New York Mets Series Preview: Atlanta Braves (4/19-4/22)

After their first series loss of 2018, the New York Mets will head to Suntrust Park to take on the Atlanta Braves. In 2017, the Mets won the season series 12-7 and will have to do the same with the Braves within an arm’s distance of first place. This year’s Braves team features a lot of young and new players to go along with Freddie Freeman and Julio Teheran.

Probable Pitching Matchups:

(4/19 7:35 PM) Matt Harvey (0-1, 4.80) vs. Anibal Sanchez (1-0, 1.29)

(4/20, 7:35 PM) Noah Syndergaard (2-0, 2.95) vs. Sean Newcomb (1-1, 4.02)

(4/21, 7:10 PM) Jacob deGrom (2-0, 3.24) vs. Julio Teheran (1-1, 5.40)

(4/22, 1:35 PM) Zack Wheeler (1-1, 2.77) vs. TBA

The Mets sit in first place after what has been a surprising start for most people. What can be a cause for concern is Manager Mickey Callaway has used more relievers in a 16 game span than any manager has before. His move to pull Jacob deGrom with 103 pitches in the eight sparked a comeback for the Nationals, which eventually won them the game. deGrom and Syndergaard are the only two pitchers that can consistently go deep into games and hopefully Callaway will trust his aces more.

The Braves have a very respectable 10-7 record to start the season. The Braves lineup has a real nice punch to it this season, lead by upstarts Dansby Swanson and Ozzie Albies. The acquisition of Preston Tucker has worked out so far this season as he leads the team with 13 RBIs. Mike Foltynewicz has started to come into his own and Anibal Sanchez has started the season strong with a 1.29 ERA in three games. This team is certainly on its way up after years of losing seasons.

Matt Harvey struggled his last two times out after a dominant first start of the season against the Philadelphia Phillies. With Jason Vargas on his way back, there is no guarantee that Harvey will keep his spot upon his return. The end of Spring Training does not mean pitchers stop earning their turn in the rotation. If a pitcher struggles, there will be someone who is ready to replace him.

Julio Teheran had a rough season in 2017 and still has not rebounded this year. He struggled in his first start against the Nationals, allowing six runs, but put together two quality starts after. The biggest concern is that Teheran has not walked less three batters in any of those starts. His strikeout numbers are good but the walks hurt how deep he can go for the Braves.

Matchups to Lookout For

In a small sample size, Asdrubal Cabrera has hit .556 (5-9) against Sean Newcomb and a lot had to do with the strong 2017 he had batting right handed. In another small sample size matchup, Nick Markakis has hit .333 (3-9) against Noah Syndergaard. All the hits have been singles means Syndergaard has done a good job of not allowing Markakis to drive the ball.

Todd Frazier has struggled against Anibal Sanchez, hitting a measly .063 (1-16) against the veteran right hander. Throughout Matt Harvey’s many phases of his career, his dominance of Freddie Freeman has remained consistent. Freeman is hitting .192 (5-26) against Harvey, but all of his hits have gone for extra bases.

Interesting Stats

Zack Wheeler has had a lot of success in his career when he has face the Braves. He is 4-2 with a 2.94 in 49 innings against Atlanta. In a larger sample size, Julio Teheran has dominated the Mets since he broke into the big leagues. In 122 innings he has a 2.58 ERA with one shutout against the Mets.

New York Mets 40-Man Roster Overview: Jacob deGrom

Since his New York Mets debut, Jacob deGrom has been one of the most dominant pitchers in baseball. He has come into 2018 with a brand new look but his stuff is still Cy Young caliber.

The Mets drafted deGrom in the 9th round of the 2010 MLB Draft from Stetson University. Unfortunately, like many of the Mets starters he underwent Tommy John Surgery and missed the entire 2011 season. After a few seasons in the minors following the surgery he earned the call-up to the big leagues.

deGrom and Rafael Montero were called up in 2014 to debut in consecutive games. deGrom stole the spotlight from Montero putting up a 9-6 record with a 2.69 ERA, which earned him Rookie of the Year honors.

deGrom’s First All-Star Game

He lived up to his high expectations in 2015, which was his first full season in the big leagues. deGrom earned his first All-Star selection, finished fourth in ERA (2.54) and finished seventh in Cy Young Voting. deGrom also picked up three wins in the postseason, including two in the NLDS against the Los Angeles Dodgers.

