The Mets had won 19 consecutive games in which a Mets pitcher had hit a homer. That included Steven Matz‘s last start when he had homered. Well, Matz woud hit a homer again in this game giving you hope it was going to be 20 straight:
— New York Mets (@Mets) September 19, 2018
That homer came off of Aaron Nola, and it not only gave the Mets the lead, but it put a little dent in Nola’s Cy Young case. Certainly, Matz was cognizant of that as after Matz trotted around the bases, he walked up to Jacob deGrom and said, “That was for my friend.”
Really, Matz did all he could do to help deGrom win the Cy Young. In addition to the homer, Matz was good on the mound. In his five innings, he would allow just two hits while walking five and striking out four. In addition to the hitting and pitching, Matz would make an incredible behind the back catch to start a double play:
— New York Mets (@Mets) September 19, 2018
With the four walks, Matz’s pitch count was up. At 91 pitches, it made the decision to pinch hit for him in the top of the sixth an easier one than it normally would be.
At the time the Mets had a 2-0 lead because Dominic Smith would double home Brandon Nimmo in the fourth inning. Smith and Nimmo would take part in another two out rally in the fifth. After Nimmo walked because, well that’s what he does, and Dom singled, Gabe Kapler would pull Nola and put it Pat Neshek. Neshek walked Kevin Plawecki to load the bases, and Mickey Callaway sent up Wilmer Flores to pinch hit.
Flores would strike out on three pitches.
That Flores strikeout was a missed opportunity. With the inherited runners on base, it was a chance to put a further dent in Nola’s Cy Young wishes. It was also a chance to tack on some needed runs.
The Mets would add .02 to Nola’s ERA which probably won’t have much impact on his Cy Young chances. Because the Mets failed to take advantage of the opportunity, they would also miss a chance to saddle Nola with the loss. Well, it was the missed chance and the bullpen implosion.
Jerry Blevins started the fire by walking Carlos Santana and hitting Aaron Altherr with a pitch. Callaway then brought on Drew Smith, who just could not get anyone out. First, it was a Wilson Ramos single. Then a Justin Bour double. Finally, Jorge Alfaro homered. Anthony Swarzak would come on and get the Mets out of the inning without allowing another run.
But by then, it was too late. The Mets fell behind 5-2, and they did not have another run in them. It didn’t matter much as the chance to really dent Nola’s Cy Young case went by the wayside.
Game Notes: In a recent BBWAA poll, deGrom was overwhelming voted as the Cy Young winner.
In an emotional press conference, David Wright announced he was playing on Saturday, September 29th and never again. While we’ve already entered into a post-Wright Mets era, this was a crushing confirmation of the news.
With news like this, the last thing on most people’s minds was playing a game. Let alone two. And yet, there was a scheduled doubleheader.
In the first game, we were treated to a terrific performance from Steven Matz.
— New York Mets (@Mets) September 13, 2018
Overall, Matz pitched 6.1 innings allowing three earned on three hits with two walks and four strikeouts.
It seemed the Marlins were going to win this game 3-2, but that was until Don Mattingly made a mistake. Instead of sticking with Adam Conley, who absolutely owns the Mets, Mattingly went to Kyle Barraclough because Amed Rosario was due up.
While Smith wouldn’t deliver, Michael Conforto would hitting a game tying homer off Barraclough. It was his fourth homer in five games.
Three pitches later, Todd Frazier would hit a walk-off homer.
With that, the game ended with a homer by Wright’s heir apparent for best homegrown position player followed by a homer by the guy signed to replace Wright. Really, it was quite the fitting ending.
But still, there was more baseball to be played.
Vargas would get the win for a few reasons. Chief among them was his catcher Tomas Nido, who made a great play in the field
— Elite Sports NY (@EliteSportsNY) September 14, 2018
before hitting his first career homer
Tomas Nido, the @Mets' No. 12 prospect, went deep to left for his first MLB homer. The 🚀 went 400 feet and had an exit velocity of 101.9 mph. Watch live: https://t.co/nY6ru3JzAQ pic.twitter.com/n8SdejjbMq
— MLB Pipeline (@MLBPipeline) September 13, 2018
The Nido solo shot opened the scoring for the Mets in a three run inning capped off by a two out Conforto RBI double.
