New York Mets Series Preview: St. Louis Cardinals vs. New York Mets (3/29-4/1)

Opening Day is finally upon us, after the treacherous winter weather, baseball is back. The New York Mets open up at Citi Field against the St. Louis Cardinals in a three game series to start the season. The St. Louis Cardinals come into town with the newly acquired Marcell Ozuna to go along with their core of Carlos Martinez and Yadier Molina.

Projected Starting Pitchers

(3/29, 1:10 PM) Carlos Martinez (0-0 -.–) vs. Noah Syndergaard (0-0 -.–)

(3/31, 1:10 PM) Michael Wacha (0-0, -.–) vs. Jacob deGrom (0-0 -.–)

(4/1, 1:10 PM) Luke Weaver (0-0, -.–) vs Steven Matz (0-0 -.–)

The New York Mets bring in a very talented team that has a very good mix of knowledgeable veterans and hungry young players. From Amed Rosario to Adrian Gonzalez, the focus for the Mets is simple, win the World Series. The team did not have a winning record in Spring Training but that does not translate to the regular season their confidence is high going into Opening Day.

The Cardinals also bring in a team similar to the Mets and the acquisition of Marcell Ozuna has put them in a position to compete with the Chicago Cubs and the Milwaukee Brewers in the strong National League Central. Their ace Carlos Martinez and young upstart outfielder, Tommy Pham, are just a couple of talented players this team possesses.

Both teams bring very talented pitchers to the table in these first three games of the year. It would be no surprise if all three of these games ended with a 3-2 score. Mets manager Mickey Callaway is pulling a page out of old Cardinals manager, Tony La Russa’s book. Callaway is opting to bat Syndergaard eighth and Rosario ninth to put two leadoff men in front Yoenis Cespedes.

Kevin Plawecki is also getting behind home plate over Travis d’Arnaud. This is not unfamiliar to have d’Arnaud on the bench. The same situation occurred last year with Rene Rivera getting the opening day nod. Syndergaard is not comfortable with throwing to d’Arnaud and Callaway feels Martinez is a good matchup for Plawecki.

Matchups to Look For

Jay Bruce has struggled against Martinez and Wacha going 5-47 (.106) in his career against the Cardinals two starters. Jacob deGrom has been terrific over his career during day games. He is 17-8 with a 1.99 ERA during the day.

Marcell Ozuna is no stranger to Citi Field and has shown he love to hit there. Ozuna has hit .310 with 17 RBIs in his career at Citi Field. Mets fans know way too well that Yadier Molina has torched over his career putting a .321 average up in 77 games against the Mets.

Interesting Stats

The Mets are 35-21 on Opening Day but oddly enough they are 1-3 in March Opening Days. The last time they won a March Opening Day was back in 1998, which was a 1-0 win over the Philadelphia Phillies.

Yadier Molina will make his 14th consecutive Opening Day start, which is the longest streak by any active player with one team. He will tie former New York Yankee catcher Bill Dickey and put himself one behind Ray Schalk for the most all-time.

MLB Season Preview

New York Yankees

MLB Season Preview

One of the most exciting times of the year is opening day in Major League Baseball and we are only a few days away. The New York Yankees looked primed and ready to go after falling one game short of the World Series and the New York Mets look to rebound from a dreadful season. It is also the time of year to roll out predictions that will most likely be way off, but it is fun nonetheless.

So here it is… My MLB 2018 season predictions!

AL East

Team Record
1. New York Yankees 98-64
2. Boston Red Sox 94-68
3. Toronto Blue Jays 82-80
4. Baltimore Orioles 78-84
5. Tampa Bay Rays 72-90

No Surprise here. The New York Yankees added the reigning National League MVP to an already stacked lineup. The starting pitching will be the biggest concern this season with Yankees. Severino and Gray should be solid but you always have concerns with Tanaka’s health and Sabathia’s age.

If they hold up then the Yankees have 100 win potential. Should be a fun summer in the Bronx. The Boston Red Sox will make things interesting and compete all season but will fall short however, they will secure a wild card spot.

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AL Central

Team Record
1. Cleveland Indians 100-62
2. Minnesota Twins 87-75
3. Chicago White Sox 68-94
4. Kansas City Royals 67-95
5. Detroit Tigers 65-97

We can simply pencil in the Cleveland Indians for an AL Central title. The Minnesota Twins did get better in the off season by adding Lance Lynn and Logan Morrison and although that will not be enough to overtake the Indians, it will be enough to earn a chance in the wild card game. The other three teams in the division will be battling for last place the entire season which will result with the Indians running away with this division early.

