Well, there are some issues with the AI and decision making, but in the end, the main takeaway so far is MLB The Show doesn’t think the Mets quite stack up to the NL East competition.
All his life, Rick Porcello wanted to be a Mets pitcher, and he took a one year deal with the Mets to make that happen. You can be sure he didn’t want his first start to go like this.
First off, you can be rest assured he didn’t want his Mets debut to be simulated because of COVID19. He also didn’t want to take the loss while not lasting five innings.
His big problem can in the second when he got hit hard. The hardest hit came off the bat of Didi Gregorius who opened the scoring with a solo homer.
The Mets trailed 4-1 in the bottom of the seventh, with the lone run coming off a Brandon Nimmo homer off of Vince Velasquez. The Mets pulled to within 4-2 off a long Wilson Ramos RBI single. That’s when the bizarre AI kicked in.
Down two with two on and no outs, Amed Rosario bunted in front of Jake Marisnick, and the Phillies got the force out at second. Marisnick struck out, and then out of everyone on the bench, Jarrett Parker came up to pinch hit.
That’s the same NRI who was never going to make the Mets 2020 Opening Day roster. He grounded out to first to end the rally.
In the end, we can all assume Luis Rojas will be much better than this. If so, maybe the Mets don’t lose games like this 4-2, and mostly likely, they won’t begin the year losing their first four.
How much better they’ll be is up for debate. For instance, Baseball Reference‘s 2020 simulation with OOTP21 has the Mets with a 1-3 record at the moment.
Still, these are just simulations, and they’re helping us get through this stretch of self isolation and quarantine. Seeing these Mets start 0-4, we wait all the more for the real thing.
In years past, the Mets have been able to use the opening series against the Nationals to make a statement. In this simulated series, the Mets team without Michael Conforto and Noah Syndergaard was swept at home.
Mets actually had an early lead when Wilson Ramos hit a two out two run double in the fourth. However, the wheels came off for Matz in the fifth as the Nationals scored five runs capped off by a Kurt Suzuki two run homer. Matz was lifted when he couldn’t get the last out of the inning.
The Mets were down 6-2 entering the seventh. Robinson Cano chased Patrick Corbin with an RBI single. Amed Rosario and Jake Marisnick greeted the Nationals bullpen with RBI singles pulling the Mets to within 6-5.
The Mets had two on, no out, and they were ready to flip to the top of their lineup. For some reason, Justin Wilson hit for himself, and he couldn’t quite get the sacrifice down leading the Mets to strand the tying run at third.
An eighth inning rally sputtered without scoring a run, and the Nationals racked on two insurance runs in the ninth for the 8-5 win.
In the series, we saw the Nationals were a better team as they flexed their championship muscles. Of course, while some may debate whether that’s an actual thing, it’s most likely not in a simulation. The other key detail is while we have not seen Luis Rojas manage a game yet, we can be certain he doesn’t bat Wilson in that situation.
Overall, the Mets may be 0-3 in MLB The Show, but they’re still 0-0, so that’s something.
With there being no baseball, or really any professional sports being played right now, MLB The Show 20 continues simulating the 2020 season.
The second game of the season went much like the first. Like with Jacob deGrom and Max Scherzer, Marcus Stroman and Stephen Strasburg each had a no decision. Robinson Cano also homered, and Jake Marisnick would be caught stealing.
The game would also go into extras. Like on Opening Day when Robert Gsellman pitched a second inning, Justin Wilson would do the same. Wilson would also take the loss after surrendering a run in the top of the 11th.
This time the rally started with a Howie Kendrick lead-off single. After a wild pitch and fielder’s choice, he’d be on third with two outs. Whereas the Mets couldn’t turn a double play to keep the run from scoring on Opening Day, Brandon Nimmo just couldn’t get to a Kurt Suzuki shallow bloop near the line.
Instead of a 3-2 loss, the Mets lost this one 3-2 with Sean Doolittle recording the save again. Doolittle taking care of business against the Mets might be the most unrealistic part of these simulations.
