Seth Lugo

Lugo & Gsellman Are Pitching for the Postseason

Every time the Mets run Seth Lugo and Robert Gsellman to the mound, they’re out there trying to help the Mets return to the postseason. They’re also making their own case why the Mets should put them on the postseason roster.

Assuming the Mets make it back to the postseason, there is little guaranteed on who will and who won’t be on the postseason roster. In fact, as it stands today, Noah Syndergaard and Bartolo Colon are the only two starting pitchers who will be guaranteed a spot on the postseason roster. If, and it is becoming a bigger if with each passing day, Steven Matz and Jacob deGrom can return from their injuries, they will be guaranteed not only a spot on the roster, but also a start in the postseason.

Assuming deGrom and Matz can return for the postseason, there will still be room in the bullpen. Last season, the Mets went with 11 pitchers in the bullpen. The Mets were given that luxury, in part, because the team carried Colon and Jon Niese in the bullpen. This gave the Mets a number of pitchers who could go multiple innings out of the bullpen. Coupled with a starting rotation that could go deep into game, the Mets were able to add the extra bat on the bench. Looking at the Mets bullpen as constituted, there are few absolutely guaranteed spots:

  1. Jeurys Familia
  2. Addison Reed
  3. Hansel Robles
  4. Jerry Blevins
  5. Fernando Salas

With teams only needing four starters in the postseason, that leaves two open spots in the postseason bullpen.

If deGrom and Matz are able to pitch in the postseason, that means Lugo, Gsellman, and Montero will be competing for the last two spots in the bullpen most likely with Josh Smoker and Jim Henderson. If the Mets want to go with two lefties in the bullpen, Smoker could have the inside track. While he has been touched in three of his nine appearances, Smoker has shown he can strike people out. Currently, he strikes out 14.5 batters per nine innings, which is only slightly higher than his 12.8 strikeout per nine figure in AAA. If Smoker keeps striking people out, it is going to be hard to justify leaving him off the postseason roster.

Given his early season success, Henderson presumably has an excellent chance of being on the postseason roster. However, each and every time Henderson takes the mound, he makes a case why the Mets can’t trust him in a big spot. In his six appearances since coming off the disabled list, Henderson has a 7.20 ERA and has allowed opponents to hit .318 off of him.

If the Mets went with Smoker and Henderson, there may still be a spot for Lugo and Gsellman if the Mets decide to go with 12 pitchers this offseason. In that scenario, there would be one last bullpen available that would most likely go to Lugo or Gsellman. That means with every start, Lugo and Gsellman are not just pitching against the opponent, but also each other.

Overall, in order for Lugo and Gsellman to help their chances for a postseason roster spot, and for the Mets to even make the postseason, they are going to have to go out there and continue pitching as well as they have been.

Trivia Friday – Fewest Career Starts Before a Mets Postseason Start

With the Jacob deGrom and Steven Matz injuries, Seth Lugo and Robert Gsellman have pitched extremely well so far. With each passing day, it becomes more and more questionable deGrom and Matz can return meaning Lugo and Gsellman may have to make a postseason start.

If that is the case, they will join a list of young Mets pitchers who have been thrust into the postseason despite them only making a few career starts. Can you name the Mets who have had the fewest career starts before pitching in a postseason game?  Good luck!

John Maine, Noah Syndergaard, Gary Gentry, David Cone, Matt Harvey, Jerry Koosman, Jon Matlack, Sid Fernandez

Where the Wild Card Race Stands

After sweeping the Reds, and having won 14 of their last 18 games, the Mets have rallied from two games under .500 to get themselves back into the thick of the Wild Card race. In fact, after Wednesday’s games, the Mets are in a virtual tie with the St. Louis Cardinals. Better yet, they’re just a half game back of the Giants for the second Wild Card.

As we hit the homestretch with the Mets having 22 games remaining on the schedule, here is where everyone stands:

San Francisco Giants 74-65

The Giants are in a free-fall. They went from having the most wins in the National League before the All Star Break to having the third worst record in the National League after the break.

The Giants are 4-6 in your last 10, and they are 6-11 over their last 17 games. Even with all that, the Giants have a half-game lead over the Cardinals and Mets for the top Wild Card spot and are five games back of the Dodgers in the NL West.

The main reason why the Giants are struggling right now is their pitching. Madison Bumgarner has gone from dominant in the first half to human in the second half with a 4-4 record and a 3.66 ERA.  Johnny Cueto has similarly struggled going 1-4 with a 3.90 ERA in the second half.  Keep in mind, these were the only starters the Giants can truly rely upon with Matt Cain never fully came back after his injury problems, Jake Peavy missing most of the year with injuries, and Jeff Samardzjia not living up to his free agent contract.

