Right now, the Mets are just a bad baseball team. When you are a fan of a bad baseball team, it is sometimes difficult to find seasons to watch. Thankfully, there still remain reasons to watch the Mets:
Jacob deGrom – This year, deGrom has returned to pitching like an ace. No, he may not be the guy he was in 2015, but he’s still a great pitcher. You know with him on the mound the Mets have a chance to win the game. With his ability, anything is possible.
Michael Conforto – We have been watching Conforto have one of the best, if not the best, season a young Mets player has ever had. He will soon be the youngest Mets player to ever hit 30 homers. He’s showing how special he is taking on more leadership responsibilities in the clubhouse.
Chris Flexen – Very quickly, Flexen has gone from over-matched to holding his own. He’s just 23 and had just seven Double-A starts under his belt. Just holding his own at this point is remarkable. Sooner or later, he may just prove he belongs at this level.
Juan Lagares – One thing that really stood out in the Subway Series was this man can still play Gold Glove defense. In fact, he might be the best outfielder in baseball with his league leading 34.0 UZR/150. Metrics aside, it’s a joy to watch him play center field defense, and you never know when he is going to make his next great play.
Amed Rosario & Dominic Smith – They have essentially been presented as this generations David Wright and Jose Reyes or Dwight Gooden and Darryl Strawberry. If they’re at those levels, the Mets will quickly turn things around. If they are truly this good, we won’t want to miss a minute of them playing. To that end, we have already seen great defense from them, and they’ve already homered in the same game.
With that, there are five very good reasons to continue watching this team. Other than that, we can watch because we’re Mets fans, and we love our team. I know I watched the Jeff Torborg, Art Howe, or Jerry Manuel Mets teams, I can certainly watch this team.
This error eventually led to Gary Sanchez hitting a three run homer.
Matz then got in trouble in the fourth, and he didn’t get through the inning. Then again, he didn’t deserve to with Luis Severino popping up a sacrifice bunt attempt which dropped in front of him for a base hit.
Matz would eventually depart the inning down five runs and with the bases loaded and just one out. Chasen Bradford allowed a two RBI single to Sanchez to make it 7-0 before getting out of the inning.
Of note on the Sanchez base hit was the Yankees again challenged Yoenis Cespedes arm and scored a run.
After the inning was over, the latest Matz clunker was in the books. Since July 9th, Matz is 0-6 with a 10.47 ERA and a 2.051 WHIP. If you’re looking for a bright side, Aaron Judge didn’t hurt him at all. He was 0-2 with two strikeouts and a HBP.
With Bradford doing yeoman’s work in his third straight day out of the pen, he did give the Mets a chance to get back in this one. They almost did too in the seventh.
Judge dropped a Travis d’Arnaud fly ball for a two base error with one out in the seventh. Sandy Alderson’s new favorite player, Matt Reynolds, followed with an RBI single to get the Mets on the board.
Brandon Nimmo, who came on for Cespedes in a double switch, chased Severino with a single. The Mets eventually loaded the bases with two outs, and Michael Conforto was up against the LOOGY Chasen Shreve. With Conforto striking out, the final nail was in the coffin.
By the way, Gary Cohen did confirm this was the first time two Chasens appeared in the same Major League game.
Surprisingly, the Mets had life again in the ninth. It was the same trio that got the Mets started in the seventh. d’Arnaud and Reynolds had back-to-back singles off Bryan Mitchell, and Nimmo walked to load the bases.
That grand slam was about all that was notable from the Mets side in what was a forgettable Subway Series for the Mets. Then again, it’s been a forgettable season, so this series was really just more of the same.
With Wilmer Flores and Jose Reyes suffering injuries, we got to see Travis d’Arnaud shift all game between second and third base. With the Mets not wanting to be put in that situation again, the Mets have flown both Matt Reynolds and Gavin Cecchini to New York as a precaution. In the event both Reynolds and Cecchini are activated, it appears that Reynolds, not Cecchini, will be the one who will get playing time.
