Pair of Homers Power New York Mets to 2-0 Victory Against Astros

New York Yankees, New York Mets, Marcus Stroman

The first two spring training games for the New York Mets have resulted in seven-inning, 2-0 finishes. On Tuesday, they were on the winning side for the first time. Mets pitchers had another strong showing, and solo home runs from Jeff McNeil and Albert Almora Jr. powered the offense.

Marcus Stroman got the start over Jordan Yamamoto and was as good as advertised. Stroman retired all six batters he faced and struck out two. His hard sinker resulted in three groundball outs, and he displayed his brand new changeup as well.

Yamamoto worked around a couple of hard-hit balls to deliver two scoreless innings following Stroman. Jerry Blevins, Drew Smith, and Sam McWilliams finished off the shutout. Mets pitchers have allowed just two runs over 14 innings pitched this Spring.

The bats are still quiet, but the dominant pitching held up the two solo homers. McNeil’s homer came against a hanging curveball from Framber Valdez. Over his career, McNeil has less power against left-handed pitching and is always looking to add more power to his game. Almora is another player looking for more power and has a consistent leg kick in his batting stance. In past seasons, he has used a toe tap which led to increased groundball rates every year of his career.

Prospects Ronny Mauricio, Mark Vientos, Brett Baty, and Pete Crow-Armstrong all made appearances once the starters exited. For Crow-Armstrong, it was his first game in professional baseball, and he struck out in his only at-bat. On Wednesday, the Mets travel to Jupiter to take on the St. Louis Cardinals. Jerad Eickhoff faces Kwang Hyun Kim at 1:10 p.m. ET.



New York Mets Sign Minor League Pitcher Sam McWilliams

The New York Mets added some much-needed depth to their minor league pitching by bringing in six-foot, seven-inch right-hander Sam McWilliams. His signing also came with an interesting salary amount. McWilliams major league salary of $750k ($195K in the minors) was the largest salary for any player without MLB service time (excluding players playing in Asia) in the last 10 years.

McWilliams is 25-years old and has no success past the AA level in the minor leagues. He spent time with the Tampa Bay Rays 60-man player pool but got a call to the big leagues during the 2020 season. The Mets see the upside in a lanky pitcher who can reach up into the high 90s with his fastball. Despite the high velo, McWilliams best pitch is his slider that sits around 84-86 mph.

Success in a New Role?

McWilliams spent most of his minor league career as a starting pitcher but did not have the swing and miss stuff he expected. Even at his best season in AA in 2019, he only had 66 strikeouts in 87 innings but had a 2.05 ERA. McWilliams saw time at AAA and had a K/9 just under nine, but his ERA was 8.18 in 44 innings pitched.

Encouraging signs for McWilliams is his career 0.6 HR/9 and 2.6 BB/9. If the Mets decided to make him a primary reliever, the foundation is there for success. The Mets starting rotation depth is still extremely thin, making it no guarantee McWilliams becomes a reliever. Despite the high salary, this is a solid move to sign a pitcher with a high ceiling. His biggest obstacle is his ability to develop a consistent third pitch to thrive at the next level.