Harvey for the Win

Its fitting that Matt Harvey is taking the mound today with the Mets having an opportunity to clinch a playoff spot. His absence last year was presumed to be a reason why the Mets didn’t go all out last year to try to get into the playoffs. 

With Harvey healthy, along with the emergence of Jacob deGrom last year and Noah Syndergaard this year, the Mets will be going to the playoffs. No matter what you think of Harvey, and how everything has gone down, you can’t deny the wonderful season he’s had. 

In his first post-Tommy John season, he’s gone 12-7 with a 2.80 ERA, 171 strikeouts (8.7 per nine), and a 1.019 WHIP in 176.2 innings. Keep in mind that today he’s going over 180 with a other start in the season before the playoffs. If the Mets go to the World Series, he may very well go over the 200-215 “loose cap” Sandy Alderdon wanted. 

In any event, Harvey gave the Mets their first glimmer of hope in 2013. His absence was a dark cloud over the 2014 season. His return was a big part of the 2015 turn around. After last year, he promised the playoffs to Terry Collins:

Harvey can now make good on that promise today. With his hard work and dedication, Harvey has earned this. There’s no one I would rather have on that mound to start the game. 

Lets Go Mets!

My Cy Young Ballot

When I cast my vote for the Cy Young Award, I have one criteria and one criteria only; I will vote for the best pitcher. The hard part is how to determine who the best pitcher is. 

I’m old enough to learn not to put too much weight into win-loss record, but I’ll be honest with you. There’s a traditionalist part of me that would have a hard time completely discounting it. I think k the main reason is I’ve seen enough Jon Niese starts to see a pitcher meltdown can lead to a loss even if his stat line looks good. However, I’ll put so little weight on this you shouldn’t worry. 

My father raised me to look at ERA because back then it was more indicative of a pitcher’s talent. However, it is now 2015, and there are so many stats, and combination of stats, to look at that ERA now seems like it’s arcane. Personally, I like FIP as a substitute. 

There’s other stats I like as well like BABIPhard hit rate, and LOB%. However, I won’t focus on any one stat over another. I will however focus more on starters than relievers because starters have a much greater impact than relievers. It doesn’t mean I’ll never vote for a reliever. It just means that reliever better be doing something special. 

Overall, my goal is to vote for the person I think had the best year. This is the person you would want starting Game One of the World Series. 

Mets Magic Number is 1

It was not that long ago that the Mets had no hope. It was not that long ago the Mets looked like they would never compete with the Nationals. It was not that long ago the Mets sought discounts to help them improve their offense. This was all last year when the Mets had Magic Number 1 Chris Young:

  
The Mets signed Young hoping he could reclimate his career. With the Mets, Young would hit .205/.283/.346. It was a continuation of his decline. It would only be 88 games before the Mets would release him. At that point, the Mets were in fourth place at 58-65. After his release, the Mets would slightly improve, but they would finish 79-83

Because life isn’t fair, Young went to the Yankees and hit .282/.354/.521. This was the type of season the Mets were hoping that Young would produce for them. Young re-signed with the Yankees, and he appears to be heading to the playoffs. However, so are the Mets. 

With Matt Harvey getting healthy, the Mets signed Michael Cuddyer because they thought they could win. When that didn’t work, they traded for Yoenis Cespedes. The Mets finally had hope this year, and they went for it.

It was not that long ago there was no hope. It was as soon as a year ago. Now the Mets are on the verge of the playoffs where the worst case scenario is a tie atop the division. Long gone are the days of no hope and discount players. 

So with that let’s offer a tip of the cap to Magic Number 1 Chris Young. Whe you’re holding those caps up, wave goodbye to the tough times. 

Syndergaard Thortured the Reds

Well so much for the narrative that Noah Syndergaard can’t pitch on the road. He was so great tonight Keith was wondering if Thor was the best Mets pitcher. 

