Series Preview: New York Mets @ San Diego Padres


The Mets finish their 11-game West Coast swing with a quick stop this weekend in San Diego at Petco Park to take on the Padres. The last time these two teams met, it was at Citi Field in May, and the Amazins took three of four from the Fathers, as R.A. Dickey and Johan Santana both painted masterpieces in the last two games of the set.

How they’re performing:

The Padres entered 2012 with some optimism, but it all disappeared quickly, as they sit in second-to-last place in the NL West, 13.5 games out of first with a 44-63 record. They are 3-7 in their last 10 games and have most recently been swept by the Reds. With new ownership coming in, San Diego has made a commitment toward building the future, as they inked both Carlos Quentin and Huston Street to extensions instead of dealing them before the trade deadline.

As usual, San Diego is an offensively challenged team; catcher Yasmani Grandal has made a good impression since his June 2nd debut, hitting .312 with 5 homers and 15 RBI. Chris Denorfia (.281 BA) leads the rest of the team in hitting, as Quentin and Chase Headley lead the rest of the offense, as they are the only two with double digit home run numbers, and Headley leads the club in RBI by 20 runs. The pitching staff took a blow as young hurler Cory Luebkewent down with an elbow injury after five starts, but

Edinson Volquez and Clayton Richard are doing the best they can to stabilize the rotation. San Diego has a number of good relievers, but Huston Street takes the cake, as he’s sporting a 0.88 in 30.2 IP, and a 0.62 WHIP while converting all 17 save opportunities.

Although they’re still a far cry from where they were in the first half, the Mets are enjoying something they haven’t done in a while…winning a series by taking three of four from the Giants, and now stand at 52-54. Jordany Valdespin and his t-shirt have cooled off a bit, but David Wright, Ruben Tejada, and Scott Hairston continue to lead the charge. Terry Collins has been starting to get more consistent work from his starting rotation, and even the bullpen! What a concept.

Probable pitching match-ups:

R.A. Dickey (14-2, 2.83 ERA) vs. Clayton Richard (7-11, 4.14 ERA)

The Mets knuckleballer is hoping to repeat his 7.1 shutout inning performance he had earlier this season against San Diego in Flushing. July was an up-and-down month for the All-Star, but he got back on track against the Diamondbacks, getting his league-leading 14th win. Dickey is enjoying a career year, especially with the best K/9 (9.04), BB/9 (2.03), and FIP (2.94) ratios in his professional career. On the flip side, Richard is hoping to erase a May loss at the hands of the Mets, where he surrendered four runs in six innings pitched. After a solid month of June (3-2, 2.21), the lefty struggled in July (2-3, 5.09 ERA), but he’s hoping to get back on track at home, where he has a 3.71 ERA.

Jeremy Hefner (1-4, 5.52 ERA) vs. Edinson Volquez (7-7, 3.51 ERA)

This could be Hefner’s last start in place of the injured Johan Santana, and he’s done a great job filling in for the staff ace. He did get knocked around a bit in San Francisco, allowing four runs on 10 hits in 5.2 IP, but he kept the Mets in the game, one which they eventually won in extra innings. He must be looking forward to this start, his second against his former club, as his first one earlier this year was interrupted by a rain delay. Volquez is coming off his best month of the season, where he won only two games, but had his lowest ERA (3.00) and WHIP (1.15). He’s looking to get off to a better start than his last appearance, where he gave up three runs in the first to the Cincinnati Reds.

Matt Harvey (1-1, 1.59 ERA) vs. Jason Marquis (6-10, 5.54 ERA)

The rookie will get one more start under his belt before New York heads back home following this series finale. Although he lost in San Francisco, it was not for a lack of effort. His 18 strikeouts in his first 11.1 innings pitched are among the highest totals in franchise history to start a career with the Mets. Marquis, originally from Manhasset, NY, is coming off a poor performance against the Reds, where he gave up eight hits on seven runs in 6.1 innings pitched. The key for him will be to execute his pitches ahead in the count; thus far this season, he owns a 4.68 ERA when he’s ahead in the count, with teams hitting at a .266 clip in that situation.

Who’s Hot:

Despite hearing his name being run through the trade rumor mill daily, Chase Headley continued to perform at a high level throughout the end of July, as he’s hitting .324 over his last 10 games, including two home runs, seven RBI, and 10 walks. Although he hit

.260/.370/.440 last month, his four homers was his most power month of the season since April. San Diego is great for a lot of things, except hitting home runs. Headley leads the club with 13 long balls, but he’s only hit three of them in 190 home at-bats, while slugging a light .363.

There aren’t many steaming hot bats in the Mets lineup, especially since the offense didn’t come alive until yesterday’s 9-1 romp at AT&T Park. However, Ruben Tejada has been consistently good, hitting .310 over his last ten games, and currently on an 8-game-winning-streak. He’s accumulated four multi-hit games during that time and slugged his first homer of the year. He’s continued to produce after the All-Star break, hitting .300/.323/.356.

Who’s Not:

After 2011, it looked like Cameron Maybin finally found a home with San Diego, but this year has been a trying one for him. He’s hitting .091 in his last ten games, and although he’s hit two home runs during that time, he’s now hitting only .215/.291/.319 in 2012. His monthly average have been going up and down throughout the season, and he’s hoping to break the trend and build on his .270/.333/.444 July.

Since his historic three-homer, four-hit game in the desert, Ike Davis has only gotten one hit in his last 17 at-bats. He did get the day off against Barry Zito yesterday afternoon, and hopefully that that rest will help him get back to the force he’s been in the middle of the lineup. July was a little rough for Davis, who only hit .221, but he also slugged .537, hitting 9 of his 20 homers during that span.

If the Mets sweep this series, they’re back over .500…let’s go Mets!