From now on, I’m going to post on Thursdays doing a recap of games, covering Friday to Thursday. This week it’s going to be Monday to Thursday since I just posted on Sunday. But next week will be the proper start to the recapping series. I’m planning on doing game by game recaps and highlighting the things that stood out to me most. I’ve been keeping a handwritten log of each game (typically as they happen, although there will be a few instances when I have work or school, where I’ll have to go back and look at the box score and highlights.) But, for this week I’ve been able to record all the games as they happen in my trusty notebook and hopefully I can give you all a proper recap of this week in New York Mets’ baseball.
Monday March 5th 2018: Detroit Tigers @ New York Mets (Harvey vs Fiers)
We’ve got to start this game off by talking about Matt Harvey who so far this spring looks like the Harvey is getting back on track. In this outing, he went 3 Innings Pitched, 2 Hits, 0 Runs, 1 Walk and 1 Strikeout. There were some questionable calls by the home plate umpire Ben May. At one point during the 2nd inning with 2 outs and 2 strikes, he called a pitch by Harvey (that was clearly a strike) a ball. It wouldn’t lead to anything other than a few extra pitches being thrown, but Harvey was clearly displeased (as were all the umpires in the stands.) But Harvey looked confident as he recorded outs and if he can keep having these impressive outings and bring them over to the regular season, he could very well be on his way to having a comeback season.
Alright, spoiler alert…there is going to be a lot of Brandon Nimmo praise during these game recaps. But it’s not my fault, the kid is that damn good. Every time I think he’s impressed me as much as possible, he raises the bar and does it again. Hitting lead off, Nimmo smacked a home run to open the bottom half of the 1st inning, adding to his own stock and giving his pitcher a lead to work with. Following Nimmo’s home run, Reyes reached 2nd base on a fielding error but was thrown out trying to steal 3rd base. Flores would walk with 2 outs, and then Fiers would plunk Plawecki putting 2 men on base for Travis d’Arnaud. d’Arnaud smacked a double and scored Flores giving the Mets an early 2-0 lead. Flores would hit a double of his own in the bottom of the 3rd, continuing his trend of solid hitting against right handers.
In the bottom of the 7th inning, the Mets would add on to their lead when Jose Reyes hit a 2-out double to right field, scoring Brandon Nimmo (who walked earlier in the inning) and Patrick Biondi (who had a single of his own) giving the Mets a 4-0 lead over the Tigers. Offensively it was good to see the Mets score some runs on the long ball and coming through with runners in scoring position.
Now it’s time to talk about the bullpen’s performance in this game. Familia was the first guy out of the pen, replacing Matt Harvey in the top of the 4th inning. It was a solid appearance by Familia, despite giving up a single and walking a batter, he was able to record 3 outs without any blemishes. Familia is rarely ever lights out and he’s known to make Mets’ fans bite their finger nails while he flirts with giving up the lead or blowing a save, but he was able to work around any trouble which is what matters at the end of the day. Next up was AJ Ramos who along with Familia will likely be closing games this season (since Callaway has said he’s not locked in on having one closer) came in and threw a 1-2-3 bottom of the 5th. Paul Sewald, who was a pleasant surprise in the Mets’ bullpen last season came in during the bottom of the 6th and also had himself a 1-2-3 inning, recording a strikeout in the process. That was it for the guys who are locks for making the Opening Day roster and together they had 3 innings of scoreless baseball. Jacob Rhame who had a brief stint in the Majors at the end of last season made an appearance and worked around a 2 out single to keep the Tigers off the board in the 7th. Drew Smith would give up a couple of hits in the 9th inning, allowing the Tigers to score a run. Drew Gagnon came in to relieve Smith and despite a sac-fly, he was able to close out the game and get the win for the Mets with a final score of 4-2.
The Mets who hadn’t won a game since February 28th were able to get back in the win column thanks to some solid pitching by Matt Harvey and the bullpen, along with some big hits by guys like Nimmo, d’Arnaud and Reyes.
