Mets Merized Online » Jacob DeGrom http://metsmerizedonline.com Wed, 03 Feb 2016 16:19:33 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.8.13 Staying On Top Is More Difficult Than Getting There http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/01/staying-on-top-is-more-difficult-than-getting-there.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/01/staying-on-top-is-more-difficult-than-getting-there.html/#comments Wed, 06 Jan 2016 18:22:52 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=203496 jesse-orosco-winning-1986-world-series

When Jesse Orosco fanned Marty Barrett my dad and I instantaneously flew off the couch. This wasn’t the man who taught me how to ride a bike, how to drive a car and (tried to) teach me math. There wasn’t 23 years between us. Instead, at this frozen moment in time we were both two little kids, jumping up and down, relishing the fact our team was World Champions. I was too young to remember 1969 and after losing my dad nearly five years ago, this would be the only championship we’d share as father and son.

After my mom turned in he and I reminisced until sunup about the season that just concluded. We drank coffee, my dad smoked. And although I was a college senior and a few weeks shy of turning 21, I was still too embarrassed to light up around him. My smoking—of all kinds—remained on campus. My dad commented, “Now, we (the Mets) have to go home, rest up all winter and prepare for next year. We’re champions and everyone’s going to be coming after us.”

Wow! My dad seemed almost Yoda-like. Wise, knowledgeable. After all, he was the ripe old age of 44.

Today the Mets are not World Champions but NL Champions. And in 2016, 14 other clubs will once again be coming after us. Are we ready?

One thing that makes Baseball the greatest game ever devised is that it remains the most unpredictable sport there is. I, my fellow MMO bloggers, the best Baseball minds, the nation’s top sportswriters and the most ardent fans spend all winter theorizing, hypothesizing and conjecturing. Then comes the first pitch on Opening Day and it all goes out the window.

Coming into 2015, who would have imagined a player that had largely floundered for much of his career in Baltimore, Jake Arrieta, would emerge Cy Young Winner? Or that some guy named Dallas Kuechel would win only one less game than Clayton Kershaw and Justin Verlander combined?

AP NLCS METS CUBS BASEBALL S BBN USA IL

While many expected the Mets to be competitive and possibly reach 500, who expected a NL pennant? In 1969, the Mets were 100-1 underdogs. On the flipside, in 1985 and 2007 they were picked to win it all. That’s what makes this a beautiful game.

To digress for a moment I now apologize to Sandy Alderson. Almost from day one I’ve been extremely and perhaps unfairly harsh to the Mets GM. I preferred the approach of his predecessor. Big names, big bucks. I falsely blamed Alderson for the last several seasons of futility. After winning the pennant, I realized he can only do so much with what he is given. Blaming Alderson for several season of sub-500 baseball is like me blaming my boss for the fact I drive a Toyota and not a Lamborghini.

It is on his watch the Mets have developed a starting staff that is the envy of 29 other clubs. As good as Jacob deGrom, Matt Harvey and Noah Syndergaard were in 2015, they will only get better. These young pitchers not only survived their first pennant race and post-season. They thrived. They excelled. Performing on Baseball’s biggest stage did not rattle the nerves of our young inexperienced staff.

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I’ve often said pitching allows you to compete, but pitching, in and of itself, does not win. From 1969 through 1976, the Mets had arguably the best 3-man rotation in the game. Tom Seaver and Jerry Koosman teamed first with Nolan Ryan and then later Jon Matlack. Add Tug McGraw in the pen and it’s easy to see why for 8 years the Mets were always in the thick of things, always in a pennant race and always had a legitimate shot. Yet, during that 8 year span, despite the stellar staff, we captured just two pennants and one Championship. Good, not great. Not exactly a dynasty.

The Mets Achilles Heel in 2015 was offense. They say good hitting is contagious. On July 30, the Mets were 52-50, 3 GB of Washington. Then, Yoenis Cespedes arrived. The Mets caught fire, went 38-22 and left Washington in the dust.

Cespedes didn’t don a Mets jersey until July 31, yet finished 5th on the team in RBI’s (44), 3rd in HR’s (17) 2nd in BA (287) and 1st in slugging (604.) And when Cespedes cooled in the post-season, it was Daniel Murphy who put the team on his back and almost single-handedly carried them to the Promised Land. The Mets homegrown second baseman became the first player in history to go deep in six consecutive post-season games and joined Lou Gehrig as the only player ever to have a hit, run scored and RBI in seven straight post-season games.

This winter Mets ownership made a token effort to retain the two biggest offensive weapons a team with very little offense possesses in the first place.

In all fairness to the owners, I can understand their reluctance to open their wallets. After all, they forked over almost half a billion dollars—billion with a “B”—to Pedro Martinez, Carlos Beltran, Billy Wagner, Johan Santana, Jason Bay and Francisco Rodriguez and came away with just one post-season appearance. Not exactly a Bernie Madoff return on your investment.

The Mets are now on the cusp of becoming the dominant team in the game for the next 6-8 years, maybe longer. But money will need to be spent. Not for the sake of spending, but spent wisely. If ownership is reluctant to spend big bucks now, what does this say when it comes to retaining the pitchers we have? Are the Wilpons simply avoiding spending now and saving up for big contracts coming down the road? Or are we seeing a glimpse into the future?

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My concern is that when a team gets oh-so-close, when they get a taste of October Baseball, they ratchet it up. The 2014 Royals returned to the World Series for the first time in almost three decades. They came within one hit of winning it all. That winter they resigned Eric Hosmer, Yordano Ventura, Edinson Volquez, Lorenzo Cain, Mike Moustakas and added Alex Rios. And we all saw what happened in 2015. The Giants, after winning 3 times in 5 seasons, fell short in 2015. This winter they spent $210 million for Johnny Cueto and Jeff Samardzija and now have the best staff in their division. Last off-season, after handing over $88 million to Hanley Ramirez and $100 million to Pablo Sandoval, Boston went out and finished last. Yet, they didn’t become gun-shy. This winter they signed David Price for $217 million.

And while Neil Walker and Asdrubal Cabrera are nice additions and Michael Conforto can be a major asset, do you feel that, as of now, the Mets are better or weaker than the team we had on August 15? I’m not saying ownership should spend just for the sake of spending, and yes, I know we can trade a half dozen prospects next trade deadline. I am saying, however, that money will need to be spent eventually. As the saying goes, you can pay me now or pay me later. What kind of signal does this send to our young aces? If management is hesitant to reward Cespedes and Murphy for their accomplishments, will our pitchers be rewarded for theirs? And with anemic hitting and lack of run support, will our big three—and Matz–wind up as nothing more than a bunch of .500 pitchers? In time, the agents for our young stud pitchers will come calling? And when they do, will ownership pick up the phone?

The only thing more difficult than getting to the top is staying there.

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Jacob deGrom Excited About Mets Infield Moves http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/12/jacob-degrom-excited-about-mets-infield-moves.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/12/jacob-degrom-excited-about-mets-infield-moves.html/#comments Mon, 14 Dec 2015 12:00:36 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=202352 jacob deGrom

The New York Mets made a couple of big moves to shore up their infield last week, acquiring Neil Walker for Jon Niese in a trade with the Pittsburgh Pirates and right after that they signed free agent shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera.

While at a Guys’ Night Out event at Lord & Taylor in Manhattan, Mets right-hander Jacob deGrom applauded the moves and looks forward to competing with his new teammates. ”It’s exciting, it’s always exciting to get new guys who are going to help us win,” deGrom said. (NY Daily News)

DeGrom also weighed in on the huge deals David Price ($217 million) and Zack Greinke ($206.5 million) signed this offseason after he was asked about the minimal salaries the Mets are paying for him, Matt Harvey, Noah Syndergaard and Steven Matz. (What a ridiculous question!)

“That part doesn’t matter. That’s just how it is,” said deGrom. “We just want to go out and win.”

The Mets have a 3-4 year window before one by one each of their starters become eligible for free agency, beginning with Matt Harvey who should earn roughly $4.5 million in his first year of arbitration this season and becomes a free agent after 2018.

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A Most Crucial Off-Season for the Mets Begins Today http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/11/a-most-crucial-off-season-for-the-mets-begins-today.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/11/a-most-crucial-off-season-for-the-mets-begins-today.html/#comments Mon, 09 Nov 2015 15:00:19 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=199549 CASEY-STYLE FAREWELL

Over their first seven years the New York Metropolitans had not exactly set the baseball world on fire. From 1962 through 1968, they compiled a record of 394-737 and finished a combined 288 ½ games back. In seven seasons, they’d finished 10th five times and 9th twice.

Coming into 1969, there was some cautious optimism. Gil Hodges, the teams fourth manager, was in his second full season and young pitchers Tom Seaver and Jerry Koosman had some potential. Maybe we could finish at .500 if we were lucky. That spring, the manager of powerhouse and heavily favored Cubs, Leo Durocher, was jokingly asked by a reporter what he thought the Mets chances were to win the pennant. Durocher snickered and said, “I think we’ll put a man on the moon before that happens!”

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On July 20, 1969, Neil Armstrong became the first man to walk on the moon.

As we all know the Mets would win 100 games that season, finish 8 games up on Durocher’s Cubs, outslug the heavy hitting Atlanta Braves and after losing the World Series opener to Baltimore, win four straight. That 69 club went 7-1 in the post-season, better than any other Mets team ever. Their four-game World Series winning streak unmatched by the teams of 73, 86, 00 and 15.

Fans were shocked what they witnessed that glorious summer. More shocking, however, was when looking back we see that 1969 was only the beginning.

1969 mets win world series

For the following 7 years, led by stellar pitching along with solid defense and timely hitting, the Mets were always in the thick of things. True, there’d only be 1 more pennant. But in the 8 year period of 1969-1976, the Mets finished over 500 every season but one, only finished lower than third one time. We were always, year in and year out, in a pennant race.

Fast-forward 30 years.

The 2006 Mets were similar in many ways to the ’86 club. They had that swagger, that confidence. We had the perfect blend of young players like David Wright and Jose Reyes intermingled with the big bats of Carlos Delgado and Carlos Beltran along with the fiery competitiveness of Paul Lo Duca and Pedro Martinez.

Losing the NLCS in seven games to the Cardinals was an unexpected shock. We were supposed to win. We should have won. We were the better team.

But yet, as October passed by and the days grew shorter and the weather grew colder, we told ourselves that 2006 was only the beginning. This team had the make-up to be in the hunt for the next several years. Sure, we may have been upset in 06. But 07 and 08 and 09 and 10 would be ours. We’d be back!!!

No one ever imagined at the time it would take almost a decade to get back. 2006 was supposed to be the beginning. In hindsight, it was the end. The ‘dynasty’ lasted one abbreviated post-season.

There is no doubt the Mets starting staff is the envy of Major League Baseball. These guys are good. Very good. They are young studs with blazing fastballs, a desire to win and a long career ahead of them.

Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard didn’t just show they can handle the pressure of October baseball. They seemed to thrive. They seemed to excel under the spotlight.

I became a fan in 1973 at age 7. And over that time I’ve had the pleasure—and that’s what it’s been, a pleasure—of watching, first-hand, guys like Seaver, Koosman, Gooden, Leiter and Martinez. But I can honestly state I don’t ever recall a more gutsy, more ballsy, more heart-filled post-season start than Matt Harvey in Game 5.

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To quote that well-known philosopher from Los Angeles, Axl Rose, “Where do we go now? Where do we go?”

The organization is at a crossroads. This is perhaps the most critical off-season in decades, perhaps ever. The owners and the GM have some big decisions to make.

They don’t need to shell-out big bucks. We know all too well large contracts do not mean Championships. Jason Bay anyone? Max Scherzer? How’d the 2015 Red Sox do after handing over $100 million to Pablo Sandoval? Sandy Alderson does not need to make big moves. He needs to make the right moves.

On Opening Day 2016, Daniel Murphy will most likely be elsewhere, Curtis Granderson will be 35 and David Wright a very old 33.

