Tim Peterson

Craig Kimbrel Should Be The Mets Closer

In a nine year Major League career, Craig Kimbrel has saved 333 games, which is the 14th most all-time. His career 1.91 ERA and 211 ERA+ is the best all-time for a reliever. He is a seven time All-Star, and he has finished in the Top 10 in Cy Young voting in five of his nine seasons. How Kimbrel performs during this next contract will go a very long way in determining whether or not he goes to the Baseball Hall of Fame when he retires.

With the Hall of Fame on the line and with his being an elite closer for NINE SEASONS, you can understand why Kimbrel would insist on remaining a closer. While there are no public statements confirming this is Kimbrel’s hold-up, there have been a number of outlets who have drawn the inference.

According to recent reports, the Mets are not willing to have Kimbrel pitch the ningth. To put it as simply as it can be put, if the only hold-up with Kimbrel right now is he wants to close, the Mets as an organization are stupid for letting that be a hold-up.

No, this is not an indictment whatsoever on Edwin Diaz. So far this season, Diaz has been everything the Mets could have possibly asked him to be. He is a perfect 7-for-7 in save opportunities with a 16.4 K/9. His 11th inning save against the Phillies where he mowed down Bryce Harper, Rhys Hoskins, and J.T. Realmuto on 11 pitches was awe inspiring.

Understandably, you want to have a pitcher like Diaz closing out games in the ninth. However, you also want a closer like Kimbrel closing out games in the ninth. What you don’t want is the current state of the Mets bullpen.

What is not great is the rest of the Mets bullpen. So far, Jeurys Familia has been a massive disappointment. We have also seen some unexpected struggles from Seth Lugo. In the long run, both pitchers should be fine, and with Justin Wilson and Robert Gsellman, the Mets do have the pieces for a good bullpen.

Still, there are major issues in the bullpen. Luis Avilan has been used as more of a mop up reliever than a LOOGY, and frankly, there is no way he is going to succeed in that role. Worse than that, the Mets have had a revolving door this year of Tim Peterson, Drew Gagnon, Paul Sewald, Jacob Rhame, and Corey Oswalt for the last spot in the bullpen.

Realistically speaking, the Mets cannot expect any of those pitchers to truly succeed at the Major League level. Exacerbating a very soft spot in the bullpen is the fact the Mets entered the season with just four MLB caliber starting pitchers in their rotation. As a result, at least every fifth day, the Mets are going to need to get some quality innings from their worst relievers. Put another way, the Mets can ill afford to have a weak spot in the bullpen when they have a glaring hole in the rotation.

That hole in the bullpen can be repaired with Kimbrel. Moreover, if you put Kimbrel in the ninth inning, him and Diaz pitching the final two innings makes every game a seven inning game for the Mets. The tandem would combine to make the best 8-9 combination in Major League history.

Really, there is no good explanation to not give Kimbrel the ninth. While you could argue the Mets did not give up Jarred Kelenic and Justin Dunn to have Diaz as a set-up man, the obvious counter-argument is the Mets did not give up those players to have relievers like Rhame derail games and ultimately the season. Additionally, with how great a pitcher he has been, no one should expect Diaz to falter in the eighth.

Overall, when you break it down, if the ninth inning is a breaking point for Kimbrel, just give it to him. He has the resume to justify such a demand, and really, he has the ability to not come to the Mets. Worse yet, he could go to Philadelphia to stick it to the Mets.

Of course, that would be the ultimate irony. The Mets gave up Kelenic to keep Diaz away from the Phillies, but they weren’t willing to have the best bullpen situation in Major League history to keep him away from Philadelphia.

 

20/20 Hindsight: Mets Split Up The Twins

The Mets finished their first homestand of the season going 2-3, and now they are embark on a brutal road trip taking them through Atlanta, Philadelphia, and St. Louis. Here are some observations before the Mets set off for that trip:

