Mets Bullpen Dominates, Lindor Shines Bright For 4-2 Win Over D’Backs

The New York Mets went deep into their bullpen for the second straight night, but they held strong for a 4-2 win over the Arizona Diamondbacks. Of course, offensive production is needed to win games, and the loving couple of Jeff McNeil and Francisco Lindor provided it for their fourth straight win.

Tommy Hunter has been with the Mets for just a couple of days but has been busy during his short tenure. After throwing two scoreless innings on Friday, he did the same as the opener tonight. Joey Lucchesi followed with 3.1 innings, where he allowed just one earned run. The following duo of Jeurys Familia and Aaron Loup made their outings interesting.

Familia struck out his two batters in the sixth, but three weak singles loaded the bases in the seventh. After falling behind 3-0 to Christian Walker, Familia battled back to get him to ground out to shortstop, and Pete Alonso‘s swift footwork prevented a potential error. Loup allowed Stephen Vogt to get on base as the tying run after his RBI single but found his way out of the inning as well.

Trevor May got the closer job in the ninth, with Edwin Diaz unavailable after pitching the last two nights. May rose to the occasion and shut the door to finish off the victory. The pitching staff was not as dominant as it was on Friday, but they were terrific at tip-toeing out of danger. They allowed eight hits, two walks, and an extra three baserunners on errors but battled to hold the D’Backs to just two runs.

Kiss And Make Up

Only Lindor, McNeil, and the rest of the Mets clubhouse really know what happened in the tunnel on Friday, but both players have responded in great ways. McNeil opened the scoring and provided half the runs for the Mets with his two-run homer in the third inning. Lindor showed off his versatility when he turned instantly turned a walk into a run. When Lindor stole second base, the throw banged off his foot and into no-mans land in left field, which allowed him to chug around the bases and score. Lindor also remained hot with the bat as he had a double and an RBI single.

The Mets were 1-for-6 with runners in scoring position and had four hits, but three were for extra bases. They also recorded six walks and stole two bases after having five all season heading into the night. Kevin Pillar recorded a double to go along with his stellar defense in center field and Jonathan Villar walked twice as they continue to fill their roles perfectly with key Mets on the IL.

After stressing the bullpen arms in the first two games, the Mets are in a perfect position for a sweep, with Jacob deGrom heading to the mound on Sunday. Riley Smith will take the mound for the Diamondbacks for the 1:10 p.m. ET start from Citi Field.

Mets Offense Chokes in Extra Innings During 4-3 Loss

New York Mets, Edwin Diaz

The “Friendly Confines” of Wrigley Field were quite the opposite for the New York Mets as they dropped all three games to the Chicago Cubs. Unlike their 16-4 loss the previous night, the Mets a great chance to win this game. They had a runner on third with no outs and bases loaded with one out in the 10th but failed to take the lead. In the bottom half, the Cubs took advantage of their based loaded opportunity to win 4-3 and complete the sweep.

Jason Heyward played the hero with an RBI single, which showed the Mets how simple it is to drive in a run with the bases loaded. When the Mets had an opportunity to take the lead, Jeff McNeil struck out, and Dominic Smith grounded into a double play to foil any opportunity to win the game. The Mets went just 1-for-7 w/RISP, left eight runners on base, and are hitting .190 w/RISP.

Joey Lucchesi struggled again as he lasted just three innings and allowed the same amount of runs. Sean Reid-Foley was stellar in his Mets debut by throwing three perfect innings with four strikeouts. Reid-Foley set the tone for a Mets bullpen that was terrific all night. Trevor May followed with a scoreless seventh, then Aaron Loup and Miguel Castro combined to work around a leadoff triple in the eighth. Edwin Diaz sent the game to extra innings but allowed the bases-loaded single to take the loss.

Get The Offense Going

If you search synonyms for the word “bad,” you will find many words to describe the Mets offense. Pete Alonso did homer for the second straight game, but he was the only somewhat hot hitter in the lineup. J.D. Davis tied the game in the seventh with a pinch double after getting a night off from playing the field. Davis is 8-for-18 to begin the season and should return to the lineup on Friday because they desperately need his bat despite his struggling defense.