However, with the plethora of young arms the Mets possess, they can truly be the perennial NL powerhouse for the next 10 years.

Years from now, people will look back and see that the Royals defeated the Mets in five games. Unless they dig deep, they won’t realize how close the 2015 Series actually was. A few hits here, a few less errors there and that parade could have just as easily been in Manhattan.

MLB: World Series-Kansas City Royals at New York Mets

For much of 2015, the Mets hung close to Washington like a pesky gnat. It wasn’t until the addition of Yoenis Cespedes that the bats came alive and the Mets roared passed the Nationals. The team gelled. The defense stepped up.

In the Fall Classic, however, the things that haunted the Mets much of the season once again reared its ugly head. Poor defense, an inconsistent bullpen and anemic hitting.

As painful as it was, we learned something this October. We learned the difference between being a good team and being a Champion. Credit the Royals. They exploited our weaknesses. They ran the bases aggressively. They took advantage of every one of their 27 outs. They scraped, crawled and battled for every 90 feet of real estate on the base paths. They threw to the right base and their bullpen shut us down when they needed to. They taught us a valuable lesson.

It’s now up to the front office to take those lessons to heart and employ them as they construct the team that will hopefully get us back to the big dance next season. 2015 was fun, but we want more. We have an opportunity to create something special and something lasting. The hot stove season begins today at Boca Raton, Florida where the GM Meetings will take place. Here’s their big chance. To a memorable and productive offseason…

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Featured Post: No Time For Sorrow, Mets Have A Series To Win http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/10/featured-post-no-time-for-sorrow-mets-have-a-series-to-win.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/10/featured-post-no-time-for-sorrow-mets-have-a-series-to-win.html/#comments Thu, 15 Oct 2015 18:46:59 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=196502 AP NLDS DODGERS METS BASEBALL S BBN USA NY

When Daniel Murphy came to the plate in the 8th winning as the go-ahead run I thought for sure that he would find a way to get a hit to at least tie the game for the Mets. My heart and stomach dropped when he flied out with the realization that the Mets would have to travel to Los Angeles for Game 5.

After the complete debacle in Game 2 and the dominance by the Mets in Game 3, we end up exactly where most thought with one game to decide the series. Sure there is plenty of reasons to be pessimistic, how dominant Zack Greinke has been this year or how good the Dodgers have been at home in 2015.

This is the 2015 New York Mets though, who have shown complete disregard for heart-breaking losses while coming out the next game in victorious fashion. Why not again on Thursday when they have their ace going on regular rest against a team he completely dominated just four days ago.

Call me crazy but I have all the confidence in the World going into Thursday and it is all because of Jacob deGrom who has already shown the bright lights of the playoffs will have no effect on him. I go back to the All-Star game when deGrom displayed to the world what Mets fans already knew, that he was one of the best pitchers on earth and that no situation was going to shake him. The only other pitcher we should see from the Mets is our shutdown closer Jeurys Familia who the Dodgers haven’t touched yet.

yoenis cespedes travis darnaud

Of course the offense will have to do it’s part as well and as good as Greinke is, the Mets will have their best lineup out with Michael Conforto against a righty. Since getting Yoenis Cespedes at the deadline this offense has been one of the best in baseball and I will put my money on them in the biggest game of the season.

Do I think the Mets will win on Thursday? Of course I do. Do I think it’s possible I have a heart attack before the game is over? Of course I do. You gotta believe in this team that has battled through adversity all season from the Wilmer Flores non-trade to the Matt Harvey hoopla to the job that Sandy Alderson did at the deadline to put the Mets in this position.

This Mets team is going to win, the only question is who is going to be the hero? Will it be David Wright who has waited nine long years to get back here? Will it be Curtis Granderson who has been the Mets best player in the playoffs? Will it be Lucas Duda who is in a slump but could break out at any moment? Or could it be Wilmer Flores who has already been the Mets hero this year before and has the chance again thanks to that dirt-bag Chase Utley?

Let’s win this one for Ruben.

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Mets Lead Playoff Rosters With 16 Homegrown Players http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/10/mets-lead-playoff-rosters-with-16-homegrown-players.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/10/mets-lead-playoff-rosters-with-16-homegrown-players.html/#comments Wed, 07 Oct 2015 12:00:17 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=195715 nl east champions david wright

The New York Mets are heading to the postseason for the first time since 2006 behind a roster that is largely built on homegrown talent. The current roster projection for the Mets includes 16 players that they either drafted or signed as an international free agent. According to MLB.com the team with the second most homegrown talent is the St. Louis Cardinals who have 14 projected players.  Here is how the current projected playoff roster breaks down.

Homegrown (16)

Free Agent (3)

Trades (6)

The Mets have a built a strong farm system that they are starting to reap the benefits from including the two-headed monster at the top of the rotation in deGrom and Harvey. The bullpen has also seen contributions from players brought up through the Mets systems with the biggest coming from Familia who was arguably the MVP of the team after stepping up and becoming one of the best closers in baseball. They also got a huge boost from their talented rookie Conforto who finished 5th in SLG (.506) among all MLB rookies while playing stellar defense. Then you have Wright, who is the only player still around from the 2006 playoff team and has bounced back from what some thought could be a career ending injury.

Sandy Alderson used players his front office drafted like Fulmer, Meisner, Gant, Whalen and Koch as trade chips at the deadline this year to bolster the roster. Despite the importance of the players that Sandy traded for, the Mets will go into the playoffs with the smallest group (6) of contributors that came via trade. With the most important player Sandy traded for obviously being the mid-season acquisition of Cespedes who jump started what was one of the worst offenses in baseball before the deadline.

The Mets were tied with three teams for the fewest amount of players on the roster to come from free agency with only three. Colon has been the veteran presence on an otherwise very young pitching staff and has 29 games over the life of his contract. Granderson is another guy who you could argue for MVP of the Mets this year, he has been great since molding himself into a leadoff hitter and played a good right field.

Maybe the biggest wild card for the playoffs among the homegrown players is Matz who needs to prove he is healthy on Thursday in the instructional league to be included on the roster and start game four. He has started only six major league games but has been impressive in his short stint going 4-0 with a 2.27 ERA. He does have playoff experience as he threw a one-hitter for the Binghamton Mets in their Eastern League title clinching game.

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Goosebumps. So Many Goosebumps. http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/09/goosebumps-so-many-goosebumps.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/09/goosebumps-so-many-goosebumps.html/#comments Wed, 09 Sep 2015 16:31:43 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=192973 USATSI_8789528_154511658_lowres

“This Mets team right now, it doesn’t matter who comes off the bench. Everyone contributes.” – Ron Darling.

I couldn’t have said it any better myself.

It is quite possible that, a year from now, I won’t be able to remember a specific, standout home run hit by Lucas Duda, Travis d’Arnaud, or Curtis Granderson this season. Kirk Nieuwenhuis has just four homers in 2015, yet they’ve been four of the most memorable, and unexpected home runs hit by a Met this year.

In case you did in fact spend September 8, 2015 under a rock, Captain Kirk’s 8th inning solo shot was the final run scored in an 8-7 New York victory over Washington, one that was a 7-1 Nationals lead with one on and two out in the top of the 7th inning before 8 consecutive Mets batters reached base safely.

It really does take (at least) 40 guys to compete for a championship. Through 137 games, the Mets have had 48 different players make an appearance for them, from David Wright, Daniel Murphy, and Jacob deGrom, all the way to Alex Torres, Danny Muno, and even Akeel Morris. Somewhere in that mix (probably closer to the Akeel Morris end of the spectrum) is Kirk Nieuwenhuis, a player that truly personifies the club’s season-long roller coaster ride and exemplifies how far these 2015 New York Mets have come.

Just like the Mets endured months of, to put it lightly, offensive struggles, Nieuwenhuis struggled through adversity of his own; namely, being designated for assignment by the Mets, getting traded for cash, being released by the Angels, and hitting at a rate that only Mario Mendoza himself would be impressed with.

But like the Mets, this isn’t the same Kirk from the first half of the year. Obviously, he is still a marginal bench player at best. But April or May’s Kirk Nieuwenhuis finds a way to ground into a double play with no one on base, not hit a home run in the 8th inning off of Jonathan Papelbon to clinch the Mets’ biggest win of 2015.

And like the Mets, he has become the best form of himself. He competes and doesn’t give up. How many times do you see someone that played as poorly as he has this season come through in a situation like that? About as often as you see a team transform itself from the league’s worst offense to the league’s best. He fought his way back into a position that allowed him the opportunity to make an impact like the one he made tonight, while the Mets have battled and scrapped through both rough patches in the season and through so many individual games.

These Mets are special. I can’t count how many times the words, “way to fight back!” have audibly left my mouth this season. It’s not like I don’t hear the ghost of Mets fans past whispering, warning, “don’t fall for it.” But something about this team just feels different. They may fall short of winning a championship this year, but it won’t be because they let a 7 game lead with 17 games remaining slip through their fingers. If they don’t come away from 2015 with World Series rings, it will be because they were beaten by a superior opponent, and you can bet they went down kicking and screaming (and maybe crying just a bit).

Regardless of what happens over the next one to two months–no matter how many times Murph “murphs,” Jon Niese gives up five runs in an inning to Philadelphia, or Scott Boras tells Matt Harvey to stop pitching–the 2015 New York Mets will go down as one of my favorites. This is the most enjoyment I’ve gotten out of a baseball season in my lifetime (2006 included), and that can be credited largely to the passion, heart, and fight this team displays on a nightly basis.

In the face of this franchise’s history that has left so many fans burned badly before–I’m all in. And whether you like it or not, if you got chills as you watched Nieuwenhuis’ ball land beyond the right field fence of Nationals Park, you are too.

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Sizing Up Jacob deGrom and the NL Cy Young Race http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/09/sizing-up-jacob-degrom-and-the-nl-cy-young-race.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/09/sizing-up-jacob-degrom-and-the-nl-cy-young-race.html/#comments Mon, 07 Sep 2015 13:00:24 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=192363 jacob deGrom

In his sophomore season, Jacob deGrom has pitched even better than he did last season, when he won the NL Rookie Of The Year. On a team with immense pitching talent, he has stood out among the crowd for both his stuff as well as his hair.

The ultimate award for a pitcher this day and age is the Cy Young, the award given to the most outstanding pitcher in the National and American Leagues. This season, many pitchers are vying for that honor in the NL, with many worthy candidates. Despite some recent struggles, deGrom’s numbers are definitely outstanding and in the mix.

He is 12-7 with a 2.40 ERA, which is 4th best in the NL. In 169 innings (11th) he has struck out 175 batters (7th) and walked 34, and he has  a 0.961 WHIP (5th) so far this season to round out his impressive 2015 resumé. He also has a stingy .210 opposing batting average,  4th best in the league among all qualified starters.

The won-loss records of starting pitchers have a great importance in the eyes of voters, so deGrom’s “mere” 12 wins may prove costly. People who follow the Mets closely however, know that the first half of the season was wrought with plenty of no-decisions for deGrom, in which he pitched well enough to win.

His numbers are absolutely impressive, but are they impressive enough? Let’s take a look at some of deGrom’s competition for the 2015 NL Cy Young Award.

clayton Kershaw

Clayton Kershaw, the reigning MVP and Cy Young winner has already had an amazing career. He has led the Major Leagues in ERA each of the last 4 seasons, with a 2.11 ERA in 895.1 innings in that span. After a rocky start this season, he has returned to typical Kershaw form.

Kershaw is 12-6 with a 2.18 ERA, good for 3rd best in the league. In 194 innings (1st), he has struck out an incredible 251 batters (1st) and walked only 34. He has a 0.897 WHIP (2nd), a .199 BAA (3rd), and a K/9 rate of 11.64 (1st). He has struck out 200 batters for the 6th consecutive season, and has already passed his former season strikeout mark of 248 set back in 2011. He has 3 complete games (T-1st) and 2 shutouts (T-1st) this season.

