New York Mets: Bullpen Struggles, Red Sox Hold Off Mets in 6-5 Loss

New York Mets, Jacob deGrom

It is a rare sight when a Jacob deGrom start is not the topic of conversation after the game. Seth Lugo and Justin Wilson‘s rare struggles following him accounted for four Red Sox runs. The New York Mets also had no outs with the bases loaded in the ninth but could not come back in the 6-5 loss.

The usually reliable Lugo replaced deGrom after six innings and allowed a game-tying home run to Christian Vazquez. It was just the beginning of Vazquez terror on the Mets bullpen. In the eighth inning, he extended the Red Sox lead to three with a two-run double against Wilson.

The eighth inning showed the fatigue on Wilson, who made his fourth appearance in six games. He consistently missed up with his fastball and gave up three of everything: walks, hits, and runs. Two of the hits Wilson allowed, fell into the cheap category. Wilson’s control is what got him into trouble and made the cheap hits hurt.

The Mets attempted a comeback, down two in the ninth by loading the bases with no one out against Red Sox closer Brandon Workman. A J.D. Davis infield single got the Mets their only run. It was sandwiched between a Michael Conforto and Yoenis Cespedes strikeout, which led to a Robinson Cano soft liner to end the game. The Davis single came on a ball smothered by third baseman Rafael Devers which prevented the ball from heading to left field, allowing the tying run to score.

The Mets offense collected 15 hits on the night, but the Mets were 3-for-14 with RISP and left 11 runners on base. Pete Alonso led the way with four hits, all singles, and a hit by pitch. Cespedes and Brandon Nimmo also homered.

The Mets prized prospect, Andres Gimenez, made his first start at shortstop and excelled going 2-for-3 with a triple. He still looked like a new player at the big leagues after being picked off after his first hit. Once the Red Sox realized he could hit their fastball, they gave him a steady diet of curveballs in his final at-bat.

deGrom Doing His Job

Jacob deGrom was throwing bullets out of the gate, including a 101.1 mph fastball, the fastest of his career. He still did not have his best stuff throughout and only punched out four Red Sox. Despite that, he gave the Mets six strong innings, only allowing two runs on three hits. Out of caution, Rojas removed him after 88 pitches, but expect him to reach 100 in his next start.

The Mets send Steven Matz to the mound against Martin Perez in hopes of taking three out of four from the Red Sox. The first pitch is at 7:07 p.m. ET.

New York Mets Ride Peterson’s MLB Debut to 8-3 Win

The New York Mets opted for David Peterson to make his MLB debut against the Boston Red Sox, and he did not disappoint. Peterson had the longest Mets outing of the season and became the first rookie since Steven Matz in 2015 to get a win in his first career start.

The rookie left-hander continued to ease the stress the Mets had thinking about the starting rotation. Peterson threw 5.2 innings, allowing seven hits, two runs and struck out three. He was not dominating by any means, but his line is what the Mets want out of their fifth starter. Peterson also received help from his defense, which turned two double plays for him.

Red Hot Offense

The Mets’ offensive struggles from opening weekend seem far behind them now. Much like Monday’s victory, they used a crooked number in the second inning to build a lead they never gave up. J.D. Davis led the way with a two-run homer and a double. It was a well-rounded effort as Jeff McNeil and Robinson Cano each recorded two hits and a double.

The only two Mets who failed to record a hit were Pete Alonso and Yoenis Cespedes. While Alonso drew a walk, both have started the season 2-for-20 and 2-for-14, respectively, with half of their hits coming via the home run.

Justin Wilson and Dellin Betances continued to look strong out of the Mets bullpen, each hurling a scoreless inning. Drew Smith also struck out the only batter he faced in relief of Peterson.

After taking the first two games in Boston, they return home to face the Red Sox at Citi Field. They put themselves in an excellent position to build a lead in the division as Jacob deGrom and Steven Matz will throw the next two games. The first pitch between deGrom and Nathan Eovaldi is Wednesday at 7:10 p.m. in Queens.

