Second Update: Adam Rubin of ESPN New York says that AAA starter Jeremy Hefner will be added to the 25-man roster for today’s doubleheader, as the Mets bullpen will be shortened by the presence of Batista in the starting lineup. After today, Valdespin will reportedly replace Hefner on the major league roster.
Update: The Mets have called up shortstop/center fielder Jordany Valdespin from AAA Buffalo. Word is that Ronny Cedeño is headed to the disabled list. No word yet on what kind of injury Cedeño is suffering from.
Original Post: Thanks to yesterday’s miserable weather and the postponement of the Mets vs. Giants game, there will be two National League ballgames played today between New York and San Francisco. The first will start at 4:10 PM and the next will being soon after the first one ends. For Game One, the Mets lineup will look like this:
Kirk Niewenhuis – CF, Daniel Murphy – 2B, David Wright – 3B, Lucas Duda – RF, Ike Davis – 1B, Josh Thole – C, Ruben Tejada – SS, Mike Baxter – LF, Miguel Batista – RHP
I’m not a huge fan of young Nieuwenhuis continuing to hit out of the lead-off spot. I know he’s off to a great start to his major league career (hitting .325/.400/.525), but he’s also struck out in 12 of 45 plate appearances. Kirk’s high batting average is mostly supported by an unsustainable .423 BABIP.
Ruben Tejada on the other hand, has really done nothing to lose his spot at the top of the order, other than being given a rest on the same day Nieuwenhuis went 3 for 4 with a pair of doubles batting lead-off. Tejada has done a great job working deep into counts so far this season and has struck out nine times in 56 plate appearances. That’s not a particularly amazing figure, but Tejada (batting .265/.345/.408) has flashed some rare power with seven doubles and is also still two years younger than Kirk. If I had my way, Niewenhuis would be batting seventh or eighth in the order while he proves his hot start is more than just a flash in the pan.
A much bigger problem for the Mets today is that Miguel Batista is starting opposite Tim Lincecum. Although the Freaky Franchise has been off to a rough start this season (10.54 ERA), it’s been mostly because of batted ball trouble (.426 BABIP) and not at all because he’s not as good a pitcher as before. Lincecum has 20 strikeouts and just four walks in three starts this season, and he will have no problem mowing down the Mets if they take him lightly.
Batista did pitch a complete game shutout when he started on the last game of the season last September, but so far out of the pen in 2012, the 41-year-old veteran has been unreliable. He’s already walked six batters in only five innings pitched. Still, Batista is the best the Mets have for a spot start right now, and if he could pitch five innings while walking about a third as many batters as he has so far, well, that would be a nice start. Terry Collins says Batista is scheduled to throw just under 90 pitches today.
The reason for Mike Baxter being in the lineup is just to give the reserve player some more at-bats. Jason Bay hasn’t been so bad as to seriously consider replacing him on a full-time basis just yet. Against the left-handed Madison Bumbarnet in Game Two, both Bay and Scott Hairston will be in the lineup. That means that either Duda or Nieuwenhuis will get a break in the night game.
Here’s the Giants lineup for Game One:
Angel Pagan – CF, Melky Cabrera – LF, Pablo Sandoval – 3B, Buster Posey – C, Nate Schierholtz – RF, Brandon Belt – 1B, Emmanuel Burris – 2B, Brandon Crawford – SS, Tim Linceucm – RHP
Enjoy the games everyone!