Luis Rojas

Mets No Fuego In Second Half Of Doubleheader

After a big comeback to get Jacob deGrom a victory in the first half of the doubleheader, the Mets couldn’t replicate the feat to get Joey Lucchesi off the hook. With that, their four game winning streak snapped.

The Rockies jumped all over Lucchesi in the first. The first out he recorded was a long sacrifice fly by Trevor Story. Two batters later, CJ Cron hit a two RBI double giving the Rockies an early 3-0 lead.

On the other side, German Marquez was dealing for the Rockies. The only time he would get in trouble was the fourth when Jeff McNeil hit a two RBI double to pull the Mets to within 3-2.

With McNeil as the tying run at second, Jonathan Villar grounded out to end the inning. The Mets would get no closer, and this game would turn into a rout.

After Lucchesi went three, Robert Gsellman made his 2021 debut. He pitched effectively pitching a scoreless fourth. That should’ve helped keep the Mets in the game.

Jacob Barnes relieved Gsellman, and he imploded in the fifth. Like Lucchesi, the Rockies jumped all over him.

With runners at the corners, the Mets couldn’t turn a double play on a weakly hit Charlie Blackmon grounder. That allowed a run to score, and it extended the inning.

After Cron walked, Josh Fuentes hit a three run homer to expand the Rockies lead to 7-2. That put the game out of reach and allowed Luis Rojas to continue using his not often used relievers.

In addition to Gsellman and Barnes, Trevor Hildenberger would appear in this game. In his Mets and season debut, he pitched a scoreless inning. However, it was too little too late.

Marquez pitched a seven inning complete game. There are a few reasons we can pinpoint, but the Mets didn’t have it in the second game. That means a runner game tomorrow.

Game Notes: Brandon Nimmo extended his on-base streak to 23 games (dating back to last year)

Luis Guillorme And Jonathan Villar Showing They’re A Better Option Than J.D. Davis

In the New York Mets second game of the season, J.D. Davis was hit on the hand by Chase Anderson. Initially, the Mets believed Davis would miss the IL, but his hand didn’t heal as well as initially intended.

That left Luis Rojas and the Mets juggling between Luis Guillorme and Jonathan Villar. The tandem worked beautifully and helped the Mets to first place in this very young season.

Since Davis went down, Guillorme has hit .364/.533/.364, and Villar has hit .278/.278/.500. They have combined to start key rallies and drive home game winning runs.

Given their respective careers, it’s likely their combined output will stay around this level. We should also see improved defense as the season progresses.

With Davis, he’s a player whose offensive output depended on the juiced ball and an unsustainably high BABIP. That ball is deadened now, and over the past year, we’ve seen his ground ball rate return to poor levels.

Worse than that is his defense. It’s been unplayable at third in his career. No matter they hyped up his working with Francisco Lindor, the learning curve was just too steep to trust playing him there everyday with a ground ball pitching staff.

Davis still has a spot on this roster. That’s only solidified by Jose Peraza being his replacement. Davis is going to give an honest at-bat, and he’s a good complement to a heavy left-handed hitting lineup.

He’s just not an everyday player. In fact, as far as third goes, when you put Jeff McNeil in the mix there, he’s the team’s fourth best option there.

Despite that, when Davis gets activated off the IL, he will just be plugged back into the lineup. It’ll happen despite Guillorme and Villar showing themselves as a better option both individually and as a tandem.

That makes forcing Davis into the lineup a big mistake. That begs the question as to why they are doing it. In the end, it really makes no sense.

20/20 Hindsight: Mets Leave Phillies All Wet

With two rainouts, the series between the New York Mets and Philadelphia Phillies turned from a four game set to a Mets three game sweep. There was a lot to unpack here:

1. Due to rain outs and COVID, the Mets have only played in eight out of a possible 13 games.

2. That’s going to mean a lot of seven inning double headers this year, which in turn means, the Mets are likely to set a record for fewest innings played over a 162 game season.

3. The seven inning doubleheaders are terrible. The runner on second in extras is worse. Having a runner on second in the eighth inning is an abomination.

4. For all the nonsense thrown Marcus Stroman‘s way, he took the ball on one day of rest, and he was dominant. The Mets are very lucky to have him.

