Michael Conforto

Revised NLDS Roster Projection

I’m not calling this 2.0. To me that would indicate that I will make a number of changes, but I wanted to show you my work product. There’s nothing wrong with that, but that’s not my intention when I share my projections

However, there has been another major development with Steven Matz‘s back. As I said yesterday, I was not going to trust he was going to pitch until he actually pitches

Catchers

1. Travis d’Arnaud

2. Kevin Plawecki

Infielders

3. Lucas Duda

4. Daniel Murphy

5. Kelly Johnson

6. David Wright

7. Ruben Tejada

8. Wilmer Flores

Outfielders

9. Michael Conforto

10. Michael Cuddyer

11. Yoenis Cespedes

12. Juan Lagares

13. Curtis Granderson

Pinch Runner

14. Eric Young, Jr.

Starting Pitchers

15. Jacob deGrom

16. Noah Syndergaard

17. Matt Harvey

18. Bartolo Colon

Relief Pitchers

19. Jeurys Familia

20. Addison Reed

21. Tyler Clippard

22. Hansel Robles

23. Jon Niese

24. Sean Gilmartin

25. Erik Goeddel

As you can see, the only change I made between the projections was exchanging Matz for Goeddel. I chose Goeddel because he’s been pretty good lately, and he can generate strikeouts with his splitter. 

I still think there are two other players under consideration: Kirk Nieuwenhuis and Dilson Herrera. Kirk has been good lately, has some power, can run, and can play all three OF positions. However, since he’s a left handed bat going into a series with a lot of LHP, I don’t think the Mets will put him on the roster. 

I think Dilson is getting consideration because he’s a right handed bat and definitively the team’s best defensive second baseman.  With Flores’ back injury, Herrera is a definite possibility. What hurts him most is he only plays 2B. As I said in another post, the presence of Murphy and Johnson could alleviate those concerns. 

However, for right now, I think the Mets give EY the edge, especially because he’s a Terry Collins favorite. If anything else happens, I’ll put out another revised projection. 

Mets Priorities 

Quick question for everyone: what is the Mets goal for the rest of the season?  Wrong. It’s not getting Homefield advantage. It’s getting the team ready for the playoffs. 

In order for that to happen, here’s what needs to get done:

  1. Steven Matz needs to get five innings on Saturday or Sunday meaning a short start for either Jacob deGrom or Matt Harvey;
  2. You don’t risk David Wright‘s back playing on a sloppy or wet field;
  3. Yoenis Cespedes needs to be in Germany or anywhere that can aggressively treat a bruise;
  4. Jon Niese needs to pitch in two games this weekend;
  5. Play Dilson Herrera at multiple positions to see if he can make the playoff roster;
  6. No wasted at bats to Eric CampbellAnthony ReckerJohnny Monell, or anyone that the Mets are not considering putting on the playoff roster;
  7. Same goes for the relievers even if there is a blowout. They need to stay fresh;
  8. Get Travis d’Arnaud back on track;
  9. Allow Michael Conforto to hit against some lefties because he’s eventually going to have to face one in October; and
  10. Get out of the weekend healthy. 

If the Mets accomplish the above, they will be in a strong position entering the playoffs. Homefield advantage is secondary to this. If the Mets get it, great. If they don’t, it may inure to their benefit. Overall, I’m absolutely convinced the Mets do not need homefield advantage in the NLDS to win. 

Loss Secondary to Niese Relief Appearance

As the Mets have clinched the NL East winning and losing have taken a back seat to figuring out who will be on the postseason roster. These are almost like Spring Training Games. If you care about the final score, the Mets lost 4-3. 

Personally, I was more concerned with Jon Niese‘s relief appearance. He entered the game after Bartolo Colon left after five with the Mets trailing 3-1. In his first inning of work, Niese faced the minimum with some help from Yoenis Cespedes:

I was surprised Niese came out for the seventh. I was disappointed it didn’t go well. He would get the first two outs, which included a strike out of Travis d’Arnaud‘s brother. The next two Phillies got on, and Niese was lifted. Erik Goeddel, who’s also battling to be on the playoff roster, allowed an inherited run ER to score before getting a strikeout to end the inning. 

