Travis d’Arnaud

The Projected NLDS Roster

Now that the Mets have clinched the NL East, the time is fast approaching to set the NLDS roster. Keep in mind, this is for the NLDS only. The Mets can the roster if they advance to the NLCS. 

I’ve made some changes to my prior analysis. The reason is due to injuries to players like Juan Uribe. Another reason was the possibility that Jon Niese and Bartolo Colon may move to the bullpen. 

Note, this is not what I would do, but rather, what I think the Mets will do. I am taking into consideration the Dodgers lefty heavy starting rotation and lineup. Without further ado, here’s my best guess:

Catchers

1.  Travis d’Arnaud 

2.  Kevin Plawecki

Infielders

3.  Lucas Duda

4.  Daniel Murphy

5.  Kelly Johnson

6.  David Wright

7.  Ruben Tejada

8.  Wilmer Flores

Outfielders

9.  Michael Conforto

10. Michael Cuddyer

11. Yoenis Cespedes

12. Juan Lagares

13. Curtis Granderson

Pinch Runner

14. Eric Young, Jr.

Rotation

15. Matt Harvey

16. Jacob deGrom

17. Noah Syndergaard

18. Steven Matz

Bullpen

19. Jeurys Familia

20. Tyler Clippard

21. Addison Reed

22. Hansel Robles

23. Sean Gilmartin

24. Jon Niese

25. Bartolo Colon

I’m not 100% confident in this. I could see Uribe getting healthy enough to play knocking EY, Lagares, or Johnson out of the lineup. With all the lefties, I could see Eric Campbell or Dilson Herrera (3-4 with a walk, a homer, two runs, and a two RBIs on Sunday) making the team as well. 

I also think there is real competition and consideration for the last three bullpen spots. Erik Goeddel has been great all year (when healthy). Carlos Torres is a Terry Collins’ favorite, who may make the team if healthy. Logan Verrett has made his car all year bouncing between starting and reliever. If Colon takes Matz’s spot in the rotation, there will be more bullpen spots because the Mets won’t put Matz in the bullpen

No matter who is on the roster I’m excited for the playoffs again. Lets Go Mets!

Mets Don’t Want Homefield Advantage in the NLDS

Terry Collins is 100% correct that you worry about getting to the playoffs, and then you let the chips fall where they may. I know I’m in the minority on this, but I don’t want the Mets fighting for homefield in the NLDS. 

The first reason is the rotation. We may not know who the fourth starter is, but we do know that Jacob deGromMatt Harvey, and Noah Syndergaard will get starts. We also know Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke will start Games 1 & 2. With Syndergaard’s home/road splits, I don’t want the Mets to have a reason to start Thor in Game 2 to keep him at Citi Field over Harvey. I like the idea of coming home and having a huge edge in the pitching matchup with Thor at home. 

The second reason is the Mets offense. Kershaw and Greinke are hard enough to hit. I know the Mets will be hitting in the shadows at Dodger Stadium, but the Mets hitters are better on the road. Yoenis Cespedes hits .220/.283/.484 at Citi Field. Daniel Murphy is hitting .256/.296/.429. Curtis Granderson is hitting .236/.331/.415 (although his Dodger Stadium numbers are similar). Travis d’Arnaud is .252/.320/.461. The Mets offense travels better. Let the have a better shot at getting going early in the playoffs than struggle at home. 

The final and most important reason is the importance of Games 3 & 4. The Mets would be coming home either down 0-2, tied 1-1, or up 2-0. If you’re down 0-2, there’s no place you’d rather be at home to stave off elimination. You’d also rather be home tied so you have a shot to go up 2-1 in front of a rabid fan base. If the Mets come home up 2-0, after beating Kershaw and Greinke, series over. 

Therefore, I don’t think homefield advantage is something you don’t want to get. Just get the team healthy and ready for the NLDS. 

Mets Magic Number is 6

Even though the Mets lost, the Mets Magic Number is now 6 because the Nationals lost to the Orioles. With the Mets having two Rule 5 picks pitching in a game, and both of the Mets young catchers getting into the game, I thought the best choice for magic number 6 would be Kelly Shoppach:

  
In 2012, the 74-88 Mets traded for the impending free agent Shoppach for a player to be named later. The idea was to get a good look at him to see if the team wanted to re-sign him and/or to get him to work with Josh Thole. Neither one would be back. 

