Rene Rivera

Rain Delayed Another Loss

The Mets lost on a big homer, but surprisingly it was not off the bat of Giancarlo Stanton.  Rather, it was J.T. Realmuto‘s two run second inning homer to proved to be the difference in this game. 

Between that and a Marcell Ozuna third inning sacrifice fly, Chris Flexen allowed three runs off five hits and four walks in 5.1 innings while striking out just one. 

Considering his relative lack of experience, it was a step in the right direction for him. It’s the third straight start he’s pitched into the fifth, and it’s the second time in his last three starts he’s pitched into the sixth. 

Other than that, there wasn’t much to get excited about tonight. 

For starters, the Mets sat Dominic Smith because the Marlins started the left-handed Justin Nicolino. This is the same nonsense we saw with Terry Collins‘ handling of Michael Conforto only this time Terry doesn’t have the excuse of the Mets contending. 

Hopefully, it’s true the Mets sat Conforto because he needed a day off and not because Collins is going back to this platoon nonsense with his best hitter. 

The full extent of the Mets offense was a third inning rally started with a Juan Lagares one out single. He’s eventually come home on a Wilmer Flores RBI single. 

Ultimately, this was one of the more difficult games to watch. Both teams are bad. Stanton wasn’t his homering self. The Mets sat Dom and Conforto. And, oh yeah, there was nearly a two hour rain delay. 

Hopefully, tomorrow will be better. Not likely with the Mets now at a season worst 14 games under .500, but there’s hope. 

Game Notes: There are rumors both Curtis Granderson and Rene Rivera were traded – maybe to the Astros. 

Home Plate Umpire Missed Key Call Dooming Taxed Sewald

If nothing else, you knew tonight was going to be an interesting game from the Mets perspective. 

The day began with Sandy Alderson voicing his displeasure with Robert Gsellman saying he didn’t care that Sandy believed he needed to pitch better. 

Both Jose Reyes and Wilmer Flores suffered injuries before the game leading to Travis d’Arnaud playing third then second then third then second . . . .

Basically, d’Arnaud was constantly repositioned to avoid being at the pull side of the opposing hitter.  It wasn’t until the ninth that he had to make a play. It was a pop out. 

From there, we saw some good baseball and some really poor home plate umpiring. 

For a pitcher that needed a big game after his comments, Gsellman was just okay. His final line was 5.1 innings, four hits, three runs, three earned, three walks, and three strikeouts. 

One of the runs he allowed was an Aaron Judge monster of a homer to the third deck that was somehow just the third longest homer in Citi Field history:

Even with that monster homer, the game was tied going into the sixth. 

Juan Lagares got the rally started with a leadoff double off Jaime Garcia. He got over and then scored on a Yoenis Cespedes sacrifice fly. 
After Judge hit his homer, Rene Rivera hit one of his own in the fifth. It wasn’t as impressive as Judge’s, but you couldn’t tell that from Garcia’s reaction. 

In the sixth, Gsellman loaded the bases with one out leading Terry Collins to go to Paul Sewald. Sewald did a decent job limiting the damage to one run on a Chase Headley sacrifice fly. 

The Mets rallied back to tie the game in the bottom of the sixth. Cespedes lead off with a walk and moved to third on a Michael Conforto double. The second base umpire ruled Cespedes was interfered with on the basepaths, but he was only awarded third. Cespedes then scored on a d’Arnaud sacrifice fly. 

At this point, Collins did what he always does with Sewald – he pushed him. It wasn’t good enough that he got out of a stressful jam.  No, he had to go back out there. The combination of questionable managing and poor umpiring would do him in. 

Ronald Torreyes led off the inning with a double. After a sacrifice and a walk to Jacoby Ellsbury, the Yankees runners at the corners with one out. Sewald went 3-2 to Aaron Hicks, and this happened:

On the pitch, Sewald missed his spot by a good margin, and Rivera did him no favors by stabbing at the pitch. With that said, the home plate umpire Chad Whitson cannot miss that call. Then again, he was so terrible, you shouldn’t be surprised. 