  1. Jacob deGrom just didn’t have it. It was bound to happen, but it was still startling to see.
  2. Anyone who even suggests deGrom’s struggles were related to Travis d’Arnaud behind the plate simply doesn’t know anything about baseball. It wasn’t d’Arnaud who caused the chilly weather, nor was it the weather which caused deGrom to miss his pitches by a foot.
  3. Baseball is funny sometimes. After thorough research shows Citi Field suppresses exit velocities, the ball was flying out of Citi Field. Of course, when you have power hitters like Pete Alonso and Michael Conforto that will happen anyway.
  4. In one series, Mitch Garver went from a nameless guy to the second coming of Mike Piazza.
  5. Jason Vargas was terrible, and it is simply inexcusable he was not so much as challenged for the fifth starter spot.
  6. The Mets have gotten away with calling up Alonso saying every game matters while carrying Vargas as the fifth starter and having Tim Peterson in the bullpen. Why do fans just let the Mets get away with pushing narratives like this?
  7. The booing of Brandon Nimmo and d’Arnaud was embarrassing. Mets fans should be better than that.
  8. And just like that, in his last three games, Nimmo is 4-for-10, with two doubles, a homer, three RBI, a walk, and a HBP.
  9. What the Mets did to Corey Oswalt is inexcusable. He effectively lost a year getting jerked around by the team, and the first chance this new regime gets, they call him up on three days rest to sit in the bullpen.
  10. Oswalt should be making Vargas’ start this Saturday, and if he doesn’t the Mets cannot pitch Oswalt until then because they may need him to piggyback that start.
  11. These two games were miserable creating difficult pitching situations. It led to deGrom’s struggles, and it likely led to Jeurys Familia‘s, but that’s now two bad outings from him. Too soon to overreact, but not too soon to take notice.
  12. After J.D. Davis‘ two home run game, he’s back to being Davis. He his 42.9% of his balls on the ground, and he has hit 45.8% on the ground this year. His inability to make a play at third led to Familia getting in trouble, and he almost botched a double play only to be saved by Luis Guillorme making an amazing turn.
  13. With Todd Frazier getting a rehab start at SS, it would seem Guillorme will be the odd man out, which is a shame because he’s doing everything he could do to stay. It’s at the point where he’s having to wear batting gloves because he has blisters from all his extra batting practice. He’s also been really good in the field.
  14. When you have players fighting this hard to stay in the majors, you will get the best results not just from them, but also from the players they are pushing. We are seeing some of that with this team.
  15. Robinson Cano has a knack for the moment with two big home runs already and a walk yesterday. That said, his overall body of work has not been good. He may be a slow starter, but he has never been this slow. It’s something worth monitoring with his age, PED suspension, and the Mets history on this front (Roberto Alomar).
  16. Mets are going to regret waking up the Nationals. They went from a team in trouble to a team who took consecutive road series from the red hot Mets and Phillies.
  17. There may be some holes and warning signs with Alonso here and there, including his having difficulty on two grounders this series, but pointing them out would be being a killjoy. So far, Alonso has been great, and the only things people should point out is how great he has been.
  18. We should not care what his final stat line said. Noah Syndergaard was dominant yesterday, and when you consider how everyone else pitched, he looked all the more so. Really, if not for some poor defense, he gets through the eighth unscathed.
  19. Good for Jay Bruce hitting seven homers so far this season and helping the Mariners to a 12-2 start. He gave the Mets everything he had, and it was not his fault it was a poor fit.
  20. In waht was promised to be a tight NL East, we have the Mets, Braves, and Phillies tied atop the division with a 7-4 record with the Nationals right behind them at 6-5.

Callaway Didn’t Cause The Loss But . . . .

There were many reasons why the Mets lost this game. For his part, Noah Syndergaard would blame the travel schedule which had them playing a night game last night and a 1:00 P.M. start tonight, which does seem like it was avoidable.

If fact, it was with Major League Baseball giving the Mets the option to start at 4:00 with the Mets passing at the opportunity.

There was the fact the Mets were facing Stephen Strasburg, a very good pitcher having a very good day. It certainly didn’t help the Mets were 0-for-3 with RISP and left seven runners on base.

Syndergaard had some bad luck. We was squeezed in the second leading to two walks and actually a wild pitch and run bunted home. Certainly, it was an odd box score with the Nationals having a run and no hits for the first five innings.

It looked just as odd when the Nationals had two runs on one hit with Victor Robles leading off the sixth with a solo homer.

There were certainly a number of factors at play. Unfortunately, Mickey Callaway was also a factor with his decision making in the seventh inning being a key factor.

In the seventh, the Mets had Strasburg on the ropes after a pair of two out singles from Jeff McNeil and Amed Rosario. With Juan Lagares due up and the left-handed Matt Grace warming in the bullpen, Callaway had a key decision to make.

With Strasburg at 108 pitches, he might’ve been coming out of the game anyway. Perhaps, things would be different if the Mets stuck with Lagares or pinch hit Luis Guillorme.

It should be noted last year batters hit .271/.322/.436 in their third plate appearance against Strasburg.

It should also be noted in a very small sample size, Guillorme has been a good pinch hitter (3-11, 2B, RBI, 4 BB). Of course, that’s if the Nationals didn’t take Strasburg out of the game.

Point is if a left-handed batter came into the game, Dave Martinez was likely going to Grace. While Guillorme might’ve given him pause, he was definitely going to Grace for Dominic Smith.

Callaway opted to go with Smith to force Grace into the game. Apparently, Callaway did this to get the matchup he wanted, which for some reason was J.D. Davis. The only acceptable explanations for this decision were: (1) Callaway has not watched one minute of Mets baseball this season; (2) Jim Riggleman was goading Jim into it so he could take over as manager at some point this year; or (3) Brodie Van Wagenen was holding his family hostage forcing Callaway to use Davis.

Given the options, Davis was probably the last option you wanted to see there. Even if the Mets were inclined to burn their best pinch hitter (which is bizarre in its own right), Davis was the absolute wrong choice as he’s done nothing to show he’s even as good as former whipping boy Eric Campbell (Campbell has a much higher OPS+).

