Both Jacob deGrom and Hyun-Jin Ryu were great pitching seven scoreless. On the night, deGrom struck out eight compared to Ryu’s six. On the flip side, Ryu’s two hits allowed were one fewer than deGrom’s.
In all, this game did little to separate these two pitchers in the Cy Young voting, especially with both getting no decisions. With respect to deGrom, that should shock no one.
While the Cy Young is of importance, that’s not where the Mets concern now lies. No, it’s the Wild Card. The Mets entered tonight’s game three back, and the Pirates essentially no showed against the Cubs again making this a must win if there ever was one.
Knowing that, Mickey Callaway double switched J.D. Davis out of the game and brought in Brandon Nimmo and Seth Lugo in the hopes Lugo would go two innings. Even with Lugo striking out the side in the eighth, he wouldn’t.
The reason is the Mets put together a rally by taking advantage of the Dodgers plunking both Todd Frazier and Nimmo. The other thing the Mets took advantage of was the Dodgers bullpen as it was Joe Kelly who hit Frazier and Julio Urias who hit Nimmo.
With there being two outs and an opportunity to not just get out of the inning but also get Lugo out of the game, Urias pitched around Amed Rosario to force the Mets to go to a pinch hitter to get Lugo out of the game.
It should be noted here Michael Conforto did not start the game against the tough lefty. During this inning, Callaway had let Juan Lagares bat for himself against Kelly. While that decision might’ve seemed odd, it seemed like it was about to pay off for Callaway.
Except, he didn’t go to Conforto with the left-handed Urias on the mound. No, he went to Rajai Davis. While many first guessed this move, Davis, who was actually batting for the spot in the lineup held by the other right-handed hitting outfielder named Davis, made Callaway look smart:
🗣️🗣️🗣️ FOR THE LEAD! pic.twitter.com/FEU6Vugirp
— New York Mets (@Mets) September 15, 2019
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.
In the past offseason, Brodie Van Wagenen opted to non-tender Wilmer Flores making the player who once cried at the thought of leaving the Mets a free agent. Last night, he not only returned to New York, but he would face the Mets for the first time. In the fifth inning last night, he would homer against his former teammate Jacob deGrom:
Welcome back, Wilmer! pic.twitter.com/yFPAOZc3YY
— Arizona Diamondbacks (@Dbacks) September 10, 2019
The homer was a bittersweet moment for Mets fans. In fact, there was a smattering of applause in the stands as the Mets still love and respected Wilmer. It should also be bittersweet because non-tendering him was a real mistake.
Looking back at it, Flores was a 0.5 WAR player last year. Given the construct of 1.0 WAR being worth $9 million on the free agent market, Flores was worth about $4.5 million last year, which coincidentally, was roughly what he would have been worth in arbitration.
But seeing what he was worth last year is not exactly the point. The point is when you look to sign a player, whether in free agency or arbitration, you are looking to pay for future value. With that in mind, It is important to remember Flores was a player turning 27 years old and entering his prime.
But it was more than just his entering his prime. He has cut down on his strikeouts and increasing his contact rate at the plate. It wasn’t just more contact, but it is also harder contact. It’s part of the reason why he had been above league average hitter. Part of that development as a hitter was his transitioning from being a platoon bat to being a player who could hit both right and left-handed pitching.
This is typically the part where someone jumps in to point out his defense. No, Flores is not a good defender. No one can or should claim he is. However, Flores has shown himself good at first base and passable at second. In a pinch, he is someone you could have play at third or short. No, not for more than a game or two, but there is value in his ability to stand there for a short duration.
Looking at the defense, we should remember he would have been depth on the Mets. He was a guy who could have been on the field when Todd Frazier and Robinson Cano went down. With Jeff McNeil‘s ability to play third and outfield, the Mets could have limited Flores to second. An important note here was he was a player who never complained about his role and was a good guy in the clubhouse. There is an immense amount of value in that.
We also know Flores has the clutch gene as the Mets all-time leader in walk-off hits. In extra innings, Flores is a .378/.404/.667 hitter in extra innings. This, along with the crying and his being one the players who stayed on the field longest signing autographs, made him a beloved Mets player.
