Mets Merized Online » Tommy Rothman http://metsmerizedonline.com Tue, 21 Feb 2017 16:45:07 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.8.18 MMO Exclusive: Keith Law Talks Mets Prospects, Season Outlook with Metsmerized Online http://metsmerizedonline.com/2017/02/mmo-exclusive-keith-law-talks-mets-prospects-with-metsmerized-online.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2017/02/mmo-exclusive-keith-law-talks-mets-prospects-with-metsmerized-online.html/#comments Tue, 07 Feb 2017 01:00:56 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=230674 MLB Trade Deadline Special - July 31, 2013

Hey MMO Community, it’s been awhile. We’ve reached early February, which means a few things. It means we’ve reached the point in the season where my excitement for Knicks Basketball turns into disgust and depression.

On the bright side, it also means we’ve reached the point where I start getting geared up for some baseball. More specifically, it means we’ve reached the point where Keith Law, a lead baseball analyst for ESPN.com and one of the top player evaluation experts in the industry, has released his MLB Top 100 Prospect Rankings as well as his team-by-team rankings and positional rankings.

For the past two years, Keith’s been kind enough to give me and MMO an exclusive interview to discuss his rankings and evaluations with us as it pertains to the Mets, and he was generous enough to do so again this year. Keith gave me about 30 minutes of his time despite us only being scheduled for 15, and he didn’t even ask me to promote his book (although I threw a question in there at the end out of genuine interest).

I want to give a big shoutout to Keith, and invite you to check out what we discussed, including: Amed Rosario, Dom Smith and other key Mets  prospects, the MLB aces and guys like Robert Gsellman and Seth Lugo, Matt Harvey’s future, the outfield logjam and Michael Conforto in particular, the infield and some surprising thoughts on Asdrubal Cabrera, the situation behind the plate with Travis d’Arnaud, and, of course, an outlook for the fast-approaching 2017 season. Without further ado…

amed rosario

Tommy Rothman, MetsMerized Online:  Hey Keith, thanks so much for doing this again this year. So first of all, you just released your top 100 rankings, and your team-by-team rankings, and positional lists. Obviously guys like Amed Rosario (#3) and Dominic Smith (#29) have been there before, and nobody was surprised to see them. But there are some other guys on the list who are newer to the farm system, including guys we just drafted, so I want to talk about them as well.

I guess we’ll start with Rosario and Smith. Rosario, I know you’ve been high on him for years, and the rest of the prospect-scouting world is kind of catching up to that a bit, he was also 5th on the MLB.com list. And then Smith, I think you actually had in the exact same slot as last year. Regarding Rosario, is this ranking a reflection that you’re higher on him than you were, or just that he’s closer to being ready?

Keith Law, ESPN: He’s closer to being ready. He’s continued to meet and exceed expectations for his age. Also with young shortstops, with a guy like that, I want to be sure the body’s gonna stay there too. Sometimes they just get bigger than you expect, and I’m not worried about that with him. I mean, he’s gonna be a big shortstop, there’s a lot of big shortstops, but he’s certainly not too big at this point. And he’s always had the physical skills, the raw tools to be a good defensive shortstop. But I feel a lot better about that now than I did a year ago.

Tommy: And then with Smith, I know for awhile the knock on him was that he did everything right, he had a great swing, but he didn’t hit home runs. But this year the power started to pop up. So what goes into his ranking staying the same? Is that a reflection that he’s gotten a year older and not necessarily advanced enough, or…

Keith: I mean there’s no negative to it, certainly. He stayed the same, I think a few guys passed him, maybe some guys who had explosive seasons. But there’s nothing different about him, there was nothing wrong with his year. He got to a neutral ballpark [as opposed to the Mets' very pitcher-friendly Single A environments] and started to drive the ball more, and I think he’s capable of that.

I remember I saw him in high school, I said, “There’s 70 raw in there” [on the 20-80 grading scale scouts use to rate a player's tools], and I still believe he’s gonna get to that. But some of this is approach-related too, in that I do think he’s learning still when to go the other way— because he obviously loves to do that— and when to pull the ball, looking for certain pitches, certain locations, in certain counts. It’s the maturation of a hitter, and he came in very young, remember he was 17 when he was drafted.

So I have no concerns, I still think he’s going to be the player that I’ve forecasted him to be since he was drafted. And by having him where he is… I don’t rank 1st base prospects typically very high, I would say him staying in that same range is… he’s still on target. He did what I expected him to do getting out of those two A-ball parks, which I think not only wrecked his power, but if you look at what he did in Savannah, all he did was hit the ball to left field, like “Well I can’t hit them out, I may as well hit singles the other way to left.” Okay, that’s great, you don’t have to do that anymore.

dominic smith swings

Tommy: Following up on Smith, he’s probably a couple years away, but Lucas Duda‘s contract is expiring this year, and unless the Mets are going to move Michael Conforto or Lucas Duda or David Wright to first, they might have a vacancy at first if they don’t bring back Duda. So do you think if he has a good year they’re going to push up Smith’s timeline and try to have him be the 1st baseman in 2018?

Keith: I think he gets to the Big Leagues this year anyway, so I don’t think it’s changing anything. Obviously if he goes to Triple-A and goes bananas, that might speed things up a bit and we see him in the Big Leagues in June. Conversely if he goes to Triple-A and he sucks—- I really don’t think he’s going to, but it’s possible, and that might change things too. Let’s say he goes to Triple-A and makes the same kind of small improvements we saw him make last year.

Some of what happened last year was him just getting into a better hitting environment, and we got a better picture of the hitter he really is, so let’s say he goes to Triple-A and is a little better. A little more power, still high OBP, still good defense, let’s say he gets up to 20 home runs, or is on pace for 20 home runs, and they say “Alright, we’ll call him up in August,” and try to give him some regular playing-time to ease him in so he can be the 1st baseman next year. I don’t think anybody really wants anymore to… you know when a guy is going to be your everyday player, you don’t want to have Opening Day be his debut in most cases.  So I could certainly understand them saying, “Let’s make sure we give this guy a cup of coffee, he’s gonna be on the 40-man anyway,” that all makes sense to me.

Tommy: And then so with the pitchers, Thomas Szapucki [#60] and Justin Dunn [#84], those are guys where unlike Gsellman, we haven’t seen them in the Majors and they’re more recent to the fans’ attention— and Anthony Kay, but obviously he’s going to be moved back with the Tommy John surgery—- so with those three guys, obviously they’re not in the same tier of prospects as Mets fans might be used to, between Matt Harvey, Zack Wheeler, Noah Syndergaard and Steven Matz, but what are you expecting them to offer the Mets? Because last year, the knock was that the Mets had all this elite pitching but didn’t have much depth prospect-wise for pitchers, and it seems like that’s improved…

Keith: Right, I think it’s improved dramatically. I thought the draft was good, I mean Kay getting hurt… UConn blew him out, I have no problem saying that, because I was saying it all Spring, and then sure enough he got hurt. But he’ll be back at some point, Szapucki took a huge step forward last year. I love Dunn, I probably love him even more now after some pro guys got to look at him— obviously he didn’t pitch a whole lot— but just to come back and say, “Hey, this guy’s an unbelievable athlete, how the heck did they get this guy at the 19th pick?” I mean it was… people were feeling like it was tremendous value where they got him.

robert gsellman

And Gsellman too, I gotta point out, I was always saying, “He’s a 5th starter, he’s throwing 90-91, he can sink it a little bit, he throws strikes… he’s a Big Leaguer, not very exciting.” But that guy shows up to the Big Leagues, and he’s bumping 95, 96. I even checked with the Mets, they were like “He didn’t throw that hard before.” I was like “Good, at least I didn’t whiff,” I hate that thought, that he comes up throwing 95 and I’m dismissing him. No, he really wasn’t! Just all of a sudden, he found a grade and a half of velocity, and now it’s 95, 96 and he can still sink it and get ground balls and throw a lot of strikes, and when your arm speeds up often your off-speed stuff gets a bit better too. He’s… it’s funny, I can’t think of a comparable in terms of career trajectory like that.

But it’s really fun, I think it’s really exciting, a guy who was totally an afterthought, for me and probably for a lot of people outside the Mets organization, who thought “Gsellman? Yeah, take him in a trade, he’s fine, just a guy,” you know, now he’s known. I don’t even know if they would trade him. I think they’ll use him, I think he’ll probably get his 30 starts in over the course of the season if he stays healthy, and obviously if he shows up throwing 95 in March.

Tommy: Yeah, the guy he reminds me most of in terms of trajectory, is actually the guy he looks like, deGrom—

Keith: Yes!

Tommy: —where you’re like, “OK, he’s an OK player,” and then he gets to the Big Leagues and he’s getting everybody out.

Keith: I remember seeing deGrom’s first Big League start, and I’m sitting there in Bristol in the green room watching the fastball move, and I’m like, “Sh*t!” I mean I had notes from Mets people and nobody told me he could do that, they told me he threw hard and that he had a real breaking ball, and that he was hyper-athletic, I mean everything they said was right, but this guy’s throwing two-seamers at 93 that are going to break bats, that’s a hell of a lot more exciting than I thought he was.

seth-lugo

Tommy: And now for Seth Lugo, he was kind of disappointing as a reliever, but when they put him in the starting rotation, he really took off and was important down the stretch. And I know, I’ve read a lot of articles about how his curveball—

Keith: Isn’t it great?

Tommy: —is pretty legendary, but yeah, he’s getting kind of overlooked in the discussion, between Wheeler and Gsellman, for who’s going to be the fifth starter. But there’s Lugo, he could be the fifth starter, he could go to the pen… what are your thoughts on him?

Keith: Well, I wanna talk specifically about that curveball issue. We think that’s good, right? The high spin rate sounds good, it looks good. I have said, and obviously this is part of— I have a book coming out, called Smart Baseball, and I talk about Statcast quite a bit towards the end, because it’s kind of the next big thing— we are still learning what much of this means. And is the fact that he has this extremely high spin rate curveball [the highest ever]… does that make it more effective?

And it looks fine now, obviously, and he’s not… he’s not data, he’s a pitcher, right? You have him already, you may as well roll him out there and see what it’s like. I am not willing to say, “This guy’s got an unbelievable spin rate on his curveball, therefore it’s going to be good.”

