At the moment, the New York Mets are ahead of the Philadelphia Phillies in the National League East standings. That, my friends, is one of the beautiful things about the MLB regular season being only a week old. Either way, the Amazins have looked a lot better than the Fightin’ Phils over the first six games of the year, as Marlon Byrd helped New York earn their second-straight series win, while Philadelphia dropped a close one to the Kansas City Royals, which was their second-straight series loss to start the season. Let’s take a look at the pitching match-ups for the first of many meetings between these divisional foes:
In getting his first career win at Citi Field, Matt Harvey kept the home fans warm on a incredibly cold night against the San Diego Padres. He was in control throughout his seven-inning performance, striking out 10 hitters en route to his successful 2013 debut in the Orange and Blue. From what I saw on Wednesday, his fastball had a little extra life at the end of its path toward the plate, and I wonder if he’ll be able to ramp up that 93 and 94 mph mark into the upper 90s with the warmer Philadelphia weather.
Like Cole Hamels, it’s been a tough start to the season for Roy Halladay, who only lasted 3.1 innings in his season debut against the Atlanta Braves, allowing five runs on six hits and and an uncharacteristic three walks. However, he was still able to rack up nine strikeouts. Doc had a tough spring training, dealing with the flu and losing 10 pounds, while trying to get himself ready for the season. Last year wasn’t a typical year for Halladay (11-8, 4.49 ERA), and if he wants to return to the Cy Young form people have come to expect from him, he’ll need to put away the opposition with two outs. In that situation during 2012, he sported a 6.89 ERA and 1.47 WHIP.
Gee was the hard luck loser in the series finale against the Padres, who were able to escape Flushing with a 2-1 victory. However, in his first game action since last July, it was an encouraging start for the right-hander, as he hopes to be an important piece of this year’s rotation. Usually known for his ability to stay around the strike zone, Gee walked three batters and hit another one in his 6.1 innings on Thursday, but limited the damage to one run despite not being able to get offense from a lineup that produced 19 runs in the prior two games.
Last season, it took Cliff Lee until July to get his first victory, but it was much quicker this year, as he put together a signature performance against Atlanta following disappointing ones from Halladay and Hamels. He took matters into his own hands by tossing eight shutout innings, allowing only two hits and striking out eight batters. It will be interesting to see how Terry Collins mixes in Lucas Duda, Ike Davis, and Daniel Murphy into the lineup against Lee, who posted a 1.80 ERA against left-handed hitters.
Like Gee, Hefner put together a quality start in his first appearance of the regular season, but a lack of offense prevented the right-hander from avoiding the loss column. In his efforts to stay more consistent than he was in his rookie season, Hefner will want to continue to stay ahead of hitters. Without an overpowering pitch to use when he falls behind, he struggled to an 8.49 ERA and .355 opponent batting average in that situation throughout 2012.
It shouldn’t be overly surprising that Kyle Kendrick had a tough time in his season debut against the Kansas City Royals (5.2 IP, 5 ER, 8 H, 2 BB, 3 K), as his 6.88 ERA and 1.35 WHIP in 17 spring training innings could have been some foreshadowing. Getting a legitimate chance to be a starter in Philadelphia, Kendrick hopes to regain his form from the second half of 2012, where he went 9-4 with a 2.87 ERA in 19 appearances (12 starts).
The Mets won the season series in 2012, winning 10 of the 18 match-ups between the two. Even though Philly scored three more runs than the Mets (90-87), New York had their number at Citizen’s Bank, racking up a 7-2 record on the road, while scuffling to a 3-6 record at Citi Field. David Wright and company hope to keep this strong start to the season going as they venture out of Flushing for the first of many road trips in the coming months. Let’s go Mets!