David Peterson had no-hit the Chicago Cubs for the first 3.1 innings. That was despite a moving and ever changing strike zone.
The Mets had a 2-0 lead, and things looked great. After all, Francisco Lindor hit his first homer with the Mets:
— New York Mets (@Mets) April 21, 2021
Not only would the Mets lose this one, but they would lose bad. Adding salt in the wound was how embarrassing a loss it was. The fourth inning defense was just about the worst you’ve ever seen:
The Mets just keep hurting themselves in the field. This reel is from the last two innings alone… pic.twitter.com/xZyjC90hmw
— Anthony DiComo (@AnthonyDiComo) April 22, 2021
It was 2-1 Mets after the Cubs hit three consecutive singles. With runners on first and second, Javier Baez hit what should’ve been an inning ending double play. Instead, J.D. Davis, the worst defender in baseball, booted it.
That error not only allowed the inning to continue, but it opened the floodgates. It also precipitated just a series of gaffes.
Michael Conforto threw one away. Lindor booted one and then threw it away. After all was said and done, the Cubs scored seven runs. Gary Cohen called it a circus, and he was being kind.
In the fifth, Lindor had a bloop, and Pete Alonso had a blast. That’s putting it mildly. Alonso killed that ball:
— New York Mets (@Mets) April 22, 2021
At that time, they had hope. It was just 7-4. The problem was the Mets weren’t done playing just awful baseball.
One potential inning ending double play ball deflected off Robert Gsellman‘s leg and into center. Another was hit to Davis who took his time and STILL nearly threw it into the outfield.
That was just the three run fifth.
It got to that point Guillorme pitched. That’s right, their second best defender pitched while Jonathan Villar took over at short with Davis at third.
Guillorme allowed two runs making it 16-4. The sad part is this ruined Guillorme’s 0.00 ERA entering the game.
Perhaps, the most impressive part of the game was Guillorme. With the Mets down 12 and two outs in the ninth, Guillorme battled, and eventually, he pulled off the single. The Mets wouldn’t score that inning.
The Mets lost, but at least they played Davis at third. That, and not winning games or supporting their young sinkerball pitcher, is what’s really important.
After a terrible start to the season, longtime Major Leaguer Jay Bruce has announced his retirement from baseball. In his 14 years, Bruce was a three time All-Star and a two time Silver Slugger. More than that, he was one of the most respected players in the game.
We saw that during Bruce’s time with the New York Mets. When Bruce first came to the Mets in a 2016 trade, he struggled mightily. Despite the struggles and adapting to New York as the team was desperately trying to fight their way to a Wild Card spot, Bruce would turn it on late in the season.
Over the final eight games of the season, Bruce was unstoppable hitting .480/.536/1.000. That stretch helped the Mets lock up the top Wild Card spot, and it lead to one of the funnier celebrations we have ever seen.
— First Time Long Time (@MetsFTLT) October 1, 2016
Bruce would return to the Mets in 2017, and he was great. His 121 OPS+ with the Mets that season would have been the third best offensive season of his career. The .841 OPS would have been his second best mark. Put another way, the Mets would get to see the best of Bruce, and it was truly a pleasure to watch.
It wasn’t just the offense or play on the field, it was the leadership. Bruce took young players under his wing and helped them. One player he really helped was Michael Conforto. He not only helped Conforto find his voice, but he helped him learn how to lead. The Mets are still reaping dividends from that to this day.
Unfortunately, the Mets didn’t win that 2016 Wild Card Game, and they fell apart in 2017. That would see many beloved players traded, and that eventually included Bruce. He’d go to Cleveland where he would have a good ALDS against the New York Yankees, but the Indians would lose that series.
Unfortunately, Bruce would never win that elusive World Series. He didn’t get it with the Mets in his first or second stint. He also didn’t get it with the Cincinnati Reds where he was part of a quite impressive young core of players. To this day, Bruce said the favorite moment of his career was his walk-off homer to clinch the Reds division title in 2010:
It’s unfortunate Bruce never did get an opportunity to play for a winner again after that 2016 season. He was a good player and better person you would have liked to see win at least one. He was a player who had a positive impact on many clubhouses and people. Each and every franchise was better for having him with their organization.
Right now, the playing chapter of Bruce’s career is over. It was a very good career, one with two top 10 MVP finishes. Based on how everyone has something positive to say about him and the impact he has had on many people, we should hopefully continue his career in baseball in some other capacity. The sport can use people like him staying in the game.
