Another week of Spring Training is officially in the books and that puts us even closer to Opening Day. There are only THREE more games left of Spring Training before the boys get some rest and prepare for Opening Day back in New York. But before all that, we’ve got some games to recap. BUT, even before that I have a couple of things to address. So, my computer decided to really screw up my week and wouldn’t start up at all last week and in a fit of rage I deleted the entire Operating System which got rid of every file I had on my computer. I had nothing backed up, and so now I’m stuck without the original PSD file for my headers, logos and all other graphics. But as I’m writing this, I’m expecting a drawing tablet in the mail and I was planning on touching up the logo anyway, but now I’ll be restarting it from scratch. So, if in the next few days (or by the time this post is published) I have a new logo and some changes to my graphics, it’s all thanks to my computer and my short temper. Now, with that out of the way, let’s take a look at this week in Met’s Spring Training.
March 16th, 2018: Baltimore Orioles @ New York Mets (deGrom vs Cashner)
Jacob deGrom was going to take the mound for his 2nd start of the Spring Training season and he would be taking on Andrew Cashner (Who is the only Oriole allowed to have a beard.) With starters going longer into games, deGrom was looking to pick up where he left off in his last start and “deGrominate” the Orioles. And at the same time, the Mets were looking to snap a 6-game losing streak. Wins and losses don’t really matter in Spring Training as long as the boys are looking good out there, so let’s take a look and see if they did.
deGrom was in mid-season form for this game. It was almost unfair for the Orioles, I don’t think they were expecting Jacob deGrom, who was making just his 2nd start of Spring Training to be as good as he was. But, you can never sleep on deGrom and he racked up a bunch of strikeouts over his 5 innings of work. He started the day by getting a couple of ground outs and then striking out the Orioles All-Star, Manny Machado. One strikeout wasn’t enough for deGrom though as he struck out the side in order for the 2nd inning. Like I said…it was mid-season deGrom. Rolling into the 3rd, deGrom got a ground out and gave up a base hit to Hays who would steal a base after deGrom struck out another batter. Spoiler, it would be the only hit deGrom would give up. The stolen base didn’t harm deGrom as he just decided he’d strike out the next batter. The top of the 4th continued the trend, deGrom would strike out ANOTHER batter, get a ground out and a line out. But before I go any further, I need to address the line out. Amed Rosario leapt ridiculously high to get the line drive and record the 3rd out. I really implore that if you haven’t seen it already, you make sure you watch it. Rosario continues to prove his defensive improvements. deGrom’s last inning of work was in the 5th where he sent down the side in order with a line out, ground out and another strike out. He’d hand the ball off to the bullpen, but he was very impressive. Needing only 55 pitches, deGrom went 5 Innings, allowing only 1 hit, no runs, no walks and struck out 8 in the process. Over his 7.2 innings pitched this spring, he’s sporting a 2.35 ERA. But all numbers and statistics aside, deGrom looks absolutely brilliant thus far. While he might not be ready for Opening Day, he proved last season that he deserves it and if he had been able to pitch this entire Spring, he’d absolutely be Opening for the Mets. Great performance by deGrom and hopefully there will be another start before the boys pack it up for New York.
I’m going to change the format up a little bit here, I think it makes more sense to talk about the bullpen after I discuss the starting pitchers and then talk about the offense. So, after deGrom went his 5-scoreless innings, the ball was handed to Robert Gsellman who was making his 3rd appearance out of the bullpen. Gsellman wouldn’t have the same success that deGrom did though, after striking out the first batter and getting a ground out from the next, he gave up a home run which rattled him a bit as he walked the next batter. Machado would smack a double to score another run before Gsellman could get another ground out to retire the side. It wasn’t the best performance from Gsellman, but he’s been pretty decent most of the spring that looking past this one less than stellar outing isn’t very difficult. After Gsellman was done, it was time for some Lugomania as Seth Lugo took the mound. Giving up a leadoff double, Lugo worked around it by striking out the next 2 batters and getting a ground out to keep the score where it was. Lugo continues to impress out of the bullpen and if he doesn’t get the 5th spot in the rotation, (with Vargas down for 1-2 months) he can be an effective piece out of the Mets’ bullpen. After Lugo exited, Paul Sewald came in and looked to impress some more out of the bullpen. He had a scoreless inning, walking 1 and getting 1 strike out. Sewald has been a key piece of the Met’s bullpen and continues to impress during Spring Training. He has a 1.93 ERA to go along with 9.1 Innings of work over 8 games. Sewald has already locked himself a spot in the bullpen but he continues to prove that he is someone who can and should be called on. Jacob Rhame would get the ball for the 9th inning and was tasked with keeping the game tied for the Mets before they came to bat in the bottom of the inning. Rhame gave up a 1-out single, followed by a 2-run homerun to give the Orioles the lead in the 9th. Rhame has a 4.50 ERA over 8 innings of work and while he hasn’t exactly been a disappointment, I don’t think he’s made a strong enough case for himself to be a part of the MLB roster just yet. The bullpen ultimately gave up 4 runs after their starter went 5 strong scoreless innings. If the offense hadn’t been able to pick it up I’d be a lot angrier in this writing, but luckily the bats were able to avoid a loss.