In the end, these simulations highlight just how close these two teams are on paper. From these simulations, we’ve apparently missed out on some exciting baseball games. On the bright side, these losses don’t count for anything.
In true Mets fashion, it was discovered Mets ace Noah Syndergaard has a torn UCL, and he is going to need Tommy John surgery. With that, the Mets chances of winning the 2020 World Series, if the season is ever going to be played, just took a massive hit.
New York Mets starter Noah Syndergaard has a torn ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow and is expected to undergo Tommy John surgery in the near future, sources tell ESPN. The procedure will keep him out until at earliest April 2021 and likely into the summer months.
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) March 24, 2020
For all the discussion people want to have about Syndergaard not fulfilling his potential as an ace, Syndergaard remained a very good starting pitcher. In 2019, Syndergaard was 18th in FIP, and he had the second best hard-hit rate in the majors. Over the past two seasons, Syndergaard ranked eighth in FIP, and he had the best hard hit rate in the majors.
Overall, while some of his stats did not bear out that way, partially due to what has been an atrocious Mets defense, Syndergaard has pitched like one of the best pitchers in all of baseball. He’d be the ace on almost any other team. Part of the problem Syndergaard has with respect to how he is perceived is he is in the same rotation as Jacob deGrom, and every pitcher in baseball looks worse than they actually are next to him.
Looking at the Mets, their plan to compete for the division was rolling out a great top three of deGrom, Syndergaard, and Marcus Stroman. Now, they are going to have one of the better 1-2 punches in the majors, but not the best, and certainly, no longer the best 1-2-3 combination.
Worse yet, this thrusts Michael Wacha into that starting rotation. Wacha has been shut down multiple times in his career due to shoulder issues. That includes last year. Over the past two years, Wacha was simply not good. He had a 4.76 ERA with a 1.563 WHIP. In fact, he has had an ERA above 4.00 and a WHIP above 1.350 in three out of the last four years.
This isn’t like 2015 when the Mets had Steven Matz and Syndergaard waiting in the wings. No, the rotation really couldn’t withstand an injury to one of their top three starters like this. This serves as a crucial blow to their chances of competing.
Of course, things didn’t have to be this way. The Mets could’ve taken the money being given to Rick Porcello, owner of the worst ERA in the AL last year, Wacha, Jake Marisnick, and Dellin Betances, and they could’ve just given it to Zack Wheeler. That also would’ve given them a little money to spare.
With Wheeler, who is a discount at $118 million, especially with money deferred, the Mets still could’ve had a great 1-2 combination, and even with Syndergaard going down, their 1-2-3 punch would have likely remained the best in the majors. Mostly, it would’ve allowed the Mets to better sustain this injury.
Remember, the Mets aren’t just built on pitching. No, they are built on elite starting pitching. The best staff in the majors. That took a giant step back when the Mets let Wheeler walk, and now, it’s frankly no longer the case with Syndergaard done for 2020. In the end, Brodie Van Wagenen lost sight of this, and now he lost his team’s biggest strength.
Now, the Mets are without Syndergaard, and their chances took a MAJOR hit. Now, their hopes lie with Jeremy Hefner having a profound impact on the Mets rotation, which includes, but is not limited to having Porcello and Wacha turn the clock back 5+ years and having Matz reach his full potential.
The question next becomes what happens if the next pitcher goes down. Unless Corey Oswalt or Stephen Gonsalves are ready to contribute, this all could become a disaster rather quickly. The ultimate point here is the Mets chances of winning the World Series went from legitimately possible to having a real outside shot. That’s just how much losing Syndergaard hurts the team.
At least from a Mets fans perspective, this is the worst thing happening in the world right now. Of course, that really isn’t true. There are far more pressing concerns at the moment.
On that front, one of the things Mets fans were clinging onto was the prospect of the return of baseball at some point during 2020. When that happened, the Mets had that type of rotation which could have taken them their first World Series title since 1986. Now, there may not even be that to look forward to at at time when we are just sitting around waiting for things to improve.
