Mets Patience At The Plate Leads To Their First Win of the Season, 8-4

New York Yankees, New York Mets, Marcus Stroman

The New York Mets lineup is built with dangerous hitters, and their terrific approaches at the plate gave them an 8-4 victory. Marcus Stroman led the Mets with six strong innings, allowing just one run and three hits to hand the Philadelphia Phillies their first loss of the season. Stroman only struck out three but stayed true to his craft with 13 ground ball outs.

Chase Anderson held his own against the menacing Mets hitters. He gave the Phillies five strong innings with a Dominic Smith two-run home run as the only blemish on his outing. The homer was no fault of his own because Smith swung at a ball by his shoulders but still managed to lose it to the opposite field. Vince Velasquez was the first reliever for the Phillies and had a “Jekyll and Hyde” outing. He struck out the 3-4-5 hitters in order in the sixth but was a completely different pitcher in the seventh.

Velasquez walked four batters, three in a row at one point, which eased the Mets into a 3-1 lead. Francisco Lindor picked up his first Mets RBI with a sacrifice fly followed by a first and third double steal, allowing the Mets to score their fifth run. The double steal easily could have been marked as an error on Didi Gregorius, who muffed a catchable throw at second base. Michael Conforto finished off the four-run inning with an RBI double. Pete Alonso put the finishing touches on the win by muscling a 2-run home run over the left field fence in the ninth inning.

Bullpen Woes

A five-run lead would have been an opportune time for Manager Luis Rojas to give Dellin Betances or Jeurys Familia some low leverage work, but he opted for Miguel Castro again. Castro bent but did not break after allowing three straight two-out hits and a run. He got Bryce Harper to fly out on a solid play by center fielder Brandon Nimmo to escape the jam.

Trevor May pitched into another jam in the eighth but struck out Brad Miller and Roman Quinn to slither out of a first and second situation. Jeurys Familia finally got some action with a six-run lead in the ninth and had tough luck on two weak hits and an error resulting in two unearned runs. Despite the issues, Familia got through the inning and completed the first win of the season.

The Mets defense compiled another two errors to push their count to three in the early season. Overall, the defense has been much better than last season, but they still have more work to join the upper class in the NL. The Mets’ eight walks were vital as the offense only mustered five hits. Four of those hits resulted in extra bases; two doubles and two home runs.

J.D. Davis also left the game in the second inning after getting drilled in the hand with a pitch. X-Rays came back negative and his status is day-to-day at the moment. On Wednesday, both teams play the rubber game of their series as the Mets send David Peterson to the mound against Aaron Nola. The first pitch is at 4:05 p.m. ET from Citizens Bank Park.

 

 

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 Finish Spring Training With a 3-3 Tie Against the Cardinals

Taijuan Walker gave the New York Mets one final hope that he will be a key stabilizer in their rotation with his start against the St. Louis Cardinals. Walker went five strong innings with only two runs allowed in the 3-3 tie. Manager Luis Rojas played most of his regulars but did all he could to ensure their good health going into Opening Day.

The first inning provided half of the scoring in the game. Pete Alonso put the Mets up 2-0 with an RBI double to cap off a spring where he hit .340 to go along with his majestic power. Nolan Arenado responded with a solo home run in the bottom half, which made it a 2-1 game. The Cardinals got to Walker again with a Matt Carpenter RBI single to knot the game at two.

After Walker left the game, Miguel Castro took over and continued to dominate. Castro hurled a 1-2-3 inning on just eight pitches and recorded a strikeout. Robert Gsellman followed and had his best outing after finding out he will make the Opening Day roster. Gsellman pitched a scoreless seventh, and Jerry Blevins did the same in the eighth.

Late Inning Effort

Mallex Smith‘s double gave the Mets a 3-2 lead in the eight, which led to Trevor Hildenberger’s save opportunity. Edmundo Sosa‘s solo home run tied the game and forced it to finish in a tie. The tie left the Mets with an 11-11-2 spring training record, and Francisco Lindor led the way with a .370 average in March. The big question remains whether Lindor will sign his long-term extension before the season begins or test next season’s free-agent market.

