2015 NLDS

Jake and the Fatman

This postseason the Mets have had two breakout pitching stars: Jacob deGrom and Bartolo Colon

deGrom came out in Game 1, and had a historic night. Anytime you’re in the conversation with Tom Seaver, you know you’re in rarified air. He has proven that the Mets made the right decision in making him the Game 1 starter. If the pitched anything like Game 1 of the All Star team, the Mets will be in great shape. 

If the Mets need to go to the bullpen, they can go to the suddenly reliable Colon. In this NLDS , Colon has pitched in three games going four innings allowing not much more than a homerun to Adrian Gonzalez. He’s struck out five, and he has a 0.750 WHIP. He’s become the Mets best and most reliable reliever not named Jeurys Familia

Tonight, in this do or die Game 5, all hands are on deck. Hopefully, the Mets won’t need anyone else besides Jake and the Fatman before handing the ball to Familia for the save. If the Mets follow this formal they will earn a trip to the NLCS. 

Disco Terry

In case you missed it yesterday, Terry Collins referred to Game 5 against the Dodgers as gravy. Many Mets fans went nuts as if Terry meant this as he’s okay with losing. To put it in perspective, here’s the full quote:

I look at it this way. Obviously, you want to get to the postseason. Anytime you’re down to win or lose its a tough situation. There’s a lot of pressure on both teams. I’ll tell you, I’m so proud of the way our guys made it through the season. This to me is gravy. We’re going to go out and play hard, real hard but they can’t take away what these guys accomplished all year long. You can’t take that away from them, no matter if we lose tomorrow night or come out on top. We’re very, very happy with what we’ve accomplished. We’ll be prepared tomorrow. 

[emphasis mine]

How quickly we forget how torturous that first half was. Collins had to trot out lineups with John Mayberry, Jr.  They were hovering around .500. When you consider the Mets came from that point to this, of course you think it’s all gravy. 

Does that mean Collins’ won’t be devastated if the Mets lose?  Of course not. He had no contract for next year. He’s 66 years old. This may be it for him, and he knows it. Its taken him his entire career to get to this point. Don’t read too much into his statement. 

He’s going to do everything he thinks he can do to help this team win. This statement might be part of it. He’s had the pulse of this team all year. As the Mets manager, Collins went up there, told his team he’s proud of them, and took as much pressure off of them as possible. Arguably, this was a good job by him. 

Overall, no one is going to tell me he doesn’t want this. He wants it desperately. He’s going to manage that way tonight. That’s all you want as a fan. 

If Mets Lose it Won’t Be because of Utley

We all know that the coward‘s “slide” had a profound impact upon Game 2. If the play is called properlyChase Utley is ruled out, and it’s and inning ending double play. The Mets lead 2-1 going into the eighth. We don’t know what happens from there. 

We do know that the game was tied at 2-2. I believe the Ruben Tejada injury weighed on the team that night. It’s hard to do your job when someone you care about is sick or injured. Athletes are no different. It may explain the strange decisions Terry Collins would subsequently make. 

Even if I concede the Mets lost Game 2 because of the play, it does not mean the Mets lose two more games. Tejada was playing well, but he’s not the most important piece. He’s not the reason David Wright and Lucas Duda have failed to hit. It’s not the reason why Clayton Kershaw was so dominant yesterday. 

Unless Game 5 comes down to a Ruben Tejada defensive miscue or Matt Reynolds having to do anything, you can’t point to Tejada’s injury. No, Game 5 is going to come down to whoever the best team is tomorrow. It won’t have anything to do with Utley’s play in Game 2. In fact, since he won’t come off the bench, he may not be a factor at all. 

I think the Mets are the better team, and I think they win tomorrow. 

There’s Reason to Hope

The Mets have to play a do or die Game 5 at Dodger Stadium against Zack Greinke. It’s a seemingly daunting task, but the Mets are more than capable of winning this game and going home to Citi Field for the NLCS. 

First, the Mets had Greinke beat at Dodger Stadium. We don’t need to go back there, but the Mets had a 2-1 lead in the seventh inning before all mayhem broke lose followed by some curious managerial decisions by Terry Collins. If none of this happened, it would’ve been the second time the Mets beat him. 

Second, the Mets have Jacob deGrom. He’s coming off a deGrominant Game 1 performance. The Dodgers hitters couldn’t touch him. They couldn’t hit him before the playoffs. There’s no reason to believe they’ll hit him now. 

Third, for some reason, home teams are ponderously bad in Game 5’s at home:

I’m not sure why this is the case, but I’ll take it. Sure, you could argue that the Dodgers won’t be susceptible to the same fate because they have Greinke, but history shows that may not be the case:

Anyone can lose a Game 5. Funny things can happen in a do or due game. The Mets have the better overall team. They have more weapons on offense. They just need deGrom to be deGrom. 

There’s legitimate hope the Mets can win Game 5. I think they’re going to do it. 

