Jerry Koosman

Welcome Back Carlos Beltran

While there are many potential pitfalls, the New York Mets hiring Carlos Beltran as the 22nd manager in team history is amazing, and it is cause for celebration.

By and large, it does seem like Mets fans are celebrating. Perhaps, it is because he is replacing an unpopular Mickey Callaway. It could be that after all this time the fans who had a certain level of frustration with him realized they were unfair, and with time having passed, they can better appreciate him. Whatever the case, the fans are excited, and that’s great.

Another factor here is after years where there was a hang up over Beltran wanting to sign with the Yankees in 2005, he made his intentions known he wanted to be a Met. As a result, Beltran only interviewed for the Mets job eschewing opportunities with the Cubs and Padres.

He now becomes the Mets first ever Hispanic manager. For what it’s worth, he was also their first true Hispanic superstar. As such, he is fully aware of what he’s taking on, and to that end, there’s arguably no one better to handle all that is coming his way.

His reward is not just being the Mets manager, but he’s also going to get to manage the Mets when they play in his home of Puerto Rico.

In Beltran, the Mets are getting a savant. As described in the book Astroball, Beltran picked up on things before the analytically driven team could. He also helped bring the team together as one unit. He accomplished that not just by being multilingual but a leader interested in making everyone in that clubhouse comfortable feeling like a member of the team.

With Beltran coming home to the Mets, we can envision how well it worked when other former Mets managed this team.

Gil Hodges engineered the 1969 Miracle Mets. Bobby Valentine was the first Mets manager who led the team to back-to-back postseasons. Most recently, Willie Randolph led the 2006 Mets to within an at-bat of a pennant.

Speaking of that at-bat, Beltran handled that with the class and dignity which has come to define him. He’s overcome both that and injuries to build a Hall of Fame career. He overcame all of that and some hard feelings which existed at the time he was traded for Zack Wheeler to not just want but to get the Mets manager job.

In the end, Beltran is back with the New York Mets where he belongs. After all these years, the fans love him, and he loves this team. He’s now coming home to where everything is possible.

He can guide the Mets to one or more World Series. He can join Tom Seaver and Mike Piazza in the Hall of Fame. His 15 will hang in left field with Casey Stengel‘s 37, Hodges’ 14, Seaver’s 41, Piazza’s 31, and soon Jerry Koosman‘s 36.

In fact, when all is said and done, Beltran could emerge as one of the most beloved figures in Mets history. To be able to even contemplate this is incredible, and it is a reason why Beltran returning to HIS Mets is a dream come true.

October 17 A Special Day For Mets

When you look at particular days on the calendar, some have more meaning than others. There is your wedding anniversary and your children’s birthdays. Of course, there is Christmas, Thanksgiving, and the Fourth of July. For the Mets, they have October 17.

In 1969, this would be the day after Jerry Koosman‘s complete game in Game 5 of the World Series. This would be the first ever full day the Mets would be reigning World Series Champions.

As amazing as that was, thirty years later, the Mets would play in another epic Game 5. The Mets trailed the Braves 3-0 in the NLCS. There would be a Game 5 because John Olerud hit a two RBI single off John Rocker in the bottom of the eighth. The thrill of that victory was nothing compared to Game 5.

That Game 5 was an epic 15 inning game which was the longest postseason game in Major League history. You heart was in your throats for each and every inning. That was all the more the case when Melvin Mora threw out Keith Lockhart in the 13th. Lockhart would get the Mets back with an RBI triple in the 15th.

The Mets came back in a rally started with a simply great 12 pitch at-bat by Shawon Dunston. In a game with a series of unlikely events, Edgardo Alfonzo laid down a sacrifice bunt leading to the Braves loading the bases. Todd Pratt drew a game tying RBI walk before Robin Ventura hit the most famous single in baseball history:

This still stands as one of the greatest moments in Mets history, and it is one of the biggest moments in postseason history.

Sixteen years later, Matt Harvey would pitch in Game 1 of the NLCS against the Cubs. It was a game which featured it all.