The Mets’ offense was good, it wasn’t great. There were still 5 men left on base and they went 2 for 8 with runners in scoring position, but it was good enough to avoid a loss. Other than the scoring runs, Adrian Gonzalez went 1 for 4 with a single in the bottom of the 1st. Reyes hit a double in the bottom of the 2nd, Lagares actually hit the ball going 1 for 4. Rosario went 0 for 4 but made up for it with his wonderful defense. d’Arnaud also went 0 for 3. But, onto the scoring and the good things. The Mets struck first when Cabrera doubled, and was driven in on a single by Bruce making the score 1-0 in the bottom of the 3rd. Cabrera would tie the game in the bottom of the 9th with a 1-out Homerun, tying the game at 2 runs apiece. In the bottom of the 9th, the Mets were down by 2 runs and looking to avoid another loss. Frazier drew a leadoff walk and Lobaton would reach base via an error. With 2 men on and 1-out, Ty Kelly came in to pinch run for Lobaton and Guillorme was brought in to pinch run for Frazier. Philip Evans it a double that scored a run, putting the Mets within a run of tying the game. Rosario struck out which left the Mets with the winning run on 2nd and 2-out. With Juan Lagares up to bat, the Mets NEEDED him to come through…or so they thought. Instead, a wild pitch was thrown, and Ty Kelly was able to score from 3rd, tying the game at 4 apiece. Lagares ended up grounding out, leaving the winning run on 3rd. But a loss was avoided which is what matters in the end.
The Mets had 7 hits and 1 error and were able to score the 2 runs they needed to avoid a loss. If it was a regular season game they’d go into extra innings and who knows what would have happened. But at the end of the day, it was a fun game to watch and deGrom looked phenomenal in his performance, proving that he’s still capable of “deGrominating.”
March 17th, 2018: New York Mets @ Washington Nationals (Griffin vs Roark)
Would the luck of the Irish be on the side of the Mets for their next encounter with Division Rivals, or would they fall to them once again? Luckily, they didn’t have to worry about Scherzer which is always a good thing. AJ Griffin was making his first start for the Mets and the Mets were looking to get to winning some games after snapping a losing streak with a tie last game. Let’s take a look at what happened.
So, AJ Griffin only went 1.1 Innings, so there really isn’t much to cover when it comes to starting pitching. But for the sake of consistency, we’ll follow the same template as last time. AJ Griffin gave up a leadoff single to Bryce Harper but retired the next 2 batters with a line out and a pop out. He’d give up another single, this time to Miguel Montero but he struck out Taylor to get out of the inning without any runs scoring. In the bottom of the 2nd he was given a lead to work with but gave up a leadoff home run, followed by a double and single that scored another run. And that was it for AJ Griffin. Like I said, there really isn’t much to talk about as it relates to Starting Pitching. Truthfully, I don’t see why the Mets picked up Griffin, he’s 30 years old and made his MLB debut in 2012. He has a 34-21 Win/Loss record, but a lifetime 4.34 ERA and he is unlikely to make the Opening Day roster. I suppose he can hang around AAA in case the Mets are in need of a Starting Pitcher, but if this is a preview of what he’d offer then maybe we’re better off without it.
Rafael Montero was called in for damage control…which doesn’t exactly make much sense. But all things considered he got out of the inning without letting any of the inherited runners score. This was only the 2nd inning though, meaning there was still plenty of time to disappoint me. In the bottom of the 3rd, Montero gave up a leadoff homerun which tied the game. Fantastic. He gave up a 1-out single, allowed a stolen base which ended with the runner advancing to 3rd on a bad throw by Lobaton. Montero struck out the next batter and got a ground out to retire the side without allowing any other runs to come across. All things considered, he worked in and out of trouble nicely, despite the homerun. The bottom of the 4th saw Montero retire the side in order. Yeah, you read that correctly. Rafael Montero had a clean inning that consisted of 2 strike outs. Montero either had the luck of the Irish on his side or he knows he has to do a complete 180 if he wants to keep his job. Either way, he pitched 2.2 Innings, allowed 2 hits, 1 run and struck out 3. Impressive. Anthony Swarzak would make his return to the mound and had himself a scoreless 5th inning. It’s good to see (or hear/read since the game wasn’t on TV) Swarzak back on the mound, he was one of the guys who was injured early in the season but it’s good to see it wasn’t anything too serious and he was able to return to the mound quickly and efficiently. Okay, so remember when I said Montero had a 1-2-3 inning and I was blown away? Hansel Robles had a 1-2-3 inning in the 6th and that’s when I knew the entire team was blessed with some sort of leprechaun luck. Those green hats were working some magic. Robles struck out the side in order and I thought we were finally seeing some consistency from Robles. Sadly, the magical green hats could only do so much because Robles would return to being Robles in the next inning. After striking out Victor Robles (no relation) he gave off a double to Wilmer Difo but the bases were cleared when Tomas Nido picked him off when he was trying to steal 3rd. With 2-out, Robles should have gotten out of the inning, but he walked a batter, threw a wild pitch that advanced the runner to 2nd, walked another batter and then gave up a home run that gave the Nationals the lead. It was nice while it lasted but Robles couldn’t help himself from imploding. Going 2 innings, he gave up 2 hits, 3 runs and 2 walks. He struck out 4 which was nice to see but it wasn’t enough to sour his performance. Robles is a guy that has a lot of potential, but he can’t seem to lock it down when it matters most and for that, I don’t think he should be on the Opening Day roster. Up next was Drew Smith who had himself a scoreless inning, allowing 1 hit and striking out 1. Corey Taylor was brought in to preserve the Mets’ lead for the 9th inning but was greeted with a leadoff triple. He got a pop out but walked the next batter and then let up a single. Thankfully he got a double play and was able to get the win anyway. He went 1 inning pitched, allowed 2 hits, 1 run and 1 walk. Overall, the bullpen wasn’t terrible, but it wasn’t anything special. In total they allowed 5 runs after Griffin allowed the first 2 runs. If it were a Major League game that would be concerning but because it’s Spring Training, it is what it is.