His 2016 ended abruptly after 24 starts and a 3.04 ERA. He missed all of September due to injury. He underwent surgery on an ulnar nerve in his elbow to fix numbness in his fingers .

2017 was deGrom’s worst year, but statistically it is a terrific year for most pitchers. He went 15-10, pitched 200 innings for the first time in his career and had a 3.53 ERA. deGrom finished tied for eighth in Cy Young voting.

The expectations have been set high for deGrom again and he has been one of the key reasons why the Mets have started the season hot. He has four different pitches that he can strikeout anyone with and one of the best fastballs in baseball. If he has a typical Jacob deGrom year he will be in the running for a Cy Young award.

He has a 3.06 ERA with two wins in the small sample size of 17.2 innings. It will be an exciting 2018 season if deGrom remains healthy and dominates the NL.

 

 

New York Mets 40-Man Roster Overview: Zack Wheeler

New York Yankees, New York Mets, Zack Wheeler

The former top prospect of the New York Mets, Zack Wheeler, is back in the big leagues. He was the only piece missing out of the Mets dream rotation of their coveted pitching prospects.

The San Francisco Giants drafted Wheeler in the 1st round of the 2009 MLB Draft. The Giants traded Wheeler to the Mets for Carlos Beltran after spending a year and a half in the Giants minor league system. After another strong year and a half he earned a call-up to the big leagues.

He looked like the real deal in his rookie season going 7-5 with a 3.42 ERA in 100 innings pitched. 2014 was Wheeler’s first full year in the big leagues and he settled in during his sophomore season. He made 32 starts, pitched 185.1 innings and struck out 187 hitters (10th in the NL).

Injuries Catching Up to Wheeler

Unfortunately, during Spring Training in 2015 Wheeler found out he needed to undergo Tommy John Surgery. Wheeler missed the entire 2015 season and effectively lost the rotation spot he once had locked up. The Mets almost dealt him to the Milwaukee Brewers for Carlos Gomez at the 2015 trade deadline. Luckily for the Mets, the deal never went through.

Wheeler missed all of the 2016 season as well because of the surgery and other injuries. He was not able to get fully healthy and the Mets decided to shut him down for the entire year and continue to rehab in 2017.

In 2017, he finally returned to action but was plagued by injuries and the inability to go deep into games. After starting the year strong, he faltered to add to what was a very disappointing 2017 season. He only pitched 86.1 innings and put up a career high 5.21 ERA. Wheeler also walked 40 batters in those 86.1 innings.

Surprising Spring Training Outcome

He had high hopes going into this years Spring Training but was inconsistent throughout. Even with Jason Vargas getting injured many assumed he would take the place of Vargas to create the Mets dream rotation but Seth Lugo out pitched him and earned the spot. Luckily, he has returned to the big leagues and delivered a great start in his first outing back.

Wheeler does add to the very deep pitching staff the Mets have and when he is healthy he is a very dominant pitcher. In his age-28 season the time is running out for Wheeler and with younger and cheaper options in the Mets organization his time with the Mets could be limited. He rounds out the Mets dream rotation and hopefully he can find consistent success.

New York Mets Series Preview: Milwaukee Brewers (4/13-4/15)

New York Mets, New York Yankees, Steven Matz

The red-hot New York Mets return home looking to add on to their terrific 10-1 start. They welcome in the Milwaukee Brewers (7-6), who sit in third place in the National League Central. The Brewers have one of the better outfields in baseball that includes Christian Yelich, Lorenzo Cain, Ryan Braun and Domingo Santana. Milwaukee hopes to win the division for the first time in their franchise’s history.

Probable Pitching Matchups

(4/13, 7:10 PM) Zach Davies (0-1, 5.40 ERA) vs. Steven Matz (0-1, 3.00 ERA)

(4/14, 7:10 PM) Chase Anderson (0-1, 3.38 ERA) vs. Matt Harvey (0-0 3.60 ERA)

(4/15, 1:10 PM) Jhoulys Chacin (0-1, 6.59 ERA) vs. Noah Syndergaard (2-0, 3.94 ERA)

The Mets currently are one of the best teams in baseball and have won eight straight games. They already have six comeback victories, which leads baseball. Manager Mickey Callaway has looked like a genius through these first 11 games and every player is doing their part to contribute to the team’s early success.

