Monday, April 8, 2013

New York Mets vs Philadelphia Phillies: Rapid Fire Series Preview Interview

Frank Gray
MM Editor

As the Mets continue their first tour of the NL Est this season, they visit the Philadelphia Phillies. To get us better prepared for the series, Mets Menu turns to Alec Snyder. Mr Snyder is a Featured Columnist for the Phillies at Bleacher Report. He knows his team inside and out. For this intense rivalry, he is the perfect source to ask our rapid fire questions to. Here's the result.

MM - What is the biggest news story for your team entering this series?

AS - I think the biggest news story at this point for the Phillies remains Roy Halladay’s potential velocity and command concerns. Despite topping out at a surprisingly high 92 mph last start and striking out nine batters in just 3.1 innings (becoming the first pitcher to do so since 1900), he walked three batters and of the 95 pitches he threw before being taken out, only 55 were for strikes.

In addition, he threw many more offspeed pitches and was reluctant to throw many cutters and sinkers. Unlike last year, when he actually started out with a very dominant April following a disastrous spring training, Doc seems to be starting out slow. Is this a sign of a season full of problems for Halladay, or can this just be attributed to still gaining a feel for pitching this season? Knowing Halladay’s work ethic, the former unfortunately seems more likely, but considering it’s still early in the season, anything is possible.

MM - Who is the one pitcher due to break out this series?

AS - If not Halladay, who’s due to break out whenever he can, then Kyle Kendrick, who starts on Thursday against Jeremy Hefner. Kendrick had an encouraging second half of the 2012 MLB season and the hope has been that his string of success would carry over into 2013. With a big dropoff in ability after the Phillies’ big three (or big two if Halladay fails to maintain a high level of production), Kendrick will need to step up and be able to shut down lineups on a consistent basis throughout the season.

While he wasn’t able to do that the entire game on Friday in the Phillies’ home opener against Kansas City, he was flat-out dominant for 4.1 innings before everything went downhill. If Kendrick can take his potential and see his next start as an opportunity to maintain that potential for a longer tenure throughout the game, good things could happen. I wouldn’t put it past him, either—despite a 5-7 record against the Mets all-time, Kendrick has a career 3.56 ERA against them to his credit.

MM - Who should the Mets be afraid to face and why?

AS - The Mets should be shaking in their boots to face Cliff Lee, hands-down. Lee tossed a gem against an Atlanta Braves lineup last Wednesday night that didn’t look major league worthy against him. Averaging a strikeout an inning and issuing no walks in eight two-hit shutout innings, Lee saw nothing faze him.

While expectations have always been high for Lee as he’s a proven ace in the majors, he’s a dark horse to be the Phillies’ best pitcher in 2013. With a career 4-1 record with a 2.09 ERA, 1.04 WHIP and 56 strikeouts in 56 innings (9.0 K/9), Lee should be even better against the Mets than he was against Atlanta, if that’s humanly possible.

MM - Who on the Mets are your fans most interested in seeing and why?

AS - Maybe I’m alone in this, but I think I speak for most educated Phillies fans when I say that Matt Harvey intrigues me more than anyone else on the Mets. I’m not trying to say this in a demeaning way, but with the Mets lineup, you pretty much know what you’re getting with everyone. Harvey faced off against Phillies minor league pitcher Tyler Cloyd in late August last season when both were making their MLB debuts, and while both looked solid, Harvey looked better.

Considering he has more potential as a pitcher than Cloyd, it came as no surprise, but he’s got a bright future ahead of him. After an incredible performance against San Diego, I’m curious to see if Harvey can build on his momentum on the road against a Phillies lineup that carries more of an offensive threat, at least on paper. He’s going to be fun to watch in the years to come. Mets fans should be excited about him.

MM - What are your predictions for this series and why?

AS - I don’t think Halladay’s going to be nearly as bad against the Mets as he was against Atlanta since he’s at home and has a better track record against New York. However, I’m expecting a solid performance from Matt Harvey that could shut the offense down and I’ll give the Mets a 4-3 victory.

Cliff Lee should topple the Mets’ lineup, so even if the Phillies don’t score many runs against Dillon Gee, they should be able to defeat the Mets. I’ll predict the final score of that game to be 3-1 Phillies.

Game 3 of the series is more of a toss up, as both Kendrick and Hefner can be either lights-out or can blow a game in the blink of an eye. I’m predicting an above average performance by Hefner, but I think the Phillies will provide more run support for Kendrick than the Mets will for Hefner.

I think it could come down to the bullpens, and since the Mets still have a below-average bullpen, I’ll give the edge to the Phillies, assuming Charlie Manuel plays his cards right (which can’t necessarily be assumed at all). I think the Phillies win their first series of the year with a 4-2 victory over the Mets in Game 3.

***For more of Alec Snyder's work please click here****

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