Noah Syndergaard

Cuddyer is a Pro

Baseball is a funny game. Noah Syndergaard has been in the big leagues for 20 starts, but he showed the guile of a 20 year veteran. Michael Cuddyer is a 15 year veteran, who played like it was his fifteenth game. 

For starters, Thor needed to get some innings to help a stressed bullpen. He did that. Terry Collins let him go 111 pitches over 6.2 innings. Collins could’ve pinch hit for him in the sixth, but he didn’t. In fact, Collins pulled the oldest trick in the book by having a PH in the on deck circle to force the Red Sox to pitch to Anthony Recker. Most Mets fans questioned if that was a good move.  Regardless, Recker hit an RBI single to extend the lead to 4-2. 
Taking a 4-2 lead into the seventh, Thor had one on and two out with a chance to come out of the inning unscathed and hand the ball off to the bullpen. Jackie Bradley, Jr. Hit a pinch hit double (which looked like it might go out) to narrow the gap to 4-3. Thor was done. Collins brought in Hansel Robles

Much like today’s lineup, this wouldn’t have been my choice, especially with Robles pitching a lot lately. Then again, who in the bullpen hasn’t?  Now, the box score will say Mookie Betts hit a game tying triple. Your eyes tell you Cuddyer botched the play. Your eyes tell you the play should’ve been made easily had Cuddyer made a break of any kind on the ball within 2-3 seconds. 

It was a rookie mistake from a player who should know better. With the game on the line, Collins made the move he had to make, but clearly didn’t want to yet, and brought in Tyler Clippard. He would get the last out of the seventh and pitch a clean eighth. 

Cuddyer would get his redemption in the bottom of the inning.  With two outs in the inning, Daniel Murphy stole second (remember when that used to be a thing)  he was brought home on Cuddyer’s RBI single. It was redemption for him. its funny because other than the OF gaffe, he had a good game. He went 3-3 with a walk, two runs scored, and a huge RBI. He also broke up a double play:

In the ninth, there was a Red Sox rally started by some typical poor play from Ruben Tejada. He loafed it with a fast runner thereby sparking a rally. Seriously, I’m sick of him . . . again. It would be first and second with two outs. Jeurys Familia found a way with two big strikeouts. He’s showing himself to be an elite closer. It wasn’t easy for him, but he got the save securing the 5-4 win. Clippard got the win. 

Now, there are two moves Collins subjected himself to criticism, but I won’t do so myself. The first is the Robles move. I understood it. You’ve been pitching Clippard constantly. You don’t want to burn him out. While I question Robles there, I can’t kill him for it. 

The other move was the defensive substitution of Yoenis Cespedes in the eighth moving Cuddyer to 1B and Murphy to 2B. Second guessers may say Cespedes makes the play that Cuddyer didn’t. That’s not on Collins. First, you have to expect Cuddyer to make that play. Second, it’s not like we haven’t seen some Cespedes loafing. Finally, I respect wanting to give a veteran a full day off. 

If you want to question Collins, question him leading off Juan Lagares with Curtis Granderson batting second against a LHP. This poor OBP duo went 1-9 with five strikeouts. Also, question him starting Juan Uribe at 2B because he just had to get his .195/.278/.425 in the lineup. At least Uribe got the big two run double in the sixth to give the Mets a 3-2 lead. 
In other notes, David Ortiz juiced another HR. Also, Joe West had a strike zone that would make the late Eric Gregg shake his head. As a result, both teams were irritated. Kevin Long was really irritated. He got tossed defending an upset Granderson, who got rung up on a ball. 

The Mets avoided the sweep. It was a good win especially since the Nationals won. The Mets continue this 13 game stretch of last place teams in facing the Phillies next. Let’s hope this six game lead grows. 

Thor Needs to Go Deep

We all know the Mets have bullpen issues. They’re bad. Really, really bad. So bad, that Bartolo Colon had to make a relief appearance yesterday. I’ll give Collins credit for thinking outside the box to help fix a problem he created. 

While the Addison Reed trade helps, he’s just one arm in an exhausted bullpen. The Mets need more help. The best help for a tired bullpen is for your starter to go deep in the game. Again, this is where the Mets inability to do math prevents them from permitting them to allow their starters from going deep into games. 

