Jacob deGrom

Thor LEFT Out There

Way back when the Mets used to be good, an old friend and I would always lament these days games. It wasn’t just because we had to intermittently listen to the game on the radio, but it was also because odd things tend to happen to the Mets in weekday day games. 

I was reminded of that a few weeks ago with that bizarre game against the Padres. With the way Noah Syndergaard started the game, I was afraid of another one of those games. In the first he let up two solo homeruns. The Mets got him the lead in the bottom of the first, and he gave it away in the third. 

It looked like this was going to be a high scoring game, and Thor would be lucky to get through five. The Mets upheld their end of the bargain by scoring 12 runs. The Rockies wouldn’t score past the third for a 12-3 final. Amazingly, Thir finished with five strikeouts, 2 walks, four hits, and three earned runs in seven innings. Good for Terry Collins for sticking with him. 

This may not have been the game in which he had his most impressive stuff or control, but it might’ve been his most impressive game to date. It’s one thing to win when it’s all working. It’s another to have a rough start with less than your best stuff and still find a way. This is the type of game where you say he could join Jacob deGrom and Matt Harvey in being considered an ace. 

Offensively, the lefties were hitting on National Lefthanders’ DayCurtis Granderson went 1-3 with a walk, two runs scored, and a three run homer. Daniel Murphy went 1-5 with a run scored and an RBI double. Kelly Johnson went 3-4 with a double, a home run, a run scored, and three RBIs. Michael Conforto went 2-3 with a walk and three runs scored. The only left not in on the action?  Lucas Duda, who missed his third straight game with his back injury

It was also great to see Juan Lagares hit a pinch hit three run homer. He’s been going well pretty lately. It’ll be great to see him continue because the Mets could use his glove in the field everyday. 

On another note, you have to admit you feel great about this team right now. I’m sure there are fans still scared from 2007 and 2008, but this team isn’t that team. Plus, the Nationals aren’t the Phillies. The Mets swept the Rockies and made them look like a last place team. The Rockies beat the Nationals two out of three. 

I’m not guarantee in a division title, but I think it’s fine to feel confident and enjoy these games. Don’t let bad memories stop you from enjoying these new ones. 

Who’s in First?

Good morning Mets fans. For some reason, food tastes better this morning. The air smells a little sweater. Overall, everything seems just a little bit better.  Why?  Here’s why:

AL East

Team         W    L     GB

Blue Jays   63    52     –

Yankees    61    51   0.5

NL East

Team        W      L    GB

Mets         62     52     –

Nationals 58     55    3.5

That’s right. The Mets are in first, and the Yankees aren’t. It seems like an Abbott and Costello routine. Not even ol’ Sebastian Dimwitty could figure this one out. Do you know the last time the Mets were in first place and the Yankees weren’t this late in the season?  1990!

Here’s a snapshot of what things were like in 1990:

We know now that 1990 was the last hurrah for those 1980’s Mets teams. Now, it just seems like the beginning. Like I’ve said before, it’s a lot easier to raise a Mets fan when the Mets are good. It’s also easier when they’re better than the Yankees. 

I know this may only last a day, but let’s enjoy it while it lasts. I get a feeling the Mets are in first to stay. Let’s Go Mets!

Fastballs by Jake

Personally, I love how quietly Jacob deGrom and Matt Harvey are in this competition amongst themselves to be the ace of this staff. We shouldn’t be surprised the Mets have had two straight shut outs. Last night, Harvey allowed 4 hits and no walks with four strikeouts in eight innings. 

Tonight, deGrom was brilliant behind that brilliant fastball of his. He ended his last inning brilliantly with his 10th strikeout in the seventh. Overall, he allowed two hits with an uncharacteristic four walks. All the more remarkable, he didn’t allow a run with first and third with no out in the fifth (much of that due to poor Rockie base running). 

Offensively, Travis d’Arnaud is red hot going four for last nine. Michael Cuddyer played his second game in a row. He plated Juan Uribe, who had an RBI double of his own. We saw Yoenis Cespedes show a “Feat of Strength.”  Other than that, there was much not going on offensively.   This included a Michael Conforto pop-out in the seventh, when he pinch hit for deGrom. However, on a night with deGrom, three runs (3-0 final score) was all the Mets needed, especially with Tyler Clippard and Jeurys Familia locking down the win. 

I guess I should also mention Cespedes had quite the armband . . . 

