Like Matt did earlier in the season when the Miami Marlins and New York Mets battled each other, Matt was kind enough to have a chat with me regarding this series and the Mets season thus far. It is a very interesting chat and you can see the excellent work that goes on over at Fansided’s New York Mets site, Rising Apple.
Ehsan: The New York Mets are now sitting at 18-13 and closing in on first place in the division, is there anything that you see this team doing right now that will continue to help them succeed in the future?
Matt: The most encouraging thing that I’m seeing is their resiliency in the late innings. In 2006, it seemed that almost every time the opposition scored, New York came back in the very next inning or two to match them. After 2006, we haven’t really seen that from the Mets. It came back a little last season, but is more apparent this year. Plus, their ability to stay afloat on the road (8-7) and play well in front of the home crowd (10-6) is exactly what they need to be doing.
Ehsan: As a critical fan, even when my team is winning, I find small holes that other teams will eventually exploit and my team will have to adjust to, do you see any weaknesses with the Mets right now that could cause some problems going forward?
Matt: By far, it’s the bullpen. Even though they have been playing well of late, they go through lapses where they can’t put the ball over the plate and walk everyone. What bothers me the most is that Bobby Parnell should be the first man out of the ‘pen, but it’s Manny Acosta most of the time, and his performance is iffy at best. Also, Frank Francisco can set down a team 1-2-3 one day, then implode the next. The unpredictability give me agita.
Matt: I knew Johan would come back and be Johan; he’s a competitor and I knew he would figure out how to be effective again. Captain Kirk is definitely the bigger surprise of the two, mostly because I didn’t hear his name much until the end of Spring Training. He can play all three outfield positions, can move pretty quickly, and has shown early on that he can succeed in clutch situations late in the game. It’s because of him that the injuries to Andres Torres and Jason Bay haven’t derailed the team.
Ehsan: Which pitching match-up are you looking forward to see this series? Which pitcher/hitter match-up?
Matt: Although Santana-Buerhle will be fun to watch, I’m most excited about R.A. Dickey going up against Ricky Nolasco on Saturday. Dickey is coming off a fantastic start against the Diamondbacks, and I want to see that knuckleball dance a little more this weekend. Nolasco is one of those silent assassins; he’s got great stuff, but mostly flies under the radar.
For pitcher-hitter match-up, I want to see Bobby Parnell throw his mid-90s fastball against Giancarlo Stanton. The Miami slugger has definitely woken his bat up after a tough April, and I’m always a fan of power vs. power.
Ehsan: What are your predictions for this series? Who will step up for the Mets, who will take a step back?
Matt: I’m going to go with the Mets taking two out of three to continue one of their hottest streaks in recent years, especially with their pitching playing well right now and coming to what I heard is a spacious venue. I truly think Ike Davis is back on track and will be the one to take a step forward, showing that his slump is a thing of the past. As for taking a step back, I’ll say Manny Acosta. He’s put together two effective outings in a row, but I always cringe when he’s the first man out of the ‘pen.
Ehsan: (Bonus question: How many homers is Giancarlo Stanton going to hit this series?)
Matt: How many homers for Stanton? I’m going to go with two…because the guy is freaking huge and scares the crap outta me.
Matt: Hope this helps my man, enjoy the series!
Big thanks to Matt for being such a great sport and doing this chat with us. Hopefully the Miami Marlins can beat the Mets and make Matt a bit grumpy!