The Mets come home after a week away from Citi Field to play seven games between two other teams also below the .500 mark…the Rockies and Astros. New York just endured a 2-4 road trip as they look to get back on track against a Colorado team that has disappointed this season. Terry Collins has seen his team fall well out of playoff contention over the last month, as the Mets are 57-64, and 18 games behind the Nationals, while also being 10 games out of the Wild Card.
How the opposition is doing:
Although the Mets performed well in the first half, no one was expecting them to do so. On the other hand, the Rockies were being picked to contend for a wide open NL West title. Matt Kemp and the Dodgers got off to a hot start, Buster Posey and the Giants caught up, but the Rockies never caught fire, as they’re 46-73 and 19.5 games back in the division, putting them dead last in the West.
Offense is never the problem for the Rockies; Carlos Gonzalez currently leads the club out of those qualified for the batting title with a .320/.389/.542 line. Dexter Fowler (.302/.387/.499) has put together a great season, and Josh Rutledge (.331/.349/.605) has done a good job filling in for the injured Troy Tulowitzki in his 124 at-bats. It’s safe to say that CarGo is the offensive MVP, as he also leads the team in runs scored (78), homers (20), RBI (79), and stolen bases (16). However, the pitching is another story. To put it in perspective, Rex Brothers (6-2, 4.93 ERA in 55 appearances) leads the team in wins, and he’s a reliever. The bullpen has actually been a strong point for Colorado, as there are five relievers with 40 or more appearance and an ERA under 4.30 (Rafael Betancourt, Josh Roenick, Matt Belisle, Adam Ottavino, and Matt Reynolds)…it’s the rotation that’s a mess. Christian Friedrich leads the starters with 5 wins to go with his 6.17 ERA, and Drew Pomeranz, despite being 1-7, has the lowest ERA out of all the starters, as he sports a 4.87 mark.
Probable pitching match-ups:
Like most of the pitchers in the Rockies rotation, Alex White has had a tough year. However, after a turbulent first half (2-6, 6.45 ERA in 10 starts), he’s calmed down after being called back up in August (0-0, 3.63 ERA in 4 starts). This sounds like an oxymoron, but White would rather pitch at home (1-3, 4.74 ERA, 1.47 WHIP) than on the road (1-3, 6.97 ERA, 1.84 WHIP). He hasn’t pitched more than four innings in his last three starts, so getting ahead of hitters and having confidence in his sinker is vitally important. Meanwhile, R.A. Dickey continues to pitch on his regular rest, looking to bounce back after giving up three homers to the Reds, a season-high. The knuckleballer is happy to pitch at Citi, where he owns a 2.66 ERA and 0.95 WHIP. In his last five starts (35 IP), he’s struck out 43 hitters.
Chacin has had a tough season to date; in his five starts this season, he’s pitched beyond the fifth inning once, and has been on the DL since May 6th. He makes his return to the rotation tomorrow night in New York, after going 1-1 with a 2.63 ERA. Jim Tracy is hoping they get the Chacin they sent out to the hill in 2011, when he went 11-14, but with a 3.62 ERA and 1.31 WHIP. Young will be heading to the hill tomorrow night after receiving two extra days of rest due to the six-man rotation. The tall righty put together a gutsy performance his last time out in Cincinnati, allowing 12 base runners to reach (8 hits, 4 walks), but didn’t allow a run. Either way, in his last four starts, he’s failed to get through 6 innings twice, and reached the 7th inning once.
Reports surfaced this weekend that the Rockies plan to try their best to re-sign Francis after the season, but he’s struggled as well. In his last five starts (23 IP), he’s allowed 21 runs, and hasn’t gotten through six innings in any of those appearances. Most of Francis’ struggles have happened after the All-Star game, where he’s gone 2-2 with a 6.87 ERA, and a .318 opponent batting average. Right-handed hitters are getting the best of him, as they’re hitting .326 and scoring 45 runs off him, yielding a 7.06 ERA. Harvey is coming off his best start of the season (7.2 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 8 K) and is looking to finish his season on a high note, as he has less than 30 innings to pitch before he hits his limit. What’s been impressive is that although Harvey ends up walking hitters once he’s behind in the count, he has a 2.57 ERA in those instances, as well as a 0.00 ERA when he gets ahead in the count.
Tyler Chatwood (3-3, 5.46 ERA) vs. Johan Santana (6-9, 4.85 ERA)
Chatwood had a rough outing against the Marlins in his last trip to the mound, as he gave up 6 runs in 4 innings. All six of those earned runs came in his first 1.2 innings pitched, then he settled down for the rest once he found out he was too high in the strike zone. He’s done much better as a starter (2-2, 3.93 ERA in 4 starts) than he has as a reliever this season (1-1, 7.62 ERA in 7 appearances. On the other hand, Johan Santana has struggled mightily in his last five starts. After a discussion between Terry Collins and Sandy Alderson, they have decided to go forth with their plan to start him on Thursday, but limit him to less than 100 pitches.
The Mets will win this series if:
They can make some noise against the Colorado starters. Although they haven’t exactly been producing consistently, David Wright and Ike Davis are starting to get hot, so they need to spark some rallies early in the game so they can dig their teeth into the bullpen and create a shortage for Jim Tracy later on in the series.
They need to keep Dexter Fowler off the base paths. He’s second on the team with 66 runs scored and he only has 11 stolen bases, but he can fly around the base paths. The Mets certainly don’t want Carlos Gonzalez to beat them, so they need to be sure no one is on base when he steps to the plate.
With these seven games coming up, New York could make a push to get back to .500…Let’s go Mets!