If I were the Mets, I would say… first they have to get him throwing it more, part of the problem is he just didn’t throw it that often. And then find a role that allows him maybe to maximize it if it turns out it is that effective. That might still be a bullpen role. That’s probably what he is, but with the caveat that he just hasn’t thrown that curveball that much. Even in the minors, that was just not an emphasis pitch for him. Now maybe he goes to Triple-AAA, starts for awhile, throws 20 breaking balls a game, and it changes the entire pitcher that he is, I mean that would be comparable to Gsellman throwing 95 all of a sudden, and then you sort of have to erase everything you had on him before.

matt harvey 2

Tommy: So obviously with Thor and deGrom, and then Matz who had that horrible start against the Marlins but was then pitching like an All-Star for a couple months, with each passing year you kind of know you’re going to get great pitching from them. But with Harvey he was concerning last year before the injury [Thoracic Outlet Syndrome] because he was pitching poorly. I know for me it was less concerning after the injury, because it would have been more of an issue if he was pitching horribly with no explanation. But I know TOS is not like Tommy John where it seems like, you go get it, you take a year off, you get back. Here there’s not much of a track record, so I guess… what do you think the Harvey situation is shaping up to be like?

Keith: I don’t know. I really don’t know, because I don’t think we have a ton of comparisons, and obviously we haven’t seen him come back and see what he looks like, does all the old stuff return, is he still able to pitch pain-free, at the same velocity that he was beforehand, I don’t know. I mean, if I were a Mets fan, not that I need to sow concern among Mets fans, you seem to be good at doing that all by yourselves, but you know, I would look at that rotation and say, that’s not the most durable group right now.

And Thor has been durable, but obviously he had the little elbow— what did he call it— inflammation. And Matz is just fragile, he’s great when he’s healthy, but he’s [dealt with ailments] quite a bit over the years, so look, this guy is good when he’s healthy, but his track record of durability is basically non-existent. So if you can set yourselves up to bank on him for 18 starts, and then you’re covered for the rest, and obviously if he gives you more that’s great… that’s fine. But don’t go into the season thinking you’re getting 30 starts out of Steven Matz, because he’s never done it before.

The flip-side is, now with the emergence of Gsellman, the return of Wheeler, maybe you’ve got 7 starters you can mix and match to keep guys healthy, or just to plan ahead, because someone’s gonna break down, someone’s gonna get hurt, now we at least have the inventory here to soak up those innings and not just be handing them to Triple-A cannon-fodder guys.

michael fulmer

Tommy: Right, I always tell people when they ask “what are you going to do with the 7 starters,” I say that that’s probably gonna resolve itself unfortunately, you’re not gonna have all 7 healthy all at the same time…

Keith: Right. This was the… when they traded Michael Fulmer, I said “Look, Fulmer’s a really good prospect, you’re getting 2 months of Yoenis Cespedes,” not knowing Cespedes was going to go all Babe Ruth the next couple weeks, right?  But Mets fans kept saying, “We have enough pitching, there’s never gonna be room for him in the rotation.” Well, really? You know, come back at me bro! I’m not hearing from you lately.

You would have plenty of room for Michael Fulmer in your rotation. You can’t have enough of those guys. Doesn’t mean you don’t trade them, you absolutely do, there will come a point where you learn something about them where you say “Alright, well why don’t we give this guy up,” or you certainly say, “We are going to use this pitching depth to upgrade the roster somewhere else,” but accept that there will always come an opportunity where that guy would have pitched for you. There will come a day where the Red Sox will look back and say, “Look, we should have kept Michael Kopech” [instead of trading him for All-Star Chris Sale]. If he stays healthy, they’re gonna look at him the way you guys look at Fulmer right now.

 michael conforto

Tommy: And similarly in terms of a logjam in the outfield, obviously if Cespedes, Jay Bruce, Curtis Granderson, Michael Conforto and Juan Lagares all stay healthy and you have to bench one of them, that’s a good problem to have… I mean the way I look at it, Cespedes is obviously going to play every day, and Bruce and Granderson, they’re not going to sit on the bench, I mean their weaknesses against lefties, Conforto shares, so the way I look at it, I expect it to be Cespedes, Granderson and Bruce, every day, Lagares as a fourth outfielder. And I almost think, if Conforto isn’t going to be playing every day, it might be better to have Nimmo, who kind of is a fourth outfielder, to be that bench outfielder and hopefully have Conforto raking in Triple-AAA and… but yeah, what do you think they will do, and what do you think they should do?

Keith: I think they will do the wrong thing. Collins will do the wrong thing. And I think the front office is doing the wrong thing. Why Terry Collins is being given final say over playing Conforto I have no idea. I think you play Cespedes and Conforto in the outfield every day, and you plan around those two guys. Everything else has to flow from them.

Cespedes obviously, that’s not an issue. But Conforto has to play every day! For me that’s step one. I mean, you know he rakes against right-handers— at least when he’s healthy he does—  and it’s not that he doesn’t hit lefties, he hit lefties in college, he hit lefties OK in the Minors, they just never gave him a chance in the Big Leagues. And he’s never going to learn if you don’t play him. So, you make sure those two guys are getting your everyday at-bats, and you move forward from there.

I agree with what you said on Nimmo, he’d be fine on the bench as a fourth outfielder, he can fill in a bit in center, he can certainly play right, you just don’t want him to face a good lefty. You don’t want him to face many lefties at all, really. That’s the one thing you’d be concerned about, with him as your fourth, but it’s not like they have many options anyway who would be able to fit that, play multiple positions… and you know Lagares can play all three, he’s not going to hit as much. I think with Nimmo, there’s more bat, he’s probably better suited to that job.

Tommy: Well with Conforto, you were always high on him and he was incredible at the start of the year until May… but he only hit .242 against righties last year, and only hit .104 against lefties, so I guess… obviously if he had kept that early production up, no one’s having this discussion about when does he play, where does he play, but because he struggled it does seem like more of a question-mark to play him every day so… what do you think went into that slump, and are you not concerned by it?

Keith: Well he was also hurt at some point after that too, so I’m not sure, I’ll put it this way, I have a feeling, if he’s just getting— oh, the other thing I heard from people in the organization too, they felt the fact that Conforto was not being given opportunities to face lefties really negatively affected his swing, particularly his stance, they felt he wasn’t keeping his front hip closed as well as he should be, I think this is sort of a turn-the-page opportunity, to get him back out there, let him play every day starting in Spring Training, you know… he’s getting 2 at-bats per game at the beginning but he’s facing righties, he’s facing lefties, he’s swinging consistent, he’s fully healthy, and this is all forgotten. But this is one of the better hitting prospects they’ve produced in a while, and if they screw this up, it is to their tremendous detriment as an organization.

travis darnaud

Tommy: One other guy whose stock probably fell last year is Travis d’Arnaud. He’s not getting younger, so every year it probably gets a bit more frustrating for Mets fans, but he still does have talent and his good moments… I don’t think you’d still call him a prospect, but how do you evaluate him as a young player at this point?

Keith: Right. Yeah, I mean, look… my issue with him… one year I think I had him ranked in the top 10 overall, I said this is an offensive catcher, he’s good enough in that he can catch and throw, he’s gonna have power and he’s gonna hit, might not have a great on-base percentage, but a catcher with that kind of offensive production is an All-Star. But he hasn’t been healthy since. And now if you look back, kind of all the way back to when he was first drafted by the Phillies, it’s just been one injury after another. He’s had back issues, finger broken, a knee issue, a concussion, I think more than one concussion, I just don’t know if I could ever count on him to stay healthy as a catcher, and I just don’t know if there’s enough offensive production there anywhere else he’s likely to play, which is probably a corner outfield spot, which is the last thing they need at this point.

Tommy:  One thing I think we were all stunned by, because we knew he was at least OK with catching and throwing, was last year his throwing took a huge step back. Did that come out of nowhere for you as well?

Keith: Yeah, it was awful, yeah. I was shocked. I certainly didn’t see that coming. If you told me he’s gonna have trouble throwing or trouble receiving, I’d have said “eh, receiving, it’s probably not a strength.” I thought there was no reason he couldn’t get better at it. But I was absolutely shocked at how bad he was at throwing last year. And it made me wonder, “Oh, is he hurt again? Something’s bothering him, and that’s what’s affecting his throwing, the accuracy…” I don’t know, the guy’s just always hurt.

 gavin-cecchini

Tommy: So one place where they are seemingly set— the infield is obviously pretty strong. I know Asdrubal Cabrera, who you weren’t as high on, raised his stock. Reyes raised his stock, Walker had a big year although the back injury is a concern, and you’re not counting on Wright health-wise but he’s still there, and Duda hits when he’s healthy, so they probably have more infielders than they can start at one time. And again, that always resolves itself because of the injuries. But how do you evaluate their Major League infield?

Keith: I think Cabrera, still, I think it was a terrible signing, he’s an awful defensive shortstop, it still shocks me that they’re willing to tolerate him out there. I understand good positioning can cover some of that, you’re just giving up outs by playing him out there. And I understand Rosario’s coming, I’m sure they’re hoping that he’s going to take that job sooner than later, it just doesn’t excuse that contract. The thing I’m interested to see is, Gavin Cecchini‘s had throwing problems that got worse last year not better, and I think that’s moved him off shortstop, probably permanently, and so, can he be OK at 2nd base? He’s still erratic, it’s a mental thing, like a yips-type situation, not an arm strength situation, because he used to be fine.

I think all along the plan was going to be for him to take over at short or at second, maybe this year. Obviously Walker coming back, accepting the qualifying offer, changes that, but it’s probably not the worst thing for Cecchini to let him go back to Triple-AAA for awhile and just try to get some consistency. It’s a shorter throw, it’s an easier throw, maybe that takes care of the problem. I hope so, because I think he can really hit, he’s a great kid, but that’s the one thing to watch for with the infield situation this year, is that maybe he ends up taking over for Walker at some point, especially if Walker doesn’t perform, if he comes back and he’s not healthy. He was great last year, good last year, but maybe he comes back and the back issue’s still there, and gives them cause to consider making a change.

asdrubal cabrera hr

Tommy: I’m surprised you say Cabrera… I remember that was your problem when we spoke last year, his defense, but from the eye-test first of all, he seemed definitely solid out there this year. And with the stats, on FanGraphs they had him positive defensively and Baseball Reference had him like exactly as a net zero… do you really still think he’s awful defensively? I mean…

Keith: Oh yeah, oh yeah, absolutely. He’s awful defensively. He’s barely mobile there. And I mean, look, you talk to Mitchel Lichtman [creator of the UZR stat], you talk to the BIS guys [Baseball Info Solutions], they tell you not to look too much into a single year of those stats. And the Mets do position well. They’ve been a very analytics-forward franchise for awhile now, and they’ve probably just had him in better spots. It’s not like the guy… the guy was never a good defensive shortstop, he has not been a good defensive shortstop since he was in the Seattle system, and what was that, nine years ago now?  And it’s not like he got better at some point, and certainly at his age there would be no rational reason to expect him to become a capable defensive shortstop, when he’s been below-average for so many years.

Tommy: I guess it just seems like he’s a good defender because he makes all the plays when he gets to it, he has good hands and everything, a good arm.  Anyway, where do you see the Mets in terms of further moves this summer, in terms of aggression and ability to add to the roster. They weren’t aggressive with guys outside the roster, and didn’t do much at the deadline aside from the Bruce trade. Obviously the deadline was also their low point record-wise, when it made the least sense to go for a deep playoff run, but yeah, where do you see them this year in terms of being buyers?

