Villar Caps Off Comeback With Walk-Off Single in 4-3 Victory

The New York Mets sleepwalking offense desperately needed something to wake themselves up, and they finally found it their 4-3 walk-off win. It looked like the Mets would play in another miserable doubleheader after the Philadelphia Phillies took the lead in the top half of the inning, but there was no quit in them. Against closer Hector Neris, Pete Alonso led off the eighth with a lined single to tie the game, and Jonathan Villar‘s bases-loaded single brought the Mets back to .500.

The eighth inning started ugly as Trevor May ran into tough luck. James McCann‘s passed ball led to runners on second and third, then Didi Gregorious’s squib single allowed the Phillies to take a 3-2 lead. Miguel Castro suffered a similar fate when he allowed an infield single to Jean Segura, which allowed the Phillies to tie the game in the sixth inning. Both May and Castro were dominant in their outings and are proving to be their best relievers early in the season.

Sky WalKKKKKKKKer

Taijuan Walker had the strikeout pitch working as he recorded eight in 4.1 innings pitched. Due to the urgency of a seven-inning game, manager Luis Rojas opted not to stretch him out. Walker continued to show a fastball in the mid-90s, and he featured a slider which became his best secondary pitch.

Dominic Smith also made an impact both with the bat and with his mouth. His 2-run home run provided all the offense against Phillies starter Chase Anderson. It was his second one off of Anderson this season, except this one came on a fastball that was actually in the strike zone. When Jose Alvarado threw two consecutive up and in pitches to Michael Conforto, the latter drilling him on the hand, Smith was vocal toward Alvarado to cut it out. No altercation resulted from it, but it was clear that Smith was not happy with Alvarado’s lack of control at 99-100 mph.

Game two of the doubleheader will begin at 8:05 p.m. and features a good pitching matchup. Marcus Stroman faces Aaron Nola in the nightcap.

Mets Cannot Recover From Peterson’s First Inning in 8-2 Loss to Phillies

Simeon Woods-Richardson

David Peterson‘s first inning against the Philadelphia Phillies symbolized the New York Mets issues during their opening series. Flat, rusty, and a step slow as the Phillies tagged Peterson for four runs to put the Mets in an early first-inning hole. Rhys Hoskins‘s solo home run and Alec Bohm‘s three-run homer gave them a 4-0 lead they never looked back from in their 8-2 victory.

Peterson bookended three shutout innings with ugly first and fifth innings. Hoskins got to Peterson again with a double in the fifth, and Bryce Harper‘s drag bunt gave the Phillies a first and third situation. Peterson left the game, and Jacob Barnes made his Mets debut in relief but gave the Mets little help. J.T. Realmuto swatted Barnes’s first pitch over the right field fence to put the game out of reach at 7-1.

Wasted Opportunities

The Mets offense made Phillies ace Aaron Nola worked extremely hard through his four innings of work. Nola worked around eight baserunners to hold the Mets to one run on 92 pitches. The ability to get runners on base but failure to score them was the story of their game. They recorded 11 hits but left 14 runners on base and went 1-for-12 with runners in scoring position. Combine all those factors, and you get their two-run effort. Michael Conforto struggled the most in his 0-for-5 day with two strikeouts and nine left on base.

The silver lining from the game is Joey Lucchesi‘s two innings to finish off the loss. Lucchesi struck out two and only allowed one hit as he tries to keep himself ready for a start next week. Jonathan Villar also finished a home run shy of the cycle.

A 1-2 start to year always stings, but a full 162 game season allows plenty of time to rebound from a rough start. The Mets return to Citi Field for their home opener, with Taijuan Walker making his Mets debut. They will face the Miami Marlins, who have not announced a starter yet due to the current injuries in their rotation. The first pitch from Queens is at 1:05 p.m.

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.

 

New York Mets: What the Bench Looks Like After Villar Addition

After signing Jonathan Villar on Monday, the New York Mets have their best group of bench players in years. Each player has multiple years of experience as starting players, strengthening the competition between each player to earn a roster spot. Here is a look at the bench options on the current 40-man roster.

Catcher: Tomas Nido, Ali Sanchez, Patrick Mazieka

Tomas Nido has the clear upper hand over Ali Sanchez and Patrick Mazeika for the back-up catcher job. Nido is only a .197 career hitter, but his defense is his calling card. He puts up strike rates above 60% on both sides of the plate since 2018. In his seven games during 2020, he was 7-for-24 with two home runs and six runs batted in.

Sanchez looked overmatched in his five games last season. He recorded one hit in nine at-bats and made numerous mental errors on defense. Mazeika made it to the big league roster but never played in 2020.

Infielders: Luis Guillorme, Jonathan Villar, Jose Martinez

Luis Guillorme, Jonathan Villar, and Jose Martinez all specialize in different facets of the game. Guillorme is defense, Villar is speed, and Martinez is power. Guillorme had an incredible offensive year to support his outstanding defense. Guillorme slashed .333/.426/.439 over 29 games with 2 outs above average on defense. He seems like a lock to make the opening day roster.

Villar should make the roster due to his speed and ability to play the infield and outfield. His defensive numbers are poor during the last two seasons, but his speed is legit. Villar led baseball with 62 stolen bases in 2019 and finished second with 16 in 2020. His bat is very streaky, but as a switch hitter with speed, it should be enough for him to make the team.

