Game Two Pitching Matchup

Yesterdsy, I looked at how the Mets fared against Clayton Kershaw. Game Two promises to have its own pitcher’s duel between Zack Greinke and Noah Syndergaard

That means if the Mets want/need to win Game Two, they will need to get some runs off of Greinke or get into the Dodgers bullpen. With that said, here’s how the Mets have fared against Greinke:

Starting Lineup

Curtis Granderson 10-52 with 2 doubles, 2 triples, 1 HR, 3 RBIs, and 11 Ks

David Wright 3-9 with 1 double and 2 Ks

Daniel Murphy 4-13 with 2 BBs and 1 K

Yoenis Cespedes 1-5 with 1 BB and 1 K

Lucas Duda 3-12 with 1 HR, 1 RBI, 2 BBs, and 4 Ks

Travis d’Arnaud 0-0

Michael Conforto 0-2 with 1 RBI and 1 K

Ruben Tejada 0-6 with 1 K

Combined 21-99 (.212 BA) with 5 BBs (.274 OBP), 3 doubles, 2 triples, 2 HRs (.343 slugging), 5 RBIs, and 21 Ks

Bench

Kevin Plawecki 2-6 with 1 double and 1 K
Wilmer Flores 3-8 with 1 K

Kelly Johnson 0-9

Michael Cuddyer 10-40 with 1 double, 1 HR, 7 RBIs, 2 BBs, 10 Ks

Juan Lagares 1-8 with 1 HR, 3 RBIs, and 1 K

Kirk Nieuwenhuis 1-5 with 1 K

Combined 17-76 (.224) with 2 BBs (.244 OBP), 2 doubles, 2 HRs (.329 slugging), 10 RBIs, and 14 Ks

Team Totals 38-175 (.217 BA) with 7 BBs (.241), 5 doubles, 2 triples, 4 HRS (.337 slugging), 15 RBIs, and 35 Ks

Obviously, the .215/.241/.337 line indicates the Mets don’t hit Greinke well, but then again who does?  Greinke has limited batters to .187/.231/.276 this year. So, the Mets do hit Greinke than the league as a whole. 

This goes especially for the top of the Mets lineup. Granderson, Wright, and Murphy have historically hit Greinke very well. If the Mets want to score runs, it’s going to have to start at the top. 

As far as Syndergaard goes, he’s only faced the Dodgers once, and it was at Dodger Stadium. In that game, he pitched six innings allowing two hits, one earned, two walks, and six strikeouts. He got a no decision, but the Mets went on to a 2-1 win. That game was against Kershaw. 

Thor is certainly capable of repeating that performance. In his last four starts, he’s had a 2.93 ERA, a 0.651 WHIP, and a 12.0 K/9.  In this stretch, he’s limited opposing hitters to .163/.188/.337. He’s the key to everything. He’s primed for this playoff run. 

It’s strange to say I’m confident the Mets can pull a game out against Greinke, but Thor gives me that confidence. I can’t wait for him to take the mound Saturday night. 

Matz or Gilmartin

The Mets seem close to setting the NLDS roster (my projections were on point), but there is still one major decision left. The Mets need to decide if they want to put Steven Matz or Sean Gilmartin on the roster. It’s a major decision. 

In essence, the Mets are deciding between the pitcher they want to start Game Four and the last man in the bullpen. In reality, they hope that Matz doesn’t have to pitch (sweep), but they really don’t want Gilmartin pitching (starter knocked out early). Gilmartin flew to LA, and Matz flew to Florida. If Matz has a successful bullpen, he will be added to the roster. If not, it’s Gilmartin’s job. 

Personally, I would go with Gilmartin regardless. Matz has proven to be injury prone, and his back injury had lingered. If he sleeps on it wrong again, he’s out until the World Series. There are other more practical reasons why I would prefer Gilmartin.

First, if the Mets are down 2-1 in the series, I want to see Jacob deGrom on short rest, as was previously suggested by Kevin Kernan of the New York Post, over the Mets other options whether that pitcher be Matz or Bartolo Colon. If I’m going down, I’m going down with my best. This year it was deGrom. Noah Syndergaard can then start Game Five on normal rest. 
Second, the Mets are carrying Colon and Jon Niese on the roster. That’s two starters in the bullpen. If your best shot of winning this series is going with the stud muffins, then Matz serves no purpose on the team. He’s had zero bullpen experience. With that said, if the Mets feel an extra reliever is needed, they should carry the guy who is actually a reliever. Gilmartin has been used in a myriad of ways. He’s the more valuable bullpen piece, even with the reverse splits. 