Keith: Well it seems like they don’t have a ton of financial flexibility remaining at this point [after their other moves]. If you’re asking from the competitive standpoint, it seems like the Nationals are a bit better on paper, I think they really certainly are better on paper, but I don’t think the difference between the two is big enough that the I would say the Mets are in a bad situation. They’re a little bit behind, but it’s a situation where they could close the gap by playing the right guys. If Conforto’s gonna get 600 plate appearances and not 300, that makes a huge difference in what I would project for their runs scored output this year. I think there’s… yeah, there’s a talent gap, but it’s not insurmountable, especially if the Mets just do the best they can with deploying the assets who are already inside the organization.

wright homer

Tommy: So what’s your Mets prediction in terms of the division, where they are… your overall outlook for them this year?

Keith: I probably have them in second place. I’ll take a deeper look in March, I just came out of the prospect stuff, so I haven’t done any kind of deep dive on anything like projected standings for this year. But they’re clearly better than three of the clubs in their division. Do I think they’re better than the Nationals right now? Probably not. You know, I think they’ve got some issues of their own making, and obviously the Nationals have decided they’re all in at this point.

The Nationals certainly only have one big roster deficiency I can see and that’s a closer, which is probably the least important thing, and something they might be able to fix on the fly, whereas the Mets maybe have a few more issues, but I could also paint a scenario for you where the Mets get a little healthy, a little luck, play the right guys, and end up neck-and-neck with the Nationals. I don’t think there’s that big a gap between the teams.

Tommy: I meant to ask about the Nationals’ trade for Adam Eaton… Knowing what I do about the prospects, from your rankings and such, it seemed like a huge overpay. Did it seem like an overpay to you and the prospect experts out there? Were you surprised?

Keith: It was, I think that they sold low on Giolito in particular. I think they just decided for whatever reason they just weren’t going to get the same production out of him… I mean, a year ago this guy was the best pitching prospect in baseball, he’s still close to it. I think he’s gonna be great in Chicago, I think they’ll end up regretting that deal as a whole and he’ll be a major reason for it.

That said I think they’ll get value in Eaton, his contract’s obviously unbelievable, so they were trading for that, in addition to trading for the player. He makes them a better team right now, I think they’re better now with Eaton as an everyday outfielder than they were with Giolito in their rotation, because Giolito’s still developing, and Eaton is ready. We know what Eaton is, even if he’s only a 3 or 4-win player the next few years, he makes the Nationals better and you can more than justify the deal.

Tommy: I think that’s all I have for the Mets. One question for you, when does your book come out?

Keith: April 25th.

Tommy: And what is it about? I know the title is Smart Baseball, but more specifically?

Keith: It’s a book for the readers who have asked me over the years, what’s a book I can read myself, or pick up and give to my friend, my dad, to learn about the basics of sabermetrics. If you’re saying… “Keith, you say pitcher wins are useless, RBIs are useless, on-base percentage is good, and I agree, but I don’t understand all of this stuff,” … this is the book for that.

I talk about why the old stats don’t work, what some of the newer but still pretty basic stats are you can use as a fan, especially with how players are valued, and also talk about things like Statcast as I mentioned earlier, because I think that’s really gonna change the conversation over the next 5 to 10 years, but also potentially increase the gap between what we know, as fans and the media, and what the teams know internally about player values.

Tommy: So it’s bridging the gap between “Baseball for dummies” and “Baseball for complete nerds.”

Keith: Yeah, I was aiming for something very specific. This is not a math book, I didn’t want that, I didn’t think people wanted that. I thought people would want something that was… you know, I’m explaining things in very rational terms, but hopefully lively enough to still be readable, and still convince you, if you’re one of those people who says, “Trevor Hoffman had 600 saves, so he’s a Hall of Famer,” you should walk away and say, “Eh, that’s not a good argument.” You might still want him to be a Hall of Famer, that’s fine, but you’re gonna have to come up with a better argument.

Tommy: Alright, that’s all I have for today. Thanks again for doing this!

KeithOf course, no problem. Take care!

* * * * * * * * * * * *

Again, I want to give a huge shoutout to Keith, and to you as well if you have taken the time to read through this bulky interview. Hopefully this has you even more geared up for the Mets to get back on the diamond. Stay tuned for some follow-up content such as “Main takeaways” and “Things we’ve learned.” Keith certainly didn’t hold back, and I didn’t necessarily agree with him on everything— I’m sure you’ll all have your own opinions as well, so leave your thoughts below!

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2016 Mets Report Cards: Jeurys Familia, RP http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/11/2016-mets-report-cards-jeurys-familia-rp.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/11/2016-mets-report-cards-jeurys-familia-rp.html/#comments Tue, 15 Nov 2016 17:00:33 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=226418 jeurys familia

JEURYS FAMILIA, RHP

Player Data: Age: 27, Bats: Right, Throws: Right, Arbitration Eligible

2016 Primary Stats: 3-4. 51 Saves, 2.55 ERA, 1.210 WHIP, 9.7 K/9, 77.2 IP.

2016 Player Review:

Closers in baseball have a plight similar to that of kickers in football. You expect them to get the job done every time and are relieved when they do, but they really only become the story when they screw up. Jeurys Familia was terrific in 2016, leading the MLB in saves and games finished. When he blew his first save, it was shocking. When he blew a save in the next game as well, panic began to set in. People don’t realize that most teams would kill to have a closer who fails as infrequently as Familia.

Familia will, again, be unfairly judged by his postseason failures. In 2015, he was the scapegoat of the postseason despite an 0.63 ERA (the blown save in Game 1 was fully on him, but that’s it). After the Wild Card game, his postseason ERA skyrocketed to 2.30. Others have done worse. But Familia doesn’t have the pedigree to make these mistakes something people are willing to look past. Nobody cares that Mariano Rivera blew a series-clinching save in two series the Yankees would go on to lose (2001 World Series, 2004 ALCS).

But while I am a huge fan of Familia and will not make the mistake of throwing out two terrific seasons because of a disappointing but much smaller sample, I can’t say I was shocked by what happened in October. Not because I don’t think he has the “clutch gene,” but because I always felt hitters could fare better than they had been doing. It’s as simple as this: He needs to throw strikes. He’s amazing at getting hitters to chase, but it’s astounding how far hitters can get by just refusing to swing. He needs to be able to throw a good pitch for a strike when needed, and that perfect consistency isn’t there yet. After his control betrayed him in the Wild Card game, he finally took off the movement, aimed for the middle and grooved one to Conor Gillaspie. And that was it for our season.

So while I think he is a terrific closer, there is room for improvement. Which is scary, because an imperfect Familia has already done incredible things.

Grade: A-

2017 Outlook:

Familia is currently facing domestic violence charges, and it is impossible to predict how this will turn out without further detail. He could be facing a lengthy suspension, a middling suspension around 30-60 games, or none at all. When he is back on the mound, he will be a great pitcher, but will need to make some adjustments after the Giants finally became the team smart enough to try the not-that-complicated strategy of being patient against him. In the meantime, the Mets need to shore up their bullpen so that it can stay afloat if Familia is absent and then bridge the gap to him when he is available.

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2016 Mets Report Cards: Yoenis Cespedes, OF http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/11/2016-mets-report-cards-yoenis-cespedes-of.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/11/2016-mets-report-cards-yoenis-cespedes-of.html/#comments Sun, 13 Nov 2016 17:30:49 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=226415 yoenis-cespedes-2

YOENIS CESPEDES, OF

Player Data: Age: 31, B/L: Right/Right, Free Agency: 2017

2016 Primary Stats: 132 G, .280 AVG, .354 OBP, .530 SLG, .25 2B, 31 HR, 86 RBI

2016 Review:

What a player. Yoenis Cespedes, for the second year in a row, was everything to the Mets’ offense. The team was 72-54 when Cespedes was in the starting lineup, and 15-21 when he was not. As was a theme with this year’s club, injuries definitely held Cespedes back. The Cuban slugger not only missed or did not start in 36 games, but played hurt for much of the year.

Yoenis began the season on a power tear, hitting 7 home runs in April and 8 more in May. He seemed like a lock to shatter the franchise’s single-season record, but injuries took their toll and his bat came a bit back down to earth, especially from a power standpoint.

That’s not to say Cespedes was only a first-half player. His return to the lineup in August was arguably the main catalyst for the terrific stretch run that carried this team to a second straight playoff appearance. And to judge a player’s season by his playoff performance, especially when that sample size this year was ONE GAME against an elite pitcher, is asinine.

Still, his numbers would be even more impressive if he had sustained his early level of play throughout the campaign. Yo’s first-half slash line was an incredible .302/.372/.583 with 21 home runs. And he wasn’t catastrophic in the field like some had feared (he certainly helped his team more, on the whole, than Jason Heyward).

Cespedes is, unquestionably, the big bat in this lineup. We have other solid offensive players, but nobody like him. But once again, he is a free agent. If the Mets can’t find a way to bring him back again, replacing him in the lineup will be an enormous challenge, especially when, while our other outfielders hit left-handed, Cespedes is a righty who absolutely crushes left-handed pitching.

Grade: A-

2017 Outlook:

Cespedes should still have plenty left in the tank at age 31, but he’ll need to avoid these nagging injuries. He’ll bring one of the league’s most dangerous bats to the table. But he’s a free agent, and he might be the headliner in a weak class. He’ll have some lucrative deals to choose from. He wants to be a Met, so hopefully the two sides can yet again find a way to make it work.

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2016 Mets Report Cards: Wilmer Flores, IF http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/11/2016-mets-report-cards-wilmer-flores-if.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/11/2016-mets-report-cards-wilmer-flores-if.html/#comments Tue, 08 Nov 2016 15:42:45 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=226146 wilmer flores

WILMER FLORES, 1B, 2B, 3B

Player Data: Age 25, Bats Right, Throws: Right, Arbitration Eligible (1)

2016 Primary Stats: 103 G, 16 HR, 14 2B, 49 RBI, 267 AVG, .319 OBP, .469 SLG

2016 Review:

WIIILLLLLMMMAAAAA! A big fan favorite, Wilmer Flores had his ups and downs in 2016, but mostly gave the Mets what they needed: A guy who could fill many roles and swing the bat.

Now, Wilmer got off to an absolutely terrible start, and was a complete non-factor in April and May. But when injuries piled up, and Flores started to get more playing time, he started to get it going. Wilmer hit .289 in June, .290 with 7 home runs in July, and .306 with five homers in August. In each of these months, Flores appeared in over 20 games and started between 16 and 22.

