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Home runs and non-homer RBIs May 31, 2016

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Neil Walker. Photo: Arturo Pardavila III via Wikimedia Commons.

Neil Walker. Photo: Arturo Pardavila III via Wikimedia Commons.

While at yesterday’s Mets game, a friend of mine pointed out that Neil Walker had a surprisingly high ratio of home runs to RBIs – at the time, it was 12 homers to 23 RBIs, or a ratio of about .522 homers per RBI. That boils down to Walker hitting a ton of solo homers, including the only run scored in yesterday’s game. True, a lot of that is because Yoenis Cespedes tends to clear the bases before Walker gets a chance to drive in the runners, but that does beg the question – what does the typical hitter’s ratio look like?

Of players with 150 plate appearances or more, the surprise leader isn’t Walker, but Curtis Granderson. As a leadoff hitter, that makes sense: he gets more chances than Walker to hit homers with no one one, since he gets an opportunity every game. Grandy’s hit four homers to open the first inning and 5 midgame, including his walkoff against Pedro Baez.

As a curiosity, there are seven qualified batters who have no home runs this season: Cesar Hernandez, Billy Burns, Francisco Cervelli, Austin Jackson, Erick Aybar, Alcides Escobar, and Martin Prado. Escobar is bringing up the rear with 230 plate appearances. Of the top 10 players in HR per RBI, only Walker and Giancarlo Stanton are in the double digits for home runs (each with 12).

The home-run-to-RBI ratio of all batters with 150 plate appearances, as of May 30.

The home-run-to-RBI ratio of all batters with 150 plate appearances, as of May 30.

Unsurprisingly, there’s a strong correlation (ρ = 0.78) between HR/RBI and number of home runs; longball hitters tend to hit them whether there are runners on base or not. Probably the strongest statistical interpretation we can offer here is that RBIs are a pretty lousy way to evaluate hitters; they contain little information that simply measuring home runs, slugging average (ρ = 0.46) or OPS (ρ = 0.315) doesn’t offer.

It’s possible that a high HR/RBI ratio would indicate that a batter performs poorly in the clutch: the player doesn’t hit homers with men on base. In order to justify that interpretation, though, we’d need significantly more evidence and to do some statistical testing to see if he really did hit differently with runners in scoring position than without. It may be that, like Walker, there just aren’t that many opportunities. The only time this seems to be a red flag statistic would be for a hitter who plays with a team full of high-OBP, low-SLG hitters, indicating that there are usually men on base and he doesn’t drive them home. Otherwise, for guys like Walker and Stanton, it’s just a fun eye-bugging stat.

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

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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.

Mets seek to win season series against Dodgers (Mets Game 49 Preview) May 29, 2016

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Chase Utley during 2016 Spring Training. Photo: Kdolson20 via Wikimedia Commons

Chase Utley during 2016 Spring Training. Photo: Kdolson20 via Wikimedia Commons

After a 9-1 loss last night, the Mets have thus far split the season series with the Dodgers 3-3. The final game is this evening at Citi. Tensions are high following Chase Utley‘s extremely strong performance and Noah Syndergaard‘s ejection for throwing behind Utley in the third inning.

You can’t comment on game 48 without weighing in on the Utley-Syndergaard controversy, so let me just say this: it’s ridiculous that Syndergaard’s manager is worried he’ll be suspended for not hitting Utley, after Utley never served a suspension for a malicious dropkick slide at Ruben Tejada. For Syndergaard to be ejected the same day Tejada is designated for assignment, and for Utley to then hit the go-ahead homer and hit a grand slam, seems almost like a lazy literary device in a bad baseball novel.

The Mets, though, have work to do. Hansel Robles seemed listless; he allowed Utley’s grand slam in his first inning of work, relieving Antonio Bastardo in the seventh, but otherwise got out of the inning with two strikeouts and a fly ball. In the eighth, though, Hansel allowed two more home runs and two walks (sneaking a double play in in the process). Robles wasn’t the same during the eighth, and it seemed like he had lost interest in it by the time Jerry Blevins relieved him.

