Steven Matz

Simply Amazin Podcast Appearance (I Didn’t Hear No Bell)

On Thursday, I had the privilege of being to be invited on the Simply Amazin‘ Podcast. On the podcast, I mentioned Wilson RamosTomas NidoRene RiveraPete AlonsoGerson BautistaJarred KelenicJeff McNeilRobinson CanoEdwin DiazJeurys FamiliaBrad BrachDaniel ZamoraSeth LugoRobert GsellmanJ.D. DavisDominic SmithNoah SyndergaardSteven MatzMarcus StromanLuis SantanaKeon BroxtonFelix ValerioJuan LagaresLuis GuillormePaul SewaldLuis Avilan, and others.

20/20 Hindsight: Mets Giving It All They Have

The Mets have swept the Arizona Diamondbacks, and once again they are back in the thick of the Wild Card race after having played their way out of it. This has been one of the most mercurial seasons in team history setting forth what should be a fun emotional roller coaster ride over the final 16 games.

1. If you want to get off to a great start, there is no better way to accomplish that than starting with Jacob deGrom. He proved that by going seven innings of shut out ball. When you follow that up with Seth Lugo for two innings, there is no team in baseball that has a chance.

2. To put into perspective how incredible deGrom’s season was last year, he may be the leader in the clubhouse for the 2019 National League Cy Young award, and his ERA this year is a full run higher than it was last year.

3. In terms of this year’s Cy Young Award, tonight will be the second time over his last three starts where he faces off against another Cy Young leader. He pitched better than Max Scherzer the last time out, and this time he is facing off against Hyun-Jin Ryu, who has not been the same pitcher he was in the first half.

4. It is not just deGrom who is pitching great for the Mets lately. Zack Wheeler has three straight starts of 7.0 innings and just one earned. It might’ve taken a little more time than expected, but second half Wheeler finally arrived, and it could not have happened at a better time.

5. As good as deGrom and Wheeler are going, that is nothing compared to Steven Matz at Citi Field. This year, he is 7-1 with a 1.94 ERA at home. This is part of his pitching very well in the second half with a 2.52 ERA limiting opposing batters to a .227/.281/.364 batting line.

6. Then Marcus Stroman followed this trio with his best start in a Mets uniform. With him keeping the ball on the ground, you got a glimpse on just the pitcher the Mets thought they were going to get when they traded for him.

7. On Stroman, you see the impact a catcher can have on a pitcher. With the Blue Jays, Stroman had a 44.2 GB%, but when Wilson Ramos was catching him, it went down to 44.2 percent. Yesterday, the Diamondbacks only got the ball in the air 40.7 percent of the time.

8. This is another reason why we should note Noah Syndergaard‘s objections over Ramos are fact based. Even if it’s not, there is clearly a psychological impact upon him. Really, if the Mets are interested in winning, they would pair Syndergaard up with Tomas Nido or Rene Rivera.

9. What was surprising was seeing Nido homer yesterday. That wasn’t as surprising as Juan Lagares having a two home run game. We had Gary Cohen’s voice cracking as evidence of that. It was a great moment for Lagares who has been a good Met likely playing his final games in a Mets uniform.

10. Homers were a theme in this series with the Mets setting a team record hitting five homers in two straight games. They also set team records for homers at home in a season (114) and homers in a series (13). What is really surprising about this stretch is while everyone went homer happy, Pete Alonso didn’t hit one over the final two games.

11. Alonso is struggling now in an 0-for-12 stretch with seven strikeouts. Things must be getting to him as he took time to go into the clubhouse and shave his mustache mid-game. Unfortunately, it didn’t work, and it may get worse with the Dodgers coming into town with Ryu, Clayton Kershaw, and Walker Buehler.

12. Of course, it was not all bad news with Alonso. He had a two home run game to surge to the Major League home run lead. However, that was nothing compared to his getting first responder cleats for the entire team. That was an incredible move which not only shows character, but it also shows he gets it.

