David Wright and the Mets are heading into Miami for their second stop on a three-city road trip to face the Marlins, and are enjoying their hottest streak of what has been a very cold second half. They have taken two of three in their last two match-ups against the Astros and Phillies, and despite going 4-6 in their last ten games, they’ve won four of their last five contests. At 61-70, they currently sit in fourth place in the NL East, 18 games out of first, but one game out of third, and two games ahead of Miami.
How the opposition is doing:
With the big spending that happened by the Marlins last winter, it was expected they would have a stellar season, but that couldn’t be farther from what has actually occurred. They have been one of the biggest disappointments this season by far, and traded Hanley Ramirez and Randy Choate to the Dodgers before the non-waiver trade deadline to essentially wave their white flag to surrender. They’ve gone 4-6 in their last ten games and currently reside in the basement of the NL East with their 59-72 record.
Offensively, Miami has struggled all year, as they own the 7th worst offense in baseball (according to batting average). Justin Ruggiano has been doing a good job by leading the squad with his .325 average in just over 70 games played. Greg Dobbs (.307 BA) has done a good job in a part-time role this season, and Giancarlo Stanton (.291), Omar Infante (.287), and Jose Reyes (.283) have been providing some support as well. It’s no surprise that Stanton leads the way with 29 homers and 72 RBI, but Ramirez is still second in both categories, even though he was traded away a month ago. The Marlins have a 4.13 staff ERA, which ranks 20th in the MLB, but Choate was one of their best relievers, and now pitches for LA. Mark Buehrle leads the team in wins (12) and innings pitched (166.2), while Josh Johnson leads the way with 139 strikeouts, and Steve Cishek‘s 2.06 ERA is the lowest on the staff.
Probable pitching match-ups:
As Dickey continues to win, he continues to go into uncharted territory when it comes to the performance of Mets pitchers in recent memory. With his win against the Astros last week, he became the first 16-winner for New York since Johan Santana in 2008. He will look to become the first 17-game winner since Al Leiter in 1998. After his crazy first half (12-1, 2.40 ERA), Dickey has come back down to earth, but a 4-3 record and 3.47 ERA is nothing to sneeze at. Nathan Eovaldi had a tough first half with Los Angeles, but it’s gotten worse since he was traded to Miami for Hanley Ramirez. The young righty has gone 3-3 with a 5.33 ERA, 2.07 WHIP, and .319 opponent batting average. In 44 innings pitched, he boasts a 6.95 ERA against left-handed hitters, which could spell disaster for the Marlins.
Jeremy Hefner (2-5, 4.65 ERA) vs. Josh Johnson (7-11, 4.00 ERA)
After coming back from paternity leave to have one of his best starts to date in a Major League uniform, Jeremy Hefner is looking to back it up with another quality start. For a pitcher that has great control, he’ll have to throw quality pitches when he’s behind in the count, as he has a 9.18 ERA when he doesn’t throw strike one, yet he’s quietly putting together his best month of the year (1-1, 3.16 ERA in 25.2 IP). On the other hand, Josh Johnson only went 3 innings in his last start, breaking his 19-start streak of throwing at least 5 or more innings. Johnson is looking to break a personal four-game losing streak, and will gladly be attempting to do so at home (5-5, 3.06 ERA at home vs. 2-6, 5.22 ERA away).
Chris Young (3-7, 4.64 ERA) vs. Mark Buehrle (12-11, 3.62 ERA)
Terry Collins is hoping Chris Young can get to the 5th inning in the finale of this weekend’s series, something he wasn’t able to do in his last start against Philadelphia, and hasn’t done three of the last six times he’s taken the mound. Throwing his fastball in the low-80s, it’s vital to Young’s success that he gets ahead of hitters and doesn’t miss his targets. So, he needs to throw strike one more often, where he owns a 3.41 ERA, and avoid falling behind hitters, where he sports a 6.75 ERA. Buehrle has been one of the few bright spots for Miami this season, as he’s currently on a personal three-game win streak. The southpaw enjoys pitching at home (7-4, 2.91 ERA), and is enjoying his best month (3-1, 3.69 ERA, 1.20 WHIP in August) since May (4-0, 3.19 ERA, 1.06 WHIP).
The Mets will win this series if:
They can get to the Marlins pitching early and often. The starting pitching and bullpen for the Mets have been performing tremendously of late, and for them to continue doing what they’re doing, it would be best for the offense to score some early runs and give them something to work with. That means Lucas Duda needs to keep hitting the ball hard, as the offense looks more in sync with him in it.
Also, the starting rotation needs to continue giving Terry Collins some length in their starts. Dickey is known to go deep into games, but it will be important for both Hefner and Young to get into the sixth or seventh inning so the bullpen won’t pile up innings in a short amount of time.
Let’s hope the Mets can give Jose Reyes and company something else to frown about this year….Let’s go Mets!