If you take into account Lagares was out of the game, Keon Broxton is a .252/.357/.445 hitter off left-handed pitching, and the Mets needed someone to come play center with Lagares gone. Of course, sticking with Smith was also a viable option.

Instead, Callaway went with Davis who struck out looking.

This would put McNeil in left where he would make a terrible throw home on a Ryan Zimmerman sacrifice fly allowing Anthony Rendon to score the first of two ninth inning runs.

That situation was created because Callaway opted to bring in Seth Lugo to pitch the ninth despite his being ill recently and has had diminished velocity lately. With his UCL issues, we can only hope this a combination of illness and fatigue from over-use.

Callaway’s treatment of Lugo is at Terry Collins levels. Remember, Collins was the pitcher who disregarded pitcher health and used them dangerously. It would have an impact and eventually lead the end of the careers of Tim Byrdak, Scott Rice, and Jim Henderson.

Right now, the Mets are winning and off to their second hot start with Callaway at the helm. However, it looks like Callaway is regressing, and if he continues to do so, we may see him continue to put the Mets in disadvantageous situations.

Game Notes: Since his big Opening Day, Robinson Cano has struggled and is now hitting .188. Devin Mesoraco was officially put on Syracuse’s suspended list.

Lagares And Alonso Blasts Beat Marlins

No matter how good things are for the Mets, it appears like the Marlins are always there to ruin things. There are awful memories stemming from Tom Glavine, Scott Schoeneweis, and even Duaner Sanchez‘s cab ride. No matter how good things are, it seems like Miami is there to screw things up for the Mets.

To matters worse yesterday, the Marlins were starting Caleb Smith, who has pitched very well against the Mets.

Things did not start out well yesterday with Smith striking out Amed Rosario, Pete Alonso, and Robinson Cano to start the game. Then, in the bottom of the first, Wilson Ramos botched catching a third strike allowing Miguel Rojas to reach. One bad pitch from Steven Matz later in the inning, and Starlin Castro would make it 2-0.

The Mets would respond partially because Michael Conforto continues to hit left-handed pitching. After a Ramos single, Jeff McNeil would drive him home with an RBI double.

What was interesting about McNeil hitting the double was he got the hit off the left-handed pitcher Smith a day after being benched against Patrick Corbin. There were a few reasons for this including his historic performance against left-handed pitching and the Mets apparently wanting to get J.D. Davis into the lineup. You really have to wonder why that is.

It’s true Davis did hit his second double of the season, and that lead-off double in the fourth led to the Mets tying the game against the Marlins (scored off a wild pitch). However, when you look at his performance thus far, he is very much the same player who struggled in his limited Major League appearances with the Astros.

While he had the double, Davis again continued to struggle in the field. He would lollypop two throws to second with one of those throws putting Cano in position to get blown up. He cost Juan Lagares an assist when he failed to catch a ball and tag out Rosell Herrera. He also couldn’t field a ball off Castro’s bat leading to a run being scored.

With the Mets trading Luis Santana, Ross Adolph, and Scott Manea, they gave up a lot for Davis, so apparently they are going to force this work, at least until Todd Frazier or Jed Lowrie return. It’s at the point where he is playing more than Keon Broxton and Lagares, and as we have seen, he has hit clean-up twice with him hitting ahead of hitters like Conforto and Ramos.

Davis playing third nearly cost the Mets this game too. His weak throw to Cano on a Herrera grounder prevented the team from turning a double play. As noted, he couldn’t field Lagares’ throw when Herrera froze on a Brian Anderson liner. He then didn’t have the range to get a Castro hit.

This gave the Marlins a 3-2 lead, and it put Steven Matz in a position to take the loss.

With respect to Matz, he shook off the first inning, and he would pitch pretty well. Over 5.2 innings, he allowed three runs (one earned) on six hits with no walks and three strikeouts. If not for shoddy defense, he may have shut out the Marlins, and he might have been able to get through the sixth. Overall, he was not great, but he was certainly good enough to beat the Marlins (or even a Major League team).

While Lagares was not able to make a difference in the field (thanks to Davis), he would actually make a difference at the plate. The Marlins brought in the right-handed Tyler Kinley to face him, and Lagares would launch his first home run of the season:

Tim Peterson stepped up pitching 1.2 scoreless. His performance not only allowed the Mets to tie the score, but it would save a bullpen which had started to accumulate some innings. This and the scoreless inning from Jeurys Familia was exactly what this bullpen needed, and it was what the team needed to try to win the game. They would thanks to a big ninth inning rally against Drew Steckenrider.

The rally started with Dominic Smith pinch hit single. In not too surprising fashion, the Mets opted to have Lagares even though there’s more than enough evidence to suggest it’s the wrong play. Fortunately, the Mets were bailed out as Steckenrider would hit Lagares with the pitch (x-rays on the finger were negative), and the umpires would completely miss Lagares failing to pull back the bunt in time.

