Justin Turner

20/20 Hindsight: Dodgers Expose Mets For What They Are

The Mets seemed to have righted the ship as they headed out to Los Angeles on a tough road trip. In a four game series against the Dodgers, we learned just how good the Mets are against the top teams in the National League:

1. The one thing we saw in this series was just how better the Dodgers are. Sure, it is the talent on the field, but it is also ownership’s dedication to winning. We see that when the Dodgers hire Andrew Friedman away from the Rays and the Mets hire a former agent who has never run an organization. For example, we see the Mets trade three good prospects for J.D. Davis, who continues to regress. The Dodgers use their superior scouting and player development to identify players like Justin Turner and Max Muncy.

2. The Mets did have an opportunity to earn at least a split on two different occasions. The fact they didn’t speaks volumes to how the Dodgers are just a better and more resilient team.

3. It is easy to jump all over Edwin Diaz for blowing a save in a game the Mets absolutely had to have. Then again, he’s been overworked pitching in eight of the past 11 days not including the times he was dry humped. This blow-up was bound to happen. What’s eerie was his 0.1 IP, 4 ER performance was a year to the date since his last one.

4. You can certainly get on Mickey Callaway for his usage of Diaz. He has to be better in handling him to try to prevent these types of blow ups. Then again, what other options does he have? With Seth Lugo on the Injured List, he’s down to maybe one other reliable set-up man in Robert Gsellman. Fact is, the bullpen remains an arm or two short, and the front office seems uninterested in getting him the help he needs.

5. We can point to the draft coming on Monday as the point where the Mets could sign Dallas Keuchel or Craig Kimbrel without forfeiting a pick, but that would be idiotic. We all know that’s not the type of compensation preventing the Mets from signing either pitcher, especially with Van Wagenen being all too happy to purge all of those prospects.

6. Baseball is funny. Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard struggled against the Dodgers, but it was Jason Vargas who really pitched well against the Dodgers allowing just one earned over seven innings. Give credit to him not just for the big game but also for saving a depleted and exhausted bullpen.

7. With respect to Vargas, let’s not get ahead of ourselves here. Today is the last day of May, and he finally has a quality start. This was the first time all season he has consecutive games pitching at least five innings. In his previous four starts, he’s averaged 4.2 innings per start. If he can pitch at least five in his next start maybe then we can talk about his FINALLY being a viable fifth starter.

8. Steven Matz has been quite good this year, and he showed it in this series picking up the Mets only win in the series. In some ways, he has emerged as the Mets most reliable starter.

9. It’s a dangerous game to play, but if you eliminate his horrendous start against the Phillies and his short start in his first game off the Injured List, Matz is 4-1 with a 2.30 ERA and a 1.191 WHIP.

10. Give Noah Syndergaard credit for gutting through six innings when he didn’t have anywhere near his best stuff. While he’s getting killed for it, that looks more like Syndergaard looking like a great pitcher. The great ones can get quality starts when they are throwing junk. But let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves on that front. He needs more consistency to get to that point.

11. Mets fans frustations at the starters seem to be misplaced. If you look at their FIP, Zack Wheeler has been the team’s best pitcher with a 3.25. While not what you expected, deGrom (3.56) and Syndergaard (3.62) have pitched better than their results are indicating. Unfortunately, this also indicates Matz is due for a regression. Honestly, you take that if those other three get going.

12. We can’t get too worked up about Hyun-Jin Ryu shutting down the Mets. He is currently pitching like deGrom did last year. It’s also noteworthy the Mets offense was humming prior to that scoring 6.7 runs per game in the series and 5.5 runs per game over their prior 11.

13. Todd Frazier has completely turned his season around. Over his last 16 games, he is hitting .327/.403/.491, and he continues to play a very good third base. That was a great tag he got down on Corey Seager after what was a terrific throw from Carlos Gomez (which came after a terrible play – details, details).

14. Amed Rosario also had a very good series. Even with yesterday’s 0-f0r-4, he was 6-for-16 in the series with two doubles, a triple, a homer, and two RBI.

15. It’s been an interesting year for Rosario. Just when you think he’s figured things out, he suddenly struggles. Even with all of that, he is showing marked improvement over the first two years of his career. If he were to find some consistency, he’s going to make the leap into stardom. Hopefully, that happens in the second half.

16. Adeiny Hechavarria has the same amount of homers and just three fewer RBI than Robinson Cano who has had 151 more plate appearances. This is both a statement about how Hechavarria has played well over his head and how bad Cano has been.

