The All-Star break is over and it’s back to the grind for the Padres (41-54). They will host the New York Mets (45-50) with the first series following the break. The Padres limped into the break, losing 7 of their last 9. The Mets swept the Marlins to finish off the first half. These two teams played each other 7 times in 2013, the Padres won 3 of those contests and the Mets won the series earlier this year at Citi Field. Each team is in 3rd place in their respective divisions.
Game 1 looks to be a gem as a hot Ian Kennedy (7-9, 3.47 ERA) faces the ageless vet Bartolo Colon (8-8, 3.99 ERA). Kennedy has allowed only 1 run in 15 innings in his last 2 starts combined, striking out 17 in that span. The 41 year-old Colon has allowed 13 runs in his last 3 starts, getting the loss each time.
Game 2 will feature All-Star Tyson Ross (7-10, 2.85 ERA) and Dillon Gee (4-1, 2.56 ERA). Ross has been solid all year but has lost his last 2 starts, mostly due to lack of run support. Gee has only allowed 4 runs in his last 4 starts, going 3-0 in that span.
Two young guns are slated to start the finale as Odrisamer Despaigne (2-1, 1.35 ERA) pitches against Zack Wheeler (5-8, 3.90 ERA). Despaigne has surprised many with 4 solid starts to start his career. He struck out a career high 7 against the Dodgers last time out. Wheeler gave up 4 runs in 5 innings his last start against the Padres last month, taking the loss.
The Mets best hitter at this point is Lucas Duda. He is hitting .256 with 14 HRs and 49 RBI. Curtis Granderson is not far behind, with 43 RBI and also 14 HRs. David Wright is healthy and also hitting well.
Overall the Mets are not a great hitting team. They are 26th in the MLB with .242 average. It is the Mets’ pitching that has kept them afloat thus far, with a 3.50 ERA, good enough for 10th in the majors. They do, however, lead the NL in walks issued, this is something of which the Padres should take advantage.
The key to a series win is baserunners, baserunners and more baserunners. The Mets are similar to San Diego in that if they get a small lead, that might be enough to win. All the Padres need is to manufacture 3 or 4 runs and ride the pitching. They need to draw walks. That is the Mets’ biggest weakness from a pitching standpoint. Walks can turn into runs, which is what the Padres need to win.