Not This Murphy Garbage Now

There appears to be two types of Mets fans: (1) those who love Daniel Murphy; and (2) those who don’t. I’m in the former camp. Gary Cohen is in the latter (full audio). 

Now, it is way too early to do a postmortem on the Mets season. It’s too early. There’s still an important Game 5. However, I can’t fault Joe & Evan for addressing the topic with Gary Cohen. You don’t get him everyday, so when you get him, you want to address everything with him. That includes addressing the free agency situations of Yoenis Cespedes and Daniel Murphy. 

I don’t disagree with Gary regarding how the Mets will treat the Cespedes and Murphy situations. I agree that neither one will be back. Where I disagree with Gary is his statements about Murphy. 

First, he called Murphy a “net negative.”  Frankly, that’s nonsense. I understand Murphy’s flaws. He’s not a high .OBP guy. He sometimes makes curious fielding and baserunning mistakes. However, calling Murphy a net negative is a gross overstatement. 

If you’re using WAR, he’s generally been between a 2.5 – 3.1 player, which means he’s a solid starter. That’s nothing to sneeze at. If you’re using weighted runs created, or wRC+, his range is between 107-126 in the years he’s been a starter meaning he’s an above average player. Basically, Murphy’s a good player; not a “net negative.”

My other dispute with Gary is that Wilmer Flores and/or Dilson Herrera can take Murphy’s spot. First of all neither of them is the hitter Murphy is now. Murphy is a career .288/.331/.424 hitter. This year he hit .281/.322/.449. This year Flores hit .263/.295/.408, and Herrera hit .211/.311/.367. These two are young (22 and 20 respectively) with potential, but they’re not in Murphy’s league as a hitter yet. 

This is a playoff team now. Next year regardless of their free agency maneuvers, they will be a possible contending team with their pitching staff. It would be better to have some proven hitters like Murphy. It would also be nice to have Murphy as an insurance policy.

This year the SS situation was never fully resolved. It seemed like Ruben Tejada finally wrestled the position away until Chase Utley‘s dirty “slide.”  It’s the second time he’s broken his right leg. Flores may be forced to play more SS than anyone would like next year. 

Also, who knows about David Wright?  The Mets want to limit him to four games in a row. That means you need someone capable of playing third base on a semi-regular basis. It would be preferable to have someone like Murphy who can move other there and competently play the position. 

That doesn’t mean I think the Mets should give Murphy a huge free agent deal. Rather, I would start by offering him the $15.8 million qualifying offer. If he accepts it, great. You have him for one year while you wait for Herrera to develop and you find out about Wright’s back over a 162 game season. It’s an expensive insurance policy, but it may be a necessary one. 

If he rejects it, you at least get a compensation pick if he signs elsewhere. Alternatively, it will limit is market allowing the Mets to negotiate with him on their terms. With all that said, I don’t want to be talking about this. I want to talk about his two homeruns this postseason. I want to talk about Game Five. I want to be talking about the NLCS. 

So, let’s focus on what’s important here. That’s Game Five. The only Murphy discussion now should be how he can help the Mets win that game. 

C’mon Duda

If you’ve read this site before, you know I’m a big fan of Lucas Duda. So is my son. I’m rooting for him even if he’s having a rough NLDS. 

He’s 2-15 with two walks and nine strikeouts. That’s a triple slash line of .133/.188/.133. That’s ugly. It’s hard to justify giving him playing time. With that said, he has to start in Game Five tomorrow. Now, unlike most, I’ll admit my bias here. I like Duda as a player. However, that’s not the only reason I want him to start tomorrow. 

He’s had some success against Zack Greinke. He’s 3-12 with one homerun, one RBI, and two walks.  It is a small sample size, and he went 0-3 against him in Game Two. With his cold streak, you could argue it’s time to play someone else. 

If you sit Duda, then who do you play? One popular opinion floating around is moving Daniel Murphy to first and starting Kelly Johnson at second. That shouldn’t be an option with Johnson going 0-9 against Greinke. He’s also 0-3 with two strikeouts in his pinch hitting appearances this postseason. 

The next option would be Michael Cuddyer. Cuddyer has had some success against Greinke as well going 10-40 with a double and a homer. He’s also struck out 10 times against Greinke. Given the comparability of Duda’s and Cuddyer’s numbers against Greinke you could argue the Mets should start Cuddyer, which is something no Mets fan is lobbying for right now. 

However, I believe you have to start Duda over Cuddyer. If you don’t, this leaves your right handed pinch hitting options to Kevin Plawecki, your backup catcher, and Juan Lagares, the Mets defensive replacement. The Dodgers will have three lefties in the pen assuming Clayton Kershaw isn’t available. I’d prefer Cuddyer pinch hitting in this spot over Lagares or Plawecki. 

Lastly, Duda has been extremely streaky this year. He can flip the switch at any moment. He did go 0-4 last night, but he also gave one a ride last night. Hopefully, it was a sign he’s coming out of it. It’s reason enough to play him tomorrow. I like focusing on this reason other than the lack of better options. 

