Mets Game Preview (4/8/21): 1:05 p.m. vs. Miami Marlins (1-5)

New York Mets, Pete Alonso

The New York Mets host the Miami Marlins for their home opener at Citi Field after a disappointing series loss against the Philadelphia Phillies. Luckily, the Marlins are coming off a three-game sweep to the St. Louis Cardinals and are missing a couple of key rotation arms. The weekend series is a good chance for the Mets to get back into the win column a couple of times before the Phillies come back to town.

The Mets looked a step slow in multiple aspects of the game during their first series. The Mets bullpen pitched to an ERA close to eight and their offense was very inconsistent. It is understandable after getting an unexpected extra time off due to the Washington Nationals Covid outbreak. From game to game, they went from lacking timing at the plate to getting timely hits to leaving runners on base. The one constant was their ability to work deep counts, drawing 15 walks over three games.

The Mets are unlikely to play J.D. Davis in this series while he recovers from a hand injury from getting hit by a pitch. Davis will go for more X-Rays before the Mets make an official decision on his path back to the starting lineup. Luis Guillorme will continue to fill in during his absence.

The fish have been fried early this season with five losses in their first six games. Their offense is only hitting .219 with a .316 slugging percentage. Despite the team struggles, Jesus Aguilar and Starling Marte have started the season on a good note. Aguilar is 6-for-17 (.353) with four walks and has only struck out once. Marte has proven to be a key acquisition for them by starting the season going 8-for-23 (.348) with a stolen base.

Pitching Matchups

Taijuan Walker makes his Mets debut after a solid spring where he had a 3.27 ERA in 11 innings. Walker brings his fastball in the 93-95 range, a slider, changeup, and curveball. Much like Jacob deGrom and Marcus Stroman, we should see Walker stay in the 75-90 range with his pitch count.

The Marlins have not decided on a starter as of nine this morning but it will be either Nick Neidert or Paul Campbell. Neidert made four appearances in 2020 but never got started in any of his outings. Campbell made his MLB debut on Saturday and allowed three runs in two innings pitched.

Matchup To Lookout For

Taijuan Walker vs. Corey Dickerson: 3-for-6 (.500), Triple, 2 Home Runs, Strikeout

New York Mets: Can Luis Guillorme Be The Everyday Third Baseman?

Luis Guillorme opened eyes throughout the country with his 22-pitch walk, but the New York Mets have come to expect the spectacular out of him. His superb defense got him to the big leagues, but his bat has started to turn the corner over the last two seasons. Can Guillorme earn the job as the starting third baseman with the Mets in desperate need of defense?

Guillorme has put together a solid .333 average in 15 spring at-bats,, equal to his 2020 production. He has also brought stellar defense at second base, third base, and shortstop. The marathon at-bat was a microcosm of the type of player Guillorme has become. He will battle hard and brings an old-school approach of refusing to give in and take a strikeout.

The competition at third base is J.D. Davis, a polar opposite player. Davis will be an average defender at best but can put all-Star numbers with the bat. He still has the upper hand on third base, and the better he hits, the more his glove can be overlooked.

Guillorme has been underutilized for far too long and has earned more playing time for 2021. In 2020, he was slapping hits throughout the field but lost playing time once the Mets acquired Todd Frazier. The move served no purpose then and cost Guillorme more valuable playing time.

Manager Luis Rojas has not tipped his hand on a starter yet but the competition is closer than we think. The final decision all comes down to a preference between offense and defense. Even if Guillorme does not start at third base, he should still get into 110+ games due to his defensive ability.

Guillorme’s 22-Pitch Walk Highlights Mets 7-5 Win Over Cardinals

The New York Mets had plenty of fun during their 7-5 win over the St. Louis Cardinals. Luis Guillorme was responsible for one of the greatest at-bats in spring training history. After falling behind 0-2, Guillorme battled 20 more pitches to draw a walk off flamethrowing Jordan Hicks. His walk was the epitome of the Mets’ success at the plate as it started a five-run fifth inning.

Michael Conforto led the way with a 3-for-3 game and two RBIs. One of his RBI singles came in the first, along with another from Dominic Smith. After Guillorme’s epic walk in the fifth, it immediately spelled the end for Hicks. Garrett Williams came in and loaded the bases after drilling Caleb Joseph and Brandon Nimmo.

Francisco Lindor walked to drive in the first run, then Conforto recorded his second RBI single to tie the game at four. Pete Alonso‘s two-run single put the Mets ahead 6-4 and J.D. Davis grounded into a double play for the final run of the inning. The entire inning was a preview of how dangerous the Mets offense can be.