AL West

Team Record
1. Houston Astros 101-61
2. Los Angeles Angels 84-78
3. Texas Rangers 81-81
4. Seattle Mariners 80-82
5. Oakland Athletics 77-85

This will be another easy division title for the Houston Astros. Many teams who come off of a World Series championship may come out to start the season a little sluggish. I just do not see that happening with the Houston Astros. They are a scrappy, hard nosed team who still sound very hungry, especially starting pitcher Dallas Keuchel.

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We’re not the Cubs,” Keuchel told The Washington Post when asked about the Chicago Cubs’ returning almost the same team from their 2016 championship and winning 11 fewer games. “I firmly believe we have better players.” The Angels did improve in the offseason by adding Zack Cosart and the two way Japanese superstar Shohei Ohtani but that will not be enough.

NL East

Team Record
1. Washington Nationals 96-66
2. New York Mets 89-73
3. Philadelphia Phillies 80-82
4. Atlanta Braves 74-88
5. Miami Marlins 70-92

The Washington Nationals did not do much in the offseason but to be fair, they really didn’t need to. They added Matt Adams which will give them a little more pop in their lineup from time to time but that’s about it.

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They still should reign supreme in the NL East with another division title. The New York Mets will rebound from a horrendous year last year and they should contend for the division but will ultimately fall short. They will however earn a spot in the Wild Card playoff game.

NL Central

Team Record
1. Chicago Cubs 94-68
2. Milwaukee Brewers 88-74
3. St. Louis Cardinals 85-77
4. Pittsburgh Pirates 68-94
5. Cincinnati Reds 66-96

This will be a very interesting year in the National league Central. I still see the Chicago Cubs taking home the division title but it will not be easy. The Brewers are a team on the rise and will push the Cubs this season.

I envision the Cubs pulling away in September after a back and forth summer. The St. Louis Cardinals will compete as always but they do not have the pitching quality they had in years past.

NL West

Team Record
1. Los Angeles Dodgers 96-66
2. Colorado Rockies 89-73
3. Arizona Diamondbacks 87-75
4. San Francisco Giants 85-77
5. San Diego Padres 68-94

This will be the most exciting division to keep an eye on this season. You have four legitimate teams that will make a push for the playoffs this year. I still think the Dodgers are the cream of the crop and will win the division but the other teams are getting closer.

The Rockies will surpass the Diamondbacks this year and grab and NL Wild card spot. I would have the Giants a bit higher if it were not for the injury to Madison Bumgarner. Losing two months of the season will put them in a tough spot because they lack depth at starting pitching.

Wild Card Games

American League Wild Card Game

Red Sox over Twins

National league Wild Card Game

Mets over Rockies

American League Divisional Series

Red Sox over Astros

Yankees Over Indians

National League Divisional Series

Mets over Dodgers

Nationals over Cubs

American League Championship Series

Yankees over Red Sox

National League Championship Series

Nationals over Mets

2018 World Series

Nationals over Yankees

 

 

New York Mets 40-Man Roster Overview: Anthony Swarzak

One of the newest New York Mets, Anthony Swarzak, looks to be a reliever the team can depend on. The Mets signed him to a two year, $14 million deal in the offseason to rebuild the bullpen.

The Minnesota Twins drafted Swarzak in the 2nd round of the 2004 MLB Draft. He waited until 2009 to finally get a call-up to the big leagues. Swarzak struggled with the Twins, putting up a 6.25 ERA in 12 starts. His entire 2010 season was spent in the minor leagues, but returned in 2011 to put up a 4.32 ERA.

His ERA rose to 5.03 in 2012 and spent a majority of the year in the bullpen. Swarzak’s 2013 season started on the DL after fracturing his rips after “wrestling around a little bit”. He returned to have a very strong season with a 2.91 ERA in 96 innings.

Swarzak Has Been a Journeyman Since He Left the Twins:

He regressed in 2014 with his ERA up to 4.60 and his strikeout numbers going down. The Twins announced that Swarzak was out-righted off the 40-man roster after the season ended. The Cleveland Indians signed him to a minor league contract in 2015 but released him after he pitched 10 games.

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Upon his release, Swarzak signed with the Doosan Bears of the Korea Baseball Organization where he finished the rest of the 2015 season.  Swarzak signed a minor league contract with the New York Yankees in February of 2016. He started the season with in Triple-A and but finished the season with a 5.52 ERA in 26 games. Swarzak was granted free agency instead of accepting a demotion to Triple-A at the end of the season.