13. The fact Alonso was forced to go that route is because yet again Major League Baseball refused to permit the Mets to wear the first responder caps. They did it while touting Sammy Sosa running with the American flag, and Mike Piazza hitting that homer.

14. They also sell special 9/11 patched caps. That’s Major League Baseball for you. They won’t let players do the right thing because it would interfere with their ability to profit off of a tragedy were many Americans lost their lives, and they continue to do suffering from 9/11 related illnesses.

15. It was not only special to see all the Mets wearing them, but specifically the local Mets like Matz, Stroman, Todd Frazier, Rajai Davis, Joe Panik, and Brad Brach. On that note, Matz pitched six shutout innings, and Frazier would homer wearing those cleats.

16. Matz wearing them was reminiscent of John Franco wearing an FDNY cap in the Mets first game post 9/11. With respect to Matz, he has undertaken charitable work to help those first responders, and due to his efforts he has been a Roberto Clemente Award nominee for the second straight year.

17. On Frazier, he his red hot right now. He has hit three homers over two straight games, and he is playing his usual good defense at third. He is getting hot just at the right time because the Mets need their absolute best from everyone right now.

18. That is something which has made this Mets team really special. They are all giving what they could give. Robinson Cano is playing as much as his leg would allow, and based upon what we heard from Mickey Callaway, J.D. Davis is doing the same. Brandon Nimmo has returned from a potentially season ending injury to play great. Brach is dealing with a shoulder injury, and Justin Wilson has an elbow issue. Right now, everyone is giving this team what they can. That deserves the fans’ love and admiration.

19. We’re also seeing players doing all they can to come back. Dominic Smith is hitting off a tee and running. Robert Gsellman is throwing on the side. They are both doing this despite both having suffered what really was season ending injuries. Again, say what you will about this team, but this is a special group of players.

20. The 1999 Mets overcame a two game deficit over the final three games of the season to force a one game playoff. This team has 16 games. Anything is possible.

Mets Two Back Not Seven Ahead With 17 To Play

In 2007, the Mets were seven games ahead with 17 games to play. We all know that season ended with Tom Glavine melting down against the Florida Marlins. That humiliating collapse is not a good memory for Mets fans, but it should serve as a reminder that anything can happen.

There are better and more positive stories in Mets history on this point.

The 1969 Mets entered September five games back of the Cubs, and they’d go 24-8 to finish the season and win the division going away en route to winning one of the more unlikely championships in professional sports history.

In 1973, the Mets entered September 4.5 games of the Cardinals and Pirates. The “Ya Gotta Believe” Mets pulled it off with a 82-79 record. They’d then push off one dynasty another year by beating the Big Red Machine in the NLCS, and they’d come within one game of knocking off another.

As we know, recent history hasn’t been as kind. The 1998 Mets entered September just one game out of the Wild Card. On September 21, they were one game up in the race only to lose their final five games including getting swept by the Braves. What made that all the more difficult was they only needed to win just one game to tie the Cubs and Giants for what was then the only Wild Card spot.

In 1999, it did seem like there was going to be another collapse with the Mets losing seven straight in October, and they’d lose five of six to the Braves with Chipper Jones telling Mets fans to get their Yankees jerseys out of the closet. They’d get some help sweeping the Pirates to over come the two game deficit with three games remaining in the season before Al Leiter‘s one hitter propelled them to the NLDS.

Heading to the future, the Mets collapsed in 2007, and they did it again in 2008 with Jerry Manuel going to Scott Schoeneweis to end the season. There were bleak times ahead before the 2015 and 2016 season. In terms of 2016, it was a somewhat similar situation to this year where a down National League allowed the Mets to linger in the race.

It should be noted that 2016 team was just 1.5 games back of he St. Louis Cardinals for the second Wild Card. It was not the five game deficit this Mets team faced. In any event, that whole run left a bitter taste as Jeurys Familia allowed a three run homer to Conor Gillaspie to end that season.

