 0 HR, 2 RBI, 1 R, and 0 SB)
2B Brad Emaus (.235/.316/.235 line with 0 HR, 1 RBI, 0 R, and 0 SB)
C Josh Thole (.313/.389/.375 line with 0 HR, 1 RBI, 0 R, and 0 SB)

Mets vs. Right-Handed Pitching (Jordan Zimmerman and Jason Marquis)
SS Jose Reyes (.310/.310/.379 line with 0 HR, 0 RBI, 4 R, and 2 SB)
CF Angel Pagan (.227/.393/.364 line with 1 HR, 3 RBI, 5 R, and 3 SB)
3B David Wright (.346/.393/.538 line with 1 HR, 5 RBI, 5 R, and 1 SB)
RF Carlos Beltran (.176/.300/.235 line with 0 HR, 2 RBI, 4 R, and 0 SB)
1B Ike Davis (.348/.423/.609 line with 1 HR, 6 RBI, 3 R, and 0 SB)
LF Willie Harris (.353/.421/.647 line with 1 HR, 4 RBI, 4 R, and 1 SB)
2B Brad Emaus (.235/.316/.235 line with 0 HR, 1 RBI, 0 R, and 0 SB)
C Josh Thole (.313/.389/.375 line with 0 HR, 1 RBI, 0 R, and 0 SB)

Nationals vs. Left-Handed Pitching (Chris Capuano)
SS Ian Desmond
RF Jayson Werth
3B Ryan Zimmerman
3B Adam LaRoche
LF Mike Morse
CF Rick Ankiel
2B Danny Espinosa
C Ivan Rodriguez/Wilson Ramos

Nationals vs. Right-Handed Pitching (R.A. Dickey and Chris R. Young)
SS Ian Desmond
RF Jayson Werth
3B Ryan Zimmerman
3B Adam LaRoche
LF Mike Morse
CF Rick Ankiel
2B Danny Espinosa
C Ivan Rodriguez/Wilson Ramos

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