Worse yet, when the Giants get a late lead, it isn’t safe. Santiago Castilla had blown three saves in the second half. Castilla is struggling to the point that Bruce Bochy removed him from the game against the Rockies rather than letting him make matters worse.

The Giants currently have 23 games remaining against the following opponents:

  • 3 at Diamondbacks (58-81)
  • 3 vs. Padres (57-82)
  • 4 vs. Cardinals (73-65)
  • 3 at Dodgers (79-60)
  • 4 at Padres (57-82)
  • 3 vs. Rockies (67-72)
  • 3 vs. Dodgers (79-60)

The Giants remaining opponents combined winning percentage is .481.  The biggest benefit to their schedule are the 10 games remaining against the Diamondbacks and Padres as the Giants have a combined 19-9 record against them.

Fangraphs gives the Giants a 66.6% chance of getting a Wild Card spot, and Baseball Prospectus gives them a 70.7% chance of making the postseaon.

St. Louis Cardinals 73-65

Injuries are starting to catch up to the Cardinals who are 5-5 over their last 10. Since Aledmys Diaz went on the disabled list with a broken thumb, the Cardinals are effectively a .500 team going 17-16.

Other notable injuries are Matt HollidayMichael Wacha, and Trevor Rosenthal. While the Cardinals are keeping their heads above water, they may need to play better than .500 ball to return to the postseason.

The Cardinals currently have 24 games remaining against the following opponents:

  • 4 vs. Brewers (62-77)
  • 3 vs. Cubs (89-50)
  • 4 at Giants (74-65)
  • 3 at Rockies (67-72)
  • 3 at Cubs (89-50)
  • 4 vs. Reds (57-81)
  • 3 vs. Pirates (68-69)

The combined winning percentage of the remaining teams is .502.  Of the Cardinals remaining 24 games, 14 of them are at home where they are 30-37 on the season.

Fangraphs gives the Cardinals a 57.4% chance of getting a Wild Card spot, and Baseball Prospectus gives them a 58.6% chance of making the postseason.

Washington Nationals 81-57

If seven with 17 remaining isn’t an insurmountable hurdle then 8.5 with 22 remaining shouldn’t be either. That goes double with Stephen Strasburg leaving his first start from the disabled list with an apparent injury.  With that said, the Nationals are hot winning seven of their last 10, and with their remaining schedule, it’s going to take a miracle for the Mets to win the division.  Here are the Nationals remaining games:

  • 4 vs. Phillies (62-77)
  • 3 vs. Mets (74-66)
  • 3 at Braves (54-86)
  • 3 at Marlins (69-71)
  • 3 at Pirates (68-69)
  • 4 vs Diamondbacks (58-81)
  • 3 vs. Marlins (69-71)

The Nationals remaining opponents have a combined winning percentage of .461.  Of the Nationals remaining 24 games, they have 16 against National League East teams, and so far, the Nationals are 42-18 against the National League East.  Fangraphs gives the Nationals a 99.7% chance of winning the division, and Baseball Prospectus gives them a 100% chance of making the postseason.

New York Mets 74-66

When the dust settled last night, the Mets found themselves in a virutal tie with the Cardinals for the second Wild Card spot, and a half game behind the Giants for the first Wild Card spot.  It should be noted the Mets trail both the Cardinals and the Giants by one game in the loss column.

The Mets are at this point with question marks of their own.  Yoenis Cespedes and Asdrubal Cabrera are each effectively playing on one leg.  Neil Walker is out for the season joining David Wright, Lucas Duda, and Matt Harvey.  With Rafael Montero‘s struggles, Gabriel Ynoa having difficulty getting major league hitters out, and Logan Verrett not living up to the challenge, the Mets have no real fifth starter at the moment.  While Seth Lugo and Robert Gsellman have stepped up, they are not on par with Jacob deGrom and Steven Matz, neither of whom is definitive to return this season.  With all that said, the Mets have hope because they have the weakest schedule out of any of the aforementioned Wild Card competitors:

  • 3 at Braves (54-86)
  • 3 at Nationals (82-57)
  • 3 vs. Twins (52-88)
  • 3 vs. Braves (54-86)
  • 4 vs. Phillies (62-77)
  • 3 at Marlins (69-71)
  • 3 at Phillies (62-77)

The combined winning percentage of the Mets remaining opponents is .457, which is the lowest opponent’s winning percentage of any of the aforementioned teams the Mets are still chasing.

