Mets Reserves Lead The Way in 7-2 Victory Over Cardinals

It only made sense that in this odd season for the New York Mets, their backup players lead them to a good win. Francisco Lindor and James McCann got the night off, and Jordan Yamamoto pitched, but despite that, the Mets won 7-2.

The Mets enlisted Miguel Castro as their opener for the first time, and he bent but did not break. Castro kept the Cards scoreless in the first and set the table for Yamamoto to make his Mets debut. Yamamoto performed perfectly as a spot starter as he held the Cardinals to just one run in 2.2 innings and allowed the bullpen to finish the job. The final four relievers allowed just one run in the final 3.1 innings of the game.

After a wild pitch and Tomas Nido‘s two-run home run got the Mets a 3-0 lead, the “-illar” duo took care of the rest. Jonathan Villar recorded two hits, two RBIs, and a homer, and Kevin Pillar recorded a double and two RBIs. Dominic Smith also joined the hit parade with two singles of his own. The trio of Villar, Pillar, and Nido is unlikely to produce like this every night, but all of them played well enough to earn a start in the final game of the series.

The final game of the series features Taijuan Walker against former Met prospect John Gant. The first pitch from Busch Stadium is an early 1:15 p.m. ET start.

May, Loup and Mets Defense Implode During Five Run Eighth in 5-3 Loss

It truly would not be a Jacob deGrom start without the New York Mets bullpen and defense sticking a huge middle finger to him once he leaves the game. deGrom cruised through six shutout innings but was pulled after just 77 pitches, even though Manager Luis Rojas said he could get to the 100 pitch plateau. Miguel Castro gave the Mets a scoreless seventh, but all hell broke loose in the eighth.

The debuting Mets relievers had an ugly night. Trevor May was the first and ran into loads of trouble after striking out the first batter he faced. Two singles and a walk loaded the bases for Bryce Harper, and May turned the ball to Aaron Loup. He hit Harper with the second pitch he threw to make it a 2-1 game, then J.T. Realmuto singled to knot the game up 2-2. Alec Bohm followed with a dribbler to defensive replacement, Luis Guillorme, but a combination of a poor throw and horrible footwork from catcher James McCann resulted in two runs scoring on the error. A sacrifice fly from Didi Gregorious was the final blow in the five-run inning.

The Mets offense showed the rust of a team that spent the last handful of days on the sidelines. Matt Moore looked like Steve Carlton for the first two innings, striking out four in a row at one point. Once the Mets turned the lineup over, their patience grew and forced Moore into four walks. Moore only lasted 3.1 innings and needed 74 pitches to make it through.

After making the first two outs against Jose Alvarado in the ninth, the Mets started a comeback. Kevin Pillar and Francisco Lindor singles gave the Mets first and third. Michael Conforto came to the plate as the tying run and hit a bloop single just off Harper’s glove, making it a 5-3 game. Pete Alonso came three feet from either tying the game with his shot to right field, but Harper had enough room to reeled it in on the warning track.

Questions To Answer

Rojas’s decision to pull deGrom after 77 pitches is a glaring blunder. deGrom retired the last nine batters he faced, which further pushes the idea of Rojas overmanaging the situation. A more in-depth question comes with his use of the bench in the ninth. Rojas used Jonathan Villar instead of Albert Almora to bat for the pitcher. Villar struck out, but the issue is what could have happened after Villar’s at-bat.

When Conforto reached on his single, he was the tying run, and Villar’s speed is always a threat. Regardless of whether Alvarado remained game, Villar is a runner any pitcher has to pay close attention to. If Alonso split the gap, Villar would have given the Mets a better chance of tying the game than Conforto. The erratic Alvarado might have lost the strike zone with his mind occupied on the tying run.

Overall, the Mets have to be happy with their fight in the ninth. They could have easily rolled over and conceded a 1-2-3 finish. On Tuesday, Marcus Stroman makes his first start against Chase Anderson for the Phillies. The first pitch is another 7:05 p.m. start from Citizens Bank Park.

 

New York Mets: Carrasco’s Injury Overshadows 3-1 Loss to Nationals

New York Yankees, New York Mets, Marcus Stroman

Jed Lowrie may no longer steal money from the New York Mets, but his ghost still torments the organization. After recovering from an arm injury, Carlos Carrasco strained his right hamstring while conditioning. Carrasco is likely to be out for Opening Day, leaving the fifth starter job wide open.

