Series Preview: New York Mets @ Cleveland Indians

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Pitching Matchups

Zach Wheeler (7-3, 3.36 ERA, 4.19 SIERA) vs. Scott Kazmir (7-7, 4.36 ERA, 3.84 SIERA)

 The aforementioned Wheeler has proven himself to be a very good pitcher in 86+ major league innings, and the Mets look pretty good with that Carlos Beltran trade. He looked just as good in the minors – 9.7 K/9, 3.56 ERA in four years of play, and was just as good after coming over to the International League from the Pacific Coast League when traded. He averages 95 mph on his four-seamer, a tick less on his sinker and he loves his slider against lefties – 23% of pitches thrown compared to only 6% against righties. He still walks 3.7 per nine, but that’s likely to come down. A polished pitcher already, the Mets should be excited for the future.

Scott wasn’t all that good in August, 5.40 ERA for the month and many have begun to wonder whether it’s all over. Funny thing is, despite all the gnashing of teeth and worrying, his fastball velocity was the highest all year. He’s using it more, 37% in August compared to under 33% for the season, and he’s not throwing the sinker as much. It’d make sense if he was tiring out, but it’d be nice to see a little reminder here of just what New York gave up for a rental of Victor Zambrano.

Jon Niese (6-6, 3.66 ERA, 4.19 SIERA) vs. Corey Kluber (7-5, 3.54 ERA, 3.18 SIERA)

Jon Niese should be on the Mets for darn near a decade. With how the rotation is shaping up, he’s the number three or four that will carry them to division titles if Harvey and Wheeler continue to evolve into a pair of superhumans. Far from overpowering, he averages 90 on both the four-seamer and sinker and works the ground ball out to be successful.  He’s faced the Indians once, earning a win over seven innings of three run ball. Of course, that was a lifetime ago when it comes to Cleveland.

The return of Kluber will soften the injury to Justin Masterson, and hopefully Klubes comes out guns blazing. Between the beginning of July and when he got hurt, Kluber packed a 2.53 ERA in seven starts, striking out 43 in those 46.1 innings. The Corey Kluber Appreciation Society returns. He’s going to be on a pitch count this first time back, somewhere around 80 pitches, but what can you do. He’s never faced the Mets – time for domination.

Daisuke Matsuzaka (0-3, 10.95 ERA, 4.93 SIERA) vs. Danny Salazar (1-2, 3.00 ERA, 3.00 SIERA)

Aug 28, 2013; New York, NY, USA; New York Mets starting pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka (16) reacts after a pitch is called a ball during the third inning of a game against the Philadelphia Phillies at Citi Field. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

So, the betrayer returns, it seems. The audacity of the man is stunning. Matsuzaka toiled in the minors for Cleveland before being cut, and despite getting shelled for six runs on Sunday. He’s there simply because they need to get to the end of the year and he can eat innings. It’ll be a maddening day, Daisuke will nibble and throw everything you could possibly imagine, and it will either go spectacularly or just hideously. He’s pretty much the polar opposite of the guy starting across him – all guile and finesse against pure power. I have no reason to believe the Indians won’t be successful against him.

It continues to irritate that Danny is on a pitch count since it’s so routinely dazzling when he’s out there, but it’s for the future. He’s allowed three runs in the last 15 innings pitched and if he can be as efficient as he was last time around, against the Mets he could still go seven innings, even on 80 pitches. A strong outing and his ERA will be under 2, where it belongs.

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