The bad news: suddenly the Nationals aren't hitting. Yesterday in the 6th they snapped a stretch of 16 straight scoreless innings when Nick Johnson took Santana deep. The good news: Santana is the only Mets starter with an ERA under 7. Hence, the Mets 7-9 record and 4th place standing.
(BTW... anyone still worried about Nick Johnson and his .370 / .433 / .463 line?)
Check out my preview of the series here for breakdowns on the New York hitters and bullpen. Here's my look at the Mets' starter for game 3 and prediction.
On the Mound
Mike Pelfrey: The 6'7" sinkerballer is off to a rough start, posting an entirely deserved 8.10 ERA while walking more than he's struck out and allowing more flyballs than grounders. His fastball velocity is down almost 2 mph, and if that wasn't enough to worry Mets fans, sure enough he just missed a start with forearm soreness. As Chien Ming-Wang or Saul Rivera can tell you, a sinker that's not sinking is a very hittable pitch. Pelfrey needs a good start.
The Nationals, whose troubles with sinkerballers is well documented, could be the cure he needs. Pelfrey had a 2.36 ERA in 4 starts against the Scats last year. However so far this year the more patient Dunn/Johnson/Dukes-led Nationals have actually fared ok against their two-seam bugaboo, posting a .415 OBP in 9 innings and 43 PAs in two Derek Lowe starts.
Season record: 11-5
Pelfrey and Cabrera have a lot in common--tall, sinkerballing, struggling right-handers. I wouldn't bet on either of them to be especially sharp, though Cabrera's been passable his last couple times out. Bottom line, I expect the Mets' left-handed thunder (Beltran, Delgado, Reyes, Murphy, Church) to chase Cabrera faster than the Scats can get to Pelfrey, and the Mets' bullpen runs circles around ours. Mets, 8-4.