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Up Next: Los Angeles Dodgers

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The Mets jet out to Los Angeles to begin a three game, late-night (for me) series against the Dodgers beginning tonight. Here's what's in store for the Mets.

Record

NL WEST     W   L   PCT   GB   HOME   ROAD    RS   RA
Arizona         34  22  .607    -  17- 9  17-13   304  237
LA Dodgers      32  25  .561  2.5  18-12  14-13   316  248
San Diego       30  26  .536  4.0  15-16  15-10   254  236
San Francisco   29  27  .518  5.0  14-13  15-14   273  263
Colorado        27  29  .482  7.0  13-13  14-16   227  259
The Mets will be playing their third straight series against the NL West, and they go to Arizona on Thursday to make it four series in a row. Based on their adjusted record the Dodgers' actual record echoes their expected record given their performance to this point:
 W    L     RS        RA     W1     L1     W2     L2     W3     L3
32   25    316    248    35.0   22.0   34.0   23.0   32.6   24.4
W1 and L1 are the expected wins and losses based on runs scored and runs allowed.
W2 and L2 are the expected wins and losses based on BP's equivalence runs scored and allowed.
W3 and L3 are similar to W2 and L2 but adjusted for strength of schedule.

Nerdy McStathead would have you believe the Dodgers are a first place team, having actually played a bit better on the field than the team that is actually leading the NL West, the Braves-sweeping Diamondbacks. Reality hasn't seen fit to play along with that notion, so the Dodgers sit in second place, two-and-a-half games behind the Snakes.

Starting Pitching

                W   L    ERA    IP     H/9    SO/9    BB/9    HR/9    VORP
Brad Penny      6   1   2.62   68.2   8.01    6.95    2711    0.26    25.2
Derek Lowe*     4   3   2.68   77.1   7.56    4.54    2.44    0.58    22.4
Aaron Sele      3   0   2.33   39.2   7.26    5.12    1.82    0.68    14.2
Brett Tomko*    5   3   4.38   64.2   9.60    6.22    2.23    1.39     5.3
Odalis Perez*   4   1      6.05   39.2  12.25    5.35    2.50    1.13    (4.1)
Jae Seo         2   3   5.37   54.2  10.21    5.87    2.96    1.81     1.1

*  asterisks denote probable starters vs Mets
() parentheses denote negative numbers
italics denote left-handed pitchers
Jae Seo was originally going to start in this series versus the Mets but he has been unceremoniously yanked from the rotation, replaced by Odalias Perez, who by some measures has been even worse than Seo. WPA Top Two
Brad Penny, 143.9% WPA
Derek Lowe, 119.2% WPA

WPA Bottom Two
Jae Seo, 7.7% WPA
Odalis Perez, -11.8% WPA

Starting Lineup

                    Pos   PA    AVG    OBP    SLG    SB  CS   VORP   NL Rank
Russell Martin       C    99   .271   .364   .459     0   1    4.5     9/14
Nomar Garciaparra   1B   166   .369   .428   .624     2   0   23.6     2/17
Willy Aybar         2B    83   .314   .422   .457     1   0    6.4     9/19
Rafael Furcal       SS   259   .259   .341   .329    12   6    2.9    14/18
Joel Guzman         3B    14   .250   .357   .250     0   0   (0.4)     NA  
Jose Cruz, Jr.      LF   184   .241   .372   .372     5   0    3.6    13/18
Kenny Lofton        CF   165   .324   .384   .426    12   1   13.7     4/20
J.D. Drew           RF   217   .278   .378   .503     2   2   10.6     5/15

rankings are based on VORP for players with at least 100 PA
Missing from this list are Jeff Kent and Bill Mueller who are both on the disabled list. The Dodgers are the baseball equivalent of a MASH unit, with seven position players on the DL: Kent, Mueller, Cesar Izturis, Dioner Navarro, Jayson Werth, Ricky Ledee and Jason Repko.

The real surpise here is Nomaaahhhh, who, at age 32, appears to be finally over the littany of injuries that plagued him over the past two seasons (or more). Nomar has been the second-most productive first-baseman in the league this season, trailing only the recently-disabled Albert Pujols. 39-year-old Kenny Lofton has provided terrific numbers in centerfield, and J.D. Drew has been solid AND healthy. At catcher, Russell Martin has been a big surprise, putting up very good numbers from a tough position.

The biggest disappointment has been Rafael Furcal. Furcal was brought in on a huge free agent contract and has been barely adequate offensively. Even his stolen bases have regressed, as he is only stealing at a 66.6% success rate. The good news is that Furcal has historically struggled in April and this year is no exception:

         AVG    OBP    SLG
April   .198   .306   .219
May     .31    .366   .429
Thanks to the injuries, the Dodgers have fill-ins playing full time at second and third, though second-baseman Willy Ayber has been impressive in limited duty.

WPA Top Two
Nomar Garciaparra, 225.2% WPA
J.D. Drew, 108.6% WPA

WPA Bottom Two
Jose Cruz, -70.3% WPA
Rafael Furcal, -67.8% WPA

Bullpen

                G    ERA    IP     H/9    SO/9    BB/9    HR/9    VORP
Eric Gagne           1   0.00    1.0   0.00    9.00    9.00    0.00     0.7
Danys Baez          26   3.81   28.1  10.16    5.72    1.91    0.00     1.1
Takashi Saito       25   2.33   27.0   6.00   11.00    2.33    1.00    10.6
Jonathon Broxton    16   0.93   19.1   5.12   12.10    4.19    0.93     9.6
Joe Beimel          16   3.26   19.1   8.84    2.79    0.93    0.93     5.6
Ex-Met Tim Hamulack was awful and was recently demoted to AAA Las Vegas. The Dodgers will benefit from having Eric Gagne back in the pen, as Danys Baez was crummy as the team's closer, blowing six of fifteen save opportunities. The rest of these guys have been solid-to-great, though Beimel's miniscule strikeout rate worries me a bit, even if his walk rate is equally miniscule.

WPA Top Two
Takashi Saito, 81.6% WPA
Joe Beimel, 63.2% WPA

WPA Bottom Two
Tim Hamulack, -90.0% WPA
Danys Baez, -85.0% WPA

Bench

                   Pos   PA    AVG    OBP    SLG    VORP
Olmedo Saenz        IF   98   .300   .337   .567     7.2
Ramon Martinez      IF   65   .351   .422   .456     5.7
Andre Ethier        OF   91   .300   .374   .525     5.2
Sandy Alomar Jr.     C   48   .354   .354   .438     2.9
With the injuries to the Dodger regulars, any of these guys could be starting a game or two (or three) in this series.

Manager

The Dodgers are managed by Grady Little, of "leaving Pedro Martinez in Game 7 against the Yankees for too long" fame. Here are some of his managerial tendencies:

                    # Times    NL Rank
Pinch Hit                   84        5/16 (Mets are #9)
Stolen Bases Attempts       62        2/16 (Mets are #1)
Sacrifice Bunts             26        6/16 (Mets are #1)
Pitching Changes           153       11/16 (Mets are #7)