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: Left Fielder/Third Baseman Jeff McNeil

It was hard to believe there was a time where Jeff McNeil was in a slump during the 2020 season. The New York Mets relied on him to be one of their best hitters and be their everyday third baseman. It only took a couple of weeks to prove he was better off in left field and the Mets. In the end, it was still another productive year from McNeil.

McNeil struggled to find his way on both sides of the ball during the first half of the season. Eight of the first nine games he started were at third base. McNeil made five errors at the position and struggled mightily with his throwing. He traded spots with J.D. Davis and moved to left field, and it turned out to be the best move. McNeil was above average in left field; he did not make an error and mixed in plenty of great defensive plays.

Offensive Frustration

Out of all the Mets, McNeil is the most locked in at the plate, and sometimes it shows through his frustration. He only hit .258/.330/.315, through his first 27 games, and even more surprising because he did not hit a home run as well. McNeil’s hard-hit percentage dropped over ten percent from the 2019 season.

He was still making contact and putting the ball in play at a high rate, but the solid contact we expect was not coming out. This was a major reason why he struggled to homer through the first month and a half. McNeil’s batting stance height also fluctuated throughout the year; once he settled on one position, he began to hit well again.

Once McNeil figured things out, the hits did not stop. In the last 25 games, he batted .362/.434/.585 with four home runs, nine doubles, and had 11 walks and ten strikeouts. McNeil’s .311 average was ninth in the NL, and his 14 doubles were tied for ninth in the league. He struggled against breaking balls, hitting .146 (.256 in 2019) but made up for it by hitting .410 on offspeed pitches (.356 in 2019).

McNeil continued his first pitch dominance, hitting .432 with a .702 slugging when swinging at the first pitch. He also hit .308 w/RISP, and combining it with his strikeout rate in the top two percent in all of baseball made him a very dangerous hitter. His ability to keep his bat in the zone for a long time and wait on the offspeed is how a slump for him was equal to average stats for most players.

McNeil has an interesting role for the 2021 Mets because he likely sees more outfield than infield opportunities. His bat is indispensable; not many players have a .319 career hitter at McNeil’s low price. He should put up All-Star numbers again in 2021.

2020 Grades On 20-80 Scale (2021 Projection)

Hitting: 75 (80), One of the best pure hitters in the game.

Power: 40 (50), Expect him to get back into the 15-20 range next season.

Run: 55 (50), Does not steal any bases but good wheels on the bases and the outfield.

Arm: 45 (60), The jump is because his arm is better suited for the outfield—strong and plus accuracy.

Field: 50 (50), The ability to play four different positions is a plus. His best work comes in the outfield.

Overall: 60 (70), I think McNeil could have told you he expected a better year. It was good, not great.

New York Mets: deGrom’s 14 Strikeouts Wasted in 2-1 Loss Against Rays

The New York Mets and Tampa Bay Rays displayed why each team sits in their respective positions in their respective divisions. Tampa Bay used their opener method and heads up baseball to win while the Mets failed to make the most of Jacob deGrom‘s stellar start. The 2-1 loss was the third straight game a Mets starter struck out at least ten batters.

deGrom showed no ill-effects from his hamstring spasms that hampered his last start. His strikeouts stuff was on display with 14 strikeouts over seven innings and allowing two runs. deGrom threw a season-high 112 pitches and, most impressively, was still throwing over 100 mph when he reached the century mark.

Bullpen Dominance

The Rays revolutionized the opener for the rest of baseball and showed its worth again. Six pitchers combined to keep the Mets to one run. Josh Fleming had the longest outing with three innings, striking out two while allowing the only Mets run.

The game-changing play came from Willy Adames in the bottom of the fifth inning and the Rays up 2-0. Jeff McNeil lined a ground ball up the middle with the bases loaded and two outs. Adames dove to stop the ball from trickling to the outfield, preventing two runs from scoring. Fleming ended up getting J.D. Davis to fly out, keeping the 2-1 lead. It was the last scoring opportunity the Mets put together.

The lone Rays runs came from Manuel Margot‘s sac fly, and Nate Lowe‘s home run off deGrom. This was the type of game the Rays were built to win. They came into the game with winning records in both one-run and two-run games.

The Mets try to get back in the win column on Tuesday with Seth Lugo on the mound. He faces former Cy Young winner Blake Snell for the 7:10 p.m. ET start from Citi Field.

