Sunday, August 15, 2010
Memory, slump worth forgetting for Wright
By Mark Simon & Katie Sharp
David Wright's 4-for-41 funk this August is nothing compared to that which the Mets first third baseman, Don Zimmer, went through in 1962.
Long before becoming the wise baseball sage that he is today, Zimmer went through the slump-of-all-slumps to close his Mets career. He went 1-for-40 in one stretch before being traded to the Reds. Of course, upon arrival to his new team, Zimmer got hits in his first three at-bats.
Such was the luck of the 1962 Mets.
This brings us back to Wright, and a day he'd rather forget. It was a year ago today that he was beaned by Giants starter Matt Cain, suffering a concussion that would sideline him two weeks (coincidentally, Zimmer suffered a nasty beaning in his career too).
Since being hit, Wright hasn't quite been the hitter Mets fans are used to. He's hitting .277 with 19 home runs and 161 strikeouts in 142 games.
Wright is currently in the midst of a stretch in which he's gone 11 straight starts without a multi-hit game. His career-worst for that kind of run: A 13-game drought in April.
Adam Rubin wrote earlier this week how Wright's bad stretch started when he moved further away from home plate. We're guessing that will be examined further on our Sunday Night Baseball telecast at 8 tonight.
To get you ready for that, a few other notes on tonight's game:
The other notable anniversary today seems pertinent since we've already seen a one-hitter in this series-- this date in 1990-- Phillies starter Terry Mulholland no-hits the Giants.
Mulholland's other career claim to fame came against the Mets-- he fielded a ground ball hit by Keith Hernandez, couldn't get it out of his glove, and threw the glove to first base to record the out.
Mike Pelfrey's 8.17 ERA at Citizens Bank Park is the worst for any of the 19 opponents who have made at least 5 starts there. So it's a good thing this game is at Citi Field. He's a much different pitcher against the Phillies in his home park, which is much more forgiving for fly balls.
A key stat for Pelfrey, illustrating the difference between the good version (his first 15 starts) and the bad version (seven of his last eight starts) has been his ability to throw first-pitch strikes .
In his first 15 starts, his first-pitch strike percentage was 65.5 percent (the major-league average is 59 percent); opponents hit .205 (9-44) when putting the first pitch in play, and hit .259 (50-193) after 0-1 count.
In his next 7 starts, his first-pitch strike percentage was 59.4%; opponents hit .350 (7-20) when putting the first pitch in play, and hit .369 (24-65) after 0-1 count
In Tuesday's strong effort that netted him a win and seven scoreless innings against the Rockies, Pelfrey's first-pitch strike percentage was 73.1%, Colorado was hitless the one time they put the first pitch in play, and the Rockies hit .176 (3-17) after an 0-1 count.
While Pelfrey's issues have come early in the count, his mound foe, Phillies starter Kyle Kendrick, has had difficulties early in innings. Opponents are reaching base at a 37 percent clip against Kendrick to lead off an inning, among the highest rates in the National League.
The issues for Kendrick have been plentiful this season, but the Phillies have scored better than six runs per game when he's taken the mound, making him among the most-supported pitchers in all of baseball.
Of course, this game may not be about starts, but about finishes, and there's one stat to back up the Phillies chances of winning should the game be close late.
Closer Brad Lidge has had his ups-and-downs this season, but historically speaking, he's perfect against the Mets. Lidge is 15-for-15 career in save chances against the Mets. Only two other pitchers have more saves, and a perfect mark against tonight's home team-- John Smoltz was 24-for-24 and former Met Randy Myers was 21-for-21.
The Mets host the Phillies on Sunday Night Baseball at 8 ET on ESPN