Shoppach only hit .203/.276/.342 in 28 games. His play did not inspire the Mets to re-sign him. Thole would be moved in the famed R.A. Dickey trade that netted the Mets 2015 cornerstones, Noah Syndergaard and Travis d’Arnaud

The player to be named in the Shoppach deal was Pedro Beato, a former Rule 5 draft pick like Sean Gilmartin is this year. We did learn this year the player to be named later was almost Jacob deGrom, which would’ve been disastrous. Note, Sandy Alderson was reported to be alright with trading deGrom at the time until one of his advisors warned him not to make the deal. 

But I digress. The seeds of the 2015 Mets were laid in the 2012 offseason. Much of the way the roster is currently constituted has to do with the Shoppach trade and his faired as a Met. If he succeeded, it’s possible he stays, and who knows what happens with d’Arnaud from there?  Maybe nothing changes?  Maybe Shoppach isn’t as effective a mentor as John Buck. My doctor won’t let me address the deGrom possibilities. 
So as the Shoppach trade arguably set the wheels in motion, let’s offer a hat tip to Magic Man Number 6 Kelly Shoppach. 

This Win Was Brought to You by Chapstick

If nothing else, Daniel Murphy keeps things interesting. He’s just as likely to make an amazing play as he is to make a routine play look like an adventure.  He will hit a double and then get lost on the way to third. 

Today was no exception. In the first inning, he singled setting up first and second with no out. After a Yoenis Cespedes single and a Lucas Duda popout, Travis d’Arnaud hit into the routine 5-4-6 double play. It wasn’t really routine, it was a classic Murphy TOOBLAN.  Murphy assumed the play was over and he got caught between second and third. He got burned so bad, he had to apply Chapstick. No, that’s not a joke. He literally applied Chapstick after the play.

Since it wasn’t a continuation play, the run counted giving the Mets a 1-0 lead. In the second, the lead would expand to 2-0 on a Michael Conforto opposite field homerun. Actually, it wasn’t a Conforto homerun, it was a:

Murphy would redeem himself for killing the first inning rally by hitting a two RBI double in the seventh scoring the pinch running Eric Young, Jr. (8 runs scored, no hits for the Mets) and Curtis Granderson (1-3, two walks, and two runs scored). Once again Granderson was a catalyst. Once again Murphy giveth and Murphy taketh. 

On the pitching side, Jon Niese pitched well after eight days of rest. He got a number of groundballs. His final line was six innings, three hits, two walks, and two strikeouts. Some questioned pulling him after six innings and 88 pitches, but I agree with Terry Collins. He’s been so bad lately that you get him out of there whe he’s feeling good, and he gave you enough depth. 

The 7-8-9 of Addison ReedTyler ClippardJeurys Familia combined to preserve the 4-0 win. Nothing like a bad Braves team and some Chapstick to smooth over the rough stretch and help get the Mets a win. 

The Mets Lost, They’re Not Collapsing

Look, I can write a big long post about all the Mets failures tonight from the all righty lineup to being shut out to losing 2 of 3 to the Marlins again.  I’m not going to do that.

It was a 6-0 loss. Just because you lose to the Marlins, it doesn’t mean it’s 2007 all over again. I know Mets fans were upset over Eric Campbell playing. The lefties need a day off. It’s the benefit of having a large lead. 

If you want to find something to be upset about, be upset about the regulars not contributing against a left-handed pitcher. The lineup still had David WrightYoenis CespedesTravis d’Arnaud, and Wilmer Flores [standing ovation]. The lineup accumulated three hits. Two from Wright and one from Michael Cuddyer. In the NLDS, the Mets will see better lefties than Adam Conley in Clayton Kershaw and Alex Wood

So yes, Bartolo Colon gave up two solo homeruns (and one other earned run) and Tyler Clippard gave up one homerun himself. The rest of the bullpen, Hansel Robles aside, was ineffective. All of this creates a loss, not a collapse. 

The Mets play quasi-meaningful games against the Yankees this weekend. If the Mets throw out some clunkers then, I’ll consider getting nervous. Right now, I’m just happy the Mets are getting the slumps out if the way against the Marlins in games that do not matter. 

Mets Win Even in Previews

One of the things I like to do is to go see a Broadway show during previews and right before Opening Night. By that time, many of the kinks are worked out, but the actors are still trying things to see if it works. Even better, the tickets are at a discount. 