Despite the 7 runs allowed by the Mets, their offense was able to score just a little bit more to get the win. Their bats came alive with 13 hits and 9 runs in the game. They went 3 for 8 with RISP and left 8 men on base. The scoring got started in the top of the 2nd when Cabrera hit a double and was then moved to 3rd on a fly out by Flores. Lobaton and Evans both drew walks to load the bases. A wild pitch by Cabrera scored the 1st run of the game. Guillorme would then draw a walk of his own to reload the bases. Nimmo got on base via an error that scored Lobaton and Evans making it 3-0 New York. Bruce then hit a double and Guillorme was looking to score the 4th run but was thrown out at the plate. Adrian Gonzalez grounded out to stop the bleeding for poor Roark who was getting his ti—uhm…who was getting lit up. After the game had been tied in the 3rd, Flores would break the tie with a 2-out 2-run homer to make it 5-3 New York. After the aforementioned Robles explosion that put the Nationals back in front, the Mets would tie the game in the 8th inning off a couple of singles. Flores and Evans would hit singles and another single by Nido would drive in the Mets’ 6th run, tying the game. A sacrifice bunt by Guillorme would score another runner making it 7-6 New York. Since the game wasn’t televised there isn’t any video of that sacrifice bunt, but I’d love to see it because it’s not often you see a team like the Mets rely on a bunt to score a run, so it’s refreshing to see. After a walk to Biondi via a wild pitch (that advanced Nido to 3rd) would have runners on the corners with no one out. Biondi would swipe second and then be driven in on a single by den Dekker who scored both Nido and Biondi making it 9-6 New York. den Dekker would swipe a base himself after a strikeout, and then a fly out by Ty Kelly would retire the side but the damage was done, and the Mets were back in front. It’d be all they needed to win the game outhitting the Nationals 13 to 12 with a final score of 9 to 7.
It was a fun game to get updates for and I wish it was televised because it sounds like it had some very interesting moments (including that sac bunt. SERIOUSLY SOMEONE GET VIDEO OF THAT FOR ME PLEASE.) The Mets are back in the win column despite a less than stellar performance by AJ Griffin and an implosion by Hansel Robles.
March 18th, 2018: New York Mets @ Baltimore Orioles (Syndergaard vs Bundy)
The Mets and the Orioles would meet for the 2nd time this Spring and look to continue staying out of the loss column. After tying the Orioles last time out, the Mets’ ace Noah Syndergaard would take the mound to battle a pretty fierce Baltimore lineup. Could Thor and the boys put another tally in the win column? Well, you know the drill by now. It’s time to look at what happened.
Unlike the Mets’ last game, there is a lot to talk about when it comes to the starting pitching. To put it simply, Noah Syndergaard was absolutely dominant on the mound and had the longest outing of a Mets’ pitcher so far this spring. What could possibly be his final start of the Spring, Noah showed everyone that he’s ready for Opening Day and the regular season. His pitch limit was going to be 95 for the day, but he only needed 85 to get through 7 innings of work. His pitches were absolutely disgusting and left a lot of batters confused at the plate. He had a 1-2-3 bottom of the 1st getting a couple of ground outs and a line out. He got his first strikeout in the bottom of the 2nd, but also allowed his 1st hit, a 2-out single to Colby Rasmus. He quickly worked around it getting a fly out and retiring the side. The only blemish on Syndergaard’s line came in the bottom of the 3rd when he gave up the only run he’d allow. After a leadoff single, the runner (Mullins) would steal 2nd base (He needs to control the running game.) After striking out the next batter he gave up another single that plated Mullins putting the Orioles on the board. Syndergaard got out of the inning with a double play ball. The bottom of the 4th continued the trend of dominance, despite a 1-out single. Beckham hit a leadoff single off of Syndergaard in the 5th inning and tried doing what Mullins did and swipe 2nd, but this time d’Arnaud saw it and picked him off with a nice throw to Rosario. Catching runners trying to steal makes me very happy and I’m glad to see Travis getting in on it too. Syndergaard gave up 2 1-out singles in the 6th but with 2 strikeouts and a fly out, he avoided anyone crossing the plate. In Syndergaard’s final inning of work, he struck out Rasmus on a NASTY slider, got a ground out before giving up a 2-out single to Mullins who swiped his 2nd base of the day but was stranded after a fly out. Syndergaard went 7 Innings, giving up 8 hits, 1 run and striking out 5 all while only throwing 85 pitches. Syndergaard’s health was questioned after the lat injury he suffered last season, but he’s proved this spring that he is just as dominant as he was. A beautiful outing by Noah who used all of his pitches to dominate the Orioles.
