Florida Marlins @ Mets Series Preview

After another serving of not-so-tasty interleague play, the Mets and Marlins are playing each other at Shea. While it's not that huge of a carrot, if the Mets sweep this series, they can tie the Marlins to move out of last place in the National League East. The Marlins had an easier time of it in the recent interleague series, handily sweeping the hapless Tampa Bay Devil Rays, while the Mets lost two games to the Yankees, with one game being rained out.

The Mets face an uphill battle for a sweep though, as the Marlins are throwing two of their best pitchers in Mark Redman and Dontrelle Willis in this series.

Four Marlins hitters are in double digits with home runs, with trade bait Mike Lowell leading them with 23 home runs. Derrek Lee, Alex Gonzalez and Juan Encarnacion all have 10+ home runs. Juan Pierre is a threat on the basepaths and Luis Castillo has continued his maturation as a hitter.

Who has been hot for the Mets the past week? Ty Wigginton hit .348 with a home run, Robbie Alomar hit .318. Cliff Floyd has shown signs of succumbing to the pressure of being sometimes the only Mets power threat, hitting only .238 last week and striking out 7 times. Jeromy Burnitz was up and down all last week, particularly on the field, but he's been hitting well for the most part all season. Mets fans just hope his brother 'Jimmy' doesn't show up at a game again.

With this being a brief interlude before more interleague play, let us move on to the pitching match-ups:

Game One
Brad Penny (5-5-4.07) Vs. Al Leiter (8-3, 5.06)

Both Penny and Leiter are hoping to rebound from poor starts the last time they pitched. Penny gave up eight runs in four innings and Leiter gave up five runs in five innings the last time he pitched and only benefited from the fact that the Mets exploded for 10 runs that night. It'll be a battle for Leiter. Every start is a battle for him. Mets fans hope he can revert to the form that had him muzzling the potent Texas Rangers line-up for 6 innings. At this stage in his career, Leiter isn't more than a six or seven-inning pitcher.

Game Two
Mark Redman (5-2, 2.61) Vs. Steve Trachsel (5-5, 4.62)

Redman has been pitching very well for the Marlins this season, and he had a good outing last time despite getting a no-decision, retiring 21 of the last 22 hitters he faced. He's a power pitcher who also relies on flyballs for outs. Trachsel has been up and down this season in terms of his consistency. He may not be a Met much longer, as the Astros have shown interest in acquiring him, and with the trade deadline on the horizon, Duquette may be tempted to trade his contract. Redman spent part of the early season on the DL, but has pitched strongly lately, winning his last three starts. Trachsel, on the other hand, has lost three of his last four starts. Mets fans hope that he starts a winning trend.

Game Three
Dontrelle Willis (7-1, 2.38) vs. Mike Bacsik (or Aaron Heilman)

If whispers are right, this could be a matchup between two heralded rookie pitchers- Willis and Heilman. Willis has been the most interesting rookie this season, pleasantly surprising the Marlins front office, and he also impressed the Mets, stymieing them the last time that he pitched against them for a complete-game win. Heilman will be a low-pressure situation, since the fans won't be filling the seats to see the Mets play the Marlins. The Mets hope that a second look at Willis will help them solve him. It won't be easy: Willis has won his last six starts.

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