17. Diaz currently has mediocre stats (at least for the moment), and Cano has already looked like the $100 million albatross we knew he would eventually be. Jarred Kelenic has already been promoted to High-A, and Justin Dunn has a 2.25 ERA over his last three starts and has struck out 11.2 per nine this year. Mind you, this is just two months into the season. Wonder how this trade will look five years from now.

18. Between Dominic Smith and J.D. Davis, the Mets have two players who have no business playing left field. With Davis, they really have a guy who doesn’t have a position. Taking that into account, the Mets just need to play the better bat, and without any doubt, that is Smith.

19. Juan Lagares needed to be better than this. At a time when the Mets desperately needed him, he has completely faltered. Hes in the middle of an 0-for-13 stretch, and he is just one for his last 26. Worse yet, he’s at a -1 DRS. Yes, his 17.3 UZR/150 shows he is still the same fielder, but the Mets needed him to be more productive than this. Really, they needed him to be actually productive.

20. Give credit to Pete Alonso. Over a 41 game stretch entering this series, he was hitting .214/.305/.497. Put another way, it appeared the league had figured him out after a hot start. In the series against the Dodgers, he was 7-for-16 with two doubles, a triple, two homers, and five RBI. This is an indication he might be adjusting to what pitchers are doing to him. If so, that’s a sign he’s on his way to becoming a great player.

Smith Bloop, Alonso Blast, Mets Completely Blow Big Lead

One of the truly fascinating and heart warming parts of the Mets season has been the friendship which has developed between Pete Alonso and Dominic Smith. What makes it so special is they are two young players vying for playing time at the same position. Seeing them so far this year, you wondered what could happen if they were in the lineup together.

With all the injuries to the Mets outfielders and Walker Buehler starting for the Dodgers, Smith would get the start in left and bat second. The decision would pay immediate dividends as Alonso followed a Smith one out single with a homer:

The duo would combine to do it again in the fifth inning with the two celebrating in the dugout.

Combined with an Adeiny Hechavarria second inning double scoring Todd Frazier, and the Mets had a 5-3 lead.

All the runs were in support of Noah Syndergaard who despite still struggling with his stuff had an admirable effort against the best offense in the National League.

It seemed as if the Dodgers had him on the ropes in the second and third as he was getting BABIPed a bit and giving up more solid contact than he usually does.

In the second, Corey Seager, Matt Beaty, and Alex Verdugo hit consecutive doubles to then tie the game at 2-2. On the Verdugo double, Smith did have trouble playing it in the gap, but it ultimately did not hurt the Mets.

In fact, the Dodgers would hit five doubles off Syndergaard. The fourth was a leadoff double by Max Muncy to start the third. He’d come home to score on a Justin Turner RBI single.

The fifth, well, that was a bit of hometown scoring. With two outs in the bottom of the fifth, Seager hit a ball to the center field wall. It was a ball Carlos Gomez absolutely should have had. Instead, he fumbled it.

However, he would make up for it by unleashing a great throw to third. As good as that throw was, Frazier’s tag was even better.

Frazier followed up that fine play with a double off Pedro Baez to start the sixth. After a Gomez bunt, Frazier scored on an Hechavarria RBI single. This was part of a very good game for Frazier. In addition to the defense, he was 2-for-4 with two runs and a double.

Through the struggles, Syndergaard threw a season high 116 pitches in a quality start. It may not have looked good, but he allowed just the three earned off seven hits. Mostly, he gave the Mets needed length to help preserve an already tired Mets bullpen the day before a Jason Vargas start.

After he was lifted, Amed Rosario and Dominic Smith would open the seventh with back-to-back homers off Julio Urias.

After the homers, the Mets offense continued to go to work with an Alonso single and Michael Conforto double setting up second and third with no outs. At the time, it was 8-3 Mets, and it looked like the Mets were going to blow it completely open.

They didn’t, and worse yet, the game would tighten a bit. In the seventh, Joc Pederson doubled off Robert Gsellman, and he’s score on a two out RBI single from Turner. In the eighth, Seager homered off Jeurys Familia to make it 8-5. Fortunately, Familia got out of the inning allowing no further runs and keeping the save chance alive for Edwin Diaz.

Because this is the Mets, it can’t be easy. Pederson and Muncy homered off Diaz to lead off the ninth to pull the Dodgers to within 8-7. Turner then doubled bringing Cody Bellinger up as the winning run. He’d just double to tie the game.

