McCann’s Perfect Strike Give Mets The 2-1 Victory Over The Rockies

New York Mets, Marcus Stroman

Defensive improvement was the top priority during the New York Mets offseason, and James McCann showed why when he secured a series win against the Colorado Rockies. With two outs in the ninth, McCann foiled Trevor Story‘s stolen base attempt to give the Mets a big 2-1 victory in the mile-high city.

The Mets do not get to that point without the stellar outing from Marcus Stroman. He delivered eight terrific innings with just three hits and one run allowed on an efficient 90 pitches. Stroman made the highlight reel with his behind-the-back grab on a comebacker and five-hop throw to first base in the eighth. He now has a 0.90 ERA in three starts, which is good for the seventh-best in baseball.

Survive and Advance

The offense is still struggling to get anything going consistently, but great pitching allows the Mets to survive these games. Jeff McNeil drove in the first run with a second-inning ground out and J.D. Davis recorded the second with a fourth-inning single. Overall, the Mets are still struggling with runners in scoring position as they went 1-for-8. The Mets had an opportunity for an insurance run in the ninth, but McNeil’s failed attempt to stretch a double to a triple floundered their scoring chance.

Luckily, Edwin Diaz continued to dominate by picking up his second save in the same amount of games. His ERA is 3.18 and continues to drop after his rough outing early in the season. Brandon Nimmo also continued to stay hot by getting on base for the 11th consecutive game to start the season. He leads all of baseball with his .447 batting average and .543 on-base percentage.

The 7-4 Mets have themselves a one-game lead in the NL East after a chaotic first three weeks to the season. They have a day off on Monday as they head to Chicago to face the Cubs. If the weather obliges, they will begin a three-game series at Wrigley Field on Tuesday.

Conforto’s Controversial Hit By Pitch Wins It In Mets 3-2 Walk-Off Victory

The New York Mets were a sleeping giant just waiting for someone to poke them, and Anthony Bass was the pitcher who suffered the consequences. Jeff McNeil‘s leadoff home run in the bottom of the ninth woke up the offense, and Michael Conforto‘s awkward hit by pitch allowed the Mets to steal a 3-2 walk-off victory.

Both hitters desperately needed the big moments; the homer was McNeil’s first hit of the season, and Conforto was hitting just .176, which likely influenced him to lean his elbow guard right over the inside corner.  Overall, the Mets offense left eight runners on base and was 0-for-6 with runners in scoring position before Conforto’s controversial HBP.

Conforto’s hit by pitch looked like it would have been strike three, and there is no doubt that he leaned into it. Since it was not a reviewable play, there was nothing home plate umpire Ron Kulpa could do about it. If it were reviewable, it was clear as day that Conforto failed to be discreet when leaning into the curveball.

Walker’s Debut

Taijuan Walker made his Mets debut and came out hot out of the gate. He reached all the way up to 97 with his fastball in the first inning. Walker started the game with 4.1 hitless innings before Brian Anderson’s single broke up the no-no. Walker’s final inning ended his start with a sour taste. Corey Dickerson‘s double tied the game at one, and Jesus Aguilar‘s single gave the Marlins a 2-1 lead they brought to the ninth. Walked finished the day with six strong innings, four strikeouts, and two runs allowed.

Nick Neidert was the spot starter for the Marlins and tip-toed out of trouble throughout his 4.1 innings pitched. He allowed three hits and five walks but held the Mets to just one run. Neidert and new pitcher Ross Detwiler had some help from center fielder Starling Marte with the bases loaded and one out in the fifth inning. Dominic Smith drove a majestic fly ball to center field, and Marte’s leaping catch on the warning track allowed just one run to score on the sacrifice fly. It seemed like the game saving play for the majority of the game.

The Marlins bullpen kept the 2-1 lead until Bass entered the game. Bass allowed three hits, one walk, and the mystifying hit by pitch to Conforto, which ended the game. It was his second blown save of the season, and he has allowed six runs in just 2.1 innings pitched.

