Marcus Stroman

Six In A Row For Surging Mets

This was the typical Jacob deGrom start in that he was great, and he got little to no help from his offense.

deGrom would only struggle in the third. In that inning, he loaded the bases with one out. That was partially the result of his struggling with his command walking two batters. Unlike last night in his at-bat against Seth Lugo, Jose Abreu took advantage hitting a sacrifice fly giving the White Sox a 1-0 lead.

Things got dicey with deGrom then walking AJ Reed on four pitches to again load the bases. He’d finally settle in striking out Eloy Jimenez to end the inning.

From there, deGrom would retire nine straight and 12 of the last 14 he faced. In total, he pitched seven innings allowing in run on five hits while walking two and striking out 11. Being this is deGrom, he would get the no decision for this typically great deGrom effort.

One of the reasons why was Lucas Giolito was arguably better on the night. The Mets wouldn’t get a runner into scoring position against him until Todd Frazier hit a leadoff double in the fifth. Giolito responded by getting the next three in a row to strand Frazier there.

Giolito did not have the same luck on the sixth after issuing a leadoff walk to Michael Conforto. After striking out Pete Alonso, Robinson Cano singled putting runners at the corners. Wilson Ramos hit a slow chopper to third, and Conforto broke home on the contact play. Conforto was safe on a nifty slide tying the game at 1-1.

J.D. Davis had a chance to give the Mets a lead, but because this isn’t Citi Field, he hit into an inning ending double play.

Giolito settled back in, and he shut down the Mets allowing just the one run on three hits with three walks and nine strikeouts over 7.0 innings.

This became a battle of the bullpens, and Justin Wilson somehow got through the eighth unscathed. With runners at first and second and two outs, Jon Jay hit the ball up the middle. On the play, it was very difficult to see if Cano was going to get to it. It didn’t matter as the ball hit second base umpire Stew Scheurwater. That meant instead of a potential go-ahead RBI, it was an infield single and a dead ball.

As Gary Cohen was contemplating if you should bring in the warming Jeurys Familia, Ron Darling was rather forceful in saying Mickey Callaway should stick with Wilson. Callaway stuck with Wilson, and he got out of the jam getting Tim Anderson to ground out.

Against White Sox closer Alex Colome, Ramos would lead off with a grounder twice booted by Anderson. After Davis singled up the middle, Aaron Altherr pinch ran for Ramos. It proved to be the right decision as he scored easily on a Todd Frazier RBI single. It’s very likely Ramos was not sent or would be thrown out if he remained in the game.

The Mets had a chance to add-on with the bases loaded, and for a moment it looked like they’d squander the chance when Jeff McNeil struck out. It was not his night going 0-for-5 with three strikeouts. While it wasn’t his night, it was Conforto’s hitting a two out two run single expanding the Mets lead to 4-1.

That left breathing room for Edwin Diaz, who was not traded, to get the save. He looked much different tonight than he has most of the season striking out the first two he faced. After a Leury Garcia homer, things felt much more ominous, but Diaz settled in to record his 24th save of the season in the Mets 4-2 win.

Mets have now won six in a row, and with the Nationals losing today, they’re closer to at least one of the teams ahead of them. It’s becoming more and more real.

Game Notes: Zack Wheeler was not traded at the deadline, and he is scheduled to pitch tomorrow with Marcus Stroman slated to make his Mets debut Saturday.

Mets Should Reasonably Stand Pat Today

The New York Mets are five games out of the Wild Card. The two teams immediately ahead of them, the Diamondbacks and the Giants, appear to be selling. After the dust clears today, it would appear the Wild Card race is going to be the among the Cardinals, Brewers, Cubs, Nationals, Phillies, and maybe the Mets.

On the National League Central front, it is three teams fighting for the division. There will be a lot of head-to-head games between them, and it is possible one of those teams fall way out of the race. Reasonably speaking, that could be the Brewers who have a -17 run differential and don’t have the pitching they did last year. It should also be noted after a big May, the Cubs have been a sub .500 club.

In the National League East, the Mets have six games each against the Nationals and Phillies putting the Mets fate in their own hands. For that matter, they also have three at home against the Cubs. As things stand, the Mets can really help themselves against everyone against the Cardinals and Brewers.

