Kirk Nieuwenhuis

Cueto is Hittable

Sometimes, there’s no rhyme or reason for things. I think this sums up Johnny Cueto‘s 2015 season. He went from a hitters’ ballpark with poor defense to a pitchers ballpark with terrific defense and got worse. It doesn’t make sense especially when you consider he left the best division in baseball for one of the worst. 

With the Reds, Cueto averaged 6.2 innings per start going 7-6 with a 2.62 ERA, 3.20 FIP, 0.934 WHIP, and a 8.3 K/9. With the Royals, he averaged 6.0 innings per start with a 4.76 ERA, 4.06 FIP, 1.461 WHIP, and a 6.2 K/9. Sure, he was incredible in the clinching game of the NLDS, but his two other starts were terrible. In Game Three of the ALCS, he took the loss allowing six hits, eight earned, four walks, and two strikeouts over two innings. 

Historically, Cueto hasn’t faired well against the Mets either. In his career, he is 3-4 against the Mets with a 4.02 ERA, 1.369 WHIP, and a 10.0 K/9. At Citi Field, he is slightly better with a 2-2 record, 3.60 ERA, 1.267 WHIP, and a 10.5 K/9. The Mets will face him at Kauffman Stadium in Game One. There he is 3-5 with a 3.88 ERA, 1.294 WHIP, and a 6.9 K/9. He’s prime to get hit by the Mets. The only issues is how do these Mets hit him?

Here’s the numbers against the presumed Game One starting lineup:

Curtis Granderson 3-12 with 2 HR, 3 RBI, 4 BB, 4 K
David Wright 6-25 with 1 HR, 4 RBI, 5 BB, 4 K
Daniel Murphy 3-17 with 1 RBI, 1 BB, 1 K
Yoenis Cespedes 0-2 with 1 K
Lucas Duda 3-15 with 1 HR, 3 RBI, 2 BB, 10 K
Travis d’Arnaud 0-0
Michael Conforto 0-0
Wilmer Flores 1-6 with 1 double 
Juan Lagares 2-12 with 1 BB, and 2 K
Combined 17-89 (.191 BA) with 12 BB (.287 OBP), 1 double, 4 HR (.337 slugging), 11 RBI, and 21 K

Here’s how the projected bench has hit against him:

Kelly Johnson 1-6 with 1 HR, 2 RBI, 2 BB, 1 K
Michael Cuddyer 1-6 with 1 double 

Kirk Nieuwenhuis 1-3 with 2 K
Kevin Plawecki 0-3 with 1 K
Matt Reynolds 0-0
Bench Combined 3-15 (.200 BA) with 2 BB (.294 OBP), 1 double, 1 HR (.467 slugging), 2 RBI, and 4 K

In case the Mets make a roster change, here’s Uribe’s numbers:

Juan Uribe 2-6 with 1 double, 2 RBI, 2 K

Overall, the Mets have not hit Cueto well. However, prior to Cueto being a Royal no one did. Just last year, Cueto limited batters to a triple slash line of .195/.261/.313. So, where’s the discrepancy in all this?  Where’s the hope for Mets fans tomorrow?  It’s that Cueto’s numbers are actually no fluke at all. In his career, as the year progresses, he tired and gets hit harder:

March/April .208/.269/.349

May .222/.282/.364

June .235/.298/.367

July .252/.324/.365

August .243/.305/.412

September/October .275/.335/.426

Given these numbers, it’s clear that Cueto can be hit . . . hard. This gives the Mets a Game One advantage. When the goal is to split in Kansas City, the Mets need to utilize this advantage. I think they can and will. 

Who Should DH?

With the Mets playing in Kansas City to begin the World Series, they will have to choose a player to DH. There are a number of options. 

Best Defensive Lineup

Late in games this postseason, the Mets have inserted Juan Lagares into the game for defensive purposes. This has moved Yoenis Cespedes to left and Michael Conforto to the bench. 