Opening Day on Thursday is the next time the Mets play baseball. They will keep themselves ready in Washington D.C. before Jacob deGrom makes his third consecutive Opening Day start. Max Scherzer makes his sixth Opening Day start and four in a row for the Washington Nationals.

Montgomery, Diaz Struggle in New York Mets 10-2 Loss to the Marlins

The New York Mets had to decide Mike Montgomery‘s future, and his outing against the Miami Marlins did not help. Montgomery needed 60 pitches to get through 2.2 innings, where he allowed five runs on six hits. The fish wasted no time in the first inning when they opened up an early 4-0 and sent nine batters to the plate.

Montgomery had the upper hand over Jerry Blevins to become the second lefty in the bullpen. With Blevins’s scoreless outing on Saturday, he might have a new life to make the roster. The defense behind him did not provide much help, but the Mets have to decide their plan going forward, and Montgomery can opt-out if he disagrees with it.

The relievers that followed Montgomery did not provide and resistance for the Marlins hitters. Jeurys Familia and Miguel Castro both allowed runs in their one inning outings. Edwin Diaz struggled the most with four hits and three runs allowed but did strikeout three. Surprisingly, Dellin Betances was the one reliever who recorded a 1-2-3 inning.

The Mets’ offense was quiet against Marlins starter Daniel Castano. Brandon Nimmo provided the only run off Castano with his third-inning home run. It was only Nimmo’s second hit against a lefty this spring, and consistent hitting against southpaws can move him from a platoon option to an everyday player. Michael Conforto also hit Castano well with two hits, including a double. Wilfredo Tovar provided the second run with his home run in the ninth inning.

On Monday, the Mets play at 12:05 p.m. ET against the St. Louis Cardinals. Taijuan Walker (1-0, 3.00 ERA) faces off against veteran Adam Wainwright (0-0, 1.83 ERA) from Roger Dean Chevrolet Stadium.

New York Mets: Offense Goes Silent in 3-0 Loss to Cardinals

Carlos Martinez has finally figured out a way to shut down the New York Mets in the St. Louis Cardinals 3-0 victory. Martinez had a spring ERA over 10 heading into the outing but righted himself with a dominant outing. He threw six scoreless innings, allowing four hits, and struck out five.

The offense could not muster any consistent offense. They had at least one runner on base in five of Martinez’s six innings but could not parlay it to any run. Despite the slow team offense, Francisco Lindor recorded another hit and moved his spring average to .341. Jeff McNeil‘s double was the only extra-base hit as he tries to get himself out of a cold spell.

Originally Taijuan Walker was scheduled to pitch, but the Mets threw him in the “B” game and started Corey Oswalt. He rebounded from an ugly outing to deliver four innings, holding the Cards to one run. It came on John Nogowski‘s solo home run in the second inning; Nogowski is hitting a scorching 11-for-26 (.423) with two home runs and 11 RBIs. After the homer, Oswalt retired the last seven Cardinals he faced.

After Oswalt, Jeurys Familia and Dellin Betances delivered scoreless innings with a walk and strikeout. Miguel Castro struck out two and hit 100 mph on the radar gun to continue his brilliant month. Castro has allowed just one hit over 5.1 innings in March. Jerry Blevins was touched up for the final two Cardinal runs in the eighth inning.

The Mets get Thursday off before returning to Clover Park to face the Washington Nationals. Kyle McGowin (2-0, 2.35 ERA) starts against David Peterson (0-0, 4.50 ERA) at 6:10 p.m. ET.

New York Mets: Defense Struggles in the Ninth in 4-3 Loss to Nationals

The New York Mets and Washington Nationals were reluctant to play defense in Saturday night’s matchup. Both teams combined for five errors on the night, and it helped lead to a Nats 4-3 victory in walk-off fashion.

The Mets’ offense got started early thanks to two Nats’ first-inning errors. Juan Soto‘s error allowed Michael Conforto to advance to third and J.D. Davis to second on his single. Both came around to score on Carter Kieboom‘s throwing error, giving the Mets an early 2-0 lead. The bats went silent for the rest of the game as their third run came on a wild pitch in the seventh inning.