After Brandon Nimmo struck out (he’s really struggling), Rosario would come up huge with the go-ahead RBI single giving the Mets a 4-3 lead. Speaking of huge, Alonso would follow with his first career homer:

Alonso absolutely destroyed that pitch. The 444 homer had a 112.8 exit velocity. The homer gave the Mets a 7-3 lead meaning the warmed up Edwin Diaz was entering the game in a non-save situation.

Perhaps it was just yesterday, but we saw Diaz is like most closers where his focus is not quite what it is in a save situation. He’d load the bases to start the ninth before unleashing some filthy sliders to strike out Jorge Alfaro, the evil Peter O’Brien, and JT Riddle to end the game.

If you want to harp, there was a lot not to like. Davis was poor, and the Mets defense failed Matz. This was a battle against a clearly inferior team. However, at the end of the day, the Mets got the win, which is what matters most.

Game Notes: Smith has been off to a terrific start in his own right hitting .500/.600/.500 earning him the start in today’s series finale against Jose Urena.

20/20 Hindsight: Mets Take Opening Series

For this season, there is going to be a new feature after every series wraps up called “20/20 Hindsight.” Essentially, the concept is to look back at a series, and make 20 quick observations about the state of the Mets. This can include both things which directly affect the Mets and those which circumstantially affect the Mets. Without further ado, here is the initial 20/20:

  1. With Jacob deGrom opening the season with six shutout innings, he’s continued his streak of consecutive starts with three earned or fewer and is one off Bob Gibson‘s Major League record for consecutive quality starts. Sooner or later, the conversation with deGrom is going to focus on his being an all-time great pitcher.
  2. Seeing deGrom, Max Scherzer, and Aaron Nola pitch great on Opening Day, this is already shaping up to be a fun and exciting race for not just the National League East but also the National League Cy Young.
  3. Pete Alonso has so far been everything the Mets touted him to be. After going 0-for-3 against Scherzer, he was 6-for-9 with a run, two walks, three doubles, and three RBI.
  4. Noah Syndergaard and Zack Wheeler do not pitch well at Nationals Park. Syndergaard is still winless there, and Wheeler has a 4.24 ERA and a 1.441 WHIP at the park.
  5. The Nationals bullpen is once again terrible highlighted by Trevor Rosenthal and his INF ERA after failing to get an out in two appearances.
  6. While we focus on the NL East aces, we already see the division being loaded with MVP candidates including Robinson Cano, Michael Conforto, Bryce Harper, Anthony Rendon, and Trea Turner. With respect to Turner, he single-handedly beat the Mets on Sunday.
  7. It wasn’t a popular decision, but Mickey Callaway made the right decision sitting Jeff McNeil on Sunday. In addition to McNeil having durability issues in his professional career, he only hit .255/.331/.390 off left-handed pitchers in the minors last year. Don’t let Patrick Corbin foul him up when he is going good.
  8. McNeil has been off to a hot start picking up where he left off in 2018. If he keeps this up, he’s going to cost at least one of Todd Frazier or Jed Lowrie a job (whenever they can return to the lineup).
  9. The Mets quickly showed they are not going to be neutralized by left-handed pitching whether that is in the form of a Corbin or a LOOGY like Tony Sipp. So far, Cano and Conforto have combined to hit 6-f0r-16 against left-handed pitching.
  10. It was shocking to see Stephen Strasburg look like a shell of his former self. A guy who lived at 98+ MPH is now in the 93 MPH range. That follows a trend of diminished velocity from him last season. Nationals need him to be great to win, and he didn’t look like he’s up to the task.
  11. J.D. Davis made some flashy plays at third which overshadowed his lack or range at the position, and his error on a routine play on Saturday, set-up the bullpen machinations which partially attributed to Sunday’s loss.
  12. Callaway had some bad luck on the reliever front. He got trapped looking to ride Seth Lugo to easily close out a seven run lead in the ninth, and he looked bad not having someone ready in time. On Sunday, he tried to do the right thing by double switching Tim Peterson into the game, but the rally took him out and left Callaway looking to get two innings out of Justin Wilson.
  13. While he was trapped in those two games, Callaway’s use of his bullpen remains to be an issue dating back to last season. Given his experience as a pitching coach, his troubles handling a bullpen is particularly odd.
  14. Callaway also has to let go of the manager fear of not removing a starting catcher from the game. On Saturday, Wilson Ramos was on third in a tie game in the eighth inning. With speedy runners on the bench, he should have been substituted out of the game for a runner.
  15. It’s odd Luis Guillorme has not seen any game action yet, especially when the Mets have opted for late inning defense in their games.
  16. It’s still very early for Brandon Nimmo, but his striking out in half of his plate attempts is problematic. On the bright side, he got off the snide with a single against the left-handed Corbin.
  17. Keon Broxton showed he has to play against left-handed pitching. In his lone start, he was 2-2 with a walk off Corbin with a stolen base. For his career, he hits .242/.357/.445 off lefties.
  18. Phillies sweeping the Braves was certainly eye opening, but we should take into account Jake Arrieta walked six against a fairly aggressive Braves lineup, and Nick Pivetta couldn’t even get out of the fifth.
  19. Dominic Smith has gotten off to a good start in his own right going 1-for-3 with a run, walk, and two RBI on top of being a defensive substitution. His start makes you wonder if he should start seeing some outfield time to occasionally fit him into the lineup.
  20. The Mets being the best Opening Day team in Major League history is perfect for a team who continuously builds up Mets fans hope only to quickly dash them. Hopefully, this is more like 2006 than it is just about every other year in Mets history.

