The Mets open a nine-game road trip tonight in Washington D.C. where they’ll begin a three-game set with the National League East leading Nationals. Just a half game separates the Mets and Nats in the standings, so the outcome of this series will have an impact on how the division looks going forward in June. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. and the game can be seen on SNY or heard, as always on WFAN 660 AM. Join the conversation on Twitter by following @dailystache or yours truly, @DevOnSports.
Veteran righthander Chris Young makes his 2012 major league debut for the Mets in tonight’s game. Young made four starts for the Mets last season before injuring his shoulder. He then went under the knife on May 17, 2011 to have the same anterior capsule surgery that fellow Mets starter Johan Santana had in 2010. After a long recovery, Young made four rehab starts before tonight between Single-A St. Lucie and Triple-A Buffalo.
Young will be opposed by Washington’s Jordan Zimmermann’s one of the league’s most effective starters through the first two months of the season. The Mets send out another lefty heavy lineup against the righty Zimmermann. In fact, David Wright will be the only righthanded batter for the Mets outside of the pitcher Young.
Nieuwenhuis - Torres - Wright - Duda - Murphy - Davis - Thole - Quintanilla - Young
Small Sample Stache: Ike Davis’ season has been an ugly one, but he’s been noticeably better on the road. His average away from Citi Field is .229, more than 100 points higher than his home average. In addition, all five of his homers and eight of his 10 extra base hits have come on the road. In his career he’s been great at Nationals Park, throwing up a triple slash of .378./.451/.600 in 45 at-bats in D.C.
Lombardozzi - Harper - Zimmerman - LaRoche - Morse - Desmond - Espinosa - Flores - Zimmermann
Small Sample Stache: The Mets will be facing Nationals phenom Bryce Harper for the first time tonight and though SportsCenter would have you believe Harper is hitting .750 with 30 home runs since his call-up, his numbers have been pretty good. He’s hitting .288 with a .380 OBP, but carries an exceptional .542 slugging percentage. But 10 of his 16 extra base hits have come at home where he’s had fewer at-bats, accounting for an incredible .667 slugging percentage at Nationals Park.
NYM: Chris Young (2011 Stats: 1-0, 1.88 ERA, 0.95 WHIP, 22 K) – Young takes the hill looking to pick up where he left off last season, but it’s anybody’s guess whether Young will be able to match his 2011 start coming off such an extensive shoulder surgery. He looked solid in his only start at Buffalo last Thursday, tossing six shutout innings, but his fastball barely touched the mid-80’s, hovering in the low 80’s for most of the day.
The good news is that Young didn’t feature overpowering stuff last season either. He got by with smoke and mirrors and somehow made it work. Young made two starts against Washington last year. In the first one — on April 10 at Citi Field — he dominated, tossing seven innings and allowing just one run on a hit and two walks. After that start it was 16 days before Young’s next one, which was also against the Nats. That day they got to him for three runs on four hits in four-and-two-thirds innings. He made only one more start before his season ended. Though few players in tonight’s Nationals lineup have had success against Young, Ryan Zimmerman is 3-for-11 with a homer off the righty.
WSH: Jordan Zimmermann (2012 Stats: 3-5, 2.80 ERA, 1.09 ERA, 44 K) – Thanks to some rainouts for the Nationals, Zimmermann enters tonight’s start against the Mets eight days removed from his last outing. In that game last Monday, he went six innings, allowing four runs on eight hits. It was the second time in three games that he’d allowed four runs in six innings.
Zimmermann’s best pitch is his fastball, but he features four, including a very good slider that he’s using more this year — his first full season after Tommy John surgery — making his fastball even better. Zimmermann will be making his eighth career start against the Mets. In his last outing against New York on July 31st of last season, Zimmermann threw six shutout innings, striking out six and scattering seven hits in a 3-2 Nats win. Daniel Murphy is 6-for-12 lifetime off Zimmermann with a homer and three RBI. Ike Davis has also homered against Zimmermann, one of three hits in six at-bats.
Stache Keys to the Game:
- Stay Young Through 5 – Chris Young will be on a pitch count of about 85-90 tonight according to manager Terry Collins so it will be important for him to get out to a good start or his appearance might put some extra miles on the bullpen. If he can get through five with a lead in hand it would be a boon for the Mets.
- Light Up the Scoreboard – With all that being said, we know the Mets beleaguered bullpen will be playing a prominent role in tonight’s game and they’re a few men short. The demotion of Jack Egbert to make room for Young, Ramon Ramirez being sent to the DL with a hamstring injury and Jon Rauch’s elbow pain causing an extended stay in New York leave the bullpen a skeleton crew. The Mets did activate Miguel Batista to “back-up” Young for tonight’s start, but Batista isn’t exactly a savior. Scoring runs in bunches is a must if the Mets hope to walk away with a win tonight.
- Believe It – One of the best things about yesterday’s game, despite the fact that the Mets wound up losing was the resiliency they showed. After falling behind for the first time in the series they came back to tie it 1-1 and 3-3 and even threatened to even it at 5-5 in the eighth, bringing the tying run to third. It’s that type of effort on a getaway day with the series already in hand that gets me really excited to watch this team on a nightly basis.
This Date in Mets History:
The MLB Draft often falls on June 5th and the Mets have selected a few fan favorites on this date over this year. In 1973, the Mets used the 14th overall pick to take 18-year-old Brooklynite Lee Mazzilli. On this date, 28 years later New York used the compensation pick they obtained when Mike Hampton signed with the Colorado Rockies to select David Wright No. 38 overall in 2001. Ike Davis was also selected on this date in 2008.