BUSINESS AS USUAL
After taking two of three from both the Atlanta Braves and the Florida Marlins, the Washington Nationals (17-14) head north to face the New York Mets (17-14) for the second time this season. The two squads are tied for second in the NL East, two games behind the two-time defending National League Champion Philadelphia Phillies. The Nationals got the better of the Mets the first time around with Willy Taveras driving in all four runs in a one run victory and Josh Willingham plating all five the next day in a 5-2 win.
While the Nationals have been very consistent, never winning or losing more than three games in a row, the Mets have had far more varied results. Through just 31 games, the Mets have already had an eight game winning streak and a four game losing streak. Having said that, the team is 5-5 in their last 10 games and appears to be leveling out.With all the vitriol coming from the New York media, one would think that the Mets were the worst team in baseball. After starting the season 4-8, numerous outlets were questioning whether or not the Mets had the pieces required to compete in the vicious NL East. Much of this skepticism was directed towards a young pitching staff that had long been highly touted but had yet to live up to its perceived potential. Though ace Johan Santana was viewed as a sure thing and Oliver Perez had limited expectations after struggling through the 2009 season, the primary targets of this apprehension were John Maine, John Niese, and Mike Pelfrey. The young trio has done much to dispel these worries, posting a 6-3 combined record. Pelfrey has been the star of the bunch – and the best pitcher on the team – going 4-1 with a 2.65 ERA and 25 Ks. If the Mets get sustained performance from these three arms and Santana continues to round into form, New York should remain in the division race throughout the season.
Jose Reyes: 4-10, 4 runs, 4 SBs, 1 BB
Ike Davis: 4-9, 2 HRs, 3 RBIs, 4 run, 5 BBs
David Wright: 1-10, 8 Ks, 2 CS
Jeff Francoeur: 1-13, 6Ks
Tuesday, May 4: John Maine (1-1, 5.97) vs. Luis Atilano (2-0, 4.67)
Wednesday, May 5: John Niese (1-1, 3.60) vs. Scott Olsen (2-1, 3.54)
Thursday, May 6: Mike Pelfrey (4-1, 2.65) vs. TBA
THE WRIGHT STUFF?
Mets’ third baseman David Wright has been the subject of extensive scrutiny. After hitting at least 25 home runs from 2005-2008, Wright saw that number drop precipitously (10 HRs) last season. Known for his ability to drive the ball to the opposite field, many questioned whether the move to spacious Citi Field from the cozy confines of Shea Stadium harmed his power numbers. Though both Citi Field and Shea Stadium measure 378 feet to the right-centerfield power alley, the former goes even deeper between right-center and center fields, reaching 415 feet away from home plate. While one year is too small of a sample size to evaluate a park’s effect on a hitter (Wright hit 70 of 130 home runs before last year at Shea Stadium, and 5 of the ten he hit last year were at Citi Field), this season has provided further fodder for the discussion. Wright appears to be hitting home runs this year at a pace more consistent with his career averages, with seven in these first 31 games. However, just one of those home runs has come in 19 games at Citi Field, while the other six were hit in 12 road games. It is too early to determine the role that Citi Field has played in David Wright’s changing power numbers, but it remains an interesting story to follow.