So far this year, Flores is a 0.7 WAR player. That’s a higher WAR than any current Mets bench player. This highlights the Mets mistake in letting him go, and that mistake is further exacerbated when you consider the Diamondbacks are ahead of the Mets in the Wild Card standings. As time elapses, the Mets are going to have to contend with Flores helping other teams and reminding the Mets of the mistake it was letting him go.
If you want to win a game, the best possible formula is Jacob deGrom and Seth Lugo. Tonight, that’s what the Mets had, and it led to a separately needed win against a Diamondbacks team ahead of the Mets in the Wild Card standings.
For his part, deGrom was great furthering cementing his Cy Young case. His final line was 7.0 innings, three hits, one run, one earned, one walk, and 11 strikeouts. That one? Well, that was courtesy of our old “Friend” Wilmer Flores.
But that wasn’t as damaging as a homer as a run against deGrom would normally be as deGrom actually received run support tonight. In fact, two of the three runs scored for him came off the bat of Pete Alonso who hit his 46th and 47th homers of the year.
Your major league HR leader.
4⃣6⃣ and counting… pic.twitter.com/qJWAPd1eSG
— New York Mets (@Mets) September 9, 2019
Is this guy good? Asking for a friend. pic.twitter.com/5r71hysahc
— New York Mets (@Mets) September 10, 2019
The other run came courtesy of an Amed Rosario RBI single in the fourth scoring Wilson Ramos. What made that interesting is Ramos had reached on a double against the shift. That shift was an unorthodox two outfielder shift. Presumably, this was implemented in response to Ramos’ ground ball rates, and yet, his hitting the ball up the middle was an automatic double.
Going back to deGrom, what makes him so impressive is how he is dominant no matter what part of the game. He rips through the order the first, second, and third time through. The lineup turns over a fourth time just briefly. He gets the bad and good hitters. For example, he struck out Ketel Marte three times.
Another note here is deGrom controls all parts of the plate. He gets batters out north, east, south, and west. While we’ve seen his recent rise to dominance correlate to pitching up in the zone, he did it working the lower half tonight.
If a team thought they’d get a respite when he leaves a game, they’d be wrong as Lugo followed him to pitch the final two innings. The fresh Lugo was economical striking out four of the six batters he faced needing just 21 pitches to earn his fifth save of the year.
With the win, the Mets gained a game on both the Diamondbacks and Phillies. It’s still an uphill climb, but the Mets are still alive.
Right now, Pete Alonso seems well poised to be the National League Rookie of the Year winner. What happens over the final few weeks will determine if Jacob deGrom will be the Cy Young Award winner. If that happens, this will be the seventh time in Major League history one team will have the Rookie of the Year and Cy Young award winners. Can you name the previous times it has happened? Good luck!
On the one hand, the Mets took two out of three, which is a good result against the Nationals as they push for a Wild Card. On the other hand, there was an absolutely brutal loss in that mix making this result feel worse than anticipated:
1. It is high time Mickey Callaway gets credit for keeping this team together. There have been a number of absolutely brutal losses and each time the team picks itself up and surprises us. There are a number of things you can point to that you don’t like with Callaway. However, the way he manages that clubhouse appears to be truly special.
2. Getting back to that bullpen meltdown, that was arguably the worst regular season loss between games 1 – 161 in team history. The least said about it the better. Honestly, if you want to dwell on it, you can go here or here, but there needs to be no more focus on that.
3. Robinson Cano showed no ill effects of the hamstring going 3-for-4 with a walk, homer, and two RBI. The Mets need him to be just like this, which coincidentally is just how Moises Alou was in 2007.
4. Just to outline the job Brodie Van Wagenen did this past offseason, Edwin Diaz has allowed more homers (13) than Cano has hit this year (11).
5. On that front, the Mets have still gotten nothing from Jed Lowrie, who has requested to continue his rehab assignment, one which has not gone well at all. After playing seven innings in the field on August 31, he has DHed twice, had a day off, and played just five innings in the field. This is shaping up to be one of the worst signings in Mets history.