Martinez is a big wild card due to his defensive struggles. He has a .289 career batting average but -24 defensive runs saved in his career. He brings tremendous value as a pinch hitter with a .306 average and a .534 slugging percentage against left-handed pitching.

Outfield: Albert Almora Jr, Guillermo Heredia

Albert Almora Jr. and Guillermo Heredia is the most balanced battle in camp. Almora is coming off two subpar seasons with the bat but is still regarded as a strong defender. Heredia has similar stats over the last two seasons, but the Mets got to watch him play at the end of 2020. Both will play great defense in spring training, but Almora’s experience playing every day should give him the edge.

New York Mets Best Infield Options on the Free Agent Market

The New York Mets have plenty of offense throughout the infield,, but they lack any good defenders. Their infield defense was a big part of their disappointing 2020 season. Even with Robinson Cano‘s season-long suspension, it will take a trade to make room for a couple of the guys on this list.

1. D.J. LeMahieu

D.J. LeMahieu was always a good contact hitter during his Colorado Rockies days and found his power stroke with the New York Yankees. His .336 average and .536 slugging percentage combined with versatility at three different infield positions earned two consecutive top-five MVP finishes. If the Mets sign LeMahieu, it severely limits the playing time for J.D. Davis. As much as fans love Davis, LeMahieu is a much better player on both sides of the ball.

2. Tommy La Stella

Tommy La Stella is a good utility infieder for their bench that lacks power. He is good defender at second base and corner infield positions. LaStella is the type of player the Mets can play for 100+ games without worry of a dramatic production drop off. Current roster option, Luis Guillorme proved himself as a capable hitter for average but La Stella provides the power Guillorme lacks.

3. Kike Hernandez

Every winning team has someone like Kike Hernandez on their roster. Hernandez may never get 500 at-bats in a season but will find his way into 130+ games due to his ability to play every position except pitcher and catcher. He has good power for and is a super utitility player who fills the role of multiple players. The Mets have a roster with plenty of defensive fluidity and Hernandez would fit well for all of the possible combinations manager Luis Rojas rolls out.

4. Marwin Gonzalez

Marwin Gonzalez is a lower tier, less athletic version of Hernandez. He still plays the same amount of positions as Kike but is better suited for the corners of the infield and outfield at this point of his career. Gonzalez never replicated his 2017 season where he hit .303 with 23 home runs and 90 RBIs and disappointed with the Minnesota Twins. Should Rojas aim to keep a consistent lineup, Gonzalez provides a better option than Hernandez. He is slightly older, cheaper and is coming off a poor 2020 season.

5. Jonathan Villar

Jonathan Villar is not this low because he is worse than all of the players in front of him. It is due to the likelihood that Villar is surely looking for a starting opportunity. Villar has shown flashes of power but does not carry the patience of prototypical lead off hitter.

His best comparison is a switch hitting version of Amed Rosario but the difference is their versatility. He plays up the middle and center field, allowing the Mets have options if Villar has a good season. Villar inconsistency as a everyday play limits to him as a backup role for good teams.

 

Could the Yankees pursue Jonathan Villar in a potential trade with the Orioles?

Could the Yankees be interested in trading for Jonathan Villar?

The Baltimore Orioles are far from being a winning team in the MLB, which is why shopping their best players makes the most sense, right? Wong. The New York Yankees have the opportunity to pluck one of their only productive players right from their infield.

Jonathan Villar, a solid infielder who was shopped last season before the trade deadline expired, is now being dangled as a potential option in free agency. While Villar primarily plays at second base, he has experience at shortstop, playing in 108 games back in 2016, logging 17 errors, and a .965 fielding percentage.

Compare those numbers to Didi Gregorius’ 2018 season (full campaign), and the differential favors Didi exponentially. Over 132 games, Gregorius logged only six errors and earned a .987 fielding percentage. Overall, he’s by far the better defenseman. Now, offensively, Villar is far more productive, finishing 2019 with a slash line of .274/.339/.453 with 24 home runs (107 wRC+).

Villar’s increase in home runs relative to past seasons makes him an enticing option for general manager Brian Cashman, especially if the Orioles are desperate to trade him. Factor in that he’s a switch hitter, and the value keeps getting better.

Does this deal make sense for the Yankees?

Realistically, the natural attrition of the shortstop position for the Yankees should include Gleyber Torres, considering they have DJ LeMahieu, who is a preferred second-baseman, on the roster. Torres has played better at second base defensively, but he did play 77 games at short last year, finishing with 11 errors and a .961 fielding percentage. Villar is a tad better defensively, and both are quality offensive players, which could open up an interesting idea for Cashman.

Theoretically, he could trade for Villar given the Orioles aren’t asking too much, and slot him in at shortstop, where he’s a bit better than Torres defensively. This would allow Torres to remain at second base and move LeMahieu into the first base position, pushing Luke Voit into a DH/reserve spot.

While this sequence of events is unlikely, Villar is an appropriate replacement for Didi, and his sudden increase in power-hitting would fit the Yankees mold. He is scheduled to earn $10.4 million in arbitration next season, which is a big reason Baltimore is trying to unload him, but for his quality, that price-tag isn’t overly expensive.