These next six games will be a telling sign for the Mets, given their season-long road struggles and the fact that the Orioles and Indians are terrible teams. So, since the Mets can really use these next two series to push them right into the thick of the pennant race, I’m going to combine both series into one preview.
By now you all know the story: the Mets are where they are right now because of their home record (now 24-10 after a 5-1 homestand). On the road, however, they are a putrid 8-18. But they really haven’t had a prime opportunity to make a statement on the road like they do now. I did some math — which means the stats I’m about to point out are probably wrong somewhere along the line — and up to this point, Mets road opponents (Atlanta/Cincinnati/Colorado/Florida/Milwaukee/Philadelphia/San Diego/St. Louis/Washington) have a combined record of 283-258 this season, good for a .523 winning percentage. So they have been playing some quality teams on the road, though it certainly does nto excuse them from playing so poorly.
But the O’s and Indians are a different story. The two teams combine for a 40-79 record, a lousy .336 winning percentage. On top of that, both teams are just as bad at home as the Mets are on the road. The Orioles are only 11-18 at home this season, while the Indians are 10-16. Offensively, of the 30 MLB teams, the Orioles rank 29th in runs scored, 27th in OBP, 26th in slugging, and 27th in OPS. The Indians rank 26h in runs, 25th in slugging, and 25th in OPS. This is good news for Mets pitching, especially given how well the starters have been throwing lately.
This weekend, the Mets will face Jeremy Guthrie, Brian Matusz, and Kevin Millwood. There has been a lot of talk about the Mets maybe making a trade for Millwood, but perhaps Guthrie is the one they should be asking the Orioles about. Despite a declining K/9 rate (4.75 this season compared to 5.53 career), all of Guthrie’s other peripherals this season are better than his career numbers. As for Millwood, this season’s 4.64 ERA and 4.95 FIP are bad enough, but then you compare them to his career 3.92 ERA and 3.88 FIP and it’s even worse. And his 7.28 K/9 rate, while good, is also decling from his career average of 8.27.
When the Mets head to Cleveland they will see two of Cleveland’s young arms in Justin Masterson and Mitch Talbot (with Jake Westbrook pitching the final game of the series). Masterson and Talbot are interesting when compared with each other. Looking at Masterson’s traditional stat line — 2-5, 4.74 ERA – it’s nothing special. But then you look closer and see a 8.03 K/9 rate, a 4.08 FIP and 3.88 xFIP, which tells you his defense has let him down a lot this season. Then you look at Talbot who, at 7-4, 3.59 ERA, is having a nice first full season. But with a 4.84 FIP and a 5.05 xFIP, it tells you his defense has actually been a lot of help for him. Oh, the quirkyness of baseball.
As for the Mets, they will go with RA Dickey, Hisanori Takahashi and Mike Pelfrey in Baltimore, then attack Cleveland with the lefty duo of Johan Santana and Jon Niese, before RA closes out the series. Interesting to see the knuckleballer opening up these next six games then ending it before next weekend’s showdown in the Bronx.