Mets fans might be focusing their attention on starting pitcher John Maine tonight at Colorado, but Mets hitters will be zeroing in on Rockies lefty starter Greg Smith. In his first start this season, Smith lasted only five innings and gave up five earned runs in a losing decision at Milwaukee.
That's typical in Smith's young career for a pitcher whose numbers haven't matched his potential yet. Coming off elbow surgery and back problems that caused him to miss all of last season, Smith put up a 1.80 ERA in Cactus League play to make the Rockies' major league roster. It appeared he would be asked to move to the bullpen, but Smith began the season in the starting rotation after Jeff Francis was placed on the DL with a sore shoulder.
Smith hurt himself against the Brewers by allowing two home runs, one of which came after a third-strike foul tip was dropped. It's that kind of thing that has troubled Smith so far. In 2008, he pitched 190.1 innings for Oakland with a relatively respectable 4.16 ERA, both figures that placed him in the top 25 in the American League. But his won-loss record was 7-16, suggesting he didn't always come through in big spots.
If they're going to get to Smith tonight, the Mets have to do what the Brewers did and that's hit with men on base. That has been a weakness for the Mets who are batting .189 (10 for 53) with runners in scoring position through the first six games.