Even with Sewald did get Judge to pop out, but his luck ran out with Didi Gregorious ripped a two RBI double that provided the winning margin in a Yankees 5-3 victory. The Didi double snapped an 0-25 streak Sewald had with runners in scoring position. 

Ultimately, the story here was bad umpiring, Collins putting too much on Sewald again, and the Yankees bullpen just being that good. 

Game Notes: d’Arnaud became the first Mets to appear at catcher, second, and third since Jeff McKnight in 1993. 

Terry Collins Needs To Stop Giving Dominic Smith The Michael Conforto Treatment

Last night, the Yankees brought on Aroldis Chapman to close out a Yankees three run lead.  After Wilmer Flores struck out to begin the inning, Dominic Smith strode up to the plate in what would be the rookie’s biggest test in his brief major league career.  Seeing how he hit an opposite field homer earlier in the game, and Rafael Devers hit a huge home run against Chapman in Chapman’s last save attempt, this was promising to be a very interesting match-up.

Sorry, no, the match-up never happened.  Instead, Terry Collins pinch hit for Smith with Jose Reyes.

This is not the first time we have seen this play with Collins.  During Michael Conforto‘s first two years with the Mets, Collins did not let his young left-handed hitter face left-handed pitching.  Instead, he would bat Michael Cuddyer, Juan Lagares, Justin Ruggiano, Ty Kelly, or really any warm body on the bench to prevent Conforto from facing a left-handed pitcher.

The end result of Collins’ refusal to play Conforto against left-handed pitching was Conforto actually struggling against left-handed pitching.  Over his first two big league seasons, Conforto hit .129/.191/.145 with just one extra-base hit, a double, in the 68 at-bats he did get against left-handed pitching.

However, there was no reason to sit Conforto against left-handed pitching.  His hitting coach, Kevin Long, found the notion that Conforto can’t hit left-handed pitching absurd.  Conforto hit left-handed pitching in both his collegiate and brief minor league career.  Still, despite Conforto’s ability to hit left-handed pitching everywhere else, Collins decided to sit him against left-handed pitching.

When pressed on it, Collins said, “We’re in a situation where we’re trying to win games.  This is not a time to develop players.”  (Barbara Barker, Newsday).

Assuming Collins is correct that you shirk the responsibility of developing young players because you have designs on winning a World Series, why is he now repeating the same tactics with Smith?

Currently, the Mets are 10 games under .500.  The team has to win 62% of their remaining games just to get to .500.  The team has already traded away Jay Bruce, Lucas Duda, Addison Reed, and Neil Walker.  If an opportunity presents itself, Asdrubal Cabrera, Curtis Granderson, and Rene Rivera will find new homes before the end of the month.  Put more succinctly, this team is not in a position where they are trying to win games – this is a time to develop players.

Pinch hitting for Smith the very first opportunity he gets to face a left-handed pitcher in the majors does nothing to accomplish that goal.

Overall, unless Collins is facing some delusions of grandeur, there is no reason to believe the Mets are winning anything in 2017.  Smith is ticketed to be the Mets starting first baseman in 2018.  To that end, the rest of the regular season should be dedicated to helping him best prepare for the 2018 season.  Sitting him against left-handed pitching only hinders his development.

Maybe, just maybe Collins was never truly concerned with player development.  Maybe in his mind young left-handed batters are just incapable of hitting left-handed pitching.  It is likely the reason why he previously sat Conforto against left-handed pitching, and it is the reason why he’s doing it with Smith now.

It’s poor managing, and it has had a tangible effect on player development.  Collins might have had his excuse with Conforto, but he doesn’t have that excuse with Smith now.  If Collins shields Smith from a left-handed pitcher just one more time, the Mets are going to have to find someone else to manage.  Simply put, you cannot permit Collins to hinder Smith’s development to win some meaningless games.

Best Win Of The Year

I’d like to say when I saw Dominic Smith was getting called up to the majors, I rushed to purchase tickets to the game. 

Fact is, I long had these plans. That doesn’t change the fact I was absolutely thrilled to see a lineup with Smith, Amed Rosario, and Michael Conforto in the same lineup. If tonight’s game is any measure, the three of them in the lineup is going to produce some exciting and winning baseball for years to come. 

