The Arizona Diamondbacks find themselves in last place in an extremely competitive NL West, with the second-worst record in the National League, 34-58. If there's anything the Diamondbacks can lean towards to feel positive, it's their home record. Although not great (21-25), it's still a complete 180 of what their road record is (13-33).
The Mets, though, can't use that as a potential excuse. They need to win at least two in this series, if not sweep. A sweep would make up for the extra game they lost to the Giants, when a split would've been fine.
Trying to get the Mets off on the right foot will be Mike Pelfrey. Pelfrey was scratched from his Saturday start due to a stiff neck that he suffered on the plane ride to San Francisco.
A stiff neck is not all that he has suffered from. Pelfrey, after starting the season 9-1 with a 2.39 ERA, stumbled towards the All-Star break. In his last five starts leading up to the break, Pelfrey went 1-3 with a 7.52 ERA.
He walked more (11) than he struck out (10). For a career sinkerball pitcher, he uncharacteristically gave up four home runs during the five starts, and also gave up 46 hits in 26.1 innings pitched.
The bottom line is, he was downright awful and his final start, which was supposed to be a sign of things to come, was bad as well. On July 10 against the Braves, Pelfrey gave up four runs on 12 hits in only four innings of work.
The problem for Pelfrey has seemingly been the lack of bite on his sinker. It's been flat and high in the zone, causing hitters to tee off.
Also, Pelfrey has been seen talking to himself on the mound and has had bad body language. That was the problem throughout his career, leading up to this season.
After a game last season in which he committed three balks, he went to visit a sports psychiatrist and came back a little different. Right now, Pelfrey is reverting back to his pre-2010 days and it's not a good sign, unless he could prove otherwise tonight.
On the mound for the Diamondbacks will be an old New York friend, Ian Kennedy. Kennedy was a first-round draft pick of the Yankees in 2006, and was supposed to be part of the "Big Three," along with Phil Hughes and Joba Chamberlain. He's the only one of them that the Yankees gave up on.
He made nine starts for the Yankees in 2008, and went 0-4, with an ERA of 8.17. This season, he's in the midst of his first full one as a starter for Arizona, and he hasn't been great.
After a great stretch from May 4 through June 9, Kennedy has been erratic. In two of his last five starts, Kennedy has allowed six or more runs. He did, though, pitch effectively in his last start before the break against the Marlins.
For the Mets, they'll have their complete lineup on the field for the first time this season. Three guys who didn't play yesterday will most likely be in tonight's lineup: Carlos Beltran got a day of rest, as he'll be back; Jose Reyes, barring a late setback, will be back; and Luis Castillo will be reactivated from the disabled list to make his first start since June 1 in San Diego, coming off foot and knee problems.
If all goes according to plan for Jerry Manuel, his lineup would look like this: Jose Reyes, Angel Pagan, David Wright, Carlos Beltran, Ike Davis, Jason Bay, Catcher, Luis Castillo, and Mike Pelfrey.
Maybe this is exactly what the Mets need to spark them to a second-half run. It's the perfect time to get all your starters back, heading towards August, and the Mets will hope Pelfrey can get back on track as well.
Mike Pelfrey vs. Arizona (career)
*0-4, 5.22 ERA, 29.1 IP, 30 hits, 15 BB, 21 SO
Ian Kennedy this season (18 starts)
4-7, 4.12 ERA, 111.1 IP, 97 hits, 42 BB, 100 SO, 19 HR
*Only team he has faced without a win (minimum five starts)
2009 season series (New York vs. Arizona)
Diamondbacks won series 4-2