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Somos Familia, and White Sox Meet the Matz (Mets Game 51 preview) May 31, 2016

Posted by tomflesher in Baseball.
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Steven Matz. Photo: Arturo Pardavila III via Wikimedia Commons.

Steven Matz. Photo: Arturo Pardavila III via Wikimedia Commons.

After two rough outings including notching a condor win and allowing the winning runs in a tied ballgame, Jeurys Familia was back to his old form on Monday afternoon. Familia pitched a perfect ninth, striking out two, to save Matt Harvey‘s seven innings of shutout baseball. Harvey’s last regular season sniff of the seventh inning came on August 11 of 2015. Addison Reed also showed closer-level stuff, striking out two in a perfect inning of his own. Jim Henderson and Jerry Blevins were warmed up in case of emergency, but the game was otherwise a B-squad gem, with solid defense from Alejandro De Aza, Ty Kelly, and especially Wilmer Flores during their rare starts.

The series against the White Sox continues Tuesday, with Steven Matz seeing most of the White Sox for the first time. Todd Frazier is 1-6 against Matz and Austin Jackson is 0-1; meanwhile, many of the Mets have hit against Mat Latos with mixed results. Neil Walker has a .280/.400/.560 line, owing to 4 walks and 2 home runs in 20 plate appearances. Yoenis Cespedes is 0-5, while De Aza and Juan Lagares have had a bit more success. Lefty James Loney is expected to start at first base; he’s hit Latos at a .350 clip with 2 home runs in 20 plate appearances. Eric Campbell is 2-4 with two walks against Latos, for a monster .750 OBP. With Lagares quite successful, expect him to get the start and Michael Conforto to sit as a pinch hit threat.

As this was being written, the Mets hadn’t announced who they’ll send down to make room for Loney. I think the right move is to keep Kelly as the second-round pinch hitter behind De Aza to allow Campbell to play every day in Las Vegas. Kelly runs reasonably well and with Flores back up we don’t have as imminent a need for an infielder who can play shortstop. With a seven-man bullpen, and with roles well-defined, sending down a reliever is a bad move at this point.

With David Wright possibly headed to the disabled list due to a herniated disc, Flores may get the start at third; Ty Kelly or Eric Campbell is likely more useful off the bench to enable a double switch or as a pinch runner. That opens up another option to make room for Loney – keep both Campbell and Kelly, but put Wright on the disabled list.

Whichever direction the Mets go, they built up quite a bit of momentum against Jose Quintana on Monday. The White Sox’ anemic hitting, Matt Harvey’s strong start, the bench’s solid performance in the field, and Jeurys Familia pulling himself together mean that they should be able to knock Mat Latos out of the box early and gain on the one-game lead the Nationals currently hold. The Nationals won 4-3 against Philadelphia Monday night; they see the Phillies again Tuesday.

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