The Chicago White Sox brought in Swarzak on a minor league deal for the 2017 season and he went on to have a terrific season. In late July he became a trade piece for the Sox and they sent him to the Milwaukee Brewers for a minor league outfielder. He had the lowest ERA (2.33) and most strikeouts (91) he has had in his long career and he was able to parlay it into a good deal in a slow free agent market.

Swarzak has always struggled with putting back to back strong seasons but the Mets believe that Swarzak is a different pitcher now than earlier in his career. Swarzak bring a mid-90s fastball, a high-80s tight slider and will pound the strike zone. He has only pitched three innings this spring, allowing one run, but will be ready to pitch on Opening Day.

New York Mets Injury Report

This week’s New York Mets  injury report features their first major injury of 2018, but other Mets are making great strides in their recoveries.

Rafael Montero (right elbow) will undergo Tommy John Surgery and will miss the entire 2018 season. Montero said he had a “weird” feeling in his elbow in a game against the St. Louis Cardinals last week. It is an unfortunate early ending to Montero’s season and he likely was going to make the team even after a dreadful Spring Training. The Mets could choose to part ways with Montero before he recovers from the operation.

Jason Vargas (right hand) is progressing from his hand surgery very nicely and threw a bullpen session on Sunday. His arm is fine and he is on his way to making sure that he can use his glove effectively again.

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The Mets will have Vargas throw a couple more bullpens then send him to the minors with an emphasis on not rushing him back. His return is set for mid-April and if all five starters are pitching well the team will have a tough decision to make on who they are sending to the bullpen.

deGrom Seems to be Injury Free:

Jacob deGrom (back) has made every scheduled start this Spring and made another one in Monday’s split squad game. He will be ready for opening day and has been strong in his starts this spring. He is scheduled to pitched the Mets second game of the season on Saturday.

Dominic Smith (quad) will not play another Grapefruit League game this year. He will remain in extended spring training at the start of the season. Smith has only played in one game this spring.

After he will head to Triple-A while Adrian Gonzalez plays first base. Smith had an opportunity to start at first base but will have to hope Gonzalez struggles if he wants a chance to play with the Mets in 2018. Smith will likely return to game action in mid-April.

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Michael Conforto (shoulder) will open the season on the disabled list but can return before May. Conforto has been swinging the bat well and homered in the split squad the Mets played on Monday. Conforto’s return is now mid-April and will bolster the Mets offense and elevate their talented outfield.

T.J. Rivera (right elbow) and David Wright (shoulder and back) remain injured and there has been no update on their recoveries.

 

New York Mets 40-Man Roster Overview: Paul Sewald

Paul Sewald, the 27-year old reliever, will likely be one of the last few relievers to make the New York Mets roster. He had an up and down rookie season with the Mets and will try to look for more consistency in the 2018 season.

Sewald Has Been A Lifelong Met:

The  Mets drafted Sewald in the 10th round of the 2012 MLB Draft from the University of San Diego. The Mets Sewald sent to the Brooklyn Cyclones and excelled in his first year of professional baseball. He had a 1.88 ERA and only walked two batters in 28.2 innings.

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He earned a promotion to the Savannah Sand Gnats in 2013 and was just as strong with a 1.77 ERA and picked up eight saves. His control was something that made him stand out, only walking seven batters in 56 innings. Outside of 4.1 innings with the Binghamton Mets, Sewald played with the St. Lucie Mets in 2014 and 1.92 ERA with 11 saves.

Sewald continued to dominate with the B-Mets the next year with a 1.75 ERA and 24 saves which earned him and Eastern League All-Star selection. 2016 was his last full year in the minors and he spent it with the Las Vegas 51s. His ERA rose to 3.29, as most do, but the Mets still had plans for Sewald’s future with the organization.

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Sewald’s Mets Debut:

In 2017, the  Mets called-up and sent down Sewald a couple of times in April but spend the rest of the year with the Mets. From May through September, Sewald would have a good then a bad month. He never found the consistency that he was able to show in the minor leagues. He finished the 2017 season with a 4.55 ERA but pitched 65.1 innings out of the bullpen.

Sewald has had a solid Spring Training with a 3.75 ERA in the 12 innings he has pitched. Sewald is likely going to be a middle reliever this season potentially is an underrated reliever for the Mets. The fans and organization seem to think highly of Sewald because they did not trade him for Cleveland Indians second baseman, Jason Kipnis. Fans around the league should not be surprised if he has a breakout season in 2018.

