Michael Conforto

Back to the Mets FutureĀ 

Today is widely known as Back to Future Day because this was the day Marty McFly went to 2015:

  
Watching Back to the Future Part II in theaters, I remember thinking 2015 was so far away. I remember watching the Mets during this year, I thought the World Series was so far away. Let’s travel back to see the Mets starting lineups:

April 21, 2015 Mets 7 – Braves 1

  1. Curtis Granderson RF
  2. Juan Lagares CF 
  3. Lucas Duda 1B
  4. Michael Cuddyer LF
  5. Daniel Murphy 2B
  6. Eric Campbell 3B
  7. Kevin Plawecki C
  8. Wilmer Flores SS
  9. Jon Niese P

May 21, 2015 Mets 5 – Cardinals 0

  1. Juan Lagares CF
  2. Wilmer Flores SS
  3. Lucas Duda 1B
  4. Michael Cuddyer LF
  5. Daniel Murphy 2B
  6. John Mayberry, Jr. RF
  7. Eric Campbell 3B
  8. Kevin Plawecki C
  9. Jacob deGrom P

June 21, 2015 Braves 1 – Mets 0

  1. Curtis Granderson RF
  2. Juan Lagares CF
  3. Lucas Duda 1B
  4. Michael Cuddyer LF
  5. Wilmer Flores SS
  6. Kevin Plawecki C
  7. Dilson Herrera 2B
  8. Eric Campbell 3B
  9. Matt Harvey P

July 21, 2015 Mets 7 – Nationals 2

  1. Curtis Granderson RF
  2. Ruben Tejada SS
  3. Lucas Duda 1B
  4. Daniel Murphy 3B
  5. Wilmer Flores 2B
  6. Kirk Nieuwenhuis LF
  7. Kevin Plawecki C
  8. Jacob deGrom P
  9. Juan Lagares CF

August 21, 2015 Mets 14 – Rockies 9

  1. Curtis Granderson RF
  2. Daniel Murphy 3B
  3. Yoenis Cespedes CF
  4. Lucas Duda 1B
  5. Wilmer Flores SS
  6. Kelly Johnson 2B
  7. Travis d’Arnaud C
  8. Michael Conforto LF
  9. Bartolo Colon P

September 21, 2015 Mets 4 – Braves 0

  1. Curtis Granderson RF
  2. Daniel Murphy 3B
  3. Yoenis Cespedes CF
  4. Lucas Duda 1B
  5. Travis d’Arnaud C
  6. Kelly Johnson 2B
  7. Michael Conforto LF
  8. Wilmer Flores SS
  9. Jon Niese P

October 21, 2015 (estimated)

  1. Curtis Granderson RF
  2. David Wright 3B
  3. Daniel Murphy 2B
  4. Yoenis Cespedes CF
  5. Lucas Duda 1B
  6. Travis d’Arnaud
  7. Michael Conforto LF
  8. Wilmer Flores SS
  9. Steven Matz P

Looking over these lineups, it was not until August that anyone could believe the Mets had an offense that could be capable of winning in October. Now, Mets fans believe this team can’t be beat. I hoping that’s the case tonight. 

I want to see the Mets Back to the World Series. 

Conforto Can Do No Wrong

With the Mets floundering offensively earlier in the season, we were repeatedly told by the front office Michael Conforto wasn’t ready. Then Michael Cuddyer got hurt. Finally, the Mets had no choice but to call up Conforto. The Mets couldn’t send him back down

It turns out Conforto was ready, and he was better than advertised. In his rookie season, he hit .270/.335/.506 with 14 doubles, nine homeruns, and 26 RBIs. We were told he was weak defensively, but that turned out to be wrong:

The Mets entered the playoffs facing a number of lefties in the NLDS. He sat in Game One against Clayton Kershaw because this year he is a platoon player. He finally got to play in Game Two, and he gets to face Zack Greinke, who is a Cy Young candidate. No problem:

Last night, he comes up in a big spot and strikes out:

Even when he strikes out something good happens. Turns out he was ready. Turns out he was better than we thought. Right now, he can do no wrong.

