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.
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.
— New York Mets (@Mets) April 15, 2021
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.
— New York Mets (@Mets) April 15, 2021
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:
— New York Mets (@Mets) April 15, 2021
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.
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.
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.
— New York Mets (@Mets) April 13, 2021
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.
— New York Mets (@Mets) April 13, 2021
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.
Luis Guillorme playing tackle football out here…and it's working. pic.twitter.com/C8KRAnQ9YI
— Anthony DiComo (@AnthonyDiComo) April 13, 2021
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.
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.
— New York Mets (@Mets) April 13, 2021
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.
Being a starting pitcher isn’t always fair. You can have a great outing like Taijuan Walker and still not get the win.
Walker came out throwing heat hitting 97 MPH on his fastball. With a little help from Francisco Lindor, he’d keep the Miami Marlins hitless through 4.1 innings.
The problem for Walker was the Mets offense was non-existent. Well, their offense with runners in scoring position.
In the fourth, the Mets loaded the bases with one out, but Walker couldn’t help his own cause hitting into the inning ending double play. Finally, the Mets would break through in the fifth, but they were unlucky.
The Mets loaded the bases with one out with Dominic Smith at the plate. Smith hit a long fly to center which looked like it would clear the bases one way or another. Instead, Starling Marte would make a great read and play limiting Smith to a sacrifice fly.
Unfortunately, Walker gave the lead right back. Mets killer Jon Berti singled to lead off the inning. Walker came very close to picking him off, and it would cost him.
Corey Dickerson hit a double to right, and when Conforto fumbled with the ball which bounced off the wall towards center, Berti scored easily. Marte would later move Dickerson to third on a fielder’s choice.
Walker then battled Jesus Aguilar. Aguilar had a great at-bat battling back from 0-2, checking his swing on a nasty pitch, and then singling home the go-ahead run on a full count.
On the bright side, the Mets bullpen, who struggled in Philadelphia, was excellent. Miguel Castro, Trevor May, and Edwin Diaz combined for three scoreless innings which gave the Mets a chance in the bottom of the ninth.
Jeff McNeil, who for reasons beyond comprehension is only batting seventh in the lineup, led off the ninth after starting the season 0-for-10. Actually, make that, 1-for-11.
Bottom 9. Down 1. Home opener. Also your birthday.
Seems like a good time for a DINGER! 🥳 pic.twitter.com/joFGHyyD1f
— New York Mets (@Mets) April 8, 2021
That homer off Marlins closer Anthony Bass tied the score at 2-2. The Mets weren’t done.
Luis Guillorme pinch hit for Diaz, and he hit an infield single to second. After Nimmo doubled, the Marlins walked Lindor to load the bases to put the pressure on Conforto who has been struggling at the plate.
What looked like strike three nicked Conforto’s shoulder forcing home the winning run. Conforto successfully stuck his elbow out to get the win.
It was quite the redemption story for Conforto who needed that hit. It was also a great start to the season for Diaz getting that win. It’s even better the Mets won their first game of the season.
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.
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.
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
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.
— New York Mets (@Mets) April 7, 2021
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.
👀 Pete pic.twitter.com/sqTjbfeta2
— New York Mets (@Mets) April 7, 2021
— New York Mets (@Mets) April 7, 2021
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.
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.
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.
Those two hits against Familia probably had a combined xBA of .120 …. I hate this, but I love baseball.
— Good Fundies Brian (@OmarMinayaFan) April 7, 2021
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.
When you think of Jacob deGrom, you think of the best pitcher in baseball. You also think of a pitcher who gets no run support.
Perhaps, you can understand why deGrom was against the universal DH. He knows he needs to provide his own run support in his efforts to try to get a win.
For the first (and last?) time in Mets history, deGrom became the first Mets pitcher to get the team’s first hit of the season. Overall, he’d go 2-for-3 at the plate with an RBI.
Jacob deGrom is a two-way player, folks. pic.twitter.com/SXdLEvMMSq
— SNY (@SNYtv) April 6, 2021
He’d go six scoreless innings pitching phenomenally. He kept dialing it up to 100 MPH overpowering Phillies batters. When there was contact against him, the Mets defense actually showed up.
— New York Mets (@Mets) April 5, 2021
The problem was, as usual, deGrom received no run support. In that fourth inning where he and James McCann drove in a run, the Mets had bases loaded and one out.
