ROUND TWO PREVIEW
So I'll keep this brief (by normal standards, not just mine). A few thoughts:
Bash The Card Starters: Other than Carpenter, this is a bad collection of arms. Carpenter is very good, so we have to assume he'll beat Trachsel in game three. Plus, while the Card bullpen isn't as good as the Mets, it's pretty good. I'm not buying into this whole, "Now that Izzy's out, the Cards can't protect a lead" thing. First of all, Isringhausen was a bad closer. It's no loss for the Cardinals.
And, this young guy closing in his stead, Wainwright, is pretty good. Better than Izzy at least. Plus, they have a tough lefty in Tyler Johnson, who struggled against righties this season, but pitched well against lefties, and looked good in the series against the Pads. The Mets are a strong hitting team, so I'm not suggesting they couldn't come back in the face of a late game deficit. But a late lead for the Cards is hardly dangerous for them.
But the non-Carpenter starters? Another story. Weaver & Marqis are regular right-handed fastball-slider type guys, and they're not good. Against Beltran, Delgado, Valentin, Reyes, Green & Chavez, that's a disaster waiting to happen. From the pitcher's perspective, that is. Weaver against lefties this year? In 80+ innings, he gave up 119 hits, including 22 home runs, plus 29 walks, versus only 47 Ks. Delgado, Beltran & Valentin killed righties, and neither Reyes, Green, nor Chavez are slouches in that department either. Knowing that Carpenter's coming in Game 3, it's imperative that the Mets destroy Weaver early and start taxing that bullpen.
The same goes for game 4 if LaRussa forgets he's a genius and throws Marquis. Anthony Reyes doesn't own lefties, but he's better than Marquis. Against lefties, New York Jason yielded 105 hits, 15 home runs, and 40 walks (against 46 Ks) in only 90+ innings.
As for Suppan, he's more of a slop thrower, but so long as junkballers hurl from the right side, the Mets seem to do all right. Against lefties, Mr. Suppan compiled the following: 78+ IP, 102 H, 10 HR, 33 BB, 54 K. Same story as the other two. He's vulnerable to a powerful lefty-hitting lineup, which is exactly what they'll be facing. And keep in mind, none of these fellas is exactly Roger Clemens or Curt Schilling against righties, nor are Wright & LoDuca quite in the Rey Ordonez range.
To channel Al Davis, if I may, these three starters need to go down, and they need to go down hard. There's no reason the Mets shouldn't be able to do so.
Carlos & Jose (Versions 1.0): Not that Delgado doesn't need to keep swinging a hot bat, nor that 'Stache doesn't need to start, but it's Reyes & Beltran I'm talking about. If the Mets are going to smash Cardinal starters (the easiest, most dependable way to advance), then these two need to get into the act. Reyes had some clutch hits against the Dodgers (as did Wright & LoDuca & Green), but you just can't count on that game after game. If Reyes gets on base two or three times, or starts lacing doubles and triples, then that's really gonna put the pressure on the Cards. I'm not quite as jazzed on him running, running, running as some are. Reyes slowed down late in the season, perhaps from 150+ games of dings & dents ("only" 25 SB and 8 CS after the All-Star Break, and a more worrisome 9/5 in September). Plus, Yadier Molina's got a cannon. But if he gets on base at a .350+ clip and lashes some XBHs, then I'm not worried.
And, more than anything, the Mets need Beltran to start clobbering the ball. More than Reyes, more than Wright, more than Heilman & Wagner & Glavine, Beltran was the main cog in the Mets machine this season. Their best hitter, their best RBI guy, their best power threat. The walks last round were good, and I certainly don't want to see him start flailing. But he needs to start driving the ball. If Reyes does his part and Carlos turns back into the Beltranator, this thing's gonna be over in 5. No way Weaver/Suppan/Marquis can withstand the onslaught if he starts bashing.
Met Starters Just Need To Stay The Course: They don't need to be perfect, they just need not to be awful. If the bullpen pitches at its level, and the hitters hit at their level, then 5-6 innings of 4.50 pitching should be enough. It's just the 5 run first innings that they need to avoid. Which basically means, throw strikes to 89% of the Cardinal lineup . . . and throw no strikes under any circumstances to the other 11%. Eckstein takes Glavine's first pitch and jerks it over the wall? Fine, then the Mets lead 4-1 after the 1st, rather than 4-0. It's the lead-off walk to him, setting up Phat Albert for either an RBI possibility or a costly IBB that I'm concerned about.
Beyond those three things, there's not much to do other than go out and play. If the Mets do what they've done all season (get hits in spurts, play good defense, hold late inning leads), there's no reason not to win. Even if they lose to Carpenter in game 3, they shouldn't reach game 7 to give him the second try.
Mets in 6 (because I can't assume everything will fall into place).