Overall, it has been quite a mixed bag for the Mets in these late September Wild Card races. We’ve seen them collapse in 1998 and 2007. We have seen them force a one game playoff in 1999 and go on a magical run. Under a different system in 2016, they got to that game, but they couldn’t win it.

No matter how you break it down, there is one theme for all of those years – the Mets had a chance. As we have seen you have a chance even if you are down seven games with 17 remaining. You can look at that all as a negative all you want. That’s your prerogative.

However, this Mets team has Jacob deGrom, Zack Wheeler, and Steven Matz pitching great. Seth Lugo is the best reliever in baseball. Pete Alonso, Jeff McNeil, and Michael Conforto have played great all year, and Todd Frazier seems to be getting hot at the right time. There are so many more positives behind these players.

At the end of the day, there is legitimate reason for hope. As long as there is hope, there is every reason to believe the Mets can pull this off. We should all be excited at the opportunity before this team.

LETS GO METS!

Thank You Pete Alonso

Tonight’s game was about the Mets and the Diamondbacks facing off against one another in a fight to claim the second Wild Card. However, the day was much more than that.

We were reminded about that throughout our days. For many, it remains a point of pain and reflection. In terms of baseball, it’s a difficult escape when you’re a Mets fan because the Mets story will be forever tied to 9/11.

We were reminded of that during Edgardo Alfonzo‘s in-game interview. In addition to discussing the Brooklyn Cyclones NYPL Championship, he talked about the events of 9/11 and all the Mets did including their wearing the caps.

Those caps have been a sore point amongst Mets fans as MLB has refused to since allow them on the field. They rejected efforts by the Wilpons, David Wright, and many other players. They rejected the efforts from this year’s Mets team. That was until Pete Alonso found a work around – cleats.

As Alonso would tell it, after MLB refused to let them wear the caps, he took it upon himself to organize getting everyone cleats. As he noted, he didn’t nor did his teammates seek permission because they knew it would only lead to MLB refusing to allow them to wear the cleats.

This was a play right out of Todd Zeile‘s book. Much like in 2001, every single Mets player would wear the cleats.

That includes local players like Steven Matz (who also has charity events for the first responders), Todd Frazier, Joe Panik, Rajai Davis, and Brad Brach.

They were the cleats Frazier wore during his two homer game tonight, and they were the cleats Matz wore as he pitched seven scoreless.

They were the cleats the players wore as they batted around in a five run first. In addition to Frazier, Jeff McNeil would also have a two home run night. Brandon Nimmo also homered, and he’d have the quickest home run trot in the majors this year.

When all was said and done, on today of all days, the Mets had nine runs on 11 hits. As incredible as that coincidence was, Alonso’s leadership and comments were all the more so.

After the game, Alonso would say, “I don’t just want to be known as a good baseball player. Hopefully, I want to be known as a good person too.”

In behalf of all Mets fans I can say we know you as a very good baseball player and an even better person.

Pete Alonso Literally Walks It Off

Sometimes, one bad decision or call can change the reflection of an entire game. We saw that happen in the fifth inning.

Up until that point, the Mets were leading 2-0. The first run came when Jeff McNeil singled home Todd Frazier in the second. The Mets might’ve done more damage, but that inning ended on a strike ’em out-throw ’em out double play with McNeil getting thrown out at second.

That 1-0 lead grew to 2-0 when Michael Conforto hit his career best 29th homer off Phillies starter Zach Eflin in the fourth. Those are all the runs Elfin would allow in his five innings of work.

At that time, Steven Matz was cruising. He limited the Phillies to two hits over the first four innings. He was in trouble once in the third when he allowed a double to Jean Segura, and he’d hit Bryce Harper in the hand. With one out, he’d get the ground ball, but it was in the hole. It didn’t matter as Amed Rosario got to the Rhys Hoskins grounder to start the inning ending double play.

It looked like nothing could stop Matz. As it turned out, Fieldin Culbrith stood in the way with a bad (non-reviewable) call.

