Can you believe it? Another week is in the books and that means we’re one week closer to Opening Day. But before we get ready for Opening Day, we’ve still got a week’s worth of games to go through and take a look at what happened. We’ll look at the performances of: The Starting Pitcher, The Offense and the Bullpen/Defense. If you read last week’s post, it’ll be very similar in structure to that post. Before we get started I want to give a quick shout out to ‘NYSportsXtra’ which is a podcast that covers all things New York Sports. They recently reached out to me and asked if I’d be interested in having an ad for the site on their latest episode, and they did a fantastic job promoting it and I recommend you check it out as well. A link to their twitter is in the Affiliates page and you can find the link to their latest episode from there. But, without any further ado, let’s jump into this week’s Review of Mets’ Spring Training.
March 9th 2018: New York Mets @ Detroit Tigers (Michael Fulmer vs Steven Matz)
A lot of pressure was on Steven Matz heading into this one. After a disastrous last start, Matz was out to prove why he still deserves to be in the rotation and through 4 Inning’s Pitched, he certainly made a case for himself, and we’ll talk about that in just a moment. Overall, it was a fun game and the Mets made a pretty nice comeback to tie the game and avoid getting the L.
Like I said, Steven Matz had a lot of pressure on him heading into this one. After giving up 10 runs in less than 2 Innings Pitched over his first 2 starts, Matz needed to prove that he has a legitimate case to be a part of the Mets’ rotation by Opening Day. A leadoff double by Leonys Martin would be the start for Steven’s outing and I was worried immediately. But after getting a groundout, he caught Martin attempting to steal 3rd and picked him off with a throw to Frazier to get 2 outs and the runner off the bases. Following it up with a strikeout, Matz was out of the inning unscathed. He gave up a leadoff single to start the 2nd but quickly got out of trouble with a fly out and a double play. Working around a walk in the 3rd, he got 2 fly outs and a ground out to avoid any trouble. Finishing his outing in the bottom of the 4th, he gave up a leadoff single again but got the next 2 batters to fly out and struck out the last batter he’d face for the day. His line score for the day 53 pitches thrown over 4 Inning’s Pitched, 3 Hits, 0 Runs, 1 Walk and 2 Strikeouts. It was a strong showing by Matz and his ability to work around leadoff hits was something that stuck out a lot to me when I was watching. A lot of pitchers can become self-destructive when there is a runner on base but he stayed calm, recorded the outs and even caught a runner trying to steal (which is something I love to see by Mets’ pitchers/catchers.) There is still a lot of Spring Training left to be played, but by the end of this game, I was pleased with Steven’s performance and hope he’s on his way to being the dominating young pitcher he once was.
The Mets bats were looking good throughout the game, though there might not have been much scoring throughout it all. Frazier recorded the first Mets’ hit in the top of the 1st with a single but was left on base. Kevin Plawecki hit a leadoff home run in the top of the 2nd that would get the Mets on the board first with a 1-0 lead. Jose Lobaton would follow it up with a double, making a case for himself as a possible call up throughout the season. Lobaton was left on base after a ground out and 2 strike outs though. The Mets next offense wouldn’t be until the top of the 6th inning when Jose Reyes drew a 1-out walk. After a strikeout by Frazier, it was up to Flores to drive in a run and he sure did with a 2-run homer to left center field, putting the Mets within a run of the Tigers. Still down a run, the Mets would rally in the top of the 7th with a triple hit by Gavin Cecchini. Ty Kelly would drive him in with a 2-out single, tying the game at 4 runs apiece. Flores would have the last hit by Mets’ batters in the top of the 8th with a single, going 2 for 4 on the day. The game ended in a tie, but it was good to see the Mets rally from behind and avoid taking a loss. The Mets finished the game with 7 hits, 4 runs and 1 error. Besides Flores, Plawecki and Kelly drove in the other runs for the Mets on the day. While there were bright spots throughout the lineup, there were some not so bright moments as well. Lagares went 0 for 3, Reyes went 0 for 2, as did Rosario. But it’s Spring Training and not every day is going to be a slug fest.
Let’s talk about the Bullpen now. After Steven Matz threw 4 scoreless frames, Robles was called upon to keep the game scoreless. After giving up a single and a double, Robles then allowed a 3-run homer to occur, giving the Tigers a 3-1 lead in the 5th inning. If that wasn’t bad enough, he then gave up a solo homer making it 4-1 for the Tigers. He was able to avoid further trouble after a single turned into a Double Play and he got a fly out. But, the damage had been done and it was going to be an uphill battle for the Mets. Sewald came in for the 6th inning and threw a scoreless frame, continuing to prove why he’s a good arm to have in the bullpen. The next 2 relief appearances were Tyler Bashlor and Corey Oswalt. Bashlor pitched the 7th inning. After an error by Frazier allowed a baserunner to reach, Bashlor walked another putting 2 men on with no out. Nido picked off the runner at 2nd, giving the young pitcher an out to work with. Another single was given up and then it appeared a sac fly was going to give the Tigers the lead, but a good throw by Evans got the out at the plate, turning a double play and getting them out of the inning. Corey Oswalt was called on for the 8th and 9th inning. Giving up a leadoff triple in the 8th, Oswalt got 3 ground outs to avoid a run from scoring, keeping the game tied. Thankfully, the bottom of the 9th was less stressful as he was able to get 3 outs on a strikeout, a fly out and a line out. Robles continues to be troubling out of the pen, after this game he sports an ERA of 13.50 over 6 Innings Pitched. If Robles can’t turn the corner by Opening Day, he may very well lose his role in the bullpen. I don’t know who they’d give his spot to, but there are a lot of pitchers trying to earn a spot on the roster and if Robles doesn’t shape up, they may be taking his spot. Sewald continues to look impressive out of the pen with an ERA of 1.42 over 6.1 Innings Pitched. Sewald was impressive out of the pen last season and has brought that over with him in Spring Training this season. Bashlor and Oswalt looked good, they’re both young (24 years old) and have a lot of room for improvement, but they both looked impressive in their outings and did a good job of keeping the game tied. I’d like to take a moment to appreciate Nido. Nido opened a lot of eyes with his performance in the Arizona Fall League, and he’s been a bright spot this Spring Training. While his bat isn’t all that hot, he’s proven to be a good defensive catcher and if things go sour (hopefully they don’t) for d’Arnaud or Plawecki, Nido is a guy the Mets could always call on.
