Free at last! (Mets Game 16 Preview) April 23, 2016Posted by tomflesher in Baseball.
Tags: Braves, Freddie Freeman, Jhoulys Chacin, Matt Harvey, Mets, Mets Game 15, Mets game 16
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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.
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.
Tags: Mets, Mets game 13, Phillies, Phillies bullpen
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Or, back to that wretched Phillies bullpenVince Velasquez is starting to look human, but don’t get too excited. Entering last night’s game, he was 2-0 on 15 innings pitched, 6 hits, 3 walks, a whopping 25 strikeouts, and no runs. He was coming off a shutout of the Padres on a monstrous 97 game score. Contrast that with last night: in 4 1/3 innings, Velasquez gave up 5 runs on 5 hits, although only two of them were earned because, in arguably the most important play of the game, Mets pitcher Logan Verrett reached on an error to start the third inning. Reconstructing the inning without the error:
However, because Verrett was safe at first, he was on base for Michael Conforto to single him over to second, and then for Yoenis Cespedes to bring them home on a home run. Although Conforto had already hit a wind-aided homer off Velasquez in the first, it’s debatable whether those hits would still have come at the beginning of an inning with a fresh pitcher. Since Conforto has been so problematic for pitchers, it’s likely he’d have made it to base in the phantom fourth inning, but Cespedes had struck out in the first, and the wind was certainly a factor in his homer; it’s plausible the fourth inning would have gone:
- Conforto singled
- Cespedes flied out to center
- Neil Walker flied out to right
- Asdrubal Cabrera grounded out to short
Then we enter the fifth inning with Velasquez down 2-0, rather than 5-0. That inning may have looked like this:
- Travis d’Arnaud grounded out to shortstop
- Verrett doubled.
- Granderson hit by pitch
- Wright struck out looking.
Now it’s the fifth inning, you have Conforto on deck, men on first and second, but the lead runner is a pitcher. Verrett is unlikely to score on a single. Even though Conforto beat Velasquez up pretty badly that evening, Velasquez is one out away from his fifth inning, making him eligible for a win if the Phillies turn it around. Additionally, entering last night’s game, Velasquez’ platoon splits were all in favor of having him face the lefty: he doesn’t strike lefties out as often, but they hit significantly worse. Bringing left-handed specialist Elvis Araujo in to face Conforto was a move that made sense if Velasquez was being beat up, but in this case I’d have been likely to leave him in as a development move. It’s not a given that Conforto would have hit him. Then, we have a totally different game.
Fortunately, the Phillies bullpen is terrible.
Araujo was perfect for two outs and Dariel Hinojosa pitched a perfect ninth, but Brett Oberholtzer allowed four runs on four hits and two walks in two innings; three (!) of those hits were home runs. James Russell allowed another two runs on three hits (one homer) and a walk. Russell was visibly shaken, although his ERA dropped .21 to 18.69. Meanwhile, Verrett gave us six scoreless innings; a rested Jim Henderson was perfect, and although Rafael Montero pitched relatively poorly (gave up one run, with at least one more saved by a killer catch by Juan Lagares in center), Hansel Robles got three outs on one hit. He was visibly pitching around Cameron Rupp (double) and Darin Ruf (struck out looking), both of whom handled the fact that Robles had attempted to murder them with grace and aplomb.
I’m not saying that last night’s game was a fluke. Conforto’s development has come at an alarming pace. Still, the two key plays last night that knocked Vince Velasquez out of the game boiled down to Logan Verrett reaching base twice. Pete Mackanin waved the white flag by leaving Brett Oberholtzer and James Russell out to eat innings, when an extra inning from Vince Velasquez may well have made this one a nailbiter. (Seriously, three and two thirds innings pitched by three different lefties?)
The Mets close out their series against the Phillies tonight. Bartolo Colon took a tough loss against the Phillies in his first start; Jeremy Hellickson has allowed a .256/.316/.430 slash line to current Mets. Yoenis Cespedes has hit .444 in 10 plate appearances against Hellickson; David Wright is .600 in five plate appearances. Juan Lagares, Wilmer Flores and Eric Campbell are each 1 for 3, while Granderson and Lucas Duda are both below the Mendoza line in 23 and 8 plate appearances, respectively.
Tags: Indians, Mets
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On Friday, Bartolo Colon started against his old Cleveland Indians team. Colon snagged the win on 5.1 innings pitched with 8 hits, 2 runs (both earned), 1 walk and 5 strikeouts for a game score of 48. This is Colon’s first win of the season and his first cheap win since May of last year. Bart has had exactly one cheap win each season as a Met.