That foul ball was ruled a Segura double. He’d then score on a J.T. Realmuto RBI double. Matz escaped that jam, but he wouldn’t escape the one in the sixth.

After Hoskins walked to lead off the inning, he’d move to second on a fielder’s choice. With Matz not paying attention, Hoskins would steal third.

At that time, there was a base open with noted Mets killer Maikel Franco at the plate. Instead of walking him to set up a better matchup, Mickey Callaway made the very curious move of letting Matz pitch to him. It didn’t end well as Franco hit the game tying RBI single.

After a Jose Pirela single and Phil Gosselin being announced as the pinch hitter, Callaway made the unorthodox move of going to his LOOGY Luis Avilan to ensure Gabe Kapler wouldn’t go to hit potent left-handed bats on the bench (Jay Bruce, Corey Dickerson) wouldn’t come up.

Avilan was careful throwing nothing but change-ups, but he’d walk Gosselin to load the bases. This led to Brad Brach coming into the game to face Segura. Despite his dealing with a shoulder injury, he’d not only get Segura out, but he’d also pitch a scoreless seventh as well.

After Justin Wilson pitched a scoreless eighth, the Mets would finally rally in the bottom of the eighth after being stymied by the Phillies bullpen for two innings.

The rally started with Frazier drawing a leadoff walk against Blake Parker. With Frazier being the go-ahead run, Callaway went to his bench and pinch ran the fast Sam Haggerty. He then made the odd decision of using Luis Guillorme as a pinch hitter to sacrifice Haggerty over. Guillorme wanted to do more with his bunt, and he almost got a base hit as he seemingly purposefully popped it over the charging Hoskins.

In any event, it got the sacrifice part of the job done. After McNeil walked, Kapler played games trying to get Hector Neris more time. Kapler did get more time for Neris, but apparently, it wasn’t enough time with Pete Alonso delivering the go-ahead RBI single.

On the play, it should be noted Haggerty scored easily despite the hard hit ball and Dickerson’s strong arm. In some ways, pinch running Haggerty bought the Mets a run. An insurance run would score on a Wilson Ramos RBI single.

Now, it should be noted Seth Lugo was unavailable. Wilson has elbow issues and was pinch hit for in the eighth. That meant Edwin Diaz.

For a brief moment, Diaz looked electric striking out Logan Morrison. Then, it was a Segura single and no-doubter Realmuto game tying homer. Diaz would strike out the final two batters, but it was too little too late as he blew his seventh save and his second straight save opportunity.

This is a good time to remember just how resilient this Mets team is. After Mike Morin got two quick outs, the hand changed when Juan Lagares hit a 1-2 pitch for a single. J.D. Davis then hit a 3-2 pitch for a single setting up runners at the corners for McNeil.

Kapler went to his bullpen yet again bringing in Nick Vincent. It would prove to be a huge mistake. The moment was way too big for Vincent who first hit McNeil before being wild against Alonso. Honestly, if Alonso doesn’t go out of the zone, it’s not a full count. Ultimately, it didn’t matter as Alonso would draw the bases loaded walk to literally give the Mets a walk-off 5-4 win.

Once again, the Mets backs were against the walls. They were delivered a guy punch. Like all season long, they didn’t go down. Rather, they staggered, delivered the knockout blow themselves, and they live to fight another day.

Game Notes: Diaz has allowed 14 homers, and Cano has hit 11. Diaz “earned” the win, his second of the year.

20/20 Hindsight: Mets Needed To Complete Sweep

After a brief hiatus after a nice family vacation, I’m back watching games at home instead of on the app and able to get back to things like the 20/20 Hindsight. Without further ado:

1. The 1969 and 1973 Mets overcame five game deficits entering September and so can this team, but in order to do so, they need to complete sweeps and not settle for 2/3.

2. There’s a lot of attention on Mickey Callaway for losing Sunday night. No matter your opinion on the moves, when you boil it down, the Mets lost because Jeurys Familia was flat out bad. They also lost because their three best hitters (Jeff McNeil, Pete Alonso, Michael Conforto) didn’t get the big hit in the eighth after the inning was set up for them to deliver.