Overall, Niese’s appearance was uneven. There was only one hard hit ball, but he was bailed out by Cespedes. Lefties went 2-3 with two singles against him. He seemed to throw a little more sidearm than usual. I would say this is a starting off point, but he did not leave much room for error with only five games left in the season. 

In terms of highlights, Lucas Duda hit his 100th and 101st career homeruns. The aforementioned Cespedes throw in the sixth, and the Michael Conforto diving catch in the eighth.

However, the important part of the night was Niese was in the bullpen, and he showed he might be able to handle it. 

Should Conforto Be Left off the NLDS Roster?

Sounds absurd doesn’t it?  Michael Conforto has exceeded everyone’s expectations this year. He’s been a huge part of the team. However, he’s been used strictly as a platoon player. It’s probably because he’s hitting .167/.231/.167 against lefties this year, albeit in only 13 plate appearances. 

Normally, this wouldn’t be an issue, but the Dodgers will be starting three lefties in the NLDS. If Clayton Kershaw starts Games 1 & 5, that means Conforto won’t start in four of the five NLDS games. I don’t think the Mets will prep Conforto for the lefties either. On clinch day, the Reds had a lefty on the mound, and Conforto was the only lefty who wasn’t in the lineup. 

The question that arises is what use can Conforto be as a bench player?  Even with his surprising defensive ability, he’s not a late inning defensive replacement; that’s Juan Lagares‘ job. That leaves him for pinch hitting and double switch and pinch hitting duties. 

You could argue that role may be better left to Kirk Nieuwenhuis, who can play CF, or Eric Campbell, who’s right handed. Campbell is also versatile, which could be useful after the Juan Uribe injury. Both Nieuwenhuis and Campbell are also more accustomed to being bench players that sit for long stretches at a time. 

However, this neglects Conforto’s limited work as a bench player. Conforto has hit .333/.429/.500 in seven plate appearances as a pinch hitter. Also, he’s just a better player than Nieuwenhuis and Campbell. When you’re selecting your playoff roster, you want your best players on the roster, even if they’re not going to play as much as they should. 

However, if he’s left off the roster I’m not going to take issue. Anytime a player is potentially not going to play four out of five games, there should be a discussion whether there’s a player available who can better serve the team. 

I just don’t think there is a better player than Michael Conforto. 

The Projected NLDS Roster

Now that the Mets have clinched the NL East, the time is fast approaching to set the NLDS roster. Keep in mind, this is for the NLDS only. The Mets can the roster if they advance to the NLCS. 

I’ve made some changes to my prior analysis. The reason is due to injuries to players like Juan Uribe. Another reason was the possibility that Jon Niese and Bartolo Colon may move to the bullpen. 

Note, this is not what I would do, but rather, what I think the Mets will do. I am taking into consideration the Dodgers lefty heavy starting rotation and lineup. Without further ado, here’s my best guess:

Catchers

1.  Travis d’Arnaud 

2.  Kevin Plawecki

Infielders

3.  Lucas Duda

4.  Daniel Murphy

5.  Kelly Johnson

6.  David Wright

7.  Ruben Tejada

8.  Wilmer Flores

Outfielders

9.  Michael Conforto

10. Michael Cuddyer

11. Yoenis Cespedes

12. Juan Lagares

13. Curtis Granderson

Pinch Runner

14. Eric Young, Jr.

Rotation

15. Matt Harvey

16. Jacob deGrom

17. Noah Syndergaard

18. Steven Matz

Bullpen

19. Jeurys Familia

20. Tyler Clippard

21. Addison Reed

22. Hansel Robles

23. Sean Gilmartin

24. Jon Niese

25. Bartolo Colon

I’m not 100% confident in this. I could see Uribe getting healthy enough to play knocking EY, Lagares, or Johnson out of the lineup. With all the lefties, I could see Eric Campbell or Dilson Herrera (3-4 with a walk, a homer, two runs, and a two RBIs on Sunday) making the team as well. 