Despite the sweep and falling back to .500, the Mets are still tied for first place. While there is never a guarantee to win with Jacob deGrom on the mound, they will have the opportunity to take advantage of his greatness when he starts on Friday. Erick Fedde pitches for the Washington Nationals, who make their first trip to Citi Field for the 7:10 p.m. start.

May, Loup and Mets Defense Implode During Five Run Eighth in 5-3 Loss

It truly would not be a Jacob deGrom start without the New York Mets bullpen and defense sticking a huge middle finger to him once he leaves the game. deGrom cruised through six shutout innings but was pulled after just 77 pitches, even though Manager Luis Rojas said he could get to the 100 pitch plateau. Miguel Castro gave the Mets a scoreless seventh, but all hell broke loose in the eighth.

The debuting Mets relievers had an ugly night. Trevor May was the first and ran into loads of trouble after striking out the first batter he faced. Two singles and a walk loaded the bases for Bryce Harper, and May turned the ball to Aaron Loup. He hit Harper with the second pitch he threw to make it a 2-1 game, then J.T. Realmuto singled to knot the game up 2-2. Alec Bohm followed with a dribbler to defensive replacement, Luis Guillorme, but a combination of a poor throw and horrible footwork from catcher James McCann resulted in two runs scoring on the error. A sacrifice fly from Didi Gregorious was the final blow in the five-run inning.

The Mets offense showed the rust of a team that spent the last handful of days on the sidelines. Matt Moore looked like Steve Carlton for the first two innings, striking out four in a row at one point. Once the Mets turned the lineup over, their patience grew and forced Moore into four walks. Moore only lasted 3.1 innings and needed 74 pitches to make it through.

After making the first two outs against Jose Alvarado in the ninth, the Mets started a comeback. Kevin Pillar and Francisco Lindor singles gave the Mets first and third. Michael Conforto came to the plate as the tying run and hit a bloop single just off Harper’s glove, making it a 5-3 game. Pete Alonso came three feet from either tying the game with his shot to right field, but Harper had enough room to reeled it in on the warning track.

Questions To Answer

Rojas’s decision to pull deGrom after 77 pitches is a glaring blunder. deGrom retired the last nine batters he faced, which further pushes the idea of Rojas overmanaging the situation. A more in-depth question comes with his use of the bench in the ninth. Rojas used Jonathan Villar instead of Albert Almora to bat for the pitcher. Villar struck out, but the issue is what could have happened after Villar’s at-bat.

When Conforto reached on his single, he was the tying run, and Villar’s speed is always a threat. Regardless of whether Alvarado remained game, Villar is a runner any pitcher has to pay close attention to. If Alonso split the gap, Villar would have given the Mets a better chance of tying the game than Conforto. The erratic Alvarado might have lost the strike zone with his mind occupied on the tying run.

Overall, the Mets have to be happy with their fight in the ninth. They could have easily rolled over and conceded a 1-2-3 finish. On Tuesday, Marcus Stroman makes his first start against Chase Anderson for the Phillies. The first pitch is another 7:05 p.m. start from Citizens Bank Park.

 

New York Mets: Lindor Hits Fourth Homer in Five Games During 5-3 Win

The New York Mets are getting exactly what they traded for with Francisco Lindor‘s production this spring. Lindor has his best game of spring training by recording three hits, including his fourth home run. His strong game helped propel the Mets to a 5-3 victory over the Miami Marlins.

Marcus Stroman got the start and scattered nine hits over five innings. He was tagged for two home runs, but the umpires bailed Stroman out both times. Starling Marte‘s double hit the chain-link fence behind the right field wall and bounced back in play. Brian Anderson hit a towering shot over the left field foul pole that was called a foul ball. Instead of a three-run homer, Anderson struck out to end the inning instead.

In the third inning, Adam Duvall‘s sacrifice fly gave the Marlins their first run. Miguel Rojas recorded the final two runs with his two-run homer in the fifth inning as Stroman limped to the finish line. The quartet of Jacob Barnes, Aaron Loup, Trevor May, and Tommy Hunter finished the game with four hitless innings.

After Marlins starter Daniel Castano retired the first six batters he faced, the Mets came out swinging in the third inning. Triples from Kevin Pillar and Brandon Nimmo led to the first run of the inning. Francisco Lindor’s double drove in Nimmo, and a sharp single from Pete Alonso capped off the three-run third. Lindor’s fifth inning homer put the Mets in the lead, and another homer from J.D. Davis in the sixth gave their fifth run.