5. The top of the lineup is now clicking big time with Francisco Lindor heating up and Dominic Smith batting third.

6. Lindor’s defense is difference making. The fact he is also a good hitter is what makes him so special.

7. Brandon Nimmo has been PHENOMENAL. He’s hitting an absurd .464/.583/.571, and he’s reached base at least two times in every game the Mets have played.

8. Michael Conforto has been hit by pitches more than he’s gotten hits. The last one was intentional, and Jose Alvarado should’ve been suspended for it.

9. Conforto’s struggles are giving cover for Pete Alonso who has really struggled this year. He’s not hitting balls out the way he did the last two years.

10. That said, he’s had a couple of big RBI, including driving home Lindor in extra innings.

11. For all the flack Luis Rojas gets, he was aware of the pitcher spot extra inning loophole to get Lindor on base. He’s also gotten his outfield defense playing better than expected.

12. Perhaps the most important thing to happen this young season is Aaron Loup getting five outs. That included that huge double play to escape a jam.

13. With Loup there and Jeurys Familia showing signs of returning to his 2015 form, the Mets may not have to rely on Miguel Castro and Trevor May every night like they had been.

14. It’s interesting Robert Gsellman hasn’t gotten into a game yet. Hopefully, he’s not too rusty before the Mets head to Colorado where bullpens are usually taxed.

15. David Peterson‘s start was so impressive. That goes double when the Phillies have owned him in his young career.

16. James McCann had his first big hit with his first Mets homer, but his real impact has been his work behind the plate where he’s done a masterful job handling this pitching staff.

17. Mets pitchers have a 2.81 ERA, which is third best in baseball. That’s BEFORE Carlos Carrasco, Seth Lugo, and Noah Syndergaard have thrown a pitch.

18. You get the sense you’re in for a special season when Jonathan Villar gets the game winning hit in the first end of the doubleheader, and then he does it again in the second half.

19. Even with Villar doing that, and J.D. Davis coming off the IL, Luis Guillorme continues to prove every game he gets an opportunity, he’s the Mets best option at third.

20. With the Mets being the only NL East team over .500 and their going to play a bad Colorado Rockies and Chicago Cubs teams, they’re going to get an opportunity to put an early stranglehold on the division.

Michael Conforto Becoming Problem For Mets

There has been an overreaction to Michael Conforto struggling at the plate to start the season. He has slumped like most of the lineup, and he’s been dropped three spots in the lineup.

Based on his career, he’s going to eventually be fine. We know Conforto will hit and put up good numbers. What we don’t know is how he will be defensively.

Yes, it is absolutely too soon to judge this year’s defensive numbers. That said they merit a look. According to Baseball Savant, Conforto has a -1 OAA and a -1.6 JUMP

This follows Conforto’s 2020 season where he saw similarly poor defensive numbers. Last year, Conforto was a -5 OAA with a 0.1 JUMP.

Now, neither of these sample sizes are really sufficient to absolutely derive the conclusion Conforto is now a bad defender after being a very good one through the 2019 season. In fact, the two seasons combined are still way too small of a sample size to be even remotely statistically significant.

That said, we still need to pay attention because Conforto’s slipping defense has coincided with his having lost a step. That’s a very real problem.

In 2019, Conforto had a 7 OAA in RF, and he had a 27.5 ft/sec sprint speed. Notable with that sprint speed was it was the slowest up to that point of his career.

What was interesting was before 2019, Conforto had seen gradual improvements in his sprint speed. Since 2019, Conforto has completely lost a step.

In the shortened season last year, Nimmo’s sprint speed was just 26.8. So far this year, it’s 26.4. That’s a very real issue.

Now, it should be noted there are some explanations for the loss in sprint speed. There was the COVID interrupted season last year making it extraordinarily difficult to work out and train. On the eve of Spring Training this year, Conforto actually contracted COVID.

Maybe he can regain that extra step at some point. However, it’s not there now, and that’s a huge problem.

Remember, the Mets outfield alignment partially hinges on Conforto being a good defensive right fielder. Brandon Nimmo is out of position in CF (even if he’s been quite good there so far this year), and Dominic Smith is not an outfielder at all.

Conforto continuing on what may be a defensive decline can be a very real problem. Suddenly, what could’ve been a passable outfield, especially with a mostly ground ball staff, becomes a very real question mark which could cost them games.

That is going to put more onus on Luis Rojas and the Mets front office. Right now, they’re only using a defensive replacement for Smith late in games. At some point, they may need to have the very uncomfortable conversation with Conforto about his needing to come out of games as well.

