Steven Matz

Thank You Asdrubal Cabrera

When looking at Sandy Alderson’s tenure as the Mets General Manager, you would have to say one of the best moves he made was signing Asdrubal Cabrera in the offseason immediately after the Mets pennant.

When you look at Cabrera’s Mets career, the one thing that immediately comes to mind is how he almost single-handedly carried the Mets to the 2016 postseason.

At that time, the Mets were down Matt Harvey, Steven Matz, and Jacob deGrom in the rotation.  The team had no third baseman for most of the season.  Lucas Duda was essentially done for the year, and James Loney was doing a bad job offensively and defensively at first.  Neil Walker would go down with a season ending back surgery.  The prior year’s hero, Yoenis Cespedes, was in and out of the lineup with quad issues, and when he did play, he wasn’t the same guy he was in 2015.

After what was a largely disappointing injury plagued year, Cabrera came off the DL on August 19th, and he went on an absolute tear.  From that point until the end of the season, he hit .345/.406/.635 with 11 doubles, a triple, 10 homers, and 29 RBI.

To put it in perspective just how great a run that was, Cabrera had the seventh best wRC+ over that stretch.  His 179 wRC+ was better than players like Miguel Cabrera, David Ortiz, NL MVP Kris Bryant.

In that insane stretch, the Mets went from two games under .500 to finishing the year 87-75 with the top National League Wild Card.  Not only did Cabrera fuel that run, but he might have also given us one of the greatest bat flips in Mets history:

From there, things haven’t been so great with the Mets.  Unfortunately, it did lead to Cabrera demanding a trade when the team wanted to move him off of shortstop.  With the Mets unable to move him, the team did pick up his option, and he returned.

It is a good thing he returned because Cabrera has been a bright spot in an otherwise dismal season.  His 122 wRC+ is sixth best among Major League second basemen, and it is second best among players on the Mets Opening Day roster.

Whatever issues Cabrera may have caused with his demands, he is a guy who came to play each and every day.  No matter what the injury or issue, he wanted in the lineup.  More often that not, he contributed.

Part of the reason why is Cabrera is that rare breed of player who actually raises his game in New York.  His 116 OPS+ with the Mets is better than any of his previous stops.  He averaged a higher WAR with the Mets than at any other stop.  It’s impressive he did this as a player towards the end of his prime as opposed to one entering his prime.

Overall, the New York Mets organization has been better for Cabrera having been a part of it.  He was a player born to play in New York, and he had the opportunity to show it with a great pennant run in 2016.  For that run alone, Mets fans should be thankful.

In the end, we should all wish Cabrera good luck in Philadelphia, and yes, given his play here, there Mets should consider bringing him back next year.

Mets Undefeated With McNeil

Well, it may not have been the prettiest of games, but the Mets came to play, and they beat the Pirates pretty handily.

Once again, it started with Michael Conforto and his hot hitting. After he would nearly hit one out against Pirates starter Nick Kingham, Wilmer Flores would actually hit one out.

The homer gave the Mets a 2-0 lead, and the team was off and running.

For three innings, it was back-and-forth with David Freese and Josh Harrison hitting two run homers off Steven Matz.

To Matz’s credit, he settled down, despite him apparently not feeling well, he gutted through six innings keeping the Pirates to the four runs. He would also strike out a career high nine batters.

Because the Mets bats exploded, he would get the win.

One of the big reasons why was Asdrubal Cabrera putting on a show in what is likely one of his final games in a Mets uniform. Overall, he was 3-5 with two runs, a double. homer, walk, and four RBI.

The first big inning for the Mets was the fourth, and it was aided by two big Pirates errors.

After a Cabrera two run homer, Conforto reached on a Harrison fielding error. Later that inning, with bases loaded and two outs in the inning, Freese threw it away allowing Devin Mesoraco to reach safely and Brandon Nimmo to score.

Jose Bautista would get thrown out at home with him trying to score from second. That would end the inning with the Mets leading 7-4.

The Mets bats awoke again in the seventh, and it began with a beautiful Jeff McNeil, who was starting his first game, base hit:

It was an uneven game for McNeil in his first ever start.  He was 1-2 with a run and two walks, and he did help turn two 5-4-3 double plays.  He also made an error and base running mistake in the game.  Fortunately, not only did they not cost the Mets the game, but his positives did outweigh his negatives in this game.  It should come as no surprise the team is 3-0 in games he has played.