The Brewers have a dangerous lineup which is headed by the big bat of Eric Thames. Just like last season, Thames has come out hot out of the gate with five home runs. With the loss of Jimmy Nelson for most of the season the team will be relying on Davies and Anderson to lead their rotation. The Brewers have already had a tough schedule that has started with 10 of their first 13 games against the Chicago Cubs and St. Louis Cardinals.

Closerless Brewers

After All-Star closer Corey Knebel went down with a hamstring the bullpen needed a new stopper for the end of their games. Josh Hader, Jacob Barnes and Matt Albers have been relied on heavily in Knebel’s absence. Hader has only pitched 7.2 innings but has 17 strikeouts in his limited work.

Friday will start the second turn around the rotation for the Mets “dream rotation”. On the first time around it led to a perfect 5-0 record. Now these core group of pitchers will showcase their talents at home for the first time. They have been good but they certainly can be even more dominant.

Matchups to Lookout For

Over his career Adrian Gonzalez has hit 8-22 with a home run against Jhoulys Chacin. Christian Yelich has a career .298 batting average against right handed pitching an that is exactly what the Mets will feature in the final two games of the series.

Jay Bruce has only hit 1-14 against Chase Anderson in his career. Callaway might shake up the lineup again for Saturday’s matchup. In a small sample size, Ryan Braun is only 1-6 against Noah Syndergaard and with Braun on the decline, Thor should win the matchup once again.

Interesting Stats

Yoenis Cespedes has hit .388 with four home runs in his career against the Milwaukee Brewers. Hopefully this allows him to breakout of his slump. Eric Thames has only hit .206 against power pitchers, so do not look for him to have too much success when he faces Syndergaard on Sunday.

New York Mets Series Preview: Miami Marlins (4/9-4/11)

New York Mets, Noah Syndergaard

The New York Mets make their first trip to South Beach to take on the Miami Marlins. The Mets look to make it four straight series wins to start their 2018 season. Owner Derek Jeter traded away their stars in the offseason. Many of their players trying to earn a big league job. The Marlins already find themselves in last place in the National League East and it does not look like than will change any time soon.

Probable Pitching Matchups

(4/9, 7:10 PM) Noah Syndergaard (1-0, 5.40 ERA) vs. Jose Urena (0-1, 4.91 ERA)

(4/10, 7:10 PM) Jacob deGrom (2-0, 1.54 ERA) vs. Caleb Smith (0-1, 4.32 ERA)

(4/11, 7:10 PM) Zack Wheeler (Season Debut) vs. Jarlin Garcia (0-0, 1.80 ERA)

The Mets have surprised many by their strong start that has earned them first place in the NL East. Their ability to comeback, strong pitching and clutch hitting was something missing in the 2017 Mets. Manager Mickey Callaway has seemed to push all the right buttons in his first few games as Mets manager.

The Marlins bring in a roster full of under the radar players with Starlin Castro being the star of the team. Third baseman Brian Anderson has had a strong start to the season, hitting .281 with a .410 on base percentage. Pitching will be their biggest issue this season but Jarlin Garcia and his 1.80 ERA is giving hope to what looks to be a mediocre rotation.

New Owner, New Players

Last year the Marlins won 12 of the 19 meetings against the Mets but it will not surprise anyone if the Mets win a majority of this year’s matchups. Manager Don Mattingly certainly has his work cut out for him this year but his job looks to be secure with Derek Jeter as the owner. Young prospects Lewis Brinson, Dillon Peters and Braxton Lee have struggled to start the season but the organization is banking on them for their future success.

The Mets are searching for a starter to pitch the final game of the series. It was sahping up to be Seth Lugo as Jason Vargas is still recovering from his hand injury. But, the Mets will opt to bring up Zack Wheeler and keep Lugo in the bullpen.

Matchups to Watch For

Wilmer Flores hit .291 with 7 home runs against left handed pitching last season. Expect him to get a lot of playing time in this series with the Marlins pitching two lefties. Michael Conforto is a career .179 hitter against left handed pitching. Those statistics combined with not pushing him too much in his return from the shoulder injury will likely keep him out of the lineup.

