May 13

May 13.10: Chat Room, Game #35 at Marlins: Classic pitcher’s duel.

The Mets begin an eight-game road trip tonight in Florida in a classic pitcher’s duel: Johan Santana vs. Josh Johnson.

Something has to break because both pitchers dominate the opposition, with Santana 6-1 with a 1.66 ERA in eight career starts against the Marlins. Johnson is not the type of pitcher a team in a hitting funk likes to face. He is 7-1 against the Mets, including 4-0 with a 2.14 ERA in five home starts against them.

The Mets’ lone victory over Johnson came Opening Day at Citi Field. The Marlins, however, won the next two games of that series.

The Mets need to get Jose Reyes going. Reyes is mired in a season-long slump, which hasn’t been helped by the move to third in the batting order. Reyes is batting .228 with a .283 on-base percentage. He is hitting .242 since being moved out of the leadoff spot.

Clearly, he’s not performing well hitting third. He’s trying to do too much with the ball. He’s better off going back to first where he’s more comfortable. Hitting is all about comfort, and Reyes looks uncomfortable at the plate. He’s reaching for pitches and is swinging with more of an uppercut than he has in the past.

However, manager Jerry Manuel is insistent on leaving Reyes third in the order ahead of Jason Bay. Manuel’s theory is Bay will see more fastballs with Reyes on ahead of him. The problem is Reyes isn’t on much these days. And, Bay only has one homer on the season, so where he has benefitted I’m not sure.

Here’s tonight’s lineup:

Angel Pagan, CF
Luis Castillo, 2B
Jose Reyes, SS
Jason Bay, LF
David Wright, 3B
Ike Davis, 1B
Jeff Francoeur, RF
Rod Barajas, C
Johan Santana, LP

NOTE: I have my class tonight and won’t be home until nine. Hope to see you then.

May 12

May 12.10: Chat Room, Game #34 vs. Nationals: Keeping the edge.

The delicate flip side to an emotional victory is the possibility of a let down. The Mets will attempt to guard against that this afternoon against the Washington Nationals at wet Citi Field after last night’s dramatic eighth-inning, six-run rally.

The Mets’ offense finally awoke and rallied from five runs down in their largest comeback of the season.

The Mets will go with Mike Pelfrey (4-1, 2.65), who gave up three runs in 7 1/3 innings in his last start, Friday against San Francisco. Pelfrey didn’t get a decision, but complained of tightness in his right shoulder for the second time in two starts.

With the weather wet and cool, it will be interesting to see how Pelfrey responds.

The Mets will sit second Luis Castillo, who has a bruised left foot.

Here’s today’s line-up for the 18-15 Mets behind Pelfrey:

Angel Pagan, CF
Alex Cora, 2B
Jose Reyes, SS
Jason Bay, LF
David Wright, 3B
Ike Davis, 1B
Jeff Francoeur, RF
Rod Barajas, C
Mike Pelfrey, RP

May 11

May 11.10: Chat Room, Game #33 vs. Nationals: Trying to jumpstart offense against Olson.

The Mets will be trying to get their offense on track tonight against the Washington Nationals as they seek to break a two-game home losing streak.

Jon Niese (1-1, 3.60) goes against the Nationals’ Scott Olson in a duel of left-handers. Niese coming off a no-decision in his last start when he gave up four runs and a career-high 12 hits in six innings last Wednesday in an extra-inning loss at Cincinnati.

Niese is 0-2 with a 3.79 ERA in seven starts at Citi Field, but has never faced Washington.

The Mets have given Niese 28 runs in his six starts, but 15 came in two of them so they’ve been all or nothing with him.

The Mets’ stagnant offense of late will try to get it going against a familiar patsy in Olson, who after his first career win against them has lost six straight with a 5.22 ERA in nine starts.

Here’s tonight’s line-up

Angel Pagan, CF
Luis Castillo, 2B
Jose Reyes, SS
Jason Bay, LF
David Wright, 3B
Ike Davis, 1B
Jeff Francoeur, RF
Rod Barajas, C
Jon Niese, LP

NOTE: I have class tonight and will be gone until nine. I hope you stop by and post to keep the room moving until then. Thanks. John

May 11

May 11.10: Wright’s woes and tonight’s line-up

David Wright was hitting .324 in 426 at-bats prior to his beaning last season and is batting .253 in 217 at-bats since. (Source: ESPN)

He’s also striking out a lot more times.