Flores, as the Mets quickly realized, was terrific against lefties, although he struggled against righties. Wilmer hit .340/.383/.710 against southpaws while struggling to a slash line of .232/.289/.353 against right-handed pitching. And as Wilmer went, so did the Mets. Flores hit .339 in wins and .180 in losses.

Meanwhile, his defense was tolerable. Not great, but tolerable. Flores slotted in at first, second, third and shortstop over the course of the year, and it was clear that he worked hard to learn as much as he could about each position. With injuries plaguing the team all year, Flores became very valuable as a guy who could slot in for whoever was hurt or needed a day off. And against lefties, he has become a bona-fide starter in his own right.

Unfortunately, Flores suffered an injury late in the season and missed the final stretch and the postseason. The Mets could have used his bat in some of their final games, and certainly against lefty Madison Bumgarner in the playoffs. Still, Wilmer certainly stepped up to the plate for this team and gave us what we needed from him.

Grade: B-

2017 Outlook:

With questions related to injury, performance and free agency hanging over the Mets, including the infielders, Flores has tremendous value to the team in 2017. He can form half of a platoon at first, second or third if a need arises due to injuries to David Wright or Lucas Duda, a trade of Duda, or either injury to or departure of Neil Walker. That being said, if the Mets end up needing to pencil Flores in as the starter at a position, they would do well to find a left-handed bat who can play that position as well.

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Syndergaard and Bumgarner to Square Off: Keys to a Pitcher’s Duel http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/10/syndergaard-bumgarner-keys-to-a-pitchers-duel.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/10/syndergaard-bumgarner-keys-to-a-pitchers-duel.html/#comments Mon, 03 Oct 2016 14:30:32 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=224300 noah syndergaard

The Mets and Giants will call on their aces in Wednesday night’s NL Wild Card Game at Citi Field. Noah Syndergaard will face Madison Bumgarner in the win-or-go-home clash.

The Mets have Thor and a lot of momentum, but they still have their work cut out for them. What are some keys to winning this pitchers’ duel?

Keys for Syndergaard: Preparedness, Effectiveness and Efficiency

For the Mets, it all starts with Noah Syndergaard. Thor is an incredible pitcher looking to extend what has been an incredible season. When he is on, he is great. He is usually on, which is what makes him great. But much like the Mets with Bumgarner, the Giants’ chances of winning revolve largely around things going wrong for Noah.

Noah needs to understand what can and can’t happen here if the Mets want to win. He needs to know his weaknesses.

We all know that Thor struggles mightily holding runners on base, although he has gotten better at it lately. He and (presumably) Rene Rivera must continue to be mindful of the runners, but there are two bases you don’t have to worry about opponents stealing: First and Home. Noah needs to keep runners off base, especially early in innings so that he can focus on getting outs and not necessarily strikeouts.

When Syndergaard needs to chase strikeouts, it exacerbates another problem: pitch counts. Noah can’t help the Mets win if he’s not on the mound. One of Thor’s least effective starts came in a 98-pitch outing against the Giants, in which he lasted 5.2 innings. One of his best starts of the year came in another 98-pitch outing against the Giants. That time, Noah went 8 innings. If Thor is throwing 20 pitches per inning early in the game, that spells trouble for New York.

But if Noah can get through the early innings unscathed, the Mets are in very nice shape. In the first four innings, Noah’s ERAs are 1.80, 2.10, 3.99 and 5.20. From the fifth inning on, his ERAs are 1.35, 1.57, 1.32 and zero. If Syndergaard gets to the fifth without falling behind, he’ll only get better, as long as he has enough left in the tank to stay on the mound. Quick, scoreless innings in the first half of the game will put Noah and the Mets in great shape, and he can get those zeroes by getting ahead in counts, getting the leadoff guy in each inning, and doing all he can to control the running game.

If Noah can check all the boxes needed for him to be successful on Wednesday night, the Mets have a great chance to advance. Again, he is an ace. He is usually great. When it comes to the guy on the mound, the Mets just need to hope it’s business as usual in this one-game playoff.

madison bumgarner

Keys to beating Bumgarner: Get Him Early, Get Him Late, Get it Over the Wall

Madison Bumgarner is a great pitcher with an incredible playoff record. The last time he pitched in the Wild-Card game, he threw a complete-game shutout to send the Pirates home and send the Giants on their way to a championship.

Bumgarner doesn’t have Thor’s nasty stuff, but he has fewer weak spots and bad habits/trends, which, combined with his incredible résumé, likely has Giants fans focusing almost entirely on beating Thor rather than avoiding potential trouble on the mound. There is a good chance we will see a great outing from both pitchers. And while there might be a larger chance of a truly bad outing from Thor than Bumgarner (and those chances are still low for both pitchers), I think Bumgarner and the Giants might be more prone to defeat should the game stay neat and clean.

Bumgarner has a good but relatively modest 3.18 ERA in the first inning. If you don’t get to him then, he usually settles down. The Mets, for their part, are a dangerous team in the first inning, having scored right off the bat in 49 games this season. Falling behind would put Noah and the Mets in a hole, but New York taking the early lead might put the Giants in an even bigger one. The Mets’ chances of winning when leading after each inning are 71, 73, 77 and 85 percent for the first four innings, which is very high (for reference, the Giants sit at 75, 64, 66 and 73 percent, and the gap only grows in the Mets’ favor as the game goes on).

If the Mets can’t score early, however, that puts the pressure back on Thor. But come the late-middle innings, Bumgarner becomes vulnerable once again, with his ERA ticking up to 2.65 in the 5th before spiking to 3.41 in the 6th and 5.09 in the 7th. The deeper Bumgarner goes into the game, the more hittable he gets. And if he doesn’t go deep, the Mets might get a crack at the embattled Giants bullpen.

I say “might,” however, because San Francisco, like New York, is in win-or-go-home mode. This means that all hands are on deck, and Johnny Cueto and Jeff Samardzija are therefore liable to be used in relief. So getting to Bumgarner to at least some extent is still a huge key for New York, although it certainly helps the Mets’ cause that Terry Collins has a better bullpen than Bruce Bochy.

Fortunately on that front, Bumgarner is very prone to the home run, having allowed 26 this season. The Mets, meanwhile, ranked fifth in the MLB when it came to hitting them over the fence.

All this goes to say that if Noah Syndergaard can turn in a strong, long outing, the Mets are in great shape, even against one of the best playoff performers of his generation.

Get Lucky. It’s One Game

One game. Win or go home. The sample size here is tiny and the ramifications are huge. The margin for error is non-existent.

Yoenis Cespedes or Buster Posey might hit a home run with nobody on base, or they might connect for a grand slam. Or maybe they’ll both go hitless, and somebody at the bottom of the order will have a huge game. Stars might come up small and low-profile guys might come up big. An error at the wrong time, a lousy call from the home plate umpire here and there, a bad hop, a blooper or a rocket that finds a glove might decide the game. A lot of it might just come down to plain old luck.

The division race has been over since July, so for this Mets team, they’ve been fighting all these months for Wednesday night’s game. A loss, and the Mets are done. A win, and we’re back in the NLDS, a couple good series away from another crack at a championship.

Baseball isn’t designed to come down to just one game. But for the Wild Card teams, it will. Both teams have a good chance of winning. We can look at the strengths and weaknesses of both teams and both starters and figure out the most likely factors to generate either outcome. But in one game, it doesn’t matter what has happened or what should happen, or what 1,000 computer simulations say is most likely to happen.

All that matters is what happens on Wednesday night. It’s gonna be Wild.

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Mets Fall 7-3 To Marlins In Emotional Contest http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/09/mets-fall-7-3-to-marlins-in-emotional-contest.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/09/mets-fall-7-3-to-marlins-in-emotional-contest.html/#comments Tue, 27 Sep 2016 03:12:06 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=223836 dee-gordon-travis-darnaud

With all eyes on the game and few eyes on the score, the New York Mets (83-74) fell 7-3 to the Miami Marlins (78-78) on Monday night in South Beach. With the Giants off and the Cardinals losing to Cincinnati, the Mets lead San Francisco by half a game and St Louis by one game in the NL Wild Card race.

The night began with a pregame ceremony to honor late Marlins superstar José Fernandez, after which the two teams spontaneously embraced each other in the infield. Every Marlins player wore Fernandez’s jersey throughout the game.

Dee Gordon led off the bottom of the first for Miami, wearing Fernandez’s helmet and initially batting from the right side to honor his fallen best friend. After switching to his natural left side of the plate, Gordon drove a 2-0 pitch from Bartolo Colon over the wall for his first home run of the season, breaking down as he rounded the bases and embracing his teammates and coaches upon reaching the dugout.

The Marlins controlled the game from there, scoring four more runs in the 2nd inning and two in the 3rd to chase Bartolo early.

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The Mets bullpen provided 5.2 scoreless innings in relief of Colon, with Gabriel Ynoa (1.2 innings), Rafael Montero (1), Erik Goeddel (1.2), Josh Edgin (0.1) and Jim Henderson (1) keeping the game within reason. New York scored two in the fifth on an Asdrubal Cabrera double that made it 7-2, but left the bases loaded in the sixth and managed only an RBI single from Lucas Duda the rest of the way, as Adam Conley (who pitched just three innings) and the Marlins bullpen held strong to finish off the 7-3 win.

The Mets need wins down the stretch, but it was hard to watch this game with that in mind.

Up Next: Noah Syndergaard will face Tom Koehler when the Mets face Miami on Tuesday at 7:10 in Miami.

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]]> http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/09/mets-fall-7-3-to-marlins-in-emotional-contest.html/feed/ 0 Syndergaard Struggles As Braves Top Mets 7-3 http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/09/syndergaard-struggles-as-braves-top-mets-7-3.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/09/syndergaard-struggles-as-braves-top-mets-7-3.html/#comments Tue, 20 Sep 2016 02:36:35 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=223355 noah-syndergaard-2

The New York Mets (80-70) fell by a score of 7-3 to the Atlanta Braves (59-91) on Monday night at Citi Field. The Mets lead the Giants by half a game and the Cardinals by 1.5 games in the Wild Card race, pending the outcome of tonight’s games.

Noah Syndergaard didn’t have it tonight for the Mets, allowing 5 runs on 5 hits and 3 walks in 3.2 innings.

Walks hurt Thor in the second inning, when the Braves took a 2-0 lead on RBI singles from Dansby Swanson and Ender Inciarte. Atlanta added another run on a Freddie Freeman homer in the third. Freeman got to Syndergaard again in the fourth inning for a two-run double before an infield hit by Matt Kemp ended Noah’s night.

Sean Gilmartin pitched well in relief, and the Mets clawed back against Aaron Blair with a two-run shot from TJ Rivera, but New York couldn’t get any closer than 5-2. Swanson knocked in two more runs with a single off of Hansel Robles (the runs were charged to Josh Edgin), and the Mets went quietly after that, getting only an RBI double from James Loney on their way to a 7-3 loss.