David Peterson started for the Mets and had what he would consider an average start. He allowed two first inning on a Jose Rondon single but settled in for the final three innings. Rondon also got to him again for a sacrifice fly in the third inning. Peterson allowed three runs and five hits over his four-inning outing.

Corey Oswalt impressed out of the bullpen and struck out five of the six batters he faced. It was his first outing of the spring as he tries to work himself back on to the 40-man roster. Arodys Vizcaino also hurled a scoreless inning in his first appearance of the spring.

The Mets get Monday off before they face the Houston Astros again. Jacob deGrom (1-0, 0.00) gets the opportunity to torture their hitters again, but this time it will be in Port St. Lucie. The first pitch from Clover Park is at 1:10 p.m. ET.

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 Player Evaluations: Infielder Luis Guillorme

The New York Mets came into the 2020 season with a minimal role for utility infielder Luis Guillorme. He took advantage of some Mets injuries in August and parlayed that into starting opportunities. Guillorme’s glove remained reliable, but this was the first time we saw him find success with the bat as well.

Guillorme only played in three of the Mets’ first 13 games of the season. He started the season 1-for-7 at the plate with two strikeouts and grounding into two double plays. Guillorme finally got a chance to play every day from August 11 through September 1 and took full advantage of it.

In 12 games (11 starts), he slashed .469/.550/.563 with three doubles, seven walks, and eight strikeouts. His outstanding .600 BABIP made him an impossible out at the plate despite lacking the power at the plate. 34.1% of his batted balls were line drives, and 43.5% were hit to the opposite field. Guillorme was not doing anything special at the plate. He was trying to hit line drives the other way, and it paid off very well for him.

Brodie Takes Away Playing Time

At the trade deadline, general manager Brodie Van Wagenen opted to bring in Todd Frazier, which drastically cut Guillorme’s playing time. As the Mets got healthy, there was nowhere to play Guillorme. It even resulted in him being sent to the alternate site at one point despite his average hovering around .400.

Guillorme’s bat went cold since he was relegated to bench player duty. He finished the season going 3-for-18 with seven strikeouts and put a damper on a very promising season. It was disappointing to see the Mets take one of their better hitters and push him to the side. Guillorme also added stellar defense to his production, and the Mets should have continued to ride the hot hand.

Overall, it was a terrific year for a player the Mets expected nothing from. He batted .333 with a .426 on-base percentage and six doubles in just 57 at-bats. Almost one-third of those at came with runners in scoring position, where he hit .389 in those situations. Guillorme might not be an everyday player, but he proves to be a quality bench player as he heads into his age-26 season.

2020 Grades On 20-80 Scale (2021 Projection)

Hitting: 80 (50), It was an amazing year for Guillorme, but it is hard to see him hitting .333 over a full season.

Power: 20 (20), Still only one homer and a .341 career slugging.

Run: 45 (45), Did have two stolen bases this season but the slowest sprint speed of his career.

Arm: 60 (60), Strong and very accurate arm from his three infield spots.

Field: 70 (70), Made the team for his glove in the first place, made numbers amazing plays throughout the season.

Overall: 65 (45), It was an amazing year in a small sample size, but he should regress to a solid bench player in 2021.

 

New York Mets: The emergence of Luis Guillorme

The New York Mets‘ season didn’t quite go as planned, but at least there were some positive developments. In the starting rotation, David Peterson emerged from the alternate training site, skipped Triple-A altogether and posted a 3.44 in ten games (nine starts) and 49.2 frames.

Rookie shortstop Andres Gimenez also made his debut and added a speed/defense element to the Mets that they didn’t have before. Jacob deGrom, Michael Conforto and Brandon Nimmo performed at their expected levels (well, Conforto was even better) and Edwin Diaz returned to his dominant ways.

However, in one of the most surprising developments of the 2020 shortened season, at least for the New York Mets, was the emergence of Luis Guillorme as a good offensive player.

For years, even coming from the Mets’ system, Guillorme was viewed as a glove-first, no-bat infielder with a utilityman ceiling. However, look at the numbers he put this year: .333/.426/.439 with a .381 wOBA and a 144 wRC+ in 30 games and 68 plate appearances.

Is the Mets’ infielder for real?

You should note, before we dig deeper into his future role, that he isn’t that good. Luck had something to do with that line, as he posted an unsustainable .463 BABIP. But he did increase his average exit velocity (from 87.0 mph last year to 89.8 this season) and hard-hit rate (from 26.5 to 31.7.) He improved as a hitter, maybe not the point to be an above-average regular down the road, but he is nevertheless a very useful piece.

