Starting on Tuesday, the New York Mets will be playing their biggest division rivals for a three-game series. They will be playing the Philadelphia Phillies at the Mets' new home, Citi Field. When the Phillies come to New York, they won't be seeing the Mets team that they usually face.
They will be, in a way, playing the New York Mets' second-string team. You ask, why? That is because the injury bug has hit the Mets, and it hit them hard. There are a countless amount of players on the New York Mets' disabled list.
Some of the names that highlight that long list are Carlos Delgado, Jose Reyes, JJ Putz, and many more key players to the Mets. Without these players, it takes away a lot of the luster on the Mets team that was predicted to win the World Series by Sports Illustrated (let's hope they break the curse).
I'm not saying that that won't happen, but if they want that to happen, then they will have to work a lot harder. So, with that, the Mets have a lot of key players injured and they are going into their hardest part of the schedule of the whole year.
Those two things don't usually equal success, but I think that the Mets can pull it off. They have to take it one game at a time. They have their ace, Johan Santana going on the mound for them on Tuesday night against, the Philadelphia Phillies' JA Happ.
To me, and many more, that is a must-win game for the Mets. When you have your ace on the mound, you should always be able to have a good shot at winning, especially when your ace is one of the best pitchers in the game. Santana has been doing that this whole year, and he still has three losses.
Johan Santana is coming off a tough couple of games, but the good thing about him is that a bad game for him is still a quality start. Santana has the ability to bounce back and I am 99 percent sure that he will.
He tends to shine the most in the spotlight. That is exactly what he, along with the whole Mets team, will be in this whole week. They will be playing their two biggest rivals, their division rival Philadelphia Phillies and their crosstown rivals, the New York Yankees.
Both of those teams have been playing phenomenal baseball in this past month. Both teams have also had their share of being No. 1 in their division for a pretty long time and they will both be fighting for that spot in their own divisions for the rest of the year.
When the Mets play the Phillies and Yankees, there are many keys to what they have to do in order to win. But some of the biggest ones are playing good defense, being aggressive on the base paths, and good pitching.
This whole year, the Mets have been very inconsistent with their defense. At the beginning of the year their defense was dreadful; they made quite a few errors that had cost them games. When the year started to progress, so did the Mets' defense. The Mets had a hot streak and led by their defense. After that, their defense began to get a little shaky but not that bad. As of now, their defense can go either way.
With the Mets' biggest base-stealer on the DL, you might not think that they can be overly aggressive on the base-paths. The Mets have some of the greatest overall speed in the game, and if they use it right, then it will help them so much. David Wright is used to stealing bases; he only stole four bases in a game a couple of weeks ago. Another legit base stealer is Carlos Beltran, who runs like a track star. Speed is a big part of his game. Rookie Fernando Martinez also has great speed and he has already swiped a couple of bases this year.
Even though stealing bases is a big part of being aggressive on the base-paths, it's not the only part. Sometimes taking the extra base can really set your team up for a big inning and that is what the Mets have been doing in the past week. The Mets have to keep that style of play now that they are facing tougher teams. Sometimes they were called out, but when they were safe, they really helped themselves out. If they can perfect taking the extra base, that would give them a great edge on the base-paths in the series to come.
The last big key for me is that the Mets' need good pitching, if not great. The Mets' pitching started out a little sluggish, but began to round out and since then the Mets have one one of the best pitching rotations in all of baseball. Pitching is always a big part to any team's game, but right now, it is a huge part to the Mets winning.
With all of the injuries that the Mets have been suffering, the pitching must hold up. The Mets don't have an offense that can overcome a large amount of runs. There's not enough pop in the lineup, but maybe their trip to the new Yankee Stadium, a.k.a. BamBox, will get their power started up. Anyway, I would love for each pitcher for the Mets to go out their every day and pitch quality starts, but we all know that that won't happen.
Every pitcher has their bad days, but when they do, they can't kick themselves on the mound. Many Mets' pitchers have been doing that this year, especially Mike Pelfrey and John Maine, two of the biggest keys to the Mets rotation. The Mets' pitching rotation has to take a lesson from Livan Hernandez, who you can't tell if he's down by 10 runs or if he's throwing a no-hitter when he's on the mound. They just have to relax, and success will come.
If the Mets do those three things, then Mets fans won't be hearing a lot of yapping from Phillies and Yankees fans for maybe...a couple of weeks, maybe days. It'll also really help the Mets in the standings if they can take two out of three in both series. To me, the Mets have a great chance at beating both of the tough teams they will be facing this week. I only ask for three things from them: win, take my three keys of winning on the field, and last but not least, don't get inured. We've had enough that.