Series Preview: Arizona Diamondbacks @ New York Mets

After a disappointing 2-4 road trip, the Mets are returning home to Citi Field for a quick, three-game homestand against the Arizona Diamondbacks,who are making their last stop on a 10-game, east coast swing before they head back to the desert for a week. These are two teams in very different states right now, even though they both have similar records. New York is coming off an embarrassing sweep at the hands of the lowly Astros, who would win the World Series if they kept playing the Mets. After losing three straight to finish off their trip to the mid-west, New York is happy seeing the friendly confines of Citi Field again, where they are 8-5 in 2012. Arizona has performed well on theroad thus far in the season, sporting a 7-6 record.

How they’re performing:

In the National League West, there are three kinds of teams: dominant (Dodgers), horrible (Padres), or something in the middle

Apr 25, 2012; Flushing, NY, USA; New York Mets second baseman Daniel Murphy (28) high fives teammate David Wright (5) after his 2 run homer in the 6th inning against the Miami Marlins at Citi Field. Mandatory Credit: William Perlman/The Star-Ledger via US PRESSWIRE

(Dbacks, Rockies,Giants). LA’s hot start has allowed them to build a sizable cushion for this early in the season, and Arizona is the first team looking up to Don Mattingly’s club in the division. They have picked things up lately on the road to climb the ranks, taking four out of seven against the Marlins and Nationals.

Statistically speaking, the Dbacks are a decent offensive ballclub; their .254 team batting average is 14th in the league, but they have shown a propensity for scoring runs, ranking 10th with 113. In the pitching department, they’re respectable with a 3.98 ERA and 1.30 WHIP, but the bullpen has blown five save opportunities in 12 tries, which is the main reason as to why Kurt Gibson’s crew is currently hovering at .500 as the calendar flips to May.

On the other hand, despite the Mets struggles, the top of the division has not been putting any space between each other. Both the Nationals and Braves had mediocre weeks, and so have the Mets, going 5-5 in their last 10 contests. This series is important for New York because it’s the first of three important match-ups, as they head to Philadelphia and Miami next week.

New York continues to stay in the top-10 in the Majors in batting average(.264) and on-base percentage (.335), but a combination of having the third fewest steals in the league (8) and not being able to hit with runners in scoring position, the Amazins are tied for 18th in the MLB with 95 runs scored, averaging 3.8 per game. This past road trip was not kind to the pitching staff, which saw the team ERA bloat up to 4.58 and their WHIP hasrisen to 1.43, both better than only five teams in the Bigs.

Probable pitching match-ups:

The Met offense will have some young, but very talented Diamondback pitchers that they will have to deal with during this weekend series. However,with the current three-game skid, I wouldn’t want any other pitchers taking the mound for the Mets.

Wade Miley (ARI) vs. Dillon Gee (NYM)

Patrick Corbin (ARI) vs. Johan Santana (NYM)

Trevor Cahill (ARI) vs. R.A. Dickey (NYM)

Dillon Gee at home is normally effective, and I’ll take Johan and Dickey anytime, anywhere. Wade Miley is fresh off his NL pitcher of the month honors, Corbin will be making his second start in place of the injured Josh Collmenter, and Trevor Cahill is coming off a dominant performance against the Nationals.

Recent Head-to-Head results:

This is the first match-up between these teams in 2012, and most of the time, New York and Arizona lock up in some good contests, but the Dbacks have had the upper hand since 2010.

Two years ago, they played six games in about a two week span, first starting in New York, then traveling out to the desert. The one constant was that Arizona continued to win; the Mets were swept out of the desert, and then lost two out of three at home. This season set included a 14-inning marathon, one that was won by the Diamondbacks in the final game of the first series. Arizona won four games in a row before New York broke into the win column in the fifth game, and the Dbacks scored in double digits twice.

Last season, the Mets were able to fare better in their season series, splitting the six games three apiece. They met for the first time at Citi Field towards the end of April, where New York swept Kurt Gibson’s eventual NL West champions, but they got the best of Terry Collins’ group with a three-game sweep of their own in Arizona.

Apr 24, 2012; Flushing, NY, USA; New York Mets starting pitcher Johan Santana throws a pitch during the game against the Miami Marlins at Citi Field. Mandatory Credit: William Perlman/THE STAR-LEDGER via US PRESSWIRE

Match-ups to watch for:

There are two pitcher/hitter match-ups that I’m excited to watch. The first one is Johan Santana against Justin Upton. The right fielder for the Dbacks has gotten off to a decent start, but he has the potential to end up near .300/30/100 territory by the time the calendar turns to September. I’m interested to see how Santana decides to use his lethal changeup against the young slugger in an attempt to keep him off balance, and in the ballpark.

The second match-up that I’m looking forward to is happening tonight;Wade Miley against Ike Davis. The Mets first baseman has shown some life in his bat over the most recent road trip, but he still has a ways to go before he’sback to “normal.” He’s been struggling against most left-handers this year and it will be interesting to see how Miley pitches to Davis, along with the rest of the Mets’ mostly left-handed lineup.

What are you most excited to see in this series? Do you think the Mets can get back on track and keep pace with Washington and Atlanta in the NL East?

Thanks for reading! You can follow Rising Apple on Twitter at @RisingAppleBlog and like us here on Facebook. You can also follow Matt Musico on Twitter @mmusico8

Topics: Arizona Diamondbacks, David Wright, Dillon Gee, Ike Davis, Johan Santana, New York Mets, R.A. Dickey, Rising Apple, Series Preview

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