Tuesday March 6th 2018: Houston Astros @ New York Mets (Vargas vs McHugh)
Following an excellent pitching performance by Matt Harvey and the key players in the Mets’ bullpen, Jason Vargas was ready to take the mound against the Defending World Series’ Champions, the Houston Astros. For a Spring Training game, this one was a rollercoaster of a game.
Following the format of the last game, we’re going to talk about the Starting Pitcher’s performance. Vargas gave up a leadoff walk to World Series’ MVP George Spring, who was taking a pretty big lead off of first base. Vargas picked up on the lead and picked off Springer who was run down by Adrian Gonzalez. Granted, Springer didn’t bother putting up much of a race, it was still very refreshing to see a Mets pitcher control the base runners. Being unable to control baserunners has been an issue for Mets’ pitchers, most notably for the Mets’ ace Noah Syndergaard. So, seeing Vargas do it was a sigh of relief. And he wasn’t done there. In the 2nd inning, Vargas hit Derek Fisher with a pitch. The hit was actually pretty scary, bouncing off of his shoulder and then hitting his helmet, Vargas walked to the plate almost immediately. Thankfully Fisher was able to walk it off and took 1st base. J.D. Davis singled putting Fisher on 2nd. And while Vargas probably felt terrible about hitting Fisher, it wasn’t going to stop him from giving him the same treatment as everyone else. With Fisher taking a big lead off of 2nd base, Vargas PICKED HIM OFF TOO. Let me tell you guys something; I don’t think I’ve ever got so excited over pick offs in a game before. But I’ve grown so use to runners stealing bases off of our pitchers that seeing them get picked off is basically the equivalent of a walk-off (wink, wink.) Vargas ended up giving 2 runs in the 3rd, but he still had an impressive performance against a dominant line up in the Houston Astros.
It’s offense time and boy was there a lot of it. The Mets and Astros went back and forth time and time again in this game and it was awesome. The scoring started early too. Nimmo walked to get on base, Gonzalez smacked a double to right field that put Nimmo on 3rd. Bruce hit a pop fly and scored Nimmo giving the Mets a 1-0 lead early. In the 2nd, Cabrera reached on a fielding error, Flores got him to 2nd with a double and a groundout by d’Arnaud put both men in scoring position. Ty Kelly would also groundout, scoring Cabrera and giving the Mets a 2-0 lead. Like I said in the paragraph above, Vargas gave up 2 runs to the Astros, tying the game at 2 a piece. In the bottom of the 3rd, Cespedes hit a bomb off of McHugh to center field giving the Mets the lead once again at 3-2. The Astros tied the game again in the 4th (which will be discussed when I discuss the bullpen.) The Astros would take the lead in the 7th going up 4-3 but the Mets answered back quickly. Tomas Nido (who will also be talked about a little later on) smacked a leadoff home run to tie the game once again. BUT, the Astros answered back once more with some small ball, giving them a 5-4 lead. BUT WAIT, Luis Guillorme hit a single that scored Kevin Kaczmarski, tying the game at 5 a piece. The game remained tied heading into the bottom of the 9th. Would this game end in a tie like it did the last time they played the Astros, or would the Mets pull through and get the win? Andres Gimenez (who literally looks like he could be 12 years old) hit a 1-out single to get the offense started. Patrick Biondi followed it up with a single of his own putting the winning run in scoring position. A walk to Matt den Dekker loaded up the bases with only 1-out. Phillip Evans came up to the plate. The game was on the line, would he ground into a double play? Would he pop one up? What would happen? Well, Mr. Evans hit a fly ball to deep left center field, everyone thought it’d be a sac fly that would win the game (even the TV crew put up a camera of the runner on 3rd) but the ball would keep going, right over the wall. That’s right, a walk-off grand slam. Phillip Evans came through big time and won the game for the Mets. I was in class taking notes and watching the game on my phone in between PowerPoint slides and I almost had to excuse myself I was so blown away by it. But in the end I just tweeted “EVANS!!!!!” Which pretty much summed up my reaction.