After falling behind 3-0 with a tough first inning, the Mets quickly got Seth Lugo off the hook. 

First it was a Conforto homer in the second off Phillies starter Nick Pivetta. Then it was a Yoenis Cespedes three run shot in the third to give the Mets the lead.  With Cespedes’ being my son’s favorite player, this was the absolute highlight of the night for him. 

Yes, moreso than getting Paul Sewald‘s autograph. Sorry, Paul. 

From there it was a back and forth game. And no, I don’t just mean the back-and-forth between the potty trips and the stops to the concessions. No, this was an exciting game. 

The Phillies tied it in the third on a Tommy Joseph RBI double. 

In the fifth, Rosario got a rally started with a lead-off single, and he’d score on a Neil Walker base hit. Walker, himself, scored on a Cespedes RBI single. 

With Conforto walking, the Phillies pulled Pivetta and brought in Jesen TherrienWilmer Flores got into a favorable 2-0 count, and he got a good pitch to hit. Unfortunately, Flores hit it right at Rhys Hoskins to end the inning. This would not be the last time Flores would kill a rally. 

The Phillies would get a run back on a Freddy Galvis sixth inning RBI double off Josh Smoker (run charged to Lugo) to make it a 6-5 game. 

In the eighth, the Mets had runners on first and second with one out and Rene Rivera at the plate and Rosario on deck. On a 1-2, not a 3-2, but a 1-2 pitch, Flores took off for third. It was an easy strike em out – throw em out double play. 

At that moment, you had to feel all warm and cozy about Terry Collins decision in the previous inning to double switch Smith out of the game. You felt even worse about it when Cesar Hernandez homered off Jerry Blevins in the bottom of the eighth to tie the score at six. 

This was all a prelude to Rosario earning his first crown as a Met. In the top of the ninth, he homered the lead-off the top of the ninth:

It was his first HR and his first game-winning RBI. 

There is no doubt this was and will be the best Mets game of the year. You got homers from Conforto and Cespedes. Smith had his first big league hit. Rosario capped it all off with his first career homer. 

Tonight was as good as it has been for the Mets all year. Hopefully, with the young pieces all due to return next year, there are lot more in store. 

Game Notes: AJ Ramos earned his second save as a Met. Hansel Robles earned the win meaning his record is now 7-3. 

Day Game So Mets Lost

Today’s Mets game was scheduled at 12:10 because it was Camp Day at Citi Field.  Apparently, the Mets aren’t much interested in generating new baseball fans because the team played one of their typical dreary day games.  With today’s loss, the Mets are now an MLB worst 10-23 in day games.

This loss was one of the worst.  It wasn’t the worst because the Mets were blown out.  The 5-1 score dictate otherwise.  Rather, it was a dreary day when the Mets gave you very little reason to cheer.

Rangers starter Martin Perez allowed just three hits over eight innings to the Mets with Wilmer Flores fifth inning homer being the lone run scored.  Perez was so good on the mound that he was able to stick around long enough to earn a golden sombrero.

One pitcher who did not last very long was Rafael Montero.  His good stretch of pitching is now long forgotten, and he’s back to being the very bad pitcher that would drive Mets fans crazy.  Just to put it in perspective, the first run of the game scored on a Montero balk, and he followed that up by allowing a three run homer to Joey Gallo, who has just worn out the Mets in this short two game series.

The run in the second inning was maddening.  Elvis Andrus would steal consecutive bases off of the combination of Montero and Rene Rivera, and then he would score just ahead of Jose Reyes‘ throw home.  It was a bad job blocking the plate by Rivera.  The only thing worse than that was Collins failure to challenge the play at second on the first stolen base.  Replays would show Andrus was actually out.

Montero’s final line would be 3.0 innings, five hits, four runs, four earned, three walks, and five strikeouts.

From there, Terry Collins played his favorite stretch everyone out in the bullpen game.  Josh Smoker would pitch two innings, but he couldn’t get through that third.  He would load the bases with no outs.  Hansel Robles came on, walked a batter, got out of the jam, and he would pitch three innings.  This for a reliever that just said he couldn’t feel his fingers the other day.

Chasen Bradford pitched a scoreless ninth to at least give the Mets a chance to win the game in the ninth.  They didn’t.