On the bright side, the Mets are well suited for that with Kevin Pillar and Albert Almora. However, if the Mets do need to walk down that path, their chances of extending Conforto may then be kaput.

Before the Mets even contemplate this, they need to see if Conforto can begin getting his speed back, and they need to see if they can better position him to offset his loss in speed. They also need to assess if it will ever come back.

The future of the Mets actually hinges on this decision. They’re making an important decision on someone who can be their next captain. They’re making a decision on someone who may be starting his decline.

It’s too early to know for sure, but we have warning signs. That makes Conforto a very big problem for the Mets.

David Peterson Out-Duels Zack Wheeler

This should have been a pitching mismatch with Zack Wheeler dueling against David Peterson. The disparity was widened due to Peterson’s struggles against the Phillies in his young career.

Instead, Peterson threw the best game of his young career.

Over six innings, Peterson would limit the Phillies to one run on two hits and no walks. He’d strike out an astonishing 10 batters. The only blemish was a Jean Segura homer in the fifth.

Peterson needed to be this good because Wheeler was fantastic as well. The key with good pitchers like him is to jump on them early before they get in a groove.

Brandon Nimmo, who seemingly can’t make an out anymore, led off the game with a single. Francisco Lindor and Dominic Smith followed with a pair of singles to put the Mets up 1-0 without recording an out.

The Mets chances of blowing it wide open early was stymied when Pete Alonso hit into a double play. The bright side was a run scored to make it 2-0.

It was 2-1 heading into the seventh when Luis Rojas tabbed Jeurys Familia. With Miguel Castro and Trevor May realistically unavailable, this was a good spot to see if Familia could grab big innings again.

Familia would walk J.T. Realmuto to start the inning, and Realmuto would go to second on a fielder’s choice. Segura followed with an infield single putting runners at the corners. On the play, Linder tried to pick Realmuto off third to no avail.

When Didi Gregorius was announced as a pinch hitter, Rojas went to Aaron Loup. Loup did his job getting the ground ball to induce the inning ending 6-6-3 double play.

Loup had his best game with the Mets. After getting the inning ending double play in the seventh, he retired the Phillies 1-2-3 in the eighth striking out two.

While the Mets bullpen was at work, Joe Girardi got a little greedy with Wheeler pushing him to start the seventh. After retiring Nimmo, Lindor and Smith got back-to-back hits setting up runners at the corners.

After 108 pitches, Girardi finally lifted Wheeler for Sam Coonrod. Coonrod got Alonso out, but Lindor would score on the sacrifice fly giving the Mets a 3-1 lead.

The top of the Mets lineup was fantastic tonight. The top three batters combined to go 8-for-14 with three runs, a walk, and an RBI.

The Mets added some more insurance runs in the eighth. Michael Conforto led off the inning by getting hit on the elbow . . . again. Astoundingly, Conforto’s elbow has been hit by four pitches, and he’s gotten three hits with his bat. James McCann made JoJo Romero pay by hitting his first homer as a Met:

Edwin Diaz came on in a non-save situation in the ninth, and he closed the door on the Mets 5-1 victory. Mets are now the only team in the NL East two games over .500, and they don’t seem like they’re looking back.

Game Notes: Nimmo leads the majors with a .583 OBP. There is rain in the forecast putting tomorrow’s game in jeopardy.

Luis Rojas Doing Good Job For Mets

Certainly, the New York Mets have made some truly odd decisions this season. That began their first game of the season where Kevin Pillar batted lead-off, Brandon Nimmo was eighth, and Dominic Smith was left out of the lineup all together. The curious lineup decisions continued with Jeff McNeil batting seventh for a stretch and completely overreacting to Michael Conforto slumping.

While Luis Rojas has received his share of the blame for those decisions, it is important to note he is not the one making out the lineup card. We are well past the days of Casey Stengel playing hunches. No, the lineup now is much more of a collaborative process, and unless you are someone like Terry Francona, your standing and stature to make those decisions alone differs.

To be fair, it’s not just the lineup. There have been other decisions. There was using Aaron Loup when the three batter rule meant he had to face J.T. Realmuto. He has used Trevor May and Miguel Castro quite often so far this season. The latest was letting Marcus Stroman bat in the sixth only to let Jeurys Familia pitch in the seventh.

