Series Preview: Padres @ Mets


The Mets arrive home for a long home stand that coincides with Memorial Day weekend, and welcome in the San Diego Padres for their first head-t0-head match-up in 2012 at Citi Field. After blowing a late lead in the series opener against the Pirates, New York was able to regroup and win the last two games in Pittsburgh, walking away with the series victory. Their two straight wins have them tied for third place with Miami at 24-20, two games out of first place in the NL East. The Mets are 5-5 in their last 10 games, but are looking to get healthy while at home, where they have a 12-8 record so far this season.

As for the Padres, they come into Citi Field with the second-worst record in Major League Baseball, and their 16-29 record has them dead last in the National League West. It is unfortunate for them that they’re in the same division as the MLB-best Dodgers (30-14), so even though we haven’t reached June, San Diego is already 14.5 games out of first place. They are 4-6 in their last ten games, are

currently on a three-game losing streak thanks to Carlos Beltran and the St. Louis Cardinals, and are a putrid 4-13 on the road. All things in favor of the Mets here.

How they’re performing:

New York’s team batting average (.259) and team on-base percentage (.334) has dropped a little bit after their series with the Pirates, but the team is still ranked in the top-10 in the MLB for both of those categories. Despite being second-to-last in the MLB in team home runs (25), the Amazins have still be able to put runs on the board (182) and rank right in the middle of the pack at 15th. The offensive charge in Flushing has been led by David Wright, who leads the team in batting average (.399), on-base % (.497), slugging % (.601), RBI (26), and runs scored (29). Ruben Tejada (.305 BA) is expected to make his return to the lineup this weekend, which will give the top of the order a boost, while Daniel Murphy (.304 BA) and Kirk Nieuwenhuis (.292 BA) are helping David carry the load on a daily basis. As for pitching, the Mets still rank in the last half of the league (4.45 team ERA, 1.39 team WHIP), but they have gotten solid performances from Frank Francisco, Jonathon Niese, and Dillon Gee of late.

For San Diego, not everything is going horribly wrong in 2012; their pitching has been performing quite well. Their team ERA (3.54) and team WHIP (1.31) are among the middle of the pack. Anthony Bass (2.89) and Edinson Volquez (3.49) are leading the starting staff, while the Friars have four relievers (Dale Thayer, Huston Street, Joe Thatcher, and Ernesto Frieri) who have appeared in 10 or more games while holding an ERA under 2.50. On the other hand, the offense is horrible and they haven’t been able to win because they can’t score runs. San Diego holds a .220 team batting average and .301 team on-base %, both in the bottom five of the MLB. Their 17 home runs rank dead last in baseball and they have only scored more runs (139) than the Pirates so far in 2012. Despite their lack of offense, rookie Yonder Alonso leads the team in batting average (.300) and on-base % (.384). Mark Kotsay (.294) and Will Venable (.269) are also leading the league in hitting. Chase Headley leads the team with five home runs and 24 runs scored.

Probable pitching match-ups:

The Padres are sending hurlers to the mound that are all coming off good outings in their last start to face the Mets, while Terry Collins is sending the back end of his rotation out for the first half of the series, with the top of the rotation taking over half way through.

Eric Stults (SD) 0-0, 2.70 ERA vs. Jeremy Hefner (NYM) 0-1, 2.25 ERA

Anthony Bass (SD) 2-4, 2.89 ERA vs. Dillon Gee (NYM) 3-3, 5.44 ERA

Clayton Richard (SD) 2-5, 4.63 ERA vs. Johan Santana (NYM) 1-2, 3.24 ERA

Edinson Volquez (SD) 2-4, 3.49 ERA vs. R.A. Dickey (NYM) 6-1, 3.45 ERA

Eric Stults is making his second start for San Diego after they claimed him off a waivers recently, Bass avoided the big inning in his last start against the Angels, but leads the staff with five homers allowed, Richard has put together two straight quality starts, and Volquez struck out only one in his last outing, but threw four scoreless innings in his six inning performance. For the Mets, Hefner is getting his first MLB start after two solid relief appearances, Gee looks to build off his solid start in Toronto, Santana is trying to bounce back after losing a late lead to the Pirates, and Dickey looks to keep doing what he’s doing.

Recent Head-to-Head results:

Since the Mets brought back National League baseball to New York, they have faced off against the San Diego Padres 443 times, producing a 218-225 record, good enough for a .492 winning percentage. The Amazins have experienced more success at home (116-103) than on the road (102-122) historically against the Friars, so this four-game set at Citi could be just what the doctor ordered.

In 2010, the Padres and Mets met six times, with the two teams splitting the season series against one another. New York stayed within their historical norms, taking two of three at home, and losing two of three in California. San Diego outscored the Mets 30-18 overall, but most of the runs came in the first head-to-head match-up between the two, when Kevin Correia and the Pads won 18-6. There were two 11-inning games played during the season between the two; the first happened in the series finale at Petco Park, a game won by the Padres. The second one occurred in the series opener at Citi Field, won by Elmer Dessens and the Mets. New York threw the only shutout of the series, a 3-0 win in the second game of a doubleheader, a contest won by Jonathon Niese.

The 2011 season was another close match-up for these organizations, as they met seven times and New York coming away with four wins; they were outscored once again by their opposition, but by only three runs this time (37-34). Terry Collins and his club split the four game series at Citi Field and were able to win a rare series out at Petco, taking two of three. Jason Isringhausen showed up a lot in the box score, winning one game and saving two others, while Jonathon Niese didn’t have much success, coming up on the short side twice. There was only one extra inning affair last year, a 10-inning contest won by Manny Acosta.

The Mets will travel to Petco Park to face the Padres in the beginning of August, as San Diego is their last stop as part of an 11-game West Coast road trip.

What to watch for:

Yonder Alonso is one of the best young hitters San Diego is bringing to Citi Field this weekend, and the organization feels that he has

the makeup to finally replace the hole that Adrian Gonzalez left two winters ago when he joined the Red Sox. He’s already shown that he can put the ball in play, but I’m expecting to show some more power soon, and it could possibly be in the friendly confines of Citi Field…at least, they’re friendlier than Petco. Also, it will be interesting to see the type of pitcher Edinson Volquez has become after some tough times in Cincinnati and a fresh start in San Diego.

For the Amazins, Frank Francisco notched two saves against the Pirates, setting down the lineup in order both times and looked dominant for the first time since early May. If more save opportunities come about this weekend, I want to see if he can keep this upward trend going in the right direction, especially at home so he can get the faith back of the fans. The return of Ruben Tejada will be fun because we get to see how he is able to help stabilize a lineup that has had some issues lately outside of Wright and Murphy. He should be making his return this weekend and looked healthy in his first rehab game, collecting four hits.