This doesn’t mean the Mets have a good chance. They are four games under .500, and they are still without a real center fielder. With Dominic Smith on the Injured List, they are down one key bat. We have also seen Pete Alonso slump in the second half. And yet, the Mets still have a viable chance to claim a Wild Card.

After all, at the moment their starting five is Jacob deGromNoah SyndergaardMarcus StromanZack WheelerSteven Matz. There is no better starting five in baseball. With the pitchers going deeper into games, and with their bullpen arms being healthier, the bullpen has been better of late. Of course, it helps that the team has Seth Lugo, who is phenomenal.

The question for the Mets today is what do you do? Do you add, sell, or stand pat?

If the Mets are willing to give Wheeler a qualifying offer, the team should keep him unless they are getting an offer for a player significantly better than the player they could draft with their compensation pick. The team should not trade Edwin Diaz unless they are going to be like the Indians and get a package similar to Yasiel Puig, Franmil Reyes, Logan Allen, Scott Moss, and Victor Nova. Short of that, pass.

Under no circumstances should the Mets trade Syndergaard. It’s not worth it. You’re not going to improve the team this year or the next by doing it.

Overall, the Mets could trade Todd Frazier, but it would seem odd to do that when they just obtained Stroman who needs a good infield defense. The Mets could put Jeff McNeil at third, but they don’t have anyone to put in the outfield. The team should trade Wilson Ramos for whatever they can get. He’s not helping this year or the next. He’s a hindrance. Perhaps, the Mets could look for cost controlled relievers like Mychal Givens but only for the right price.

Overall, the Mets are in a limbo right now. They’re in a position where they could contend this year, but probably won’t. Still, their schedule will allow them to make a run. With Stroman, they are setting themselves up to compete next year, so they can’t purge long term pieces, and with them having a chance now, they shouldn’t be just salary dumping players like Frazier.

In the end, the Mets just need to stand pat. That is unless they are blown away with an offer for Diaz, or they could make an offer to get that center fielder not in their system or on the free agent market this offseason. There are so many different possibilities, but in the end, perhaps the best choice is just to do nothing and ride this out.

Mets Infield Defense Will Not Negatively Affect Marcus Stroman

Aside from the prospect cost, one of the areas in which people have evaluated the wisdom of the Marcus Stroman trade has been the Mets infield defense. It was an issue brought up by Buster Olney of ESPN, former Mets executive and SNY contributor Adam Fisher, and others. Certainly, with Stroman having a career 59.4 ground ball percentage, it is a very important consideration.

Before looking at the Mets, we should first analyze the Blue Jays defense. After all, this is the defense Stroman has pitched in front of during this season.

In total, the Blue Jays as a team have a -6 DRS which ranks them as 19th in the Major Leagues. As a team, they have a .310 BABIP, which is the sixth worst in the majors. When you look deeper into those numbers, the Blue Jays do not have a very good infield defense:

  • First Base -4 DRS (24th)
  • Second Base -9 DRS (27th)
  • Third Base 1 DRS (16th)
  • Shortstop 0 DRS (15th)

In total, this is a -12 DRS infield defense. Seeing the Blue Jays right side of the infield defense, you can see why left-handed batters are hitting .272 off of him with a .310 BABIP this year. Another factor to contemplate here is the opponent’s OPS against Stroman is 105 points higher on the turf of the Rogers Centre than anywhere else.

Now, it is fair to say the Mets infield defense has not been good. In fact, earlier this year, Mark Simon of The Athletic noted the Mets were one of the worst infield shifting teams in the majors being one of the few teams who have cost themselves runs by shifting. The Mets team defense is a -61 DRS which stands as the worst in the National League, and it has helped contribute to a .307 BABIP against Mets pitchers.

That .307 BABIP is only slightly better than the one the Blue Jays have yielded. That gives an indication as to how there is not much separation between the two clubs defensively. On that front consider the Mets regular infield defense:

Even with Alonso and Cano being negative DRS defenders, their combined -5 DRS is significantly better than the Blue Jays -13 DRS on the right side of the infield. That should help Stroman against left-handed batters. That’s important in a division with Freddie Freeman, Ozzie AlbiesJuan Soto, and Bryce Harper.