Fangraphs give the Mets a 64.5% chance of grabbing a Wild Card spot, and Baseball Prospectus gives them a 67.2% chance of making the postseason.

Overall, the Mets schedule is filled with a lot of winnable games.  If the Mets take care of business, they should be returning to the postseason for the second straight season.

Seth Lugo Got His Chance

Sometimes all you need is a chance. 

We saw it in Jacob deGrom in 2014. The 26 year old got a chance due to injuries, and the most of it. He not only showed the Mets he was a better pitcher than then well regarded prospect Rafael Montero, he also showed he was an important part of the Mets rotation going forward. From there, deGrom won the Rookie of the Year award, was named an All Star, and pitched the opener of the 2015 postseason. This all happened because he got a chance. 

Seth Lugo is getting his chance, and like deGrom, he is making the most of it. 
Initially, Lugo was called up to pitch out of the bullpen.  He immediately made an impression with his awesome curveball:

In a Mets organization that places such emphasis on the slider and falls in love with fastballs that go over 95+ MPH, you could somewhat understand why Lugo wasn’t more highly regarded. You can really understand it when you consider he had a 6.50 ERA in AAA. Still, Lugo had a good repertoire including that curveball. 

According to Statcast, Lugo’s curveball has a higher spin rate than anyone else’s in baseball. Yes, even Clayton Kershaw. The increased spin creates two effects: (1) it created downward movement inducing ground balls; and (2) it induces a number if swings and misses. Lugo’s curveball is a tremendous pitch, and it could very well have been the best pitch in a of the Mets minor league system. 

Lugo likes to evenly mix all of his pitches. Even so, the curve is the money pitch. According to Brooks Baseball, Lugo generates the highest percentage of his strikeouts on the pitch. Furthermore, the pitch generates the lowest batting average against than any of his other pitches. Perhaps the reason why it’s so effective, other than its spin rate, is the fact that he’s very selective with the pitch. Other than his change, the curveball is the pitch Lugo throws the least often. 

This means he mostly relies on his 93 MPH sinker and his 94 MPH fastball. What is impressive about his fastball is his ability to dial it up over 96 MPH in pressure spots. Lugo also has an 88 MPH slider which has been an effective pitch for him. If Warthen is able to help Lugo improve his slider like he has with everyone else on the staff, Lugo’s ceiling will go into the next stratosphere. 

Again, the interesting thing breaking down Lugo’s pitches is you’re breaking down the pitches of a pitcher who had the stuff to be in a big league rotation. Prior to this season, there may not have been many who believed that. As Lugo was struggling in AAA, there were probably even fewer. And yet, here he is. He’s not just a major league pitcher, but he’s also an important piece of a rotation that may well be on its way to the postseason. 

And all Lugo needed to show us all this was possible was a chance. He got it, and like deGrom, he has made the most of it. 

Mets August 2016 Report Card

The Mets entered August 6.5 games back in the NL East race behind both the Nationals and the Marlins.  They also trailed the Marlins by 1.5 games for the last Wild Card spot.  The Mets have also fallen behind the Cardinals in the Wild Card race as well.

By going 15-14, August turned out to be just the second winning month the Mets have had this season.  They now trail the Nationals by nine games in the NL East.  After what has been a crazy month, the Mets still remain 1.5 games back of the final Wild Card spot.  Only now, the Mets trail the the Cardinals after having helped put the Marlins away having won the first three against them in a four game series.  Given the Mets weak September schedule, it should be an interesting finish to the season.

Bear in mind, these grades are on a curve. If a bench player gets an A and a position player gets a B, it doesn’t mean the bench player is having a better year. Rather, it means the bench player is performing better in his role.

Position Players

Travis d’Arnaud (C).  After the Jonathon Lucroy rumors died down, d’Arnaud starting hitting again.  However, he has cooled off to hit at a rate slightly better than his 2016 totals.  Part of the reason may be Collins playing Rivera over him with the Mets needing to throw a lot of young pitchers out there.

Kevin Plawecki (Inc.)  Plawecki spent the entire month down in AAA where he has started hitting again.  He should be among the first group of players called up today.  It’ll be interesting to see what, if any, impact he has over the final month of the season.

Rene Rivera (C).  Rivera came crashing back to Earth offensively.  However, his value has always been as a receiver, and he has done that job fairly well helping usher some of these young pitchers into the big leagues.

Lucas Duda (Inc). Duda is most likely gone for the season, and the debate will soon begin about whether he will be a Met in 2017.

James Loney (F).  He didn’t hit for average or power, nor did he get on base much during the entire month.  Worse yet, he has not been good in the field.  The next ball he stretches for will be his first.

