Kevin Plawecki

Mets Can’t Get deGrom Number 16

Yesterday, the Mets sold us own Noah Syndergaard making his first start since April followed by a “relief appearance” by Matt Harvey.  T0day, the selling point was to see Jacob deGrom try to get t0 200 innings for the first time in his career and to see him get his 16th win of the year.

While the Mets largely disappointed, deGrom didn’t.  Despite experiencing flu like symptoms, not too long after Amed Rosario had to be hospitalized, deGrom took the mound and gave his team every chance to win.  However, deGrom would not get that win.

Part it was his giving up a two run homer to Trea Turner turning a 1-0 lead into a 2-0 deficit.  Another part was his teammates really let him down today.  To that end, it was not much different than most deGrom starts this year.

Things were really bad in the fifth.  Michael Taylor led off the inning with an infield single to third that Phillip Evans couldn’t quite make a play on.  Taylor then attempted a steal of second base, and he found himself on third after Travis d’Arnaud threw the ball into center field.  A Jose Lobaton RBI single later, and the Nationals had an insurmountable 3-1 lead.

It was insurmountable because the Nationals had Max Scherzer going.  As such deGrom’s final line of six innings, five hits, three runs, two earned, no walks, and 11 strikeouts wouldn’t be good enough for that win. 

Really, after a Brandon Nimmo first inning home run, the Mets offense couldn’t get anything going. More than that, this offense was inept. This was apparent in the seventh when Victor Robles caught a Rosario liner in right and picked Evans off first. 

The play helped kill what could have been a game tying rally. That play was even more magnified in the eighth. 

With three straight singles, the Mets pulled within 3-2 with one out. 

After a Nimmo strikeout and a d’Arnaud walk, the bases were loaded for Dominic Smith. It was a big moment for a big Mets prospect. The only problem is the Mets manager is still Terry Collins, a manager who has shown zero interest in developing these young Mets players. 

When Dusty Baker brought in the left-handed Sammy Solis to fave him. In terms of developing Smith, you couldn’t as for a better situation. Instead, Collins went with Kevin Plawecki

Plawecki got ahead 3-1 in the count, but Solis would get back in the count and strike him out. 

That ended the Mets last chance to beat the Nationals. Not just today, but the season. 

Game Notes: Nimmo has struck out in 14 straight games. 

Montero Back To Form, Mets Back To Losers

Well, the good Rafael Montero we had seen become one of the Mets most reliable starters turned back into the Montero of old.  In his four innings of work, Montero had allowed seven hits, two walks, and five earned runs.

The Marlins went to work against him right away with a Dee Gordon lead-off double.  For a moment, it seemed like Montero would get out of the inning unscathed, but he would allow a two out RBI single to Marcell Ozuna.  After a 1-2-3 second and Montero retiring the first two batters of the third, it seemed as if Montero had settled in and was ready to go deep into the game.

That was until a two out walk to Christian Yelich got the rally started.  Yelich stole second and scored on Ozuna’s second RBI two out RBI single of the game.  For a moment, it seemed as if Jose Reyes could make a play on the ball, but it went right by him.  After a Justin Bour two run homer, the Marlins were up 4-0, and it became an easy game for Jose Urena and the Marlins.

The Mets would make things look better than they were.  Travis d’Arnaud would hit a pinch hit RBI single in the fifth scoring Kevin PlaweckiBrandon Nimmo would hit a seventh inning homer to pull the Mets to within a manageable 5-2 score.  It seemed like the Mets would have a chance with Chris Flexen pitching two scoreless innings in what might have been his best outing in a Mets uniform.

It was all for naught as the Marlins would play Home Run Derby against Erik Goeddel in the eighth.  He allowed homers to A.J. Ellis, Miguel Rojas, and Giancarlo Stanton to turn a 5-2 lead into a 9-2 lead.  For Stanton, it was his 56th homer of the year.  Too bad for Stanton, he no longer has games against the Mets in his chase of Roger Maris.