The Mets get Friday off, then Jacob deGrom takes the mound for his second start of the season. Trevor Rogers will take the mound for the Marlins. The first pitch is another 1:10 p.m. ET start from Citi Field.

New York Mets: Offense Goes Silent in 3-0 Loss to Cardinals

Carlos Martinez has finally figured out a way to shut down the New York Mets in the St. Louis Cardinals 3-0 victory. Martinez had a spring ERA over 10 heading into the outing but righted himself with a dominant outing. He threw six scoreless innings, allowing four hits, and struck out five.

The offense could not muster any consistent offense. They had at least one runner on base in five of Martinez’s six innings but could not parlay it to any run. Despite the slow team offense, Francisco Lindor recorded another hit and moved his spring average to .341. Jeff McNeil‘s double was the only extra-base hit as he tries to get himself out of a cold spell.

Originally Taijuan Walker was scheduled to pitch, but the Mets threw him in the “B” game and started Corey Oswalt. He rebounded from an ugly outing to deliver four innings, holding the Cards to one run. It came on John Nogowski‘s solo home run in the second inning; Nogowski is hitting a scorching 11-for-26 (.423) with two home runs and 11 RBIs. After the homer, Oswalt retired the last seven Cardinals he faced.

After Oswalt, Jeurys Familia and Dellin Betances delivered scoreless innings with a walk and strikeout. Miguel Castro struck out two and hit 100 mph on the radar gun to continue his brilliant month. Castro has allowed just one hit over 5.1 innings in March. Jerry Blevins was touched up for the final two Cardinal runs in the eighth inning.

The Mets get Thursday off before returning to Clover Park to face the Washington Nationals. Kyle McGowin (2-0, 2.35 ERA) starts against David Peterson (0-0, 4.50 ERA) at 6:10 p.m. ET.

New York Mets Play Ugly Defense in 4-4 Tie Against Miami Marlins

The New York Mets lived up to the reputation of being a team lacking “defensive geniuses” on Sunday. Four errors, including three from Jeff McNeil, led to an ugly 4-4 tie against the Miami Marlins. The Marlins also had an ugly game at the plate as they went 2-for-18 with runners in scoring position.

If last season was not enough, McNeil proved he cannot play third base on an everyday basis. He is more than capable of playing at second base, but there is very little hope for him at the hot corner. Kevin Pillar made the fourth Mets error, dropping a routine fly ball hit directly at him. Jose Martinez also left the game with a knee injury in the fourth inning.

Marcus Stroman took the mound as the first Mets starter to make his second spring outing. Stroman was not as sharp but still pitched well overall. He allowed two runs over three innings on 52 pitches. Stroman’s velocity was a positive as he was sitting in the 92-93 range, and his split-changeup continued to produce swings and misses.

Offensively, the Mets scattered eight hits to produce their four runs. A three-run home run from Jonathan Villar was the biggest hit of the day and Villar’s first homer of the spring. Pillar recorded the only other extra-base with his line drive double off the left field fence.

The Mets are off TV again on Monday when they head to West Palm Beach to play the Washington Nationals. Jordan Yamamoto (0-0, 0.00 ERA) makes his first start of the spring against Joe Ross. The first pitch is scheduled for 1:05 p.m. ET from The Ballpark of the Palm Beaches.

 

Pair of Homers Power New York Mets to 2-0 Victory Against Astros

New York Yankees, New York Mets, Marcus Stroman

The first two spring training games for the New York Mets have resulted in seven-inning, 2-0 finishes. On Tuesday, they were on the winning side for the first time. Mets pitchers had another strong showing, and solo home runs from Jeff McNeil and Albert Almora Jr. powered the offense.

Marcus Stroman got the start over Jordan Yamamoto and was as good as advertised. Stroman retired all six batters he faced and struck out two. His hard sinker resulted in three groundball outs, and he displayed his brand new changeup as well.

