Jeff McNeil

Mets Defense Sets Baseball Back A Century Or Two

David Peterson had no-hit the Chicago Cubs for the first 3.1 innings. That was despite a moving and ever changing strike zone.

The Mets had a 2-0 lead, and things looked great. After all, Francisco Lindor hit his first homer with the Mets:

Not only would the Mets lose this one, but they would lose bad. Adding salt in the wound was how embarrassing a loss it was. The fourth inning defense was just about the worst you’ve ever seen:

It was 2-1 Mets after the Cubs hit three consecutive singles. With runners on first and second, Javier Baez hit what should’ve been an inning ending double play. Instead, J.D. Davis, the worst defender in baseball, booted it.

That error not only allowed the inning to continue, but it opened the floodgates. It also precipitated just a series of gaffes.

Michael Conforto threw one away. Lindor booted one and then threw it away. After all was said and done, the Cubs scored seven runs. Gary Cohen called it a circus, and he was being kind.

In the fifth, Lindor had a bloop, and Pete Alonso had a blast. That’s putting it mildly. Alonso killed that ball:

At that time, they had hope. It was just 7-4. The problem was the Mets weren’t done playing just awful baseball.

Lindor and Jeff McNeil got crossed up on who should play a ball. That turned into a Willson Contreras double. James McCann had a catcher’s interference.

One potential inning ending double play ball deflected off Robert Gsellman‘s leg and into center. Another was hit to Davis who took his time and STILL nearly threw it into the outfield.

That was just the three run fifth.

In the sixth. Trevor Hildenberger walked the bases loaded before allowing a grand slam to Javier Baez. At that point, it was 14-4, and frankly, it seemed like the Mets were lucky to be that close.

It got to that point Guillorme pitched. That’s right, their second best defender pitched while Jonathan Villar took over at short with Davis at third.

Guillorme allowed two runs making it 16-4. The sad part is this ruined Guillorme’s 0.00 ERA entering the game.

Perhaps, the most impressive part of the game was Guillorme. With the Mets down 12 and two outs in the ninth, Guillorme battled, and eventually, he pulled off the single. The Mets wouldn’t score that inning.

The Mets lost, but at least they played Davis at third. That, and not winning games or supporting their young sinkerball pitcher, is what’s really important.

Game Notes: Brandon Nimmo sat out with a sore hip. Luis Guillorme is hitting .417/.563/.417, but he can’t start over Davis.

Umpires And J.D. Davis Cost Mets Chance To Win

Taijuan Walker took the mound looking to build off of his strong start to the season. Instead, he was plagued by bad umpiring and defense.

It got so bad Walker was ejected in the fourth. At that point, he had had enough of getting squeezed. The same could be said of Luis Rojas who was also ejected.

After 3.2 innings Walker had allowed three runs (two earned) on two hits and SIX walks. He struck out seven, but again, six walks.

Things should have gone better for Walker even in an abbreviated start. In the third, Walker got the ground ball he needed to get out of the inning. The bad news is Willson Contreras hit it at J.D. Davis.

What should’ve been a routine play was an error the Mets could’ve have. With that, it was 1-0 Cubs.

As bad as that was, there was the all around disaster in the fifth. Kris Bryant hit a ground ball towards Davis, who threw the ball away again.

If you’ll notice, Bryant never touched first, and yet, he will still called safe. That right there speaks to the state of umpiring and just how bad Davis was in this game.

It’s notable Davis has the yips, and he can’t get a throw off without double clutching and taking a few steps. For some reason, that was the over exaggerated narrative about Jeff McNeil, but for Davis, it’s ignored.

The good news is the Mets bullpen held up. After Walker was ejected, Robert Gsellman (0.2), Jacob Barnes (2.0), Jeurys Familia (1.0), and Trevor May (1.0) combined to keep the Cubs scoreless. That kept the score at 3-1, and, theoretically, gave the Mets a chance to win.

They didn’t.