The Mets will be back at it on Tuesday night at Citi Field. Robert Gsellman (2-1, 3.08 ERA) will face Julio Teheran (5-10, 3.18) at 7:10 PM.

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Bartolo, Bats Make For A Stress-Free Labor Day As Mets Beat Reds 5-0 http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/09/bartolo-bats-make-for-a-stress-free-labor-day-as-mets-beat-reds-5-0.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/09/bartolo-bats-make-for-a-stress-free-labor-day-as-mets-beat-reds-5-0.html/#comments Mon, 05 Sep 2016 20:25:19 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=222202 bartolo colon 2

The New York Mets (72-66) topped the Reds (57-79) by a score of 5-0 on a Labor Day matinee in Cincinnati on Monday. The Mets are now half a game back of the St Louis for the final Wild Card spot, pending the Cardinals’ game against the Pirates this evening.

Bartolo Colon pitched for the Mets and was terrific, scattering 5 hits and a walk over 6 scoreless innings, striking out 2. He was backed by a solid offensive performance from the “ReplaceMets,” with several key players getting the day off after a night game and a flight.

The Mets got on the board first in the top of the third inning against Robert Stephenson when a jetlagged, sleepless Matt Reynolds hit a solo shot in his first at-bat back from Triple-A. In the bottom of the inning, Colon put runners on second and third with no outs, but escaped the jam unscathed. Kelly Johnson then padded the lead with a solo shot of his own in the top of the fifth.

matt reynolds

Bartolo allowed another runner to reach third with no outs in the bottom of the sixth, but again got out of the inning without allowing a run. In the top of the seventh, the Mets scored 3 runs on a walk by Travis d’Arnaud, singles from James Loney, Reynolds, and Asdrubal Cabrera (off the bench), and a sacrifice fly from Alejandro De Aza.

With a 5-0 lead, Terry Collins went to Hansel Robles in the bottom of the seventh and got a scoreless frame from the hard-throwing righty. Jerry Blevins got a couple outs in the eighth before getting into a jam which Fernando Salas was able to work out of to keep the Reds off the board. Salas then pitched a perfect ninth to seal the Met victory.

With the Mets keeping much of their A-lineup on the bench, they looked to be opening the door for a vastly inferior Reds team to steal a game. Bartolo Colon made sure that didn’t happen, keeping a Reds lineup with a few pretty solid bats in check before giving way to the bullpen, which had a solid day as well.

kelly johnson

Meanwhile, the offense got the job done, and then some. Reynolds had a big day in his first game back, collecting 3 hits, including the homer, and 2 RBI. Wilmer Flores also had a nice day at the plate with 3 hits of his own, but didn’t fare so well on the basepaths, getting gunned down twice by Adam Duvall and getting doubled up for a third out on a line drive to Joey Votto.

Cabrera continues to rake. He only saw a minute of playing time, as he didn’t put a glove on and was pinch-run for after reaching base, but still made an impact with the base-hit that drove in the fourth run and set up the fifth.

Jay Bruce didn’t make any noise at the plate, but got a nice ovation from the Cincinnati crowd in his first game back since the trade. The only other time the Reds fans made any noise was in the ninth inning, when Ty Kelly became the tenth Met to strike out and in doing so granted the Cincinnati faithful the gift of free pizza.

This was a nice, comfortable win, albeit one against a team the Mets should beat comfortably on a regular basis. Hopefully they’ll keep it going on Tuesday.

Up Next: Rafael Montero (0-0, 3.68 ERA) will make his second start of the year when the Mets take on the Reds at 7:10 on Tuesday in Cincinnati. The Reds will counter with Brandon Finnegan (8-10, 4.19 ERA).

Happy Labor Day, and Let’s Go Mets!

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]]> http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/09/bartolo-bats-make-for-a-stress-free-labor-day-as-mets-beat-reds-5-0.html/feed/ 0 Mets Do Not Plan To Promote Michael Conforto Before September 1 http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/08/mets-do-not-plan-to-promote-michael-conforto-before-september-1st.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/08/mets-do-not-plan-to-promote-michael-conforto-before-september-1st.html/#comments Fri, 19 Aug 2016 11:00:06 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=220875 michael conforto

Michael Conforto has been raking in Triple-A lately, but the New York Mets do not plan to call up the outfielder before rosters expand on September 1st.

“I’d say probably not,” Mets GM Sandy Alderson told ESPN New York when asked whether Conforto would return to the big leagues in August.

Conforto got off to a red-hot start to the year in April, but fell into a massive slump that led the Mets to demote him to the minors. He hit well and was called back up before too long, but after continuing to struggle against big-league pitching and receive limited playing time for a team trying to stay afloat in a playoff race, Conforto was sent back down last week.

Conforto is hitting an absurd .684 since his second demotion, a mark which he would obviously never approach at the Major-League level, but one Alderson still views as legitimate despite the inflated hitting statistics often seen in the Pacific Coast League.

“To use [Brandon] Nimmo as an example, well, it’s the Coast League, but he’s leading the league in hitting. Adjust all of those guys for the Pacific Coast League, he’s still the best,” Alderson said. “And Conforto, the way he’s hitting, is very similarly successful. I’m happy he’s doing it, and I’m looking forward to seeing him back here.”

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Mets Trail All The Way In 10-6 Loss To Diamondbacks http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/08/mets-trail-all-the-way-in-10-6-loss-to-diamondbacks.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/08/mets-trail-all-the-way-in-10-6-loss-to-diamondbacks.html/#comments Tue, 16 Aug 2016 05:25:02 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=220642 bartolo colon

The New York Mets (59-59) fell to the Arizona Diamondbacks (49-69) by a score of 10-6 on Monday night in Phoenix. The loss drops the Mets to 3 games back of both the St Louis Cardinals and Miami Marlins in the NL Wild Card Race (the Mets also trail the Pirates by 2.5 games).

Bartolo Colon struggled on the hill for the Mets, allowing 5 runs (2 earned) on 9 (hard) hits and 2 walks, striking out just 1 in 4 innings. Bart did draw his first career walk, stripping him of his MLB record for most career at-bats without a walk.

The Mets fell behind early and trailed the entire game, which has happened far too many times this season. Jose Reyes walked to lead off the game, but with Reyes on the move to second, Curtis Granderson‘s rocket down the line found the glove of Paul Goldschmidt for what became an easy double-play. In the bottom of the first, TJ Rivera made an error to start the frame and the Diamondbacks strung together 4 hits to plate 3 runs, giving them a lead they would never relinquish.

The Mets got a pair of singles to lead off the top of the second, but a double-play killed the rally before it got going, helping Robbie Ray through the inning. New York did get on the board in the top of the third when Travis d’Arnaud singled, Colon reached first when a sacrifice bunt turned into a throwing error, and Reyes singled TDA home, but the Mets could not capitalize further, with Colon being stuck on third on a fairly deep Jay Bruce fly ball that would have scored any other player in the MLB.

The Diamondbacks got the run right back in the bottom of the third to make it 4-2, and after Colon’s first-ever walk set up another RBI single from Reyes, Arizona again erased the Mets’ progress with a run in the bottom of the fourth. Erik Goeddel replaced Colon in the fifth and allowed a pair of RBI doubles that put the hosts up 7-1, and the Snakes later stretched that to 8-2 with a run against Seth Lugo.

The Mets got a little something going in the top of the 7th with singles from Granderson and Neil Walker and walks from Bruce and Wilmer Flores forced in a run and set up a bases-loaded situation with no outs and the Mets trailing 8-3, but RBI sacrifice flies from TJ Rivera and Ty Kelly were of little use this late in the game. Hansel Robles gave up a  2-run shot to Yasmany Tomas in the bottom of the 8th to make it 10-5, and Neil Walker’s solo blast leading off the top of the 9th was just a speed bump for Arizona as they closed out their 4th victory against the Mets in as many tries, 10-6.

travis darnaud

Colon just didn’t have anything in this game, simple as that. The D-backs hit him, and they hit him hard. Arizona remains the only MLB team that Colon has never beaten.

The Mets hit some balls well against Robbie Ray, but had some rotten luck, with everything finding a glove or slicing just foul. As usual, the Mets also squandered a couple big chances with runners in scoring position, and while 6 runs on 12 hits will usually be enough with our pitching staff, it wasn’t on this day.

Wellington Castillo killed the Mets tonight with 4 hits, 2 runs scored and 2 RBI. This was his first game back from the paternity list, which means his newborn child appears to be a good luck charm and also means that I forgot to put him back in my fantasy baseball lineup. Rats. Paul Goldschmidt also killed us tonight with 3 well-struck hits (including a triple and a double), but he kills everybody.

Travis d’Arnaud had a terrific game for the Mets with 3 hits and is suddenly red-hot. Neil Walker continued to be red-hot with 3 hits of his own including the solo home run in the final inning.

It’s one thing to lose games, but it’s downright deflating to give up crooked numbers in the first inning and play a feeble game of catch-up the rest of the way. It’s hard to watch, and it’s happened twice in the last four games and several times this season. When the Mets are doing well, they’re usually the ones striking in the first inning or two. Right now, they’re letting other teams set the tone. That has to change.

The Mets are now 0-4 against the Diamondbacks. They’re 3 games out of the playoffs, so that’s the difference right there. You have to beat the bad teams. The Mets have gotten beat over and over against by this bad team, and that has to change starting Tuesday night.

Up Next: Noah Syndergaard (9-7, 2.75 ERA) will face Braden Shipley (2-1, 2.96) ERA when the Mets take on the Diamondbacks at 9:40 on Tuesday night in Phoenix.

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Mets Make It Five In A Row With 8-6 Comeback Win Over Marlins http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/07/mets-make-it-5-in-a-row-on-the-4th-with-8-6-comeback-win-over-marlins.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/07/mets-make-it-5-in-a-row-on-the-4th-with-8-6-comeback-win-over-marlins.html/#comments Tue, 05 Jul 2016 00:20:08 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=216764 travis darnaud

The New York Mets (45-37) won their fifth straight game on Monday afternoon, beating the Miami Marlins (43-40) by a score of 8-6 at Citi Field. The Independence Day win and the Washington Nationals loss pulls the Mets to within 4 games of first place.

Early in the game, it was all Marlins. Matt Harvey struggled mightily for the Mets, allowing 6 runs on 11 hits in 3.2 innings.

The Fish jumped out to an early lead in the top of the second, when Giancarlo Stanton singled, moved to second on a wild throw in from Brandon Nimmo, and scored on a two-out hit from Chris Johnson. Johnson appeared to get tagged out trying to stretch a single into a double, but was deemed to be safe at second on replay and the inning continued. Miami capitalized, scoring a second run on a double by Adeiny Hechavarria and a third on a single from pitcher Tom Koehler.