On the left side of the infield, Frazier has performed better than the Blue Jays third baseman. That gives the Mets three better defenders than what the Blue Jays typically put behind Stroman. Then there is the issue of Rosario.

At a -15 DRS this year and a -31 DRS over the past two years, Rosario has been the second worst defensive shortstop in the majors. Looking at this, it would appear this is a significant downgrade from the Blue Jays 0 DRS this season. This is damaging when you consider it is at what is considered to be the most important position on the infield.

Lost in that is how Rosario has been a much better defender of late. While it is not the best barometer of defense, it should be noted that while Rosario has 13 errors this year, third worst in the majors, he has only made one error over the past month, and that was on a ball Alonso should have had at first. Looking past that, Rosario has made just two errors since May 8.

Looking at a advanced metrics perspective, Rosario entered the All-Star Break with a Major League worst -16 DRS. That means in the 15 second half games, he has played to a positive 1 DRS. That is similar to what we saw from him when he was called up in 2017 when he had a 1 DRS over 302.0 innings.

If Rosario has figured things out, he is at or better than the 0 DRS Blue Jays shortstops have this year. With Rosario being just 23 years old, his improving defensively is a possibility no one should discount.

With Rosario playing significantly better at shortstop, the Mets defense is actually significantly better than the Blue Jays defense this year. That is an important note to consider when you see Stroman is 6-11 with a 2.96 ERA, 1.227 WHIP, and a 153 ERA+. Overall, it would seem as if Stroman coming to the Mets is actually more beneficial than pitching on the Rogers Centre turn in front of what might’ve actually been an inferior infield defense.

Assessing Mets Marcus Stroman Trade

Before going into the weeds on the cost, it should first be noted the Mets are a much better team for getting Marcus Stroman. This is a pitcher who has pitched quite well in the AL East, and he is a pitcher with big game experience being named the World Baseball Classic MVP in addition to some really good postseason performances.

Stroman grew up a Mets fan, and as a result, the Mets are getting a player who should become a fan favorite in short order. Assuming no other moves for a moment, the Mets rotation is very clearly the best in baseball, and you can argue acquiring Stroman makes their chances of making the postseason this year significantly better.

The one ding people will bring up with Stroman is he’s reliant upon a good infield defense to be successful, and the Mets defense has not been good this year. On that note, the Blue Jays have been a below average defensive team this year with a -6 DRS with them having a -4 DRS at first, -9 DRS at second, 1 DRS at third, and a 0 DRS at shortstop. With the Mets having Todd Frazier at third and Amed Rosario playing a to positive DRS in the second half, they fair well in comparison to the Blue Jays. Eliminate the turf, and you can argue this is actually a better situation for Stroman to be even better.

Now, if the Mets were in the position the Braves were in, you understand this trade. Stroman is the piece which arguably puts the Mets over the top. When you roll out Jacob deGromNoah SyndergaardMarcus StromanZack WheelerSteven Matz in your rotation, you’re dangerous in both the regular season and post season. As for the bullpen issues, with that collection of five guys, the Mets could take a page out of Alex Cora‘s book last postseason and utilize their starters to dominate the entire series.

Stroman would be an overpay, but it would be one along the lines of the Cubs trading Gleyber Torres for Aroldis Chapman. If you win the World Series, who cares? In some ways, Stroman is even better than that because he is under control for next year as well. This not only gives you the best rotation in baseball right now, but it puts you in a position where you’ve insulated your team from losing Wheeler in the offseason.

The problem with the Mets is they’re five games under .500, and they are six games out of the division and the Wild Card. They are in real striking distance, but they also have many obstacles in their way.

The Mets have three teams ahead of them in the division, and they have four teams ahead of them in the Wild Card standings. The team just lost Dominic Smith which somehow depletes an already suspect outfield depth even further, and it also stands in the way of the Mets finding some more games for Pete Alonso, who is really struggling so far in the second half.