3. Seeing Luis Guillorme get that bunt down, we see a player who does all the small things really well. It’s also a reminder how much time the Mets wasted on Jose Reyes and Adeiny Hechavarria instead of giving him his chance.

4. On the bunt, there are actually a few times it’s the right move. This was actually one of those times.

5. Who really wanted to see Familia instead of Daniel Zamora against Bryce Harper?

6. On the call-ups, it was great to see Brandon Nimmo back. His getting a walk and drawing a run shows how terrific a player he is. That said, he needs to throw to second.

7. Zack Wheeler set the tone. Steven Matz slayed some Citizen’s Bank Park demons. Marcus Stroman had his best start as a Met. The starting pitching really stepped up in this series after it disappointed against the Cubs.

8. Speaking of starting pitching it was nice seeing the Mets getting a chance to hit against Jason Vargas, who was his typically bad self on the mound.

9. As usual Joe West is a terrible umpire, but in a surprise twist, he nearly killed Rajai Davis.

10. Just when you want to give up on Todd Frazier, he hits two homers and makes a potentially season saving leaping grab.

11. On those nights, the Mets bullpen has Seth Lugo, Justin Wilson, and Luis Avilan available, this is a great bullpen. When they’re not all available, Sunday happens.

12. Paul Sewald has been a godsend, and it’s at the point where he may be the most reliable right-handed reliever not named Lugo.

13. We should be excited Edwin Diaz had two dominant appearances while remembering it’s just two.

14. Past two weeks, Wilmer Flores is hitting .429/.478/.810, and J.D. Davis is hitting .209/.306/.488. Both have 0.7 WAR for the season with Flores playing fewer games and not costing three prospects. The Diamondbacks are ahead of the Mets in the Wild Card standings.

15. Wilson Ramos hitting streak has come at a critical time. Mets need him to keep hitting at this level if they’re going to have a real chance.

16. The video of Sam Haggerty getting informed by Tony DeFrancesco was great, and you love to see players get their first chance at the MLB level.

17. You’ll note Haggerty was called up while Jed Lowrie was not activated. There is some question whether these decisions were linked.

18. With how he’s slowed down of late, Amed Rosario should move back down the lineup. Even with his slowing down, we’ve seen enough to be excited for the future.

19. After early and justifiable buzz, Joe Panik and Brad Brach are reverting to the players they were before the Mets signed then.

20. Four back of the Cubs is still doable. Three would have been moreso. Of course, this all overlooks how much the Mets blew it against the Cubs.

Trivia Friday: Mets Roberto Clemente Award Winners

This year, we have seen the Mets step up both on and off the field. Todd Frazier donated $50,000 to help build a special needs baseball field in his hometown of Toms River, New Jersey. Through his foundation Conforto Cares, Michael Conforto visits pediatric cancer patients in the hospital, and he hosts the kids at Citi Field. Steven Matz‘s Tru32  has events and fundraisers for first responders.

Overall, this is a very good group of people on the Mets, and each of one them and many more are worthy candidates for the Roberto Clemente Award. If any of these players are nominated and win, they will become the fifth Mets player to win the award. Can you name the four who have won the award? Good luck!


Gary Carter Curtis Granderson Al Leiter Carlos Delgado

20/20 Hindsight: Mets Play Worse Than Awful Players’ Weekend Uniforms Looked

As has seemingly been the case since the dawn of time, the Mets played a big series against the Braves, and the Braves left them in the dust. Somehow, the Mets were not all that worse for ware:

1. Congratulations are due to Pete Alonso who tied Todd Hundley‘s and Carlos Beltran‘s Mets single season mark for homers. Of note, this broke his tie with Mike Piazza for single season homers by a right-handed batter.

2. That homer should’ve been a momentum change in Saturday’s game and for the rest of the series. Instead, due to the way the Mets played, it proved to be a footnote.