Since June 22 (12 starts), he has allowed more than one run only once. He has struck out 10 or more batters in one game 12 times so far this season, and has had games with 8 or more strikeouts and 0 walks 9 times. If he continues his dominant form and keeps lowering his ERA, he will absolutely be a worthy recipient of the Cy Young award for the 4th time in his young career.

Zack Greinke

The second Dodger on this list, Zack Greinke has had perhaps the best year so far of all these pitchers mentioned. He is 15-3 with an absolutely magnificent 1.59 ERA, best in the majors. In 186.2 innings (2nd) he has struck out 169 (8th). His .189 BAA (1st) combined with him allowing only 32 walks and 126 hits accumulates to a pristine 0.846 WHIP (1st).

Greinke, who won the AL Cy Young in 2009 with the Royals (16-8, 2.16 ERA), is currently in the best season of his career. This includes an impressive 45.2 inning scoreless streak in June/July ended by the Mets. If the season ended right now, he would most likely be selected the winner. If he continues to pitch well for the rest of the season, he has a very good chance of taking home his second Cy Young award.

Jake Arrieta

Jake Arrieta is very quietly having an amazing season for the Cubs. He has pitched to the tune of a 18-6 record with an immaculate 2.03 ERA (2nd). Like Kershaw, he has 3 complete games (T-1st) and 2 shutouts (T-1st), which includes a no-hitter against the Dodgers on August 30th.

In 191 innings this year (2nd), he has struck out 197 (4th) batters. 44 walks and 132 hits allowed comes out to a 0.92 WHIP (3rd), to go with a .194 BAA (2nd).

He has had a mostly tumultuous career before this season. From 2010-2013 with the Orioles and Cubs, he was 24-27 with a 5.23 ERA. A high walk rate (4.0 per 9 IP) led to an extremely high 1.428 WHIP during that span. However, last season, he pitched better going 10-5 with a 2.53 ERA. This season though, finally, he has put it all together. He is currently in the midst of a 17-game quality start streak and is absolutely worthy of consideration for the award.

madison bumgarner

Madison Bumgarner, fresh off a World Series MVP nod, has pitched very well for the Giants this season. He is 17-7 with a 3.05 ERA (13th). In 188.2 innings (3rd), he has struck out 203 batters (3rd), walked 32, and allowed 167 hits for a 1.05 WHIP (7th). He has tossed 3 complete games (T-1st) and has one shutout.

After a rocky first half, MadBum is 8-2 since the All Star Game with 82 strikeouts and 10 walks in 69.2 innings, allowing only 20 runs (2.60 ERA). Until this point, his regular season numbers have been fairly overrated, but he is proving haters wrong so far this season. If he lowers that ERA significantly before the end of the season, he has a decent shot at the Cy Young.

Jacob deGrom

As you can see, young Mr. deGrom has his work cut out for him going into the final month of the season. If he strings together some stellar starts he will absolutely be strongly considered for the Cy Young and pick up plenty of votes, but clearly the odds are stacked against him.

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Matt Harvey and Jacob deGrom: Baseball’s Next Great Dynamic Duo? http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/08/matt-harvey-and-jacob-degrom-baseballs-next-great-dynamic-duo.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/08/matt-harvey-and-jacob-degrom-baseballs-next-great-dynamic-duo.html/#comments Thu, 27 Aug 2015 16:30:47 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=191534 IMG_20150511_150631-e1431459969935

We’re all familiar with the many unique aspects that make Baseball the true National Pastime. The game can conceivably go on forever. It’s the only sport where the defense has the ball. The team trying to score is outnumbered 9 to 1. My personal favorite is that it’s a team sport based around a collection of one-on-one match-ups.

In 2014, after 6 weeks of spring training, 162 games spread out over the course of six months, one month of post-season games and more than 750 players from 28 different cities, the entire year came down to Madison Bumgarner standing 60 feet 6 inches away from Salvador Perez.

Players are part of a team that strives to bring a championship to their fans and their city. But there is still that part of them that burns deep inside, a natural born competitiveness. They’re not just competing against other clubs but in a way against each other.

Over the game’s long and glorious history, some players are eternally joined. Ruth and Gehrig. Koufax and Drysdale. Mantle and Maris. Harvey and DeGrom?

A closer look at these unique pairings indicates that not only did these players join forces to bring greatness to their respective teams and push each other but they had completely opposite personalities.

New York Yankees Lou Gehrig and Babe Ruth - 1932.Baseball.

Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig alone combined for 1,207 home runs, 4,208 RBI’s and 5,594 hits. When Gehrig retired, he and Ruth held the top two spots on Baseball’s All-Time HR list. Yet, these legends could not be more different.

The Bambino was larger than life, both literally and figuratively. More than 80 years have passed since he took his final AB and yet he remains the most iconic figure in the history of American sports. He was loud, rambunctious, flamboyant and exciting. He drank and partied.

The Iron Horse, by contrast, was quiet, reserved and modest. When the Yankees traveled, Ruth had women in every town. Gehrig, on the other hand, was frequently accompanied by his mom on road trips.

Sandy koufax don Drysdale

The most potent 1-2 pitching duo in history was Sandy Koufax and Don Drysdale. For half a decade they dominated the pitching landscape like never before. Koufax was a skinny Jewish kid from Brooklyn who feared pitching inside, and worried he would end someone’s career with his fastball.

Drysdale, born in California, stood at 6’6 with broad shoulders and movie star looks. Twin D once stated “I hate all hitters. I start a game mad and stay that way until it’s over.” He also loathed intentional walks, claiming, “If I hit a guy that only takes one pitch. Why waste four?”

mantle and maris

In 1961, two teammates were assaulting Ruth’s single season HR record of 61. Mickey Mantle was adored, worshiped and idolized. He played hard but lived harder and excelled  under the media glare and pressure of NY. He remains one of the games’ most loved stars. Roger Maris, however, was quiet, sullen and withdrawn. He detested the attention,  became physically sick and began losing his hair as he closed in on Ruth’s mark.

Thurman Munson was the tough, gritty hard-nosed captain of the Yankees in the 70’s. Then along came Reggie Jackson who was the media darling and seemingly always rose to the occasion. These two diametrically opposed teammates single-handedly brought the Bronx Bombers back to relevance after more than a decade of ineptitude. During one post-game interview after a Yankee victory, a reporter asked Munson a question. He sourly clipped, “Go ask Mr. October.” The name stuck.

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However, one doesn’t have to look at other teams. The leaders of the Mets in the 1980’s were Keith Hernandez and Gary Carter. “Mex” epitomized the “Live Hard, Play Harder” approach of their take-no-prisoner attitude. He smoked (sometimes in the dugout) and had a history of drug use. “The Kid” lived a clean life, loved his wife and children, was religious and frequently thanked Jesus Christ after something good happened.

An injury to Johan Santana in 2012 forced Sandy Alderson’s hand. Sooner than he hoped, he recalled Matt Harvey from Buffalo.

The 23 year-old did well in his debut season, compiling 70 K’s in 59 1/3 innings and recording a 2.73 ERA. It was just the beginning.

In 2013, The Dark Knight of Gotham began drawing comparisons to Curt Schilling and Justin Verlander. Doc Gooden called him ‘The Real Deal.’ In April, Harvey was named Pitcher of the Month fanning 46 batters in 40 IP, a 1.56 ERA and .153 Opponents Batting Average. In May, despite a persistent nosebleed Harvey retired the first 20 batters he faced.

Finally, after all these years and all these promises, the Mets just may have found ‘The Next Tom Seaver.’

Like The Sultan of Swat, The Mick and Mr. October, The Dark Knight relished the media spotlight. He loved New York and New York loved him. He appeared on magazine covers. He did skits on late night TV. Not since Doctor K nearly three decades earlier had a pitcher with this much greatness and potential toed the rubber in Flushing.

The last time the Mets hosted an All-Star Game was 1964. Gas was .25 cents per gallon, the government was sending troops to some place most Americans never heard of called Viet Nam, the price of a Rolls Royce had climbed north of $16,000, people wondered if four long-haired mop-tops from Liverpool were just a passing fad, and the surgeon general reported for the first time that smoking may be hazardous to your health.

Now, in 2012, the Mets were again hosting the Mid-Summer classic. And Matt Harvey was the starter. In two innings he fanned three batters and allowed just one hit. 22 of his 33 pitches were strikes. It was the largest crowd ever at Citi Field.

Then, later that summer, it all came crashing down. A partial tear of the ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow ended his season. And the next one as well.

As Harvey rehabbed and came back from Tommy John surgery, someone else materialized.

The 272nd overall pick in the 2010 draft, Jacob Anthony DeGrom was originally slated to work out of the pen. As the year progressed, it became clear that there just may be a new ace in town. Seaver had Koosman. Koufax had Drysdale. Harvey had deGrom. Or maybe deGrom had Harvey?

After posting a 9-6 record with 144 K’s in 140 IP and a 2.69 ERA, lower than Harvey in his first year, deGrom became the first Met to win a Rookie of the Year award since Dwight Gooden in 1984.

And just like that, The Dark Knight found himself behind DeGrom.

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Like many other celebrated duos, DeGrom and Harvey are very different. Harvey maintains a robust physique whereas DeGrom is wiry and lanky. Harvey gets into twitter spats with Yankee fans, argues with the front office and is photographed extending his middle finger. Although both take their pitching seriously, Harvey comes off as brooding, serious, almost as if he is battling inner demons to be the best.

DeGrom, on the other hand, has fun on the mound a la Tug McGraw, enjoying the stardom but with an awestruck boyish charm.

At the start of 2015, it became clear there woulde be no sophomore jinx. While deGrom came out quick, Harvey pitched tenuously as he battled back from elbow surgery. We all watched—nervously—to see if the Dark Knight would be okay. Initially he took a back seat to deGrom. But now Harvey’s coming on strong.

After a June 10 loss to the Giants, Harvey’s ERA was at 3.86, the highest of his career since August 3, 2012 – his second start ever. Since then, however, he’s turned it up. Possibly for himself, possibly for the team, possibly to reclaim his status as Mets ace and possibly for a pennant.

Since then, he’s lowered his ERA more than a full point. In 74 1/3 IP, he’s fanned 59, allowed just 54 hits and posted an impressive 1.61 ERA. His teammate meanwhile has allowed just 54 hits over his last 79IP, averaging more than a strikeout per inning and maintaining a 2.41 ERA.

Ultimately it doesn’t matter who the ace is. As someone once said, “My number one is the guy on the mound today.” But if Harvey pushes DeGrom to be better and DeGrom pushes Harvey to be better, the biggest benefit will be to the Mets and their fans while the NL may just have to sit back and deal with a 21st century tandem equivalent to Koufax and Drysdale.

2015 may just be the beginning.

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Pitching Analysis of Jacob deGrom vs Baltimore Orioles http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/08/pitching-analysis-of-jacob-degrom-vs-baltimore-orioles.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/08/pitching-analysis-of-jacob-degrom-vs-baltimore-orioles.html/#comments Wed, 19 Aug 2015 15:43:27 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=190820 New York Mets v Philadelphia Phillies

Stat Line: (W 12-6) 7.2 IP, 1 R, 5 H, 6 SO, 1 BB

Jacob deGrom proved he doesn’t need his best command to be deGrominant.  Similar to Matt Harvey against the Colorado Rockies last week, deGrom struggled commanding his pitches knee high and low in the strike zone.  In order to adapt, deGrom attacked the strike zone throwing 70% of his pitches for strikes.  Specifically, deGrom threw 76% strike rate with his fastball.

DeGrom also put heavier reliance on his curveball and changeup.  This helped him stay unpredictable, helping keep opposing Baltimore Orioles off-balance translating to a low 10% line drive rate and high 60% ground ball rate.

Get Ahead, Stay Ahead

It is essential getting ahead and staying ahead of Orioles hitters this season.  In 2015, the Orioles are batting .297 with a .517 slugging percentage when ahead in the count.  Conversely, when hitting behind in the count the Orioles batting average is .202 with a slugging percentage of .324.

