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Tanaka, struggling Yankees visit Mets Wednesday
By: Freddy Wander - StatFox
Published: 5/14/2014  at  4:02:00 AM
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at NEW YORK METS (19-19)

First pitch: Wednesday, 7:10 p.m. ET
Line: Yankees -165, Mets +155, Total: 6.5

After sweeping the Yankees over two games in the Bronx, the Mets look to bring their hot offense home with them on Wednesday in the first of two games at Citi Field.

The Yankees have dropped to .500 after losing nine of their past 13 games, including four straight defeats. Two of those losses came in high-scoring battles against the Mets, as they were defeated 9-7 and 12-7 in consecutive nights. The Mets hit six home runs in the two games, as the Yankees’ starters totaled just 9.1 innings and gave up 11 runs (9 ER). 2B Yangervis Solarte (.336 BA) did do well in the two contests for the Yankees though, going 5-for-8 with a homer and 2 RBI, and currently has an eight-game hitting streak in which he has gone 14-for-28. The Mets' win on Tuesday pushed their record back to the .500 mark and they have won their three in a row after going 1-7 in their previous eight contests. Their offense was tremendous against Yankee pitching over the two games in the Bronx, going 24-for-76 (.316 BA) as a team with 13 extra-base hits. OF Curtis Granderson (.205 BA) has really been struggling in his first season with the Mets, but was 4-for-8 with two homers and 5 RBI his first time facing his former team. An exciting pitching matchup is scheduled for Wednesday night as the Yankees will put RHP Masahiro Tanaka (5-0, 2.57 ERA) on the mound to go up against one of the Mets’ top prospects in 23-year-old RHP Rafael Montero (4-1, 3.67 ERA at Triple-A) as he makes his major-league debut. Heading on the road should not make too much of a difference for the Yanks as they are 10-9 in away games this season while the Mets are 9-10 at home. The Subway Series has always been exciting, and the Mets are now 7-5 against the Bombers over the past three seasons while going 3-2 at home. Some trends that bettors should take notice of is that the Mets are just 10-30 (.250) as a home underdog of +125 or more since the start of the 2012 season, but they are also an impressive 20-10 (.667) versus AL teams with an on-base percentage at .330 or worse since the start of last year. OF Carlos Beltran has a bone spur in his elbow and will not play in this game as he hopes rest will help him recover instead of needing surgery. OF teammate Ichiro Suzuki (back) has not played since Sunday and is questionable for this contest.

Masahiro Tanaka has come as advertised since joining the Yankees with a huge seven-year, $155M contract this offseason. He has yet to lose at the major-league level and has pitched at least 6.1 innings in each of his first seven starts while allowing no more than three runs in any of those outings. He has used his tremendous splitter to strike out 58 batters in his first 49 innings (10.7 K/9) and has walked just seven in that time (1.3 BB/9). Tanaka has fooled hitters so much that they are swinging at 40% of balls thrown out of the strike zone, while the MLB average is just 29%. Opposing hitters are also making contact with just 49% of those swings they take out of the zone, again, a number much better than the league average of 65%. Tanaka has yet to face the Mets in his young career, but will need to be careful when going against 3B David Wright (.296 BA) who has an 11-game hitting streak coming into this contest while going 20-for-51 (.370) in that time. Wright also has a homer and 8 RBI over his past five games. On the other hand, C Travis d’Arnaud (.196 BA) has really had trouble in his first season as the full-time starting catcher, but has walked in 10.1% of his plate appearances. The relievers for the Yankees have combined to go 4-7 with a 4.37 ERA and 1.39 WHIP while successfully saving 12-of-17 games (71%). Closer David Robertson (2.00 ERA, 6 saves) has been perfect in his save opportunities and has 10 strikeouts in his first nine innings while allowing his first home run in his last outing on Friday.

Rafael Montero was ranked the third-best prospect in the Mets’ system at the beginning of the season by Baseball America, and he will make his first career start on Wednesday in place of Jenrry Mejia. Montero posted a combined 2.60 ERA at both Double-A and Triple-A last season as part of going 23-12 over four levels between 2012 and 2013. This season, Montero he has a 3.67 ERA and 1.15 WHIP at the Triple-A level while striking out a solid 8.9 batters per nine innings. He has struggled with control though, walking 18 batters in 41.2 innings (3.9 BB/9). Montero could run into some trouble when facing 1B Mark Teixeira (.271 BA) as he has seven homers in just 85 at-bats this season, and has collected six hits over his past four games. C Brian McCann (.230 BA) has not had the start he wanted to with his new club, but has gotten six hits in his past four games while hitting a home run with 3 RBI in Tuesday’s loss. The Mets’ bullpen is 8-8 this season with a 3.88 ERA and 1.42 WHIP while going 7-for-14 in save chances. These numbers are even worse at home (4.02 ERA and 1.56 WHIP). Kyle Farnsworth (3.18 ERA, 3 saves) has been the closer of choice with Bobby Parnell out, and is 3-for-4 in save opportunities while recording only 5.3 K/9 over 17 innings on the mound.

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