As we head into the warmer months on the schedule, the New York Mets are looking to heat up themselves, trying to navigate through some injuries and under-performing players.
The bats have remained inconsistent from game-to-game, relying heavily on the long ball still, while Manager Terry Collins tries to get some of his veteran bats going. Choosing an offensive Player of the Week was a bit tricky, since most of the Mets’ lineup has ebbed and flowed more than the Hudson River.
But after some heavy consideration, I landed on a player that batted nearly .500 for the week of May 22-28. And the selection was very apropos, considering he led the offensive charge in Monday’s 1-0 win over the Chicago White Sox with a solo home run in the 7th inning.
OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE WEEK: NEIL WALKER
Neil Walker had a strong week at the plate for the Mets, going 8-for-20 with one home run, one double, two runs batted in, four runs scored, and three walks. In the six games the Mets played during that stretch, Walker was on base in every game at least once.
Walker went back-to-back with Yoenis Cespedes in Monday’s game against the Washington Nationals in the fifth, giving the Mets a 7-1 lead, which would be the final score. Walker also knocked in the first run of Friday night’s game against the Los Angeles Dodgers, doubling off of rookie LHP Julio Urias to drive in Asdrubal Cabrera to give the Mets the early lead.
In terms of his production against the rest of the second baseman in the Majors, Walker is currently 2nd in home runs (12), 6th in slugging (.506), and 7th in OPS (.837) at the conclusion of Monday’s game. He’s provided solid defense up the middle for the Mets, and has been fun to watch partner with Cabrera on the double-play ball. It’s quite a change of what we’ve been used to watching up the middle defensively these past several years, at times having to close our eyes on balls hit up the middle and hope for the best.
PITCHER OF THE WEEK: STEVEN MATZ
Steven Matz earns MMO’s Pitcher of the Week, pitching a gem against the Nationals in Wednesday’s rubber game. After another brutal outing by Matt Harvey the night prior, the Mets were looking to win their first series against their rivals.
Matz was brilliant in the day game, tossing eight innings of four hit baseball. Matz reached the eight inning mark for the first time in his Major League career, tossing 7 2/3 innings twice before. Matz didn’t give up a run in this game, after the Nationals scored seven on Tuesday night. He only walked one batter, and struck out seven, his fifth game this year with at least seven strikeouts.
Matz faced some trouble in he eighth inning, when he surrendered a pinch-hit single to Clint Robinson with two outs in the inning. That brought the tying man to the plate, which was pinch-hitter Bryce Harper, the reigning National League MVP. Matz got behind Harper 2-0 with two fastballs on the outside part of the plate. It was at this moment that pitching coach Dan Warthen turned to Collins and said, “”We’ll find out what he’s made of right here.”
And find out they did, as Matz threw another fastball that Harper took for a called strike, and went after him again with a 93 mph heater that Harper chopped over the mound. Matt Reynolds gloved it and tossed to Eric Campbell at first to retire the side, and keep the Mets lead in tact. Matz stayed tough and resilient in a moment where things could’ve turned ugly, considering he was facing one of the best hitters in the game. His poise and rise to the big moment should give Mets’ fans lots to look forward to from the 25 year-old lefty, as he and Noah Syndergaard have paired up to be in the discussion as one of the best one-two punches in the game.
What a rebound Matz has had since his disastrous opening start on April 11th against the Miami Marlins, when he gave up seven earned runs in 1 2/3 innings pitched. He’s won all seven of his next starts, and now has a stat line of 7-1, with a 2.36 earned run average, and a WHIP of 0.99. He’s currently a top contender for National League Rookie of the Year, where he leads all rookie starting pitchers in wins (7), earned run average (2.36), WHIP (0.99), and second in strikeouts (50), behind only Kenta Maeda of the Dodgers who has 51.