Mets Game 143: Win Over Braves

mets-o-meter-3

Mets 10 Braves 7

It’s possible to get to the stage where you forget how to lose. Somehow that drags you along, as unlikely as it all seems. Donald Trump is making a damn good fist of the same idea.

The Mets’ surge – and yet another comeback win on the road – has rescued their away record to 37-37. How unlikely was that six weeks ago? Thank goodness the Mets instituted the MetsMobile idea I offered up way back in my report on Game 77. Whether the Mets wrestle home field advantage from the Dodgers or not, the MetsMobile will guarantee the sounds and tastes and smells of good ol’ Citi Field. Couple that with the help of Caesar, sorry Cespedes, they’ll be fine.

Now the Mets are 82-61, CFPunk is looking like a genius and the Mets-o-Meter is overtaking more and more folks. Cappy, Dan B, Jack S and Joe are now officially out of it. Argonbunnies and Ernesto are next up. You’d be hard pressed to find a more logical and informed group of baseball fans. But this has been an illogical season and the baffling Mets’ comebacks keep on coming. For my bank account, just please stop at 88. I’m poor, ok?

Today’s game was a drab Sunday afternoon affair with bloop hits, a secondary Mets line-up and lazy defense. Even Curtis Granderson’s shades couldn’t help him from losing a pop-up in the sun. Scored a hit (!!!) it put the Double AAtlanta Braves up 7-4 in the eighth. I guess I’d score it a hit too if Grandy gave me a signed photo. I’m easily bribed. Like I said, I’m just poor… I’m not Pete Rose.

These Braves are adept at losing games and they somehow manufactured another one here. With 2 outs in the ninth, Juan Lagares was on base with a “double” to rightish-center that was only a little less of an error than Grandy’s gaff. Grandy atoned by taking yet another walk to put two on base. I’ll save gushing about how great he’s been hitting leadoff for another post.

Up stepped Daring Daniel Murphy and he plunked a home run off a 0-1 pitch to deep right center. Cue exploding high fives to everyone he could find, complete with sounds effects from Murph.

The Braves continued to implode with walks in the top of the 10th and the lousy game was mercifully over. The sighs of relief in the SNY box were audible.

The Nats have done their own imploding for a while, despite their 5-zip win today against the MiAAmi Marlins, so it’s time to talk about the playoffs. This week, let’s look at the Mets’ starting pitching.

Jonathon Niese has been struggling recently and he didn’t look great today against a team of little leaguers fortified by Andrelton Simmons and Freddie Freeman. Niese’s curve is just looping in, usually in the centre and not low enough. Niese’s fastball (and it’s a bit of stretch to call it that) isn’t cutting as much as when he’s at his best. His WHIP is now 1.41.

I like Niese but I don’t know where he fits on the postseason roster. It’s been made public that the Mets don’t like Niese out of the bullpen. I prefer Sean Gilmartin in the long-man leftie role anyway.

You HAVE to take Bartolo into the playoffs. Not only will he happily distribute candy to the team, but Colon will always throw strikes in a relief role, and – despite his terrible record against good teams – he could spot start in a jam (eg. Harvey’s ligaments fall off) and not let the occasion get to him. Hitters tighten up in the playoffs and Bartolo’s steady stream of strikes will get a bunch of pop-ups. Niese’s reputation is that the big games get to him. Hmm… I’d take Colon’s matador spirit and the young guns over that.

My current playoff rotation is DeGrom – Syndergaard – Harvey – Matz. Is Matz too young for the role? I dunno… you tell me. I just feel Matz is a better bet than Niese, much as Jonathon has been a dutiful servant through the horrible years.

Shoot with your thoughts below. Next week we’ll look at the lineup. Then in a fortnight we’ll tackle the most difficult issue… figuring out the best bullpen for the Mets to continue this wonderful, stupid, amazin’, crazy, fun run.

Steve Hussy has been a Mets fan since 1984. An insomniac as a kid, he watched baseball highlights at 4 AM on British TV. He credits Darryl Strawberry's long homers as the first cause of his obsession with the Mets. Now he gets to watch Mets games that finish at 3 AM and teach bleary-eyed lessons to his film students the next day. He also gets to shell out hundreds of pounds to fly over to New York and watch the Mets occasionally win. Steve Hussy's other job is as a writer and editor for Murder Slim Press, which specialises in confessional and crime literature. You can find out more about him on MurderSlim.com. Just no threats, please.
  1. Dan Capwell September 14, 2015 at 2:08 pm
    With the collapse of the Nats, we’re more or less in Spring Training mode right now, playing tune-up games for when the bell rings to signal the start of the post-season games. Would be nice to catch the Dodgers, but the ’06 Mets clinched in LA and lost in NY, so the home field advantage is not vital.