Okay, so yeah we covered a lot of the offense but let’s take a moment to discuss the bullpen performance. Seth Lugo was the first one out of the bullpen, relieving Vargas in the 3rd. Lugo got the 3rd out with a ground ball that popped up and almost flew over Lugo’s head, but Lugo showed that he had “hops” and snagged it out of the air, threw it over to first base and got the out. Lugo pitched 3 and 1/3 innings, giving up 2 hits, 1 run, 1 walk and 2 Strike Outs. Despite the run, Lugomania was running wild all over the Houston Astros, BROTHER. Oh yeah, he also picked off a runner on 1st…maybe it was PICKOFFMANIA. After Lugo, Hansel Robles came in and well…he did what Hansel Robles sometimes does…giving up a leadoff home run to Kyle Tucker which gave the Astros the lead for the time being. But he got through the inning without any other blemishes thankfully. After Robles, Jamie Callahan came in and gave up a run, which gave the Astros the lead again. Tyler Bashlor came in for the 9th and was given the task of keeping the game tied. He gave up a 1-out walk to Michael Papierski who hadn’t learned from his other team mates and tried stealing 2nd base, but Tomas Nido THREW HIM OUT. The runners had no chance of getting passed the catchers and pitchers in this game. Honestly I think the pick offs and thrown out runners was my favorite part of the game. While Callahan and Bashlor likely won’t be on the Opening Day roster, Lugo and Robles likely will be. And with Lugo continuing to impress as a starter and out of the pen, he’s certaintly an arm that Mickey Callaway can count on. Robles has been fine up until this game and one home run isn’t going to make me turn sour on him…yet.
Wednesday March 7th 2018: New York Yankees @ New York Mets (Wheeler vs Germán)
It’s only March but we were given a very small preview of the Subway Series. Although a lot of the Yankee’s big bats were missing (Stanton, Judge and Sanchez) we were still treated to a great game of baseball. Sadly, though the Yankees would take this one and I don’t think I’ve ever been angrier at a Spring Training game in my life. But, we’ll get to that. Let’s start off with Zack Wheeler who is still trying to prove that he’s worthy of a spot in the rotation.
Wheeler who was making his 2nd start of the season, took the mound with a purpose. Attempting to prove that he was capable of being a reliable starter for skipper Mickey Callaway, Wheeler had his best outing this spring. Through his 4 innings of work, Wheeler gave up 4 hits but no runs and struck out 4 throwing 48 pitches in the process. Giving up a single in the first, two more in the 2nd and another in the 3rd, Wheeler worked around any serious trouble and looked good in the process, which gives Mets management a lot to consider on Wheeler’s future (although there is a lot of Spring Training left.)
Germán held the Mets without a hit until the 3rd inning when Cabrera hit a single that put d’Arnaud (who walked earlier in the inning) on second base with 2 away. Another walk was issued to Cespedes which filled the bases. Jay Bruce was able to reach base on an error by Yankee’s center fielder Estevan Florial. 2 runs would score in the process giving the Mets an early 2-0 lead. In the bottom of the 4th the Mets would tack on another run courtesy of a home run by Travis d’Arnaud giving the Mets a 3-1 lead. The next Mets’ run would come in the bottom of the 6th inning where Adrian Gonzalez got the inning started with a single. We were then introduced to Wilmer who pinch-ran for Gonzalez. (Keith was very happy to see Wilmer, saying his name in such a warm way that only he could do.) Reyes grounded out but avoided the Double Play by getting to 1st base. Phillip Evans would come in as a pinch-runner for Jose Reyes. Travis d’Arnaud stayed hot, hitting a single which got Phillips to 3rd on a fielding error. With 1-out and 2 men on, Juan Lagares grounded into a force out scoring Evans and reaching 1st. That would be all the scoring for the Mets and sadly…it wouldn’t be enough. And now it’s time to talk about why.