To that extent, the Mets had maybe one win in what was a putrid sweep at the hands of the Marlins.  The Mets will now get a day off, and they will come home for the last home series of the season.  For the first time in two years, that does not involve a loss in a postseason series.

Game Notes: Amed Rosario missed his third straight game with a gastroenteritis.

 

 

Gsellman Dominates With Good Defense Behind Him

If you want to see how important defense is to a starting pitcher, especially a ground ball pitcher, you need to look any further than today’s game. 

With a better infield defense featuring Amed Rosario, who we all recall cannot pitch, and Phillip Evans in his first career start, Robert Gsellman reminded us of the pitcher we all thought was going to take a big step forward this year instead of the struggling one that doesn’t care. 

Gsellman had that power sinker working today getting the Braves to drive the ball into the ground. With the better defense behind him, most of those balls turned into outs. Part of that was also Gsellman getting the ball inside. Credit there should go to Kevin Plawecki, who called a superb game. 

Really, the only time the Braves got to him was when the infield defense failed him. On back-to-back plays in the seventh, Rosario made errors allowing Johan Camargo and Dansby Swanson to reach with one out. To Gsellman’s credit, he shook off the errors, and he got out of the jam allowing just the one run. 

Gsellman’s final line would be seven innings, three hits, one run, none earned, no walks, and three strikeouts. Because his offense did just enough, he would get the win. 

It was tough going for the Mets offense because the Braves started Julio Teheran has been great against them in his career. Entering today, he was 8-4 with a 2.56 ERA against the Mets. 

That made the first inning rally all the more important. 

After a Nori Aoki walk to start the game, Jose Reyes would triple him home. 

Teheran would then lose his control a bit walking Brandon Nimmo, who had a typical Nimmo game walking twice, and Dominic Smith to load the bases. Rosario would knock in Reyes on an RBI groundout giving the Mets a 2-0 lead. 

From that point until the ninth, the Mets would only get two more hits, both by Aoki,  for the rest of the game.  It didn’t matter because the two runs they did score were more than enough for Gsellman. 

The Mets would put the game out of reach in the ninth. After a Rosario infield single and stolen base, Evans would hit his second career double and earn his first major league RBI. 

After Evans’ double, Asdrubal Cabrera put a 10 game hitting streak on the line in his pinch hitting appearance. He now has an 11 game hitting streak after his two run homer giving the Mets a 5-1 lead. 

AJ Ramos closed out the ninth with a scoreless inning. The win gave the Mets their seventh win in 10 games at SunTrust, which already makes it much more hospitable than Turner Field ever was. 

Game Notes: Rosario was recently rated by Statcast as the fastest player in the majors. The Mets rank last in the majors in infield hits, bunt singles, and stolen bases. 

Improved Montero Can’t Get Out Of Fifth

After you get your brains beat out like the Mets did in Chicago, you want your ace taking the mound. The good news is the Mets had their ace taking the mound. The bad news is that their ace has become Rafael Montero

That’s no slight on Montero, who had pitched much better of late. It’s more of an indictment on the Mets starting pitching staff who has the second worst ERA in the majors. 

Tonight, Montero regressed a bit needing 108 pitches to get through 4.2 innings. It harkened back to the days when he couldn’t put anyone away. On the flip side, he only walked two batters. With Montero only pitching 4.2 innings, he didn’t qualify for a win. 

He also didn’t qualify for a win because he reliqushed the lead in that turbulent fifth inning. 

The Mets had the lead partially because Dominic Smith continued flashing his extra base power. In the fourth, he doubled home Asdrubal Cabrera to give the Mets a 2-1 lead. 

The Mets first run was scored in the third on a Jose Reyes groundout scoring Gavin Cecchini

Cecchini got the rare start partially due to Amed Rosario missing tonight’s game with a hip injury which forced him out of last night’s game. Cecchini took advantage of the opportunity going 1-3 with a run and a double. He was also good at second showing range and helping start a double play. 

Despite Cecchini playing well defensively, it was defense that cost the Mets this game. 

The game winning rally started in the fifth when Brandon Nimmo misread a ball cutting in on a David Freitas liner. Hard to say it would have been an out with the correct read, but with Freitas’ speed, Nimmo might’ve been able to limit him to a single. 