As for the Mets on the field, their offense went quiet again in a 3-1 loss for the Nationals. Marcus Stroman continued to impress with five terrific innings. Stroman only allowed one run on two hits while striking out six Nats.

The Mets threw all major league ready arms after Stroman left the game. Jeurys Familia did not walk anyone but allowed a home run and a double during his one inning of work. Aaron Loup suffered a similar fate when he allowed a solo homer to Josh Bell in the seventh inning. Edwin Diaz and Trevor May were as good as advertised in their respective innings. Diaz worked out of a second and third jam while May pitched a 1-2-3 ninth inning with a strikeout.

James McCann drove in the lone run in the first with a double that scored J.D. Davis all the way from first base. Kevin Pillar took advantage of batting second to record two more hits to push his spring average up to .348. Luis Guillorme continued to prove his worth with another stellar defensive play. This one came at shortstop with a sliding stop to his backhand to record the groundout.

On Friday, Taijuan Walker takes the mound for the second time this spring. Walker gets to pitch against the St. Louis Cardinals for another 1:10 p.m. ET start on SNY.

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: deGrom Dominant in Rain-Shortened 6-1 Win

New York Mets, Jacob deGrom

The New York Mets only played six innings on Saturday, but there were plenty of positives in their 6-1 over the Houston Astros. Jacob deGrom and Edwin Diaz made their spring debuts while Pete Alonso remained hot at the plate.

Before the game, deGrom was unsurprisingly named the Opening Day starter for the third consecutive season by Manager Luis Rojas. The only surprise from deGrom’s start was the two hitters who found their way on base. deGrom struck out three batters over two innings and needed just 29 pitches to get through his outing. As usual, he lit up the radar gun with a couple of 99 mph fastballs.

Diaz was even better in his one inning of relief. He needed seven pitches to record one strikeout and had help from Francisco Lindor behind him. Miguel Castro worked around a walk in one scoreless inning after Diaz left the game.

Coming Out Swinging

It was an all-around effort for the Mets offense that featured a different look without Brandon Nimmo. Jeff McNeil took over as the leadoff man, with Lindor batting second. Another line drive to the opposite field from Alonso resulted in an RBI double to get the Mets started in the first. Michael Conforto showed off his underrated speed by scoring all the way from first on the play.

Albert Almora and Kevin Pillar both received starts and made the most of their chances. Both recorded RBI singles as the eighth and ninth place hitters. Dominic Smith recorded his first home run of the spring with a majestic shot to right field.

The young blood of Ronny Mauricio and Pete Crow-Armstrong took over in the sixth. Crow-Armstrong led off the inning with a triple, his first hit in professional baseball. Mauricio drove him in with a single, giving Mets fans a sneak peek of a potential combination in the future.

The Mets are back on SNY on Sunday when they face the Miami Marlins. Marcus Stroman (1-0, 0.00) makes his second start of the season against Pablo Lopez (0-0, 0.00). The first pitch is at 1:10 p.m. from Clover Park.

New York Mets Lose Slugfest to St. Louis Cardinals 14-9

Simeon Woods-Richardson

The pitching for the New York Mets started off strong over their first two spring training games but lose all momentum against the St. Louis Cardinals. Seven pitchers combined to allow 14 runs, 11 hits, and 6 runs in the 14-9 loss.

Jerad Eickhoff got the start for the Mets and allowed the Cardinals’ offense to get started early. Eickhoff allowed four runs, with three coming on a home run by John Nogowski. Jacob Barnes followed but was erratic in the one inning he pitched. Barnes walked two and allowed three more runs in the third inning. Marcel Renteria struggled the most out of any Mets pitcher. He allowed four runs, two home runs, including one to former Met Ali Sanchez.

The Mets offense was the polar opposite of their pitching as they had 13 hits and six for extra bases. Kevin Pillar, J.D. Davis, Luis Guillorme, and Drew Ferguson all had multiple-hit games. Brett Baty also supplied an RBI double in the ninth inning.

The Mets are back on SNY on Friday for a 1:10 p.m. start against the Washington Nationals. Kyle Finnegan (0-0, 18.00) faces David Peterson, who is making his first outing of the Spring.

New York Mets: Pillar One-Year Deal Official, Heredia DFA’d

New York Yankees, Kevin Pillar

On Sunday, the New York Mets officially signed Kevin Pillar to a one-year, $5 million deal as he becomes their final outfield depth piece. Guillermo Heredia was designated for assignment to make room for Pillar on the 40-man roster.