In his career, Starlin Castro hits .301 when facing a pitcher for the third time. If Syndergaard and deGrom has to face Castro late in the ballgame, they might be pulled with Callaway’s bullpen philosophy. The Mets have done a great job of working the count this year and in his career batters hit .388 against Urena in 1-0 counts. He is known to lose the strike zone in the past and this can be a recipe for disaster against the Mets.

Interesting Stats

Yoenis Cespedes only hit .185 in Marlins Park in 2017 after hitting .296 the year before. On the other hand, Cameron Maybin has hit .338 in his career at Marlins Park. It is an encouraging sign for a player who is looking to rebound this season.

New York Mets 40-Man Roster Overview: Jason Vargas

The journeyman veteran Jason Vargas is one of the many veterans the New York Mets signed this past offseason. He starts the year on disabled list but his return is coming soon.

The Florida Marlins drafter Vargas in the 2nd round of the 2004 MLB Draft. Vargas skyrocketed through the minor leagues and was called up in 2005. Vargas had a solid 13 starts and put up a 4.03 ERA, but struggled mightily in the 2006 campaign. In 43 innings he had a 7.33 ERA and had more walks than strikeouts.

First Year as a Met

After 2006, the Marlins traded Vargas to the Mets with pitchers Adam Bostick for pitchers Matt Lindstrom and Henry Owens. Vargas only made two starts in his first stint with the Mets and they were dreadful. He pitched 10.1 innings, allowed 14 runs and 4 home runs. After the season he had a bone spur removed from his elbow in October, followed by surgery for a torn labrum in his left hip.

The Mets packaged Vargas with six other players sent to the Seattle Mariners in a three-team trade between them and Cleveland Indians. He spent the entire 2008 season recovering from his injuries. Vargas made his Mariner debut in 2009 and pitched to a 4.91 ERA, splitting time in the bullpen and rotation.

He earned a rotation spot in rotation in 2010 and made 31 starts with a 3.78 ERA. Vargas built off that year in 2011 by pitching over 200 innings for the first time in his career. His 2012 season was his best with the Mariners. He had career highs with 217.1 innings, 14 wins and 141 strikeouts.

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The Los Angeles Angels acquired Vargas for Kendrys Morales after the 2012 season. Unfortunately, he missed almost two months with a blood clot in his armpit but still made 24 starts and pitched to a 4.02 ERA. Vargas signed a four-year, $32 million contract with the Kansas City Royals in the 2013 offseason.

Vargas Finds a Home with the Royals

He proved to be a reliable starter for the Royals and had 11 wins with a 3.71 ERA. The injuries started to hit Vargas in 2015 and it limited him to only 43 innings which resulted in Tommy John Surgery. He only made three starts in 2016 but bounced back in 2017. Vargas pitched to a 4.16 ERA, won 18 games and was named an All-Star for the first time in his career. Vargas had a 2.62 ERA in the first half but it ballooned to 6.38 in the second half.

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He inked a two-year and $16 million deal with an $8 million option for a third year. He broke his hand on a comebacker in Spring Training but should be ready to go in a week or two. Vargas will likely replace Seth Lugo in the starting rotation when he returns.

Vargas offers a veteran presence the Mets missed when Bartolo Colon left. He will take the ball every five days and gives his team a chance to win most of the time he goes on the mound. He is one of the few classic left handed pitchers in the game who uses all of his pitches and relies on contact to get batters out. Vargas has a fastball (87-90 mph), curveball (74-77 mph) mph, cutter (83-86 mph) and changeup (80-82 mph).

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New York Mets Injury Report

Three games into the season and the New York Mets already have their first injury in the regular season.

The Mets scratched Brandon Nimmo (flu) from Sunday’s lineup because of his flu like symptoms. Juan Lagares got the start and some rest/medicine should take care of the sickness. This is not the worst injury but it qualifies since it kept him from being in the lineup.

The Latest Mets Injury

Anthony Swarzak (oblique) suffered the injury Saturday and was evaluated on Sunday. On Monday he underwent more test and an MRI. It is a little surprising the Mets have not put Swarzak on the 10-day disabled list so they do not have to play with 24 players. The 10-day DL was created so teams did not have to lose a player for two weeks if they did not need to. Once the MRI results comeback, the Mets will likely make their decision then.