On Wednesday, Taijuan Walker (1-0, 3.00) takes the mound against the St. Louis Cardinals in Jupiter. The offense gets another opportunity to afflict more damage on Carlos Martinez (0-2, 10.03) and his ERA as he starts for the Cards.

New York Mets: Aaron Loup and Other Opener Options

Simeon Woods-Richardson

“Who wouldn’t want to be the guy to start the game and then get to sit in the clubhouse and drink a few brews on the back end and watch the rest of it, you know?”

Aaron Loup‘s first press conference with the New York Mets already produced the best quote from camp on an interesting topic. Loup’s former employer (Tampa Bay Rays) revolutionized baseball by introducing the opener, and the veteran lefty would love opening for the Mets.

The Rays implemented the strategy because of their lack of quality starting pitching. The Mets have less of a need for an opener because Jacob deGrom, Carlos Carrasco, and Marcus Stroman are already established starting pitchers. An opener would help conserve innings for David Peterson and Noah Syndergaard or pitchers coming off rough 2020s like Joey Lucchesi or Jordan Yamamoto. Here are three solid opener options for 2021.

Aaron Loup

Loup pitched in 24 games for the AL champs but never opened for them. His splits from last season had right-handed hitters hitting for a worse average than the lefties (.192 vs. .212). Despite the great 2020 splits, Loup has always dominated lefties. Each NL East team has at least one All-Star caliber hitter at the top of their projected lineup (Juan Soto, Bryce Harper, Freddie Freeman, Corey Dickerson). The downside of using Loup as an opener would leave the bullpen without another left-handed reliever.

Jeurys Familia

Familia fits the “Sergio Romo” mold of a perfect opener as a former closer who cannot cut it in the ninth inning anymore. He rebounded from a rough 2019 to put up a 3.71 ERA over 25 games but still struggled with walks (6.4 BB/9). The Mets do not trust/need Familia in the late innings but he is still useful as a middle reliever. Familia limits hard contact very well and pitches better with a new inning. He was a starting pitcher as a rising prospect in the Mets farm system.

Miguel Castro

Castro sidearm delivery with electric stuff and makes him a reliever with a ton of potential. His strikeout rate (90th percentile) and fastball velocity (99th percentile) show the level he can reach. On the other hand, Castro was in the 9th percentile for exit velocity and hard-hit rates.

Castro is very much an “all or nothing” type of pitcher. It makes him a huge risk to use late in games because of the possibility of three strikeouts coming with a home run. This risk is better taken in the first inning than in the eighth or ninth when the game is on the line. Out of the three options, Castro would be the best as an opener.

 

 

New York Mets secure the services of left-handed reliever Aaron Loup

Simeon Woods-Richardson

The New York Mets solved their left-handed relief issues on Wednesday, by signing veteran southpaw Aaron Loup to a one-year contract. After losing Justin Wilson to free agency, the team needed at least one lefty out of the bullpen, as most of the options are right-handed: Edwin Diaz, Trevor May, Seth Lugo, Dellin Betances, Robert Gsellman, and Jeurys Familia, just to name a few.

The salary that Loup will receive from the New York Mets hasn’t been reported yet. He makes for a nice addition to a bullpen that lost its top target, Brad Hand, recently.

The 33-year-old Loup has a career 3.38 ERA and a 3.50 FIP in 351 innings. He hasn’t earned more than $2 million in any year during his MLB tenure: cheap production.

Loup is more than a left-handed specialist:

Career vs. lefties: .233/.302/.320, .279 wOBA, 2.96 FIP, 3.19 xFIP, 4.16 K/BB

Career vs. righties: .264 /.332/.424, .324 wOBA, 3.91 FIP, 3.87 xFIP, 2.70 K/BB

Of course, he is at his best against left-handed batters, but he uses a four-pitch arsenal to retire batters of both hands.

Lefties on the Mets’ bullpen

The newest Mets’ pitcher had a 2.52 ERA in 25 innings last season with the Tampa Bay Rays, striking out 22 batters while holding lefties to a .212/.278/.303 slash line.