But for now, this is about Bruce the player. Congratulations to him on the end of his career and nothing but the best to him in the future.
The New York Mets flew into Colorado, and they were greeted with snow. That meant another postponement and another doubleheader to the schedule. It just seems like this is the way 2021 is going to go:
1. Marcus Stroman has been nothing short of phenomenal. He’s fielding his position better than anyone, and he’s 3-0 with a 0.90 ERA. He’s been better than expected, which is saying something.
2. As great as Stroman has been, Jacob deGrom is still the best pitcher on the planet. His striking out 14 and nine in a row once again put him on the precipice of Tom Seaver‘s level. That’s a testament to how great he is.
3. One remarkable thing is through the first seven years of their careers, deGrom has a better ERA+ than Seaver, and seeing the way he has started this year, it will continue through their first eight seasons. Of course, Seaver threw a lot more innings.
4. It was nice to see deGrom get picked up by his offense for once. It was also great to see Francisco Lindor deliver his first game winning RBI as a member of the Mets. Certainly, it will be the first of many.
5. Lindor’s enthusiasm out there is only matched by Stroman’s. When you have these two players out there, it makes the Mets not just more likeable but more exciting to watch.
6. While Lindor and James McCann have not hit yet the way we expect them to hit, their defense has been terrific. Case in point was McCann gunning down Trevor Story to end the game with an exceptional tag from Lindor.
7. The defense still hasn’t been there from Michael Conforto who has had a misplay and a poor throw on Saturday. On the bright side, he has started hitting again.
8. Pete Alonso has started picking it up. He has been hitting it hard all year, and at least in Coors Field, his rockets were finding holes.
9. The best way to describe how great Brandon Nimmo has been to start the season is a 1-for-4 day is an off-day. After all, it was the first time all season he only reached base fewer than two times.
10. It looks like it just might be one of those hard luck years for Jeff McNeil as not matter how much he hits it hard, it is just going to find someone.
11. While we can expect the bat to turn around, we don’t know when his glove will. He made an error which almost cost the Mets the win. While it is still early, he is at a -1 OAA. He’s generally better than that, so it is still too early to be concerned.
12. That said, the Mets best defensive alignment is still with McNeil at third and Luis Guillorme at second. That is something to keep in mind when the Mets continue to run out ground ball pitcher after ground ball pitcher.
13. Speaking of Guillorme, despite his playing very well to start the season, it appears with J.D. Davis activated off the IL, he’ll never play again. That is all the more baffling considering the Mets have all of these ground ball pitchers, and Guillorme is a flat out better player.
14. There was far too much of an overreaction to Luis Rojas going to Robert Gsellman and Jacob Barnes in the second game of the doubleheader. The Mets simply cannot keep going to Trevor May and Miguel Castro every day. They are going to burn out, and then you’re stuck with Barnes trying to hold leads.
15. The bigger issue was Barnes making the roster in the first place. The Mets had better options, and they eschewed them to carry him on the roster. Case-in-point, it appears Joey Lucchesi is probably better suited to the bullpen, which would have allowed them to carry Jordan Yamamoto.
16. Speaking of Mets pitching decisions, Steven Matz has been phenomenal to start the season. Trading him was a completely unforced error. Hopefully, it will not cost them at some point this season. And yes, he would have been successful with the Mets this year.
17. Seeing all that has transpired, it is hard to believe Sandy Alderson still has a job with the Mets. Perhaps, Steve Cohen is allowing the organizational review to complete before taking action. Until that time, Cohen at least deserves the benefit of the doubt.
18. On that topic, we are three weeks into the season, and Mickey Callaway is still employed by the Los Angeles Angels.
19. So far, Edwin Diaz has been really good. If so, that is great news for the Mets and their chances of winning the division.
20. Jonathan Villar hitting a pinch hit RBI double driving home pinch runner Albert Almora speaks to the depth the Mets have built. If they continue getting contributions from their entire roster like the way they are right now, this is going to be a truly special season.
If you want to be the great team the New York Mets want to be, you have to win rubber games against the Colorado Rockies. Marcus Stroman made sure they wouldn’t lose.
Stroman was brilliant on that mound. That includes not just his pitching. It was his Gold Glove defense as well. Because of that the Rockies couldn’t get anything going.
Stroman got the lead runner, and Francisco Lindor got a superstar call. While it seemed he didn’t quite catch it, the umpire ruled it was dropped on the transfer.
Stroman would just completely shut down the Rockies offense. After that third inning walk which came before that bunt play, no Rockie would reach base again until the seventh.
