The New York Yankees and New York Mets are in the middle of their only head-to-head regular season series of 2013. The Mets pulled off the upset on Monday and Tuesday, taking both games at Citi Field. The series will continue with two more games at Yankee Stadium.
Before the start of the year, expectations were generally low for both clubs. The Mets were predicted by most pundits to miss the playoffs for a seventh straight season. The Yankees, who are usually one of the favorites to win the World Series, were picked by many to have a record close to .500.
Through 50 games, there have been some surprises in the Big Apple baseball scene. Below are early season grades for each club.
Yankees (B): The club has received some big performances from unlikely sources. With Alex Rodriguez, Derek Jeter and Mark Teixeira sidelined all season, players like Lyle Overbay and Travis Hafner have stepped up in a major way. The Spring Training trade for Vernon Wells has also proved to help with the absence of Curtis Granderson for much of the year. Compared to other American League teams, they bats have been just been average, but until the Yankees get their star players back from injury, that’s more than the organization could have hoped for.
Mets (D+): Few teams have struggled offensively like the Mets. Ike Davis and his .152 batting average has been a colossal disappointment, and there has been talking of sending him back to the minor leagues. The team’s outfield may be the worst in baseball, with players like Jordany Valdespin, Marlon Byrd and Mike Baxter all hitting below .240. David Wright and Daniel Murphy have been the only two bright spots on the club. Even after signing his large offseason contract, Wright has played like an All-Star.
Yankees (A-): As the club entered the season with injuries to all of their top hitters with the exception of Robinson Cano, the Yankees pitchers knew the onus would be on them to carry the club until everyone got healthy. Through 51 games, they’ve done exactly that, posting the second-best ERA in the AL. Hiroki Kuroda has been outstanding with a 2.39 ERA, while Andy Pettitte and C.C. Sabathia have been solid. The Yankees' real strength, though, has been in the bullpen. Before his blown save on Tuesday, Mariano Rivera had closed out 18 consecutive games. Before the series with the Mets, the Yankees hadn’t lost a game in which they led after six innings.
Mets (D): Matt Harvey continues to impress for the Mets, as the 24-year-old has yet to lose in 2013. His 1.85 ERA and strikeout to walk ratio of almost 5/1 make him a leading candidate to win the National League Cy Young Award. Other than Harvey, however, the Mets might have the worst pitching in the league. Their second-best starter, Jonathan Niese, has been below average with a 4.40 ERA and five losses. Closer Bobby Parnell has been consistent with a 1.93 ERA, but no other bullpen has given up more runs. Relying on pitchers like Dillon Gee and Shaun Marcum has cost the team a chance to be competitive.
Yankees (B+): At 30-21, it would be hard for a fan of the Yankees to complain. They are tied in the loss column with the Boston Red Sox for first place in the AL East and have will get back several of their best players in the coming weeks. The team has played well in close games and gotten a lot of timely hits. If the playoffs began today, the Yankees would be in the postseason, once again.
Mets (D): Two good wins against their cross-town rivals may give the Mets some hope for the rest of the year, but those two games at Citi Field may end up being the highlight of the team’s season. The Mets weren’t expected to win many games in 2013, but they won’t likely have any meaningful games after the All-Star Break. At 20-29, only the Miami Marlins and Milwaukee Brewers have been worse in the NL.