DeGrom controlled nearly every at-bat, throw 78% first pitch strikes.  Additionally, he stayed ahead of hitters, only falling behind in the count in 10 of the 28 Oriole at-bats.  Even in the 10 at-bats he fell behind, deGrom battled back even or induced a ball in play for an out in eight of those 10 at-bats.

Mixing Pitches

The first time through the Orioles batting order, deGrom attacked primarily with fastballs accounting for 71% of his total pitches.  After the third inning, deGrom altered his approach, throwing 57% fastballs to 43% off speed pitches.  This resulted in off speed pitches producing eight of the 14 outs during that span as opposed to only one of the first nine outs during the first three innings.

After throwing first pitch fastballs to all of the first eight batters he faced, deGrom flipped the script, starting 12 of the following 20 Orioles with off speed pitches.

This unpredictability in pitch selection caused hesitant swings and weak contact from the fourth through eighth innings excluding Gerardo Parra’s sixth inning homerun.

Looking Forward

DeGrom’s next start will likely come against the Philadelphia Phillies early next week.  He has been deGrominant against the Phillies this season allowing 1 earned run, striking out 12 and holding them to a .315 slugging percentage over 13.2 innings.

Stat of the Night

@ESPNStatsInfo provides a look into deGrom’s place in Mets single season pitching history here.

Statistics thanks to MLB.com and @BrooksBaseball.

Follow Chris Zaccherio on Twitter @ziography for more Mets pitching insight that goes beyond statistics.

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Jacob deGrom’s Five Statistical Advances from 2014 to 2015 http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/08/jacob-degroms-five-statistical-advances-from-2014-to-2015.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/08/jacob-degroms-five-statistical-advances-from-2014-to-2015.html/#comments Tue, 18 Aug 2015 17:16:11 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=190711 degrom july 2

Jacob deGrom starts his 23rd game of the season tonight against the Baltimore Orioles.  Currently, deGrom’s 22 starts this seasons matches his 2014 total.  No better time to compare the two seasons.  Here are five statistical categories deGrom has shown improvement and the impact it’s had in his overall success this season.

Strikeout to Walk Ratio (K to BB Ratio)

This ratio indicates the strength of a pitcher’s ball movement coupled with the pitchers command of their ball movement within the strike zone.  Higher ratios correlate to strong command of the baseball on both side of the strike zone while inducing swings and misses both in and out of the strike zone.

DeGrom’s strikeouts per nine innings (K/9 rate) are similar at 9.33 K/9 this season compared with 9.24 K/9 in 2014, far superior to the league average of 6.41.  However, improvement is seen in his K to BB ratio.

In 2014, deGrom had a mediocre 3.35 K to BB ratio.  His 5.43 K to BB ratio this season puts him in the upper echelon in MLB pitching hierarchy.

Average Velocity

Velocity alone doesn’t make deGrom or any pitcher better but it allows him to make more mistakes in the middle of the strike zone without penalty.

Higher velocity is due to the baseball spinning at a higher number of revolutions per second, also referred to as tighter spin on the baseball.  Tighter spin directly correlates with sharper, quicker pitch movement.  All of which produce a higher swing and miss rate (miss/whiff rate) or simply, pitches more difficult to make strong contact with.

In 2014, deGrom’s fastball averaged a respectable 93.5 mph with max velocity at 97.3.  This season he has shown a 94.9 mph average fastball, maxing out at 98.8 mph.  Additionally, his slider averages 89.7 mph as opposed to 87.0 mph last season.

Hard Contact % and Line Drive %

Less hard contact equals less extra base hits equals less earned runs allowed.

In 2014, deGrom had a 31.8% hard contact rate versus 26.6% this season.  Consequently, his line drive rate is down to 20.3% from 23.2% last season.

Miss/Whiff Rate

The best MLB pitchers consistently induce swing and misses with their fastball.  Excluding knuckle ball pitchers, all MLB pitchers throw their fastball more than any pitch in their repertoire thus the importance of producing a high miss rate with the fastball.

DeGrom’s improved velocity and command of his fastball has translated to an 11.84% miss rate with his fastball this season, a whole percentage higher than the 10.82% miss rate in 2014.

Earned Run Average

Although deGrom’s FIP is basically identical year over year (2.67 in 2014 vs, 2.62 in 2015), his ERA is substantially lower at 2.03 this season compared to 2.69 in 2014.

Pessimists of deGrom would contend his ERA is due to regress towards his FIP.  Normally this is true as ERA and FIP were created with the intention to correlate with one another.  One component that FIP doesn’t consider is hard contact for balls put into play, which as seen above, is exponentially better for deGrom in 2015.

DeGrom’s improved velocity and command creating weaker contact and higher miss rates this season as compared to last will result in a strong finish to his 2015 campaign.

Thanks to @FanGraphs and @BrooksBaseball for statistics.

Follow Chris Zaccherio on Twitter @ziography for more Mets pitching insight that goes beyond statistics.

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Pitching Analysis of Jacob deGrom Pivotal 5th Inning Battle Against Charlie Blackmon http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/08/pitching-analysis-of-jacob-degrom-pivotal-5th-inning-battle-against-charlie-blackmon.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/08/pitching-analysis-of-jacob-degrom-pivotal-5th-inning-battle-against-charlie-blackmon.html/#comments Thu, 13 Aug 2015 12:49:35 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=190254 jacob deGrom

Stat Line:  7 IP, 0 R, 2 H, 10 SO, 4 BB

Jacob deGrom threw the sharpest moving pitches of his season last night against the Colorado Rockies.  With a quick, compact pitching motion, deGrom used incredible hand speed attacking the Rockies hitters resulting in 10 strikeouts.  The most pivotal strikeout came in the bottom of the fifth inning against Charlie Blackmon.

After the Mets took the lead scoring two runs in the bottom of the fourth inning, deGrom allowed a double on the first pitch of the fifth inning to All-Star second baseman DJ LeMahieu.  DeGrom quickly found himself with baserunners on second and third base with two outs and leadoff hitter Blackmon at-bat.

Blackmon is a 29 year-old strong left-handed hitter batting .285 with 13 homeruns and 46 RBI thus far in 2015.

In Blackmon’s first two at-bats against deGrom, he rolled over on outside changeups with groundballs to second baseman Wilmer Flores.  Since Blackmon only swung at the two pitches that he put in play (no foul balls or swing and misses), deGrom didn’t have in-game information to work off of other than, Blackmon struggles with his low and outside changeup.

DeGrom narrowly missed with a 96 mph fastball on the outside corner to fall behind 1-0.  In this spot, deGrom needed to challenge Blackmon with another fastball for two reasons:

  1. Blackmon had not shown any attempt to swing at a fastball in his previous at-bats.  It’s fair to assume Blackmon either takes another fastball for a called strike or swings slightly behind a 96 mph fastball.
  2. Although first base was open, deGrom did not want to load the bases with two veteran lefties on deck in Jose Reyes and Carlos Gonzalez.

DeGrom proceed to blow a 97 mph fastball past Blackmon for a swinging strike.

Consequently, deGrom challenged Blackmon again with another 96 mph fastball.  Blackmon was noticeably late, fighting off the pitch foul down the left field line.

With the count at 1-2, deGrom threw a 96 mph fastball high and inside to brush Blackmon off the plate.  This fastball was important for two reasons:

  1. It forced Blackmon to feel uncomfortable in the batter’s box.  Not only is a 96 mph fastball under his chin terrifying but also forces Blackmon to refocus on the at-bat after distracted by getting up off the ground, walking around outside the batter’s box and collecting his thoughts.
  2. More importantly, it changed Blackmon’s eye level from knee and thigh pitches seen in both his previous at-bats and current at-bat, to chest and shoulder high.

This change in eye level sets up deGrom’s 2-2 curveball low and outside.  Blackmon showed strong discipline laying off called ball, pushing the at-bat to a full 3-2 count.

Typically, deGrom throws this curveball low and inside at the left-handed hitters back foot.  Traditionally, lefties struggle with a curveball in the location, either fouling it off their inside foot or swing and missing for a strikeout.

Blackmon is a different lefty.  According to ESPN Hot Zone Charts, in 2014 Blackmon batted .417 with two strikes on low and inside pitches.  Conversely, he batted only .222 with two strikes on low and outside pitches.  Although deGrom may not specifically know this statistic, he has access to video of all Blackmon’s swings in any count dating back to 2014 along with countless scouting reports giving him this information.

Many pitchers live by the motto, “Never get beat on anything but your best pitch”.

DeGrom proceeded to fire a 97 mph fastball low and outside past Blackmon’s swing and miss for a strikeout.

DeGrom made an excellent decision in pitch selection.  He threw his best pitch, in the most important moment of the game, against Blackmon who showed he couldn’t keep up with deGrom’s fastball, in the location where Blackmon is least successful.

Crisis averted.

Follow Chris Zaccherio on Twitter @ziography for more Mets pitching insight that goes beyond statistics.

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Which Mets Ace Would Get The Ball In A One-Game Playoff? http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/07/which-mets-ace-would-get-the-ball-in-a-one-game-playoff.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/07/which-mets-ace-would-get-the-ball-in-a-one-game-playoff.html/#comments Wed, 29 Jul 2015 12:00:26 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=188487 harvey-degrom-2

The Mets have more than their fair share of terrific young pitching, and with Matt Harvey and Jacob deGrom, they would have pocket aces should they get a chance to play a series in October.

But what if the Mets earn a Wild Card spot, and find themselves in a one-game playoff with a trip to the NLDS on the line? Joe D raised the question, so I’ll attempt to tackle it.

Before doing so, I must state the obvious (but often taken for granted)— both of these pitchers are phenomenal. If the Mets are running either of these guys out there, their chances to win are very good, and life will be very tough for the opposition. If there is a better option, the lesser option is still pretty damn good.

In addition, the Mets might not find themselves faced with a choice. If they end up with a Wild Card spot, they will likely have been fighting for it until the very end, which means they won’t have had a chance to rest their top pitchers at the end of the regular season to prepare them for the playoffs.

New York’s final three games are against the Nationals, so even if they fail to win the division, that might not be confirmed until the season’s final days. If one ace is unable to go, the decision will have been made easy for the Mets.

If deGrom and Harvey both pitch too close to the date of the Wild Card Game (which will likely be almost immediately after game 162), the Mets will have to go with a third option— assuming the strategy of having them split the game on short rest is off the table.

But for the sake of the argument, let’s say both are fully rested and ready to go with a win-or-go-home game against the other NL Wild Card team. Who should get the ball?

The Stats:

2015:

DeGrom: 10-6, 2.05 ERA, 0.88 WHIP, 127 IP, 9.0 K/9, 1.6 BB/9, 6.3 H/9, 0.6 HR/9 2.56 FIP (19 GS). Team is 12-7 in his starts.

Harvey: 9-7, 3.16 ERA, 1.09 WHIP, 125 IP, 8.3 K/9, 2.2 BB/9, 7.6 H/9, 1.1 HR/9, 3.69 FIP (19 GS). Team is 11-8 in his starts.

Career:

DeGrom: 19-12, 2.39 ERA, 1.02 WHIP, 268 IP, 9.1 K/9, 2.2 BB/9, 6.9 H/9, 0.5 HR/9, 2.62 FIP (41 GS)

Harvey: 21-17, 2.65 ERA, 1.02 WHIP, 363 IP, 9.3 K/9, 2.2 BB/9, 7.0 H/9, 0.7 HR/9, 2.80 FIP (55 GS)

The Argument for deGrom:

DeGrom has been the better pitcher this season— better than Harvey, and probably better than anybody not named Zack Greinke. DeGrom also has a slight edge in terms of their career numbers. If the game is at Citi Field, deGrom’s 1.59 career ERA at home would only help his case. And Harvey might have more risk. How effective will Harvey still be come October in his first season back from Tommy John Surgery? Harvey has been very prone to the long-ball this year, how do we know it won’t come in a killer spot? Harvey has given up 4+ runs 5 times and 7 runs 2 times— how do we know he won’t pull a Tom Glavine with the season on the line? DeGrom has only allowed 4+ earned runs twice this year, and gives up fewer home runs.