That 3-2 lead would hold up as Seth Lugo was as dominant as you can be in his two innings. In fact, Lugo would strike out five of the seven batters he faced.
The Mets built a seventh inning rally starting starting with a Jeff McNeil two out single. As the inning progressed, the Mets scored insurance runs on singles by Conforto and Smith.
That 5-2 lead proved to be save for Robert Gsellman to shut the door on a seemingly rare doubleheader sweep.
With the sweep, the Mets are now just 10 games under .500 for the first time since June 21st.
That would start with Jay Bruce hitting a first inning homer, and it would continue thanks to the younger players on the Mets roster.
Nola would make a tough pitch, but with McNeil being excellent with his bat control, he was able to put a cricket swing on the pitch and hit it into right field for an RBI double.
For a moment, it looked like Bruce was going to drive home McNeil, but he was robbed by Carlos Santana.
At that point, it was tied at 2-2 with Steven Matz matching Nola pitch for pitch. Over his five innings, he allowed two earned on three hits while walking two and striking out eight.
Those two runs were the result of a Santana homer. As it would turn out, Santana would not be the only first baseman flashing leather and hitting homers.
In a surprise decision, Dominic Smith got the start at first against one of the best pitchers in the National League despite not having started a game in over a week. Despite the difficult circumstances, Smith would deliver:
— New York Mets (@Mets) September 8, 2018
That homer would tie the game at 3-3, but the Mets would not be able to pull this one out as the young bullpen was not up for the task.
Tyler Bashlor entered in the seventh, and he dominated the Phillies with two strikeouts and a pop out. The problem would be Callaway left him in for the eighth.
In the eighth, Rhys Hoskins hit a leadoff homer to put the Phillies up 4-3. The Phillies couldn’t muster a rally past that as McNeil and Smith combined to make a phenomenal defensive play:
— New York Mets (@Mets) September 8, 2018
Overall, the Mets would increase Nola’s ERA from 2.23 to 2.29, but they would also give him his 16th win of the season. Time will tell if this will be sufficient to help deGrom.
Game Notes: While downplaying the possibility David Wright will return this season, John Ricco admitted he has not spoken to Wright.
Three years after his Major League debut, it’s still difficult to make heads or tails with Steven Matz. There are days he looks absolutely terrible, and then there are days like today.
In seven innings, he completely dominated the Giants with a career high 11 strikeouts. It was the first double digit strikeout game of his career.
Unfortunately for him, what was arguably the best start of his career was just a no decision as the Mets bats are ice cold and Evan Longoria hit a fourth inning solo homer off Matz. It was just one of three hits off Matz all day.
On the other side, Derek Holland was shutting down the Mets. He was not as dominant as Matz, but he was in control all game.
— New York Mets (@Mets) September 1, 2018
In the sixth, the Mets had a chance to take the lead, but Todd Frazier had some really poor base running.
Worse yet, on a Michael Conforto infield single, Hanson picked Frazier off third base:
— San Francisco Giants (@SFGiants) September 1, 2018
Finally, in the top of the 11th, one of these two teams would get a hit with Wilmer Flores leading off the inning with a double off Hunter Strickland. He’d move over on a Jay Bruce groundout, and he scored on a go-ahead Frazier sacrifice fly.
Robert Gsellman, who has been struggling of late, pitched a perfect ninth with some help from Nimmo:
— New York Mets (@Mets) September 1, 2018
That Nimmo catch sealed the Mets win in a game completely dominated by pitching. That domination was headlined by Matz, who we can only hope has turned the corner much in the same way we have seen Zack Wheeler do this year.
Game Notes: With the Giants starting Holland, the Mets sat Jeff McNeil in favor of Flores at second. Bruce played first.
The Nationals scoreless streak had reached 32 innings, and with the way Steven Matz was pitching, it seemed like that streak may reach all the way to 36 innings with the Mets completing a sweep where they allowed no runs.
For a second in the sixth inning, Trea Turner looked to snap that streak with a lead off home run, but the umpires on the field ruled it was a double. It was a call upheld on replay:
Crew Chief reviews call that Trea Turner did not hit a home run in the 6th, call stands, no home run.
— MLB Replay (@MLBReplays) August 26, 2018
While it didn’t go out, it was just a matter of time before the Nationals scored. Anthony Rendon singled Turner to third, and Turner would score on a Juan Soto ground out. Matz would get out of the inning without allowing another run, but the damage was done.
