Travis d’Arnaud

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. 

Niese Needs to Frame His Excuses Better

On Monday, Jon Niese had the biggest start of his career, and he was terrible. He had one of his typical meltdowns after a call didn’t go his way. However, we finally got a glimpse into his mindset:

So, nothing is his fault. It’s not him at all. It was Travis d’Arnaud‘s fault. First, he could’ve shook d’Arnaud off. Second, d’Arnaud helps Niese immensely with his poor pitch framing. This juvenile behavior is nothing new for Niese. Only this time, Niese couldn’t be further from the truth. 

d’Arnaud has an excellent reputation for pitch framing. Basically speaking, if d’Arnaud is getting you the strike there, it wasn’t a strike, or maybe, just maybe the umpire blew the call. Whatever the pitch is, Niese had to execute it, and yet again, he failed to do so. Niese sure doesn’t consider this when he’s yelling and screaming at d’Arnaud. 

Additionally, pointing to d’Arnaud is a red herring. Niese has been terrible since the All Star Break. He has a 5.75 ERA and a 1.456 WHIP. From August on, he has a 6.58 ERA with a 1.512 WHIP. Has the d’Arnaud caught him in all of his bad starts?  Of course not. Niese is just pitching poorly, and he’s angry with the world. 

The way he’s going, he only has a few more starts left before watching the playoffs from the bench. I wonder who he will have to blame then. 

Prado Killed the Mets

For one Sunday afternoon, it was nice to focus on baseball. The good?  Steven Matz went 5.2 innings with four hits, two walks, six strikeouts, and two earned. He left on the long side. The bad?  He had to leave in the sixth with a blister problem. 

Given the hand he was dealt (yet another pun from me), Terry Collins did a good job with the bullpen. I hate that Tyler Clippard let up the game tying homerun in the eighth. I love how angry he was about it. I love how he was pacing in the dugout angry after the inning. I love the fire he showed. 

If nothing else, this is a resilient team. After just losing the lead, the Mets loaded the bases. Unfortunately, Travis d’Arnaud, who has been d’Man lately, hit into a double play. Sure enough, it was started by new Mets killer, Martin Prado

Now, I’m not getting on Collins for pulling d’Arnaud. I know Anthony Recker had a passed ball on a strike three that started the game winning rally, but Recker is a good defensive catcher.  I also trust Collins knows if one of his players needs a blow. Also, you want d’Arnaud as fresh as possible with a huge series starting with tomorrow’s day game against the Nationals. 

The Marlins would win with Prado’s sacrifice fly in the ninth inning. He’s a new Mets killer. I can’t kill anyone for this loss. Collins made the right moves. I don’t have a problem with Clippard going a second inning. The Mets simply lost because the Marlins were the better team today. 

The team fought hard. Sometimes, it’s just not your day. The Mets will still have a four game lead going into Washington. They still control their own destiny. I’m not talking collapse yet. 

This is a resilient, fun team. Have some faith. Have some fun. Lets Go Mets!

The Only Thing This Team Can’t Overcome is Collins

Where to begin on a day like today?  There’s Michael Cuddyer and his new wrist injury of unknown origins. There’s Lucas Duda‘s rehab assignment in Binghamton. There’s Daniel Murphy‘s platelet rich therapy treatment for his injured quad. And, oh yeah, there was something about Matt Harvey

There was a lot of noise, but this team is resilient. Jacob deGrom didn’t have his best stuff, and he was squeezed by the umpire. However, he made it through six with only three earned and was in line for the win due to a Yoenis Cespedes go-ahead two-run homer in the seventh. 

Sean Gilmartin and Addison Reed gave up the lead in the seventh. The go-ahead run was scored after Reed got squeezed on a 2-2 pitch and his 3-2 pitch wasn’t even close resulting in a bases loaded walk. They were picked up by Travis d’Arnaud, who sparked a two out rally in the ninth. Juan Lagares pinch ran for him and scored after consecutive singles from Juan Uribe and Kelly Johnson. We all talk about the Cespedes trade, but we all neglect the trade that brought Uribe and Johnson aboard that really started to turn things around. 

The one thing the Mets couldn’t overcome?  Terry Collins. After having a decent game managing, he had to put Eric O’Flaherty in a position to fail again. O’Flaherty came in with an inherited runner and one out from Erik Goeddel‘s second inning of work. O’Flaherty got the lefty, and then for some reason Collins let him face Martin Prado

Of course, Prado hits a double down the right field line. Of course, it’s Lagares and not Cespedes on right. If Cespedes can’t play right, he’s not the player we all think he is. Sure enough, the run scores and the Mets lose in 11. With the Nationals win, the Mets lead drops to five. 

Again, the Mets get burned by Collins managing. If he can’t handle August and September, why do we think he can handle October? Of all the nonsense today, this was the most aggravating.