Stroman needed to be that good too because the Mets offense was again not clicking. In fact, things were so bad, Brandon Nimmo didn’t reach base until the eighth inning. Fortunately, the Mets did just enough to score the runs they needed.
In the second, after a Pete Alonso leadoff single, Michael Conforto had just his second extra base hit of the season with a double. Jeff McNeil hit an RBI groundout scoring Alonso giving the Mets a 1-0 lead.
Unfortunately, the Mets offense did nothing from there stranding Conforto at third. He wouldn’t be stranded there in the fourth.
After that, the Mets wouldn’t score another run. In fact, the Mets wouldn’t get another runner into scoring position until the eighth.
In the eighth, Nimmo finally reached with a lead-off single. He’d steal second with no outs, and he’d move to third when Mychal Givens threw a wild pitch. He’d be stranded there.
In the ninth, McNeil got too aggressive. He hit a ball in the right field corner. However, Charlie Blackmon made a strong relay to McMahon, who nailed McNeil trying to stretch a double into a triple.
That put all the pressure on the Mets pitching. Stroman and Edwin Diaz were up to the task.
In the seventh, the Rockies finally got to Stroman when Trevor Story hit a one out double against Stroman. He’d come home to score on a Blackmon RBI single. Stroman responded to this adversity by striking out Cron and Garret Hampson to end the inning.
— Codify, Inc. (@CodifyBaseball) April 18, 2021
As great as that all was, Stroman saved his best for last. In the eighth, Josh Fuentes hit one up the middle. Stroman moved bsckwards, caught it behind his back, and got the ball to first in time.
— New York Mets (@Mets) April 18, 2021
As an aside, that was a very good stretch by Alonso to ensure Fuentes was out.
Stroman would last eight innings, which is the deepest any Mets pitcher would go in a game this year. He’d allowed just one win on three hits and one walk. He’d strike out five.
Stroman earned his third win of the season. That’s because of his dominance and Diaz conveying the save . . . or was it James McCann?
After Diaz retired the first two Rockies, Story would single. He would then try to steal second to put himself in scoring position for Blackmon. He wouldn’t get there:
— New York Mets (@Mets) April 19, 2021
The Rockies asked for replay, but Story was out. With that, the Mets earned the win in the rubber game and moved back to three games over .500. They now head to Chicago where they try to avoid weather delays again.
Game Notes: This was the first game all year Nimmo did not reach base twice. This was just their second nine inning game over a six game span.
To start the game, Jacob deGrom didn’t have his best stuff. In fact, he was “only” hitting 96 on the gun. Naturally, he was phenomenal.
NINE straight Ks for de🐐, tying the 2nd-longest streak in MLB history. pic.twitter.com/sOMkLZ6AhF
— MLB (@MLB) April 17, 2021
That’s when the defense completely failed deGrom. Fuentes led off the fifth with a grounder up the middle. Jeff McNeil would Field it cleanly but throw it away allowing Fuentes to reach safely.
Yonathan Daza followed with a shallow liner to right. In what was very likely driven by deGrom pitching, Nunez went home. He scored easily as Conforto made a poor off line throw which gave James McCann no chance to field it and make the tag.
Ramiel Tapia followed with a flick of the wrist Coors Field homer. Just like that, a 1-0 lead turned into a 3-1 deficit courtesy of three unearned runs.
As is normally the case, deGrom received next to no run support. That was even with Chi Chi Gonzalez starting for the Rockies.
deGrom led off the third with a single. In what was a completely inane decision, Brandon Nimmo, the Mets best hitter was called upon to sacrifice deGrom to second, which he did.
It also appeared that was all deGrom was going to get. Part of the reason was all of the double plays.
In the sixth, Alonso got one of the runs back hitting his second homer of the season:
— New York Mets (@Mets) April 17, 2021
deGrom’s final inning was the sixth, and he was great again. He would strike out two more. This would mark the second straight start where he struck out 14.
Overall, deGrom allowed three runs (zero earned) on three hits with one walk. Believe it or not, he’d actually pick up the win.
Jonathan Villar pinch hit for deGrom and hit a double to right. Almora dashed from first, and he JUST got his hand in to score the game tying run.
— New York Mets (@Mets) April 17, 2021
After a Nimmo infield single put runners on the corners, Lindor delivered his biggest hit in his nascent Mets career. His RBI single gave the Mets a 4-3 lead.