6. Brandon Nimmo is not only back, but he is in mid-season form drawing six walks in 12 plate appearances. He also has a double and a homer. This is exactly what he did last year when he was the second best hitter in the National League. It may be time to put him back atop the lineup.
8. Pete Alonso‘s 45 homers are the most in a player’s first season. Of note, Mark McGwire and Aaron Judge had cups of coffee previous to their full first season. On the subject of Alonso and Judge, Alonso is on pace to tie his 52 homer mark.
9. There were two completely shocking things from Juan Lagares yesterday – an error and a homer to dead center.
11. After struggling since his return from the IL, Jeff McNeil has been himself again going 5-f0r-14 in the series with two homers and seven RBI.
12. There is something special when you watch a player like Zack Wheeler struggle so much on the mound only to allow one run over five innings. The way he fought when the Mets needed him to fight like that to get the team back on the winning track.
13. Jeurys Familia has been horrible his past two outings presenting what is probably the low point of his season, which is truly saying something. The only thing worse than Familia is the Mets other right-handed relief options not named Seth Lugo in the bullpen.
14. Lugo continues to be great, and he bailed the Mets out by going two innings a game after he pitched. It’s scary to think where this team would be without him.
15. At the moment, Lugo, Justin Wilson, and Luis Avilan are about the only reliable arms in the bullpen. In terms of Lugo and Wilson, they both have elbow issues, and the Mets need to be careful with them. In case there is a postseason, they need to keep them fresh. They also need to keep them healthy for 2020.
16. We see Asdrubal Cabrera still has that clutch gene going 4-f0r-12 in this series with a double, homer, and four RBI. The Mets did well getting Joe Panik, but you wonder how things would have been different had Van Wagenen not decided to sign his own former client who has not played a game this year.
17. Mets are 10 games over .500 at home, and 17 of their final 23 games are at home. Their six road games come against the Rockies and Reds. Looking at this schedule, there is the potential for a lot of wins on the schedule.
18. In order for the Mets to get into the postseason, they are going to have to have no more missteps, and they are going to have to beat the Dodgers and Braves at home. Keep in mind, if the Mets do have the luck to make it to the postseason, they are going to have to do this in October as well.
19. Robert Gsellman is trying to get back this year from a torn lat by throwing yesterday. With no real opportunity for a rehab assignment, you do have to wonder just how much of a chance he is going to get to come back. That said, given the state of the bullpen, you might as well throw him out there when he’s finally ready.
20. All told, somehow the Mets are still alive even with the chances being fleeting. Lets just enjoy this ride for as long as it lasts, and who knows, maybe they will pull it out.
This was a show down not just of the past two Cy Young winners in the National League. In many ways, it was a showdown between the two pitchers who could finish 1-2 in this year’s Cy Young voting.
Advantage Jacob deGrom . . . at least in the Cy Young race.
In the first, the Nationals had deGrom on the ropes scoring a run on a pair of doubles from Asdrubal Cabrera and Juan Soto. Matt Adams would strike out getting deGrom off the hook. It wouldn’t be the first time he and the Nationals would do that.
This wasn’t classic deGrom. Instead, this was the version of deGrom who uses his guile and intellect to navigate his way out of jams. Overall, deGrom would have just 1-2-3 inning all night. In a way, deGrom not having his best stuff and getting his way out of trouble minimizing damage proves his greatness every bit as much as his 10+ strikeout performances.
The key moment for him did feature some luck. In the sixth, after Juan Soto was hit by a pitch, Adams singled. After that single, Kurt Suzuki hit about the longest single you’ve ever seen. He hit it to the center field wall, and Brandon Nimmo couldn’t make the catch on the leaping attempt. For some reason, Adams stopped at second keeping the double play in order.
Three pitches later, deGrom got the ground ball he needed with Gerardo Parra hitting into the inning ending 4-6-3 double play. That was a huge chance for the Nationals, and it was a key moment in the game.
At that point, the Mets led 4-2. Part of the reason was Mickey Callaway seemed to guess right stacking his left-handed batters against Scherzer. To the consternation of some Joe Panik and Luis Guillorme would play over J.D. Davis and Amed Rosario, but Callaway would be vindicated partially because the Mets opted to attack Scherzer. The strategy worked in the fourth.