So, I’m hoping the Mets play Duda, and he gives one a ride. He’s done it before against Greinke. He can do it again. 

Mets Need More from Wright

In Game One of the NLDS, David Wright came up with the bases loaded. The Dodgers lifted Clayton Kershaw and put in Pedro Baez. Wright delivered with a clutch two run RBI single. We were all pumped:

It’s been his only hit in the series. He’s done nothing since. That’s not completely fair. He’s had a .353 OBP in the series. He had a huge defensive play in Game 3: 

The thing is since Game 1 he’s been 0-9 with four walks. That translates to a triple slash line of .000/.308/.000. His overall numbers this postseason are .083/.354/.083. His career postseason numbers are now .184/.322/.306. At a certain point, the narrative is going to become that he can’t deliver in the clutch. 

It may be fair. It may not be. The numbers are what the numbers are. One thing I do know about Wright is that he was the only Met to get an RBI in Game 7 of the 2006 NLCS. In the Game 5, Zack GreinkeJacob deGrom matchup, one run may be all that is needed. 
The Mets need that run. They need more from everyone. They need more from Wright. 

The Crowd Was Great Last Night

There were many disappointments last night. Clayton Kershaw was dominant. Steven Matz couldn’t limit the damage. The Mets couldn’t get the big hit. 

However, one thing that wasn’t disappointing was the crowd. They brought it yesterday. Yes, I saw on Twitter that the crowd was better on Monday. However, it’s easy to be rambunctious when the final score is 13-4. What’s hard is to continue to cheer when you’re down 3-0 and 3-1 to the best pitcher in baseball who brought his A game. 

Throughout the game, the fans tried a number of impromptu “Lets Go Mets” chants. Anytime the potential tying run reached base, the crowd went wild. It was a good crowd. It’s hard to sit through an excruciating game like that and still be there for your team. The crowd was great last night. Was it the best crowd I’ve ever sat in?  No, but it was still a great crowd. 

I was proud to call myself a Mets fan yesterday. 

Well That Was Disappointing

Honestly, I thought the Mets were going to find a way yesterday. I really did. Even going into the bottom of the ninth, I thought they were going to do it. 

The main reason the Mets lost last night was Clayton Kershaw was Clayton Kershaw. He pitched 7.0 innings pretty much allowing only a Daniel Murphy fourth inning homerun. My fears came true. However, the Mets were far from perfect, and they didn’t capitalize on their chances. 

First, Kershaw threw 94 pitches. Of those 94 pitches, 64 of them were strikes. One of of looking at that is saying, Kershaw was on, and when he’s on what can you do?  However, there is another point to consider. Of those 64 strikes, only were 15 of them were looking. That means the Mets came up swinging. They came up swinging when you wanted to work deep counts to get Kershaw out of the game early. 

It shouldn’t be all that surprising that Steven Matz couldn’t keep up with Kershaw. Very few can. I know I’m in the minority, but I don’t think he was that good. There were a lot of hard hit balls. He couldn’t get the big out in the third. 

The game winning rally started because Matz got too cute with Kershaw. I realize he allowed a broken bat RBI single to Adrian Gonzalez, but that’s where you bear down. You’re facing Kershaw. You have to know a crooked number in this inning means the game (it did). He then allowed a two run RBI double to Justin Turner (aided by a misplay by Yoenis Cespedes in left). Ballgame. 

The Mets rallied a few times, but they couldn’t get that big hit. It was frustrating. It is even worse when it happens in the playoffs. It could’ve been the clincher. Now, the Mets play a do or die game in Lis Angeles. I still like the Mets chances with Jacob deGrom

I’m Going to Miss the Little Guy Tonight

I’m going to the Mets game tonight with my Dad and brother just as I always have. Starting last year, we started bringing my son to games with us. I’m not bringing him tonight, and I’m going to miss him. 

He loves Citi Field. He loves the mini-baseball field. He loves Mr. Met. He actually sits and watches the games there. If I stayed he tonight, he would have watched the game with me all excited until he couldn’t anymore. Unfortunately, I’m not going to see the game with him. It’s not going to be the same.

However, I decided I couldn’t bring him. The game is too late. I usually get tickets by the Fan Fest area so we can go back there to see Mr. Met and run around a bit. I’m in the right field promenade today. It’s too far to shuttle back and forth. Also, it’s going to be cold and windy up there. I don’t want him cold and tired all night. 

So I’m going to go to the game tonight. I’ll miss him. I’ll feel guilty. However, I can’t wait to be at the game tonight. I’ll have to get him a souvenir just to remove some of the guilt. Perhaps I’ll get him some NLCS stuff. 

By the way, I should say here my wife is amazing. After a hard day of work, she’s going to take care of our very energetic son tonight by herself. I don’t say it enough, but she’s an incredible woman, and I’m lucky to have her. I’ll miss you too honey.