Freitas would score on a Ender Inciarte game tying single. Inciarte then put himself in scoring position with a stolen base. With his speed and Kevin Plawecki‘s arm, it really was only a matter of time before Inciarte stole that base. 

After that stolen base, Montero walked Ozzie Albies. Worse yet, Montero threw a wild pitch during Freddie Freeman‘s at bat putting runners on second and third with one out. Freeman was then intentionally walked bringing Lane Adams to the plate. 

Adams hit a sinking line drive that Nimmo made a great play on:

It was a great play, but it was also a sacrifice fly giving the Braves a 3-2 lead. 

The Mets would rally in the eighth staring with a two out Cabrera walk. After a Plawecki single, the tying run was in scoring position for Smith, the team’s leading RBI guy since he call-up. Unfortunately, he didn’t deliver. 

With that, the Mets had a rather mundane 3-2 loss against the Braves.  The real hope in watching this game is that Smith continues to hit for power, and Cecchini builds off of this game. 
Game Recap: In addition to Rosario, Travis d’Arnaud sat a day after being lifted from a game. It is possible he was going to sit anyway with Plawecki having served as Montero’s personal catcher of late. 

Montero & Plawecki Lead Mets to Victory (Not a Joke)

If you had the duo of Rafael Montero and Kevin Plawecki powering the Mets to victory, one of three things are probably true:

  1. You’ve been in a coma since 2014;
  2. You’re a much better gambler than Craig Carton; or
  3. You just started watching baseball this September. 

Seriously, Montero and Plawecki have been much improved players at a time where it seemed even the Mets were beginning to give up on both of them. Finally, the Mets faith in both seems to be rewarded. Tonight was the latest example. 

Plawecki has been much improved at the plate.  It’s not just batting average or OBP, it’s his hitting for power. 

His two run shot in the second inning was a no doubter. It was the second of the season and sixth of his career. It gave the Mets a 2-1 lead, and the team didn’t look back. 

For the first five innings that was because of Montero. Except for a 1-2-3 first, he was in trouble all night long. Part of that was the re-emergence of his walks problem with Montero allowing five walks in five innings. 

Still, while the walks re-emerged, the meltdowns didn’t. He made the pitches he needed to get out of jams and innings. 

He then handed the call to Chasen Bradford, who has rebounded well from his one poor outing against these Reds at the end of August. In that outing, he gave up four runs without recording an out tonight. He got redemption pitching 1.2 scoreless striking out four. 

He not only kept the lead, but he allowed the Mets to blow it open for their fourth win in a row. 

The Mets got a little breathing room with a Dominic Smith two out sixth inning RBI single scoring Asdrubal Cabrera. Cabrera had led off the inning with a double. 

Cabrera’s next double plated Nori Aoki in the seventh. This followed Aoki singling home Matt Reynolds and Jacob deGrom. Reynolds was hit by a pitch, deGrom pinch hit for Josh Smoker, and both advanced on a Jose Reyes sac bunt. 
With the Mets having a 6-1 lead, it was an easy game for rookie Jamie Callahan to put to rest. It might’ve been the reps or the five run lead, but he looked more relaxed and composed. All the Mets look that way with the team playing much better of late. 

Game Notes: Amed Rosario is feeling better, and he may play tomorrow v

Mets Prioritize Reyes, He Delivers

This must’ve been Terry Collins‘ favorite game in quite a while. Not only was he able to bat Jose Reyes lead-off, but he was also able to let him play shortstop due to the Amed Rosario finger issues. 

With Reyes hitting two home runs, his 100th and 101st with the Mets, accounting for three of the Mets five runs. With the way Collins manages, Reyes will continue to be the lead-off hitter for the rest of the year. If Reyes and Collins come back next year, you know Reyes will remain as the lead-off hitter. 

That’s why this September has been such a waste. We’re not finding out what we need to know about these players. 

