Mets Game 17 Quick Preview April 24, 2016Posted by tomflesher in Baseball.
Tags: Mets Game 17
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The Braves have hit terribly against Jacob deGrom. Current Braves’ .209 OBP against deGrom includes pitcher Julo Teheran going 1-3 against him. Catcher A.J. Pierzynski and second baseman Kelly Johnson are both hitless; Freddie Freeman is a mighty 2-10 with two walks.
That is all.
Free at last! (Mets Game 16 Preview) April 23, 2016Posted by tomflesher in Baseball.
Tags: Braves, Freddie Freeman, Jhoulys Chacin, Matt Harvey, Mets, Mets Game 15, Mets game 16
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Matt Harvey finally notched his first win of the year, going 5 innings with 7 hits, 2 runs (both earned), 1 walk (to Nick Markakis), and 5 strikeouts. That walk came in the fifth inning, when Harvey has traditionally labored; fortunately, a dead-on throw from Yoenis Cespedes to Travis d’Arnaud kept A.J. Pierzynski from bringing Markakis home to end the fifth and get Harvey through the minimum.
Cespedes extended his streak of extra-base hits to 7; over those 7 games, he’s hitting .345/.406/.931 with a .400 batting average on balls in play. In the first 8 games of the season, he hit .233/.324/.333 with a .333 BAbip. The Mets were 3-5 during those first 8 games and 5-2 during Cespedes’ streak. Yo left the game after an extended rain delay due to aggravating his leg injury sliding into second for last night’s double; Juan Lagares may make the start in center tonight. Ces has never faced Braves pitcher Jhoulys Chacin, but Lagares is 2-6 lifetime against him with a double.
Curtis Granderson hit two home runs including one grand slam, along with a single, for 9 total bases and 5 RBIs. One of those RBIs came when Harvey made it to first on a throwing error by the pitcher, trying to force Asdrubal Cabrera out at third. On this road trip, Granderson is hitting .353/.476/.941 on a close-to-league-average .300 BAbip. Granderson is 1-2 with a walk against Chacin. Neil Walker is .333/.333/.556 against Chacin in 9 plate appearances.
Freddie Freeman extended his lifetime hitless streak against Matt Harvey to 9 plate appearances with a pop foul, a flyout, and a swinging K. Freeman hasn’t hit well this year (.167/.318/.241, compared to last year’s .276/.370/.471), but he’s been fairly good against current Mets: he has an OPS above 1 against 5 Mets pitchers, including starter Steven Matz(1-3, walk), relievers Addison Reed (1-2) and Jerry Blevins (3-7), and closer Jeurys Familia (5-11, walk, 2 home runs). Freeman hit .246/.317/.509 in his first 15 games last year, so his OBP isn’t too big a surprise – it’s really the last of extra-base hits that’s causing the Braves trouble.
Steven Matz is largely unproven against the Braves. His only previous start against Atlanta was in September of last year, allowing 6 hits and 2 walks for 1 run. Current Braves have hit him reasonably well, so it will be good to see whether Matz continues what he started last time out or whether he looks more like his first start against Miami.
Off to Atlanta (Mets Game 15 Preview) April 22, 2016Posted by tomflesher in Baseball.
Tags: Bud Norris, Matt Harvey, Mets Game 15
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The Mets have hit Norris at a .257/.382/.392 clip since 2009. The results have been mixed: though Neil Walker has smacked Norris around for .391/.517/.565 in 29 plate appearances, David Wright has hit .091/.333/.091 in 15. (Note, though, that those 15 include 3 walks and a hit by pitch, so Wright still manages to get on base regularly.) Lucas Duda is 1-3 (double) with a walk; Wilmer Flores and Kevin Plawecki are each 1-3. In 11 plate appearances, Yoenis Cespedes is hitting .300 with a home run and a walk against Norris. Cespedes has hit homers in the last two games and four of the last 6; the Cespedes/Walker combination is likely to be dangerous. Norris gave up 4 earned runs including 2 homers to the Marlins last weekend; it’s imperative the Mets are aggressive with him early on to knock him out of the game, as the 4-11 Braves had 5 blown saves in 8 save opportunities.
