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Mets Game 10 Commentary: Won’t someone please think of the Bullpens! April 14, 2017

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In 16 innings, the Mets defeated the Marlins to extend their record to a division-leading 7-3. This is especially promising because the Mets went 1-2 in their first series against the Marlins last week, including losses to last night’s starter (Wei-Yin Chen) and losing pitcher (Adam Conley). Both teams depleted their bullpens, with the Mets using starter Jacob deGrom to pinch-hit and the Marlins using Conley, who started in all 25 of his appearances last year, as emergency relief. Neither team had any relievers left in the bullpen or any hitters left on the bench.

Surprisingly, neither team has made a roster move as of the time of writing.  EDIT: The Mets called up lefty Sean Gilmartin  several minutes after this posting. The Mets sent reliever Pat Sewald down before the game to make room for center fielder Juan Lagares, so Sewald wasn’t eligible to come back up, but New York had relied on Sewald and reliever Corey Taylor for saves in the spring. Taylor is pitching in Binghamton with an ugly 7.71 ERA in 2 1/3 innings over three appearances. Making a roster move would also rely on having a player to send down, but the bench is thick with players and few if any of the bullpen pitchers are expendable. However, Hansel Robles has pitched in four straight games and is undoubtedly unavailable tonight; Fernando Salas has pitched in two straight, and Addison Reed in three (2 innings last night). Meanwhile, Jerry Blevins has pitched in the last 2, totaling only 17 pitches. With three innings last night, Josh Smoker is likely to be unavailable, but Josh Edgin is well-rested despite a difficult appearance last night and a 4.15 ERA. Rafael Montero may make a second consecutive appearance tonight, although he’ll have all Mets fans biting their nails if he comes out of thrower jail. I’d be unsurprised to see Jacob deGrom make an appearance in relief, although it’s early in the season to play that game. (It’s times like this that I wish we still had Bartolo Colon.)

In a head-scratcher, the Marlins used a starter (Conley) while leaving reliever A.J. Ramos on the bench. Ramos had, as Marlin Maniac points out, pitched in the two previous games, tossing 2 innings and allowing one run. Every other bullpen pitcher pitched, including Brad Ziegler in his third straight game. Sadly, the bullpen seems to be well-rested enough that we won’t get to see Ichiro Suzuki pitch tonight.

Late in the game, I realized I don’t know who the Mets are likely to use in emergencies: Rene Rivera came in to play first base in a double switch in the 12th, so the backup catcher was in the game. Generally the emergency catcher would be a backup infielder, so T.J. Rivera would be the logical choice, but he’d come out of the game in a platoon maneuver to make room for Lucas Duda at first. Rivera or Jose Reyes might be a logical emergency pitcher, but it seems the new Blue Jay Ty Kelly might have filled in those positions. Judging by the state of the bullpen, we may find out tonight who Terry has slated to pitch in an emergency.


One down, three to go (Mets Game 132 Preview) August 30, 2016

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Rafael Montero exceeded expectations last night, tossing five innings of two-hit baseball; his command wasn’t where we’d hoped, but his six walks didn’t end up hurting the team. Jose Reyes manufactured a tying run and Yoenis Cespedes‘ tenth-inning homer snagged the win for Josh Smoker.

Miami's Tom Koehler. Photo: fressica

Miami’s Tom Koehler. Photo: fressica

Smoker has pitched each of the last three games; Terry Collins obviously didn’t want to use him last night, but the tenth inning left him few options. (I half expected Bartolo Colon to warm up.) The night did get Jim Henderson some rest, though, and Jerry Blevins is rubber-armed. Collins isn’t shy about using Addison Reed and Jeurys Familia every night in key situations. Hansel Robles is also available and may need to redeem himself. It was telling that Collins went to the exhausted Smoker rather than Robles for a back-to-back outing.

The Marlins will start Tom Koehler tonight against Seth Lugo. The Mets’ bullpen is where the Marlins are likely to get an edge; however, Koehler has had a solid August, with a 2.61 ERA and a .237/.278/.381 slash line allowed with a .278 BAbip. That’s slightly luckier than his 4.18 ERA, .262/.348/.394 and .307 BAbip through July. Koehler may be turning it up, or he may be benefiting from slightly better or luckier defense.

