Hurricane Irene has come and gone, blowing through New York with great force but causing minimal damage. The Mets have had 2 days off due to Mother Nature, but now the skies are clear and the sun is shining. The dust has settled, the waters have receded, and the tree branches have all been cleaned up. Now, it’s time for baseball to resume, and the Mets will do so with a crazy 5-game series against one of their biggest bugaboos, the Florida Marlins. The set begins with a single-admission double header on Monday, and the Marlins don’t leave town until late Thursday night.
The Mets are just 3-7 against Florida this season, and are 0-4 at Citi Field vs. the team that ruined their playoff hopes two straight years in 2007 and 2008, and has continued to dominate them since. However, the Amazins will get a very much needed shot in the arm on Monday as NL batting leader and the sparkplug of the team, Jose Reyes, returns to action. Reyes has been on the DL since August 7 with a left hamstring strain, but is ready to go and hopefully will be full steam ahead through the end of the 2011 campaign.
Jason Bay will also return to the lineup. Bay has not played since last Wednesday when he jammed his shoulder diving for a ball in Philadelphia. Of course, Bay is also mired in another brutal slump, this one a 2 for 38 skid that has his average plummeted down to .233. Scott Hairston has officially been placed on the 15-day disabled list, and 40-year old Miguel Batista will take his place, presumably to start the 5th game of the series. Batista last pitched for the Cardinals earlier this year, and is most known for starting Game 5 of the 2001 World Series with Arizona, and shutting the Yankees out for 7 2/3 innings.
Florida sits in last place in the NL East, and they trail the 3rd place Mets by 3.5 games. However, the Fish have now won 6 straight games at Citi Field, and are now 30-16 against the Mets since the end of the 2008 season.
Pitching Matchups: (*** Probable)
8/29/11 (Game One)- R.A. Dickey (5-11, 3.72 ERA) vs. Anibal Sanchez (7-6, 4.01 ERA)
8/29/11 (Game Two)- Dillon Gee (11-5, 4.37 ERA) vs. Ricky Nolasco (9-9, 4.30 ERA)
8/30/11- Mike Pelfrey (7-10, 4.60 ERA) vs. Javier Vazquez (7-11, 4.63 ERA)
8/31/11- Chris Capuano (10-11, 4.43 ERA) vs. Chris Volstad (5-11, 5.61 ERA)
9/1/11- Miguel Batista*** (3-2, 4.60 ERA) vs. Clay Hensley (2-5, 5.40 ERA)
Marlins Player to Watch: Mike Stanton
The Florida slugger was the player to watch the last time these two teams faced off, and with good reason. Stanton has homered in 3 of the last 5 games against the Mets, and has his season total up to 30, just 1 behind the NL lead. Along with Josh Johnson, Gaby Sanchez, John Buck, Logan Morrison, and many other Marlins, Stanton has become a Met killer who consistently hits the ball a long way against the orange and blue. Hopefully the Metsies pitchers can make sure Stanton comes up with the bases empty as many times as possible. It will be very difficult to keep him quiet for 5 full games.
Mets Player to Watch: Jose Reyes
What an intriguing season it has been for Reyes. With a gigantic offseason contract hanging in the balance the shortstop has had by far his best statistical campaign. He leads the league in batting average, multi-hit games, and triples, and he is 2nd in steals. And yet, he has now gone through 2 more stints on the disabled list, further stirring the notion that he cannot stay healthy over the long haul of a 10-figure contract. There is no doubt that Jose is the most dynamic player in baseball when he is on. But if he is only on for 125 games a year is he worth the money? And how much money can he earn? These questions are still yet to be answered, but the final 32 games of the year will go a long way towards doing so. If Reyes avoids injury and wins a batting title, the market should still yield him 100 million dollars plus. Whether the Mets are the team to pay him that money remains to be seen, but the close evaluation of number 7 begins Monday in Flushing.
- It’s getting to the point where I am more confident against the Phillies than I am against the Marlins. For whatever reason this team has had our number since they shut the doors of Shea Stadium forever. I hate losing to them, but I am already resigned that it will happen.
- I can’t remember the last time the Mets played a regular season 5-game series against one team. A 2-3 series would be just fine, and anything better would be shocking.
- The fact that a 40-year old bum who was never more than mediocre in his prime is getting called up from Triple-A just shows how bad our Major League ready pitching prospects are. Guys like Wheeler, Harvey, Familia, and Mejia all have bright futures, but they are all a while away from contributing in the big leagues.
- I will be very interested to see how Chris Capuano follows up his incredible outing from Friday night, easily the best start the Mets have gotten all year. I have said all year I want Capuano brought back for 2012, at least as a long reliever. But hey, if he has a strong finish I have to include him in the prospective rotation for next year.
- I am similarly interested to watch Dillon Gee pitch, but for opposite reasons. After a fantastic start to his career, Gee has really hit the skids. If he can turn things around to finish out 2011 he will certainly be included in the plans for next year. If he continues to fizzle though, he may be pitching for a big-league job come next February.
- I am very nervous to watch Jose Reyes the rest of the year. First of all, I will be worried he will tear his hammy every time he runs to 1st base. But more importantly, it’s starting to sink in that we may only see Reyes suit up for the Mets 25-30 more times, and then he may be gone forever. I sure hope that is not the case, but I guess I just have to enjoy watching every inning with Jose like it’s the last. Once 2011 ends, it truly may be the end of an era.