Finally, Matz hasn’t pitched since September 24th, which will be 19 days between appearances. He’s going to be rusty. You don’t want a rusty pitcher pitching in a do-or-die game. Matz may be the Mets 4th best starter when healthy, but he hasn’t been. I think he can shake off the rust, but it’s only a guess. If you’re guessing at this time of the year, you’re tealky just gambling. You don’t gamble with Game Four. 

I’d send Matz to Florida to join the taxi squad. If the Mets advance, you’ll have a much better idea if he’s capable of starting a game. If he is, put him on the NLCS roster. If he’s not, you can stick with Gilmartin, who is accustomed to sitting for stretches at a time. 

I realize the Mets will go with Matz if they can. I just don’t think it’s the right time. I think his time is the NLCS. It’s Gilmartin’s time now. 

It’s Nice Having Ronnie Back in Our Lives

Somewhere, someday, someone is going to give me a rationale explanation why Tim McCarver was succeeded by Harold Reynolds and Tom Verducci. If we went according to who was actually best qualified to do the job, it should’ve gone to Rob Darling. 

Instead, he’s stuck in a three man booth. I’m not referring to the Gary, Keith, and Ron booth. That booth is the best announcing in baseball. I’m referring to the booth Darling shares with Ernie Johnson and Cal Ripken, Jr.  Now, I will never say a bad word about Ernie Johnson after watching this:

However, I will say Ripken is terrible. Darling is being a pro. He’s breaking down the HBP. He’s discussing how it takes one hothead like Sean Rodriguez to get the brawl going. He discusses the history of the teams and how Jake Arrieta hit two batters. Ripken’s response was he wasn’t listening because he was trying to read lips. He had nothing to report on what he read. 

In any event, Darling’s going to Los Angeles to be part of the NLDS broadcast team. I’m excited he’s there because he’s the best color analyst in baseball. I’m excited because he’s a Met. I’m hoping Ripken will take a backseat to let not only the better analyst speak more, but also to let the more informed analyst speak more.  

Anyway, I’ve been dying for Mets baseball since Sunday night. Hearing Darling’s voice tonight helped scratch that itch a little. He was terrific as usual. I know he’ll be terrific during the NLDS. I hope Darling gets a chance to shine in front of what might be the largest audiences he will have as a broadcaster. 

More importantly, I hope the Mets win the NLDS. 

Salute to Fans

For the first time in seven years, I’m excited about the Mets in October. It used to be the Mets were home, and I had to wait and wait for Rangers hockey. This year, to my surprise, tonight is Opening Night in the NHL.

One of my favorite Rangers traditions, albeit a relatively new one, is the team salute to the fans after a win: 

  
It’s a tradition I wish the Mets and MLB as a whole would adopt. It was great to see the Mets do it on the last game of the season:


I just wish they did it after every win. It would be great if after they do the handshake line after a win, the team would face the crowd and tip their caps to the crowd.  It’s not a complaint. It’s only a suggestion. 

In any event, I’m excited for another Rangers season. Anytime they have Henrik Lundqvist in between the pipes, they are a contender to win the Stanley Cup. However, I can wait until November to get excited. 

There’s another championship run I’m more interested in now. Lets Go Mets!

Why I’m Rooting for the Cubs Tonight

I know I shouldn’t be looking ahead to the NLCS, but the Wild Card Game between the Cubs and Pirates is tonight. Also, the Mets still don’t play for another two days. 

Despite the horrors of the 1988 NLCS, I don’t want to see the Cubs or the Pirates in the NLCS. I’d prefer the Cardinals, who will either be without Yadier Molina or will have a hobbled version of him. Furthermore, the Cardinals will also be without Carlos Martinez. I also believe Mike Matheny is not in the same league as Joe Maddon or Clint Hurdle as a manger. By the way, the Mets were also able to actually win a game against the Cardinals. 

Overall, the Mets went a combined 0-13 against the Cubs and Pirates. The Mets at least went 3-4 against the Cardinals. However, the Pirates were the only team to play the post-Yoenis Cespedes trade Mets. In that series at Citi Field, the Pirates swept the Mets. The main difference in that series was the dominant Pirates bullpen. It’s a buzz saw I don’t want to see the Mets walk into again. 

