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Mets Home Field Magic Number is 3, Because Time Is Running Out October 2, 2015

Posted by tomflesher in Baseball, Sports.
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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.

Without Grandpa Burt in Attendance …. (Game 153 Preview) September 24, 2015

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Photo by Bill Kostroun (NY Post)

Photo by Bill Kostroun (NY Post)

Tonight’s game is a replay of July 28th, when a guy from Ward Melville High School, previously best known for having a delicious sandwich named after him, went 3 for 3 with a double and 4 RBIs up against a fellow rookie.

Steven Matz, whose grandfather was shocked and awed at Steven’s performance, has continued to maintain high performance standards since his debut. Meanwhile, Josh Smith of the Reds was laid off after July 4th, only to come back as a September callup. Since then, he’s been used twice in relief – a two-inning, one-hit appearance on September 8 and two runs and three hits in a third of an inning on the 13th – before being moved back into the rotation. In his most recent appearance, Smith started against the Brewers on September 19 and was lifted for reliever Brennan Boesch after four innings, 6 hits, 4 runs (all earned), 2 walks, and 3 strikeouts.

In 18 plate appearances in the July game, Mets had 4 hits and 4 walks (2 intentional). If you remove 3 IBBs from Smith’s 2015 line, his KBB is an anemic 1.17. His AAA numbers are significantly better (69 strikeouts and 23 unintentional walks [3.0 KBB] over 86 1/3 innings pitched), but Smith has been looking outclassed.

Matz faced the Reds only once, allowing 4 hits and 3 walks, striking out 5. Since then, his KBB is at 2.6, so his control has improved since his debut. He’s been in front of a .250 BAbip, which is slightly better than the league average, but has helped his own cause with 3 hits.

The Mets enter with some defensive difficulties and Tyler Clippard has pitched the last three days; though Terry has used Clippard often, expect him to sit tonight unless the game goes into extra innings. Bobby Parnell hasn’t pitched since the 19th, so he’ll probably see some work tonight.

Yoenis Cespedes hasn’t homered since September 14 but is hitting .357 with a 1.114 OPS in his last four games; Michael Conforto is 2 for 12 over the same stretch. Lucas Duda will likely start against the right-handed Smith. Duda is hitting .100 over the last 4 games, but with a .400 OBP due in large part to 5 walks (2 intentional).

The Reds are 0-3 against the Mets with a -7 run differential; in September, they are 9-12, scored 95 runs and allowed 103 for a -8 run differential. Their last series was visiting the Cardinals, so the numbers don’t compare directly, but they were outscored 15-4.

The Mets’ magic number is 5, so a sweep of this 4-game series would leave them in position to clinch with a win in any of three games visiting Philadelphia.

Mets Game 150 Quick Preview September 21, 2015

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Jonathon Niese has started three games against Atlanta this year, and in two of the three, he’s allowed unearned runs. His ERA in three games against Atlanta this year is 2.03, but his runs per 9 is 3.57. With last night’s defensive struggles in mind, and Niese’s difficulties, Terry Collins needs to be especially mindful of having a strong defense behind Jonathon tonight.

Gary Carter and Quackerjack

Gary Carter and Quackerjack

Meanwhile, Shelby Miller is on a skid – the Braves have lost both of his starts against the Mets this year, and Miller has put up a 4.38 ERA in his two starts against New York. Miller has an 8.36 ERA in three September starts, all losses, with a horrific .408 batting average on balls in play. Besides the defense, though, he’s putting up a .414 OBP-against and a 1.71 K/BB control ratio (2.00 if you remove a single intentional walk). Those numbers are a bit inflated because Miller faced a blistering Mets squad on September 10 and the Blue Jays on the 16th; though he may have a bad time, this is not a pitcher who the Mets should look past, particularly with Yoenis Cespedes still recovering from the slump he broke out of last year.