    Is anyone else concerned about Lucas Duda? He has been virtually invisible since that big night in early August when they hauled in the Nats. Is leaving him off the post season roster totally unthinkable?

    • Dan Capwell September 14, 2015 at 3:30 pm
      Also–this “Cappy” on the Mets-O-Meter isn’t me! On April 1, I predicted the Mets would win the NL East.
      • Steve Hussy September 15, 2015 at 10:04 am
        Dan C: I thought that was an April Fools Day joke! Send me your actual prediction from back then and I’ll update the Mets-o-Meter.
        Interesting point on Duda. I still think it IS unthinkable they don’t take him, just for the left handed power. He’s also a better fielder at 1B than Murph is. I keep hoping he’ll break out again, and I wonder whether his injury is laying him low. He’s primarily lazily flying out to left field, suggesting he’s late on the ball.
    • crozier September 15, 2015 at 11:15 am
      Leave Duda is capable of hot streaks that can single-handedly carry the team. His OPS since the break is still over .900. It’s easy to forget his capabilities when he’s cold, but when he’s on fire, he’s MBP-worthy.
      • crozier September 15, 2015 at 11:15 am
        Erratum: “Duda is capable of hot streaks” etc.
    • argonbunnies September 15, 2015 at 4:15 pm
      Duda has the same issue he often falls into when his rhythm’s been disrupted — he’s not getting his front foot down in time, and thus he’s just a tiny bit later on everything than he should be. Sometimes he fixes that in a week, sometimes it takes him two months.

      Although he shouldn’t be in the lineup for a must-win game tomorrow, the postseason is still a ways away and if you were looking at recent season’ numbers, Duda is probably the first Mets infielder you’d want out there.

      That said, I’m all for playing the hot hand, so if Duda looks terrible through the end of the regular season, then yeah, I’d consider leaving him off.

  2. DanB September 14, 2015 at 5:52 pm
    I hang my head low in shame that I only picked 80 wins. I never imagined the Mets picking up a position player who has had the impact of Cespedes. Which brings me to a question, has the impact of Cespedes made the other trades look better then they really are? Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying getting Uribe and Johnson didn’t make the Mets better and Clippard definately made the team better. But if the Mets had not acquired Cespedes, would we be so giddy? Here is a hypothetical question. If the Mets had not aquired Cespedes, what would their record be right now? I am very unscientifically guessing 74-69. That is still better then I was guessing and would still put them in first place, however it would be a really different team.
    • DaveSchneck September 14, 2015 at 10:27 pm
      DanB,
      This is no time to hang your head low. Stand tall, be proud. I picked the Mets to win 86, a big reach, in honor of the last WS winner. But, our picks were for those Mets, not these Mets.

      Your Cespedes hypothetical is very interesting, and with a 10 game lead, we can ponder a bit. Given the WAR measurement, Cespedes has only added about 2+ wins. Us older folk realize that a bat like his can elevate teammates, so let’s add another generous 3. That would place them at 78-67 vs 83-61, but still several games in 1st.

      Lastly, with the exception of O’Flaherty, all the acquisitions have helped. I think the Reed acquisition was excellent, maybe even better than the Clippard deal, especially because the control Reed for two more years. If Parnell has really found himself, the pen is very strong. This is a team that can win it all, and that is all we ever asked for.

      • Steve Hussy September 15, 2015 at 10:18 am
        DanB and DaveS:
        I think 4-5 wins is fair for Cespedes. And the other new guys account for about a win each. 100% agree on the Reed deal… the 7th inning was a problem and now they’ve got a solid guy to dovetail with the slowly improving Robles.
        For me, the key point was the Mets hanging in there for that tough July against good teams. With the Nats continued struggles, scraping into contention at the trading deadline created the current success.
        I didn’t predict that. Way back in Spring, my prediction was due to a firm belief that – outside of the Nats – the rest of the NL East would struggle. Good on the Mets for beating up on the bad teams rather than sinking to their level. Yes, they’ve exploited a lucky situation but what are they supposed to do? Politely lose to AA teams?
        • argonbunnies September 15, 2015 at 4:22 pm
          Yeah. Even when the Mets were a bad team, they still fought hard and the bullpen came up clutch. This team won a lot of close games in June on the arms of Robles, Goeddel, Gilmartin, Carlos Torres, and even Jack Leathersich and Alex Torres before the latter fell off a cliff and the 51s ripped the former’s arm in half.