Players like Travis Taijeron, who was added to the 40 man only due to the myriad of injuries to the Mets outfielders. He was a player who flashed power in the minors who hit his first career homer against Amir Garrett in the second. 

There’s Gavin Cecchini, who was hitless but made a great play in the field. 

Seth Lugo got through six scoreless today by finally making it through the lineup without getting scored upon. 
To a lesser extent, the Mets need to find out about Travis d’Arnaud who’s finally hitting again with Kevin Plawecki breathing down his neck.  He got a six inning rally started with another opposite field extra base hit. 

In the end, there are players the Mets need to learn about and develop. Instead, we’re getting Jose Reyes: Lead-off Hitter and Shortstop. The 5-1 win was nice. Focusing on player development would be better because that’s what the Mets need. 

Game Notes: Phillip Evans was called-up to the majors, and he made his MLB debut lining into a double play with the bases loaded in the sixth. To make room for him in the roster, Steven Matz has been put on the 60 day DL. 

Nimmo Has Us Smiling

Whenever you see Brandon Nimmo, you see him grinning ear to ear. Well, tonight he gave Mets fans reason to smile. 

In a surprise decision, Terry Collins made Nimmo the clean-up hitter tonight. Despite, Nimmo not hitting for much power in the minors, he looked every bit the clean-up hitter tonight.  

It was a career night for Nimmo who went 3-4 with three runs, a double, two homers, and three RBI. Oh, and of course, he drew a walk. 

One of those homers was the start of back-to-back homers with Juan Lagares

The Nimmo performance and Lagares homer was part of what was a terrific night for the Mets. Now, it wasn’t just terrific because the Mets won 7-2; it was terrific because of who contributed to the win. 

That started with Matt Harvey

Harvey, starting on normal rest, took a step in the right direction. He pitched five innings allowing two runs on five hits. It was far from a perfect performance, but it was an improved one. 

We saw his slider get a little sharper as the game progressed. After allowing runs in consecutive innings to start the game, he allowed just one hit from the third inning through the fifth. Had he not been on a pitch limit, it’s likely he would have pitched the sixth. 

Once Harvey left, the Mets bullpen was very good. Josh Smoker struck out the side in the sixth. Jeurys Familia had his best outing of the year pitching two scoreless. While not a save situation, AJ Ramos closed out the game with a scoreless ninth.

At this point of the season, it’s really not about wins and losses inasmuch as its about how the Mets are playing. Tonight, the Mets won getting key contributions from important people. That made this a night that gave you reason to smile. 

Game Notes: Jose Reyes gave the Mets the lead for good singling home Dominic Smith and Kevin Plawecki in the fourth. 

Time For Kevin Plawecki

In many different ways, the 2015 season seems so long ago.  The biggest example of that might just be Travis d’Arnaud.  Back then, d’Arnaud was a 130 wRC+, which was second only to Buster Posey among MLB catchers, and he was an exceptional pitch framer.  He seemed like a budding All Star.  It has not worked out that way.

We’ve seen two straight injury prone seasons where d’Arnaud has regressed.  This year was the most startling.  Through 95 games, d’Arnaud is hitting just .232/.281/.397.  Even with the team hiring respected Glenn Sherlock as a catching coach, d’Arnaud has regressed in all aspects behind the plate.  The pitch framing numbers aren’t there.  He’s even throwing out fewer base stealers than he has in the past.

At the same time, we have seen Kevin Plawecki begin to figure things out.

In Las Vegas, we have seen Plawecki hit .300/.348/.484 with 17 doubles, a triple, nine homers, and 45 RBI.  Even if you believe these numbers are purely fueled by the hitting environment, you should take into account, he hit just .224/.267/.341 in the same place last year.

You’re a bigger believer these numbers are more of an indication of Plawecki improving as a hitter when you consider who he has played since his recent call-up.  In 11 games, Plawecki is hitting .314/.385/.486 with three doubles, one homer, and three RBI.  Those numbers translate to a 128 wRC+.  Small sample size for sure, but the production is similar to what we saw with d’Arnaud in 2015.  Like d’Arnaud in 2015, that would be second to just Posey.

