The Mets go to Canada

The Mets are up north in Toronto for the weekend for a three game series with the Blue Jays. For some reason, MLB scheduled interleague play to begin this weekend and then go into hibernation again until June 8, so we will be witnesses to a lot of random match-ups over the next three days.

It turns out that out of all the teams the Mets have ever played, they have the highest winning percentage against the Blue Jays. Of the 18 games the teams have played all time, the Mets have won 14, including a 9-0 home record. That means that New York is only 5-4 when playing in Toronto, but the last time they went there, in 2006, the Mets took two out of three. Not bad.

Here’s the Mets lineup for tonight:

Hey look! A DH. In case you didn’t know, “DH” stands for “designated hitter,” which is a player who hits for the pitcher in the American League. Pretty much all National League fans hate the DH rule. If not for the reason that it allows AL teams to carry boring, unathletic players on their rosters, then for the fact that when a pitcher hits a home run, it is freaking awesome. There’s nothing more exciting than a pitcher who can hit!

The good news for the Mets is that putting Kirk Nieuwenhuis in right field instead of Lucas Duda should enhance the defense tonight. I guess one good thing about the DH is it puts better defensive players on the actual field, but that also removes the need for strategic substitutions. It was fun when Adam Dunn was in the NL and managers would have to decide between leaving him out in left field or taking him out in favor of someone who could actually catch the ball.

This game will be extra fun because it is the second major league game played by catcher/third baseman Yan Gomes. Not only is Gomes playing third base, a position that he just learned this season, but he’s also from Brazil, which makes him the only MLB player from Brazil.

Gomes already upset me by being absent from my copy of Baseball Prospectus 2012, so hopefully he’ll make me less mad during the game and make some outs. Can’t wait.

Tonight’s pitching match-up features Ricky Romero for Toronto and Jon Niese for New York.

Romero is the left-handed ace of Toronto’s staff and he’s coming off of a career year in 2011 that saw him post a 2.92 ERA with 178 strikeouts and 80 walks. That’s a healthy amount of walks, you might say, and it turns out Romero’s low ERA was helped along by a very low .242 BABIP (career .282). This season, Romero is once against being helped by BABIP (.240), but his ERA is higher at 3.88 because he’s having trouble with walks (26 walks in 53.1 innings). The Mets LOVE to walk, so Romero could get frustrated tonight if he doesn’t control his stuff.

Of course, Jon Niese is also left-handed, and like Romero, he’s seen his walk rate rise from last season. Niese has 16 walks in 39.2 innings, and his 3.40 ERA is helped along by a .261 BABIP. However, Niese’s FIP is not bad at 3.82, so it still looks like Sandy Alderson made the right move by extending him. In his last start, Niese shutout the Miami Marlins for six innings with four strikeouts and three walks. Save for only terrible day in Houston, Niese hasn’t had a start in which he’s yielded more than three earned runs. Hopefully another solid outing will be enough for the Mets to work with in Toronto.

Correction: This game isn’t the major league debut for Yan Gomes, as an earlier version of this post stated. That happened last night versus the Yankees. Thanks to @dg12x for pointing that out on the Twitter.

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