New York Mets Player Evaluations: Pitcher Justin Wilson

Justin Wilson was an unsung member of the New York Mets bullpen during the 2019 season and could duplicate the same success in 2020. After stumbling out of the gates to begin the season, Wilson found his groove towards the end of August and carried it to a dominant September.

Wilson reclaimed his late-inning role in the bullpen but struggled to keep runners off base. Over his first 11 outings, he allowed 12 hits and seven runs, and the BABIP against him was .440. Wilson was another victim of a pitcher who needed a full spring camp to regain his dominance on the mound. What did him in were two outings where he allowed three runs. In the rest of those nine outings, he allowed a run once.

Hot and Cold

When Wilson struggled, he could not limit the scoring from becoming a crooked number. Wilson regained his bullpen success over his last 12 outings. Over 11 innings, Wilson allowed one earned run, struck out 15, and the BABIP against him fell to .231. The most telling outing of that stretch where the Mets desperately needed him to pitch on a third consecutive day. Wilson struggled with his control but managed to get the Mets out of a bases-loaded jam. At the time, it was a game the Mets needed to win to keep their playoff hopes alive.

Most of Wilson’s 2020 stats were within one of each other; these included his WHIP, H/9, BB/9, K/9, and HR/9. What hurt him was his inability to be a dual-threat to both sides of the plate. Lefties only hit .115 while righties hit .306, after hitting .232 in 2019.

Wilson’s cutter was a major weapon in 2019 (.197 AVG., .246 SLG.), but it was hit for a .364 average in 2020. The difference was a small, but key, one where Wilson was throwing them low but more were in the middle of the plate. Wilson pinpointed it in 2019, but the xBA only rose 16 points. Getting his location back will make it a dominant pitch again.

Bring Him Back

Overall, the ERA does not explain the season Wilson had. His exit velocity against was the lowest of his career, and his hard-hit rate was in the top 8% of the league. Wilson’s FIP (3.04), WAR (0.5), SIERA (3.92), and soft/hard-hit rate (26.4%/20.8%) were all better than they were in his great 2019 season. If the Mets can bring him back, it would be a no-brainer to give him another contract. If this were a full season, Wilson’s ERA would have balanced out to match the rest of his numbers.

2020 Grades On 20-80 Scale (2021 Projection)

4-Seam Fastball: 70 (70), On the brink of being a hard sinker, batters only hit .158 against the heat.

Cutter: 30 (65), Slightly struggled with location but will return to an effective pitch in 2021.

Slider: 50 (55), Only threw 12, but it is a pitch Wilson should use more often.

Sinker: 40 (N/A), 4-Seam Fastballs, which happened to have extra sink. Only five were thrown, and one resulted in Michael Conforto’s leaping catch.

Command: 50 (55), BB/9 has progressively improved over the last three seasons.

Overall: 55 (65), Hope to see him back in blue and orange for 2020.

New York Mets: Four Run Ninth Inning Catapults 10-6 Win

The final game of the series for the New York Mets against the Philadelphia Phillies was all about surviving and advancing to the next game. Their starting pitcher did not make it out of the second inning, seven combined runs were scored in the first inning, and two pitchers had to throw on their third consecutive day. Despite all of it, the Mets lived to steal a 10-6 victory from the Phillies.

The Mets immediately got a lead for Seth Lugo in the first inning. Dominic Smith‘s RBI double followed by Robinson Cano‘s two-run single gave the Mets an early 3-0 lead. After Lugo struck out the first batter he faced, it was clear he had nothing on the mound.

He allowed back-to-back-to-back home runs to give back the lead as quickly as the Mets got it. After allowing a Jean Segura triple, Adam Haseley drove him in to give the Phillies a 4-3 first-inning lead. Lugo allowed another two runs in the second inning and had to be replaced with Erasmo Ramirez.

Uphill Battle

The Mets bullpen gave them everything they needed and more for the second straight night. Ramirez started with 2.1 shutout innings, Chasen Shreve followed with another 2.1 scoreless innings. During that period, a Pete Alonso solo homer and Brandon Nimmo‘s two-run triple got the Mets even with the Phillies in the sixth.

After Jeurys Familia got through the seventh, he ran into trouble in the eighth. Justin Wilson came in for a third straight game an showed the ill-effects of all the work. Wilson could not locate anything and walked the first two batters he faced to load the bases. Luckily he found the strike zone on one pitch to get Didi Gregorius to pop out and survive the eighth.

