Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Scouting Report: Mets at Nationals (8/13)

Mets at Nationals: Wednesday, August 13 at 7:10 ET
Manny prepares for his 70th short-handed game of the year, and the team tries to break a five-game losing streak.

We're learning that it's not easy winning against much better teams who are in a playoff race. But there's a lot more of this kind of thing ahead of us, as we have 20 games to go against the Mets, Cubs, and Phils, plus a series against the Dodgers and two against the Fish.

Here's a look at game 2.

Pitching Match-Up
John Maine: Maine throws a fastball, change, and slider. He doesn't really have a dominant pitch, but they are all good enough to add up to something pretty darn good. He has excellent strikeout numbers (7.9 per 9 this year), though his command has slipped a bit (from an acceptable 3.53 to a borderline problematic 4.13 per 9 this year).

You will also remember last season he fell completely apart in August, as his IP exceeded career highs. This year, he's thrown 124 innings, so if midnight strikes at the same time as last year, this could be his last start before he turns into a pumpkin. Or it's possible that a year in the bigs has helped him build the endurance to last.

Jason Bergmann: Let's get one thing straight:
Jason Bergmann is a perfectly solid back-end rotation major league starter. We should be happy we inherited him from the Expos and proud we developed him as a starter.

That said, h
e's an extreme flyball pitcher who get hit hard by lefties. If you focus on the things that are actually in his control, his performance is quite consistent, even if the box score isn't always pretty. Some people notice that he gets hit pretty hard sometimes, conclude that he's really inconsistent, and further diagnose the problem as mental weakness. He gave up 5 ER in his first start this year and 7 in his second. He was very good against the Rockies in Coors, but lasted only five against the weak-hitting Gentle Giants. Then, some of those people decide that his inconsistency is a result of a lack of poise and confidence.

Don't get me wrong. I'm sure Bergmann like all young pitchers (and let's be honest, all people) has his moments of self-doubt in the face of adversity. But to decide that because he sometimes gets lit up that he has some kind of mental weakness or moral failing is crap. He's a 4th starter. He gets hit hard by lefties. He has a league-leading flyball rate, and that's bad. But can we please get him off the psychiatrist's couch? Just because he doesn't have Jake Peavy's stuff doesn't mean he's a mental weakling.

What To Look For
--Bergmann can't walk anyone in front of Belran, Reyes or Delgado. These are the lefties who have hurt him.

--Kearns, Zimmerman, and Belliard have all had success in limited action against Maine.

--Beltran and Reyes have hit Bergmann hard, but, suprisingly, the left-handed Delgado has not.

What to Root For
The re-emergence of Team Choke East.

Fearless Prediction
(Season record: 11-10)

Mets extend the Nationals' misery to 6 straight with a 5-2 win.
  • Update: OK fine, now Bergmann is completely rattled.

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