Overall, the Mets played well. Matz finally looked like he was getting the pitches he wanted and he worked around singles and doubles without giving up any runs AND he picked off a runner. I love pick offs. Lagares still wasn’t hitting and he may be losing the race for starting Center Fielder come Opening Day. There is still plenty of time for him to turn the corner but at the moment, his spot could be going to Brandon Nimmo…time will tell though. Plawecki’s bat has stayed hot, even though he went 1 for 3, he sports a .333 Batting Average and has continued to impress. Cecchini also keeps his bat hot, getting on base as the tying run with a triple and eventually coming across to score the tying run. That beard has done wonders for him. But overall, good game by the Mets and anytime they can avoid an L, I’ll be happy.
March 10th 2018: New York Mets @ New York Yankees (Matt Harvey vs Luis Cessa)
Looking to redeem themselves after a disappointing loss to their crosstown rivals a few days earlier, the Mets traveled to Tampa in hopes to get a win against the Yankees. This time the Yankees brought their big bats with them, Stanton and Judge were in the lineup, along with Romine and Drury. It’d be a difficult task for Matt Harvey who was making his 3rd start of the season. In the past 2 starts, Harvey had been able to look strong on the mound and he was hoping to continue that against the Yankees. The bats were also looking to come alive as the Mets were out hit 17 to 6 (hits) in their last game against the Yankees.
Okay so before I go play-by-play on Harvey’s performance, I want to say that a lot of the runs and hits were caused by bad judgement calls on the outfield and the other position players. I’m not saying Harvey wasn’t the cause of them, I’m just saying that a few things could’ve been improved and possibly saved some runs. In the bottom of the 1st, Gardner greeted Harvey with a leadoff single. Harvey was then tasked with facing the 2017 AL Rookie of the Year, Aaron Judge with a man on and nobody out. Judge would also smack a single into left field and a poor throw decision by Bornstein allowed Gardner to get to 3rd and Judge get to 2nd on what should have been a routine single. Nonetheless, there were 2 men in scoring position with nobody out as Giancarlo Stanton was at the plate. Stanton was hit by the pitch and the bases were then loaded with nobody out. Brandon Drury hit a single and scored the first run of the game giving the Yankees a 1-0 lead over the Mets early in the game. Tyler Austin grounded out but scored a run in the process, giving them a 2-0 lead. Romine grounded into a double play and got Harvey out of the inning with only giving up 2 runs, despite the bases being loaded with nobody out. Harvey had a much easier 2nd inning where he recorded the side in order with all groundouts. The same couldn’t be said for the bottom of the 3rd as the top of the lineup continued to get hits off of Harvey. Gardner started it off with another single and Judge followed it up with a proper double putting 2 men in scoring position with no one out. Harvey was able to strikeout Stanton, but Drury grounded out, scoring a run in the process making it 3-0 Yankees. The bottom of the 4th got retired in order with a strikeout and 2 groundouts. The bottom of the 5th was when Harvey ran into real trouble. After recording 2 outs, he walked Aaron Judge and gave up a 2-run homer to Stanton making the lead 5-1 Yankees. This would be the final blow for Harvey as he was taken out of the game after that. Going 4.2 Innings Pitched, Harvey gave up 6 hits, 5 runs, and exited with a 5.59 ERA. It wasn’t a pretty performance but like I said above, there were some plays that should have gotten Harvey out of trouble if they had been executed properly. But regardless, the power bats of the Yankees proved to be too much for Harvey.
On the upside, the Mets were able to combat the Yankees offense with some offense of their own. While it wasn’t enough to win them the game, they were able to get some hits and score some runs. Rosario hit a leadoff double in the top of the 1st but was left stranded after Lagares and Evans struck out and Flores grounded out. The top of the 2nd saw d’Arnaud draw a walk, followed by Tim Tebow doing the same. Bornstein hit a single which loaded the bases with 1-out. Amed Rosario came to bat but stuck out, followed by Lagares who suffered the same fate. In the top of the 4th the Mets were able to get on the board. Reyes hit a single and then proceeded to steal 2nd AND 3rd base getting himself into scoring position. d’Arnaud grounded out but Reyes was able to score making the score 3-1 Yankees. The top of the 5th saw Guillorme single, but he was caught trying to steal 2nd. Lagares then hit a double was out at 3rd trying to stretch it into a triple. The Mets would score again in the 6th after Flores hit a 1-out double, followed by a single courtesy of Jose Reyes. Flores would score making the game 2-5 Yankees. d’Arnaud would hit a single but himself and Reyes were left stranded after Bornstein and Tebow both struck out. The top of the 7th saw the Mets score for the final time of the day. Lagares drew a walk, Nimmo grounded out and ended up at 1st. A wild pitch then got the runner to 2nd and a single by Evans would score the run making it 3-7 Yankees. The Mets weren’t able to score anymore runs but they finished the game with 10 hits. The Mets were 3 for 12 with Runners in Scoring Position and had 10 runners left on base though which played a part in them not being able to score.