Wright is batting .277 on 31 hits in 112 at-bats with 42 strikeouts. If those numbers were reversed and he had 42 hits with 31 strikeouts, his average would be .375. Another way of saying it is he’s striking out 37 percent of the time.

In his first full four years, Wright struck out an average of 115 times a season. Last season, Wright struck out 140 times and he is on pace to strike out 188 times this year.

Last season, Wright exceeded his career average by 25 times. If he keeps his pace, he would exceed his pre-2009 career average by 73.

A strikeout is a wasted at bat.

That’s 73 less times he put the ball in play. In keeping with his career average, that would be 23 more hits. And, what about those other 50 at-bats? That’s 50 less chances of a productive at-bat, such as a sacrifice fly, chance to advance the runner into scoring position, chance for a walk, or chance to reach on an error.

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Ryota Igarashi is close to beginning a minor league rehab assignment on his left hamstring, said assistant general manager John Ricco.

Igarahsi is threw off the mound without discomfort Monday.

Igarashi had a 1.35 ERA in seven appearances prior to the injury and was moving into the eighth-inning set-up role.

Significantly, getting a healthy Igarashi back would reduce the work loads of Fernando Nieve and Pedro Feliciano.

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Tonight’s line-up

No changes, so it is safe to assume Jerry Manuel doesn’t believe the offense has hit rock bottom, yet.

Here’s tonight’s line-up:

Angel Pagan, CF
Luis Castillo, 2B
Jose Reyes, SS
Jason Bay, LF
David Wright, 3B
Ike Davis, 1B
Jeff Francoeur, RF
Rod Barajas, C
Jon Niese, LP

May 11

May 11.10: Finding the right order; Manuel has some thinking to do.

It’s obvious the Mets’ offense is in trouble, with once again last night demonstrating an appalling lack of ability to hit with runners in scoring position.

Jerry Manuel talks about “getting things going,’’ and that includes putting the players in the right position for success.

Clearly, they are not.

It’s time to re-juggle the lineup, which means put Jose Reyes back at leadoff. There are some who will argue he’s still stealing bases now, but that’s more attributable to his legs getting stronger than his spot in the order.

All too often I see Reyes swinging out of his shoes with little attempt at selectivity.

Reyes has the potential to be the game’s premier leadoff hitter. Put him there and leave him there.

The following order is thinking out loud with the hope of generating something until the next need to shake things up.

I like David Wright best hitting third, but his two hits last night notwithstanding, he’s still mired in some bad habits. It has worked before for Wright has struggled and it could work again, and that is to move him to second. Hitting second, where he’d have to protect the runner would help shorten Wright’s swing and hopefully lifting him out of his bad habits.

Because he’s been driving the ball and has the speed element, I’d put Angel Pagan third. And, yes, I fear the mentality of hitting third might do for him what it has done for Reyes. But, unlike Reyes, Pagan has hit all over the order so perhaps the transition would be a little less.

The guy who is really killing the Mets has been Jason Bay. He needs a day off and maybe he’ll get one with the promotion of Chris Carter from Triple-A Buffalo and the DFA of Frank Catalanotto. It makes no sense to bring up Carter unless they intend to play him, but who sits?

Give Bay a rest, time to collect his thoughts, and maybe he’ll be fresher. With that being said, because there are no other alternatives Bay would have to stay cleanup when he plays.

Next I’d elevate Ike Davis to fifth. Davis is one of the few Mets who seems to have an idea at the plate. I would be tempted to bat him fourth, but fear it might put too much pressure on him.

Sixth would be Jeff Francoeur, whose hot start is a memory. He’s another who might benefit from having a day off.

Seventh would be Rod Barajas, but with his slugging percentage it might not be a bad idea to elevate him past Francoeur. At one time I thought clean-up would be a temporary spot, but know the Mets would never go for it.

Eighth, unfortunately, will be Luis Castillo, who is taken out of his spot because the others aren’t doing their jobs. Castillo has been playing well and is the ideal No. 2 hitter, but getting Wright going is crucial.

There are no doubt flaws in this thinking, which, of course, I’m sure you will point out. This is not a permanent solution, but something temporary to jumpstart things.

If you’ve got other lineup suggestions, let’s hear them.