That last decision was one of several which has caused fans to question his abilities. There has been a growing narrative where Rojas was not ready for this job and is in over his head. Certainly, one of the contributing factors was his being thrust into the job after Carlos Beltran‘s firing. However, when it came to that decision, there was much more happening than most were aware:

When assessing managers, we far too often overlook the fact there is much we don’t know. For example, we don’t understand players have personal conversations with players, and they have to make assessments and decisions based upon those conversations. We really don’t know why some players are unavailable.

There’s also the fact we tend to only judge one or two decisions per game and blow it out of proportion when it comes to assessing the total job. First and foremost, it would seem from Stroman’s tweet, Rojas has the back of everyone in that clubhouse. To a certain extent, that is no surprise with Rojas managing most of these players in the minors, and those players respecting him.

Players certainly respect him when he goes out there arguing with the umpire after Jose Alvarado threw not once but twice at Conforto. More people respect him when he takes ownership of the team’s issues and doesn’t pass the blame to the players. He also accepts the responsibility for the decisions clearly made by the front office.

Another overlooked factor is how much certain players have improved. It’s still early, but we have seen Pete Alonso and Brandon Nimmo play significantly improved defense. We have also seen him make Dominic Smith passable in left field. Make no mistake, this is significant because the Mets need for each one of these things to happen if the team wants to truly compete this season.

And remember, when assessing Rojas, the Mets have had a simply bizarre start to the season. They didn’t play the first series due to the Nationals getting infected with COVID. They had a suspended game after three batters and a rain out. At one point, they had played five games and had five games postponed. Despite that, he has his team ready to play, and they seem primed to take off.

Overall, Rojas isn’t perfect, but no manager is. He is still growing into the job, and he is learning. Overall, he has a real skill-set to thrive in this job, and he is doing many thing which are helping the Mets win games. This is not a manager in over his head. Rather, this is a manager who knows exactly what he’s doing, and the Mets are better off for having him in the dugout.

Mets Walk It Off In The Eighth

After the rain-out yesterday, the New York Mets started Taijuan Walker, who was great for four innings. For the second straight start, Walker’s velocity was up, and he was throwing strikes.

Walker got into trouble three times. In the second, Alec Bohm led off the inning with a double, but Walker limited the Philadelphia Phillies to just one run. In the fourth, it was Bohm again who started a rally; this time drawing a one out walk. Didi Gregorius would follow with a single, but Walker got out of the inning by inducing Jean Segura to hit into an inning ending double play. The third time would happen in the fourth, but by that time, the Mets already had a lead.

Walker needed to get out of those jams too because the Mets reconfigured line-up still wasn’t scoring many runs or creating many opportunities. We were going to see it the other day, but we officially saw Michael Conforto dropped to sixth in the order with Dominic Smith and Jeff McNeil moving up to third and fifth respectively.

In the first, it looked like genius. As is usual, Brandon Nimmo would lead-off the game with a walk. He would then come home to score when Dominic Smith hit a one out two run homer against Phillies Chase Anderson.

That meant Walker and the Mets had a lead going into the top of the fifth. At that point, Home Plate Umpire Joe West, fresh off his defamation suit victory over Paul Lo Duca, stopped being able to tell the difference between balls and strikes. To be fair to West a bit, Walker got a bit wild, and he wound up walking back-to-back hitters after striking out Andrew Knapp to start the inning.

At that point, Luis Rojas went to Miguel Castro, who seems to be becoming the Mets go-to reliever in these big spots. Castro did come up big first striking out Andrew McCutchen. Then, Roman Quinn would commit a mortal baseball sin by making the last out at third. Quinn blew it two different ways.

To be fair, he was absolutely safe initially on what first seemed like a well executed double steal. James McCann‘s throw to third was high, and it took Luis Guillorme jumping to prevent the ball from going into left field. Quinn appeared to assume it went to left field, and it looked like he started to go head for home. While this happened, Guillorme landed on Quinn assuring he was off the bag leading to the easy inning ending tag out.

Walker’s final line was 4.1 IP, 3 H, R, ER, 3 BB, 8 K. Walker would not have qualified for the win. For some reason, you need to pitch five innings to earn a win in both a nine and seven inning game. You would think the rules would be re-calibrated for shortened seven inning double header games, but that makes too much sense. Then again, shortening games two innings makes zero sense in the first place.

That all became academic as Casto would lose the lead in the sixth. He did escape the fifth, but he got into trouble himself by issuing a lead-off walk to Rhys Hoskins in the sixth.