The bullpen was “ehh” to say the best. Montero (yeah, that Montero) was called on in the 5th after Harvey gave up the home run, Montero recorded the out and got them out of the inning. In the top of the 6th, Montero got 2 fly outs but then walked a batter and gave up a double. Matt Purke was then brought in to try and finish the inning but he allowed a double of his own allowing the Yankees to score their 7th run of the ball game. A wild pitch and a walk woud follow but Purke was able to get a ground out and avoid any more trouble. Jamie Callahan was then brought in for the 8th inning. In the 8th he gave up 2 singles and a force out which allowed the Yankees to score their 8th run. 2 more singles allowed them to score their 9th and a sac fly got in their 10th run. Montero continued to struggle, throwing 1 Inning, giving up 1 hit, walking one and allowing 2 runs, making his ERA 8.44 over 5.1 Innings Pitched. Callahan went 1.2 Innings Pitched, gave up 4 hits, 3 runs (2 Earned Runs) and struck out one making his ERA 6.75 over 6.2 Innings Pitched.
The game wasn’t a pretty one to watch. It was frustrating to see so many men get left on base and even more frustrating to see Montero and Callahan allow so many hits and runs to score. The final box score was 3 runs, 10 hits and 1 error by the Mets. 10 runs, 12 hits and 0 errors by the Yankees. Matt Harvey faced a tough line up but he’s got to buckle down and be ready for tough line ups because the Nationals and other teams in the NL won’t take it easy on him. If he can continue doing what he had been doing up to this point, he’ll be alright but he can’t let this start affect him too much. He knows what has to be worked on and he needs to work on it and not feel sorry for himself. Overall, I’m glad we only face the Yankee 4 times in the regular season.
March 11th 2018: Houston Astros @ New York Mets (Jacob deGrom vs Lance McCullers Jr.)
Jacob deGrom was ready to take the mound for his first start of Spring Training as the Mets would once again do battle against the defending World Series Champions, the Houston Astros. deGrom was looking to continue his dominance from the 2017 season and looking to show everyone that his back issues were behind him (get it? Behind him? Because his back is behind him…ha..ha...) ANYWAY, the Mets also looked to take a win against the Astros who had boasted them 2 games to 1 (with 1 tie) through Spring Training thus far. Could the Mets triumph over the defending champs? Well, let’s take a look.
deGrom came out looking like he hadn’t missed a step, striking out the side on 15 pitches. deGrom was back and he was looking to put any doubts to rest. The top of the 2nd saw deGrom give up a single, a walk and a sac fly which allowed the Astros to score a run. Another sac fly would give up another run but a ground out got him out of anymore trouble. The top of the 3rd, deGrom got another strikeout and a fly out but he was up to 37 pitches and his pitch limit was probably 40, so skipper Callaway took deGrom out of the game replacing him with Sewald. There really isn’t too much to discuss here, deGrom looked great and despite a few hiccups in the 2nd inning he looked like he hadn’t missed a step and he looks to be on track with the rest of the team. Going 2.2 Innings Pitched, he allowed 2 hits, 2 runs, walked one and struck out 4. It was good performance by deGrom who is looking to prove that he’s still the Mets’ ace, opening day or not.
The Mets jumped out to an early lead when Cespedes cracked a 1-out home run to left field, his 3rd of Spring Training. Bruce would smack a double to get a runner into scoring position. Frazier would pop out making it 2 outs. Adrian Gonzalez drew a walk putting 2 men on for Cabrera who struck out to end the inning. But the Mets had jumped out to an early lead thanks to the home run by Cespedes who makes it look so easy. The Mets would score their 2nd and final run of the game in the 6th inning when Frazier got them started with a single, Gonzalez and Cabrera both struck out but Nimmo reached on a fielding error to put 2 men on with 2 outs. A single by Plawecki would plate Frazier, putting New York within a run of tying the game. The offense didn’t do much else in this game unfortunately. Nimmo did hit a ground rule double in the 4th, showing once more why he’s so valuable to the Mets’ lineup. Plawecki had 2 hits and continued to stay hot at the plate. Lagares would single in the 9th making him 1 for 5 on the day but other than that there wasn’t much to talk about. Lagares continues to come up short at the plate, striking out 3 times. Like the game before, the Mets were 1 for 10 with RISP and left 11 men on base. Situational hitting and being able to drive in runs is something the Mets need to get back to doing. It was a big part of what got them to the World Series in 2015 and something they were able to do better last season (despite only winning 70 games.)
It was a different bullpen look for the Mets this time around. After Paul Sewald came in to pitch the final out in the 3rd, Vargas took the mound for the 4th inning and would throw 4 Innings. He started his day off with a ground out, followed by a walk and a single but he was able to work around that with a strikeout and another ground out. He gave up a home run in the top of the 5th, but the wind was really carrying the ball and any other day it would’ve been a long out or possibly a double. He then allowed a single but got a double play to get the man off base. Another single would follow but he’d strike out the next batter giving him the final out of the inning. He walked another in the 7th but also struck out 2 as well as getting a pop out. He finished his day going 4 Innings Pitched, allowing 4 hits, 1 run, 3 walks and 5 strike outs. His ERA sits at 4.15 over 8.2 Innings Pitched. After Vargas was done for the day, Jacob Rhame came in for the 8th and worked around a double and a walk to get out of the inning with the Mets still within a run of the Astros. Kevin McGowan came in for the 9th and it wasn’t pretty at all. He gave up a leadoff single, the runner would steal 2nd to put a man in scoring position. He walked the next batter and recorded his first out with a strike out. A force out would score a run making it 4-2 Astros. Another single would score another run making it 5-2 and putting the Mets 3 runs away from the lead. McGowan threw 1 Inning, gave up 2 hits, 2 runs (1 earned because of a throwing error by Guillorme,) walked 1 and struck out 1 giving him an ERA of 27.00 through 4.1 Innings Pitched. McGowan hasn’t been impressive thus far and one could argue that if he hadn’t let the lead increase, the Mets might have been able to rally and tie (or possibly win) the game in the bottom of the 9th. Other than that though, Vargas looked great out of the pen, as did Sewald (for his one out performance) and Rhame did a good job working around the double.