3. Speaking of historic footnotes, Jacob deGrom became the first ever pitcher to homer in a game where he struck out 13 batters twice in his career. In that game, the Mets struck out 26 tying a Major League record.

4. With the Yankees roughing up Hyun-Jin Ryu, we should be reminded the Cy Young race is still wide open. On that front, deGrom leads the league in bWAR, fWAR, and strikeouts while being top five in nearly every important statistical category.

5. Steven Matz has also been great recently. On Sunday, he ripped off his fourth straight start of at least six innings allowing two earned or fewer. Of course, with the way the Mets played in this series, he’d take the loss.

6. Two of the three losses were games Billy Hamilton had a huge impact. He got the game winning hit in one, and he scored from first on a single on what proved to be Ronald Acuna‘s game winning two RBI single.

7. One of the reasons Hamilton scored from first was J.D. Davis‘ not hustling in to field it and his weak throw back to the infield. It should be noted he’s a -7 DRS in left.

8. The only thing uglier than his defense was the uniforms this weekend. Seriously, what’s the point of having uniforms promoting players and their personalities if you can’t read them.

9. The only thing worse than that was not claiming Hamilton so you can keep having Aaron Altherr on the bench. To end the narratives, no, Hamilton would not have been designated for assignment when Jeff McNeil and/or Brandon Nimmo returned, especially with rosters expanding in September.

10. Nimmo’s recent rehab appearance looks promising. If he’s right, and Juan Lagares keeps hitting while playing Gold Glove defense, you have to wonder how long the Mets will be willing to live with Davis and his cooling bat in left.

11. No need to speak of Jed Lowrie‘s rehab until he plays consecutive days in the field or even a full game in the field.

12. On the topic of injuries, the Mets need to be heavily fined for how they handled Tomas Nido‘s concussion. He was hit on the head with the follow through of Josh Donaldson‘s back swing and went down. He had to be pulled then and not finish the inning with him then going through concussion protocol between innings. This is not okay.

13. This wasn’t the Mets only terrible decision. Mickey Callaway having Amed Rosario bunt was one of the dumbest decisions he’s made as Mets manager. He doubled down by overmanaging ordering a hit-and-run with Joe Panik. Panik swung and missed, and Rosario was caught at second easily.

14. There was also Callaway not pinch hitting Wilson Ramos for Rene Rivera. The decision made zero sense, and Rivera ended that rally.

15. That’s right, just like Carlos Gomez and Ruben Tejada, Rivera is back because nostalgia is apparently more fun than actual depth and winning.

16. On the Rivera point, Francisco Cervelli was released by the Pirates and was picked up by the Braves. Yes, he’s been bad, bout Nido was hitting .088/.162/.176 in the second half. With Ramos’ injury history, the Mets needed more depth, and they passed on that depth. Like with Hamilton, Cervelli made the Mets pay.

17. Brad Brach needs to be better. After allowing runs on three of his last five appearances, his 7.50 Mets ERA is higher than what it was with the Cubs before he was released. The Mets can’t afford for him to be this while Edwin Diaz is dealing with a trap issue. If he’s not, Paul Sewald May take his spot on the depth chart.

18. This series and history highlights why the Braves are the Mets biggest rival and should be the most hated team by Mets fans, not the Nationals.

19. If you’ve ever heard anyone scream about Brian Jordan, Mel Rojas, Kenny Rogers, or anything Armando Benitez and weren’t quite sure why the vitriol, just look at this series. Mets-Braves games in the late 90s were always like this series.

20. Feel depressed after watching this series? Don’t be. The Mets went from two games out of the Wild Card to two games out of the Wild Card. They’re now hosting the Cubs, the team currently in the second Wild Card spot, and they’re a bad road team.

