New York Mets Lose Slugfest to St. Louis Cardinals 14-9

Simeon Woods-Richardson

The pitching for the New York Mets started off strong over their first two spring training games but lose all momentum against the St. Louis Cardinals. Seven pitchers combined to allow 14 runs, 11 hits, and 6 runs in the 14-9 loss.

Jerad Eickhoff got the start for the Mets and allowed the Cardinals’ offense to get started early. Eickhoff allowed four runs, with three coming on a home run by John Nogowski. Jacob Barnes followed but was erratic in the one inning he pitched. Barnes walked two and allowed three more runs in the third inning. Marcel Renteria struggled the most out of any Mets pitcher. He allowed four runs, two home runs, including one to former Met Ali Sanchez.

The Mets offense was the polar opposite of their pitching as they had 13 hits and six for extra bases. Kevin Pillar, J.D. Davis, Luis Guillorme, and Drew Ferguson all had multiple-hit games. Brett Baty also supplied an RBI double in the ninth inning.

The Mets are back on SNY on Friday for a 1:10 p.m. start against the Washington Nationals. Kyle Finnegan (0-0, 18.00) faces David Peterson, who is making his first outing of the Spring.

New York Mets Shutout in 2-0 Opening Game Loss to the Miami Marlins

As expected, pitching dominated the first spring training game for the New York Mets. All the Miami Marlins needed was a two-run home run from Jesus Aguilar to secure a 2-0, seven-inning victory. The Mets continued their 2020 tradition of leaving runners on base by going 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position.

Brandon Nimmo led the way with two hits at the top of the order. J.D. Davis, Kevin Pillar, and Johneshwy Fargas were responsible for the other three Mets hits. Francisco Lindor also made his Mets debut but failed to record a hit in his two at-bats but recorded a nice play ranging up the middle.

The first three innings were very successful for the Mets pitchers against an aggressive Marlins lineup. Harol Gonzalez (10), Sean Reid-Foley (6), and Stephen Tarpley (8) combined for just 24 pitches in their respective innings of work. Ryley Gilliam was the only pitcher who struggled in his inning. Gilliam allowed a Starling Marte triple and the Aguilar home run.

Trevor Hildenberger worked out of a bases-loaded jam with three strikeouts sandwiched between scoreless innings from lefties Thomas Szapucki and Daniel Zamora. On Tuesday, the Mets play their home spring training opener against the Houston Astros. The first pitch is at 1:10 p.m. ET and will be televised on SNY. Framber Valdez will take the mound against Jordan Yamamoto.

JD Davis shrugs off the rumors and is happy to be a member of the Mets

The New York Mets, according to some, have a glaring hole at third base and needed to go after Justin Turner (who ended up re-signing with the Los Angeles Dodgers) or Kris Bryant via trade. However, that is not the case.

Sure, JD Davis is not a good defensive third baseman. After all, the Mets’ slugger had a -8 Defensive Runs Saved (DRS) mark in 2020 and wasn’t much better in Ultimate Zone Rating (UZR) or Outs Above Average (OAA.)

However, what he does carry is offensive potential. Last season, even after slashing an ugly .247/.371/.389 line, he had an above-average 116 wRC+. Most of his struggles hitting for power stem from the fact that his GB% increased from 47.0 in 2019 to 56.3 in 2020. You won’t hit many homers if you don’t lift the ball.

Thankfully, the Mets will have hitting coach Chili Davis available this time. Last season, he opted not to be with the team because of COVID-19.

The Davises worked together over the offseason to correct some issues in JD’s swing, Anthony DiComo of MLB.com reported today.

Davis says he is not really a social media guy, but at some point, the rumors had to be hard to ignore.

The Mets’ plans for him

Although Mets’ manager Luis Rojas talked about Davis’ versatility and the possibility of him playing some outfield, general manager Zack Scott said the organization is “comfortable” entering the season with him at the top of the third base depth chart.