 

New York Mets: Cespedes Powers the Mets to a 1-0 Victory

New York Mets, Yeonis Cespedes

The New York Mets’ first win of the season could not have been written better and was a day for a couple of crucial Mets to get chips off their shoulders. Yoenis Cespedes returns to the lineup in fashion as his majestic solo home run was all the Mets needed to defeat the Atlanta Braves. Also, Jacob deGrom and the bullpen combined on a shutout of the defending NL East champions.

Cespedes looked rusty at the plate during his first two at-bats. His pop up and a groundball to third base barely reached the infield dirt. It was the first time for Cespedes to test his legs, but he ran at 80 percent as advised by the Mets medical staff. During Cespedes’s third at-bat, he took a belt-high fastball and deposited deep into the empty left-field stands. He did not have to worry about his legs during his light jog around the bases.

Pitching Dominance

deGrom shut down any question on the effect of his back injury and long layoff. He only allowed two baserunners and struck out eight on only 74 pitches. deGrom consistently threw 99-100 mph with his fastball and has thrown 28 straight scoreless innings.

Seth Lugo and Justin Wilson worked through trouble to keep the Braves scoreless and get the game to Edwin Diaz in the ninth. Of course, watching Diaz is going to frighten Mets fans, but he also calms down fans for now. He worked around a walk and struck out two to get his first save of the 2020 season.

Diaz looked electric with his fastball in the high 90s, a slider that looked like it did during his time in Seattle, and he even threw a changeup as well. Diaz struck out Matt Adams on a perfect slider to end the game, which was a huge confidence boost. He struggled mightily with his signature pitch last season, but those struggles seem no more.

Mike Soroka also pitched great for the Braves. He went six innings and allowed four hits without walking a batter. Mets pitching held the Braves to three hits and struck them out 15 times, which handed Soroka a no-decision.

The top of the Mets order, Brandon Nimmo and Jeff McNeil provided three of the six Mets hits. McNeil easily could have added two more if it was not for the Braves defense.

The Mets and Braves play game two of the season at 4:10 p.m. on Saturday. A couple of lefties tow the rubber as Steven Matz gets the start against the 17-game winner, Max Fried.

The Importance of the New York Mets Bullpen in a Short Season

As Major League Baseball continues to juggle the idea of playing baseball again this season, teams are scrambling to get their pitchers ready. The New York Mets will rely heavily on their bullpen through the first month of their season as pitchers get their endurance up to speed.

If there are only two weeks of Spring Training games before the season starts, it is not enough to get a rotation ready. Each starter will get three starts max, which forces the bullpen to throw more innings early in the season. With the way pitchers work today, we will not see them at their peaks for at least 2-3 regular season starts.

Bullpen Importance

The needed relievers make sense as to why a potential 30-man roster is in the works. Anywhere from 1-4 extra relievers are required in order to be competitive during the first part of the season. Late inning relievers like Edwin Diaz, Dellin Betances, and Seth Lugo will have their critical roles. Middle relief is where the key outs will be. If starters only go 4-5 innings during the first couple weeks of the season, someone has to bridge the gap.

Brad Brach, Justin Wilson, Jeurys Familia, and potentially Drew Smith are a few middle relievers who will have to finish the work for the starter. Robert Gsellman and Seth Lugo are the only relievers who can pitch multiple innings due to their starting pitching backgrounds. Most likely, Lugo’s outings come late in games while Gsellman will take most of the multiple innings appearances from innings four through seven.

During 2019, in outings of more than one innings, Gsellman had a 2.18 ERA. It included multiple three-inning outings where he kept teams scoreless and the Mets in the game. When healthy, he can play as big of a role as Lugo, just earlier in the game.

Luckily the Mets employ Jacob deGrom and Marcus Stroman, two of the most in-shape pitchers throughout baseball. The Mets can be more flexible with how deep each of them pitch, compared to the average pitcher. While deGrom moves in silence without social media, Stroman displays all the works he is putting in for the eventual season. Depth is a key part for any championship team and the Mets can finally say they have it on both sides of the ball.

New Pitching Coach Hefner Throws Curve Into Mets’ Bullpen Mix

The New York Mets bullpen makes fans cringe just thinking about it. They’ve tried everything to improve it over the years through both additions and subtractions but nothing has really seemed to take hold.