Jacob has been the team’s best pitcher in 2015, so why not run him out there with the 2015 season on the line?

The Argument for Harvey:

Harvey hasn’t been as good as deGrom this season, but he has been good. His ERA is solid but not great— it would be great if not for a few catastrophic games. When he’s on top of his game, he’s better than deGrom, despite what the stats from their respective peaks (2013 for Matt, 2015 for Jacob) might suggest. Harvey’s 2013 FIP shows that he was even more dominant than his ERA would show, while the opposite is true for deGrom. And anybody who saw Matt pitch in 2013 can tell you that when Harvey has his best stuff, he’s the best pitcher East of wherever Clayton Kershaw happens to be at any given time.

Harvey hasn’t lost velocity, and he hasn’t been wild, but he has had struggles with his command in the zone at times since his return, which is why he hasn’t been able to put up the dominant stats we saw two years ago, and which is why he has made mistakes that have ended up in the seats. If Harvey can keep the ball in the park, he’ll win— his ERA in his 9 starts without a HR allowed is 1.35.

DeGrom isn’t without risk. How good will he be as he reaches the end of his first full season? How will he handle the big moment on the mound? Harvey has more of a bulldog mentality, which would likely serve him better with the season on the line (although deGrom certainly didn’t shrink from the spotlight in the All-Star Game).

Matt Harvey is the ace of this staff. For me, “Ace” carries a greater meaning than “best pitcher on the team” (which I think Harvey is, anyway). Unless he’s really struggling heading into the game, I’m giving him the ball when it matters most.

So…?

If the Dodgers had one game that determined their fate, they would almost certainly go with Kershaw over Greinke, even though Greinke has been better this year. For the same reason, I would go with Harvey— he’s our guy, and if he brings his best stuff, he’s our best option. That being said, the argument for deGrom is certainly very valid, possibly more so than the case for Harvey. As I said in the beginning, you really can’t go wrong with either pitcher. Harvey has more risk, but you don’t skip over your ace because of what might happen if he doesn’t have his best stuff. Give me Harvey.

Who would YOU start, and why?

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Breaking Down Jacob deGrom vs Washington Nationals http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/07/breaking-down-jacob-degrom-vs-washington-nationals.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/07/breaking-down-jacob-degrom-vs-washington-nationals.html/#comments Wed, 22 Jul 2015 04:32:28 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=187803 jacob deGrom

Stat Line:  6 IP, 2 R, 3 H, 8 SO, 0 BB

Jacob deGrom deGrominant once again.  DeGrom showed an exceptional pitch command coupled with sharp pitch movement, throwing four pitches at a 65% or better strike rate and producing a swing and miss with each pitch.

In this article, I discuss deGrom’s most and least impressive moments from yesterday evenings 7-2 victory over the Washington Nationals.

First Inning At-Bat vs. Bryce Harper

The best barometer of pitching talent is how well a pitcher attacks an upper echelon MLB hitter.  Currently, Bryce Harper is the most explosive and consistent hitter in MLB (.331 BA/.463 OBP/1.153 OPS).

With a 3-2 count against Harper, deGrom buckled down throwing a perfect sequence of pitches:  low and away changeup barely fouled off, up and away fastball fouled off, another low and away changeup barely fouled off, low and in cutter barely fouled off, up and outside fastball flown out to Curtis Granderson.

The ability to battle through a ten pitch at-bat against Harper without making a mistake is inconceivable this season.  Additionally, deGrom throwing three different pitch types in three different locations resulting in three off-balance swings from Harper, speaks to the strength of deGrom’s repertoire.

Two Mistakes in Fifth Inning

The first mistake came in pitch execution as deGrom hung an inside curveball against Yunel Escobar resulting in a double down the left field line.

The second mistake came against Wilson Ramos on a 96 mph belt-high four-seam fastball on the outside corner lined for a homerun to right field.  Although the pitch location belt high on the outside corner wasn’t perfect (see yesterday’s article about the difference between belt high as opposed to knee high), it’s the pitch selection that was the bigger mistake.

In the first pitch of Ramos’ at-bat, Ramos took an excellent swing on deGrom’s 98 mph fastball that was fouled back out of play.  This should have been an indication to deGrom that Ramos’ approached the at-bat looking to drive a fastball.  Additionally, it showed that Ramos had good timing or gauge on the speed of deGrom’s fastball.

Conversely, deGrom should have mixed in an off speed pitch before going back to his fastball.

Looking Forward

DeGrom continues to throw harder, hitting 98 mph last night, without sacrificing command.  To keep the excitement going, consider deGrom’s last eight starts: 5-2, 57 SO, 8 BB, 9.05 K/9, 1.59 ERA, and 2.16 FIP.

Next start will be against the Los Angeles Dodgers on Sunday afternoon at Citi Field.

Stat of the Night

DeGrom threw a first pitch strike against 19 of the 21 National’s faced resulting in a 90% first pitch strike percentage.  By MLB scouting standards, a 70% first pitch strike percentage is considered excellent.

Statistics thanks to @brooksbaseball & @fangraphs

Follow Chris Zaccherio on Twitter @ziography for more Mets pitching insight that goes beyond statistics.

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Top 10 Met Moments From the First Half http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/07/top-10-met-moments-from-the-first-half.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/07/top-10-met-moments-from-the-first-half.html/#comments Fri, 17 Jul 2015 17:11:10 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=187286 noah syndergaard

As we prepare for the final 73 games of the New York Mets’ (regular) season, this seems like as good a time as any to take a quick look back at the club’s ten best moments of the first three months of 2015.

Honorable Mention:

Noah Syndergaard’s Debut (May 12)

Though it may have been in a losing effort, Thor’s first time taking the mound for the Mets showcased why he belongs at this level and that he has the tools to be a future ace. Striking out the first batter faced of his career was just the start of a strong first five innings before finally tiring in the sixth. This day was a year-plus in the making for Syndergaard, and for Met fans, and allowed us to see with our own eyes what scouts have raved about for years.

Jeurys Familia Exceeding Expectations

Where, oh where, would the Mets be without this guy? One of the best closers in the MLB this season may never have gotten his chance should Bobby Parnell have been healthy earlier in the campaign, or if Jenrry Mejia hadn’t been suspended for 80 games. Though he has had many–probably too many–clutch five-out saves and been the near perfect fire extinguisher this team has needed more than it knows, there aren’t an excess of Familia performances that particularly stand out. And for a closer, that is more than alright with me. So here’s to Jeurys, being the boring, automatic rock he has been this far for the Mets.

kirk Nieuwenhuis

Number 10

Kirk Nieuwenhuis’ 3-Home Run Game (July 12)

Opening up our top 10 is a man who has had quite the past three months–hitting under .100 over his first Major League stint of 2015, being designated for assignment before being traded to the Angels for, as Randy Moss might say, straight cash, homie. Then, after only 10 games with Los Angeles, he is released and, to the dismay of many New York fans (myself included), is picked up by the Mets and sent directly to AAA. A hot streak in Las Vegas (2-22) leads to his promotion and a big game in San Francisco, and an even bigger game–a historical one too–against Arizona in the Mets’ final pre-All Star break contest. Congratulations, Kirk Nieuwenhuis. You are the only player on the team who may have had a weirder first three months of the season than the team itself. While the chances are that he will return to his .100 self post-break, at the very least his three homers and curtain call on Sunday gave Captain Kirk some momentary validation for his spot on the roster.

Number 9

Noah Syndergaard’s Home Run (May 27)

If only the Mets could play the Phillies 162 times this year… Just as Steven Matz did in his MLB debut (we’ll get to that in a bit), Syndergaard overshadowed a great pitching performance with his bat on this day late in May. I think Yeah Yeah from The Sandlot would be the best candidate to describe most people’s opinion of Noah’s stat line of 7.1 IP, 6 H, 0 BB, 6 K that day. Because with one out and the bases empty in the 4th inning, Thor swung his hammer and hit a pitch (one that was low and away, mind you) an estimated 430 feet, further than the average in-game home run distance of seven of the eight 2015 Derby participants. His 7+ scoreless innings on the mound were great, but what Met fan will forget Thor’s bomb to center that day?

Number 8

Noah Syndergaard’s 13 Strikeouts (July 10)

I promise, this entire piece is not an ode to Noah Syndergaard. But what the rookie did to the D-Backs about a week ago needs to be recognized. Easily the best start of his Major League career, he pitched 8 incredible innings, giving up only 4 hits, 2 walks, and a single 1st inning run over 116 pitches (74 strikes), a team-high for 2015. Oh, and he also struck out 13 batters, two more than any other Mets pitcher has up to this point in the season. I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one who can physically feel Ron Darling’s drool over Syndergaard coming through the TV each time he pitches. Thor’s start against Arizona gave us a glimpse at why 2016 should be the beginning of many years of 200+ strikeouts for him, as it looked like he was toying with hitters at times, choosing to finish off a batter with a curve instead of a fastball just because he felt like it.

Number 7

Bartolo Colon Doing Everything

For the purposes of this post, all Bartolo-related moments will be included here. Let me first mention his pitching, which has gone slightly downhill since his 4-0 start, but is still well above average for a 42-year old, back of the rotation pitcher. And while the term “veteran presence” is trending in the “he’s just a winner” direction of overused sports terms, Colon really does fill that role for this young team, especially when only one other starting pitcher (Jon Niese) has ever pitched a full season in the MLB. Now to the fun stuff. Where do I begin?… There was his first hit of the season (come on, of course his helmet fell off), a broken bat bloop in Atlanta. There’s his 3-game hitting streak, which included the longest RBI double, time wise, in MLB history.* His one-man pick off of A.J. Pierzynski. His quote about a blister on his finger affecting his breaking pitches, but being OK because he doesn’t throw breaking pitches. His childhood donkey named Pancho. Thank you, Bartolo.

*Completely unofficial, but highly probable

matt harvey

Number 6

Matt Harvey’s 2015 Citi Field Debut (April 14)

This one is a little personal for me, since I made the 10-hour bus ride from Columbus, OH to New York to see it in person. While Harvey may not have lived up to the somewhat unreasonable expectations thrust upon him for this year, he is still a borderline elite pitcher, and that night in mid-April was still a special one. For the first time in 20 months, New Yorkers got to see their Dark Knight pitch in his home stadium. A near sellout crowd did its best to power Harvey through a relatively rough start, with lots of “Har-vey, Har-vey” chants throughout, and he and the team were able to pull out the victory. No, it wasn’t the complete game, 2-hitter performance most of us had wanted to see. But it did signal that the Mets had their guy back, and their fans got to witness it in-person.

Number 5

Jacob deGrom”s Near Perfection (May 21)

After a single in the first, Jacob deGrom threw a perfect final 7 innings before leaving with a final stat line of 1 H, 0 BB, 11 K in 8 shutout innings. Arguably the finest (and most #deGrominant) start of his blossoming career, deGrom’s ace abilities were on full display. Starts like these have propelled him to become the staff’s uncontested best pitcher this year, a first-time All-Star, and a possible Cy Young candidate if he continues on his current trajectory. Keep the hair long and the great starts coming, Jacob.