Matz was destined to lose this game as the Mets mustered only three hits in the entire game against Jefry Rodriguez and the Nationals bullpen. Jeff McNeil was one of the three Mets who got a hit, and he would leave the game in the seventh with a strained quad.
Entering the eighth, Paul Sewald took the mound to try to keep the game to one run hoping beyond hope the Mets could run into one and tie the score. Instead, Sewald imploded.
Sewald loaded the bases and walked in a run. Then Bryce Harper entered the game as a pinch hitter, and he unloaded the bases with a three RBI double. On that play, Jose Reyes took the relay throw and spiked the throw home. With Tomas Nido unable to field the throw, Soto would score easily.
All told, it was an eight run inning with five runs charged to Sewald and three charged to Bashlor.
In the ninth, Corey Oswalt, a starting pitcher, was asked to come in and pitch an inning. On the bright side, he accomplished that task by recording three outs in the top of the ninth. On the downside, he pitched terribly.
The Nationals were were clearly not running up the score going station-to-station instead of taking the extra base. This led to them loading the bases. Difo first singled home a run, and Spencer Kieboom walked to force home a run. Mark Reynolds would then unload the bases with a grand slam.
That would make the score 15-0. To put in perspective how poorly this Mets season has gone, this wasn’t even the Mets worst loss to the Nationals. On July 31st, the Mets would lose 25-4 against the Nationals, which was the worst loss in franchise history. So to that extent, today’s game wasn’t so bad.
Game Notes: Jay Bruce played all nine innings at first base.
Perhaps, the Mets did not give McNeil his chance because they were not sure his incredible season in the minors would translate to MLB success. So far, it has.
In tonight’s game, McNeil was at the center of both Mets rallies with him going a perfect 4-for-4 with two runs, a double, and an RBI.
Jackson would move to second on Hunter Pence‘s their home, but the Mets could not bring him home.
Still, with the two runs scored, the Mets tied the score and got Steven Matz off the hook.
Initially, things did not look good for Matz. Three batters into the game, he and the Mets were down 2-0 with Evan Longoria hitting a bomb off of him:
103 mph 🚀
— San Francisco Giants (@SFGiants) August 21, 2018
Fortunately, Matz would settle in, and he would not allow another hit in his five innings pitched. With this being his second start since coming off the disabled list, Matz was done after five innings and 87 pitches.
Corey Oswalt, who was recently demoted to the bullpen, relieved Matz, and he would pitch three terrific scoreless innings allowing just one hit. Not only would he pitch well, but he would also pick up his third win of the season.
Oswalt got the win because the Mets offense jumped all over Tony Watson starting with a Reyes triple off a ball Pence just could not field.
McNeil jumped on the first pitch, and much like Flores did in the previous inning, he hit an opposite field double. The double easily scored Reyes giving the Mets a 3-2 lead.
With the open base, and his historical numbers against left-handed batters, Watson intentionally walked Flores to face Conforto. That was a mistake:
Oppo. 💪💪💪 pic.twitter.com/UIUR89EpfX
— New York Mets (@Mets) August 22, 2018
The opposite field three run homer gave the Mets a 6-2 lead.
In the end, this was a game won because McNeil is a professional hitter who delivered in two big spots. It makes you wonder how different things would have been had the Mets given him a chance when they first needed him.
Game Recap: 2015 NLCS MVP Daniel Murphy was traded by the Nationals to the Cubs as the Nationals have begun selling what they can.
Believe it or not, two years ago, Todd Frazier was part of a Toms River team who won the Little League World Series. Of course, you believe it because we are reminded of it all the time. But it wasn’t just Frazier with Little League World Series exploits. Michael Conforto is the only player to homer in both the World Series and the Little League World Series.
Considering the Mets connection with to the Little League World Series, it made them the natural choice to participate in the Little League Classic.
What made the choice even better was how much the team embraced it. Frazier was out there signing autographs. Jacob deGrom was interviewing Little Leaguers. Noah Syndergaard was sharing pitching grips with members of the Spanish team. Really, to a man, the Mets were taking pictures with the young players. Syndergaard and deGrom would join Steven Matz and Zack Wheeler in watching the game from the stands with the Staten Island Little League team.