Things got much worse. Seager was intentionally walked. As if things weren’t bad enough, Beaty hit a soft roller up the middle which Rosario fielded, but he could not find the bag.

With the bases loaded and no outs, Juan Lagares came in to give the Mets a five man infield. It didn’t matter as Verdugo hit a sacrifice fly.

This was about as bad a loss as the Mets have had all year. They got a tough start from Syndergaard. They also got production from almost their entire lineup. They had their closer who they gave up the world to acquire on the mound with a chance to get back over .500. Instead, they blew it and looked like a terrible team in the ninth in the process.

Game Notes: As noted by MMO‘s Mathew Brownstein, Frazier has three straight multiple hit games.

Good Luck d’Arnaud

With Travis d’Arnaud struggling in his limited chances since returning from Tommy John surgery, he was designated for assignment. Instead of seeking to outright him to Syracuse, the Mets opted to release d’Arnaud. Now, d’Arnaud is reunited with Bob Geren in Los Angeles. It’s easy to forget now, but with Geren being the Mets catching coach, he got the very best out of d’Arnaud.

Back in 2012, the Mets would trade reigning Cy Young winner R.A. Dickey to the Toronto Blue Jays for a package which included d’Arnaud and Noah Syndergaard. At that point, d’Arnaud was the best known prospect, and he was certainly a coveted one having previously been traded the Phillies to the Blue Jays so the team could obtain Roy Halladay.

The book on d’Arnaud was he was going to be a good hitting catcher. Being a good hitter or even a catcher was something which was next to impossible to ascertain when d’Arnaud was first called up to the majors in 2013. He didn’t hit at all, and he struggled mightily behind the plate. After that year, d’Arnaud would put his work in and become a much better player.

While the bat never quite materialized the way we anticipated, he did became very good behind the plate. We saw d’Arnaud become one of the best pitch framers in the game. It was one of the reasons why he was in the top 10 in Rookie of the Year voting in 2014, and it was one of the reasons why the Mets would take off in 2015.

Like he would most of his career, d’Arnaud would have injury issues in 2015, but he would be an impactful player when he was on the field. His elite pitch framing helped a staff featuring Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom, and  Syndergaard not only win the division, but also go all the way to the World Series. It gets overlooked, but d’Arnaud didn’t contribute with his strong play behind the plate, he also contributed as a hitter.

In the 2015 postseaon, d’Arnaud would hit three homers. That included one in Game 1 of the NLCS which would actually hit the Home Run Apple, which led the Mets to put a temporary band-aid on it prior to Game 2.

Of course, the homers overlook his key moments in the NLDS. In a pivotal Game 3, it was d’Arnaud who hit the RBI single which tied the game in the second, and it was d’Arnaud who hit the three run homer in the third which helped the Mets begin to pull away. We also forget with the heroics of deGrom, Jeurys Familia, and Daniel Murphy in Game 5, it was d’Arnaud who had the sacrifice fly which had tied the game setting the stage for the Mets to eventually take the lead and head to the NLCS.

After the 2015 season, d’Arnaud would deal with injuries including the torn UCL which practically cost him the entire 2018 season. Still, when he played, he was a terrific pitch framer, who was an asset to his pitching staff. He would still have the occasional highlight like his 16th inning homer against the Marlins.

One thing which really stuck out with d’Arnaud was how he was a team first player. In his tenure with the Mets, he wore three different numbers partially because he changed from number 7 to accomodate Jose Reyes when he returned to the organization. There was also the August 16, 2017 game which will live in infamy.

With both Wilmer Flores and Reyes unable to play due to injuries, and with Gavin Cecchini and Matt Reynolds unable to arrive from Las Vegas in time for the game, it meant someone was going to have to play out of position. That player would be d’Arnaud, who donned David Wright‘s mitt while switching back and forth between second and third with Asdrubal Cabrera. The lineup card was a mess with it reading d’Arnaud played “3B-2B-3B-2B-3B-2B-3B-2B-3B-2B-3B-2B-3B-2B-3B-2B-3B-2B-3B-2B-3B-2B-3B.”

In the game, d’Arnaud would hit a game tying sacrifice fly in the sixth. Despite all of Terry Collins‘ machinations, the ball would finally find d’Arnaud when Todd Frazier popped it up to him in the ninth. With d’Arnaud securing it, he now stands as the Mets all-time leader in fielding percentage among Mets second baseman.