Due to his offensive and defensive contributions, Guillorme can be an excellent piece for the Mets in the future. As of now, there are several infielders blocking his path towards regular playing time, such as Jeff McNeil, Amed Rosario, Gimenez and Robinson Cano. But there are plenty of teams out there who would take a slick-fielding shortstop capable of taking a base (14.0 BB%) and hitting for average.

But let’s admire the fact that, in half of the games of the regular season than other stars, he accumulated more fWAR (0.7) than JD Davis, Pete Alonso, Amed Rosario and Wilson Ramos, just to name a few.

New York Mets: The Mets Minor League Pitchers Fail in 9-5 Loss

The New York Mets sitting at five games under .500 and losing four in a row was not enough for Luis Rojas to manage Tuesday night’s game with any urgency. The Mets sent out unproven Ariel Jurado to start the game and followed up with Franklyn Kilome to hand over an easy 9-5 victory to the Baltimore Orioles.

The Orioles slugged 15 hits and it seemed like all of them, outside of a Cedric Mullins bunt single, was hit with authority. Jurado (4 IP) and Kimome (3 IP), combined to allow all nine runs and three home runs. Renato Nunez was responsible for two of them and four RBIs while Anthony Santander had a homer with there RBIs.

It was another example of the lack of depth the Mets have thanks to Brodie Van Wagenen. Jurado is not a top-10 rotation option for any good team in baseball, but the Mets do not qualify as a good team. Despite settling after the first two innings, it did not hide the fact that he already allowed five runs.

Cano Stays Hot, McNeil Follows

Despite scoring five runs on the night, they only had two at-bats with runners in scoring position. They record a hit in those opportunities coming a Luis Guillorme RBI single. Robinson Cano added a home run for the third consecutive day and brought his average up to .380.

Jeff McNeil also found his stroke again with three hits, including his eighth double of the season. Andres Gimenez also recorded his first major league home run to tie the game at five but it was the end of the Mets scoring.

With Todd Frazier rejoining the Mets on Wednesday, either Gimenez or Guillorme will head to the Mets alternate site. Realistically, Frazier should be the odd man out but the Mets will not make that move. Robinson Chirinos and Miguel Castro will also join the team on Wednesday.

Michael Wacha finishes off the two-game series on Wednesday against a starter to be announced for the Orioles. The first pitch from Camden Yards is at 4:05 p.m. ET.

New York Mets: Luis Rojas says Amed Rosario has to be ‘more disciplined’ offensively

Amed Rosario, New York Mets

Since designated hitter/outfielder Yoenis Cespedes opted out of the 2020 Major League Baseball season (August 2), the New York Mets depth chart has changed. As part of that shuffle, shortstop Amed Rosario’s role has been altered.

The team’s shortstop for the better part of the last three years, Rosario finds himself battling for playing time, which is partially due to his lack of production at the plate. Across 71 plate appearances, he is hitting .211, with a .521 OPS, a 44 OPS+, and five RBIs. Rosario hasn’t recorded a walk.

Mets manager Luis Rojas says that Rosario needs to be “more disciplined” in the batter’s box (quotes per Mike Puma of the New York Post).

“[Rosario] has got to be more disciplined with the zone,” manager Luis Rojas said before the game. “We have seen how much he is expanding. This kid has the ability to put the bat on the ball and when you start expanding, you are going to end up chasing early and putting the ball in play. When you do that the ball is not going to be hit very hard and that is what’s happening to him.”

Across his big-league career, Rosario is hitting .267 with a .702 OPS and a 91 OPS+ while totaling 29 home runs and 138 RBIs.

In the wake of Rosario’s struggles and veteran second baseman Robinson Cano hitting the injured list, infielders Andres Gimenez and Luis Guillorme have seen an uptick in playing time; Gimenez has garnered 61 plate appearances this season; Guillorme has garnered 29 plate appearances and is hitting .458 with a 1.059 OPS and a 200 OPS+.

Cano returned to the Mets lineup on Friday. The second baseman is hitting .412 with a 1.152 OPS, a 218 OPS+, and 13 RBIs across 14 games this season.

The Mets are 10-14, which is good for fourth place in the National League East. They continue a four-game series with the division-rival Miami Marlins on Tuesday.

New York Mets Series Preview: Miami Marlins (8/17-8/20)

New York Mets, David Peterson

A matchup between the last-place New York Mets and first place Miami Marlins takes place in Miami for the first time during the 2020 season. The Marlins are the only team the Mets are over .500 against during 2020, taking two out of three so far.