So overall, other than deGrom pitching like he hasn’t missed a step and Cespedes cracking homeruns, this game was pretty lackluster for the Mets. They had 8 hits but couldn’t drive in the runs when needed and that ultimately lead to them losing. Nimmo stayed hot with a double, Plawecki stayed hot going 2 for 3, but other than that it was a disappointing game to watch as the Mets drop another one to the Astros.
March 13th 2018: Houston Astros @ New York Mets (Noah Syndergaard vs Gerrit Cole)
The Mets would face the Astros once again and once again they were looking for retribution and looking to get a win against the defending World Series Champions. Noah Syndergaard would be making his 4th start of the Spring Training season and would be facing the Astro’s newest pitcher, Gerrit Cole. A great pitching matchup and one we will probably only see in Spring Training now that Cole is in the American League. Since the Mets had a game later in the day against the Washington Nationals, the lineup was a little thin. This game wasn’t televised so there’s a few things I didn’t get to see (like a balk that we’ll talk about later) but for the most part, the radio does it justice as does the ‘At Bat’ app. Without any further ado, let’s get into it.
Syndergaard took the mound and was looking to continue his Spring Training dominance. He started the day off by striking out World Series’ MVP George Springer and then getting the next 2 outs via a fly and ground out. He’d give up a leadoff single to Carlos Correa in the 2nd and walk Evan Gattis to put 2 men on with no outs. He’d strike out Reed but give up a single to J.D. Davis which loaded the bases with only 1-out. But Syndergaard wasn’t backing down as he struck out the next 2 batters he faced and escaped trouble to keep the Astros off the board. It was trouble once again though in the top of the 3rd as Syndergaard gave up a leadoff walk to George Springer. He’d get the first out by getting Reddick to ground out but a walk to Altuve would put 2 men on. An error by Jose Reyes would allow Correa to reach base, filling them for the 2nd inning in a row. Evan Gattis hit a single against the shift which scored Springer and Altuve, the throw back in would get away from the catcher (this is what they said on the radio, but it wasn’t marked as an Error on the official box score so I’m not 100% sure what happened here) but Gattis fell trying to get to 2nd base which allowed Syndergaard to throw him out at 1st. He’d end the inning by striking out Reed. Allowing 2 runs to score on a bases loaded situation, although only one of them were earned. The top of the 4th started with a single to JD Davis but the bases were cleared on a Double Play. Marsinick reached on an Error by Guillorme, but Springer would ground out which avoided any damage. Syndergaard would exit the game in the 5th but not before he recorded the first 2 outs by getting Reddick and Altuve to fly out. That would be it for Syndergaard as he reached his pitch limit and despite a few walks, it was another impressive outing by Thor. Going 4.2 Innings Pitched, he allowed 4 hits, 1 earned run, 3 walks and struck out 5. He sports a 1.38 ERA over his 4 starts. It was announced later in the day that he’d get the ball for Opening Day, the first Mets pitcher to start on Opening Day back to back since Johan Santana in 2009 and 2010. But that’s a whole different story. As for his performance on this day, he looked good and got around some hiccups by his defense to keep the game from being a blowout.
Guys…it’s Nimmo time. Brandon Nimmo hit a leadoff Home run to get the Mets on the board early with a 1-0 lead. Honestly, at this point if Nimmo doesn’t get to be the starting Center Fielder on Opening Day I don’t know what world I live in. He’s the leadoff hitter the Mets need and he offers more than Juan Lagares does and really he just deserves it. But enough of that rant, back to the offense. Travis d’Arnaud would single with 2 out in the 1st but was left on base by Jose Reyes. So, in the bottom of the 3rd inning, Guillorme reached by balls on base and when Nimmo was at bat, Guillorme took off when Nimmo had worked the count full. But Nimmo would ultimately strike out and Guillorme was thrown out at 2nd. For a guy who only stole 4 bases last season in the minors, it was real ballsy to have him take off like that. I get that the count was full but Gerrit Cole is a serious pitcher and you can’t count that Nimmo would get that hit. But, but, but, that’s a different story and I’m not a manager or a baseball player so I really shouldn’t be talking I suppose. d’Arnaud would reach base again in the 4th, this time drawing a walk. Reyes popped out but Phil Evans was able to hit a single to get 2 men on base. Tim Tebow struck out, as did Cecchini, leaving the men stranded on base. In the bottom of the 5th Guillorme hit a leadoff single. Nimmo would strike out, but Bruce smacked a single to get 2 men on with 1-out. With Adrian Gonzalez at the plate, Guillorme would attempt to steal 3rd and was thrown out. Really, I don’t know why Guillorme is trying to swipe bases…since the game wasn’t televised I can’t really tell what exactly was happening that he thought it’d be a good idea but he was thrown out again and then Gonzalez popped out to end the inning. Questionable decision by Guillorme (or Callaway, or whoever was telling him to try and swipe the base.) Evans would hit another single in the 9th inning but Tebow struck out, Cecchini popped out and Guillorme grounded out to end the game with the Mets on the receiving end of another loss. Having 7 hits and 1 run, Nimmo went 1 for 3, Bruce 2 for 3, d’Arnaud 1 for 2 (with a walk), Evans 2/4, Gonzalez, Reyes, Tebow and Cecchini all going 0 for 4. Tebow was the recipient of the Golden Sombrero, striking out each time he was at the plate. I think my least favorite part of split squad games is that Tebow is at the plate for most of the game. I don’t hate Tebow, I admire his dedication but I mean…come on. The team went 0 for 4 with Runners in Scoring Position and left 8 men on base. Like I said, that is something they NEED to work on.