On three straight pitches, Scherzer allowed singles to Pete Alonso and Michael Conforto before allowing an RBI double to Wilson Ramos. Of course, Nimmo would be the first batter in the inning to take a pitch, and in that at-bat, he’d hit the go-ahead sacrifice fly. Then, well, the impossible happened:
HOW ABOUT PANIK AT THE DISH THO 💥 pic.twitter.com/vbQTaFIiM1
— SNY (@SNYtv) September 4, 2019
That was Panik’s first homer as a Met, and it was his first since May 28th. It gave the Mets a 4-2 lead which the Mets would not relinquish partially because the Nationals bullpen is terrible.
One of the key plays in this game would prove to be Jeff McNeil homering off Roenis Elias in the top of the eighth. It proved so important because Callaway would make a very questionable move sending deGrom out for the eighth.
Anthony Rendon hit an infield single neither deGrom nor Todd Frazier could field. Then, instead of having Luis Avilan up or going to a warmed up Seth Lugo, Callaway allowed deGrom to face Soto a fourth time, and Soto made deGrom and the Mets pay by hitting a two run homer.
The homer pulled the Nationals to within 5-4, and it would sour what was an impressive deGrom performance. With Lugo shutting down the Nationals, it wouldn’t cost deGrom the win.
The Nationals would stick with the left-handed Elias in the ninth, and Nimmo would homer to leadoff the inning expanding the Mets lead to 6-4. Things would devolve from there for the reverse splits Elias who allow a hit to Panik.
Daniel Hudson “relieved” Elias, and he’d immediately walk Frazier. After Guillorme lines out, Tomas Nido hit what should’ve been the inning ending double play. It wasn’t as Trea Turner forgot how many outs there were, and he’d only get Nido at first.
McNeil made the Nationals pay with an RBI single, and Alonso would put this game supposedly out of reach with his 44th homer of the year putting the Mets up 10-4.
This allowed Callaway to pull Lugo and go to Paul Sewald to wrap it up. While Sewald typically thrives in these situations, he was bad tonight recording just one out while Turner and Rendon would drive runs home.
With runners at first and second with one out and Soto due up, Callaway was forced to go to Avilan. He didn’t get the job done allowing a single to Soto to load the bases.
Zimmerman would hit a two run double just past the diving Conforto, and suddenly the laugher was 10-8 with the tying runs in scoring position. Then, Suzuki hit a Gabe winning three run homer to cap off a seven run ninth.
There are no words for how bad a loss this is.
The Mets had an opportunity to seize the second Wild Card spot by sweeping the Cubs. Those hopes died when they were shut down by Yu Darvish.
They arguably had their chance to still control their own destiny, but Noah Syndergaard was shelled for 10 runs (nine earned) over three earned. After that, the Mets made it VERY interesting, but they just couldn’t deliver that key hit.
It now all comes down to Jacob deGrom. He wins today, and the Mets are three out with a real shot. There is no one you would rather have on the mound between his greatness and his big game experience. It’s up to the offense to finally support him.
Can the Mets come back from five back with over a month to play? Absolutely, but the task is much more difficult, especially with the season ending with the Mets playing the Braves. That last point is the most troubling.
This run has been fun, but there’s been a bit of a reality check losing at least 5/6 to the Braves and Cubs. Runs are great, but in the end, this is about winning the World Series. The Mets have the pitching to do so, and we’ve seen more unlikely runs than this in baseball history, but that said, that’s been the biggest issue over these six games.
That all said the Mets still have deGrom, and when you have deGrom, you always have a chance. Because of that, stay excited for today, the rest of the season, and hopefully, that magical postseason run.
Let’s Go Mets
On Sunday, I had the privilege of being invited back on A Metsian Podcast to discuss the Braves series and all things Mets. During the podcast, I recall mentioning Pete Alonso, Jacob deGrom, Matt Harvey, Dillon Gee, Logan Verrette, Aaron Altherr, Tomas Nido, Jed Lowrie, Brandon Nimmo, J.D. Davis, Amed Rosario, Wilson Ramos, Joe Panik, Todd Frazier, Jeff McNeil, Jason Vargas, Carlos Delgado, Endy Chavez, and others.