The Mets also embraced the challenge on the field, which included Jason Vargas having his best start in a Mets uniform.
Surprisingly, the Phillies could not get to Vargas until the sixth when Carlos Santana hit a two run home run off of him. After a Wilson Ramos double, Mickey Callaway brought in Seth Lugo, the Quarterrican, to get out of the jam. At that point, it was too little too late for the Phillies.
The Mets first rally was started by Frazier (who else?). His leadoff single against Nick Pivetta was the first of four straight singles. The Jose Bautista and Kevin Plawecki singles would plate two runs. After a Vargas sacrifice bunt, Amed Rosario would hit a two RBI single to give the Mets an early 4-0 lead.
The Mets lead would grow to 7-0 before the Phillies would even score a run off of Vargas. Jeff McNeil plated two runs with an RBI single in the fourth, and Rosario plated a run with another RBI single in the sixth.
Things were going so well for the Mets that Dominic Smith, who was called-up as the 26th man for the game, would hit an RBI pinch hit double in the eight. With Brandon Nimmo hurting, the Mets are now considering keeping Smith up to play left field, which would obviously be the right thing to do.
Game Notes: Asdrubal Cabrera went 1-for-17 against his former team in this series.
Amed Rosario hit the very pitch of the game from Ranger Suarez for a home run, and the Mets were off and running to set a new franchise record with 24 runs on 25 hits in their 25-4 victory. These records were previously set 30 years to the date in a Mets game at the Cubs.
What is interesting is this game was back-and-forth for the first four innings with the Phillies getting to Corey Oswalt with solo homers from Rhys Hoskins, Maikel Franco, Nick Williams, and Jorge Alfaro.
Entering the fateful fifth inning, it was just 5-4 Mets. Then in that fifth inning, Alfaro threw away the ball on an Oswalt bunt, and then Hoskins would later just completely miss a fly ball in left. The big hit in what would be a 10 run fifth inning was a Jose Bautista grand slam. From there, the game was over, and eventually Phillies manager Gabe Kapler actually turned to position players to get the final nine outs of the game so to save his bullpen for the second half of the doubleheader.
To put in perspective how well that went, the Mets scored seven runs off the position players, and that was highlighted by Jerry Blevins hitting an RBI single off of Scott Kingery. Yes, that’s how absurd things got. A reliever got a hit off of a position player. All told, the Mets had an absolute field day at plate:
- Amed Rosario 4-7, 4 R, HR, 3 RBI, SB
- Austin Jackson 3-7, 3 R, 2B
- Wilmer Flores 3-7, 2 R, 2 RBI
- Michael Conforto 3-7, HR, 3 R, RBI
- Todd Frazier 1-4, 2 R, 2B, RBI, 2 BB
- Brandon Nimmo 1-2
- Jose Bautista 3-4, 3 R, 2B, HR, 7 RBI, BB
- DFA Candidate 2-5, 2 R, 2B, RBI, 2 BB
- Kevin Plawecki 4-4, 3 R, 2B, 3B, 3 RBI, 2 BB
As you can see from the 1-2 for Nimmo, the one downside was he had to come out of the game due to him hitting his hand when he swung at a pitch he put in play. Nimmo would come out the game, and his x-rays would be negative, but with the Mets being the Mets, you never know what will happen next.
In the second game of the doubleheader, it seemed like the Mets were going to once again be off and running. Against Phillies starter, Zach Eflin, Rosario, Jeff McNeil, and Conforto would hit three consecutive doubles to give the Mets a 2-0 lead.
The disappointment of Conforto not scoring from second would soon be magnified by Steven Matz giving up the lead by surrendering a three run homer to Hoskins in the bottom of the first. Matz would not settle in during the second inning either with him giving up a homer to Kingery in what would be a consecutive three run inning for the Phillies.
All told in his first start since returning form the disabled list, Matz pitched just those two innings allowing six runs (four earned) on five hits with a walk and two strikeouts.
As bad as Matz looked, Devin Mesoraco looked worse. After Roman Quinn reached on a throwing error by Matz, Mesoraco would push him to second with a passed ball. Later that inning, Mesoraco threw through on what would be a double steal, and on the return throw, the out of position Mesoraco whiffed on the tag.