Once again, the offense was flat out bad. As a team, they were 1-for-6 with RISP leaving 10 men on base. For five innings, they made Jake Arrieta look like the Arrieta of old.

Things were at their worst in the ninth. Craig Kimbrel was looking for the save, and he was wild. He was begging the Mets to take walk after walk after walk.

Two of the first three batters did walk. The second one, Davis struck out on a ball he had zero excuse swinging at:

After a Luis Guillorme pinch hit single to load the bases, the Mets seemed to be in great shape to tie or take the lead.

It was at that point Kimbrel regained his control. He struck out Brandon Nimmo, and then Francisco Lindor jumped on the first pitch he saw.

When Lindor grounded out, the game was over. This was easily the most frustrating loss of the season. On the bright side, it’s just one game, and they’re still in first place.

Game Notes: This was the guest time Nimmo did not reach safely this season.

Marcus Stroman Great On Mound And With Glove In Win

If you want to be the great team the New York Mets want to be, you have to win rubber games against the Colorado Rockies. Marcus Stroman made sure they wouldn’t lose.

Stroman was brilliant on that mound. That includes not just his pitching. It was his Gold Glove defense as well. Because of that the Rockies couldn’t get anything going.

In the first, Stroman got Ryan McMahon to hit into a double play. In the third, the opposing pitcher, Antonio Senzatela, tried to get down a sacrifice bunt, but Stroman pounced off the mound.

Stroman got the lead runner, and Francisco Lindor got a superstar call. While it seemed he didn’t quite catch it, the umpire ruled it was dropped on the transfer.

Stroman would just completely shut down the Rockies offense. After that third inning walk which came before that bunt play, no Rockie would reach base again until the seventh.

Stroman needed to be that good too because the Mets offense was again not clicking. In fact, things were so bad, Brandon Nimmo didn’t reach base until the eighth inning. Fortunately, the Mets did just enough to score the runs they needed.

In the second, after a Pete Alonso leadoff single, Michael Conforto had just his second extra base hit of the season with a double. Jeff McNeil hit an RBI groundout scoring Alonso giving the Mets a 1-0 lead.

Unfortunately, the Mets offense did nothing from there stranding Conforto at third. He wouldn’t be stranded there in the fourth.

Conforto hit a two out single, and he went first to third when a McNeil grounder went through CJ Cron‘s legs. J.D. Davis hit an RBI single increasingly the Mets lead to 2-0.

After that, the Mets wouldn’t score another run. In fact, the Mets wouldn’t get another runner into scoring position until the eighth.

In the eighth, Nimmo finally reached with a lead-off single. He’d steal second with no outs, and he’d move to third when Mychal Givens threw a wild pitch. He’d be stranded there.

In the ninth, McNeil got too aggressive. He hit a ball in the right field corner. However, Charlie Blackmon made a strong relay to McMahon, who nailed McNeil trying to stretch a double into a triple.

That put all the pressure on the Mets pitching. Stroman and Edwin Diaz were up to the task.

In the seventh, the Rockies finally got to Stroman when Trevor Story hit a one out double against Stroman. He’d come home to score on a Blackmon RBI single. Stroman responded to this adversity by striking out Cron and Garret Hampson to end the inning.

As great as that all was, Stroman saved his best for last. In the eighth, Josh Fuentes hit one up the middle. Stroman moved bsckwards, caught it behind his back, and got the ball to first in time.

As an aside, that was a very good stretch by Alonso to ensure Fuentes was out.

Stroman would last eight innings, which is the deepest any Mets pitcher would go in a game this year. He’d allowed just one win on three hits and one walk. He’d strike out five.

Stroman earned his third win of the season. That’s because of his dominance and Diaz conveying the save . . . or was it James McCann?

After Diaz retired the first two Rockies, Story would single. He would then try to steal second to put himself in scoring position for Blackmon. He wouldn’t get there:

The Rockies asked for replay, but Story was out. With that, the Mets earned the win in the rubber game and moved back to three games over .500. They now head to Chicago where they try to avoid weather delays again.