On Friday, Matt Harvey could’ve and should’ve pitched another inning, especially with the extra rest. Yesterday, it was clear that Jacob deGrom was done after six. I had no problem with Collins pulling him. In fact, I wouldn’t have had a problem if Collins pulled him during the sixth inning. 

Anyway, we don’t know when Addison Reed is arriving at Citi Field. We also don’t know if he’s ready to pitch. Furthermore, the Mets do not have an off day until Thursday. The only solution we’re left with is for Noah Syndergaard is to pitch a good game. I mean a real good game where he goes deep into the game. 

Here’s where the Mets may be getting some luck on their side as Thor is great at home. He is 7-1 at home with a 1.82 ERA and an absurdly low 0.808 WHIP. More important for today’s game, he averages a little over seven innings per home start. If he keeps his pitch count under control today, he should be able to do that today.  However, keep in mind Better pitchers like Harvey and deGrom topped 100 pitches through six innings against this same Red Sox team. 

The Mets need a big start today from Thor. It’s a test for him in advance of a month that’s going to be a series of tests. He’s passed every test so far. I have confidence that if Collins allows him, he can pass this test today. 

Colon Comes Up Big

The Mets bullpen was left in shambles by a combination of Sandy AldersonJacob deGrom, and Noah Syndergaard. With the injured wrist, we weren’t sure what Bartolo Colon could provide.

Well, it wasn’t always pretty, but he responded with seven innings of shutout ball. He was in trouble in the first. He was aided by a double play in the first inning, but he gets credit for inducing the ground ball. There was trouble again in the fourth, but he fought through that as well. After that, it was fairly smooth sailing. Maybe he was inspired by the pregame Backstreet Boys concert?  Whatever it was, the Mets desperately needed it. 

Unlike Thor yesterday, he was able to hold onto his three run lead. It started in the first inning with a misplayed ball off the bat of Curtis Granderson. The Mets cashed in with a Daniel Murphy RBI ground after Granderson moved to third on Yoenis Cespedes‘ infield single. Cespedes would score on Michael Cuddyer‘s RBI double. The first inning scoring would end with a Michael Conforto RBI single. 

These early runs would prove important as young Phillies starter, Jerad Eickhoff, would settle down after that. The Mets would not score another run off of him. However, as he surpassed 40 pitches in the first, he was only able to go six innings. 

The Mets were able to add three more runs off of a putrid Phillies bullpen. In the sixth, Juan Uribe singled home Conforto. In the eighth, Cuddyer hit a two run homerun making the score 8-0. It should be noted again that Cuddyer is healthy and contributing. 

Then in the eighth, the Mets sowed off their own putrid bullpen options. I don’t care if it’s a 20 run lead, you don’t let  Eric O’Flaherty pitch to righties. He did. He couldn’t get them or the lefties out. He left with two down, runners on first and second and one already across home plate. Carlos Torres came in and promptly allowed a two run double. 

Here’s where I think Terry Collins is starting to get better. He said enough of this nonsense and brought in Tyler Clippard. Clippard allowed an RBI single to Frenchy, but he then struck out Darnell Sweeney to put an end to the nonsense leaving the score at 6-4. 

In the ninth, the Mets then did something good teams do. They tacked on a run by taking advantage of a mistake. When Juan Lagares reached on an E-6, Granderson moved him to third with a hustle double. When the sweep tag was applied, the ball dislodged from the second baseman’s mitt. An alert Lagares scored easily from third. 
Cespedes then knocked in Granderson with an RBI triple. Cespedes then scored on a Murphy sac fly. Just like that the score was 9-4 removing the save situation permitting Collins to save Jeurys Familia. In place of Familia would be Clippard, who got to bat in the ninth, to permit him to record the four out save. 

It should’ve been a surprise to no one that David Wright didn’t play. He’s not quite ready to play everyday, so I have no problem easing him back (pun intended). I’m shocked Logan Verrett did not pitch. There were multiple spots to use him in the eighth. He could’ve been used in the ninth to give Clippard a blow. Him not being used tonight makes me nervousVery nervous

What I’m getting less and less nervous about is the division. With the Nationals loss, the Mets are now up 6.5 games with six head-to-head match ups remaining. The Nationals no longer have their own fate in their hands. 