Neil Walker (A+).  What has happened to Walker is nothing short of heart breaking.  He had completely turned his season around, and he appeared to be headed for a massive payday this offseason with him standing out as one of the better options in a weak free agent class.  Instead, Walker is going to have season ending back surgery to end his season.

David Wright (Inc.).  It’s clear he’s done for the season, but it is nice seeing him around Citi Field and looking better.

Asdrubal Cabrera (A+).  Since his return from the disabled list, Cabrera has been a blonde bombshell.  He moved into the second spot in the order, and he he has combine with Reyes to form a dynamic and powerful 1-2 duo at the top of the lineup.  The only concern is how much he is going to actually be able to play with that lingering knee issue.

Wilmer Flores (B+).  Flores has continued to rake putting up numbers at an unprecedented.  This month he hit seven homers.  He has benefited greatly by mostly facing left-handed pitchers, and now he’s hitting righties better. The Mets will need his versatility all the more as injuries mounted during the month.

Eric Campbell (Inc.) Campbell did not play in a game during the month, and the Mets are not likely to call him up again until rosters expand in September.

Matt Reynolds (D).  Reynolds didn’t hit well during his 10 games with the Mets this month.  Worse yet for him, he has been passed over on the team’s depth chart by Rivera.

Ty Kelly (A).  During his limited August playing time, Collins was able to maximize Kelly’s abilities by making him a short-lived platoon left fielder with Cespedes dealing with his quad injury.  In his nine August games, Kelly hit .381/.500/.524 with a double and a triple.

Michael Conforto (D).  After a stretch in which the Mets bottomed out, Conforto was sent down as he was a young player unable to handle sporadic playing time.  Since being sent down to AAA, Conforto has hit everything including lefties.  He should be called up today, and most likely, never play as Collins is his manager.

Yoenis Cespedes (A).  It was admirable that Cespedes played until he could play no longer (even if his golfing might’ve been part of the reason why).  Since his return, Cespedes is hitting home runs again.  He has had another incredible month, and he had a walkoff with a legendary bat flip to help the Mets beat the Marlins.

Curtis Granderson (D).  It hasn’t been fun seeing last year’s team MVP struggle the way he has this month.  He lost his job in right, moved to center, and now has become a part time player.  The hope is that with the time off, he rests up, and he returns to the Granderson of old.  Those hopes don’t seem that far fetched after he came off the bench the other night to hit two home runs.

Juan Lagares (Inc).  Lagares didn’t play in August due to the thumb surgery.  It remains questionable if he can return in September as he will most likely not be ready for rehab games until after the minor league affiliates have ended their seasons.

Alejandro De Aza (C-).  De Aza followed a great July with another poor August.  Mixed in there were a couple of terrific games that helped the Mets win a pivotal game against the Cardinals.  Right now, what he brings more than anything is the ability to play center field.

Kelly Johnson (A+).  Johnson continues to be the Mets top pinch hitter as well as a platoon option in the infield.  Over the past month, he has hit for more power including a surprising five homers.  His bases loaded double last night might’ve buried the Marlins.

Brandon Nimmo (Inc).  He only played two games before being sent down to AAA.  Given the fact that he’s one of the few healthy center fielders in the organization, he may see some real time when he gets called up with the expanded rosters.

Jose Reyes (A).  You could say we’re seeing the Reyes of old, but Reyes has never been this good in his career.  He has adapted extremely well to third base while playing a steady shortstop when the Mets have needed him to play over there when Cabrera has been injured or needing a day off.  The one caution is he still isn’t hitting right-handed pitching that well.  Still, his numbers were terrific.

T.J. Rivera (B).  After all this time, Rivera finally got his chance.  He made the most of it hitting .289 in 13 games while playing decently at second and third base.

Justin Ruggiano (Inc).  When he plays, he hits, but he is now on his second disabled list stint already with the Mets. With him being put on the 60 day disabled list, he’s now done for the season.   Seeing what we have seen with the team, there may be something in the water.

Jay Bruce (F).  Since coming to the Mets for Dilson Herrera, he has just been bad.  But hey, it’s not like the Mets need another second baseman, right?


Matt Harvey (Inc).  Harvey is done for the season after having had successful surgery to remove a rib.  For a player who has been criticized in the past for attending Yankee games while being gone for the season, Harvey has been a fixture in the Mets dugout during games.

Jacob deGrom (D).  deGrom had been pitching great until August rolled around.  In back-to-back big games against the Giants and the Cardinals, he couldn’t deliver pitching two of the worst games in his career.  Hopefully, the Mets skipping his last start will help get him back on track.

