AG goes on the DL, Boone is back, but... Langerhans is day to day, so probably tonight is Manny's 71st short-handed game. I'd still rather see a pitcher come up than Boone. The team desperately needs Balester to give them innings, but the kid's only gone 6 once.
Here's my look at the series finally.
Oliver Perez: Perez is an unusual starting pitcher. The lefty throws a fastball and a slider and almost nothing else. We'll probably see two changes and one curve tonight, but that's it. He has a funky delivery which leads to command issues, but he has very good strikeout numbers, and teams have been reluctant to mess with his mechanics for fear that it'll take away some of his movement. He was gangbusters when he first came up in Pittsburgh 4 years ago, but then went into the wilderness. He was criticized for having a bad approach and throwing too many fastballs up in the zone, leading to a lot of homers and walks. Last year may have been his last big chance. He grabbed it, posting a 3.56 ERA in 177 innings.
So what do we have now? Perez is a pretty extreme flyball pitcher (45%). He's still walking too many, 4.63 per 9, up from 4.02 last year. But he's also been somewhat lucky this year, stranding 76% of runners (70% is average) and allowing a career-low .267 BABIP. His HR/FB rate (a function of luck) this year is an average 11%, up from a very lucky 8.8% last year. He has a massive lefty split, giving up a .765 OPS to righties and a .570 to lefties. In short, I don't think Perez is a very good.
Collin Balester: Balester has given up 3 ER or less in four straight starts. The key for him is to be able to get strikes with all three pitches--fastball, curve, and change. If he's working with only two, he's awfully hittable.
What To Look For
--Boone should be playing first with E-Bone at 2B. Defense needs to be the priority. And the Nationals would have an almost totally right-handed lineup.
--Perez was the starter for Felipe Lopez's Greatest Moment as a National, the game-winning grand salami of Aaron Heilman earlier this year. Perez didn't give up a single extra base hit, but walked four and gave up a slew of singles.
--Balester's never seen the Mets.
--If the Nationals control the strike zone, Perez can be hit hard. Even if they don't, they may get some cookies on early counts.
What to Root For
Crow and the Nationals are just posturing.
(Season record: 12-10)
I'll stick my neck out. No sweep. Nationals win behind a good Balester start and a bunch of Perez walks and some bad bullpen work by the Mets. I'll say 5-2 Nationals.
- Update: Guzman's thumb is acting up, and Belliard is playing his 6th career game at SS. This could be ugly.