9/14/15 Game Preview: Nicolino vs. Verrett, RH lineup starts

The Mets (82-61) return home to face the Miami Marlins (61-82) at 7:10 tonight. Rookie right hander Logan Verrett (3.06 ERA, 4.07 FIP, 0.96 WHIP, 32 1/3 IP over 1 start and 13 relief appearances between the Mets and Rangers) faces off against rookie left hander Justin Nicolino (3.72 ERA, 4.55 FIP, 1.34 WHIP, 48 1/3 IP over 8 starts). Neither Verrett nor Nicolino has made an appearance against the opposing team.

Lineups:

[Newsday]

Mets:

  1. Juan Lagares, CF (R)
  2. David Wright, 3B (R)
  3. Yoenis Cespedes, LF (R)
  4. Juan Uribe, 2B (R)
  5. Travis d’Arnaud, C (R)
  6. Michael Cuddyer, RF (R)
  7. Lucas Duda, 1B (L)
  8. Wilmer Flores, SS (R)
  9. Logan Verrett, P (R)

Marlins:

  1. Dee Gordon, 2B (L)
  2. Christian Yelich, CF (L)
  3. Martin Prado, 3B (R)
  4. Justin Bour, 1B (L)
  5. Derek Dietrich, LF (L)
  6. J.T. Realmuto, C (R)
  7. Ichiro Suzuki, RF (L)
  8. Miguel Rojas, SS (R)
  9. Justin Nicolino, P (L)

For the Mets, Michael Cuddyer returns to the starting lineup for the first time since September 1st. Cuddyer had dealt with wrist tendonitis for the last couple weeks, but has made a couple of pinch hitting appearances over the last few days. With Cuddyer back in the fold, the Mets can afford to deploy their full platoon lineup, sitting Curtis Granderson, Michael Conforto, and Daniel Murphy (who have struggled against lefties – Conforto in a very small sample) in favor of Cuddyer, Juan Lagares, and Juan Uribe, who have all done very well against lefties.

Verrett has had an odder season than Kirk Nieuwenhuis. Lost in the Rule 5 draft to Baltimore, Verrett was waived and claimed by Texas just before the start of the season. After a few bullpen appearances for Texas, Verrett was waived again and cleared waivers. As per the Rule 5 draft rules, he was offered back to the Mets, who accepted and optioned him to AAA. Verrett was called up in mid-June and pitched 12 1/3 innings while allowing only one run, but was optioned to make room for Jenrry Mejia. Verrett was recalled in mid-August as a bullpen arm and spot starter, and threw 8 innings of 1 run ball in Colorado in place of Matt Harvey. Verrett was optioned back down and recalled once the season ended for the Las Vegas 51s, and he will make his second spot start for Matt Harvey. Overall, since joining the Mets, Verrett has a 1.93 ERA, 3.62 FIP, and 0.69 WHIP in 23 1/3 IP over a start and 9 relief appearances.

In limited time during his rookie season, Justin Nicolino has held both righties and lefties fairly evenly, with a .341 wOBA against to lefties and a .340 wOBA against for righties. He has allowed 3 home runs to righties and 1 to a lefty, but Nicolino has also faced about 3 times as many righties as lefties. However, his strikeout rate against righties is only 5.4% as opposed to 15.7% against lefties, so Terry Collins was probably right to put in his platoon right handed hitters. Nicolino has an ERA of 0.87 on the road across 20 2/3 IP this season, but much of that is likely due to luck (he has averaged only 3.48 K/9 on the road with an unsustainably low .246 BABIP).

Ever since activating Michael Cuddyer from the DL in mid-August (he had been out with a bone bruise on his left knee), Cuddyer has absolutely raked. Perhaps the increased rest or reduced exposure to right handed pitching has helped, but in 62 plate appearances, Cuddyer is batting .339/.403/.518, good for a .400 wOBA and 160 wRC+ in that time. Overall this season vs. lefties, Cuddyer is hitting .277/.375/.349 (a .329 wOBA). Much of his success against lefties is derived from a 11.5% walk rate (compared to only 4.6% against righties). His power versus lefties has yet to materialize this season though, with 1 home run in 83 plate appearances (Cuddyer has 10 on the season).

For the Marlins, Ichiro Suzuki is still going at age 41. Forced into starting duty due to the absence of Giancarlo Stanton, Suzuki has shown his age. Over his last 62 plate appearances, he is batting only .145/.217/.182, for a wOBA of .187 and a wRC of 10. That’s 90% below league average. For some reason, he continues to play, especially against right-handed pitching, despite the fact that A) Ichiro hits better against lefties (.330 wOBA against lefties vs. .251 wOBA against righties this season) and B) Marcell Ozuna has hit .247/.278/.473 since his return from minor league exile. General manager turned manager Dan Jennings is taking part in one of my pet peeves: playing percentages that simply don’t exist.

As always, LET’S GO METS!

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