So with that said, I’m hoping the Cubs take care of the Pirates tonight. If not, I hope the Cardinals do. If it’s then up to the Mets, I like having to face the challenge because the Mets will have advanced to the NLCS and will have homefield advantage. 

With that said, I still hope the Cubs win tonight. 

Bullpen Advantage

Everyone is expecting great starting pitching in the NLDS. As seen earlier today, Jacob deGrom is as good against the Dodgers as Clayton Kershaw has been against the Mets. Potentially, this means the starting pitching will cancel each other out creating a battle of the bullpens. 

Working backwards (using ESPN’s depth chart) the Mets and Dodgers each have terrific closers: 

Jeurys Familia 2-2, 43 saves, 1.85 ERA, 1.000 WHIP, 9.9 K/9 (.207/.261/.309)

Kenley Jansen 2-1, 36 saves, 2.41 ERA, 0.783 WHIP, 13.8 K/9 (.176/.215/.298)

However, after that, the Mets have the better set-up men (note these numbers are the numbers with the team only):

Addison Reed 1-1, 1 save, 1.17 ERA, 1.043 WHIP, 10.0 K/9 (.200/.267/.273)

Tyler Clippard 4-1, 2 saves, 3.06 ERA, 1.052 WHIP, 7.2 K/9 (.200/.287/.336)

Jim Johnson 0-3, 1 save, 10.13 ERA, 2.036 WHIP, 8.2 K/9 (.381/.422/.524)

Carlos Frias 5-5, 4.06 ERA, 1.468 WHIP, 5.0 K/9 (.297/.356/.405)

This is a major advantage. If the Mets can stop the game from getting from the starter to Jansen, they can put runs on the board. However, according to Baseball Reference, the Dodgers have reshuffled their bullpen:

Juan Nicasio 1-3, 1 save, 3.86 ERA, 1.560 WHIP, 10.0 K/9 (.263/.358/.384)

Yimi Garcia 3-5, 1 save, 3.34 ERA, 0.953 WHIP, 10.8 K/9 (.209/.249/.346)

Pedro Baez 4-2, 3.35 ERA, 1.137 WHIP, 10.6 K/9 (.247/.288/.405)

These are much better, but hittable right handed pitchers. The Dodgers only have one left handed reliever right now, J.P. Howell, which means Terry Collins will get to pick and choose his spots with Michael ConfortoKelly Johnson, and Kirk Nieuwenhuis. The Mets have a major matchup advantages in the late innings. 

The bullpen disparity and Mets roster construction is the biggest reason I believe the Mets can and will win this series. 

Update: Johnson is not on the roster. 

Dodgers Against deGrom

Earlier today, I covered how the Mets have fared against Clayton Kershaw. In Game One, Kershaw is going up against Jacob deGrom, and we’re expecting a pitcher’s duel. 

From the earliest post, we learned that while Kershaw has dominated the Mets, like he does every other team, the Mets have fared better against him than the average team. Here’s how the Dodgers have fared against deGrom:

Starting Lineup

Carl Crawford 0-3 with 2 BBs and 1 K
Howie Kendrick 0-3 with 1 K

Adrian Gonzalez 3-8 with 2 HRs, 5 RBIs, 1 BB, and 3 Ks
Yasiel Puig 1-6 with 1 HR, 1 RBI, and 3 Ks
Andre Ethier 2-6 with 1 triple and 1 K
Corey Seager 0-0
Justin Turner 0-5 with 1 K

Yasmani Grandal 0-3 with 1 K
Combined 6-38 (.158 BA) with 2 BBs (.200 OBP) with one triple, three HRs (.447 slugging), 6 RBIs, and 12 Ks

Bench

A.J. Ellis 0-2 with 2 BBs
Jimmy Rollins 1-8 with 1 BB and 2 Ks
Chase Utley 3-10 with 2 BBs and 1 K
Enrique Hernandez 0-0
Joc Pederson 0-3

Ronald Torreyes 0-0
Combined 4-23 (.174 BA) with 5 BBs (.321 OBP), no extra base hits (.174 slugging), and 3 Ks

Team Totals 10-61 (.164 BA) with 7 BBs (.250 OBP), 1 triple, 3 HRs (.344 slugging), 6 RBIs, and 15 Ks

So overall, the Dodgers have not hit deGrom well with the exception of Gonzalez, Ethier, and Utley. It also seems that when the Dodgers get to deGrom, they hit him hard. As long as deGrom can keep the ball in the ballpark, the Dodgers are going to really struggle to score runs. 

deGrom was amazing this season. He was the Mets ace. He’s shown he’s unhurt able when he’s amped up. He’s limited hitters to .215/.255/.318. He’s primed and ready to hold up his end of the bargain in an anticipated Game One pitcher’s duel. 