Travis d’Arnaud has hit Koehler hard: he’s 7-17 (.412) but has four walks in 21 plate appearances. Jay Bruce is also 2-3 with a walk, with Neil Walker and Jose Reyes other Mets at or above the .500 OBP mark against Koehler. Cespedes and Asdrubal Cabrera have OPS marks above 1.0. Koehler has a 4.09 ERA in two starts against the Mets this year, allowing 1.364 baserunners per inning pitched but with a 4.9 K9. A well-constructed lineup with a healthy Cabrera-Walker middle infield would go a long way tonight, but the Mets should still be able to put this one away behind Lugo.

Jose Reyes 4 3 1 0 0 1 1 0 .333 .500 1.333 1.833
Jay Bruce 4 3 2 0 0 0 1 0 .667 .750 .667 1.417
Asdrubal Cabrera 7 7 3 0 0 1 0 1 .429 .429 .857 1.286
Yoenis Cespedes 15 14 6 3 1 0 0 1 .429 .467 .786 1.252
Travis d’Arnaud 21 17 7 2 0 1 4 1 .412 .524 .706 1.230
Neil Walker 15 10 3 1 0 0 4 1 .300 .533 .400 .933
James Loney 11 10 3 1 0 0 1 2 .300 .364 .400 .764
Wilmer Flores 16 15 4 2 0 0 1 3 .267 .313 .400 .713
Kelly Johnson 13 12 3 1 0 0 1 3 .250 .308 .333 .641
Curtis Granderson 32 28 6 0 0 1 3 6 .214 .313 .321 .634
Jacob deGrom 10 9 1 0 0 0 1 5 .111 .200 .111 .311
Alejandro De Aza 8 8 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000 .000 .000 .000
Bartolo Colon 2 2 0 0 0 0 0 1 .000 .000 .000 .000
Rene Rivera 2 2 0 0 0 0 0 1 .000 .000 .000 .000
Noah Syndergaard 2 2 0 0 0 0 0 2 .000 .000 .000 .000
Total 162 142 39 10 1 4 17 27 .275 .364 .444 .808
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 8/30/2016.

Dig Deep, Rafael (Mets Game 131 Preview) August 29, 2016

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Rafael Montero pitches. Photo: slgckgc https://www.flickr.com/people/slgc/

Montero pitching. Photo: slgckgc

The Mets open a four-game series against the Marlins tonight. The Marlins are 8 games behind the first-place Nationals with a magic number of 25; the Mets can be eliminated from NL East contention by any combination of wins by the Nationals and losses by the Mets totaling 24. With 32 games left for each of those teams, even a .500 finish by the Nationals would require the Mets to go 25-7 over the stretch. That means nearly 4 wins for every loss – difficult to achieve.

Meanwhile, the Mets are 2.5 games behind the second wild card in the NL (St Louis) and 5 games behind wild card leader San Francisco. Since overtaking the second wild card necessarily involves passing the Marlins, this series is crucial – up to an 8-game swing hangs in the balance.

Surely, the Mets are bringing their best hurlers, right?

…. oh.

Rafael Montero starts for the Mets tonight against Jose Fernandez. In 24 games in relief for AAA Las Vegas, Montero has a 6.54 ERA. Although that’s a bit inflated, he’s still got a 2.95 ERA at AA Binghamton, and has started only twice. Montero is, of course, a bit of a sore spot for Mets fans after Terry Collins_going_to_see_injured_ra.html”>taking most of last season off. With Montero’s depth in question, and with him making his first major league start of the year, the Mets’ bullpen will be crucial. However, Josh Smoker and Jim Henderson each pitched both of the last two games; Hansel Robles has had a difficult August following a fantastic July, carrying a 10.38 ERA in 13 innings over 12 games. Addison Reed and Jeurys Familia are both available, and Jerry Blevins pitched only 2/3 of an inning last night, but otherwise the bridge to the 8th inning will be Sean Gilmartin.

