The New York Mets are entering the most crucial weeks of their season beginning with this series against the Detroit Tigers. Nobody thought they'd have a chance to compete this year. Even without David Wright, Ike Davis and Johan Santana, the Mets have managed a .500 record, at 39-39. Further, they're five games out of a wild card spot as well. The next several weeks will determine whether the Mets are buyers or sellers at the deadline -- and with the way they've been playing so far, it's hard to give up on them right now.
The series against the Texas Rangers was a huge test. Against one of the league's best offenses, with pitchers that rely on contact, in one of the best hitters' parks in baseball, it was the Mets who won two out of three and outslugged their opponent. Plus, they also received decent pitching as well.
Tonight, the Mets begin a series against the AL Central- leading Tigers, another team that can swing the stick. The Tigers are seventh in the league in runs, third in batting average, fourth in on-base percentage and sixth in slugging percentage. WIth hitting like that, you'd think they'd be more than seven games above .500 (43-36), but their pitching has been suspect. Besides the almost-untouchable Justin Verlander, every starter in their rotation has an ERA above 4.00, with a team ERA of 4.10.
Detroit comes into this game winners of three straight, with Rick Porcello on the mound. The 22-year-old has a promising future and a good arm, but he's struggled this season, with a 4.50 ERA and 1.43 WHIP. Most of his problems lie in the fact that he's very hittable (89 hits in 80 innings) and he doesn't strike anyone out (45 strikeouts). He has given up 11 earned runs over his past two starts. Watch him tonight and you'll wonder why his plus stuff doesn't yield better results.
R.A. Dickey takes the mound for the Mets. He's coming off a start in which he allowed one earned run in eight innings against the Oakland Athletics, and has given up three runs or less in four of his past five starts. He'll have to watch out for the potent bat of Miguel Cabrera, who is batting .327/.449/.580 with 15 home runs and 50 RBI, in this one.