After the Mets left the bases loaded in the third (thanks to some bad baserunning by Curtis Granderson and some good defens by the Marlins), Harvey ran into trouble again in the fourth as Miami loaded the bases with 1 out. Martin Prado then hit one right back to Harvey for what should have been an inning-ending double-play, but Harvey’s throw home was wild and a run scored to make it 4-0 while the bases remained loaded. Christian Yelich then knocked in two more runs with a single, and while the Mets got an out on the basepaths on the play, Harvey’s day was done and the Mets were down 6-0.

After Erik Goeddel got an out in relief to end the top of the fourth, Travis d’Arnaud hit a solo shot in the bottom of the frame to chip away at the deficit and make it 6-1. Logan Verrett tossed a scoreless top of the fifth and another solo home run, this one off the bat of Curtis Granderson, cut the gap to 6-2. Some more bad baserunning, this time by Cespedes, cost the Mets a chance to do some more damage, but that damage was on the way.

Verrett worked in and out of trouble in the top of the sixth and the Mets loaded the bases with none out in the bottom of the inning against the Marlins bullpen. D’Arnaud came through again with an RBI single up the middle to make it 6-3, and Kelly Johnson hit a double-play ball that, while stalling the rally, drove in a fourth run.

After Hansel Robles pitched a clean top of the seventh, the Mets got going again in the bottom half with a leadoff walk from Neil Walker and a double from Cespedes. James Loney drove in a run and moved Cespedes to third with a grounder to the right side, and after an intentional walk to Asdrubal Cabrera, Wilmer Flores tied the game with a sacrifice fly to center that enabled Cespedes to cross the Delaware plate.

Robles got himself into a jam in the top of the 8th when Ichiro Suzuki hit a leadoff double and JT Realmuto walked while trying to bunt, but the Mets came up with a huge defensive play, turning a 3-5-4 double-play on a Prado bunt to get 2 outs with the go-ahead run moving to 2nd base. Jerry Blevins came in to face Yelich and, after Realmuto stole third base, the lanky lefty struck out the young Marlins star to keep the game tied.

Newly acquired Fernando Rodney came in to pitch the bottom of the eighth for the Marlins, and there would be no celebrating for the demonstrative righty on this day. D’Arnaud led off with a single and Lagares moved him over with a bunt (Lagares was initially called safe at first when the umpire said Derek Dietrich dropped the ball, but after an NFL-like “what is a catch?” review, the call was overturned. Granderson then flied out and Walker drew another walk. With runners on 1st and 2nd and 2 out, Cespedes hit a double into the gap to score a pair and give the Mets their first lead of the day at 8-6.

Jeurys Familia made things interesting in the top of the ninth, but got a double-play ball to end the game and pick up his MLB-leading  29th save of the year in as many tries.

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What a game! The Mets have struggled to pull off comebacks this season, but chipped away at an early 6-0 deficit and it paid off.

Harvey really struggled in this game, but with several good outings preceding this rocky performance, the panic is unjustified. The bullpen, meanwhile, did a heck of a job. Jerry Blevins has been getting some huge outs lately, and he’s showing more emotion each time out. Familia rarely makes it easy in a save situation, but he gets the job done every time, and that’s what matters.

Travis D’Arnaud is hitting very well of late. The guy is a great player, and his only issue is the injuries. If he can stay healthy, he’s one of the best hitting catchers in the game, and I’d like to see him hitting higher in the lineup than 8th.

Granderson has two homers in two games since coming back from that calf injury, and if the Mets can really get him going, that would be huge. He’d been hitting better before the injury, so this is a good sign.

Wilmer Flores always seems to get the job done when the team needs it the most. He put up a great at-bat in the seventh and finally came through with the fly ball the Mets needed to tie the game.

You can’t really talk about the offense without talking about Yoenis Cespedes. The guy is an unbelievable hitter and he came up big today, especially with the double that proved to be the game-winning hit.

The Mets haven’t lost since David Wright returned to the stadium. This is a fact.

I’m pumped. Happy Fourth, and Let’s Go Mets!

The Mets will look to keep on rolling Tuesday Night at Citi Field. Wei-Yin Chen will pitch for Miami, while New York will counter with a southpaw of their own in Steven Matz.

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Murphy Carries Nats To Sweep Despite Late Mets Rally As Washington Wins 4-2 http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/06/mmo-game-recap-murphy-carries-nats-to-sweep-despite-mets-late-rally-as-washington-wins-4-2.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/06/mmo-game-recap-murphy-carries-nats-to-sweep-despite-mets-late-rally-as-washington-wins-4-2.html/#comments Thu, 30 Jun 2016 02:35:05 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=216331 daniel murphy

The New York Mets (40-37) fell by a score of 4-2 on Wednesday night in DC to the Washington Nationals (47-32). The loss capped off a sweep at the hands of the Nats and dropped the Mets to 6 games back in the NL East.

Logan Verrett pitched fairly well for the Mets in a spot start, allowing 2 runs in 5 innings.

But the Mets did nothing against Nationals stud Max Scherzer, who struck out 10 and allowed just 2 hits and a walk in 7.1 scoreless innings.

The Mets fell behind early, as they have done far too often lately, when former Met Daniel Murphy let off the bottom of the second with a solo shot. Washington scored again in the next inning when Brandon Nimmo misplayed a fly ball that turned into a double for Danny Espinosa, who later scored on a sacrifice fly from Jason Werth.

The game crawled on uneventfully for several innings until the top of the eighth. With Scherzer cruising and the Nats up 2-0, Nimmo put together a terrific at-bat that ended in a single up the middle. Former Met Ollie Perez came in and allowed a pinch-hit single to Curtis Granderson, before being replaced by Blake Treinen. Treinen got a slow roller from pinch-hitter Travis d’Arnaud for the second out, but the tying runs both moved up a base, bringing Alejandro De Aza up with a chance to tie the game with a single. But De Aza continued his monumental struggles, striking out against Shawn Kelley to end the inning.

The Nationals tacked on what seemed like unnecessary insurance against a lifeless offense in the top of the 9th, when Murphy took Sean Gilmartin deep with a man on base for his second home run of the year, tying his career high of 14 in a season (it’s June 29th).

But that insurance proved to be the difference, as the Mets put together a rally in the top of the ninth against Kelley. After Neil Walker struck out, Yoenis Cespedes singled and James Loney hit a two-run shot to make it 4-2. Asdrubal Cabrera then whiffed before Kelly Johnson doubled to bring Brandon Nimmo up as the tying run, but for the second time in his week-old Major League career, Nimmo struck out looking to end the ballgame.

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Verrett did his job tonight. He kept us in the game, which is all you can ask from a guy making a spot start against one of the game’s best pitchers. The only thing he could have done better was give the Mets more length to rest a tired bullpen. If Verrett stays in the game longer, Gilmartin doesn’t pitch the ninth and give up that crucial home run. But Verrett’s shaky control ran his pitch count up early in the game.

The Mets led 4-0 in the third inning of game 1 of this series, but trailed after all but 2 innings the rest of the series. We didn’t make the Nationals work too hard en route to what was a huge sweep for our rivals, who are now six games up in the division.

There’s plenty of baseball left to play, but the Mets are in gut-check mode as far as the divisional race is concerned. They have 4 games with the MLB-best Cubs, while the Nationals will play 4 with the Reds (probably the worst team in baseball right now). We then play 3 with the Marlins while the Nats play 3 with the Brewers (another bad team, albeit one that has given both the Mets and the Nationals trouble recently) before the two teams meet again for a 4-game set, this time at Citi Field.

If things break well for the Mets between now and then, they will likely still be about six back. Winning three or possibly even four against Washington at home would keep the Mets right on the Nationals’ heels going into the break, so that series will be huge, and the Mets will need to play much better than they did over the last three days. If Washington wins that series, the standings will start to look ugly.

It was nice to see the Mets put together a rally in the ninth in this game, even if it was a bit frustrating (we needed 2 runs most of the night, and finally got 2 when we needed 4). The bats looked better in those final two innings, and maybe that’s what the team needs heading into a meeting with a team hell-bent on revenge.

Let’s sweep the Cubbies again, for old times’ sake.

Up next: Steven Matz, who pitched game 4 of the NLCS, will face the Cubs again on Thursday at 7:10 PM in New York. John Lackey will pitch for Chicago.

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MMO Game Recap: Mets Take Early Lead, But Fall Apart In Loss To Nationals http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/06/mmo-game-recap-mets-take-early-lead-but-fall-apart-in-loss-to-nationals.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/06/mmo-game-recap-mets-take-early-lead-but-fall-apart-in-loss-to-nationals.html/#comments Tue, 28 Jun 2016 03:24:13 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=216132 syndergaard darnaud

The New York Mets (40-35) fell to the Washington Nationals (45-32) by a score of 11-4 on Monday night in DC. With the loss (and obviously, the Washington win), New York fell 4 games back in the division, while also falling half a game behind the now-second-place Miami Marlins.

The Mets had a nice start to the game, getting a run in the top of the first against Nationals pitcher Joe Ross. Curtis Granderson led off with a single, moved to third when Yoenis Cespedes hit a ball through a hole opened up by a shift, and scored on a well-hit sacrifice fly by Neil Walker. James Loney hit another ball well against a pitcher who was clearly missing his best stuff, but Ben Revere ranged back to make a nice catch and end the frame. Still, the Mets had given an ace a run to work with.

But it quickly became clear that Noah Syndergaard did not have his best stuff either on this night. Ben Revere led off with a single and swiped the first of many bases the Nationals would steal in the game. A pair of walks then loaded the bases with none out. Syndergaard got out of the jam on a force-out at the plate (thanks to a nice play by James Loney) and a double-play ball, keeping the lead intact despite failing to keep his pitch count low.

The Mets tacked on another run in the next inning, with Brandon Nimmo‘s first career hit setting things in motion. Another single from Travis d’Arnaud put runners on the corners and Granderson drove in the run with a liner that Bryce Harper just failed to reach. A walk loaded the bases for Cespedes, but the Mets could not blow the game open as Ross fanned the Met slugger.

Thor had a much cleaner second inning, striking out three around a lone single. And a few minutes later, the Mets seemed to be in complete control of the game. Neil Walker singled to lead things off and Loney doubled to set the stage for Wilmer Flores, who drove in a pair with a base-hit. Nimmo then beat out an infield single for his second hit to put runners on 1st and 2nd with none out and the Mets up 4-0. But the team could not capitalize further. After Flores moved to third on a sacrifice fly by d’Arnaud, Flores was thrown out at the plate trying to score on a Syndergaard bunt, and Granderson grounded out to end the inning.