Noah Syndergaard (B). Syndergaard has had an uneven month, but after his last start, it appears he is dealing better with the bone spurs, and he is getting back to the pitcher who was dominant over the first half of the season.

Steven Matz (C).  Just as you thought he turned things around with his flirting with a no-hitter in his last start, he goes down with a shoulder injury.  At this time, it is unknown as to when or if he can return.

Bartolo Colon (A).  Colon stopped his good start-bad start streak in August, and he started pitching much better during the month of August at a time when the Mets needed him the most.

Logan Verrett (F).  Look, he shouldn’t have been tapped as the Mets fifth starter after Harvey went down, but with that said, he did everything he could to lose the job pitching to a 13.50 ERA in August.  He eventually lost the job to Niese of all people

Jeurys Familia (A).  That’s the Familia we all know and love.  He not only had a sub 1.00 ERA, but he also broke the single season Mets save record he shared with Armando Benitez.

Addison Reed (B+).  You knew he wasn’t going to keep up what he has been doing, but even with him coming back to Earth slightly, he has still be incredible.

Jim Henderson (F).  After being on the disabled list for so long with yet another shoulder injury, Henderson has made his way back to the majors.  Unfortunately, he’s not the same pitcher.  Collins owes him an apology.

Hansel Robles (F).  Robles showed how much he has been overworked this season by Collins this month.  Hopefully, with some rest, he should finally be able to rebound and contribute in September and beyond like he had done for most of the season.

Jerry Blevins (B+).  His 2.16 ERA was terrific, but his 1.560 WHIP gives some reason for pause.  Both righties and lefties are starting to hit him, and he has been allowing inherited runners to score.

Antonio Bastardo (Inc.)  Thankfully, he is gone, and it was worth it even if it meant the Mets had to take back Niese.

Rafael Montero (Inc.) He got an unexpected start due to injuries, and he fought his way through five scoreless innings.  Good for him.

Sean Gilmartin (Inc.)  Gilmartin has only made three appearances since being recalled, and he hasn’t pitched particularly well.  Whether it was the shoulder injury or teams figuring him out, he’s not the same guy he was last season.

Erik Goeddel (F).  There used to be two factions of the Mets fan base: those who thought Goeddel was a good major league pitcher, and those that didn’t.  Seemingly, everyone is now in the latter camp now.

Seth Lugo (A).  Lugo has been nothing short of a revelation this year.  Due to injuries, he has had to go from the bullpen to the rotation.  He has not only shown his stuff translates as a starter, but he also shown he could actually be more effective as a starter.  He has gotten his 2014 deGrom moment, and he has taken advantage of it.

Jon Niese (F).  Somehow, he was worse with the Mets than he was with the Pirates.  He has failed in the bullpen and the rotation.  Hopefully, for him, the reason is because of his knee injury that has required surgery.

Robert Gsellman (Inc.) It’s been a mixed bag for Gsellman.  In his one relief apperance and his one start, he has given the Mets a chance to win.   However, he’s a powder keg out there as it seems as if he is in trouble each and every inning.  To his credit, he has gotten out of most of the jams.  It’ll be interesting to see where he goes from here.

Gabriel Ynoa (Inc.) Ynao was surprisingly called up to pitch out of the bullpen.  In three rough appearances, the only thing you can fairly conclude is he isn’t comfortable yet pitching out of the bullpen.

Josh Edgin (D) Edgin has gone through the long Tommy John rehab process, but he’s not quite back yet.  His velocity isn’t quite there.  With that in mind, he has struggles getting major league batters out.

Josh Smoker (B) After a rough start to his major league career, he has gone out there and gotten better each and every time out.  He is getting his fastball in the upper 90s, and he is a strikeout machine.  He could be a real factor over the next month and in the postseason

Terry Collins (D)  He iced Conforto.  He continues to overwork the bullpen.  He makes baffling lineup decision after baffling lineup decision.  He is even worse with in-game management.  However, with the Mets on a stretch against some bad teams, and the Wild Card frontrunners not having run away with it, he may once again be in position to ride some good luck into the postseason.

Reyes & Cabrera Spark the Offense Again

Much like last night, the Marlins would not have a lead against the Mets for very long. 

In the top of the first, Christian Yelich hit a two run homer off Seth Lugo giving the Marlins an early 2-0 lead. After that, Lugo would shut the Marlins down including robbing Ichiro Suzuki of a base hit to get out of the first. Lugo grabbed the ball dribbling down the line and threw a dart over Ichiro’s head. 