Here is the current state of the Mets’ bullpen, as far as left-handers go, according to MLB.com’s Anthony DiComo: “Currently, the only lefty relievers on the Mets’ 40-man roster are Daniel Zamora and Stephen Tarpley, both of whom possess checkered recent histories. The Mets also signed veteran specialist Jerry Blevins to a Minor League deal, inviting him to Spring Training. They have several additional pitchers who could come out of the bullpen if needed, including Steven Matz, Joey Lucchesi and prospect Thomas Szapucki, though the team intends to keep at least Matz and Lucchesi stretched out as starters.”

The Mets’ bullpen was mediocre in 2020, but now, it appears to be very much improved on paper.

New York Mets: What is Next After Missing Out On Brad Hand?

On Sunday, the New York Mets surpsingly lost out on Brad Hand to the Washington Nationals on a one-year, $10.5 million deal. Hand joined the Nationals because he will serve as their closer, an opportunity he would not have received with the Mets. With Hand off the board, who is the lefty that will join the bullpen?

Hand would have made a tremendous addition in the Mets bullpen but would only set-up Edwin Diaz. If the Mets paid more than $10.5 million, they could have easily signed him. There is no point in offering closer money to use Hand before the ninth while other roster needs to be filled. Fans may complain about missing out, but the Mets did all they could to land him.

Three Good Left Handed Options

1. Justin Wilson

Justin Wilson is seen as plan-B for the Mets bullpen, and they know him very well. Despite little chatter surrounding Wilson, he is a very underrated part of a strong bullpen. Wilson had a 2.97 ERA, with 67 strikeouts over 58.2 innings during his two seasons with the Mets. He was a key part of the bullpen due to his ability to get righties and lefties out and sign for around $4 million-$5 million.

2. Aaron Loup

Aaron Loup made great work of his opportunity with the Tampa Bay Rays during the 2020 season. Loup had a 2.52 ERA in 24 games and had four scoreless appearances against the Houston Astros in the ALCS. He does not possess Wilson’s swing and miss stuff but was great at limiting walks (4 in 25 IP). Loup also produces plenty of ground balls with his heavy sinker. He would bring another great veteran presence to the bullpen.

3. Chasen Shreve

When the Mets non-tendered Chasen Shreve, it came as a huge surprise because of his solid 2020. Shreve emerged as a multiple innings reliever and had the best strikeouts rate of his career. His fastball/split-finger combination propelled him to a 12.2 K/9. Shreve’s 37.8% whiff rate also finished in the top four percent of all pitchers in baseball. He is much bigger of a risk because of his lesser track record, but it is worth considering. If partnered with Wilson again, the Mets could rekindle Shreve’s 2020 success.

 

New York Yankees News/Rumors: With DJ at $15M annually, now the Yankees go after some pitching

New York Yankees, Corey Kluber

After a long wait, the New York Yankees have now completed their number one priority of re-signing second baseman DJ LeMahieu, the best hitter in baseball. Maybe now the Yankees can address their biggest need of the offseason the Yankees rotation and bullpen. The Yankees, according to owner Hal Steinbrenner wants to stay under the $210 million luxury threshold; in doing so, it will allow little wiggle room to address the other needs of the team, primarily pitching. The lower than expected cost to resign LeMahieu will definitely help. Here are some targets the New York Yankees could be interested in.

Jake Odorizzi age 30:*

Jake Odorizzi would likely be the most expensive addition to the New York Yankee’s rotation. It is not likely that he would accept a one year contract for less than $15 million. Obviously, he would make a fine second behind ace Gerrit Cole in an otherwise untested bunch of young arms. The question remains if the Yankees will be able or willing to spend to get him in pinstripes. With the Yankees signing LeMahieu for just $15 million annually is now a target the Yankees should consider.  Odorizzi last season, like many pitchers, had a poor season but has tremendous potential.

Masahiro Tanaka age 32:

According to WAR, Tanaka is the second-best pitcher still left in free agency after Odorizzi. The Yankees know Tanaka is not affected by the big stage that is Yankee Stadium after just fulfilling a seven-year contract with the team. Tanaka made $23 million with the Yankees in 2020. They will not sign him for anything near that figure. He has not been as dependable for the last two years and was atrocious this past postseason. In two games, he posted an astronomical ERA of 12.37. Tanaka may have played his last season in pinstripes.

