Seth Lugo

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. 

The 2017 Matt Harvey Mistake

Before yesterday’s game, Matt Harvey threw from the mound for the first time in what could have been the first step towards a rehab assignment.  In fact, after the session, Harvey said, “I’m on track to get back hopefully pretty soon.”  (Anthony DiComo, MLB.com).

Of course, Harvey is in this position because he was put on the disabled list with a stress injury to his right scapula.  While we cannot state anything with certainty, there is the distinct possibility the stress injury was the result of the muscles in Harvey’s shoulder being roughly half the size of the muscles in his left shoulder.  This could stem from the fact Harvey had surgery to alleviate the effects of Thoracic Outlet Syndrome (TOS), and he was unable to have his typical offseason workouts.

It should be pointed out that Harvey was not expected to be full strength in May.  As Pitching Coach Dan Warthen said, “History says with that surgery that it’s 10 months out.  That’s when you really start to feel strong. Generally when you open a season you gain two miles per hour. If he’s playing at 94, 95, it’s a completely different story.”  (Mike Puma, New York Post).

Harvey was a different pitcher to start the season.  He wasn’t just sitting at a lower velocity, but he was also unable to strike batters out.  He tired as the season progressed to the point where he wasn’t even hitting 90 MPH anymore.  It was at that point everyone had to face the truth – something was wrong.

However, that something wrong began in the offseason.  The Mets knew Harvey wasn’t going to be at full strength, and they put him in the Opening Day rotation anyway.  They did it because Steven Matz and Seth Lugo had injury issues.  He was put in the rotation because the Mets refused to add a veteran depth to the rotation to protect against a rotation with a number of injury issues heading into the season.   Frankly, Harvey was in the rotation because he pushed for it, and there was no one standing in his path telling him it was a bad idea.

There was no repeat of the 2015 Scott Boras controversy.  The Mets were unwilling to sit back and wait to do what was best for Harvey and really for the team.  Harvey being the competitor he is wasn’t willing to wait.

In the end, the Mets got 13 starts from Harvey, and he went 4-3 with a 5.25 ERA, 1.450 WHIP, and a 6.9 K/9.  That’s not Harvey.

Overall, the Mets pushed Harvey forward because they didn’t want to wait for him to be 100%.  Harvey pushed because he was a competitor.  In the end, it became a forgettable season for both parties.  Hopefully, they both learned from this season, and they will be smarter going forward.  However, based upon past history, it is unlikely to happen.

 

Give Us A Reason To Watch

Look, we can all agree the Dodgers are a much better team than the Mets.  There are several reasons why this is the case, and there is another time to re-evaluate how the Mets have gone from beating the Dodgers in the 2015 NLDS to being completely over-matched in a three game series where Clayton Kershaw didn’t even pitch.

Teams have bad series all the time.  Even when the Mets are good, we see clunkers like this from time to time.  However, this series seemed more than that.  This was a team thoroughly out-classed on the field.  It makes you shudder when you consider the Mets had Jacob deGrom and Seth Lugo going.

At this point, it’s time to press the reset button.  We all know the Mets aren’t going to the postseason.  With each passing day, even getting to .500 is a pipe dream.  For what it’s worth, getting to .500 is detrimental.  The Mets need to lose as many games as they can to get the best possible draft pick they can in the 2018 draft.  You want the Mets to be able to go and draft the next Michael Conforto.

No matter what happens, we know the Mets are going to continue to lose a number of games to close out the season.  That’s fine.  We’ve all accepted it.  What we cannot accept is turning on the game and watching a team lose without any purpose whatsoever.

What is the team accomplishing by playing Wilmer Flores and Jay Bruce at first base?  Neither one of them are going to be the first baseman next year.  That job is going to Dominic Smith.  With each game Flores and Bruce play first, and Smith remains in the minors, the Mets have accomplished absolutely nothing.