20/20 Hindsight: So Much For Being a Fringe Postseason Team

The Mets are seven games over .500 for the first time since May 1, 2018. Yes, that’s Two Thousand Eighteen. That’s where the Mets are after sweeping an Indians team which had apparently given the Yankees fits. This goes to show you just how well these Mets are playing right now:

1. Not too bad for a fringe postseason team, huh Cleveland?

2. One of the reasons why the Mets won this series, and one of the reasons why they have been winning games in the second half is how clutch they have been. Specifically, by wRC+, the Mets offense is the second best in the Majors in the second half from the seventh inning on.

3. The other reason is the bullpen has been terrific of late. Specifically, Justin Wilson has been great coming out of the bullpen, and he has been the guy Mickey Callaway trusts to get the Mets out of jams. For example, on Tuesday, he came into a situation with runners on first and second with one out, and he struck out Francisco Lindor and Oscar Mercado.

4. Wilson bailed Steven Matz out of a jam. This should serve to at least partially vindicate Callaway’s decision in Atlanta.

5. Matz is once again on one of those rolls where it seems he is one of the aces on this staff. In the second half, he’s 3-1 with a 2.81 ERA, 1.056 WHIP, and a 4.75 K/BB. Ultimately, this is what Matz can be when he’s used properly by the manager, and he is spinning that curveball.

6. With his great pitching and Wilson bailing him out, Matz would get the win. He also got the win because Michael Conforto hit a huge go-ahead homer in the sixth.

7. As impressive as that homer was, Conforto did something all the more impressive the following day. He visited a children’s hospital to read to pediatric cancer patients, give them better hospital gowns, and overall just spend time with them. Stuff like that will always be more impressive than anything he does on the field.8

8. This really has become a team you enjoy rooting for game-in and game-out. Conforto gives time to pediatric cancer patients. Matz does all that work for first responders. Todd Frazier helped build a special needs baseball field in his home town. The list of the charitable endeavors from these players goes on and on.

9. With respect to Frazier, Gary Disarcina isn’t a very good third base coach. His send of Frazier on the wet dirt with Tyler Naquin‘s cannon in left was plain dumb, especially when he knows the Mets were going to pinch hit for Jeurys Familia in that spot.

10. Familia has been great of late, and he looks more and more like he should be reinserted into the closer’s role on the nights the Mets aren’t going to Seth Lugo to close it all out.

11. The Mets bullpen is emerging as the best in the National League right now. Lugo is the best reliever. With Familia, Wilson, and Brad Brach, they have battled tested relievers who are turning it on at the right time. Luis Avilan is as good as a LOOGY as there is right now. We’re even seeing Paul Sewald raise his game up a level.

12. The bullpen breaking out like that came at a key time as Marcus Stroman was lifted from the game due to a sore hamstring. On that note, what is it with the Mets and hamstrings of late?

13. It is good to see Jeff McNeil and Brandon Nimmo on rehab assignments making their way back to the team. On Nimmo, he’s played three games in four days indicating his return is all the more close. When the Mets are healthy, they are going to have some interesting lineup decisions.

14. While we should be excited about the McNeil and Nimmo rehab appearances, the Jed Lowrie rehab assignment seems more like one of those old David Wright “rehab assignments.” Lowrie has only served as a DH, and Callaway has said they are doing that to play it safe. That doesn’t exactly sound like a guy charging his way back to the team.

15. With how great Juan Lagares has been playing of late, the Mets are probably best served platooning Todd Frazier and Joe Panik with McNeil bouncing between second and third. When Stroman pitches, the Mets should probably keep Frazier and Panik on the infield with McNeil in the outfield to optimize the outfield defense.

16. You can understand riding out this J.D. Davis hot streak for as long as it goes, but when this team is fully healthy, he belongs on the bench because Conforto and Nimmo are simply better baseball players.

17. When Davis made that catch in left field, there were memories of Mike Baxter, and it made you think for a second Noah Syndergaard was going to pitch that perfect game.