When it comes to d’Arnaud, aside from that magical 2015 season, he was never quite the player everyone hoped he would be. He battled injuries during his Mets tenure, and he was never the hitter everyone expected even if he was above average at the position. Mostly, he was very good behind the plate having been one of the best pitch framers in the game.

His Mets tenure ended with a whimper. While fans villified him for what he wasn’t instead of celebrating him for what he was, d’Arnaud opted for the high road thanking the fans and the organization for everything and expressing his gratitude to all.

While things ended poorly here, he is now playing for his hometown team. It is a team who has his former catching coach, who get everything out of d’Arnaud’s talent. He’s at the place where former Met Justin Turner‘s career took off. He’s playing for a very good team, a smart organization, and he will be put in a good position to succeed.

In his tenure, d’Arnaud was a good Met, and the 2015 run doesn’t happen without him. Despite everything, he never complained, and he was willing to do everything asked of him. Every Mets fan should wish him the best of luck. I know I will.

Mets Blogger Roundtable: The Mets Who Got Away

With Jacob deGrom receiving his contract extension, it appears he is going to be a Mets pitcher during his prime, and it sets the stage for him to join David Wright and Ed Kranepool as Mets for life. With that being the bulk of the list, there is a host of Mets players who got away. The most famous of which was Tom Seaver who headlined the Midnight Massacre. Putting Seaver aside, the Mets bloggers discussed those players who got away:

Michael Ganci (Daily Stache)

Honestly in recent memory John Olerud comes to mind. He had one of the best pure swings I can remember. Other than that I guess you have to bring up Daniel Murphy and Justin Turner, but who saw those coming?

Michael Baron

Daniel Murphy is the most recent Met to have gotten away. And, I’ve heard there are people in the front office who would like a mulligan on that one as well. Having him in 2016 and 2017 would’ve been huge, and not having him kill the Mets in DC would have been huge too.

Allison McCague (Amazin’ Avenue)

To me the most egregious example of a Met getting away is Justin Turner, simply by virtue of how little it would have cost to keep him. Of course, it was impossible to know that he would put up the numbers he did after leaving the Mets, but unlike the Murphy situation where it was a choice not to sign the player as a free agent, they non-tendered a perfectly serviceable utility man just because they didn’t want to pay him and trashed his character on the way out for good measure. I think a dark horse candidate in this conversation, however, would be Collin McHugh, who changed his approach after joining the Astros by throwing his fastball less often and his off-speed pitches more often to much greater success than he ever had as a Met. And now he remains a key piece in the Astros bullpen as they head into another season where they will likely make a push for the postseason.

Michael Baron

I’ll give you Justin Turner for sure. What irks me is he’s a good guy and even in the form he was in when he was here, was a valuable piece for the solution. That he evolved thanks to the tutelage of Marlon Byrd while he was here makes it even worse, since this version of Justin Turner would‘ve unquestionably transformed the Mets.

Metstradamus (Metstradamus Blog)

Darren O’Day … just because we lost the Rule 5 pick because Omar Minaya didn’t want to put Mike Pelfrey on the disabled list. That still triggers me.

James Schapiro (Shea Bridge Report)

Joe Hietpas! Got to take the field, but then left without ever getting to bat…he’s Moonlight Graham!

Mark Healey (Gotham Baseball)

Olerud; he was a far superior player to Todd Zeile. Just look at his seasons 2000-02; think he would have helped? In my opinion, if Mets have Olerud, they win 2000 World Series. My God, remember the Zeile farewell tour? Infamnia!

Tim Ryder (MMO)

I’m gonna hesitantly go with Melvin Mora. The guy he got traded away for, Mike Bordick, was a fine pickup and helped that 2000 team get over the hump, no doubt. But Mora went on to have a solid little career and Bordick was back in Baltimore via free agency the following season.

Greg Prince (Faith and Fear in Flushing)

The Mets let 18-year-old Paul Blair go to the Orioles in the minor league draft of 1962. Blair played 18 seasons in the majors, winning eight Gold Gloves as the premier AL center fielder of his generation.

Then again, had the Mets kept Blair, they wouldn’t have needed to trade for Tommie Agee prior to 1968, and Agee robbed Blair in the 1969 Series, so all’s well that ended well, perhaps.

Pete McCarthy (OABT)

I thought Nolan Ryan was the only answer to this question, but there are some fun ones in here. Yay Mets!