Adam Wainwright, age 39:

Wainright is now 39 years old. The fifteen-year pitching veteran would like to resign with the Cardinals, but that doesn’t seem likely after them not making him a qualifying offer. For obvious reasons, Wainwright will be open to signing a one-year deal, which could make sense for the Yankees. Wainwright would likely cost the Yankees in the $10 million range. Last season he was 5-3 with an ERA of 3.15 in ten games.

Corey Kluber age 34:*

Kluber was an ace-type pitcher in 2018, and if healthy, he could return to that pitcher again. Corey Kluber barely pitched at all in his one season with the Texas Rangers because of shoulder problems. The year before, he broke his forearm and only pitched 35 innings for the Cleveland Indians. But the year before that, he was one of the best pitchers in all of baseball. Because of his injuries, his value will be reduced by at least half, meaning the Yankees, if willing to take the risk, would likely get him for $6-10 million on a one-year contract. If healthy, it could be a huge upgrade from Masahiro Tanaka, who the Yankees are also considering. It’s low risk with possible high reward.

Tyler Chatwood, age 31:

Tyler Chatwood would be costly to the Yankees but could be gotten far cheaper than in 2019. Chatwood, like many pitchers, didn’t have a good year last season for the Chicago Cubs. He went 2-2 with a 5.30 ERA, which will significantly drag down his $13 million in earnings for 2020.

Chatwood has always had tremendous potential that has never been fully realized. He is known as the spin rate king. If Yankee pitching coach and harness that, he could be the one to turn Chatwood into a star. If the Yankees can get him for $5-6 million on a one year deal, it could have big-time rewards for the Yankees.

Yankees need bullpen help.

Brad Hand age 30:*

Brad Hand is probably out of the reach of the Yankee’s financial ability, although he is one of the top relievers in baseball. He would be a good replacement for Tommy Kahnle that went for a two year deal with the Los Angeles Dodgers. Hand last year was 2-1 with an ERA of just 2.05, finishing 21 games for the Indians. Getting DJ LeMahieu cheaper than expected could keep Hand in the running.

Archie Bradley, age 28:

Bradley had an impressive year that wasn’t kind to relievers; he pitched in 16 games, going 2-0 with a 2.95 ERA. Like so many players, he was not given an offer by the Cincinnati Reds. Bradley is desirable as he throws a mix of pitches: A four-seamer and sinker both in the mid-’90s and a wicked knuckle curveball. He also has a changeup. He is a groundball pitcher, which makes him a good fit for Yankee Stadium.

Mark Melancon, age 35:

Melancon is a twelve-year veteran that pitched for the New York Yankees between 2009 and 2010. Melancon has had a very successful pitching career after leaving the Yankees, and he is pitching as well now as he ever has. We know the bright lights of Yankee Stadium don’t affect him. Last season with the Atlanta Braves, he was 2-1 in 23 games with an ERA of just 2.78. Compare that to Aroldis Chapman’s 3.09.

Aaron Loup age 33:*

Aaron Loup’s addition would give the Yankees a lefty reliever that they have been missing for years. It would provide an entirely different look in the mid-innings bullpen. With Blake Snell and Charlie Morton out of the Tampa Bay picture, why not capitalize by snatching Loup from re-signing with the Rays. After a regressive tenure in Toronto, Loup found his best stuff with the Rays in ’20, posting a 2.52 ERA in 25 innings. He’s yet to allow a postseason run in five appearances. He also wouldn’t break the Yankees bank either. Loup could cost the Yankees less than a million dollars on a one year contract.

*my picks for the Yankees.

New York Yankees Analysis: The Yankees need a stronger consistent Bullpen in 2021

Other than inconsistent hitting from the lineup, the New York Yankees deficiency that caused them another early exit from the postseason in 2020 was lousy pitching. The Yankees haven’t had really good starting pitching quite a while. Yes, they went out and got the best pitcher available in 2019, but that’s really all they had. The rest of the pitchers were bluntly tired veterans that couldn’t go deep into games. That put added stress onto a bullpen that was also deficient.