After a Mesoraco single, Jose Reyes predictably failed to deliver the big hit by popping out to Freese.  Where Reyes failed, the player he is supposed to be mentoring (but isn’t) came up a delivered what could have been the final blow in the game.  Rosario’s RBI single gave the Mets an 8-4 lead.

With Pirates reliever Rich Rodriguez throwing a wild pitch, Mesoraco was able to get to third and Rosario to second.  This would not just allow Mesoraco to score on a Cabrera grounder to the right of the pitcher, but it would put Rosario to score on another wild pitch during Conforto’s at-bat.  At that point, it was 10-4 Mets, which is a rare place for this team to have been lately.

Things were going so well for this team, Matt den Dekker would even contribute hitting a sacrifice fly in the eighth.  In fact, Flores would hit one as well in the ninth giving the Mets a then 12-5 lead.

It is remarkable how the Mets had three sacrifice flies in this game.   Those are the sort of small ball runs this team had been leaving on the bases all season long.  While it has been a rough first year for Mickey Callaway, we are seeing this team improve fundamentally by getting bunts down and their starting to take advantage of these run scoring opportunities.

Surprisingly, Jerry Blevins and Paul Sewald would get the first cracks out of the bullpen.  Blevins might’ve helped his trade value with a scoreless inning.  Sewald struggled after two quick outs, but he did get out of his inning having allowed just one run scored.

It was the same story for Drew Smith.  He got two quick outs before getting into minor trouble, minor because the game was nowhere near jeopardy.  After he allowed one run, the Mets would win the game 12-6.

Surprisingly, this team is not only on a three game winning streak, but they are also over .500 in the Month of July.  Oh what could have been.

Game Notes: Corey Oswalt was sent down to Triple-A so Jason Vargas could be activated from the disabled list to start the Mets next game.

Mets Do Just Enough To Lose

Heading into this year’s Yankee Stadium portion of the Subway Series, the Mets had a decided advantage in starting pitching. Yesterday, that led to a win with Noah Syndergaard on the mound.

Through the first three and a half innings, it seemed like it would be the case again with Steven Matz out-pitching Sonny Gray.

Up until that point, the Mets had a 1-0 lead due to a Michael Conforto second inning homer. That lead completely evaporated in the bottom of the fourth.

It started innocuously enough with a Giancarlo Stanton leadoff single. Then with one out in the inning, Matt den Dekker would make a number of defensive miscues starting with the Didi Gregorious RBI “triple.”

Throughout that fourth, Matz would make his pitches, but his team, specifically den Dekker, wasn’t making a play behind him. All told, it was a four run inning for the Yankees.

In the sixth, Conforto would get things started with a one out walk, and Jose Bautista followed with a walk of his own. This led to Aaron Boone lifting Gray and bringing in David Robertson.

With two outs in the inning, Amed Rosario hit an RBI single that not only brought Conforto home, but it allowed Bautista to go to third. It mattered because Robertson threw away a pickoff attempt allowing Bautista to score. The rally would end there as den Dekker struck out.

The Mets would quickly see the 4-3 deficit grow and grow.

In the bottom of the inning, Miguel Andujar doubled, and Greg Bird singled him home.

It’s hard to say Matz pitched well considering he surrendered five runs, all earned, but he did. The defense was that poor.

In consecutive innings, Tim Peterson and Anthony Swarzak would surrender a run to give the Yankees a 7-3 lead.

In the ninth, it seemed like Aroldis Chapman was in to pitch his inning and let everyone get home before the rain came later tonight. The issue with Chapman was he couldn’t get an out.

After loading the bases, he walked Jose Reyes and then plunked Brandon Nimmo. Suddenly, the Mets were down 7-5 with bases loaded and no outs.

Now, it should be noted Asdrubal Cabrera should have been due up. The problem was he was ejected in the fifth after getting tossed arguing balls and strikes. When that happened, he joined hitting coach Pat Roessler who was tossed in the third for the same issue.

Cabrera was replaced in the lineup by Devin Mesoraco (as a DH). He’d face Chasen Shreve who came on for Chapman, get the most important at-bat of the game, and he’d hit into a rally killing 4-6-3 double play.

