Khalil Lee

20/20 Hindsight: M*E*T*S* Nearly Sweep Braves

The New York Mets have been an injury a minute, and somehow, they went to Atlanta and took two out of three from the Braves:

1. If Tomas Nido keeps this up, the discussion may shift from whether he should be the everyday catcher to whether he’s one of the best catchers in the game.

2. Khalil Lee can keep striking out if he is going to continue to make outstanding game saving catches in right field.

3. Kudos to Edwin Diaz to taking that significant step in his career where you can rely on him on consecutive days.

4. The front office people who told Diaz to put on more weight deserves a raise. The same goes to Jeremy Hefner, who is getting all you can out of Diaz and the entire bullpen.

5. The same goes for the people designing the Mets shifts. They’re shifting nearly more than everyone, and they’re doing it better than almost everyone.

6. Seeing how the Mets played this series and the improvements he seems to be making, Luis Rojas should be getting more credit than he is.

7. Jonathan Villar is a guy with poor numbers across the board, and yet, he just finds a way to have an impact in nearly every game.

8. Kevin Pillar suffered the worst HBP this side of Ray Chapman. It’s miraculous he didn’t suffer more than multiple nasal fractures.

9. Pillar certainly made himself more fans with his play and his talking about how it’s breaking his heart he can’t be out there when his team needs him.

10. That should serve as a reminder we shouldn’t be rushing to judgment to players after a week. Remember, there were plenty of very vocal fans who were convinced Pillar would do nothing this year.

11. It’s not hyperbole to say the Mets play a game and someone else turns up injured. It’s so bad we find out Pete Alonso suddenly has a wrist issue and can’t play.

12. It looks like Dominic Smith could supplant Alonso as the first baseman for now. Hopefully, that helps get him going.

13. For as much as the Mets didn’t want to give Jordan Yamamoto a real chance, they have no choice now. Oh, and we’re probably going to see Thomas Szapucki soon.

14. There’s joy, and then there’s Tommy Hunter, a 14 year MLB veteran, getting his first career hit.

15. Good job by the Chicago Cubs honoring their commitment to Cameron Maybin by trading him to the Mets for $1.

16. It wasn’t that long ago Brodie Van Wagenen and Jeff Wilpon didn’t honor their agreement to Devin Mesoraco. That led to Mesoraco retuning, rushing to activate Travis d’Arnaud, and then rage cutting d’Arnaud.

17. If you’re looking for a comp for David Peterson, it’s Mike Pelfrey. Both were sinkerball first rounders rushed to the majors from Double-A, and the team didn’t let them go back and develop after the initial panic call-up.

18. If you’re even being competitive with a Maybin-Johneshwy Fargas-Lee outfield, you’re doing something right. Seriously, what the Mets did in this series was beyond impressive.

19. Think of everything that has gone wrong with this team. They’re still over .500 and in first place.

20. Sometimes teams just have one of those special seasons. So far, this is shaping up to be one of them.

Game Recaps

Mets Win Game And Lose Two More

Tomas Nido Wins It

Mets Bullpen Too Exhausted To Hold On

Mets Bullpen Too Exhausted To Hold On

For a while, it seemed like David Peterson was going to have to make a 1-0 lead last. After all, this is a depleted offensive team. However, it’s about as resilient a team as we’ve ever seen.

The Mets had a 1-0 lead due to Jonathan Villar hitting a solo homer off of Charlie Morton in the fourth.

At that point, Peterson was completely and utterly dominating the Braves. He had struck out five and faced the minimum through four.

Unfortunately, it unraveled for him in the fifth, and it happened rather unexpectedly. Austin Riley had hit a one out double, but he then got Dansby Swanson to ground out.

Peterson then plunked William Contreras. Guillermo Heredia hit an RBI single tying the score. The opposing pitcher, Morton, gave the Braves a 2-1 lead with an RBI single. Ronald Acuña then drew a walk.

The walk should’ve loaded the bases except it got away from James McCann. It was ruled a wild pitch, but McCann should’ve had it. Braves had a 3-1 lead.

Surprisingly, that wasn’t the final straw. The final straw was a Freddie Freeman who singled to load the bases.

Drew Smith came on to relieve Peterson, and he got the Mets out of the inning. Smith would give a fatigued Mets bullpen 1.1 shut out innings.

One key moment in that sixth inning was the Braves pinch hit for Morton. That meant he was out of the game, and A.J. Minter was entering the game. Minter is wild and always primed to implode.