From that point on, it was all Nats. Revere led off the bottom of the third with another single, stole another base, and Werth walked again after a seven-pitch at-bat. Harper then singled to drive in Revere and stole second. Harper was then thrown out at third on the next play as Werth scored to make it 4-2. Wilson Ramos singled and a wild pitch put runners on second and third before a strikeout put Thor an out away from escaping the inning with the lead. But with 2 out, Anthony Rendon hit a slow grounder that somehow got through the hole on the right side (Loney could have had it) and the game was tied. Rendon then stole second and scored to give the Nats the lead on a Danny Espinosa single, before Syndergaard finally put out the fire.

That’s how the game was lost. The Mets wouldn’t score from that point on. Ross settled in a bit, the Mets’ bats faded, and Washington began to pile on. Sean Gilmartin got pounded, allowing 5 runs on 7 hits in 2 innings, and the Nationals added another run against Erik Goeddel in the sixth to make it 11-4 before Goeddel tossed a scoreless 7th and Antonio Bastardo pitched a clean 8th to stop the onslaught. The Mets managed several singles against Ross and the Nats bullpen, ending up with an impressive 14 by the game’s end, but didn’t make anything of it.

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That was as rough as it gets. The team appears set to cut the gap in the division to 2 games, and it ends up at 4 games. The struggling offense gave their best pitcher a solid lead and it ended up being a blowout in the other team’s favor. The success and the meltdown both came so early that most of the game was spent wondering how this could happen.

But even when the Mets went up 2-0 and 4-0, the lead didn’t seem as safe as it usually would, because Thor was clearly, as they say, “battling” tonight. It was like watching Jacob deGrom in Game 5 of the NLDS, without the happy result. Because Thor pulled the rabbit out of the hat in the 1st inning, but couldn’t do it the 2nd time he got into trouble. I completely agree with the decision to pull him early, after 71 high-stress pitches (pitches which the human arm isn’t built to throw— not that Thor is human).

The Nationals ran all over the Mets tonight. The Mets are the worst team in the league at holding runners and Washington knew it coming into the game. They made us pay. Every single was essentially a double, and there were far too many singles. The Nationals had 17 hits tonight, 14 of which were singles (The Mets, to their credit, had 14 hits of their own).

The Mets had an ineffective pitcher on the ropes early and didn’t make him pay. 4 runs is a nice tally early in the game, but it could have been more, and as we saw, the Mets could have used more. For all the complaining about home runs in the Mets fan community, a home run after a pair of singles does a lot more damage than another single. But the Mets also could have done with some better luck, and, in the top of the third, better baserunning.

Wilmer Flores being thrown out at the plate was the turning point in this game. I’m not sure if it was a safety squeeze or a sacrifice bunt, but Flores is not fast enough to take many risks, and he already got burned doing so last week against the Braves. It wasn’t a great bunt if the goal was to get Wilmer home, and he almost made it, but we ended up doing Ross a huge favor on that play.

Speaking of the Braves, this is why the Mets need (or needed) to fatten up on those teams. If we had taken 5 of 7 from the Braves in our recent meetings, we’d have been tied going into the series and only 1 game back after this bummer of a contest. Now, we’re 4 games back, and really need to win at least 1 of the next 2 before a 4-game set with the Cubs, 3 games with the Marlins and a huge 4-game series with these Nationals before the All-Star Break.

Congrats to Brandon Nimmo on a solid game and his first two hits— the first of many to come. Tomorrow is a new day, and let’s hope it’s a much better one for our Mets.

The Mets will look to get back on the horse on Tuesday night in the nation’s capital. Matt Harvey will face the MLB’s top prospect in Lucas Giolito, who will be making his MLB debut.

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Nationals Place Stephen Strasburg On 15-Day DL http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/06/nationals-place-stephen-strasburg-on-15-day-dl.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/06/nationals-place-stephen-strasburg-on-15-day-dl.html/#comments Sun, 26 Jun 2016 20:28:45 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=216013 stephen strasburg

The Washington Nationals placed star pitcher Stephen Strasburg on the 15-day DL, retroactive to June 16th, with an upper back strain on Sunday. Strasburg missed two consecutive starts with the back issue and also dislocated two ribs while lifting weights last week.

The Mets won’t see Strasburg in their upcoming three-game series with Washington, but the ace right-hander could pitch against New York in the four-game set at Citi Field before the All-Star Break.

Strasburg boasts a 10-0 record with a 2.90 ERA and 118 strikeouts in 93 innings pitched.

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Harvey and Familia Carry Mets To 1-0 Win By Still Being Really Good At Baseball http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/05/mmo-game-recap-harvey-familia-carry-mets-to-1-0-win-by-still-being-really-good-at-baseball.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/05/mmo-game-recap-harvey-familia-carry-mets-to-1-0-win-by-still-being-really-good-at-baseball.html/#comments Mon, 30 May 2016 20:08:46 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=213506 matt harvey 2

He’s Back!

The Mets (29-21) beat the White Sox (27-25) by a score of 1-0 on Monday afternoon at Citi Field.

Matt Harvey tossed a gem for the Mets, allowing 2 hits and a walk in 7 shutout innings, striking out 6 on 87 efficient pitches.

Harvey went up against Chicago stud Jose Quintana (who the Mets originally signed in 2006), who matched zeroes with The Dark Knight for most of the day.

The Mets stranded a few runners in the first six innings, including Ty Kelly, who was left on first after his first career hit. The White Sox did little against Harvey (who got help from a great diving stop by Wilmer Flores) in the early going, and the game was scoreless going into the 7th. But the game turned right there. After Harvey worked out of a jam in the top of the inning, Neil Walker led off the bottom of the frame with a solo shot that would ultimately decide the contest.

Addison Reed tossed a quick, scoreless eighth, and Jeurys Familia, who got rocked in consecutive non-save-situation appearances against the Dodgers this weekend, posted a perfect ninth to get back on the horse and end the ballgame.

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What a big game for Harvey. After so many bad outings to start the year, he finally had a solid, steady performance today. It was his first time going into the seventh and his first time allowing zero runs. He got hit a bit harder after the first time through the order, and almost let the game get away from him the third time through, so he’s not out of the woods just yet. But this was a very, very encouraging performance with obviously stellar results.

Familia had a big outing as well, retiring the side in order to pick up his 32nd straight regular season save and ease whatever doubts may have arisen during the Dodgers series. He’ll need to get his slider going soon, but Dan Warthen can fix any slider in the land, so I’m not too worried.

It was another quiet night for the bats, but it’s hard to do much against guys like Quintana (let alone the Kershaws). Harvey kept the Mets in the game until somebody could get the big hit and eventually Walker got that hit, continuing his recent hot streak after a rough start to the month of May.

Rene Rivera is doing a great job with this pitching staff, and making a great case for some major playing time.

The Mets will look to make it two in a row against the ChiSox on Tuesday at 7:10 PM when Steven Matz (7-1, 2.36 ERA) takes on Mat Latos (6-1, 4.06) in New York.

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MMO Game Recap: Mets Throw Early Party For Bartolo In 7-1 Win Over Nationals http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/05/mmo-game-recap-mets-throw-early-party-for-bartolo-in-7-1-win-over-nationals.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/05/mmo-game-recap-mets-throw-early-party-for-bartolo-in-7-1-win-over-nationals.html/#comments Tue, 24 May 2016 03:06:42 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=212748 bartolo colon

The Mets (26-18) cruised to a 7-1 win over the Nationals (27-18) in the opening game of a three-game set in the nation’s capital.

Bartolo Colon threw a gem for the Mets on the eve of his 43rd birthday. The Ageless One allowed 1 run on 5 hits in 7 quick innings, striking out 2 and walking 2 on 90 pitches.

The game was delayed an hour due to rain. Once things got underway, the Mets looked all set to jump on Gio Gonzalez early when Curtis Granderson singled to start the ballgame and Juan Lagares reached on a well-placed dribbler. But the Washington lefty held his ground, striking out David Wright and Yoenis Cespedes before getting Neil Walker to ground out and strand the runners. The Nats then took the lead in the bottom of the first on singles from Jayson Werth, Daniel Murphy and Ryan Zimmerman.

But after a disappointing start to the game, the heart of the order made up for it, and then some. After Granderson was plunked in the third and Lagares got his second hit, Wright continued his recent revival with a three-run homer to left that put the Mets in front. Consecutive singles from Cespedes, Walker and Asdrubal Cabrera plated a fourth run and Eric Campbell made it 5-1 with a sacrifice fly.

The Mets extended their lead in the 5th on back-to-back solo shots from Yoenis Cespedes and Neil Walker, and the 7-1 score held the rest of the way, as Jerry Blevins and Logan Verrett tossed scoreless frames in relief of Colon.

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What a great job by Bartolo. He made it all look easy tonight, despite being squeezed at times by the umpire, who had a strange and inconsistent strike zone to say the least. Colon gave the Mets 7 innings which was huge in that it let Terry Collins rest his bullpen— and the big righty probably could have gone eight or nine.

UPDATE: Bartolo felt some back stiffness, which contributed to his relatively early exit. He had no interest in hitting tonight, though. I don’t think the bat left his shoulder once.

UPDATE: Bartolo said he told the Nationals’ catcher he promised not to swing. Actually. 

The Captain came up big as well. After failing to produce in the first inning with guys on base, he produced as much as possible in his next at-bat, plating both runners as well as himself. He made solid contact later in the game and looked good in the field as well. After a walkoff hit in the series against the Brewers, David looks to be on the right track. His blast tonight was his 240th, putting him 12 behind Darryl Strawberry for the franchise record.

Cespedes is just unreal. He now leads the league in home runs and RBI and has his batting average up over .300.

Walker’s home run was a nice sign, as he looks to be turning it around after a rough patch to start the month of May. With Lucas Duda out, Walker will need to step up in the #5 hole.

The Mets are now a half-game out of first place and will look to leapfrog the Nats on Tuesday night. Matt Harvey will take on Stephen Strasburg at 7 PM in DC.

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Wheeler Throws From Mound For First Time Since Surgery http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/05/zack-wheeler-throws-off-the-mound-for-the-first-time-since-surgery.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/05/zack-wheeler-throws-off-the-mound-for-the-first-time-since-surgery.html/#comments Mon, 23 May 2016 23:48:09 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=212726 zack wheeler whiff

Zack Wheeler threw 10 fastballs off of the mound on Monday, his first time doing so since having Tommy John surgery before the 2015 season.  (Rubin, Carig)

Wheeler, the second of the Mets’ five stud pitching prospects (after Matt Harvey) to arrive in Flushing, went 18-16 with a 3.50 ERA, a 1.34 WHIP and 271 strikeouts in his first 285 big-league innings after being called up in the middle of 2013.

He pitched a full year in 2014 but missed the entire 2015 campaign.

The Mets hope to have the 25 year-old righty back some time around July 1.