Trea Turner Almost Single-Handedly Beat The Mets

Hearkening back to the maddening pitcher Zack Wheeler was before his breakout, he needed 95 pitches to get through five innings. In those five innings, he allowed four earned on six hits. On the surface, this was reason to get concerned not just about Wheeler, but his and the Mets prospects for the 2019 season.

However, when you go deeper than the surface, there wasn’t much of a reason to overthink things. For starters, Wheeler’s stuff looked as good as it ever has. Also, for a pitcher who has long had control issues at at times has had difficulty putting batters away, he walked just one and struck out seven. When you break it down, this was just one of those starts pitchers have from time to time.

One of the issues was Trea Turner hits Wheeler well. Turner has hit .375/.444/.625 off of Wheeler including yesterday’s three run homer. Really, when you go up-and-down that Nationals lineup, they have all faired well against Wheeler:

Combine that with Wheeler pitching to a 4.24 ERA and 1.441 WHIP at Nationals Park, and you realize this was more of a bad matchup for Wheeler than anything else. Still, despite the tough matchup, Wheeler was largely effective against anyone not named Trea Turner.

In addition to Turner’s three run homer, he would steal a base in the fifth, and he would score on a Rendon two out RBI single. Turner was a one man wrecking crew in this game, and he would beat not just Wheeler, but the entire Mets team.

What was interesting about the Mets was how they got back into this game.

Through five innings, the Mets only plated one run off of Patrick Corbin due to a Pete Alonso double in the third. In the top of the sixth, the Mets would get a rally started with runners at the corners and no outs after a J.D. Davis double and a Michael Conforto single. The promising rally ended there when Davis scored on an Amed Rosario double play.

The Mets seemed like they were going to be getting back into this game, especially with how poor the Nationals bullpen already looks. However, Robert Gsellman was not good himself giving the one run the Mets got right back with him allowing a pair of doubles to Yan Gomes and Victor Robles in the bottom of the sixth.

This is where things got a bit dicey for Mickey Callaway.

In Saturday’s game, Davis misplaced a routine grounder, and the end result was instead of the Mets getting out of the inning, Callaway had to bring in Seth Lugo to bail Jeurys Familia out of a jam. Lugo would then have to get bailed out himself. The end result of this was Lugo and Familia basically being unavailable yesterday.

With yesterday’s game close, Callaway opted to chase the game. This meant utilizing Luis Avilian to get Juan Soto instead of allowing Gsellman to pitch an entire second inning. In Callaway’s defense, Gsellman created that situation too by allowing a hit to Rendon.

In that seventh inning, Callaway used Gsellman, Avilan, and Tim Peterson. It became an issue because the Mets went to work against the Nationals bullpen in the eighth.

With the heart of the lineup up, Dave Martinez went to Tony Sipp. Sipp bracketed retiring the right-handed hitting Davis by allowing singles to the left-handed hitting Robinson Cano and Conforto. Martinez brought in Trevor Rosenthal to pitch to Rosario, who, this time, delivered an RBI single.

With the Mets now down by just two, the Nationals went to Sean Doolittle, and Callaway emptied his bench. With the combination of durability history, the left-handed starter, and just trying to get guys into a game to start the year, Jeff McNeil and Wilson Ramos did not get the start. They would be two in a wave of four consecutive players who started the game on the bench getting key at-bats in the inning.

While McNeil struck out, Ramos and Juan Lagares would deliver RBI singles to tie the game at 5-5. Unfortunately, Dominic Smith could not get that big hit the Mets needed to take the lead.

With Callaway having to pinch hit for Peterson to try to take the lead, he would have to go to Justin Wilson for more than an inning. Wilson would mow down the first four Nationals he would face before Turner hit the walk-off home run.

By no means was this a perfect game for the Mets. The Nationals continued to run on them with five stolen bases in the series. Wheeler didn’t look like the ace he was in the second half. Corbin looked like last year was no fluke, and the Mets bullpen was as creeky as the Nationals bullpen looked in the series. Moreover, Callaway did not look like a manager who was taking a step forward this year.

Despite the issues you may want to glean from the loss, the fact of the matter is the Mets fought to get back into this game. It was a tough loss, but it was one where the Mets showed character. It’s one where the team showed they have fight in them, and they are ready to take it to the Nationals and the rest of the National League East. While you hate a loss like this, you should really like how this team handled the situation.

