Mets Game 59: Loss To Giants

Giants 5 Mets 0

Call me “Joe Jinx.”

Mets Game Notes

For the first time in about a week, I decided to sit down and watch a Mets game. It was white noise while I did the laundry, made dinner, and putzed around taking care of things around my spacious 400-square-foot studio apartment. I didn’t pay much mind to the bottom half of innings, as I was more interested in watching Noah Syndergaard‘s delivery.

By the sixth inning, I realized there was a good chance I’d be watching the entire ballgame, and began paying closer attention — to both halves of each inning, but in particular, the bottom halves.

As you know by now, rookie Chris Heston threw the first no-hitter of 2015, the first rookie to do it since Clay Buchholz in 2007, the first no-hitter against the Mets since 2003 1993, the 17th in Giants history (9th as the San Francisco Giants), the fourth in four years by a Giant, and the seventh against the Mets in the Mets’ history. Oh, and Heston had two hits and 2 RBI.

It will likely go down in history as one of those “fluke” no-hitters, by a relatively unknown entity — a list that includes the likes of Bobo Holloman, Bo Belinsky, Don Black, Jose Jimenez, Philip Humber, Bud Smith, and Joe Cowley, among others.

Did I mention that Heston was DFA’d — and then RELEASED — by the Giants in 2013 to make room on the roster for Jeff Francoeur? Ouch.

Was it more about Heston’s effectiveness or the Mets hitters’ ineffectiveness? Hmmm …

Did home plate umpire Rob Drake “help” Heston? Certainly, there were one or two pitches in the bottom of the ninth that may have been gifts, or Drake caught up in the excitement. At the same time, Drake was calling “pitchers’ pitches” all game, for both sides. There was an old adage taught to me a hundred years ago, prior to the homer-happy, swing-from-your-heels-with-two-strikes approach of the PEDs era: “if it’s close enough to be called a strike, it’s close enough to swing.” Or something like that; the older I get the more memories fade.

Meanwhile, Syndergaard was less than dominating, allowing 4 earned runs on 10 hits in 6 innings. There were remarks by GKR suggesting that Syndergaard was “doing what he was supposed to do” and was perhaps the victim of “bad luck” due to “soft hits.” Maybe I was watching a different game, or maybe folding the laundry was distracting me, but what I saw were a few well-timed soft-hit singles intermixed with more than a few hard-hit singles, a few very hard-hit outs right at perfectly positioned defenders, and a few hard-hit balls turned into double plays at precisely the right times. I saw far too many pitches thrown by the young righthander, far too few swings and misses from Giants hitters, and runners on base in five of the six innings he pitched.

The positives: Syndergaard hung around the upper 90s and flirted with triple digits with his fastball, which he was able to throw for strikes most of the time. He showed a change-up and curveball that have some promise. The negatives: though he threw it for strikes, Syndergaard didn’t have command of the fastball — he couldn’t put it where he wanted to put it within the strike zone. He had zero command of his offspeed pitches AND couldn’t throw them for strikes most of the time.

Further on the negative side, my untrained eye without the benefit of multiple angles and high-speed video identified at least three dangerous flaws in his motion that could lead to arm injury. First, his arm is behind at foot strike, which puts undue strain on the shoulder. Second, he brings his throwing hand too close to his ear, which puts further stress on the shoulder (Johan Santana had a similar issue) and some stress on the elbow. Third, it doesn’t look like he fully “releases” his elbow after releasing the baseball — his arm kind of recoils — which puts stress on the elbow during deceleration. (For what it’s worth, Heston also has this flaw, though it’s more obvious.) In the unfortunate event that Syndergaard suffers an elbow or shoulder injury in the near future, we may hear something to the effect that “injuries are inevitable for pitchers who throw as hard as he does.” Well, maybe, though there isn’t much real research behind that right now. Make a mental note: all three of these flaws are easily correctable and would allow Syndergaard to pitch BETTER, not worse. But if he doesn’t have the right person to apply the changes, then the poor kid is stuck, isn’t he? Expect the Mets to “not fix what ain’t broke,” a philosophy followed by nearly all MLB teams. It’s easier to remain ignorant and count pitches, mostly ignore warning signs of serious injury (i.e., forearm strains), hoping to stave off the “inevitable” injuries of pitchers with flawed mechanics, than try to find solutions to ease the pain, make pitchers more efficient and effective, and prevent injury.

Dillon Gee made his first relief appearance since 2011. It didn’t go so well. My bet is the Mets will trade Gee within the next two weeks, rather than carry him as dead weight in the bullpen.

Was anyone else annoyed with an entire half-inning dedicated to an interview with the jockey of American Pharoah? A few questions, OK, as long as it is interspersed with play-by-play (which it wasn’t … where is Kevin Burkhardt when you need him?). And is it me, or do all jockeys sound like they just sucked the helium out of a balloon? (Was that politically incorrect and/or somehow insensitive?)

No-hit? No worries — the Mets remain in first place. Isn’t that all that matters?

Next Mets Game

The Mets send Matt Harvey to the hill against Tim Hudson on Wednesday night in Flushing at 7:10 PM.

