On Deck will be here all season to provide you with everything you need to know (and a few things you don't) about every Rangers series during the 2011 season.
The Opponent: The final home interleague series of the season finds the Rangers playing host to the Mets. The Mets have had a typically star-crossed season with stars like David Wright and Johan Santana on the disabled list, but they have shown an atypical resolve that's left them a game under .500 despite the obstacles in their path.
Past 2011 Meetings: Nope.
Pitching Matchups: Friday - Mike Pelfrey (4-5, 4.70 ERA) vs. Matt Harrison (5-6, 3.16); Saturday - Jonathon Niese (6-6, 3.70) vs. Alexi Ogando (7-2, 2.66); Sunday - Dillon Gee (7-1, 3.21) vs. Derek Holland (6-2, 4.69)
What's Hot: If you don't follow much National League baseball, you've missed out on the most exciting player in the game in 2011. Mets shortstop Jose Reyes got off to a blistering start and hasn't slowed down one bit as the third month of the season comes to its conclusion. His status as an impending free agent has also generated a constant stream of discussion in New York about his future with the Mets.
Harrison has been on fire over his last five starts and shouldn't have much problem keeping on keeping on against the Mets. The absence of Wright and Ike Davis leaves their lineup with as much pop as a wet bag of fireworks and Harrison has been taking care of business against much better opposition since the middle of May.
Craig Gentry is hitting .391 this month as half of a center field platoon with Endy Chavez. He plays against lefties, meaning he's the bottom half of that time share, but you wonder if Ron Washington won't try to find a way to get him into the lineup a bit more often in the days to come. Chavez has played well, but we know what Chavez is and Gentry may be a better bet to help the team over the rest of the season.
What's Not: There have been bad free agent signings in the history of baseball and then there's the Mets' signing of Jason Bay before the 2010. The Mets have gotten a grand total of nine home runs and a 705 OPS in 611 plate appearances from Bay after he hit 39 long balls and posted a 921 OPS for the Red Sox in 2009. He's been hurt and has shown flickers of life in the last week, but it is awfully hard to imagine a bigger waste of $66 million.
We're still more than a week away from July 4th, but there's a good chance of late inning fireworks this weekend. Neither team is blessed with a real shutdown bullpen and that could make for some uncomfortable moments for Washington and Terry Collins as they pick and choose the guys they trust to protect leads late in games.
Alexi Ogando needs to make some adjustments. His start against the Yankees was a disaster and he wasn't much better against the Braves. He gave up only three runs, but he needed 103 pitches to get through five innings and a better offensive team probably would have made for a much worse final line. Changing your routines is part of being a big league starter and Ogando will have to do it if he wants to remain successful.
Familiar Faces: He started out as a Mets reliever before becoming a Texas legend later in his career. Every time the Mets see his face and familiar delivery, they're forced to contemplate what might have been if they didn't send him packing. We're talking about Darren O'Day.
Just kidding. It's Nolan Ryan, of course. He won a ring with the 1969 Mets, but his wildness forced them to trade him to the Angels and the rest became history. The mind reels on what the Mets might have done in the 1970's with Ryan backing up Tom Seaver and Jerry Koosman in the rotation, but we'll have to make do with what actually wound up happening.