Thor was consistently around 98 MPH. Not topping off at 98, consistently at 98. His final line was 7.2 innings, 5 hits, 2 ER, 0 BB, and 11 Ks. Thor wasn’t touched until the seventh and after his 100th pitch. 

Offensively, Lucas Duda was awesome. He went 2-4 with two three run homeruns. The second homerun landed at the same Louisville Slugger facility where his bat was made. 

Curtis Granderson added his own three run homerun in the eighth to make the score 12-0. Granderson finished the night 2-5 with a double, the aforementioned homer, 2 runs, and 4 RBIs. Overall, the Mets offense had a second straight great night. Daniel Murphy went 2-4 with an RBI double and a run scored. 

The only starters without a hit was the red hot Ruben Tejada and the ice cold Travis d’Arnaud. In fact, they were the only starters without a multiple hit game, Thor included. 

Tonight would’ve been a laugher except for Juan Uribe seemingly reinjuring himself. He was pinch hitting for David Wright, which was the right move. However, with these expanded rosters and a 12-0 score, it should’ve been Eric Campbell, who wound up finishing the at bat. Honestly, I don’t know why the Mets did it. 

It was almost a laugher too because Eric O’Flaherty and Bobby Parnell had trouble getting the last out in the eighth.  When Thor left the game, it was 12-1 with a runner on. By the time Parnell finally got the last out it was 12-4. Tim Stauffer gave up a ninth inning homerun and could t get the last out. This trio was so bad that Hansel Robles had to come into the game to end the nonsense and finally secure the 12-5 win. 

With the Mets winning and the Nationals losing, the Mets can clinch tomorrow with Matt Harvey on the mound. It just seems fitting, doesn’t it?  

Daniel Murphy Fan Club

Here’s Murphy’s #1 Fan:

  

Wilmer Flores

Now batting for the New York Mets, the shortstop, Wilmer Flores!

Announcing the Mets Lineup

I’m a traditionalist when it comes to baseball. However, I’m not against making things more fun for the crowd. I though about this with the Mets contest allowing you to announce the Mets lineup:

All MLB stadiums follow the same general pattern. They dutifully announce the players in the mold of Bob Sheppard:

There’s nothing wrong with this.  It’s a workman like job. However, I’d love to see some emotion in the announcement like the NBA:

Sorry for the Bulls reference there fellow Knicks fans, but that intro is a classic that proves the point I’m trying to make. The announcer has emotion in calling the names. It sends the crowd into another octave. The place is going berserk before the game. 

Do I want this for a random weekday June game?  No, that’s out of place. However, it would boost the electricity for a playoff game. During a rally would you rather hear, “Now batting for the New York Mets, the third baseman, David Wright” or “NOW BATTING FOR THE NEW YORK METS, THE CAPTAIN, DA-VID WRIIIIIIGHT!”

Which one gets the crowd going more?  I don’t care if it’s deemed artificial. Is it any more artificial than the “Make Some Noise” sign on the scoreboard with the noise meter?  I’d argue no. In fact, I think it’s better because you’re capturing the emotion in the stadium, not trying to create it. 

I know the Mets won’t follow my suggestion, but I hope they will. If they don’t, I know Citi Field will be going plenty crazy this October. 

Michael Cuddyer Deserves Our Respect

In many ways, this year could not have gone worse for Michael Cuddyer. His deal with the Mets was widely panned. He got off to a terrible start. He then got injured. Basically, he was a Mets free agent acquisition. 

With the emergence of Michael Conforto and the Yoenis Cespedes trade, Cuddyer’s role diminished. He became a pinch hitter and a platoon player spelling Conforto and Lucas Duda. It was quite the fall from grace for a player who was once considered the Mets key offensive acquisition. The only question remaining would be how Cuddyer would respond. 

