4 Lessons Learned from New York Mets' Opening Series

Stephen SmithContributor IIIApril 5, 2013

4 Lessons Learned from New York Mets' Opening Series

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    The New York Mets have gotten off to a solid start in their 2013 campaign by winning two of three games against the San Diego Padres at Citi Field.

    Heroes were everywhere—Jonathon Niese, Collin Cowgill, Marlon Byrd and John Buck, among others, propelled the Mets to a pair of impressive victories. That gives Mets fans some much-needed hope.

    Although the season has just begun, what lessons did we learn from New York's opening series against San Diego? Let's take a look.

    *Statistics courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com.

Jonathon Niese Pitched Like a Staff Ace

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    Sure, it's just one game, but the 26-year-old southpaw looked like a staff ace against the Padres on Opening Day.

    "Efficient" would be the best way to describe Niese's outing. He threw 101 pitches—62 for strikes—and allowed two runs on just four hits in 6.2 innings of work. He issued two walks, struck out four and was in command throughout.

    His manager came away quite impressed, according to Adam Rubin on ESPNNewYork.com.

    Probably three weeks before we named him the Opening Day starter, I went to him and said, "Hey, look, there’s a real good chance Johan [Santana] is not going to be ready. And if he’s not, it’s going to be you." And he said, "All right!" That means he wanted it bad. He got himself ready for it, for sure. He pitched a great game.

     He sure did. The kind of game an ace would pitch.

Matt Harvey Looks Like the Real Deal

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    Matt Harvey was simply sensational on Wednesday night. The hard-throwing right-hander allowed just a fourth-inning single to Everth Cabrera and struck out 10 over seven scoreless innings to lead the Mets to a 8-4 victory over San Diego.

    The 24-year-old Harvey brought the heat on a frigid night in Queens. He picked up where he left off last season when he flashed the promise of a future ace of the staff.

    He's that good.

    Harvey mixed his fastball, slider and changeup brilliantly as he mowed the Padres down with ease. He looked like a young Tom Seaver out there.

    ''He pitched an absolutely—under the circumstances—an unbelievable game,'' Mets manager Terry Collins told The Associated Press. ''The fact that he commanded his stuff as well as he did was impressive."

    Was it ever.

The Buck Stops Here

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    Travis who?

    All kidding aside, Mets fans know that Travis d'Arnaud is the future behind the plate for New York, but for now John Buck is doing quite well, thank you.

    The veteran backstop has gotten off to a blazing start by hitting two "Buck Shots" (home runs), knocking in five runs and batting a robust .500 in the three-game series against San Diego.

    Not only that but the 32-year-old Buck has done an excellent job calling games, as Jonathon Niese, Matt Harvey and Dillon Gee all pitched extremely well in the series.

    Here's an interesting stat: Through Aug. 15 last season, Mets catchers had hit two home runs. Buck has reached that number in three games. He is working hard to bounce back from a dismal .192 season for the Miami Marlins in 2012.

    Buck told Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com:

    Last year I was hard on myself offensively. But I think I got better defensively. ...All those catching coaches that told you, "It's about defense, it's about defense"—that kind of got put to the test last year. I think what I got out of last year was being a lot more mentally tough and take what I'm given and not try so hard.

Power Surge

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    One hundred and thirty-nine. That's how many home runs the Mets hit last season to rank just 11th in the National League. The league average was 152.

    In just three games this season, New York has already belted five, including a monster blast by Ike Davis that just missed landing on the Shea Bridge in deep right center field. Last year, he did not hit his first HR until Apr. 15.

    Davis has 35-40 HR potential. Lucas Duda has looked good so far and cracked a long home run on Wednesday night, while John Buck (two HR) and Collin Cowgill (one HR) have gone deep as well.

    If these players can remain healthy and David Wright hits his usual 20-25 long balls, the Mets should be in good shape offensively. Marlon Byrd has hit as many as 20 in a season (2009), so if he can add another 10-15, the Mets might give the Bronx Bombers a run for their money in the power department.