Series Preview: New York Mets @ Los Angeles Dodgers


Terry Collins and the Mets say goodbye to the friendly confines of Wrigley Field and hello to Chavez Ravine and the Los Angeles Dodgers. Historically, New York has not enjoyed playing in Hollywood, as they’ve compiled a 116-170 road record all-time. However, David Wright and company took five of seven from the Dodgers in 2011, including three of four on the road. They’re looking to capture some of that same magic, as they’ve struggled on the road this year.

How they’re performing:

Both teams are coming off losing their previous series, but after their 16-7 start in April, they have struggled mightily, missing the presence of Matt Kemp in the lineup, and yesterday Andre Ethier exited the game with what is believed to be a strained oblique. LA has lost four in a row and have dropped eight of their last ten games, but are still in first with a 43-33 record, and are excited to return home, where they are 24-12 in 2012.

As was mentioned before, the Kemp injury has coincided with the struggles by the Dodgers, as they could really use his .355/.444/.719 right about now. The LA center fielder still leads the team with 12 home runs, and Andre Ethier was picking up the slack with his 55 RBI in his absence, but now it looks as though he will be hitting the disabled list. The starting pitching has been solid, as expected, but it’s the performance of the bullpen, mainly Ronald Belisario and Kenley Jansenthat have helped propel LA to their current record.

The Mets were able to avoid getting swept by the Cubs with a 17-1 victory yesterday afternoon at Wrigley. The Amazins are still in third place in the NL East, but one game out of the Wild Card, now sitting at 40-36 on the season. They have split their last 10 games, but are looking to improve on their 17-19 road record. David Wright leads the team with a triple slash of .357/.449/.559 and his five runs driven in yesterday keeps him in the lead with 47 RBI. Lucas Duda continues to lead the squad with 11 home runs, but long balls by Ike Davis and Scott Hairston put them both at 10 each. After a couple of lackluster performances this week, Jonathon Niese gave the Mets a quality start yesterday, and Terry Collins is hoping Johan Santana and R.A. Dickey can keep the train rolling. The bullpen struggles are still there, but Bobby Parnell hasn’t gotten a save opportunity yet with Frank Francisco on the DL.

Probable pitching match-ups:

Chris Young (1-1, 3.46 ERA) vs. Chris Capuano (9-2, 2.60 ERA)

The Mets will face another lefty, but it’s a familiar one, as they face Chris Capuano for the first time since he left the team via free agency last winter. He’s responded with a breakout year, most recently holding the Angels to one run over seven innings in a victory. He’s been equally tough on lefties and righties this season (.246 vs. Left and .215 vs. Right), so one would expect Terry Collins to keep his usual lineup out there. Chris Young is coming off his second quality start and gave up only four hits against the power Yankees. However, one of them was the game-tying three-run bomb by Raul Ibanez.

R.A. Dickey (11-1, 2.31 ERA) vs. Aaron Harang (5-4, 3.81 ERA)

Alright, it’s finally happened; we can now say that R.A. Dickey is human after giving up five runs to the Yankees last Sunday. However, the Mets did get him off the hook to keep his record at 11-1. Now it’s time to see how Dickey will bounce back; we all knew this streak had to end at some point. Now, it’s time to see the productive pitcher we’ve grown accustomed to since 2010. Aaron Harang hasn’t won since he beat the Phillies on June 7th for his 100th career victory, and his key will be to stay ahead in the count against a patient New York lineup. When getting ahead of hitters, Harang has a 2.73 ERA, but that jumps to 4.84 when he doesn’t have command of the count.

Johan Santana (5-4, 3.00 ERA) vs. Nathan Eovaldi (0-4, 4.04 ERA)

Eovaldi has not pitched badly since he appeared in his first start at the end of May, but he’s coming off his worst start of the year against the Giants, where he gave up 8 runs on 10 hits in 5 innings pitched. He’ll be happy to be pitching in LA, where he’s accumulated a 2.08 ERA in two starts (5.16 road ERA). Meanwhile, Santana is coming off his first loss ever to the Cubs, but it was also his second straight quality start. He’s looking to continue the momentum he started against the Orioles, as he’s only given up two runs in his last 12 IP.

Dillon Gee (5-6, 4.42 ERA) vs. Clayton Kershaw (5-4, 2.74 ERA)

According to Terry Collins, Gee’s outing against the Cubs earlier in the week was the worst he’d seen him pitch in a while. So, Dillon is trying to get back on track and start a new quality start streak in the finale against the reigning Cy Young award winner. Kershaw still has a sparkling ERA so far in 2012, but the home run he gave up to Melky Cabrera in his last start was the 11th long ball he’s surrendered this year, after only allowing 15 in 2011.

Who’s Hot:

Ike Davis used three extra-base hits yesterday to push his batting average to .201 on the season, the first time he’s been off the interstate all year. He’s not satisfied (obviously), but he’s been hot in his last week and a half. He’s hitting only .257, but Davis has four home runs and 13 RBI in that span, giving the Mets that power they waiting for. Ike really likes June, enjoying his best month of the season: .267/.382/.547.

Juan Riverahas been doing his best to help Ethier make up for the absence of Kemp, but now that he’s out too, it will continue to get

harder for him. He’s hitting .303 in his last ten games, but doesn’t have a home run in that span of games, and only have three all year. So, even though he’s been getting on base a decent amount, he still needs someone to drive him in, which has been difficult lately.

Who’s Not:

Lucas Duda‘s bat has been uncharacteristically silent over the last week and a half. He did walk three times and score three times yesterday in Chicago, but has only hit one homer and driven in two runs in his last 10 games. Facing two more lefties this weekend won’t make things any easier, but has been very consistent throughout the first three months of the season, with June being his best at .259/.356/.447.

Dee Gordon was supposed to be an important part of the Dodger offense at the top of the lineup especially after hitting .304 in 56 games in 2011. He has struggled throughout his first three months, hitting .227/.277/.277, and only hitting .195 in his last 10 games. Gordon has stolen 24 bases on the year, but only 3 in the last week and a half, which shows that even though speed never slumps, if you can’t get on base, you can’t steal bases.