As for Syndergaard, he half-jokingly suggested he’d be available:

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Logan Verrett is probably unavailable after throwing 43 pitches in 3 2/3 innings last night; Bastardo tossed only 13, Robles 27, Blevins only 8 and Jim Henderson 16. Robles is almost surely available only in a pinch, but Bastardo is probably available. Nevertheless, having Syndergaard ready to pitch out of the bullpen does give the Mets some much-needed bullpen flexibility from a confident reliever. I’d be unsurprised to see him pitch Monday or Tuesday, but pitching him today might throw off his schedule.

Bartolo Colon starts tonight. Bart is unflappable; expect very little in the way of aftershocks from him. Utley has hit him mercilessly, 10-20 career with 2 doubles and a home run. Adrian Gonzalez is 13-28 (.464) with two doubles and three homers. Catcher Yasmani Grandal also has an OPS near 1, with a .250 average on 8 plate appearances including a homer of his own. Otherwise, the usual suspects are quiet: Justin Turner is 1-12, Carl Crawford 6-36, Howie Kendrick and anemic 3-25.

Still, it’s going to be hard to hit Clayton Kershaw. James Loney is 1-1 against Kershaw, but hasn’t joined the team yet. Likely first baseman Eric Campbell is hitless in 6 plate appearances against Clayton, as is Kevin Plawecki (6 PAs) and Alejandro De Aza (5). Usual threats Neil Walker, Yoenis Cespedes, and Juan Lagares are each 1-12, with David Wright and Asdrubal Cabrera each also at or below the Mendoza line. In fact, only Asdrubal Cabrera (.286/.375/.286) and backup catcher Rene Rivera (.250/.333/.250) are above the .200 mark. Wright, however, has walked 7 times in 28 plate appearances; one of those came on May 12 of this year in Colon’s uncharacteristic 5-0 loss to Kershaw. Wright sat on Saturday and will sit on Monday.

In order for the Mets to take the season series against the Dodgers, Colon will need to neutralize Utley. Defense is more important than usual, since Kershaw makes so few mistakes. Kershaw hasn’t allowed a home run since April 26 and has surrendered only 3 this year, so it’s incumbent on players like Wright and Granderson to get on base regardless of the circumstances and players like Cabrera and Walker to move them over. Still, I wouldn’t be surprised if the Mets can squeeze a longball out of Kershaw – they’ve been very good at it this year – and as long as they keep the defensive pressure on, this game is eminently winnable.

Syndergaard and Utley (Mets Game 48 Preview) May 28, 2016

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Noah Syndergaard; Photo: Arturo Pardavila III

Noah Syndergaard; Photo: Arturo Pardavila III

Tonight, Noah Syndergaard takes the mound against the Dodgers’ Kenta Maeda. The Mets enter tonight’s game 3-2 on the season against the Dodgers, following a near miss by normally lights-out closer Jeurys Familia.

The Dodgers’ Chase Utley has been, frankly, ridiculous this year. Utley has been producing in key positions for the Dodgers. After last year’s disappointing .212/.286/.343 season, Utley has raised his batting average to .292 and added almost a full .100 to his on-base percentage (chiefly by walking more). Utley is dangerous on base, scoring a run over 40% of the time. Though there’s speculation that Syndergaard will murder Utley, the Mets seem to have made their peace with him and are letting the fans exact his punishment – although, frankly, he’s batting in so many runs that I wish they’d just hit him instead of giving him the chance to clear the bases.

However, Syndergaard has had his way with Utley. In 8 plate appearances, Utley has only gotten on base once – a single. Noah has been similarly effective against Howie Kendrick (1-11), Yasmani Grandal (1-7), and Yasiel Puig (1-6). On the other side, former Met and current troll doll Justin Turner has been successful (2-6, both doubles). Enrique Hernandez is 1-1 with two walks, one intentional.

As for Maeda, Mets fans may recall him as the dude Noah hit two home runs off of a few weeks ago. Other Mets haven’t been as effective: Michael Conforto, Neil Walker, and Asdrubal Cabrera are each 1-3, but no one else has hit him. This one is going to require Syndergaard to pitch effectively and our batters to leave it on the field. Syndergaard’s numbers versus current Dodgers are below.