On Saturday, Matt Harvey took his third loss of the season in a non-quality start. Harvey has raised concerns over the past several starts; though the Mets scored 5 runs in the game, Harvey’s run support has been 3.33 runs per game this year. Last year, the Mets averaged 4.37 runs per game behind Harvey; that’s the difference between above- and below-league-average support. On the bright side, that means the trend is unlikely to persist. Meanwhile, Corey Kluber – the Indians’ ace – is also 0-3 on a 6.16 ERA. Kluber took a tough loss to the Rays on April 12th but has otherwise pitched pretty poorly. He averages one run of support per game, with high hit totals and lots of extra-base hits.
On Sunday, Steven Matz bounced back from a difficult first start and grabbed a brilliant 78 game score in 7 innings of 3-hit baseball. Matz walked 2 and struck out 9.
As DH in Cleveland, Yoenis Cespedes hit a monstrous .417/.462/1.083; this included a .600 batting average on balls in play, indicating that he got lucky on a few of those hits. Meanwhile, honorary Met Juan Uribe had a .444/.545/.546 weekend against the Mets, starting all three games at third base.
The Mets bullpen allowed 5 earned runs in 8 innings for a 5.63 ERA, but inherited six runners with none scoring. Hansel Robles, Antonio Bastardo, and Jim Henderson all looked like strong options coming out of thrower jail, with Jeurys Familia notching an ugly but effective one-out save to bail out Addison Reed on Friday.
Mets Weekend Roundup (Games 4 and 5) April 11, 2016Posted by tomflesher in Baseball.
Tags: Marlins, Mets, Mets Game 4, Mets Game 5, Mets Game 6
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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.
Tags: Mets, Mets Game 4, Phillies
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Yesterday’s Mets home opener was joyous – Jacob deGrom‘s son decided to wait a little while longer, we got another masterful performance from Lazarus I Mean Jim Henderson, and Michael Conforto was firmly in Good Lucas Duda Mode. Besides, the Phillies had to go to their bullpen after 5+.
Despite a solid performance by young Jerad Eickhoff – in which he hit a double and scored one of two runs for Philadelphia – the Phillies starter ended up in trouble in the sixth when Duda doubled, Neil Walker singled him home, and Conforto doubled Walker home. Jim Henderson pitched a perfect seventh, and the Mets bullpen allowed only one run (unearned) after Peter Bourjos reached on an E5. Hansel Robles got a K, allowed Bourjos on, and then allowed a hit to Cesar Hernandez before Jerry Blevins came in to clean up lefty-batting Odubel Herrera and Hernandez on a double play. Antonio Bastardo finished the game with two strikeouts, allowing one single.
The Phillies bullpen has been awful this year, and this game is a microcosm of why. Eickhoff pitched well, but his bullpen couldn’t get a handle on it. Dalier Hinojosa got two outs and, despite a difficult at-bat, rule 5 draftee Daniel Stumpf finally recorded an out. In the seventh, James Russell got a single out, but allowed two walks and three singles; David Hernandez allowed another run before closing out the inning. This season, the Phillies’ starters have posted a 3.80 ERA and a 0.98 WHIP – both quite respectable, especially considering Charlie Morton‘s rough start. The bullpen, however, has pitched to a 12.66 ERA and a 2.44 WHIP, meaning for every inning pitched they allow almost three men to reach base.
Pete Mackanin has used Hinojosa in three of four games thus far, lefties Stumpf and Russell twice each, and Hinojosa and Hernandez three times. In those, Hinojosa and Russell each have one blown save. Stumpf is unproven but being used in relatively high-leverage situations, while Hector Neris is coming in in low-leverage situations despite having some of the best stats on the team. I recognize that Stumpf is young and being broken in – catcher Cameron Rupp came out and put his arm over Stumpf’s shoulder several times in yesterday’s game – but the Phillies seem to be treating his development as a goal that comes at the expense of the team.
Bartolo Colon starts tonight against the Phillies; current Phillies have hit .267/.301/.371 against Bartolo. Odubel Herrera is 4-13 against Colon, and a handful of Phillies are above the .300 mark. Meanwhile, the only Met starter Vincent Velasquez has faced is Alejandro De Aza, who is 1-2.
Bartolo’s stats against current Phillies:
Bring On The Phils (Mets Game 3 Preview) April 8, 2016Posted by tomflesher in Baseball.
Tags: Mets, Mets game 3, Phillies, Previews
add a comment 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:
Could James Loney fit on the roster? April 7, 2016Posted by tomflesher in Baseball, Economics.
