Well it is finally here. I am sitting here watching real Opening Day (night?) game with the Cardinals and Marlins. It has been a hot mess including some random girls in costumes and that stupid sculpture in the outfield. I think I may have found another team to add to the list of Phillies, Yankees, Mets, Red Sox. They have been incredibly overrated because of their off season so far and I can’t wait for it to blow up in their faces.
But you aren’t here for a Marlins rant are you? You want some Braves/Mets rivalry coverage. Indeed the Mets are the team the Braves have hated more than any other. Chipper owns them and it’s a bit sad that he won’t be able to raise Cain for the first series in his last season. Oh well, Jason Heyward has a decent history for Opening Days.
Let’s go over the pitching match ups first:
Thursday 4/5, 1:10
On the mound for the Braves: Tommy Hanson
On the mound for the Mets: Johan Santana
The two options for Opening Day starter had been Jair Jurrjens and Hanson throughout the Spring and fortunately it falls to the Caveman. He has looked pretty good this Spring and is hoping to get the first W of the season for the Braves as well as his first ever Opening Day win. As long as he doesn’t do terrible we will have a legit shot because the Mets don’t exactly have a threatening lineup.
Johan Santana is also looking to prove something in the first game of the season. He hasn’t been an ‘ace’ in years because of health but he has had a solid spring and will look to take advantage of the Braves lefty heavy line up.
Saturday 4/7, 1:10
On the mound for the Braves: Jair Jurrjens
On the mound for the Mets: R.A. Dickey
Jurrjens has had an iffy Spring, starting off extremely rough, but looking better near the end of it. Hopefully we see more of the latter part of the spring, and he continues to pitch without any knee trouble.
Dickey took an extensive hiking trip this off season, but he is back to his knuckle ball madness and will likely be the biggest challenge the Braves face in the series. I doubt the team has seen too many knucklers so far in Spring Training.
Sunday 4/8, 1:10
On the mound for the Braves: Mike Minor
On the mound for the Mets: Jonathan Niese
Minor has had a fantastic Spring and will hopefully keep the momentum going in his first start of the season. The Mets also have a fairly left handed lineup and that puts the odds even more in our favor.
Jonathan Niese isn’t bad by any means and his FIP has been better than his ERA almost every year for his career (4.39 ERA/3.77 FIP). He is a lefty which is a good thing anytime you are playing the Braves.
Jared and I also decided that it would be cool to do a hot and cold player feature in our series previews and although this is the first series of the year for both teams, we have Spring Training stats to look at and over-analyze. From now on out (unless we don’t) we will be doing Rolling & Strolling for position players on both teams. Let’s roll (sorry I couldn’t help it):
- Dan Uggla- Uggs has added even more muscle over the Spring and has been hitting the long balls to prove it. He led the team in homeruns with 6 and finished up with a solid line of .277/.368/.631. Maybe he can break in those shortened Citi Field fences.
- Martin Prado- 2010 is what Prado is remembering, not some fluky collapse that ruined everything last year. He got hot early and never really dropped off this Spring ending up with a .356/.413/.466 line.
- Freddie Freeman- Greg Walker said that Freddie Freeman is the most fundamentally sound player he has ever seen. That plus the huge muscle gain this offseason leaves me salivating for more of Freeman’s offense. I said that Freeman should be around the same as last year in my projection but if I could change that now, I might have to bump the numbers up a tad…
- Lucas Duda- The Mets had a horrible offensive Spring (hopefully a trend just getting started) but Duda has been one of the few bright spots. He is tied for first on the team with four homers and he finished with a triple slash of .300/.386/.583
- Daniel Murphey- Daniel Murphey has been hitting the ball all Spring albeit without any power. He led the team in hits with 22 and has a solid line of .338/.403/.354.
- Josh Thole- The backstop was the only other player on the team to hit above .300 with a clip of .313/.389/.458.
- Jason Heyward- Arguably the most important player for the Braves this season, the J-Hey kid hasn’t done much to get us excited finishing the Spring with only 4 walks, leading the team with 22 strike outs and a .227/.272/.413 line. He has hit four home runs and seems to be putting the ball in the air fairly well but he has some work to do.
- Tyler Pastornicky- We don’t need Pasto to do a ton offensively but it would help if he hit better than .221/.270/.250. He isn’t striking out a lot which is good, but there will definitely be a transition for him offensively.
New York Mets
- I hope you guys don’t think I am slacking off by putting pretty much the rest of the team but that’s what is happening. Like I said they only have three players batting above .300 (with enough PA’s). It will be interesting to see how players like David Wright and Jason Bay perform this year with the adjusted outfield walls but I’m hoping they continue to underperform. I would feel bad for the Mets because they are in a crappy situation but hey… they are the Mets.
If the Braves don’t take 2 out of 3 games in this series it will be a failure. It is important to start the season off strong since we have a pretty soft schedule and the Phillies have arguably the easiest first leg. It seems like Matt Diaz is going to be starting in the first game of the season for us which is hardly something I like to see. I understand the whole lefty thing, but I’m ready to see Juan Francisco in a Braves uni.
I guess I’ll keep the complaining to a minimum however because I am just pumped to see some Braves baseball again. Here’s to a season like 2011… With a different ending of course.