Game Notes: With Avilan and Peterson pitching in the game and Tomas Nido starting at catcher, Luis Guillorme is now the only Mets player on the Opening Day roster who has yet to play in a game. Brandon Nimmo broke his hitless streak to begin the season with a hit off Corbin.

Opening Day Just Like Van Wagenen Drew It Up

Four years ago, the Nationals and Mets kicked off the 2015 season with two former Cy Young Award winners. Like today, it was Max Scherzer for the Nationals. For the Mets, it was Jacob deGrom in place of Bartolo Colon. While that 2015 opener was a low scoring game, today was a true pitcher’s battle.

Over 7.2 innings, Scherzer looked like the pitcher who has dominated the National League over the past three years. In each of those seasons, Scherzer led the league in the strikeouts including striking out 300 batters last year. Against, the Mets he would strike out 11 batters. Looking at him pitch, his stuff was completely unfair:

He was all the more dangerous with him getting some really favorable calls, two of which came against Michael Conforto. With him allowing just two hits and three walks, it was clear he did not make many mistakes. But on the one he did make, Robinson Cano would send it opposite field for a homer in his first at-bat as a Met:

That would not be the only impact Cano would have on this game. In addition to the home run, Cano would make a heads up and savvy veteran play in the field in the third when the Mets 1-0 lead was teetering:

With the ball not being hit quite hard enough and with Jeff McNeil having to hesitate a slight second to keep the runner from breaking right away, Cano was smart in catching Victor Robles making a rookie mistake breaking to home on the play. Robles’ mistake took the 1st and 3rd one out situation and turned it into an inning ending double play.

Basically, deGrom took it from there. If there was any question deGrom was going to repeat his 2018 Cy Young season or if the extension drama affected his preparation for the season, they were quickly dispensed. In six shutout innings, deGrom just walked one and would strike out 10 batters. He ramped up his game when he needed.

For example, in the sixth, Trea Turner led off the inning with a single, and he would quickly steal second (his second steal of the game). With Turner’s speed, Wilson Ramos never really had a chance against him. That was evident when Turner stole third after an Anthony Rendon ground out. With a runner on third and one out, deGrom would just embarrass Juan Soto:

After a Ryan Zimmerman fly out, the threat was over, and Mickey Callaway would tab Seth Lugo for the seventh. Like deGrom, he picked up where he left off in 2018 by striking out the side.

What was curious about that top of the seventh was Nationals Manager Dave Martinez would leave in Scherzer to strike out to end the inning. This meant Scherzer would go one inning too far.

Dominic Smith would get the rally started with a one out walk against Scherzer. Scherzer was lifted after striking out Brandon Nimmo for the third time, and Pete Alonso would get his first career hit with a single off Nationals reliever Justin Miller.

Martinez would go to they lefty Matt Grace to face Cano. Cano proved he still is a platoon neutral bat sending an RBI single to left scoring Smith to give the Mets a 2-0 lead.

Callaway would then go through some mechanations to set up the final two innings.

After his first career hit, Alonso was lifted for Keon Broxton. Broxton then stayed in the game for defense replacing Conforto in right. With Alonso out of the game, Smith would stay in the game at first for defense. After that, it was Jeurys Familia getting through a scoreless eighth in his new role as Mets set-up man.

Edwin Diaz would make his Mets debut in the ninth with a two run lead to protect. He’d get the Nationals in order to preserve the 2-0 lead and register his first save as a Met. Interestingly, the first two outs were fly balls to right with Broxton fighting through the tough sun to record the out.

All in all, the Mets have once again won on Opening Day continuing their MLB best winning percentage on Opening Day. They’re now 38-20 (.655) on Opening Day. That’s not the only impressive record from today.

With his performance today, deGrom had his 25th straight quality start putting him one behind Bob Gibson for the all-time record. At the same time, deGrom extended his own MLB record with his 30th straight start allowing three earned or fewer.

Today, Brodie Van Wagenen looked like a genius. Cano delivered the only two RBI in the game. Alonso delivered a hit in a rally giving the Mets an insurance run. Diaz had the save. And of course, the pitcher he long advocated to extend pitched like an ace. Really, this is as good a start to the Van Wagenen Era as he could have hoped.

Game Notes: For the first time in Mets history six players were taking part in their first ever Opening Day (Alonso, Smith, McNeil, Luis Guillorme, Tomas Nido, Tim Peterson). Conforto and Lagares were the only two Mets not to reach base safely at least once in the game.

2019 Mets Postseason Doppelgangers

There have been a few times in the Mets history where they have surprised or even shocked the World in making their run to the postseason. The biggest example is 1969, which occurred 50 years ago. The Mets would make their Miracle run in 1973, and they would emerge in 1999, 2006, and 2015.

When you look at those rosters, there are players who are comparable to the players on this year’s Mets roster. Here’s a look at how it breaks down:

Catcher

Travis d’Arnaud (Todd Pratt) – d’Arnaud may very well be pressed into action more than anticipated, and as we saw in the 2015 postseason, he can deliver some big hits when needed.