With the 4-3 lead, Edwin Diaz came on for his first save chance of the season. He struck out the side to earn his first save. That means he and deGrom managed to strike out 17 Rockies over a seven inning game.
With the late rally, deGrom earned his first win of the season. Overall, he’s 1-1 with a 0.45 ERA. Not a bad way to start the doubleheader.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
In the first game of the doubleheader between the New York Mets and Philadelphia Phillies, Michael Conforto came to bat against Jose Alvarado with two outs in the bottom of the sixth. In that at-bat, Alvarado showed no intention of getting Conforto out.
The first pitch was at Conforto’s head. If Conforto does not get out of the way, there is another Mike Piazza/Roger Clemens situation. That said, pitches do get away from pitchers, even 100 MPH fastballs. However, the benefit of the doubt should have been gone when Alvarado threw the second pitch.
Jose Alvarado comes up and in to Michael Conforto on back-to-back pitches and Conforto is hit by the second pitch.
Dominic Smith and the Mets bench weren't pleased. pic.twitter.com/xhkaTO229k
— SNY (@SNYtv) April 13, 2021
Alvarado’s second pitch was again a 100 MPH fastball up and in on Conforto. This time, Conforto was unable to get out of the way. He would be hit on the wrist. The end result was Conforto taking his base. He would get another at-bat in the game drawing a four pitch walk. However, Conforto would get an x-ray after the game and miss the second game of the doubleheader.
Make no mistake, going inside to a batter is acceptable. It is also entirely possible pitchers make a mistake and lose control. Not every pitch up and in is done with a purpose. Not every purpose pitch is meant to come up near a batters head. However, what Alvardo did was different.
No matter how much Alvarado seemed to dismiss it, he very clearly meant to hit Conforto with a 100 MPH fastball. You don’t go up and inside like that twice and not mean it.
For the sake of argument, let’s say Alvardo didn’t mean to do it. After all, J.T. Realmuto wasn’t set up for the inside fastball (which is not exactly definitive proof). Alvarado STILL thew near Conforto’s head with 100 MPH fastballs twice. That is not acceptable under any circumstances.
Whether or not there is intent is almost a red herring here. What we do know is Alvarado threw two 100 MPH fastballs near Conforto’s head. They were back-to-back pitches. Major League Baseball cannot accept that happening. The end result was Conforto getting hurt enough to miss a game. It could have been far, far worse.
In situations like this, it is incumbent on Major League Baseball to deliver a message. It needs to say multiple 100 MPH fastballs thrown up and in like that is unacceptable. If it was intended, or the pitcher simply can’t handle throwing those fastballs, he has no place on the mound in a Major League game.
In the end, that is why he needs to be suspended for his actions. Regardless of his intentions, what he did was dangerous. He can’t be allowed to do it again.
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:
You’re incredibly wrong so relax. Luis is a great manager who we will all go to war for. We love him. I was going back out in the 7th…that’s why I hit. The inning ended up taking long and didn’t make sense to go back out after getting cold on the bases. Poo-poo take sir! 🤦🏾♂️ https://t.co/r8B1RPBMtB
— Marcus Stroman (@STR0) April 14, 2021
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.
Much was made about Marcus Stroman‘s availability (and even his heart and dedication) after he said he couldn’t make a start after his facing three batters in a suspended game. He felt good after a bullpen and declared himself good to go on one days rest.
He was brilliant.
Stroman didn’t allow a hit until the fourth. A runner didn’t reach scoring position until two outs in the fifth. Just when you thought he was tiring in the sixth, he got Rhys Hoskins to hit into an inning ending double play.
His final line would be 6.0 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 3 K. He would also get the win.
The Mets might’ve caught a break there, and for seemingly the first time all season, they took advantage. Kevin Pillar followed with a single, and then Villar hit a flat Nola curve for an RBI double.
— New York Mets (@Mets) April 14, 2021
It was Nimmo again in the sixth. Nido would triple, and Stroman got for himself and drew a walk. Nimmo would then drive Nido home with another RBI single extending the Mets lead to 4-0.
Jeurys Familia came on to pitch the seventh in a non-save situation. In typical Familia fashion, it was an adventure, but he got the job done.
The Mets are now over .500 for the first time this season, and they have their first shutout. Their starting pitching has been great with Nimmo arguably being better. Things are getting really fun right now.
Game Notes: Stroman has allowed just one earned over 12.0 innings this year. He’s the only Mets starter so far to earn a win this season. Michael Conforto sat out after getting HBP in the first game. The x-rays on his wrist were negative.