Meanwhile, this game may be an opportunity for Harvey to get his season on track. In 26 plate appearances, current Braves have hit .080/.115/.120 against Harvey; Jace Peterson and former Mets backup infielder Kelly Johnson are both 1-3 against Harvey, but Harvey has held Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman hitless in 6 plate appearances. Good defense is key, since Harvey seems to get rattled when things don’t quite go his way. The Mets were 5-5 in Turner Field last year, outscoring the Braves 43-36. Three of those wins came from starters and two from the bullpen. In six of those games, the Mets scored 4 or more runs, and they lost only one; providing Harvey with more than his current 3.33 runs per game of support will go a long way toward allowing Harvey to do what he does well.
Are extra-innings contests evenly matched? (Mets Game 14) April 21, 2016Posted by tomflesher in Baseball, Economics.
Tags: extra innings, Mets game 14, probability, statistics
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The Mets lost to the Phillies in 11 innings last night. That was a surprising result – based on the run scoring in the first two games, the Pythagorean expectation for the same Mets team facing the same Phillies team would have been around 95.5%. Even going into extra innings seemed to be a stretch with Bartolo Colon pitching. Plus, the Phillies were in the bottom of the league in extra innings last year.
Addison Reed blew his first save of the year when he allowed a single to Peter Bourjos that scored David Lough. Despite strong performances from Antonio Bastardo and Jim Henderson, Hansel Robles allowed a double, a wild pitch, and a single that brought Freddy Galvis home.
Once we hit the tenth inning, it’s evidence that the teams are evenly matched, right? Not necessarily. in 2015, there were 212 extra-innings games. The home team won 111 of them, about 52.4%. That’s obviously higher than expected, but keep in mind that if this were a fifty-fifty coin flip we’d expect at least 111 wins around 22.5% of the time. Where it gets interesting is that the home team has (with the exception of 2014) consistently won over half those games, but that the more games that are played, the better visitors do. Since 2006, 2144 extra-innings games have been played with teams winning 1130 of them for a .527 winning percentage; that’s something that, if this truly is a 50-50 proposal, should only happen by chance 0.6% of the time.
One other result gives us pause: from 2006-2015, 24297 games were played and the home team won 13171 of them. That’s a considerable home field advantage, since all teams play half their games on the road and half at home. That corresponds to a .542 win probability for any home team. If that, rather than .500, is the expected win rate for a home team, then teams perform significantly worse in extra innings.
In other words, though the home team still has an advantage, that advantage shrinks once we hit the tenth inning.
The Mets are idle tonight. They’ll pick up in Atlanta on Friday.
Tags: Mets, Mets game 13, Phillies, Phillies bullpen
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Or, back to that wretched Phillies bullpenVince Velasquez is starting to look human, but don’t get too excited. Entering last night’s game, he was 2-0 on 15 innings pitched, 6 hits, 3 walks, a whopping 25 strikeouts, and no runs. He was coming off a shutout of the Padres on a monstrous 97 game score. Contrast that with last night: in 4 1/3 innings, Velasquez gave up 5 runs on 5 hits, although only two of them were earned because, in arguably the most important play of the game, Mets pitcher Logan Verrett reached on an error to start the third inning. Reconstructing the inning without the error:
However, because Verrett was safe at first, he was on base for Michael Conforto to single him over to second, and then for Yoenis Cespedes to bring them home on a home run. Although Conforto had already hit a wind-aided homer off Velasquez in the first, it’s debatable whether those hits would still have come at the beginning of an inning with a fresh pitcher. Since Conforto has been so problematic for pitchers, it’s likely he’d have made it to base in the phantom fourth inning, but Cespedes had struck out in the first, and the wind was certainly a factor in his homer; it’s plausible the fourth inning would have gone:
- Conforto singled
- Cespedes flied out to center
- Neil Walker flied out to right
- Asdrubal Cabrera grounded out to short
Then we enter the fifth inning with Velasquez down 2-0, rather than 5-0. That inning may have looked like this:
- Travis d’Arnaud grounded out to shortstop
- Verrett doubled.