After Syndergaard finally left the game, the ball was handed off to Seth Lugo. Unfortunately, it was not Lugomania time. BUT, like I said with Nimmo, even Babe Ruth had off days. Lugo gave up a leadoff single (although it should have been a strikeout, but the umpire didn’t give him the call he was looking for.) He struck out the next batter but allowed a stolen base in the process, but the runner would advance to 3rd on a throwing error by Nido. Another single would plate the 2nd run of the day for the Orioles. Valencia then came up to the plate and smacked a home run to put the Orioles within a run of the Mets. Lugo got 2 more strikeouts and got out of the inning with the lead still intact, though it wasn’t his most impressive outing. Gsellman was brought in for the 9th inning. He was greeted with a leadoff double by Hays who was quickly moved to 3rd thanks to a ground out. Gsellman struck out Santander, walked Gentry but struck out Schoop to end the game and get the save for the Mets. Lugo went 1 inning with 3 hits, 3 runs and 3 strikeouts. Gsellman went 1 inning with 1 hit, no runs, 2 strikeouts and 1 walk. Despite the hiccup by Lugo, there really wasn’t much to be said about the bullpen since Syndergaard took care of most of the game himself.
The Mets offense was able to get an early lead and build on it throughout the game giving their pitchers a lead to work with. Travis d’Arnaud got the scoring started in the top of the 2nd with a homerun to center field giving the Mets a 1-0 lead. In the top of the 3rd, den Dekker hit a triple and was plated with a single by Brandon Nimmo putting the lead at 2-0 New York. Reyes was hit by a pitch and then a wild pitch put men on 2nd and 3rd with 1-out. After Flores struck out, d’Arnaud hit a 2-out, 2-run double furthering their lead to 4-0. The top of the 5th didn’t see any scoring but Reyes stole his 4th base of the Spring which is great to see that he’s still got enough speed to swipe some bases. Lobaton hit a single in the 6th inning and moved to 2nd on a 2-out passed ball. Rosario would single and Lobaton would score giving the Mets their 5th run of the game. That would be all the Mets would need to get the win. 5 runs on 8 hits. They left 6 men on base and went 3 for 8 with RISP. Other than the scoring runs, Flores and Lagares had singles as well. It was a great showing by d’Arnaud who drove in 2 of the 5 runs for the Mets AND picked off a runner. Hopefully d’Arnaud can carry these impressive performances over to the regular season with him.
Syndergaard stole the show during the game, which is usually the case when he’s on the mound. The hits he did allow were scattered around enough to avoid no more than 1 run from scoring. d’Arnaud looked great, Reyes showed off his speed, den Dekker showed his wheels as well with a triple. It was a good showing all around and the Mets were able to get another win. All good things.
March 19th, 2018: New York Mets @ Houston Astros (Matz vs Verlander)
For what feels like the 100th time, the Mets would face off against the defending World Series Champions, the Houston Astros. They’d meet their ace, Justin Verlander who was looking to continue his Spring dominance. Taking the mound for the Mets was Steven Matz who was still looking to earn his spot in the rotation especially with the news of Jason Vargas having surgery that would keep him away from the game for 1-2 months. The Mets were looking to keep their winning streak (2 games…but a streak nonetheless) alive. So, let’s see what happened.