On a day like today, when it is reported Syndergaard won’t pitch at all in 2020, it does not seem like things are going to be any better anytime soon.
Now that Major League Baseball has finally done the right thing in shutting down Spring Training and postponing the first few weeks of the 2020 season, we can now look at how this will impact individual teams. With respect to the New York Mets, this shutdown is exactly what they needed. That may seem a bit crass, but it is true nonetheless.
At the moment, the Mets were put in a precarious situation as Michael Conforto was dealing with an oblique injury. This injury left the Mets in a position where they needed to go with a couple of first basemen in J.D. Davis and Dominic Smith in the corners or go with Jake Marisnick in an everyday role despite his inability to be even a near league average hitter when he knew what was coming.
This shutdown doesn’t just give Conforto time to heal, but it also gives Yoenis Cespedes more time to heal and get ready for the season. According to all reports, he had been working quite hard to get back on the field, and he was making considerable progress. However, even with all of his progress, he had not yet been playing in full games.
The further back the season is pushed; the more time Conforto and Cespedes have to get ready to play games. With each day the start of the season is pushed back (that’s an unknown at this point), the greater the chance Conforto and Cespedes will be ready for Opening Day.
Even if they are not ready for the new Opening Day, they will miss fewer games as a result of the delay to the start of the season. That means we are this much closer to an outfield of Cespedes-Brandon Nimmo-Conforto. That type of outfield takes the Mets from postseason contender to World Series contender.
It is not just Cespedes who is rehabbing from an injury which robbed him of his 2019 season. Dellin Betances was only able to pitch 0.2 innings for the Yankees last year due to a shoulder injury and then a partially torn Achillies. It was only recently he began pitching in Spring Training games.
As is typically the case, it takes Betances time during Spring Training to go from the low 90s to the upper 90s. When Betances is able to get to that point, he is a completely different reliever. It may be difficult to remember now, but when Betances can ramp up his fastball to the upper 90s he truly is the best reliever in baseball. The more time he has to get back to that pitcher (which may not be a given) the better for him and the Mets.
Generally speaking, the more time the Mets pitching staff has to work on things, the better. This is the first year with pitching coach Jeremy Hefner. There are things he wants to share with players, and there are tweaks in deliveries and pitch sequencing/usage he wants the staff to make. Getting to get some of that out of the way now as opposed to in games helps.
Speaking of more time to prepare for the season, this is Luis Rojas‘s first year at the helm. While he has managed most of these players previously, he has not done it at this level. The more time he has to bond with the team and manage expectations the better he and the team will be set up for success.
Overall, the coronavirus has created a serious situation, and things should not be taken lightly. It may seem crass to say this about a virus which is infecting people at a scary rate leading to the shut down of all pro sports and society as a whole, but this is a bad situation which will help the New York Mets.
With the news of Michael Conforto straining his oblique, he will likely miss Opening Day, and it is possible he will miss approximately a month. That is a month to figure out what is the best way to manage his absence. That is a problem all the more problematic given how the Mets only have two outfielders who are everyday caliber with Conforto being one of them.
There are a number of potential solutions, each of which are fraught with with their own problems.
The Mets could go with J.D. Davis and Dominic Smith in the corners. However, with their OAA and sprint speed that is not a viable defensive solution. They could also go with Jake Marisnick in center, but he was a well below average hitter and among the worst hitters at his position even when he knew what pitch was coming.
The Mets could better mix and match in the outfield if they could put Jeff McNeil back in a corner outfield position. As we saw last year, he was a good defender out there, and as we saw, he was an All-Star in left last year. However, in order for that to happen, the Mets need to have a replacement for him at third as McNeil is slated to be the everyday third baseman.
On that note, Eduardo Nunez is having a good Spring Training, and according to reports, he feels the healthiest he has in years. As reported by Tim Britton of The Athletic, Nunez took time off to heal as he said, “Last year, I couldn’t even play defense, I couldn’t hustle, I couldn’t steal any base, I couldn’t hit for power, so it was really tough.”