Poison Ivy Can’t Even Stop These Mets

Normally, if I said to you there was a run scored on an out, you’d assume a fielder’s choice or a sacrifice fly. You’d see the occasional suicide squeeze. In this strange postseason where you don’t have to touch a base to be safe and Daniel Murphy became Babe Ruth, the Mets scored the go-ahead run on a two out strikeout. 

In the sixth, Yoenis Cespedes lead off with a single, and he moved to second on a Lucas Duda sac bunt. I thought he was going for a hit against the shift, but they awarded him with a sac bunt. Cespedes would steal third. Michael Conforto came up with two outs and would strike out:

Then the inning got strange. Wilmer Flores went the other way and hit a sinking line drive to right. It went under the glove of Jorge Soler. Conforto was already around third by the time the ball disappeared in the ivy. 

   
The common joke all over the place was Bartolo Colon could’ve scored on the play if he hit it. However, because of ground rules written in 1912, it was ruled a groundrule double. No runs scored. Conforto to third and Flores to second. They would be stranded, but the Mets escaped with a 3-2 lead. 

That lead would expand in the seventh. Cespedes knocked in David Wright, who had a great game, with a single off of Kyle Schwarber‘s glove. For the second time this series, Schwarber’s inexperience in the outfield cost the Cubs a run. Later in the inning, Murphy would score on a Duda groundout. 

On the mound, Jacob deGrom finally had a good start in Wrigley Field. His final line was 7.0 innings, two earned, one walk, and seven strikeouts. Tyler Clippard held down the eighth, and well Jeurys Familia got the save again

In other news, we care about from this game, Murphy did this in the third inning:

He’s now the Mets all time and single postseason homerun leader with six. He also tied a major league record by hitting a homerun in five straight postseason games. 

Wright was terrific. He went 3-4 with two runs, a walk, and a double. Duda snapped out of his funk a bit by going 1-3 with an RBI and no strikeouts. There something else I’m forgetting. 

Oh yeah, after the 5-2 win, the Mets are now one win away from the World Series. I can’t believe it. I can’t wait for tomorrow. 

Lagares Has Quietly Had a Good Postseason

There has been understandable handwringing over the Mets refusal to play Michael Conforto against lefties. THE handwringing turned into a public outcry after Michael Cuddyer‘s awful game in LF in Game One of the NLDS.

Instead of switching to Conforto against lefties, the Mets went to Juan Lagares. Lagares was the 2014 Gold Glove winner. He was once thought to be the leadoff hitter this year. However, he was injured and underperformed. At the trade deadline, the Mets sought out a CF and landed on Yoenis Cespedes. It made Lagares a platoon player only batting against LHP.
After Game One of the NLDS, he returned to that role starting in Games Three and Five. In the NLDS, he hit .429/.500/.714. He had three runs, two doubles, and a walk. Last night against Jon Lester, he went 2-3 with two runs and a stolen base. In some ways, he’s been the Mets best offensive player not named Daniel Murphy

In particular last night, he showed us why Collins once thought of him as a leadoff hitter. He started off the inning with a single and moved to second on a sac bunt. He then watched Lester and was timing his jump. You could see from the seats he was itching to run. He took off and stole third. He then scored on Curtis Granderson‘s sac fly. Lagares manufactured that run with his legs. 

He’s finally showing us why everyone thought he had all of this offensive potential. He’s doing it in the most important time of the year. Even with last night’s misplay, he’s still been a great defensive player. He’s finally putting it all together. You wouldn’t know it because he’s been overshadowed by great pitching and Daniel Murphy. 

He’s quietly having a great postseason. 