 

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Wilmer Flores To Begin Rehab Assignment Tuesday http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/05/wilmer-flores-to-begin-rehab-assignment-tuesday.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/05/wilmer-flores-to-begin-rehab-assignment-tuesday.html/#comments Mon, 23 May 2016 20:25:39 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=211645 wilmer flores

Manager Terry Collins told reporters at Nationals Park that infielder Wilmer Flores will begin a rehab assignment on Tuesday.

Flores, 24, was placed on the 15-day disabled list on May 12 with a strained left hamstring. The earliest he can be activated from the DL is next Friday.

Flores will likely take over at first base for the injured Lucas Duda upon his return.

Original Report – May 12

Wilmer Flores is heading to the 15-day DL. The Mets’ beloved utility man was seen packing his bags after the team’s 4-3 win in LA and the news broke moments later that he had been placed on the disabled list with a left hamstring injury.

Flores hurt the hamstring in Monday’s series opener and tried to play through it on Tuesday.  He will fly to New York where team doctors will examine him.

Pitcher Sean Gilmartin will be called up to take his spot on the roster with Steven Matz scheduled to miss at least one start due to forearm soreness (he will be evaluated on Monday).

Flores has struggled this season (.180 BA with 1 home run) but had started to hit better recently.

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MMO Game Recap: Thor Single-Handedly Beats Dodgers In 4-3 Victory http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/05/mmo-game-recap-thor-singlehandedly-beats-dodgers-in-4-3-victory.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/05/mmo-game-recap-thor-singlehandedly-beats-dodgers-in-4-3-victory.html/#comments Thu, 12 May 2016 05:38:26 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=211638 noah syndergaard dugout

The New York Mets (21-12) defeated the Los Angeles Dodgers (17-17) by a score of 4-3 on Wednesday night at Dodger Stadium.

Noah Syndergaard got the ball for the Mets and did it all himself, tossing 8 brilliant innings (2 runs, 6 hits, 1 walk, 6 strikeouts, 95 pitches) and driving in all four runs with a pair of home runs.

Thor became the second pitcher in Met history to go yard twice in a game, joining Walt Terrell on Terrell’s 58th birthday.

Rookie sensation Kenta Maeda pitched decently for a mere mortal, but was outperformed on both ends by his opposite number. Maeda surrendered one of Thor’s homers leading off the third and the other with two men on in the fifth.

Syndergaard allowed solo shots to Corey Seager and Yasmani Grandal, but otherwise held the Dodgers in check.

The Mets could have won this game comfortably, but squandered many chances to get some insurance runs. The team left 9 men on base and went 1-for-9 with runners in scoring position.

Thor had two chances at a three-homer game, but struck out both times. He did, however rip some screaming line drives in his third at-bat. The guy can hit.

Yoenis Cespedes and Michael Conforto had two hits apiece, while Neil Walker snapped an 0-for-22 skid with a double.

Jeurys Familia had a rocky ninth, allowing a leadoff double and a pair of groundouts that got the run home (and were both nearly hits), but got some help from his defense and struck out Yasiel Puig to end the ballgame.

noah syndergaard hr

That was unreal. Thor is incredible. It’s huge when pitchers can help themselves at the plate, but you never expect a performance like this. Thor did it all, and nearly did some more— that liner in the sixth might have been a grand slam if it had gone out.

It didn’t hurt them in this one, but the Mets need to convert opportunities like the ones they had tonight in the sixth and seventh innings. In the last few games, they’ve often had the bottom of the order up in some huge spots, but with a team as deep as this one, you still hope to see the 7 and 8 hitters come through (#9 certainly did his part).

Puig hit a ball deep to left and flipped his bat like he had crushed it. Michael Conforto caught it easily. Other than our pitcher going yard twice, that was the highlight of the game.

This was a big win to secure at least a split, because the next game has us going up against a guy who’s pretty tough to beat.

Up Next: The Mets will finish their four-game set with the Dodgers on Thursday night at 10:10 PM in LA. Bartolo Colon (3-1, 2.82 ERA) will look to stay hot at the plate and on the mound, but he’ll be going up against the best of the best, as the Dodgers will counter with Clayton Kershaw (4-1, 2.04 ERA).

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]]> http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/05/mmo-game-recap-thor-singlehandedly-beats-dodgers-in-4-3-victory.html/feed/ 0 MMO Game Recap: Mets 4, Nationals 4 http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/03/mmo-game-recap-mets-4-nationals-4.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/03/mmo-game-recap-mets-4-nationals-4.html/#comments Sun, 27 Mar 2016 20:15:15 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=208471  steven matz

The Mets played to a draw for the third straight game, tying with the Nationals, 4-4, on Sunday afternoon at Tradition Field.

The Mets started strong against Yusmeiro Petit. David Wright homered in the bottom of the first to put the Mets up 1-0, and, after a Neil Walker triple, Michael Conforto went deep in the second to extend the lead to three.

Steven Matz pitched well for the Mets, going 5.2 innings, allowing one run on one hit (a home run) and striking out five. Matz did, however, walk four.

The Nats got on the board with Clint Robinson‘s solo shot in the fourth, but the Mets got the run back in the fifth when Wright singled home Curtis Granderson, who had doubled.

Matz gave way to Antonio Bastardo, who got the final out in the sixth Logan Verrett stumbled in the seventh, allowing a double to Chris Heisey and an RBI single to former Met Matt den Dekker that made it 4-2.

Jim Henderson got the first out in the eighth, but a single from Danny Espinosa and a double from Anthony Rendon knocked Henderson out of the game and put the tying runs in scoring position. Jerry Blevins came  in and walked the first hitter he faced to load the bases.

Heisey hit a grounder that nearly got the Mets out of the inning, but beat out the throw to stay out of a double-play as a run scored to make it 4-3. Blevins then made an errant throw trying to pick Heisey off, allowing the tying run to score, before retiring den Dekker (for whom he was traded last Spring).

Jeurys Familia worked through a scoreless top of the ninth inning despite being hit hard by the Nationals, but the Mets could not score late in the game, and the contest ended in a tie.

The Mets are winless in their last ten, having tied three straight after losing seven in a row.

Blevins has an ERA of 4.50 this Spring and has allowed multiple inherited runners to score. Bastardo has an ERA of 6.75.

Former Met Oliver Perez made an appearance on the mound for the Nationals today, as did Bryan Harper, brother of Bryce.

The Mets will visit the Cardinals tomorrow, when Bartolo Colon will face Carlos Martinez.

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MMO Game Recap: Mets 5, Cardinals 5 http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/03/mmo-game-recap-mets-5-cardinals-5.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/03/mmo-game-recap-mets-5-cardinals-5.html/#comments Fri, 25 Mar 2016 20:43:01 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=208371 noah syndergaard

The New York Mets and St. Louis Cardinals finished in a 5-5 tie this afternoon at Tradition Field.

Noah Syndergaard pitched very well for the Mets. Thor struck out nine and walked none in six innings, allowing two runs on five hits. Syndergaard has struck out 19 and walked one in 17 2/3 innings this spring training.

The Mets had some good at-bats against Cardinals pitcher Michael Wacha. David Wright walked in the bottom of the first and looked limber tagging up from first to move to second on a sacrifice fly and sprinting around third on a Neil Walker single— although he was tagged out by Mets Nemesis Yadier Molina on a bang-bang play at the plate.

The Mets got on the board in the second inning. Kevin Plawecki reached on an error by former Met Ruben Tejada, who couldn’t keep a tough hop from getting over him. Juan Lagares singled to get Plawecki to third, and Matt Reynolds knocked the game’s first run home.

The Cards struck back in the fourth on doubles from Matt Holliday and Matt Adams, tying the game at one. New York got back out in front on a single from Wilmer Flores, a double from Plawecki and a single from Reynolds that made it 2-1, but Syndergaard hit into a double-play to end the inning before the Mets could capitalize further.

St Louis came right back in the next inning to tie it back up on a single from the pitcher Wacha and a double from Carpenter.  But in the bottom of the sixth, the Mets loaded the bases with nobody out when Flores doubled, Plawecki walked, and Lagares reached on an error. Sacrifice flies from Reynolds and Travis d’Arnaud put the Mets up 4-2.

Jerry Blevins came in to face a lefty to begin the seventh and got his man, before Jim Henderson got the next two outs. Addison Reed pitched a scoreless eighth to get the ball to Jeurys Familia.

But the Mets closer struggled after getitng the first out. Randal Grichuk homered, Adams and Brandon Moss singled, and Jedd Gyorko doubled to tie the game at 4. After Familia intentionally walked the next batter to set up the double-play and a force at any base, he unintentionally walked Greg Garcia to force in the go-ahead run. Zack Thornton (the prospect from the Ike Davis trade) came in and induced a double-play to end the inning and keep the Mets in the ballgame.

The Mets fought back in the bottom of the ninth. After two quick outs to start the ninth, Eric Campbell singled and stole second, before scoring on a single from Kevin Kaczmarski that tied the game at five. The Mets could not score a sixth run, and the game ended in a tie, snapping the Mets’ seven-game losing streak.

kevin plawecki

There were some great signs today. Thor looked great, Plawecki, Reynolds, Lagares, and Walker did as well, the bullpen did a good job to get the ball to Familia, and the Mets rallied in the bottom of the ninth to pick up their closer on an off day. At the end of the day, you want to see the team win, but it’s March. Soon, it will be April, and when the calendar turns, then it will be time to obsess over the wins and losses.

Juan Lagares has looked like his 2014 self in the field thus far, although he hasn’t yet needed to make a huge throw, so we’ll have to wait and see whether the cannon is back.

It was weird seeing Ruben Tejada in a Cardinals uniform today. It was, however, nice to see the way in which he interacted with the Mets players whenever they got anywhere near him. Curtis Granderson even hugged him after getting tagged out at one point. I’m hoping for the best for Ruben going forward.

Wilmer Flores played a fine first base today. The more positions he can play, the more value he’ll add to this team. I was glad to see the Mets give him a look at that position today, especially since it made it easier to get Reynolds in the lineup.

It was also great to see Wright playing in back-to-back games. Just like us, he’s waited a long time for this team to be good, and he deserves a championship more than anybody.

The Mets will travel to Disney on Saturday to play the Atlanta Braves at 1:05 PM. Starting for the Mets will be  RHP Jacob deGrom who will oppose RHP Bud Norris for the Braves.

Note to Readers: I am pleased to announce that I will be working at Citi Field for the New York Mets this summer. I could not be more thrilled. However, there are obviously questions about any limitations on what I can and cannot write. I intend to continue writing for MMO. Like most writers on this site, I am already an openly biased Mets fan and will be positive toward the team more often than not, but I will not write things I do not believe. My thoughts and opinions (here, on Twitter, and elsewhere) do not represent those of the team, and I am not privy to inside information from a front office perspective. There are certain topics I might not be able to write articles on, but when I do write, I will put in the same effort I always do to help make this site and this community as amazing as it is.

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