“I think it’s actually pretty cool to be in a package deal with Nolan Arenado and Matt Chapman and Kris Bryant,” Davis said on Wednesday, shrugging off the rumors. “It says a lot where I’ve come from as a player, so it is what it is. I have full confidence in my capability. I’m a Major Leaguer, and I’m a big leaguer, and I know that, and I’m going to stand behind that. And I love these guys. I love this organization. … Am I happy to be a Met? Absolutely.”

It’s not easy to forget that Davis slugged 22 homers on his way to a .307/.369/.527 slash line over 453 plate appearances. The fact that he knows that he will play mostly third base for the Mets also helps.

“It’s huge when you go into a Spring Training where you know what position you’re going to play, or the majority of where you’re going to play,” he said.

All in all, the Mets are hoping for a big bounceback season from Davis.

New York Mets: Can J.D. Davis Become a Top-10 Third Baseman in 2021?

J.D. Davis burst onto the scene with the New York Mets in 2019 but did not rekindle the same success during 2020. A decline in power and below-average defense left Davis off the Top-10 list going into the 2021 season. Can Davis get himself into the upper echelon of third basemen this season?

Davis is coming off a loss in arbitration but still gets a raise in this season’s salary. The main cause of his loss was a drastic drop in his slugging percentage from .527 to .389. Despite the power loss, the metrics show Davis should have been better than what the slugging percentage portrayed.

Bounce Back Year

The slight decreases in Davis exit velocity, hard hit, and barrel rates were not enough to lead to a poor season. The main reason was his average launch angle falling from 10.6 to 3.3. Davis hit into eight double plays due to his hard groundballs becoming easy double plays. He should benefit from Chili Davis returning to in-person work this season as he was a big part of J.D.’s past success.

Davis had the highest walk rate of his career while keeping his strikeout rate at his career norm. If Davis can combine his selectiveness with power, he will produce more than he did in 2019. At his peak, Davis gives Jeff McNeil a run for his money as the most complete hitter on the roster.

The defense is the worrisome part of Davis’s game. His arm is strong enough to play third base but getting to the ball is the tough part. Davis struggles with the ball right at him, and a majority of those are balls he charges. Fixing his release and focusing on better angles to the ball will improve his ability to cover slow rollers. Davis solid moving to his right but is tremendous at moving towards the shortstop/third base hole. The combination of Lindor/Davis should bode well for the Mets pitching staff.

Giving Davis the ability to spend an entire spring training at one position is something he has not done since joining the Mets. Davis will never turn into Matt Chapman defensively, but he should give the Mets fewer troubles on defense. If Davis is average defensively, he will earn himself a spot in the top-10 third basemen in baseball.

New York Mets: Arbitration Avoided With All Eligible Players Except Davis

The New York Mets were almost perfect with their 13 settlements as 12 agreed to salaries for the 2021 season. J.D. Davis was the lone Met who did not settle and will head to an arbitration hearing if both sides do not figure out a salary.

Davis and the Mets are not far off on their offers, and it does not seem like the hearing is likely. Whether the settled salary is Davis’s $2.475 million or the Mets $2.1 million, it will be a low price for his ability. Davis emerged as the everyday third baseman, and he will likely remain there when the season begins.

His production fell off from his breakout season in 2019, but he finished with his career’s best walk rate. Davis should produce in between his 2019 and 2020 numbers and continue to have great power from foul pole to foul pole. His power numbers diminished in 2020 but there no reason to doubt it from returning. Davis exit velocity and hard-hit percentage remained the same, while the only drop off was his average launch angle.

Davis had -3 outs above average and -8 defensive runs saved at third base. Spending most of spring training and summer camp in the left-field hurt his sudden change to third base. Davis is unlikely to become a plus defender, but his numbers should improve for the 2021 campaign.

Overall, the Mets did a terrific job handling significant settlements with their key players.

 

New York Mets: The Possible Infield Options With D.J. LeMahieu

New York Yankees, DJ LeMahieu

The New York Mets have “recently contacted” D.J. LeMahieu, according to Jon Heyman. Take that as you may but signing LeMahieu would strengthen their offense and drastically better their infield defense. If signing LeMahieu has traction, then the Mets have multiple combinations to work with during 2021.