Number 4

Mets Comeback vs. Atlanta (June 14)

Or, if it would help you rememeber, the Dilson-Herrera-wearing-paper-Gatorade-rally-cups-on-his-ears game. With New York in danger of dropping a third consecutive home series the night after losing a 5-3 heartbreaker in 11 innings, the Mets did the same thing I do when I’m struggling on the golf course and need to turn it around–draw a line on the scorecard to designate a fresh start. Though this was undoubtedly more of a metaphorical line for the Mets, it still represents the same belief– what’s done is done; the time to start over and turn it around is now. This line came in the middle of the 4th, at a time when the Mets trailed the Braves 8-3. And from the bottom of the 4th on, New York outscored Atlanta 7-0. Home runs from Darrell Ceciliani, Dilson Herrera, Travis d’Arnaud, and Juan Lagares paved the way for the rally. This was a huge win that brought out the fight in the club and made clear that they would not quit until out number 27. Or longer if the game goes into extras. Which leads me to…

Number 3

Mets Extra Inning Comeback vs. Toronto (June 15)

The following night, New York seemed to be riding the same clutch, come-from-behind hitting from the previous game. After trailing 1-0 from the get-go, the Mets retaliated in the 6th to take a 2-1 lead. It appeared as if that would be the game, and the narrative would be that they rally from a deficit once again, albeit a much smaller one this time. Instead, Jeurys Familia picked up the second of his two blown saves on the year, and the game went to extras. When the Blue Jays scored in the top of the 11th, it felt like a lost cause for the Mets. ‘Well, another loss after quality pitching and no offense. Plus the game was already in the bag, and even Familia couldn’t win this one.’ But then Ruben Tejada walked, and Lucas Duda took advantage of one of the most extreme shifts he’s faced and blooped a ball into left with two outs to tie the game before Wilmer Flores’ walk-off single. In back to back games, the Mets had stolen wins. This Mets squad would battle, not just be tossed aside as many previous versions of the team had.

MLB: Cincinnati Reds at New York Mets

Number 2

Steven Matz Debut (June 28)

You know the story. Boy grows up playing baseball, gets drafted to play for his favorite childhood team, fights through injury to get there six years later, and notches four RBI while going 3-3 at the plate in his first game. Pretty incredible path, especially if he gets paid to pitch. Steven Matz’s hitting slightly overshadowed his impressive first outing as a Met, and for good reason. After all, it’s not every day (never before, in fact) that a pitcher records four RBI in his debut. But without his strong showing at the plate–his first at bat specifically–that great pitching performance may not have happened. Anyone watching the game could see how crushing that double over Billy Hamilton’s head helped him to really settle into the game and get through 7.2 IP, giving up just 2 runs.

Number 1

Mets 11-Game Win Streak (Apriil 12-23)

What could possibly be better than a fantastic, long-awaited debut from yet another young pitcher that also happened to drive in four runs? The answer is simple: winning. Thanks to April 2015, the Mets can now check “Have a 10-0 home stand” off of the franchise’s bucket list. That almost-two week stretch at the beginning of the season set the tone for the team early on and gave them the cushion that they needed and have unfortunately since blown. It’s slightly scary to think about where the Mets might be without it. Following the 11th and final win of the streak, New York sat at 13-3. Since then, they have gone 34-39, good for a win percentage below that of what the Braves have posted in 2015 (.466 vs .472). Even though the team’s record has taken a sizable hit since April, that 11 game stretch provided the Mets with an early spark and got them off on the right track. And for any of you on the pro-Terry Collins side of things, a strong start to the season was certainly a must.

Whatever happens between now and October, we can only hope that it’s as nerve-wracking and entertaining as the first half has been. No team endures as many ups and downs as the Mets seem to, but that’s what makes following them so special; you never know what is going to happen. Is Captain Kirk going to get DFA’d today or hit three home runs again? Will any of our young arms hurl a no hitter? Most importantly–might Bartolo break Twitter by going yard? All of these questions, and many more, will be answered in the remaining 73+ games this year. Here’s to “Reaching the Postseason” making the list of top ten moments from the entire 2015 season.

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Mets Mid-Season Pitching Report Card http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/07/mid-season-mets-pitching-report-card.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/07/mid-season-mets-pitching-report-card.html/#comments Fri, 03 Jul 2015 00:03:19 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=186017 matt harvey jacob deGrom

As we sit here on July 2nd  at 40-40, we see a New York Mets pitching staff that has rigorously outperformed their defensive and hitting production.  In this mid-season pitching report card, I give both a statistical and non-statistical review for each Mets starting pitcher through June 30.

Listed below are the statistical categories that I use in this evaluation and the reasons those statistical categories are important in evaluating each starter.  Provided is a link to @FanGraphs as they do a great job of providing a more comprehensive explanation on each statistical category.

  1. K/9 aka Strikeouts Per Nine Innings:  Although a pitcher can succeed with a low strikeout rate, strikeouts can not only show the quality of a pitcher’s repertoire and sharp movement in their pitches but also helps indicate how well a pitcher can get out of troublesome innings.  Rates above eight are very good while rates above ten can be viewed as exceptional.
  2. K to BB aka Strikeout to Walk Ratio:  This is another great indicator for how sharp and devastating a pitcher’s ball movement is but also shows how well a pitcher commands their ball movement within the strike zone.  Ratios above four are very good while ratios above seven are exceptional.
  3. ERA aka Earned Run Average:  In todays game, more and more importance is put into sabermetrics and many of the traditional statistics are viewed as out dated.  Although ERA can be deceiving, it is still a great measure of a pitchers success over a larger sample size, like a half season of games.  ERA helps determine the overall success of a pitcher based on the amount of runs the allow.  This reveals a pitchers ability to consistently pitch well and battle through the outings where they may not have their best repertoire of pitches.  Averages below 3.40 are very good while a rate below 2.50 can be viewed as exceptional.
  4. FIP aka Fielding Independent Pitching:  This formula incorporates only what the pitcher can control:  homeruns allowed, strikeouts and walks thus excluding the effects of their fielders behind them.  FIP is easy to interpret as it is designed to look like the more commonly used ERA.  Rates below 3.50 are very good while rates below 2.75 are viewed as exceptional.
  5. HR/FB Percentage:  Homerun to fly ball percentage is a sabermetric that should never be used independently but when used with other statistics does help evaluate how lucky or unlucky a pitcher is in giving up homeruns per fly ball allowed.  The league average is 10% with percentages above 12% considered unlucky and percentages below 8% considered lucky.  Over the course of a season, it’s fair to assume that a pitchers percentage will regress to the league average of 10%.  This allows us to forecast the amount of homeruns a pitcher will likely allow during the remainder of this season.
  6. Hard Contact %:  This sabermetric breaks down the amount of “hard hit” balls in play.  A pitcher with a high hard contact % reflects them allowing line drives and homeruns on a consistent basis which won’t correlate to success over the course of the season.  Percentages below .25 are very good with percentages below .15 considered exceptional.
  7. GB%:  This measures the total number of ground balls versus all batted balls put in play.  For pitchers that don’t throw hard and rely on command and downward two-seam fastball movement, this can be a good indicator on how successful that pitcher is in executing their game plan.  Ground ball pitchers have a percentage above 50% with the league average at 44%.
  8. BABIP aka Batting Average With Balls In Play:  This is another sabermetric that should never be used independently but helps determine how lucky or unlucky a pitcher is against balls in play converting to hits.  Here’s an example.  A pitcher has a low hard contact percentage at 20% and good strikeout rate at 10 K/9 but a very high BABIP at .350.  Over the remainder of the season, the BABIP will stabilize which will result in a better ERA and overall performance .  At the end of a season almost all pitchers fit into the league average within .290 to .310.

matt harvey

Matt Harvey:  A-

April:  K/9 = 10.46 / K to BB Ratio = 10.33 / HR/FB = 12.0% / ERA = 3.04 / FIP = 2.81

May:  K/9 = 9.00 / K to BB Ratio = 5.00 / HR/FB = 10.3% / ERA = 3.15 / FIP = 3.09

June:  K/9 = 6.89 / K to BB Ratio =4.16 / HR/FB = 12.8% / ERA = 3.03 / FIP = 4.11

Statistical

Harvey allowed 12 homeruns through his first 15 starts this season .  That is nearly double the seven homeruns he allowed in 26 games during his 2013 campaign.  The positive takeaway is Harvey’s HR/FB rate at 11.7% which is above the league average of 10% and substantially higher than his career HR/FB rate of 7.9%.  Concerning, is the steady decline in Harvey’s strikeout rate which can be attributed to his inconsistency in overall command or “feel” in his pitches.

Non-Statistical

I felt I had just watched the future 2015 Cy Young Award winner after watching Matt Harvey’s first start of the season against the Washington Nationals.  Harvey commanded all four of his pitches within the strike zone and consistently threw 98 mph with his fastball.  As the season progressed, Harvey’s command varied as expected after his past year and a half hiatus to recover from Tommy John Surgery.  Harvey’s decreasing K to BB ratio exhibits his inconsistency in command.  Harvey will gradually regain the natural feel in his pitches as he continues to throw more innings which will translate to better command.

Second Half Outlook

Harvey’s inconsistency in command helped him develop different approaches in his game plans to get opposing hitters out.  The most successful game plan is known as pitching backwards as written in my June 17th article on Matt Harvey.  Simply, the art of pitching backwards is the ability to throw off-speed pitches early in an at-bat to set up fastballs later in the at-bat to create outs as opposed to the more traditional first pitch fastball to set up off-speed pitches later in the at-bat.  This keeps opposing hitters off balance resulting in less aggressive swings and more pitches taken for strikes.

Assuming that Harvey’s HR/FB rate regresses towards his career and league averages, Harvey will have a stronger second half as he continues to regain his command coupled with his improving pitching acumen.

jacob deGrom

Jacob deGrom:  A

April:  K/9 = 6.98 / K to BB Ratio = 3.28 / BABIP = .304 / ERA = 3.34 / FIP = 4.02

May:  K/9 = 10.80 / K to BB Ratio = 6.66 / BABIP = .269 / ERA = 2.16 / FIP = 2.21

June:  K/9 = 8.92 / K to BB Ratio = 7.40 / BABIP = .204 / ERA = 1.21 / FIP = 1.88

Statistical

The consistent growth in the K to BB ratio is proof of deGrom’s continued advancement in pitch command which directly correlates to lower ERA.  The very low .204 BABIP with a higher 1.88 FIP than 1.21 ERA in June does forecast that deGrom may regress a bit but given his overall development in command, it won’t be a noticeable regression.

Non-Statistical

The catalyst to deGrom’s MLB success is the development of excellent fastball command low in the strike zone and improved average and maximum velocity on his fastball.  In 2014, deGrom’s fastball averaged 93.5 mph.  This season, deGrom’s fastball average is up to 94.7 mph.  This jump in fastball velocity allows deGrom to get away with more mistakes within the strike zone than last season.  The result is less hard hit balls translating to better overall success.

DeGrom receives the higher grade over Harvey due to better overall performance, consistent improvement and exceeding preseason expectations.

Second Half Outlook

Pitchers that throw their fastball greater than 60% of their pitches, with high velocity and command low in the strike zone, exhibit the most consistent success over long periods of time.  This is due to the fact that the fastball is the most relied upon pitch in the MLB, accounting for between 50% and 80% of all pitches thrown for almost all MLB pitchers.  Expect that deGrom’s strong statistics from the month of May will be in line with his second half performance.

noah syndergaard

Noah Syndergaard:  B+

May:  K/9 = 8.03 / K to BB Ratio = 4.40 / BABIP = .278 / ERA = 1.82 / FIP = 2.58

June:  K/9 = 9.96 / K to BB Ratio = 6.20 / BABIP = .375 / ERA = 5.14 / FIP = 2.93

Statistical

Syndergaard quickly established to Mets fans that he is a strikeout pitcher (see K/9 rate), attacking hitters with a 97 mph fastball and a sharp 12 to 7 curveball.  Additionally, if we exclude Noah’s four walks in his first MLB start, his K to BB ratio for the first half of the season is an excellent 8.83.

Non-Statistical

Syndergaard’s success keeping the ball down in the strike zone is the trait that keeps him competitive in every game .  It’s very difficult for an opposing hitter to lift a 97 mph fastball at their knees for a homerun even if that pitch misses over the middle of the strike zone.  Additionally, Syndergaard’s sharp two-seam movement in his fastball is rarely seen with pitchers that throw at higher velocities of 97 mph.

