Two teams within arm's reach of first place in their respective divisions have never looked further apart on paper. But that's to be expected. The $110-million gap between the Yankees and Mets is more than the total payrolls of all but eight teams. How that translates on the field is what we'll see this weekend in the Bronx, where the only numbers that matter will be on the scoreboard.
Mark Teixeira, after his usual slow start, has four home runs and 11 RBIs in the last 12 games entering last night. Ike Davis, batting .161, has not gone deep in a month and the clock is ticking on a Triple-A demotion.
Robinson Cano has not been his MVP-caliber self, but he still is the most lethal bat in the Yankees' lineup. Daniel Murphy's .366 slugging percentage is soft for a middle-of-the-order hitter, and now his glove is failing him, too.
Alex Rodriguez is a more consistent player in the Bronx this season, batting .316 as opposed to .238 on road. David Wright is no longer flirting with .400, but his 1.051 OPS ranks fourth in the majors.
It's Derek Jeter vs. whom? Omar Quintanilla? Jordany Valdespin? Bud Harrelson? Jeter is a future Hall of Famer who just passed George Brett on the all-time hits list. The Mets desperately wish they had Justin Turner.
Russell Martin, hitting .206 entering last night, is not putting up the kind of numbers anyone wants in a contract year. Josh Thole, who missed three weeks with a concussion, is batting .283. Improved defensively, too.
With Brett Gardner still nursing an elbow strain, the Raul Ibañez/Andruw Jones platoon makes up for speed deficiency with more power (14 HRs, 40 RBIs). Jason Bay probably enjoyed the peace and quiet of a six-week DL stint.
Curtis Granderson, coming off a 41-homer, 119-RBI season, is the Yankees' No. 2 hitter. He's on pace for 50/100 this year. Kirk Nieuwenhuis has made Andres Torres a part-time player, but both have been productive.
Nick Swisher, of all people, entered last night's game leading the Yankees with 35 RBIs. Lucas Duda is quietly finding his power stroke, with six of his 10 homers coming in the last two weeks, and he has 35 RBIs.
CC Sabathia will miss Round 1 of the Subway Series, but his fellow starters are much improved, with Hiroki Kuroda, Phil Hughes and Andy Pettitte combining for a 1.16 ERA in their last three outings with four walks and 22 strikeouts in 231/3 innings. Johan Santana, who starts the series opener, is coming off the emotional high of last Friday's epic no-hitter. But how will he be affected by the 134-pitch outing along with the extra rest? Dillon Gee has pitched no fewer than six innings in his last four starts, with a 2.63 ERA, and has held opponents to a .210 batting average during that stretch. Jonathon Niese was forced to leave Sunday's start with a recurrence of a rapid heartbeat, but it was his best to date, with 10 strikeouts in six innings.
No Mariano Rivera is a big break for the Mets, but Rafael Soriano has been up to the task. He entered last night 8-for-8 in save chances since replacing David Robertson, who's still on the DL with a strained oblique. Overall, the Yankees' 2.76 ERA is third in the AL, despite missing their top two relievers. As for the Mets, it's been a struggle lately, with Bobby Parnell and Tim Byrdak emerging as the only reliable options. Otherwise, it's a phone call and a prayer.
The Yankees have serious power threats in Ibañez and Jones, depending on the platoon choice for LF and DH, with Eric Chavez providing pop as well. Depth continues to be a serious issue for the Mets, but Scott Hairston has raked lefthanders, hitting .349 (22-for-63) with seven homers and a .758 slugging percentage against them.
Two contrasting styles that fit their respective situations. Joe Girardi guides the more stoic Yankees with a stable hand, rarely changing the lineup or his demeanor. He famously relies on his statistic-filled black binder. Terry Collins is a good mix for the younger, less experienced Mets: part cheerleader, part father figure. It's helped them defy expectations.
The Yankees, after some early struggles, are looking like the AL East favorite again by winning 10 of 13 entering last night. It's not great timing for the Mets, who arrive in the Bronx with a potentially tired Santana, a suspect bullpen and a slumping defense. If the Mets don't steal Friday night's opener, Round 1 shapes up to be a Yankees' sweep.