His final line was six innings, five hits, two runs, two earned, one walk, and four strikeouts. 

Jose Reyes and Asdrubal Cabrera would set out to make sure Lugo got the win. With Cabrera playing after missing a game with a knee issue, the two once again served as sparks at the top of the lineup. They started immediately. 
After Reyes leadoff the bottom of the first with an infield single, Cabrera brought him home on a game tying two run homer. 

On the night, Reyes would go 4-5 with two runs and a double. Cabrera was 2-3 with a run, two RBI, a walk, and a homer. With them going like this, you can believe the Mets have what it takes to get back to the postseason.

The first inning rally would continue on a Jay Bruce double. Yes, that actually happened. He would then score on a Wilmer Flores RBI single. It was part of a big night for Flores who was 2-4 with a double and an RBI. 

Just like that, a Marlins lead became a 3-2 deficit. The Mets wouldn’t look back. 

After the first, the Mets kept threatening against Tom Koehler, but they couldn’t quite plate another run. Shocking, I know. The Mets not getting hits with runners in scoring position. 

Things changed in the sixth with Curtis Granderson hitting a pinch hit leadoff home run. It sparked a rally with the Mets loading the bases. Alejandro De Aza singled scoring Reyes making it 5-2, but that’s all the Mets would get that inning. 

On the De Aza single, Cabrera took a wide turn around third, but he did not appear as if he was really trying to score. Rather, it looked as if he was positioning himself in case there was a bobble or something. In any event, he tried to get back to third but he couldn’t because Bruce was standing there. 

Granderson would stay in the game and go to right. He would come back up in the seventh, and he would hit another home run. This was a two run shot scoring Rene Rivera making it a 7-2 game. 

With the Mets now having a big lead, Terry Collins decided to let Hansel Robles stay out there for a second inning because Collins is the only one who hasn’t figured out that Robles is overworked.Fortunately, Robles was able to pitch two scoreless helping to preserve the Mets win. 

The Mets had to turn to Jeurys Familia for the save as Jim Henderson just couldn’t lock down the 7-2 win. Henderson allowed a starting a J.T. Realmuto solo home run, a Jeff Francouer triple, and a Dee Gordon RBI single. Just like that it was a 7-4 game. Familia came in and put an end to the nonsense striking out Marcell Ozuna to record his 43rd save of the year tying the club record he shares with Armando Benitez

With the Mets second straight win against the Marlins, they are now a game ahead of them in the standings.  Things are starting to get interesting. 
Game Notes: Neil Walker missed the game with his lingering back injury. It’s now serious enough that Collins no longer believes Walker can play everyday. James Loney stayed consistent by going 0-3. Before the game, it was announced Steven Matz will not be ready to pitch when his disabled list stint is over because he is still having shoulder issues. 

Pennant Race: The Pirates are losing to the Cubs 3-0 in the seventh. The Cardinals are tied with the Brewers 1-1 in the eighth. The Nationals beat the Phillies 3-2. 

Paul Sewald Deserves a Shot

The Mets have a back-end of the bullpen problem as no one has stepped up to claim that final spot.

For the second straight night, Sean Gilmartin had a tough outing. Overall, it has been a lost year for him with his shoulder injury and the fact that he has an 8.10 ERA in the majors this year.

He took over the spot of Erik Goeddel, who has had a disappointing year. He has a history of injuries, and he has been overworked by Terry Collins. The end result is a 4.55 ERA in 29 appearances.

One of the pleasant surprises to the season that Terry Collins helped ruined is Jim Henderson. Since coming off the disabled list, he has allowed two runs in 2.2 innings. In 29 appearances since throwing a career high 34 pitches, Henderson has a 4.74 ERA and a 1.378 WHIP.

Another nice story is Josh Smoker, who has fought his way from the Independent Leagues to the majors. Still, he has a 6.75  ERA with a 1.750 WHIP in five appearances.

Smoker has taken the place of Josh Edgin who has not fully regained his velocity in his first season after Tommy John surgery. In his limited appearances, he has a 9.82 ERA and a 1.909 WHIP.

In addition to these relievers, the Mets have tried some starters in the pen. Collins showed he had no use for Rafael Montero, who justified Collins’ refusal to play him, by pitching poorly when he finally got a shot. Gabriel Ynoa struggled out of the pen. With Steven Matz going on the disabled list, Robert Gsellman is in the rotation. Furthermore, with the Mets needing to skip a Jacob deGrom start, Montero will start on Monday.

