I'm confused. Who are these guys in the blue and orange? They aren't the Marlins. They aren't the Phillies. They aren't the Braves. I thought we weren't allowed to play any other teams in MLB.
Here's my preview of the Mets series, including the line-up, bullpen, and game one starter Johan Santana.
When the Mets Are Up
One could make a case for Carlos Beltran as the MVP of the NL East, but he never seems to get that recognition. He's a fantastic fielder, draws a lot of walks, hits for power, and steals bases with remarkable efficiency (88% career). He's off to a scorching hot start as well, posting a ridiculous .485 OBP through the first 15 games.
Don't look now, but Luis Castillo, the deadest of dead weight on the Mets payroll, is off to a nice little start to the season. There were reports in the spring that he was in much better shape, and so far he's hitting .381 / .435 / .476. He's always been better against lefties. Still, he isn't walking like he did in the past, and his Ks are up. His knees are shot though, and last year he had a hip issue as well. Guys who make their money on their wheels tend to age very poorly. We'll see. The Mets own him for three more years.
With Brian Schneider on the 15-day DL, Ramon Castro, who's better anyway, is getting the starts. He's off to a slow start and will always strike out a lot, but given a full season's worth of starts could be a 15-HR guy.
Our old buddy Ryan Church, who wishes he could have stayed in the lineup just by showing up to work on time, is doing what he's always done when given a chance and staying healthy enough to play. Actually, he's doing better than usual. He's hitting .318 / .412 / .455, his walks are way up (14.3% vs. 9.7% career), while his Ks are way down (6.3% vs. 23.9% career). He still struggles a bit with lefties, finishing 2008 with a .319 OBP against them.
Carlos Delgado looked absolutely done a year ago at this time, but in the second half he hit like an MVP. Now it's looking more like 2007 was the result of a wrist injury, and his slow start in 2008 was just a slow start. At 37, the slugger's still slugging.
Danny Murphy, drafted in the 13th round of the 2006 draft, has been quite a find for the Mets. He has tremendous command of the strike-zone, especially for someone of his age, and has drawn walks in 11% of his big league PAs. He doesn't project to be the kind of bopper you expect in LF, but with the production they get from CF, SS, and 3B, that's ok for the Mets. He's supposed to be a weak fielder, but UZR likes him so far, projecting him for 16.5 runs saved per 150 games.
Unfortunately, Jose Reyes has faded in September along with the rest of his team, but he's a very good player. He brings good contact rate and on-base skills, some pop, and of course the speed. I tend to think he's a little overrated, because fans overestimate the value of stolen bases. But with a career stolen base rate of 80%, he's helping his team. Just not as much as he's helping your roto team.
David Wright is off the a typical start, hitting .302 / .413 / .415 so far. He's a wonderful hitter with very good power and unusually good contact rates for a slugger. He's overrated defensively, but whatever.
On the Mound
Johan Santana: Do you think we can get through one Santana start without hearing about Levale Speigner and the vaunted "reverse lock"? Santana is great. Our guys are terrible. It's nothing to really brag about for two years that we got one fluky win against the guy. Besides, career he's got a 2.50 ERA with 5 walks and 30(!) Ks against the Scats in 36 IP.
He throws both a 4-seam and 2-seam fastball with a great change-up and slider. The slider is the out-pitch to lefties, and the change-up whiffs the righties. He throws hard (91-92 fastball) but not overwhelmingly. His command is stellar, and his off-speed stuff is deadly. He's off to a Cy Young start.
If there's a knock on him it's that he's a bit of a flyball pitcher, and that means he's prone to the occasional homerun ball. It'll be interesting to see how the new stadium plays.
After years of blowing leads, the Mets went and signed K-Rod and J.J. Putz, the best 1-2 punch in MLB. What else do you need to know?
Season record: 10-5
Johan Santana against a Nationals line-up that's overdue for some regression and coming off their first shutout of the year. The Mets are a little lefty-vulnerable, but not enough to make Olsen a winner. Mets, 6-1.