Pillar’s great defensive years in center field are behind him, but he is still valuable in the corners. Over the last two seasons, center field is the only spot where his DRS is negative. Pillar joins an outfield crew that already features Dominic Smith, Brandon Nimmo, Michael Conforto, and Albert Almora Jr. 

Pillar vs. Almora

The combination of Pillar and Almora is very beneficial to the roster. Heredia and Almora are very similar players, and one of them needed to be upgraded from being the “latest version of Juan Lagares.” As defensive subs, Pillar would go to left field while Almora will play center field. Pillar has 79 games in left while Almora only has 11.

While Almora adds defensive value, he brings nothing offensively and is not a speed threat. Pillar is coming off his two best offensive seasons and was a major threat against left-handed pitching in 2020. He slashed .342/.390/.579 and has always produced better against lefties in his career. Pillar also averages 16 stolen bases per season and is in the 73rd percentile for sprint speed.

Heredia will likely remain with the Mets unless other teams are pressing for another depth outfielder. In 2020, he batted .212 with two home runs and five runs batted in over 15 games.

 

 

New York Mets: Center Fielder Kevin Pillar Signed To One-Year Deal

New York Yankees, Kevin Pillar

The New York Mets continue to add outfield depth to their roster by signing Kevin Pillar to a one-year deal. After starting the offseason with limited outfield options, the Mets now have plenty of bench options to choose from.

Pillar’s deal includes a second-year option for another $5 million. It is puzzling that the Mets decided to sign Pillar for this price after missing out on Justin Wilson on the same day. They already have Albert Almora Jr., Jose Martinez, and Guillermo Heredia as outfield options. Almora and Martinez have minor league options, putting Pillar as the front runner to become the fourth outfielder.

Pillar is coming his best offensive season with a .288/.336/.462 slash line with the Boston Red Sox and Colorado Rockies. His defensive metrics have dropped similarly to Almora’s, but Pillar separates himself with his damage against left-handed pitching. Pillar batted .342 with a .579 slugging percentage against southpaws.

What’s His Role?

He will serve as a late-inning defensive replacement for Dominic Smith and should receive starts against lefties. Pillar was once had 11 OAA (2016) and 25 DRS (2015) in individual seasons but has dramatically declined since then. He has a negative DRS for the last three seasons and had his first negative OAA season in 2020. Pillar’s center field days are over and but he can still provide great defense in the corners.

For the first time, the Mets have a group of bench players who could start on other big-league teams. If an outfielder misses an extended period of time, the Mets can be confident in Pillar’s production. With a stockpile of players at each position, there likely is a final move the Mets plan to make before spring training.

 

 

New York Mets Best Outfield Options On The Free Agent Market

New York Yankees, Kevin Pillar

The New York Mets desperately need a center fielder, and George Springer perfectly fits the mold. If the Mets strike out on Springer, what are their other options to fill a huge need in the outfield?

1. George Springer

There is no more convincing for the Mets to sign Springer. He is an improvement defensively and brings a proven postseason bat for a roster that lacks postseason experience. Springer is also a much needed right-handed power bat in the Mets lineup that perfectly balances their offense.

2. Kevin Pillar

Kevin Pillar is a significant downgrade from Springer, but his offensive production has improved over the last two seasons. Pillar has 27 home runs and a .440 slugging over the last two seasons. While Pillar’s defense has declined over the last few seasons, he is still an update from Brandon Nimmo. No disrespect to Pillar, but anyone not named George Springer would be a complete failure for center field.

3. Jackie Bradley Jr. 

Jackie Bradley Jr. is still a good defensive center fielder, but his offense is filled with inconsistency. 2020 was Bradley’s first season with an average over .270. His power numbers have also fluctuated over his career, which does not project him to be a major upgrade in center field. Bradley would be a lower walk rate, better defending version of Nimmo.

4. Joc Pederson

Joc Pederson is always a tremendous power threat but his center field days might be far behind him. Pederson only hit .190 in 2020 but came alive in the postseason with 15 hits. If the Mets choose to move J.D. Davis or the DH is implemented in the NL, Pederson is very much worth a look.

5. Michael Brantley

Michael Brantley is a huge shot in the dark for the Mets. But if you are going to have a horrible defense, why not try to win with overwhelming offense. The Mets offense would become the best in baseball with a .470+ sugging percentage hitter at every position. Signing Brantley would all but end Davis’s tenure in New York. Nimmo would remain in center while Brantley man’s left (if there is a DH). But you have got a better chance of landing a Play Station 5 than the Mets signing Brantley.

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.