With a spacious Kaufman Stadium outfield, the Mets could start the game with this defensive alignment and move Conforto to DH. This becomes more of an option because Lagares is having a good postseason. It’s a way to maximize the defense while getting Conforto’s bat into the game. 

Left-handed Bats

The Royals have all right handed starters. If past history is any indication, Terry Collins will try to get as many lefties in the lineup as possible. 

That would eliminate the Lagares option but keep Conforto in the lineup. The lefties on the bench now are Kelly Johnson and Kirk Nieuwenhuis. Given the choice for a first choice off the bench, Collins has consistently gone for Johnson over Nieuwenhuis. Neither has much experience against presumptive Game One starter Johnny Cueto (Johnson 1-6; Nieuwenhuis 1-3). 

In this circumstance, Collins would go with Johnson, who is his only backup infielder with major league experience. If something happensMatt Reynolds will be playing his first career game in the World Series. 

Michael Cuddyer

Unlike most of the Mets roster, Michael Cuddyer has played extensively in the AL.  However, despite playing 10 years in the AL, he’s only played 37 games at DH. 

As a DH, he has hit .265/.344/.402. This is similar to his career numbers of .277/.344/.461. At Kaufman Stadium, he’s hitting .281/.371/.531. One note of caution there is that was against some terrible Royals teams. The Mets are not facing a terrible Royals team in the World Series. 

Overall, he’s waited the longest of all the Mets position players to play in his first World Series. I’m sure he wants to contribute and may have a big hit in him. Sometimes that makes a dangerous player. 

My Pick

At the end of the day, I want the best team out there. In my opinion, that is Lagares in CF and Conforto at DH. The Royals put a lot of balls in play, so the Mets will need an OF that covers a lot ground. 

Is it EY’s Time Now?

The company line on why Eric Young, Jr. was not on the postseason roster was because it was impractical to carry a pinch runner in the National League. Well, it’s now the World Series, and the Royals have homefield, so it is time to readdress the issue. 

If you watched last night‘s game, you could see the importance of a pinch runner in an American League park. Dalton Pompey pinch ran for Russell Martin last night and got himself to third with no outs. He represented the tying run. It’s still incredible the Blue Jays couldn’t knock him in. 

On the flip side is Terrance Gore. He should be 5/5 in stolen base attempts in the postseason. On face value, the Royals use him judiciously. They pick their spots. However, at the end of the day, he’s only appeared in eight games and scored two runs. This shows pinch runners can be valuable, but their value is limited to the hitters behind him knocking him in. 

Based upon his history with the Mets, EY could be a valuable pinch runner. If these games get tight late, his speed would be of enormous value, especially against a very good Royals bullpen. Still, I think I would have to pass. 

First, the Mets need Kirk Nieuwenhuis now more than ever with Yoenis Cespedes‘ shoulder injury. Nieuwenhuis is the only OF on the team who can play all three OF spots well. Plus, Nieuwenhuis is a better baseball player. He’s a better defender and a better hitter. While he doesn’t have Young’s speed, he certainly has enough to be an effective base runner. 

That would mean if the Mets want to add Young, they need to go down to 10 pitchers. It’s something the team has previously considered (off of memory, can’t find a supporting link). It’s an intriguing idea with the length the starters are giving and how effective Bartolo Colon has been. Other than the big three in the back of the pen and Colon, here’s how many appearances and innings the other relievers have:

  1. Jon Niese – 2 appearances, 0.2 IP 
  2. Hansel Robles – 1 appearance, 1.0 IP
  3. Erik Goeddel* – 1 appearance, 0 IP
  4. Sean Gilmartin* – 0 appearances

Note: Gilmartin replaced Goeddel on the NLCS roster.

Overall, the Mets have not needed to go deep into the bullpen. However, I would still be loathe to reduce the number of available pitchers. First, Steven Matz is not going deep into games. If this continues and one other starter falters, the Mets bullpen is a disaster for the rest of the World Series. Second, it’s not necessary. 