Really, the one highlight other than Flores’ homer was Amed Rosario making a terrific diving play:

We are now at the point where Rosario and Michael Conforto are really the other two reasons to watch this team.  Hopefully, the Mets will call-up Dominic Smith to give us a third reason.

GAME NOTES: Neil Walker started the game at third base making him the 164th third baseman in Mets history.

Collins Numb To Pitcher Issues In Mets Loss To Rockies

With the way the Mets season has progressed, you would think when a pitcher says, “Hey!  I can’t feel my fingers!” they’d pull him from the game. 


The Mets decided to keep Hansel Robles in the game. Actually, his physical problems were much worse than that:

So, with all of that going on, Terry Collins kept Robles in a tie 4-4 game in the ninth. Here’s what transpired:

Game Over. 

The last pitch of the Arenado at-bat wasn’t even close. The 3-2 pitch was a solid foot over the strike zone. Travis d’Arnaud helplessly leaped because there was nothing much more for him to do, but not even he could have framed that pitch. 

The shame of Collins gambling with both the game and Robles’ health was the fact the Mets continuously fought back in this game. 

Rafael Montero struggled, but he kept the Mets in the game. Over 5.2 innings, he allowed 10 hits, four runs, four earned, and one walk with six strikeouts. 
More than anything, Montero just couldn’t hold a lead. 

The Mets rallied from a 2-0 third inning deficit by scoring runs in three consecutive innings. Yoenis Cespedes got things started with a homer off Rockies starter German Marquez:

The following inning, Amed Rosario got things started by become the first Met to hit two triples in his first three games. He did more than just set Mets records on the triple:

He then scored on a Montero RBI single. His first career RBI.  

After his single tied the game, he gave the Rockies the lead back by yielding a solo homer to Charlie Blackmon

Curtis Granderson, who was 1-2 with two walks, got the sixth inning off to a good start by earning a lead-off walk. After a pair of groundouts, it seemed as if he’d be stranded out at third, but Rene Rivera came through with the two out RBI single.
Sure enough, Montero allowed the Rockies to take the lead again. This time it was a Mark Reynolds home run. After that homer, the Rockies would put runners at first and second with two outs. Josh Smoker, who has pitched much better of late, came in and struck out Alexi Amarista to end the inning. 

The Mets then beat up on Pat Neshek in the seventh inning. Consider for a moment that Neshek has allowed just seven earned runs all year, and the Mets have scored four of them. The fourth came in this game. 

Michael Conforto singled to lead-off the inning, and he scored from first on an Asdrubal Cabrera from center field. Despite there being no outs and the middle of the order coming up, the Mets couldn’t push across that last run. 
With the Mets sticking with a reliever who couldn’t feel himself grip the ball, they lost the game. It was the second time the Mets lost 5-4 on a Rockies walk-off against Robles. 

Game Notes: Jose Reyes started at second base for the first time with the Mets since 2004. At that time, Kaz Matsui was the Mets rookie shortstop. 

No One Wanted The Mets Position Players

Entering the trade deadline, the Mets had eight players who were impending free agents and another two who could be free agents if the Mets declined their 2018 options.  Despite the Mets looking to get something in return for each of these prospects, they walked away from the trade deadline having made just two deals:

Lucas Duda for Rays minor league reliever Drew Smith

Addison Reed for Red Sox minor league relievers Stephen Nogosek, Jamie Callahan, and Gerson Bautista

If you are going to question why the Mets didn’t do more look no further than their 48-55 record.  Simply put, the teams in contention didn’t have much interest in the players who have led the Mets from potential World Series contenders to also-rans.

Sure, there will be people who point out it was not a robust market for position players.  That’s true, but it did not prevent the White Sox from moving Melky Cabrera, the Athletics from moving Adam Rosales, or for that matter, the Mets from moving Duda.  This brings about the question over why teams weren’t interested in the Mets pieces.  For each player, there is a different answer:

RF/1B Jay Bruce

2017 Stats: .263/.326/.523, 19 2B, 27 HR, 72 RBI, 2.3 WAR

When assessing why teams aren’t interested in Bruce, one thing to keep in mind is team’s don’t covet home runs much in the same fashion they once did.  Remember, Chris Carter went from winning the National League home run title last year to being a non-tendered free agent with little interest on the free agent market.  So, yes, the 27 homers are good, but they do not completely define a player’s value.