What does playing Curtis Granderson everyday accomplish?  He’s been a good Met and an even better man.  He’s also accepted a role as the team’s fourth outfielder.  It’s likely he will be gone after the 2017 season.  With each game he plays, you learn nothing about him.  All the while, Brandon Nimmo sits languishing on your bench not even getting at-bats in Triple-A to help him improve as a player.

For that matter, why is Gavin Cecchini in Triple-A?  Do we really need to learn more about Jose Reyes and Asdrubal Cabrera?  Isn’t one or two of them likely gone after the season?  If not, aren’t their roles going to be much different in 2018?  Reyes should be firmly on the bench in 2018, and Cabrera has shown he should be at third base.  If that is the case, why isn’t Cecchini playing second base over these two?

Ultimately, you can justify playing any of the aforementioned veterans you want.  Certainly, you want Neil Walker to showcase himself to teams after a lengthy disabled list stint.  However, the aforementioned veterans have already been showcased and teams have passed on them for a variety of reasons.  Playing them everyday serves this Mets team no purposes.  That is unless the Mets are going to have a huge push to celebrate Bruce passing Carlos Beltran and Todd Hundley for the Mets single season home run record like they pushed Reyes winning the Mets first ever batting title.  Note, Reyes’ batting title didn’t exactly draw fans to the park.

Calling up Amed Rosario was a step in the right direction.  Seeing Paul Sewald pitch in some high leverage situations is another step.  Taking a chance on Chris Flexen was inspired.  However, it’s simply not enough.  Sooner or later, Mets fans are going to tune out these games . . . if they haven’t already.

To that end, it’s time to get Smith and Cecchini up here and play them everyday or close to it.  Fans would rather see them work through some growing pains at the major league level than watch Bruce, Cabrera, Granderson, Reyes, and Walker lose in lackluster fashion.

It’s time to turn the page if for no other reason than it’s time to give fans a reason to watch what has become a dreadful team.

Mets No Match For Dodgers

Here’s the long story short on the Mets game – the Dodgers are just a much better team. 

The Mets got homers from Conforto, Wilmer Flores and Curtis Granderson in the first to get out to a 3-0 first inning lead. Seth Lugo would no-hit the Dodgers for 4.2 innings. And, yet, the Mets had no hopes of winning this game. 

With a pair of Chris Taylor and Cody Bellinger blasts, the Dodgers tied the game in the sixth. 
Yasiel Puig homered off Paul Sewald to lead off the seventh giving the Dodgers took the lead and didn’t look back. 
In total, the Dodgers hit five homers, including one from Justin Turner, who we should all remember was a player the Mets kicked out the door.

As if things weren’t aggravating enough, Terry Collins found a way to pull Michael Conforto because as we know, if you want to win a game, you pull your best bat from the game. 
Game Notes: Amed Rosario was 0-4 marking this as his first hitless game in the majors. 

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.

The Full Cespedes Experience

During last night’s game, we got to see the full experience of what it has been like watching Yoenis Cespedes in a Mets uniform.  Much like he did in 2015, we got to see Cespedes make an immediate impact in the first inning with a home run off of Padres starter Kyle Lloyd:

After the Padres played some Home Run Derby of their own with Hunter Renfroe and Allen Cordoba each hitting a pair of third inning home runs off Seth Lugo, the Mets were trailing 3-1.  For Renfroe, it was his second homer in as many at-bats against the Mets, and it was his third homer in three days.  Thank God he plays in the NL West.

After the Mets pulled themselves within a run in the fourth with Travis d’Arnaud getting another two out RBI in this series, it was time for Cespedes to go back to work and help take this game over.

Cespedes joined the doubles hit parade in the fifth.  After Curtis Granderson and Asdrubal Cabrera led off the inning with a pair of doubles, Cespedes followed with one of his own to give the Mets a 4-3 lead.

It was just one of those nights where things weren’t going to be easy.  After Lugo surrendered a lead-0ff single to Matt Szczur, Cabrera didn’t get down low enough to field what should have been a Jose Pirela ground out.  This set up first and second with no outs.  Both runners would advance on a deep Carlos Asuaje fly out.  Lugo did his best to limit the damage by allowing just one run to score on a Wil Myers sacrifice fly.

