The Yankees are bursting with talent and hold a 23-19 record. The Mets are just entering a rebuilding phase and are languishing below .500 at 21-22. Common sense suggests the Yanks will eradicate their crosstown rivals during their three-game series in the Bronx this weekend. But if this is truly a rivalry, you can throw out all the statistics and count on both teams playing with a little more emotion and grit than usual. Things could get interesting at Yankee Stadium.
When confronted with the whole of the Yankees--the team culture, the winning tradition, the seemingly unshakeable confidence, the deep pockets of the owners, and the immense baseball talent all of that attracts--these games seem like a foregone conclusion. The Mets are, in contrast, broke, broken (third baseman David Wright, center fielder Angel Pagan and first baseman Ike Davis are all on the disabled list) and a bit beaten down.
But how do the two teams actually compare position by position? Let's take a look.
R.A. Dickey (Mets) v. Freddy Garcia (Yankees)
Tonight, 7:05 p.m.
Dickey's numbers (1-5, 5.08 ERA, 1.60 WHIP) say it all, with his trademark knuckleball failing so poorly, he's opted to throw conventional pitches more than half the time as of late. Garcia (2-3, 3.22 ERA, 1.35 WHIP) performed poorly his last time on the mound, against the Red Sox, giving up four runs and two walks over 5 1/3 innings.
Chris Capuano (Mets) v. A.J. Burnett (Yankees)
Saturday, 7:10 p.m.
Capuano's stats seem worse than he is (3-4, 4.78 ERA, 1.57 WHIP) because of two bad outings, including a pummeling courtesy of Colorado on April 14 (7 earned runs in 5 2/3 innings). Burnett (4-3, 3.99 ERA, 1.17 WHIP) has caused Yankee fans much consternation with some poor performances, but he remains a solid No. 3 in the rotation.
Mike Pelfrey (Mets) v. Ivan Nova (Yankees)
Sunday, 1:05 p.m.
Pelfrey (5-5, 3.11 ERA, 1.54 WHIP) has been alternately brilliant and terrible. Which Pelfrey will show up in the Bronx on Sunday? Nova (4-3, 4.33 ERA, 1.51 WHIP) has been erratic as well in his second season in the majors.
Advantage: Mets in a near toss-up.
Ronny Paulino (Mets) is batting well in his first year with the Mets, hitting (.313 with .405 OBP and .749 OPS) and the ERA of the pitchers he handles is 2.07, while Russel Martin (Yankees), who is struggling a bit at the plate but hits for more power (.268 with .371 OBP and .851 OPS) has caught Yankee pitchers for a 3.72 ERA. Both catch base stealers at a .312 rate.Advantage: Mets
Daniel Murphy will likely get the nod at first for the Mets. His .233 batting average and .367 slugging percentage compares poorly to Mark Teixeira's numbers with the Yankees (.253, .500 SLG). Teixeira is a slick fielding first baseman. Murphy is competent, but the Mets have used him in left field and second base in 82 games over the last three years.
Advantage: Yankees, in a big way
Ruben Tejada will probably man second base for the Mets. He's only seen six at-bats, but he logged three hits in them. Robinson Cano (.288, .519 SLG) is one of the best second basemen in baseball.
Advantage: Yankees, hugely
Justin Turner (Mets) will likely stand in for the injured David Wright. Turner has shown some good instincts at the hot corner, and his bat has been a bit of revelation (.333, .490 SLG, .883 OPS). Pitchers don't know the youngster's predilections yet--he's only played in 39 games in the big leagues. Alex Rodriguez (Yankees) is having another superstar year (.302, .486 SLG, .956 OPS).
Jose Reyes (Mets) is back in form this season, operating as the spark plug for a beleaguered team (.317, .468 SLG, .840 OPS). His fielding skills remain slick. Derek Jeter (Yankees) has faltered at the plate this year (.257, .327 SLG, .636 OPS), but as much as the critics like to carp on his fielding, the stats suggest he is still a solid shortstop. Both players are crucial leaders for their teams.
Jason Bay (Mets) is having a terrible year at the plate (.238, .357 SLG). Brett Gardner (Yankees) isn't fairing much better, but his batting has trended up over the last three weeks (.364)
Angel Pagan is injured, so the Mets will use either Jason Pridie or Scott Hairston in center. Neither hold a candle to Curtis Granderson (Yankees), either with the bat (.270, .610 SLG, .949 OPS) or the glove.
Advantage: Yankees, by a considerable margin
Carlos Beltran (Mets) played center field well last year with compromised knees. He is easily patrolling right field this season. His batting (.277, .539 SLG) overmatches Nick Swisher (.223, .317 SLG) by a wide margin.
Advantage: Mets, significantly
The Mets will use youngster Fernando Martinez (.286 and .857 SLG in only 7 at-bats) in the DH spot, while the struggling Posada (.183, .374 SLG) hopes to retain some dignity by doing something at the plate during games that all of New York will be watching.
Both Francisco Rodriguez (.79 ERA, 1.41 WHIP) and Mariano Rivera (1.80 ERA, 0.90 WHIP) are elite closers. There's no reason to think either will let their team down this weekend.
Tally it up and the suggestion is the Yankees will win two out of the three games.