New York Mets: Matz Fails in Return to Rotation in 15-2 Loss

The New York Mets were out of options in their starting rotation, so Steven Matz lucked into the start against the Atlanta Braves. Matz’s outing went exactly the way we all expected it to. The Braves treated it like batting practice and gave the same treatment to Franklyn Kilome to put up a 15-2 victory.

The only savior for the Mets would have been a rainout because of the lack of confidence in Matz. It was the same pitcher they had before his IL stint, and he put the Mets in a hole early. Over 2.2 innings pitched, Matz allowed six runs on eight hits, including two more home runs. It was part of the Braves scoring in the first four innings of the game.

Kilome returned to the Mets roster before the game since the Mets needed relief help. He provided relief but did not offer any help in the game. Kilome allowed six runs and another two home run to the Braves offense.

Hughes to the Rescue

Jared Hughes came in for a rare long relief appearance throwing 3.2 innings and allowing three more runs and two more homers. While it was not the best performance, it saved the Mets from overusing their bullpen.

Brad Brach and Todd Frazier (you read that right) were the only pitchers with scoreless appearances. While Brach’s was only a one-out cameo, Frazier hurled a 1-2-3 inning in the ninth. He even got Adam Duvall to strikeout looking on a knuckleball.

On the other side, Max Fried continued his Cy Young campaign. Over five innings, he only had three strikeouts but held the Mets to one run, keeping his ERA under two. Jeff McNeil provided the only offense off Fried with an RBI double in the fifth.

Amed Rosario provided three of the five Mets hits on the night. His sixth-inning single gave the Mets their second and final run of the game.

On Saturday, David Peterson tries to become the first Mets starter to make it to the third inning in three games. He faces Ian Anderson at 7:07 p.m. ET from Citi Field.

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 Injury Report: September 14, 2020

With about two weeks worth of games left, the New York Mets have plenty of work to do to get themselves in a postseason spot. Will any key players return to action soon during the last few games?

Jeff McNeil is day-to-day after leaving Sunday’s game with “gastrointestinal discomfort” or, in other words, a stomach ache. Diarrhea is a COVID-19 symptom, but it currently seems like the issue is only a one-day issue for McNeil. He should return to the lineup on Tuesday.

Jake Marisnick is sidelined with a right hamstring injury that hampered him earlier in the season. The is no word on how long he will spend on the sidelines, but the Mets have not opted for an IL stint yet. As one of their best hitters against lefties, they will need his bat in the lineup as soon as possible.

Instead of optioning Franklyn Kilome, the Mets sent him to the 10-day IL with a split fingernail. It should not take a long time to recover, but the Mets may not need him back soon. Erasmo Ramirez took his role as a long man in the bullpen.

Dellin You There?

Dellin Betances played catch on Friday for the first time since landing on the IL with a right lat issue. His timetable to return is questionable, and the earliest the Mets should have him back is during the last week of the season. If the Mets are out of the race, we may not see him throw another pitch this season.

Corey Oswalt (right biceps tendinitis) and Tomas Nido (COVID-19) are two players who the Mets have been silent about. Both resumed baseball activities but have not returned to the active roster. For Nido, the acquisition of Robinson Chirinos closed out an opportunity for Nido to return when cleared.

Robert Gsellman, Rene Rivera, and Eduardo Nunez are out for the season with their respective injuries. When healthy, they did not provide much for the Mets, combining on for a -0.4 WAR.

Noah Syndergaard is still rehabbing from Tommy John Surgery as he looks forward to the 2020 season.

Also, if you are wondering, yes, Jed Lowrie will not touch a baseball field this season. Even manager Luis Rojas said he has no idea what Lowrie is doing.

New York Mets: 10 Run Fourth Inning, Gives deGrom Plenty in 18-1 Win

Worrying about the New York Mets providing Jacob deGrom run support seems to be a thing of the past. Their 18-run effort gave more than enough for their two-time Cy Young winner in the 18-1 win over the Toronto Blue Jays.

deGrom did not have his best command but put up deGrom-like numbers. He threw six innings, holding the Blue Jays to one run on three hits with nine strikeouts. deGrom continues to make a strong case for a third consecutive Cy Young award as his ERA dropped to 1.67.

Erasmo Ramirez picked up the rare three-inning save in relief of deGrom. Ramirez held the Jays offense scoreless on two hits and only threw 30 pitches in the effort. His ERA is 1.13 through his first eight innings with the Mets.

