Series Preview: Chase Utley; Blood or Mercy?

thor utley

Blood or Mercy?: This is a series Mets fans have been waiting for since Chase Utley did his best scumbag impression in the NLDS. The fans have not forgotten. The masses want blood. They are screaming for it like the Roman citizens at the Coliseum. Kill! Kill! Kill! The unwritten rules of the game tell us that Chase Utley is going to get a baseball thrown at his back, his butt, his arm or his leg. The rules set by our baseball forefathers say he must be rocked in the fleshy part of his body. That is the price for his sin. Will we see it? I do not know. On the record, Terry will say that nothing is going to happen. But can he control his pitching staff? Can he control Noah Syndergaard? Thor has already shown us that he can be a wildcard. His World Series opening pitch head hunting move undoubtedly put the league on notice. So what will it be? Blood or mercy?

My vote is for mercy. I hate to give the Royals credit, but they had it right. We won the war when we beat the Dodgers in the NLDS. From my perspective the slate has been wiped clean, and this season is a whole new war. Also, if I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a thousand times, injury can derail our season. One bad hit by pitch, and we could be completely screwed. If we start a bean ball war, the next thing you know Yoenis Cespedes could take a ball off the hand or Curtis Granderson could take one off the wrist. No. We simply cannot risk it. We won the series, the rules have been changed, and Utley is a grey beard potentially in his final season. He’s not worth wasting any more thought or energy on. I just hope that Thor and the other Mets pitchers agree.

Pitching Matchups:

Game 1: Steven Matz vs. Scott Kazmir

Scott Kazmir is off to a rough start. He’s 2-2 with a 5.68 ERA. He’s only gone 6+ innings in 3 of his 6 starts. He’s given up 4+ runs in 4 of his 6 starts. His last start against Tampa Bay he went 6.2 innings with 9 Ks despite giving up 4 runs. Asdrubal Cabrera is 2 for 17 against Kazmir, Yoenis Cespedes is 0 for 6, Lucas Duda is 1 for 5, Curtis Granderson is 3 for 11 with a home run, Rene Rivera is 2 for 7, David Wright is 2 for 5, and Alejandro De Aza is 3 for 5. Matz’s second career start was in LA last July, and he went 6 shutout innings with 8 strikeouts. In the playoffs last year, Matz took the loss in Game 4 of the NLDS going 5 innings and giving up 3 runs.

Game 2: Jacob deGrom vs. Alex Wood

Alex Wood is also off to a terrible start. He’s 1-3 with a 5.18 ERA. We crushed him in relief in the NLDS. Asdrubal Cabrera is 2 for 3 against Wood, Wilmer Flores is 3 for 10 with a home run, Lucas Duda is 2 for 10, Curtis Granderson is 1 for 8 with a home run, Neil Walker is 2 for 7, and David Wright is 3 for 7. Last July, Jacob deGrom shut out the Dodgers in New York over 7.2 innings with 8 Ks. And he beat them twice in the NLDS. God he was amazing in the NLDS.

Game 3: Noah Syndergaard vs. Kenta Maeda

Kenta Maeda has come over from Japan and been absolutely dominant. He’s 3-1 with a 1.66 ERA. He’s striking out people left and right. He went 6 innings, gave up 2 runs, and had 7 Ks against the Blue Jays last time out. Thor tossed a quality start in LA last regular season. And he took the loss in the Utley slide game in LA despite his 6.1 innings pitched, 3 runs, and 9 strikeouts. His dominant relief inning in game 5 was legendary. It should be an exciting matchup between Thor and Maeda.

Game 4: Bartolo Colon vs. Clayton Kershaw

Kershaw is just doing his Cy Young thing again. He’s 4-1 with a 2.04 ERA. He’s striking out everyone and walking nobody. I’m not exaggerating by the way. He has 64 strikeouts and 3 walks through 53 innings pitched. Yeah he’s pretty good. Wilmer Flores is 3 for 6 against Kershaw. The rest of the Mets have had very little success. David Wright is 3 for 14 and Lucas Duda and Grandy are a combined 2 for 20. In July at Citi Field, Bartolo dominated the Dodgers over 8 innings surrendering only one run. He was pitching when dirt bag Utley slid his way into the history books. He also had some big relief innings in Games 3 and 4 of the NLDS.

Things To Look For:

Walk Him Yo: Cespedes is tops in the NL in RBIs with 30 and tops in slugging percentage at .701. Yesterday, the Cubs swept the Nationals, and they walked Bryce Harper 6 times. After the game Tanner Roark accused the Cubs of playing “scared baseball”. I really hope that’s what Dusty Baker is teaching the Nats. To foolishly give a team’s best hitter pitches to mash. Obviously the Cubs strategy is a no brainer, and I applaud the Cubs for using it. I have to believe at some point NL teams will try and adopt this strategy with Yo right? I’m not trying to say that Yoenis Cespedes is as tough an out as Bryce Harper, but he’s the guy in our lineup that can burn you. And he’s burning everybody lately. I do think our lineup is deeper than Washington’s so it may be more challenging to employ such a strategy with Yo. But at some point teams may put him on base and choose to challenge the Streakmaster General Lucas Duda.

Cold Front Coming In: Speaking of Mr. Streak, Lucas Duda is hitting .200 in his last seven games, but he does have 3 home runs. Curtis Granderson is on a real cold streak right now with a .107 average in his last seven games. Wilmer Flores continues his season of ice going 0 for 5 yesterday and he’s hitting .159 on the season.

Lefty Love: The Mets will face three left-handed pitchers in this series (Kazmir, Wood, Kershaw). We have not had much success against lefties so far this season. Fingers crossed that we turn that around against LA. 

Home Sweet Home?: The Dodgers are 5-8 at home this season? Maybe it’s a sample size thing, but if they are struggling at home for some actual reason I hope we exploit it.

Dodger Ranks: The Dodgers are in first place in the NL West, so they have been successful to start the season. But they are 13th in runs scored, 22nd in OPS, and 29th in home runs. They are 10th in ERA, 19th in bullpen ERA (4.16), and their run differential is +12 which is good for 10th in baseball. The robot computers knew the Cubs were going to be elite this season, but they also felt the Dodgers were going to be very successful. The robots liked the team Andrew Friedman assembled. So far they’ve done fine in the wins/losses department, but the offense has underwhelmed to date.

Hot Dodgers: Chase Utley leads the team with a .298 batting average. We may need to wait to see him until we throw our right-handers. Adrian Gonzalez is hitting .278 but only has 3 home runs to start the season. Joc Pederson is hitting .275 and leads the team with 6 home runs. Rookie Corey Seager is hitting .266 to start the season. Yasiel Puig got off to a hot start but has fizzled lately and his average is at .243.

Today: This series kicks off tonight at 10:10 eastern time. Honestly this west coast trip is killing me like they always do. I was up until 1:30 last night because my body is in west coast baseball mode. It’s going to be a rough week, but let’s hope some wins negate the lost sleep. 

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