Alright, so after Wheeler, Robert Gsellman came in to pitch relief. Gsellman gave up an unearned run in the bottom of the 4th when a passed ball by d’Arnaud advanced Tyler Austin (who singled previously) to 3rd base. That would be the only run allowed while Gsellman was on the mound. With 3.2 Innings Pitched, Gsellman allowed 2 hits, 1 walk and 1 unearned run. Matt Purke came in during the 7th with 2 out. He gave up 2 singles and a walk, filling the bases but was able to work around it and got out of the inning without any runs scoring keeping the game at 4-1. And then the trouble started as Rafael Montero made his 3rd appearance of spring training. Coming out of the pen in the 8th, he was able to strike out the first batter he faced but gave up 3 singles to the next 3 batters he faced. With the bases loaded and only 1 out, he walked the next batter he faced trimming the Mets’ lead in half. A fielding error by Ty Kelly allowed another run to score, trimming the lead to only 1 run now. In came Corey Taylor who was on damage control. He got an out from Tyler Wade but then Billy McKinney hit a grand slam to right field giving the Yankees the lead at 7-4. The trouble didn’t stop there though, in came Kevin McGowan for the 9th inning. McGowan gave up a single, a double, another single which extended the Yankees’ lead to 8-4, a home run that cleared the bases and made it 11-4. Okay, so allow me to dive into the dissection of this absolute mess. I’ll start off with Rafael Montero. Rafael is out of minor league options, which means he either makes the Opening Day roster or he gets put on Waivers and any other team can pick him up. If Montero hasn’t been such a wreck in the past, I’d say give him the chance because who knows what’ll happen. But the fact is, Montero is 27 years old now and really serves no purpose to this club any longer. When he’s in the minor leagues he’s able to record outs and pound the strike zone. But when he’s in the Majors, he’s a mess. And with a club that has people like Robert Gsellman and Seth Lugo fighting for spots on the roster, it’d be a damn shame if they lost that chance to a pitcher like Montero. His lifetime MLB ERA is at 5.38 and his W/L record is 6-16. For a guy who madeh is MLB debut in 2014 and has been back and forth from the Mets and their minor league affiliates since, there’s no excuse for these kind of numbers. It’s time the Mets cut Montero loose and give his spot to someone more deserving. Another team can try their luck with him and if he ends up being an effective pitcher, great. But the Mets have enough effective pitchers right now and don’t need Montero. Okay, McGowan time now. McGowan was traded to the Mets during the Neil Walker trade earlier in the 2017 season. Over 8 games in the Majors he sports a 5.19 record over 8.2 Innings Pitched. McGowan is 26 and he’s also getting to a point where he needs to prove his worth or he’ll end up in the minors until he also runs out of options. McGowan luckily hasn’t had as many chances as Montero to prove himself which means he’s had less chances to disappoint. But so far this spring training, he’s been pretty disappointing. But hopefully he can shape up during the regular season in AAA and prove his worth.
Overall it was a tough loss and a tough game to watch after the trouble started. But through the trouble, Wheeler proved himself and so did Gsellman. Hopefully this isn’t a sign of things to come when the Mets and Yankees clash again during the regular season for the annual Subway Series.
Thursday March 8th 2018: New York Mets @ Washington Nationals (Syndergaard vs Strasburg)
From cross-town rivals to division rivals, the Mets squared off against the Washington Nationals earlier today (Thursday, when I’m writing this.) Noah Syndergaard made his 3rd start of the Spring Training season and was looking to continue his dominance from the past 2 starts and the bats looked to come alive after being out hit by the Yankees the day prior.
Noah Syndergaard took the mound once again and got 2 quick out on 2 pitches. Bryce Harper singled and then Noah threw a 4 pitch walk to Anthony Rendon. During the walk to Rendon, Harper stole 2nd base. Remember when I said earlier that the Mets need to be able to control runners? That is something Noah and whoever is catching for him should focus on. Runners take advantage of pitchers with a history of being unable to control their runners (e.g. Lester for the Cubs.) But Syndergaard got out of it unharmed. In the 2nd, he gave up a single, walked another and allowed another stolen base. But he struck out the next 3 batters getting him out of the inning unsaved. The strikes weren’t done yet as he struck out Turner, Harper and Rendon in order during the 3rd inning. Going for lucky number 7, Syndergaard stuck out Matt Adams to end his day on the mound. 3.1 Innings pitched, 2 hits, 2 walks and 7 strike outs. Not bad for a day’s work. Syndergaard hit 101 on the radar but kept his fastball in the high 90’s and relied on his off-speed pitches more. While this game wasn’t televised, Syndergaard continues to look dominant as he warms up for his likely Opening-Day start.