Lugo’s final line was six innings, eight hits, four runs, three earned, no walks, and one strikeout.  He got the win in large part because of Cespedes.

The game winning runs came on what was about as bizarre as a Little League home run as you are ever going to see:

Where do you begin with this one?  The check swing triple?  Myers throwing the ball away when there was no play at third?  Cespedes’ head first slide into home?  The offline throw from Cory Spangenberg?  Or was it that Hector Sanchez failing to both catch the ball and tag Cespedes?  It was the typical comedy of errors you see in your standard Little League home runs, but with Major League Baseball players.

With the triple, Cespedes found himself a single short of the cycle – the easiest one to get.  Cespedes didn’t get that chance.

Despite Gary Cohen trying to assure us Michael Conforto was coming into the game in left field in a double switch so Terry Collins could get two innings out of Paul Sewald, we all knew better.  Cespedes left the game with leg problems, which were later described as a quad tightness.  Who knows how many games he will miss if any.

With Cespedes being the dominant figure in the game, putting the Mets on his back offensively, and leaving the game with a leg injury, Mets fans got the full Cespedes experience.  Or at least very close to it as we did not get to see Cespedes unleash his cannon of an arm.

From there, Collins went to Addison Reed, who must be on fumes, in the ninth.  The closer, who the Mets are trying their best to keep up his extremely high trade value, had another shaky ninth.  He allowed a Dusty Coleman two out RBI double to bring the Padres to within 6-5.  Much like he did last night, Reed then shut the door to preserve the victory.

With the win, the Mets are now just four games under .500, and they are nine games behind the Colorado Rockies (seven in the loss column) for the second Wild Card.  Of course, this all means little when Cespedes leaves yet another game with a leg injury.

Game Notes: Conforto was initially out of the lineup to give him a day off.

 

For Some Reason The Mets Really Love Jose Reyes

For those of us that forget, the New York Mets really had no interest in re-signing Jose Reyes after the 2011 season.  When he signed with the Marlins in the offseason, there was a war of words between the two camps with Reyes saying he never received an offer, and Sandy Alderson saying Reyes’ agent was aware of the framework of the type of deal the Mets might be willing to do.

Since leaving the Mets, Reyes was roundly booed as a member of the Marlins, was traded to the Toronto Blue Jays, and finally had an overly brief and turbulent career with the Colorado Rockies.  For reasons we all know, and need not be discussed in-depth at the moment, it led to the Rockies releasing Reyes.  This also led to Reyes re-uniting with the Mets.

Last year, he was decent with the Mets helping the team make the postseason by obtaining the top Wild Card spot.  The Mets brought him back as David Wright insurance, and he has struggled for most of the season.  So far, Reyes is hitting .231/.293/.392.  That’s good for a 79 OPS+ and a -0.8 WAR.  Not to belabor what you already know, but Reyes has been a bad baseball player.

It’s bizarre we all know it, but the Mets don’t.  Reyes’ 90 games played leads the Mets this season.  Part of that is he hasn’t been hurt.  An even bigger part of that is Terry Collins and the Mets organization won’t or can’t admit Reyes isn’t good.  This is of course reflected in how the social media  team has inundated us with Reyes since the All Star Break with tweets like this:

Jacob deGrom is the ace.  Michael Conforto is the All Star.  Yoenis Cespedes is the most important player.  Curtis Granderson is the role model.  Addison Reed, Asdrubal Cabrera, and Jay Bruce are the players on the trade block.  Yet, somehow, the Mets have made it a point to feature Reyes despite his poor play and his personal issues.

Yes, Reyes has played better of late, but he has been nowhere near as good as Conforto, Duda, deGrom, or Seth Lugo.  You wouldn’t know that by looking at how the Mets promote their players.