This year, they’ve added Dellin Betances to the group that doesn’t have an anointed closer since Edwin Diaz completely imploded in 2019 and no one else stepped forward (other than swing starter Seth Lugo) to make their case as a reliable option.

One option, Justin Wilson, was used down the stretch and proved to be effective before being shut down the lat week of the season. In 45 appearances, Wilson had a 4-2 record with four saves and nine holds. He whiffed 44 batters in 39 innings with a 2.54 ERA.

This spring the Mets want to build on the 32-year-old Wilson’s strong finish. For most of his career, Wilson has relied on his 96 MPH fastball and cutter. New pitching coach Jeremy Hefner had an idea to widen Wilson’s arsenal by adding a curveball to the mix to make him a “weapon” rather than just another arm out in the bullpen.

From NorthJersey.com: 

“I think the introduction of that curveball has led him to be even more successful,” manager Luis Rojas said. “To have batters off balance and to have that breaking ball in the back of their head — and the separation of velocity (between that and his fastball) — I think it gives him that chance to throw fastballs by guys and get ahead with that breaking ball, bounce it if he needs to. So he’s got options out there.”

 

Added Hefner: “Mid-to-upper 90s fastball from the left side and a devastating cutter. You’re adding a third pitch in the mix. He easily can pitch at different points of the game, from closing to putting out a fire in the sixth. You can really deploy him in a variety of roles and it’s a real weapon for us.”

The Mets with a ‘weapon’ in the bullpen? What? When was the last time that happened? Don’t get too excited, yet, Met fans, Wilson says he still needs to polish the grip and delivery.

“It probably comes out of my hand a little bit better as far as spin,” Wilson said. “But I don’t know, maybe it was taking a little bit of pressure off the index finger. I really don’t know. You see (the improvement) instantly with all the electronics they have. Able to see hand position and all the things like that. Work in progress.”

Something to ponder as the Mets aim to compete in the NL East this season.

deGrom and Wacha Shine in Split Squad Outings

The New York Mets starting pitching has been nothing short of elite through the first ten games of Spring Training. While the bats are still shaking the rust off, the pitching has exceeded expectations so far. In their split-squad games on Sunday, they beat the Nationals 3-1 and lost to the Marlins, 7-2.

Jacob deGrom picked up where he left off in 2019. The back to back Cy Young winner threw three scoreless innings, only allowing one hit and striking out two batters. He a majority of the Nationals everyday players and made it look easy to cruise through the lineup once.

Michael Wacha also pitched well against the Marlins. Over his three scoreless innings of work, he allowed a walk, two hits and struck out one. Wacha still firmly believes he is a starting pitcher, and his two Spring starts show he should be a starter.

Diaz Settles In

If you did not hear about Edwin Diaz’s outing, there were not any problems. He threw a scoreless fourth inning with the only blemish being a Ryan Zimmerman double. Justin Wilson followed by striking out the side in the fifth inning. He has retired all six batters he has faced, and four of them are on strikeouts.

Jeff McNeil continued to stay hot with two hits in the same amount of at-bats. His average is now .500 for the Spring. Michael Conforto homered for the first time and now has hits in three consecutive games after starting 1-for-8. Robinson Cano also added a two-run double to open up the Mets scoring in the first.

Who’s Hot, Who’s Not

Pete Alonso lined a single to center field for his only hit in three at-bats. The concerns were only small for 2019’s home run champ, and the single took the stress off the Polar Bear. Eduardo Nunez has started the Spring hot, his two hits Sunday moved him to 5-for-15. Nunez was a non-roster invite but could easily steal a spot away from Luis Guillorme.

Amed Rosario continued his struggles at the plate. He went hitless in three at-bats and is hitless in all five of his games so far. Only two of the at-bats ended in strikeouts, which is a good sign for the young shortstop. As he settles in more, the hits should follow.

The Mets get a day off on Monday before welcoming in the Marlins to Port St. Lucie. Noah Syndergaard will make his second start of the Spring.

Tebow’s Homer and Davis Injury Headlines New York Mets Loss to Tigers

New York Mets, Andres Gimenez

Tim Tebow playing in New York Mets Spring Training games is already a headline in itself. When Tebow homered off Detroit Tigers reliever Alex Wilson, it is a 100 percent guarantee to throw the baseball world for a loop.