If he’s completely healthy, which Nunez asserts wasn’t the case in Boston, he appears to be on track to making the Opening Day roster. More than that, he could insert himself into the everyday lineup with Conforto’s injury.
In his 10 year career, despite his speed, Nunez has never been a good defender. In fact, he is a negative defender at every infield position. That said, his best infield position is third base. That’s not exactly inspiring with him having a -22 DRS there in his career. However, notably, he amassed a -12 DRS in his two years with the Red Sox.
Prior to the 2018 and 2019 seasons, Nunez had not been all that bad at third. After posting a -4 DRS in 2014, he had a -3 DRS over the ensuing three seasons with two of them being at a 0 DRS or better. It should be noted his OAA numbers were not all the positive with a -6 in 2017, 0 in 2018, and -3 in 2019.
All told, he is just not good at third. However, what he appears to be is playable there over a shorter duration. Of course, the question is whether it is worth playing him there. On the surface, the answer is probably not. In his two years with Boston, Nunez’s wRC+ was 70, which is worse than Marisnick.
Of course, that number was dragged down by Nunez’s woeful 2019 season. Looking back to the three seasons prior to Nunez’s Boston years, he had a 106 OPS+ making him slightly above league-average. Slightly above league average with the bat and below league average as a fielder isn’t a bad mix for a solid utility player.
However, for an everyday player it is less than ideal. In fact, it is not a recipe for success. Ultimately, this means Nunez shouldn’t be the solution for Conforto in his absence. That would then mean McNeil stays at third, and the Mets are left with either a center fielder who can’t hit or a pair of first baseman in the corners.
Right now, if the Mets don’t make a move, they are going to need Yoenis Cespedes to make unexpected progress, or they are going to need Luis Rojas to show deft touch in mixing a matching his lineup. That is not an enviable position to be in, but that’s where the Mets stand due to their not addressing their outfield depth this past offseason.
Part of Spring Training is getting through healthy and ready for Opening Day. Fortunately, Brandon Nimmo‘s heart is fine, and his neck is not presenting any further issues. We are awaiting news on Michael Conforto. Right there, the Mets have had injury issues already with their two everyday outfielders.
Yes, there are only two.
Going over to Baseball Savant, there are only four players on the Mets really capable of playing the outfield on an everyday basis. Conforto led the Mets with a 6 OAA last year, Nimmo was not too far behind with a 3 OAA. After that Jeff McNeil had a 0 OAA indicating he could handle the position. In terms of McNeil, he is no longer part of the everyday outfield equation as he is slated to be the Mets everyday third baseman.
As good as Conforto was last year in the outfield, Jake Marisnick was even better with an 8 OAA in center last year. So defensively, the Mets have three outfielders. The problem with Marisnick is he can’t hit.
Among center fielders with at least 300 plate appearances, his 86 wRC+ ranked 26th. Keep in mind, that was when Marisnick knew what pitch was coming.
With the way Marisnick hits, or better put can’t hit, the Mets are looking for more offensive options in the outfield, As a result, the Mets plan on playing J.D. Davis and Dominic Smith in the outfield on an everyday basis with Marisnick as a defensive replacment. Presumably, Davis is going to get the bulk of the playing time. Simply put, that is a very bad idea.
Last year, Davis had a -7 OAA in left field. Some want to argue he was just thrown out there, and he will get better with more playing time. That argument overlooks Davis not having the skill set to succeed in the outfield.
Davis is not a fast runner. In fact, his sprint speed is only 26.3 ft/second. To put it into perspective, that makes him slower than Pete Alonso. Essentially, this means Davis has the speed of a first baseman in the outfield. As we saw with Daniel Murphy in 2009, just because you got away with it for a portion of one year, you should not rely on it going forward because you are going to get burned.
What was said about Davis applies to Smith as well. Even with a vastly superior -3 OAA, he is a step slower than Davis. What this highlights is you should not count on first basemen in the outfield for anything other than a start here or there.