Tonight was preview night at Citi Field. The Mets had BOGO tickets. Terry Collins tried some stuff out like batting Lucas Duda seventh against a righty. He started Michael Cuddyer in RF against the lefty over Curtis Granderson. He only let Logan Verrett go five innings in a game tied at one despite throwing under 70 pitches. 

Collins would bring in Sean Gilmartin in the sixth. Was this to see both potential long men, or was this a preview for a future Matt Harvey rumored half start. Gilmartin would show his rust giving up two runs to the Marlins. However, like the Broadway previews, the stars brought it and brought down the house. 

Yoenis Cespedes opened the scoring in the third with a bomb to left field. After the Mets fell behind, Travis d’Arnaud hit a game tying two run homer. Finally, the biggest star of them all, David Wright, hit the go-ahead ground rule double scoring the pinch running Eric Young, Jr. (who also stole a base). Jeurys Familia came on in the ninth and saved the 4-3 win. 

We can expect a lot more of this over the next month. These are the types of things you can and should do with a large division lead in September. Because the Mets are so good, they’re going to win a lot of those games. 

I can’t wait for when this show makes its October debut. 

Harder to Hit Than Spell Syndergaard

After skipping his last start, the Mets brought Noah Syndergaard to the mound. After shaking off some rust and allowing a first inning run, he was completely dominant.

His fastball was consistently between 98-100. He mixed in his breaking pitches keeping the Braves off balance all night. His final line was seven innings, two hits, eight strikeouts, and one earned. All of this was just on 94 pitches. He looked like an ace. He looked like someone that needs to be pitching in October

His fellow rookie, Michael Conforto, backed him up in the field. As Keith Law would say:

Conforto made some nice plays including this gem (even if the runner should’ve been called safe):

The Mets needs to be good in the field because the Braves were great in the field including turning four double plays. 

Unfortunately, Thor did not get the win even if Yoenis Cespedes hit another homerun in the eighth to get a 4-1 lead. Tyler Clippard imploded and allowed a game tying three run homer in the eighth. It’s hard to get on him with his great he’s been. The Mets would return the favor by giving him a cultured win. 

Travis d’Arnaud continued to be d’Man. He went 3-4 with an RBI, and he started the game winning rally with a ninth inning ground rule double. Eric Young, Jr. would pinch run and score on Kelly Johnson‘s RBI single. Johnson would score by beating Andrelton Simmons‘ throw him on Cespedes’ bases loaded fielder’s choice giving the Mets a 6-4 lead. 
Jeurys Familia would make it stand up with his 41st save of the year. He’s been dominant this year, and the Mets have been dominating lately. They now sit at 81 wins guaranteeing they will not have a losing season. 

I think I speak for everyone when I say that finishing above .500 is the least of the Mets goals right now. 

I Don’t Know What to Make of Collins

Terry Collins came into this season as a lame duck manager. That can be poison going into a year. A lot of that was alleviated by the Mets 11game winning streak in April. Then the injuries came. 

On April 14thDavid Wright went on the DL with a hamstring, but we would later learn it could be much worse. On April 19thTravis d’Arnaud went to the DL with a right hand fracture. He would come off the DL on June 10th, and he would return to the DL on June 23rdJerry Blevins went on the DL with a broken forearm on the same day as d’Arnaud’s first DL stint. On June 5thDaniel Murphy went on the DL with a left quad injury. 

These injuries were on top of season ending injuries to Zack Wheeler and Josh Edgin. The Mets lost Jenrry Mejia first two injury on Opening Day and then to a steroids suspension. Rafael Montero was first an option in the bullpen and then the rotation. He went on the DL with a shoulder injury and would never pitch again. Dillon Gee was in and out of the rotation, and he went on the DL. Eventually, he went into the doghouse. 

There was also the issues of ineffectiveness. Lucas Duda started out hot, and then got really, really cold. He had trouble carrying the offense. It’s no wonder his back went outKirk Nieuwenhuis was terrible, and he was traded to the Angels. When Nieuwenhuis flopped with the Angels, the Mets and their dreadful offense took him back. Of course, Michael Cuddyer had a typical first year with the Mets. 

Through all of this, Collins kept it together. It was a miracle. The Mets should not have been in position to make trades. They were in a small part because the Nationals didn’t run away with it. A larger part was Collins holding it together. Then when he finally had a real MLB roster, his abilities as a tactician into question. 