  
. . . that just so happened to match the color of the new Rally Parakeet

  
Whether it’s the black cat in 1969, or the yellow parakeet in 2015, I’ll take all the help we can get. 

Montero & deGrom

Jacob deGrom is taking the mound tonight.  Mets fans are all excited for his start tonight.  Why shouldn’t we be.  The man has been “deGrominant,” whether it was him winning Rookie of the Year, his All Star Game appearance, or his terrific 2015 season.  How quickly we all forget that this was never supposed to happen.

When deGrom was first called-up to the Mets, he was supposed to be in the bullpen while Rafael Montero was supposed to be in the rotation.  As we know, deGrom had a strong rookie season, and in the beginning of 2015, it was Montero who was assigned to the bullpen (at least initially).  It turns out that would have been a colossal mistake.  In fact, this should make Mets fans question every pitching move this front office makes.

To be fair, Montero did enter last year ranked ahead of deGrom.  However, that is an independent rating of those two players.  Each organization should know their prospects better than fine sites like Baseball America.  Additionally, this is the same team that gave up on Collin McHugh, a very dependable major league starter for a team that wants to go to a six man rotation, for Eric Young, Jr., who is a part time player on an under .500 Braves team.

It didn’t stop there. Right before the season began, the Mets traded for Alex Torres, who pitched so well he’s in AAA right now. The cost was Cory Mazzoni, who was a prospect the Mets became frustrated with due to his injury history. It should be noted these were non-arm related injuries. Mazzoni has a decent repertoire that makes the 2011 former second round pick a back end starter or reliever. This is something the Mets need now. Instead, the Padres have the prospect and the Mets have dead weight. I just hope we don’t have another Heath Bell situation here. 

This is why I wasn’t happy with the Tyler Clippard and Yoenis Cespedes trades. These are both rentals, who aren’t resigning with the team. If the A’s didn’t trade Clippard to the Mets, then the Nationals overpay or Billy Beane finally accepts the Mets offer. Overall, this is bad negotiation. 

It’s also bad valuation of assets. Remember if not for injuries deGrom would be setting up for Jeurys Familia, or possibly closing while the Mets are figuring out the rotation on a sub .500 team. 

This is why I question this front office. People may disagree with me, but this is partially why I question their treatment of Michael Conforto and Kevin Plawecki. Given their other moves, I think they invite this skepticism. I hope I’m not the only one. 

Are the Mets Reckering Their Prospects?

I don’t understand what the Mets are doing with their prospects right now. First, they are actively stunting the development of Michael Conforto by keeping him in the majors and not playing him everyday. Keep in mind, this is a player, they didn’t want to call-up in the first place. 

Additionally, there is the constant noise over the six man rotation, but their young stud muffins are set to far exceed their innings limits.  Plus, these prized arms’ aches and pains are largely ignored until it becomes more serious. They even have Dan Warthen playing doctor. It’s inexcusable. 

Their treatment of Kevin Plawecki is almost as ponderous. I understand he might’ve been the best option at backup catcher, but it’s not like he’s been good. It’s just that Anthony Recker and Johnny Monell have been that bad. That was, in part, the rationale behind keeping Plawecki up when Travis d’Arnaud came off the DL on July 30th. Let’s see how that worked out for Plawecki:

  • 3 games played out of 11l
  • .111 average
  • 12 extra days of accumulated service time

In essence, the decision was just short of being a disaster. Plawecki is going to be a Super Two player. Overall, he’s hit .228/.283/.296. Those are ugly numbers, especially when he’s a .292/.368/.435 hitter in the minors. Obviously, he should’ve been in the minors trying to get better. For those that argue that there’s value sitting on a major league bench, it sure hasn’t helped him thus far. 

Plawecki probably would’ve benefitted from time in AAA making him a better player. d’Arnaud did the same last year, and he’s the better for it. Plawecki didn’t, and he’s worse off. The Mets catching situation is also worse off. 

Overall, the Mets prospects are worse off the past two years in how they’ve been handled. I only hope Plawecki and Conforto can overcome it because they have real promise . . . promise that isn’t being g cultivated by the Mets. 

Ray of Hope

Now that was special. Even with Jacob deGrom and Tyler Clippard unable to keep the game tied, the Mets found a way. 