The Mets offense came alive in the ninth inning. Nimmo led off the ninth with a home run, Smith had an RBI triple, and Cano capped it off with a two-run home run. Things did not come easy for Edwin Diaz in the bottom of the ninth. He was also in for the third straight day but worked around three walks, getting the Mets a big win.

On Friday, the Mets begin a three-game weekend series against the Atlanta Braves. Steven Matz makes his return to the rotation and faces Cy Young candidate Max Fried. The first pitch from Citi Field is at 7:10 p.m. ET.

New York Mets: Bullpen Takes deGrom’s Win in Weird 5-4 Victory

New York Mets, Jacob deGrom

The New York Mets needed length out of Jacob deGrom after getting abbreviated starts during their doubleheader loss on Tuesday. deGrom gave them that and much more in his first start in almost a week. He tied a career-high with 14 strikeouts, but a bullpen implosion in the eighth inning prevented him from his third win of the season.

Luckily Wilson Ramos, who was hitting .100 w/RISP, came through to give the Mets the lead in the bottom half of the inning. Brad Brach went nine days without pitching but stayed tough to lock down the Mets victory over the Miami Marlins, 5-4.

The bullpen implosion started in the eighth inning when Justin Wilson allowed three singles to load the bases. He gave way to Edwin Diaz, who gave up a 107-mph single that J.D. Davis could not secure, followed by back to back walks to tie the game.

Diaz left the game with an apparent injury before the game-tying walk, leaving Brach a 2-1 count. Brach finished the at-bat with a walk before getting the game to the ninth inning. He needed help from Jeff McNeil‘s foot to prevent Jonathan Villar from stealing second base to get through the inning.

Clutch Hitting

The Mets were as dreadful on offense as any team could be on Tuesday. They put together a much-improved showing with a 2-for-9 output w/RISP and left seven on base. There was a much more concerted effort to hit the ball to the opposite field, and it was precisely what Wilson Ramos did to give the Mets the lead run.

Robinson Cano helped lead the way with three hits, moving his batting average to .382. Michael Conforto and Brandon Nimmo also added home runs, both their fifth of the year, as well.

Dominant deGrom

deGrom pitched as well as any pitcher can without recording a no-hitter. The two Marlins hits he allowed were light, and his fastball sat in the 99-100 mph range. It was undoubtedly his best outing of the season and showed what a couple of extra days of rest does for him.

Should the Mets choose not to join other professional sports teams in protest on Thursday, they finish their series with the Marlins. They currently have not named a starter yet, but face rookie Sixto Sanchez at 7:10 p.m. ET from Citi Field.

New York Mets: Offense Puts the Game Away Late in 8-3 Victory

Tuesday’s game for the New York Mets started with some worry as David Peterson landed on the 10-day Injured List with left shoulder fatigue. Corey Oswalt received the spot start and survived long enough that the Mets offense gave him the support he needed.

Oswalt lasted 4.1 innings, allowing five hits, two runs, no walks, and striking out four Marlins. He retired nine in a row at one point before running into trouble in the fourth inning. For a spot start on late notice, it was about the best the Mets could ask for. Justin Wilson, Jared Hughes, and Dellin Betances had shutout outings after Oswalt exited.

Edwin Diaz had a chance to finish off the victory but labored through his one inning of work. Francisco Cervelli led off with a double and a couple of infield singles, with a throwing error from Diaz got the Marlins a run. From that point, Diaz calmed himself down to strike out the final three batters he faced to end the game.

Plenty of Offense

For the second consecutive night, the Mets offense gave their pitching plenty of runs to work with. Brandon Nimmo led the way, finishing just a double short of the cycle. Amed Rosario had a much-needed breakout night with the bat. He recorded his second home run of the season and drove in three runs. Every Met in the starting lineup except Jeff McNeil and Tomas Nido recorded a hit.

The Mets went 3-for-13 with runners in scoring position and left nine runners on base. When the offense records multiple hits w/RISP then they can live with a night like this. The issues arise when they record zero or one hit in these critical situations.

Jacob deGrom returns to the mound on Wednesday as he tries to make it three straight Mets victories. Pablo Lopez opposes him at 7:10 p.m. ET from Marlins Park.

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.