Salvador Perez used to be elite in throwing out runners. Just last year he threw out 42% of would be base stealers. That was tops in the AL. That percentage has dipped to 31%. In this postseason, baserunners have been successful six of seven tries against Perez, including three in the ninth inning last night. 

The long story, short is you can run on Perez.  You just need to pick your spots. Accordingly, you don’t need to deplete a bigger team need. With the way the Mets ran in the NLCS, they don’t need a super pinch runner. They just need to continue what they’re doing.

That means unfortunately they don’t have a need for EY in the World Series roster. 

Back to the Mets FutureĀ 

Today is widely known as Back to Future Day because this was the day Marty McFly went to 2015:

Watching Back to the Future Part II in theaters, I remember thinking 2015 was so far away. I remember watching the Mets during this year, I thought the World Series was so far away. Let’s travel back to see the Mets starting lineups:

April 21, 2015 Mets 7 – Braves 1

  1. Curtis Granderson RF
  2. Juan Lagares CF 
  3. Lucas Duda 1B
  4. Michael Cuddyer LF
  5. Daniel Murphy 2B
  6. Eric Campbell 3B
  7. Kevin Plawecki C
  8. Wilmer Flores SS
  9. Jon Niese P

May 21, 2015 Mets 5 – Cardinals 0

  1. Juan Lagares CF
  2. Wilmer Flores SS
  3. Lucas Duda 1B
  4. Michael Cuddyer LF
  5. Daniel Murphy 2B
  6. John Mayberry, Jr. RF
  7. Eric Campbell 3B
  8. Kevin Plawecki C
  9. Jacob deGrom P

June 21, 2015 Braves 1 – Mets 0

  1. Curtis Granderson RF
  2. Juan Lagares CF
  3. Lucas Duda 1B
  4. Michael Cuddyer LF
  5. Wilmer Flores SS
  6. Kevin Plawecki C
  7. Dilson Herrera 2B
  8. Eric Campbell 3B
  9. Matt Harvey P

July 21, 2015 Mets 7 – Nationals 2

  1. Curtis Granderson RF
  2. Ruben Tejada SS
  3. Lucas Duda 1B
  4. Daniel Murphy 3B
  5. Wilmer Flores 2B
  6. Kirk Nieuwenhuis LF
  7. Kevin Plawecki C
  8. Jacob deGrom P
  9. Juan Lagares CF

August 21, 2015 Mets 14 – Rockies 9

  1. Curtis Granderson RF
  2. Daniel Murphy 3B
  3. Yoenis Cespedes CF
  4. Lucas Duda 1B
  5. Wilmer Flores SS
  6. Kelly Johnson 2B
  7. Travis d’Arnaud C
  8. Michael Conforto LF
  9. Bartolo Colon P

September 21, 2015 Mets 4 – Braves 0

  1. Curtis Granderson RF
  2. Daniel Murphy 3B
  3. Yoenis Cespedes CF
  4. Lucas Duda 1B
  5. Travis d’Arnaud C
  6. Kelly Johnson 2B
  7. Michael Conforto LF
  8. Wilmer Flores SS
  9. Jon Niese P

October 21, 2015 (estimated)

  1. Curtis Granderson RF
  2. David Wright 3B
  3. Daniel Murphy 2B
  4. Yoenis Cespedes CF
  5. Lucas Duda 1B
  6. Travis d’Arnaud
  7. Michael Conforto LF
  8. Wilmer Flores SS
  9. Steven Matz P

Looking over these lineups, it was not until August that anyone could believe the Mets had an offense that could be capable of winning in October. Now, Mets fans believe this team can’t be beat. I hoping that’s the case tonight. 

I want to see the Mets Back to the World Series. 

Who’s Getting the Big Hit?