Tomas Nido (Jerry Grote) – A defensive oriented catcher who helps takes his pitchers over the top and more than makes up for whatever offensive issues he may have.

Wilson Ramos (Paul Lo Duca) – Ramos may not have been the catcher the Mets may have originally expected to bring in during the offseason, but like Lo Duca, he could be the perfect fit for this team and surprisingly be a very important piece to this club.

Infield

Pete Alonso (Michael Conforto) – Alonso is the young prospect who is getting thrown into the fire and expected to be a key bat in a lineup who are trying to overcome the Nationals.

Robinson Cano (Rickey Henderson) – Cano was brought in to be the Hall of Fame caliber player who could take this team over the top.

J.D. Davis (Matt Franco) – Players who will predominantly be pinch hitters who are going to be counted upon to provide those key unexpected game winning hits.

Todd Frazier (Ed Charles) – Both were better before joining the Mets, but they proved to be glue guys in the clubhouse making the team better for their presence alone.

Luis Guillorme (Anderson Hernandez) – Tremendously gifted middle infielders whose gloves helped earn them a spot on the Opening Day roster.

Jed Lowrie (Jose Valentin) – Switch hitters who were brought to serve as a bench piece for the Mets who could be pressed into duty more than anticipated, which could be of great value to the team.

Jeff McNeil (Cleon Jones) – Homegrown Mets ready who show their previous year breakouts were not flukes, but rather an indication they are key members of a winning team.

Amed Rosario (Jose Reyes) – Reyes figured it out in 2006, and he became a dynamic and exciting player. This can be that year for Rosario.

Dominic Smith (Ed Kranepool) – Both probably rushed and mishandled as prospects, but they both still had a lot of hits in their bats making them valuable pieces for their club.

Outfield

Keon Broxton (Xavier Nady) – The imported outfielder who has not yet lived up to expectations has an opportunity to prove himself on a talented roster.

Yoenis Cespedes (Donn Clendenon) – The Mets are relying on a big bat to come after the All-Star Break and get this team a World Series, who better than the guy who delivered that in 1969?

Michael Conforto (David Wright) – The time is now for the homegrown player to put it all together and have an MVP caliber season to put this team over the top.

Juan Lagares (Endy Chavez) – Chavez was the defensive oriented player who was pressed into more action than anticipated, and his play on the field was a big reason the 2006 Mets came withing a game of the World Series.

Brandon Nimmo (Edgardo Alfonzo) – Homegrown Met oft overlooked who may actually prove to put up the best season of all the players on the roster.

Starters

Jacob deGrom (Tom Seaver) – deGrom is the staff ace coming off a historically great season, who needs to stay at a high level for the team to make the postseason.

Noah Syndergaard (Noah Syndergaard) – The Mets need Thor to be Thor.

Zack Wheeler (Jacob deGrom) – It was deGrom’s building off of a surprising 2014 season which helped take the Mets over the top in 2015. It’s exactly what everyone is expecting from Wheeler in 2019.

Steven Matz (Al Leiter) – Hometown left-handed pitchers who have a chance to help be a big part of the reason why the Mets make a run to the postseason.

Jason Vargas (Bartolo Colon) – Vargas is the veteran below-league average starter who needs to stick in the rotation while just eating up innings.

Corey Oswalt (Logan Verrett) – The Mets need a low round drafted prospect to put together a string of great starts to help put this team over the top. With his increased velocity, this could be Oswalt.

Chris Flexen (Octavio Dotel) – Spot starters who have the repertoire to potentially do much more damage in the bullpen.

Hector Santiago (Darren Oliver) – Pitchers who once had success starting who could be valuable long men in the bullpen.

Bullpen

Edwin Diaz (Billy Wagner) – Wagner was the sure-fire reliever at the end of the bullpen who helped make games an eight inning affair.

Jeurys Familia (John Franco) – One time great Mets closer is now serving as the set-up man for a young brash fireballer brought in during the offseason.

Seth Lugo (Nolan Ryan) – Just pure dominating stuff out of the bullpen from a guy who would probably be a starting pitcher for any other Major League team.

Robert Gsellman (Pat Mahomes) – The key piece of the 1999 bullpen who permitted the Mets bullpen to be as great as it could possibly be.

Justin Wilson (Dennis Cook) – Pitchers who are more than LOOGYs who raise their game in the biggest stages.

Luis Avilan (Pedro Feliciano) – Feliciano was the LOOGY out of the bullpen who was a weapon the Mets could utilize to neutralize the opponent’s top left-handed batters.

Tim Peterson (Greg McMichael) – Strike throwers who don’t have dominating stuff.

Jacob Rhame (Heath Bell) – The guys whose stuff have not quite yet translated to performance leading them to bounce between Triple-A and the Majors.

Paul Sewald (Carlos Torres) – Jack of all trades reliever who does yeoman’s work eating up innings.

Daniel Zamora (Royce Ring) – Promising young LOOGYS who should dominate in their limited opportunities.