The simple fact is that the Yankees must improve their overall pitching if they have any hope of a postseason play or even winning the division that was taken away from them this last season by the Tampa Bay Rays, who had excellent pitching. The Yankees have got to realize just how vital the bullpen is in this era of pitchers generally not going deep into the game. You rarely hear of a complete game anymore.  And the Yankee starters were worse than most. Only Gerrit Cole and Deivi Garcia went more than 5 1/2 innings. And Cole only went 6.08 innings.

Being super critical, the 2020 New York Yankee bullpen flopped. With the loss of Tommy Kahnle to Tommy John surgery, the one loss seemed to break the back of the bullpen. Even in the short season, the bullpen was overworked. Besides the loss of Kahnle, they might have well lost Adam Ottavino because he was terrible. Cessa was Cessa; he didn’t lose a game and even got a save. Loaisiga didn’t lose a game either and even improved his ERA by a full point. Being overly harsh, Chapman sucked again, losing the final game of the postseason for the second year in a row.

The only real bright spot in the bullpen was Zack Britton; he was brilliant, saving eight games in Chapman’s absence after testing positive for the coronavirus. Kahnle has signed with the Dodgers, and Jonathan Holder has signed with the Cubs. With a very doubtful rebound of Adam Ottavino the bullpen has been most gutted. The Yankees need two dependable and consistent arms to be added.

There are 80 availble relief pitchers on the free agent market with out considering those available via the trade route. The New York Yankees certainly are able to find two to help them out. They have two methods of filling the void, one a closely path and the other going on the cheap to fill holes. The top names are obvious, Hendriks, Hand, Yates, Bradley, Osuna, Colome, and others. But there are also some good arms that won’t cost the Yankees an arm and a leg.

Aaron Loup:

The addition of Aaron Loup would give the Yankees a lefty reliever that they have been missing for years. It would provide an entirely different look the the mid-innings bullpen. With Blake Snell and Charlie Morton out of the Tampa Bay picture, why not capitalize by snatching Loup from re-signing with the Rays.

Loup, after a regressive tenure in Toronto, found his best stuff with the Rays in ’20, posting a 2.52 ERA in 25 innings. He’s yet to allow a postseason run in five appearances. He also wouldn’t break the Yankees bank either. Loup could cost the Yankees less than a million dollars on a one year contract.

Andrew Chaffin:

Staying with Lefty relievers, Andrew Chaffin could be an interesting addition to the Yankees bullpen. Chaffin is equally as good at getting right-hand and left-hand hitters out. In four games with the Chicago Cubs last season he gave up just one run for an ERA of 3.00. He also struck out more than 9 hitters over nine innings. He also would be a low cost addition to the bullpen although more expensive than Loup. He would likely cost the Yankees somewhere around $2 million.

Ryne Stanek:

The Yankees could do worse than signing Ryne Stanek. He had a horrible 2020 season, so he might be able to be gotten on a steal. Stanek began his career with the Rays, who chose him 29th overall in the 2013 draft, and had his best seasons with the club. He was a regular opener with the Rays from 2018-19, during which he pitched to a 3.17 ERA/3.64 FIP and averaged better than 10 strikeouts per nine innings. He is the only righty on this list.

Reunions:

There are several free agent relief pitchers out there that a very familiar with as they have pitched for the New York Yankees before. The most notiable one is David Robertson. Robertson is the not the reliever he once was but is very serviceable and we know he can pitch under the bright lights of Yankee Stadium. Others include Chasen Shreve, Tyler Clippard (3 stints), Mark Melancon, Ian Kennedy, David Phelps, Nick Tropeano, and Luis Avilán. As I have said in a previous article, I am not against giving David Robertson another go at the Stadium.

The best thing for the Yankees to do in this writers humble opinion is get a big name like Hendriks or Hand to replace Kahnle and a lefty like Aaron Loup to add a dynamic mix to the right hand heavy Yankee bullpen. But it appears that the Yankees will be waiting to make any significant moves until the see if they can resign DJ LeMahieu. Hopefull all the good arm relievers won’t be gone by then.

EmpireSportsMedia.com’s Columnist William Parlee is a member of the Society for American Baseball Research. Follow me on Twitter @parleewilliam. Photo accompanying the article is of Aaron Loup.