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. 

Tyler Yates Cost the Mets the 2006 World Series

With my Back to the Future post yesterday, I began to think about how some seemingly innocuous decisions had an impact on the Mets future. In 2004, the Mets organization put way too much stock in Spring Training performance and gave Tyler Yates a rotation spot and sent Aaron Heilman to AAA. 

Yates was terrible as a starter.  He allowed batters to hit .317/.405/.475 against him in seven starts. He had a 6.34 ERA and a 1.929 WHIP. I’m still stunned he went 1-4. He should’ve gone 0-7. Actually, he should never have started a game. The spot should’ve gone to Heilman. 

Instead, Heilman spent most of the year in AAA. He made a few starts in 2004 and 2005, but he was mostly used as a reliever. Going into the 2006 season, Heilman found himself in another battle for the fifth starter spot. He lost the battle, but he became a quality set-up man. 

Heilman started as the seventh inning guy. He took over the eighth inning after Duaner Sanchez‘s cab ride. For the year, he went 4-5 with a 3.62 ERA and a 1.161 WHIP. He allowed batters to hit .231/.298/.332. However, we remember none of this. We remember him as the guy who allowed the Yadier Molina homerun. We remember him as the guy who lost Game 7 of the 2006 NLCS. Ironically, we don’t have the same memories of Rick Aguilera

The reason is the Mets rallied in 1986 whereas the 2006 Mets didn’t. Maybe the Mets aren’t in that position if Heilman made the starting rotation in 2004 and stayed there. It’s possible Heilman would’ve gone the way of Masato Yoshii or Mark Clark. They were good pitchers that were with the Mets for a short time. However, unless you’re a diehard, you have no lasting memories of them. 

We do have a lasting memory of Aaron Heilman. His path there was all started because the Mets thought Tyler Yates was a better starting pitcher in 2004. 

Why Collins is a Leader and Wright Isn’t 

For all my issues with Terry Collins, he’s shown himself to be a great presence in the clubhouse. He certainly showed himself to be that today with Matt Harvey missing the workout:

He tried to quash it. He tried to put an end to the story. As he said, “Its over. Done. End of story. Still pitching Game 3.”  He said it wasn’t a big deal. That’s how a leader handles it. 

Let’s see how David Wright handles his issues with Harvey. Let’s first visit the innings limit drama. On the day of the press conference, here’s how Wright treated Harvey:

Yup, Wright snubbed him for all to see exacerbating the story.  After the snub was reported everywhere, Wright needed to change course, and he did:

That’s right. He had a four inning conversation in the dugout for all to see so everyone can praise him and forget his snub. The Mets then started winning, and Harvey announced he would pitch in the playoffs. All was forgotten until Harvey screwed up today. Wright’s response?

“I’m concerned with the guys who are here.”  Are you kidding me?  He could’ve squashed it. He could’ve said a million other things. He’s turning this into a Jeter/A-Rod type of situation. Instead, he gave the impression there’s a clubhouse problem. Collins is then answering questions about Harvey’s perception:

Yes, this story is all Harvey’s fault. However, where was the Captain, the team leader, to step in and put an end to all of it?  He was adding fuel to the fire while making sure everyone was at their assigned lunch seats

Did that moment help Noah Syndergaard?  Probably. However, I’m not sure how it helped the rookie to have that story leaked in Spring Training. All that happened there was Wright got to look like the Captain, and Thor got smacked down by everyone. 

I don’t mean to beat up on Wright. He’s been a great Met, and I commend him for fighting to come back this year. However, that makes him a great player and a winner. It doesn’t make him a team leader, whether or not he is the Captain. 

Harvey is Now a Distraction

As we all know now, Matt Harvey missed today’s mandatory workout:

Look, I understand bridge and tunnel traffic. We’ve all been there. However, it’s easy to pick up a phone. By not picking up the phone and calling, it became a story. I know he eventually reached out, but clearly, he didn’t do it in time. 

He was the only player who missed the workout. I heard Mike Francesca say this is uncharacteristic for Harvey, but that doesn’t matter. He created a story with his lack of responsibility. He irritated everyone with his lack of professionalism:

This is now a distraction. The one thing a team does not need is a distraction. The team does not need a locker room problem. Certainly, the team needs to keep everything in house rather than take veiled shots at each other. 