The Mets have searched high and low, and they still haven’t found the answer in the bullpen. They haven’t found the pitcher who will be both effective and be able to allow Collins to give the overworked Hansel RoblesAddison Reed, and Jeurys Familia a break. It’s frustrating because the Mets have seemingly looked everywhere for a solution.

That is everywhere but Las Vegas 51s closer Paul Sewald. It’s strange the Mets haven’t turned to Sewald as he’s certainly merited a call-up.

In 52 appearances, Sewald is 5-3 with 19 saves, a 3.52 ERA, a 1.19 WHIP, and an astounding 11.2 K/9.  Further justifying a call-up is the fact that Sewald is currently pitching the best he has all year. After the All Star Break, Sewald has saved six games with a 2.25 ERA, 0.85 WHIP, and a 12.6 K/9 in 16 appearances. These numbers are all the more impressive when you consider Sewald is doing this in the extremely hitter friendly Pacific Coast League.

Consider current Mets savior Seth Lugo had a 7.73 ERA in the Pacific Coast League, and he has a 2.51 ERA in the majors. As Lugo had showed, success at the majors is all about a pitcher’s arsenal.

Sewald has similar stuff to Reed, who has been brilliant since coming under the tutelage of pitching coach Dan Warthen. Sewald features a low nineties fastball and a plus slider. He maximizes on his repertoire by studying scouting reports. It also helps that Sewald pounds the strike zone. Long story short he had the stuff to compete at the major league level.

The only question is whether he will get the chance. He should as the Mets have looked elsewhere and still haven’t found someone they can rely upon in the back end of the bullpen. They should be able to rely on Sewald.

Editor’s Note: this was first published on

De Aza Saves the Mets Season – Yes, that De Aza

As if the Cardinals weren’t evil enough, they sent Adam Wainwright of all people to the mound to end the Mets season. Fortunately for the Mets, they had the better right-handed with a terrific curveball on the mound. 

That’s right. In the most important game of the season, the 2011 34th round draft pick Seth Lugo took to the mound, and once again he was terrific. His final line was 5.0 innings, two hits, no runs, none earned, three walks, and five strikeouts. He only lasted five innings as he left the game with a cramp in what was a hot and humid day. 

Lugo was never supposed to be in this spot, but there he is. Better yet, much like Jacob deGrom in 2014, he’s taken advantage of an unexpected opportunity. 

The Mets offense took advantage of a struggling Wainwright and a bad Cardinals defense. 

In the fourth, with the Mets already up 1-0, Curtis Granderson would reach on a Jhonny Peralta error. He’d go to third on a Wilmer Flores double. Both would then score on an Alejandro De Aza RBI single expanding the Mets lead to 3-0. Flores, De Aza, and the Cardinals defense would conspire again in the fifth to blow the game open. 

The Mets had Yoenis Cespedes and James Loney on with two out, and Wainwright seemingly induced Flores to hit an inning ending ground out. Instead, second baseman Greg Garcia booted it allowing Flores to reach and Cespedes to score. De Aza would then really make the Cardinals pay:

Just like that it was 7-0 Mets. 

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

The story of the night, aside from Lugo, was Flores and De Aza. Flores was the surprise starter with a right-handed on the mound and Neil Walker on paternity leave. De Aza got the start with Jay Bruce dealing with some type of leg injury. 
Flores would go 2-4 with three runs and sac fly RBI. De Aza would go 2-4 with two runs, five RBI, one walk, and a homer. 

De Aza would also rob Matt Carpenter of a homer on the Cardinals first at bat of the game. 

The Mets offense just exploded in the night. Everyone but Jose Reyes, Cespedes, and Granderson got at least two hits. However, even they reached base two times a piece. Reyes and Cespedes also drew a walk, and Granderson reached on the error. 

The 10 runs the Mets put up made up for some ugly bullpen work. Jim HendersonJosh Smoker, and Sean Gilmartin combined to allow six earned runs. 

Fortunately, the Mets offense put up 10 runs to win the game 10-6. With that, the Mets took two out of three from the Cardinals bringing them back to 3.5 games behind them for the second Wild Card. It also allowed Lugo to earn his first major league win. 

Game Notes: Loney hit cleanup and went 3-5 with three runs snapping his August cold streak. Asdrubal Cabrera was 2-5 with an RBI double. Rene Rivera was 2-4 with two RBI, a double, and a walk. His two RBI came on a single that went to the wall. 

Pennant Race:  The Pirates are tied with the Brewers 2-2 in the eighth. The Nationals beat the Orioles 4-0. The Marlins lost to the Royals 5-2. 

How Did It Come Down to Jon Niese?