Daniel Murphy continued his postseason heroics with a first inning homer off Jon Lester. Yoenis Cespedes would throw a runner out at the plate. Travis d’Arnaud would actually hit the Home Run Apple. Through it all, Harvey struck out nine through 7.2 innings before Jeurys Familia slammed the door shut.

Sure, there are some down moments on this date just like you have had a bad birthday or two. However, through it all, this date has had some magic to it. Certainly, that’s what it felt like in 1999 and 2015 – pure magic.

Maybe, just maybe, we will see this day have some magic in 2020 with Jacob deGrom pitching and a beloved Mets player like Pete Alonso, Michael Conforto, or Jeff McNeil getting a huge hit. With this being the Mets, you never know.

 

20/20 Hindsight: Time To Say Good-bye to Postseason and Beloved Players

Well, the Mets postseason hopes are officially over leaving them to play out the string and for them to set some personal accomplishments. In between, there were some real good things both in this series and the season:

1. The end of the season was put off a game because Michael Conforto came up huge. He once again showed himself a cornerstone player and one who the Mets should be working to keep around for his entire career.

2. The Mets should also be working to keep Zack Wheeler a Met past this season. He had another great outing in an extremely strong finish to the season. He wants to remain a Met, and the Mets need him in the rotation to win next year.

3. That said, it was possible yesterday was a good-bye to both Wheeler and Curtis Granderson. There was a sense of melancholy with Granderson’s homer possibly being his last at-bat in Citi Field and it putting the loss on Wheeler in his last start as a Met.

4. On the topic of good-byes, Jeff McNeil‘s year is done after he broke his wrist when getting hit with a pitch. Fortunately, he has time to heal up and get ready to be the player he has been this year. The Mets need him to be that player next year because when he is he is the more indispensable position player on this roster.

5. One pitcher who the Mets did extend was Jacob deGrom, who cemented his case for the Cy Young by running his scoreless inning streak to 23 innings. He will become the first Mets pitcher to win consecutive Cy Youngs putting him on the pantheon of Mets great pitchers.

6. That list includes Jerry Koosman who is getting his number retired by the team. If the Mets are going to lower their standards for retiring numbers, Koosman was the right place to start.

7. As noted in an earlier article, if Koosman is going to get his number retired, the door is now open for the Mets to retire the numbers of David Wright, Gary Carter, Carlos Beltran, Keith Hernandez, and John Franco.

8. It has been great to see the Mets move forward with honoring their history. That should also be coupled by paying more attention to their Hall of Fame. That is not just improving upon it. It is also putting more players in that Hall of Fame including Edgardo Alfonzo, Al Leiter, and Bobby Valentine.

9. It should also include Gary Cohen and Howie Rose. On that note with Marty Brennaman retiring from the Reds, we are reminded of how lucky we are as Mets fans to have them call games. We are also lucky on the radio side, it has gone from Bob Murphy to Gary Cohen to Howie Rose.

10. On the subject of lucky, we have been lucky to see Pete Alonso this season. He has been a great player for the Mets setting records. It’s more than just the rookie home run records. He is also his tying Johnny Mize and Willie Mays for the most homers by a New York National League player.

11. He also joins a group including Mays, Jimmie Foxx, Mickey Mantle, and Ralph Kiner in having 51 homers and 118 RBI in a season before the age of 25. That puts Alonso in a group of Hall of Fame players. It will fun to see what he has in store for next year.

12. Hopefully, Mickey Callaway get his way and gets to bat Alonso leadoff over the final three games to help get him past Aaron Judge for the rookie home run record.

13. With respect to Callaway, he has done enough to stick around another year. We’ve seen him get everything out of this team he could. Young players like Alonso and Amed Rosario have improved. We’ve seen deGrom get to a new level, and the starters be healthy for two years running. That is really no small task.

14. That said, there is enough to get rid of him. At the end of the day, if he is going to be replaced, we need to see him be replaced with an Alex Cora type. The Mets need a manager who is going to push the front office and help implement things needed to win. If they’re not going to do that firing Callaway does little more than change the narrative.

15. Speaking of narratives, the Mets don’t spend. They don’t. People need to stop insisting they do. The payroll is inflated by over $36 million owed to Yoenis Cespedes and Wright which has not been reinvested in this team.

