New York Mets: Matz Struggles, Kendrick Dominates in 5-3 Loss

The first two starts for New York Mets starter Steven Matz had promise that he could step up as their two starter. His third start of the season disrupted the momentum he was building. The Washington Nationals took advantage of Matz’s inability to pitch inside and knocked him out of the game after three innings to win 5-3.

Matz struggled to control his four-seam fastball throughout the start. Despite throwing 78 pitches in only three innings, he did not walk anyone. The Nationals worked him into deep counts and continued to put the ball in play against Matz. He allowed seven hits, five runs, and two home runs.

Solo home runs from Howie Kendrick in the first inning, and Josh Harrison in the second got the Nationals out to an early 2-0 lead. The Nats tacked on three more runs in the third, and it was all they needed on the night. Kendrick led the way with four hits, which brought his average to an even .300 on the short season.

Despite Matz’s struggles, the Mets bullpen hurled six shutout innings to keep the Mets in the game. The combination of Paul Sewald, Jeurys Familia, Dellin Betances, and Edwin Diaz only allowed three hits. It was most encouraging to receive good outings from Betances and Diaz, who the Mets need to pitch well if they want any chance to turn around their season.

Conforto Stays Hot

The Mets needed offensive production from their outfield as three-quarters of their starting infield is dealing with injuries. Robinson Cano landed on the 10-day IL, while Jeff McNeil and Amed Rosario are day-to-day. Michael Conforto came into the matchup with Nationals starter, Patrick Corbin, with ten hits, including four home runs. His two-run home run was their only base hit on the night and opened up their scoring.

Pete Alonso struck out twice on the night, but his RBI single provided the third Mets run. He still is in the midst of a season wide slump, but at least recording one hit and a walk is a step in the right direction. Moving Alonso down in the order would strengthen the Mets offense until he starts to return to his 2019 form.

Andres Gimenez was the only Mets to record multiple hits on the night. He replaced the injured Rosario at shortstop and made a couple of solid defensive plays as well. The play of Gimenez has quickly moved him from the 30th man on the roster to a player they cannot afford to send back to their training site.

The Mets continued their lousy baseball in the eighth when Brian Dozier was thrown out as second base while the Mets had the tying run at the plate. Dozier attempted to advance when a ball trickled away from Yan Gomes, and after being called safe, the replay review overturned the call.

The Mets also left ten runners on base, despite recording ten hits on the night. Their lack of ability to record any hit other than a single is halting their offense.

This sums up the Mets’ horrible start to the season as another veteran makes an unexcused mistake. Mickey Callaway may longer be the manager, but his presence remains with how this year’s team plays.

On Wednesday, Rick Porcello tries to get the Mets a split of the two-game series. He has his work cut out for him as he faces Nationals ace, Max Scherzer. The first pitch is at an unusual 6:05 p.m. ET from Nationals Park.

New York Mets Series Preview: Washington Nationals (8/4-8/5)

New York Mets, New York Yankees, Steven Matz

The New York Mets and Washington Nationals face off for the first time in the 2020 season. This matchup accounted for a few of the best games in all of baseball during the 2019 campaign. In 2019, the Mets were 12-7 against the World Series champions.

The Mets come off a series loss against the Atlanta Braves, where they took the last game of a four-game series. Washington has not played a game since July 30 due to COVID-19 precautions but are 3-4 on the season.

Probable Pitching Matchups

Tuesday (8/4) @ 7:05 p.m. ET: Steven Matz (0-1, 3.18 ERA) vs. Patrick Corbin (0-0, 1.42 ERA)

Wednesday (8/5) @ 6:05 p.m. ET: Rick Porcello (0-1, 13.50 ERA) vs Max Scherzer (0-1, 2.84 ERA)

The Mets hope they can take advantage of any rust that has built up on the Nats during their extended pause. One of the benefits of the break is allowing them to line up their pitching staff in their favor. The Mets offense started to wake up, which is a good sign with the Nats aces coming up.

Infield Issues

The Mets are dealing with quite a few issues in their infield. Injuries to Jeff McNeil, Amed Rosario, and Robinson Cano all make them questionable to play in the series. McNeil suffered a back injury during Monday’s batting practice, but his is the least severe of the trio. Neither Rosario nor Cano’s leg injuries seemed significant, but the DH could allow the Mets to put Cano in the lineup without further injuring him. Andres Gimenez figures to play shortstop in game one if Rosario can’t play.

Pete Alonso is the only starting infielder who is healthy but is struggling mightily with the bat. He walked in his first three at-bats on Monday but is still only hitting .167. Alonso taking three walks, shows an adjustment in his approach after swinging at too many pitches outside of the strike zone. He is an aggressive hitter, but the sooner Alonso understands that pitchers do not want him to swing the bat, the better hitter he will become. With the added patience, Alonso can easily become a hitter whose on-base percentage ranks 100 points higher than his batting average.

Porcello Struggles

Hopefully, Rick Porcello can rebound from his first two starts with the Mets. He struggled to have any command with his secondary pitches and missed multiple times over the middle of the plate. The Mets desperately need him to pitch better with no Marcus Stroman return on the horizon. Despite not allowing a hit to the first batter of an inning, his ERA still sits at an inflated 13.50.

