After taking a disappointing one of two from the Nationals in a shortened weekend series, the Mets (7-4) face off against the Phillies (3-8) for the second time in a week, this time on their home field. After being beaten in two out of three games at Shea last week, the Phils won one and lost one as they hosted the Astros at Citizen’s Bank Ballpark. Their starting pitching was especially suspect over the weekend as Brett Myers and Cole Hamels combined to allow 12 runs in a little over nine innings. Freddy Garcia (0-0, —) will look to change that as he squares off against John Maine (1-0, 1.54) in his Phillies debut. The second game brings a familiar face in Adam Eaton (1-1, 6.94), who faces Tom Glavine (2-1, 3.12). The Mets will hope for some better situational hitting from their hitters who hit just .217 with runners in scoring position against the Nationals, seemingly to spite my prediction of a weekend sweep.
Game 1: Freddy Garcia
What’s the Story? No longer a true ace, Garcia has evolved into a dependable innings eater, if one still capable of the occasional dominating performance. When everything’s 100%, Garcia’s has good command of an assortment of pitches: a four-seam fastball that sits in the low-90’s, a high-80’s two-seamer, a low-80’s slider, a solid changeup, and both a low-80’s slider and a mid-70’s curveball. If everything works as it should, his variety can be extremely frustrating to opposing hitters. Last season he gave up a lot of flies (1.07 G/F ratio) and paid for it; batters knocked 32 homeruns against him in the hitter-friendly U.S. Cellular Park.
Last Year: Garcia, as a member of the White Sox, did not pitch against the Mets in 2006. It’s worth noting, however, that he has one career start against the Mets, in 2003, a complete game victory where he allowed one run and struck out seven.
What to Expect: Garcia’s only just making his first start in a Phillie uniform due to some arm soreness to open the season after looking positively awful this spring. Since arriving with the team, he’s had no velocity on his fastball with reports placing it under 85 miles-per-hour. His arm strength will be the key to the game. If he comes out with an underpowered fastball, he’ll be throwing batting practice unless his true offspeed stuff is phenomenal. However, if he’s throwing 93 right off the bat, hitters will have to work a little harder, waiting on a fastball up in the zone to take advantage of the cozy dimensions of Citizen’s Bank Ballpark.
Game 2: Adam Eaton
What’s the Story? To see my original scouting report on Eaton, look here.
This Year: Eaton turned in a great start against the Mets last week, pitching seven strong innings, allowing two runs on four hits. He struck out five and walked three.
What to Expect: Eaton’s developing into something of a Met killer, as he’s now 4-0 with a 1.62 ERA against them. Maybe we just only notice it when mediocre pitchers consistently beat up on teams because it’s so unexpected. In any event, expect more of the same from Eaton; after all, he hasn’t pitched since the last time Mets fans saw him. One thing to watch for is the number of fly balls he gives up. He got seven outs via the fly last week, which is one thing amidst the swirling winds at Shea, but at Citizen’s Bank, it’s another matter entirely. This will be particularly important when he pitches to the left-handed power bats in the Mets lineup.
Overall: The Phillies took one out of three from the Mets at Shea last week, thanks to Eaton’s performance and Oliver Perez’s implosion, and there’s a good chance they’ll take one out of the pair this week. Despite not having a lot of faith in Freddy Garcia’s velocity at this point, Philadelphia’s bandbox is the wrong place for John Maine, who allowed 15 homers last year in 90 innings pitched. I think the Phillies take game one in a slugfest, though I can see it coming down to the bullpens, which is the Mets’ advantage. But I’ll stand by my gut instinct. In the second game, I’ll predict that the Mets get a little bit of revenge on Eaton as Glavine leaves Philadelphia with win number 293 in hand. Eaton can’t keep beating the Mets. Right?