The Nationals gave the Mets some flashbacks to 2007 last night. Let's see if they can keep it up tonight.
Here's my take on game two. (For more on New York's offense and bullpen, check out my preview of game one of last week's two game series. Nothing's changed except that Ramon Castro is back, but it looks like Schneider is still getting most of the starts.)
Mike Pelfrey: All eyes will be on Elijah Dukes, no doubt, to see if last week's spat is renewed. Considering that until he broke out against these Mets last night Dukes had gone 2 for 9 with 5 strikeouts in the since the apology, I'm wondering if Dukes is the kind of guy who plays better with a little chip on his shoulder. No I'm not encouraging him to go picking any fights--just throwing it out there.
Pelfrey showed us last time how not to do well as a sinkerballer. Leave the ball up in the zone, and you'll get hurt. That's true to some extent with all pitchers, but because sinkerballers throw so many pitches at the same speed (Pelfrey throws fastballs 81.7% of the time), there's no chance of deception. If he keeps the pitch down, he'll get a ton of grounders. If he leaves it up, it'll get smacked.
Lost in all the nit-picking of Dukes was that Pelfrey seemed rattled by the whole thing. He was on a very nice hot string of six starts with a 1.86 ERA and two complete games before that game.
Odalis Perez: Perez is one of several Nationals pitchers seeing their ERAs go up in these final weeks. A month ago, Perez was at 4.06 (now 4.48), Bergmann was at 4.13 (now at 5.25), and Lannan was at 3.55 (now at 4.09).
Are they gassed? Have they quit? Is Manny to blame? Those are all plausible theories that I'm sure would be offered by the Washington Post Nationals columnist, if the paper had one. I tend to think it's regression to the mean. Don't forget how pleasantly surprised you were with the team's starting pitching for the first 3 months of the season.
Tonight he faces a Mets team that handed him his worst start of the year last week, a three-inning, seven-run, three-walk, eight-hit affair.
He still has the lowest ERA of any free agent starting pitcher from last off season other than Kyle Lohse (3.80). The more expensive options? Kenny Rogers, Shawn Chacon (5.04), Matt Clement (never pitched), Josh Fogg (7.58), Tom Glavine (5.54), Mark Hendrickson (5.59), Livan Hernandez (6.21), Jason Jennings (8.56), Mark Prior (never pitched), Carlos Silva, Mark Redman and Randy Wolf. Blech!
(Season record: 28-17)
With no one up in his grill, Pelfrey regains his composure and shuts down the Nationals. Mets win, 6-1.