After two quick outs, Minter threw one away on what should’ve been scored a Dominic Smith infield single. Whatever the case, he was on second with two outs.

Minter then completely lost the strike zone walking McCann on four straight pitches. After falling behind 1-0, he tried a get me over fastball which Jose Peraza drilled for an RBI double.

The Mets went to Tomas Nido to pinch hit for Smith, and the Braves went to Luke Jackson. Nido got the better of Jackson with a go-ahead two RBI single giving the Mets a 4-3 lead.

It’s important to remember this bullpen is on fumes with all the bullpen games and short starts. In the seventh that meant a tired Miguel Castro. Castro got through the inning unscathed with the help of another phenomenal defensive play in right by Lee.

Unfortunately, there was no magic in the eighth for Aaron Loup in the eighth. Loup allowed three straight hits tying the score at 4-4. Luis Rojas then went to Jacob Barnes to try to get out of the jam.

Barnes entered with runners on first and second with no outs. Heredia couldn’t get the bunt down and then struck out.

Swanson tried to steal third, and he was gunned down by McCann. Barnes then completed the Houdini act when he struck out Ehire Adrianza to end the inning.

For a brief moment, it seemed for the second straight night the Mets would have some ninth inning magic.

Cameron Maybin, in his Mets debut, reached on a wild strike three, stole second, and went to third on a wild pitch. He was there with only one out. He’d stay there as McCann popped out, and Peraza hit a weak line out to end the inning.

Somewhat surprisingly, Trevor May was warming, but Rojas opted for Barnes for a second inning over May on a third straight day. Acuña had gone hitless in the series, but he hit the first pitch he saw from Barnes for a walk-off homer.

The Mets showed a lot of heart and magic to pull out two wins in this series. The fact they were even this close to a sweep speaks highly of everyone on this team.

Game Notes: Khalil Lee has begun his career with seven straight strikeouts.

Tomas Nido Wins It

With all the New York Mets injuries, they’re at a point where they need everything to go right to win games. Well, tonight, Luis Rojas was pushing the right buttons.

With this being a bullpen game, Tommy Hunter was second up. Not only did he pitch two scoreless innings, but he’d hit a one out single against Tucker Davidson. That meant he’d score the first run of the game when Jonathan Villar hit a two run homer.

We’d also get some big time defensive plays. In the fourth, Jose Peraza picked Freddie Freeman off the base paths.

We’d see some more big plays later, both offensive and defensive.

After the Braves pulled themselves to within 2-1 when Austin Riley homered off Robert Gsellman in the fifth. The Mets would get that run back.

Leading off the sixth, Francisco Lindor hit a ground rule double. He’d eventually score on a Pete Alonso sacrifice fly to make it a 3-1 game.

The Braves responded with a Freddie Freeman homer off Trevor May. The Mets then used their defense to try to desperately hold onto the 3-2 lead.

Khalil Lee make his first real impression in the majors with a diving catch robbing Ozzie Albies of an extra base hit.

In the eighth, Ehire Adrianza doubled off Aaron Loup. Adrianza made a phenomenal slide to avoid the tag after Johneshwy Fargas made a phenomenal throw.

Jeurys Familia entered the game and walked Ronald Acuña. That’s when Lindor pulled off a phenomenal double play tagging out Ozuna, and then beating Freeman at first.

On the play, Adrianza went to third. That meant he was in place to score when Marcell Ozuna hit an RBI single. With that, all the Mets did to grab and hold a lead was gone.

However, the Mets weren’t done. There was one trick up their sleeve. That was Tomas Nido.

With the way he’s been playing, the Mets have been shifting towards using him more. His play coupled with James McCann‘s troubles led to Nido starting a second straight game and his batting in the ninth:

Nido’s go-ahead homer off Will Smith gave the Mets a 4-3 lead. Edwin Diaz pitched a perfect ninth for his seventh save.

After a tough weekend in Tampa, the very depleted Mets are in Atlanta making a statement. Even without their best players, the Mets are a better team, and they’re suddenly making a case they’re the best team in baseball.

Game Notes: The Mets acquired Cameron Maybin for cash from the Chicago Cubs.

Mets Need J.D. Davis Back

Desperate times call for desperate measures. Looking at the New York Mets injury situation, which hit a nadir when Kevin Pillar was hit in the face, they need all the help they can get.