Mark Healey

Far be it from me to disagree with you Pete but Ryan wanted out as much as the Mets were frustrated with him. It wasn’t so much that they traded Ryan and he became a Hall of Famer after it’s what they traded him for.

Metstradamus

Scott Kazmir would like a word.

Mets Daddy

There is always going to be a part of me who wonders what would have happened if the Mets kept Darryl Strawberry. He would have one good year in Los Angeles before everything fell apart for both him and the Mets. For those who forget, the Mets opted to replace him with Vince Coleman, who was detestable as a Met, and it lead to a series of poor decisions which built as bad and unlikable a Mets team as we have ever seen. For Strawberry, his personal problems were far worse than anything the Mets encountered.

Looking at everything, there are a number of mistakes like trading Jeff Kent for Carlos Baerga, but that at least indirectly led to the team signing Robin Ventura. Murphy leaving transferred the balance of power back to the Nationals.

But overall, the one which comes to mind right now is Matt Harvey. For Harvey, it was more than trading him for Devin Mesoraco. It was everything. The 2013 version looked like future Hall of Fame. The 2015 version looked like a staff ace. The ramifications of that 2015 season were far reaching, and we never saw Harvey return, literally and figuratively.

Before you go away from this piece, please sure you click on the links and visit the sites of those who have taken their time to contribute to this roundtable.

Also, a very special congratulations to Pete McCarthy and his wife on the birth of their baby girl!

 

Mets Blogger Roundtable: Who Should The Mets Bring Back To The Organization?

This offseason, the Mets have begun hiring some former fan favorites as special advisors to Brodie Van Wagenen. David Wright was the first with the team recently hiring Al Leiter and John Franco. We have also seen the team swap Nelson Figueroa with Todd Zeile for the postgame. In addition to those moves, Mike Piazza made his annual stop at Spring Training.

Seeing how the Mets are focusing more on their history, and recent history at that, you wonder who exactly the team will bring back next. We answer that question in our latest roundtable:

Metstradamus (Metstradamus Blog)

I want to see Justin Turner come back and play third base.

Greg Prince (Faith and Fear in Flushing)

My list of ex-Mets I’d welcome back in some capacity is too numerous to detail. I love the idea that these guys are forever part of the family as applicable.

Tim Ryder (MMO)

I’d like to see Carlos Delgado back representing the Mets in some capacity. His dedication to his craft (remember that notebook he wrote in after every at-bat?) would play well in this young-ish clubhouse, as well as through the organization.

James Schapiro (Shea Bridge Report)

Does Jarred Kelenic count?

Really though, this is more of an overall thought than a concrete idea, but Billy Wagner is one of the least-recognized greats in baseball history. By pretty much any measure he’s the second best modern-style closer of all time, and he’s already pretty much forgotten. I’m not sure the Mets should be the ones to honor him, but someone needs to.

Mets Daddy

Previously, I opined how Johan Santana could be a real difference maker in the organization if he were able to teach pitchers his changeup much in the same way he once did with Jacob deGrom. However, from a pure standpoint of wanting to bring a player back into the fold, I would like to see Carlos Beltran return to the Mets.

As it stands, Beltran is going to be in a position where he can choose a Royals, Mets, or a blank cap when he is inducted into the Hall of Fame. When you’re the Mets, and you only have two Hall of Famers in Tom Seaver and Piazza, and Seaver is no longer making public appearances, it would see a team should do all they can do to bring one of those Hall of Famers back to Queens.

Once again, I appreciate each of these writers taking their time to contribute to these roundtables, and I hope each person who reads this takes the time to visit the other writers sites to see their excellent work.

 

Dodgers Won 2015 NLDS War

Back in 2015, the Mets somehow held onto a Game 5 and series clinching win against the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Despite having nothing, Jacob deGrom kept the Dodgers to two runs over six innings. That was more than enough as Daniel Murphy took over that game in what was one of the truly great postseason games a player has ever had.

He’d double home the first run of the game in the first off Zack Greinke. On a fourth inning walk to Lucas Duda, Murphy went first to third against a shifted and lackadaisical Dodgers infield allowing him to score the tying run on a Travis d’Arnaud sacrifice fly.

The big blow came in the sixth when Murphy hit the go-ahead homer putting the Mets up 3-2.

After a scoreless sixth, it was Noah Syndergaard with a scoreless seventh followed by Jeurys Familia recording the six out save to send the Mets to the NLCS and eventually the World Series.