Game Notes: This was the first game all year Nimmo did not reach base twice. This was just their second nine inning game over a six game span.

Mets No Fuego In Second Half Of Doubleheader

After a big comeback to get Jacob deGrom a victory in the first half of the doubleheader, the Mets couldn’t replicate the feat to get Joey Lucchesi off the hook. With that, their four game winning streak snapped.

The Rockies jumped all over Lucchesi in the first. The first out he recorded was a long sacrifice fly by Trevor Story. Two batters later, CJ Cron hit a two RBI double giving the Rockies an early 3-0 lead.

On the other side, German Marquez was dealing for the Rockies. The only time he would get in trouble was the fourth when Jeff McNeil hit a two RBI double to pull the Mets to within 3-2.

With McNeil as the tying run at second, Jonathan Villar grounded out to end the inning. The Mets would get no closer, and this game would turn into a rout.

After Lucchesi went three, Robert Gsellman made his 2021 debut. He pitched effectively pitching a scoreless fourth. That should’ve helped keep the Mets in the game.

Jacob Barnes relieved Gsellman, and he imploded in the fifth. Like Lucchesi, the Rockies jumped all over him.

With runners at the corners, the Mets couldn’t turn a double play on a weakly hit Charlie Blackmon grounder. That allowed a run to score, and it extended the inning.

After Cron walked, Josh Fuentes hit a three run homer to expand the Rockies lead to 7-2. That put the game out of reach and allowed Luis Rojas to continue using his not often used relievers.

In addition to Gsellman and Barnes, Trevor Hildenberger would appear in this game. In his Mets and season debut, he pitched a scoreless inning. However, it was too little too late.

Marquez pitched a seven inning complete game. There are a few reasons we can pinpoint, but the Mets didn’t have it in the second game. That means a runner game tomorrow.

Game Notes: Brandon Nimmo extended his on-base streak to 23 games (dating back to last year)

Luis Rojas Doing Good Job For Mets

Certainly, the New York Mets have made some truly odd decisions this season. That began their first game of the season where Kevin Pillar batted lead-off, Brandon Nimmo was eighth, and Dominic Smith was left out of the lineup all together. The curious lineup decisions continued with Jeff McNeil batting seventh for a stretch and completely overreacting to Michael Conforto slumping.

While Luis Rojas has received his share of the blame for those decisions, it is important to note he is not the one making out the lineup card. We are well past the days of Casey Stengel playing hunches. No, the lineup now is much more of a collaborative process, and unless you are someone like Terry Francona, your standing and stature to make those decisions alone differs.

To be fair, it’s not just the lineup. There have been other decisions. There was using Aaron Loup when the three batter rule meant he had to face J.T. Realmuto. He has used Trevor May and Miguel Castro quite often so far this season. The latest was letting Marcus Stroman bat in the sixth only to let Jeurys Familia pitch in the seventh.

That last decision was one of several which has caused fans to question his abilities. There has been a growing narrative where Rojas was not ready for this job and is in over his head. Certainly, one of the contributing factors was his being thrust into the job after Carlos Beltran‘s firing. However, when it came to that decision, there was much more happening than most were aware:

When assessing managers, we far too often overlook the fact there is much we don’t know. For example, we don’t understand players have personal conversations with players, and they have to make assessments and decisions based upon those conversations. We really don’t know why some players are unavailable.

There’s also the fact we tend to only judge one or two decisions per game and blow it out of proportion when it comes to assessing the total job. First and foremost, it would seem from Stroman’s tweet, Rojas has the back of everyone in that clubhouse. To a certain extent, that is no surprise with Rojas managing most of these players in the minors, and those players respecting him.

Players certainly respect him when he goes out there arguing with the umpire after Jose Alvarado threw not once but twice at Conforto. More people respect him when he takes ownership of the team’s issues and doesn’t pass the blame to the players. He also accepts the responsibility for the decisions clearly made by the front office.

