Tag: aaron harang

Series Preview: Philadelphia Phillies vs. New York Mets

It was unfortunate that the New York Mets had to play one of the hottest teams in baseball, the Atlanta Braves this weekend. After dropping the first two games, the Mets were able to hand the Braves its first loss of the season behind a solid performance from Bartolo Colon.

The Mets return to Flushing with a 3-3 record to host the Philadelphia Phillies (3-3) in the home opener at Citi Field, where the team went 40-41 last season. The Phillies are coming in off a series victory over a talented Washington Nationals club at home. In the season series between these teams in 2014 the Mets won 13 of the 19 contests.

Monday’s Matchup:

RHP Aaron Harang (1-0, 0.00 ERA) vs. Jacob deGrom (0-1, 3.00 ERA)

I’ll give Harang credit that he has been able to stay in the league this long (14 years). The 36-year-old had a rough 2013 season posting a 5.76 ERA in 22 starts for the Seattle Mariners before being designated for assignment and picked up by the Mets. Harang allowed nine earned runs in 22 innings in his short stint with the Mets.

In his 2015 debut Harang held the Red Sox at bay for six innings and only surrendered two hits. Harang is a flyball pitcher, so pitching in Citi Field could play to his benefit.

As for deGrom, the reigning National League Rookie of the Year showed that he hasn’t skipped a beat by going six innings, allowing two runs and striking out six in first start of the season. He did an excellent job of using his fastball as a put away pitch in his 2015 debut, recording five of his strikeouts with it. Phillies hitters should struggle with that pitch, especially if he can locate it in the top of the strike zone or even above it.

Tuesday’s Matchup:

RHP David Buchanan (0-1, 18.00 ERA) vs. RHP Matt Harvey (1-0, 0.00 ERA)

Much like deGrom, Buchanan was a rookie that was able to have a reasonable amount of success in the NL East last season. Buchanan went 6-8 with a 3.75 ERA in the 20 starts he made in 2014. The Mets should have no problem putting the ball in play against him as he only struck out 71 batters in 117 innings pitched last season. Buchanan allowed six runs in three innings against the Red Sox in his first start last week.

Harvey definitely lived up to the expectations of his much-anticipated 2015 debut. The young phenom struck out nine Nationals hitters, including Bryce Harper three times, in his six innings of shutout ball. Harvey has faced the Phillies five times in his career and is 4-0 with a 1.08 ERA and has only allowed 15 hits in 38 innings. This could be fun one to watch for Mets fans.

Wednesday’s Matchup:

RHP Jerome Williams (0-0, 1.50 ERA) vs. LHP Jonathon Niese (0-0, 1.80 ERA)

Williams pitched for the Astros, Rangers, and finally found a home with the Phillies in 2014 before adding to the list of seven teams he has played for in his 10-year career. Williams pitched extremely well in the nine starts he made in Philly last season, posting a 2.83 ERA in 57 innings pitched. He was able to continue that positive trend into his first start of this year, where he held the Nationals to one run over six innings.

Niese made his 2015 debut against the Braves, throwing five innings of one-run ball in a 5-3 loss. The left-hander has pitched more innings against the Phillies (123), than against any other team in the league. Niese has enjoyed reasonable success against them, going 8-6 with a 3.00 ERA in 19 starts. Niese will need to be tough against this left-handed heavy Phillies lineup that has once-feared hitters like Ryan Howard and Chase Utley.

Players to watch

Phillies:

Philadelphia second baseman Freddy Galvis is off to a solid start so far this season, hitting .318 in first 22 at-bats. Ben Revere may not be off to a hot start at the plate (.167 avg.), but don’t expect him to stay cold for long as he hit over .300 in each of his last two seasons. Revere is also a threat on the base paths that Travis D’Arnaud will need to worry about.

Philadelphia has had a lockdown bullpen so far this season, allowing six runs, five of which have been allowed by Jacob Diekman. Middle-relievers like Ken Giles and Leury Garcia will be very valuable in this series if the Phillies back-end starters can’t go deep into games.

Mets:

Lucas Duda is swinging a hot bat for the Mets through the first six games, with eight hits (seven singles) in his first 21 at-bats. Look for Duda to capitalize against this weaker pitching and start to add up some extra-base hits. On the other side of the spectrum, Curtis Granderson has a whopping one hit in his first six games played — though he’s leading the NL in walks with 7. Facing a flyball right-hander like Harang could help Granderson bust out of his early-season slump.

Jeurys Familia will be the closer for the foreseeable future after Jenrry Mejia was suspended 80 games for testing positive for the new MLB performance-enhancer of choice, Stanozolol. Familia notched his first save as the team’s closer in the victory over the Braves on Sunday.

This is no longer the Phillies team that was a perennial contender in the National League. Jimmy Rollins is now a Dodger, Utley is 36 and Howard has almost played out that atrocious $125 million contract. While the Mets are (kind of) trending upward, the Phillies are in a slow, painful decline. It’s not ridiculous to say that this team could be very similar to 2011-2014 Astros over the next four years.

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Free Agent Targets: Starting Pitchers

The MLBPA compiled a full list of players who filed for free agency this offseason. Out of those, there are several possibilities that stood out to me as players I would consider signing if I were the GM of the Mets (assuming I had a moderate amount of money to spend). Mind you, I’m not saying the Mets should sign ALL of these players – that would be impossible. But this would be the pool of players from which I would choose.

We’ll break them down by position. In this post, I’ll take a look at…

Starting Pitchers

The Mets would like a veteran starting pitcher to anchor a young, Matt Harveyless rotation in 2014. Not really an ace, just someone to eat innings while Zack Wheeler, Rafael Montero, and Noah Syndergaard grow into the top-tier starters the team thinks they can be.

Tim Hudson, 38, RHP – Hudson should be fully recovered from his ankle injury (inflicted accidentally by Eric Young) by Opening Day. He had a 3.97 ERA and 1.19 WHIP before going down. He’s coming off a 4-year, $36 million deal, and should be affordable.

Paul Maholm, 31, LHP – Aside from Jon Niese, the Mets are thin on left-handed starting pitchers at the major league level, and the high minors. Maholm would give them a decent lefty arm for 150 innings or so. He wasn’t great against right-handed batters, but he held lefties to a .226/.262/.297 slash line. His last contract was 2 years, $11.25 million.

Scott Feldman, 30, LHP – Feldman is a more intriguing lefty. Once a prospect for the Texas Rangers, he started 2013 with the Cubs, and finished with the Orioles. According to MLBTR, the O’s are keen on keeping Feldman, and are looking at a 2-year, $17 million contract. If he falls through the cracks, however, he and his 2013 ERA of 3.86 and WHIP of 1.18 would be welcome in the Mets rotation.

Scott Kazmir, 29, LHP – Perhaps a return home for the prodigal son is in order? After several years of injury and ineffectiveness, Kazmir rebounded to post a 4.04 ERA, 1.32 ERA, and a 9.2 SO/9 ratio with the Cleveland Indians. Given his injury history, however, he’s still a question mark.

Aaron Harang, 35, RHP – Harang threw his final 23 innings of 2013 with the Mets, and had a 3.52 ERA and a 10.2 SO/9 ratio. However, he also walked an average of 4.7 batters per 9 innings. He looked sharp enough to be considered for a return. His last contract was 2-years, $12 million, but he may be available for less than that.

Daisuke Matsuzaka, 33, RHP – Matsuzaka spent his last 38.2 innings of 2013 with the Mets. Early on, he walked a lot of batters and took forever to deliver the ball to home plate, both hallmarks of Dice-K’s career, but in his last 4 starts, he went 26.1 innings, won 3 games, and had a 1.37 ERA. He held opposing hitters to a .461 OPS. He’s still a gamble, but he might be worth another look if they can sign him on the cheap.

Dan Haren, 33, RHP – Haren had a bad year in 2013. He had a 4.67 ERA and 4.09 FIP. However, he still struck out 8 batters per 9 innings, and had a 1.23 WHIP. His fastball velocity is down from the level it was in his halcyon days, but good pitchers figure out how to pitch without their best stuff. He’s coming off a 1-year, $13 million contract. If he asks for anywhere near that, the Mets should pass.

The Mets would be wise not to spend a large percentage of whatever offseason budget they have on starting pitchers. They have some organizational depth (as long as they don’t trade any of it), even if it’s somewhat inexperienced. They have more glaring holes to fill at other positions.

Coming up next: Free agent relief pitchers.

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Monday Meetings Recap

A quick recap of what happened at the baseball winter meetings in Orlando, Florida on Sunday / Monday.

Adrian Gonzalez was officially traded to the Red Sox

Jayson Werth signed a 7-year, $126M deal with the Nationals

Shaun Marcum was traded to the Brewers

Melvin Mora signed with the Diamondbacks

J.J. Putz signed with the Diamondbacks

Mark Reynolds was traded by the D-Backs to the Orioles

Kevin Correia agreed to a two-year, $8M deal with the Pirates

Aaron Harang signed with the Padres

Lance Berkman signed with the Cardinals

Russ Adams and Dusty Ryan signed minor-league deals with the Mets

Omir Santos signed a minor-league deal with the Tigers

– Pat Gillick was voted into the Hall of Fame. OK, nothing against Gillick — he was an amazing GM, and congrats to him — but how in the world does he get into the HOF before Marvin Miller and George Steinbrenner? Love them or hate them (I hate Miller), how is it that two people whose influence had as much of an impact on the sport as anyone over the past 40 years, are not properly recognized by an institution honoring baseball history? I guess Steinbrenner is left out because of the Nixon contributions and the Howie Spira thing, but how is Miller not voted in? And again, I hate Miller, but he is a significant figure who played a major part in shaping the game as we know it today. But then, maybe that’s exactly the reason he remains on the outside looking in.

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Risk – Reward Free Agent Pitchers

As Sandy Alderson has told us, the Mets are not concerned with making the postseason in 2011. Further, they may have only $5M to play with on this winter’s free agents.

Considering those two factors, do ANY free agents make sense?

This is a difficult question, because it is hard to figure what exactly is the motivation for signing free agents for the 2011 season. Considering that nearly every free agent is over the age of 30, signing one with the idea of keeping him for 2012 / 2013 doesn’t seem likely. I’m guessing that the team will sign short-term deals with a small handful of players who can fill holes and help the team stay out of last place. Additionally, they may look to sign some risk / reward types who can a) possibly give the Mets enough performance to push them toward a postseason berth; or b) become trading chips to deal to pennant chasers in return for younger talent in July.

These are pitchers coming off injury who likely will need to take incentive-laden contracts with minimal dollars guaranteed (i.e., far less than the six million it took to rebuild Steve Austin, astronaut).

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Remaining Pitching Options

arroyo-vs-metsIt is no secret that the Mets need to acquire more quality pitching to contend in 2010 — both in the starting rotation and the bullpen (though, most people are ignoring the ‘pen part of the issue).

Let’s go over the names being bandied about.

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Mets Game 87: Win Over Reds

Mets 9 Reds 7

Jeff Francoeur and the Mets are now 2-0.

The Beltranless, Delgadoless, and Reyesless offense exploded for six runs in the third and fourth frames, and later tacked on another pair of much-needed insurance runs as the Mets beat the Reds, won the three-game series, and head into the All-Star Break with their chins up.

Mike Pelfrey tried to give the Reds a chance to get back in the game, but left that gracious gesture to the bullpen. In spite of losing his composure on a few occasions, pitching erratically, and having his usual case of the yips, Big Pelf somehow plowed through 7 full innings and allowed only 3 runs on 5 hits to earn his seventh victory of the season.

Every position player who came to the plate collected at least one hit, as the Mets battered Reds pitching for 16 hits including three doubles and two homeruns. Brian Schneider broke the Mets’ 80-inning dry spell without a dinger by sending a David Weathers pitch over the fence, and Fernando Tatis was so inspired that he followed with another one a few minutes later. Good thing for those two solo blasts, because the Reds scored four runs in the final two innings against Sean Green, Pedro Feliciano, Bobby Parnell, and Francisco Rodriguez.

Though he kept the home crowd in their seats to the final pitch, ultimately, K-Rod nailed down his 23rd heart-stopping save.

Notes

With a 7-run lead, Mike Pelfrey caught the yips in the fifth and nearly gave the game back to the Reds. He walked the first two batters of the inning and committed a balk in between, setting up a three-run inning that could’ve been much worse if Dusty Baker didn’t have an obsession with using pitchers to pinch-hit (yeah, I know Micah Owings is a good-hitting pitcher, but his “good” is only .250 … it’s kind of like using Argenis Reyes as a pinch- … oh, never mind).

Pelf’s sixth balk of the season was so ridiculously inexcusable, I don’t know where to begin. But I’ll try. First of all, he had a seven-zip lead. Secondly, the runner on first was catcher Ramon Hernandez, who is a good athlete but not a stolen base threat (8 SBs total in 11 years in MLB). Third, Dan Murphy had alerted Pelf to the fact that he’d be playing behind the bag, literally seconds before the balk. Fourth, Hernandez was only about three steps off the bag. Yet, inexplicably, Pelfrey looked over at 1B, saw Hernandez’s miniscule lead — and Murphy standing a few feet behind him — and whirled to make a pickoff attempt (but stopped when he realized there was no one at the bag to catch the throw). I shudder to think what is going to happen when Pelfrey pitches in a high-pressure situation — i.e., a postseason contest — if he routinely flakes out on lazy Sunday afternoons with seven-run leads against ordinary competition.

My apologies for the late post and brief notes — I had a doubleheader and watched the game in fast-forward off the DVR so I may have missed some things. Though, I’m kind of glad I missed seeing the game live. Between Pelfrey’s antics in the fifth and the late-game bullpen implosion, I might have thrown something heavy and blunt at the TV.

The Mets and Reds now have identical 42-45 records, and both are in second-to-last place. The Mets, however, are in fourth while the Reds are in fifth. Thank goodness for the Nationals.

Strangely enough, the Mets have the best home record in the NL East, at 25-20.

No, I am not related to Paul Janish, but thank you for asking. And I agree, it’s not a very common name. But yes, I’m sure.

Next Mets Game

The Mets take a break for a few days while MLB puts on the Bud Selig Circus Show in St. Louis. Order is restored on July 16th, when the Mets play the Braves in Atlanta at 7:00 PM.

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