Before the game and before injuries were an issues, Sandy Alderson informed reporters he was inclined to give Reynolds a long look in September. Alderson also stated the team will not be giving Cecchini a long look at second base in September. Alderson’s statements could be interpreted to mean the Mets are now moving on from Cecchini.
In one sense, this shouldn’t be that surprising. After struggling at shortstop and with the rise of Amed Rosario, Cecchini was moved to second base. While he has been good defensively at second, he has taken a step back offensively.
Cecchini had a breakout offensive season in 2015 in Binghamton. He continued that success last year in both Las Vegas and the Arizona Fall League. Seeing him hit .267/.329/.380 this season, it makes you question what was the issue with him.
There are some plausible explanations for this. For starters, Cecchini’s 2015 and 2016 stats were partially fueled by a high .348 and .357 BABIP. Certainly, his being an aggressive contact line drive hitter with low walk and strikeout rates, he is susceptible to swings in his BABIP from year to year. To that end, it may not be such a surprise to see Cecchini see his BABIP drop to .329 this year and his offensive stats drop they way they have.
Another possible explanation is Cecchini has had to put extra work and attention to learning second base. With the Mets focus this season with making their players more versatile, Cecchini has also had to work on his play at shortstop. This is a plausible explanation as to why we have seen Cecchini struggle at the plate this year.
Still, this is a talented player. It was one of the reasons the Mets made him their first round draft pick (12th overall) in 2012. In his two brief stints in the majors, he has not been over-matched at the plate. Last year, he hit two doubles in seven at-bats. In his call-up this year, he had a four game hitting streak that included a home run off Clayton Kershaw. Seeing this, and how much the Mets have invested in him, it seems peculiar the Mets would just pass on giving him an extended look in the majors.
Then again, this seems to be a pattern with Sandy Alderson. He and his front office have truly struggled with contact hitters like Cecchini who have not shown power at a young age. Many will point to his decision to non-tender Justin Turner, but there is also the way the Mets have handled T.J. Rivera. The team continuously passed him over for players who did not pan out.
Cecchini may or may not be an everyday second baseman or even a Major League player. At this point, we don’t know, but it also seems odd to take that stance when he’s still just 23 years old, who has not been afforded the opportunity to receive the benefit of Kevin Long’s tutelage. There’s also the matter of the Mets giving playing time to Reyes, Flores, and Asdrubal Cabrera. In large part, the Mets know what they have in them, and for the most part, they haven’t been good enough to help the Mets win this year.
We don’t know that with Cecchini. It’s time to give him a chance.
If nothing else, you knew tonight was going to be an interesting game from the Mets perspective.
The day began with Sandy Alderson voicing his displeasure with Robert Gsellman saying he didn’t care that Sandy believed he needed to pitch better.
Officially, d’Arnaud and Cabrera switched 22 times tonight. That’s a lot.
— Marc Carig (@MarcCarig) August 17, 2017
Basically, d’Arnaud was constantly repositioned to avoid being at the pull side of the opposing hitter. It wasn’t until the ninth that he had to make a play. It was a pop out.
P4! P5? P4! pic.twitter.com/YG2A9ZT99r
— Good Fundies (@goodfundies) August 17, 2017
From there, we saw some good baseball and some really poor home plate umpiring.
For a pitcher that needed a big game after his comments, Gsellman was just okay. His final line was 5.1 innings, four hits, three runs, three earned, three walks, and three strikeouts.
One of the runs he allowed was an Aaron Judge monster of a homer to the third deck that was somehow just the third longest homer in Citi Field history:
Um, well… On the plus side it only counts as one. pic.twitter.com/VxagVw3LqI
— CitiFieldHR (@CitiFieldHR) August 17, 2017
Even with that monster homer, the game was tied going into the sixth.
Juan Lagares got the rally started with a leadoff double off Jaime Garcia. He got over and then scored on a Yoenis Cespedes sacrifice fly.
After Judge hit his homer, Rene Rivera hit one of his own in the fifth. It wasn’t as impressive as Judge’s, but you couldn’t tell that from Garcia’s reaction.