Relentless Offense

Vladimir Guerrero Jr.‘s RBI single in the first inning was the only bright spot for the Blue Jays. After that, the Mets got things going with four runs in the third inning, highlighted by a Michael Conforto three-run home run.

The offense went bezerk in the fourth inning with ten runs. J.D. Davis started things off with an RBI fielders choice, then Dominic Smith hit a grand slam to break the game open to 9-1. Wilson Ramos contributed a three-run double, making it 12-1. The final two runs of the inning came in on a Conforto single, and Davis double.

Every starter in the lineup recorded a hit other than Pete Alonso. McNeil, Ramos, and Robinson Cano led the way with their three hits. 8 of the Mets 19 hits were for extra bases, and those same numbers (8-for-19) are how they hit with runners in scoring position.

The Mets hope to put up another similar offensive output with Seth Lugo on the mound for the second game of the series. Toronto has not named their starter for game two, but game time is 6:37 p.m. ET from Buffalo.

 

Two New York Mets stars are heating up just in time!

For much of the season, the New York Mets‘ offense was kept afloat thanks to the efforts of Michael Conforto, Robinson Cano, Dominic Smith, Brandon Nimmo, and even Andres Gimenez, among others. However, we know it can be even better if two specific performers start living up to the expectations around them.

Pete Alonso, the major league home run leader in 2019 and National League Rookie of the Year, and Jeff McNeil, the man capable of mashing over .300 points of average and a 20-homer pace, are starting to come around at the plate, just in time as the New York Mets try to make a late playoff push.

Alonso’s average is still relatively low at .234 (he hit .260 in his first year) but is now up to 11 homers for the season. From September 2 to this date, the Polar Bear has a .345/.406/.897 line with a 236 wRC+, a 6.3 BB%, a 15.6 K%, one double, five homers, seven RBI and eight runs scored.

The Polar Bear is back for the Mets

Pete’s resurgence offers hope to a Mets’ team that badly needs reasons to believe they can be in the playoff hunt at this point. They are in fourth place in the NL East division with a 20-24 record, 5.5 games behind the Atlanta Braves and only a handful behind the last wild card spot.

Meanwhile, McNeil was homerless for the season as of September 5. However, he has left the year in four consecutive games including last night, and now has a stellar, more Squirrel-like .315/.388/.496 line with a .376 wOBA and a 139 wRC+.

The Mets’ versatile hitting machine has been especially hot since August 28, with a .385/.458/.750 line, a 218 wRC+, a 10.2 BB% and a 10.2 K%, adding the four home runs.

In these two men, the New York Mets have to standout offensive performers that add two more weapons and lengthen an already dangerous lineup. Let’s see if they have enough time to string some victories, reach .500 ball, and go from there.

New York Mets: Wacha, Gsellman Struggles Continue in 11-2 Blowout Loss

New York Mets, Michael Wacha

The New York Mets learned something they should have known prior to the season starting…they cannot win when Michael Wacha takes the mound. It was another dreadful start for Wacha as the Baltimore Orioles jumped all over him and then Robert Gsellman in the 11-2 blowout.

Wacha had nothing from the start of the game. Despite retiring the Orioles 1-2-3 in the first inning, he did not look sharp. In the second inning, the barrage of runs started to come in, and Wacha allowed runs in the final three innings he pitched. He struggled to allow five runs (four earned) on seven hits in four innings pitched. The struggles now put his future in the Mets rotation in question.

Gsellman followed Wacha and continued the trend he set. Over 3.2 innings, he allowed six hits, six runs while walking two batters. With Erasmo Ramirez throwing five innings on Monday, Gsellman was the only long relief choice the Mets had. Whether intentional or not, it was the Mets throwing an early white flag. Gsellman also left his outing after an apparent back injury.

Means Channels All-Star Form

John Means showcased why he earned an All-Star selection in 2019 with a six-inning effort and holding the Mets to one run. The Mets only recorded three hits off Means, and his fastball/changeup combination neutralized their bats. Jake Marisnick provided the only run off Means with a solo home run in the second inning. Jeff McNeil added a garbage time home run in the ninth inning.

The starting pitching for the Mets has kept them back more than anything else. Outside of Jacob deGrom and Seth Lugo, the Mets need to outscore their starters to have a chance to win.

Rick Porcello tries to give the Mets length and slow down the hot Orioles offense as he faces Jorge Lopez in the final game of the series. The first pitch is at 7:10 p.m. ET from Citi Field.

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.