Upon Review 2017 Will Be Different Than 2016
For a Mets team that brought in no new players this offseason, it is quite fitting this team picked right up where they left off last season. For those that forgot, and how could you, Noah Syndergaard was dominant, and the Mets couldn’t get that big hit off the other team’s ace.
Today, Syndergaard was dominant. His final line was six innings, five hits, no runs, none earned, no walks, and seven strikeouts. Basically, he was just as dominant as he was in his last game only he pitched one less inning. He pitched one less inning as he had to depart with a blister on his pitching thumb. Again, the Mets are picking up where they left off last year.
Overall, Syndergaard was up to his old tricks. Fastballs at 99 MPH. Change-ups and sliders between 90 – 94 MPH. Hitters frustrated and overmatched. The real surprise is that he had to get out of two separate jams. In the fourth, he worked around a one out triple off the bat of Freddie Freeman (ball was played terribly by Jay Bruce in right) by striking out Matt Kemp and Nick Markakis.
In the sixth, Syndergaard had runners at the corners with one out. Again, he struck out Kemp by keeping the ball low in the zone. He then induced a harmless fly ball off the bat of Markakis to end the inning.
Offensively, the Mets struggled against Julio Teheran. While Teheran was 7-10 last year, he is a terrific pitcher whose record really was hindered by a lack of run support. In addition to the 7-10 record, Teheran had a 3.21 ERA, 1.053 WHIP, 129 ERA+, and an 8.0 K/9. Against the Mets last year, he was 2-0 with a 0.90 ERA, 0.600 WHIP, and a 5.4 K/9 in four starts. Struggling against him is certainly no red flag.
And yet, if you are a pessimistic Mets fan, you saw some troubling signs. The team did rack up six strikeouts in six innings. There were seven left on base, and the team was 0-3 with RISP. The main culprit there was Lucas Duda who twice came up with a chance to knock in a run and both times he came up short.
With Syndergaard leaving with a blister and Teheran leaving due to his pitch count, the game became a battle of the bullpens. Fortunately, the Mets, even without the suspended Jeurys Familia have a terrific bullpen. Hansel Robles added a slight hesitation in his delivery to go with the quick pitch, and he mowed down the Braves in the seventh.
The deja vu would end in the seventh. With Ian Krol allowing a lead-off hit to Rene Rivera, Wilmer Flores hit into a fielder’s choice, and he stole second off Tyler Flowers. After Jose Reyes walked, Asdrubal Cabrera lined a single up the middle, and Flores was sent home. Center fielder Ender Inciarte nailed Flores at the plate.
Or did he?
Upon replay, it shows Flores just got his foot in front of the tag from the way too far behind home plate Flowers. With that, the Mets got the lead and momentum. After Yoenis Cespedes walked to load the bases, Curtis Granderson hit a sacrifice fly off former Met Eric O’Flaherty to make it a 2-0 lead. He then walked Neil Walker and Jay Bruce back-to-back to force in a run to make it 3-0.
While Bruce had a misplay in right field, it was a very encouraging day for him. On the day, he had four good at-bats going 0-1 with three walks and an RBI. He looked more patient at the plate and more willing to take a walk. If he continues this for the full season, its going to be a huge year for him.
After the Bruce walk, Duda finally got a hit with runners in scoring position with a bases clearing double off of O’Flaherty.
— New York Mets (@Mets) April 3, 2017
O’Flaherty’s work in the seventh inning was the most he has done to help the Mets than all he had done for them in 2015. His final line was 0.1 innings, one hit, two runs, two earned, three walks, and no strikeouts. For Mets fans, it was nice being on the other side of an O’Flaherty outing.
In the fateful seventh, the Mets sent 11 batters to the plate, and the team scored six runs on three hits, five walks, and a sacrifice fly. Basically, this Mets team featuring a number of smart veteran hitters feasted on a poor bullpen. With the six run seventh, Robles would be the winning pitcher.
Cabrera was easily the best Mets player on the day . . . well, Mets player not named Noah Syndergaard. He went 3-4 with an RBI and a stolen base. It was a refreshing change of pace from the Cabrera who seemingly went the first half of the 2016 season without a hit with RISP.
Cabreras wasn’t the only one in midseason form. Gary, Keith, and Ron were great today including them honoring the late Bill Webb. Keith Hernandez told a terrific story about how Webb used to get Keith fined $100 by filming him smoking in the first base tunnel. Keith deadpanned about how all Mets fans knew he used to smoke.
Overall, this was about as good a start to the 2017 season as you reasonably could have asked for. While you were obviously concerned about Syndergaard leaving the game with a blister, you had to be encouraged by Robert Gsellman entering the game in the ninth because Gsellman would be the guy to start in Syndergaard’s place should there be an issue serious enough to cause him to need to miss a start.
After Gsellman’s scoreless ninth, the Mets are 1-0 and in first place where we expect them to be after Game 162. The win also improves the team’s MLB best Opening Day record, which is now 35-21.
Game Notes: Mets fans complain about d’Arnaud, but Flowers is much worse. Both Cabrera and Flores were able to steal bases off of him. In his first Opening Day with the Mets since 2011, Jose Reyes was 0-3 with a run, walk, and two strikeouts. Reyes also became the first Met since Ty Wigginton to be the Mets Opening Day third baseman other than David Wright. Travis d’Arnaud entered the game in the sixth inning as a pinch runner for Rivera. This marks the first season without Bill Webb as director of the Mets games.