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Bienvenidos a Miami...

After taking two of three from the Evil Empire and two of three from the Yankees, the Mets are now heading to sunny Florida to face the impotent and incompetent Marlins. This team boasts familiar faces, like Mike Jacobs and Yusmeiro Petit, as well as top-notch unfamiliar faces, inlcuding Dan Uggla and Hanley Ramirez. This series is a must-win for the Metsies, if only because they're burning their two aces (and El Duque) pitching against a 14-31 team. Let's go to the matchups.

Game 1: Friday, 7:35
Pedro Martinez, RHP (5-0, 2.82 ERA) vs. Josh Johnson, RHP (3-2, 2.62 ERA)
  • This is an interesting one. Pedro hasn't won in a long while despite pitching well in his last four starts. A little more luck and a little less blowing up from BillyBoy and Pedro's 9-0. But at this point in time, the Mets should win this one for Pedro. However, they are facing a tough and talented rookie (See Florida Marlins, Entire Roster) in Josh Johnson. Although the righty spent all of April in the pen, he has seen his ERA get better as a starter. It is worth noting that Johnson is prone to the walk, allowing 17 BB in 34.1 IP this year. His longest outing of the year came in his last start, where he pitched 6.2 innings against Scott Kazmir and Ty Wigginton's Devil Rays. Pedro has the edge.

  • Game 2: Saturday, 1:20 (Semi-National TV: FOX)
    Tom Glavine, LHP (7-2, 2.48 ERA) vs. Dontrelle Willis, LHP (1-5, 5.12 ERA)
  • Another interesting pitching matchup in the Saturday matinee, as the veteran Glavine, who was on his pitching deathbed last year, takes on the younger Willis, on his pitching deathbed this year. Willis' poor record was originally due to poor run support, as he ended April with an ERA of 3.13. However, since then, hitters have teed off on the D-Train, bringing his ERA up to a season high (6.22) after a 2.2 inning, seven-run, ten-hit effort against the Braves. In his last two starts, Willis has thrown 9 innings in one (ND @ ATL, 6 H, 2 ER, 3 BB, 3 K) and 8 innings in the other (L @ TB, 8 H, 3 R (2 ER), 3 BB, 3 K), both of them complete games. In his only start against the Mets this year, Willis pitched well but the Mets rallied and won it in the ninth. Glavine was not sharp in his last start (vs. NYY), but still managed to grab a victory. The chilly weather and high winds supposedly had a large effect on his failure to locate, so it should be good news for Tom that the forecast in Miami calls for 84 degrees of heat, but also scattered thunderstorms. They will come from the Mets' bats and propel Glavine to victory.

  • Game 3: Sunday, 1:05
    Orlando Hernandez, RHP (2-4, 6.11 ERA) vs. Ricky Nolasco, RHP (3-1, 2.89 ERA)
  • I refuse to say that there's hope that a Cuban makes his Met debut in Miami. But the potentially 50+ year old Hernandez is facing the Marlins, a team he has a 5.25 career ERA against. But let's have hope as he faces the young Nolasco, a Cub prospect jettisoned to Florida in the Juan Pierre deal. Ricky has pitched far better than El Duque this year, and it wouldn't be baseball if a rookie pitcher didn't dominate the Mets at some point. Mad props to Nolasco.