- Granderson hit by pitch
- Wright struck out looking.
Now it’s the fifth inning, you have Conforto on deck, men on first and second, but the lead runner is a pitcher. Verrett is unlikely to score on a single. Even though Conforto beat Velasquez up pretty badly that evening, Velasquez is one out away from his fifth inning, making him eligible for a win if the Phillies turn it around. Additionally, entering last night’s game, Velasquez’ platoon splits were all in favor of having him face the lefty: he doesn’t strike lefties out as often, but they hit significantly worse. Bringing left-handed specialist Elvis Araujo in to face Conforto was a move that made sense if Velasquez was being beat up, but in this case I’d have been likely to leave him in as a development move. It’s not a given that Conforto would have hit him. Then, we have a totally different game.
Fortunately, the Phillies bullpen is terrible.
Araujo was perfect for two outs and Dariel Hinojosa pitched a perfect ninth, but Brett Oberholtzer allowed four runs on four hits and two walks in two innings; three (!) of those hits were home runs. James Russell allowed another two runs on three hits (one homer) and a walk. Russell was visibly shaken, although his ERA dropped .21 to 18.69. Meanwhile, Verrett gave us six scoreless innings; a rested Jim Henderson was perfect, and although Rafael Montero pitched relatively poorly (gave up one run, with at least one more saved by a killer catch by Juan Lagares in center), Hansel Robles got three outs on one hit. He was visibly pitching around Cameron Rupp (double) and Darin Ruf (struck out looking), both of whom handled the fact that Robles had attempted to murder them with grace and aplomb.
I’m not saying that last night’s game was a fluke. Conforto’s development has come at an alarming pace. Still, the two key plays last night that knocked Vince Velasquez out of the game boiled down to Logan Verrett reaching base twice. Pete Mackanin waved the white flag by leaving Brett Oberholtzer and James Russell out to eat innings, when an extra inning from Vince Velasquez may well have made this one a nailbiter. (Seriously, three and two thirds innings pitched by three different lefties?)
The Mets close out their series against the Phillies tonight. Bartolo Colon took a tough loss against the Phillies in his first start; Jeremy Hellickson has allowed a .256/.316/.430 slash line to current Mets. Yoenis Cespedes has hit .444 in 10 plate appearances against Hellickson; David Wright is .600 in five plate appearances. Juan Lagares, Wilmer Flores and Eric Campbell are each 1 for 3, while Granderson and Lucas Duda are both below the Mendoza line in 23 and 8 plate appearances, respectively.
The Rule 5 Draft and Daniel Stumpf’s Problem April 18, 2016Posted by tomflesher in Baseball, Economics.
Rookie lefthander Daniel Stumpf was suspended for 80 games following a positive test for steroids. He had appeared in three games and allowed three runs in his first appearance but then made two one-out appearances as a left-handed specialist. Stumpf was a rule 5 draftee.
The Rule 5 draft allows teams to poach players who have been signed for five years (if the player originally signed when he was younger than 18) or four years (if the player signed as an adult) and who are not on any 40-man roster. It was designed to keep teams from signing prospects they had no plan to use in the near future, and to protect those prospects’ chances to make the majors. Current Blue Jay Jose Bautista and financial professional Bobby Bonilla were both rule 5 draftees early in their careers, for example, who may not have made the majors had their progress continued to be blocked.
Stumpf’s positive drug test amounts to a windfall for the team, however: part of the cost of drafting a player under rule 5 is that the player must remain on the team’s 25-man roster, the disabled list, or the restricted list for the entire season, accruing at least 90 days’ service time. The 25-man roster provision is designed to force a team to carry the player all year; if the team trades the rule 5 draftee, he must remain on the new team’s 25-man roster all season as well. Similarly, if he is waived, he must be offered back to his old team. This is designed to make it costly for a team to draft a young prospect: in order to make sense, the team’s expected value over the player’s career must be greater than the expected development value of the marginal player who the draftee will displace.