Remember when I said there’d be a lot of Nimmo praising? Well, here’s the rest of it. Nimmo hit a double in the top of the 3rd, scoring Thompson in the process (who singled, swiped a base and advanced to 3rd on a ground out earlier in the inning) giving the Mets an early 1-0 lead. Nimmo continues to produce for the Mets and is proving that he deserves a spot on the Opening Day roster and there’ll be more Nimmo to come. In the top of the 4th, Kevin Plawecki doubled and scored Cabrera, giving the Mets a 2-0 lead. Back to Nimmo, he led off the top of the 5th with a triple! I wish this game was televised because I’m sure he was smiling the entire way there. Bruce would get Nimmo in to score with a sac fly giving the Mets a 3-0 lead. Cespedes singled to continue the offense but a double play by Plawecki ended a bases loaded 5th inning for the Mets. Fast forwarding to the 8th inning now, the Mets were trailing the Nationals (which we will discuss in just a moment) but a single by Bornstein scored Guillorme, putting them within a run of the Nationals. Trailing once more in the 9th, the Mets tried their best to keep the offense coming and a ground out RBI by Nido made the score 5-8, but that was all the Mets had as they were unable to match the 8 runs put up by the Nationals.
Okay, so I said the Mets were trailing and now it’s time to discuss how that happened. After Syndergaard’s dominant outing, Jerry Blevins came in to finish the 4th inning and despite an error by Gonzalez, he was able to finish what Noah started and got the Mets out of the inning. It was in the 5th that things went south for the Mets as Familia entered the game. To this point, Familia had been pretty solid in his outings. This was not one of those games sadly. In the 5th he gave up a walk and a double which brought in a run. Another single would bring in another, and then a home run would give the Nationals the lead at 4-3. Coming out for more in the 6th, Familia gave up another home run making the score 3-5. 1.1 Innings Pitched, 4 Hits, 5 Earned Runs, 1 Walk and 2 Home runs put his ERA up to 8.44 which is not pretty for the man who is supposed to be the Mets’ closer. AJ Ramos came in to clean up the mess in the 6th and got a ground out and a strike out to end the inning. He also come back out for more work in the 7th, getting a pop up for the first out, he walked the next batter and allowed a single. But he was able to get out of the inning with a double play keeping the game at 3-5. Bautista came in during the 8th. I said last week I’ve been impressed with Bautista thus far but this was a pretty disappointing performance. Starting the inning with a single, he gave up a walk and another single allowing the Nationals to extend their lead to 4-7. A stolen base, followed by a throwing error by Nido made things worse as another single allowed the Nationals to score another run, making it a 4 run contest. 1.0 Innings pitched, 4 Hits, 3 earned runs, 2 walks and 2 strike outs brought the young flamethrower’s ERA to 6.35. Bautista’s performance isn’t too concerning since he’s still very young and won’t play a role in the majors this season (unless everything goes terribly wrong.) But Familia’s performance is a little startling since he’s likely going to be closing out games or at least setting up Ramos for a close (depending on which way Callaway wants to go.) Hopefully it was just a one game kind of thing and he’ll buckle down and get things under control by his next performance.
Overall there were some things to be impressed with in this game. First off, Noah Syndergaard is clearly ready to dominate and if he can strikeout 7 batters in 3 innings of work, imagine what he can do in 7 or 8 innings. Brandon Nimmo continues to impress going 3 for 5 at the plate with 1 RBI. And other than Bautista and Familia, the bullpen looked good with Blevins and Ramos both putting in good outings.
AND that’s the Mets’ week in review. A proper week in review that is. Like I said, next week will be a recap of Friday – Thursday and I’ll have a lot more to cover but I’ll be on Spring Break so I’ll be more than happy to sit in front of my TV and take notes to provide a good, quality post for everyone to read. In the meantime, let me know if you liked the way I explained the games. If you have any comments or suggestions, you can always email me at email@example.com or tweet at me @keiths_mustache , or leave a comment below. As always, thanks for reading folks and I’ll talk to you all soon.