16. The Mets have a number of holes to fill between the bullpen and the rotation. That’s before we even consider the Mets even contemplating trading Noah Syndergaard. They’re also not going to be bailed out by the insurance for Cespedes. That’s a lot of holes to fill without the money or prospects. That’s a tall task for even a competent GM. For Brodie Van Wagenen, it’s impossible.

17. One idea is to put Seth Lugo back in the rotation. Doing that would only leave a gaping hole in the bullpen. That’s a hole all the bigger when you consider Edwin Diaz has allowed as many homers this year as Armando Benitez did in his worst two seasons combined. Keep in mind those two seasons were records for the Mets.

18. There were some bright spots this season which perhaps none of them being bigger than Paul Sewald finally getting his first Major League win.

19. With Sewald getting the win and other highlights, this has been an entertaining season. It is not too dissimilar from the 1996 season where we saw Bernard Gilkey, Todd Hundley, and Lance Johnson having great personal years in a year where the Mets would fall short.

20. And that’s what happened, the Mets fell short, and as Brodie Van Wagenen said himself on WFAN falling short like this would be a disappointment. Just remember those words as everyone, including the Mets themselves, try to spin this season and the future.

Jeff Wilpon Hiding From Media In Plain Sight

On Monday, Jeff Wilpon was at Belmont Park to attend a groundbreaking for the Islanders new arena. Through the Sterling Project Development, the Wilpons are investors and developers of this project. At the event, Jeff Wilpon did not receive, and as a result, he did not have to answer questions about the Mets.

On Tuesday, Jeff Wilpon held an unexpected press conference to announce Jerry Koosman was going to join Tom Seaver and Mike Piazza as the only Mets players to have their numbers retired. As this was a press conference honoring Koosman, there were questions about plans to retire his and other numbers in the future.

That’s two times this week Jeff Wilpon was with the media, and that’s two times he was not subjected to the questions which needs to be asked of him and the franchise.

Despite all the “Come and Get Us!” bravado from Brodie Van Wagenen, the Mets best case scenario for this season is a third place finish more than 10 games out in the division. This is after the franchise traded away top prospects in Jarred Kelenic, Justin Dunn, Anthony Kay, and Simeon Woods Richardson in connection with more interesting and talented prospects.

Those trades come with payroll issues, which is largely created by Robinson Cano being owed $100 million. There are reports about the lack of a real budget to address the deficiencies in the bullpen and the bench in addition to the team needing to make a decision on Zack Wheeler.

Speaking of the payroll, the purportedly all-in Mets who are in the largest market in the world have a $158 million payroll. According to Spotrac, that ranks only eighth in the Majors. It should be noted that includes David Wright‘s $15 million salary which was restructured. It also includes Yoenis Cespedes‘ $29 million salary, which Joel Sherman of the New York Post reported, was covered by an insurance policy reimbursing 75% of his salary.

When you back out Wright’s $15 million and the $21.75 million reimbursed to the Mets on Cespedes’ salary, the Mets actual payroll was $121.25 million. That would rank 20th in the Majors. That’s not remotely all-in, and the owners of the team should have to face questions why they aren’t reinvesting money in the team while they also have the money to invest in other ventures.

There are a number of other issues facing the team like the status of Mickey Callaway‘s future as well as what the team plans to do with Noah Syndergaard and Michael Conforto. There is plenty more beyond that.

The fact is Jeff Wilpon is always there when there is something to celebrate. He’s not there to answer the tough questions facing the team. He and his General Manager have actively denied requests to speak with the media when there have been questions facing the team which need to be answered.

At some point, the media is going to have to stop letting him hide in plain sight. If he is only going to make himself available on limited occasions, those occasions need to be used to get answers to questions which need answering. After all, he’s the Mets COO, and when he attends events, he is attending them as the Mets COO making it more than fair game to ask those questions which should be directed to the Mets COO.

Jerry Koosman’s Number Being Retired Opens The Door For Five Other Mets

In a shock to everyone, the New York Mets announced they were going to retire Jerry Koosman‘s number 36. Previously, as was the case with Tom Seaver and Mike Piazza, the Mets standard for retiring a player’s name was their induction into the Hall of Fame wearing a Mets cap. Now that the standards have officially been lowered, there are a number of other Mets who deserve consideration for the same honor as Seaver, Piazza, and Koosman.