Tebow showcased his opposite-field power with a no-doubt home run to left-center field. It was his first during his Spring Training career, and it was the fourth time he reached base in eight Spring plate appearances. Expectations are meager for the 32-year old former quarterback, but we still know he has a flair for the dramatic.

Wacha’s Debut

Michael Wacha made his first Spring start. He is in a battle for the fifth starter spot and was on par with Steven Matz through their respective first starts. Wacha threw two innings, allowing two walks, a hit, and struck out two batters. The outing was not anything special but is a decent way to settle into the beginning of the Spring.

Davis Injury

The other major headline came when third baseman, J.D. Davis, left the game with a left shoulder injury. He jammed the shoulder after diving and spending a moment on the ground. Davis said, “right now it feels fine,” but also said the shoulder is weak and stiff. He will have an MRI Wednesday, but the early news is there is no damage to his rotator cuff or labrum.

This is the first injury scare of the Spring, and the MRI will give a clearer timeline on Davis. Initially, the injury seems minor, and it will likely have more of an effect on his offense over his defense.

Zamora Shines and Gimenez Struggles

Daniel Zamora is a projected minor leaguer to start the season but pitched a scoreless third inning, all against righties, where the only baserunner came from an Andres Gimenez error. Gimenez is known for his slick defense but already has two errors in the Spring.

Wednesday Preview

A couple of big names will face the villainous Houston Astros on Wednesday. Noah Syndergaard makes his first start of the Spring and has already poked at Houston’s cheating scandal during the offseason and early in camp. He is not afraid about throwing up and in, but there should be no shenanigans, especially in his first outing.

Edwin Diaz will make his long-awaited debut in his quest to regain the closer role. Justin Wilson will also throw as the combination of the three pitchers will likely be the crew to start the game.

Projecting the New York Mets Bullpen

Despite their struggles from 2019, the New York Mets bullpen is set to rebound. They have added new arms to go along with the talented relievers who are looking to bounce back from disappointing seasons. The potential is very high, but there is also a chance the bullpen falls right on their face.

Edwin Diaz

Edwin Diaz was the price piece from the deal that sent Jared Kelenic to the Seattle Mariners and failed miserably. His home runs per nine skyrocketed, and he eventually lost his closer role. This should not be the norm for Diaz, who will have a bounce-back season. During spring training, he should regain the position as the Mets closer and live up to the hype he had in 2019.

Seth Lugo

Seth Lugo had an unbelievable 2019 season. He was reliable out of the bullpen, pitching to a 2.70 ERA with 104 strikeouts. Lugo’s ability to pitch multiple innings made him a valuable asset down the stretch of the season. He pleads to be a starter for the Mets, but they need his talents to remain in the bullpen.

 

Dellin Betances

Dellin Betances is a major wild card in the Mets bullpen due to his health problems in 2019. He struck out the only two batters he faced before dealing with an Achilles injury. When healthy, Betances is a top-five reliever in baseball, striking out 100+ batters in five straight seasons before 2019. He is the big arm the Mets needed in the bullpen.

Jeurys Familia

Speaking of wild cars, there is no bigger one in the Mets bullpen than Jeurys Familia. Command issues and injuries hampered his 2019 season as he lost his eighth-inning role. Familia contributed his weight to his issues, and he came into spring training in much better shape. Not too long ago, he was a dominant closer, so having him as potentially the fourth-best reliever is a great sign.

Justin Wilson

After battling injuries, Justin Wilson emerged as a dominant force out of the Mets bullpen. His ability to get hitters from both sides out made him a precious asset. Wilson went overlooked as a terrific signing by Brodie Van Wagenen.

Robert Gsellman

Robert Gsellman was not anything special out of the bullpen but was someone who was relied upon to eat innings. His hard sinker and curveball became weapons for him. Gsellman’s strikeout rate also increased, which showed his potential going into 2020. This will be a colossal leap year, which will allow him to emerge into a key role out of the Mets bullpen.

Brad Brach

Brad Brach quietly arrived with the Mets a put together a solid cameo with them. He had a rough time in Chicago but is another reliever who has a track record of being one of the best in baseball. Brach will mostly be used in low leverage roles but is another guy the Mets can trust in crucial spots.