First, Juan Uribe ties the game with a homer after this game started to look like the Grady Sizemore Show (homerun and stole a homerun from Wilmer Flores). After deGrom gave up a James Loney homer, Daniel Murphy hits a game tying homerun. Tyler Clippard gave up the lead on an Evan Longoria homerun that just skipped off the top of the right center field wall. 

In the ninth, after Lucas Duda reached in an error and moved over on a wild pitch, Michael Conforto had the biggest hit of his young career (in a terrific AB) with a hustle RBI double to tie the game. He was moved over to third in a Travis d’Arnaud infield single and scored the go-ahead run when Flores served the ball into right [standing ovation]. 

Jeurys Familia closed out the game to secure the 4-3 win. In an odd sequence it took the Mets a few times to record the first out. Uribe was aggressive in fielding balls in front of third, but the umpire correctly called the ball foul each time. 

With Clippard getting the win, when in actuality all he did was put the Mets on the brink of losing, I thought of how my thinking has evolved on wins. As I’ve stated before, I’m generally more open and accepting of Sabermetrics. I do think the pitcher wins are an overrated stat. For example, the horrendous Bartolo Colon is tied for the team lead in wins with Matt Harvey and Jacob deGrom.  Luckily, no one on the Mets side had a loss to put in their ledger tonight. 

Some other fun notes:

  1. The sound of the crowd made it sound like a home game;
  2. It was great seeing Dwighg Gooden at the game; and 
  3. Terry Collins shows he’s delirious with some of these lineups 

With the DH, he had his lefty platoon lineup out there which meant Conforto and Kelly Johnson (2B). He had Uribe and his defense at third. However, I don’t understand Flores at SS instead of Ruben Tejada. Collins brought in Juan Lagares for defense in the ninth. He should’ve done the same with Tejada. At least the mistake didn’t cost the Mets the game. 

In other great news, the Rockies beat the Nationals to extend the Mets lead to 2.5 games (two in the loss). Tonight was a great night for baseball and an even better night to be a Mets fan. 

Charting the Mets Rotation

Coming out of the All Star Break, the Mets wisely set their rotation to allow their stud muffins to face the Nationals twice. Initially, the move was a bust.  However, after the Yoenis Cespedes trade, the Met took off and swept the Nationals.  Now, it seems like the Mets want to go back to the six man rotation, or at a minimum have some spot starts.  If the Mets did not go to the six man rotation or have any spot starts, here’s how the rotation would shake out:

Jacob deGrom:

8/7 @ Rays
8/12 vs. Rockies
8/18 @ Orioles
8/24 @ Phillies
8/29 vs. Red Sox
9/4 @ Marlins
9/9 @ Nationals
9/14 vs. Marlins
9/20 vs. Yankees
9/25 @ Reds
10/1 @ Phillies

Noah Syndergaard:

8/8 @ Rays
8/13 vs. Rockies
8/19 @ Orioles
8/25 @ Phillies
8/30 vs. Red Sox
9/5 @ Marlins
9/10 @ Braves
9/15 vs. Marlins
9/21 vs. Braves
9/26 @ Reds
10/2 vs. Nationals

Bartolo Colon:

8/9 @ Rays
8/14 vs. Pirates
8/21 @ Rockies
8/26 @ Phillies
8/31 vs. Phillies
9/6 @ Marlins
9/11 @ Braves
9/16 vs. Marlins
9/22 vs. Braves
9/27 @ Reds
10/3 vs. Nationals

Jon Niese:

8/10 vs. Rockies
8/15 vs. Pirates
8/22 @ Rockies
8/27 @ Phillies
9/1 vs. Phillies
9/7 @ Nationals
9/12 @ Braves
9/18 vs. Yankees
9/23 vs. Braves
9/29 @ Phillies
10/4 vs. Nationals

Matt Harvey:

8/11 vs. Rockies
8/16 vs. Pirates
8/23 @ Rockies
8/28 vs. Red Sox
9/2 vs. Phillies
9/8 @ Nationals
9/13 @ Braves
9/19 vs. Yankees
9/24 @ Reds
9/30 @ Phillies

Now, we are all aware of the rumblings of the Mets using a spot starter or returning to the six man rotation.  What we also know is the Mets are going to rip past the innings limits anyway.  So in this somewhat academic analysis, just go back and take a look again at how the rotation will work out.  For starters, it’s great that Colon only pitches one game against a team over .500 until the last week of the season.  Additionally, if everything works out according to plan, you don’t have to finagle the rotation to start the postseason with Harvey, Matz, and Syndergrom.  Isn’t that your goal?  Now, if things get hectic towards the end, remember the Mets don’t have a huge lead right now, they can shift starts around in September so you can have the stud muffins going against the Nationals in the last series of the season.