  • Florida Marlins Breakdown (14-31):
    Wow. I predicted this club to be a good sleeper squad and I was horribly wrong. Their key demon is a problem that has plagued the Mets this year. They have three spots in the starting rotation which are void of any pitching whatsoever. Their ace, Dontrelle Willis, has been something of a joke, as have veteran Brian Moehler (2-4, 6.80 ERA), youngster Scott Olsen (2-3, 6.64 ERA), yesteryear's wunderkind Jason Vargas (1-1, 6.40 ERA) and Cub reject Sergio Mitre (1-4, 4.89 ERA). They have also been undermined by their own bullpen, as "closer" Joe Borowski has a 4.67 ERA and setup men Randy Messenger, Todd Wellemeyer, Matt Herges and Logan Kensing have combined for a 1-8 record and 5.02 ERA. Gross. The offense has been a tale of both failures and successes, as rookies C/LF Josh Willingham, 2B Dan Uggla and SS Hanley Ramirez have been pleasant signs, and stalwart 3B Miguel Cabrera has been his usual RBI machine self. Cabrera has driven in 39 runs, more than any Met, and has also posted 8 HR at a .335 batting average and a .432 OBP. Those are amazing numbers. Also hitting at a .335 clip is rookie Ramirez, acquired from the most annoying franchise who won the World Series in 2004 in exchange for Josh Beckett. Although Red Sox fans (especially Peter Gammons) had talked about Ramirez in every other column as the best thing since the invention of the wheel, Hanley had gone stagnant in the minors, hitting .275 with only 8 HR and a shoddy 66% SB rate (he also stole an underwhelming 26) at AA Portland last year. He slugged .385, which means he had less power than skinny 'n speedy Dave Roberts. This year Ramirez is slugging .476 with a .411 OBP at a level greatly higher, smacking 11 doubles, 3 triples, 2 HR and driving in 18 runs as a leadoff hitter at this quarter pole of the season. He probably is the NL ROY leader at this point in the year. Also impressing Marlinians is Dan "Uggly" Uggla. He has walloped 6 HR and 23 RBI already this season, nice numbers for a 26 year-old Rule V second baseman out of the D'Backs organization. Uggly has also posted a .315 average and a .377 OBP. Another older rookie posting solid numbers is 27 year-old left fielder/catcher Willingham. Although Mets fans may remember him from major league cups of coffee in 2004 and 2005, the righty has not disappointed with more playing time, hitting 7 HR and 13 doubles at a .269 average. Starting at catcher instead is the atypical Miguel Olivo, a phenomenal defensive catcher with speed. Olivo is on the list of Marlin disappointments this year, as is former Met folk hero Mike Jacobs. Is he Jewish? Is he a capable everyday first baseman? No. On both counts. After launching 11 HR in the blue 'n orange last year, Jake hasn't been the rake, hitting just .220 with a mere 5 HR. As usual, I will defend a former Met and say that he has outdriven everyone on the team except Delgado, Beltran and Wright. Don't remind me they're the only ones who occupy RBI slots in the batting order. Cliff Floyd stinks. Let my useless blogging compatriot remind you he left 10 on base in one game(it's somewhere near the bottom). And if that wasn't enough for tangents, Cliff Floyd used to play for the Marlins. The man who traded for him to leave Florida? None other than Omar Minaya. Boo-yah. But Jake has shown patience, still posting a .335 OBP, which is 335 points higher than Jose Lima's was. Perennial prospect and extremely raw Reggie Abercrombie has been displaying his five tools in center field for the 'Lins, hitting .229, driving in only 12 runs on 3 HR, and posting an ugly .299 OBP. Hotshot right fielder Jeremy Hermida has been hurt throughout most of this year and his playing time has been taken by an incompetent batch of bumbling fools, including Chris Aguila, Eric Reed and prospectus failedus Joe Borchard. Hell, ex-Expo Matt Cepicky has even seen time in 9 games and has made the best of it with a .158 OBP and .111 BA. The Marlins stink. They'll be a good squad eventually, but (completely obvious prediction alert!) they won't capture their third World Series title ever in Florida. Just think. They have as many world series titles as the Mets, in about a quarter of the years. Now if that doesn't scream ugly (or Uggla), I don't know what does.

    Players to Watch for:
    FLA: Hanley Ramirez. I like this kid and I like the fact that he's going against three pitchers who don't have exciting pickoff moves.

    NYM: Carlos Delgado. Revenge against his "former mates"? Priceless. Expect similar results from the Duck.

    Player of the Series: Carlos Delgado

    Picks: Dave Williams' new club sweeps the set! Hooray hurrah! I knew getting rid of Julio was the key. I'm sure!

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