#5 David Wright

Wright is the Mets all-time leader in WAR among position players, and he has set team records in at-bats, plate appearances, run scored, hits, total bases, doubles, walks, RBI, and a number of other categories. He was a consummate professional, a real face of the franchise, and a player who stuck around even when the team was rebuilding.

If not for injuries, Wright would have been a Hall of Famer. He is one of the most, if not the most, beloved Mets to put on the uniform, and he is only one of four captains in team history.

#8 Gary Carter

Under the previous standard, Carter’s number would have been retired had the Hall of Fame not forced him to go in as a Montreal Expos player instead of as a Mets player as he had wanted. Of course, lost in the Hall of Fame’s decision was one of the reasons Carter was even inducted into the Hall of Fame was his time with the Mets.

Carter proved to be the missing piece which would push the Mets over the top in 1986. Speaking of 1986, he was the guy who got the two out single against Calvin Schiraldi to get that rally started. His contributions in that series were much more than that as he led all players in homers and RBI.

Carter was also noted by several of the Mets pitchers as being what helped put that pitching staff over the top. Dwight Gooden said of him, “I relied on Gary for everything when I was on the mound.” Ron Darling said, “With all the sabermetric numbers that we use today, when Gary came over, he brought his own National League computer with him — it was his brain.” (ESPN).

With Carter, the Mets had their greatest run in franchise history, and he was a leader on that team. He was the second captain in team history, and he is one of the most important players who ever put on the Mets uniform.

#15 Carlos Beltran

The people largely against this are fixated on that strikeout, but what those people overlook is the Mets are nowhere near that position if Beltran doesn’t have what could be the greatest season a Mets position player has ever had. That includes his hitting .296/.387/.667 in that sereis. That year and during his Mets career Beltran played like the Hall of Famer he will officially be once he is eligible.

Beltran is the greatest center fielder in team history, and he was a true five tool player winning three Gold Gloves and two Silver Sluggers while being a member of the Mets. That was part of him being named an All-Star in five of his seven years in Queens.

When you break it all down, Beltran is a Hall of Famer who had his best years with the Mets, and everything being equal, he would wear a Mets cap on his plaque.

#17 Keith Hernandez

While Carter was largely viewed as the player who put the Mets over the top, Hernandez was seen as the player who taught a young talented Mets team how to win. Of course, lost in that narrative was how Hernandez was a driving force in helping those Mets teams win.

In his seven years with the Mets, he had seven Gold Gloves, which is the most in team history. He was more than his glove having a the third best OBP, fifth best OPS+, and 10th most RBI in team history.

He was a fiery leader who famously warned Jesse Orosco to not throw another fastball to Kevin Bass. Of course, his leadership was much more than that, which is one of the reasons why he was the first ever player to be named captain.

Of course, we cannot discuss Hernandez without acknowledging his work in the booth. His color commentary has made him an even more beloved Met. If his playing career wasn’t sufficient, certainly his being a vital part of “GKR” puts him over the top.

#45 John Franco

Franco is the greatest closer in Mets history. He has the most appearances and saves in Mets history. In fact, his 424 career saves ranks as the most saves ever by a left-handed reliever. While he played for a number of bad Mets teams, he would come up big many times when the Mets needed him most.

He has a 1.88 postseason ERA for the Mets. Included in that was his striking out Barry Bonds, and his getting the win in Game 3 of the 2000 World Series. As big as those moments were, it is possible his biggest moment was his getting the win the first game back after 9/11 wearing an FDNY cap honoring his friends who died that day.

It should also be noted Franco was a rare closer who was also a team leader. He famously not only surrendered his 31 for Piazza, he would also make sure to make him feel welcome in New York. That was certainly a factor in Piazza staying. It was also a reason Franco was named the third captain in team history.

With respect to Franco, it should be noted his predominantly wearing 31 could mean the team could retire that number in his honor as well. The team also has the option of retiring 45 in both his and Tug McGraw‘s honor. The same tactic can be used for number 5 with Davey Johnson also arguably deserving the honor for arguably being the best manager in team history.

