By: Stache Staff

PreGame: New York Mets (39-35) at Chicago Cubs (25-48)


The well-rested Mets will be looking to snap a three-game losing streak tonight as they send Dillon Gee to the mound against the Cubs at Wrigley Field. First pitch is scheduled for 8:05 p.m. and the game can be seen on SNY or heard, as always on WFAN 660 AM. Join the conversation on Twitter by following @dailystache or yours truly, @DevOnSports.

Gee’s task will be to shutdown a Cubs lineup that will feature the return to the majors of super-prospect Anthony Rizzo. Once thought to be the heir apparent to Adrian Gonzalez in San Diego, but after struggling in his call-up for the Padres last year, Rizzo was moved to the Cubs this winter for a prospect and a reliever. Since joining the Cubs organization, Rizzo has been tearing up AAA for the second straight season, with 23 homers in 70 games and with the offense struggling, the Cubs hope he provides a spark in the lineup.

The Mets are also looking for a spark in the lineup, but don’t have a stud prospect ready to inject some life. Instead, Terry Collins will turn to his lefty-laden lineup, with six of nine hitters batting from a southpaw stance against Cubs righty Randy Wells.

Mets Lineup:

Nieuwenhuis – Tejada – Wright – Duda – Davis – Hairston – Murphy – Thole – Gee

Small Sample Stache: David Wright carries a 15-game hitting streak into tonight’s game, during which he’s hitting .362 (21-of-58) with six walks, eight runs scored, eight RBI, a homer and five doubles.

Cubs Lineup:

Small Sample Stache: After a hot start, Brian LaHair is hitting just .241/.318./.440 since the end of April.

Pitching Matchup:
NYM: Dillon Gee (5-5, 4.27 ERA, 1.24 WHIP, 83 K) – With the Mets offense struggling, it will be on Gee to turn in another solid performance. It’s something that Gee has done a lot lately. In fact, Dillon has become — dare I say — dependable for the Mets at the back end of the rotation. Since allowing seven runs to the Brewers on May 15, Gee has allowed three runs or fewer in each of his last seven starts.

The most intriguing part of Gee’s pitching this year is that he has managed to lower his walk rate and simultaneously increase his strikeout rate. After posting a 1.61 SO/BB last season, Gee’s strikeout-to-walk ratio stands at 3.32 for 2012 through 14 starts. The Cubs showed a lot of patience against Johan Santana last night and it will be crucial for Gee to locate for Tuesday to be a successful evening.

CHC: Randy Wells (1-2, 4.91 ERA, 1.91 WHIP, 11 K) – Wells continues his transition back to the rotation with his second start in place of injured Ryan Dempster. Tonight will mark Wells’ fourth start this season and none of them have been good. He went just 3.2 innings against the White Sox last week, allowing four runs on five hits and four walks. It was his second start of less than four innings and he hasn’t made it to the sixth yet this year.

Wells has serious control issues, evidenced by his 20 walks in 25.2 innings and a 1.91 WHIP, so after a night where Travis Wood was pouring in strikes, it will be important for the Mets to shy away from being too antsy against Wells. He’ll put runners on if batters remain patient. Tonight marks Wells’ fifth career start against the Mets and he’s allowed just eight runs in 24.2 innings.

Stache Keys to the Game:

  1. WAKE UP! – Last night’s game was an abomination. A dead offense and a lifeless, mostly effortless defense don’t make for a good combination and it’s a certain way to get blown out — even by the worst team in baseball. Maybe it was a lack of rest, maybe it was taking the Cubs for granted or a letdown on a windy night in a lifeless park after three emotionally charged games against the Yankees. Whatever. It can’t happen again tonight.
  2. Make the Routine Play– Perhaps the most disappointing part of last night’s game was that until an inning that saw the team commit three terrible errors — two of the three-base variety — the game was well within reach. But the effort in that inning gave the game to the Cubs. The defense has to be at least adequate for this team to be worth a damn.
  3. Get to the Bottom of It– With Rizzo’s call-up, the Cubs have a pretty stacked lineup up at the top. But the thing falls off a cliff 6-9. Gee can be a little more careful with the middle of the order batters knowing he has some less threatening hitters waiting in the wings.

This Date in Mets History:
Not a very eventful day in the history of the Mets. On June 26, 1983 Rusty Staub tied a major league record with his eighth consecutive pinch hit during a doubleheader against Philly. That’s about it. Maybe Gee add a page to the history books tonight.

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