Ryan Dempster vs. Joe Niese
Dempster gave up four runs in a shaky frame against the Marlins, and he allowed five runs on eight hits over five innings total for a no-decision. He will try to bounce back against the Mets, but their current roster is batting .365 against him. Niese will look to keep the momentum going after a stellar outing against the Nationals at Citi Field on Wednesday. The lefty threw seven scoreless innings and notched seven strikeouts. Niese is 1-1 with a 6.75 ERA against the Cubs all-time.
Casey Coleman vs. Dillon Gee
Coleman impressed in his latest start Thursday, shutting out the Marlins over 5 2/3 innings to win for the first time since April 16. He struck out a career-high seven. Coleman is 0-2 with a 9.69 ERA in three starts at home this season. Dillon Gee had the best outing of his career Thursday against Washington, holding the Nats scoreless for 7 2/3 innings — the furthest into a game he has pitched. He had a no-hitter through 5 2/3 before it was broken up by Livan Hernandez.
Carlos Zambrano vs. R.A. Dickey
Zambrano will be happy to get back to an NL ballpark where he can hit. In his last start in Boston, he gave up three runs, seven hits and three walks over 5 2/3 innings. He faced the Pirates in his first start of the year, but did not get a decision. The knuckleballer had a 7.36 ERA in May before a strong outing at Yankee Stadium on Friday. Dickey struck out six and allowed one run — a Mark Teixeira homer — in six innings. The Cubs rocked him for seven runs in his start against them last year.
Joe Janish scouts the Mets
Who’s Hot – Before Sunday’s loss vs. the Yankees, infielder Justin Turner had an 8-game hitting streak, an RBI in 7 consecutive games and reached base in 12 straight. During his hitting streak he hit .424 (14-33) with six doubles, one run and 12 RBI. In short, he WAS the Mets offense for about a week — and when his streak was snapped, so were the Mets. Jose Reyes has been hot since Opening Day, leading the NL in hits (62), triples (6), multi-hit games (20), and stolen bases (17), and is tied for second in doubles (14). Francisco Rodriguez keeps everyone on the edge of their seats, but he’s converted 13 consecutive saves and won the one game he blew.
Who’s Not – Carlos Beltran started out hot, but is 4 for his last 20 — a bad time to go into a slump considering that sluggers Ike Davis and David Wright are on the DL. Jason Bay is 5 for his last 14, but his season has been marred by fits and starts; he’s hitting only .234 on the season with a .662 OPS and 8 RBI in 26 games. Lefthanded-hitting catcher Josh Thole looked good for the first two weeks of the season, but has been spiraling downward since Ronny Paulino joined the club; Thole is 2 for his last 27 and hitting .204 with a .522 OPS. Thole is also struggling defensively; he already has 7 passed balls, has caught only 6 of 31 attempted stealers, and has had communication problems with some of the Mets pitchers. Oh, and he quit his Twitter account.
News / Notes – The Mets pitching — and the bullpen in particular — has been a surprise thus far. Unfortunately, the offense has been underwhelming and streaky. Injuries have also hurt the Mets in this young season; Bay and Paulino began the year on DL, lights-out reliever Pedro Beato just came off, Angel Pagan has been on it since April 21, and he was recently joined by Davis and Wright. The Mets have already positioned six men at second base, but may have finally found a semi-permanent solution in the hot-hitting Turner.
Prediction – Looking solely at the pitching matchups, I like the Mets chances in games two and three. Dillon Gee has ordinary stuff but is getting by on guile and advantage of mystery — most MLB batters haven’t seen him before and the scouting report on him is still incomplete. And although knuckleballer R.A. Dickey has fallen back to Earth this year, he does have days when the knuckler dances — plus, I think the one pitcher the Mets offense has a chance to score against is Doug Davis. Being a pessimistic Met fan, though, I’m expecting the Cubs to take at least two of the three games.
Joe blogs about the Mets on his blog, Mets Today