The continued guessing game on a designated hitter for 2021 makes dealing with the free-agent market harder for every National League Team. The Mets already have DH options in place, but it does not make decision-making any easier.

In a few of these situations, J.D. Davis becomes very expendable. He was already part of rumors along with Amed Rosario for a Francisco Lindor trade. The obvious missing part is the missing prospect(s) needed to complete the move. As enticing as the trade seems, Davis, Rosario, plus a prospect might be too much if Lindor does not remain with the Mets past 2021. If Lindor was the difference separating the Mets from being a World Series contender, giving up a little extra would be reasonable.

No DH Option 1: LeMahieu to Third, McNeil to Second

With Robinson Cano suspended for the entirety of 2021, the Mets can move Jeff McNeil to second base. LeMahieu plays third base while Dominic Smith and J.D. Davis handles the left field. The infield defense would be significantly better than in 2020, but the outfield would still suffer. Signing LeMahieu could make signing George Springer tougher. It certainly could still happen, but Jackie Bradley Jr. or Kevin Pillar is more realistic in that situation.

No DH Option 2: LeMahieu at Second, Davis/McNeil at Third

LeMahieu at second shows, the Mets are content with either Davis or McNeil at third base. Davis was better defensively in 2020, but neither one stood out. Second base is LeMahieu’s natural position and is where he won all three of his Gold Glove awards. Andres Gimenez should play shortstop when pitchers like Marcus Stroman and David Peterson are on the mound. Stroman especially is a groundball pitcher, and solidifying the defense up the middle would attempt to make up for the weak corner options.

DH Option 1 (With Springer in CF): LeMahieu to Third, McNeil to Second, Nimmo in Left, Smith DH

This is the dream scenario for the Mets, especially with the DH in place. They would get a good balance of offense and defense they have not found in years. Offensively, the lineup would become a nightmare to pitch to, and the overall team defense improves. Even if the center fielder becomes one of the two names mentioned earlier, the defense still improves, but the offense would lose some punch.

DH Option 2 (Without Anyone New in CF): LeMahieu to Second, Davis to Third, McNeil to Left, Smith DH

With Brandon Nimmo in center field, the Mets cannot afford two below-average fielders in their everyday outfield. McNeil defended much better in the left-field after moving from third base. While Nimmo struggles in center field, McNeil and Michael Conforto would handle the corners. This is the least likely option as the Mets are almost guaranteed to sign a new center fielder.

Of course, there are way more options than the four mentioned. The idea of Rosario at third base or Gimenez at shortstop changes the whole dynamic of LeMahieu at the roster. The great part of this offseason is the ability to contemplate good solutions. In the past, ownership settled for options similar to slapping duct tape on a leak.

New York Mets Player Evaluations: Third Baseman J.D. Davis

The New York Mets found a new heavy hitter during the 2019 season with J.D. Davis emerged to have a career year. In 2020 it was a tale of two seasons for Davis, a tremendous start followed by a struggle to finish out the last month of the season.

Davis started the first eight games as the Mets everyday left fielder, but Jeff McNeil‘s struggles at third base forced the Mets to give Davis an opportunity there. Despite making some terrific plays there, Davis ranked slightly below average defensively. His arm was plenty strong enough for the position, but his arm could not make up for the lack of range.

Great Start, Tough Ending

Despite the power numbers not on the same level, Davis slash line through 28 games was .292/.405/.448 with four home runs and a BABIP of .364. One of the most encouraging signs was his increased walk rate. It kept him at the top of the order, combining as a run producer and table-setter.

Things were completely different over the last 28 games. His slash line dipped to .202/.336/.330 with only two home runs. Davis BABIP was still at a respectable .270, but his biggest flaw was hitting the breaking ball. It was a staple of his incredible 2019, hitting .313 with a .563 slugging on the breaking ball. During 2020, Davis dropped mightily to a .150 average with a .250 slugging, and it was prevalent during his slump.