The Mets rallied back to tie the game in the bottom of the sixth. Cespedes lead off with a walk and moved to third on a Michael Conforto double. The second base umpire ruled Cespedes was interfered with on the basepaths, but he was only awarded third. Cespedes then scored on a d’Arnaud sacrifice fly.
At this point, Collins did what he always does with Sewald – he pushed him. It wasn’t good enough that he got out of a stressful jam. No, he had to go back out there. The combination of questionable managing and poor umpiring would do him in.
— Mets Strike Zone (@MetsUmp) August 17, 2017
On the pitch, Sewald missed his spot by a good margin, and Rivera did him no favors by stabbing at the pitch. With that said, the home plate umpire Chad Whitson cannot miss that call. Then again, he was so terrible, you shouldn’t be surprised.
Even with Sewald did get Judge to pop out, but his luck ran out with Didi Gregorious ripped a two RBI double that provided the winning margin in a Yankees 5-3 victory. The Didi double snapped an 0-25 streak Sewald had with runners in scoring position.
Ultimately, the story here was bad umpiring, Collins putting too much on Sewald again, and the Yankees bullpen just being that good.
Game Notes: d’Arnaud became the first Mets to appear at catcher, second, and third since Jeff McKnight in 1993.
Last night, the Yankees brought on Aroldis Chapman to close out a Yankees three run lead. After Wilmer Flores struck out to begin the inning, Dominic Smith strode up to the plate in what would be the rookie’s biggest test in his brief major league career. Seeing how he hit an opposite field homer earlier in the game, and Rafael Devers hit a huge home run against Chapman in Chapman’s last save attempt, this was promising to be a very interesting match-up.
This is not the first time we have seen this play with Collins. During Michael Conforto‘s first two years with the Mets, Collins did not let his young left-handed hitter face left-handed pitching. Instead, he would bat Michael Cuddyer, Juan Lagares, Justin Ruggiano, Ty Kelly, or really any warm body on the bench to prevent Conforto from facing a left-handed pitcher.
The end result of Collins’ refusal to play Conforto against left-handed pitching was Conforto actually struggling against left-handed pitching. Over his first two big league seasons, Conforto hit .129/.191/.145 with just one extra-base hit, a double, in the 68 at-bats he did get against left-handed pitching.
However, there was no reason to sit Conforto against left-handed pitching. His hitting coach, Kevin Long, found the notion that Conforto can’t hit left-handed pitching absurd. Conforto hit left-handed pitching in both his collegiate and brief minor league career. Still, despite Conforto’s ability to hit left-handed pitching everywhere else, Collins decided to sit him against left-handed pitching.
When pressed on it, Collins said, “We’re in a situation where we’re trying to win games. This is not a time to develop players.” (Barbara Barker, Newsday).
Assuming Collins is correct that you shirk the responsibility of developing young players because you have designs on winning a World Series, why is he now repeating the same tactics with Smith?
Currently, the Mets are 10 games under .500. The team has to win 62% of their remaining games just to get to .500. The team has already traded away Jay Bruce, Lucas Duda, Addison Reed, and Neil Walker. If an opportunity presents itself, Asdrubal Cabrera, Curtis Granderson, and Rene Rivera will find new homes before the end of the month. Put more succinctly, this team is not in a position where they are trying to win games – this is a time to develop players.
Pinch hitting for Smith the very first opportunity he gets to face a left-handed pitcher in the majors does nothing to accomplish that goal.
Overall, unless Collins is facing some delusions of grandeur, there is no reason to believe the Mets are winning anything in 2017. Smith is ticketed to be the Mets starting first baseman in 2018. To that end, the rest of the regular season should be dedicated to helping him best prepare for the 2018 season. Sitting him against left-handed pitching only hinders his development.
Maybe, just maybe Collins was never truly concerned with player development. Maybe in his mind young left-handed batters are just incapable of hitting left-handed pitching. It is likely the reason why he previously sat Conforto against left-handed pitching, and it is the reason why he’s doing it with Smith now.