Matchups to Lookout For

Steven Matz vs. Trea Turner: 8-for-25 (.320), 3 Doubles, 2 Walks, 2 Strikeouts

Rick Porcello vs. Howie Kendrick: 10-for-31 (.323), 3 Doubles, 9 Strikeouts

Patrick Corbin vs. Michael Conforto: 7-for-19 (.368), Double, 4 Home Runs, Walk, 6 Strikeouts

Max Scherzer vs. Michael Conforto: 10-for-31 (.323), Double, 4 Home Runs, 3 Walks, 13 Strikeouts

The New York Yankees have a tall Opening day task

Could the New York Yankees pursue Max Scherzer in a trade?

When the New York Yankees take on the Washington Nationals to open the 2020 season on Thursday, they will have quite a tall task ahead of them. They’ll be facing a team fresh off a World Series Championship, facing arguably the best starting pitcher in all of baseball. That would be Max Scherzer, a three-time CY Young award winning pitcher.

Scherzer hasn’t won the award since 2017, but has finished in the top three the past two seasons. In 2019, the now almost 36 year-old was 11-7 with a 2.92 ERA in 172.1 innings. He had a 1.027 WHIP and a career-low 2.45 FIP.

Scherzer mainly throws a four seam fastball that tops off in the mid-90s, and a wipeout slider in the mid-80s. He hasn’t seen much of a speed drop-off, something common with older pitchers.

Although Scherzer is known for his dominating stuff, he didn’t look great last Saturday against the Phillies in a scrimmage. In just two innings, he gave up seven runs. Even though it’s just a scrimmage, it would be a bit concerning to see your ace get shelled just days before Opening Day.

But, hopefully for the Yankees, their lineup will overpower the dominating starter. With the likes of Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton, Gleyber Torres, and others; the Yankees have arguably the best offense in baseball.

The Nationals have a great offense too, led by Juan Soto and Trea Turner. However, the team lost Anthony Rendon to the Angels over the offseason, so it’ll be interesting to see how they fill the void at third. Will the Nationals offense be too much for Gerrit Cole in his first Yankee start?

Thursday’s Opening Day matchup between the Yankees and Nationals is set to be a blockbuster. Will the Yankees be able to prevail over three-time CY Young winner Max Scherzer? Or, will it be the Nationals getting to Gerrit Cole in his first Yankee start?

New York Yankees to face Washington Nationals on Opening Day

Could the New York Yankees pursue Max Scherzer in a trade?

Today, multiple sources indicated that the New York Yankees will be playing the Washington Nationals on Opening Day on July 23rd. The entire MLB scheduled hasn’t been released yet, but it was announced that July 23rd will have two nationally televised games to open the season. The Yankees and Nationals will be one of them, and the game is expected to be in primetime.

An Opening Day for the ages

Not just that the 2020 Opening Day will be historic, but the day will provide a big time match-up in a big time environment. When play begins, it will be almost nine months since the last Major League Baseball game. And the last Major League Baseball game featured the Nationals winning the World Series in 2019.

The Yankees were eliminated in six games in the ALCS, but are hungry to bounce back and see themselves in the 2020 fall classic.

What a game we should have to open the 2020 season. Two of the best teams in the league, with it most likely being Gerrit Cole going against Max Scherzer in his first Yankee start. Not just that, but the game will be played in Washington D.C. That’s pretty cool starting the season in the capital city, being that baseball is the National Pastime.

Within a week, official summer training will resume for teams in home ballparks. Players are in transit to meet up with their teams and get the season underway.

Will there be an asterisk this season? Absolutely. But, it’s better than having no baseball and will be a great distraction during these unprecedented times.

Rays Advance Over A’s, Nationals Advance Over Brew Crew

New York Yankees, Blake Snell

The Tampa Bay Rays and the Washington Nationals have won their respective Wild Card games and will advance to the Division Series.

AL Wild Card

Hitting four home runs, the Rays beat the Athletics by a score of 5-4 on Wednesday in Oakland. Yandy Diaz hit two solo home runs, including a leadoff home run. The Rays took the lead in the first at-bat of the game and never lost it.

The only non-solo home run of the game came off the bat of Avisail Garcia in the second, a two-run shot. Diaz hit his second homer of the day in the third, and Tommy Pham hit one for insurance in the fifth.

A’s starter Sean Manaea lasted just two innings. Charlie Morton took the win for the Rays, his third win in win or go home games in his postseason career.

The Rays will now take on the Astros in the ALDS, with game one starting at 2:05PM ET on Friday from Houston.

NL Wild Card

The Washington Nationals trailed almost all game, but some late-game heroics off the bat of Juan Soto surpassed the team over the Milwaukee Brewers.

Max Scherzer was by no means his best on Tuesday for the Nationals. He gave up three runs over five innings, and the Brewers were hitting the ball hard off of him all night. Yasmani Grandal hit a two-run home run just seven pitches in, giving the Brewers a quick 2-0 lead.

An inning later, Eric Thames joined in on the fun, making it 3-0.

The Nationals had trouble piecing together offense in the first seven innings, their only bright spot being a solo home run off the bat of Trea Turner. He had finished the regular season with five homers in his last 10 games with a new and improved grip.

In the eighth, Brewers all-star reliever Josh Hader hit a batter, walked a batter, and gave up a hit to load the bases. With two outs, Juan Soto hit a single to right that tied the game, but right fielder Trent Grisham booted the ball, scoring Anthony Rendon as the go-ahead run.

Daniel Hudson came in the ninth and got the save for the Nationals. They now take on the Dodgers on Thursday at 8:37PM ET. Patrick Corbin gets the ball for the Nats against Walker Buehler of the Dodgers.