Thursday, August 4, 2011

Mets Vs. Braves - Pitching Preview

As a result of last night's rainout, the Mets will now have two full days off to prepare for what will be there more important series of the year to date. When the Atlanta Braves arrive at Citi Field for the start of a three game series tomorrow night, the Mets will find themselves 8 games out of the Wild Card spot. Coming of what could be described as their three most heart breaking losses of the season, here are the pitching matchups for this crucial series.

Game One - Friday 7:10 pm
R.A. Dickey (5-9) vs Tim Hudson (10-7)

Bad news immediately for the Mets as the Braves send Tim Hudson to the mound in the series opener. Hudson has been stellar since the middle of June winning five of his last six decisions and allowing no more than three runs in any given game. Over that time period, which includes eight games, Hudson has also gone at least seven innings in six of those starts. Hudson is 13-8 all-time against the Mets with a 3.66 ERA.

The Mets will counter with R.A. Dickey who continues to suffer through a down year. That said, Dickey's record is not necessarily an accurate representation of how he has pitched this season, as run support has been a major issue. While Dickey hasn't gotten the decisions to show for it, the Mets have won six of his last eight starts. R.A. is only 1-2 all-time against the Braves with a 4.93 ERA.

Game Two - Saturday 7:10 pm
Jon Niese (10-8) vs. Tommy Hanson (11-6)

After losing three of his first four starts this season, including an April 17th game against the Mets, Hanson has really settled in and is having a superb year. Unfortunately for the Mets, Hanson's success is in no way limited to home-field advantage as the youngster has won his last eight decisions on the road. Hanson is 3-2 against the Mets in his young career with a 2.27 ERA.

Having already eclipsed his 2010 win total, Jon Niese will head to the mound for the Mets with the goal of expanding upon his somewhat successful season. Niese must work more efficiently, having pitched no more than 5.1 innings in his last two starts. Niese must also look to avoid the 'blow up' innings which have plagued him thus far this season. Niese is 2-2 with a 2.88 ERA against the Braves in his career.

Game Three - Sunday 1:10 pm
Dillon Gee (10-3) vs. Jair Jurrjens (12-4)

The closing out the series for the Braves will be Jair Jurrjens, who the Mets should be fairly familiar with this season having already faced him three times. Jurrjens is 1-2 in those starts having lost his last two decisions, both occurring in June. Jurrjens is going through a rough patch, having allowed four or more runs in three of his last four starts. Despite his recent struggles, Jurrjens is 8-4 all-time against the Mets with a 2.94 ERA.

Dillon Gee, who was bumped from his scheduled start due to the rain out on Wednesday, will close out the series for the Mets. Since winning his first seven decisions of the season, Gee has been a bit inconsistent while going 3-3 since mid June. Like Niese, Dillon must concentrate on his efficiency and control having walked at least three batters in three of his last five starts. Gee is 2-1 all-time against the Braves with a 1.52 ERA.

There is no way around it.  If the Mets are going to keep their season realistically alive, they will need to make up some ground this weekend.  With that said, I'm not sure what to expect.  While I imagine that Terry Collins will do everything in his power to have his troops ready for this series, they are going up against premier pitching throughout.  A sweep would be great, but getting at least two wins this weekend is an absolutely must.  Unfortunately, due to the teams recent play and the inconsistency of the pitchers the Mets will feature this weekend, I see them collecting on one win this weekend and having the season slip farther away.