Ty Kelly would score on the play to make it 7-6. Wilmer Flores then tapped out to Shreve to end the game.

With that, the Mets did just enough to lose. Just enough.

Game Notes: Jeurys Familia was finally traded to the Athletics. Yoenis Cespedes was unavailable as he was too sore to play. As it turns out, he also needs surgery to remove calcifications in both heels. The recovery time is approximately 10 months.

Mets End First Half Only Way They Can

In some ways, the Mets final game before the All Star Break was a microcosm of the entire first half of the season.  It started with a lot of promise, and things would quickly unravel from there.

Really, the biggest thing you want to take away from this game is just how good Corey Oswalt pitched. He only needed 59 pitches to get through five innings.  In those five innings, he allowed just one earned on two hits while walking none.

In four of his five innings, he got the Nationals to go down 1-2-3.  The only issue was the second when Anthony Rendon and Matt Adams led off the inning with back-to-back singles setting the stage for a Michael Taylor RBI ground out.  Even with that rally, Oswalt still impressed inducing Matt Wieters to hit into a rally killing and inning ending double play.

Of course, with how well he was pitching, you knew Mickey Callaway was going to be double guessed for lifting him for a pinch hitter in the fifth.

At the time, the score was tied 1-1, and to be fair, the Mets weren’t really setting the world on fire against Jeremy Hellickson.

After Jose Reyes hit a one out double and advanced to third on a wild pitch, Amed Rosario had a chance to deliver the go-ahead RBI and not just get the lead but keep Oswalt in the game.  He struck out.  Dominic Smith, who was given a talking to by Callaway, pinch hit for Oswalt, and he was hit by a pitch.

Unfortunately, Brandon Nimmo, who hasn’t been hitting near as well since he was hit on the hand in Atlanta, couldn’t deliver.

Seth Lugo came out of the pen for a shutdown inning, but after that it was the typical Mets comedy of errors coming out of the bullpen.

The Mets would use Anthony Swarzak, Tim Peterson, and Jerry Blevins in the seventh.  None of them were effective.  Swarzak was the worst with him walking the two batters he faced before getting pulled.  Ultimately, to add insult to injury, it was Daniel Murphy who delivered the go-ahead hit in what would become a five run inning.

In the end, the Mets lost 6-1, and they have not won a series since May. They have the fewest wins in the National League, and they continue to play Reyes everyday while not giving younger players like Jeff McNeil or Smith an opportunity.

Really, this is a bad team whose front office is managing it to the ground.

Game Notes: Blevins escaped the seventh inning jam by picking off a runner.  That was his third pick off of the season tying him with Steven Matz for the team lead.

Mets Lose With Veterans Again

Even when the Mets were at their best, Max Scherzer dominates them. In fact, as the Mets were preparing for what would be a pennant run, Scherzer threw a no-hitter against them.

With the Mets lineup featuring Jose Reyes and Matt den Dekker, it was fair to assume the worst.

Shockingly, the Mets were actually game against Scherzer tonight.

A pair of misplays from Michael Taylor in the first led to an Asdrubal Cabrera double and then his scoring easily on a Jose Bautista RBI single.

That rally sputtered with Bautista getting nailed by Taylor inches:

In the fourth, Bautista hit a solo homer, and Kevin Plawecki homered in the seventh.

It wasn’t enough as the Mets were chasing all night.

One of the reasons why is Anthony Rendon owned Steven Matz. Rendon hit a pair of homers off Matz giving the Nationals a 3-2 lead.

Aside from the Rendon at-bats, Matz had a pretty good game. He limited the rest of that lineup to six hits in 6.1 innings.

Still, he would be tagged with the loss.

The big hit for the Nationals came after Matz left the game. With the Mets down 3-2 in the seventh, Mickey Callaway brought in Jerry Blevins to face Bryce Harper. Harper would launch a homer to give the Nationals a 5-2 lead:

Asdrubal Cabrera homered off Kelvin Herrera in the eighth to pull the Mets to within 5-4, but that was it.

After that homer, Bautista and Michael Conforto drew back-to-back walks putting the tying run in scoring position with one out.

Since it was the eighth and not the ninth, Wilmer Flores fouled out, and den Dekker followed with a strikeout.

