For the past few weeks, the Mets have approached .500 in a way that should be familiar to anyone who has spent a significant amount of time near a swimming pool. They've dipped their toes in, found something about the water not to their liking, climbed back up the steps only to try again, maybe putting their feet in a little bit deeper this time, repeating the cycle often enough that you begin to wonder if they'll ever realize that the water is fine and they'd have plenty of fun if they just dove right in. Being at home against a team as terrible as the Mariners presents the perfect opportunity to start swimming.
I've often complained about John Maine's efficiency issues, but Oliver Perez actually throws more pitches per inning than Maine. In fact, only four NL starters average more pitches per inning than Ollie. The difference between the two is that while Maine throws more pitches per batter, he is more effective when it comes to getting batters out. Perez, because he walks so many batters (51 in 78 1/3 innings), faces more batters per inning, and the more baserunners you allow the other team to have, the more runs you are likely to give up. Perez is capable of brilliant performances, such as his domination of the high-powered Texas Rangers offense a week and a half ago, which make those innings where he walks the bases loaded that much more frustrating.
Given the way the Mets often seem to have trouble with pitchers who aren't very good, the fact that R.A. Dickey, a 33-year-old journeyman currently sporting a 5.77 ERA, is starting for the Mariners tonight would terrify me even if he wasn't a knuckleballer. In addition to the knuckleball, which he throws about three quarters of the time, Dickey mixes in a fastball with an average velocity of 85.7 miles per hour. He has been used as both a reliever and a spot starter this year, and has been fantastic in the former role and terrible in the latter. Dickey has struggled with men on base, but is pretty effective with the bases empty.
The big lineup news for tonight is that David Wright is getting the night off. Wright has been in a slump for most of this month (.241/.316/.301 in June), and tonight is as good a night as any to get him some rest - I get the feeling that facing a knuckleball pitcher would only make his hitting woes worse. With Wright getting the night off, Carlos Beltran moves up to third in the order, Carlos Delgado to cleanup, and Trot Nixon to fifth. Fernando Tatis gets the spot start at third base and will be batting sixth, Brian Schneider seventh, and Endy Chavez eighth.
Let's Go Mets!
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