Keep in mind, Bruce is no longer considered a good defensive player.  While, it should be noted his 8 DRS and 2.6 UZR are good defensive numbers, it is coming off a season where he posted a -11 DRS and a -8.9 UZR.  To the eyes, Bruce does look a step slower in right.

As for the rest of the value, Bruce has shown himself to be a first half player who tapers off in the second half.  To that end, he hit .250/.281/.500 in July.  Potentially, this could be the beginning of a prolonged slump like we saw Bruce have with the Mets last year.  Certainly, other teams noticed that as well, and they might be scared off by how poorly he performed when asked to change teams mid-season.

INF Asdrubal Cabrera

2017 Stats: .260/.339/.404, 15 2B, 9 HR, 30 RBI, SB, -0.4 WAR

In 2017, Cabrera got hurt, and when he was asked to move off shortstop, a position where he has posted a -9 DRS and -4.7 UZR, he balked.  First, he demanded his option be picked-up, then he demanded a trade.  Things like that don’t go over well when you have shown yourself to have a lack of range at three infield positions, and you are not hitting well at the plate.

OF Curtis Granderson

2017 Stats: .224/.330/.446, 20 2B, 3 3B, 13 HR, 38 RBI, 3 SB

To a certain extent, the relative lack of interest in Granderson is surprising.  After a slow and painful start, he has been a much better player since June 1st hitting .258/.404/.558.  He’s also accepted a role on the bench without being an issue in the clubhouse.  As a pinch hitter this year, he is hitting .267/.421/.533.  If your team has an injury, you know he can capably fill in at three outfield positions.  He’s also a tremendous clubhouse presence.  Ultimately, this tells us teams were scared off by his age and his $15 million contract.

INF Jose Reyes

2017 Stats: .226/.289/.387, 17 2B, 6 3B, 9 HR, 38 RBI, 13 SB, -1.0 WAR

Let’s start with the obvious.  Adding Reyes to your team is a potential PR nightmare.  The Cubs thought it worthwhile for Aroldis Chapman, but it is likely no one is going down that road with a below replacement level player.  As noted, the main issue is Reyes has been bad this year.  Even with the recent surge, he still hasn’t been great this year, and there was zero interest even before he was hit on the hand.

C Rene Rivera

2017 Stats: .232/.277/.374, 4 2B, 6 HR, 20 RBI

Rivera’s reputation as a defensive catcher and pitching whisperer has taken a bit of a hit this year.  Whatever the reason, he did not have the same touch with pitchers like Robert Gsellman like he did last year.  Also, while he is throwing out more base runners, he has taken a significant step back as a pitch framer.  Overall, he still has a good defensive reputation and is a good backup catcher, but he hasn’t excelled in the areas where he excelled in year’s past.

2B Neil Walker

2017 Stats: .266/.347/.455, 13 2B, 2 3B, 9 HR, 34 RBI, 0.9 WAR

If Walker stayed healthy, there may have been some semblance of a trade market for him.  When he has played he has hit, but he has only played in 63 games as a result of a partially torn left hamstring.  This was a year after he had season ending back surgery.  Between the injury history and his $17.2 million salary, the lack of trade interest in him is certainly understandable.

Looking at the above, it is understandable why there was at best tepid interest in the Mets trade pieces.  That is why they are still on the Mets roster.  However, this does not preclude an August trade.  To that end, Mets fans were all disappointed the Mets weren’t able to moved Marlon Byrd at the 2013 non-waiver deadline.  Twenty-seven days later, Byrd was traded with John Buck for Dilson Herrera and Vic Black.

Hopefully, not moving these players is just a temporary set-back.  Hopefully, the failure to move these players does not prevent the Mets from calling up Dominic Smith and Amed Rosario to the majors.

Kevin Plawecki May Be Figuring It Out

One lesson we may be learning during the 2017 season with Rafael Montero is you should give talented prospects every possible chance to succeed because when they figure it out, you are going to have useful, cheap, and talented players on your major league roster.  That is a key component in helping construct teams that go to and win World Series.