Beyond this group of five players, there are certainly more players who could be argued with everyone having their favorite players and other players having had a significant impact on the team and its history. Of course, it should be noted this list includes players who are no longer playing. If we were to expand it, we would have to also include Jacob deGrom on this list.

The one thing we know is the next player who will have his number retired is Koosman. It is an honor befitting one of the greatest Mets in team history, and it should lead to more emotional days at Citi Field honoring Mets greats.

Conforto Keeps Mets Alive For One More Day

Make tonight about Noah Syndergaard struggling against the Marlins even with him having Tomas Nido behind the plate. Certainly, that’s an area for discussion with him taking the loss after allowing four earned over five innings.

While everyone was handwringing and sending shots Syndergaard’s way, Sandy Alcantara and the Marlins pitching shut down the Mets offense. This was a night after Caleb Smith and the Marlins staff largely shut down the Mets offense.

Yesterday, it was an Amed Rosario grand slam. Today, it was a Michael Conforto two run homer in tonight’s 4-2 loss.

It was Walker Lockett pitching yesterday, and it was Chris Mazza tonight. It’s unfair to call that giving up, and yet, you’d have to come up with some sort of alternative explanation as to why they’d be in the game.

Ultimately, this had the same feel as the Marlins inexplicably sweeping the Mets in June. The Mets looked like the 100 loss team, and the Marlins the team scratching and clawing for the postseason. That’s how the 2007 and 2008 seasons ended. With the Mets tragic number at one, it seemed like that’s how the 2019 season would end.

That was until Conforto came up in the bottom of the ninth with a man on, and he literally hit the homer which saved the Mets season.

If the Mets lost, they were officially eliminated from postseason contention. While that day may come tomorrow, it didn’t happen today because Conforto game up with two huge two run homers to tie the score 4-4.

As improbable as that was, something all the more impossible happened.

In the bottom of the 11th, Conforto drew a leadoff walk leading to Don Mattingly bringing in Jeff Brigham to replace Adam Conley.

Brigham would plunk Rosario, and he’s throw a wild pitch leading to his walking Todd Frazier intentionally to load the bases.

Mattingly brought in five infielders due to Wilson Ramos‘ ground ball tendencies. The move seemed to pay off as Starlin Castro would make a great play on a slow hopper up the line. He’d barehand it and flip it just ahead of Conforto.

For some reason, the Marlins kept the five infielders in against Brandon Nimmo. It didn’t matter with Nimmo doing what he does best – drawing a walk. This walk forced home a run giving the Mets a true walk off win.

The end result of the 5-4 win wasn’t just the Mets staying alive for at least one more day. It meant Paul Sewald would get the win after starting his career 0-14.

Game Notes: Before the game, the Mets announced Jerry Koosman‘s number 36 would be retired next season. In response to the announcement, Mickey Callaway switched his number to Kevin Plawecki‘s old 26.

20/20 Hindsight: Mets Ruin Everything

No one expected the Mets to sweep the Braves and perhaps get their fans excited again. Honestly, a series win seemed out of the question. The only thing up for debate was how well the Mets would have the 1969 World Series. As Del Preston would say, “That’s a whole other story all together.”

1. If you are going to hold a ceremony and an in memorium video, you actually need to make sure the players in the video are actually dead. Jim Gosger and Jesse Hudson are very much alive. Also, when you apologize for saying they were dead, you need to spell their names correctly. The fact the Mets screwed both of these things up speaks to their level of organizational incompetence.

2. Other than that inexcusably botched situation, the ceremony was great, and that partially because of Howie Rose. It was great seeing Bud Harrelson, and it was amazing to hear after all these years someone like Jerry Koosman can get recognized for what he did for this franchise. Ed Kranepool‘s speech was perfect.

3. There was a bit of melancholy with the event as this is likely the last time there will be such an event, and we are already at a point where Tom Seaver is unable to attend events. The same happening to his 1986 team is not that far off either.

4. An incredible fact is Koosman was on the mound when the last out of the 1969 World Series was recorded. He was traded for Jesse Orosco, who was on the mound when the last out of the 1986 World Series was recorded.

