(note: This is a guest post offered up by Rising Apple site lead Adam Garnett. Since we don’t get to see many National League teams in Detroit, Scott has been gracious enough to give us an introduction to the New York Mets. To complete the trade, we sent a Tigers introduction to Adam.)
By Adam Garnett
Tuesday – Jon Niese (4-2, 3.63). The young lefty has been nothing short of spectacular since his return from the DL on June 5th. In his past three starts, Niese has compiled a perfect 3-0 record, while only yielding 4 runs. The ultimate gem came on June 10th, when Niese fired a one-hit gem against the Padres. In fact, as Tigers fans can commiserate, Niese was almost perfect that night facing only 28 batters, but he gave up his hit in the third inning, not the ninth like Armando Galarraga. His signature pitch is his big sweeping overhand curve ball, akin to that of Barry Zito in his heyday.
More starters and some info on Mets hitters after the jump (…)Wednesday – R.A. Dickey (5-0, 2.82). Yes folks, the 35-year old knuckleballer really has been as good as his numbers say. Dickey has failed to go less than six innings in any of his six starts since entering the rotation in place of John Maine. In his last two starts, all be it against the woeful Cleveland Indians and Baltimore Orioles, Dickey has been a strikeout demon, collecting 15 Ks in 13 innings of work. He is not your prototypical knuckleballer. His waffling pitch has a bit more velocity than guys like Tim Wakefield and Charlie Hough and he mixes in a fastball or two from time to time.
Thursday – Hisanori Takahashi (6-2, 3.13). Another godsend for the Mets rotation. Since being summoned from the bullpen to replace the reviled Oliver Perez in the rotation, this 35-year old rookie from Japan has been a revelation. In three of his six starts, Takahashi did not yield a run while pitched six or more innings in those outings. Two of those shutout performances came against the vaunted New York Yankees hitting attack so that just about says it all about this guy. His stuff is far from dominant, as he features a 90-92 MPH fastball and a screwball as his out pitch, but this 10-year veteran of the Japanese League sure knows how to pitch.
Hot: Jose Reyes looks to finally be fully back to full strength after missing almost an entire year due to injury and illness. He is the engine that makes the Mets offense run, and during the team’s recent blistering stretch, Reyes did exactlty that. He has raised his batting average 30 points to .272 in the past 10 games, collecting three homers and 6 RBI in that span while playing a gold-glove caliber shortstop. Reyes is once again living up to his billing of the “most exciting player in baseball”.
Not: The always feast or famine Jason Bay is once again mired in one of his patented slumps. With only six hits in his last 31 ABs, Bay’s average has dropped down to .278, down from the .300 level it was a few weeks back. What is most distressing for Mets fans his his paltry power statistics. As July approaches, Bay has only compiled four homers. Last season at this time, Bay had a whopping 17 dingers while playing for the Red Sox. The Fenway Park/Citi Field dynamics may have something to do with that.
Name to Remember: Angel Pagan has arguably been the Mets offensive MVP thus far in 2010. Filling in for Carlos Beltran, who likely will not make his return until after the All-Star break, Pagan has been everything the Mets could have dreamed of and more. While his common numbers (.296 BA, 4 HR, 31 RBI) don’t jump off the stat page, his clutch hitting does. Pagan’s .368 average with runners in scoring position is good for sixth in the National League. Throw in 14 stolen bases and six outfield assists and that makes one very viable outfielder.