At the time, the Mets seemed to be the young team on the rise. In addition to deGrom, Syndergaard, and Familia, the team had Matt Harvey, Michael Conforto, Steven Matz, and eventually Zack Wheeler again.

The team also had a highly rated farm system, albeit one they raided for this one with a myriad of trades including Michael Fulmer and Luis Cessa for Yoenis Cespedes.

In 2016, both teams returned to the postseason. The Mets captured the top Wild Card spot only to be shut out by Madison Bumgarner and the San Francisco Giants. That year, the Dodgers would lose in the NLCS to the eventual World Series winning Chicago Cubs (two years later and that sentence still seems bizarre).

After that, the Mets have had consecutive losing seasons while the Dodgers have gone to back-to-back World Series. Why?

Well, for starters, the Dodgers build a deep team with a deep bench. They do not have top heavy rosters which crumble when there is one injury. For example, Clayton Kershaw has not thrown over 175.0 innings in a season since that NLDS, and yet, the Dodgers remain a great team.

Also, while the Mets are off purging the Murphys and Justin Turners of the world, the Dodgers are finding them. In addition to Turner, we have also seen Chris Taylor and Max Muncy figure things out in Los Angeles.

The Dodgers are also not afraid to take risks or trust their young players. Gone from the 2015 team are Howie Kendrick, Adrian Gonzalez, Andre Ethier, and Jimmy Rollins. Instead, the Dodgers have players like Cody Bellinger.

For the Mets part, well, Adrian Gonzalez was their Opening Day first baseman.

Mostly, the separation has been financial. The Dodgers ownership has been willing and motivated to keep this championship window as open as possible, and they have with the largest payroll in baseball.

Looking between the 2015 NLDS and 2018 NLCS, Turner, Joc Pederson, and Yasmani Grandal were the only players in both starting lineups. Pederson and Grandal are still under 30.

On the pitching front, Kershaw, Pedro Baez, Alex Wood, and Kenley Jansen were the only pitchers to pitch in both series.

The Dodgers are not just a financial juggernaut, but they are also a supremely well run organization. This is a complete opposite of what the Mets have been, and judging from their current GM search, will continue to be.

This is all why the Dodgers are competing for World Series while the Mets are once again also-rans.

Thank You MLB For Joe West

The NLCS and the ALCS have been riveting series so far with many storylines and subplots.  After each and every game, there is so much to unpack and discuss.  In many ways, these series are all that is great about baseball.

The Brewers are trying to bullpen their way through the postseason.  Their efforts reached their peak yesterday with Craig Counsell pulling Wade Miley after he walked Cody Bellinger, so he could insert Brandon Woodruff.  The obvious goal there was to get the right-handed Woodruff in against a predominantly right-handed lineup.

The Dodgers have been dealing with the drama with Manny Machado not hustling and making dirty plays in the field.  Through all of it, Machado has been the best player in this series, and in a 13 inning Game 4 victory, he made the hustle plays to win the game.  In addition to Machado, the Dodgers have the usual postseason issues related to Clayton Kershaw, who followed a bad start with a gem yesterday.

In the ALCS, the Astros appeared poised to streamroll the Red Sox.  In Game 1, Chris Sale didn’t have his velocity, and he went to the hospital after the game.  In that game, the Astros beat up on what is a poor Red Sox bullpen.  It seemed as if this was going to be a recurring theme in this series except it hasn’t.  The Red Sox have won three straight games with the Red Sox taking advantage of the Astros bullpen while Alex Cora has used a deft touch, including his use of Rick Porcello in the pen, to navigate his way through each game even with Craig Kimbrel nearly pulling an Armando Benitez each game.

We should be talking about each and every single thing from each of these series.  We should be talking about George Springer having another phenomenal postseason run.  Same thing for Justin TurnerOrlando Arcia is playing at another level this postseason.  There are so many great stories and more, and today, we’re not talking about any of them.

No, we’re talking about Joe West because he made a decision which may have changed the course of not just Game 4 of the ALCS but the entire series.

Mookie Betts was about to rob Jose Altuve of a two run homer until his glove hit the hands of some fans in the stands.  While there may not have been a definitive video, it is about 99 percent certain Betts reached into the stands, which means pursuant to MLB rules, it should have been a home run.