With the magic number stuck at Gary Carter‘s 8, this is a crucial series for the Mets. The Braves have been vile this year, and even if the Nationals go 2-1 against the Orioles, the Mets can push the magic number down to 5 by the end of this series with just 2 wins against the Braves. That means splitting a series with the Reds puts it at 3, even if the Nationals sweep the Phillies, giving the Mets a chance to either put it away by sweeping the Phillies themselves (clinching by October 1) or, if they win 2, coming into the season-ending series against Washington needing only to avoid a sweep. Again, that’s assuming the Nationals don’t help us out at all, taking 2 against the Orioles, sweeping the Phillies, winning their single game against the Reds, and sweeping the Braves.

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.

Mets Game 141 – Expect big things! September 11, 2015

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Atlanta scored 2 runs last night, significantly below their season average of 3.59. Even their average is half a run below the National League’s 4.12 run-per-game mark. That’s a fantastic situation for Mets starter Steven Matz, who will no doubt feel under some pressure to maintain his 1.89 ERA; Matz is facing an Atlanta lineup that has produced 30 runs over their last 10 games, including 7 and 8 against the Phillies, who may technically be their own AAA team at this point.

Matz is coming off a finger blister that the Mets say probably wont affect his pitching. Nonetheless, Bartolo Colon, Dario Alvarez, and Addison Reed combined to keep the bullpen fairly fresh tomorrow. That means that if Matz falters early, Sean Gilmartin is available for long relief; Tyler Clippard and Jeurys Familia are both rested in the case of a tight game. Though Bobby Parnell has had a rough season, I fully expect Terry Collins to use him in case of a big deficit. Hansel Robles is unavailable; no date has been set for his return.

Arodys Vizcaino hasn’t pitched since the 7th. He hasn’t allowed a run on long rest this season and has tended to pitch better on longer rest. Starter Matt Wisler had a stellar throw-day relief appearance on the 6th, though he’s been inconsistent this year. Rested starters David Wright, Daniel Murphy, and Travis d’Arnaud may take advantage of Wisler’s up and down year. However, note that Wisler threw 8 innings of 1-run ball against the Mets on June 19; it was a 1-0 game but for a double allowed by Gilmartin in the 8th. It’s tough to say which Wisler you’ll get, but we’re fortunate to have a tight bullpen in case our rookie starter is just good and not great.

The World’s Worst Mets Preview September 9, 2015

Posted by tomflesher in Baseball, Economics.
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Tonight, the Mets start Jacob deGrom against the Nationals’ Stephen Strasburg. Seven current Mets have OBPs above .400 against Strasburg, and that list looks a little bit like a lineup:

Name PA AB H HR BB SO BA OBP SLG
Lucas Duda 6 3 1 0 2 0 .333 .667 .333
Travis d’Arnaud 3 3 2 0 0 0 .667 .667 .667
Curtis Granderson 7 5 2 0 2 1 .400 .571 .400
Michael Cuddyer 6 6 3 0 0 2 .500 .500 .500
David Wright 4 4 2 0 0 0 .500 .500 .500
Kevin Plawecki 2 2 1 0 0 1 .500 .500 1.000
Wilmer Flores 5 5 2 0 0 2 .400 .400 .600
Total 54 49 15 0 4 13 .306 .370 .347
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 9/9/2015.

(Full list here– current Mets are .306/.370/.347 vs Strasburg).

Seems reasonable – Granderson in right, Michael Conforto in left, Yoenis Cespedes in center, d’Arnaud catching, Duda at first, Flores at short, Daniel Murphy at second, and Wright at third. (Murphy is 1 for 6 lifetime against Strasburg.) That leaves Cuddyer to come off the bench as an early pinch hitter; Plawecki, despite his .500 OBP against Strasburg, is probably not our best option off the bench. [NOTE: Cuddyer is unavailable. Mea culpa.]

Meanwhile, with Ryan Zimmerman day to day, the Nats are missing his .375/.333/.350 against deGrom; that leaves their best options as Yunel Escobar (.500/.545/.600 in 10 plate appearances) and Bryce Harper (.385/.429/.462 in 14). Jose Lobaton (.500/.500/.500 in 2) and Ian Desmond (.308/.308/.538 in 13) also appear to be threats, but of course Desmond’s defense makes him a double-edged sword. In 109 plate appearances, current Nationals hit .223/.250/.350 against deGrom.

In a crucial late-season game, this one looks promising for the Mets.