I also think there is real competition and consideration for the last three bullpen spots. Erik Goeddel has been great all year (when healthy). Carlos Torres is a Terry Collins’ favorite, who may make the team if healthy. Logan Verrett has made his car all year bouncing between starting and reliever. If Colon takes Matz’s spot in the rotation, there will be more bullpen spots because the Mets won’t put Matz in the bullpen

No matter who is on the roster I’m excited for the playoffs again. Lets Go Mets!

Fun Guess at the Clinching Lineup

After clinching the NL East, the Mets celebrated and partied. They deserved it. However, there are nine guys that are going to have to play today, including starter Jacob deGrom

I remember when the Mets clinched in 2096, the next day’s lineup was a mess. It’s going to be worse with a day game. I’m assuming some players will be arriving at the ballpark straight from the club. With that in mind, here’s my guess on who’s in the starting lineup today:

  1. Eric Young, Jr. CF
  2. Ruben Tejada SS
  3. Michael Conforto LF
  4. Kelly Johnson 1B
  5. Kevin Plawecki C
  6. Kirk Nieuwenhuis RF
  7. Eric Campbell 3B
  8. Dilson Herrera 2B
  9. Jacob deGrom P

The lineup may be different, and I could see some changes. This looks like a lineup from the aggravating first half. The difference is this time this lineup stays in Cincinnati as opposed to traveling with them. 

It should be fun. Lets Go Mets!

Michael Cuddyer Deserves Our Respect

In many ways, this year could not have gone worse for Michael Cuddyer. His deal with the Mets was widely panned. He got off to a terrible start. He then got injured. Basically, he was a Mets free agent acquisition. 

With the emergence of Michael Conforto and the Yoenis Cespedes trade, Cuddyer’s role diminished. He became a pinch hitter and a platoon player spelling Conforto and Lucas Duda. It was quite the fall from grace for a player who was once considered the Mets key offensive acquisition. The only question remaining would be how Cuddyer would respond. 

In the second half, he’s hit .350/.404/.525. As a pinch hitter, he’s hit .333/.381/.333. He’s hitting .284/.370/.358 against lefties. Basically, he’s accepted his role, and he’s excelled. It’s a good thing too because the Mets are going to need him in the NLDS with the Dodgers throwing Clayton KershawAlex Wood, and Brett Anderson

Cuddyer said he came to the Mets to win. It’s one thing to say it. It’s another to do everything you can for a team to help them win, even if it means making the most out of a diminished role. We’ve seen most players go the other way when these things happen. Not Cuddyer. He turned things around, and he’s s key part of this team. 

For that, he deserves our respect. 

What Was Collins Thinking?

Well this game went haywire fast. One moment Bartolo Colon is cruising to another win against an NL East opponent. He had gone 4.2 perfect and was not threatened through six. The next thing you know, Terry Collins goes into full panic mode. 

The Braves quickly loaded the bases in the sixth. Collins then forgot how to manage. He brought in Addison Reed (fine move) by double switching Michael Conforto out of the game for Kirk Nieuwenhuis (ponderous). Essentially, Collins took out a good defensive OF for decent defensive OF who also hits left handed. If it was a defensive move, Collins left his best defensive OF, Juan Lagares, on the bench. 

It has to be the only reason. After Reed allowed a bases clearing double to put the Mets behind 3-2, he wouldn’t come back out for the seventh.  Don’t kill Reed. He was beat by Mets killer Freddie Freeman

When the Braves figured out they can use a left handed reliever, Nieuwenhuis was out of the game in favor of Michael Cuddyer, who didn’t get the job done. 

Collins did get one thing right. After Ruben Tejada singled to lead off the inning, Collins eventually realized Eric Young, Jr. was available to pinch run. He came on, stole a base, and he scored on a David Wright RBI two out single tying the game at 3-3. By the way, Young set a Mets record with nine runs scored before getting a hit. 