Before discussing further, it’s important to see West’s position.  It is best shown in this video:

Joe West is nowhere near position to make that call.  Seeing him out there, it was clearly impossible for him to get into the correct position.  The right field umpire is really in no man’s land. and he felt comfortable enough to make a series changing call.  In addition, MLB did not have enough cameras in place to properly analyze a call which was still fairly obvious.

Really, unless you are from Boston, an MLB replay official, Joe West, or a horrid analyst like Billy Ripken, you knew it was not fan interference.  And yet, here we are.  Stuck with a bad call in what should be a great series.  Worse yet, instead of discussing all the great things which are happening in the postseason, we are focusing on Joe West.

Time and again, we hear from Rob Manfred about all that is wrong with baseball.  He has publicly chastised Mike Trout for not being available for MLB promotions.  And yet, while he’s focusing on all that’s wrong and blaming players for his marketing department not being able to promote players, he allows Joe West to go out there and be Joe West and not make sure there are enough cameras in place to mitigate against that.

No Grandy Finish For NLCS Game Turner on a Dime

In many ways, Game 2 of the NLCS was decided by a couple of former and well liked Mets.

In the top of the eighth, with the Dodgers down 3-2, Justin Turner hit a go-ahead two run homer off Jeremy Jeffress.

The Brewers would have their chance to respond in the bottom of the eighth.

With one on and two out, Dave Roberts pulled his left-handed reliever for Kenta Maeda, and Craig Counsell countered by sending Curtis Granderson to the plate. Granderson put a charge in one, but the ball would land harmlessly in Yasiel Puig‘s glove.

While there were many, many other factors which influenced the final score, when you boil down this game, the difference was Turner’s ball left the yard, and Granderson’s didn’t.

In some ways, it’s great to see some popular former Mets in the postseason, especially Granderson. In other ways, it is a reminder how the Mets once had the talent to be a World Series contender. That talent is still contributing in some fashion to teams on the cusp of going to the World Series.

It’s now incumbent on the Mets to find their next Turner and Granderson to get the franchise to the point where Turner and Granderson currently are.

Wheeler Great Again

Here’s how good Zack Wheeler has been pitching in the second half of the season.  Last night, he allowed three runs on three hits while walking two and striking out nine.  For him, that now qualifies as a poor start.

The Dodgers were able to score the three runs off of him because they hit two homers.  It should come as no surprise one of those homers was by Cody Bellinger, who absolutely owns Wheeler.  In fact, Bellinger is 4-for-8 against Wheeler with four homers and nine RBI.

The other homer was in the fourth inning.  After Justin Turner hit a comebacker which hit Wheeler in the ribs, Max Muncy would hit a two run homer off of Wheeler.  Given how Wheeler was still dealing with the shot to the ribs, you could put a bit of a mental asterisk next to that one, especially when you consider Wheeler would retire eight of the next nine batters he faced.

Even with those homers, the Dodgers could not pull ahead of the Mets.

In the fourth, the Mets finally broke through against Hyun-Jin RyuAmed Rosario singled and Jeff McNeil doubled to put runners at second and third with no outs.  From that point forward, the Mets would BABIP the heck out of Ryu.

Wilmer Flores would hit one back which hit Ryu that allowed him to reach safely and would allow Rosario to score.  McNeil would challenge Joc Pederson‘s arm on a Michael Conforto flyball, and he would score because Yasmani Grandal could not hold onto the ball.  In an odd official scorer position, Conforto was not given the RBI as it was ruled an error on Grandal.

Part of the key to that play was Flores going to third, which would allow him to score from third on the two out RBI single from Austin Jackson.  That was important as Jackson was nailed at second trying to challenge Alex Verdugo‘s arm.  Had Flores been at third, it’s very likely he does not score on the play.

Kevin Plawecki led off the fifth with a double, and he moved to third on a Brandon Nimmo bloop hit.  After Wheeler struck out, Rosario singled home Plawecki.  Later that inning, Flores brought home Nimmo on a ball Enrique Hernandez was not quite tall enough to get.  With that, the Mets had a 5-2 lead, and they were in control of the game.

That became a stranglehold with Conforto delivering a seventh inning RBI single, and Ryan Madson throwing a wild pitch to allow McNeil to come home from third.

After 105 pitches, Wheeler was done after seven, and Mickey Callaway brought on Seth Lugo to close out the final two innings.  He did just that allowing no hits and striking out a batter.  With the win, the Mets have now won consecutive West Coast series, and the team is playing much better baseball of late.  They are two games over .500 in the second half.