Bryce Harper followed with a single. Castro responded by striking out Bohm, and getting Gregorius to hit into a fielder’s choice. However, that was not enough as Segura hit one off the end of the bat. Guillorme charged in, but he couldn’t get it to first in time. That tied the score 2-2 and put more pressure on a feckless Mets lineup.

You could criticize Guillorme for fielding it with the glove costing him seconds. Of course, Segura was still safe by a pretty good margin. It’s also noteworthy Guillorme is a second baseman by trade, and he played that ball like the middle infielder he is. Of course, McNeil is much more experienced as third, but for some reason, the Mets want to go with the lesser defensive positioning.

Pete Alonso led off the sixth with a strikeout against Jose Alvarado dropping him to 0-fer his last 14, but unlike Conforto, he won’t be booed or dropped in the order. Speaking of Conforto, Alvarado threw at his head and missed and then later plunked him in the at-bat. Luis Rojas was irate and argued because for some reason Alvarado was not tossed from the game. The Mets would not make Alvarado and the Phillies pay for it as McCann would fly out to end the inning.

After a scoreless inning from Edwin Diaz, the Mets would have a chance to walk it off in the bottom of the seventh.

Guillorme, one of the few Mets doing anything offensively, led off the inning with a walk against Connor Brogdon. Jonathan Villar pinch ran, and then Kevin Pillar drew a walk.

The Mets offense would again falter. Nimmo stuck out. Francisco Lindor flew out, and then Smith struck out to end the inning.

That led to a combination of the two dumbest rules in baseball. The eighth inning began with a runner on second because this was a m seven inning game. Pure idiocy.

Trevor May wound up giving up an “unearned run” putting the Mets down 3-2 heading into the bottom of the eighth on a Gregorius infield single.

The bright side is the feckless Mets offense was gifted a runner at second. Hector Neris would be the one who had the task of keeping the Mets offense incapable of hitting with RISP.

The speedy Lindor quickly scored as Alonso finally got a hit driving home Lindor. McNeil hit into a fielder’s choice, and Conforto walked. McCann singled to load the bases.

Villar, who came on to pinch run for Guillorme, had his first big moment as a member of the Mets driving home McNeil to win the game.

It wasn’t the prettiest win, and it’s dumb gimmick baseball. That said, you take the win and get ready for the second half of the doubleheader.

Game Notes: Guillorme went 1-for-1 with two walks while batting eighth. He is now hitting .571 with a 1.299 OPS on the season. This was Castro’s fourth appearance over the Mets first six games. May earned his first win as a Met.

Michael Conforto HBP Was An Accepted Baseball Play

With the reaction to Michael Conforto sticking out his elbow, you would’ve thought he committed treason. For some reason, just this once, trying to get hit by a pitch, is now the worst thing a player has even done.

Before getting into it, let’s take a look at the play again:

Lets call it what it is. Conforto got fooled by a pitch he thought would be more in than it was. You could see that by a function of his taking all the way (with two strikes) and his turning his back.

Because of that, a scuffling player booed earlier in the game, stuck his elbow out. He got hit with the pitch, and he fooled the home plate umpire. As a result, he took his base, and the Mets won.

With respect to the play, Conforto said, “Obviously not the way I wanted to win the ballgame. I wanted to go up there and put the ball in play, drive the ball somewhere.” (Mike Puma, New York Post).

For what is worth, Conforto claimed he wasn’t trying to get hit. In fact, he said, “With two strikes I just went into battle mode and I tend to lean over the plate when I get into battle mode.”

You can choose to believe him or not. Fact is, he did it, and he won the game. Really, he is no alone in what he did.

Craig Biggio is partially in the Hall of Fame because of his leaning into pitches. Miami Marlins owner Derek Jeter was caught faking getting hit by a pitch, and he offered no apologies.

This is a part of the game. Batters get up there trying to get on base any way they can. They’ll lean into pitches, and yes, they’ll purposefully flinch at pitches to try to get it called a ball.

We see catcher after catcher try to get better at framing pitches. Framing is designed not just to make sure a strike is a strike but also to attempt to get the borderline pitch, which should’ve been a ball, called a strike.

Here’s a hypothetical. Instead of that pitch being in the strike zone, it’s just off the plate and inside. Conforto gets out of the way, but the way Chad Wallach frames it, the umpire calls it a strike.

