Last week in Mets baseball: not very good. The week began and ended with Dice-K on the mound; one start being horrendous and one being pleasantly surprising. The team went a dismal 2-4 this week, scoring a combined total of 18 runs. The offense was, once again, asleep; making the absence of David Wright sting more and more as the days go on. Along with the inability to capitalize with RISP, the pitching wasn’t stellar either. Mix very little offense with bad pitching and you get a recipe for disaster: namely 3 blowout losses in 6 games. Even in a week where almost nothing went right, there were– as always!– three standout players, who we like to call the Players of the Week!
OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE WEEK: LUCAS DUDA
With Ike Davis out for the year, Lucas Duda is getting the perfect opportunity to showcase his ability to play first; and he’s giving us reasons to believe. He was the Mets most prominent offensive force, collecting 4 walks, 6 hits and driving in 2 runs. With the absence of Ike, Duda has been thrust into the cleanup spot and will most likely stay there each time he plays. While this seems like the obvious choice given his power when he connects, I do not believe that this should be the case. Duda is an interesting case: he definitely has the power to be a cleanup hitter, but he walks much too often. Interestingly enough, in my mind I tend to profile Duda as a number 2 hitter: he gets on base and can work a count to allow the leadoff hitter to swipe a bag. More than often, when he connects, he usually hits a double. Given the situation that EYJ gets on base to lead off the game, that puts two runners in scoring position with 0 outs; a situation the number three hitter (who would have to be Daniel Murphy if Duda takes his spot) would thrive in. Despite the Mets seeming inability to drive in runs, putting Duda in the 2-hole may increase their probability just a little bit more.
DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE WEEK: MATT DEN DEKKER
Center fielder? Check. Rookie? Check. Is his name Juan Lagares? Nope! The spotlight is on Matt den Dekker now, the 26 year old who is pretty much living up to his reputation. Juan Lagares has already set the bar so high that den Dekker could not possibly perform above it. However, he is holding his own and confirming his stature as a very, very good defensive outfielder. While his steps look a little choppy and he does not get as good of a jump as Lagares (you will see me compare the two a lot), he is fantastic at tracking down the ball and getting to it in time. I feel completely comfortable with den Dekker in center, and, given more playing time, his ability to read the ball will only continue to get better– and right now it is pretty good!
PITCHER OF THE WEEK: DILLON GEE
The only starting pitcher to record a win this week, Dillon Gee continues his amazing streak of dominance. He pitched 7 dazzling innings of 4 hit ball, striking out 5 and holding the hot Braves’ offense to only one run (he even helped his own cause with an RBI single!). A huge reason for Gee’s success has a lot to do with his location. Knowing he can’t blow the Braves away with a fastball, he expertly locates it either by painting the outside corner, inducing a flailing swing and a weak grounder, or by pounding hitters inside, jamming them and producing an easy pop up. When he goes to his breaking stuff, he throws his curve outside in the dirt, using it as a put-away pitch and making sure not to leave it over the plate much at all. His slider runs away from lefties, inducing weak contact as well. The key word in all of this is “weak contact”: since Gee is not a strikeout pitcher per se, he cannot afford to give up a lot of hard hit balls. He’s doing exactly what he needs to be doing, and it’s clearly a method that can work consistently.
-Daisuke Matsuzaka– wait, what? No, you read that right. Despite his awful, awful start on Monday, maybe his worst all year, he follows it up with a rather stellar start on Sunday, not giving up a run and striking out 6 over 5.2 innings of work. He only allowed 1 hit through 5 2/3 before exiting after two singles and a walk to load the bases. His breaking stuff was very well located and he elevated his fastball very well. Let is also be noted that the less time he took, the better he pitched. Let’s all treasure this moment for as long as it lasts; who knows if it will ever happen again!