Zack Wheeler

20/20 Hindsight: Mets Giving It All They Have

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mets Two Back Not Seven Ahead With 17 To Play

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

LETS GO METS!

Mets Somehow Hold On And Win

After not having his typical second half run, Zack Wheeler had turned it on of late allowing just one earned in each of his past two starts. He’d do the same tonight.

It initially didn’t seem like that was going to be the case tonight. In the first inning, he immediately got into trouble. Ketel Marte hit a leadoff single, stole second, and he cane home on an Eduardo Escobar RBI single putting the Mets down 1-0.

After that first inning, Marte continued to give him fits doubling and walking, but Wheeler would find his way around his getting on base without yielding another run.

What helped Wheeler was his ability to get the big strikeout. In fact, he’d strike out seven Diamondbacks in the game. It’s the highest amount of strikeouts he’d have in a game in over a month.

The other thing working for Wheeler was his getting two double plays. After all was said and done, he’d have a final line of 7.0 IP, 7 H, R, ER, 2 BB, and 7 K.

For him, it was a matter of who was going to provide the offense as Zac Gallen completely shut down Jeff McNeil and Pete Alonso who combined to strike out six times in six at-bats. This made Gallen the first ever pitcher to strike out McNeil three times in a game. He’d fly out in the seventh to avoid his first golden sombrero.

With the Mets two big bats atop the lineup being completely shut down, the Mets needed someone to step up. That someone would be Todd Frazier.

In the bottom of the second, Frazier hit a go-ahead RBI double. On the play, the Diamondbacks had a perfectly executed relay, and upon replay it appeared they got Amed Rosario at the plate, but the initial safe call was upheld.

What was interesting about that play was in the fourth, it appeared Brandon Nimmo avoided Alex Avila‘s tag when the Mets ran a contact play with Wheeler at the plate.

At least tonight, those two calls evened out for the Mets.

Nimmo being on third on that play was a point of contention for Keith Hernandez. On Frazier’s fourth inning RBI double, his second of the game, it appeared as if Josh Rojas might’ve been able to make a play.

Instead of going to second, he stopped just a little more than halfway. As a result, he couldn’t score on a ball which hit the top of the wall meaning Robinson Cano would score the only run on the play.

This meant a 3-1 instead of a 4-1 lead on a night when Seth Lugo was unavailable.

In the eighth, Brad Brach allowed a long opposite field homer to Escobar to make it just a 3-2 lead.

With two out and nobody on, Mickey Callaway wasn’t messing around by going to Justin Wilson for the four out save.

After a walk to Rojas, Adam Jones flew out to end the inning. While it was just two batters, Wilson had to work needing 10 pitches to get out Jones and 15 pitches total.

To put it in perspective, since coming off the IL, he only threw more than 20 pitches three times over 26 appearances. Perhaps that is why Edwin Diaz was warming as the inning began.

Wilson was asked to do something he hadn’t done since April 2. It wouldn’t be pretty. Really, it wasn’t pretty at all.

Nick Ahmed led off the ninth with a single, and he’d be on third after a fielder’s choice and a Kevin Cron pinch hit single past a diving Rosario. That’s when all heck broke loose.

Marte hit a ball to Alonso freezing Ahmed at third. With it sinking, Tim Locastro froze at first and Ahmed at third. While Alonso dove, he couldn’t complete the catch.

He immediately picked up the ball and stepped on first. Then, instead of getting Locastro, who was dead to rights, he tried to pick Ahmed off third. With Ahmed getting back safely, the Mets all-time leader in walk-off hits, Wilmer Flores, stepped up to the plate.

Despite Wilson clearly tiring and everyone running around with their heads cut off,Callaway stuck with Wilson. His faith was rewarded as he struck out Flores to end the game.

After the 3-2 win, the Mets are tied in the loss column with the Diamondbacks and a four behind in the loss column to the Cubs.

Game Notes: Callaway said Frazier started over J.D. Davis because Davis needs days off. It should be noted Davis hurt his leg about a month ago. In Brooklyn, Edgardo Alfonzo led the Brooklyn Cyclones to the NYPL Championship. It’s their first championship since they were awarded one in the wake of 9/11.

20/20 Hindsight: Mets Still Alive

On the one hand, the Mets took two out of three, which is a good result against the Nationals as they push for a Wild Card. On the other hand, there was an absolutely brutal loss in that mix making this result feel worse than anticipated:

1. It is high time Mickey Callaway gets credit for keeping this team together. There have been a number of absolutely brutal losses and each time the team picks itself up and surprises us. There are a number of things you can point to that you don’t like with Callaway. However, the way he manages that clubhouse appears to be truly special.