In the second half, he’s hit .350/.404/.525. As a pinch hitter, he’s hit .333/.381/.333. He’s hitting .284/.370/.358 against lefties. Basically, he’s accepted his role, and he’s excelled. It’s a good thing too because the Mets are going to need him in the NLDS with the Dodgers throwing Clayton KershawAlex Wood, and Brett Anderson

Cuddyer said he came to the Mets to win. It’s one thing to say it. It’s another to do everything you can for a team to help them win, even if it means making the most out of a diminished role. We’ve seen most players go the other way when these things happen. Not Cuddyer. He turned things around, and he’s s key part of this team. 

For that, he deserves our respect. 

Time for Robles to Make a Quick Adjustment

There are a number of stages to a player’s career. The first is when you’re called up and you’re learning. The second is when the league finds out more about you and adjusts. The most important is how that player responds. 

It seems we’re at the response stage for Hansel Robles and his quick pitch. The league seems to have adjusted to the quick pitch with incessant whining causing the umpires to have to intervene. Usually, the umpire would call it a no pitch, but for the first time yesterday, the umpire ruled the pitch to be a ball. Under the rules, the umpire has that right. 

The issue then becomes what exactly is a quick pitch?  Reading the MLB rules is like reading any modern statute. It’s needlessly long and open to interpretation. I can best sum it up as a quick pitch is a pitch made when it is purposefully made when the pitcher knows the batter isn’t ready. Talk about open to interpretation.

In theory, the hold plate umpire is supposed to hold time until the batter is set in the box. Once the umpire let’s gameplay resume, the pitcher should then be able to throw a pitch. Therein lies the problem. Each time Robles has been called for a quick pitch, time was in. The umpire already judged the batter to be ready. Therefore, how could that same umpire call a ball?  He’s already determined the batter ready, so how could that same batter be “off guard?”

Batters don’t like being rushed, so they’ll do anything to slow the game down. The best tactic they have at their disposal is whining. They’re doing it now with Robles, and they’re succeeding. I’m glad Collins argued last night. There needs to be a clear bright-line rule. The Mets need to get a conference call with MLB and the umpires to figure it out.

Absent that, Robles should keep doing what he does best, which is quick pitch. He just needs to be cognizant not to do it with three balls in the count so as not to award a walk. If he does quick pitch again, and it’s called a ball, he needs to collect himself better than he did last night. That’s the real adjustment needed. 

He’s an important part of this bullpen in the playoffs, so he better figure it out quickly. 

Mets Don’t Want Homefield Advantage in the NLDS

Terry Collins is 100% correct that you worry about getting to the playoffs, and then you let the chips fall where they may. I know I’m in the minority on this, but I don’t want the Mets fighting for homefield in the NLDS. 

The first reason is the rotation. We may not know who the fourth starter is, but we do know that Jacob deGromMatt Harvey, and Noah Syndergaard will get starts. We also know Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke will start Games 1 & 2. With Syndergaard’s home/road splits, I don’t want the Mets to have a reason to start Thor in Game 2 to keep him at Citi Field over Harvey. I like the idea of coming home and having a huge edge in the pitching matchup with Thor at home. 

The second reason is the Mets offense. Kershaw and Greinke are hard enough to hit. I know the Mets will be hitting in the shadows at Dodger Stadium, but the Mets hitters are better on the road. Yoenis Cespedes hits .220/.283/.484 at Citi Field. Daniel Murphy is hitting .256/.296/.429. Curtis Granderson is hitting .236/.331/.415 (although his Dodger Stadium numbers are similar). Travis d’Arnaud is .252/.320/.461. The Mets offense travels better. Let the have a better shot at getting going early in the playoffs than struggle at home. 

The final and most important reason is the importance of Games 3 & 4. The Mets would be coming home either down 0-2, tied 1-1, or up 2-0. If you’re down 0-2, there’s no place you’d rather be at home to stave off elimination. You’d also rather be home tied so you have a shot to go up 2-1 in front of a rabid fan base. If the Mets come home up 2-0, after beating Kershaw and Greinke, series over. 

Therefore, I don’t think homefield advantage is something you don’t want to get. Just get the team healthy and ready for the NLDS.