It’s poor managing, and it has had a tangible effect on player development. Collins might have had his excuse with Conforto, but he doesn’t have that excuse with Smith now. If Collins shields Smith from a left-handed pitcher just one more time, the Mets are going to have to find someone else to manage. Simply put, you cannot permit Collins to hinder Smith’s development to win some meaningless games.
This wasn’t the best of Subway Series games for Mets fans.
Jacob deGrom was good but not great.
The Yankees first got to him in the third when Ronald Torreyes hit a lead-off double that Yoenis Cespedes couldn’t even be bothered to hustle to field. His lack of hustle was all the more damning when Torreyes made it to second with ease despite slipping on the first base bag.
Of course, Cespedes would hustle on two infield singles in the game.
The Yankees then took a 1-0 on an Aaron Hicks RBI single.
That lead grew to 4-0 on a pair of homers. The first was a two run Yankee Stadium special off the bat of Jacoby Ellsbury in the fourth. The Gary Sanchez solo shot in the sixth would’ve been out anywhere.
Even with the four runs, deGrom was largely effective. His final line was 7.1 innings, nine hits, five runs, five earned, two walks, and four strike outs.
deGrom would get the loss because Sonny Gray dominated the Mets for six innings. He had only allowed one walk and four hits while striking out five.
Dominic Smith knocked him out of the game with his first career homer in the seventh:
— Anthony DiComo (@AnthonyDiComo) August 16, 2017
It was an opposite field shot just past Hicks’ glove. The homer brought the Mets to within 4-2, bit the Mets wouldn’t get closer.
One reason why was home plate umpire. Dellin Betances began to get wild after getting two quick outs to start the eighth. Betances then walked Cespedes, and he found himself down 3-1 to Michael Conforto.
The 3-1 pitch was certainly a strike, but the 3-2 pitch was low. Even if it was technically a strike, it was not called a strike all night.
That was the Mets last chance to tie the game.
The Yankees expanded the lead to 5-2 in the bottom of the eighth. Aaron Judge led off with a double by just beating out Cespedes throw to second. It became runners on the corners after Didi Gregorious fought off a pitch and blooped it just over the head of Wilmer Flores.
It was a bad situation that could have been worse if not for Juan Lagares. Sanchez hit a ball to the deepest part of the park. Instead of it going for extra bases, a shallow playing Lagares not only ranged all the way back, but he also got into good throwing position. This kept Gregorious at first.
Jerry Blevins and Chasen Bradford got out of the inning keeping the score at 5-2. Unfortunately, that insurance run would loom large with the Mets challenging Aroldis Chapman in the ninth.
It started with Terry Collins pinch hitting Jose Reyes for Smith because Collins is apparently the only person on the planet who doesn’t know Rafael Devers hit a home run off Chapman.
Reyes got the infield hit, but who cares? The rest of this season is about player development, and the Mets gain nothing from pinch hitting for Smith against a tough lefty.
It’s complete and utter nonsense. It’s the same nonsense that held up Conforto’s development.
If this is the way Collins manages from here on out, it’s time to get rid of him.
That said, Amed Rosario made things interesting with an opposite field two run homer to bring the Mets to within 5-4.
Gregorious would make a nice play taking a base hit away from Travis d’Arnaud, and Lagares would ground out to end the game.
It was a frustrating loss not just because deGrom wasn’t at his best, but also because Collins continued the same poor managing.
Game Notes: This is the first time Smith and Rosario homered in the same game.
If you weren’t aware the Phillies were a much worse team than the Mets, you became aware of that fact today. Who else loses to the Mets during a Sunday day game?
The reason why the Phillies are so bad was put right there on display in the bottom of the fifth.
The Phillies had the bases loaded and no outs against Mets starter Chris Flexen. This was the moment to take advantage of a young pitcher, and not only tie the game, but also take the lead.
Nick Williams hit a fly ball to center fielder Michael Conforto. Rather than challenge Conforto’s arm, Freddy Galvis stayed put at third. Only problem was Odubel Herrera didn’t. He took off for third, and he was out.
Even with a Flexen subsequent wild pitch, this was a back breaker. Instead of a lead or tie game, Flexen got out of the inning allowing just one run. It would allow him to depart in line for the win.
