By Mike Steffanos
The Braves are coming to town again, floundering as they have for much of this young season. Still, they haven't given up on the hope that they hold some magic over the Mets, and point to their 2 0f 3 triumph over the Mets in New York last month. You have to believe that they are salivating over the prospects of facing Trachsel, Zambrano and Maine/Lima over the weekend, while we Mets fans look at the match-ups and probably feel like borrowing that famous phrase from Mr. Bill.
I should feel some apprehension towards three games against our hated rivals without Pedro and Tom Glavine pitching, but I feel a weird sense of calm. Don't count me among those that feel the Braves are already buried for the year, but they don't scare me all that much, either. In previous seasons, I would look at these pitching match-ups and the Mets recent struggles scoring runs and reach for the extra-strength antacid. This year, nothing quite feels the same. I don't feel any sense that what happens here this weekend is going to loom large over the Mets' chances for 2006.
Still, the bottom of the rotation has some questions to answer. It's a shame Bannister had to miss this, but Trachsel and Zambrano have something to prove here. I like Trachsel, and appreciate what he's done in some awful seasons here, but it's time to prove that he can be a key contributor to this very good Mets team. If he feels that he doesn't get enough love from Willie, he needs to step up and earn it. As for Zambrano, we all understand that the clock is ticking on Victor and all of his untapped "potential". He's got to come up big in big games, too, every bit as much as Trachsel does. At least you know you're going to get a good start out of Trachsel half the time, you never know what you'll get out of Victor.
With the kid, or possibly Lima, pitching Sunday, the onus is on the Mets offense to prove that they can carry the team when the starting pitcher isn't a given. Indeed, no one is expecting any magical pitching performance from a Mets starter in any of these 3 games. At 7 games off the pace, the pressure is on the Braves to come in and try to sweep their way back into contention, with anything less than taking 2 of 3 as a disaster. One of the ways the Braves have been able to dominate the Mets over the years was the way that the Mets always seemed to be the team with the gun to their head. Not this year, not now.
Still, the Mets are not without something to prove. Last weekend, with all their pitching ducks lined up, they went into Atlanta and took 2 of 3. Now, with the wrong guys on the mound, how about showing us that the rest of the team is ready to step up?
New York Post: Rick Peterson on Tom Glavine
Jay Greenberg quotes the Mets' pitching coach on Tom Glavine's rejeuvenated career:
I'm happy for Tom. "He went through a tough time when he first came here and it's paying off now. It took courage for a 260-game winner to totally reinvent his game. He has a nice curve, can cut his fastball, has multiple pitches that he never used because he was so good doing what he did. Tommy had been playing golf entirely with a 5-iron and a putter.
Once they went back to the 17-inch strike zone, the transition was imperative. Some games now, it's almost 50-50 working both sides of the plate. Tommy has a third-degree black belt in his pitching delivery. He has mastered it. He has a doctorate degree in glove hitting.
Newark Star-Ledger: Wright Turns it Around
Bridget Wentworth quotes David Wright after he broke out of a slump with last night's 4-5 performance:
[hitting coach Rick Down] mentioned something to me and it just clicked. I can't say I'm out of my rut, but it's a small step.
Hitting is way more mental than mechanical. If you let it get inside your head, it can hurt you. Trusting my hands is the biggest thing. I've almost been swinging before the ball leaves the pitcher's hand. I've got to trust my hands.
Newsday: Duaner Sanchez
David Lennon offers up a nice look at reliever Duaner Sanchez, including a quote from Rick Peterson on the physical and mental adjustments the reliever has made that has led to his on-the-field success this season:
There's a timing mechanism in a delivery that allows you to help get the ball down in the strike zone. And if that timing mechanism is off, you're going to elevate pitches. There was a little minor thing that he hadn't done in the past that was very simple. It was like flicking a light switch.
He's always attacked hitters. But now he's attacking hitters with laser focus. It was a perfect time in his career for him to come here. It was a great trade by Omar [Minaya] -- to acquire somebody that has been good but also had a gap of untapped potential.
I told him, 'You were good the last two years, but you have a chance to be great. If you're willing to pay the price, why be good when you can be great
Binghamton Press & Sun-Bulletin: Pelfrey Roughed Up
Mike Pelfrey took the first beating of his pro career last night in Binghamton, giving up 5 runs on 13 hits in just over 4 innings of work.
Daily News: Lima Time?
Adam Rubin reports that Jose Lima will be a fallback if John Maine, who is experiencing minor finger problems, can't start against the Braves Sunday. Wonderful.