Steven Matz was pitching with a purpose, much like he was last time he took the mound. Now with Jason Vargas down, Matz was looking to reassure his skipper that he is ready to step up and be the great pitcher he could be. He would retire the first 3 batters; Springer, Bregman and Altuve in order via groundouts and looked to be off to a good start. The bottom of the 2nd was not the inning Matz was hoping for as he gave up a leadoff homer to Carlos Correa giving the Astros an early lead. After recording an out, Josh Reddick hit a double and would steal 3rd with 2 outs. Matz struck out the next batter to get out of the inning without allowing anymore runs. Looking to get back on track in the bottom of the 3rd, Matz struck out McCan, got a lineout from Springer but Alex Bregman would hit a double to get a man in scoring position with 2 away in the inning. Jose Altuve would come up to the plate and hit a single that scored Bregman making it 2-0 for the Astros. Matz struck out Correa to end the inning but it wasn’t looking good for him thus far this start. But Matz would bounce back in the bottom of the 4th setting the side down in order with a fly out and 2 ground outs. The 3rd out was a groundout that bounced over Matz’s head but handled by Guillorme who launched a leaping throw to get the out. It was a great play by Guillorme who continues to impress in Spring. Matz would then strikeout the side in the bottom of the 5th looking to bounce back in a dominant way after giving up the 2 early runs. Matz came back on the mound for the 6th despite a pitch count around the 75 mark. He struck out Bregman and Altuve back to back to start the inning but gave up a double to Correa. Matz quickly put it to rest though by striking out Marwin Gonzalez to end his day. Much like his last outing, Matz got hit early but bounced back and didn’t let it get to him. He went 6 Innings, giving up 5 hits, 2 runs and striking out NINE. The bounce back was incredible and Matz striking out such a dominant lineup was impressive and refreshing to see. He seemed confident on the mound and didn’t let the early 2 runs get to him. If Matz can continue to perform like this, the Mets rotation will be even more dangerous than originally advertised.
Matz exited the game and Callaway would turn to Jerry Blevins to start off the 7th inning. Tony Kemp would hit a leadoff single but would end up on 2nd due to a throwing error by Cecchini. Blevins would get Gattis to pop out for the 1st out before handing the ball off to AJ Ramos who was brought in to get the next 2 outs. Kemp would get picked off trying to steal 3rd by Plawecki who threw the ball to Frazier to get the 2nd out. Ramos would walk Marisnick who was pinch ran for by Jacob Meyers. With the next batter at the plate, Plawecki would pick off Meyers at 1st with a throw to Gonzalez. Ramos didn’t have to do much here, Plawecki got the 2 outs for him with some impressive pick offs. I love to see it. Anthony Swarzak was brought in for the 8th inning and gave up a leadoff single and a 1-out single before Familia would come in to get some work. Familia got the next 2 batters out with a force out and a ground out to retire the side. That was all for the bullpen. 3 hits between the 4 of them, and no runs. It was a good effort by them all (and Plawecki.) It’s always a good day when the bullpen can keep the team in the game and not allow any more runs to score.
While Steven Matz and the bullpen were able to keep the team in the game, the offense weren’t able to put together any runs. Going against Verlander is always a tough job but even then, they had 5 hits off of him but couldn’t string anything together to get on the board. So there really isn’t much to talk about on the offensive side but let’s run down what happened anyway. Cabrera started the game off with a single but was left on base when Cespedes and Bruce popped out and Gonzalez grounded out. Evans would have a 2-out single in the 2nd but was stranded when Lagares grounded out. Jay Bruce would hit a leadoff single to start the 4th and then stole 2nd base. Yup, Jay Bruce stole a base. I wasn’t aware that Bruce had really ever stolen bases before, but he’s got 62 total stolen bases but only 1 last season. I didn’t get to see the steal because of school but to steal a base off of Verlander and McCann…man Bruce is gutsy. But besides the effort, he was stranded when Gonzalez struck out, Frazier popped out and Plawecki struck out. The next chance for some scoring came in the 5th when Evans reached base again, this time via a walk but he was stranded when Lagares struck out and Guillorme grounded into a double play. Evans would reach base again with a single in the 7th but was once again stranded…wonderful. Guillorme would hit a single in the 8th and den Dekker would hit a 2-out double to put 2 men in scoring position, but they were stranded by Adrian Gonzalez who struck out. The Mets would look to rally in the 9th when Frazier hit a double and Evans would draw a 1-out walk BUT Lagares grounded into a double play to cut the rally short. The boys went 0-6 with RISP and left 8 men on base.
While the offense wasn’t able to score and help the team avoid the loss, it was a good outing by Steven Matz who continues to impress despite allowing the 2 runs to score early on. Plawecki had some good pickoffs which is great to see, Bruce is stealing bases apparently and Matz struck out 9 batters in 6 innings. All around, a good day despite taking the loss.
March 20th, 2018: New York Mets @ St. Louis Cardinals (Harvey vs Mayers)
The boys would take a short trip to Jupiter, Florida to face off against the St. Louis Cardinals for the first time this spring, the team they’ll face on Opening Day in Queens. While the pitching and lineups will be different, it was still a nice little preview of what we may see in the 3-game series. Matt Harvey would take the mound in hopes of continuing to impress his skipper and build confidence heading towards the regular season. At the same time, the offense would be looking to do what they failed to do the day before, drive in some runs to help their pitcher and get a win. I don’t even have to say it anymore but for routine’s sake, let’s take a look at what happened.