With Seth Lugo starting tomorrow’s game, this is a crucial win for the Mets. Tomorrow, Henderson and Smoker will be rested and Terry Collins will have a bit more flexibility. If ever there was a time for Montero to dig deep, it’s today.

Mets Weekend Roundup (Games 4 and 5) April 11, 2016

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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.

Sometimes the bullpen just needs some work (Game 145 recap) September 16, 2015

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Photo: Keith Allison from Hanover, MD

Photo: Keith Allison from Hanover, MD

Last night’s loss to Tom Koehler of the Marlins was tough for Jacob deGrom – not in the sense of tough losses, but because two big innings hurt deGrom so much.

Jacob twice allowed 3 runs in an inning. Using the Baseball Reference play index, I dug up a couple of other times that’s happened – once earlier this year against the Marlins, once in April against Nationals, and once in June of last year against the Cardinals. Jacob just usually has a better handle on the offense than that.

Mike Dunn‘s lights-out seventh inning – Koehler allowed two walks, but Dunn struck out Curtis Granderson, Yoenis Cespedes, and Daniel Murphy in order – took away some momentum. An unfortunate wild pitch by Eric Goeddel to put Miguel Rojas in position to score off a Christian Yelich groundout with Eric O’Flaherty at the plate seemed to put the game out of reach for the Mets, despite a nice showing by Michael Conforto against Koehler and Bryan Morris (2 for 3 with a walk, one strikeout). Dee Gordon is unfortunately unstoppable.

Bobby Parnell acquitted himself well, and I appreciated Terry’s opportunity for Dario Alvarez. Although the game wasn’t out of hand as early as Terry went to the second string bullpen guys, I’m glad to see Parnell getting opportunities, and Dario Alvarez being used in this situation. O’Flaherty had been on ice since September 4, but pitched well, despite allowing a single (to Gordon) and an intentional walk.

Hopefully, that’s out of our system now.

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:

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.

The Three-Inning Save is an Endangered Species April 7, 2014

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Yesterday, Manny Parra pitched two perfect innings to pick up the save against the Mets. It was a natural save situation – the Reds were leading 2-1 and used their best reliever to maintain that lead. Usually, saves are only one inning, but two-inning saves aren’t unusual.

The save rule (Rule 10.19) does, however, allow for a less-common type of save:

  1. He is the finishing pitcher in a game won by his team;
  2. He is not the winning pitcher;
  3. He is credited with at least ⅓ of an inning pitched; and
  4. He satisfies one of the following conditions:
    1. He enters the game with a lead of no more than three runs and pitches for at least one inning
    2. He enters the game, regardless of the count, with the potential tying run either on base, at bat or on deck
    3. He pitches for at least three innings.

Brad Hand of Miami picked up that sort of save on April 4th, saving starter Tom Koehler‘s win in a rout of the Padres. It was Hand’s first career save; he’s in his fourth season with the Marlins and has been excellent from the bullpen, but this was his first save opportunity. It was also the first three-inning save of 2014.

The king of the three-inning save last year was Brett Anderson, then of Oakland and currently of Colorado. Anderson recorded three of the long saves – coincidentally his only three career saves. He’s starting for Colorado this year, so his days as long man are probably over. These long saves were more common in the past, when starters finished games far more often and specialized relievers weren’t used; the all-time leader for this type of save is Hoyt Wilhelm, who notched 53 of them between 1952 and 1971, often pitching four full innings. Bob Stanley, Dan Quisenberry, and Bill Campbell share the single-season record with 11 three-inning saves in 1982, 1983, and 1977, respectively. Since 2005, only Anderson and John Wasdin of the 2005 Texas Rangers have had three of them in a season. Don’t expect many more this year.

Quickie: The World Series NL DH October 23, 2008

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Things are fairly busy – it’s midterm time, and in my spare time I’ve been crunching numbers on the Canadian federal election. I’ve also been following Theron over at Recondite Baseball, who did a very interesting post about pitchers responsible for a high percentage of their team’s wins. I’d like to take a look at something that I consider to be the opposite: the poor guy who ends up playing DH for the National League team.