Another overlooked factor is how much certain players have improved. It’s still early, but we have seen Pete Alonso and Brandon Nimmo play significantly improved defense. We have also seen him make Dominic Smith passable in left field. Make no mistake, this is significant because the Mets need for each one of these things to happen if the team wants to truly compete this season.

And remember, when assessing Rojas, the Mets have had a simply bizarre start to the season. They didn’t play the first series due to the Nationals getting infected with COVID. They had a suspended game after three batters and a rain out. At one point, they had played five games and had five games postponed. Despite that, he has his team ready to play, and they seem primed to take off.

Overall, Rojas isn’t perfect, but no manager is. He is still growing into the job, and he is learning. Overall, he has a real skill-set to thrive in this job, and he is doing many thing which are helping the Mets win games. This is not a manager in over his head. Rather, this is a manager who knows exactly what he’s doing, and the Mets are better off for having him in the dugout.

Marcus Stroman Steps Up In Mets Win

Much was made about Marcus Stroman‘s availability (and even his heart and dedication) after he said he couldn’t make a start after his facing three batters in a suspended game. He felt good after a bullpen and declared himself good to go on one days rest.

He was brilliant.

Stroman didn’t allow a hit until the fourth. A runner didn’t reach scoring position until two outs in the fifth. Just when you thought he was tiring in the sixth, he got Rhys Hoskins to hit into an inning ending double play.

His final line would be 6.0 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 3 K. He would also get the win.

After getting the game winning RBI in the first half of the doubleheader, Jonathan Villar would do it again in the second half albeit in far less dramatic fashion.

Much like Stroman, Aaron Nola was pitching great making this a pitcher’s duel. It would take Jeff McNeil BARELY beating out an infield single to get a rally started.

The Mets might’ve caught a break there, and for seemingly the first time all season, they took advantage. Kevin Pillar followed with a single, and then Villar hit a flat Nola curve for an RBI double.

Nola plunked Tomas Nido, and Stroman would strike out. Brandon Nimmo would then come up and hit the first pitch from Nola into a two RBI single. That gave the Mets a 3-0 lead.

It was Nimmo again in the sixth. Nido would triple, and Stroman got for himself and drew a walk. Nimmo would then drive Nido home with another RBI single extending the Mets lead to 4-0.

Jeurys Familia came on to pitch the seventh in a non-save situation. In typical Familia fashion, it was an adventure, but he got the job done.

The Mets are now over .500 for the first time this season, and they have their first shutout. Their starting pitching has been great with Nimmo arguably being better. Things are getting really fun right now.

Game Notes: Stroman has allowed just one earned over 12.0 innings this year. He’s the only Mets starter so far to earn a win this season. Michael Conforto sat out after getting HBP in the first game. The x-rays on his wrist were negative.

Mets Walk It Off In The Eighth

After the rain-out yesterday, the New York Mets started Taijuan Walker, who was great for four innings. For the second straight start, Walker’s velocity was up, and he was throwing strikes.

Walker got into trouble three times. In the second, Alec Bohm led off the inning with a double, but Walker limited the Philadelphia Phillies to just one run. In the fourth, it was Bohm again who started a rally; this time drawing a one out walk. Didi Gregorius would follow with a single, but Walker got out of the inning by inducing Jean Segura to hit into an inning ending double play. The third time would happen in the fourth, but by that time, the Mets already had a lead.

Walker needed to get out of those jams too because the Mets reconfigured line-up still wasn’t scoring many runs or creating many opportunities. We were going to see it the other day, but we officially saw Michael Conforto dropped to sixth in the order with Dominic Smith and Jeff McNeil moving up to third and fifth respectively.

In the first, it looked like genius. As is usual, Brandon Nimmo would lead-off the game with a walk. He would then come home to score when Dominic Smith hit a one out two run homer against Phillies Chase Anderson.

