Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Death By Situational Left-Handers

Last night featured a disappointing loss for the Phillies. They hit four dingers off the Mets’ ace Johan Santana, got a free run and a big out from the home plate umpire, then turn a lead over to the ‘pen- and lose. Just brutal. Tonight is not a must win game by any stretch- but they are only a narrow favorite in Vegas- and a loss means the Mets are just about even in National League east.

And “just about even” is not good. All the good things the Phillies have done so far are wiped out- as they start back by definition at ground zero. I’m not really blaming the Phillies; it isn’t about them. Despite a post-season hangover to start the season, they’re on pace to win well over 90 games. Nevertheless, despite all the sniggering and snarky local ink and condescion the Mets’ have been forced to digest for eighteen months, New York has been managing this current hand pretty darn well. Ravaged with injuries, yet New York is keeping very near the pace.

That is cause for concern. Add a big new top of the rotation guy to the Mets, get a few of their injured guys back- they’re real trouble. Add Roy Halladay to their rotation, could the Phillies hold a somewhat healthy Mets team off? My answer is “doubtful”- on paper no way, but it is the Mets... Still, don’t kid yourself, the Mets are going to blow up the farm system if necessary this year. This is this core group of Mets last chance to win. They will be unreal aggressive- particularly if the Phillies can’t get separation.

The Mets really should be buried right seven-eight games back now. Again, it isn't about the Phillies. Outside of Lidge, they have done their part to make it so. But the Mets hang in.

First, due to K-Rod, they win every game they should.

Second, we all know about match-ups- and the Mets' match-up well with the Phillies late in games. Frankly, the Mets have proven they can play that six-seven inning game with the Phillies. A baseball season is about finding repeatable formulas, and while the Mets don’t have many repeatable scenarios in their everyday players and rotation (past Santana of course), the Mets definitely do have one to end games. If they are even or ahead after six, they are real trouble. K-Rod is lights out, Parnell is a quality set-up guy, and their situation lefty Pedro Feliciano gives them one free pass through our line-up’s wheelhouse. A quality ‘pen lefty counts double versus Philadelphia. Last night was particularly disgusting, Howard and Ibanez looked pretty lost versus Feliciano.

That bullpen day after day, and that bullpen’s effect on the head-to-head match-ups between the clubs, is the difference between today’s two game lead and the Mets kicking around with the Marlins. To their credit, the Mets have taken these two bits of serendipity and parlayed them into a mere two game deficit despite injuries that should have marooned them below .500.

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