Thor Forgets His Hammer

Everyone can talk about the home-road splits with Noah Syndergaard. However, if you think of yourself as a future ace, you don’t have games like Thor had tonight. 

He was handed a 3-0 lead by another “Feat of Strength” by Yoenis Cespedes and Thor’s own RBI single. He gave it back and couldn’t make it past the fifth inning. This was important because the Mets have a really short bullpen. Normally, you’d ask your starter to get some extra innings with a short bullpen. The smarts couldn’t do that because of the phantom innings limit issue. 

What we have instead was another day with a Mets reliever going multiple innings.  Today, it was Hansel Robles‘ turn (more on him later).  He pitched well only allowing one of the inherited runners from Eric O’Flaherty to score. I’m assuming the Mets will not have him and Sean Gilmartin available. Plus Logan Verrett will only be available for one inning. This is not the situation you want to be in with Bartolo Colon on the mound tomorrow, reagardless of his health

Thor was bailed out in the top of the sixth when Travis d’Arnaud, who was inexplicably batting eighth, received an RBI from a bases loaded walk to tie the game. Michael Cuddyer then pinch hit for Thor and hit a two run single to put the Mets up 6-4. This is the latest example showing Cuddyer may still have something to contribute

Tyler Clippard had a rough eighth inning. He left 1st and 2nd with two outs for Jeurys Familia, who came on for the four out save. He induced a groundballs to David Wright to get out of the jam unscathed. He then pitched a 1-2-3 ninth to secure the 6-5 win. Now with Familia going four outs for a save, we now have to question his availability for tomorrow. 
Back to Robles. What he did was bush league. It was bush league not because he quick pitched. It was bush league because Cody Asche‘s head was down when he threw the ball. The Phillies dugout was rightfully upset. Normally, I’d argue that Jeff Francoeur should’ve been ejected, but he was protecting his teammate. The dugouts emptied, but neither team really crossed the lines. 

My overall issue is with the home plate umpire. You either instruct the batter to get in the box or have your hands up the whole time to let Robles know he can’t throw a pitch. The umpire needs to be aware Robles likes to quick pitch, and he needs to umpire the game accordingly. 

It should also be noted that Wright’s second game back wasn’t as successful as his first. He didn’t look as good at the plate. He swung at a lot of balls off the plate and out of the strike zone. Overall, he went 0-4 with a walk and two strikeouts. On the bright side, he was better in the field. Regardless, like last night, this was just one game, and I still have faith in him

Ironically, despite the predicament Thor left the Mets in, he notched his first career road win. The Mets have problems to deal with tomorrow with an even shorter bullpen and no Wright tomorrow. At least they took care of business tonight and still lead the divisio by 5.5 games. Let’s enjoy tonight and worry about tomorrow. 

Noah Nonsense is Flooding In

We all know the Mets are in bullpen trouble and they’re mismanaging the situation. You know the only way it could be worse?  Putting Noah Syndergaard in the bullpen.  

In 18 starts, he’s 7-6 with a 3.17 ERA. He’s got an ERA+ of 119, which loosely translated makes him 19% better than the league. He has a 9.5 K/9, which is better than Matt Harvey and Jacob deGrom. His FIP is 3.16, which equates to him being a great starting pitcher. On a team with a weak bullpen, he averages 6.1 innings per start. On top of all of this, he’s going to finish within his innings limits

Now, please tell me why we should pull him from the rotation?  Is it because we don’t want to be successful?  Is it because we think Steven Matz MIGHT be better?  Is it because we’d rather him make a few appearances pitching one inning a piece over six starts at six plus innings a piece?  Fact is, there is no good reason. 

We know the Mets have a weak bullpen. One way to mitigate that is to keep the weak arms in the bullpen. You do that with pitchers, like Syndergaard, who go deep into games. I like out-of-the-box thinking, but I also like ideas that make sense. 

Syndergaard belongs in the starting rotation. 

Arm Wrestling

About three weeks ago, I addressed the Mets innings limitations problem. Without completely regurgitating everything here, my conclusion was that without a spot starter, Jacob deGrom would be the only stud muffin able to make a postseason start. Even at that, he would only be available for one game. 