Flexen battled most of the day throwing 98 pitches in five innings. He twice faced bases loaded situations, and both times he limited the damage allowing just one run. His final line was five innings, six hits, two runs, two earned, four walks, and five strikeouts.
He got the win because the Mets bats were alive.
Curtis Granderson, back in his familiar lead-off spot, set the table for a Mets offense that scored six runs on the day. For his part, Granderson finished a triple short of the cycle, and he would leave Citizens Bank Park with the crown.
Granderson leadoff the game with a double off Phillies starter Zach Eflin, and he came home to score on Conforto’s 26th home run of the season.
In the fifth, it was Granderson taking on Conforto’s role. His 17th home run of the season would score Jose Reyes, who hit a one out double.
Granderson brought Reyes home again in the seventh. Aftet Reyes hit a one out single, he stole second putting himself in scoring position. Granderson delivered with an RBI single. Granderson then scored on a Wilmer Flores RBI single making it 6-2.
The Flores RBI single was an important one. It wasn’t important in terms of the final score. The game wasn’t in doubt. No, the RBI was important because with the Neil Walker trade, the Mets have announced he’s getting more playing time. Put another way, he’s getting another chance to prove he can be an everyday player.
Today, he helped himself going 2-5 with an RBI.
Also helping themselves was the bullpen, who combined to pitch four scoreless innings to close out the game. Specifically, Chasen Bradford and Paul Sewald bolstered their cases why they should be a part of the Mets next year.
To that end, so did Granderson. He’s shaken off a horrendous April to be a good hitter since that point. He’s a great clubhouse presence who can play all three outfield positions. The Mets need him in the clubhouse again, and based on the injury history, they may soon need him in the field.
For now, the Mets won. More than that, we got to see the young kids continuing to grow.
Game Notes: Kevin McGowan was called up to take Walker’s spot on the roster.
Don’t read too much into tonight’s game. The game started off on a strange foot when Neil Walker was pulled off the field (and his being removed from the lineup) during batting practice with his reportedly being dealt to the Brewers.
There was also the matter of Aaron Nola, who has been pitching like a Cy Young contender of late. Including tonight’s start, Nola now has a 10 start streak with him pitching at least seven innings while allowing two or fewer runs.
Tonight, that one run came off a Yoenis Cespedes fourth inning homer that briefly gave the Mets a 1-0 lead. There’s the argument it should have been a 2-0 lead.
Rosario and Nimmo then attempted a double steal. Cameron Rupp threw through. Seeing this Rosario took off. With Nimmo seemingly having the base, Freddy Galvis didn’t hesitate coming off the bag to meet the throw and go home nailing Rosario.
That play would loom large during a two run fifth inning.
Up until that point, Steven Matz was cruising. He had four no-hit innings, which ended with the Phillies hitting back-to-back singles to start the fifth. Matz was so close to getting out of this jam.
First, Rupp popped out, and then Nola laid down a sac bunt. Matz couldn’t get the big out yielding a game tying single to Cesar Hernandez. Galvis then hit a seeing eye single that was just past Jose Reyes giving the Phillies a 2-1 lead. Ultimately, that was the game-winning hit.
Nola continued to shut down the Mets. His final line was seven innings, two hits, one run, one earned, one walk, and eight strikeouts. This made Ricardo Pinto a welcome sight in the eighth.
Curtis Granderson and Reyes each walked setting up two on and two out for Cespedes. Pinto would strike out Cespedes on three straight pitches to end the rally.
From there, the Phillies would add an insurance run in the bottom of the eighth off Erik Goeddel giving them a 3-1 lead.
Ultimately, the Mets lost a difficult game. They lost a teammate, and they faced a tough pitcher. With that said, they did the right thing and played some young guys. More than that Matz progressed from where he has been.
Given how the Mets are constituted, they’re going to lose a lot of games. That’s understandable. The only thing you can reasonably ask is when they lose, it’s a good game, and the young players are getting their feet wet. That happened today, so all-in-all, that’s not too bad a day.