It was his only glaring dropoff leading to his lack of production. His contact percentage in the strike zone increased, and chase rate decreased. Over a full season, those two should balance each other out. Davis finished the year at .247/.371/.389 with six home runs and 19 runs batted in.

It was a disappointing year for Davis because of how great it started for him. Davis .167 average with runners in scoring position encompassed the struggles of the Mets to push across runs. He put himself under a microscope because he batted third most of the time, which warranted run-scoring situations. As the Mets head into the offseason, he seems like an expandable player should the Mets look to improve their starting rotation or bring in better defense to their roster.

2020 Grades On 20-80 Scale (2021 Projection)

Hitting: 45 (65), Look for Davis to have a good bounce-back season in 2021.

Power: 45 (60), It was odd to see his power drop off, but hopefully, the return of Chili Davis will revive it.

Run: 25 (25), He did produce the fastest sprint speed of his career in 2020.

Arm: 55 (55), Arm makes him playable in left field and third base.

Field: 40 (35), Liability in left field and below average at third base.

Overall: 45 (55), His added patience at the plate shows a bounce back for 2021.

New York Mets: deGrom Exits Early, Gimenez Gets Big Hit in 5-4 Win

New York Mets, Andres Gimenez

Wednesday night’s matchup between the New York Mets and Philadelphia Phillies featured a matchup of two longtime teammates. Jacob deGrom and Zack Wheeler faced each other for the first time, but Wheeler lasted a lot longer than back-to-back Cy Young winner did. For the Mets, if they wanted any hope at a postseason birth, they needed a victory.

From the beginning, it set up like another disappointing Mets loss. They went down 4-0 early, deGrom only lasted two innings, and their offense struggled against Wheeler. The Mets overcame all of that to pick up a huge 5-4 victory to move within 1.5 games of the Phillies. 

From the second pitch of the game, it was evident deGrom was dealing with some issue. deGrom sent glares towards the dugout, trying to let them know something was not right. After giving up three runs in the second, he did not make it back out for the third. deGrom left the game with right hamstring spasms and was visibly frustrated in the dugout.

Wacha to the Rescue

Michael Wacha gave the Mets everything they could have asked for when called into long relief duty. He gave the Mets four innings and held the Phillies to one run and kept the Mets in the game. Wacha worked around some trouble, allowing five hits, but his performance cannot go overlooked.

The comeback started with a simple Robinson Cano ground out, making it a 4-1 game. J.D. Davis made it a 4-3 game with a two-run opposite-field off Wheeler. As the game move into the late innings, Davis left his mark on this game.

With Michael Conforto on first base, his double tied the game in the eighth inning. The ball hung in the air forever, and it just made it over the glove of the leaping Adam Haseley. Conforto also had no clue on the number of outs, which made the play at the plate closer than it should have been.

Clutch Bullpen

In the bottom half of the eighth, Miguel Castro stranded runners on first and second with back to back strikeouts to move the game to the ninth inning. The Phillies made a couple of mistakes in the ninth inning to benefit the Mets. With a runner on first, Hector Neris balked to move the runner to second base.

They decided to intentionally walk Jeff McNeil to set up Andres Gimenez in his biggest spot with the Mets. The rookie came through to line a single to center field, giving the Mets a 5-4 lead. Edwin Diaz worked around a base hit to strike out three batters and pick up his biggest save of the season.

The Mets send Seth Lugo to the mound for the rubber game of this three-game series. Aaron Nola opposes him at Citizens Bank Park for the 7:05 p.m. ET start.

 

New York Mets: Segura Haunts the Mets Again in 9-8 Loss

New York Mets, David Peterson

The New York Mets made a miraculous comeback from 6-0 against the Philadelphia Phillies to earn a 7-6 lead. Unfortunately, they could not keep the lead, and a Jean Segura two-run home run in the tenth inning spoiled a must-win game for the Mets.

Miguel Castro continued to make general manager Brodie Van Wagenen look like a clueless mess. His prized acquisition gave up the home run to Segura, and it was confusing for Castro to be in the game. Edwin Diaz threw a 1-2-3 ninth inning on only 12 pitches, but manager Luis Rojas opted to go with Castro instead.