I thought with the latest go-round of stud muffin starts, it would be helpful to re-visit where we are on the innings limits:

Matt Harvey: I’ve noted his innings limits are between 180 – 190 innings. Right now, he’s at 148.0, or 42.0 innings before a hypothetical shutdown (don’t worry Collins said there’s no shutdown). By my rudimentary calculation, Harvey has nine starts left, at most. He’s averaging 6.2 innings per start meaning he will go over his limit by 18 innings (about three starts), not including the postseason. 
Jacob deGrom: I’ve noted his innings limits are between 208 – 214 innings. Right now, he’s at 146.2, or 71.1 innings before needing to be shutdown. With approximately nine starts left and his averaging 6.2 innings per start, he looks to finish the year with 206.2 innings. It looks like he will be below his limits, postseason aside. 

Noah Syndergaard: I’ve noted his innings limits are between 159.0 – 163.0 innings. Right now, he’s at 105.2, or 57.1 innings before needing to be shut down. With nine starts remaining and his averaging 6.2 innings per start, he looks to finish the year with 165.2 innings. He will be slightly above his innings limits right before the postseason.

So interestingly enough, if you’re only looking at the regular season, there isn’t an innings limitation problem with anyone but Harvey.  This is yet again a sign the Mets shouldn’t “Matz” with the rotation right now. 
While not addressing the pitching, Sandy Alderson did say, “[i]t’s about this year. Not next year.”  I hope he keeps this in mind and puts Steven Matz in the bullpen. Remember it’s all about this year. 

Thor LEFT Out There

Way back when the Mets used to be good, an old friend and I would always lament these days games. It wasn’t just because we had to intermittently listen to the game on the radio, but it was also because odd things tend to happen to the Mets in weekday day games. 

I was reminded of that a few weeks ago with that bizarre game against the Padres. With the way Noah Syndergaard started the game, I was afraid of another one of those games. In the first he let up two solo homeruns. The Mets got him the lead in the bottom of the first, and he gave it away in the third. 

It looked like this was going to be a high scoring game, and Thor would be lucky to get through five. The Mets upheld their end of the bargain by scoring 12 runs. The Rockies wouldn’t score past the third for a 12-3 final. Amazingly, Thir finished with five strikeouts, 2 walks, four hits, and three earned runs in seven innings. Good for Terry Collins for sticking with him. 

This may not have been the game in which he had his most impressive stuff or control, but it might’ve been his most impressive game to date. It’s one thing to win when it’s all working. It’s another to have a rough start with less than your best stuff and still find a way. This is the type of game where you say he could join Jacob deGrom and Matt Harvey in being considered an ace. 

Offensively, the lefties were hitting on National Lefthanders’ DayCurtis Granderson went 1-3 with a walk, two runs scored, and a three run homer. Daniel Murphy went 1-5 with a run scored and an RBI double. Kelly Johnson went 3-4 with a double, a home run, a run scored, and three RBIs. Michael Conforto went 2-3 with a walk and three runs scored. The only left not in on the action?  Lucas Duda, who missed his third straight game with his back injury

It was also great to see Juan Lagares hit a pinch hit three run homer. He’s been going well pretty lately. It’ll be great to see him continue because the Mets could use his glove in the field everyday. 

On another note, you have to admit you feel great about this team right now. I’m sure there are fans still scared from 2007 and 2008, but this team isn’t that team. Plus, the Nationals aren’t the Phillies. The Mets swept the Rockies and made them look like a last place team. The Rockies beat the Nationals two out of three. 

I’m not guarantee in a division title, but I think it’s fine to feel confident and enjoy these games. Don’t let bad memories stop you from enjoying these new ones. 

Who’s in First?

Good morning Mets fans. For some reason, food tastes better this morning. The air smells a little sweater. Overall, everything seems just a little bit better.  Why?  Here’s why:

AL East

Team         W    L     GB

Blue Jays   63    52     –

Yankees    61    51   0.5

NL East

Team        W      L    GB

Mets         62     52     –

Nationals 58     55    3.5

That’s right. The Mets are in first, and the Yankees aren’t. It seems like an Abbott and Costello routine. Not even ol’ Sebastian Dimwitty could figure this one out. Do you know the last time the Mets were in first place and the Yankees weren’t this late in the season?  1990!

