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.

Paul Sewald is the Victim of the Mets’ Bad Defense, But That’s Due to Change

When most people think of Paul Sewald, the 30 year old righty on the New York Mets, they think of his career 5.16 ERA, his inability to close games out, and being the epitome of what the Mets’ bullpen has been in recent memory. This often leads to Mets fans groaning and moaning when they hear his name called out of the bullpen, but is that all Paul Sewald is? He’s given up a ton of big home runs and hasn’t been a good reliever, but is that all she wrote?

Using stats that can show the true skill of a player, we can figure out if Paul Sewald is better than his ERA suggests and spark some hope in his success, let’s get to the data!

Can’t Hit It Hard Off Of Him

This was actually surprising when I was studying Sewald’s statcast metrics (from Baseball Savant of course, I spend way too much time on there) he has a career 31.8% hard hit% against, which is below the MLB average 34.5% and a .413 xSLG against which is average, a .318 xWOBA against, which is a little better than average, and a 24.5% K%, which is higher than the MLB average.

Batters struggle to hit the ball hard off of Sewald, and that’s something that for some odd reason has not translated well into a lower ERA, which is the big mystery right?

Death By a Million Hits

Paul Sewald has a career 8.8 H/9 which is not good at all, and combine that with his below average 9.1 BB% in 2018, and that’s how you get a 6.07 ERA. In 2018 he also had his worst H/9 of 9.9 which lead to a 1.509 WHIP. That explains a lot now doesn’t it? Sure he had a 3.98 xERA in 2018, and yea he didn’t get hit hard at all, but he had one massive issue: He couldn’t stop bleeding out hits.

When you look at his spray charts, in 2018 you see the onslaught of hits that he gave up, with a lot of them not being hard hit, not going very far, and making you wonder: Why did he give up so many? Well the answer is actually quite simple

Horrible Defenses Behind Him

It’s often undervalued how much a pitcher with a high contact against rate needs a good defense behind them. The Mets in 2018 had -69 DRS and a -32.1 UZR (which was the 27th in the whole MLB) and in 2019 a -86 DRS (28th) and -12.8 UZR (24th) which is not doing Sewald any favors. Does this situation get any better for the Mets though? Yes actually, it gets a lot better in 2020.

The Mets will be able to have Jeff McNeil in his best defensive position, 3rd base, instead of the outfield where he was below average defensively. Nimmo and Conforto are best at RF for Nimmo and LF for Conforto, so you can put the elite defender at CF Jake Marisnick and now your outfield is above average defensively. Now for the infield, with McNeil at 3rd who will replace Frazier (who was below average at 3rd defensively in 2019) which should help the defensive structure in the infield, however you still have your poor defensive combo in the middle infield.

Does this mean this team will have an elite defense? No, but it will be good in the outfield which is most important as that’s where Sewald got exposed and will see less doubles and triples, and more outs.

Look for Sewald to be closer to his xERA with a 3.80-3.90 ERA and be a solid reliever for the Mets in 2020, as the Mets defense won’t be digging the pitching into even deeper holes.

New York Mets Option Paul Sewald and Daniel Zamora

The New York Mets continue to trim their big league roster as they send down a couple of bullpen arms with major league experience. Paul Sewald and Daniel Zamora will both be members of the Syracuse Mets whenever baseball finally resumes.

Zamora pitched very well in the Spring. Over five innings he only allowed one run, three hits, walked one and struck out eight batters. Always known as a left-handed specialist, he showed the ability to retire right-handed hitters as well. The only lefty in the Mets bullpen is Justin Wilson which makes Zamora the next man up if they need to replace him.

Sewald Out of Options

Sewald’s demotion marks the last time they can send him down without putting him through waivers. He also impressed in the Spring through his 5.1 innings pitched. He did not walk a single batter, allowed three hits, one run and struck out five. Sewald has always shown glimpses of dominance but he has never been able to consistently pitch well for a long period of time. As one of the most experienced relievers in the bullpen, he should see more big league time in 2020.

Last year both would have been guaranteed to make the big league roster but the Mets revamped it to gain more experience from their relievers. Having Zamora and Sewald should give the team confidence in their depth, should the have to deal with injuries.

New York Mets: Paul Seward Year in Review

After two seasons as a workhorse in the New York Mets bullpen, Paul Sewald saw his role take a significant step back during the 2019 season. Sewald was another frequent member of the shuttle between Triple-A and the MLB roster.

Seward started the season in the minors but only had to wait until April 14 to get the call-up to the Mets. He sandwiched one solid long relief appearance between two, where he allowed runs. Seward flew back to Syracuse just a week later, where Sewald stayed until mid-May. He returned on May 17 to pitch two innings out of the bullpen and allowed a run. Sewald promptly got the option back to Syracuse when Steven Matz came off the Injured List.

Surviving the DFA

The Mets designated him for assignment on May 22, but no teams claimed him, so he went back to Syracuse. Since Sewald was out of options, the Mets has to be very selective with the next time they brought him back. He returned in mid-August when the Mets made multiple changes in the bullpen, including shutting down Robert Gsellman for the season.

Sewald looked like a revamped pitcher when he returned. His velocity had increased, and he only allowed one run in his first six outings, while striking out 13. As quickly as things seemed to turn around, Sewald was front and center for the Mets ninth-inning collapse against the Washington Nationals. He allowed four runs and only retired one batter before Edwin Diaz blew the save.

Sewald only allowed two runs in his five outings following, but the outing against the Nationals put a damper on a promising turnaround. In his second to the last outing of the season, Sewald finally picked up his elusive first career win after 14 career losses.

It will be a tall task for Sewald to crack the Mets bullpen in 2020. More than likely, he will have to start the season in Triple-A once again. He has never had a year where his ERA was below 4.5, and the current options the Mets have are all better ones.

Grades:

Pitching Repertoire: C, His fastball started the season around 89-91 but moved to 91-94 later in the season. Due to his release point, he also had a wipeout slider.

Control: A+, Only 1.4 BB/9, and his K/9 increased to 10.1, the highest of his career.

Composure: C+, Hitters batted below .200 with RISP, but Sewald had a 16.88 ERA during the ninth inning.

Intangibles: B

Overall: C-, It was an okay season from Sewald, but the Nationals loss lingered on him for the rest of the year.

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.