Overall, if you are going to rip through the innings limits, why not do it properly and set the team up for success in September and October?  My belief is that if you don’t change the rotation as it stands right now, the Mets look to be in good shape for the rest of the season, and they will have their stud muffins front and center entering the postseason.  Let’s not overthink things and keep it the way it is.

 

 

Why Was Harvey Pitching That Long?

The way the Mets have been playing, and with the way the Narkins have been playing, this game was effectively over after the Mets four run third. Once Juan Uribe hit a three run homerun in the fifth, the game was over. By the way, this park is so cavernous thst Uribe’s homerun was that much more impressive. Lucas Duda, himself tried to hit two out to CF and only came up with a SF in the ninth. 

Rather than lifting Matt Harvey after five, when he was essentially assured the win, he came out for the sixth and the seventh. You don’t throw him those additional unnecessary innings. Why even have Carlos Torres or Sean Gilmartin on the team if they can’t eat up some innings in a laugher?

I hate to be negative after two sweeps and the Mets in first place, but I just don’t understand what the Mets are doing. If Harvey has a no-hitter going, I understand.  Absent that, he should’ve been pulled. It makes me question how many innings the Mets have wasted with him, Jacob deGrom, and Noah Syndergaard. 

Further on the negative, Bobby Parnell was not good again. At least, Eric O’Flaherty came in and got out the lefty to snuff out the Markins only threat. He then let up two hits to lefties in the ninth to allow a run and give up the shutout. He let up a second run on an Ichiro RBI single. Collins’ then had to use Hansel Robles, who threw gasoline in the fire. 

Collins saw enough and was forced to bring in Jeurys Familia in a save situation in an inning that started 8-0. Talk about wasting a pitcher.  Familia let up an RBI single to Dee Gordon to make it 8-6.  By the time I was having Padres flashbacks, Familia induced Yelich to groundout to Duda to save the game. Again, if Torres and Gilmartin can’t pick up these innings, I have no idea why they’re on the team. By not using them, the Nets burned through a lot of arms. 

In other Mets news, we may have seen the first cracks in the platoon system with Uribe playing and Kelly Johnson sitting against a righty. 

I do want to focus on the Dee Gordon groundout to Daniel Murphy. He always comes to play. The Mets were up 7-0, and yet he’s hustling on a routine ball to second. When he was initially ruled safe, he made Murphy look bad (correction: Murphy made himself look bad).  Credit is due to Murphy there for immediately accepting responsibility for being lackadaisical. It reminded me of the famous George Brett quote:

I want to hit a routine grounder to second and run all out to first base, then get thrown out by a half step. I want to leave an example to the young guys that that’s how you play the game: ALL OUT. 

As a “Mets Daddy,” I appreciate Gordon and Murphy there. It’s great to be able to show him someone who not only plays the right way, but also someone who never gives up. I appreciate Murphy there because rather than make a scene because Gordon should’ve been called out (which he was after replay), he accepted responsibility. I know there was a lot better parts of the game to focus upon, but as a Dad and baseball fan that was my favorite play if the game. 

Mets Shouldn’t Matz with the Rotation

The Mets have a real problem with their rotation right now . . . and I don’t just mean Bartolo Colon.  No, I’m referring to the innings limit problem

I was naively hoping the Mets were going to ignore the limitations while being smart about how they use their pitchers. For example, if any of the stud muffins are having a rough start, they would pull them a little early. If there is a large run differential, the pitcher could sit down earlier. 

I was wrong. It appears the Mets still intend to manage the innings of the stud muffins by having spot starters during the rest of the season. In fact, Terry Collins stated the Mets will soon use a spot starter

However, the Mets still ultimately want to go with a six man rotation. The most likely candidate is Steven Matz, who was reported to have begun throwing yesterday.  If all goes according to plan, Matz will rejoin the rotation for the September stretch run. While we all enjoyed his first two starts, I’m not anxious for his return. 

It is too late in the season to mess around with the pitching rotation, which has carried the team thus far. Furthermore, the statistics are not kind to six man rotations. In fact, pitchers’ ERA increases with the extra day of rest. 