The Phillies lifted Matt Moore for Brandon Kintzler. Kintzler got Kevin Pillar to hit into the double play he needed to get out of the jam. Pillar was a surprise lead-off hitter even with the left-handed starter, and he wasn’t great at the plate.
There was some debate about Dominic Smith there. The problem with the thought process is the Mets already had a lead with deGrom on the mound. Arguably, at that point in the game, defense was the priority. There’s also your top hitters after Pillar if he doesn’t hit into that double play.
Now, deGrom would only go six despite 77 pitches. It made sense giving the layoff, the Mets wanting to use him Sunday, and trying to get him through 162 games after last year. Despite that, deGrom had another scoreless start.
In 184 career starts, Jacob deGrom has allowed one or no runs 86 times.
— Michael Mayer (@mikemayer22) April 6, 2021
The Mets offense went dead for the next four innings giving the Phillies a chance. In the seventh, Miguel Castro didn’t give the Phillies a chance with a strong inning. It was a much different story for Trevor May in the eighth.
The decision immediately blew up with Loup plunked Harper. He then allowed a game tying single to J.T. Realmuto. The game then changed on the next play.
Alec Brohm hit a chopper to Luis Guillorme, who was in for defense for J.D. Davis (who was turning routine pop outs into adventures). Guillorme made a high throw home James McCann misplayed in Wilson Ramos fashion. With his being out of position and lunging, it hit off his mitt allowing two runs to score.
All told, that disaster of an inning turned a 2-0 lead into a 5-2 deficit. From there, you have your glass half full/half empty analysis.
For a moment, it looked like a massive mistake as Alonso gave it a ride. However, it’d fall just short with Harper catching the ball at the wall.
With that, the Mets lost a game they had no business losing. Perhaps some of it was rust. Perhaps it was just this being the way it goes when deGrom starts. Whatever the case, the Mets lost.
Game Notes: Brandon Nimmo hit eighth, and he was 1-for-3 with a walk. In the post game, deGrom agreed with getting pulled after six.
Maybe this is just the excitement which comes from Opening Day. Certainly, that is amplified by new ownership, the Francisco Lindor extension, and Jacob deGrom taking the mound. However, taking everything into account, this New York Mets team is the best one we have seen since 2015 and probably 2006.
Like most times the Mets are good, they are going to be led by pitching. Their starting staff is great, and when healthy, it is the best in baseball. Part of the reason why is deGrom is still the best pitcher in baseball. Behind him right now is Marcus Stroman. Stroman has made adjustments and added new pitches, and he looks set for a career year. That is really saying something considering he has been a gamer his entire career, and he was the World Baseball Classic MVP.
Noah Syndergaard and Carlos Carrasco may be the two most underrated pitchers in baseball. Looking at their FIP, they pitch at or near an ace level. In this rotation, they may be no better than third or fourth starters. It’s not just doing deGrom-Stroman-Syndergaard-Carrasco. This is one of the deepest rotations in all of baseball.
Behind that quartet is Taijuan Walker who was once a top 100 prospect, and he seems poised to take a big step forward after using analytics to help him improve. After Walker, the Mets have David Peterson, Joey Lucchesi, and Jordan Yamamoto, each of whom could be around a three in most rotations. For the Mets, they will eventually be on the outside looking in.
They are all going to be better pitchers because they have the tandem of James McCann and Tomas Nido behind the plate. Both of these players are strong catchers who are excellent pitch framers. Having catchers like that behind the plate make good pitchers even better. When your starting pitching is great and operating at a high level, you are going to win a lot of games.
This is paired with an incredible lineup. They Mets have an embarrassment of riches on that front. Consider Francisco Lindor, Michael Conforto and Jeff McNeil have each been All-Star lead-off hitters, and they aren’t even the Mets best lead-off hitter. That’s Brandon Nimmo. With that group plus Pete Alonso and Dominic Smith, their 1-6 of their lineup can and probably should be hitting in the middle of the order.
Now, this Mets team isn’t perfect. Far from it. The first problem is their bullpen. The good news on that front is between Edwin Diaz and Trevor May, they have the last two innings covered well. The hope is at least one of Dellin Betances, Miguel Castro, or Jeurys Familia can figure it out to become that seventh inning reliever. That is at least until Seth Lugo is good to return. When that happens the Mets bullpen will be in great shape.
