After the New York Mets' feel-good, extra-inning win that saw the team overcome a Francisco Rodriguez blown save, the Amazin's now have the chance to earn their season's first series win when they take on Javier Vazquez and the Florida Marlins at 1:10 p.m. EST (SNY). R.A. Dickey will take the mound for the Mets.
Dickey totally came out of nowhere last season and was the team's best pitcher -- which is obviously good and bad. He put together an impressive 2.84 ERA, 1.19 WHIP and 104 strikeouts in 174 1/3 innings and the knuckleballer parlayed that performance into a two-year extension. The Mets will be looking for him to provide solid innings again this season. A repeat performance can't exactly be expected -- as his FIP and xFIP were close to a run over his ERA -- but Dickey seems to have hit his stride as a 36-year-old.
Vazquez has a disastrous year with the Yankees in 2010, as he had a 5.32 ERA, a 1.40 WHIP and struckout close to a career-low 6.9 batters per nine innings. Vazquez also lost considerable velocity last year as well. Despite the various red flags, the 34-year-old has put together some of his best seasons in the National League; with the Braves in 2009, he had a 2.87 ERA and struckout close to 10 batters per nine innings.
The Mets lineup on Sunday should see Willie Harris start in left field, while Lucas Duda mans the other corner. The plan was for Carlos Beltran to play five of the first seven games of the year, and it appears that the Mets will stick to that outline. Josh Thole is expected to start at catcher.
Nothing could be better for the team than to begin the season with a series victory, especially heading into a series with the vaunted Philadelphia Phillies. Already the Mets have shown that they can be a clutch, resilient bunch. In order for that possibility to exist, though, the pitching needs to be consistent and the starters need to keep them in games. Jon Niese did that on Saturday and Dickey needs to do that today.