 

New York Mets 40-Man Roster Overview: Hansel Robles

New York Mets 40-Man Roster Overview: Hansel Robles

Hansel Robles, the 27-year old reliever, is one of the more interesting pitchers the New York Mets have on their roster. His struggles with consistency and the long ball has not put his Mets future in question as he continues to struggle.

Robles Road to the Big Leagues

Robles was originally signed as an international free agent in August 2008 out of the Dominican Republic. He spent 2009 and 2010 with the Dominican League Mets where he had a 2.91 and 3.09 ERA as a starter. He spent the next year with the Kingsport reliever and pitched 37 innings as a reliever and had a 2.68 ERA.

Robles returned to being a starter in 2012 with the Brooklyn Cyclones. He has his best year in the minors going 6-1 with a 1.11 ERA and only walked 10 batters in 72.2 innings. His strong year earned him a New York-Penn League All-Star selection. Next year was not as strong as the year before, but was still good.  He had a 3.78 ERA in a year he spent mostly with the St. Lucie Mets.

Robles Finally Makes it to the Show

Robles arrived to the Binghamton Mets in 2014 and split time as a starter and reliever. His ERA rose to 4.31 but pitched a career high 110.2 innings. After pitching 7.2 innings out of the bullpen with the Las Vegas 51s he earned the call-up to the New York Mets. His rookie season was a successful one going 4-3 with a 3.67 ERA and 61 strikeouts.

2016 was his first full season in the big leagues and he was very solid out of the Mets bullpen. In 77.2 innings pitched he struck out 85 batters with a 3.48 ERA. The team had high hopes for him in 2017 but he struggled to a point where the Mets optioned him back to Las Vegas. After two months in the minors he made his return in mid-July. He came back better than ever but completely imploded in the September. Overall he finished the season with a 4.92 ERA in 46 games.

His struggles have carried over into Spring Training by allowing 13 runs in 11.2 innings. He has also given up an alarming five home runs. He has been scored upon in four out of his eight outings this spring. Robles will have a tight leash on him this season if he does end up making the team this season and there is no guarantee of that happening.

New York Mets 40-Man Roster Overview: Jacob Rhame

New York Mets‘ Jacob Rhame was originally drafted by the Dodgers in the 6th round of the 2013 MLB Draft. He spent the rest of the year with the Ogden Raptors where he had eight saves in the 20 games he pitched that season.

The next year he played with the Great Lakes Loons and had a 2.00 ERA in 51 games and was established himself number 23 prospect in the Dodgers organization.

Moving Up The Ranks and Facing Speed Bumps

In 2015, he played five games with the Tulsa Drillers and finished the game with the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes where he continued his success with a 2.68 ERA and struck out 70 batters.

He moved up to the number 18 spot on the Dodgers prospect list heading into 2016. With the Oklahoma City Dodgers he saw his ERA rise to 3.29 as most pitchers do in the Pacific Coast League.

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His struggles continued in 2017 where he had a 4.31 ERA and dropped off the Dodgers prospects list before he was traded. Upon his arrival to the Mets he pitched six innings with the Las Vegas 51s and only allowed one run.

When he was brought up to the Mets as part of the September roster expansion he struggled giving up nine runs in nine innings and had an alarming 2.11 WHIP.

Rhame barely makes the Mets top prospects list at number 30. He is very reliant on his fastball which sits at 95-96 mph and can hit the upper-90s. His secondary pitches are mediocre but his slider show some bite on it every once in a while and his change-up still needs work. He walked too many batters in his short MLB stint but he usually has had decent control.

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Decent has summarized his Spring Training allowing four runs in the nine innings he has pitched. Seven of his nine outings this spring has been scoreless.

The Mets see potential in Rhame since they have kept him with the team while most of the minor league guys have been sent down already. If he makes the team he likely will not see too many high leverage situations until Mickey Callaway feels he is ready for them.

New York Mets 40-Man Roster Overview: A.J. Ramos

Before he came to the New York Mets, A.J. Ramos was drafted by the Marlins in the 21st round of the 2009 MLB Draft from Texas Tech University. After four very strong years in the minors he made his Marlins debut in 2012. He only pitched 9.1 innings and allowed four runs.