The real question is whether Plawecki can do this for the course of a full season.  The short answer is we don’t know.  However, he has earned a shot.

With his early career struggles, we forget there was a time when the Mets actually expected him to surpass d’Arnaud sometime in 2015.  He hasn’t really gotten the opportunity to develop to that point because he’s bounced all over the place with d’Arnaud’s injuries.  However, he’s gotten that chance this year, and he has actually improved.  The real question is if he’s improved to the point where he’s an everyday catcher.

We won’t know that until he plays everyday.  At a minimum, he’s earned that chance.  Moreoever, d’Arnaud’s poor play has created a window of opportunity.  Overall, the Mets should play Plawecki over d’Arnaud over the final few weeks of the season to see what they have in Plawecki.

One Last Drive

In life, we tend to get attached to and attribute meaning to bizarre things. Today, that was my car. 

Now, I hated that car. From day one, it was a nightmare. I sank more money into it than I care to admit. Driving into bad neighborhoods time and again, it was constantly dinged and scratched. Tires blown. Dents in the car. Really, I hated it. 

But you know what I didn’t hate?  All the great things I did with the car. 

What started out as a car I purchased to commute to and from work became the family car.

It was the car I drive with my wife to Pre-Cana. The day after our wedding, my wife and I drove home for the first time.  

I drove that car with my then infant son to and from doctors appointments.  That includes when I had to take him for emergency room visits, and one day his surgery. 

We took that car to take him for his first day of school, his first Mets game, his ice skating classes, soccer practice, and on family vacations. We drove that car to places where we would share some of our favorite memories as a family. We drove that car everywhere. 

Every so often, he liked to get in the front seat and pretend to drive just like his daddy:


I didn’t realize it at first, but there were hints of all those moments scattered throughout the car. I realized this as I cleaned it out today so I could trade it in for the new family car. In some ways, it felt like a moment right out of The Wonder Years

As we cleaned out the car, there were remnants of these events. Just like we had done a thousand times, we listened to the Mets game on the radio. 

You couldn’t pick a more appropriate starter than Rafael Montero. First terrible, but now you see him in a whole new light. 

This is because Montero has been a much better pitcher of late. We saw it again from him today. He cruised through five innings allowing just the one run. 

It was the sixth he got into trouble. Like his last start, he put his bullpen into a tough situation handing them a bases loaded one out situation. Unlike AJ RamosPaul Sewald, who hadn’t pitched in eight days due to some physical issues, allowed all the inherited runners to score. 

Fortunately, it didn’t matter much because the Mets offense exploded against Mark Leiter

Most of the damage came in a six run fourth inning. Even with him not hitting lead-off, Brandon Nimmo got it all started with a single. Four hits, including a Juan Lagares double and Gavin Cecchini  RBI single, and an error later the Mets were up 9-0, and the Phillies brought in Kevin Siegrist

After Siegrist issued a couple of walks, Nimmo capped off the inning with an RBI single. That single gave the Mets a then 10-0 lead. 

It proved to be an insurmountable lead. That was true even for the hurt Sewald and Hansel Robles, who had another adventurous outing. 

It was the Robles outing that had me sitting in my car just a little longer. I sat in my car a little longer like I had done several times in the past. Except this time was the last time in this car. 

As Ramos got Rhys Hoskins to fly out to end the game, I had the last memory in that car. It was a rather small one, but a memory nevertheless. 

It’s now time for a new car with new family memories. This will be the car I take my next son home from the hospital in. It’ll be the car I take to drive him to his first Mets game. Hopefully, it will be the car I drive to see the Mets in their next World Series. 

Game Notes: Kevin Plawecki was 2-4 with two runs and a stolen base. 

Doubleheader A Microcosm Of Mets Season 

Well, we finally have the moment that perfectly encapsulates the Mets 2017 season. We just had to wait for the 135th game of the season and the second game of today’s doubleheader:

That’s right, Wilmer Flores fouled a ball off his face and had to leave the game. 

That moment right there is the Mets season. In fact, the whole double header was the Mets season. 