Against Kershaw, you normally do not have much hope. The Mets will because their pitcher is just as deGrominant. 

Mets Against Kershaw

This series comes down to the Mets stud muffins against Zack Greinke and Clayton Kershaw. There could be a lot of 2-1 and 1-0 games. After Kershaw’s last game against the Mets, it’s hard to believe they can even hit him. 

However, that game was in July. The Mets clean-up hitter was John Mayberry, Jr.  Since that time, the Mets have added Yoenis CespedesTravis d’Arnaud, and David Wright to the lineup.  Here’s how the current Mets lineup has fared against Kershaw: 

Starting Lineup 

Curtis Granderson 1-10, 1 BB, 1 K

David Wright 3-14, 1 double, 1 RBI, 4 BB, 2 Ks

Daniel Murphy 3-10 with an RBI

Yoenis Cespedes 0-3

Michael Cuddyer 4-16 with 2 RBIs and 3 Ks
Lucas Duda 1-10 with 1 BB and 7 Ks
Travis d’Arnaud 0-0
Ruben Tejada 5-14 with 3 BBs and 3 Ks
Combined 17-77 (.220 BA) with 9 BBs (.302 OBP), one double (.234 slugging), 4 RBIs, and 16 Ks

Bench

Wilmer Flores 3-6 with 1 RBI and 1 K
Kelly Johnson 3-15 with 1 HR, 2 RBIs and 5 Ks
Michael Conforto 0-0
Juan Lagares 0-7 with 1 K
Kirk Nieuwenhuis 0-0
Kevin Plawecki 0-3 with 1 K
Combined 6-31 (.194 BA & OBP) with a HR (.290 slugging), 3 RBIs, and 7 Ks

Team Totals 23-108 (.213 BA) with 9 BBs (.274 OBP), 1 double, 1 HR (.250 slugging), 7 RBIs, and 23 Ks. 

This season Kershaw allowed batters to hit .194/.237/.284. Therefore, arguably, the Mets as a team have hit Kershaw better than the rest of the league.  However, the truth really is Kershaw has dominated the Mets. 

Looking over the numbers, the Mets would be best served by sitting Duda, moving Murphy to 1B, and letting Flores play 2B. I’m not sure the Mets will do that. They se inclined to put Duda out there. 

This leaves the Mets hoping they can work the count to get to an awful Dodgers bullpen. The other Hope is Kershaw reverts to being a bad playoff pitcher. Kershaw is 1-5 with a 5.12 ERA and a 1.235 WHIP. 

Either way, the Mets have as good a chance as anyone to beat Kershaw. 

Warthen Again Declares Matz Healthy

With Steven Matz complaining of a lingering injury, Dan Warthen observed a bullpen session and declared Matz ready to pitch against the Dodgers. Whoops!  My bad. That link is from July 3rd. 

With today’s workouts, Dan Warthen once again observed Matz’s bullpen session and declared it a success. That makes me nervous. We know what happened the last time Warthen declared a Matz bullpen session a success. Well, alright, Matz did beat the Dodgers. However, he would be shut down for three weeks. I’ll be honest with you. I’ll take that trade off now. It seems like the Mets will as well:

Calling Matz a “game time decision” means they’re going to see how he is on Friday when they finalize the rosters, or they’ll keep him on the roster and see how he is for Game Four. I hope he can pitch, but I’m not trusting Warthen. 

Truth is Matz is still the best option for Game Four. I hope they give him every chance to make the roster. 

It’s Unfortunate for Beltran

Im by no means a Yankees fan. However, I am a Carlos Beltran fan. He was a great Met, and he’s one of the best postseason players of all time. 

I’ve rooted for him even as he’s played for the enemies in St. Louis and the Bronx. Who knows how many more shots Beltran is going to get to win a World Series. While I don’t want to see the Yankees win another World Series, I would like to see Beltran win just one. I thought I would see it while he roamed CF in Flushing. It never happened. 

It may never happen for him. The Yankees are not trending up right now. Next year, he will be 39 and in the last year of his deal. I hate to think the strike out to Luke Gregerson is how Beltran ends his postseason career. He deserves better. 

Now matter what happens from this point forward, I’ll continue to root for him, even if he wears the enemy’s uniform.