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Mets’ Home Field Magic Number at 4, Despite Embarrassing Loss October 1, 2015

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e9e65ede57d06aadce758b40b245c159-originalHansel Robles was bounced from last night’s game against the Phillies for “throwing at” Philadelphia catcher Cameron Rupp. That ejection was controversial because the ball clearly just got away from the fireballing right-hander, but he (along with manager Terry Collins) was ejected because both benches had been warned. Yoenis Cespedes had been hit on the hand in the third by Justin De Fratus; Kirk Nieuwenhuis was hit by De Fratus’ replacement, Adam Loewen in the fifth; and Logan Verrett retaliated in the bottom of the fifth by hitting Odubel Herrera. When the ball got away from Robles and sailed past Rupp’s head on a 2-2 count (despite a sign from Travis d’Arnaud for a breaking pitch), Robles was toast.

A total of 17 pitchers (9 Mets and 8 Phillies) were used; that’s not a record, not even for a September 30th game. Way back in 2007 on the same date, the Cardinals used 10 pitchers in a winning effort over the Pirates’ 8.

The Mets could take tonight’s game; Sean Gilmartin will start with Tim Stauffer tapped to relieve him. Though Addison Reed and Tyler Clippard appeared last night, they should be available to relieve today. Philadelphia will start rookie Jerad Eickhoff.

Thanks to a loss by the Dodgers to Mike Leake‘s two-hit complete game for the Giants, the Mets are one game closer to home field advantage. If the Mets win all 4 remaining games, they’ll clinch home field advantage; LA faces Tim Hudson in the last start of Hudson’s career tonight.

Bullpen Bullets for September 30, 2015 September 30, 2015

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With the playoffs approaching, pitchers are making their cases to be included on the shortened roster for the National League Division Series.

  • Jonathon Niese made his first trip out of the bullpen last night, pitching 1 2/3 innings and giving up one earned run and 3 hits. He left Freddy Galvis and Odubel Herrera on base, and Eric Goeddel let Galvis come home. Niese allowed a hit to leadoff batter Cody Asche and looked to me like he might not have been totally warm. I expect Niese to get more comfortable in the ‘pen as he gets more work; expect Terry Collins to try him out as a situational lefty, although I think he’s more valuable as an ecumenical long relief option.
  • Speaking of ecumenical long relief options, Logan Verrett starts tonight in place of Steven Matz, who will start tomorrow instead after sleeping on a sofa and getting a stiff back. Bartolo Colon was favoring his neck last night, too; it sounds like the boys might have had a bit too much fun over the past few nights.
  • Hansel Robles hasn’t pitched since throwing a third of an inning in relief of Tim Stauffer on the 25th. Bobby Parnell closed the Understudies game on the 27th. The bullpen trio of Addison Reed, Tyler Clippard, and Jeurys Familia have been idle since the 26th. Expect to see them in relief of Verrett for any lead tonight, particularly since Niese will need to rest after throwing almost 2 innings..
  • Sean Gilmartin had been used in a long role; with Niese being tried out, there may not be room for Gilmartin on the playoff roster, particularly since they both tend to be better against righties. Gilmartin allows a .214/.287/.282 line to right-handed batters vs .272/.330/.359 to lefties; Niese’s split is less pronounced at .274/.340/.421 against righthanders vs .293/.331/.495 to left-handers. Niese’s comfort level getting ready quickly may determine whether he’s used in long relief or as a stuational lefty, but frankly neither of them is a strong pitcher against left-handers. By comparison, the right-handed Robles is pitching .169/.217/.251 to left-handed batters.

I’m Still With 47 September 21, 2015

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Photo: slgckgc on Flickr

Photo: slgckgc on Flickr

Hansel Robles took the loss last night on an ugly line – 2/3 of an inning pitched, 5 runs on 3 hits, a walk, and a wild pitch. It was a tough way to lose – the story of the game was Matt Harvey leaving after five shutout innings of one-hit baseball and, so the narrative goes, Robles coming in to crap it up. I’d like to suggest that it’s not entirely fair to throw this all on Robles.

Robles’ first batter was Jacoby Ellsbury, who reached on a throwing error by second baseman Daniel Murphy. His second batter was Brett Gardner, who reached on a fielder’s choice. Ellsbury was safe on the fielder’s choice due to a catching error by David Wright. Let’s keep track of that – although the official scorer considers Gardner to be Robles’ only earned run, Gardner should have grounded out.

At that point, Carlos Beltran hit a double, which should have been a completely innocuous hit with no one on. Brian McCann struck out – inning over, in a parallel universe where Juan Uribe hadn’t suffered an injury coming out of the game (or where Wilmer Flores or Kelly Johnson comes in to play second, rather than Murphy). Even allowing for Gardner to reach safely and Beltran to bat him home, that gets followed up by a wild pitch with Greg Bird at the plate, followed by walking Bird, and a swinging strikeout of Chase Headley. Worst case scenario, Robles gives up the tying run.

From there, it’s a totally different ballgame – Sean Gilmartin or Addison Reed comes in to at worst a tied game in the 7th, followed up by a chance for Tyler Clippard or Reed to take the eighth and Jeurys Familia closing to the strains of “Danza Kuduro” in the ninth. Don’t get me wrong – Collins has made a lot of excellent moves this season. Last night’s sixth was a comedy of (literally) errors, but a few other moves made it look like Collins had decided the game was already out of hand by the seventh.