Disregard Mets 0-7 Record Against the Cubs

I’m sure you’ll hear several times over the next week that the Mets are 0-7 against the Cubs. It’s not indicative of what will happen in the NLCS. 

First off, the 1988 Mets beat the Dodgers 10 out of 11 times. Secondly, this is a completely different Mets team. Here is a breakdown of the players who have played against the Cubs this year:

Juan Lagares 1-9 with 1 BB, 1 double, 2Ks
John Mayberry, Jr. 2-12 with 2 RBI, 1 double, 2 K
Daniel Murphy 9-25 with 1 BB, 3 doubles
Michael Cuddyer 2-17 with 1 R, 1 RBI, 1 BB, 5 K
Lucas Duda 7-25 with 3 R,  2 BB, 2 RBI, 3 HBP, 1 double, 1 HR, 12 K
Wilmer Flores 4-23 with 2 R, 2 RBI, 1 double, 2 HR, 2 BB, 3 K
Kevin Plawecki 3-17 with 2 RBI, 4 K
Curtis Granderson 5-24 with 3 BBs, 2 RBI, 1 double, 6 K
Dilson Herrera 2-11 with 1 R, 1 BB, 5 K
Ruben Tejada 1-18 with 1 BB, 8 K

Johnny Monell 1-8 with 4 K
Kirk Nieuwenhuis 0-7 with 2 K
Anthony Recker 2-4 with 2 R, 2 RBI, 2 HR, 2 K
Darrell Ceciliani 1-7 with 3 K

Eric Campbell 0-3 with 1 BB, 1 K
Overall, the Mets had a combined 70 ABs from players not on the playoff roster. They went 9-70 against the Cubs this year. There were an additional 50 ABs from players on the playoff roster, who are either on the bench or are platoon players. Those players went 6-50. Of a total of 171 ABs, 120 of them went to players who will not be in the starting lineup in the NLCS. Therefore, how can you glean anything from these games. 

As you may notice, there are no ABs from David WrightYoenis CespedesMichael Conforto, or Travis d’Arnaud. That’s half of the position players in the current Mets starting lineup. This is more than enough to turn an 0-7 deficit to a winning record. 

I’m confident the Mets changes will be enough to make it to the World Series. 

Who’s Getting the Big Hit?

In order for the Mets to win tonight, Jacob deGrom needs to be great, and he will be. However, at some point, the Mets will need to get a big hit. Anyone is possible. Here’s why everyone on this roster is capable of it:

Yoenis Cespedes because he’s already homered off of Zack Greinke in this series

Michael Conforto because like Cespedes he has too. 

David Wright because he already has a big hit in this series. 

Curtis Granderson because he’s been the best Mets hitter in this series

Wilmer Flores because it’s an emotional game, and he’s at his best when he’s emotional 

Lucas Duda because he’s due, he’s hit Greinke, and because he knows how to clinch things

Daniel Murphy because he’s clutch, and he knows how to give deGrom run support in this series 

Travis d’Arnaud because he’s had one big game in this series and is due for another

Kirk Nieuwenhuis because he already has a huge pinch hit homerun in a big spot this year

Juan Lagares because he’s more than a glove, and he’s already hit a homerun in Dodger Stadium

Michael Cuddyer because he still has something up his sleeve

Kelly Johnson because we knew the Mets were onto bigger and better things when he homered in his first game as a Met (against the Dodgers)

Kevin Plawecki and/or Matt Reynolds because you never know who’s going to get the big hit

It’ll happen tonight. If you need more inspiration to believe it’s true just remember what happened 19 years ago today:

LETS GO METS!

Replays Show MLB Doesn’t Know the Rulebook

It all came down to the seventh inning. Terry Collins pushed Noah Syndergaard a little too far. Thor left the game after 6.1 innings with runners on first and third. 