Speaking of depth, the Mets already suspect starting pitching depth did take a hit. On the one hand, yes, assuming no other moves, acquiring Stroman exponentially improves the depth as he’s a significant upgrade over Jason Vargas, who should now find himself in the bullpen. On that note, the bullpen also looks better. However, that assumes no other moves.

At the moment, it seems the Mets are looking to move Noah Syndergaard in a companion move to help fill out the current roster. Of note, the team still desperately needs a center fielder. It should be noted with the current rumors, Manuel Margot isn’t that guy. He’s yet to be a league average hitter in his career, and he’s a -1 DRS this year in center. On that front, it should be noted he was really good prior to this year with an 8 DRS in 2017 and a 9 DRS in 2018.

If the Mets move Syndergaard, they are again relying on Walker Lockett and Corey Oswalt to be their starting pitching depth this year and the next. Aside from one Lockett start this year, that is misplaced faith. This means the Mets need David Peterson to step up instead of hoping one of him or Anthony Kay are ready.

Like with trading Justin Dunn to the Mariners, trading Kay hurt the depth, and it deprived the organization of real starting pitching upside. It also eliminated the possibility of taking either pitcher to send them out there and try to replicate with Seth Lugo or to a lesser extent Robert Gsellman are doing.

Being fair, in the end a package headlined by Kay was a fair return for Stroman. It did make sense to gamble Kay away for the year plus of Stroman, especially if you are really going to go for it as an organization. On that note, they did not do that after trading Jarred Kelenic and Dunn in the trade for Edwin Diaz and Robinson Cano. On the Cano point, the Mets are up against the luxury tax next year, and they seem to be already using it as an excuse not to add despite the team collecting tens of millions of dollars in insurance proceeds on David Wright and Yoenis Cespedes while also deferring $12 million of deGrom’s contract.

From a Mets standpoint, the part of the deal which really hurts is Simeon Woods Richardson. This is an 18 year old pitcher already pitching for a full season affiliate. He is getting his fastball up to 97 MPH with a promising and developing curve and change which could both be plus pitches. Despite being almost four years younger than the competition, he is striking out 11.1 batters per nine while having an incredible 5.71 K/BB. This is a special arm, and the Mets traded him away with a top 100 prospect for one plus year of Stroman.

On the Woods Richardson front, the Mets were beyond loaded with teenage talent heading into this year. In addition to him, the Mets had Kelenic, Ronny Mauricio, Mark Vientos, Francisco Alvarez, Shervyen Newton, Luis Santana, and others along with a pitcher like Thomas Szapucki. This was a group poised to break into the majors around 2022, and when they came up, the Mets could have really had a prolonged World Series window open.

With Brodie Van Wagenen as the General Manager, that is what he has been trading away. He has severely hampered the next window from opening. Of course, that assumes the Mets window is currently open. This is a big reason why many baseball people don’t understand this trade. This seems one of those moments like when they pulled off the Cano deal or Scott Kazmir for Victor Zambrano the Mets are trying to tell us they are smarter then everyone when they’re really not.

Ultimately, you may not like this trade, but you would have certainly understood it if the Mets were 10 games over .500. They’re not. This trade becomes all the more puzzling when you consider they are supposedly doing this as a precursor to trading Syndergaard. Really, when looking at the entire plan right now, none of this makes sense. It makes even less sense if you are trading Syndergaard for prospects because the Mets just obtained one plus year of Stroman and not five.

Overall, this was an overpay for Stroman, and depending on what the Mets do now, it could be a completely unforced error. Typically in these moments, you like to sit and wait before passing judgment on the total plan, but considering how Van Wagenen has lost every trade he’s made thus far, there shouldn’t be much hope this was the first strike in what is one grand master plan.

In essence, enjoy Stroman while he’s a Met. He’s a fun player and really good pitcher who is coming home to pitch for the team he rooted for when he was growing up. Also, root for another hometown kid in Kay and hope Woods Richardson fulfills his potential. Root for everyone to succeed because it helps the Mets in the short term, and it will also help in the long run to remind the Mets that they’re really not better at this than everyone else. They have been and will continue to be considerably worse until Jeff Wilpon realizes he’s the problem.