That meant Walker and the Mets had a lead going into the top of the fifth. At that point, Home Plate Umpire Joe West, fresh off his defamation suit victory over Paul Lo Duca, stopped being able to tell the difference between balls and strikes. To be fair to West a bit, Walker got a bit wild, and he wound up walking back-to-back hitters after striking out Andrew Knapp to start the inning.

At that point, Luis Rojas went to Miguel Castro, who seems to be becoming the Mets go-to reliever in these big spots. Castro did come up big first striking out Andrew McCutchen. Then, Roman Quinn would commit a mortal baseball sin by making the last out at third. Quinn blew it two different ways.

To be fair, he was absolutely safe initially on what first seemed like a well executed double steal. James McCann‘s throw to third was high, and it took Luis Guillorme jumping to prevent the ball from going into left field. Quinn appeared to assume it went to left field, and it looked like he started to go head for home. While this happened, Guillorme landed on Quinn assuring he was off the bag leading to the easy inning ending tag out.

Walker’s final line was 4.1 IP, 3 H, R, ER, 3 BB, 8 K. Walker would not have qualified for the win. For some reason, you need to pitch five innings to earn a win in both a nine and seven inning game. You would think the rules would be re-calibrated for shortened seven inning double header games, but that makes too much sense. Then again, shortening games two innings makes zero sense in the first place.

That all became academic as Casto would lose the lead in the sixth. He did escape the fifth, but he got into trouble himself by issuing a lead-off walk to Rhys Hoskins in the sixth.

Bryce Harper followed with a single. Castro responded by striking out Bohm, and getting Gregorius to hit into a fielder’s choice. However, that was not enough as Segura hit one off the end of the bat. Guillorme charged in, but he couldn’t get it to first in time. That tied the score 2-2 and put more pressure on a feckless Mets lineup.

You could criticize Guillorme for fielding it with the glove costing him seconds. Of course, Segura was still safe by a pretty good margin. It’s also noteworthy Guillorme is a second baseman by trade, and he played that ball like the middle infielder he is. Of course, McNeil is much more experienced as third, but for some reason, the Mets want to go with the lesser defensive positioning.

Pete Alonso led off the sixth with a strikeout against Jose Alvarado dropping him to 0-fer his last 14, but unlike Conforto, he won’t be booed or dropped in the order. Speaking of Conforto, Alvarado threw at his head and missed and then later plunked him in the at-bat. Luis Rojas was irate and argued because for some reason Alvarado was not tossed from the game. The Mets would not make Alvarado and the Phillies pay for it as McCann would fly out to end the inning.

After a scoreless inning from Edwin Diaz, the Mets would have a chance to walk it off in the bottom of the seventh.

Guillorme, one of the few Mets doing anything offensively, led off the inning with a walk against Connor Brogdon. Jonathan Villar pinch ran, and then Kevin Pillar drew a walk.

The Mets offense would again falter. Nimmo stuck out. Francisco Lindor flew out, and then Smith struck out to end the inning.

That led to a combination of the two dumbest rules in baseball. The eighth inning began with a runner on second because this was a m seven inning game. Pure idiocy.

Trevor May wound up giving up an “unearned run” putting the Mets down 3-2 heading into the bottom of the eighth on a Gregorius infield single.

The bright side is the feckless Mets offense was gifted a runner at second. Hector Neris would be the one who had the task of keeping the Mets offense incapable of hitting with RISP.

The speedy Lindor quickly scored as Alonso finally got a hit driving home Lindor. McNeil hit into a fielder’s choice, and Conforto walked. McCann singled to load the bases.

Villar, who came on to pinch run for Guillorme, had his first big moment as a member of the Mets driving home McNeil to win the game.

It wasn’t the prettiest win, and it’s dumb gimmick baseball. That said, you take the win and get ready for the second half of the doubleheader.

Game Notes: Guillorme went 1-for-1 with two walks while batting eighth. He is now hitting .571 with a 1.299 OPS on the season. This was Castro’s fourth appearance over the Mets first six games. May earned his first win as a Met.

