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Up Next: Mets vs Pittsburgh Pirates

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After their jubilant flight home from Los Angeles and a much-deserved off day on Monday, the Mets open a homestand against some of the suppler teams of the National League. Nothing is guaranteed, and you've gotta go out there and beat them just the same. First up are the Pirates de Pittsburgh.

Record

NL CENTRAL W L PCT GB HOME ROAD RS RA Streak Last 10
Milwaukee 55 44 .556 - 36-17 19-27 473 436 Lost 1 6-4
Chicago Cubs 51 46 .526 3 27-24 24-22 452 400 Lost 2 7-3
St. Louis 45 50 .474 8 21-22 24-28 414 492 Won 1 5-5
Houston 42 57 .424 13 24-23 18-34 432 494 Lost 1 3-7
Pittsburgh 41 56 .423 13 23-29 18-27 394 473 Lost 1 2-8
Cincinnati 42 58 .420 13.5 21-26 21-32 467 516 Won 1 5-5
W L RS RA W1 L1 W2 L2 W3 L3
41. 56. 394 473 40.3 56.7 38.4 58.6 38.0 59.0

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.

Pittsburgh stinks. Again. They are going to finish below .500 this season. Again. Just as they have in each season starting in 1993. They are almost certainly the most poorly run franchise in baseball, if not all of sports. They have some good young pitchers and a few solid young position players. There is no bright side, really, and if Pythagoras had his way their record would be even worse than it already is.

Starting Rotation

Player W L ERA IP H/9 K/9 BB/9 HR/9 VORP
* Ian Snell 7 7 3.31 127.2 8.25 7.26 2.54 0.99 29.1
* Tom Gorzelanny 9 5 3.20 132.0 8.52 5.86 2.59 0.75 35.6
* Paul Maholm 6 12 4.57 126.0 9.57 5.36 2.57 1.14 9.1
Shane Youman 2 2 3.24 25.0 9.36 3.24 2.52 0.36 5.9
John Van Benschoten 0 4 8.17 25.1 9.95 5.68 6.04 0.36 (-8.3)

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

The Bucs' starting rotation has been its only real strength this season, and Snell and Gorzelanny have both been splendiferous this season. The strikeout rate on Gorz is unspectacular, but neither issues many walks or an egregious number of homeruns, and both have been innings eaters.

Maholm has been mediocre at best, but he's a crafty lefty so you can count on the Mets struggling against him. Moises Alou should be back in action this series so his right-handed bat should help some.

WPA Top Two
Tom Gorzelanny, 2.09 WPA
Ian Snell, 1.70 WPA

WPA Bottom Two
Zach Duke, -1.41 WPA
Tony Armas Jr., -1.32 WPA

Starting Lineup

Player Pos PA AVG OBP SLG SB CS VORP NL Rank
Ronny Paulino C 281 .240 .285 .359 1 2 (-1.8) 20/32
Adam LaRoche* 1B 387 .246 .326 .439 0 1 5.1 14/27
Freddy Sanchez 2B 386 .295 .326 .409 0 0 9.4 11/25
Jack Wilson SS 362 .252 .305 .347 0 3 (-3.0) 21/26
Matt Kata# 3B 18 .333 .333 .500 0 0 1.2 18/30
Jason Bay LF 409 .247 .323 .412 2 1 3.4 19/31
Nate McLouth* CF 154 .225 .296 .370 6 0 0.4 19/31
Xavier Nady RF 338 .280 .334 .479 2 1 13.9 6/28

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

Wow. Just putrid. Former Met Xavier Nady is the only position player with a VORP above ten, though Matt Kata has just 18 plate appearances so he is forgiven. Not a single regular with an on-base percentage above .335 and only one guy -- Nady -- slugging above .440. It's no surprise that the Pirates are next to last in the league in scoring, dead last in OBP and 14th in slugging. But don't fret, Pirates fans. They *are* third in HBP. Woot!

WPA Top Two
Xavier Nady, 1.37 WPA
Nate McLouth, 0.27 WPA

WPA Bottom Two
Ronny Paulino, -2.03 WPA
Freddy Sanchez, -1.97 WPA

Bullpen

Player ERA IP H/9 K/9 BB/9 HR/9 VORP
Salomon Torres 5.12 31.2 9.09 7.96 3.41 1.14 0.9
Matt Capps 2.24 52.1 7.39 6.19 1.89 0.34 17.8
Damaso Marte 1.53 29.1 5.52 10.43 3.68 0.00 11.4
John Grabow 5.47 26.1 11.62 7.86 4.44 1.03 (-0.5)
Tony Armas Jr. 7.57 44.0 12.07 6.55 4.30 1.84 (-12.1)
Shawn Chacon 3.48 72.1 8.46 7.47 4.35 0.62 17.4
Masumi Kuwata 6.60 15.0 7.20 4.80 4.80 1.80 (-2.8)

The bullpen has been a mixed bag. Matt Capps and Damaso Marte have both been very good, and Shawn Chacon has a 2.72 ERA as a reliever. Everyone else out there has been throwing batting practice.

WPA Top Two
Matt Capps, 2.17 WPA
Shawn Chacon, 1.53 WPA

WPA Bottom Two
Salomon Torres, -1.03 WPA
Josh Sharpless, -0.66 WPA

Bench

Player Pos PA AVG OBP SLG SB CS VORP
Josh Phelps Bench1 19 .267 .421 .267 0 0 0.3
Jose Castillo Bench2 129 .238 .271 .328 0 0 (-4.2)
Cesar Izturis# Bench3 3 .333 .333 .333 0 0 0.0
Rajai Davis Bench4 54 .267 .358 .333 5 2 1.1
Ryan Doumit# Bench5 213 .293 .361 .492 1 1 14.3

Ryan Doumit actually plays part time, which is a travesty because he is probably their best hitter. There is no reason that Nate McLouth and his .296 on-base percentage should be glomming up plate appearances in the outfield when you've got Doumit on the bench.

Manager

Strategy # Times NL Rank
Pinch Hit 128 16th
Stolen Base Attempts 53 14th
Sacrifice Bunts 38 8th

Jim Tracy didn't really know what he was doing in Los Angeles when he had a good team, and he's even farther out to sea in Pittsburgh with this group.

Key Injuries

Jose Bautista
Chris Duffy
Zach Duke

Payroll

Team Payroll MLB Rank
$38,604,500 27th