The Mets come into town starting Monday for a three-game set at Dodger Stadium. The Dodgers may be the hottest team in the MLB right now, but the Metropolitans have been playing well and have won 5 of their last 6 games. The last time the Dodgers took on the Mets was back in April when they won 2 of 3 at Citi Field. My guest today is Rising Apple writer Will DeBoer who answered a few of my questions about the upcoming series. You can also read my answers I provided for Will over on Rising Apple.
Stacie: The Mets are in third place well behind a really tough Atlanta team. Do you think the Mets can close the gap or will the goal be a wild card spot?
Will: Nothing is impossible, but it would take something like your 37-8 run to make it happen. And when you factor in David Wright‘s absence, possibly for the rest of the season, we would need some help from the literal incarnations of your rivals in Anaheim to make it over the hump. Ask me again in 2014 and I’d say the Mets have a great chance to at least go after a Wild Card, but at this point in 2013 it’s a stretch. And that’s putting it nicely.
Stacie: Can you give us an update on David Wright? Will he really be out for the remainder of the season, and if so how will this affect the team down the stretch?
Will: David strained his right hamstring on August 2 against the Royals; he had been trying to nurse it for a while and it gave out as he ran out an infield single. Our manager Terry Collins said Wright would probably miss 3-5 weeks, but with the Mets out of contention it’s not inconceivable that he will take the rest of the season to fully recover. No sense pushing him for a lost cause. What Wright’s absence does is allow the team to get a good look at Wilmer Flores, a top hitting prospect who came up last week. Flores has been an RBI machine in his first week and is making a case to be part of the club’s future. Now, Wright is New York’s third baseman period, so the team will have to find a new position for Flores, who has seen some time at second and first (albeit he isn’t great anywhere in the field). But sticking with him at third while David’s out means we get to see Flores’s full potential with a bat.
Stacie: Matt Harvey has been pitching on a Kershaw-like level. What can we expect from the Cy Young contender on Tuesday, and how do you think his chances stack up against Kershaw for the Cy Young in your opinion?
Will: In his last start Harvey threw his first career shutout, and he did that mainly by pitching for groundballs instead of strikeouts; he only struck out six but managed 14 groundouts and kept his pitch count at 106, which he usually approached in seven innings. Matt’s doing this in order to save himself of a Stephen Strasburg-esque shutdown in September, so you can expect the same sort of thing from him tomorrow night. In terms of the Cy Young race, Kershaw and Harvey are the top two contenders. If both pitchers continue at their present pace, I think Kershaw will edge out Harvey based on his ERA and the fact that he has more complete games.
Stacie: Yasiel Puig has garnered quite the reputation around the league. How has the New York fan base viewed the polarizing player? Are you excited to see him play, or are you in the Puig hater club?
Will: Because I live between Indiana and Michigan, I don’t have as good a grasp on what the New York fan base thinks of Puig. As for myself, I think it’s great that he’s doing so well, and I can’t understand anyone who claims to be a Puig hater. He’s an inspirational player who hustles on every play, and baseball needs more guys like him. I wish him success for years to come.
Stacie: Ike Davis has been playing extremely well since returning from the DL. What do you think has spurred this surge? How has his hot hitting helped this Wright-less lineup?
Will: Ike had a similar rough start last season but recovered nicely to hit 32 home runs. We didn’t expect him to start slow again in 2013, but he did, worse even, and that forced the Mets to demote him to Triple-A Las Vegas (Yeah, I don’t know why our affiliate is out there either). The most incredible aspect of Davis’s turnaround is how often he’s getting on base: since his return on July 5 his OBP is an other-worldly .482. While his OPS has been a terrific .933 in that timespan, the power has not yet returned to Ike’s swing: he’s hit only one home run in the 31 games he’s played. Unless he starts bashing balls out of Citi Field like New Yorkers want and need him to by the end of the season, his future with the club will be in question. You can guarantee, though, that if he starts slow next season, he’s gone.
Stacie: The Mets have been playing well and have won their last 5 of 6. Rookie Jenrry Mejia will be going up against Ricky Nolasco in game one. Can you give us a short scouting report on the young right-hander? Finally, do you think the Metropolitans can overtake the record paced Dodgers?
Will: The Mets have mismanaged Mejia’s development for years, shuffling him between starter and reliever based on the big club’s needs, but he seems to have overcome it and is positioning himself nicely to become part of New York’s future rotation. Although seen as a power pitcher, Mejia has used his slider and changeup much more this season. It’s working for him, as he has a 1.96 ERA and 1.091 WHIP through three starts this season. If you think Kershaw-Ryu-Greinke is a Big Three, wait till you see Harvey-Zack Wheeler-Mejia for the next few seasons, not to mention Noah Syndergaard, who is lighting up the minors and should make his Broadway debut next summer.
As for the series, the Mets are lucky to only be facing one of your Big Three. The Harvey-Ryu main event is a tossup, but if the bats can come alive for Mejia and Dillon Gee, who has been nothing short of dominant since May 30, the Mets have a great chance of taking two of three from Chavez Ravine.
The Dodgers and Mets square off at Dodger Stadium tonight at 7:10 p.m., as Jenrry Mejia takes on Ricky Nolasco. Tuesday night will feature a marquee battle between Matt Harvey and Hyun-jin Ryu, while Wednesday night pairs up Dillon Gee and former Met Chris Capuano. Thank you to Will DeBoer who was kind enough to give us some insight into the Mets and the upcoming series. You can follow him here on Twitter.