Like Montero, another player Mets fans have grown somewhat accustomed to hearing about is catcher Kevin Plawecki.  Like Montero, Plawecki seems like he is figuring things out this season.

Since being rushed to the majors in 2015, Plawecki has done little more than struggle in a New York Mets uniform.  Over the past three seasons, Plawecki has hit .206/.282/.278 in 131 major league games.  This year was a low for him with him just hitting .125/.214/.167 in 10 games for the Mets.

After Plawecki was sent down to Triple-A after his poor stint in the majors, he has been a much better player.  In 37 games, Plawecki has hit .350/.440/.552 with 11 doubles, six homers, and 24 RBI.  If you had never donned a Mets uniform, it is likely Mets fans would be clamoring for the 26 year old 2012 first round pick to get called up to the majors.

There are many reasons why Plawecki is thriving now.  First and foremost, he is getting that extended look at Triple-A he always needed.  Remember, when he was first called-up to the majors, he had only played nine career games in Triple-A.  Last year, he spent most of the year as a backup, and then he played just about half a season in Triple-A.  It is possible he is settled in Triple-A now, getting the coaching he needs, and it is starting to click for him.

It should also be remembered the catching position is one of the most challenging positions to master.  Young catchers have to put in more time at their position than most other prospects.  Typically, we will see at least one aspect of a young catcher’s game lag behind.  For some, it’s the bat.  For others, it’s the defense.  In Plawecki’s case, it has been the bat.

Now, it shouldn’t be ruled out this is some statistical fluke or just the product of a hot streak.  Plawecki’s numbers since getting demoted are fueled by a .383 BABIP.  There should also be concerns over his poor 5.8% walk rate.  However, Plawecki does have a good 14.2% strikeout rate, and he is hitting the ball much better.  His groundball rate has plummeted leading to him hitting more line drives.  He is also become a batter who uses the whole field instead of focusing on just pulling the ball.

In totality, it means there is a lot to like what is going on with Plawecki.  When you combine that with his good skills behind the plate, especially his pitch framing, you have a player who once again looks like he is a major league caliber catcher.  Whether that is as a starter or a back-up is yet to be determined.

This is important because he is out of options after this year, and with the Mets going nowhere it doesn’t serve them much to keep him in Vegas.  If they need to put him on the Major League roster or lose him for nothing, they need to get him on the roster sooner rather than later to see if he really is an improved player.  Considering how far he has come this season and Rene Rivera being a free agent, he could very well be Travis d’Arnaud‘s backup entering the 2018 season.

Defense Matters, That’s Why The Mets Lost 

Here’s the game in a nutshell. Steven Matz didn’t have it, and the Padres defense made the 85 Bears look like a sieve. 

The Padres were hitting Matz hard right from the jump when Manuel Margot hit a two run homer to give the Padres a 2-0 lead. 

After a scoreless second, the Padres jumped all over Matz again scoring four runs. Matz didn’t get help from his defense. Case in point was the Cory Spangenberg grounder. 

Jose Reyes couldn’t pick it up cleanly, and he made an ever so slightly offline soft toss to Wilmer Flores. It wasn’t a particularly difficulty play for either middle infielder, but neither could complete the play. Only because it was home town scoring, it was ruled a “single.”  

This was Reyes’ second RBI of the night with him singling home Jay Bruce in the second inning. 

After that third inning, Matz was done. His ugly final line was three innings, nine hits, six runs, six earned, no walks, and four strikeouts. Honestly, Matz probably wasn’t even that good. 

The Mets did have a chance to get back in this game in the sixth inning. 

The Mets loaded the bases with one out against tiring Padres starter Jhoulys Chacin with Lucas Duda coming to the plate. Padres Manager Andy Green went to the left-handed Buddy Baumann to face Duda.

Duda hit a deep enough fly ball, but the combination of Hunter Renfroe‘s arm and Asdrubal Cabrera‘s lack of speed, there would be no sacrifice fly. Cabrera would score when Baumann walked Reyes pulling the Mets to within 6-2. 

