Series Preview - Braves @ Mets (August 18-20)
August 18th - Derek Lowe (12-7, 4.08) vs Oliver Perez (2-3, 5.97)
Lowe threw up a gem against Washington last Wednesday, allowing 2 runs over 7 innings. I'm not at all happy with the 4 walks, but the Nats couldn't do anything with the extra runners. The sinker was working, with a 13:6 GB:FB ratio. Lowe just keeps cruising along...and he's won 5 straight decisions too, putting his win total at 4th in the NL.
Since we last saw Mr Perez, he's lowered his ERA by 2 runs. Good for him. But yeah, the control is still a mess, walking 23 men in 27 2/3 innings in his last 5. He's got the strikeout mojo working though, with 30 in that same time period. I just find it amazing that his innings pitched, hit, walk, and strikeout totals are nearly exactly the same this year. Thats some real eerie stuff.
August 19th - Jair Jurrjens (9-8, 2.99) vs Bobby Parnell (3-4, 3.50)
JJ was divine against the Phillies on Friday, but got a no decision thanks to some equally as good work from Joe Blanton. Like Lowe in the previous game, JJ allowed 2 runs over 7 innings, but unlike Lowe, he only walked one guy and tallied 6 strikeouts. Jurrjens was also living very dangerously, with 14 fly balls...thank god this is Turner Field, one of the bottom 5 HR parks in the league. But aha, this game is in Citi Field! Strange note about that...Citi Field is very much a pitcher's park, but...balls tend to fly out of there more than average? Zuh? Seriously...probably because of the horrendous team playing there, but regardless.
They're actually letting Bobby Parnell start...and I haven't ever analyzed him...that means I get to right now! Woohoo! This is his rookie season, as he only logged 6 innings last season. He's been throwing gas out of the pen for the Mets (95 mph average fastball), but will now have to pace himself in the rotation. He really only uses his fastball and slider, doesn't use his change very often, which is another thing you can't get away with as a starter. His strikeout numbers have tapered off from the level they were at near the beginning of his professional career, settling into a range of around 7.5 or so per 9. His walk rate on the other hand, has always been pretty high and now sits north of 4. Parnell has not allowed the ball to leave the park much at all this year, which has been the key to his success in his tenure with the Mets. If the ball suddenly starts jumping off the bat, he could be in for a rough time with his high walk rate. His last start against the Giants was actually quite awesome, striking out 7 and not allowing a run or a walk over 6 innings. If he could replicate those numbers, the Mets could have a diamond in the rough on their hands.
August 20th - Kenshin Kawakami (5-9, 4.13) vs Johan Santana (13-8, 3.10)
Kenshin had a solid enough start last time, but like Jurrjens, he was matched, this time by Phillies ace Cole Hamels. The Braves would eventually win the game in the 9th due to some Brad Lidge shenanigans, but KK didn't figure into the decision. He did not walk a Phillies batter, but only struck one out, which is VERY worrisome. Over the past month and a half, his highest strikeout total has been 6, and he's walked 3 or more batters in 5 of those 8 starts since the beginning of July...yeah, not really a recipe for success. The homers are still high too...and Kawakami is suddenly outpitching his peripherals, a stark contrast to the beginning of the year.
Johan Santana has had a rough go of it lately, and seems to be alternating good starts and bad starts...Thursday is in line for a good start, which is never good. Santana isn't really pitching a whole lot worse than he did last year, but the media apparently doesn't see it that way. His FIP is a quarter of a run higher, but he's still outpitching his peripherals (like he did by a full run last year). Theres nothing WRONG with Santana...he's just getting old. The strikeouts are lower than his career norm, and he's getting hit a little harder. Don't get me wrong, he shouldn't be taken out behind the barn like Jamie Moyer, but I think the days of triple crown smashface artist Johan Santana are over.
The Mets actually strike out the least of any team in the league, which was very surprising to me. They're also a top 10 walk team. Not bad, right? Yeah well, the team has the worst ISO in the league, which gives them an OPS strikingly similar to Ryan Church, who is apparently a horrible baseball player and even a more horrible person (in the eyes of the Latin American Exchange that is the Mets front office). But hey, they have Jeff Francoeur...its all good now!
Losing 2 out of 3 to the DIVISION RIVAL Phillies isn't a good think. Thank god the Braves were able to lay a whooping on Arizona today to pick up a half game in the standings for a net loss of just a half game over the last 4 days. Thats doable, right? Back at the beginning of the year, we thought this series would be important and pivotal in the course of things. Um yeah, about that. Whoops. The Mets have absolutely tanked, and without David Wright, this one could get ugly quickly.