          The Mets couldn’t hit and couldn’t field and still managed to stay close enough to encourage (with fans’ help?) Alderson to take a shot. Once he took a shot, the rest is history (in progress).

    • argonbunnies September 15, 2015 at 4:33 pm
      This looked like an 82-win team to me before July 25. After July 31, I didn’t re-calculate, but I can guess what I probably would have thought:

      – Uribe & Johnson combine to add maybe 1.5 wins, which is actually a lot for 2 months of part-time players, and speaks mainly to the awfulness of what they’re replacing.

      – Cespedes adds maybe 2 wins, 2.5 if he stays on the tear he was on in Detroit, and that assumes Lagares was never going to improve. Hey, seriously, look at Yoenis’s career WAR totals. Did NOT see this coming.

      – Very few relievers top 1 or 2 WAR for a full season, so adding an entire win for 2 months of Clippard seems optimistic and the bullpen has overall been good already.

      So that’s a net total of about +4 wins. Add that to my 82-win prediction and you get 86. So on August 1, that’s probably what I would have predicted.

      Since then, the pleasant surprises: Cespedes, d’Arnaud, Granderson, Conforto, the team bunching walks and HRs and hitting in the clutch, Wright not being a sad shell of himself, Familia’s splitter, the complete collapse of the Braves, the Nats’ choke, Colon’s revival. Whoa.

  3. Colin September 15, 2015 at 10:03 am
    good article on YC today in the times. The guy doesn’t go out. Seems incredibly humble. Its nice to have a genuine star who doesn’t want to be in GQ magazine or on page 6.
    I think his addition has taken a lot of pressure off our every day players, who continue to rotate in and out of delivering in big spots.

    Everything is awesome.

  4. argonbunnies September 15, 2015 at 5:01 pm
    Playoff rotation:

    1) DeGrom. Dominant when he’s on, still battles when he’s not. He and Harvey are the only two Mets who still have a chance for a solid outing on an off-day. The one caveat for Jake is that he needs a low-ball umpire. If batters can ignore pitches at the knees, that somewhat takes away deGrom’s change-up and slider. So if a high-ball ump is calling Game 1, I could see pitching Jake in Game 2.

    2) Colon. By now the signs of his bad days are very, very clear — getting the ball up, too much lazy arm-side run. On those days he is useless and needs an immediate hook. If he hasn’t fixed it by the second batter of the second inning, he needs to go. If he DOES have his command, though, he will get us 6 quick innings of opponent frustration, while providing a nice change of pace to break up all our hard-throwers. Piggyback options: Verrett, Gilmartin, Matz.

    3) Syndergaard. I don’t feel a ton of certainty here, but when he’s on he can dominate anyone, so I think you take that shot. Even on his bad days he can still probably go 5 and keep the game vaguely within reach.

    4) Harvey. The guy had a 2.48 ERA as of mid-August. Clearly a #1 or #2. Then one mediocre start, some dehydration, a ton of drama, a horrible start in his biggest game of the year, more drama, and now a special pitching regimen that’s all about him and not about the team. It’s hard for me to imagine this working out well. Still, I think he’s better than the remaining options.

    5) Matz. Good life on his fastball, seems tough to square up, but his command is poor, he makes a lot of mistakes, and the sharp curve and change-up he showed in his debut have both eroded from his time on the DL. Also has 4 MLB starts in his career and seems a bit emotional out there. I’d peg him to dominate for 3, then give up 2 walks and a HR in the 4th, or something like that. Might work as a piggyback/middle innings guy?

    6) Niese. The only part of his year that surprised me was the long stretch when the results were good. He’s basically toast against any team with the discipline to take walks and wait for meatballs. Should not pitch an inning in the playoffs unless we somehow have room for a mop-up guy.

    • argonbunnies September 15, 2015 at 5:02 pm
      I think Plan A has always been for Harvey, Thor and deGrom to go out and each fan 10, but that plan has a very low likelihood of actually panning out.

      I imagine the Mets’ postseason pitching will live and die by having good game-by-game options for the middle innings, including quick hooks for struggling starters, late-inning relievers in the 5th, and our best starters who aren’t starting ready to go on specific days. Whoever has a bad day — Colon, Thor, Harvey — you can’t just punt that game. These series are too short and the Mets offense can pull off some comebacks if given enough chances.

      I hope Collins was paying attention to Bochy last year — Clippard or Robles could be our Jeremy Affeldt, coming in in the 3rd inning of an elimination game.

  5. DanB September 23, 2015 at 11:03 am
    Thanks for the memories, Yogi.
    • Murder Slim September 23, 2015 at 11:37 am
      Ditto, Dan. One the game’s greatest, and such a fantastic sense of humor too.