Craig Stammen came in to pitch to Rene Rivera, who hit a hot shot up the middle. Allen Córdoba made a nice play on the ball, which could’ve been a two RBI single, and got Rivera at first to end the inning. 

With Reyes and Córdoba, we really witnessed what a difference defense makes. Then again, we saw it all game long with this Padres defense, especially with both Margot and Jabari Blash making sliding catches to rob Michael Conforto of a couple of hits. 

The Mets did pull within 6-3 when Flores homered to center:

Even with the homer, the Mets couldn’t catch up to the Padres. Maybe the Mets would’ve had a chance if they had better defense, but the Mets were content to punt on defense this year. It’s haunted them many times. Tonight was the latest example.

Game Notes: Erik Goeddel, Tyler Pill, and Hansel Robles combined to pitch five scoreless innings out of the pen. Pill will likely be demoted tomorrow to make room for Chris Flexen, who is scheduled to make his MLB debut tomorrow. 

Has Travis d’Arnaud Turned The Corner?

Last year was an abomination for Travis d’Arnaud.  The catcher had another injury plagued year, and he eventually lost his starting job to Rene Rivera.  Part of the reason was his manager did not trust him catching Noah Syndergaard because he could not hold on base runners.  The other part was he believed Rivera to be some sort of pitcher whisperer leading him to catch Robert Gsellman and Seth Lugo when they joined the rotation.  With d’Arnaud hitting just .247/.307/.323, he didn’t exactly force his way into the lineup.

That made the 2017 season a pivotal one for d’Arnaud.

Things started out well for him. Fifteen games into the season, d’Arnaud had seemingly recaptured his 2015 hitting .270/.357/.541, and then as always seems to be the case with him an injury happened.  While following through on a throw to second base, d’Arnaud’s hand hit the bat of Aaron Altherr causing him to the leave the game.  With the Mets being the Mets, they had d’Arnaud play through the injury until he could no longer.

In the subsequent 10 games, d’Arnaud would hit .091/.167/.364.  With him obviously unable to play, the Mets finally put him on the disabled list with a bone bruise in his wrist.

When d’Arnaud came back, he struggled at the plate hitting .234/.278/.430 from the date he was activated from the disabled list into the All Star break.  Part of this was his extremely low .247 BABIP.  Now, d’Arnaud has typically always had low BABIPs with a career .273 mark entering this season.  Even in his career year in 2015, it was just .289.  Still, he was never a .247 BABIP hitter.

There may be many reasons for this.  Players tend to suffer the ill effects of hand and wrist injuries after the injuries have been deemed healed enough to play.  It’s also possible d’Arnaud suffered from Terry Collins‘ time sharing system with d’Arnaud having his pitchers and Rivera having the others.  It’s possible this prevented d’Arnaud from getting into a rhythm.  It’s also possible it was just a stretch of bad luck.

Whatever the case, d’Arnaud has been a much better player coming out of the All Star break.  Over the past nine games, d’Arnaud is hitting .333/.394/.400 with two doubles and five RBI.  Despite his not hitting for much power, he’s gotten some big RBIs.

But it’s more than just his hitting.  Recently, d’Arnaud has done more to take over the game from behind the plate.  The other day when Addison Reed was in a war of words with Home Plate Umpire Dan Iassogna, d’Arnaud stepped in, and he probably saved the closer from an ejection from a hot headed umpire.  We’ve also seen him make more mound visits to get a pitcher back in the inning and the game.

No, he’s still not doing a good job throwing out base runners going 0-3 in the second half.  In a surprising turn of events, d’Arnaud actually has poor pitch framing numbers.  Still, we know he’s been typically very good in that area, and he’s likely going to return to being good in that area again.  Just watching games, it seems like he’s getting that outside corner again.

Overall, it appears d’Arnaud is finally showing the Mets he is a complete catcher.  It’s coming at an important time as well.  The organization is in a period of transition with the team being in a position to sell at the deadline.  When you have a season like the Mets have had you have to reassess everyone . . . d’Arnaud included. If he continues to catch this well, he is going to cement his status as the Mets everyday catcher in 2018.

The caveat of course is he needs to stay healthy.  That’s always easier said that done with him.