César out here giving Benny "The Jet" Rodriguez a run for his money. pic.twitter.com/0K0WV7qERa
— Philadelphia Phillies (@Phillies) August 17, 2018
Things would lie dormant until the bottom of the sixth when Bobby Wahl entered the game. Wahl would appear to have tweaked something in his leg or bat on the Quinn bunt single. Wahl would stay in the game, and he would surrender an RBI double to Cesar Hernandez. On the double, Conforto got to the ball, and made a strong throw to second. Hernandez was dead to rights, but McNeil just dropped the ball.
Later that inning, Williams hit a sinking liner Williams just missed getting to in time. At that point, it was 8-2 Phillies.
The Mets, who have been playing much better of late would show some fight.
Tyler Bashlor would give one of those runs back by allowing back-to-back doubles to Santana and Franco in the seventh before settling in and retiring the Phillies.
Even with the five run deficit, the Mets would go on the attack in the ninth starting with Plawecki reaching with Phillies reliever Yacksel Rios throughing a screwball between Santana’s legs. As the inning continued Conforto and Flores would hit RBI singles to pull the Mets to within 9-6, which then led to Kapler brining in his closer Seranthony Dominguez.
The Mets would bring the tying runs to the plate with Jackson and Bautista, but both would strike out to end the rally and the game.
Overall, it was quite a day for a Mets offense who is suddenly alive and robust. It will be interesting to see how this continues as this series progresses with the Mets always hitting well at Citizens Bank Park.
Game Notes: With the Mets scoring 25 runs, they became the first team in a decade to score 15 runs in consecutive games. Jacob Rhame was available as the 26th man, and he would pitch two scoreless to close out the first end of the doubleheader.
As reported by Mike Puma of the New York Post, Mets owner Fred Wilpon does not want to hire a younger and more analytics driven executive for two reasons. The first is he feels he will have a harder time connecting with that person. The second and perhaps all the more baffling is the “thought among team officials that perhaps the Mets became too analytics driven in recent seasons under Sandy Alderson’s watch . . . .”
Taking the thought at face value, we really need to question which analytics the Mets are using to inform their decisions.
For starters, look at Asdrubal Cabrera. Everyone knew he was no longer a shortstop, so that left the question over whether he should have been a second or third baseman heading into the 2018 season.
In 2017, Cabrera was a -6 DRS in 274.1 innings at second. That should have come as no surprise as he was a -10 DRS the last time he saw extensive action at second base (2014). Conversely, in his 350.1 innings at third last year, he had a 1 DRS.
Naturally, the Mets went with Cabrera at second this season where he has been an MLB worst -20 DRS. That makes him not just the worst second baseman in all of baseball, it makes him the worst defensive infielder in all of baseball.
Of course, the Mets got there by acquiescing a bit to Cabrera’s preference to play second over third. This was also the result of the team turning down a Paul Sewald for Jason Kipnis swap. That deal was nixed over money.
With respect to Sewald, he was strong when the season began. In April, he had a 1.91 ERA and a 0.805 WHIP. Since that point, Sewald has a 5.73 ERA, a 1.485 WHIP, and multiple demotions to Triple-A.
As for Kipnis, he has struggled this year hitting .226/.313/.363. It should be noted this was mostly due to a horrific April which saw him hit .178/.254/.243. Since that tough start to the season, Kipnis has gotten progressively better. Still, it is difficult to lose sleep over Kipnis even if the rejected trade put Cabrera at second and it led to the Mets signing Todd Frazier, who is hitting .217/.298/.368.
At the time the Mets signed Bruce, they needed a center fielder. The team already had Yoenis Cespedes in left, and once he returned from the disabled list, the team was going to have Michael Conforto in right. Until the time Conforto was ready, the team appeared set with Brandon Nimmo in the short-term.
In 69 games in 2017, Nimmo hit .260/.379/.418. In those games, Nimmo showed himself to be a real candidate for the leadoff spot on a roster without an obvious one, especially in Conforto’s absence. With him making the league minimum and his having shown he could handle three outfield positions, he seemed like an obvious choice for a short term solution and possible someone who could platoon with Juan Lagares in center.