Michael Conforto (shoulder) is moving ahead of schedule from his injury and could be activated on Thursday. Conforto faced Jason Vargas in a simulated game Monday will start to workout with the team this week. The Mets start their first series with Washington Nationals Thursday and with minor league spring training over, he will likely join the team at that point.

The aforementioned Jason Vargas (right hand) threw a bullpen session over the weekend and pitched in a simulated game Monday. He still is not able to catch with his glove hand yet which does not allow the team to give a set date for his return. Vargas is still building up his stamina as well, so a mid-April return should be in the works for the veteran left-hander.

Dominic Smith (quad) started the season on the 10-day DL and headed to Las Vegas to start the season at Triple-A. The road back to the big leagues for Smith has grown longer since Spring Training started. Hopefully, he can right himself because the Mets have high hopes in him.

Rafael Montero (right elbow), David Wright (back and shoulder) and T.J. Rivera (right elbow) all remain on the shelf and currently have no timetable to return. There has been no further news on their recoveries.

New York Mets Series Preview: Philadelphia Phillies (4/2-4/4)

New York Mets, Noah Syndergaard

The New York Mets welcome the young upstart Philadelphia Phillies into Citi Field for their first National League East series of the season. The Phillies lost two out of three games against the Atlanta Braves in their opening series. The Mets won the season series last year 12-7, this will be the first time new managers, Mickey Callaway and Gabe Kapler faceoff.

Probable Pitching Matchups

(4/2, 7:10 PM) Ben Lively (0-0, -.–) vs. Matt Harvey (0-0, -.–)
(4/3, 7:10 PM) Aaron Nola (0-0, 1.69) vs. Seth Lugo (0-0, -.–)
(4/4, 1:10 PM) Nick Pivetta (0-0, 6.75) vs. Noah Syndergaard (1-0, 6.00)

The Mets started the season off strong by taking two out of three from the St. Louis Cardinals. The Phillies bring in a very young team lead by their big bats of Carlos Santana and Rhys Hoskins. Young pitchers Aaron Nola and Vince Velasquez with the new addition of Jake Arrieta gives the Phils a rotation that has high potential.

Kapler has already been second guessed for his managerial style. He wants everybody to play and will yank his pitchers’ way before they hit 100 pitches. Even if a pitcher is cruising, he will pull them out early so they do not have to face the lineup a third time. Losing a game 15-2 and blowing a five run lead on opening day has blown open the floodgates for second guessing.

The Mets have beat up on the Phillies the last few seasons but pitchers will certainly have their work cut out with Rhys Hoskins, Carlos Santana, and Maikel Franco in the middle of their lineup. With Pat Neshek on the disabled list, their bullpen is lackluster at best but Hector Neris is their lone bright spot.

Matt Harvey will try to work through the conditions on Monday in his highly anticipated first start of 2018. Last year was one to forget but the Mets feel he has regained his confidence and most importantly his Cy Young caliber stuff. Over the years no Mets pitcher has drawn more attention from the media and admiration from the Mets fans. When Matt Harvey is on top of his game it is certainly fun to watch.

Matchups to Lookout For

Maikel Franco has terrorized the Mets over his career. His nine home runs against the Mets are the most he has against any other team. Noah Syndergaard has been dominant against the Phillies, he has a 1.78 ERA in 35.1 innings against them.

Aaron Nola has struggled in his career against the Mets. He has a 6.19 ERA and has allowed 18 hits in 16 innings against the Mets. The Phillies have put up good numbers against A.J. Ramos in the past. He has a 4.62 ERA and has walked 27 batters in 37 innings against the Phillies.

Interesting Stats

To support Kapler’s idea of taking pitchers out early, Adrian Gonzalez has hit .312 in his career when a pitcher is pitching through the order for the third time. Nick Pivetta has a 3.65 ERA during day games, compared to his inflated 7.73 ERA at night.

What Do The New York Mets Do When Michael Conforto Returns?

Michael Conforto is set to return to the New York Mets before his original May 1 date. The Mets have to figure out how to make room for Conforto in their crowded outfield.