Yamamoto worked around a couple of hard-hit balls to deliver two scoreless innings following Stroman. Jerry Blevins, Drew Smith, and Sam McWilliams finished off the shutout. Mets pitchers have allowed just two runs over 14 innings pitched this Spring.

The bats are still quiet, but the dominant pitching held up the two solo homers. McNeil’s homer came against a hanging curveball from Framber Valdez. Over his career, McNeil has less power against left-handed pitching and is always looking to add more power to his game. Almora is another player looking for more power and has a consistent leg kick in his batting stance. In past seasons, he has used a toe tap which led to increased groundball rates every year of his career.

Prospects Ronny Mauricio, Mark Vientos, Brett Baty, and Pete Crow-Armstrong all made appearances once the starters exited. For Crow-Armstrong, it was his first game in professional baseball, and he struck out in his only at-bat. On Wednesday, the Mets travel to Jupiter to take on the St. Louis Cardinals. Jerad Eickhoff faces Kwang Hyun Kim at 1:10 p.m. ET.

 

 

Yankees and Mets have MLB’s top second basemen, per MLB Network’s Top 10 Right Now

DJ LeMahieu has led the New York Yankees in fWAR (Fangraphs’ version of Wins Above Replacement) in the last two seasons, and while he was a free agent for months after the 2020 season ended, the Bombers and his agents were able to hammer out a six-year, $90 million deal.

Meanwhile, the New York Mets have a very good and versatile second baseman on their own right. Despite a slow start in 2020, his stats at the end of the abbreviated year were more or less on par with what he has done in his previous two campaigns: a .311/.383/.454 line, a .360 wOBA, and a 130 wRC+.

Both are excellent offensive performers, versatile with the glove (they can play several positions in the infield) and, overall, the two best second baseman in MLB according to MLB Network’s Top 10 Right Now.

The Yankees’ veteran infielder topped MLB Network’s “Top 10 Players Right Now” second basemen rankings, beating McNeil for the highest spot.

As NJ Advance Media notes, the most recent Gold Glove winners didn’t make the top 10: Kolten Wong and Cesar Hernandez.

The top 5, led by the Yankees’ star

1. D.J. LEMAHIEU
Club: Yankees.
Age: 32 (33 on July 13, 2021).
Bats: Right.
2020 stats: .364 average, 195 AB, 41 runs, 71 hits, 10 doubles, 2 triples, 10 HR, 27 RBI, 3 SB, 18 BB, 21 K, 1.011 OPS, 50 games.
2020 ranking: No. 2.

2. JEFF McNEIL
Club: Mets.
Age: 28 (29 on April 8, 2021).
Bats: Left.
2020 stats: .311 average, 183 AB, 19 runs, 57 hits, 14 doubles, 4 HR, 23 RBI, 0 SB, 20 BB, 24 K, .836 OPS, 52 games.
2020 ranking: Not in top 10.

3. KETEL MARTE
Club: Arizona Diamondbacks.
Age: 27 (28 on Oct. 12, 2021).
Bats: Both.
2020 stats: .287 average, 195 AB, 19 runs, 52 hits, 14 doubles, 1 triple, 2 HR, 17 RBI, 1 SB, 7 BB, 21 K, .732 OPS, 45 games.
2020 ranking: No. 1.

4. BRANDON LOWE
Club: Tampa Bay Rays.
Age: 26 (27 on July 6, 2021).
Bats: Left.
2020 stats: .269 average, 193 AB, 36 runs, 52 hits, 9 doubles, 2 triples, 14 HR, 37 RBI, 3 SB, 25 BB, 58 K, .916 OPS, 56 games.
2020 ranking: No. 5.

5. CAVAN BIGGIO
Club: Toronto Blue Jays.
Age: 25 (26 on April 11, 2021).
Bats: Left.
2020 stats: .250 average, 220 AB, 41 runs, 55 hits, 16 doubles, 8 HR, 28 RBI, 6 SB, 41 BB, 61 K, .807 OPS, 59 games.
2020 ranking: No. 8.

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.