20/20 Hindsight: Mets Split Bizarre Shortened Series

Due to the rain-out yesterday, the New York Mets split a series against the Miami Marlins. There was a lot which happened in the span of those three days, which is just an indication of just how bizarre the start to this season has been:

1.  Not calling a game which had zero chance of ever getting played was a very Wilpon like decision. Hopefully, this is something that we will not see happen again.

2.  Whenever there is a threat of rain, teams should just use an opener. It is not worth wasting a pitcher’s turn through the rotation in the hopes of a game being played. Instead of getting someone like Robert Gsellman some work, the Mets are going to have to wait until Friday to see Marcus Stroman again.

3. Aside from David Peterson, the Mets starting pitching has been quite good this season. The best surprise might’ve been Taijuan Walker who looked like the pitcher many thought he would be when he was once a top 10 prospect in the game.

4. Why bother reading the Wilpon owned Mets website, when you can come here and read it done first and better?

5. Jeff McNeil was swinging a good bat and ran into some bad luck before hitting that clutch homer. That bat flip was reminiscent of the Asdrubal Cabrera one.

6. The umpires completely blew it when ruling Michael Conforto was hit by the pitch to force in the game winning run. The fact replay can’t fix that error is a failure of the system.

7. Just when you thought that was bad, on Sunday Night Baseball, Alec Bohm never touched home plate, was ruled safe, and the call was somehow upheld on replay. What is the point of the system when you can’t get obviously blown calls corrected?

8. By the way, Travis d’Arnaud did an amazing job receiving that throw and blocking the plate. There really is no one better in the game than him at doing that, and it is also notable the Mets have spent a ton of money on catchers who are no better than him.

9. These two plays are reminiscent of when Chase Utley went out of the baseline, tackled Ruben Tejada, never touched the bag, and was ruled safe on replay and awarded second base. By the way, the manager who asked for that review and wound up winning partially because of that absurdity was Don Mattingly, so he can save us from listening to his whining.

10. The booing of Conforto was ridiculous. Yes, he had a really bad four game stretch as all players are going to have during the course of the season. You would just think a player of his stature who has been a good Met for this long would have a longer leash than four games.

11. Dropping Conforto in the line-up was a pure panic decision. It’s not like he’s the only Mets player not hitting. For example, there was no booing of Pete Alonso despite his being hitless over his last 11 at-bats, and no one wants him dropped in the order. Remember, Conforto was great last year whereas Alonso comparatively struggled.

12. No, this is not a call to boo Alonso. It is also not a call to boo McNeil who has one hit this year. The same goes for James McCann and Francisco Lindor who have matching .176 batting averages with no extra base hits. It is was too soon to boo any of these players.

13. Conforto is eventually going to break out of his slump due to the ebbs and flows of the baseball season. His being dropped to fifth, sixth, or even seventh in the order will have nothing to do with hit.

14. If this was about rewarding the best hitters, Luis Guillorme would be playing everyday. That goes double when you consider J.D. Davis hit the IL. Guillorme is literally hitting .500 in his limited playing opportunities.

15. Brandon Nimmo has been phenomenal to start the season. He has flat out been the Mets best player with a 223 OPS+ and a 1 OAA in center. He’s been locked in to start the season. Yes, it is too soon to talk All-Star or even MVP consideration, but he looks like he’s poised to have a great year.

16. Of course, no one is better than Jacob deGrom. On the season, he has allowed one run over 14.0 innings while striking out 21. We are running out of words to describe how great he is.

17. We’re also running out of ways to describe just how terrible the lack of run support he receives is. It is beyond a joke deGrom is 0-1 to start the year. It’s really difficult to pinpoint the reason, but there is no rational explanation why this keeps happening.

18. Congrats to Joe Musgrove for throwing the first no-hitter in San Diego Padres history. Doing that for the team you grew up rooting for is like Mike Baxter making the no-hitter saving catch for Johan Santana‘s. On that topic, Anthony DiComo certainly showed his true colors.