In the ninth, Plawecki led off against Ryan Madson with a single. That went nowhere.

First, after Reyes failed to get down the bunt, he hit a fielder’s choice. Amed Rosario, who didn’t start because he was hitting too well (seriously) pinch hit and hit into a game ending double play.

The Nationals are back over .500 now and are in the thick of the postseason race. The Mets are 17 games under .500 and starting Reyes.

Game Notes: Jeff McNeil, a prospect the Mets previously said is only a second baseman, started tonight at third base. This is on the same night Bautista started at third for the Mets.

Mets Surprised, Not Ready

The Rays have become a story in baseball for using an opener, i.e. a reliever, to start some games. They’ve arguably had to experiment with it due to the state of their starting pitching. The obvious exception to that is today’s starter Blake Snell, who has been phenomenal this year.

Snell is an ace, and when you face him, you have to take advantage of your opportunities and not make mistakes.

Well, Steven Matz did make mistakes, including walking and hitting Snell, but he fought through it with what was a really good start. In fact, in a fair and just world, Matz gets through his 6.1 innings unscathed.

Matt Duffy doubled to lead off the sixth, and after a Daniel Robertson groundout, he was on third with one out. With Snell on the other side, Mickey Callaway brought the Mets infield in.

Matz got the grounder with Wilson Ramos grounding it right at Amed Rosario. Rosario charged in, and the ball hit him in the heel of the glove. This cost him a shot at Duffy, and it gave the Rays a 1-0 lead.

With the Mets offense completely sputtering and shooting itself in the foot, that one run was enough.

In seven of the nine innings, the Mets got their leadoff runner on base. In three of those innings, it was a leadoff double.

Still, the Mets had one really good opportunity in the seventh, and it as bad luck that cost them.

Jose Reyes led off the eight with a double past the outstretched arms of Duffy. Then, in what was a tough at-bat against Snell, Brandon Nimmo hit a ball which seemed destined for center field. Instead it tipped off of Snell’s foot leading to a 1-4-3 put out.

Instead of scoring, Reyes would be stranded on third as Jose Bautista popped out, and Asdrubal Cabrera flew out to center to end the inning.

With Robert Gsellman and Anthony Swarzak not getting the job done with each reliever allowing an earned run, the Mets would lose this game 3-0.

So much for the momentum from Bautista’s grand slam.

Game Notes: Wilmer Flores had nearly half of the Mets seven hits going 3-4 with a double.

Looks Like The Mets Messed Up The Harvey Decision

While the Mets are trying to pull out all the stops against a Marlins team actively trying to lose games, over in Cincinnati, it seems Matt Harvey is starting to put things together.

Over his last three starts, Harvey has been terrific pitching to a 1.47 ERA, 0.818 WHIP, and a 7.0 K/BB ratio.  Over these starts, opposing batters are hitting just .200/.257/.231 against the Dark Knight.  What makes these starts all the more impressive is when you consider they have come against the Cubs, Braves, and Brewers.

That’s three quality offensive opponents in games all started in hitter’s parks.

But it’s more than just the opponents and the results.  His velocity and control are back.  As already noted, Harvey is no longer walking batters, and apparently, he’s not leaving the ball in a position to be teed up by opposing batters:

According to Brooks Baseball, Harvey is back to throwing 95+ with a slider near 90.  Before getting traded to the Reds, Harvey was missing a tick or two on all of his pitches.  In some of his outings, he had nothing but guts out there.

As noted by C. Trent Rosencrans of The Athletic, Harvey says he is feeling better than at any time since 2013.  That’s notable because in 2013, he had Tommy John and in 2016 he was diagnosed with Thoracic Outlet Syndrome.

That could partially because the Mets never really let Harvey get back to full strength post TOS surgery.  It also could be because Harvey always believed he was getting better and getting there.  It just so happened that has actually proven true with the Reds.

Maybe the credit should go to Reds interim pitching coach Danny Darwin and an assistant pitching coach Ted Power.  The duo, especially Darwin, are beginning to get credit for helping turn not just Harvey around, but also what was once considered a bad Reds pitching staff.