Harvey, much like Matz in the day prior was looking to build confidence in himself and in his skipper that he can be trusted to pitch a good game and help his team get a win. He’d be facing a pretty tough lineup in the Cardinals with guys like DeJong (who absolutely slaughtered the Mets a little after he made his Major League debut in July last season), Carpenter, Fowler, Pham and some other good hitters. He started off the day getting Dexter Fowler and Tommy Pham to strike out swinging before getting a fly out from Matt Carpenter. Not a bad way to get through the top of the lineup. The strikeouts would continue as he got Ozuna looking to start the 2nd but he issued a walk to Jose Martinez who swiped 2nd with Yadier Molina at the plate. Harvey would get Molina and DeJong to fly out to get out of the inning without allowing a run. Harvey allowed his 1st hit to Dexter Fowler in the bottom of the 3rd, a 2-out triple that smelled trouble for Harvey with Tommy Pham (who had a breakout season last year) at the plate. Thankfully he got Pham to ground out and kept Fowler from crossing the plate. The Cardinals would start gathering some hits off of Harvey after this though as Ozuna hit a 1-out double in the 4th inning and was moved to 3rd after Martinez hit a single. With 2 men in scoring position with only 1-out, Harvey got Molina to ground into a Double Play and keep the Cardinals off of the board for now. The offense would give Harvey a lead to work with heading into the bottom of the 5th but Paul DeJong hit a leadoff home run to tie the game. Harvey walked Wong but then picked him off at 1st base. I really, really, really love seeing Mets’ pitchers and catchers picking off runners. It brings much joy to my heart. After giving up a double to Pena, Harvey got Fowler to ground out and then struck out Pham to end the inning. Harvey’s last batter would come in the form of the 3x All-Star, Matt Carpenter to lead off the 6th inning. Harvey got Carpenter to hit a line out that was almost a hit but taken in by Lagares to help Harvey leave the game feeling confident in his performance. His line score was 5.1 Innings pitched, 5 hits, 1 run, 2 walks, 5 strikeouts and now sporting a 4.50 ERA over 20 Inning’s Pitched this spring. It wasn’t a brilliant performance, but it was good enough to keep his team in the game and give himself and Mickey Callaway something to be confident about as we draw closer to the regular season.
The ball was handed to Paul Sewald for the rest of the 6th inning but it wasn’t the performance we’ve grown accustom to seeing from Sewald. He gave up a single, a walk and then a triple to Voit that gave the Cardinals a 2-run lead over the Mets. A sac fly by DeJong would extend that lead before Sewald got a lineout and got out of the inning. Since this game wasn’t televised there’s no footage of what went wrong in this outing for Sewald, but Howie and Wayne mentioned on the radio broadcast that he was having trouble locating his slider which would explain the walk and the big hits off of him. Sewald would go 0.2 Innings pitched allowing 2 hits, 3 runs, 1 walk and now has a 4.50 ERA over 10 innings of work. Sewald has been very good out of the bullpen this spring and I’m not worried about this outing. There’s going to be times pitchers can’t locate the pitches they want to and as a result they may have a less than stellar outing. But the 1 or 2 “bad” outings Sewald has had this spring is nothing to worry about in my opinion. Jacob Rhame, who’s had a pretty good Spring (4 runs over 8 innings of work at this point) came in for the 7th inning and despite a leadoff double to Pena and then a single by Fowler, Rhame was able to escape trouble after getting Tommy Pham to ground into a double play and then getting a ground out from Mejia to escape trouble. Rhame now has a 4.00 ERA over his 9 innings of work and has been pretty impressive this spring. But now it’s time to take a complete 180 and talk about someone who has been anything but impressive this spring. Rafael Montero. Rafael Montero came in for the 8th inning and immediately got himself into trouble when he walked the first batter he faced, and then gave up a 1-out double to Munoz. That was all for Montero who was then replaced by someone who has been equally unimpressive, Hansel Robles. Robles gave up a sac fly that scored a run, a single by Wong, and then an error by Mazzilli would score another run putting the Cardinals within a run of tying the game. Fowler grounded out and Robles got out of the inning. Robles stayed on the mound for the 9th inning and gave up a leadoff double and then a sac bunt put the tying run on 3rd with 1-out. To my amazement, Robles struck out the next batter and got a ground out to earn the save. His line score; 1.2 Innings Pitched, 2 hits, 1 run and a 9.26 ERA over 11.2 Innings of work this spring. So, as I’m writing this, Rafael Montero was reported to have torn his UCL (not sure when) and is going to require Tommy John surgery which means any hopes of trading him are now out the window. And while the Mets will have to pay him, at least he won’t be infecting the bullpen this year (fingers crossed.) That’s harsh, I hate to see ANYBODY go down with an injury and I wish him a speedy recovery but I’m also not losing sleep over him not being able to pitch for the Mets this season. As it relates to Robles, his ERA is more than double Jacob Rhame’s with only 2.2 more innings pitched this spring which makes me think, why would the Mets waste a roster spot on someone like Robles who has had a terrible spring when they could give the spot to someone like Rhame who has been able to get out of trouble and keep his ERA relatively low? Either way, rough outing by the bullpen this game but thankfully the offense helped them get the win.