19. People need to stop this over the top criticism of Luis Rojas. We are five games into a disjointed season with COVID cancellations and front office blown decisions on a rain delay. Like all managers, he is not the one setting the lineup or deciding whether or not to play the games. He is working with the front office on these decisions, including scripting out how long the starters go and which relievers pitch. He’s just the face and fall guy for many of these decisions.

20. The Mets already have four games to make up this season. The bright side will be those games will come when Noah Syndergaard and Carlos Carrasco have returned.

Michael Conforto Singled Out For Mets Team Wide Slump

If the New York Mets were to have played in the game against the Miami Marlins, Michael Conforto was going to bat sixth. The reason why is Conforto is slumping.

There’s no doubt Conforto is slumping. After going 2-for-5 in the first game of the season, he’s slumped mightily.

Since that first game, he’s 1-for-16 with a double, a walk, and two HBP. Alarmingly, he’s struck out in seven of 19 plate appearances (36.8%). That would be eight times if the home plate umpire didn’t blow the call.

Certainly, you can understand why the Mets would consider dropping him in the order. However, taking that position ignores the fact Brandon Nimmo is the only player in the Mets lineup who is hitting. Here are the numbers:

No, this isn’t just Conforto slumping. It’s nearly everyone in the Mets lineup. Again, Nimmo is the only one performing well.

Dominic Smith hasn’t been bad per se, but still, he only has a .250 OBP. Of course, part of that is hitting a sacrifice fly.

To that end, it would make sense to move him up in the lineup. He’s one of the few who has performed respectably.

Then again, when we see Luis Guillorme hitting .500 with a 1.125 OPS unable to crack the lineup, we get a sense these decisions aren’t entirely performance driven. What the impetus is for these decisions is anyone’s guess.

Right now, we only know Nimmo and Guillorme are hitting, Smith is treading water, and frankly, everyone else is struggling mightily.

Despite that, Conforto is the only one criticized and dropped in the lineup. It makes zero to no sense, and it’s difficult to ascertain what the Mets endgame is. The only thing that’s known is Conforto is the only player penalized for struggling.

Neon Moment of the Week: Jeff McNeil Bat Flip

The New York Mets did not get off to the best of starts to the 2021 season. Their first series was canceled due to the Washington Nationals being infected with COVID. They blew Jacob deGrom‘s first start, and they could never recover from David Peterson getting blitzed.

The team returned to Citi Field with a 1-2 record, and the team had a number of issues. There were a number of players scuffling, and that included Jeff McNeil. With McNeil, things were very different than they had been in past seasons.

Through no fault of his own, McNeil was dropped from the top to the bottom of the lineup. After starting the season 0-for-7, he was given the day off in the series finale. On his birthday, he was dropped to seventh in the lineup hitting behind Jonathan Villar. After starting the day 0-for-2, McNeil was due to lead-off the ninth with the Mets on verge of losing their home opener in very frustrating fashion.

In uncharacteristic fashion, McNeil did not swing at the first pitch. Of course, the pitch being out of the zone by a good margin does that. McNeil would work the count in his favor, and then Miami Marlins closer Anthony Bass would throw one inside, and McNeil would tie the game with his first hit of the season:

After connecting, McNeil would have a bat flip reminiscent of the one Asdrubal Cabrera had roughly five years ago. No, this was not a game of the same magnitude, but this was a special game. It was the Mets home opener, and it was the first home game with fans in the stands since the end of the 2019 season.

Lost in that hit was the fact McNeil had actually been hitting the ball extremely hard to start the season. Going to Baseball Savant, McNeil was hitting the ball hard and was barreling it up. It really was only a matter of time before we start to see McNeil hitting the ball like we knew he could. McNeil chose the best time to do it. He would not only tie the game, but he started a rally which ended with the Mets winning the game.

With McNeil busting out of his early season slump and his getting the Mets first real big hit of the season, his homer and bat flip is our first Neon Moment of the Week for the 2021 season!

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