And finally, there is Mickey Callaway, who we are hoping will be able to accomplish what Willie Randolph accomplished by proving himself a good manager in his second year and by leading the Mets to being the best team in the National League.

 

Mets On The 40 Man Roster Bubble

As the Mets approach Opening Day, the team is going to have to make some manuevers if they are going to add their minor league free agents to the 40 man roster. Earlier in the offseason, T.J. Rivera was released, which creates one spot. By the look of Spring Training, the team is going to need more than that one spot.

With his needing Tommy John surgery, another roster spot was opened up by Drew Smith likely headed for the 60 day disabled list. With him likely headed there, the 40 man roster will likely sit at 38. With Yoenis Cespedes hitting the 60 day IL, that drops the number to 37.

At the moment, the team is considering adding Luis Avilan as the LOOGY in the bullpen. The team is also likely to add Adeiny Hechavarria as a backup shortstop. The team is also considering Ryan O’Rourke, Hector Santiago, Pete Alonso, Devin Mesoraco, and Rajai Davis. In total, the Mets are likely to add as many as three players and possibly more.

In the event there is more, the team could opt to put Franklyn Kilome on the 60 day disabled list to preserve his last option, but such a move starts his service clock while having him cost significantly more. This would make adding him to the 60 day disabled list unlikely meaning there are two or more Mets whose 40 man roster spots could now become tenuous:

Right off the bat, Kyle Dowdy is an obvious choice. Should he lose the race for the last man in the bullpen to O’Rourke, Santiago, or one of the Mets young right-handed relief pitchers, it’s quite possible the team returns him to the Cleveland Indians. With him pitching to a 7.36 ERA this Spring and 5.15 ERA between Double- and Triple-A last year, his heading back to Cleveland seems like the obvious choice.

With respect to the Mets young right-handed relievers, Tim Peterson seems to have the most tenuous spot. We have seen Peterson really succeed in spots as evidenced by his 0.87 ERA in the Arizona Fall League or his allowing just two earned runs over his first 11.1 relief innings. However, over time, batters catch up to him and his 91 MPH fastball.

On the relief front, the Mets may also be in a position to designate Paul Sewald and Jacob Rhame for assignment. We have seen each of them pitch well in the majors in spurts, but their overall body of work has been quite lacking. However, given their limited history of success, it would seem while their spots are tenuous, they have a leg up on the aforementioned pitchers.

On the position player front, Luis Guillorme‘s spot seems the most tenuous. After he struggled in 35 games at the Major League level, it appeared the organization really soured on him. If you want evidence to that effect, look no further than how he was not among the September call-ups last year. The Mets offseason moves would seem to indicate his spot is dubious as well.

Hechavarria serves the same role Guillorme could have served, but the Mets thought it better to potentially give Hechavarria $3 million than give Guillorme a chance. With the team adding Dilson Herrera to add to an already crowded Syracuse infield and top prospect Andres Gimenez not too far from Triple-A, Guillorme’s spot seems all the more dubious.

That said, the team did designate Gavin Cecchini for assignment earlier in the year, and Guillorme has had a very good Spring. This means Guillorme’s spot is safe for now. As for the aforementioned pitchers, it may depend on how many players they seek to add the to Opening Day roster and if they are able to swing trades for players like Travis d’Arnaud to open up enough spots.

Mets Destroy Orioles

The Mets had a rare laugher tonight with the team thrashing Dylan Bundy (7 ER) and the Orioles bullpen to the tune of a 16-5 victory.

The big inning was a nine run sixth capped off by a Kevin Plawecki grand slam off Evan Phillips.

Plawecki was not the only one with a big night. Brandon Nimmo finished a homer short of the cycle going 5-for-5 with three runs, two doubles, triple, hit by pitch, and three RBI.

Todd Frazier had his best day as a Met going 3-for-6 with two runs, a homer, and four RBI.

Austin Jackson was 2-for-4 with two runs, a triple, and two walks.

Newest Met Jack Reinheimer would pinch run for Jose Bautista in the sixth, and he would score his first career run. Later in the game, he’d record his first career hit.

Overall, every Met in the lineup except Michael Conforto would get a hit me bore the ninth, and even then, Conforto had a walk and run scored. Conforto would correct that by smoking a ball Jonathan Villar couldn’t field.

In the ninth, Wilmer Flores hit a homer to cap off a 2-for-5 night.

In total, every Mets starter reached base at least two times, and everyone but Bautista scored at least one run.

This was more than enough support for Zack Wheeler who was terrific again limiting the Orioles to a run on five hits in five innings.

After that sixth inning outburst, Mickey Callaway did the right thing by pulling Wheeler and going to the bullpen.

Tim Peterson was the one lowlight of the day with him allowing four runs on five hits in his two innings.

Other than that, this was a good day for a Mets team who seemed to spend nine innings taking a season’s worth of frustration out on a very bad Orioles team.

Game Notes: Mets are now 19-19 over their last 38 games.