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Up Next: Mets vs Los Angeles Dodgers

Coming off a disappointing loss in the series finale against the Padres, the Mets roll into Los Angeles (again) to play a four-game set against the NL West leading Dodgers.

Record

NL WEST W L PCT GB HOME ROAD RS RA Streak Last 10
LA Dodgers 54 41 .568 - 28-21 26-20 440 399 Won 1 6-4
San Diego 52 41 .559 1 27-21 25-20 395 323 Won 1 4-6
Arizona 50 46 .521 4.5 27-20 23-26 394 421 Won 1 3-7
Colorado 48 46 .511 5.5 26-19 22-27 463 463 Won 3 7-3
W L RS RA W1 L1 W2 L2 W3 L3
54. 41. 440 399 51.8 43.2 54.4 40.6 53.7 41.3

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.

The Dodgers won the National League Wild Card last season and have improved themselves this year, currently atop a very competitive NL West. Their run differential supports their actual record, and they are coming off a series win against the Phillies which would have helped the Mets more if they could have won another game or two against the Padres.

Starting Rotation

Player W L ERA IP H/9 K/9 BB/9 HR/9 VORP
* Derek Lowe 8 8 3.05 133.0 8.32 6.63 2.71 0.54 30.9
* Brad Penny 11 1 2.33 123.2 7.93 6.55 2.69 0.22 45.3
Chad Billingsley 6 0 3.56 65.2 7.54 8.77 3.97 0.96 14.2
* Mark Hendrickson 4 5 4.54 83.1 9.72 7.34 2.48 0.97 6.1
* Brett Tomko 2 7 5.88 72.0 11.12 7.75 3.25 1.12 (-8.1)

* asterisks denote probable starters vs Mets
() parentheses denote negative numbers
italics denote left-handed pitchers

This list would look a lot more imposing if Jason Schmidt and Randy Wolf weren't on the disabled list. Regardless, Brad Penny has been one of the best pitchers in the league this season and Derek Lowe has been extremely impressive as well. Hendrickson and Tomko began the year in the bullpen but were promoted to starting roles as the rest of the rotation caught the injury bug. Interesting that Lowe and Penny have very similar peripherals and not completely disparate ERAs, but Lowe is 8-8 and Penny is 11-1.

WPA Top Two
Brad Penny, 2.81 WPA
Derek Lowe, 1.81 WPA

WPA Bottom Two
Brett Tomko, -0.80 WPA
Mark Hendrickson, -0.76 WPA

Starting Lineup

Player Pos PA AVG OBP SLG SB CS VORP NL Rank
Russell Martin C 372 .314 .387 .492 17 3 37.4 1/31
James Loney* 1B 114 .363 .421 .549 0 1 11.7 10/24
Jeff Kent 2B 356 .281 .362 .470 1 2 18.9 5/26
Rafael Furcal# SS 398 .278 .341 .361 10 4 9.0 9/25
Nomar Garciaparra 3B 351 .274 .319 .332 2 1 (-5.1) 24/30
Luis Gonzalez* LF 356 .288 .374 .463 5 0 20.0 8/31
Juan Pierre* CF 430 .286 .316 .339 38 9 5.7 11/29
Andre Ethier* RF 303 .301 .369 .459 0 3 13.4 6/28

* asterisks denote left-handed batters
# pound signs denote switch-hitters
rankings are based on VORP for players with at least 100 PA

Pretty decent lineup now that James Loney is playing full time at first and Nomar Garciaparra has been shifted to third. Nomar doesn't really have the defensive skill to play well at the hot corner, but his miserable batting line is somewhat less miserable now that it isn't pinned to first base. Luis Gonzalez doesn't have the power he once did, but he's a doubles machine and still gets on base with good frequency. Juan Pierre is an offensive and defensive sinkhole and is in the first year of a five-year deal that may represent the worst signing in baseball history. For the paltry sum of $25,000 the Dodgers could have avoided this and possibly have Shane Victorino playing centerfield instead. Russell Martin is the class of the NL catching corps. Paul Lo Duca is a fiery emotional leader. Take your pick (hint: it's Martin).

WPA Top Two
Russell Martin, 1.87 WPA
Wilson Betemit, 1.12 WPA

WPA Bottom Two
Juan Pierre, -1.55 WPA
Nomar Garciaparra, -1.05 WPA

Bullpen

Player ERA IP H/9 K/9 BB/9 HR/9 VORP
Takashi Saito 1.59 39.2 5.45 10.66 1.13 0.91 17.8
Jonathan Broxton 2.57 49.0 7.16 10.29 3.86 0.00 13.5
Joe Beimel 3.73 41.0 7.68 5.27 2.63 0.00 7.6
Rudy Seanez 3.25 44.1 9.14 8.93 2.44 1.02 10.6
Eric Stults 5.06 10.2 13.50 5.06 4.22 2.53 0.6
D.J. Houlton 4.15 8.2 7.27 5.19 4.15 2.08 0.4

Takashi Saito is ridiculous. His K/BB is over 9.4(!!). The Mets really need to work on their Pacific Rim scouting. They bring in Dae Sung Koo, the Dodgers get this guy. Jonathan Broxton has been mostly dominant as well, and Rudy Seanez rounds out one of the best bullpen back-ends in all of baseball. Maybe not quite as good as San Diego's, but not far off. San Diego has greater depth, as after Seanez the reliability of the Dodger pen begins to fall off precipitously.

WPA Top Two
Takashi Saito, 3.08 WPA
Jonathan Broxton, 1.57 WPA

WPA Bottom Two
Brett Tomko, -0.83 WPA
Yhency Brazoban, -0.34 WPA

Bench

Player Pos PA AVG OBP SLG SB CS VORP
Mike Lieberthal Bench1 52 .265 .308 .286 0 0 (-0.7)
Wilson Betemit# Bench2 178 .233 .354 .493 0 0 8.4
Ramon Martinez Bench3 80 .155 .228 .183 1 0 (-7.8)
Matt Kemp Bench4 110 .382 .418 .569 3 2 13.1
Olmedo Saenz Bench5 88 .211 .341 .394 0 0 1.2

Matt Kemp is actually part of an outfield rotation with Andre Ethier and, to a lesser extent, Luis Gonzalez. The reality is that Juan Pierre should be relegated to bench duties and the other three should be in there every day. Whichever of the three is on the bench on any given night provides a great late-inning weapon, and Wilson Betemit has been productive given sporadic playing time.

Manager

Strategy # Times NL Rank
Pinch Hit 150 7th
Stolen Base Attempts 109 2nd
Sacrifice Bunts 34 10th

The Dodgers are second in the league in attempted stolen bases, trailing only the Mets. Manager Grady Little has given most of the team a green light to steal at will, and with Pierre and Rafael Furcal at the top of the lineup they take advantage of that (when they manage to get on base, that is).

Key Injuries

Jason Schmidt
Randy Wolf
Chin-Hui Tsao
Yhency Brazoban

Payroll

Team Payroll MLB Rank
$108,704,524 6th