Series Preview: New York Mets vs. San Francisco Giants

Stephen Dunn

The Giants visit Citi Field after getting swept at home by the Mets back in July.

What's going on with the Giants?

What is going on with the Giants? Pretty much the same thing that is going on with the Mets. In fact, the Giants are a lot like the Mets but had expectations of a pennant race this year, so you could argue that San Francisco is having a more miserable season than New York. If Matt Harvey were healthy, that would definitely be the case.

Anyway, the defending world champion San Francisco Giants are not going to make the playoffs this season because the starting pitching that made them successful in the past has completely fallen apart. Madison Bumgarner has been terrific and Chad Gaudin has come back from the abyss to pitch effectively in 97 innings, but Matt Cain, Tim Lincecum, Ryan Vogelsong, and Barry Zito have all been very bad.

At least the Giants just took three out of four from the Dodgers. That's something, right? Also, should they re-sign Hunter Pence? These are the things you don't think about when your team is in a pennant chase.

Who are these guys?

Brett Pill is getting some starts against lefties at this stage in the season. He's a right-handed first baseman who can also play a corner outfield spot. Even more exciting: Pill is your classic Triple-A masher who hasn't been able to hit major league pitching. He's now 29 years old, which means he might never hit major league pitching, but we won't know for sure until he faces Jon Niese on Thursday afternoon. Pill was especially brilliant in the minors this year with a .344/.379/.630 line in 298 plate appearances. In the majors, his low walk rate stands out more because he strikes out often and AT&T Park is a little tougher on hitters than the Pacific Coast League.

Heath Hembree is seeing his first major league action this month after a fine season of closing games for Triple-A Fresno. In 55.1 minor league innings, Hembree struck out 63 batters and walked 16, but the seven home runs he allowed bumped him up to a 4.07 ERA. So far in the big leagues, Hembree has allowed zero home runs in four innings while striking out five and walking two. That sample size is beyond negligible, but one can imagine Hembree becoming an effective reliever for San Francisco if his strikeout and walk rates carry over from Fresno. AT&T Park should do more than enough to lower his home run rate.

Who's on the Mound?

Tuesday: Yusmeiro Petit vs. Zack Wheeler

Petit is a former Mets farm hand who went on to almost pitch a perfect game this season. Petit's amazing performance on September 6, when he retired the first 26 Diamondbacks in a row before allowing a hit to Eric Chavez, is a lot easier to swallow now that Johan Santana has blessed the Mets with a no-hitter. It's still somewhat strange, however, to see Petit having success in the big leagues after he was traded for Carlos Delgado eight years ago. Since then, he's bounced from the Marlins to the Diamondbacks to Mexico to the Giants. Now at age 28, Petit is striking out more than a batter per inning in the majors while keeping his walks per nine under two. It's too early to say if the Giants have a diamond in the rough with him, but it should be fun to watch the former Mets prospect pitch against former Giants prospect Wheeler.

Wednesday: Matt Cain vs. Aaron Harang

Harang was pretty great in his first start as a Met. Well, he was as great as you can be in a start in which you allow three home runs. The Mets lost that game to the Nationals, but Harang is just eating up those innings just like the Mets want him to. Opposing Harang on Wednesday will be Cain, who is having the worst ERA season of his career thanks to a home-run-per-fly-ball rate that has spiked above 10 percent for the first time ever. That means a lot of balls leaving the park because Cain doesn't get many grounders at all. Still, he's been pretty good in the second half, and his strikeout and walk rates are just where they should be, so there's hope for Giants fans that this season is just a blip.

Thursday: Madison Bumgarner vs. Jon Niese

With Bumgarner continuing to pitch like the Giants staff ace and Niese being New York's de facto ace at the moment, there is fear that this game will fall victim to that freaky MLB.com "Ace-Off" graphic. Depending on your sense of humor, this might actually be a good thing. If so, enjoy. If not, this game should still be a good match-up between quality left-handed pitchers, so you still get something nice. Unless you work during the day. In that case, nothing nice for you.

What about some GIFs?

The Mets played 16-inning marathon in San Francisco back on July 8. Brandon Crawford made a great diving play in the 11th inning to help extend the game. He would later help end it with an error in the 16th, and the Mets won 4-3.

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Wheeler dominates the Giants on July 9 in his first start against the team that traded him away.

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Omar Quintanilla can sometimes play good defense, as evidenced by this nice play to retire Buster Posey. The Mets won all three of their games with the Giants this season.

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