Puzzlingly, Collins would bring on Bartolo Colon. Colon induced a ground ball, and Daniel Murphy made a nice play. He flipped the ball to Ruben Tejada, and I’m not sure what happened next:

You see, the umps ruled Chase Utley safe. No, seriously. They called him safe. You see Tejada missed the bag. It doesn’t matter that Utley didn’t touch the bag. It doesn’t matter he didn’t begin his slide until after the out call was made. MLB will pick and choose which rules they will enforce:

Here’s another angle:

That’s right, if the rule was properly enforced, it’s an inning ending double play. Instead, Utley is ruled safe, and Tejada is done with a broken right fibula. 

Speaking of a double play, the umpires ruled that it was not a neighborhood play because Murphy’s throw pulled Tejada off the bag. No, seriously. The fact that Tejada thought he touched second and began to spin to throw to first wasn’t indicative that there was a double play chance. 

Yes, I know the Mets bullpen, lead by Addison Reed imploded. The bullpen was handed a 2-1 lead courtesy of Yoenis Cespedes and Michael Conforto homeruns. The game ended there. It became a 5-2 loss. 

The Mets bullpen failed. The umpires failed. Replay failed. MLB failed. 

Cuddyer Needs to be LEFT Out

An unfortunate part of Mets history is Willie Mays falling down in the outfield during the 1973 World Series. It was a sign Mays was done in his last season. 

Michael Cuddyer had a similar experience last night. He misplayed two potential flyball outs into doubles. He struck out on a pitch that almost bounced in the grass in front of home plate. It was an ugly game for him. Fortunately, his teammates bailed him out. He would come out in the seventh for defense. His nightmare game ended. 

It also may have ended his chances to be a starting outfielder in this series. His only chance was to be the right handed bat in a LF platoon with Michael Conforto. After last night, I’m assuming Cuddyer stays on the bench against lefties, and Juan Lagares starts in center. Since Lucas Duda was in the lineup against Clayton Kershaw, he’s not sitting against lefties in the playoffs. 

Cuddyer has excelled in that role. It’s where he’s needed right now. Cuddyer didn’t cost the Mets on Friday, but if he keeps getting on the field, he eventually will hurt them. However, Cuddyer is still a big asset as a PH and a mentor. He could still get some playing time in a double switch. 

Cuddyer is still a big part of this team. I look forward to him getting a big pinch hit this postseason to prove it. 

deGrominant Start to the NLDS

Mets fans have been waiting nine years for this game. They were treated to a special, record setting game:

Everyone expected a pitcher’s duel, and both teams delivered. Clayton Kershaw pitched 6.2 innings allowing four hits, three earned (two were inherited runners scored), four walks, and 11 strikeouts. Jacob deGrom was better. He threw 121 pitches over seven innings. He allowed five hits, one intentional walk, and 13 strikeouts. He was Tom Seaver-esque:

This was the type of game if you have no rooting interest, you enjoy every minute of it. When you’re a Mets fan, you live and die with every pitch. It’s tense. It’s trying. It’s worth it.  I actually checked with my Dad to see if his defribulator was working. I took it that since he replied it was. 

Personally, I don’t think I was breathing until the seventh inning. deGrom and Kershaw, though dominant, were seemingly in trouble every inning. Michael Cuddyer, and his extra shoddy defense, made sure of that. 

Up until the seventh inning, the only run was from a fourth inning Daniel Murphy home run. It was a special moment. Murphy was first around for the second collapse in 2008. He’s the second longest tenured position player. He fought to be an everyday player. With one swing of the bat, he showed everyone he deserved this chance. 

Ironically, on a night the Mets sat Michael Conforto because of Kershaw, only the Mets lefties got hits off of Kershaw. However, the Mets batters did their job in the seventh. Lucas Duda walked. Ruben Tejada fought back from an 0-2 count to walk. After a deGrom sacrifice, Curtis Granderson battled to walk. The bases were loaded with two outs, and Mattingly panicked. 