Sure, this is a silly gripe, but when the Mets have nothing to play for this season, you tend to notice these things.  Maybe if the Mets did the right thing by calling up Amed Rosario fans could focus on that.  Maybe, just maybe, the team could promote him.  I think we can all agree that is beneficial for everyone.

Cardinals Pull A Mets

It is nice to see the Mets win a game because the other team had mental lapses in the field, poor managerial decisions, and had a bullpen blow a late lead and finally the game.  Through the first 82 games, that seemed to be the Mets specialty.  Today, in what was mostly a lethargic afternoon game, the Mets got bested by the Cardinals in something they had seemingly mastered.

Through the first 4.2 innings, Seth Lugo had a no-hitter going.  Somewhere someone must’ve taken notice and said something because Greg Garcia hit a double for the Cardinals first hit of the game.  Still, things were in good shape for the Mets because Lugo erased Garcia, and the team had a 1-0 lead.

That lead came because Lucas Duda hit a second inning homer against Cardinals starter Lance Lynn:

The sizzling hot Duda has homered three times over his last five games.  Duda was also good in the field saving his infielders from a few errors.  Most notably, his scoop of a bad T.J. Rivera throw in the seventh saved a run.  Hopefully, one of the teams that needs a 1B/DH, and there are more of them than people will lead you to believe, have taken notice.

That 1-0 lead evaporated in the sixth.  After a one out walk to Matt Carpenter, Tommy Pham, who has been killing the Mets of late, doubled him home to tie the score.  Once again, Lugo settled in, shut the door in the sixth, and he pitched a scoreless seventh.

The Mets hurler deserved the win with his outstanding performance, but will have to settle for a no decision.  His final line was 6.2 innings, four hits, one run, one earned, one walk, and five strikeouts.  With him and Lynn out of the game, it became a battle of the bullpens, and a battle of wits between the managers.

With Erik Goeddel getting the last out of the seventh, Terry Collins turned to him to pitch the eighth.  It’s hard to fault Collins when everyone else in the bullpen is terrible, but the decision backfired when Pham hit a 3-1 pitch out of the park to give the Cardinals a 2-1 lead.  With the way this game was going, and with how poorly the Mets have played of late, it seemed like this was how the game was going to end.

That was until Mike Matheny thought it was a good idea to let the left-handed Brett Cecil pitch to Wilmer Flores in the eighth.  Everyone and their mother knows Flores crushes left-handed pitching.  Matheny either didn’t know that, or didn’t care.  That decision cost him as Cecil hung one to Flores:

From there, the Mets turned to the one reliever in their bullpen that they can have confidence – Addison Reed.  Reed did his job pitching a scoreless ninth thereby giving the Mets a chance for a walk-off victory.

The ninth inning rally started with Michael Conforto drawing a lead-off walk against Trevor Rosenthal.  It was another excellent game for Conforto that has gone unnoticed.  On the day, the Cardinals allowed eight baserunners (six hits and two walks).  Conforto accounted for four of those with him going 2-2 with two walks on the day.

Conforto would be erased on the basepaths on what initially appeared to be a double play ball off the bat of Yoenis Cespedes.  Credit should be given to Cespedes for busting it down the line and keeping a runner on base.  It paid off as he went first to third on a Rivera single.  He would then score on what should have been the last out of the inning:

That Jose Reyes “single” was the improbable winner that sent Mets fans home happy, and it enraged Cardinals first baseman Matt Carpenter:

It was nice to be on the other side of one of these games this year.  It was also nice to earn a split in the series.  Even if the Mets aren’t going anywhere, it is still always a joy to beat the Cardinals.  At the very least, it was a pleasure helping ensure they didn’t get the sweep they needed to get back into an NL Central race that is suddenly in flux.

Game Notes: Neil Ramirez was designated for assignment before the game to make room for Josh Smoker on the roster.

Cespedes Injury Mars Mets Laugher

Because nothing can ever go easy for the Mets, we got to see Yoenis Cespedes leave the game after this awkward slide in the sixth inning:

Before that play, things could not be going better for the Mets. After yesterday’s 14-2 victory, the Mets quickly went up 8-0 in tonight’s game. 