Instead, the Mets went with Bruce for $39 million thereby forcing Conforto to center where he was ill suited. More than that, Bruce was coming off an outlier year in his free agent walk year. Before that 2017 rebound season, Bruce had not had a WAR of at least 1.0 since 2013, and he had just one season over a 100 wRC+ in that same stretch. In response to that one outlier season at the age of 30, the Mets gave Bruce a three year deal.
Still, that may not have been the worst contract handed out by the Mets this past offseason. That honor goes to Jason Vargas.
The Mets gave a 35 year old pitcher a two year $16 million deal to be the team’s fifth starter despite the fact the team had real starting pitching depth. At the time of the signing, the Mets had Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Steven Matz, Zack Wheeler, Matt Harvey, Seth Lugo, Robert Gsellman, Chris Flexen, and Corey Oswalt as starting pitching depth.
Instead of using five of them and stashing four of them in Triple-A, the Mets opted to go with Vargas as the fifth starter. Even better, they depleted their starting pitching depth by moving Gsellman and Lugo the to bullpen. Of course, this had the added benefit of saving them money thereby allowing them to sign Anthony Swarzak, a 32 year old reliever with just one good season under his belt.
The Mets were rewarded with the decision to sign Vargas by his going 2-8 with an 8.75 ERA and a 1.838 WHIP. He’s also spent three separate stints on the disabled list.
What’s funny about Vargasis he was signed over the objections of the Mets analytics department. From reports, Vargas was not the only one. Looking at that, you have to question just how anyone associated with the Mets could claim they have become too analytics driven. Really, when you ignore the advice of those hired to provide analytical advice and support, how could you point to them as the problem?
In the end, the problem is the same as it always has been. It’s the Wilpons.
They’re the ones looking for playing time for Jose Reyes at a time when everyone in baseball thinks his career is over. They’re the ones not reinvesting the proceeds from David Wright‘s insurance policy into the team. They’re the ones who have a payroll not commensurate with market size or World Series window. They’re the ones rejecting qualified people for a job because of an 81 year year old’s inability to connect with his employees.
Really, you’re not going to find an analytical basis to defend making a team older, less versatile, more injury prone, and worse defensively.
What you will find is meddlesome ownership who thinks they know better than everyone. That’s why they’re 17 games under .500 with declining attendance and ratings while saying the Yankees financial model is unsustainable at a time the Yankees are heading to the postseason again and the team has the highest valuation of any Major League team.
Last year, Player’s weekend was a hit as fans got to see their favorite players wear fun jerseys featuring their nicknames on the back of their jerseys. Believe it or not, some of those were nicknames were rejected for various reasons.
For example, Brandon Nimmo wanted to use his Twitter handle, You Found Nimmo, but MLB was afraid of copyright issues. When it came to Kyle Seager, he wanted to go with “Corey’s Better.” With that rejected, he paid homage to his brother Corey Seager by merely noting on his jersey he was “Corey’s Brother.”
Well, the Mets officially approved Player’s Weekend nicknames and jerseys have been released. However, as noted with Nimmo, there were other names the players wanted which were rejected by MLB:
Tyler Bashlor – Mickey, I’m Available To Pitch
Jose Bautista – Trade Value Going, Going, Gone!
Jerry Blevins – One Magic LOOGY
Michael Conforto – Shouldering The Load
Travis d’Arnaud – d’L
Phillip Evans – DFA TBA
Wilmer Flores – 👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻
Robert Gsellman – Don’t Care What You Think
Austin Jackson – 2019 Opening Day CF
Juan Lagares – Out For The Season
Seth Lugo – Quarterrican (That’s perfection; you don’t mess with that)
Steven Matz – Not So Strong Island
Jeff McNeil – 2B/3B/OF
Devin Mesoraco – Harvey’s Better
Brandon Nimmo – Don’t Worry, Be Happy
Corey Oswalt – Vargas (figured it was the only way he would get a start)
Kevin Plawecki – Plawful
Jose Reyes – Melaza Virus
Amed Rosario – Mentor Wanted
Paul Sewald – AAAAll Star
Dominic Smith – Waist And Future Gone
Drew Smith – Mickey, I’m Available To Pitch (Yes, it’s a repeat of Bashlor. They’re trying to prove a point.)
Anthony Swarzak – Still Just One Good Season
Noah Syndergaard – 60’6″ Away
Jason Vargas – $16 Million Dollar Man
Zack Wheeler – Finally Good
David Wright – Hurts Here Doc