Hopefully, the Mets will be in peak defensive form as the team is going to send Jon Niese to the mound in a critical three game set in St. Louis.  How did we get to this point?

Plain and simple, a mixture of bad luck and bad planning.  Niese was never supposed to be a Met in 2016.  The Mets traded him for Neil Walker, and with his reasonably affordable option years, it was presumed that he would be a Pirate through the 2018 season.  However, Niese was horrendous this season leaving the Pirates to demote him to the bullpen.  They were clearly going to let him walk after the season was over.  Fortunately for the Pirates, they were able to get rid of him even sooner.

The Mets had to contend with Matt Harvey‘s season ending surgery which left a hole in the rotation Logan Verrett couldn’t quite fill.  Despite know this, the Mets kept turning to Verrett as they did not trust Gabriel Ynoa, Robert Gsellman, or Seth Lugo. Sean Gilmartin went down with a shoulder injury.  Additionally, the Mets had the under-performing Antonio Bastardo in the bullpen.  The Mets were probably the one team who could use Niese as a bullpen arm and/or a possible fifth starter.  They were probably also the one team that believed they could salvage Niese.

As it turns out, the Mets desperately needed Niese.  Verrett couldn’t handle being the fifth starter.  Ynoa appeared as if the wasn’t ready in his short stint in the Mets bullpen.  Gsellman isn’t putting up great numbers in AAA.  Worst of all, Steven Matz was just diagnosed with a mild rotator cuff strain.  It is quite possible the Mets will need to not only replace Harvey, but also Matz for the rest of the season.  That will put Seth Lugo in the rotation.  It also means the Mets will have to keep Niese in the rotation for the remainder of the season.

It’s strange to think about it.  Niese was the first pitcher removed from the rotation last season.  The Mets seemingly wanted to get rid of him.  Now?  Now, he is a key part of a rotation that is taking the ball to start what is the Mets most critical series to date.

Niese has his fair share of detractors due to his struggles and his inability to accept any blame for his poor pitching.  Detractors could also be synonymous with Mets fans in this case.  With a big finish to the season, Niese can win over a large group of Mets fans.  That all begins tonight.

Somehow, some way, the Niese are relying on Jon Niese yet again.  It’s strange how it came to this point, but here we all are.  Let’s hope Niese makes the best of it because if the does, the Mets will return to the postseason.

Mets Choices Matter as Much as Their Injuries

Overall, if you want to excuse the Mets performance due to injuries, there’s merit to the argument. However, don’t let that excuse away Terry Collins’ and Sandy Alderson’s performance. They chose to go with players have established they can’t do it instead of giving other players a legitimate opportunity. 

On the Fourth of July, Matt Harvey made his last start of the season. Despite Harvey’s understandably poor performance, he left behind a gaping hole in the rotation the Mets didn’t fill. 

First, the Mets went with Logan Verrett. In seven starts, Verrett went 0-3 with a 7.18 ERA and a 1.541 WHIP while only averaging five innings per start. He then lost his job to “fan favorite” Jon Niese who had been demoted to the bullpen by the Pirates before being traded to the Mets. In his lone start, Niese pitched 4.2 innings allowing four hits, four earned, and two walks with six strikeouts. 

Combined, Verrett and Niese were 0-4 with a 7.30 ERA and a 1.524 WHIP.  Last night, Seth Lugo walked off the mound after 6.2 terrific innings having only allowed seven hits, one run, one earned, and one walk with three strikeouts. He’d leave being two base runners that Jerry Blevins would allow to score. 

When David Wright and Lucas Duda went down with season ending injuries, the Mets first turned to Eric Campbell who hit .159/.270/.222 with one double, one homer, and five RBI. 

Next up was Matt Reynolds, who not only helped fill-in for Wright, but also provide some days off for Neil Walker and Asdrubal Cabrera. Reynolds hit .211/.231/.382 with seven doubles, two homers, and 11 RBI. 

Next up was Ty Kelly. As an infielder, Kelly is hitting .227/.292/.364 with one homer and three RBI. 

Combined, Campbell, Reynolds, and Kelly have hit .191/.264/.315 with eight doubles, four homers, and 19 RBI. These are the options the Mets went with while making excuses why T.J. Rivera shouldn’t be called-up to the majors. When Rivera finally fot his shot, he hit .355/.344/.419 with two doubles and three RBI in nine games. 

So yes, injuries have impacted the Mets. However, who they chose to replace those injured players had a similar negative impact. The Mets would’ve been much better with a healthy Harvey, Wright, and Duda. It’s possible they would’ve been over .500 and in the Wild Card race if they had given Lugo and Rivera a shot earlier.