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Series Preview: New York Mets vs. New York Yankees

After a record-setting homestand, the Mets stay in town to play the Bronx Bombers

Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

We're used to waiting for at least a couple of months to pass before the Mets face the Yankees in interleague play, but this year is not like all other years. With 15 teams in each league, interleague play can happen whenever it wants to, and the schedule makers have decided to have the two New York teams face off in April and again in September.

At least one of the matchups will be meaningful. The Mets are the talk of the town with 11 straight victories and hopes of finally breaking into the postseason after an eight-year absence, while the Yankees have won seven of their last eight games by taking series from Tampa Bay and Detroit.

It's still very early in the season, but fans are already hoping that Mets vs. Yankees Part Two will feature a battle for the postseason. For now, fans of the orange and blue are anxious to see if their team's Citi Field magic still works up in the Bronx.

Taking back New York

Even with the offseason featuring very little in the way of talent acquisition, the Mets had hope that their young talent would finally be enough to overtake the Yankees as the top baseball team in New York. For the players themselves, it's probably more important to see how they measure up to the Nationals and Marlins, but fans who grew up surrounded by pinstripes care about beating the Bronx Bombers.

That's why you see merchandise with "Take back New York" worn by fans. There's hope that 2015 can be a throwback to the days of yore when the Mets were the most exciting, successful, and talked about team in the five boroughs. So far that has been the case. A winning streak as historic as this one is bound to get the people talking, especially at the start of the season. While those wins are indeed in the bank, the Mets won't be taken as seriously if they fail to defeat the Yankees this weekend.

About that pitching showdown

One of my co-workers was excited about maybe getting tickets to the game on Saturday in which both Matt Harvey and CC Sabathia are pitching. This struck me as a little odd since he's a Yankees fan and Sabathia is supposed to be washed up, but the hefty lefty is in reality pitching pretty well in 2015. Sabathia's 4.35 ERA is mostly representative of his rough first start against Toronto, but even in that game he struck out eight batters with no walks. Overall, Sabathia has 20 strikeouts and just four walks in three outings, and in his latest performance he allowed just two runs in eight innings to the scary Tigers offense.

Nathan Eovaldi also recently threw a gem in Detroit, but his 3.12 ERA is marred by the fact that he's allowed exactly eight hits in all three of his appearances so far. The word on the street is that Eovaldi's high-velocity fastball isn't so hard to line up because it doesn't have much movement on it. The former Marlin struck out nine batters in his start against Baltimore, but has just five combined in his other two starts.

Date Time Television Mets Probable Starter Yankees Probable Starter
April 24, 2015 7:05 PM PIX 11, MLBN Jacob deGrom Michael Pineda
April 25, 2015 4:05 PM SNY, FS1 Matt Harvey CC Sabathia
April 26, 2015 8:00 PM ESPN Jon Niese Nate Eovaldi

Tonight's Yankees starter, Michael Pineda, is like Harvey and Sabathia in that his ERA isn't as shiny as his stirkeout-to-walk ratio. That's helped along by Pineda's .392 BABIP and the home run he's allowed in each of his last two starts.

All this is to say that Harvey and Jacob deGrom don't have as big of an advantage as it might appear on the surface. Even with Sabathia failing to reach 90 miles per hour with his fastball, the veteran still has a slider and changeup to work with. With the way John Mayberry Jr. is slugging against lefties, though, it might take all of Sabathia's cunning to get past the Mets.

Is that Chris Young's music?

The most famous Yankees slugger in this weekend's series is far and away Alex Rodriguez (and he's playing really well, too!), but the biggest heel for Mets fans might just be Chris Young. Paid $7 million by the Mets front office in 2014, Young hit eight home runs but was generally terrible otherwise. In 88 games he hit .205/.283/.346 before finally being designated for assignment in early August.

Picked up by the Yankees in time for a postseason push, Young hit .282/.354/.875 in 23 September games, supposedly to give the Mets a taste of what they were missing had they just been willing to torture their fans for a little while longer. That was just the beginning, though.

Young made the Yankees as a bench bat in spring training, but he's been too hot to sit down, even with an outfield already crowded with Brett Gardner, Jacoby Ellsbury, and Carlos Beltran. Young already has four home runs, five doubles, and a 1.188 OPS for the young season. Hey, at least you can see what Sandy Alderson was thinking when he signed the volatile slugger up on a one-year deal two winters ago.

Of course, not every player the Yankees pick up turns to gold. Derek Jeter replacement Didi Gregorius has been bad with both bat and glove so far. Though we expected him to be a lousy batter, Yankees fans are most disappointed by the errors committed by their shortstop so far.

Hey, remember when the Mets were rumored to be in on Gregorius. Could it be that they actually knew what they were doing when they held onto Wilmer Flores as their starter for the entire winter?

Nah, that would be even crazier than an 11-game win streak.

Prediction: Mets win three more in a row, take over the world.

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