Series Preview: New York Mets @ San Francisco Giants

On their way to San Francisco, the Mets are experiencing a weird feeling; after R.A. Dickey helped silence the bats of the Arizona Diamondbacks, the Amazins are going away without losing a series for the first time since they took two of three from the Phillies from July 3rd-5th. These two teams will meet for the first time since the Giants took three of four at Citi Field in April. The last time these two met, the Mets won on a Buster Posey throwing error, and Mike Pelfrey was still in the rotation. Seems like light years ago.

How they’re performing:

Although splitting a four-game set shouldn’t be considered a victory, it certainly feels like it for Terry Collins’ club. At 49-53, the Mets have seen themselves virtually fall out of both the race for the division (12.5 GB) and the Wild Card (8.5 GB), they’re going to try and fight hard over the last two months without any help from the front office before the trade deadline rolls around tomorrow afternoon. Offensively, Ruben Tejada (.316 BA) and Daniel Murphy (.305 BA) have been trying to help out a struggling David Wright (.332 BA), who’s seen Ike Davis get white hot. Wright still holds the club lead with 71 RBI, but Davis has taken the home run lead, now with 20 on the season. The starting pitching has been spotty, but Dickey got back on track yesterday in the desert, and we saw a glimpse of what Matt Harvey could give New York for years to come. The bullpen has been performing better of late, especially with solid showings from Bobby Parnell, Jon Rauch, Josh Edgin, and surprisingly, Manny Acosta.

Jul. 29, 2012; Phoenix, AZ, USA; New York Mets base runner David Wright (5) slides into home plate in the fifth inning against Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field. Mandatory Credit: Jennifer Hilderbrand-US PRESSWIRE

The Giants aren’t exactly having a good time right now either; they have lost four games in a row and just got swept by the division rival Dodgers, now in a tie for first place in the NL West, both sporting a 55-46 record. The biggest offensive surprise for San Francisco this season has been the 2012 All-Star game MVP, Melky Cabrera. He’s hitting .353/.393/.520 this season, and leading the team in all those categories. Buster Posey (.314/.377/.497) ranks second to the Melk Man in those categories, having a great bounce back season after missing all last year. Cabrera and Posey also rank one-two in home runs and RBI, with Melky hitting 10 bombs and driving in 51, while Posey has 13 homers and 60 RBI. They have more work to do now that Pablo Sandoval is back on the DL.

As always, the Giants’ success has been largely dependent of their pitching. Santiago Casilla (3.05 ERA, 24 saves) has helped fill the void that Brian Wilson has left from his injury, and Ryan Vogelsong (2.22 ERA), Matt Cain (2.80 ERA), and Madison Bumgarner (3.10) have all been having stellar seasons. However, the organization can only imagine what type of year they could be having if Tim Lincecum wasn’t 4-11 with a 5.88 ERA. Thankfully, Barry Zito has been having his best season as a Giant, sporting an 8-7 record and 3.86 ERA.

Probable pitching match-ups:

Jeremy Hefner (1-4, 5.40 ERA) vs. Madison Bumgarner (11-6, 3.10 ERA)

Although Hefner got the loss against the Nats in his first start filling in for Johan Santana, he pitched very well, only giving up 2 runs in 6 innings pitched. It looks as though he will stay in the rotation until Santana is healthy enough to return, and Hefner is happy he’s on the road, because even though he has an 0-2 record, he owns a 3.14 ERA and 0.91 WHIP away from Citi. Bumgarner is enjoying his current streak of three straight quality starts, but only has one win out of it, but is remarkably better at AT&T Park, going 7-1 with a 1.89 ERA and 0.87 WHIP in 2012.

Matt Harvey (1-0, 0.00) vs. Tim Lincecum (4-11, 5.88 ERA)

Harvey is coming off one of the best MLB debuts a pitcher has had in quite some time. He struck out a franchise record 11 hitters and was the first pitcher to have 10+ K’s and two hits of his own in his debut since 1900. Collins is interested to see how Harvey fares in his second start, looking for the adrenaline to go down a bit. Harvey was lighting up the gun at 96 mph in Arizona, when he normally comes in at 93-94 mph. On the other hand, Lincecum thought he turned the corner in his first two starts after the All-Star break, going 1-0 with a 1.20 ERA, but that was erased with a lackluster start against the Padres. However, he’s more comfortable at home, where his ERA (3.90) is four runs lower than it is on the road.

Jonathon Niese (7-5, 3.86 ERA) vs. Matt Cain (10-3, 2.80 ERA)

Niese is looking to get over his throwing error in Arizona by getting back on track against the Giants. The southpaw has had an up-and-down season thus far, having strong months of April and June (5-1, 2.35 ERA), but has struggled in May and July (2-4, 5.35 ERA). He’s hoping August is better. If you thought Matt Cain was having a great year, it should only get better in August, where his 3.01 career in the month is his lowest of any of the others he’s pitched in. He’s hoping to improve on his 2.13 ERA and 0.80 WHIP at home.

Chris Young (2-5, 4.58 ERA) vs. Barry Zito (8-7, 3.86 ERA)

It looked like Young was getting on a roll with his two straight quality starts against Washington, but he took a step backward against Arizona, getting hit around a bit. He’ll be looking to deliver his 7th quality start in his last 9 tries in the finale, hoping to bring down that 5.70 ERA away from Citi Field. Zito is enjoying a great year, and only lost one game in July, which came in his last start. The biggest problem has been the first inning; the southpaw has a 6.30 in the opening frame in his 20 starts.

Who’s Hot:

Ike Davis has been over his early season slump for quite some time now, but he’s really found his power stroke of late. His three-homer game over the weekend gave him 13 total bases, which tied a Mets franchise record. He’s seen his triple slash climb to .213/.277/.441,

July 23, 2012; San Francisco, CA, USA; San Francisco Giants catcher Buster Posey (28) hits a single for an RBI against the San Diego Padres during the first inning at AT

and is stoked to stay on the road (.270/.333/.598) instead of going back home to New York (.151/.214/.270).

Before the season, the Giants were depending on Buster Posey to repeat the type of offensive performance he had during their 2010 World Series run. With all that pressure, he’s done that and more, having his best month of the year to-date (.372/.425/.577), and is hitting .400 over the last week and a half. He’ll have to deal with only facing one lefty in Jon Niese (.402 BA vs. LHP) and trying to figure out some righties (.277 BA vs. RHP).

Who’s Not:

Thankfully, we don’t say this too often, but I have to right now: David Wright is cold. He’s hitting .154 in his last ten games and has seen his season average drop from .350 to .332 in that time. He did get a hit and two walks in the finale against the Dbacks, so hopefully he’s coming out of his slump. The road trip should be good for him, as he’s hit a remarkable .369/.447/.631 away from Flushing, including 42 of his 71 RBI.

After a productive first half (.284/.330/.407), Angel Pagan has been slumping of late, hitting .184 in his last ten games. He’s gotten a hit in each of his last five games, but that’s only including two RBI in the last week and a half. The switch hitter has had more success batting left-handed in 2012, hitting .281/.326/.398.

Let’s see if New York can start making a statement…Let’s go Mets!

Topics: Angel Pagan, Buster Posey, Chris Young, Daniel Murphy, David Wright, Ike Davis, Jeremy Hefner, Jonathon Niese, Matt Cain, Matt Harvey, Matt Musico, Mets Giants, Mets Series Preview, New York Mets, Pablo Sandoval, Rising Apple, Series Preview, Tim Linceum

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