Ramirez Saves Bullpen

David Peterson struggled through two innings and allowed five runs. He needed 70 pitches to get through the start and had no command of anything he was throwing. Peterson’s shaky control has shown during his previous starts, but this was his worst.

Erasmo Ramirez made his Mets debut in long relief of Peterson. He gave the Mets a fighting chance and saved the bullpen by throwing five innings and his only run coming off a J.T. Realmuto home run. Ramirez only needed 54 pitches, and the outing certainly gives the Mets another starting rotation option.

Offense Clicks Again

The Mets offense did all they could after Zack Wheeler shut them down in the first four innings. They bunched together three runs in the fifth coming on RBI doubles from Michael Conforto, J.D. Davis, and Dominic Smith. When Wheeler surprisingly came out after six innings and 84 pitches, the Mets jumped all over the Phillies bullpen in a four-run seventh.

A Didi Gregorius error got the Mets within two runs at 6-4 and allowed the Jeff McNeil to bat with two runners on base. McNeil channeled his power for the second consecutive game as his three-run home run gave the Mets a 7-6 lead and completed their comeback. The lead did not stick as Jeurys Familia gave up the lead in the following half-inning.

Despite the loss, the Mets showed their resiliency once again. After scoring a run in the 10th with a Brandon Nimmo single, J.D. Davis came within five feet of a walk-off home run. They split the four-game series with the Phillies, but they played great baseball for the final three games.

Andres Gimenez also continued to shine on both sides of the game. He recorded two more hits and played sparkling defense at shortstop. With a lefty on the mound for their first game against the Baltimore Orioles, it will be interesting to see if Luis Rojas continues to run Gimenez out there.

That lefty for the O’s is John Means, and for the Mets, they send the struggling Michael Wacha. The first pitch from Citi Field is at 7:10 p.m. ET.

 

New York Mets: Late Mistakes Costly in 5-3 Loss to Phillies

The New York Mets finally got a good outing out of a starting pitcher but it could not mask the fatigue of the bullpen. One run allowed in the seventh and two in the eighth gave the Phillies bullpen enough wiggle room after Jake Arrieta pitched seven strong innings in the Mets 5-3 loss.

Manager Luis Rojas tried to push Jared Hughes through another outing but it did not work out. Over 1.1 innings he allowed three runs, four hits, and walked two. A two-out double led to a Roman Quinn RBI single to give the Phillies a 3-2 lead.

In the eighth, Rhys Hoskins’s leadoff walk and a Didi Gregorius single set the table again for the Phillies. The inept Mets defense showed again when J.D. Davis made a poor throw to Dominic Smith on a Jean Segura infield single. The error gave the Phillies a 4-2 lead and an Adam Haseley hit by pitch by Brad Brach made it a 5-2 game.

Arrieta Flashback

Arrieta had an ERA above six heading to his start, but he did not show it against the Mets. He held the Mets to two runs over seven innings and also struck out seven. The two runs came on a Michael Conforto two-run home run in the fifth.

The Mets had an opportunity to tie the game in the eighth. Smith made it a 5-3 game with an RBI single and gave Robinson Cano and Pete Alonso opportunities to hit with runners on first and second with one out.

Cano’s hit a line drive that Hoskins snagged with a dive, preventing it from becoming an extra-base hit. It effectively killed the momentum the Mets had in the eighth. Alonso got to a 3-2 count but popped up a slider from Tommy Hunter to end the rally and continue his hitting struggles with runners in scoring position.

Rick Porcello had a strong start going six innings, allowing three hits, two runs and struck out six. He retired the last 12 batters he faced and gave the Mets exactly what they needed out of him. The Mets did not help themselves out by going 1-for-7 with runners in scoring position and leaving six on base.

The Mets try to get back into the win column on Saturday by sending Seth Lugo to make the start. He faces Spencer Howard at 7:10 p.m. ET from Citi Field.