It’s bullpen time!! Okay, so after Syndergaard threw his 4.2 Innings, Gsellman came out of the pen for some relief work. In his first full inning of work, he gave up a single to Reed who would advance to 2nd on a ground out by Davis and was eventually brought in by Federowicz on a 1-out RBI Single, extending the Astro’s lead to 3-1. A fly out and a strike out would get him out of the inning. AJ Ramos then came in for the 7th inning and walked Tony Kemp to lead off the inning. Mayfield would ground out, advancing Kemp to 2nd. A balk by Ramos would put Kemp on 3rd (Like I said, I didn’t get to see the balk so I’m not sure if it was a real balk or a mistaken balk that tends to happen sometimes. I don’t know.) Either way, the balk didn’t really make a difference because he gave up a 2-run homer to De Gotis to make it 5-1 Astros. He struck out the next 2 batters and got out of the inning without allowing anymore runs to score. Jerry Blevins came in for the 8th and did what Jerry Blevins does, he struck out one and got a force out and a line out. Purke was called on for the 9th inning and after getting a strikeout to start the inning, he walked Kemp who’d still 2nd and reach 3rd on an error by Lobaton. Mayfield hit a single and scored Kemp making it 6-1. A double play would get him out of the inning but the score was set. Overall, the bullpen wasn’t all that bad. Other than the Home run given up by Ramos, everyone did a decent enough job. I mean Gsellman gave up a run but it wasn’t enough to completely take the Mets out of the game. Gsellman’s line for the day was 1.1 IP, 3H, 1R, 1K and he now sports a 3.60 ERA. Ramos went 1IP, 1H, 2ER, 1BB, 1HR and sports a 4.05 ERA. Blevins had 1IP and 1K, he sports a 3.60 ERA. Purke had 1IP, 1H, 1R, 1BB, 1K and now sports a 2.25 ERA.
Syndergaard continues to impress and has been very impressive this spring. Nimmo continues to impress as the leadoff man and truly deserves to be the starting Center Fielder. Ramos giving up the homer is a little scary since he’s going to be a set up guy/closer but sometimes those guys don’t pitch well when they’re not pitching late in the game. As I’m writing this I just learned that Tim Tebow was reassigned and that’s a very good idea, he’s really not ready to be at a Major League camp. Overall, the Mets suffered another loss which is never a good thing, but the guys who needed to shine, did. And that’s Syndergaard, Bruce, Nimmo, Gsellman and d’Arnaud. The 3 errors aren’t pretty, and Reyes needs to settle down and get things under control if he wants to be an effective part of the infield and the lineup. Hopefully the Mets can avoid another loss later tonight when they take on their Division Rivals, the Washington Nationals.
March 13th 2018: New York Mets @ Washington Nationals (Zack Wheeler vs Max Scherzer)
The Mets would face their Division Rivals, the Washington Nationals later in the day. Not only would they have to face the bats of Harper and Rendon, but they’d have to deal with their Ace, the 5x All-Star, 3x Cy Young Award Winner, the dominant Max Scherzer. It’d be a preview for what ESPN will bill as “A COLLISION IN THE DIVISION” that we’ll see later in the regular season. It was time to see if the Mets could topple the National’s dominant ace and if Wheeler could impress like he did in his last outing against the Yankees.
Wheeler took the mound looking to prove that he should be in the Mets’ starting rotation but unfortunately that didn’t happen and he set himself back quite a bit during this outing. From the second he took the mound, the Nationals were all over him. He walked Turner who would swipe 2nd, he then walked Harper who would perform a double steal with Turner while Wheeler pitched to Rendon. With runners on 2nd and 3rd and only 1-out, Rendon hit a sac fly and scored the first run of the game. Goodwin followed it up with a single making it 2-0 in the 1st inning. Wieters and Robles would follow up with 2-out singles of their own making it a 3 run 1st for the Nationals. The inability to control his runners didn’t help Wheeler at all here and he threw a lot of pitches just to get out of the 1st inning which has been something we’ve seen a lot out of Wheeler. He was able to get 3 quick outs in the bottom of the 2nd though with 2 groundouts and a strikeout. The bottom of the 3rd however wasn’t pretty…at all. Harper led off with a single and was moved to second on a single by Rendon. Goodwin would force out moving the runners to 2nd and 3rd with 1 out. Wieters would single again scoring another run and making it 4-0. After a fly out, Marmolejos would hit a 2-out single and score the 5th run of the game. Wheeler got out of the inning after he barely avoided walking Scherzer and instead got him to strike out looking. But that would be it for Wheeler. Mickey Callaway looked visibly annoyed from the dugout (at least that’s the way I interpreted it.) Going 3 Innings, Wheeler gave up 7 hits and allowed 5 runs to score. He walked 2 and struck out 3 as well. He now sports an ERA of 6.75 over 8 Innings Pitched…not exactly the way to win a spot in the rotation and honestly at this point I don’t know if Wheeler is useful at all, even out of the bullpen. With guys like Lugo, Gsellman, Rhame and others looking quite good out of the pen, Wheeler really doesn’t offer much and frankly I think the Mets are better off without him but there is still time left to see what happens.