Here’s a snapshot of what things were like in 1990:

We know now that 1990 was the last hurrah for those 1980’s Mets teams. Now, it just seems like the beginning. Like I’ve said before, it’s a lot easier to raise a Mets fan when the Mets are good. It’s also easier when they’re better than the Yankees. 

I know this may only last a day, but let’s enjoy it while it lasts. I get a feeling the Mets are in first to stay. Let’s Go Mets!

Are the Mets Reckering Their Prospects?

I don’t understand what the Mets are doing with their prospects right now. First, they are actively stunting the development of Michael Conforto by keeping him in the majors and not playing him everyday. Keep in mind, this is a player, they didn’t want to call-up in the first place. 

Additionally, there is the constant noise over the six man rotation, but their young stud muffins are set to far exceed their innings limits.  Plus, these prized arms’ aches and pains are largely ignored until it becomes more serious. They even have Dan Warthen playing doctor. It’s inexcusable. 

Their treatment of Kevin Plawecki is almost as ponderous. I understand he might’ve been the best option at backup catcher, but it’s not like he’s been good. It’s just that Anthony Recker and Johnny Monell have been that bad. That was, in part, the rationale behind keeping Plawecki up when Travis d’Arnaud came off the DL on July 30th. Let’s see how that worked out for Plawecki:

  • 3 games played out of 11l
  • .111 average
  • 12 extra days of accumulated service time

In essence, the decision was just short of being a disaster. Plawecki is going to be a Super Two player. Overall, he’s hit .228/.283/.296. Those are ugly numbers, especially when he’s a .292/.368/.435 hitter in the minors. Obviously, he should’ve been in the minors trying to get better. For those that argue that there’s value sitting on a major league bench, it sure hasn’t helped him thus far. 

Plawecki probably would’ve benefitted from time in AAA making him a better player. d’Arnaud did the same last year, and he’s the better for it. Plawecki didn’t, and he’s worse off. The Mets catching situation is also worse off. 

Overall, the Mets prospects are worse off the past two years in how they’ve been handled. I only hope Plawecki and Conforto can overcome it because they have real promise . . . promise that isn’t being g cultivated by the Mets. 

It’s Just One Game

Take a breath and repeat after me: “It’s just one game.”

Yeah, but the Rays ended the Mets seven game winning streak. 

“It’s just one game.”

The Mets blew a three run first inning lead after a hard fought win last night killing all momentum. 

“It’s just one game.”

The Mets road record this year has worsened to 21-33. 

“It’s just one game.”  

Noah Syndergaard continued his bad pitching on the road. 

“It’s just one game.”

The Nationals won tonight with a strong start from Stephen Strasburg, who just came off the DL. 

“It’s just one game.”

The Mets have Bartolo Colon going tomorrow against Chris Archer. 

Okay, you’re getting to me a little, but “it’s just one game.”

The Nationals have Max Scherzer going tomorrow, and the Mets only have a one God lead in the loss column. 

Ummmm . . . “it’s just one game?”

Ruben Tejada wasn’t good in the field AGAIN.

You’re right. I agree the Mets need a SS, but really all tonight was about was one loss. We can’t make it more than it was . . . even if some evidence points otherwise. 

Let’s look at some positives. The bullpen was good tonight, after having some missteps recently, especially Sean Gilmartin. Curtis Granderson continues to hit well. Also, it’s great that so many Mets fans attended the game that the Rays had to remove the tarps to open up additional seating. 

So yes, a 5-4 loss is tough especially when your young and budding ace seemingly takes a step back in only going four innings. It’s tough giving a game back in the division to a team like the Nationals, who just got a huge piece back. 

However, it’s a legitimate pennant race. It’s supposed to be fun. I know I get too caught up in the game to game nonsense. One day it looks like the division is a lock; the next it looks like all this trades were all for naught. 

Even if Colon and Tejada are playing tomorrow, I’m still excited. I hope you are too. Even if they lose tomorrow and the Nationaks win, just remember “it’s just one game,” and the Mets can bounce back tomorrow.