5. Pete Alonso, Jacob deGrom, and Jeff McNeil were all very deserving All-Stars. It is amazing to see the Mets have their most All-Stars in three years, and it is all the more amazing to see this is the first time the Mets have had multiple position players since 2010.

6. Alonso is the fourth Mets rookie to be an All Star, and he is the first Mets position player. There may not be many things to get excited about for the rest of the season but seeing Alonso in the Home Run Derby is going to be one of them.

7. Reports were McNeil was sitting in his locker well after the game distraught after the loss on Saturday. He responded by not just going 3-for-5, but he would also deliver the go-ahead hit in the eighth. That’s a special player and a winning one at that.

8. This is a reminder Brodie Van Wagenen was gift wrapped a core of McNeil, Michael Conforto, Brandon Nimmo, Amed Rosario, deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Zack Wheeler, Steven Matz, Seth Lugo, and Robert Gsellman. The farm system had Alonso, Justin Dunn, Anthony Kay, David Peterson, Jarred Kelenic, and other high end prospects. To be nine games under .500 and closer to the last place Marlins than a postseason spot is gross incompetence.

9. Fans criticizing that core deserve this season. By and large, they have not been and really are not the problem. Sure, we can pinpoint things here and there like Rosario’s defense or Gsellman’s inconsistencies in the bullpen, but overall, you would have to be completely incompetent to screw this up, and that is before you consider Todd Frazier‘s season and Dominic Smith‘s resurgence.

10. This is an ill timed three game blip for Lugo, who has been otherwise excellent as a reliever of the Mets. This team really needs to get him a break and stop pushing him for multiple innings. Not every situation calls for it.

11. Matz also has to be better. He has completely fallen apart of late, and it is costing the team games. You can’t have a bad bullpen with both Matz and Jason Vargas not giving you length. It just doesn’t work.

12. Chris Mazza was a great story. He is a 29 year old rookie who was rewarded for his perseverance. It is a shame another bullpen meltdown cost him his first win. That said, win or no win, this will go down as one of the better moments in the majors this season.

13. With the way the bullpen continues to meltdown, it’s almost as if this was a talent issue and it had nothing at all to do with Dave Eiland or Chuck Hernandez.

14. Frazier continues to show he’s a good player with real value to this team. The Mets were right to stick by him, and he is at a minimum going to fetch something for the Mets at the trade deadline.

15. Speaking of the trade deadline, there is still too much talent here to tear things down. The top two starters are still in tact, and there is talent to build a good bullpen in 2020. The team also now has All-Star caliber players in Alonso, McNeil, Conforto, and depending on how he returns from injury, Nimmo. They’re all young and cheap. Add in Robinson Cano‘s contract, and you have little choice but to try again.

16. On that front, the Mets should be trying to get Marcus Stroman. Not only is he a top level pitcher with another year of control, but by obtaining him, the team could then get a little more in return for Wheeler as there will be more competitors for his services.

17. Seeing the Mets players last night, this isn’t a team who has completely given up. They’re still playing like they have a shot. As fans, we know they don’t, but there is just something about watching how hard this team plays that sucks you in every so often. Of course, then the team is forced to go to the bullpen.

18. Seeing how the Mets botched the 1969 ceremony a bit, you do wonder what the Mets should do about next year with the 2000 team. You could make the argument the Mets shouldn’t be celebrating not winning titles, especially when they lose to the Yankees. Still, those players are still beloved by this fan base.

19. With that in mind, perhaps it is really time for the Mets to do an Old Timer’s Day. Seeing the fans come out of the 1969 team and seeing how many beloved former players there are, you could hold this day, and it should be a near guarantee to sell out.

20. For all those killing Dolan and the Knicks over Durant going to the Nets, go ahead, but remember, it’s the Wilpons who remain the worst owners in sports.

Syndergaard Misses The Maddux, But Gets The Syndergaard

The Mets offense has been bad of late, and with their recent usage, the Mets bullpen was without Edwin Diaz and Seth Lugo heading into the game. This is the exact type of situation where a team needs their starting pitching to just completely take over a game.  That is exactly what Noah Syndergaard did today.

