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Somos Familia, and White Sox Meet the Matz (Mets Game 51 preview) May 31, 2016

Posted by tomflesher in Baseball.
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Steven Matz. Photo: Arturo Pardavila III via Wikimedia Commons.

Steven Matz. Photo: Arturo Pardavila III via Wikimedia Commons.

After two rough outings including notching a condor win and allowing the winning runs in a tied ballgame, Jeurys Familia was back to his old form on Monday afternoon. Familia pitched a perfect ninth, striking out two, to save Matt Harvey‘s seven innings of shutout baseball. Harvey’s last regular season sniff of the seventh inning came on August 11 of 2015. Addison Reed also showed closer-level stuff, striking out two in a perfect inning of his own. Jim Henderson and Jerry Blevins were warmed up in case of emergency, but the game was otherwise a B-squad gem, with solid defense from Alejandro De Aza, Ty Kelly, and especially Wilmer Flores during their rare starts.

The series against the White Sox continues Tuesday, with Steven Matz seeing most of the White Sox for the first time. Todd Frazier is 1-6 against Matz and Austin Jackson is 0-1; meanwhile, many of the Mets have hit against Mat Latos with mixed results. Neil Walker has a .280/.400/.560 line, owing to 4 walks and 2 home runs in 20 plate appearances. Yoenis Cespedes is 0-5, while De Aza and Juan Lagares have had a bit more success. Lefty James Loney is expected to start at first base; he’s hit Latos at a .350 clip with 2 home runs in 20 plate appearances. Eric Campbell is 2-4 with two walks against Latos, for a monster .750 OBP. With Lagares quite successful, expect him to get the start and Michael Conforto to sit as a pinch hit threat.

As this was being written, the Mets hadn’t announced who they’ll send down to make room for Loney. I think the right move is to keep Kelly as the second-round pinch hitter behind De Aza to allow Campbell to play every day in Las Vegas. Kelly runs reasonably well and with Flores back up we don’t have as imminent a need for an infielder who can play shortstop. With a seven-man bullpen, and with roles well-defined, sending down a reliever is a bad move at this point.

With David Wright possibly headed to the disabled list due to a herniated disc, Flores may get the start at third; Ty Kelly or Eric Campbell is likely more useful off the bench to enable a double switch or as a pinch runner. That opens up another option to make room for Loney – keep both Campbell and Kelly, but put Wright on the disabled list.

Whichever direction the Mets go, they built up quite a bit of momentum against Jose Quintana on Monday. The White Sox’ anemic hitting, Matt Harvey’s strong start, the bench’s solid performance in the field, and Jeurys Familia pulling himself together mean that they should be able to knock Mat Latos out of the box early and gain on the one-game lead the Nationals currently hold. The Nationals won 4-3 against Philadelphia Monday night; they see the Phillies again Tuesday.

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

Posted by tomflesher in Baseball, Sports.
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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.