Honestly, looking at things, they need J.D. Davis back.

Part of the reason is Jonathan Villar‘s struggles. Yes, he is in fact struggling. So far this year, Villar has an 87 wRC+ at the plate, and at third base, he has a -2 DRS and -1 OAA.

There’s also the current pinch hitting options. Patrick Mazeika is a feel good story, but he has a 76.1 exit velocity, and that’s even with the homer.

Now, Mazeika’s presence has allowed the Mets to go to James McCann and Tomas Nido as pinch hitters. While McCann delivered last night, he’s struggled mightily at the plate.

Also, for what little it’s worth, Nido has not been a good pinch hitter in his career. That said, he probably should get more time behind that plate, but that’s a discussion for another day.

The Mets are getting something from Jose Peraza right now, but he’s still not putting up great numbers. There should be very genuine interest in Johneshwy Fargas and Khalil Lee, but it’s apparent the Mets don’t believe either is truly ready.

Breaking it all down, the Mets need help. Yes, Davis is the worst defender in the majors. Yes, his offensive production to date has been nearly entirely BABIP and juiced ball reliant.

Taking all that into account, he’s needed at the moment. He can at least stand at third and in left. He will give you an honest at-bat. Where the Mets are right now, that is sorely needed (pun intended).

Hopefully, Davis’ rehab game goes well permitting the Mets to active him sooner rather than later. At this point, with the way things are going, we can only imagine who else gets injured between now and the later.

Joey Lucchesi Begins Bullpen Game Implosion

With Joey Lucchesi proving he can’t be a Major League starter, the Mets have been forced to go with bullpen days when his turn comes up in the rotation. The problem is the Mets can only hide him for so long.

After Drew Smith allowed an unearned run in his first two innings as the opener, the ball would be given to Lucchesi. All the Mets would need from him is a solid outing because they had a lead.

In advance of Lucchesi entering the game, the Mets hit two homers against Shane McLanahan. The first was a three run shot by Jose Peraza in the second.

The second was Pete Alonso in the third. That one must’ve been really special as it came in his hometown.

Lucchesi pitched a clean third, but he’d get into trouble immediately in the fourth issuing a leadoff walk to Yandy Diaz. Joey Wendle doubled, Manuel Margot singled, and Willy Adames doubled. With that, the 4-1 lead was gone.

After two outs, Sean Reid-Foley “relieved” Lucchesi. Austin Meadows doubled, and Randy Arozarena singled. With that, the Rays put up a five run inning. The Mets would be chasing the rest of the game.

After having a three strikeout game, Francisco Lindor got the Mets closer with a solo homer in the top of the eighth. That’s as close as the Mets would get.

The problem with bullpen games like these is everything needs to work. If there’s one hiccup, the wheels come off. That’s what happened with Lucchesi, and it happened again when Jacob Barnes loaded the bases with no outs in the eighth.

Luis Rojas brought in Jeurys Familia to get the Mets out of the jam. Instead, Diaz and Wendle would slam the ball into the turf for doubles clearing the bases and putting the game out of reach.

When all was said and done, the Rays had a six run inning, and they cruised to a 12-5 win. After winning seven in a row, the Mets lost two straight, and their bullpen is showing some signs of weakness.

Game Notes: Jake Hager made his big league debut against the team who once drafted him in the first round. Khalil Lee was sent down. J.D. Davis will begin a rehab stint.

Jarred Kelenic Debuts On Day Mets Need An OF

The Seattle Mariners waited that extra couple of weeks, and they have called up Jarred Kelenic at a time when they get an extra year of control over him. It also happens to be at a time when the New York Mets need some outfield depth.

Brandon Nimmo and Albert Almora have landed on the IL. Fortunately, Kevin Pillar is proving himself to be excellent depth, and the Mets did have Khalil Lee to call up.

Still, none of that group is what Kelenic could be. It’s also not just about this year. Michael Conforto is a pending free agent, and no one knows if the Mets will be able to keep him.

That goes double with Robinson Cano‘s contract coming back onto the books. Again, this is just a reminder of his epically stupid and short sighted this trade was. It didn’t just cost the Mets the opportunity see Kelenic.

No, the Mets are also going to be in a tight spot when also looking to sign Marcus Stroman and Noah Syndergaard. The Mets will be stuck with Cano and his awful contract as they await the next positive PED test while trying to find a way to keep everyone.