Game Notes: Michael Conforto started the game in center, and Nimmo played right. Reyes wasn’t initially supposed to be in the lineup, but took over for Walker in the lineup and played second. Asdrubal Cabrera played second.
Entering tonight, Jacob deGrom had never lost to the Phillies. With the Phillies being one of the few teams in baseball actually worse than the Mets, it wasn’t about to happen tonight.
deGrom dominated the Phillies over his 6.2 shutout innings allowing just four hits while walking none and striking out nine. The only way the Phillies could take him out of the game would be a Nick Williams line drive off deGrom with two outs in the seventh.
Terry Collins did the right thing pulling deGrom from the game. With the Mets going nowhere, there’s no need to risk anything. There’s less of a reason with the Mets being up 7-0.
One thing we have learned over the years is the Mets have always loved hitting at Citizens Bank Park. In fact, the Mets have homered there more than any other opponent. Tonight, the festivities began with a Wilmer Flores first inning three run homer off starter Vince Velasquez.
He’d fare much better than Velasquez with the lone run against him coming off a Neil Walker solo shot in the third.
It was interesting to see Walker at third again tonight, especially with the Yankees reportedly having interest in him. I’m sure there will be a team to step in to offer a low rated Single-A reliever to prevent that deal from happening.
Conforto got the home run from the clean-up spot. Now that the Mets have traded Jay Bruce, Collins has re-inserted Curtis Granderson in the lead-off spot for the foreseeable future. Collins also promises to keep Conforto in the middle of the lineup as preparation for next year.
Speaking of Granderson, he hit a two run homer in the ninth to give the Mets a 9-0 lead.
That 9-0 lead became 10-0 with a Jose Reyes RBI groundout.
The Mets needed more games like this during the 2017 season. In fact, this is just the Mets fourth shut out on the season. Unfortunately, it hasn’t worked out that way. Still, we should enjoy them whenever they come.
Game Notes: Dominic Smith will join the Mets tomorrow.
Today’s Mets game was scheduled at 12:10 because it was Camp Day at Citi Field. Apparently, the Mets aren’t much interested in generating new baseball fans because the team played one of their typical dreary day games. With today’s loss, the Mets are now an MLB worst 10-23 in day games.
This loss was one of the worst. It wasn’t the worst because the Mets were blown out. The 5-1 score dictate otherwise. Rather, it was a dreary day when the Mets gave you very little reason to cheer.
Rangers starter Martin Perez allowed just three hits over eight innings to the Mets with Wilmer Flores‘ fifth inning homer being the lone run scored. Perez was so good on the mound that he was able to stick around long enough to earn a golden sombrero.
One pitcher who did not last very long was Rafael Montero. His good stretch of pitching is now long forgotten, and he’s back to being the very bad pitcher that would drive Mets fans crazy. Just to put it in perspective, the first run of the game scored on a Montero balk, and he followed that up by allowing a three run homer to Joey Gallo, who has just worn out the Mets in this short two game series.
The run in the second inning was maddening. Elvis Andrus would steal consecutive bases off of the combination of Montero and Rene Rivera, and then he would score just ahead of Jose Reyes‘ throw home. It was a bad job blocking the plate by Rivera. The only thing worse than that was Collins failure to challenge the play at second on the first stolen base. Replays would show Andrus was actually out.
Montero’s final line would be 3.0 innings, five hits, four runs, four earned, three walks, and five strikeouts.
From there, Terry Collins played his favorite stretch everyone out in the bullpen game. Josh Smoker would pitch two innings, but he couldn’t get through that third. He would load the bases with no outs. Hansel Robles came on, walked a batter, got out of the jam, and he would pitch three innings. This for a reliever that just said he couldn’t feel his fingers the other day.
Chasen Bradford pitched a scoreless ninth to at least give the Mets a chance to win the game in the ninth. They didn’t.
Really, the one highlight other than Flores’ homer was Amed Rosario making a terrific diving play:
— 🍎 BIG APPLE METS ⚾️ (@BigAppleNYM) August 9, 2017
GAME NOTES: Neil Walker started the game at third base making him the 164th third baseman in Mets history.