Is anyone vilifying Wallach? No, of course not. Will people be calling for him to be run over first chance a runner gets? That would be seen as absurd.

And yet, when Conforto did what many did before him, he’s chastised, mocked, and there are calls to drill him.

Now, no one wanted to see the game end that way. It did take some shine off the win. However, every single player in that Mets clubhouse and every single fan would rather winning on that play than losing.

That goes double for the Miami Marlins.

Let’s not forget, this is the same team who unapologetically took the field while infected with COVID. They put the season, and more importantly, lives in complete jeopardy.

Their screwing up the schedule was a factor in their making the postseason. Did they offer to forfeit the games? No. Did Don Mattingly refuse the NL Manager of the Year Award? Of course not.

Keep in mind, this is the same Mattingly who was chasing down the umpires for a replay review while Ruben Tejada was getting carted off the field because his player, Chase Utley, broke Tejada’s leg on a dirty play. Mattingly had ZERO issue winning because of that play.

Of course, he had one yesterday.

The 1986 Mets had a problem with Mike Scott scuffing balks. None of the right teams Gaylord Perry played for had an issue with his spitter. The Reds and Dodgers didn’t have an issue with Trevor Bauers use of pine tar. People tip their caps to Yadier Molina and his framing.

As we know, there are certain things in baseball which are just accepted. Catchers steal strikes. Pitchers doctor balls. Batters lean into pitches. That’s the way it is.

The only time people are aggrieved is when it doesn’t benefit them. The only time the world notices is when it’s a game winning run. In the end, that’s all there is to take away from Conforto leaning into a pitch.

20/20 Hindsight: Mets Finally Lose Opening Series

After the opening series against the Washington Nationals was canceled due to COVID19, the New York Mets finally played their first series of the season. They should’ve taken the series, but didn’t;

1. That was your typical Jacob deGrom start. He’s dominant. The Mets don’t score. The bullpen blows it.

2. Much was made of deGrom coming out after six. People overlook deGrom being part of and agreeing with the decision. He had a long layoff, and it’s going to be tricky getting everyone through the season.

3. James McCann was a mixed bag. He called a great game, and he was great framing it. However, he did let some balls get behind him, and he did a Wilson Ramos impersonation on Luis Guillorme‘s throw.

4. With J.D. Davis being down, Guillorme and Jonathan Villar may get a chance to prove they should play everyday. So far, they’re making a good case.

5. Pete Alonso looks like a man on a mission. He’s completely locked in at the plate, and his defense has never looked better. He could be on the verge of an MVP type season.

6. It was actually surprising to see his ball didn’t go out on Tuesday night. Last year and the year before those balls might’ve been 20 rows deep. Instead, that ball died at the wall. That may be a real sign the ball isn’t traveling like it did in prior years.

7. The Mets were down because the bullpen hasn’t been great so far.

8. Trevor May has struggled in both games, but it was good to see him come into the second game, fight it, and get out of the inning unscathed. That and his taking ownership of his poor performance is an indication he is going to be just fine in New York.

9. The Aaron Loup signing was curious, especially given the three batter rule. We saw just how that can help a team implode. After he plunked Bryce Harper, he was facing J.T. Realmuto. It should come as no surprise that inning got out of control.

10. There were some good signs out of Jeurys Familia and Miguel Castro. Overall, with Edwin Diaz not getting into a game, the Mets best reliever in the series was Joey Lucchesi, who is also their fifth starter.

11. There could be some questions as to how Luis Rojas managed these games, but it is first important to remember he is not the one who fills out the lineup card. Some of his decisions are also very defensible like leaving in Kevin Pillar in the fourth inning of a game where the Mets had deGrom on the mound and had a 2-0 lead.

12. The fact the Mets would not bat Brandon Nimmo atop the lineup is beyond crazy. Even with a left-handed pitcher on the mound, it’s crazy. In fact, Nimmo has been the Mets best hitter against left-handed pitchers the last two years. The second best? Dominic Smith.

13. Dominic Smith isn’t a platoon player, and he shouldn’t be treated as such. He showed that on his first at-bat of the season.

14. Jeff McNeil has hit the ball with real authority so far this season. It was probably a good idea to get him a mental break ahead of coming to New York.

15. On that note, we are likely going to see a number of players miss some unexpected games here and there as they get vaccinated and deal with the side effects. Well, everyone except Davis.