That’s not a criticism of Mickey Callaway and Dave Eiland.  After all, the Mets duo has helped Jacob deGromreach another level in his game.  They have also seen Zack Wheeler and Steven Matz possibly turn the corner in their careers becoming more reliably and healthy starters.

What it is an indictment upon is the Mets patience and their ability to properly evaluate their own players.  After all, Harvey’s spot in the rotation was effectively taken over by Jason Vargas to be an effective starter this season.  Therein lies the problem.

To that point, here’s the series of transactions and moves the Mets made immediately after designating Harvey for assignment:

Since that time, the Mets have designated both Robles and Conlon for assignment.  We’ve also seen the Mets give chances to Buddy Baumann, Scott Copeland, and Chris Beck.  At a minimum, this is really bizarre roster management, and you have to question what the Mets saw in Baumann, Copeland, and Beck that they didn’t see in Harvey.

Even if you invoke all the Justin Turner non-tender defenses (wouldn’t happen here and the like), that doesn’t mean getting rid of Harvey was the right decision.

It’s not the right decision when you look at the pitchers who have made appearances and struggled in his stead.  It’s not he right decision when you consider the team miscalculated on whether Harvey had something left in the tank.  Really, they miscalculated on his being a disruption.

Since his being traded, the Mets are 14-30 (.318).  They just had a 5-21 month.  On the other hand, the Reds 26-19, and they were 15-11 in June.

Overall, both the Mets and Reds are sellers, and right now the key difference between them is as a result of the deal, the Mets will be looking for someone to take Devin Mesoracowhereas the Reds will have Harvey, who is suddenly a pitcher who is building up trade value.

In the end, it’s funny.  Harvey was partially traded to remove a distraction to help them win ballgames.  In fact, in pure Metsian fashion, the opposite happened.  They fell apart with his replacement in the rotation, Vargas, going 2-6 with an 8.60 ERA and a 1.832 WHIP.

Bad Mets Team Wins Poorly Played Baseball Game

On the one hand, you knew it wasn’t June anymore because the Mets beat the Marlins 5-2. On the other hand, things aren’t that different because they played a really sloppy game.

The thing is the Marlins played an arguably sloppier one. To that end, we shouldn’t be surprised these two teams set the game of baseball back a few years.

Even with the comedy of errors, three Mets errors to be precise, Steven Matz kept the Marlins at bay.

Oddly enough, the one time the Marlins scored off of him, it featured a Matz error.

Miguel Rojas hit a one out double, stole third, and he scored with two outs when Matz couldn’t field a Dan Straily bunt.

As alluded to earlier, Matz made one of three errors with Asdrubal Cabrera and Todd Frazier making the others.

Like Matz, who lowered his road ERA to 2.25 after allowing no earned in 5.1 innings, Cabrera and Frazier would contribute to the win.

Cabrera hit a third inning solo homer off Straily. In the eighth, Frazier hit an RBI double which gave the Mets a then 4-1 lead.

That would become a 5-1 lead when JT Realmuto got cute and tried to pick Frazier off third. Instead, he threw it away allowing Frazier to score.

The Mets other runs came from a Kevin Plawecki second inning RBI double and a Matz fourth inning RBI single.

The Mets held onto win because they finally got some good pitching from the pen. Of course, it helps when you use Seth Lugo, Tim Peterson, and Jeurys Familia.

One note on Lugo entering. He came in with one out in the fifth after Matz threw 109 pitches.

With Amed Rosario making the last out of the top of the sixth, and Mickey Callaway wanting some length from Lugo, he double switched Jose Reyes into the game.

That cannot happen.

Just yesterday, Reyes blatantly refused to run a ball out because he claimed to have felt something. As a result, he needed to be benched today.

He needs to be benched because: (1) he dogged it; (2) he’s hurt; or (3) both.

In any event, the Mets finally won and are out of the basement of the NL East.

Game Notes: It was revealed Dominic Smith has been dealing with a wrist injury which required an injection. Purportedly, that’s why he hasn’t been playing.

On Day Of Tears, Wilmer Delivers Walk-Off

Coming off the news their general manager, the man who brought all of them to the Mets, was once again fighting cancer, and he was going to take a leave of absence, which was phrased more like a termination, the Mets seemed game to win one for Sandy Alderson.

