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Mets Geek » Upcoming Series: Seattle Mariners Pitchers

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June 23, 2008
  
Upcoming Series: Seattle Mariners Pitchers
by: Alex Nelson on Jun 23, 2008 1:04 AM | Filed under: Articles

Well the Mets gave the Jerry Manuel era its first series win over the weekend against the Rockies. Now they can look forward to a team in a similar boat: the Seattle Mariners (26-49). The Mariners were expected to compete this season after the acquisition of ace Erik Bedard, but the team’s failed to do much of anything particularly well and currently find themselves with the worst record in the majors. GM Bill Bavasi was the first casualty, and he was followed by John McLaren the other day. Lee Pelekoudas and Jim Riggleman now need to right the ship if they hope to have any chance of dropping the “interim” tag from their new titles.

The opener is a battle of aces, as Felix Hernandez (6-5, 2.87) takes on Johan Santana (7-5, 3.04). Next up, Miguel Batista (3-9, 6.26) gets the start against Oliver Perez (5-4, 5.06), followed by R.A. Dickey (1-3, 5.77) and John Maine (7-5, 3.78).

Game 1: Felix Hernandez, RHP

What’s the Story? Felix Hernandez is finally pitching the way many envisioned when he burst onto the scene in 2005 as one of baseball’s top prospects. Hernandez was mildly disappointing over his first two seasons, but he was still just entering his age-22 season, and his peripherals were always quite strong. And he, of course, has excellent stuff: a mid-90s sinking fastball, an excellent slider, a very good hard curve, and an average changeup. At his best, Hernandez is a dominant starter who keeps the ball in the ground and can keep hitters guessing with his offspeed stuff.

Last Year: King Felix has never faced the Mets.

What to Expect: Hernandez will use his fastball for two purposes: to get ahead in the count and in situations where he wants a ground ball. And, in general, he uses it to great effect: he has a pretty high groundball rate for a power pitcher, and he spots the pitch very well. The fact that he has two plus breaking pitches, one of which (the curve) he can take something more off of, helps keep him from getting too predictable. The changeup is easily his worst pitch, but he’ll mostly throw it to left-handed batters. With his combination of power, control, and groundball tendencies, defeating Hernandez is a very difficult task.

Game 2: Miguel Batista, RHP

What’s the Story? Batista’s one of those rare players whose demeanor off the field dominate his public image. A published poet and novelist, he’s regarded as one of the more intelligent players out there. It’s perhaps a little surprising that Batista is as well-traveled as he is; the Mariners are the eighth team the 37-year-old has played for. At this point in time, however, Batista looks pretty done. After being league-average or better the past eight seasons—and winning a career-high 16 games last season—Batista has a 6.26 ERA this season. Batista relies heavily on two pitches: a low-90s sinking fastball and a mid-to-high-80s cutter, which is easily his best pitch. He also throws a decent curve and a fair changeup.

Last Year: Batista didn’t pitch against the Mets in 2007, but he has made 19 appearances against them in the past, nine of them starts. He’s 4-3 with a 3.67 ERA against them lifetime, including a 2-1, 2.38 mark at Shea.

What to Expect: Batista’s a very difficult pitcher to get a handle on. He’s never been a strikeout pitcher, but he can sometimes be at least average in that department. At other times, he’s an extreme contact pitcher. I think it’s largely a function of his cutter, as I’ve noticed that this can be the case with several pitchers who rely on them. In any event, hitters from both sides of the plate should expect to see a ton of them. He’ll rarely throw any offspeed pitch, but he will throw the occasional changeup to lefties and curve to righties. His command, never good, has been terrible this season, so hitters will need to be patient.

Game 3: R.A. Dickey, RHP

What’s the Story? I have to say I’m thrilled Dickey’s back in the majors after spending last season playing for the Brewers’ Triple-A affiliate. Why? Dickey is a freak of nature. I mean this literally, because Dickey was presumably born without an ulnar collateral ligament, which is the ligament that gets replaced in Tommy John surgery. He shouldn’t be able to pitch at all, but here he is. If that wasn’t good enough, Dickey, 33, spent last season transforming himself into a knuckleballer, when he noticed his velocity dropping off. His fastball only comes in around 85, but that looks plenty fast next to high-60s and low-70s knucklers, which he’ll throw about 75% of the time.

Last Year: Dickey’s never made a start against the Mets. He did make a relief appearance back in 2003, going two and two-thirds innings and giving up two runs on four hits and a walk, while not striking out a batter.

What to Expect: He a knuckleballer. Expect knuckleballs. They’re slow and unpredictable. At their best, they’re tough to square up on, but, at their worst, they’re tough to control. Thus far, he hasn’t been terribly successful, and he’s spent some time in the bullpen as a result. We’ll see what happens on game day.

Overall: I have Felix Hernandez on all my fantasy teams this year, so I’m definitely picking the Mets to take the opener, as Johan should have little difficulty against a terrible Seattle offense. In any event, it should definitely be a game to watch. I do have a bad feeling against Miguel Batista, who always seems to pitch well against the Mets, but I like their chances against Dickey, though I’d like to see him pitch well. So two-out-of-three, as the Mets take their third straight series.


5 Responses to “Upcoming Series: Seattle Mariners Pitchers”

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  1. Comment posted by Simons on June 23, 2008 at 1:52 am (#736660)

    Great write-up. I feel I should remind everyone that, like Zimmerman, Jacobs, and Ensberg before him, Miguel Batista is not actually a Jewish baseball player. You might be thinking of Jose Bautista, the Orioles righthander from a while back who was born to a Dominican father and an Israeli mother. You could look it up.

    Two out of three is a reasonable prediction for this series, yes.

  2. Comment posted by Tim in LA on June 23, 2008 at 2:54 am (#736662)

    I was going to offer to write a professional review of Batista’s poetry for MetsGeek, but I don’t read Spanish well enough. From a few quotes I’ve found online (“Before you stop smiling and tear my world apart/ if you have one favor left for me/ Give me back my heart”), I don’t think it would be a positive response. Sounds like he leans more toward Leonard Nemoy than Pablo Neruda.

    If anyone cares, though, I think I’m going to write something about celebrity poetry on my blog on Tuesday.

  3. Comment posted by sheadenizen on June 23, 2008 at 8:35 am (#736674)

    They’re predicting severe thunderstorms around here today with hail and high winds. I have no idea whether they’ll play tonight, but I’d hate to see Johan wasted. I hope the weather gods are kinder to us then the baseball gods. Hope the Mets are smart enough to make the right decision early, if necessary.

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  5. Comment posted by Dep on June 23, 2008 at 10:31 am (#736833)

    Keep.
    Winning.
    Series.

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  7. Comment posted by Alex Nelson on June 23, 2008 at 1:20 pm (#737092)

    Sounds like he leans more toward Leonard Nemoy than Pablo Neruda.

    While I haven’t read Batista’s poetry, I have heard that his stuff is pretty terrible. Still, a book of poetry is a book of poetry, and that’s more than most ballplayers have written.

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