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Thursday, April 24, 2014
Series in review: It's all in the pitching

By Mark Simon

Twenty two games into the season and the Mets are now nestled into a wild-card spot, two games over .500, thanks to winning three of four games from the St. Louis Cardinals.

Here’s a look at some of the statistical highlights from the surprising success.

Start means finish
Mets starting pitching is in the midst of a fantastic run, in which it has allowed three runs or fewer in 10 straight games.

In that span, their combined ERA is 1.84 (13 earned runs in 63 2/3 innings pitched). All but one of the starts lasted at least six innings.

Mets pitchers continue to put up great numbers with Anthony Recker catching. Their ERA is 2.78 and opponents’ batting average is .204 with Recker catching.

One thing Mets pitchers are struggling with: their own hitting. They are now a combined 0 for 37 this season. Though even if you factor that out, the team is still hitting .228.

Mejia continues to dominate
Jenrry Mejia improved to 3-0 with a 1.99 ERA with a win in the series opener.

The key for Mejia has been keeping the ball down. He ranks fifth among starting pitchers in percentage of pitches in the lower-third of the strike zone or below (think “knee-high or lower”).

When Mejia puts a ball there, he has two ways to get you. He can induce a missed swing (opponents have missed on 40 percent of their swings against those pitches, which rates well above-average) or he can get a called strike (he gets strikes on 37 percent of those pitches that are taken, which doesn’t sound high, but ranks second-best in the majors to Bartolo Colon’s 42 percent).

Granderson starting to get hits
Curtis Granderson had hits in each of the last two games, both of which came on balls that our batted-ball system classified as “hard-hit.”

Granderson was 2 for 11 when hitting a hard-hit ball. The typical hitter gets hits at about a 70 percent rate on hard-hit balls.

My colleague in Stats & Info, Evan Abrams, pointed out a stat that will make Mets fans, particularly those drawing comparisons from Granderson to Jason Bay, uncomfortable.

Granderson is trying to avoid the list of worst batting averages by those 30 or older who qualified for the batting title -- one currently headed up by Dave Kingman, who hit .204 in 1982. Jeromy Burnitz ranked second-worst -- .215 in 2002.

No longer sitting on 714
Bobby Abreu became the 715th player in Mets history to get a base hit. He now has 566 doubles, the most among active players.

That was among a bunch of statistical firsts from Thursday's win.

Chris Young became the 387th different Met to hit a home run. And Daisuke Matsuzaka is the 132nd to earn a save since the save became an official stat in 1969.

View from the other side
The Mets became the first team to defeat Lance Lynn in the months of March and April. Lynn was 12-0 prior to May 1 prior to his loss on Thursday.