Syndergaard’s 12 to 7 curveball is an established strikeout pitch.  At 75 mph, his curveball is almost 20 mph slower than his 97 mph fastball, making it very difficult for hitters to adjust to the speed differential.

There is grade “A” potential in Syndergaard but right now he is still a step behind Harvey and deGrom.

Second Half Outlook

Syndergaard will continue to develop into a MLB ace, assuming both the low 7.8 HR/FB percentage and high .329 BABIP numbers regress towards the league averages.

Syndergaard needs to command a third pitch within the strike zone to become a MLB ace, whether it be his slider or changeup.  Although this will likely take place next season, he will produce ace like performances in the second half in games when his third pitch comes naturally to him.

jon niese

Jon Niese:  B-

April:  K/9 = 5.48 / K to BB Ratio = 1.55 / Hard Contact % = 34.5% / ERA = 2.74 / FIP = 4.89

May:  K/9 = 6.09 / K to BB Ratio = 2.87 / Hard Contact % = 33.6% / ERA = 5.56 / FIP = 4.55

June:  K/9 = 7.09 / K to BB Ratio = 1.85 / Hard Contact % = 22.7% / ERA = 3.00 / FIP = 3.66

Statistical

The apparent takeaway from the breakdown above is that Niese shows improvement in every category except K to BB ratio which is down compared to his 2.58 career ratio.  During June, Niese finally kept the hard contact percentage down and began to get his strikeout rate up.  This resulted in a significant drop in his ERA from May to June.

Also note that his ground ball percentage during these first three months was well above average at 53.4%.  Conversely, his HR/FB percentage was 14.3% which is much higher than the league average of 10%

Non-Statistical

Much like deGrom and Syndergaard, Niese has been more successful in recent outings by consistently keeping the ball low in the strike zone.  However, the biggest difference is in utilizing his cutter at a higher rate of 27.6% of pitches in June compared with only 17.3% during the first two months of the season.  Niese uses his cutter on the inside corner to right handed hitters in an effort to jam them (create low contact %).  This keeps hitters from leaning over the plate and making harder contact on his fastball and changeup which Niese tends to throw on the outside corner to righties.

Second Half Outlook

Expect June’s performance to be in line with Niese’s success in the second half based on his overall successful career, current high ground ball rate and the assumption that his HR/FB will regress towards the league average.  Most Mets fans would agree with my hope that he continues to build trade value by showing his ability to be a strong third to fifth man in most rotations so the Mets can capitalize by trading him to acquire a hitter.

bartolo colon

Bartolo Colon:  B

April:  K/9 = 6.89 / K to BB Ratio = 25.00 / GB% = 40.4% / ERA = 3.31 / FIP = 3.26

May:  K/9 = 7.25 / K to BB Ratio = 7.25 / GB% = 36.4% / ERA = 6.00 / FIP = 4.36

June:  K/9 = 6.56 / K to BB Ratio = 3.40 / GB% = 46.9% / ERA = 5.40 / FIP = 4.07

Statistical

Colon’s numbers have been very erratic.  In April, Colon walked only one hitter resulting in the extremely high K to BB ratio of 25 but his 3.31 ERA, 3.26 FIP and .273 BABP were average for someone with such a high K to BB ratio.  During May, Colon’s ground ball rate dropped 4% from April which resulted in the higher BABIP of .314 and an ERA nearly double at 6.00.  By June, Colon’s K to BB ratio had come down towards the league average, his ground ball rate was much better but his BABIP was very unlucky at .342.

Conclusion:  Colon cannot be successful with a low ground ball rate (month of May) and a poor K to BB ratio (month of June).

Non-Statistical

There’s not too much to say.  Colon is 42 years old.  He throws 85% fastballs with varying levels of command.  He uses his 19 seasons of MLB experience to compete every time he goes to the mound.  He is what he is.

Second Half Outlook

Considering the fluctuating statistics, Colon is an average middle to backend rotation starter.  Keeping his walks down and pitches low in the zone, Colon can go 4-1 in April.  Unfortunately, he doesn’t have the natural repertoire of pitches at age 42 to overcome the bad luck in a high BABIP as seen in June.

Expect a similar second half around a .500 win percentage with an ERA in the low to mid 4’s.

Follow Chris Zaccherio on Twitter @ziography for more Mets pitching insight that goes beyond statistics.

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Morning Grind: Hindsight Is 20/20, But Terry’s Mistake Was Even Clearer http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/06/morning-grind-hindsight-is-2020-but-terrys-mistake-was-even-clearer.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/06/morning-grind-hindsight-is-2020-but-terrys-mistake-was-even-clearer.html/#comments Sat, 20 Jun 2015 12:00:08 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=185025 terry collins

A move should be judged on whether or not it made sense at the time, not whether or not it worked out in the end.

That’s my philosophy, at least. But it doesn’t matter if you agree… because Terry Collins flunked both tests last night.

After an error (the mistake made by Wilmer Flores, not the one the official scorer made in ruling the play a hit) put runners on first and third with one out in the bottom of the eighth inning and the Mets clinging to a 1-0 lead on Friday night, Terry Collins pulled Jacob deGrom and brought in Sean Gilmartin.

Gilmartin promptly allowed a two-run double to center which would eventually give the Braves the victory (but not before Collins went through two other relievers, including his suddenly-available closer Jeurys Familia, to get through the inning).

You can blame a lot of people for the loss last night. The only man who can not reasonably be held accountable is the only one who was: Jacob deGrom, the game’s “losing pitcher.”

Flores should have gotten an out on the chopper, in which case deGrom could have proceeded with two outs and a runner on third. The Mets should have scored more runs against a guy making his MLB debut and given themselves some margin for error. Gilmartin should have escaped the jam once called upon.

But Terry Collins’ decision to pull deGrom and bring in Gilmartin was the most glaring mistake of all. DeGrom had thrown just 97 pitches—his lowest pitch count in nine starts. DeGrom was just as capable of getting the upcoming left-handed hitters as Gilmartin— deGrom does not struggle against lefties (good pitchers can get any hitters out) and Gilmartin is not especially dominant against lefties himself.

DeGrom had not faltered just before the move— Collins did not pull him after he allowed a leadoff double, so unless Collins wants to teach his pitchers to not let the batters hit the ball towards Flores, there was no performance-based reason to pull Jacob when he did.

The reigning rookie of the year has been throwing a high number of pitches this season, and the Mets might want to consider addressing that at some point in time. But a one-run game with the tying run on third? Collins chose the wrong time.

If you’re going to pull deGrom in that spot, it better be for a guy you’re confident will get the outs. Familia entered with two outs in the eighth, so he certainly should have been able to come in with one out in the eighth (granted, he might not have been warm in time— he probably wasn’t ready when he was brought in either, as he suffered cramps after the inning). But the Mets elected not to use Jeurys.

And if the Mets are going to be settling for 1-3 runs a game, and they’re not going to make a move for a slugger, and the organization wants to protect its young arms, they’d better have a Wade Davis or a Dellin Betances (or maybe even a Jenrry Mejia, which is what an idle Sandy will likely wait two weeks for) to bring in when they decide it’s too early for their closer.

DeGrom was angry after being pulled following Flores’ misplay. He kicked the dugout and slammed his glove in frustration. Then he watched as his team turned a gem and a win into a loss on his 27th birthday. He should be angry.

After the game Collins said he pulled deGrom because it was 90 degrees and he thought he was fatigued. “I just thought it was time,” Collins said.

However deGrom told reporters he was fine and wished he could have remained in the game.

“I felt good. I think he really wanted to go with the matchup there. That’s part of it. He happened to get a hit there. It’s frustrating.”

Frustrating indeed.

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MMO Game Recap: Braves 5, Mets 3 http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/06/mmo-game-recap-braves-5-mets-3-4.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/06/mmo-game-recap-braves-5-mets-3-4.html/#comments Sun, 14 Jun 2015 00:00:48 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=184387 jacob deGrom

The Mets (33-30) fell 5-3 to the Braves (30-32) in 11 innings on Saturday evening at Citi Field.

Jacob deGrom pitched for the Mets and was terrific, giving up just one run on five hits and a walk in seven innings, striking out nine.

DeGrom fanned the first two hitters he faced and seemed primed to start out his day with a zero. But as Gary Cohen began to discuss how careful the Mets had been with Atlanta’s #3 hitter Freddie Freeman in the previous night’s game, Freeman showed everybody why, crushing the first pitch he saw out to the Shea Bridge in right field to stake Braves starter Shelby Miller to a 1-0 lead.

For most of the game, it appeared that the Atlanta ace would make that lead hold up. The Mets got several runners on base, but most of the action came with two outs, and New York, unable to string hits together failed to cash in. The Mets seemed certain to score in the bottom of the sixth when Wilmer Flores tattooed a double that just missed going out of the park, and Darrell Ceciliani followed with a single, but Flores was held up at third, and Miller got out of the jam.

DeGrom settled back in after the homer and kept the Braves off the board from that point, working out of a few tough spots along the way (and helping himself by throwing out a runner at the plate in the third). With a runner on third and two outs in the bottom of the seventh, an exhausted deGrom got some major help from Flores, who made a great play on a ball up the middle and fired to first to retire the side and save a run.

The Mets finally broke through in the bottom of the seventh. Juan Lagares hit a pinch-hit single with one out and moved to third on a double by Curtis Granderson. Travis d’Arnaud drove in the tying and go-ahead runs with a single to center, taking second on an error. Miller was pulled for former Met Dana Eveland, who threw a wild pitch that allowed d’Arnaud to reach third and then surrendered a double to Lucas Duda which gave the hosts a 3-1 lead before Nick Masset came in and stopped the bleeding.

With deGrom’s day done, Terry Collins called on Jack Leathersich, who was greeted with a double by Cameron Maybin, who then stole third (a lengthy video review confirmed that he just did beat the tag). But Maybin’s luck ran out on the next play, as he was gunned down at the plate trying to score on a shallow fly ball in foul ground. Ceciliani made a terrific play in left, catching the ball at an awkward angle and making a quick turn to fire the ball to d’Arnaud at the plate. Bobby Parnell came in for his first appearance since Opening Day of 2014, and, after allowing a bloop single, got the third out of the inning.

Hansel Robles came in to pitch the ninth, going for his first career save. Robles allowed a walk and a single to start the inning before fanning a batter for the first out. Robles then got Jace Peterson— who Flores had robbed in the seventh— to hit a far more routine play to the Met shortstop, but Flores bobbled it and was only able to get one out on the play, extending the game. Cameron Maybin then singled to left to score a run and put the tying run on second with two outs.

Alex Torres came in to face Freddie Freeman and got ahead 0-2 on the slugger, but Freeman worked it back to 3-2 (and might have gotten a call on the corner), then singled up the middle to tie the game and take away deGrom’s chance to get a win. After Torres struck out Markakis to end the inning, the Mets came to the plate looking to take a bullpen-proof lead with a walkoff win, but went down in order against Jim Johnson, and the game headed to extra innings.

Carlos Torres and Jason Grilli traded zeroes in the 10th, but Atlanta took the lead for good in the top of the 11th. Simmons led off with a single up the middle, and Juan Uribe lined one that a diving Dilson Herrera deflected but could not reel in, putting runners on first and second with nobody out. Peterson laid down a poor bunt which landed just fair in front of Eric Campbell, and Campbell picked it up and fired to first for the out rather than letting it roll foul, putting runners on second and third. With Freeman on deck, Torres had to go after Maybin, who ripped a single to drive home a pair and put the Braves up 5-3.

Williams Perez came in to close things out for the Braves and quickly allowed hits to Ceciliani and Herrera. But John Mayberry‘s liner landed right in the glove of Simmons at short, and Ceciliani was unable to scramble back to the bag in time to avoid the double-play. Lagares then grounded out to end the ballgame.

juan Lagares

That would have been a great win, but after the comeback, the wheels fell off at the very last moment, and it became a pretty bitter loss.