He lifted Kershaw and brought in Pedro Baez. He looked nervous. He got David Wright to a full count, and Wright delivered with a two RBI single. I screamed and woke up the house. It was worth it. My celebration was something like this:

I breathed a little easier when Juan Lagares came in for Cuddyer shifting Yoenis Cespedes to left. Of course, Tyler Clippard allowed a run in the eighth giving me angina again. Terry Collins didn’t let it get out of control. He brought in Jeurys Familia, who got ended the rally, and earned the four out save preserving the Mets 3-1 victory. 

Overall, this night wasn’t about Murphy, or Wright, or the fans who waited nine years for this moment. This was about deGrom. He has answered every call in his career.  He was Rookie of the Year. He was an All Star. He earned this start, and he more than delivered. He was better than the Franchise. 

The Mets are up 1-0 in the series. Later tonight, we’re expecting another pitcher’s duel, and the Mets are sending out the hottest pitcher in baseball. I like the Mets chances. Lets Go Mets!

Game Two Pitching Matchup

Yesterdsy, I looked at how the Mets fared against Clayton Kershaw. Game Two promises to have its own pitcher’s duel between Zack Greinke and Noah Syndergaard

That means if the Mets want/need to win Game Two, they will need to get some runs off of Greinke or get into the Dodgers bullpen. With that said, here’s how the Mets have fared against Greinke:

Starting Lineup

Curtis Granderson 10-52 with 2 doubles, 2 triples, 1 HR, 3 RBIs, and 11 Ks

David Wright 3-9 with 1 double and 2 Ks

Daniel Murphy 4-13 with 2 BBs and 1 K

Yoenis Cespedes 1-5 with 1 BB and 1 K

Lucas Duda 3-12 with 1 HR, 1 RBI, 2 BBs, and 4 Ks

Travis d’Arnaud 0-0

Michael Conforto 0-2 with 1 RBI and 1 K

Ruben Tejada 0-6 with 1 K

Combined 21-99 (.212 BA) with 5 BBs (.274 OBP), 3 doubles, 2 triples, 2 HRs (.343 slugging), 5 RBIs, and 21 Ks

Bench

Kevin Plawecki 2-6 with 1 double and 1 K
Wilmer Flores 3-8 with 1 K

Kelly Johnson 0-9

Michael Cuddyer 10-40 with 1 double, 1 HR, 7 RBIs, 2 BBs, 10 Ks

Juan Lagares 1-8 with 1 HR, 3 RBIs, and 1 K

Kirk Nieuwenhuis 1-5 with 1 K

Combined 17-76 (.224) with 2 BBs (.244 OBP), 2 doubles, 2 HRs (.329 slugging), 10 RBIs, and 14 Ks

Team Totals 38-175 (.217 BA) with 7 BBs (.241), 5 doubles, 2 triples, 4 HRS (.337 slugging), 15 RBIs, and 35 Ks

Obviously, the .215/.241/.337 line indicates the Mets don’t hit Greinke well, but then again who does?  Greinke has limited batters to .187/.231/.276 this year. So, the Mets do hit Greinke than the league as a whole. 

This goes especially for the top of the Mets lineup. Granderson, Wright, and Murphy have historically hit Greinke very well. If the Mets want to score runs, it’s going to have to start at the top. 

As far as Syndergaard goes, he’s only faced the Dodgers once, and it was at Dodger Stadium. In that game, he pitched six innings allowing two hits, one earned, two walks, and six strikeouts. He got a no decision, but the Mets went on to a 2-1 win. That game was against Kershaw. 

Thor is certainly capable of repeating that performance. In his last four starts, he’s had a 2.93 ERA, a 0.651 WHIP, and a 12.0 K/9.  In this stretch, he’s limited opposing hitters to .163/.188/.337. He’s the key to everything. He’s primed for this playoff run. 

It’s strange to say I’m confident the Mets can pull a game out against Greinke, but Thor gives me that confidence. I can’t wait for him to take the mound Saturday night.