Perhaps not as intense as the Mets and Nationals rivalry looks to be in coming years, but the Miami Marlins have played hard fought games against New York all season and like the Mets, they’re a squad that is centered around young talent and a low payroll. The fish kept finding ways to get hits en route to taking 2 out of 3 games in this series, below are the usual takeaways in this edition of 3 and 3.
- Wilmer Flores was incredible this series. Apparently no one told the 23 year old Venezuelan that hitting for power in Citi Field is impossible because he made it a top priority the last three days. Wilmer’s slugging percentage against Miami this week was 1.273, hitting 2 doubles and 2 home runs to go with 8 RBI’s. Overall, he registered a .545/.583/1.856 slash line for the series. It appears Flores has developed a repeatable approach at the plate. He’s getting the barrel on the ball consistently and has an idea of what pitchers are trying to do to him. 6 of Wilmer’s 8 RBI’s came Tuesday night and the SNY crew flashed a very interesting statistic. In Mets franchise history, only four players have had two separate 6 RBI nights in a single season. Along with Flores, that list includes Carlos Delgado, Mike Piazza and Robin Ventura.
- Lucas Duda regressed towards the end of August, but he has bounced back gradually, adjusting different parts of his offensive approach to remain productive. It’s easy to dismiss Lucas when he isn’t hitting home runs, but he is much more of an all around hitter than he’s been given credit for. In this series, Lucas went 4 for 9 (.444), but also drew 4 walks to give him a .615 on base percentage. This as a major plus because the league caught up to Duda and he’s seeing mostly breaking balls, a common treatment in the majors for emerging sluggers. Any elite power hitter goes through periods where the home runs slow down, so it’s imperative that Lucas finds a way to contribute when the quality of pitches diminishes. A perfect example was last night’s game where he managed to punch in two runs with a slap single off a pitch that landed on the upper outside portion of the plate. Would it have been more fun to see him crank a 3 run shot over the Shea Bridge? Of course, but I’m firmly content having a 25-30 HR first baseman who also drives in runs with singles and doubles. Additionally, as his power and average have dipped, his OBP has skyrocketed. In the month of September, he’s getting on base at a .439 clip. Eventually, this will come down, but with it, his home runs will go up as opposing pitchers will have to throw their fastball for strikes. When they do, there will be misses over the plate, the Hulk will be unleashed and moonshots will resume. One other thing, Duda is hitting .308 against left-handed pitching this month and getting on base at a .400 clip against them.
- Have to give the final “Up” nod to Jacob deGrom, his performance on Monday night was spectacular. He made the first 8 Marlins batters look completely lost at the plate, striking them out one after the next in dominate fashion. Ironically, the first hit came off of the opposing pitcher, Jarred Cosart, but deGrom got back to work and cruised up to the 7th inning nicely after that. The outfield was playing oddly deep in that inning and the Marlins took advantage with a series of hits that landed in front Matt den Dekker and Juan Lagares, allowing them to briefly take a 3-2 lead. The Mets offense would come back with go ahead runs in the bottom of the frame, but the bullpen could not hold on to keep Jacob’s W in line. Another hard luck loss for the Rookie of the Year frontrunner, but not before tying the major league record for number of consecutive batters struck out to start a game. Congrats sir.
- This isn’t an indictment of Juan Lagares, but the centerfielder may be out for the rest of the season after spraining his right elbow in the 4th inning of Tuesday night’s game throwing to second base. This is a major downer, obviously there’s only 9 games left in the season, but Juan has hands down been my favorite player to watch this year. He was also hitting .317 in the month of September, working hard to end his first full campaign on a high note. First priority is to get healthy for next season though, so if Tuesday marked the end to Lagares’ season, tip of the hat to this young lad. If he doesn’t win a gold glove award, I’m going to explode.
- Travis d’Arnaud has got to improve his footwork behind the plate. Bobby Ojeda did an excellent job breaking down TDA’s mechanical flaws during last night’s pre-game segment with a side by side comparison to backup catcher Anthony Recker. Travis comes up flat and doesn’t sets his throwing arm back far enough before firing to second, forcing him to add an extra hitch in his release. This adds another second for the runner and more pressure to d’Arnaud’s timing resulting in rushed misfires over the second basemen’s head. One second seems harmless, but it’s the difference between locking up runners and sailing the ball into center field. However, like Ojeda, I believe d’Arnaud will improve in the offseason. Also, his catching abilities are much more valuable than he gets credit for. There were several pitches in this series that were clearly out of the strike zone before Travis snapped them back in with the flick of his wrist. This ability, along with his game calling, are two very underappreciated aspects of his game.
- Last down goes to the farewell tour that stopped by Queens on Tuesday night. Bud Selig’s vote of confidence for Fred and Jeff Wilpon is infuriating at this point. Look, I understand that blindly spending money in free agency this offseason will not cure this Met’s post-season woes. However, Selig is avoiding the bigger picture. Financial prowess doesn’t just pertain to offseason acquisitions. It deals with retaining talent that is set for a raise in the offseason. It deals with acquiring talent midseason in the midst of a playoff hunt, when other players undoubtedly go down or underperform. It deals with justifying the price the Mets charge their fans to go see a game. This isn’t Oakland, it isn’t Kansas City, it’s New York. No one is fooled by the numbers, the product, or the slick sales pitch. The Mets are going to miss the offseason for an 8th straight year and despite having the pieces to build a dominant contender going into next season, it looks like the organization is instead banking on a miracle. I’ll write later on about other options this team can exercise in the offseason, but regardless, the approach for next year should have been described as “we’ll spend when the right opportunity presents itself”, not “we’re still broke, but it’s all good”.