 

Name PA AB H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
Howie Kendrick 11 11 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 .091 .091 .091 .182
Adrian Gonzalez 10 9 2 0 0 1 1 1 4 .222 .300 .556 .856
Yasmani Grandal 8 7 1 0 0 1 1 1 3 .143 .250 .571 .821
Corey Seager 8 8 2 0 0 1 1 0 4 .250 .250 .625 .875
Chase Utley 8 8 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 .125 .125 .125 .250
Justin Turner 7 6 2 2 0 0 0 1 2 .333 .429 .667 1.095
Carl Crawford 6 6 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 .167 .167 .167 .333
Joc Pederson 6 5 0 0 0 0 0 1 3 .000 .167 .000 .167
Yasiel Puig 6 6 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 .167 .167 .167 .333
Enrique Hernandez 3 1 1 0 0 0 0 2 0 1.000 1.000 1.000 2.000
Clayton Kershaw 2 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 .000 .000 .000 .000
Kenta Maeda 2 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 .000 .000 .000 .000
Trayce Thompson 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000 .000 .000 .000
Total 78 72 12 2 0 3 3 6 20 .167 .231 .319 .550
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 5/28/2016.

Jeurys Familia earns the rare Condor Win May 28, 2016

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I thought the story of last night’s game would be Julio Urias, but I was wrong.

Photo: slgckgc on Flickr

Photo: slgckgc on Flickr

May 27 was the worst outing Jeurys Familia has had since 2012. He came into a non-save situation – four runs up, but he hadn’t worked in a few days – and promptly allowed singles to Adrian Gonzalez and Howie Kendrick before striking out Joc Pederson. Yasiel Puig singled, followed by Yasmani Grandal walking to force in a run. Trayce Thompson struck out, but Chase Utley squeaked a two-out double to clear the bases. With the game now tied, Familia struck out Corey Seager to end the inning. (Fortunately, Curtis Granderson picked him up with a home run.)

I’ve heard some people describing Jeurys’ win last night as a ‘vulture win,’ but I disagree. A vulture win is granted when a pitcher blows the save but wins the game anyway. Familia didn’t blow the save – he blew a non-save situation. That’s much bigger than a vulture win – it’s a condor win.

The lore around Familia has become that he’s a high-pressure worker – that he pitches well in save situations, but that he can’t manage to bring it home when he just comes in to stay busy. I’m not so sure that’s true.

First, this year’s numbers: Jeurys has had 16 save oppportunities in 2016, over which he’s had 60 plate appearances, held opposing batters to a .207/.233/.224 slash line, and walked 2 batters while striking out 12 for a 6.00 KBB. In 2015, there were only eight relievers (who pitched in 40 games or more and relieved 95% of their games) to keep a KBB above 6; that number will likely come down a bit, although Familia’s pitching style means it’s likely to stay above average. (A list of last year’s relievers sorted by KBB is here.) Meanwhile, in his 8 non-save situations this year, Jeurys has allowed a .371/.421/.486 slash line over 38 plate appearances with 9 strikeouts but 3 walks. Hm – not closer stuff, definitely, but keep in mind that Jeurys’ defense tends to help him out more in save situations. His BAbip in save situations this year has been .261 – below the league average, which hovers around .300, by a bit – but in non-saves it’s been considerably worse, at an even .500. This could indicate that the defense behind Jeurys plays a role in those results.

In fact, last year’s numbers bear out a significantly similar trend:

Split G PA AB R H HR BB SO SO/W BA OBP SLG OPS BAbip
in Sv Situ 49 199 185 12 37 5 12 55 4.58 .200 .247 .314 .561 .254
in non-Sv 27 109 100 4 22 1 7 31 4.43 .220 .284 .300 .584 .309
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 5/28/2016.

The results are similar, with a slight nudge upward in non-save situations, but Jeurys gets significantly ‘luckier’ with BAbip when he’s in for the save.

Julio Urias’ debut and a full Mets bullpen (Mets Game 47 Preview) May 27, 2016

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Urias in 2014 spring training. Photo: Dustin Nosler via Wikipedia.

Urias in 2014 spring training. Photo: Dustin Nosler via Wikipedia.