The offense was very, very, very scarce until Scherzer got out of the game and even then there wasn’t much going on. The Mets got 1 hit off of Scherzer through his 5 Innings of work and 9 of them fell victim to the strikeout. The only hit they got was a double by Amed Rosario in the top of the 4th inning but that was all. Scherzer was absolutely dominant on the mound and the Mets need to find a way to strike against him. If it was a regular season game, Scherzer could have gone another 3 innings if the Mets hit the way they were during this game. Of course there were some notable bats missing from the lineup (Bruce, Reyes, Cespedes, etc.) At one point during the broadcast the commentators spoke with Kevin Long, who was the Mets hitting coach for a few years and is now the hitting coach for Washington. Long said that when working with Mets’ hitters, they would say they’d have to strike against Scherzer early or hope he makes a mistake. Unfortunately for them, he didn’t make any mistakes and they didn’t strike early. Once Scherzer gets in his groove, there really isn’t much hitters can do. But after Scherzer left the game, Chris Smith came in and set down the Mets in order. But in the 7th is when the Mets were able to strike a bit. Ryan Madson came in and looked to keep the Mets off the board but a 2-out rally was on the way. Singles by Flores and Plawecki would allow Den Dekker to hit another single to score the Mets’ first run of the game. Dekker would swipe 2nd base getting himself into scoring position as well. Kaczmarski hit a 2-out single of his own and scored 2 more making it a 7-3 game. The Mets final run of the game came from a home run smacked to left field by Rosario. It was impressive power by the young shortstop who got the team within 3 runs in the 8th inning against Benoit. Unfortunately, the Mets couldn’t rally anymore and their final box score was 4 runs and 7 hits. Like I said before, the Mets need to learn how to strike against pitchers like Scherzer early because in a regular season game, Scherzer would’ve pitched another 3 innings against the Mets at the rate he was going.
The bullpen was good for where it mattered but there was sore spot that sticks out amongst the 0’s that were put up. Lugo came in for 1.1 Innings and allowed 1 hit and a walk but no runs. Corey Taylor pitched 0.2 Innings of his own and didn’t allow any hits, walks or runs. AJ Griffin came in for an inning of work and gave up 2 hits, 2 runs, a walk and a strikeout. It was Griffin who put the game far out of reach for the Mets. If he hadn’t given up those 2 runs, it’d be a 5-4 ball game (if Rosario still hit that home run) and the Mets may have been able to rally. Robles came in for the final 2 innings of the game and only allowed 1 hit. Striking out 2, Robles looked great and kept the Nationals from scoring any further. Robles really looked completely different than he did in his last outing where he allowed 4 runs on 5 hits in 1 inning of work against the Tigers. If Robles can be consistent and have more performances like this one, his spot in the bullpen will be locked in for sure. But, there is still a lot of Spring Training baseball left and he’ll need to prove that he deserves the spot more than young guys like Gsellman, Lugo and Purke.
When all was said and done, Zack Wheeler didn’t strengthen his case for a spot in the rotation and truthfully, in the bullpen either. There were rumors going around that if Matz wasn’t a starter he’d be pitching in AAA and I think the same should go for Wheeler. I was all for him being a long relief pitcher but at this point I don’t know what he really offers the team in either role. But there is still time left for Wheeler to turn around, but at this moment I’m not impressed. Also this game was a preview of what the Mets will have to deal with all season long and that’s the Nationals and Max Scherzer. If the Mets want to be contenders, they need to learn how to combat their division rivals and their dominant ace. I’m not sure if the Mets will be seeing Scherzer again until the regular season but if they do, they need to change their approach greatly and get to him early. The Mets drop their 4th game in a row, but it wasn’t ALL bad.
March 14th 2018: New York Mets @ Miami Marlins (Steven Matz vs Dan Straily)
Much like Zack Wheeler, Steven Matz is also fighting for a spot in the rotation after a strong performance in his last outing. The Mets would be looking to snap a 4 game losing streak and get a win over the Marlins. Could Matz continue to look good enough to solidify himself as a starting pitcher and if the offense could come alive and help the team get a win. Let’s dive into what happened.
Matz looked pretty bad in the bottom of the 1st inning and it looked like it’d be a disastrous outing to put him out of the rotation race. Giving up a leadoff walk to Sierra, Matz would give up a single to Rojas to put 2 men on base. He was able to get a strikeout and a fly out but he issued another walk, this time to Maybin which would load the bases. Dietrich would come through with a 2-out single to give the Marlins a 2-0 lead. Matz’s control was all off in the 1st. 9 of his first 13 pitches were all balls. But like Mickey Callaway said after the game, Matz must’ve told himself “enough is enough” and he went out there and took care of business. He put down the side in order in the 2nd with 2 strike outs and a ground out. Coming back for more in the 3rd, Matz got a ground out but gave up a single to Castro but Justin Bour would ground into a Double Play to get Matz out of the inning unscathed. In the bottom of the 4th Matz issued a 1-out walk to Dietrich but struck out and got a line out to get out of the inning again, unscathed. Matz would record his final out of the day in the 5th inning where he got the first out via a strike out before getting taken out of the game as he had already exceeded his pitch limit. After a rough 1st inning, Matz was able to recover and still manage to have a good outing. After throwing more than 30 pitches in the 1st inning alone, Matz only needed 77 total pitches for his 4 1/3 innings pitched. His line score had him with 3 hits, 2 runs, 3 walks and 5 strike outs. He now sports a 10.80 ERA but his last 2 starts have been drastically better than his first 2 starts. Unfortunately, the game wasn’t televised so there’s no vides of Matz performance but it sounds like he really buckled down and got himself back into the game. Picking himself back up after that rough outing is something that’s always great to see as a lot of pitchers have trouble bouncing back from a bad inning. But Matz was determined and had a good outing despite the 1st inning.