The bats came alive and did what they didn’t do last game and that was score runs. The Mets didn’t get anybody on base until Mayers was replaced by Arias in the 3rd inning. Rosario would hit a 1-out single and move to 2nd on a ground out by Harvey. He was driven in on a single by Brandon Nimmo giving the Mets an early 1-0 lead. Cespedes got a leadoff walk in the 6th but was picked off at 1st (I don’t know what happened here, no television, no footage, no clue.) With the bases empty, Adrian Gonzalez smacked a home run to left field to give the Mets’ a 2-1 lead. Reyes then kept the inning alive with a 2-out single and would steal his 5th base of the spring with d’Arnaud at the plate. d’Arnaud would strike out to end the inning but Reyes continues to show that he’s got speed still. It’s worth noting that Molina was out of the game at this point though. When the Mets came to bat in the 7th inning, they were now down by 2 runs and were looking to get them back and stay in the game. Rosario would hit a 1-out single and then Wilmer Flores was brought in to pinch hit in the pitcher spot to face Guilmet…a right-handed pitcher. Everyone knows what Wilmer did to right handed pitchers last season and he continued the trend by smacking a 2-run home run off of him to tie the game at 4 apiece. The scoring would continue in the 8th inning after Gonzalez drew a leadoff walk. He was pinch ran for by Phillip Evans. A throwing error while attempting to pick off Evans would have him end up on 3rd base with 1-out. Reyes would hit a single to score Evans and give the Mets a 5-4 lead. Travis d’Arnaud came to the plate and hit a 2-run homer to extend the lead to 7-4. Lagares hit a single and then steal 2nd to get in scoring position. Rosario hit a triple to plate Lagares and make it 8-4. Rosario would get thrown out at home on a fielder’s choice, and then Biondi would strikeout to end the inning, but the Mets had taken the lead. The boys were unable to build on their lead (which was now trimmed to 1 run) in the top of the 9th but thankfully the 4-run 8th inning was enough for them to win the game. All of the starters except for Frazier and Plawecki reached base in some form or fashion. Cespedes went 0 for 2 but drew 2 walks. Nimmo went 1 for 4 with an RBI, Gonzalez went 1 for 3 with an RBI and a walk, Reyes went 2 for 4 with an RBI, Lagares went 2 for 4, Rosario went 3 for 4 with an RBI. Overall, they had 8 runs off 11 hits. They went 3 for 8 with RISP and left 5 men on base.
It was a good showing by the Mets and refreshing to see them get on base and score some runs to keep help their pitchers out. Everyone looked good except for the bullpen (minus Rhame.) Harvey had a good outing and looks impressive as we get closer to the regular season. The bats looked good, Flores proves to be good in the clutch, Rosario continues to show his worth, Reyes is showing he still has a lot to offer and Lagares is getting on base. All around a good game for the Mets as they get to put another tally in the win column making them 8-16 on the Spring Training season.
March 22nd, 2018: Washington Nationals @ New York Mets (Wheeler vs Roark)
The Mets look to get the last laugh against their Division Rivals, the Washington Nationals in their last encounter before the beginning of the regular season. Zack Wheeler takes the mound and hopes to put his last outing (which was also against the Nationals) out of mind and get a win. At the same time, the bullpen looks for a bounce back after a disappointing outing last game. The bats are also looking to stay hot as they have to compete with a hard-hitting National’s lineup. Let’s look at what happened (God, I’m so tired of seeing myself type that.)
Wheeler would have a typical Wheeler start, terrible. That sounds harsh and I have nothing personal against Wheeler, he seems like he’s trying his best but it’s not enough. Not everything that happened was his fault, but we’ll get to that. So, to start the game Wheeler got a fly out from Difo but then gave up a single to Howie Kendrick. Rendon would reach on an error by Todd Frazier. We’ll get back to that error at the end of Wheeler’s outing. Wieters would then single and drive in the 1st run of the game. Now, here is where things got confusing for me and I’m going to try my best to explain and understand it. Taylor laid down a sac bunt but for whatever reason, there was no one covering 1st base so instead of it being a sac bunt, it just became an RBI bunt single. I don’t know if they were in the shift and it didn’t sound like the broadcasters knew either. Regardless, the 2nd run scored, and things were looking bad. Raburn would ground into a double play ball and Wheeler would exit the inning. And then we get to the 2nd inning. Wheeler would start off with a strike out which was good, but then gave up a double to Roark. Yes, Roark the pitcher. Difo would then single and have men on the corners with 1 out. Kendrick would then reach on a force attempt. Rosario got the error on a throw to Cabrera that wasn’t playable, and another run would score with still only 1 out and it was 4-0 Washington. Rendon then singled, and another run would score but a bad throw by Nimmo would get Rendon to 2nd and Kendrick to 3rd. Another error for the Mets. Wheeler struck out the next 2 batters and that would be it for the 2nd inning and for his outing in general. Wheeler went 2 Innings, gave up 7 hits, 5 runs (3 of them earned) and had 3 strike outs over 58 pitches and now sports an 8.10 ERA over his 8 innings of work this spring. Okay, so like I said it wasn’t ALL Wheeler’s fault. There was a lot of sloppy defense on the Mets’ end. Frazier and Rosario both rushed their plays and resulted in errors. Nimmo on the other hand NEEDS to hit the cutoff man when he throws a ball back in. He doesn’t have the arm power like his other outfielders for him to try and skip the cutoff man and just throw the ball in himself. It just results in a wild throw and runners advancing when they should not be. But besides the defensive errors, Wheeler still couldn’t record outs when he needed to. He still couldn’t keep his pitch count low and honestly at this point, what does he bring to the table for the Mets? Does he get a spot in the rotation just because he’s been a Met longer than guys like Lugo and Gsellman? He isn’t capable of being a starting pitcher for a team seeking a postseason run and I don’t think he has any role in the bullpen at this point either. I don’t see how or why they’d let him get a start during the regular season when his performances have been this poor during Spring TRAINING. Sorry, my rant is over but it’s very frustrating.