In order for the Mets to win tonight, Jacob deGrom needs to be great, and he will be. However, at some point, the Mets will need to get a big hit. Anyone is possible. Here’s why everyone on this roster is capable of it:

Yoenis Cespedes because he’s already homered off of Zack Greinke in this series

Michael Conforto because like Cespedes he has too. 

David Wright because he already has a big hit in this series. 

Curtis Granderson because he’s been the best Mets hitter in this series

Wilmer Flores because it’s an emotional game, and he’s at his best when he’s emotional 

Lucas Duda because he’s due, he’s hit Greinke, and because he knows how to clinch things

Daniel Murphy because he’s clutch, and he knows how to give deGrom run support in this series 

Travis d’Arnaud because he’s had one big game in this series and is due for another

Kirk Nieuwenhuis because he already has a huge pinch hit homerun in a big spot this year

Juan Lagares because he’s more than a glove, and he’s already hit a homerun in Dodger Stadium

Michael Cuddyer because he still has something up his sleeve

Kelly Johnson because we knew the Mets were onto bigger and better things when he homered in his first game as a Met (against the Dodgers)

Kevin Plawecki and/or Matt Reynolds because you never know who’s going to get the big hit

It’ll happen tonight. If you need more inspiration to believe it’s true just remember what happened 19 years ago today:


The Unlikely Heroes

Fifteen years ago today, I went to my first Mets playoff game. Somehow, even with Mike Piazza injured, the Mets lead the NLDS 2-1. They found themselves in a extra innings looking for just one big hit:

I don’t think there was anyone on the planet who thought Todd Pratt was going to hit a walkoff, series-clinching homerun. 

The next year, the NLDS heroes would be Benny Agbayani . . . 

. . . and Bobby Jones

Who’s it going to be this year?  Could it be Kirk Nieuwenhuis, who’s already had a huge pinch hit homerun this year:

How about Wilmer Flores:

Whoever it is, that player is about to forever become a part of Mets lore. 


Game Two Pitching Matchup

Yesterdsy, I looked at how the Mets fared against Clayton Kershaw. Game Two promises to have its own pitcher’s duel between Zack Greinke and Noah Syndergaard

That means if the Mets want/need to win Game Two, they will need to get some runs off of Greinke or get into the Dodgers bullpen. With that said, here’s how the Mets have fared against Greinke:

Starting Lineup

Curtis Granderson 10-52 with 2 doubles, 2 triples, 1 HR, 3 RBIs, and 11 Ks

David Wright 3-9 with 1 double and 2 Ks

Daniel Murphy 4-13 with 2 BBs and 1 K

Yoenis Cespedes 1-5 with 1 BB and 1 K

Lucas Duda 3-12 with 1 HR, 1 RBI, 2 BBs, and 4 Ks

Travis d’Arnaud 0-0

Michael Conforto 0-2 with 1 RBI and 1 K

Ruben Tejada 0-6 with 1 K

Combined 21-99 (.212 BA) with 5 BBs (.274 OBP), 3 doubles, 2 triples, 2 HRs (.343 slugging), 5 RBIs, and 21 Ks


Kevin Plawecki 2-6 with 1 double and 1 K
Wilmer Flores 3-8 with 1 K

Kelly Johnson 0-9

Michael Cuddyer 10-40 with 1 double, 1 HR, 7 RBIs, 2 BBs, 10 Ks

Juan Lagares 1-8 with 1 HR, 3 RBIs, and 1 K

Kirk Nieuwenhuis 1-5 with 1 K

Combined 17-76 (.224) with 2 BBs (.244 OBP), 2 doubles, 2 HRs (.329 slugging), 10 RBIs, and 14 Ks

Team Totals 38-175 (.217 BA) with 7 BBs (.241), 5 doubles, 2 triples, 4 HRS (.337 slugging), 15 RBIs, and 35 Ks

Obviously, the .215/.241/.337 line indicates the Mets don’t hit Greinke well, but then again who does?  Greinke has limited batters to .187/.231/.276 this year. So, the Mets do hit Greinke than the league as a whole. 