In Stumpf’s case, 24-year-old lefty Elvis Araujo has been called up to replace him. Araujo pitched 34 2/3 innings in 40 games last year – substantially less than one inning per game – last year, making him a close comparison to how Stumpf was being used. Araujo had a 3.38 ERA, so in order to make it rational to keep Stumpf on the roster over Araujo, the Phillies must have expected Stumpf to develop considerably more than Araujo over the course of the season and to remain valuable for at least a few more years. Stumpf will likely continue baseball activities over the course of the suspension, so his coaching and development will continue albeit without the pressure of major league appearances. Meanwhile, Araujo, a slightly more seasoned player, will make the appearances in the majors that Stumpf would have, allowing the Phillies to accrue the benefit of Stumpf’s rule 5 status with less of the cost. That is: Araujo is a better player now, and the Phillies would ordinarily need to sacrifice that benefit to have Stumpf, the better player in the future.
The disabled list exemption from the 25-man roster rule is sensible, but this rule allows the Phillies a windfall. Major League Baseball should consider a rule that pauses accrual of not only service time but also credit for time on the roster while a player is suspended. This would require Stumpf to spend at least 80 additional games on the Phillies 25-man roster at the beginning of next season, forcing the Phillies to make a tough choice about Stumpf and Araujo again in 2017.
Tags: Indians, Mets
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On Friday, Bartolo Colon started against his old Cleveland Indians team. Colon snagged the win on 5.1 innings pitched with 8 hits, 2 runs (both earned), 1 walk and 5 strikeouts for a game score of 48. This is Colon’s first win of the season and his first cheap win since May of last year. Bart has had exactly one cheap win each season as a Met.
On Saturday, Matt Harvey took his third loss of the season in a non-quality start. Harvey has raised concerns over the past several starts; though the Mets scored 5 runs in the game, Harvey’s run support has been 3.33 runs per game this year. Last year, the Mets averaged 4.37 runs per game behind Harvey; that’s the difference between above- and below-league-average support. On the bright side, that means the trend is unlikely to persist. Meanwhile, Corey Kluber – the Indians’ ace – is also 0-3 on a 6.16 ERA. Kluber took a tough loss to the Rays on April 12th but has otherwise pitched pretty poorly. He averages one run of support per game, with high hit totals and lots of extra-base hits.
On Sunday, Steven Matz bounced back from a difficult first start and grabbed a brilliant 78 game score in 7 innings of 3-hit baseball. Matz walked 2 and struck out 9.
As DH in Cleveland, Yoenis Cespedes hit a monstrous .417/.462/1.083; this included a .600 batting average on balls in play, indicating that he got lucky on a few of those hits. Meanwhile, honorary Met Juan Uribe had a .444/.545/.546 weekend against the Mets, starting all three games at third base.
The Mets bullpen allowed 5 earned runs in 8 innings for a 5.63 ERA, but inherited six runners with none scoring. Hansel Robles, Antonio Bastardo, and Jim Henderson all looked like strong options coming out of thrower jail, with Jeurys Familia notching an ugly but effective one-out save to bail out Addison Reed on Friday.
Mets Weekend Roundup (Games 4 and 5) April 11, 2016Posted by tomflesher in Baseball.
Tags: Marlins, Mets, Mets Game 4, Mets Game 5, Mets Game 6
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Yoenis Cespedes finally homered in the Mets’ 5-2 loss to the Phillies. Cespedes’ home run chased starter Jeremy Hellickson in the bottom of the 6th inning, coming on Cespedes’ third plate appearance of the day. In the first four games of the season, Yoenis had 2 hits and 2 walks on 18 plate appearances, so his homer came on his 21st plate appearance of the season. Last year, Cespedes played 10 games in New York before homering, hitting .262 with a .279 OBP. For Detroit, Cespedes homered 18 times in 427 plate appearances for an average of 23.72 plate appearances per homer; his Mets numbers were significantly better, at 17 homers in 249 plate appearances, for one home run every 14.65 plate appearances. His BAbip in Detroit was .333; in New York last year, it was .306. Ces has never been an OBP guy, but his BAbip this year is .222, meaning he may be suffering more than would be expected from good defense by the Phillies and Royals. Still, even assuming last year’s New York stats were accurate, you’d expect a 20-PA homer-free streak with probability (1 – (17/249))20, or about 24.3%. My hunch is that Cespedes won’t reach last year’s numbers, but he’ll probably nail 30 home runs this year.
