The New York Mets (3-3) play their home opener against the Washington Nationals (2-4) this afternoon at 4:10 p.m. EST (SNY), coming off two depressing losses in which their starting pitchers threw a combined six innings, total. Ralph Kiner will throw out the ceremonial first pitch.
R.A. Dickey receives the honor -- and rightfully so -- of starting the first game of the 2011 at home, and he'll be opposed by Jordan Zimmerman, a youngster with the most promising arm on the staff (without Stephen Strasburg around).
The Mets had won three straight games before this mini two-game losing streak, and Dickey had the best outing during the streak, tossing six innings, allowing an unearned run and striking out seven against the Marlins. Zimmerman made seven starts last year after undergoing Tommy John surgery and received a loss after going six innings, while allowing two earned runs with two strikeouts against the Braves in his lone start.
Early this season, the winning formula for the Mets is simple: the starting pitchers keep the team in games to let the bats come alive, as they've shown that they have the hitting to compete. While the Mets did mount a seven-run comeback to tie the Phillies on Wednesday, when your set back six runs by the starting pitcher, it makes it that much harder to win -- especially when its a staff like the Phillies'. Against the Nationals the circumstances are much different as no pitcher besides Zimmerman will be overpowering and the quality of their starters are not near Philadelphia's. And besides Ryan Zimmerman and Jason Werth, there are no true "can't let them beat me" hitters on this team.
The Amazin's need a series win at home, especially against an opponent like the Nationals. Even in a disappointing 2010 season, Citi Field was kind to the Mets: 47-34 and they'll need those confines to be as friendly to them this season.