In the first game, Matt Harvey was rocked in his first game back from the DL. Yes, you did get the sense Houston seemed to relish teeing off on Harvey. More than anything, they just seemed relieved to be playing baseball. 

Harvey only lasted two innings throwing 70 pitches. His final line was two innings, eight hits, seven runs, seven earned, no walks, and three strikeouts. 

Harvey had some velocity hitting 94 MPH, but he didn’t have much else. Again, like he’s done many times in the past, he said there were mechanical issues. As history repeats itself, we know Dan Warthen lacks answers. 

After that, we got the Major League debuts of Jacob Rhame and Jamie Callahan. Rhame had the more successful debut of the two, but still, both threw some serious heat. Like Harvey, Callahan was abandoned by his defense, but he didn’t pitch well enough to make it an issue. 

The shame of Callahan’s tough outing was the Mets made a game of it after a poor Harvey start and bad Tommy Milone relief appearance (2.2 IP, 3 ER). 

Dominic Smith hit a two run fourth inning homer to cut the deficit to 7-2. In the seventh, Flores hit a grand slam to make it a 10-7 game. 
With Callahan’s poor outing, it would end at 12-8. 

Of course, with the doubleheader, we got fun with Collins making lineups. 

Despite Brandon Nimmo starting both ends of the doubleheader, he didn’t lead off once because the Mets have Jose Reyes and now have Aoki. Also, we were blessed to see Cabrera play in both ends of the doubleheader. 

The Mets were much more competitive in the second game of the doubleheader. Note, competitive, not good. 

The main problem was the Mets offense was not doing anything against Brad Peacock. In fact, when the Mets got to him in the sixth, they didn’t really get to him but to George Springer

Juan Lagares led off the sixth with a triple to right-center. Lagares busted it out of the box, and he appeared to have a shot at the inside-the-park home run. However, Glenn Sherlock held him up at third. 
For a moment, it seemed as if the Mets wouldn’t score. Amed Rosario, who came on for Flores, struck out, and Asdrubal Cabrera walked. The Astros then brought in Francisco Liriano to face Smith. 

To the surprise of everyone, Terry Collins didn’t PH for Smith. Perhaps that is because Flores was already out of the game. 

Smith lined a ball to Springer, which might have been deep enough to score Lagares. It didn’t matter as Springer misplayed it into a double. Because Cabrera is slower than Sid Bream right now, he didn’t score on the play. 

It wound up biting the Mets because the horrors of this season continue to repeat themselves. 

Seth Lugo cruised through five innings keeping the Astros scoreless. In the sixth, the Astros began going through the lineup for the third time, and they began teeing off on Lugo. 
The first three reached against Lugo with the Astros tying the game on a Josh Reddick RBI single. They then took the lead taking advantage of new Met Nori Aoki‘s bad arm. 

Astros third base and outfield coach Gary Pettis sent Jose Altuve. With Aoki’s throw up the line, he didn’t give Kevin Plawecki much of a chance to make the tag. Just like that, the lead was gone. 

Later, Matt Reynolds got gun shy with a shot to nail the runner at home. He took the sure out at first. With the shift being on, his being far off third allowed Marwin Gonzalez to go to third setting up his scoring on a sac fly. 

As if the indignity wasn’t enough, Reynolds lost a ball that was literally lost in the roof. The ball would drop right in front of him just out of his reach. 

Of course because baseball is cruel, a ball would once again go into the rafters:

After the rough half inning was over, the Mets were down 4-1 with all four runs being charged to Lugo. 

In the end, the Mets were swept in the doubleheader by a MUCH better team. They lost to a team representing a city who needed this distraction. Hopefully, those who are still suffering were able to take some time and enjoy these games. 

As Mets fans, we’re hard-pressed to enjoy any of this. The veterans are still playing over the prospects. The players are still getting hurt. The pitchers are still struggling. 

Game Notes: Reports indicate once the Rumble Ponies season is over, Tomas Nido will get called up to the majors. Former Met Carlos Beltran did not appear in either end of the doubleheader. He is dealing with a foot injury.