2. Getting back to that bullpen meltdown, that was arguably the worst regular season loss between games 1 – 161 in team history. The least said about it the better. Honestly, if you want to dwell on it, you can go here or here, but there needs to be no more focus on that.

3. Robinson Cano showed no ill effects of the hamstring going 3-for-4 with a walk, homer, and two RBI. The Mets need him to be just like this, which coincidentally is just how Moises Alou was in 2007.

4. Just to outline the job Brodie Van Wagenen did this past offseason, Edwin Diaz has allowed more homers (13) than Cano has hit this year (11).

5. On that front, the Mets have still gotten nothing from Jed Lowrie, who has requested to continue his rehab assignment, one which has not gone well at all. After playing seven innings in the field on August 31, he has DHed twice, had a day off, and played just five innings in the field. This is shaping up to be one of the worst signings in Mets history.

6. Brandon Nimmo is not only back, but he is in mid-season form drawing six walks in 12 plate appearances. He also has a double and a homer. This is exactly what he did last year when he was the second best hitter in the National League. It may be time to put him back atop the lineup.

7. It was a shame to see Wilson Ramos‘ hitting streak end with Howie Kendrick playing the role of Ken Keltner.

8. Pete Alonso‘s 45 homers are the most in a player’s first season. Of note, Mark McGwire and Aaron Judge had cups of coffee previous to their full first season. On the subject of Alonso and Judge, Alonso is on pace to tie his 52 homer mark.

9. There were two completely shocking things from Juan Lagares yesterday – an error and a homer to dead center.

10. With Hyun-Jin Ryu‘s regression, and with Jacob deGrom out-pitching Max Scherzer, this Cy Young race is in a dead heat, and you can make the argument deGrom is in the lead albeit very slightly.

11. After struggling since his return from the IL, Jeff McNeil has been himself again going 5-f0r-14 in the series with two homers and seven RBI.

12. There is something special when you watch a player like Zack Wheeler struggle so much on the mound only to allow one run over five innings. The way he fought when the Mets needed him to fight like that to get the team back on the winning track.

13. Jeurys Familia has been horrible his past two outings presenting what is probably the low point of his season, which is truly saying something. The only thing worse than Familia is the Mets other right-handed relief options not named Seth Lugo in the bullpen.

14. Lugo continues to be great, and he bailed the Mets out by going two innings a game after he pitched. It’s scary to think where this team would be without him.

15. At the moment, Lugo, Justin Wilson, and Luis Avilan are about the only reliable arms in the bullpen. In terms of Lugo and Wilson, they both have elbow issues, and the Mets need to be careful with them. In case there is a postseason, they need to keep them fresh. They also need to keep them healthy for 2020.

16. We see Asdrubal Cabrera still has that clutch gene going 4-f0r-12 in this series with a double, homer, and four RBI. The Mets did well getting Joe Panik, but you wonder how things would have been different had Van Wagenen not decided to sign his own former client who has not played a game this year.

17. Mets are 10 games over .500 at home, and 17 of their final 23 games are at home. Their six road games come against the Rockies and Reds. Looking at this schedule, there is the potential for a lot of wins on the schedule.

18. In order for the Mets to get into the postseason, they are going to have to have no more missteps, and they are going to have to beat the Dodgers and Braves at home. Keep in mind, if the Mets do have the luck to make it to the postseason, they are going to have to do this in October as well.

19. Robert Gsellman is trying to get back this year from a torn lat by throwing yesterday. With no real opportunity for a rehab assignment, you do have to wonder just how much of a chance he is going to get to come back. That said, given the state of the bullpen, you might as well throw him out there when he’s finally ready.

20. All told, somehow the Mets are still alive even with the chances being fleeting. Lets just enjoy this ride for as long as it lasts, and who knows, maybe they will pull it out.

20/20 Hindsight: Mets Needed To Complete Sweep

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mets Mistakes Cost Them Game

Somewhere even Plaxico Burress can’t believe just how much the Mets shot themselves in the foot tonight.

Zack Wheeler walked back-to-back batters in the second, and both runners would score on a Francisco Cervelli RBI double. Cervelli is the other guy the Braves claimed this past week to build this thing other baseball teams call depth.

In the third, it was homers from Ozzie Albies and Josh Donaldson to make it 4-0. With the way the Mets have been playing, it should come as no surprise the Mets mounted a comeback.