Syndergaard pitched a complete game shut-out against the Reds. In the game, the Reds managed just four hits and one walk. There was really nothing they can do as evidenced by their 10 strikeouts. When you see the stuff Syndergaard had today, like in his strikeout of Joey Votto to end the eighth, you understand why:

For as good as Syndergaard was on the mound, the Reds pitching staff were nearly up to the task. Reds starter Tyler Mahle allowed just one earned on four hits. One of those hits was a Syndergaard homer:

Overall, Syndergaard would come one just five pitches short of the Maddux. While he didn’t get the Maddux, he would get the Koosman. The Koosman is hitting one out and shutting them out. It is called that because former Mets starter Jerry Koosman used to say it was a starter’s job to hit one out and shut them out. That’s exactly what Syndergaard did today.

It should be noted that while that is what Koosman used to say, Syndergaard has become the first pitcher in Mets history to win a game 1-0 where the pitcher homered and shut out the opponent. In retrospect, maybe we should now call this the Syndergaard.

Game Notes: With his second homer of the season, Syndergaard now has six homers. That has him tied for second place with Tom Seaver and one short of Dwight Gooden on the Mets pitchers home run list.

deGrom Was At His Best With d’Arnaud

Since Jacob deGrom burst onto the scene in 2014, he has emerged as easily one of the five best pitchers in Mets history, and he is arguably third behind just Tom Seaver and Dwight Gooden (although Jerry Koosman would like a word here). Going through his career, there are a number of signature performances from deGrom, but as we sort through them all, there are two games which should stand as his signature performances.

The first is Game 1 of the 2015 NLDS. In that game, deGrom out-pitched Clayton Kershaw. In his seven shutout innings, he allowed just one walk and five hits while striking out 13 batters. It was as dominant a postseason performance any Mets pitcher has ever had.

That game set the Mets on a path which had them winning the pennant that year. Of course, they do not win the pennant if deGrom does not survive and get the Mets in position to win Game 5 of that series.

It seemed deGrom was in trouble all six of the innings he pitched that night. What’s insane to think about is deGrom did not have a 1-2-3 inning that game until the sixth. Worse yet, in each of the first five innings, the Dodgers had a runner in scoring position with less than two outs.

Despite all of that, deGrom somehow managed to keep the game tied going into the seventh inning setting the stage for Daniel Murphy‘s homer, Noah Syndergaard coming out of the bullpen throwing 100 MPH, and Jeurys Familia with the six out save.

While deGrom had an all-time Cy Young winning season last year, arguably, the 2015 NLDS was deGrom at his best. One night he went out there, and he just dominated the Dodgers. The next, he used guile to get through that lineup to pick up the win. That series was everything you think of when you think of deGrom, and it happened in the postseason.

His catcher in that series? Travis d’Arnaud.

It’s easy to forget, but d’Arnaud has caught deGrom, and he has caught him well. It was d’Arnaud behind the plate when deGrom emerged from seemingly out of nowhere to win the 2014 Rookie of the Year. It was d’Arnaud behind the plate in the 2015 postseason. It was d’Arnaud behind the plate when deGrom was coming back from ulnar transposition surgery.

There are many reasons why d’Arnaud has caught deGrom well. First and foremost, deGrom is a great pitcher. As we have seen this season, deGrom can pitch great to Wilson Ramos and to Tomas Nido. Second, d’Arnaud has proven himself to be an excellent pitch framer, which allows an already lethal pitcher like deGrom ramp up his game to an unfair level.

Overall, d’Arnaud is a very good receiver who has a rapport with these Mets pitchers. If he didn’t, the Mets would have non-tendered him and kept the much cheaper Kevin Plawecki this past offseason, or they would have stuck with Devin Mesoraco. That goes double considering d’Arnaud was coming off Tommy John surgery.

Overall, the point is deGrom is great because he is great, and as we have seen time and time again, he’s even better with a catcher behind the plate who can steal those extra strikes for him. Ultimately, this is why we have seen deGrom at his best with d’Arnaud behind the plate.