Game Notes: In his final at-bat ever against the Mets, Chase Utley lined out to Nimmo.  So in the end, the dirtiest player alive lined out to the nicest and most genuine player in the majors.

deGrom Sets Mets and MLB Records In No Decision

When Justin Turner hit a first inning home run off of Jacob deGrom, it was evident deGrom did not have his best stuff.  After all, deGrom had not allowed a home run in his last 42 innings pitched.  As it turned out, it really was a struggle for deGrom with him needing 109 pitches to get through six innings.  That’s notably because he threw 108 pitches in each of his last three starts, and he went 9.0, 6.0, and 8.0 innings respectively.

Through all of his troubles tonight and him fighting it, deGrom’s final line was 6.0 innings, two hits, one run, one earned, one walk, and six strikeouts.

It’s at the point where deGrom is so good his inability to find himself and be on his A game leads him to having an absolutely terrific and dominant start.  He’s been having a lot of those lately.  In fact, with this quality start, deGrom set a new Mets record with 20 straight quality starts.  It gets better.  With deGrom allowing three earned runs or less in his past 25 starts, he has set a new MLB record.

And to think there are some people who don’t want to give him the Cy Young.  Of course, those people’s justification is wins.  Well, tonight was another exercise of how absurd that is.

While deGrom has been great all season, Alex Wood has been great of late, and the Mets do not hit left-handed batters well.  More to the point, for some reason when the Mets have been playing good teams of late, they find ways to shoot themselves in the foot.  Tonight was no exception.

In the first Wilmer Flores hit into an inning ending double play.  In the second, Todd Frazier, who had made a fine catch in the game diving into the stands,  was thrown out stealing to end the inning.  In the third, Austin Jackson struck out to end the inning with runners at second and third.  After all of that, deGrom needed to take control of things himself in the fifth inning.

After a Jay Bruce leadoff walk and a Devin Mesoraco single (he was lifted from the game and Jose Reyes pinch ran for him due to injury), Jeff McNeil hit into a double play leaving it up to deGrom to get Bruce home from third.  With him using McNeil’s bat, deGrom delivered the RBI single tying the game at 1-1.  Really, deGrom was doing all he could do out there with him combining his excellent pitching with him going 2-for-2 at the plate.

There was a chance deGrom was going to get into the seventh inning in this game to just allow him to hang around long enough to hope beyond hope the Mets put him in a position to win.  However with an Amed Rosario error in the sixth inning, that pretty much ended that hope meaning the 8-8 deGrom was saddled with another no decision, and this was going to become a battle of the bullpens.

The Mets would win that battle as the offense would eventually break through and because the Mets bullpen did not break.

In the seventh, the Mets were close.  They had the bases loaded with two outs, but Jackson couldn’t deliver the key hit.  Well, if the Mets thought they were close, the Dodgers were even closer.

Against Seth Lugo in the seventh, they had runners at the corners and no outs.  Lugo first struck out Yasmani Grandal, and then he induced Yasiel Puig to hit into the inning ending 6-4-3 double play.

In the eighth, Drew Smith issued a two out walk to Turner which almost blew up in his face.  If not for the low right field wall in Dodgers Stadium, it is likely Manny Machado‘s double gives the Dodgers a 2-1 lead instead of being a ground rule double putting runners at second and third with two outs.  After getting Enrique Hernandez to fly out to center, Smith officially dodged a bullet.

Kenta Maeda was not dodging the same bullet in the ninth.  After a Bruce leadoff double, Kevin Plawecki sacrificed him over to third base.  After McNeil was hit by a pitch, the Mets had runners at the corners with one out setting the stage for Brandon Nimmo, who came on to pinch hit for Smith:

With Nimmo’s pinch hit three run homer, the Mets had an unlikely 4-1 lead, which Robert Gsellman had the task to save.  It was not going to be easy for him and the Mets.  After a replay review, the Dodgers had runners at the corners with no outs.  The game was 4-2 after Grandal brought a run home with a sacrifice fly.  That would be the final score as Gsellman induced Matt Kemp to hit into the game ending 6-4-3 double play.

So overall, the Mets won a game partially because of the six dominant innings he gave them, but for some reason, there is going to be a voter out there who is not going to put him atop the Cy Young ballot because of his 8-8 record.

Game Notes: With the Dodgers starting the left-handed Wood, McNeil batted eighth, and Nimmo was on the bench.  Before the game, the Mets recalled Dominic Smith, Jack Reinheimer, and Drew Gagnon