Seriously, I get why David Wright was upset, but he’s the captain. His thinly veiled shot of only caring about who is there is unbecoming. He only served to give the story more legs than quash it. His response should’ve been, “I don’t know why he missed the workout today, but I hope Matt is alright.”  

Also, I know the last press conference was a disaster, but the least Harvey could have done was be a man and face the reporters. Don’t just offer up a statement. However, if reports are correct, he apologized to his teammates. I assume it was a genuine apology, and I hope the team accepted it. 

The best thing for this team right now is to get away to Los Angeles for a few days. It’s another reason why not having homefield is a benefit. They can clear their heads and get ready for Game 1 Friday night. If Jacob deGrom goes out there and wins Game One, the story is dead. 

If Harvey dominates in Game Three, we may never hear about this again. 

Back to the Future Predicted Nothing

I had Mike & Mike on briefly this morning, and I heard Mike Greenberg reiterate something I’ve heard a lot this season: Back to the Future Part II predicted the Cubs would win the World Series. Not to get my baseball and movie nerd on, but the movie made no such prediction. 

In Part II, Marty McFly, Doc, and Jennifer travel 30 years into the future to save their future children. Yes, we do see that the Cubs win the World Series. Here is what else we learn the Cubs won the World Series by beating Florida on October 21, 2015. 

Now, next to nothing from Back to the Future Part II has come true. I don’t have a hover car. I lace my sneakers everyday. My clothes don’t dry themselves. The American League team in Florida didn’t make the playoffs. The World Series doesn’t begin until October 27th. So other than that, yeah, let’s rely on the predictions made in a 1989 movie. 

Also, keep in mind that the Cubs winning the World Series was part of the second timeline. The first timeline was before Marty went to 1955. Everything after that was altered when George decked Biff. It was then that we found out that Marty McFly’s Johhny B. Goode was ripped off by Chuck Berry with the help of his cousin Marvin. 

Anyway, a new timeline is created when Biff steals the DeLorean with the Sports Almanac and goes back to 1955. For argument’s sake, let’s say the timeline reverted to the prior 2015 timeline when the Cubs first win the World Series. It doesn’t matter because this timeline was going to be erased anyway. 

The timeline was first erased when Marty goes back to 1885 to save Doc from being murdered by Biff’s ancestors (yet another timeline). In any event, Marty saves Doc (new timeline) and Doc saves Clara Clayton, who was supposed to die, marries her, and has children (new timeline). Also, important is that Marty’s ancestor, Seamus McFly, teaches Marty restraint. 

This creates our current timeline because back in 1985, Marty doesn’t have the drag race, which ruins his future.  Since the DeLorean was destroyed, we don’t know what the future holds anymore. We can’t predict anything with certainty. There’s no clear cut road to the World Series. I mean c’mon. “Roads?  Where we’re going, we don’t need roads.”

That means the 2015 World Series is not the Cubs “density.” What does this all mean?  Let’s let Doc sum it up:

It means your future hasn’t been written yet. No one’s has. Your future is whatever you make of it. So make it a good one, both of you. 

The Mets have the pieces to make this a World Series run. No one can tell me right now they know the Mets won’t win the World Series. So, let’s all jump on and enjoy the ride. The only thing I know for sure is “if my calculations are correct, once this [playoff run gets going], you’re going to see some serious shit!”

First Pitches of the NLDS

Typically, teams will trot out former players and stars to throw out the first pitch. Since it’s a series against the Mets, the Dodgers will look to bring out 1988 heroes Orel Hershiser and Kirk Gibson. That’s boring. We should find people Mets and Dodgers fans can bond over, and I don’t mean Paul Lo Duca

Before the Subway Series, a friend of mine, who is a Yankee fan, and I decided to look for the seven athletes most hated by New Yorkers. I don’t remember the full list, but I do know it included Reggie Miller. With that said, here’s my five choices:

Game 1: Cole Hamels (2008 NLCS MVP)

Game 2: Ryan Howard (2009 NLCS MVP)

Game 3: Mike D’Antoni

Game 4: Reggie Jackson

Game 5: Tim Duncan

If you have anyone better, I’ll be happy to update this and give you credit.