Keep in mind, Davis and Smith having strong arms are non sequiturs. If you can’t get to a ball, it doesn’t matter how strong your arm is. A strong arm will never compensate for playing outs into hits and singles into extra base hits because you can’t get to a playable ball.
So, when you break it down, Conforto and Nimmo are everyday Major League outfielders. Beyond them, McNeil is a third baseman now, Marisnick can’t hit, and neither Davis nor Smith can be relied upon to adequately field the position.
Overall, this puts the Mets in a situation where they need to find another third baseman to move McNeil to the outfield, or they can just go out and sign Yasiel Puig. Keep in mind, that’s what they need to do when everyone is healthy. Things become much more dire if Conforto gets bad news.
We haven’t completed the first week of Spring Training games, and suddenly, the Mets are moving towards being put in a position where they will need to find their Opening Day left fielder. Arguably, we are not yet at that day, but from the looks of it, that day of reckoning may soon come.
Yoenis Cespedes has been rehabbing from his double heel surgery, and according to indications, he is doing roughly 85% of what the other Mets players are doing. Cespedes has been pushing hard, but no one quite knows if he is going to be able to be ready for Opening Day, and if he is, no one knows if he can play everyday.
To some, Cespedes was seen as a luxury because the Mets had other options in the outfield. Depending on how things shake out, that may no longer be true.
J.D. Davis dove for a ball at third, and he is being at least temporarily shut down. He has a “pre-existing” labrum tear and inflammation. Davis says he will be ready for Opening Day, but we heard the same refrains from Jed Lowrie last year, and when we look at history, the Mets have a terrible history diagnosing and handling injuries.
Brandon Nimmo, who was supposed to be ready to go for Opening Day, is now dealing with a cardiac issues. He is undergoing cardiac screening, and at this point, we don’t know what the exact issue is, and really, we don’t know how this issue (to the extent there is one) will limit him.
Right there, the Mets are potentially down three outfield options. That leaves Jake Marisnick, who was a below average hitter even when he knew what pitch was coming, and Dominic Smith, who suffered a stress fracture playing the outfield last year. Keep in mind, where the Mets stand right now, they are in a position to play Marisnick and Smith everyday with their backup outfielder being Jeff McNeil, who is also their everyday third baseman.
The question is what then happens when or if either Marisnick or Smith go down? There just isn’t the depth in Triple-A to sustain an injury. When you look at it, the Mets are getting increasingly shallow in the outfield, and that is before the season even begins.
With Puig, the Mets are getting a good fielder, who even at his worst, is a league average bat. No, Puig is not the superstar many thought he’d be when he debuted with the Dodgers. Rather, he is a solid, good, durable, and reliable everyday Major League outfielder. Put another way, he is exactly what the Mets don’t have.
Now, it is possible Cespedes will be ready by Opening Day. Davis’ shoulder and Nimmo’s heart may not keep them out of the Opening Day lineup. Marisnick could have a career year, and after a full offseason, Smith could be ready to play everyday in the outfield. Still, that is a lot of question marks, and it is unwise to hinge your season on all of that breaking in the Mets favor.
Seeing that is the case, the Mets should be acting quickly to sign Puig. If nothing else, they’ll put themselves in a position to have too many player for too few spots. That’s a much better problem to have than not having Major League caliber players to play the outfield because the Mets waited too long to act and some other team signed Puig at the precise moment they needed him most.
After what seems like one of the longest offseasons in baseball history, today, February 22, 2020, the New York Mets are finally playing a baseball game. Actually, they are playing two games with their split squads playing against the St. Louis Cardinals and Miami Marlins.
The focus isn’t on the Astros sign stealing, and how the Mets opted to fire Carlos Beltran while simultaneously keeping J.D. Davis and Jake Marisnick despite their own involvement in the scandal. Instead, the focus goes to Luis Rojas‘ first year as the manager of the Mets, and how the rotation and bullpen are going to hold up in the Mets hopes of winning a World Series for the first time since 1986.