But hope was not lost just yet because Seth Lugo would warm up throughout the 2nd inning and take over in the 3rd. It was Lugomania time brother. Lugo gave up a leadoff single although I think it was more of an error on Rosario’s part, but regardless a man reached 1st. Lugo would get a fly out, a ground out and a fielder’s choice to end the inning in short order. But before I go to the next inning, Nimmo again had a wild throw back in on the fly out. Cutoff man Brandon, cutoff man. Lugo struck out Eaton and Kendrick to start the 4th before giving up a double to Rendon but got a line out from Wieters to end the inning, all while only throwing 22 pitches, 19 of them for strikes. Coming back out for the 5th inning Lugo would get Taylor to ground out, Raburn to strike out, he’d work around a 2-out walk issued to Brignac when he struck out Stevenson. Lugo stayed in for the 6th inning where he struck out Difo and got two ground outs to get out of the inning and end his outing with an impressive line score. 4 innings pitched, 2 hits, 0 runs, 1 walk and 5 strike outs while only throwing 47 pitches. Lugo truly solidified himself as a real candidate for the 5th spot in the rotation after Wheeler proved he can’t be trusted. After Lugo, Sewald came in and had a quick inning of work giving up 1 hit and nothing else. Jacob Rhame would take over in the 8th getting 3 quick outs himself, 1 strike out, a ground out and a foul out. Robert Gsellman took over in the 9th inning and got the save after working around 2 singles with a force out and a double play. Great showing from the bullpen, and Lugo is more than likely going to end up in the rotation after tonight’s performance.
So, let’s talk about the offense. I was hoping for a simple game to write about since it’s a late one and I want to get this on the site as soon as possible but the Mets pulled a fast one on me and lit Roark up. Cespedes hit a double in the 1st but was left stranded and the side went down in order in the 2nd. Nido hit a leadoff single in the 3rd but was left after a double play. The 4th inning though…oh the fourth inning. The Mets were down 5-0 at the start of the inning but quickly turned that around. Cespedes started it off with a leadoff homer to put the Mets on the board. Jay Bruce would then draw a walk and advance to 2nd on a single by Frazier. Cabrera flew out for the 1st out but a single by Gonzalez would score Bruce making it 2-5. Amed Rosario would get hit by a pitch and take a base to load them up for Nido who hit a single to drive in another run and put the Mets within 2. Seth Lugo then came up to bat and he hit a single to drive in the tying runs! The inning wasn’t over though, Nimmo would double to score Nido and make it 6-5 New York. Cespedes would hit a sac fly to score another run and then Bruce hit a 2-out, 2-run homer to make it 9-5 New York. Frazier was hit by a pitch before Cabrera popped out for the 3rd out. But the Mets had batted around and put up a 9 spot in the 4th inning. No scoring in the 5th but Rosario did double and steal 3rd to show off his speed and base stealing abilities. The scoring would resume in the 6th as Nimmo hit a leadoff single before Cespedes hit a 2-run homer to make it 11-5!! Todd Frazier hit a 1-out homer to make it 12-5 now! Gonzalez singled again as well. And that was all the Mets would need to beat the Nationals. It was a fantastic showing by the Mets. They scored 12 runs on 15 hits and worked around their 3 errors. Nimmo went 3 for 5 with an RBI, Cespedes went 3 for 3 with 4 RBIs, Bruce went 1 for 2 with 2 RBIs, Frazier went 2 for 3 with 2 RBIs of his own, Gonzalez went 2 for 4 with an RBI, Rosario 1 for 3, Nido 2 for 3, Lugo 1 for 3 with 2 RBIs and Cabrera went 0 for 4 but that’s okay. Everyone looked great regardless of that 0 for 4.
What started as a miserable performance turned into one of the best showings this spring. It’s great to see Cespedes seeing the ball and smashing them out of the park. Lugo looked great and if he doesn’t get the spot in the rotation, I lose faith in humanity. But all in all, a good game and the guys are looking good, minus the few errors.
So, that’s all for this week. By the next post I’ll be talking about OPENING DAY! It’s going to be great. But I’ll probably do one final Spring Training review on Monday. So stay tuned and be sure to leave a comment below, follow me on twitter, send me an email and stay tuned for a new post!