Unfortunately, Collins inane managing came back to haunt the Mets. In the eighth inning, Conforto’s spot came up with two outs and one on. Instead of Conforto, it was the pinch hitter Kelly Johnson, who struck out. In the next half inning, Freeman hit a three run homerun off Jeurys Familia giving the Braves the 6-3 lead. 

Collins was horrendous tonight. He claims the Mets are tight. He looked like he was the one that was tight . . . at least I hope that was the reason. 

Cool September Air Keeps Mets Bats Cold

Today was the first day that it truly felt like September. Everything was a little cooler, including the Mets bats

Coming into tonight, Braves starter, Matt Wisler, had a 5.63 ERA and a 1.633 WHIP in 16 starts (and one relief appearance). Loosely translated, he’s been terrible. Naturally, the Mets could only muster five hits and a walk off of him while striking out eight times. Thankfully, one of those hits was a David Wright opposite field homerun. It wasn’t enough. 

Logan Verrett cruised through his first four innings before hitting trouble in the fifth. He allowed a solo homerun to Jace Peterson and a three run shot to Hector Olivera (after Terry Collins ordered an IBB). Quickly, a 1-0 lead became a 4-0 deficit. Sean Gilmartin (two innings) and Hansel Robles pitched well to keep the Mets in the game into the eighth. 
The Mets would rally in the eighth with bases loaded and one out. Michael Cuddyer, pinch hitting for Lucas Duda (because, egad, a lefty was on the mound), hit a sac fly scoring Curtis Granderson, who started the rally with a leadoff walk. Wilmer Flores [standing ovation] grounded out to shortstop to end the rally.  Tyler Clippard would get roughed up in the ninth for two runs. Ultimately, the Mets would lose 6-2. 

If you’re looking for a highlight, other than the Wright opposite field homerun, it was Michael Conforto‘s defense. He threw out A.J. Pierzynski trying to stretch a single into a double after a Flores’ misplay on a ball in the Bermuda Triangle. He also had a nice diving stop in the seventh. 

Mets have now lost three of four, and I’m still not worried. Their division lead remains 6.5 games. They’ll snap out of this cold spell soon. If they time it right, they’ll be hot heading I to October. 

This Win Was Brought to You by Chapstick

If nothing else, Daniel Murphy keeps things interesting. He’s just as likely to make an amazing play as he is to make a routine play look like an adventure.  He will hit a double and then get lost on the way to third. 

Today was no exception. In the first inning, he singled setting up first and second with no out. After a Yoenis Cespedes single and a Lucas Duda popout, Travis d’Arnaud hit into the routine 5-4-6 double play. It wasn’t really routine, it was a classic Murphy TOOBLAN.  Murphy assumed the play was over and he got caught between second and third. He got burned so bad, he had to apply Chapstick. No, that’s not a joke. He literally applied Chapstick after the play.

Since it wasn’t a continuation play, the run counted giving the Mets a 1-0 lead. In the second, the lead would expand to 2-0 on a Michael Conforto opposite field homerun. Actually, it wasn’t a Conforto homerun, it was a:

Murphy would redeem himself for killing the first inning rally by hitting a two RBI double in the seventh scoring the pinch running Eric Young, Jr. (8 runs scored, no hits for the Mets) and Curtis Granderson (1-3, two walks, and two runs scored). Once again Granderson was a catalyst. Once again Murphy giveth and Murphy taketh. 

On the pitching side, Jon Niese pitched well after eight days of rest. He got a number of groundballs. His final line was six innings, three hits, two walks, and two strikeouts. Some questioned pulling him after six innings and 88 pitches, but I agree with Terry Collins. He’s been so bad lately that you get him out of there whe he’s feeling good, and he gave you enough depth. 

The 7-8-9 of Addison ReedTyler ClippardJeurys Familia combined to preserve the 4-0 win. Nothing like a bad Braves team and some Chapstick to smooth over the rough stretch and help get the Mets a win.