MMO Players of the Week: Cry Me A Rivera and That deGrom Dude

The New York Mets were staring at an uphill battle after their West Coast trip facing the Los Angeles Dodgers and San Francisco Giants. Prior to their three-game set with the Miami Marlins at Marlins Park, the club was 10.5 games back of the first place Washington Nationals, and 11 games back of a Wild Card spot.

With three games against the aforementioned Marlins and three at home with the Philadelphia Phillies, the team knew it had to win against opponents they’re were supposed to beat, setting up for big series against the Nationals. The Mets also have upcoming matchups with the St. Louis Cardinals and Colorado Rockies; two teams that are ahead of them in the Wild Card standings.

The Mets succeeded in that regard, taking both series against their NL East opponents, and finding themselves 9.5 games out of first and 8.5 games from a Wild Card spot prior to Monday night’s game against the Nationals. This series should indicate whether the Mets can make a legitimate push back into the race, or, have them selling by the trade deadline.

The team had several personal accomplishments over the past week, with Jose Reyes moving past Ed Kranepool (1418) for second on the Mets all-time hits list in last Wednesday’s 8-0 win against the Marlins. In Saturday’s 7-6 come from behind win, Lucas Duda smacked his 122nd career home run in the fourth, tying him with Kevin McReynolds for 8th all-time among Mets career home run leaders.

On Sunday night, Major League Baseball unveiled the All Star game starters and reserves, with outfielder Michael Conforto the lone Mets’ representative as a reserve. Conforto is the second-youngest Mets outfielder to make an All Star team, with only Darryl Strawberry ahead of him. Conforto was placed on the 10-day disabled list Saturday, after being hit by a pitch on his left hand the weekend prior. The team is hoping for Conforto to be ready to go for the Cardinals series over the weekend in St. Louis.

Right-hander Robert Gsellman was also the latest starting pitcher to hit the disabled list, leaving his start in the fourth inning after hitting a grounder to the right side of the infield that Gsellman tried to beat out for a hit. Gsellman immediately grabbed his left hamstring, and was placed on the 10-day disabled list the following day. Gsellman is the sixth Mets starting pitcher to land on the DL this season, and prompted Mets broadcaster Ron Darling to blast the Mets training staff.

“Get (the trainers) in a room with some of the old trainers and people who took care of baseball players and how to keep them healthy and get them in a room and try to tap into their knowledge on how to train baseball players,” Darling said. “Not weightlifters. Not six-pack wearers. Baseball players.”

“They’re doing a disservice to the million dollar athletes they are paying,” Darling continued. “It’s a joke to watch this happen each and every night.” (http://www.cbssports.com/mlb/news/ron-darling-criticized-modern-day-training-staffs-after-latest-mets-injury/)

As the Mets look to inch closer both in the NL East and Wild Card standings, here are your MMO Players of the Week for June 26 to July 2.

OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE WEEK: T.J. RIVERA

Bronx native T.J. Rivera earns MMO’s Offensive Player of the Week after slashing .316/.316/.737 in 19 at-bats. Rivera smacked four extra-base-hits, including two doubles and two home runs along with five RBI (tied with Granderson for the most this past week). Rivera had an extra-base-hit in four straight games this past week, a career best for the 28-year-old.

Rivera had himself quite the day in the final game of the three-game set agains the Marlins last week, going 3-for-4 with a double and two RBI, good for his 11th multi-hit game of the season and fifth for the month of June. Rivera and Jay Bruce drove in the Mets first two runs of the game in the first, with Bruce hitting a two-out single to drive in Curtis Granderson, and Rivera following up with a double to drive in Bruce. Rivera added his second RBI in the third with a one-out single to left.

In Friday’s 2-1 win against the Phillies behind Jacob deGrom‘s masterful seven inning performance, Rivera scored the first run of the night in the 2nd, smacking a 1-0 fastball off Phillies right-hander Ben Lively to left for his 10th double of the season. With two outs and Rivera at third after a 5-4-3 double play from Travis d’Arnaud, Granderson stroked a two-out single to score Rivera to give the Mets the early 1-0 lead.

Roughly 24 hours later, Rivera would help spark the Mets with a four-run rally in the seventh. Rivera led off the inning with a solo home run to left-centerfield, his third of the season. The homer helped propel the Mets back into the game, as the club added three more runs to retake the lead after a run scoring single from Wilmer Flores, and a two-run home run from Asdrubal Cabrera.

Since the second game of the Mets doubleheader on June 10, Rivera has slashed .345/.356/.552 with three doubles, three home runs, eight RBI, and seven runs scored.

PITCHER OF THE WEEK: JACOB deGROM

Jacob deGrom earns MMO’s Pitcher of the Week after yet another masterful start, this time against the Phillies. DeGrom tossed seven innings of one-run ball, allowing just three hits, one walk, and 12 strikeouts, his sixth multi-strikeout game of the season (a career high).

The lanky right-hander has been the clear ace for the Mets this season, and has been brilliant over his last four starts; a combined 32 innings pitched, 15 hits, 31 strikeouts to eight walks, and a minuscule 0.84 ERA, while tossing 67 percent strikes. Since June 12, deGrom’s 0.84 ERA is good for second best among major league starters, behind only Washington Nationals’ ace, Max Scherzer (0.62). His 0.72 WHIP was third best among NL starters, with only Scherzer and Los Angeles Dodgers left-hander Alex Wood ahead of him.

In his latest start on June 30, deGrom was dealing right out of the gate. Tossing a no-hitter through 4.2 innings, deGrom induced a high fly ball to center off the bat of Phillies catcher Andrew Knapp, looking to be a can of corn and end the inning. However, as soon as the ball took flight, centerfielder Curtis Granderson put his arms up in the air, unaware of where the ball had gone. As soon as Granderson caught sight of it, the ball was already several feet behind the veteran outfielder, allowing Knapp to chug all the way to third for a two-out triple. An ensuing single by former Mets utility player Ty Kelly gave the Phillies the only run they would score off of deGrom.

In all, deGrom tossed 111 pitches, 71 for strikes. Even without his best command, deGrom took advantage of a weak Phillies lineup, and earned praise from manager Terry Collins for battling on the mound, once again.

“He’s in a groove for sure,” manager Terry Collins said. “I didn’t think tonight was his best command, but yet he is such a competitor. You don’t see him all of a sudden say, ‘Well, OK, here’s one over the middle of the plate.’ He just continues to pitch how he’s supposed to pitch.” (http://www.newsday.com/sports/baseball/mets/jacob-degrom-continues-hot-stretch-as-mets-win-for-sixth-time-in-seven-games-1.13776428)

This was his eighth start of at least seven inning pitched, one shy of tying his total in 2016 (9), and six shy of tying his career high back in 2015 (14).

With 12 strikeouts in last Friday’s game, deGrom moved past left-hander Johan Santana (607) for 13th all-time in Mets career strikeout leaders, and is now one shy of tying former Mets great Tug McGraw (618) for 12th all-time.

About Mathew Brownstein 156 Articles
An avid Mets fan who has fond memories of running around Shea Stadium with my dad collecting autographs and enjoying many summer night games. My best friend introduced me to the Mets at a young age, and since then I've enjoyed rooting for the orange and blue through good times and bad. Attended Iona College for mass communications, and my goal is to be a baseball columnist/beat writer. It's an honor and pleasure to be a Senior Writer for MMO.