Another factor there is the Mets have some other interesting options. Sooner or later, Drew Smith will be healthy and ready to rejoin the bullpen. It should also be noted when the Mets have their full rotation, someone like Lucchesi can move down to the bullpen where his churve could be a weapon on par with Lugo’s curveball.
The other issue is the defense. Simply put, having J.D. Davis at third is unacceptable. He can’t remotely field the position. Having Dominic Smith behind him makes the left side defense one of the worst in baseball. To that, they may not be the worst in the division with the Atlanta Braves probably being worse with Austin Riley and Marcell Ozuna.
It’s very possible Brandon Nimmo can succeed with positioning in center. After all, he’s had positive OAAs in center most of his career, and he does have the speed for the position. Jeff McNeil seems more comfortable at second, and while Alonso has his defensive issues, he is quite adept and receiving throws around first.
While the lineup has serious defensive issues, the bench does not. Luis Guillorme is a Gold Glove caliber defender. Albert Almora and Kevin Pillar are also quite good. With the lead, we can and should see Luis Rojas run all three out with Smith moving to first base. When that happens, the Mets defensive alignment turns from questionable to really strong.
Therein lies the key. Aside from health, Rojas is going to be the biggest key to this Mets season. He is going to need a deft touch as to when to utilize his defensive replacements. He and Jeremy Hefner are also going to have to get their rotation healthy through the season, which is all the more challenging because of the shortened season last year. They are also going to have to find the right mix in the bullpen while making sure they don’t overuse their best relievers.
Right now, the Mets have the right mix to have a great season. They also have an owner willing to invest in the team, and they have Sandy Alderson in charge, who we know will not be shy making a key trade or two to improve this Mets roster.
Looking at the Braves, their pitching has durability issues, and their defensive issues may be worse than the Mets. The Phillies don’t have the starting pitching, and their bullpen was a disaster last year. The Marlins are young and not deep. The Nationals still don’t know what they are going at key positions on the field.
Taking everything into account, the Mets are the best team in the National League East. If Rojas is up to the task, and there is every reason to believe he will be, the Mets are well poised to return to the postseason again and let their pitching take them back to the World Series.
Steve Cohen purchased the New York Mets, and suddenly, everything got better. After Cohen purchased the Mets, things were different, very different:
1. It’s still unbelievable to think the Mets added $92.1 million to the 2021 payroll alone. If nothing else, that announced everything was different.
2. The Francisco Lindor trade was a franchise defining trade. He’s a superstar as future Hall of Famer.
3. It’s still hard to believe a contract extension won’t get done. After him, Noah Syndergaard may get one next.
5. Speaking of breaking records, Jacob deGrom looks primed to have a great year. He cane out in midseason form, and it’ll be a shock if he’s not the Cy Young.
6. When Syndergaard and Carlos Carrasco return, this will be an all-time Mets rotation.
7. It’s still curious the plan to start the year is to put David Peterson in a position where he bounces back and forth all year.
8. Speaking of curious decisions, how do the Mets make all of these moves and build a ground ball staff only to trust J.D. Davis at third.
10. Dellin Betances looks done. With him, we may find out just how much Cohen can tolerate and whether the Mets know how to handle a sunk cost.
12. For all the lip service Sandy Alderson gave to making the Mats a better defensive team, he did what he always did in putting multiple first basemen in the field.
13. They may be deadening the ball, but Pete Alonso looks ready to murder them. He’s completely locked in and looks poised to have a monster year.
14. Marcus Stroman also looks set to have a great year. He may be a surprise Cy Young contender, and it may behoove the Mets to lock him up before his price tag soars.
15. Stroman is a reminder the Mets never needed Trevor Bauer. Bauer may have another great year, but he’d be a fifth starter on this team, and he would’ve prevented the Mets from extending their stars.
16. All told, this is a team who has a deep lineup and a very good starting rotation. There are holes, but the team seems confident they can win.
17. The black jerseys returning does give this team big 1999 vibes.
18. Luis Rojas may emerge as a surprise manager of the year candidate. This team is that good and so is he. The key will Be how well he utilizes his defensive replacements in Guillorme (who should be starting), Albert Almora, and Kevin Pillar.
19. James McCann seems like the perfect addition to this team. The pitchers seem to be raving about his leadership and work behind the plate. If he hits a little (and he can hit a lot), he’s going to be great.
20. Everything about this organization is different. The team is vastly improved. They’re looking to keep their best players. They’re beefing up their analytics and player development. Overall, it’s a great time to be a Mets fan.