Series Preview: New York Mets @ Houston Astros


The Mets were able to bounce back from their atrocious loss Friday night at Coors Field and won the series in Denver. Now, they’re on their way to play one of the worst teams in the National League: the Houston Astros. The young squad led by Brad Mills has lost two straight games against the Cincinnati Reds, but have shown some life of late, going 4-6 in the last ten games after a 4-8 start. It’s not much of an improvement, but Houston will take any positive signs where they can get them. New York is continuing to trend above .500 as they travel to Texas for the last stop on their second road trip of the year.

How they’re performing:

Like most teams that travel to Coors Field, the Mets offense came to life, scoring 22 runs in their three games in the Mile High City. After their offensive outburst, New York’s team batting average has moved to fifth in the league to .269. The Mets have now scored 88 runs in 2012, which has moved them up to 18th in the league, up seven spots from where they were last week. The staff ERA ballooned up to 4.29, which dropped them to 23rd in Major League Baseball, while their 1.39 WHIP virtually stayed the same from last week, despite dealing with some tough pitching performances over the weekend.

The Astros have been surprising the league with their ability to hit and score runs throughout the first month of the season. Their .260 team batting average and 100 runs scored both rank in the top-ten in the Major Leagues. Even though their pitching staff has been rather respectable compared to last year’s crew (4.14 ERA, 1.38 WHIP), but they have run into some bad luck, losing their last five one-run games. Houston has been holding their own at Minute Maid Park, going 4-5, but haven’t been able to play at the same level on the road, posting a 4-9 record to date. Brad Mills is hoping his ballplayers will be able to string some wins together in front of the home crowd to build some momentum.

Probable Pitching match-ups:

The Mets are looking forward to having Dickey and Niese lead off the first two games of this upcoming series. Even though the New York knuckleballer went 0-2 against the Astros last season, he has to be looking forward to the prime weather conditions after having to deal with wind, rain, and cold weather throughout his first few starts of the season. Chris Schwinden will get his second start of the year in place of the injured Mike Pelfrey, looking to improve upon his first appearance in Colorado. The probable pitching match-ups for this week are:

R.A. Dickey (NYM) vs. Bud Norris (HOU)

Jonathon Niese (NYM) vs. J.A. Happ (HOU)

Chris Schwinden (NYM) vs. Wandy Rodriguez (HOU)

Match-ups to watch for:

David Wright has been tearing the cover off the ball all season long, and he’s starting to get some special treatment while he’s hitting in the clean-up spot. Yesterday in Colorado, the Rockies pitching staff walked Wright three times,twice intentionally. I don’t blame them, especially when they see a triple slash from the Mets third baseman like .385/.481/.569. I’m interested to watch how they pitch D. Wright throughout the series, but especially against Happ and Rodriguez; Wright has been known to tear up left handed pitchers, and with Duda and Davis following him in the lineup, their approach will likely be very cautious.

Players to watch for:

Andres Torres will be rejoining the team and coming off the Disabled List before tonight’s game, giving the Mets much needed speed on the base paths. Since Jason Bay is on the DL for the foreseeable future, Torres and Captain Kirk will be able to both play in the outfield, giving the lineup even more depth. Terry Collins must institute a platoon situation in left field between Nieuwenhuis and Scott Hairston because of the two southpaw starters at the end of the series.

Ike Davis had his best overall game at the plate yesterday in Denver, going 3-6 and driving in the winning run for New York in the top of the 11th inning. The most encouraging parts about Davis’ final at-bat is that he hung in against a lefty and hit the ball to right field. Be it as it may, it was a 15-hopper, but he finally didn’t pop the ball up in the infield. Hopefully he will be able to continue this progress as he starts his journey to get off the interstate with his .169 average.

The Mets have a lot of momentum as they arrive in Houston. The sign of a good team is how they perform against lesser competition; will they play down to the competition, or rise up and win the games that they’re supposed to win? We will continue to find out what kind of team we have on our hands this week before their off-day Thursday.

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