Tags: James Loney, Mets, transactions
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The Rays released James Loney a few days ago. That’s a big drop down for the 31-year-old first baseman, who was 6th in Rookie of the Year polling in 2007. Though his bat slowed down in 2015 and he posted his worst lines since 2012, he still hit .280/.322/.357. Since the Rays released him, they’re due to pay him $8 million this year, meaning he could pull a Gary Sheffield and play for the league minimum. He doesn’t hit like a traditional first baseman: his 2015 numbers extrapolate to about 25 doubles and 6 home runs for a 162-game, 603-plate-appearance season. He’s a lifetime .266/.310/.418 pinch hitter, and he’s made three appearances as a pinch runner, with the last one coming in 2012. Loney is known as a solid defensive first baseman, although his defensive wins above replacement have been reliably negative and spiked down to -0.9 in 2014 and -0.7 last year.There’s an argument to be made that Loney might be more useful in the National League, considering the somewhat greater number of ground balls in the NL compared to fly balls. Loney had solid lateral movement, but the AL averaged .82 ground balls for every fly ball, and the Rays were at .74, in 2015. Meanwhile, the NL averaged .89, and Mets pitchers were right on the button. Closer Jeurys Familia was up at 1.52, with Bartolo Colon the fly-ball-est starter at a .75 GB/FB ratio. Loney might be more comfortable making picks than fielding high throws.
However, look at the marginal Mets player: Eric Campbell. With Wilmer Flores in a utility role and five full-time outfielders, picking up Loney would mean dropping Campbell or a pitcher. Conceivably we could talk trading Lucas Duda, but that’s not a move I can see the front office making (nor is it a move I’d endorse – Loney’s role would be as a lefty pinch hitter, double switch enabler, and defensive replacement). The Mets are carrying 12 pitchers, but that number includes the as-yet unproven Jim Henderson and starter-in-waiting Logan Verrett; one of them will have to go when Zack Wheeler comes back from Tommy John surgery. Temporarily dropping to 11 pitchers would set us up for a much nastier cut when Wheeler returns.
The truth is that Campbell isn’t a long-term solution, but Loney is even less of one. Campbell is expected to serve as a sixth outfielder in emergencies, while Loney hasn’t played the outfield since the Bush administration. Campbell was also called on to run for Travis d’Arnaud in Tuesday’s game, and logically he’s the soundest choice – Alejandro De Aza swiped 7 but got caught 5 times last year, and the 205-pound Flores isn’t exactly tearing up the base paths. Juan Lagares has some speed, but he’ll be starting games against lefties and won’t always be available from the bench. Loney is also a one-position player, and – though Flores’ ability to play anywhere in the infield is valuable – Campbell is there to prevent serious problems like Anthony Recker playing third base. Campbell also squatted a minor league game last year, so while I wouldn’t trust him to catch, he’s willing to do it.
I’d rather Campbell were playing every day – if he’s going to develop, he needs the time. But bringing in Loney and sending Campbell down would be a mistake for the Mets. It’s a shame. I like Loney. But I don’t think he’ll fit here.
Five Mets To Keep Warm, and Run Scoring Into The Postseason October 5, 2015Posted by tomflesher in Baseball, Sports.
Tags: dodgers. NLDS, Mets
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Catcher Anthony Recker, infielder Eric Campbell, outfielder Eric Young, Jr., and pitchers Logan Verrett and Bobby Parnell will head to Port St Lucie for the fall instructional league, says ESPN. Kirk Nieuwenhuis will go to LA or to Port St Lucie, depending on whether Juan Uribe is healthy. That spot will likely be solely for pinch hitting, since Nieuwenhuis and Uribe aren’t interchangeable hitters at all.
It’s alarming that the Mets have scored only 2 runs in their last 4 games. However, they also scored 46 in their last 10; which of those figures tells us more about the postseason? Frankly, neither.
Looking at least year’s NLDS and NLCS, the correlations are extremely weak: runs scored over the last 10 games of the season predicted about 8% of runs scored in the NLDS, with the strongest explanatory power coming at 3 games (12.4%), closely followed by 8 games (12.3%). This is only based on last year’s numbers, but the correlations are mostly noise.
Even a simple model based on runs scored doesn’t work for last year – the Giants defeated the Nationals, who outscored them, and the Cardinals, who didn’t.
This year’s Mets have scored 683 runs and allowed 613. The Dodgers scored 667 and allowed 595. In their 7 games this year, the Mets won 4, and outscored them 33-19. The Mets were 2-2 in Citi Field and 2-1 in Dodger Stadium.
Mets Home Field Magic Number is 3, Because Time Is Running Out October 2, 2015Posted by tomflesher in Baseball, Sports.
Tags: home field, home field advantage, Mets, Nationals, preview
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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’ Home Field Magic Number at 4, Despite Embarrassing Loss October 1, 2015Posted by tomflesher in Baseball, Sports.
Tags: #imwith47, Free Hansel, Mets, Phillies
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Hansel 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.