World’s Worst Mets Preview, Game 145 vs Miami September 15, 2015

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Jacob deGrom at bat. Photo: Arturo Pardavila III

Jacob deGrom at bat. Photo: Arturo Pardavila III

Last night’s win against the Marlins of Miami had several positives:

  • The triumphant return of Hansel Robles
  • A baserunning error by Juan Lagares that in the end was still not that big a deal
  • Kyle Barraclough allowing his second earned run of the season, causing his ERA to grow to 0.96. You heard what I said. ERAs can grow to .96.

Several indicators tonight point toward the positives continuing. With a magic number of 10, the Mets are starting Jacob deGrom against Stony Brook alum Tom Koehler. Since August 1, Koehler has a 5.48 ERA; over his last five games, that drops to 5.34 with a 1-3 record. That is, however, working with a pretty nasty .345 batting average on balls in play. His season BAbip is .276, which indicates that the defense behind him may be lacking.

Mets have hit Koehler reasonably well:

Name PA AB H HR SO BA OBP SLG
Kirk Nieuwenhuis 8 5 2 1 0 .400 .625 1.200
Travis d’Arnaud 16 12 5 0 1 .417 .563 .583
Yoenis Cespedes 6 6 3 0 0 .500 .500 1.167
Kevin Plawecki 2 2 1 0 1 .500 .500 .500
Ruben Tejada 27 22 7 0 1 .318 .423 .500
Curtis Granderson 23 19 4 0 5 .211 .348 .211
David Wright 27 24 6 0 6 .250 .333 .375
Lucas Duda 30 24 3 0 6 .125 .300 .208
Daniel Murphy 30 27 6 1 2 .222 .300 .333
Wilmer Flores 11 11 3 0 2 .273 .273 .455
Juan Lagares 23 23 6 0 2 .261 .261 .348
Michael Cuddyer 8 8 2 0 1 .250 .250 .375
Jacob deGrom 8 7 1 0 4 .143 .250 .143
Eric Young 14 12 1 0 1 .083 .214 .167
Kelly Johnson 10 10 2 0 3 .200 .200 .200
Michael Conforto 5 5 1 1 2 .200 .200 .800
Anthony Recker 9 8 0 0 1 .000 .000 .000
Dilson Herrera 3 3 0 0 3 .000 .000 .000
Juan Uribe 3 3 0 0 1 .000 .000 .000
Eric Campbell 2 2 0 0 1 .000 .000 .000
Total 275 242 53 3 47 .219 .308 .347
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 9/15/2015.

If Terry wanted to start a lineup based on those stats, we’d have an outfield made up of Kirk Nieuwenhuis, Yoenis Cespedes, and Curtis Granderson; Lucas Duda at first, Ruben Tejada at short, Daniel Murphy at second, David Wright at third, and Travis d’Arnaud catching. (Aside from starting Kirk rather than Michael Conforto, that’s pretty much our standard lineup anyway.) Since Kirk got the start on Sunday, starting him again so soon, and leaving Conforto on the bench, might be a suspect move, but there’s quite a bit to be said for the strong bench that gives Terry a left-handed option (in Conforto) and a right-handed option (Juan Uribe) who both have some pop.

Marlins closer A.J. Ramos last pitched on the 12th; his last blown save was September 4, and he hasn’t allowed a run since. The overall Marlins bullpen has a 3.40 ERA, but performs slightly worse in high-leverage situations than in other situations; the Marlins as a team have a 5.19 ERA against the Mets this year.

This is a game where a few runs early on will make a big difference for the Mets, and as long as they leverage their high OBP against Koehler, they can keep pushing the magic number down.

Preview for Mets Game 140, September 10 September 10, 2015

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Coming into tonight’s game against the Mets, the Braves are on a Meh streak: they took two from a terrible Phillies team over the past few nights, with scores of 7-2, 0-5, 8-1. Closer Arodys Vizcaino hasn’t pitched since the first game of that series; over those three games, the Braves bullpen threw 6 innings and gave up 3 runs, but all of those were in the 0-5 loss. The bullpen has thrown 422 1/3 innings this year and has a 4.67 ERA, but expect to see Vizcaino regardless as it’s been a few days since he worked.

Starter Shelby Miller has been hot and cold; he’s coming off a 4 1/3, 6-earned-run outing on September 5th, and he’s allowed 3 or more earned runs in three of his last four. However, when he’s good, he’s good: he has 2 complete games this year, both shutouts. Miller will probably be given a lot of rope tonight, which is fantastic for Lucas Duda and Daniel Murphy; Murphy is 3 for 7 lifetime against Miller with a double, and Duda is 3 for 8 with a double and a home run. David Wright is 3 for 6 against Miller, with Juan Uribe 1 for 7; Uribe’s OPS in Turner Field is an anemic .638, so expect to see Juan as a pinch hitter if you see him at all.

The Closer Monkey has Tyler Clippard on the vulture save watch because Jeurys Familia has pitched in the last three games, but Clippard has pitched in three of the last four and allowed runs in two of them; Clippard may come in for emergency firefighting, but with Clippard and Familia both fairly gassed (6 2/3 innings combined since September 6), I think it’s more likely we’ll see Hansel Robles handed the eighth and Addison Reed take the ninth. Again, that’s if we see them at all; Bartolo Colon hasn’t pitched back-to-back complete games since 2003, but the way the Mets have been hitting, Bart may get us seven or eight good innings and a strong lead. In that case we’d be more likely to see Bobby Parnell given an opportunity to win the fans back.