What makes it all the more unpalatable is how the team is coveted. Pete Alonso‘s fun Donnie Stevenson bit was blamed for firing Chili Davis (despite being told it was not a factor).

Francisco Lindor has put a target on his back over the rat or raccoon debate because he wouldn’t say what happened between him and Jeff McNeil.

We’re even at the point where some writers are questioning how Jacob deGrom was put on the IL. That was something never done when Jeff Wilpon played doctor.

However, we won’t see articles about how the Wilpons knew they were selling, so they were willing to strip down the farm to win one last World Series. They even went out and hired the GM who was either clueless or similarly lacked integrity.

The end result is the Mets need an outfielder now, and they’re going to need one for 2022. That outfielder should have been Jarred Kelenic.

The only problem is he’s in Seattle. Fortunately, the people who put him there are out of baseball and will remain so.

Matt Harvey Sad Return

Matt Harvey came back to pitch at Citi Field for the first time as a visitor. While he received multiple deserved ovations, he was greeted quite rudely.

Kevin Pillar hit a two run triple in the second, and things went precipitously downhill from there for Harvey. After a Jose Peraza RBI single, it was 3-0 Mets.

In the third, Francisco Lindor hit a leadoff single, and he’d steal second with two outs. He’d come home to score on a Dominic Smith RBI single.

Harvey rebounded with a scoreless fourth, but the Mets would knock him out in the fifth.

Jonathan Villar led off the inning with a single, and he’d steal second. He’d then score on a one out RBI single by Michael Conforto. After Harvey walked Pete Alonso, Harvey was taken out of the game, and he was treated to another standing ovation.

Harvey was responsible for the two on base, and Orioles reliever Shawn Armstrong would let them both score. First, it was a Dominic Smith RBI double. Peraza would get his second RBI single giving the Mets a 7-0 lead.

Unsurprisingly, that was all the support Taijuan Walker needed as he was again excellent. Through seven innings, he allowed just one run on four hits and three walks while striking out four.

As good as the offense and Walker was, the Mets defense might’ve been better.

Overall, this was an all-around effort for the Mets. What made the 7-1 win all the more impressive is it came from the bench, or Bench Mob, as they have been dubbed.

The Mets have completed consecutive sweeps, and they have now won seven in a row. While the NL East is still fighting it, the Mets are taking off.

Game Notes: Jeff McNeil was available off the bench after dealing with cramps. Albert Almora landed on the IL, and Khalil Lee was called up. Drew Smith made his season debut pitching a scoreless inning.

Mets Did Well Getting Khalil Lee

The biggest issue with the New York Mets system has been Major League ready outfield talent. The Mets might’ve just gotten that by inserting themselves into the Andrew Benintendi trade.

By parting with the newly acquired John Winchowski and a player to be named later, the Mets acquired CF Khalil Lee from the Kansas City Royals.

Lee, 22, has all of the tools to be a very good player at the Major League level. He’s got tremendous speed stealing 53 bases in Double-A. He’s got real raw power, and he’s got a very strong arm.

While Lee should have the speed for center, the general consensus is he’s a better fit in right. As far as the Mets are concerned, they can push Lee in center for two reasons.

First, Mallex Smith shouldn’t stand in his way in Syracuse. Second, this is a team who is going with Brandon Nimmo in center. Put another way, they don’t seem to overly prioritize center field defense. Mostly, it’s better to find out if you can help him stick in center before moving him to the corner.

The biggest question for Lee is whether he has the approach and ability to make contact to get the most out of his talent. While he’s maintained a very good walk rate in his minor league career, his strikeout rate has been high leading towards a woeful 28.2% in 2019.

Now, it’s hard to find out what Lee did to address that during 2020. After all, there weren’t any games. We shouldn’t read too much in the Royals parting with him. After all, they just netted Benintendi.

Overall, the Mets got themselves a real prospect, and it’s now incumbent on them to develop Lee. If successful, they might’ve gotten a future star. If not, they got a future bench piece who can develop into more.

Whatever the trajectory, the Mets now have to work to get Lee to reach his full potential. Obviously, that’s much easier said than done.

Keep in mind, the Mets needed prospects like this. They needed a near Major League ready outfielder. That’s Lee.

We don’t know where Lee goes from here, but we do know he’s more talented than what the Mets already had. Far more. They got a player who might help this year and be a starter in the next year.

Regardless of the outcome, the Mets got a real talent. That’s a great get for them. Now, it’s time for them to get Lee to the majors.