Congratulations Dillon Gee

After an eight year career, former Mets pitcher Dillon Gee has announced his retirement from baseball. While Gee spent time with the Royals, Rangers, Twins, and even Japan, he is a New York Mets player through and through. The fact Gee emerged to even be that is quite remarkable.

Gee was a 21st round draft pick out of the University of Texas. He didn’t throw consistently in the 90s. None of his breaking pitches were great. Looking at that profile, you would not immediately peg him as a guy who was going to make it to the Major Leagues.

Overlooked through all of that was Gee knew how to pitch. He could locate his pitches, and he knew how to sequence them. With that knowledge and his underrated stuff, Gee just dominated in the minors. A year after he was drafted, he posted a 1.33 ERA in Double-A Binghamton. He would come to Spring Training in 2009, and he would catch the eye of then Mets manager Jerry Manuel.

You could have expected to pinpoint that as the moment where Gee took off. He didn’t because in Triple-A Gee was 1-3 with a 4.10 ERA and a 1.303 WHIP in just nine starts. He watched on like the rest of us as the Mets dipped down to Triple-A for Tim Redding, Nelson Figueroa, Pat Misch, Fernando Nieve, and Jon Niese. As that 2009 team faltered, Gee was left with us Mets fans wondering, “What if?”

The reason why Gee was no in the mix was a torn labrum leading to season ending shoulder surgery for a torn laburm. As we would eventually see with Johan Santana, that could be a career killer. Fortunately, even with him struggling in the minors in 2010, it wasn’t one for Gee.

Gee would finally get his chance at the end of the 2010 season, and over the course of seven brilliant innings against the Nationals, he proved he belonged. He did that all the more so as Gee had a 2.18 ERA in five MLB starts. That stint established he was a Major Leaguer, and he would become a fixture in the Mets rotation.

There were several highlights from Gee in his Mets years. In 2011, he would start the season 7-0 surpassing Jon Matlack‘s rookie record of six consecutive wins to start a season. He would set a career high with nine strikeouts in a game. And then, once again, there was an issue with his pitching shoulder. This time, Gee had a clot an arterial clot requiring season ending surgery. By the end of 2012, he had a promising start to his career, and he also had two significant and potentially career altering shoulder surgeries.

Once again, Gee would beat the odds, and he would once again establish he was a big league pitcher. While he teetered early on in 2013, he would re-establish himself in May with a terrific start against the Pirates allowing just one run in five innings. After that, he would have two more moments which would be arguably be the highlight of his career. The first was a 12 strikeout performance against the Yankees in the Subway Series:

It was a huge moment as the victory secured the Mets ever, and to date only, season sweep against the Yankees in the history of Interleague Play.

Later that season, Gee would flirt with a no-hitter for six innings against the Braves. It wasn’t the first or last time Gee would have that type of a performance, but it was special nonetheless.

This would lead to his being the Mets 2014 Opening Day starter. Just being an opening day starter put him in the same conversation as pitchers like Tom Seaver, Jerry Koosman, Dwight Gooden, David Cone, Al Leiter, Tom Glavine, Pedro Martinez, and Johan Santana. It was a special honor for a pitcher who persevered throughout his career.

Unfortuantely, Gee would have injury issues in 2014, which helped lead to the rise of Jacob deGrom. That coupled with Matt Harvey returning and Noah Syndergaard and Steven Matz on the horizon made his spot tenuous going forward. With the team being unsure what he was going forward coupled with another injury, Gee’s time was all but over. Finally, Gee would be released by the Mets in June meaning Gee would miss the ride.

Gee missed the ride despite his being a mentor to young pitchers like Harvey. He missed the ride despite him being one of the building blocks who not only had to take their licks pitching in front of inferior Mets teams, but also trying to take this team back to contention. Something, he never got to experience. Instead of being bitter, he was right there with all of us rooting for that Mets team to win the World Series:

Gee was a Met through and through. For six years, he gave the Mets everything he had. He did not let two shoulder surgeries stand in his way. He rose to become an Opening Day starter, and his fingerprints were all over that 2015 team. In the end, Gee should be proud of everything he accomplished. It was a very good career, and as a fan, it was a privilege to watch him pitch every fifth day.

Best of luck in retirement Dillon Gee!