There will be no changes when it comes to Yoenis Cespedes or Jay Bruce in the outfield. The decision to demote either Brandon Nimmo, Juan Lagares is a difficult one for the organization to make. The Mets could also demote Phillip Evans, if they choose to have five outfielders.

Brandon Nimmo vs. Juan Lagares

Nimmo has shown his prowess for working deep counts and ability to be the Mets leadoff hitter. He can also play all three outfield positions and is a solid bat to have off the bench. Nimmo has shown he is a quality outfielder and has solidified his spot on the Mets roster. The Mets have been high on Nimmo since they drafted him and they likely will not want to remove the hustle and patience he brings to the Mets.

Lagares is a gold glove center fielder but has always struggled with being a consistent hitter. It is unlikely the Mets move Lagares because he is undoubtedly the best defensive outfielder they have. His glove has been a game changer in the years past which keeps him on the Mets roster year after year. If the Mets were to choose between Nimmo and Lagares, they would likely go with Nimmo. Nimmo is younger, a better hitter and can play all three outfield positions.

How the Mets Will Handle Conforto When He Returns

Conforto’s will likely be worked into everyday action slowly and with caution. Manager Mickey Callaway has said he does not want to overwork guys in the regular season and make sure his bench players do not spend too many consecutive games on the bench. The days of 150-plus games being played is most likely over.

Conforto will likely reclaim his spot as the Mets leadoff hitter and center fielder when he returns. In order to give Adrian Gonzalez some rest, Bruce could play first base which would move Conforto to right and Nimmo/Lagares to center. The Mets can do a lot many different things with their lineup and they do not have a player Callaway is afraid to play.

Getting Conforto back healthy makes the Mets lineup even more dangerous. It gives the Mets and outfield that is one of the very best in baseball and can all be All-Stars. Conforto was one the few bright spots of a dark 2017 and will be one of the key pieces the Mets need to make another World Series run in 2018.

New York Mets 40-Man Roster Overview: Noah Syndergaard

New York Mets, Noah Syndergaard

Noah Syndergaard is the ace of the New York Mets pitching staff and is looking to bounce back to have a healthy season this year. Thor brings a strong repertoire of pitchers and is certainly a favorite of many for this years Cy Young award.

The Toronto Blue Jays took Syndergaard with the 38th pick of the 2010 MLB Draft. After three strong years in the minor league system, the Mets acquired Thor, John Buck, Travis d’Arnaud and Wuilmer Becerra for Josh Thole, Mike Nickeas and R.A. Dickey. The potential was there for Syndergaard but had to learn to be a pitcher, not a thrower.

Syndergaard’s Career as a Met

In 2014, the Mets decline to bring up Syndergaard during September call-ups which surprised many around the team. The organization felt he still was not ready and still had to improve mentally and on the field. In May of 2015 the Mets finally called-up Syndergaard to make his debut against the Chicago Cubs. Thor had terrific rookie season going 9-7 with a 3.24 ERA and 166 strikeouts to 31 walks. He recorded the Mets lone win in the 2015 World Series and finished fourth in Rookie of the Year Voting.

Syndergaard’s game improved in 2016 where he was virtually the only starter, along with Bartolo Colon, who could remain healthy. He put up ace type numbers; 14-9 with a 2.60 ERA (third in the NL) and 218 strikeouts (fourth in the NL). Syndergaard earned his first All-Star selection, finished eighth in Cy Young voting. He pitched seven shutout innings in the Wild Card game to cement his place as the Mets big game pitcher. His ability to throw his fastball at 100 mph and keep his walk rate low was a big key for his 2016 dominance.

Injuries Ruined Thor’s 2017

2017 was a year filled with high expectations for the Mets but like so many of his teammates he succumbed to the injury bug. After starting the season on fire and foregoing an MRI he pulled his lat muscle in May and did not return until September when the Mets were out of it. He only pitched 30.1 innings but had a 34:3 strikeout to walk ratio.

Syndergaard had a terrific start on Opening Day. He picked up the win a struck out 10 without walking anybody against the St. Louis Cardinals. Thor can throw all five of his pitches at any could and combining it with the velocity he has makes him a perennial Cy Young candidate. Syndergaard has the demeanor, guts and confidence to lead the New York Mets to a championship and will not accept anything short of it.