Monday, May 7, 2012

Pre-Game: New York Mets (15-13) @ Philadelphia Phillies (14-15)

Coming off of a big series win against the Arizona Diamondbacks, the New York Mets will seek their third consecutive victory tonight against the reigning National League East champion Phillies and former Cy Young award winner Roy Halladay.

The Phillies, or more specifically Cole Hamels, found themselves in the middle of controversy last night after Hamels beamed rookie sensation Bryce Harper with a pitch that he later revealed was intentional. Whether or not Hamels will face a suspension remains to be seen, however, the move was both amateur and unnecessary. The Phillies themselves have suffered to start the season, sitting one game under .500. The absences of Ryan Howard and Chase Utley have severely hindered the club, who will look to reach the level mark tonight behind their ace.

Jonathon Niese (2-1, 4.08 ERA) was roughed up in his last start in Houston, pitching only three innings while surrendering five earned runs. All runs surrendered were a product of the long ball and therefore Niese never found a measure of consistency. There's reason to be optimistic for Niese's start in Philadelphia tonight; however, as he boasts a 4-4 record with a 3.58 ERA against the fighting's and owns a dominating 8.6 K/9 lifetime. In his first outing at Citizens Bank Park this year, Niese pitched a masterful 6 2/3 innings, scattering five hits.

Roy Halladay (3-2, 3.40 ERA) hasn't quite been the same Doc as he was in years past to kick off the campaign, but if there's any club that he'll be happy to face, he's on the bump against them tonight. After getting beat up for eight runs on 12 hits in only 5 1/3 innings during his last outing in Atlanta, Halladay has given up an uncharacteristic 11 runs over his 13 1/3 innings. The New York Mets have seemingly always struggled against Doc, and the records support it. Halladay owns a 9-2 record in his career against the Mets with a 2.88 ERA, including two complete games.

Ruben Tejada's MRI was apparently "not good" and he has been placed on the 15-day disabled list. In his place, Jordanny Valdespin has joined the team in Philadelphia and will likely see regular playing time in the coming days. It may be yet another short trip for Valdespin with Ronny Cedeno coming off the disabled list later this week, but he'll she given adequate time to make an impression. Justin Turner will get the start at short for tonight against the left handed Halladay.

One final storyline heading into tonight's series opening matchup has to be the mental conditioning of Ike Davis. Davis, who last recorded a hit on May 1st, is hitting an anemic .168/.225/.274. Those numbers read more like a systolic blood pressure reading than a baseball line. It's particularly concerning that he doesn't seem to have a clue, and that whenever he gets a good read on a ball it's always a lazy pop fly or he'll just get on top of it. The last time he was in Philadelphia he managed to crank a big three-run home run, which he desperately needs right now. While the Mets don't necessarily have other options at first, Davis needs to make his case soon that he can pick up his offense to be on par with the rest of the club.

New York Mets Starting Lineup:
1. Andres Torres CF
2. Kirk Nieuwenhuis LF
3. David Wright 3B
4. Lucas Duda RF
5. Daniel Murphy 2B
6. Ike Davis 1B
7. Justin Turner SS
8. Josh Thole C
9. Jonathon Niese P