Over the weekend, Bartolo Colon took a tough loss, in both the common and technical senses, when he pitched a 6-inning, 7-K, 1-run ballgame for a game score of 65. Colon pitched to a game score of 65 or better 11 times in 2015, recording a 7-2 record. The Phillies bullpen did not collapse as predicted, meaning that giving up one run was enough to lose the game. Phillies starter Vincent Velasquez outpitched Colon, and the bullpen just held up enough.
Steven Matz starts tonight’s game against the Marlins’ Jarred Cosart. Matz and Cosart faced off last year in September; Tyler Clippard blew the save. Current Marlins are 4-17 against Matz for a .267/.353/.467 line; current Mets slash .264/.349/.472 against Cosart. Cosart was chased after 4 2/3 last time. The Marlins bullpen has pitched to a respectable 3.89 ERA this season and closer A.J. Ramos has converted his only save, so the Mets need to score early and often to get this one under control.
Don Kelly is currently hitting .286/.500/.286 for AAA New Orleans and is unavailable from the bullpen.
Tags: Mets, Mets Game 4, Phillies
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Yesterday’s Mets home opener was joyous – Jacob deGrom‘s son decided to wait a little while longer, we got another masterful performance from Lazarus I Mean Jim Henderson, and Michael Conforto was firmly in Good Lucas Duda Mode. Besides, the Phillies had to go to their bullpen after 5+.
Despite a solid performance by young Jerad Eickhoff – in which he hit a double and scored one of two runs for Philadelphia – the Phillies starter ended up in trouble in the sixth when Duda doubled, Neil Walker singled him home, and Conforto doubled Walker home. Jim Henderson pitched a perfect seventh, and the Mets bullpen allowed only one run (unearned) after Peter Bourjos reached on an E5. Hansel Robles got a K, allowed Bourjos on, and then allowed a hit to Cesar Hernandez before Jerry Blevins came in to clean up lefty-batting Odubel Herrera and Hernandez on a double play. Antonio Bastardo finished the game with two strikeouts, allowing one single.
The Phillies bullpen has been awful this year, and this game is a microcosm of why. Eickhoff pitched well, but his bullpen couldn’t get a handle on it. Dalier Hinojosa got two outs and, despite a difficult at-bat, rule 5 draftee Daniel Stumpf finally recorded an out. In the seventh, James Russell got a single out, but allowed two walks and three singles; David Hernandez allowed another run before closing out the inning. This season, the Phillies’ starters have posted a 3.80 ERA and a 0.98 WHIP – both quite respectable, especially considering Charlie Morton‘s rough start. The bullpen, however, has pitched to a 12.66 ERA and a 2.44 WHIP, meaning for every inning pitched they allow almost three men to reach base.
Pete Mackanin has used Hinojosa in three of four games thus far, lefties Stumpf and Russell twice each, and Hinojosa and Hernandez three times. In those, Hinojosa and Russell each have one blown save. Stumpf is unproven but being used in relatively high-leverage situations, while Hector Neris is coming in in low-leverage situations despite having some of the best stats on the team. I recognize that Stumpf is young and being broken in – catcher Cameron Rupp came out and put his arm over Stumpf’s shoulder several times in yesterday’s game – but the Phillies seem to be treating his development as a goal that comes at the expense of the team.
Bartolo Colon starts tonight against the Phillies; current Phillies have hit .267/.301/.371 against Bartolo. Odubel Herrera is 4-13 against Colon, and a handful of Phillies are above the .300 mark. Meanwhile, the only Met starter Vincent Velasquez has faced is Alejandro De Aza, who is 1-2.
Bartolo’s stats against current Phillies: