Mets Game 6: Win Over Marlins

Mets 4 Marlins 3

A dramatic, walk-off win by the Metropolitans electrified the five dozen fans rocking Citi Field on a windy Sunday afternoon.

Mets Game Notes

Lost in the excitement of Marlon Byrd‘s last-inning heroics was the impressive debut of 20-year-old Jose Fernandez; he is the real deal. Did his first-game excitement / adrenalin and the element of mystery help him? Sure. But he displayed certain attributes that suggest he’ll have future success. What most impressed me was his confidence — he had no fear of throwing his fastball, nor of throwing strikes. It was similar to Matt Harvey‘s first few starts — an aura of confidence that was just short of cockiness. Fernandez threw an easy, effortless 94-95 MPH, pounding all four quadrants of the strike zone. He has a mature, developed, strong body and fairly clean mechanics. In short, he doesn’t look like a 20-year-old. I’m not ready to hail him as the next Felix Hernandez, but I will go on a limb and say he’ll be a solid #3, or possibly #2, big-league pitcher within the next two years.

FYI, the Marlins took Fernandez out of Braulio Alonso High School in Tampa, FL, in the first round, 14th overall, in the 2011 draft. That was the pick immediately after the Mets chose Brandon Nimmo.

In contrast was the debut of Aaron Laffey, who appears to be the lefthanded version of Jeremy Hefner in that he throws a lot of very hittable pitches. Laffey scattered 10 hits and a walk in 4 1/3 innings, yet somehow managed to escape the game allowing only three runs. Does that say more about Laffey or the ineptitude of the Marlins offense? You be the judge. The Mets have a relatively easy schedule for the rest of the month, and this patchwork rotation might be able to get by long enough against lesser hitters to develop a sense of confidence that may push them through May.

Daniel Murphy hit another one over the fence; is he the new Dan Uggla?

Scott Atchison — who looks more like a stressed-out, over-worked accountant than a Major League pitcher — got two huge outs in the 7th to keep it a one-run game. That was his third appearance in three days; is he the righthanded version of Pedro Feliciano? Did anyone inform Terry Collins and/or Dan Warthen that Atchison missed two months last year with “elbow tightness” and is pitching with a partially torn UCL? Hey, whatever — keep running him out there until his arm falls off. Relievers are a dime a dozen, and disposable, right? Considering that Atchison throws a slider/cutter nearly every pitch, he hasn’t considered analyzing his mechanics to see if there’s an inefficiency, and Collins isn’t looking to use him judiciously, my guess is he’ll be out by mid-June with more forearm tightness and/or an elbow injury.

Steve Cishek is not the lights-out guy he was as a setup man in 2011 and 2012; is it because he’s now a closer, and a mental thing? Maybe there is something to that old-school theory that the last three outs of a game are the most difficult.

Very curious to see Miami play the infield in with one out in the ninth, men on second and third, and winning by a run. Ironically, Cishek threw a good pitch in a good spot, but in a bad sequence. He’d just missed down and in on his first pitch to Marlon Byrd, so it didn’t make sense to go after the same exact spot — that’s one of the golden rules of pitching: never throw the same pitch in the same spot at the same speed. With first base open, and a lead, it would’ve made sense to try going away with a slider, hoping to get Byrd to chase, and come back with the down-and-in sinker later in the at-bat. But Byrd saw the pitch the first time and was geared up to hit it the second time. Had third baseman Chris Valaika been playing back behind the bag, he still may not have fielded the ball, but he would have had a much better shot at stopping it.

Speaking of stopping balls, Lucas Duda is looking scary in left field thus far. But, as long as he slugs about .800, he’ll make up for it.

How did the Mets win this series? They successfully neutralized Giancarlo Stanton. I know it’s early, but his facial expressions and body language suggest that he is really affected by the lack of protection in the lineup. He’s definitely looking aggravated and thinking too hard. Too bad, because he’s a very talented hitter and it’s clear he’s going to have a rough year.

It’s going to be a really long year for the Marlins. With Stanton neutralized, the best hitter on the team is Greg Dobbs — how far can a team go with that being said? The Marlins look like an average AAA team. Ouch.

Next Mets Game

The Mets travel down I-95 to begin a three-game series against the Phillies in Philadelphia on Monday night. Game one begins at 7:00 p.m. and pits Matt Harvey vs. the shell of Roy Halladay.

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. NormE April 8, 2013 at 8:02 am
    It’s early, but you have to make notice of the opportunistic baserunning by the Mets. A good sign on a team that basically has average speed and doesn’t boast great power.

    Joe, I’d like your take on Recker behind the plate. To my untrained eye I thought he looked pretty good.

    • Joe Janish April 8, 2013 at 8:11 am
      Recker looks solid back there. He moves well behind the plate and has a strong arm. I particularly like that he starts his hands to balls in the dirt, rather than his feet (which is what most catchers do, and is inefficient). It’s hard to make an evaluation on his receiving skills because for the first four innings he was catching a guy who doesn’t throw MLB velocity and doesn’t have a Major League breaking pitch, and then he caught relievers that he might not have much experience with, but it appears that Recker has decent balance. At worst, he looks more skilled defensively than Mike Nickeas or Josh Thole.
  2. Joe April 8, 2013 at 8:36 am
    The explanation/excuse provided was that Laffey didn’t pitch since March 24. He got a few wins last year but he is after all in effect the seventh (sixth?) starter of a team that will be lucky to win 80 games.

    So, you take what happened yesterday — the Mets lost lots of games like that to mediocre Marlin, Nats (when they were mediocre) etc. teams. 5 2/3 from the pen and all. Was just waiting, no matter who was hitting against them, for somebody to mess up there. The radio guys were brutal on Duda’s defensive skills.

    Meanwhile, what’s up up north? Is Dickey struggling to adapt to the Blue Jays?

    • Joe Janish April 8, 2013 at 9:38 am
      What is the explanation for Laffey being a mediocre pitcher his entire MLB career? His velocity wasn’t far from what’s expected when he’s “in shape” — he only tops out at 87 / 88.

      Did you mean to type, “a team that will be lucky to win 70 games”?

      R.A. Dickey? The same knuckleballer who had a rough first few starts in 2012? And a rough first two months to his 2011 season? Let’s take a look at him in June.

      • Joe April 8, 2013 at 10:44 am
        A “mediocre pitcher” describes your average fifth starter, so you know, for a 6th or 7th starter, that isn’t bad. And, that is all he is supposed to be — a fill-in / long man type.

        No, I don’t. The over/under for Vegas is that they will win 74. That is, not your somewhat optimistic Mets fan. Various people on the Mets beat have them winning in the low 70s. Of course, they can be wrong. But, don’t see it ‘lucky’ to get over that number.

        I think he will be fine overall, but it is just a sign that he wasn’t going to win 20 games or something this year. Let’s see how the people the Mets go in return, including perhaps an actual MLB catcher (Thole sent to the minors) will do for the season too.

        • Joe Janish April 8, 2013 at 12:26 pm
          OK, Joe, since you love to grab on to one minute detail and run like the wind with it … I was being generous and kind to Laffey, because he seems like a nice enough guy and I believe he’s being pushed into a situation for which he’s incapable of handling.

          Laffey is not a starting pitcher. At BEST, he might be a LOOGY, as his best pitch is a 83-MPH slider. If his role is long relief man for mop-up duty, he’d be defined as mediocre. As a fifth starter, or a seventh starter, or a 15th starter, it makes no difference — he’s not a MLB starter. Well, he is based on the technicality that MLB teams have had him start games. But as someone to rely on every fifth day to provide at least six innings and keep a team in a ballgame? No. He doesn’t have the velocity, and he doesn’t have the nasty breaking pitch to make up for the lack of velocity, and he doesn’t have the remarkable command to make up for the lack of velocity and nasty breaking pitch.

          In short, he’s a poor man’s Pat Misch. Is Pat Misch anyone’s fifth starter right now?

          As for Dickey … so, he’s 0-2 and that means he won’t win 20? Tough. I think winning 20 was a longshot anyway — it is for ANY pitcher, including Justin Verlander. R.A. throws what is sometimes an unpredictable pitch, and he’s had bad beginnings before. But from your tone I’m guessing that if he wins “only” 16 or 17 games, then that’s a bad year, and will justify the Mets’ decision to trade him.

        • argonbunnies April 8, 2013 at 5:41 pm
          This was the first I’ve seen of Laffey, but based on Sunday, I can’t disagree. His stuff appeared well below “mediocre”. I think the best case scenario for him is that he alternates between fastballs that move in different directions just enough that no one quite hits it on the sweet spot. Jarrod Washburn succeeded with that for a few years. Of course, having a spectacular defensive team might be required for that success…
  3. DaveSchneck April 8, 2013 at 11:06 am
    Joe,
    It is a pleasure to watch a team with MLB-caliber catching, and more in the pipeline. The Dude may need to slug .900 to make up for his defensive shortcomings. I am not sold on this pen at all -so far, against the weakest teams in the league, it looks to be as scary as last year. Edgin, even with his “stuff” and “mentality”, is far from a finished product. Atchison is good but one pitch from being done. Lyon has been decent, and Parnell has yet to be in a save opportunity, so who knows if he will go the way of Cishek. Since Alderson has money in his pocket and is so determined on fielding a competitive team this year, I’m sure he will be right in the mix when Brian Wilson shaves his beard and declares himself 100%.
    • Joe Janish April 8, 2013 at 12:33 pm
      I’m glad people are starting to recognize how important it is to have a valid MLB catcher. So much gets lost in the stats, and a catcher’s influence in-game, as well as over the course of the season, is very difficult if not impossible to measure. The stats guys are convinced that stats win ballgames, but in every game there are many moments were one little thing can make the difference between winning and losing — and the catcher is more involved in the game than anyone else on the field (except for perhaps the pitcher who throws a complete game). When someone is touching the ball that often, it’s much easier to understand and appreciate how he handles his involvement.

      Agreed – this bullpen is underwhelming, and Collins is already riding the “hot hand.”

      Through 6 games the Mets have four wins, but Parnell has no save situations. Now maybe some other people will understand why I gave him a “16″ over/under for saves.

  4. Wohjr April 8, 2013 at 2:36 pm
    I predict 76 wins.

    Dickey has historically been better outside. Of course the singular of data is anecdote and the best game I saw last year was the 1 hitter at the trop with the ac on. I can’t remember, is the jays dome retractable?

  5. argonbunnies April 8, 2013 at 5:50 pm
    Agreed, Atchison doesn’t look like a ballplayer. He could also pass for 50.

    Warthen’s talked in the past about tracking reliever usage very closely, including warm-up pitches when they get ready in the bullpen but never enter a game, and looking at pitch counts over various time spans — a given day, a given 3 days, a given week, etc. But I’ve yet to see any evidence of actual game usage designed to keep any reliever healthy. Odd. Maybe Warthen records all this data, then gives it to Terry, but there’s no plan about how Terry’s supposed to use it?

    Duda’s never been fast, but so far this year he’s looked slower than in the past. He’s always been awkward in the field, but I don’t remember obvious misreads occurring quite this regularly. I may finally buy into the idea that he needs a trade to a team with a 1B-DH opening.

    As for the opposition, Cishek actually looked good to me. Plenty of swings and misses on his fastball, and in the end he was beaten by one errant pitch that caught Tejada’s jersey, a bloop single, and a grounder in the right spot. He’ll still have plenty of dominant outings, I’d guess.