The first run came on a rally started on a Juan Lagares double off Max Fried. Lagares has simply been great lately. Not only is he hitting (2-for-4, 2 R, 2B), but He’s also playing Gold Glove defense again. He’d double again in the fifth, and he’d score on an Amed Rosario single.

After a Joe Panik single, Pete Alonso would tie Todd Hundley‘s and Carlos Beltran‘s single season home run record:

That homer also passed Mike Piazza for the Mets single season record for homers by a RHB or for that matter a non-switch hitter.

That should’ve been the turning point. It should’ve been the point where the Mets turned things around and not only won the game but the series. Instead, the Mets just played hideous baseball.

The Braves immediately tied the score on a rally started with Todd Frazier throwing one away. That put Cervelli at second, and he’d score on a Rafael Ortega single.

The Mets had a chance to take the lead in the seventh, but Mickey Callaway and the Mets must’ve just completely stopped thinking.

Fresh off the IL, in typical fashion Jeff McNeil hit the first pitch he saw for a double. Then, despite Amed Rosario hitting .348/.384/.510 in the second half, Callaway asked him to bunt. If you think that was bad, after two bad attempts, he’d swing away and hit a grounder to short.

Instead of staying home on the ball hit in front of him, he’d break for third, and he was out as Adeiny Hechavarrias throw to Donaldson. Then, trying to make something happen, Callaway called for a hit-and-run. Panik swung and missed at the Josh Tomlin pitch, and Cervelli would throw out Rosario easily. As bad as that was, the top of the eighth would be so much worse.

Billy Hamilton, a player the Mets had no interest in adding, would hit a pinch hit single off Brad Brach setting up runners at first and second with two outs. Then, J.D. Davis screwed up big time when fielding Ronald Acuna Jr.‘s single.

Not only did he not charge the ball, but he’d flip the ball casually into the infield. This all allowed Hamilton to score from first on a single. It’s completely inexcusable from Davis . . . almost as inexcusable as the decision for a team to not claim him so they could play Aaron Altherr. That gave the Braves a 7-5 lead.

Edwin Diaz began the ninth, and he’d immediately allow a homer to Freddie Freeman. Not too long thereafter, Diaz was lifted from the game due to injury. Really bad job by Mets fans booing him in that spot. It was probably a worse moment than any other in this Mets 9-5 loss.

Now, instead of looking to win a series, the Mets are now looking to salvage a game in this series. On the bright side, they’re not loosing ground in the Wild Card race.

Game Notes: Tomas Nido did indeed sustain a concussion, and he was placed on the seven day concussion IL. He was replaced on the roster by Rene Rivera. Rivera was added to the 40 after Altherr was designated for assignment.

Paul Sewald Has Real Value

While things have been going well recently, the Mets have had trouble identifying those relievers whom they can use and trust to eat up innings and take care of games where they have large leads. When that is an issue for your team, you wind up using and wasting good relievers in non-critical spots. You are also forced to use good relievers when it should not have been necessary.

On August 6, the Mets had a five run lead heading into the ninth inning against the Miami Marlins, the worst team in the National League. After eight dominant innings from Zack Wheeler, the Mets went to Robert Gsellman in the ninth. The following night, the Mets once again had a five run lead heading into the ninth. The team would use Jeurys Familia and Luis Avilan to close out the game.

On the roster at that time was Chris Mazza and Donnie Hart. The team did not use either reliever in that spot or really any spot. Truth be told if you can’t trust those relievers to close out games against the worst team in the National League, you don’t have any business being on the roster. It should come as no surprise neither pitcher is currently on the Mets roster.

When Mazza and Hart went down, Drew Gagnon was one of the relievers who replaced them on the roster. The Mets would bring Gagnon to pitch the eighth inning in the August 15 game against the Braves. At that time, the Mets had a 10-3 lead, and they just needed someone to pitch the final two innings to give the bullpen a rest. Instead, Gagnon would allow four homers, including a homer to Freddie Freeman in consecutive innings, thereby necessitating Edwin Diaz coming into the game to record the save in a 10-8 game.

This led to Paul Sewald being selected from Syracuse and re-joining the Mets bullpen. While this was largely met with eye rolls and consternation, Sewald is exactly what the Mets needed. In yesterday’s 9-2 victory over the Indians, the Mets would use Sewald out of the bullpen in the ninth. There would be no drama as he would allow a double while striking out three batters. In the grand scheme of things, these are the types of outings which are both necessary and overlooked.