This begs the question: why would you mess with your biggest strength?  We all know it’s pitching that will carry the Mets into the playoffs. The new offense is performing well, but it’s pitching that will help the Mets win now, and we know pitching wins in October. 

I already know your answer: we want to protect the young arms. Mets fans have scars from Generation K.  Younger fans may remember Mark Prior and Kerry Wood. I think everyone knows the story of Stephen Strasburg sitting out the 2012 postseason

The end result?  The Nationals lost in the NLDS to the eventual World Series Champion St. Louis Cardinals three games to two. Strasburg’s replacement in the rotation was the immortal Edwin Jackson.  Now Strasburg is injured again (not the elbow) and many question his mental makeup, fairly or unfairly.  Thankfully, Terry Collins has assured us we will not see a repeat of the Strasburg incident  as the stud muffins will pitch in the playoffs

However, I’m still troubled by the innings limits. The main reason is because it is based upon the disproven “Verducci Effect.”  I’m not willing to risk a whole season on faulty logic.  Furthermore, I think the six man rotation overtures are disingenuous. 

If the Mets were truly serious about the six man rotation, Dillon Gee would be in the rotation now. Over his last five starts, he’s 4-0 with a 3.03 ERA, a 1.26 WHIP, and two consecutive complete games. He’s doing this in an extreme hitter’s league. I know he was not good this year while he was being jerked around regarding his role with the team and the organization. However, I must ask, if the Mets are truly concerned with results, why is Colon in the rotation?

I’m not going to belabor the point, but he’s been awful this year. I’m not going to turn in the blinders because he had a good start against the worst offensive team in baseball, who is without Giancarlo Stanton. Overall, Colon has the fifth worst ERA in the NL. Even with a revived offense, is this the guy you want to run out there every fifth day?  If you tell me you want to replace Colon with Matz, I’d say it would be a great move. 

Furthermore, if you want to protect the arms, it’s simple. The Mets need to fire Dan Warthen.  First, in 2013, Harvey was permitted to make multiple starts with forearm tightness. Harvey had Tommy John surgery. Second, Zack Wheeler pitched with ligament damage last season. Zack Wheeler had Tommy John surgery. Finally, Warthen, himself, declared Steven Matz fit to pitch. Matz then went on the DL. 

If it’s not Warthen’s fault, fine. Who is it?  The Mets need to root out the cause for the ignored aches and pains of their prime young pitchers. These problems became major injuries. If the Mets are really concerned with their young pitchers, they should start looking there instead of instituting another version of the six man rotation. 

Lucas Duda Provides the Fireworks

In case you didn’t know, Lucas Duda made sure you knew tonight was Fireworks Night. I told you Duda is awesome

His first homerun broke up the no-hitter. The second homerun let deGrom off the hook. deGrom deserved to be let off the hook too. He didn’t have his best stuff, and he was fighting it all night. However, he gave the team six solid innings, allowed only two runs, and gave the team a chance to win. Duda took advantage of that chance. 

As if the two homers weren’t enough, Duda also doubled in Curtis Granderson in the eighth. In this inning, we saw the impact of Yoenis Cespedes’ presence in the lineup. After Granderson’s double and Daniel Murphy grounded out to the pitcher, Cespedes was intentionally walked. Before tonight there was no one in the Mets’ lineup who would’ve merited that. Instead of now feeling pressure to be the entire offense, Duda was able to relax and deliver . . . and boy did he deliver. 

After Hansel Robles shut the door in the right and Duda single-handedly carried the offense to a 3-2 lead, Jeurys Familia slammed the door shut in the ninth. This looked like the Familia of the first half. 

My only qualm tonight was the lineup. It looked like Terry Collins was still drunk from celebrating last night’s win and the Cespedes acquisition. I know we all love the Wilmer Flores’ story, but this is a pennant race, and you need to field your best team (even if he almost hit a HR). That team has an outfield alignment of Cespedes in left, Kirk Nieuwenhuis or Juan Lagares in center, and Granderson in right. The only time you want Kelly Johnson in RF right now is when he’s signing autographs before the game. 

Luckily, this didn’t hurt the Mets. Also, it was good to see Collins put in Lagares late for defense.   It was better to see Duda’s offense and Familia’ dominance again. It’s even better to be a game out with Noah Syndergaard tomorrow. Lets Go Mets!