18. Syndergaard has been great of late, and he is giving Jacob deGrom a run for his money as to who the best ptcher is on this staff right now. Syndergaard is currently on a stretch where he has eight straight quality starts. In that stretch, he has a 1.82 ERA, 0.976 WHIP, and a 9.1 K/9. This is exactly what he was in 2016.

19. Here’s a fun and interesting thought: With the way the Mets starters are pitching, who do you possibly remove from the rotation when the Mets face off against the Dodgers in the NLDS?

20. The Mets have an opportunity to slay a lot of demons from the late nineties in this weekend series against the Braves. While the Braves may have a Freddie Freeman, they no longer have Chipper Jones or Brian Jordan. To that end, the Mets no longer have Armando Benitez or Mel Rojas. This should (hopefully) be a fun series.

Clutch Hitting Michael Conforto And Amed Rosario Key Mets Win

The Indians came to town, and there were many storylines. The Mets had their flurry of roster moves. Mickey Callaway was facing off against his mentor Terry Francona. Mostly, these were two teams fighting for a spot in their respective postseasons.

On this front, both teams would get terrific pitching performances, and when there is a pitcher’s duel like this, it’s the team who makes a mistake who loses. That mistake would come in the sixth.

Up until that point it was 2-2. Steven Matz was cruising following up his Braves start with an even better one. On the night, Jason Kipnis was the only Indian to get to him with a solo homer in the second and an RBI single in the fourth.

Overall, Matz pitched 6.1 innings allowing two runs (one earned thanks to a Todd Frazier error) on five hits and two walks while striking out seven. He would pick up the win because the Frazier error wasn’t the game changing error.

Like Matz, Shane Bieber was very good. He was very economical with his pitches, and for a while, it appeared he was going to go the distance. Really, his only mistake before the fateful sixth was his allowing a two run homer in the second to J.D. Davis.

In the sixth, Bieber has allowed those two runs. He began the inning retiring Amed Rosario, and he got Joe Panik to hit what should have been a harmless pop out to left. Instead, on the same day Luis Castillo was arrested in the Dominican Republic, Oscar Mercado dropped the ball.

For a moment, Bieber appeared to be getting out of the jam by striking out Pete Alonso. Then, Michael Conforto, who is maligned for not being clutch or not being considered a great player, hit a huge homer giving the Mets a 4-2 lead:

Unlike in Atlanta, Callaway let Matz start the seventh. Matz got himself into trouble allowing a one out single to Greg Allen and walking Franmil Reyes. Callaway went to Justin Wilson who came up huge striking out Francisco Lindor and Mercado. After that, the Mets blew the game wide open.

Frazier got the rally started with a single off Adam Cimber. After that, Juan Lagares, who has been taking much better at-bats of late, drew a walk. A failed sac bunt later led to Rosario with another huge hit with an RBI single expanding the Mets lead to 5-2.

Rosario just continues being a legitimately great player in the second half. He’s hitting, running the bases well, and playing good defense. Tonight, he was an impact player going 2-for-4 with a run, walk, and an RBI.

After the RBI single from Rosario, Panik would hit an RBI single, and Alonso hit an RBI double capping off a four run seventh. After not getting a sac bunt down earlier in the game, Davis would cap off his Uber ride with an RBI double in the eighth capping off the scoring and giving the Mets a 9-2 lead.

After seeing Callaway had no faith in Chris Mazza, Drew Gagnon, or Donnie Hart to wrap up blowouts, Callaway would trust Paul Sewald, and Sewald would pitch with higher velocity pitching a scoreless ninth preserving the 9-2 victory.

The Mets are once again five games over .500, and they’re once again poised to make a run. This is an important stretch, and the Mets are playing with a requisite sense of urgency. Things are getting interesting again.

Game Notes: Rajai Davis was selected from Syracuse, and Walker Lockett was sent down to add him to the roster. Brooks Pounders was designated for assignment to make room for Davis on the 40 man roster. Jed Lowrie began a rehab assignment as the DH for St. Lucie, and Brandon Nimmo is continuing his in Syracuse. Robert Gsellman was a partially torn lat.