Ramos in his Miami Marlins Years

Ramos had a breakout year in 2013 as he pitched 80 innings and has a 3.15 ERA which established his role as their set-up man. His 2014 was even better where he had a perfect 7-0 record and a 2.11 ERA in 68 games. He earned the closer role in 2015 and did not skip a beat. He pitched in 71 games, had a 2.30 ERA and was ninth in the NL with 32 saves.

2016 was his best year of his career, he had a 2.81 ERA in 67 games and had 40 saves which was good for fourth in the NL. Ramos also earned his only All-Star selection of his career. The Marlins had high hopes for Ramos in 2017 but he had a 3.63 ERA and 20 saves before he was traded to the Mets. After trading Addison Reed and with Familia’s health in question the Mets needed a better arm in the bullpen which is why they acquired Ramos.

As a Met, Ramos struggled a little bit with a 4.74 ERA in the 19 innings he pitched. Ramos is expected to rebound and be a huge part of a revamped Mets’ bullpen. He is a free agent after the season so if the team is out of contention he will likely be a trade piece at the trade deadline. In Spring Training, he has struggled in his last two outings but strung together a few strong outings before that. Overall Ramos looks good to go for the season and will be a huge part of the Mets bullpen.

New York Mets Injury Report

Jason Vargas (right hand) sustained a fracture of the hamate bone in his right hand. Vargas is scheduled to get surgery Tuesday at the Hospital for Special Surgery in Manhattan and will involve the removal of the bone. He will look to resume throwing five days later but is very doubtful for the beginning of the season. This gives new life to Steven Matz, Zack Wheeler, Seth Lugo and Robert Gsellman as it gives them another rotation spot to earn.

Yoenis Cespedes (wrist) is set to return to Grapefruit League action Monday. He originally aggravated the injury last week in a game that he homered in. When asked about the injury he said “I am not going to be able to play anymore, ever,” meaning he is likely feeling better. The Mets played Wilmer Flores in left field Saturday just incase the Cespedes injury was not healing as expected after playing in a minor league game.

Jacob deGrom (back) looks ready to go for Opening Day. He tossed five scoreless innings on Friday and struck out eight on one hit. deGrom says he feels healthy and he will be ready to start the second game of the season. He will likely get another start or two before Spring Training ends.

Dominic Smith (quad) is regressing in his recovery from the injury. Smith has not been able to run and does not look like he will be able to play another game before Spring Training ends. All signs point to Smith starting the season in Triple-A and Adrian Gonzalez being the everyday first baseman for the Mets at the moment.

T.J. Rivera (right elbow) is still on the rehab process from Tommy John Surgery and there is no real timetable or new news coming out of the Mets organization.

David Wright (shoulder and lower back) still has about two months to go until he will be resuming baseball activity.

Michael Conforto (shoulder) has progressed very nicely and has already played in two minor league games. He played in the outfield Sunday and is very much on track to make an early May return. Conforto has been late on the ball but that comes with the adjustment of being on the sidelines for over six months. Conforto says his body feels great and if Brandon Nimmo is producing they will have a very difficult outfield decision to make.

New York Mets 40-Man Roster Overview: Corey Oswalt

After Corey Oswalt was drafted, he was assigned to the Kingsport Mets and struggled with an 8.15 ERA in 9 games. Oswalt battled injuries in 2013 with Kingsport and only was able to pitch 13 innings.

Breakout to breakdown:

2014 was his breakout year with the Brooklyn Cyclones where he went 6-2 with a 2.26 ERA in 12 games. He became known for his control and was named a Short Season All-Star by Baseball America.

Oswalt continued his success in 2015 by winning 11 of his 23 starts and putting up a 3.36 ERA. He only walked 21 batters in 128.2 innings and moved up to the St. Lucie Mets for the 2016 season.

Outside of one inning he spent with the Gulf Coast Mets, he saw his ERA rise to 4.06 in 68 innings, this still allowed Oswalt to be named the 27th best prospect in the Mets organization going into 2017.

Oswalt put up his best numbers with the Binghamton Rumble Ponies in 2017. He had a 12-5 record, 2.28 ERA and pitched a career high 134.1 innings.

He earned MILB.com organization All-Star honors, Baseball America Double-A All-Star honors, Eastern League All-Star honors and was name the Eastern League Pitcher of the Year. The Mets placed Oswalt on the 40-man roster after the conclusion of the 2017 season.

Oswalt was recently sent back to minor league camp but has only allowed two runs in 6.1 innings this spring.

He will likely start the season in Las Vegas with the 51s and could see time with the Mets this season because of injuries or his performance. Worst case scenario is the Mets will bring him up in September for the roster expansion.