Joe Janish began MetsToday in 2005 to provide the unique perspective of a high-level player and coach -- he earned NCAA D-1 All-American honors as a catcher and coached several players who went on to play pro ball. As a result his posts often include mechanical evaluations, scout-like analysis, and opinions that go beyond the numbers. Follow Joe's baseball tips on Twitter at @onbaseball and at the On Baseball Google Plus page.
  1. argonbunnies June 10, 2015 at 6:28 am
    Hitters seem to get good looks at Syndergaard — Darling said he telegraphs his change-up, so maybe he does so with the curve too and hitters can get nice and set for what’s coming. I do think he was unlucky tonight — unlucky to have the Mets’ infield behind him. With Tulo and Arrenado out there, the game is scoreless into the 6th, no question. With average defenders, well, maybe. Yeah, some balls were hit hard, but enough key ones weren’t. Plus, the Mets botched not 1, not 2, but 3 double plays, and that has to take a toll on a pitcher.

    Flores looked awkward at SS at first last year, but by the end of 2014 he looked fine to me — exactly the Peralta clone he was billed as, with poor range but no other flaws. 2015 has been a different story. He hasn’t done ANYTHING well. This trend looks familiar — we saw Daniel Murphy start to answer the naysayers about his D for a while before eventually proving them right. Murph doesn’t have the tools (many of them mental, but whatever) for middle infield, and scouts have concurred for years that Flores doesn’t either. With Wilmer not improving at this stage, well, those scouts might have been onto something that even Barwis magic can’t fix.

    Separately, Michael Cuddyer is having quite a year as a rally-killer. Didn’t we get this guy to be a professional hitter, have tough ABs, drive in key runs, keep the line moving during rallies, etc.? Turns out he’s simply venerable, not actually a tough out. I looked up one of my favorite stats, Win Probability Added, to see Cuddyer’s number there, and indeed, it’s in the negatives for 2015. Then I noticed something disturbing: his career WPA is AWFUL. Among all active players with 10+ Batting Wins (basically the hitting component of WAR), Cuddyer has the third worst ratio of BW to WPA. In other words, among all MLB hitters who are at least decent and well into their careers, only Torii Hunter and Mike Napoli have been worse at turning their ABs into results that would actually help their team win the game at hand.

    In other words, if “clutch” exists, Cuddyer is about as “un-clutch” as they come. So this string of whiffs on pitches two feet out of the strike zone or first-pitch DP grounders in big spots may not be going away any time soon.

    Hey, guess who’s the MOST clutch (by WPA) in the 10+ BW group? It’s someone recently mentioned as a possible replacement for David Wright. Guess away!

    • Extragooey June 10, 2015 at 11:06 am

      I disagree on Flores. I think he’s capable of making the routine plays. He lacks the athleticism/arm strength going into the hole and gunning it to first, as we saw last night. The tailing side arming throws he seems to have corrected.

      Cuddyer just seems like a pure guess hitter at this point. I know every hitter guesses, but he’s hitting like an older hitter that knows he’s lost some bat speed or mentally thinks he has.

      Grats to Heston. He may be legit or he may be one of the many no name pitchers that’s pitched a no hitter. The reality is no hitters can be accomplished by anyone, not just the great ones. And that’s as far as your evaluation should go when looking at that on a pitchers resume.

      I actually enjoyed Victor Espinoza’s interview. I usually don’t like those interviews by Burkhardt or Gelbs. But I thought it was a good interview.

      • argonbunnies June 10, 2015 at 1:01 pm
        The range of what I’d consider “routine” far exceeds what Wilmer’s done so far. Is he capable of a dramatic improvement? Well, in theory, sure, but I don’t see any signs of it. He doesn’t appear to have the quick feet, balance, body control, agility and timing that your average MLB shortstop uses to make routine plays.

        Agreed on the interview. I usually hate when the broadcast completely stops being about the game, but in this case, the Mets were doing nothing worth watching, and Victor had some cool stuff to share after he got through the obligatory “what’d it feel like to win? what does it feel like to be a winner?” stuff.

        Nope, not Zobrist!

  2. Andy June 10, 2015 at 2:48 pm
    Previous no-hitter against the Mets was by Darryl Kile in 1993. I think 2003 is a typo?
  3. tripballsalways June 10, 2015 at 3:13 pm
    Aramis Ramirez?
    • tripballsalways June 10, 2015 at 3:14 pm
      that was a reply to Argon
    • argonbunnies June 13, 2015 at 2:41 am
  4. Bat June 10, 2015 at 10:49 pm
    A bit off topic, but I actually think that Conforto will be playing LF for the Mets before the end of the year.

    I imagine he finishes this month in Bingo, and then starts July in Las Vegas. Or they wait until the end of the Bingo first half of the season (someone around July 15?) and then send him to Las Vegas.

    But I do believe he’s going to be playing LF for the Mets no later than late August – which would probably give him around 4-6 weeks in Las Vegas – with Cuddyer splitting time between spelling (1) Conforto; (2) Granderson; and (3) Duda, which will end up giving Cuddyer a decent amount of ABs.