Michael Wacha

Michael Wacha may have signed with the Mets to start, but it is hard to see that happening. Thanks to the roster expansion to 26-players, Wacha can become a long man/spot starter. After spending his last few years in St. Louis struggling, the Mets hope to rekindle the success he once had.

New York Mets: Justin Wilson Year in Review

Justin Wilson has a great year out of the New York Mets bullpen. Despite missing a chunk of time with an injury, he was a very underrated member of a Mets bullpen that struggled for a majority of the season. Due to the bullpen’s mediocrity, Wilson moved from a middle reliever to someone who could handle a setup role.

The Mets brought in Wilson on a two-year/$10 million deal last offseason. It was a very solid, under the radar move to bring in a much-needed lefty in the bullpen. Wilson was not your typical “lefty specialist,” he always had very similar splits against lefties and righties.

Rough Start

Wilson started slowly through his first month at a Met. He made ten outings and allowed five runs and four walks in 9.1 innings pitched. He landed on the Injured List on April 16 with left elbow soreness and was rushed back too early. Wilson made one outing and allowed two runs in one inning, which landed him back on the IL with the same injury.

Wilson stayed on the IL until July 2, and the Mets slowly worked him into action. He started off staying in his middle relief role but moved into the late innings as the month went on. Wilson only allowed runs in five of his 35 outings he pitched in during his return. He was dominant with a 1.82 ERA and held batters to a .215 batting average.

Can He Repeat Success in 2020?

Wilson will likely have a different role in 2020 with the addition of Dellin Betances and the expectation of Edwin Diaz/Jeurys Familia to return to form. He will probably be in the middle innings once again but should have the upper hand over Familia and Betances in Spring Training. If Familia and Betances show they are back in All-Star form, they will land the late innings.

This should not be seen as a demotion because Wilson is the only lefty in the bullpen. He will see time against the Bryce Harper and Freddie Freeman type hitters the NL East has to offer. The Mets will not have to worry about overusing him as well, which was a problem the had in 2019.

Grades:

Pitching Repertoire: B+, Fastball has great life on it and even got up into the high 90s at some points. His cutter and slider are his money pitches. They were his go-to in big spots.

Control: B, 4.4 BB/9 was on par with the rest of his career. For a pitcher with control issues in the past, it did not affect this year.

Composure: A+, Went in there, and never blinked an eye in big spots.

Intangibles: A+, Probably one of the most unknown contributors on the year. Very low-key personality who goes in there and does his job.

Overall: A, Only thing the Mets could have hoped for was to keep him healthy to pitch more often.

 

New York Mets: An Old Foe Comeback to Haunt Them

24 hours ago most of us may not have even realized Christian Colon was still on a major league roster. After Saturday’s game he made his horrid presence known again in the minds of Mets fans. He poked a single up the middle to give the Reds a 3-2 lead over the Mets, which would end up being the final score in a crushing Mets loss.

https://twitter.com/paintingcorner/status/1175581899093356544

For those who forgot (probably not many of you), Colon stroked a single in the 12th inning of game five in the 2015 World Series to spark a five run inning, which won the Royals the championship. Colon was even in the Mets minor league system last season. Instead of Addison Reed, Colon ripped out Mets fans hearts against Seth Lugo.

Colon Was Not the Only Foe

The Mets bullpen was the main reason why the Mets have been trying to claw themselves out of the grave since the All-Star break. It was only fitting the combination of Justin Wilson and Seth Lugo lead to their undoing. The two anchors of the bullpen who anchored the team through the second half, simply did not have enough.

The loss makes things nearly impossible for the Mets to mount their magical wild card comeback. Thanks to a Brewers 10-1 win over the Pirates, the Mets are now 4.5 games out of the second wild card spot, with eight games left. Even if the Mets went 8-0 to end the season, the Brewers would have to go 3-4 just for them to meet in a one game playoff.

The math says the Mets are not done yet, but this loss had the feeling that the season had come to a disappointing end.  It did not help the pain either when Raisel Iglesias struck out the side to end the game. In the end, the Mets bullpen costed them way to many times this season and unfortunately, it did them in once again.