Friday night, the Mets host the Dodgers for the home portion of their season series. The teams split their early May series with wins for Mets starters Steven Matz and Noah Syndergaard, Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen, and the Koufaxian Clayton Kershaw. The Mets will start Jacob deGrom against the debuting Julio Urias.

deGrom started against the Dodgers on May 10; he pitched seven innings, allowing two runs on 8 hits, 4 strikeouts, and no walks. He was lifted after 103 pitches, and a ninth-inning home run by Trayce Thompson off Hansel Robles won the game for Kenley Jansen. In two starts since, deGrom has had a confusing set of numbers – he’s held opponents to a .220 batting average and a .313 OBP, along with a luckier-than-average .233 BAbip, but allowed 7 earned runs in 11 1/3 innings pitched for a 5.56 ERA. Current Dodgers have hit deGrom fairly well; first baseman Adrian Gonzalez has hit a monstrous .375 against deGrom in 18 plate appearances, plus a walk for a .389 OBP; though he’s struck out 8 times, he’s hit two home runs for a .750 slugging average. In 14 plate appearances, Justin Turner (3B) has hit .357/.357/.571 with two doubles. Likely leadoff hitter Chase Utley (2B) is hitting .267/.353/.333, followed up by shortstop Corey Seager at .333/.333/.556. With Gonzalez, and then Turner, following up, there’s a huge chance (about 57%) that Gonzalez will come up with at least one man on base and 0 or 1 out. On the other hand, deGrom tends to strike out opposing hitters at an alarming KBB of 4.33 (13 Ks, 3 walks) the first run through the order. The second time through, the strikeouts stay high but the walks climb (2.00, 12K to 6 BB). In the 3rd, 4th, and 5th innings, though, deGrom’s ERAs are 1.29, 2.57, and 1.29; deGrom shows the confusing trend of having stronger batting-against stats but allowing more runs in the early innings. As long as he can get through that first run through the Dodgers infield, deGrom can serve as a strong bridge to the bullpen with Hansel Robles, Addison Reed, and Jeurys Familia.

Note that Familia is tied for second in the NL with 16 saves, behind only the Phillies’ Jeanmar Gomez.

The 19-year-old Urias is making his MLB debut. He’s been filthy at AAA this year, with a .780 WHIP, a 1.10 ERA and a 9.7 K9 in 41 innings pitched. Young pitchers have mixed success moving to the majors – you’ll always have your Clayton Buchholz types who take advantage of their unfamiliarity to opposing hitters, but you’ll also have young pitchers who need development to grow into their roles – so it’s tough to predict how Urias will do. When he was bumped from AA to AAA last season, for example, he started two games but allowed 9 runs in only 4 1/3 innings, leading to an unsightly 18.69 ERA. Mets fans can hope Urias has some difficulty adjusting tonight, considering the volume of the Citi Field crowd.

Dodgers numbers against deGrom are below:

Name PA AB H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO BA OBP ▾ SLG OPS HBP
A.J. Ellis 5 3 1 0 0 0 0 2 1 .333 .600 .333 .933 0
Alex Wood 2 2 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 .500 .500 .500 1.000 0
Adrian Gonzalez 18 16 6 0 0 2 6 1 8 .375 .389 .750 1.139 0
Justin Turner 14 14 5 3 0 0 1 0 1 .357 .357 .571 .929 0
Chase Utley 17 15 4 1 0 0 0 2 3 .267 .353 .333 .686 0
Joc Pederson 12 9 1 1 0 0 0 3 2 .111 .333 .222 .556 0
Corey Seager 9 9 3 2 0 0 1 0 4 .333 .333 .556 .889 0
Yasmani Grandal 9 8 1 1 0 0 0 1 3 .125 .222 .250 .472 0
Yasiel Puig 9 9 2 0 0 1 1 0 3 .222 .222 .556 .778 0
Carl Crawford 11 9 0 0 0 0 0 2 4 .000 .182 .000 .182 0
Howie Kendrick 10 10 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 .100 .100 .100 .200 0
Enrique Hernandez 3 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 .000 .000 .000 .000 0
Clayton Kershaw 2 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 .000 .000 .000 .000 0
Total 121 109 25 8 0 3 9 11 33 .229 .298 .385 .683 0
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 5/27/2016.

Mets Game 17 Quick Preview April 24, 2016

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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.

