20/20 Hindsight: Mets Giving It All They Have
The Mets have swept the Arizona Diamondbacks, and once again they are back in the thick of the Wild Card race after having played their way out of it. This has been one of the most mercurial seasons in team history setting forth what should be a fun emotional roller coaster ride over the final 16 games.
1. If you want to get off to a great start, there is no better way to accomplish that than starting with Jacob deGrom. He proved that by going seven innings of shut out ball. When you follow that up with Seth Lugo for two innings, there is no team in baseball that has a chance.
2. To put into perspective how incredible deGrom’s season was last year, he may be the leader in the clubhouse for the 2019 National League Cy Young award, and his ERA this year is a full run higher than it was last year.
3. In terms of this year’s Cy Young Award, tonight will be the second time over his last three starts where he faces off against another Cy Young leader. He pitched better than Max Scherzer the last time out, and this time he is facing off against Hyun-Jin Ryu, who has not been the same pitcher he was in the first half.
4. It is not just deGrom who is pitching great for the Mets lately. Zack Wheeler has three straight starts of 7.0 innings and just one earned. It might’ve taken a little more time than expected, but second half Wheeler finally arrived, and it could not have happened at a better time.
5. As good as deGrom and Wheeler are going, that is nothing compared to Steven Matz at Citi Field. This year, he is 7-1 with a 1.94 ERA at home. This is part of his pitching very well in the second half with a 2.52 ERA limiting opposing batters to a .227/.281/.364 batting line.
6. Then Marcus Stroman followed this trio with his best start in a Mets uniform. With him keeping the ball on the ground, you got a glimpse on just the pitcher the Mets thought they were going to get when they traded for him.
7. On Stroman, you see the impact a catcher can have on a pitcher. With the Blue Jays, Stroman had a 44.2 GB%, but when Wilson Ramos was catching him, it went down to 44.2 percent. Yesterday, the Diamondbacks only got the ball in the air 40.7 percent of the time.
8. This is another reason why we should note Noah Syndergaard‘s objections over Ramos are fact based. Even if it’s not, there is clearly a psychological impact upon him. Really, if the Mets are interested in winning, they would pair Syndergaard up with Tomas Nido or Rene Rivera.
9. What was surprising was seeing Nido homer yesterday. That wasn’t as surprising as Juan Lagares having a two home run game. We had Gary Cohen’s voice cracking as evidence of that. It was a great moment for Lagares who has been a good Met likely playing his final games in a Mets uniform.
10. Homers were a theme in this series with the Mets setting a team record hitting five homers in two straight games. They also set team records for homers at home in a season (114) and homers in a series (13). What is really surprising about this stretch is while everyone went homer happy, Pete Alonso didn’t hit one over the final two games.
11. Alonso is struggling now in an 0-for-12 stretch with seven strikeouts. Things must be getting to him as he took time to go into the clubhouse and shave his mustache mid-game. Unfortunately, it didn’t work, and it may get worse with the Dodgers coming into town with Ryu, Clayton Kershaw, and Walker Buehler.
12. Of course, it was not all bad news with Alonso. He had a two home run game to surge to the Major League home run lead. However, that was nothing compared to his getting first responder cleats for the entire team. That was an incredible move which not only shows character, but it also shows he gets it.
13. The fact Alonso was forced to go that route is because yet again Major League Baseball refused to permit the Mets to wear the first responder caps. They did it while touting Sammy Sosa running with the American flag, and Mike Piazza hitting that homer.
14. They also sell special 9/11 patched caps. That’s Major League Baseball for you. They won’t let players do the right thing because it would interfere with their ability to profit off of a tragedy were many Americans lost their lives, and they continue to do suffering from 9/11 related illnesses.
15. It was not only special to see all the Mets wearing them, but specifically the local Mets like Matz, Stroman, Todd Frazier, Rajai Davis, Joe Panik, and Brad Brach. On that note, Matz pitched six shutout innings, and Frazier would homer wearing those cleats.
16. Matz wearing them was reminiscent of John Franco wearing an FDNY cap in the Mets first game post 9/11. With respect to Matz, he has undertaken charitable work to help those first responders, and due to his efforts he has been a Roberto Clemente Award nominee for the second straight year.
17. On Frazier, he his red hot right now. He has hit three homers over two straight games, and he is playing his usual good defense at third. He is getting hot just at the right time because the Mets need their absolute best from everyone right now.
18. That is something which has made this Mets team really special. They are all giving what they could give. Robinson Cano is playing as much as his leg would allow, and based upon what we heard from Mickey Callaway, J.D. Davis is doing the same. Brandon Nimmo has returned from a potentially season ending injury to play great. Brach is dealing with a shoulder injury, and Justin Wilson has an elbow issue. Right now, everyone is giving this team what they can. That deserves the fans’ love and admiration.
19. We’re also seeing players doing all they can to come back. Dominic Smith is hitting off a tee and running. Robert Gsellman is throwing on the side. They are both doing this despite both having suffered what really was season ending injuries. Again, say what you will about this team, but this is a special group of players.
20. The 1999 Mets overcame a two game deficit over the final three games of the season to force a one game playoff. This team has 16 games. Anything is possible.