This goes especially for the top of the Mets lineup. Granderson, Wright, and Murphy have historically hit Greinke very well. If the Mets want to score runs, it’s going to have to start at the top. 

As far as Syndergaard goes, he’s only faced the Dodgers once, and it was at Dodger Stadium. In that game, he pitched six innings allowing two hits, one earned, two walks, and six strikeouts. He got a no decision, but the Mets went on to a 2-1 win. That game was against Kershaw. 

Thor is certainly capable of repeating that performance. In his last four starts, he’s had a 2.93 ERA, a 0.651 WHIP, and a 12.0 K/9.  In this stretch, he’s limited opposing hitters to .163/.188/.337. He’s the key to everything. He’s primed for this playoff run. 

It’s strange to say I’m confident the Mets can pull a game out against Greinke, but Thor gives me that confidence. I can’t wait for him to take the mound Saturday night. 

Mets Against Kershaw

This series comes down to the Mets stud muffins against Zack Greinke and Clayton Kershaw. There could be a lot of 2-1 and 1-0 games. After Kershaw’s last game against the Mets, it’s hard to believe they can even hit him. 

However, that game was in July. The Mets clean-up hitter was John Mayberry, Jr.  Since that time, the Mets have added Yoenis CespedesTravis d’Arnaud, and David Wright to the lineup.  Here’s how the current Mets lineup has fared against Kershaw: 

Starting Lineup 

Curtis Granderson 1-10, 1 BB, 1 K

David Wright 3-14, 1 double, 1 RBI, 4 BB, 2 Ks

Daniel Murphy 3-10 with an RBI

Yoenis Cespedes 0-3

Michael Cuddyer 4-16 with 2 RBIs and 3 Ks
Lucas Duda 1-10 with 1 BB and 7 Ks
Travis d’Arnaud 0-0
Ruben Tejada 5-14 with 3 BBs and 3 Ks
Combined 17-77 (.220 BA) with 9 BBs (.302 OBP), one double (.234 slugging), 4 RBIs, and 16 Ks


Wilmer Flores 3-6 with 1 RBI and 1 K
Kelly Johnson 3-15 with 1 HR, 2 RBIs and 5 Ks
Michael Conforto 0-0
Juan Lagares 0-7 with 1 K
Kirk Nieuwenhuis 0-0
Kevin Plawecki 0-3 with 1 K
Combined 6-31 (.194 BA & OBP) with a HR (.290 slugging), 3 RBIs, and 7 Ks

Team Totals 23-108 (.213 BA) with 9 BBs (.274 OBP), 1 double, 1 HR (.250 slugging), 7 RBIs, and 23 Ks. 

This season Kershaw allowed batters to hit .194/.237/.284. Therefore, arguably, the Mets as a team have hit Kershaw better than the rest of the league.  However, the truth really is Kershaw has dominated the Mets. 

Looking over the numbers, the Mets would be best served by sitting Duda, moving Murphy to 1B, and letting Flores play 2B. I’m not sure the Mets will do that. They se inclined to put Duda out there. 

This leaves the Mets hoping they can work the count to get to an awful Dodgers bullpen. The other Hope is Kershaw reverts to being a bad playoff pitcher. Kershaw is 1-5 with a 5.12 ERA and a 1.235 WHIP. 

Either way, the Mets have as good a chance as anyone to beat Kershaw. 

Players Not on the Taxi Squad

Yesterday, the Mets announced the players they are putting on the taxi squadEric Young, Jr.Anthony ReckerLogan VerrettEric Campbell, and Bobby Parnell. I think we can separate the remaining players into three categories: (1) players definitely on the roster; (2) players who are in consideration for the roster; and (3) players who are just being sent home. The players definitely on the roster has already been addressed. Here’s the other two categories:

Players under Consideration 

Juan Uribe – the Mets want him on the roster, but it does not appear he’s healthy enough to play. I hope that August 23rd pinch hitting appearance was worth it.