The Mets offense was pretty limited, Adrian Gonzalez got their first hit in the 1st inning with a 2-out single but was left on base after Evans struck out. The top of the 2nd looked like the Mets had a chance to score some runs after d’Arnaud and Guillorme both got on base via the walk but were stranded when Cecchini struck out, Ty Kelly flew out and Steven Matz grounded out. What has become a reoccurring theme this past week, the Mets are leaving their runners in scoring position and/or stranding them on base all together. Bruce would try to get something started with a 1-out single in the 3rd, but Gonzalez grounded into a double play and the inning was over. Fantastic. Guillorme would also try to get things going in the 4th when he hit a 2-out single but Cecchini flew out and the inning was once again, over. FANTASTIC. After Dan Straily left the game, Brad Ziegler came in for some relief pitching. He gave up a base hit to Gonzalez but Evans would this time ground into a double play and leave another man on base. F.A.N.T.A.S.T.I.C. (Alright I’ll stop with the “fantastic” now.) Guillorme, who was a bright spot in the offense would single again in the 7th. The Mets would finally get on the board in the top of the 9th. JJ Franco (The son of former Major League relief pitcher, John Franco) would hit a leadoff single in hopes of starting a rally. Phil Evans was hit by a pitch to put 2 men on. A fly out by Lobaton would record the 1st out of the inning. Guillorme would reach via a walk and after Cecchini struck out, Ty Kelly would walk in JJ Franco for the first run. But Giminez would line out and end the game, giving the Mets their 5th consecutive loss. The Mets had 7 hits throughout the game but left 8 men on base and went 0-7 with runners in scoring position. I believe I addressed this in a previous game review (I don’t remember which one, I’ve been writing a lot and my brain is giving up on me) but the Mets NEED to get in the habit of situational hitting. They were able to do in 2015, towards the tail end of 2016 and for most of 2017 (despite the losing season.) It’s crucial for a team to be able to get their men across to score, especially in such a competitive division and a league full of teams that are trying to contend for the post season. Hopefully this is a bad habit that the Mets can drop before starting the regular season. Nimmo went 0 for 4 which made me sad, but even Yogi Berra had off days. Cecchini also went 0 for 4. Evans and Kelly went 0 for 3, although Kelly did have the only RBI for the Mets with his walk in the 9th. Bruce went 1 for 3, A-Gon 2 for 3 and d’Arnaud went 1 for 3. But the bright spot of the box score was Guillorme who had 4 plate appearances and reached base every time. He had 2 hits and 2 walks, and he continues to impress in Spring Training. Overall, it’s the same old story for the Mets offense this Spring Training, they need to hit with RISP and stop leaving their men on base.
Bullpen time and it was not good. Montero came in to finish the 5th after Matz departed and he gave up a single to the second batter he faced and a double to Castro. Rojas tried scoring on the double but was thrown out at home. Nimmo threw to Guillorme, who threw to d’Arnaud and they had the runner out at home, saving Montero another Earned Run…for now. In the 6th inning, Montero walked Bour who was pinch ran for by Shuck who stole 2nd. Maybin then walked and Dietrich singled to load the bases with no outs. Montero then hit Walich with a pitch which drove in another run making it 3-0 Miami. Montero’s line score was an unimpressive, 0.2 Innings Pitched, 3 Hits, 2 Runs, 2 Walks and now sports a 10.50 ERA. Paul Sewald was called on for damage control and a sac fly was hit to score a run making it 4-0. Sewald was able to get a pop out and a strikeout to end the inning without any more damage being done. Sewald pitched the bottom of the 7th, giving up a triple and a single that scored another run making it 5-0. He gave up another single but was able to get a double play and a fly out to get out of the inning. Sewald’s line score continued to look good with 2 Innings Pitched, 3 Hits, 1 Run, 1 Strikeout and now sports a 2.16 ERA, being a bright spot out of the Mets’ bull pen. Jacob Rhame came in for the bottom of the 8th and despite an error by Franco, nobody reached and it was another impressive outing by Rhame as well. Who went 1 Inning, giving up no hits, no runs, no walks and 1 strike out. Now sporting a 2.57 ERA. And that was it, the Mets bullpen gave up 3 runs (2 of them from Montero and 1 from Sewald.) Montero continues to do himself no favors as he continues to prove he can’t be reliable out of the bull pen and he certainly has done nothing to earn a spot as a starter. I think it’s time the Mets cut Montero lose. The Mets have been waiting for Montero to get good since 2014 and he hasn’t. Cutting him lose is their best option because he’s just going to take up a spot in the Majors that should go to someone else.
I don’t know what else to say about this game. Matz overcame his rough 1st inning and was able to look good but other than that the Mets are looking quite troubling this Spring Training. I’m aware that it’s still Spring Training and a lot of the key guys haven’t been playing every day, but it’s still worth noting that even their everyday guys aren’t able to hit with guys in RISP and that’s something that has to be fixed. Sewald looked fine, Rhame looked good, Montero didn’t. That’s 5 losses in a row now.
