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Mets Game 3 Commentary: Jay Bruce Continues To Surprise April 7, 2017

Posted by tomflesher in Baseball.
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Jay Bruce in August 2016. Photo: Editosaurus via Wikimedia Commons.

Before yesterday’s game, I speculated that Jay Bruce might be a good bet to sit against a left-handed starter, even suggesting Ty Kelly would make a good stopgap corner fielder due to Kelly’s strong numbers against lefties. Nevertheless, Bruce started the game and Kelly saw no action – by the time a pinch hitter was needed, right-hander Chaz Roe was in and lefty Michael Conforto was the clear choice off the bench.

Last year, Terry Collins wasn’t happy with Bruce, famously allowing Eric Campbell to pinch hit for him in the September stretch run. It’s clear that Bruce has regained Collins’ favor, since he started against a left-hander last night and has performed well. However, he didn’t perform especially well against Jaime Garcia, as his fifth-inning walk was his only time on base last night.

While it’s a bit early to rest a starting outfielder, Ty Kelly has fantastic numbers against left-handed pitching and I’d like to see him get more chances to demonstrate whether he’s been lucky or really has a read on the pitching. Playing Kelly would have still left righty infielder T.J. Rivera and righty backup catcher Rene Rivera – no relation – ready to come up in a pinch. Bruce’s defense has been decent; he logged two putouts and no errors last night. Still, Collins is showing confidence in Bruce, who many speculated wouldn’t even be a Met on opening day.

Jay Bruce’s yearly walk and OBP numbers before this season.

Bruce has seen a recent uptick in his on-base percentage, famously a crucial measure of contribution to the team. Currently, he’s sitting on an OBP of .538, driven in large part by 4 walks in 13 plate appearances. At .31 walks per plate appearance, he’s nearly triple his highest previous career season (.11) and over tripled his career mark (.09). He’s unlikely to sustain this; however, his OBP has climbed the past two seasons from a historical low of .281 in 2014 to a so-so .309 in 2016. It’s possible that Bruce is showing an early hot streak that is, nonetheless, a sign of growth at the plate.

If Bruce were following a normal trend, we’d expect him to be at about .0838 walks per plate appearance. As noted, he’s at .31. In any 100 streaks of 13 plate appearances, he should be somewhere between .00 and .25 95 times. Although this is a very small sample size, it’s likely that Bruce has made some changes in his approach at the plate, especially since those walks haven’t been intentional.

I’ve included a line chart of Bruce’s season walks and OBP over his time in the majors.

Bring On The Phils (Mets Game 3 Preview) April 8, 2016

Posted by tomflesher in Baseball.
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Photo Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Larry Bowa becomes apoplectic over Hansel Robles. Photo Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

This afternoon, the Mets host the Phillies to open their season series. No love lost here: keep in mind, it was Philadelphia’s Cameron Rupp who future closer Hansel Robles was suspended for completely accidentally attempting to quick-bean. Robles was also accused of attempted murder when he executed his quick-pitch on Darin Ruff in August. Since the Phils and the Mets have never quite gotten along, this will probably turn ugly quickly. Rupp played in Wednesday’s game and Ruf has appeared in every game so far; expect Robles to get no end of chatter from the Philly bench this series.

Philadelphia is coming off three losses to Cincinnati. The season opener featured a loss by David Hernandez and a blown save by James Russel, spoiling an excellent start by Jeremy Hellickson (game score of 70). Dalier Hinojosa blew the save and took the loss on Wednesday, flushing an 8-strikeout, 1-run, 7-inning start by Aaron Nola down the drain (game score of 73). Thursday, starter Charlie Morton finally lost his own game, getting bounced after 5 runs in 3 2/3 innings. Hinojosa acquitted himself reasonably, pitching a two-hit 8th but giving up no runs. Rookie Daniel Stumpf walked two and allowed a home run before being hooked, leading him to the rare infinite ERA. Long man Brett Oberholtzer gave up one run in 3 1/3 innings.

The Philly bullpen is beat up. On a day game after a night game, and with Friday the third consecutive game day, it’s difficult to see Hinojosa pitching for the third consecutive day. Hernandez is fresh, but it’s not inconceivable we could see Stumpf in middle relief to try to shake out the yips. Jerad Eickhoff, who cannot spell his own name, will start Friday for Philadelphia. Eickoff pitched 51 innings in 8 games to a 2.65 ERA last year. He had a slightly lucky .257 BAbip with an 8.6 K9 and a 3.77 KBB. His work against the Mets is mixed. Michael Conforto has taken him to school (4-8 with a homer and a walk, despite two Ks); Yoenis Cespedes had a tougher time (1-6, 2 Ks).

The story of the game is that the Mets plan to start Jacob deGrom, who will leave immediately if his wife goes into labor. If that happens before the game, Bartolo Colon and Steven Matz are likely fill-in candidates. deGrom has had a tough time with the Phillies – though he’s 1-0 against them, he’s allowed a 4.41 ERA and a .313/.352/.463 line against them. His numbers against current Phillies are below:

Name PA AB H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS SH SF IBB HBP GDP missG
Freddy Galvis 8 8 5 0 0 0 0 0 1 .625 .625 .625 1.250 0 0 0 0 1
Odubel Herrera 8 8 2 0 0 0 0 0 2 .250 .250 .250 .500 0 0 0 0 0
Ryan Howard 8 8 3 0 0 1 3 0 2 .375 .375 .750 1.125 0 0 0 0 0
Carlos Ruiz 6 6 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 .167 .167 .167 .333 0 0 0 0 0
Cesar Hernandez 4 2 1 0 0 0 0 2 1 .500 .750 .500 1.250 0 0 0 0 0
Maikel Franco 3 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 .000 .000 .000 .000 0 0 0 0 0
Andres Blanco 2 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 .000 .000 .000 .000 0 0 0 0 0
Cameron Rupp 2 1 1 0 0 1 1 1 0 1.000 1.000 4.000 5.000 0 0 0 0 0
Total 41 38 13 0 0 2 4 3 9 .342 .390 .500 .890 0 0 0 0 1
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 4/7/2016.