With all the injuries and typical drama that plagues the New York teams, the Mets aren’t doing all that badly. After all, it wasn’t too long ago that the Phillies overcame a six-game lead in late September of 2007 to win the division by a game.
Besides, the Mets don’t flop until the end of the season.
Nevertheless, despite the key injuries to reliever J.J. Putz and overrated shortstop Jose Reyes, things aren’t all that bad for the Mets. Sure, Chipper Jones claimed that third baseman David Wright was complaining about the pitching-friendly dimensions at Citi Field, it could be worse for the Mets. The funny thing about that is Charlie Manuel says back in his day, every stadium was the size of Citi Field.
Hey, it can always be worse.
What the Mets have going for them (of course) is Johan Santana. He’s been as good as the Mets had hoped and has already stuck it to the Phillies once already this season.
Still, if the Phillies can get Brad Lidge and Jimmy Rollins squared away, this race could be over quickly. Oh, they might not say Rollins’ and Lidge’s slumps are concerning, but that can’t be totally accurate… right?
Maybe. After all, despite his 6-for-36 (.167) in his last eight games and demotion out of the leadoff spot for Sunday’s victory in Los Angeles, the Phillies’ offense appears to be potent enough to withstand an extended jag by Jimmy Rollins. That doesn’t mean Charlie Manuel doesn’t need Rollins to start hitting, because he does. The numbers bear that out. When Rollins gets on base and scores, the Phillies win. It’s as simple as that.
Not so simple is the slide by the closer Lidge. Apparently he is making up for lost time on the blown saves front after going a perfect 48-for-48 last season. This year the stats don’t look too great after he blew back-to-back saves last weekend and is 13-for-19 in save opportunities with a 7.27 ERA.
However, Lidge spoiled the Phillies last year because blown saves are inevitable. Just look at Mets’ closer Francisco Rodriguez, who set the Major League record with 62 saves last season. To get those 62, Rodriguez needed 69 chances. In fact, the so-called K-Rod has never blown fewer than four chances a season during his career and though he’s a perfect 15-for-15 this year, his save percentage is just 87 percent. That’s slightly better than Lidge’s career mark, though it is worth noting that K-Rod saved eight games last year in which he didn’t go a full inning.
Moreover, the last time Rodriguez went more than one inning to get a save was July 1, 2007.
Goose Gossage he is not.
Regardless, it should be a pretty interesting showdown in the fancy, new Citi Field (new Yankee Stadium it is not).
Tonight: LHP J.A. Happ (4-0, 2.48) vs. LHP Johan Santana (7-3, 2.00)
Tomorrow: LHP Cole Hamels (4-2, 4.40) vs. RHP Mike Pelfrey (4-2, 4.85)
Thursday: LHP Jamie Moyer (4-5, 6.27) vs. RHP Tim Redding (0-2, 6.97)
Working on the weekend
The popular sentiment during the weekend was that the Dodgers-Phillies matchup was a preview of this year’s NLCS… sure, sounds right to me.
Nevertheless, if the season were to end today (it doesn’t) the playoff matchups would have the Dodgers hosting the Mets and the Phillies in a rematch against the Brewers in the NLDS.
In the American League the matchups would pit the Yankees against the Tigers and the Red Sox vs. Rangers.
Why mention this? Well, 28 years ago tomorrow playoff spots actually were decided on June 10. Yep, on this date in 1981, the players went on a two-month strike that did not end until July 31. As a result, the owners decided to split the 1981 season into two halves, with the first-place teams from each half in each division (or a wild card team if the same club won both halves) meeting in a best-of-five divisional playoff series.
It was a terribly flawed system because the Cincinnati Reds finished with the best record but didn’t make the playoffs. Meanwhile, the Kansas City Royals snuck in with a 50-53 record.
The Phillies also got in thanks to being in first place when the players walked out on June 10. Eventually, they lost in an entertaining five game NLDS series to the Montreal Expos even though the St. Louis Cardinals finished the season with the best record in the NL East.
Weird, wild stuff.