Since his debut in 2017, Sewald has handled these situations well. In his career, in what is characterized as low leverage situations, he has held opposing batters to a .209/.262/.341 batting line. When there is a four run lead in either direction, Sewald has held opposing batters to a .223/.294/.365 batting line. This has permitted him to pitch multiple innings in these situations. In turn, this has allowed the Mets to save their better relievers for higher leverage situations.

This has an immense amount of value to a team, and these are the types of outings which helps a team get to the postseason. This is what Pat Mahomes provided the Mets in 1999 and 2000, Darren Oliver provided in 2006, and Sean Gilmartin provided in 2015. This is what Sewald can be over the remaining 37 games of the season. His doing that frees up Lugo, Diaz, Familia, and Justin Wilson for the higher leverage situations.

All told, Sewald can provide an immense amount of value to the Mets bullpen by eating up those innings and not having Mickey Callaway need to worry about needing to go deeper into the bullpen in these situations. As we have seen this year, this is not a role which is easily filled. Ultimately, Sewald can perform well in situations where others cannot, and as a result, he provides this bullpen and this Mets team with real value.

Simply Amazin (Into The Wild) Podcast Appearance

On Sunday, I was invited to join Tim Ryder for the Simply Amazin podcast to discuss the series against the Royals as well as other Mets matters. Off the top of my head, I remember mentioning J.D. Davis, Pete Alonso, Ruben Tejada, Brandon Nimmo, Dilson Herrera, Aaron Altherr, Amed Rosario, Seth Lugo, Jeurys Familia, Justin Wilson, Luis Avilan, Jeff McNeil, Joe Panik, Juan Lagares, Dominic SmithZack WheelerSteven MatzRajai Davis, Luis Guillorme, and others.

Please take a listen and keep an eye (or ear) out for Thursday when I’m next scheduled to appear.

20/20 Hindsight: Mets Win A Series In Kansas City

The Mets went to Kansas City looking to sweep, and they wound up having to settle for less than that. Ultimately, they got the job done even if they did not perform well at all:

1. Alex Gordon may be the only Royals player remaining, but it was still good to see the Mets win a series in Kaufman Stadium, and it felt even better seeing Jeurys Familia get the win in a deciding game.

2. It’s also great to see Michael Conforto homer in a game against the Royals and not watch the Mets not blow the game. Seeing where Conforto hit that homer, we should have called that a Blue Moon Shot.

3. Congratulations to Pete Alonso for breaking Cody Bellinger‘s National League rookie home run record. He now joins Mark McGwire and Aaron Judge as the only rookies to hit 40 homers in a season. This has been a great ride, and he’s now in line to join Darryl Strawberry as the only other Mets position player to win Rookie of the Year.

4. It is criminal that when Alonso broke the record the call was made by Wayne Randazzo on the radio side and Gary Apple on the TV side. The Mets have all-time great broadcasters, and somehow that’s what we were left with for this great moment. Mets needs to do better when there are vacations.

5. There were two different times Alonso looked like he was going to break that record. The first ball was called foul, and to his credit, Alonso shook it off and delivered with a huge go-ahead two RBI single. The next time the ball actually hit the foul line towards the top of the right field wall. Many times we see people struggle or slump as they near a milestone; Alonso powered onward.

6. Jacob deGrom had his 12th start of the season pitching 7.0+ innings allowed two earned or fewer. That mark ties him with Hyun-Jin Ryu for the most in the Majors. This should only highlight how great deGrom has been this year and how deserving he is of another Cy Young.

7. Yes, Ryu is having a great year, but deGrom’s year is arguably better. For starters, deGrom has more innings pitched and strikeouts. Moreover, he has a higher K/9, K%, K-BB%, FIP, xFIP, fWAR, and bWAR while leading in other other categories as well.

8. One of the reasons the Mets took this series was Joe Panik playing great. Since joining the Mets, Panik is hitting .333/.379/.444 with a double, triple, and two RBI with two walks. On a side note, he was the second baseman when the Giants beat the Royals in the 2014 World Series.

9. With Jeff McNeil down, the Mets needed Panik to step up, and he has. The same goes for Juan Lagares, who has been the 2015 postseason version of Lagares who has hit .458/.458/.583 since August 13.

10. With the way Panik and Lagares are playing, it appears Todd Frazier is the guy who has to go to the bench. Since the All Star Break, he is hitting .192/.239/.377. If he’s hitting this way, he cannot be in the lineup.

11. Going forward, Frazier has hit .283/.359/.543 off left-handed pitching. To that end, he should work out a de facto platoon with Panik, and given his glove, he should be the third baseman when Marcus Stroman is on the mound. Short of that, he should be a power bat off the bench and late inning defensive replacement.