After Tyler Chatwood issued back-to-back walks to Michael Conforto and Asdrubal Cabrera to begin the top of the first, Jay Bruce would drive them all home:

The rally continued, and the Mets would score their fourth run when Travis d’Arnaud would single home T.J. Rivera. Rivera had reached via the walk. After he walked, Chsteood came out of the game due to injury. 

As if four first inning runs weren’t enough, the Mets would pile on three more in the second inning.  

The second inning runs were all unearned as Bruce reached on a two out error by DJ LeMahieu. The Mets did capitalize starting with a Rivera RBI single scoring Cespedes. Bruce and Rivera would score on a Lucas Duda RBI double. 

The Mets eighth run would be provided by Lugo himself:

As you can surmise from Bruce, the Mets pulled that old shtick:

Lugo’s first career home run was certainly a high light, but it was not his only highlight of the evening. Lugo went out there, and he dominated the Rockies for five innings. 

The Rockies did get to him for two in the sixth with the help of Cespedes’ aforementioned divot. The double set up second and third with one out. After a Gerardo Parra sacrifice fly and a Raimel Tapia double, the Rockies pulled within 8-2. 

The Rockies tacked on another run in the seventh on a Charlie Blackmon two out RBI triple. At that point, Terry Collins wasn’t taking any chances. He brought in Paul Sewald, who struck out LeMahieu to get out of the inning. That strikeout closed the books on a terrific start for Lugo. 

Lugo’s final line was 6.2 innings, seven hits, three runs, three earned, two walks, and five strikeouts.

He would get the win as Sewald, Jerry Blevins, and Addison Reed would combine to pitch 3.1 scoreless.  

With the scoreless work out of the bullpen, and a Reyes’ eighth inning homer, the Mets would win 9-3. 

With the win, the Mets are now 8.5 games behind the Rockies for the second Wild Card, and the team is six games under .500. The team is beginning to make a run. The question right now if this is too little too late . . . especially with Cespedes having to leave the game. 

Game Notes: Curtis Granderson replaced Cespedes in the sixth. The Mets have now won 

Mets Beaten By Murphy Again

After the 2015 pennant, Sandy Alderson wanted no part of NLCS MVP Daniel Murphy. He offered the perfunctory qualifying offer, and when Murphy rejected it like all those before him, Sandy refused to negotiate with Murphy. Eventually, this led to Murphy signing with the Nationals. 

Since that time, the Nationals have a .598 winning percentage, which is a 97 win pace. Conversely, the Mets have s .510 winning streak, which is an 83 win pace. Considering where the Mets are right now, they’d kill for an 83 win pace. 

We can point to a number of reasons why this has happened. Injuries. Regressions.  Bad managing. All could apply. Perhaps the biggest reason is Murphy changed teams. 

Entering today’s game, Murphy is hitting .388/.438/.698 with 10 doubles, a triple, eight homers, and 29 RBI. The Nationals are 21-10 against the Mets since Murpjy joined their ranks. 

Today, there were a number of reasons why the Mets lost:

  1. Seth Lugo falling apart in the fifth;
  2. Injuries forcing Yoenis Cespedes and Curtis Granderson out of the lineup; or
  3. Terrible defense highlighted by Jay Bruce overrunning a ground ball or Rene Rivera letting a pitch go through the wickets. 

Pick a reason. Any will suffice. When doing that, don’t ignore the Murphy effect. 

Today, it was more of the same. He was 4-5 with a double and five TBJ raising his batting average to a league leading .341. 

The Nationals shut down the Mets. Their repaid is a 11-4 even with the Nationals starting Joe Ross and his 5.12 ERA. 

Watching this game, it’s apparent the Nationals are just that much better than the Mets. A large part of that was Murphy . . . AGAIN. He will continue to be so for as long as he’s a National. 
Game Notes: With the injuries,  T.J. Rivera started the game in left field. He would subsequently be removed from the game due to cramps.