In the first, surprise leadoff hitter Jose Bautista led off with a single off Pirates starter Chad Kuhl.  After two quick outs, he found himself on third after an Asdrubal Cabrera walk and a Kuhl wild pitch.  Both runners would score on a Wilmer Flores seeing eye single through the left side of the infield.

From there, the Pirates would make three errors, Pirates pitching would throw three more wild pitches, and Kuhl would leave early due to injury.  They would not be able to take advantage of any of it, which put Steven Matz in a precarious situation.

To start the game, Matz was terrific, and he would not yield a hit until David Freese hit a leadoff single against him to start the inning.  That leadoff single would create some trouble for Matz.

Elias Diaz would double putting runners at second and third.  Both runs would score on successive RBI singles from Jose Osuna and Gregory Polanco.

In the bottom of the sixth, the Mets would have an opportunity to reclaim the lead for Matz.  After Kevin Plawecki was hit by a pitch, the Mets would have runners at first and second with two outs.  Jose Reyes would fly out to left to end the inning.  On the play, Pirates outfielder Austin Meadows almost overran the ball, but he recovered in time to make the inning ending catch.

That all loomed large as it allowed Mickey Callaway to give Matz the seventh.  With two outs in the inning, a terrific outing was spoiled as Polanco hit what looked to be the game winning homer.

Fortunately for Matz, the Mets would bail him out as Michael Conforto delivered hit own two out home run in the bottom of the inning to tie the score anew.

With Matz off the hook, Callaway initially went to Anthony Swarzak to keep the score tied in what would become a truly bizarre top of the eighth.

With Josh Harrison following a Meadows one out walk, Callaway took no chances, and he brought in Jeurys Familia.  Familia used his fabled sinker to induce what should have been an inning ending double play.  That never materialized as Reyes took his sweet time not only getting to the ball, but also flipping it to Cabrera.

With Harrison making a good hard-nosed slide, Cabrera had little choice but to record the out and jump to avoid the slide.  That offended Familia who got into words with Harrison leading to the benches clearing.  Things died down when Cabrera hugged Harrison, which was something the booth did not take kindly.

Familia still got out of the jam, and he pitched a scoreless ninth.  Tim Peterson, who has been very good in limited duty, followed with a scoreless tenth.

In the tenth, Conforto got things started with a leadoff walk against LHP Steven Brault.  Things got more interesting when Todd Frazier followed the walk with a single.  After Cabrera popped up not one but two bunt attempts, with the second one being caught, Flores would get his third walk-off hit of the season with a single down the third base line.

On a day of tears, it is quite fitting that Flores would be the guy to get the game winning hit.

Game Notes: Before the game, Luis Guillorme was sent down and Gerson Bautista was called up in his place.  Flores now has nine walk-off RBI which ties David Wright‘s club record.

Rockies Just Turned Another Double Play

There’s shooting yourself in the foot, and then there is doing what the Mets did against the Rockies today.

Somehow, the Mets grounded into five . . . FIVE! . . . double plays.

Each one of them were brutal.

In the second, after the Rockies turned a 1-0 Mets lead (Todd Frazier first inning solo home run) into a 3-1 Rockies lead, Jose Bautista earned a leadoff walk against Rockies starter Kyle Freeland.

Bautista would be erased when Kevin Plawecki grounded into a 6-4-3 double play.

In the third, after Brandon Nimmo hit an RBI single to pull the Mets within 5-2, Frazier would hit into the inning ending 5-4-3 double play.

In the sixth, Michael Conforto led off the inning with a single. He would be immediately erased when Wilmer Flores hit into a 5-4-3 double play.

In the seventh, Jose Reyes, who for some inexplicable reason started a second straight game, was erased on an Amed Rosario 6-4-3 double play.

Speaking of Reyes, he can’t field and doesn’t know how to use sunglasses:

Finally in the eighth, after the Mets pulled themselves to within 6-3 on a Flores sacrifice fly, Devin Mesoraco hit into the inning ending 5-4-3 double play.

You combine all of these double plays with Steven Matz allowing five runs on eight hits and two walks in 5.2 innings, and you have all the makings of a 6-4 loss.

Game Notes: After another poor outing in this game, Paul Sewald was demoted to Triple-A. He is joined by Chris Flexen. In their stead Drew Smith and Kevin Kaczmarski will be called up.