Please take time to listen. Thank you.
As has seemingly been the case since the dawn of time, the Mets played a big series against the Braves, and the Braves left them in the dust. Somehow, the Mets were not all that worse for ware:
1. Congratulations are due to Pete Alonso who tied Todd Hundley‘s and Carlos Beltran‘s Mets single season mark for homers. Of note, this broke his tie with Mike Piazza for single season homers by a right-handed batter.
2. That homer should’ve been a momentum change in Saturday’s game and for the rest of the series. Instead, due to the way the Mets played, it proved to be a footnote.
3. Speaking of historic footnotes, Jacob deGrom became the first ever pitcher to homer in a game where he struck out 13 batters twice in his career. In that game, the Mets struck out 26 tying a Major League record.
4. With the Yankees roughing up Hyun-Jin Ryu, we should be reminded the Cy Young race is still wide open. On that front, deGrom leads the league in bWAR, fWAR, and strikeouts while being top five in nearly every important statistical category.
5. Steven Matz has also been great recently. On Sunday, he ripped off his fourth straight start of at least six innings allowing two earned or fewer. Of course, with the way the Mets played in this series, he’d take the loss.
6. Two of the three losses were games Billy Hamilton had a huge impact. He got the game winning hit in one, and he scored from first on a single on what proved to be Ronald Acuna‘s game winning two RBI single.
7. One of the reasons Hamilton scored from first was J.D. Davis‘ not hustling in to field it and his weak throw back to the infield. It should be noted he’s a -7 DRS in left.
8. The only thing uglier than his defense was the uniforms this weekend. Seriously, what’s the point of having uniforms promoting players and their personalities if you can’t read them.
9. The only thing worse than that was not claiming Hamilton so you can keep having Aaron Altherr on the bench. To end the narratives, no, Hamilton would not have been designated for assignment when Jeff McNeil and/or Brandon Nimmo returned, especially with rosters expanding in September.
10. Nimmo’s recent rehab appearance looks promising. If he’s right, and Juan Lagares keeps hitting while playing Gold Glove defense, you have to wonder how long the Mets will be willing to live with Davis and his cooling bat in left.
12. On the topic of injuries, the Mets need to be heavily fined for how they handled Tomas Nido‘s concussion. He was hit on the head with the follow through of Josh Donaldson‘s back swing and went down. He had to be pulled then and not finish the inning with him then going through concussion protocol between innings. This is not okay.
13. This wasn’t the Mets only terrible decision. Mickey Callaway having Amed Rosario bunt was one of the dumbest decisions he’s made as Mets manager. He doubled down by overmanaging ordering a hit-and-run with Joe Panik. Panik swung and missed, and Rosario was caught at second easily.
16. On the Rivera point, Francisco Cervelli was released by the Pirates and was picked up by the Braves. Yes, he’s been bad, bout Nido was hitting .088/.162/.176 in the second half. With Ramos’ injury history, the Mets needed more depth, and they passed on that depth. Like with Hamilton, Cervelli made the Mets pay.
17. Brad Brach needs to be better. After allowing runs on three of his last five appearances, his 7.50 Mets ERA is higher than what it was with the Cubs before he was released. The Mets can’t afford for him to be this while Edwin Diaz is dealing with a trap issue. If he’s not, Paul Sewald May take his spot on the depth chart.
18. This series and history highlights why the Braves are the Mets biggest rival and should be the most hated team by Mets fans, not the Nationals.
19. If you’ve ever heard anyone scream about Brian Jordan, Mel Rojas, Kenny Rogers, or anything Armando Benitez and weren’t quite sure why the vitriol, just look at this series. Mets-Braves games in the late 90s were always like this series.
20. Feel depressed after watching this series? Don’t be. The Mets went from two games out of the Wild Card to two games out of the Wild Card. They’re now hosting the Cubs, the team currently in the second Wild Card spot, and they’re a bad road team.