Steven Matz – had he not slept on a couch, he would’ve been on the roster. Now the Mets have their fingers crossed he can pitch. 

Kirk Nieuwenhuis – he seems to be the front runner for Uribe’s spot. He plays all three OF positions, has speed, and has some pop in his bat. He’s had a rough year, but he’s had some big hits since returning to the Mets. 

Dilson Herrera – he’s the Mets best defensive infielder even if he only plays 2B. He’s got potential offensively and defensively.  He has not realized his potential yet, but he’s still a right handed bat with pop going into a series with good left handed pitching. 

Erik Goeddel – he seems to be a favorite to get a spot in the bullpen if Matz can’t pitch. In limited time, he’s shown a great splitter which has helped him with a 9.2 K/9. He could help with a strikeout in a big spot. 

Sean Gilmartin – he’s been the long man, but he has reverse splits with a series with a series with huge left-handed bats. His spot is tenuous mostly with the presence of Colon, Niese, and possibly Matz on the roster. 

Players Done for the Year

Johnny Monell – the Mets made their choice with Recker as the third catcher. 

Carlos Torres – he took the ball whenever he was asked until he got hurt. He had a skill that helps in the regular season, but he has no room on the playoff roster. 

Dario Alvarez – when he finally got a chance to pitch, he was effective. He got a huge strikeout of Bryce Harper back when the division was still in doubt. He go hurt, fought his way back, and he was ineffective. 

Eric O’Flaherty – there’s not enough words to describe how bad he’s been, so I’ll keep it short. He’s horrendous. 

There are still important decisions to be made. I know a lot of it hinges on Matz. I anticipate this will be a tight series, and these final choices may have a real impact. I hope they pick the right players. 

Revised NLDS Roster Projection

I’m not calling this 2.0. To me that would indicate that I will make a number of changes, but I wanted to show you my work product. There’s nothing wrong with that, but that’s not my intention when I share my projections

However, there has been another major development with Steven Matz‘s back. As I said yesterday, I was not going to trust he was going to pitch until he actually pitches


1. Travis d’Arnaud

2. Kevin Plawecki


3. Lucas Duda

4. Daniel Murphy

5. Kelly Johnson

6. David Wright

7. Ruben Tejada

8. Wilmer Flores


9. Michael Conforto

10. Michael Cuddyer

11. Yoenis Cespedes

12. Juan Lagares

13. Curtis Granderson

Pinch Runner

14. Eric Young, Jr.

Starting Pitchers

15. Jacob deGrom

16. Noah Syndergaard

17. Matt Harvey

18. Bartolo Colon

Relief Pitchers

19. Jeurys Familia

20. Addison Reed

21. Tyler Clippard

22. Hansel Robles

23. Jon Niese

24. Sean Gilmartin

25. Erik Goeddel

As you can see, the only change I made between the projections was exchanging Matz for Goeddel. I chose Goeddel because he’s been pretty good lately, and he can generate strikeouts with his splitter. 

I still think there are two other players under consideration: Kirk Nieuwenhuis and Dilson Herrera. Kirk has been good lately, has some power, can run, and can play all three OF positions. However, since he’s a left handed bat going into a series with a lot of LHP, I don’t think the Mets will put him on the roster. 

I think Dilson is getting consideration because he’s a right handed bat and definitively the team’s best defensive second baseman.  With Flores’ back injury, Herrera is a definite possibility. What hurts him most is he only plays 2B. As I said in another post, the presence of Murphy and Johnson could alleviate those concerns. 

However, for right now, I think the Mets give EY the edge, especially because he’s a Terry Collins favorite. If anything else happens, I’ll put out another revised projection.