Pitching Strong As Ever

Mets pitchers were solid under the bright lights. Jordan Yamamoto allowed an RBI double to Josh Bell in the first inning but settled in after. Yamamoto pitched 3.1 innings, allowed one run, and retired eight in a row at one point. Jonathan Villar‘s error at third base caused the end of Yamamoto’s start. Through 8.1 innings this spring, Yamamoto has allowed one run and no home runs.

Edwin Diaz was electric and efficient in his one inning of work. He sandwiched a one-pitch out between two, three-pitch strikeouts. Diaz also reached triple digits with his fastball and has retired all nine batters this spring with five strikeouts. Miguel Castro and Drew Smith continued their strong months as each hurled a scoreless inning. Both pitchers are very undervalued parts of a deep bullpen.

Things got crazy when Ryley Gilliam entered in the ninth. Yadiel Hernandez singled to lead off and moved to second on a wild pitch. Jackson Cluff‘s bunt single moved Hernandez to third and put the Nats in business with no outs. A fielder’s choice allowed the Nats to tie the game, then an error by third baseman Mark Vientos but the winning run in scoring position.

Gilliam uncorked another wild pitch to move runners to second and third for Andrew Stevenson. After getting the second out, Yasmany Tomas singled past a diving Wilfredo Tovar to win it for the Nats. Gilliam has allowed three runs and five hits in his two outings this spring.

David Peterson (0-0, 0.00) takes the mound in Port St. Lucie as the St. Louis Cardinals return to town. Carlos Martinez (0-1, 11.57) throws for the Cards at 1:10 p.m. ET on SNY.

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: Aaron Loup and Other Opener Options

Simeon Woods-Richardson

“Who wouldn’t want to be the guy to start the game and then get to sit in the clubhouse and drink a few brews on the back end and watch the rest of it, you know?”

Aaron Loup‘s first press conference with the New York Mets already produced the best quote from camp on an interesting topic. Loup’s former employer (Tampa Bay Rays) revolutionized baseball by introducing the opener, and the veteran lefty would love opening for the Mets.

The Rays implemented the strategy because of their lack of quality starting pitching. The Mets have less of a need for an opener because Jacob deGrom, Carlos Carrasco, and Marcus Stroman are already established starting pitchers. An opener would help conserve innings for David Peterson and Noah Syndergaard or pitchers coming off rough 2020s like Joey Lucchesi or Jordan Yamamoto. Here are three solid opener options for 2021.

Aaron Loup

Loup pitched in 24 games for the AL champs but never opened for them. His splits from last season had right-handed hitters hitting for a worse average than the lefties (.192 vs. .212). Despite the great 2020 splits, Loup has always dominated lefties. Each NL East team has at least one All-Star caliber hitter at the top of their projected lineup (Juan Soto, Bryce Harper, Freddie Freeman, Corey Dickerson). The downside of using Loup as an opener would leave the bullpen without another left-handed reliever.

Jeurys Familia

Familia fits the “Sergio Romo” mold of a perfect opener as a former closer who cannot cut it in the ninth inning anymore. He rebounded from a rough 2019 to put up a 3.71 ERA over 25 games but still struggled with walks (6.4 BB/9). The Mets do not trust/need Familia in the late innings but he is still useful as a middle reliever. Familia limits hard contact very well and pitches better with a new inning. He was a starting pitcher as a rising prospect in the Mets farm system.

Miguel Castro

Castro sidearm delivery with electric stuff and makes him a reliever with a ton of potential. His strikeout rate (90th percentile) and fastball velocity (99th percentile) show the level he can reach. On the other hand, Castro was in the 9th percentile for exit velocity and hard-hit rates.

Castro is very much an “all or nothing” type of pitcher. It makes him a huge risk to use late in games because of the possibility of three strikeouts coming with a home run. This risk is better taken in the first inning than in the eighth or ninth when the game is on the line. Out of the three options, Castro would be the best as an opener.

 

 

Mets: Miguel Castro has the tools to become an impact reliever

The Mets‘ new people in charge, starting with owner Steve Cohen, president Sandy Alderson, and general manager Jared Porter, understand the importance of having a good bullpen. They already signed top reliever Trevor May and added some upside and upper-minors depth. Names like Sam McWilliams, Jacob Barnes, Jerry Blevins, and Trevor Hildenberger are now part of the organization and will fight for a spot.