16. Marcus Stroman was great on the mound, and he not only looks like an All-Star with that new forkball, but he could be a very real contender for the Cy Young this season.

17. Francisco Lindor has been everything as advertised so far this season. His defense has been great. He is giving good at-bats. He was a real leader talking to David Peterson after a rough outing. The Mets are very lucky to have him around for the next decade.

18. The long layoff was probably a factor, but Peterson showed he probably needs more time in Triple-A, which is fine. It would’ve been better to put Jordan Yamamoto in the rotation to start the season. That goes double when the Mets could have skipped the fifth starter, which they are.

19. Michael Conforto struggled with runners on base during this series, so naturally people are going overboard in their reaction. Fact is, Conforto is still a .271/.393/.512 hitter with runners in scoring position in his career. He’s going to be fine, and the Mets should still be pushing to sign him to an extension to make him a Met for life.

20. The Mets were put at a disadvantage not playing the Nationals series, and the Atlanta Braves got to fact that decimated Nationals team. Mets showed some rust, but this is still a very good team. They’re now in the flow of things, and we should look for them to have a good first homestand of the season.d

Mets Bullpen Very Shaky In Mets First Win Of 2021

Despite his having an argument for being the Mets second best starter, with all the injuries, Marcus Stroman got the tab by default. You wouldn’t have known that with how dominant he was.

In his six innings, the Phillies could only muster three hits. Unfortunately, one of them was a Didi Gregorius solo homer marking the only run Mets starters have allowed over 12.0 innings this season.

One of the reasons Stroman got away with just the one run was his defense. There was one double play turned, and Pete Alonso robbed Gregorius of what should’ve been a game tying extra base hit.

Much like Jacob deGrom yesterday, Stroman would also get just two runs of support. Those came courtesy of Dominic Smith who got the start after not playing yesterday.

Just like deGrom, Stroman was lifted after 6.0 innings despite only throwing 85 pitches. Unlike deGrom, that move didn’t backfire.

The reason was Phillies reliever Vince Velasquez had a maddening seventh. He faced eight batters in the game (going back to the sixth), and not one batter put a ball in play.

Luis Guillorme led off the seventh, and he’d fall behind quickly 0-2. He battled back in the at-bat, and he drew the first of four walks in the inning.

One of those four walks was to Kevin Pillar who pinch hit for Stroman. After his pinch hitting appearance, Brandon Nimmo came up, and well, his drawing a walk against a pitcher trouble locating is a near lock. After his walk, it was 3-1.

The Phillies went to Brandon Kintzler. Only this time, he didn’t get out of the inning with a double play. Francisco Lindor hit a deep fly to center for a sacrifice fly and his first RBI as a Met.

Nimmo and Pillar tacked on another run with a well executed double steal. Michael Conforto then capped off the inning with an RBI double.

With the Mets entering the bottom of the seventh ahead 6-1, you’d assume they’d be in cruise control. It was far from it.

Miguel Castro was shaky in the seventh. After two quick strikeouts, Adam Haseley doubled, and he came home on a Rhys Hoskins pinch hit RBI single.

After an Alec Bohm single, Luis Rojas made a very questionable decision. There were two outs, Bryce Harper was up, and Aaron Loup was warmed up. Rojas stuck with Castro, and he was rewarded for it when Castro got Harper to line out to center to end the inning.

In the eighth, Rojas gave Trevor May an opportunity to shake off his first appearance of the season. May was quite shaky allowing two hits and throwing a wild pitch. Still, he’d settle down and get Roman Quinn to end the inning.

Alonso would hit a two run homer in the top of the ninth to expand the Mets lead to 8-2. With that large gap, Rojas went to Jeurys Familia to finish the game.

Haseley led off the ninth with a single, and Hoskins followed with a cue shot double. Alonso went back to get the ball, but his throw trying to get Hoskins was errant allowing Haseley to score. Notably, neither ball was hit particularly hard.

After Familia struck out Andrew McCutchen, Hoskins stole the vacated third, and Familia followed by walking Harper. J.T. Realmuto knocked in the Phillies fourth and final run on a fielder’s choice.

In the end, it was an 8-4 win. Stroman was great. Smith and Alonso homered. The offense finally exploded, but man, the Mets bullpen has looked shakier than we suspected it might be.

Game Notes: J.D. Davis left the game after getting hit by a Chase Anderson pitch on the hand in the second. His x-rays were negative, and he’s day-to-day. Nimmo walked three times.