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Mets Home Field Magic Number is 3, Because Time Is Running Out October 2, 2015

Posted by tomflesher in Baseball, Sports.
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If you do the math, 163 – Mets Wins – Dodgers Losses, you’ll end up with a magic number of 4 wins by the Mets and losses by the Dodgers to clinch home field for the National League Division Series. Both teams are 89-70, so each team going 3-3 would result in a tie. Since the Mets own the tiebreaker, though, the Mets don’t have to beat the Dodgers, just tie them.

The Mets enter a the last three games of the series tonight with Noah Syndergaard facing off against Gio Gonzalez. Gio has seen a steady rise in his ERA since moving to the Nationals in 2011 and is currently 11-8. Gio also reliably hits one double and home run per year; he’s a career .088 hitter and has checked off the 2B box but not the home run box so far.

The Mets have won their last six games against Washington. Syndergaard has a win and a no decision in a team loss to the Nationals this year; Gonzalez is 2-0 with a losing no decision against the Mets. The Nationals were 2-3, but Gonzalez was 2-1, in September; Gio put up a 2.89 ERA in September.

Yesterday’s bullpen game was ugly, but only offensively. Losing pitcher Sean Gilmartin pitched 5 innings and gave up 2 runs. Tim Stauffer gave up one hit in two innings of relief, in a nice surprise. Dario Alvarez gave up a home run to Andres Blanco, but Jeurys Familia struck out Aaron Altherr to end the game. Kevin Plawecki took the only walk for New York.

Against the Nationals in New York, Terry Collins is likely to start his usuals who sat during yesterday’s noon game. More offense is likely, and with the bullpen’s B team putting together a quality game, Syndergaard supported by Jonathon Niese, Tyler Clippard, and Addison Reed should be able to hold Gio homerless.

Mets’ Magic Number For Home Field: 5 (Game 158 Preview) September 30, 2015

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Photo: slgckgc

Photo: slgckgc

Following a masterful one-hit performance by Clayton Kershaw and a 4-1 loss by the Mets, the Dodgers still remain within a few games of home field advantage. The Mets are 89-68; the Dodgers are 88-69. The Mets could thus clinch home field advantage by winning 5 games.

Bartolo Colon‘s stiff neck and Wilmer Flores‘ “little bit” of strep throat (according to Gary Cohen) kept the game close – Ruben Tejada got the start at shortstop and went 1-3 with a walk. If Wilmer really does have strep, he’ll sit again tonight; if he just has a lingering sore throat from cigar smoke, he may be back in the lineup. I was surprised not to see Kelly Johnson stay in the game at short after pinch-hitting, but Terry Collins will probably try him out there again in this series. This can’t be make or break for Johnson, since he’s valuable as a utilityman, so I can only presume that Ruben Tejada’s status on the bench is in question. That’s also surprising, considering Tejada’s reputation as a strong defender, but Ruben has been below average this year at short (his fielding percentage was high but he made 5 errors in 76 games and his range factor is eh). Flores is also below average, but his bat is consistently better than Tejada’s. Having Johnson as a defensive option would allow Tejada to be pulled off the lineup if necessary.

Meanwhile, the Dodgers will face the Giants again today. Sophomore Mike Bolsinger starts for the Dodgers against Mike Leake for the Giants. Bolsinger has a respectable 3.48 ERA but that jumps to 6.88 since his September callup. Leake has a 4.86 ERA since being traded to the Giants; in 5 games with Buster Posey, it’s only 3.41, but in 9 innings with Trevor Brown behind the plate he’s allowed 7 earned runs. (A bit of that is likely due to a huge BAbip split: .222 with Posey, .343 with Brown.) With the Dodgers 5 games away from home field advantage, Don Mattingly is unlikely to put out a day-after lineup. Expect to see closer (and birthday boy) Kenley Jansen, who hasn’t worked since back-to-back games on the 23rd and 24th. Jansen has 34 saves this year.

 

The Mets’ Home Field Magic Number is 6 (Game 157 Preview) September 28, 2015

Posted by tomflesher in Baseball, Sports.
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Bartolo Colon starts Tuesday against the Phillies’ David Buchanan. Despite some noise about moving Bart to the bullpen, he is 13-2 in-division and 4-0 against the Phillies this year. Colon has posted a 5.80 KBB ratio and a 2.33 ERA in 27 innings against Philadelphia, so it would be foolish not to start him. (Both Philadelphia and the Mets are idle tonight.)

Colon has the chops to go for a complete game. However, Jonathon Niese is moving to the bullpen effective today, so Terry Collins may be looking for an opportunity to get Niese into the game. With rookies Steven Matz, Logan Verrett, and Noah Syndergaard all trying to go as deep into games as possible, it may make more sense to plan to pitch Bart for 6 innings and bring Niese into a clean 7th. Let him pitch 2, see what he can do, and use Jeurys Familia or Hansel Robles depending on the situation in the 9th.

The Mets can clinch home field advantage for the National League Division Series with any combination of 6 wins by the Mets and losses by the Dodgers. The magic number is defined (in MLB) as (163 – Wins by the Mets – Losses by the Dodgers); currently, the Mets are 89-67 and the Dodgers are 87-68. Since the Dodgers have played 155 of 162 games, they could conceivably finish 94-68 by winning every remaining game. That means the Mets could clinch just by getting to 95 wins (6 more). The Mets could lose all 6 of their remaining games and end up at 89-73, but the Dodgers would have to win three games to finish 90-72 (losing no more than 4). The Mets own the tiebreaker (4-3 season series), so it would be incumbent on the Dodgers to win more games than the Mets.

With all of the Mets’ starters rested, they can head into Philadelphia ready to nail down 2 of 3. Of active, qualified players, the Phillies’ OBP leader is rookie Odubel Herrera with an anemic .333. Three players have slightly better OBP and enough plate appearances, but they are Maikel Franco, Cesar Hernandez, and Ben Revere – on the 15-day DL, the 60-day DL, and the Blue Jays roster, respectively. Switch-hitting Andres Blanco has too few plate appearances to qualify for rate stats but is rolling a .356 OBP. OPS leader Aaron Altherr has a .513 slugging average, meaning that he averages slightly over half a base per at-bat. (Walks don’t contribute to SLG.)

Expect this series to continue the trend of trying out players at different positions. Kelly Johnson will likely see work at shortstop, and with Juan Uribe out I’d also love to see Daniel Murphy take a few innings at third. Although Anthony Recker played the hot corner in an emergency earlier this year, Recker likely won’t make the postseason roster anyway, and in any situation in which we need to lift David Wright, playing Murphy at third and Kelly Johnson or Wilmer Flores at second would be a net defensive upgrade.