He started making questionable choices, and he cost his team some games. Then the season defining series against the Nationals. Collins said he was treating it like a playoff series. He made a number of moves. He was brilliant. However, it leaves me to question which is the true Terry Collins. Is he the man that is better at getting the most out of a team?  Is he a guy that can jeopardize a game with questionable moves?  Is he the guy that can pull it together to make all the right moves when a series is in the line?

Is he all these things?  I don’t know.  Part of the reason why is this is Collins first real pennant race as the team to beat. Another reason is he’s never had a team this good. Finally, he’s never been in the playoffs. He’s going to get his chance now. 

It’s funny that with no new contract, this could be Collins first and last chance at a World Series. I hope he gets it. Not just because I’m a Mets fan, but because he’s a good man. He’s spent his life in baseball, and he has earned his chance. 

I just hope when the time comes we see the Collins that managed against the Nationals. 

NOTE: hat tip to @koosman2pointOh for his suggestion on this post. 

Win Was Rest Assured

Like his past few starts, this game was all about Bartolo Colon clobbering the NL East. He’s now 13-1 against the NL East with a 2.52. He had a 31 inning scoreless streak that surpassed Warren Spahn‘s record for most consecutive shut out innings for a 42 year old. It was also fell 1.2 innings short of R. A. Dickey‘s club record. 

Colon even asserted his dominance at the plate. After Kelly Johnson and Juan Uribe scored on a Kevin Plawecki 4th inning RBI double, Colon would single him home. Colin’s dominance and scoreless streak would end in the seventh when he allowed two runs. With two outs, he was lifted for Dario Alvarez, who did his job as a LOOGY, and got the lefty Nick Markakis out. 

Hansel Robles was out attending to family matters. Tyler Clippard and Jeurys Familia were given the day off due to their usage in the Washington series. As such, Alvarez came back out for the eighth, and he pitched a 1-2-3 inning, which included getting Freddie Freeman out. It was a great job by him. 

It looked like Addison Reed was going to get the save opportunity until Uribe hit a two run double in the ninth. Reed still came on and secuted the 7-2 win. 

Colon’s battery mate, Plawecki, also had a good game. He went 1-3 with a double, a walk, and three RBIs, including an insurance run in the eighth. Overall, playing backups like Uribe, Johnson, and Plawecki allowed the Mets to rest Travis d’ArnaudDaniel Murphy and his quad, and David Wright and his back. 

That’s the benefit of building a big lead. You get to rest some guys who need rest. When you’re really good, you win those games, even when Yoenis Cespedes finally has an 0-fer. You win these games even with a two and a half hour rain delay and a flooded dugout:

Before moving along to the next game, our best wishes to Dan Warthen, who was not at the game because he had to go to the hospital with heart problems. I hope he gets better, and he comes back to enjoy this ride. 

d’Arnaud is d’Man

With all the hysteria following Yoenis Cespedes, and the recent tarring and feathering of Matt Harvey, it’s easy to forget there are other players on the Mets who are making major contributions. Chief among those players is Travis d’Arnaud

When the Mets obtained him, he had a reputation of being a good hitting catcher. While his career had a rough start, he fixed his swing in AAA, and he’s been raking ever since. This year he’s hitting .287/.364/.540. These are tremendous numbers for any position, let alone for a catcher. 

Speaking of catching, d’Arnaud continues to help his pitching staff. He remains one of the best in the game at pitch framing. For all the talk about innings limits and pitch counts, this ability cannot be ignored. It’s a tremendous skill not only to get a strike called a strike, but also to get a ball called a strike. It was one of the hallmarks of those 90’s Braves teams. 

The knock on him has always been that he’s injury prone, and he’s done nothing to dispel that this year with two long DL stints. However, the main fear with him was concussions, and he hasn’t had one this year. Furthermore, it looks like his weakness can turn out to be his strength this year. He’s only played 48 out of a possible 139 games. This means he’ll be fresh for October. 

When he’s played d’Arnaud has been tremendous. If not for Cespedes, we might be calling him d’Man. There’s nothing else you could ask him to do right now that he’s not doing, except maybe choosing the right wine to go with the post-game meal. If you think about it, with his play at both sides of the plate, he deserves that moniker. 

d’Arnaud is d’Man.