12. These two were needed all the more with J.D. Davis twice going down with a calf injury in this series. With how hot he’s been hitting, the Mets need his bat in the lineup, and they were without it in a series against the Royals. One side point here, good for Mickey Callaway for being cautious in taking him out rather than leaving him to run 90 feet.

13. Davis coming out of Sunday’s game forced Amed Rosario to play left field. It didn’t take long for the ball to find him, and the played the ball like he’s been out there all year. He also doubled in his only at-bat as an outfielder. Maybe this shouldn’t be a surprise because Rosario has been legitimately great lately.

14. Since the All Star Break, Rosario has hit .368/.403/.544. He’s a 3 DRS at shortstop. When McNeil went down, he took over the leadoff spot, and he’s been hitting .333/.383/.535 in the leadoff spot. He is literally doing all that is being asked of him, and he is emerging as a legitimately great player. This has been a real joy to watch.

15. Rosario having to play left field only highlights the stupidity of the Mets going with Ruben Tejada over Dilson Herrera. What makes the move all the more hilariously stupid was the Mets justification for going with Tejada over Herrera was versatility. Between the two, Herrera is the only one with outfield experience. Since Tejada rejoined the Mets, he is 0-for-8 at the plate with two strikeouts and someone already a -0.3 WAR. Herrera is hitting .294/.368/.706 while playing second base and left field. Again, this decision made zero sense.

16. On the topic of baffling decisions, when Robert Gsellman landed on the Injured List, the Mets called up Walker Lockett over Chris Flexen. Between the two, Flexen has the better stuff, and he has experience pitching out of the bullpen.

17. One area where Callaway was criticized for making a baffling decision was using Edwin Diaz to get out of a bases loaded no out situation. While it was a near disaster with a grand slam overturned on replay, Diaz got out of the inning allowing just two runs. In his next appearance, he pitched a scoreless ninth with two strikeouts. Maybe, just maybe in the long run, this was a great decision by Callaway.

18. Zack Wheeler‘s start against the Royals was disappointing. That’s two straight disappointing five inning starts from him. This time, it was probably more bad luck than anything. However, this is his first real postseason race, so it will be interesting to see how he handles things in his next start.

19. The Mets would have been better off with a sweep, but they still won the series. They’re also just two games back of the second Wild Card. Overall, when looking at this stretch of six games, many are discounting just how hot and grueling that stretch of road games are in Atlanta and Kansas City along with their losing one of their hottest hitters.

20. Good for the White Sox for having Bill Walton and Michael Schur do color commentary with Steve Stone out. As noted on Saturday, that is what the Mets should have been doing by using the multitude of great local broadcasters and fans in Gary Cohen’s and Howie Rose’s absence. On a final note there, John Sadak did a great job on the radio. Here’s hoping there’s a spot for him in 2020.

Like Bill Walton And The White Sox Mets Should Have Mike Breen And Walt Clyde Frazier Call A Game

While Mets fans are stuck with Gary Apple doing an absolutely atrocious job calling Mets games with Gary Cohen on vacation, the Chicago White Sox decided to do something fun by having Bill Walton in the booth. It was magic.

At its core, this was fun, and it something every baseball team should be doing when their man guys go on vacation. Sure, it will get old for more than a game or two, but why not have some fun for that one game or two.

Seeing how much fun that was and how much attention that game has garnered, other teams should be doing this. On that front, Knicks play-by-play announcer, Mike Breen, is a Mets fan, and he calls Knicks games with Walt Clyde Frazier is a legend. Having them call a Mets game would be magic.

Who wouldn’t want to hear Clyde call Noah Syndergaard “prodigious,” how Zack Wheeler is “Wheeling and dealing,” how Jacob deGrom is “slicing and dicing” up opposing batters, or how Seth Lugo‘s curveball is “spinning and winning!”

How about after Pete Alonso or Todd Frazier celebrate a homer, Frazier refers to their “styling and profiling.” As Amed Rosario attempts to stretch a single into a double, he will be “hustling and bustling.” When Jeff McNeil gets yet another hit, we can hear about how he’s “percolating .”

Certainly, with the state of umpiring in baseball we will hear multiple times there was “a dubious call by the officials.”

Finally, if the Mets have a lead and bring on Edwin Diaz for the save, Clyde can say what we’re all thinking when he ponders whether “It will be more glory or purgatory.”

For at least a game, this would be absolutely great, and it is something the Mets need to seriously consider. If nothing else, it’s better than Gary Apple calling a Michael Conforto foul ball 20 rows deep and well short of the fence like it’s a grand slam.