March 15th 2018: Miami Marlins @ New York Mets (Matt Harvey vs Dillon Peters)
Alright folks, it’s time to cover the final game of the week (well, my week.) I’ll be honest, this was a lot of writing and my fingers are ready to fall off. It was Harvey taking the mound looking to have a good outing after his rough one against the Yankees last time out. Could the Mets snap a 5 game losing streak? Would they score with Runners in Scoring Position? Well if you didn’t watch the game, I’m here to tell you all those answers.
Harvey had an interesting outing in this game. He got to pitch 5 Innings but at one point it didn’t look like he’d be able to. He went through the side in order in the top of the 1st, recording 2 strike outs in the process. He got in and out of trouble in the 2nd thanks to some great field work by Kevin Plawecki. Harvey gave up 2 back to back 1-out singles and had runners at the corners with 1-out. After a wild pitch got away from Plawecki, Brinson who was at 3rd, tried coming home and was quite close to doing so but Plawecki rolled over to his side, grabbed the mall and tossed it back to Harvey who applied the tag to get the out. It was really a great play and I really suggest you watch it for yourself because my writing doesn’t do it justice. Would it hold up if replay was around in Spring Training? Eh, it’s hard to say but it was impressive nonetheless and kept a run from scoring. Harvey then struck out Dias to end the 2nd inning. The 3rd inning is where Harvey ran into trouble though. After giving a leadoff single to Rivera, Harvey walked the Pitcher Dillon Peters after he had him in a 0-2 count. This was followed up by a base hit by Shuck which scored a run making it 1-0 Miami. Lee tried to advance the runners via the bunt but Plawecki played the ball great and threw out the lead runner at 3rd. With runners at 1st and 2nd, Harvey got Anderson to fly out but Telis would hit a 2-out single to score another run. And another wild pitch would score a 3rd run making it 3-0 Miami. Harvey got a force out for the 3rd out and got out of the inning without any more issues. But much like Matz the day earlier, Harvey picked himself up and pitched 2 more scoreless innings. He struck out the final 5 batters he faced. Finishing the day strong with 5 Innings Pitched, 6 hits, 3 runs, 1 walk and 8 strike outs. He now sports a 5.52 ERA over his 4 starts and while this start wasn’t perfect, he was able to avoid a lot of trouble and struck out the most batters by a Mets pitcher this Spring Training.
The offense in this game was really, really, really weird. I’m going to do my best to explain it. Alright so Flores got the first hit for the Mets in the top of the 2nd but was caught stealing with Rosario batting. I’m trying to find out exactly why he tried stealing 2nd. Flores has 3 steals in his career and 1 of them was from last year but he’s not a notorious base stealer by any means. The Mets second hit wouldn’t come until the bottom of the 5th inning with a Juan Lagares single. Cabrera and Frazier would hit back to back 2-out singles in the bottom of the 6th but were stranded after a Plawecki fly out. Rosario would reach on a single in the bottom of the 7th, Juan Lagares walked to put 2 men on. Kelly would fly out and Lobaton would strike out to end the inning. The Mets would get on the board in the bottom of the 8th after Cecchini reach on an error. Plawecki would reach via a 2-out walk. Flores and Rosario would also be walked, scoring a run and making it 6-1. The bottom of the 9th was absolutely wild. Ty Kelly hit a leadoff single and then Mora and Dekker would both reach on walks, loading the bases with no one out. Don Mattingly would make a pitching change, only for Cecchini to be walked, bringing in another run. This trend continued as Guillorme and Nido were both walked, making it 7-4. Flores hit a sacrifice fly, scoring Cecchini and making it 7-5 with 1 out. Rosario would hit a bloop single and put the Mets within a run of tying the game. Juan Lagares hit a ball that should have been a double play ball, but he’d reach on an error. Glen Sherlock would send the runner home but he was out by a mile, making it 7-6 with 2 outs. Kelly would ground out and end the game as the Mets rally just fell short. It was a wild ride and the Mets came very close to tying the game and potentially winning it. It wasn’t pretty, but it works. The Mets finished with 6 runs, 7 hits and 2 errors.
The bullpen wasn’t really all that bad but there were a few defensive hiccups that made things hard for AJ Ramos in the 8th. Before Ramos came in, Familia and Blevins both threw scoreless innings keeping the score at 3-0. Ramos came in for the 8th and gave up a leadoff single that would end up at 3rd after an error by Plawecki who was trying to throw the runner out at 2nd. Campbell would double and score a run making it 4-0. A sac bunt and a double would make it 5-0, An error by Guillorme would score another run making it 6-0. Ramos wasn’t perfect but he didn’t get any breaks from his defense either. Ramos would have 1 Inning Pitch, 3 hits, 3 runs (2 earned) and now he has a 5.87 ERA. Purke came in for the 9th and give up 2 hits, a walk and a run over his 1 inning and now sports a 3.65 ERA.
Honestly the game was very frustrating to watch, there were 11 runners left on base and they went 1 for 7 with Runners in Scoring Position. A trend that NEEDS to stop. I can’t stress that enough. Harvey was impressive despite his rough 3rd inning. Like I said it wasn’t a pretty game, but it got entertaining in the 8th and 9th innings with all the walks and possible rally. I know this has been a very short post about the game, but I am completely burnt out from writing and this game was a lot to handle.
Well, there it is. Week 2 of Spring Training reviewed and recapped. This turned into a longer post than I had anticipated but I supposed that’s what happens when you review a week worth of baseball games. It’s unfortunate that so many of these games ended in losses for the Mets but let’s just hope that they can turn it around by the time the regular season starts. Thanks for reading and I’ll talk to you soon. As always, leave a comment below, reach out to me on twitter @Keiths_Mustache or send me an email at KeithsMustacheBlog@gmail.com