DeGrom has been phenomenal of late, and it was great to see the Mets rally in the seventh to take him off the hook and put him in line for the win. Unfortunately, the bullpen coughed up the lead in the ninth, and so the W-L historians will say Jacob never pitched in this game.

Wilmer botched a double-play ball for the second consecutive game. However, his play in the seventh was terrific, and he’s been much better in the field since the opening weeks of the season. It’s hard to get on him too badly for that mistake, especially when he’s hitting well. But if he turns that double-play instead of mishandling the ball, the game is over right there.

Danny Muno had a bit of rough luck in this game, but he really has not looked good. He made three errors (although one was a throwing error he committed after making a fantastic play to get to the ball in the first place) and went hitless (although he did draw a walk, and was robbed of a hit at one point by Andrelton Simmons). He needs to pick it up if he wants to stay in the Majors. As does Leathersich.

Travis d’Arnaud was hailed as a great defensive catcher as he was coming through the system, but was subpar as a rookie behind the plate. He’s looked much better this season, and that’s crucial. This team can’t afford more bad defense.

Ceciliani came up big today. He was doubled off in the 11th, but that was more due to bad luck than bad judgement. He looks like he could be a solid player off the bench. I just hope the Mets don’t try to get him in the starting lineup, overexpose him, and send him spiraling into the sub-Mendoza abyss with Eric Campbell and former Met Kirk Nieuwenhuis.

There were bright spots in this game defensively for the Mets, but overall, the gloves really let the rest of the team down. Despite what some will tell you, this is not a pathetic team. This team is in first place. But unless the Mets become an offensive dynamo, they won’t win in the long run with such sloppy defense.

The Mets don’t have the deepest bullpen, and with Jeurys Familia getting the day off, that was especially the case today. The Torres’s have been underwhelming, Leathersich is not reliable, Robles is inconsistent, and Erik Goeddel just went on the Disabled List. But with Familia back in the mix, Parnell finally back (it remains to see if he can regain his old form), Vic Black apparently close, and, of course, Jenrry Mejia nearing the end of his 80-game suspension, things should hopefully turn around for the ‘pen before long.

The Mets announcers are always good for a couple good laughs a game. Ron Darling‘s speech in the sixth about how the Mets should send Flores from second on any hit whatsoever was interrupted by a hit on which Wilmer had absolutely no chance of scoring. If Ron were an MMO commenter, the replies to that comment would have come in spades.

That soul-crushing line-drive double-play thing happens to the Mets far too often. Time to see if they can inflict some heartbreak of their own in the rubber game.

Up Next: The Mets will look to win their three-game series with the Braves at 1:10 PM on Sunday Afternoon. Dillon Gee (0-3, 4.50 ERA) will face Mike Foltynewicz (3-2, 3.72 ERA) at Citi Field.

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Breaking Down Jacob deGrom vs. San Diego Padres http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/06/breaking-down-jacob-degrom-vs-san-diego-padres.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/06/breaking-down-jacob-degrom-vs-san-diego-padres.html/#comments Tue, 02 Jun 2015 14:30:23 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=183241 deGrom Jacob

Stat Line:  8 IP, 0 R, 8 K’s, 0 BB

Jacob deGrom kept it simple in another sensational outing Monday night against the San Diego Padres.  Just as he did in his last two DeGrominant outings, deGrom continued to attack opposing hitters with his fastball, throwing a fastball on over 67% of his pitches.  Additionally, deGrom’s fastball lead to outs in 18 of the 24 Padres batters that he retired (I included the eighth inning soft groundball error/infield hit to Wilmer Flores).  The high fastball rate could be contributed to deGrom pitching with a decent lead from the fifth inning through eighth innings.  More likely the high fastball rate was a product of deGrom discovering and continually exposing the lack of ability the Padres hitters have in making solid contact against his fastball.

As MLB pitchers find a rhythm during the course of a game, they begin to pattern their pitches or throw their pitches in the same sequence.  Opposing hitters usually pick up on this pattern by the second or third time through the batting order which tends to correlate with MLB teams scoring the majority of their runs in the middle innings of a baseball game.  What separate’s the great pitchers from very good pitchers is not only their fastball command or throwing a lot of fastballs but to break up a higher rate of fastballs with a secondary off-speed pitch.

DeGrom did an unbelievable job of using his slider to continually break up his sequence or pattern of pitches.  As noted in previous articles, deGrom’s fastball command sets up his secondary off-speed pitches.  Fastball command usually allows pitchers to have success even with less command of their secondary pitches but in deGrom’s case, it makes his slider nearly unhittable due to his above average slider command.  This was shown last night as deGrom threw 85.7% of his sliders for strikes.

Below I have taken the top five pitchers ranked by ERA over the past four seasons and show their two-seam, four-seam, split-finger and cut fastball combined percentage.  Almost all of them throw there fastball more than 50%, some as high as 80% as proof that pitching dominance begins with a fastball:

2014 - Avg. FB % by ERA top 5 – 64.14%

Felix Hernandez – 43%

Chris Sale – 52.9%

Corey Kluber – 80%

Jon Lester – 81%

Garrett Richards – 63.8%

2013 - Avg. FB % by ERA top 5 – 64.6%

Anibal Sanchez – 47.3%

Bartolo Colon – 85.5%

Hisashi Iwakuma – 75.8%

Yu Darvish – 58.4%

Max Scherzer – 56%

2012 - Avg. FB % by ERA top 5 – 62.02%

David Price – 76.3%

Justin Verlander – 55.9%

Jered Weaver – 61.9%

Chris Sale – 60.1%

Felix Hernandez – 55.9%

2011 - Avg. FB % by ERA top 5 – 58.3%

Justin Verlander – 57%

Jered Weaver – 56.8%

James Shields – 51.8%

Doug Fister – 57%

Josh Beckett – 68.9%

2010 - Avg. FB % by ERA top 5 – 61.8%

Felix Hernandez – 60.7%

Clay Buchholz – 54.1%

David Price – 74%

Trevor Cahill – 64.1%

Jered Weaver – 56.1%

Stat of the night:  Last night, the Fox Sports Padres broadcast presented the following:  DeGrom averages 18.8 seconds in between pitches, 6th fastest among NL pitchers.

ERA information via ESPN.com. Fastball percentage information via FanGraphs.com.

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MMO Game Recap: Mets 7, Padres 0 http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/06/mmo-game-recap-mets-7-padres-0.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/06/mmo-game-recap-mets-7-padres-0.html/#comments Tue, 02 Jun 2015 04:42:29 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=183191  deGrom Jacob

The Mets (29-23) beat the Padres (25-28) 7-0 on Monday night in San Diego, moving back into a tie for first place.

The Mets’ bats weren’t scared off by the 10 PM start time, getting off to a fast start in the opener of their West Coast swing. New York plated two in the top of the first when Ruben Tejada doubled, Daniel Murphy and Wilmer Flores singled, and Will Middlebrooks made a throwing error. After Padres hurler Andrew Cashner struck out the side in the second (he fanned 12 in just 4.2 innings), the Mets threatened but failed to add on in the third (squandering two more hits from Ruben and Murph) and the fourth (squandering a triple from Juan Lagares.

New York provided some breathing room in the fifth, when Tejada singled and Murphy homered to make it 4-0 before a double from Michael Cuddyer, a single and a steal from Darrell Ceciliani, and a base-hit from Juan put the Mets up 6-0 and chased Cashner. The visitors would score one more time in the sixth on a double by Murphy and a single from Flores.

Jacob deGrom, pitching on the third anniversary of Johan Santana‘s no-hitter, turned in a gem. Jacob was perfect through five and was on cruise control all-night. The righty tossed eight scoreless innings, striking out eight and walking none while allowing just two hits. DeGrom appeared to suffer some hip discomfort in the fifth inning, but seemingly shook it off and kept on going. He did not allow a baserunner until the sixth.

Sean Gilmartin, pitching in a 7-0 romp for the second straight time, closed things out easily to snap the Mets’ 7-game losing streak on the road and wrap up deGrom’s sixth win of the campaign.

Murphy Daniel

That was a nice start to the series. An easy, convincing win in which they had the lead from the get-go. The Mets looked bad on the road against Chicago and Pittsburgh, and West Coast trips can be big for a team’s momentum, so it would be big for them to get some wins this week.

DeGrom was absolutely terrific once again. This team has some serious pitching.

The Mets are striking out too much at the plate. But hey, you can’t complain about seven runs. Ruben Tejada has been raking lately, and Daniel Murphy has really turned his season around. Michael Cuddyer is coming around as well, and Juan Lagares had two nice hits today in his quest to escape his slump. Wilmer has been getting things done as well. And this all came without our hottest hitter— Lucas Duda was on the bench tonight. To top things off, Sandy Alderson told me he expects to add another All-Star bat at the deadline, but I think he was referring to the team getting David Wright back.

Speaking of the Captain, he’s expected to visit the team tomorrow as they continue their San Diego set. Let’s see if the team can treat him to another victory.

Up next: The Mets will face the Padres again on Tuesday at 10:10 PM. Noah Syndergaard (2-2, 1.82 ERA) will face Ian Kennedy (2-5, 7.15 ERA) at PETCO Park.

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Breaking Down Jacob deGrom vs. Philadelphia Phillies http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/05/breaking-down-jacob-degrom-vs-philadelphia-phillies.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/05/breaking-down-jacob-degrom-vs-philadelphia-phillies.html/#comments Wed, 27 May 2015 14:11:04 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=182768 jacob deGrom

Stat Line:  7.1 IP, 2 R, 9 K’s, 0 BB, No Decision

Jacob deGrom’s stat line doesn’t do him any justice in breaking down his outing from last night.  DeGrom picked up where he left off, extending his scoreless innings streak to 15 before leaving last night’s game in the eighth inning with base runners on first and second base.  Those base runners eventually came around to score after Hansel Robles gave up a bases clearing triple to Cesar Hernandez.

DeGrom pitched very similar to his last outing, getting ahead and locating with a 97 mph fastball while also showing the ability to locate his cut-fastball (cutter), slider, curveball and changeup in the strike zone.  The one noticeable difference was his pitch selection as deGrom threw more off-speed pitches and cutters.

Additionally, deGrom used all of his pitches in nearly every location of the strike zone to create the outs.  It is unusual but impressive for a pitcher to use more than their one or two “go-to out” pitches to induce outs late in counts.  This is evidence that deGrom is not only locating all of his pitches but that his pitches have sharp, late movement to stay low in the strike zone and evade the barrel of the opposing hitters bat.

To better understand the variance in deGrom’s pitches, I have created a bold list showing most of deGrom’s out pitches during the course of his outing:

First Inning

Ryan Howard grounds out on slider located low and outside.

Second Inning

Maikel Franco strikes out swinging on changeup located low and inside.

Chase Utley strikes out swinging on changeup located low and over the plate.

Odubel Herrera strikes out swinging on 98 mph fastball located low and outside.

Third Inning

Carlos Ruiz strikes out looking on slider located low and over the plate.

Jerome Williams strikes out swinging on 95 mph fastball located low and outside.

Ben Revere grounds out softly on 97 mph fastball located away.

Fourth Inning

Freddy Galvis strikes out looking on 97 mph fastball located on outside corner.

Utley flies out to left field on changeup low and over the plate.

Howard strikes out swinging on 97 mph fastball located letter high and outside.

Fifth Inning

Franco grounds out to shortstop on 94 mph fastball located belt high and outside.

Ruiz grounds out to second baseman on curveball low and over the plate.

Sixth Inning

Revere grounds out with a broken bat softly to third baseman on 96 mph fastball located belly button high and inside.

Utley pops up to third baseman on cutter low and over the plate.

Seventh Inning

Howard strikes out swinging on slider located low and outside.

Grady Sizemore strikes out swinging on 97 mph fastball located low and outside.

Eighth Inning

Herrera flies out to left field on 94 mph fastball located low and outside.

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