Additionally, the Mets have Seth Lugo, Jeurys Familia, Dellin Betances (a reclamation project with high-reward potential), and Robert Gsellman in addition to closer Edwin Diaz. But they also have an interesting project in Miguel Castro.

Former Mets’ general manager Brodie Van Wagenen, not on the team anymore, traded pitching prospect Kevin Smith to the Orioles in exchange for Castro, to that point an inconsistent reliever with a big arm.

For a guy who can comfortably reach 98 mph with his sinker, Castro’s career numbers are quite underwhelming. He has a 4.29 ERA, but with mediocre 4.92 FIP and xFIP marks, and with only 7.44 K/9 and 4.67 BB/9, he hasn’t been exactly dominant.

The Mets’ righty had a career-high swinging-strike rate in 2020

However, 2020 brought an interesting development for the Mets’ hard-throwing righty. Yes, the sample size is small, but in 24.2 innings, he upped his K/9 to 13.86, enough to rank in the 90th percentile in K%. He increased his swinging strike percentage from 11.6 in 2019 to 13.5 in 2020, almost two percentage points.

He can have issues with talks, but if he maintains his bat-missing gains, Castro could be a weapon from the Mets’ bullpen. Pitching coach Jeremy Hefner will try to preach more of the same, but trying to play to his strengths.

In 2020, Castro’s slider had a 48.3 whiff rate, and his changeup had a 36.0 mark. Those are numbers you can certainly work with.

If the Mets can get Castro to throw strikes more consistently, he can improve the 4.01 ERA he had in 2020 and take another step forward in his game.

New York Mets Player Evaluations: Pitcher Miguel Castro

The electric Miguel Castro brought his sidearm style to the New York Mets at the 2020 trade deadline. He emerged as a useful reliever in the Baltimore Orioles bullpen, former GM Brodie Van Wagenen thought Castro would make a terrific addition to the Mets late-inning staff.

Castro had not put it all together yet to rise to an All-Star capable level, but the stuff was there for him. For the first time in his career, he was finding success as a strikeout pitcher. In his two months with the Orioles, he had a 4.02 ERA in 15.2 innings pitched with 24 strikeouts. Castro’s 2.9 BB/9 were on pace to be the best of his career but ran into control issues again with the Mets.

New Face in Flushing

Castro allowed runs in two of his first four Mets outings, which included an extra-innings loss against the Philadelphia Phillies. Five of the final six outings were scoreless, but Castro ran into control issues. During this span of games with the Mets, we saw Castro’s peaks and valleys on the mound. He looks electric with his sinker/slider combination in some outings, and in others, he shows the extra work he still needs.

Castro has the potential to be an elite reliever, but his consistency holds him back. Due to his sidearm motion, his mechanics are tough to repeat and have led to his erratic control. Castro tends to throw a pitch without any idea where it will end up, leading to his sinker finishing up in the zone. This is why hitters to the most damage off it and nothing off slider and changeup, which has better control.

As the Mets head into the 2021 season, Castro is a good option to a deep bullpen. He has a 4.06 ERA over the last four seasons, and his increased strikeout rate is a good thing to bank on. Castro has strikeouts stuff and is not far from being a reliever whose ERA is much closer to the threes. He likely does not get as many late-inning opportunity chances, but a middle relief role suits him right—Castro’s 3.34 SIERA and 33% strikeouts rate show he is trending in the right direction.

2020 Grades On 20-80 Scale (2021 Projection)

Sinker: 25 (45), This was an odd pitch for Castro as hitters batted .354, but the xBA was only .268. Should he learn how to locate it at the bottom of the zone, it can be dominant.

Slider: 75 (80), As good as any slider gets with a 48.3% whiff rate and .179 average against.

Changeup: 50 (55), This pitch has good potential, but the ability to locate it against righties can make it dominant.

Command: 45 (50), The command to be a late option is not there yet, but a full season with Jeremy Hefner should pay dividends.

Overall: 50 (55), Still just 26 years old and heading into his fifth full season in the big leagues. Expect the experience and talent to mesh together in 2021.