Probable Pitching Matchups:

Monday, (8/17) @ 7:10 p.m. ET: Robert Gsellman (0-0, 9.00 ERA) vs. Jordan Yamamoto (0-1, 9.82 ERA)

Tuesday, (8/18) @ 7:10 p.m. ET: David Peterson (3-1, 2.91 ERA) vs. TBD

Wednesday, (8/19) @ 7:10 p.m. ET: TBD vs. TBD

Thursday, (8/20) @ 6:10 p.m. ET: TBD vs. TBD

Both teams come into the series with their starting rotations in shambles. The Mets have multiple pitchers dealing with injuries, while COVID-19 has kept the Marlins starters from taking the field. Despite their problems, the Marlins have the sixth-best ERA in baseball, while the Mets sit in the bottom third of baseball.

Will the Bats Wake Up?

The struggles of Pete Alonso and Wilson Ramos are hampering the Mets’ ability to drive in runs through the first half of the season. Both are barely hitting over .200 and are not supplying any power when they do put the ball in play. They also have to deal with other players who are outplaying them.

Tomas Nido is already better defender than Ramos and, at the moment, a better hitter as well. Manager Luis Rojas should look to ride the hot hand until he cools off or Ramos heats up. Dominic Smith has emerged as the Mets’ best power threat, and with the multiple options, the Mets have, Alonso is the odd man out for now. Luis Guillorme is white-hot at the plate, Jeff McNeil likely returns to left field during the series and a hot Robinson Cano at DH makes it tough to continue to play Alonso while the offense is cold.

Who Pitches the Last Two Games?

With the future of Steven Matz in the starting rotation as a significant question, Franklyn Kilome may make a start at the end of the series. In his only big-league outing, he allowed two runs over four innings while striking out five. Kilome is still an unproven option, but it is hard to think he will pitch worse than the 9.00 ERA Matz currently owns.

Jacob deGrom is also recovering a neck injury, but the Mets have been silent on his status. The injury was severe enough to scratch him from his start but no severe enough for an IL stint or rule him out for the last two games of the series. Each series has become a must-win for the Mets, and they will need their ace on their mound as often as possible.

Interesting Stats

Dominic Smith Batting Fourth in 2020: 6-for-15 (.400), 2 Doubles, 2 Home Runs, 6 RBIs, Walk, 3 Strikeouts

Luis Guillorme vs. RHP in 2020: 11-for-21 (.524), 2 Doubles, 5 RBI, 3 Walks, 3 Strikeouts

New York Mets OBP: .346 (2nd in MLB)

New York Mets OBP w/RISP: .296 (27th in MLB)

New York Mets: Completely Outmatched in 6-2 Loss to the Phillies

New York Mets, Rick Porcello

The New York Mets faced an old friend in Zack Wheeler when he made his first start against his former team. Like Aaron Nola the night before, the Mets could not solve him for seven innings. Wheeler held the Mets to two runs, and that was all they needed in a 14 hit, 6-2 victory.

Rick Porcello had a similar fate to Saturday night’s starting pitcher, Steven Matz. It took an unlucky bounce to undo a strong outing. Porcello allowed seven hits through the first five innings but kept the Phillies to one run. J.T. Realmuto doubled off the third-base bag to lead off the sixth, and it got the Phillies going.

Alec Bohm drove him in with a double to tie the game at two. Andrew McCutchen, who replaced Jay Bruce in the fifth, deposited a hanging slider into the left-field bleachers. It was McCutchen’s first home run in over a year and put a damper what built up to be another strong outing for Porcello.

It was another disappointing game for a team that consistently plays with low energy night in and night out. Two errors from J.D. Davis and Dominic Smith contributed to the two Phillies insurance runs in the sixth. Despite how bad the Phillies bullpen is, four runs seemed like 40 to the Mets. There’s no sense of urgency from anyone on the team outside of Jeff McNeil, who only had the chance to show it in the final at-bat of the game.

Guillorme Leads the Offense Again

In a disappointing year, Luis Guillorme has been a bright spot for the Mets. His two-RBI single drove in the only two Mets runs and moved his average to .458 on the season. The Mets did not have many chances to score past the fourth and went 1-for-6 with runners in scoring position, leaving five on base. Table setters Brandon Nimmo and Michael Conforto combined to go 0-for-8 with five strikeouts.

Despite falling to 9-14, they head to Miami still four games behind the first-place Marlins. Robert Gsellman takes the mound to open up the series against a starter to be announced, most likely Jordan Yamamoto. Game one of the four-game series opens up from Marlins Park at 7:10 p.m. ET.