 

Name PA AB H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
Freddie Freeman 12 10 2 0 0 1 1 2 4 .200 .333 .500 .833
Kelly Johnson 7 7 0 0 0 0 0 0 3 .000 .000 .000 .000
Jace Peterson 7 6 2 1 0 0 0 1 2 .333 .429 .500 .929
Nick Markakis 6 6 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 .167 .167 .167 .333
A.J. Pierzynski 6 6 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 .000 .000 .000 .000
Julio Teheran 3 3 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 .333 .333 .333 .667
Matt Wisler 2 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000 .000 .000 .000
Total 43 40 6 1 0 1 1 3 11 .150 .209 .250 .459
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 4/24/2016.

Free at last! (Mets Game 16 Preview) April 23, 2016

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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.

Freddie Freeman. Photo: Bruce Tuten via Wikimedia Commons

Freddie Freeman. Photo: Bruce Tuten via Wikimedia Commons

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.

Name PA AB H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
Daniel Castro 3 3 2 0 0 1 1 0 0 .667 .667 1.667 2.333
Freddie Freeman 3 2 1 0 0 0 0 1 0 .500 .667 .500 1.167
Adonis Garcia 3 3 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 .333 .333 .333 .667
Nick Markakis 3 3 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 .333 .333 .333 .667
Matt Wisler 2 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000 .000 .000 .000
Total 14 13 5 0 0 1 1 1 1 .385 .429 .615 1.044
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 4/23/2016.

Off to Atlanta (Mets Game 15 Preview) April 22, 2016

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Matt Harvey in 2012. Photo: slgckgc on Flickr

Matt Harvey in 2012. Photo: slgckgc on Flickr

The Mets will start Matt Harvey tonight against the Braves’ Bud Norris.

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.

Pitcher as Position Player April 22, 2016

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Earlier this week, a reader found the World’s Worst Sports Blog by searching “Pitcher as Position Player.” While the WWSB is well-versed on position players hopping on the mound, there haven’t recently been many opportunities for pitchers to take the field. When they do, it’s often for strategic reasons.

Twice – in 2011 and 2012 – the Houston Astros’ Wesley Wright took the field to keep him in the game. Wright, a left-handed specialist, was noticeably better against lefties than righties. In 2011, his slash line against right-handers was .385/.429/.923 in 14 plate appearances. Against lefties, it was .067/.138/.067 in 30 plate appearances. I cannot emphasize how much Wesley Wright is two different pitchers depending on who he faces. The numbers weren’t as stark in 2012: .269/.367/.423 in 90 plate appearances against righties, .198/.265/.273 in 133 appearances against lefties. On August 23 of 2011, Houston manager Brad Mills put Wright in to pitch the 8th against the Colorado Rockies. Wright got Carlos Gonzales to pop out. Mills wanted a righty to face Troy Tulowitzki, so he stashed Wright in right field. Brian Bogusevic left the game to make room for Wright in the outfield and David Carpenter came in to face Tulowitzki. Carpenter induced a groundout, and then Wright came back to the hill to strike out Todd Helton with J.B. Shuck in right.

On July 27 of 2012, Wright did a similar shuffle: he came in in the 8th to get a groundout from Pittsburgh’s Alex Presley, but Brad Mills brought in Wilton Lopez to face Andrew McCutchen. Wilton replaced Wright on the mound with Ben Francisco leaving the game to make room for Wright. McCutchen doubled to center and Lopez left the game, so Bogusevic came in to play the field. Wright then took the mound again and got outs from Garrett Jones and Neil Walker, then from Pedro Alvarez in the ninth. (Interestingly, Bogusevic also hurled an inning in a blowout in 2012.)

Manager Bo Porter used fellow Astro Tony Sipp in the outfield twice in 2014, as well: right field on June 9 while Jerome Williams walked Paul Goldschmidt of the Diamondbacks, and left field six days later while Josh Zeid struck out the Rays’ Evan Longoria. Meanwhile, in 2010, pitchers Kyle Lohse and Roy Oswalt each spent some time in left field – 3 innings for Lohse and 2 for Oswalt – in extra-innings games. Neither had spent any time in the field in the minors.

Though an injury last year to David Wright made it look like the Mets might have to use Jacob deGrom as a shortstop, the Mets settled on putting catcher Anthony Recker at third base instead. It’s highly unusual to use a pitcher in the field because of the lack of experience and potential for injury. Even using pitchers to run is controversial. However, pitchers do occasionally come in to pinch hit, as Colin Rea did for the Padres earlier this year in an extra-innings game.

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