Rick Porcello, who the Mets desperately need to have a bounceback year, takes the mound against the Marlins. Marcus Stroman, who is already being looked upon as a dark horse Cy Young candidate, will start against the Cardinals.
From there, we will look at whether Steven Matz can build off of his strong second half. In terms of the bullpen, all eyes will be on Dellin Betances‘ ability to rebound and whether the nasty splitter Jeurys Familia used against Jeff McNeil will appear during the season.
Overall, the 2020 Mets are playing games now, and the focus is going to be one how this team will improve from 2019, and whether this team truly is a World Series contender. That is a more fun and interesting discussion than what we have been having all offseason.
Baseball is back. Well, almost. In any event, it is great having baseball games back, and soon, we will have real baseball being played. When the game is being played, everything is better. Things are even better when the Mets are good. Soon, we will find out if they really are.
Since David Wright has retired, there has been some question over who should be the next captain of the New York Mets, or even if there should ever be another captain. In the event the Mets do ever seek to name a new captain, they have a roster full of homegrown players who could step up and be exactly that leader the next Mets captain needs to be.
The popular choice is Pete Alonso. That choice is inspired, and Alonso has shown himself worthy. In addition to a record setting rookie season, he showed himself to be a great teammate by and through his friendship with Dominic Smith, and he showed true leadership with the 9/11 cleats.
Another very worthy candidate is Michael Conforto.
In his five year career, Conforto has seen it all. He was the phenom how helped the Mets win the 2015 pennant. He was there for the Mets tearing down that roster to build it back up. He has handled his own injury problems, and he has been bounced around the outfield to suit the Mets needs.
He’s been a future superstar, a platoon player, a bust, an All Star, a what could’ve been, and finally, a good baseball player again who is a part of a team who could win the World Series.
More than anyone, Conforto knows what it is like being a Met when times are a good and when times are bad. In some ways, he had a career arc not too different than what we saw with David Wright, albeit on a truncated and less dramatic scale. On that note, Conforto was there when Wright battled back from spinal stenosis, and he was there to learn from him.
Conforto was also there learning from other leaders like Jay Bruce, Michael Cuddyer, and Curtis Granderson. In fact, when Bruce and Granderson were traded away in 2017, it was Conforto who initially had to step up and fill the leadership void, something which became difficult as he dealt with a potentially career ending surgery.
It has become quite clear Conforto learned from people like Bruce, Cuddyer, Granderson, and Wright.
Right now, the biggest issue in baseball has been the sign stealing. That scandal has impacted the Mets as they have already lost a manager in Carlos Beltran before he even managed a game. One of their best pitchers, Marcus Stroman, has been quite vocal in his issues with the Astros sign stealing. While we haven’t seen public statements, there are reports Jacob deGrom and Edwin Diaz are similarly angry.
With J.D. Davis and Jake Marisnick having been part of that 2017 Astros team, that could be very problematic for this Mets clubhouse. That is an even bigger issue with Marisnick doubling off Stroman in a specific game Stroman commented saying the Astros were “Ruining the integrity of the game.”
This is the type of situation which begs for someone to step up and tackle this issue before it is a problem either in the clubhouse or publicly. Right away, Conforto has stepped up and tried to take control of the message:
Michael Conforto said there won’t be any animosity from Mets teammates toward 2017 Astros Jake Marisnick and J.D. Davis.
“But I’m sure there will be conversations about it.”
Conforto was clear that the Astros crossed a line, but he won’t hold it against Marisnick/Davis.
— Tim Healey (@timbhealey) February 11, 2020
This is exactly what you need from a captain of your team. You need someone to have the savvy to disspell any notion of internal strife and have the status in the clubhouse to make sure that this will in fact be the case. In that statement, we see while he may not be the captain, Conforto remains a leader in that Mets clubhouse.
Conforto has indicated he loves being a Met, and he would be open to a contract extension. If the Mets step up and make him a Met for life, it would be fitting to also named him the next captain in team history as he is showing he is a leader, knows how to handle everything which has come the Mets way, and ultimately, he is the type of player and person who would make a good captain.