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

Posted by tomflesher in Baseball.
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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

Posted by tomflesher in Baseball.
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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.