Tag: nelson figueroa

Mets Game 157: Loss to Nationals

Nationals 2 Mets 1

The Mets lose their 90th game of the season, to a team who has already hurdled triple digits in losses.

In addition, rookie stringbean Ross Detwiler earned his first MLB win — in his lucky 13th start. The 6’5″, 180-lb. Detwiler scattered seven hits in six innings and disappeared at one point of the game — then magically reappeared when he turned his shoulders square to the TV camera.

Another tough loss for Nelson Figueroa, who spun six innings of six-hit ball, striking out five but allowing two runs to cross the plate.

Notes

The Mets had runners in scoring position in six different innings, but never drove one in. They left 10 on base during the game.

Some guy named Mike Morse went 3-for-4 with a solo homer. He’s a 6’5″, 235-lb. infielder / outfielder plucked from the Seattle organization in late June. He was also a teammate of Jeremy Reed both in the ChiSox and Mariners organizations. The Mets couldn’t get this guy in the J.J. Putz deal?

At one point in the telecast, Kevin Burkhardt suggested that Pedro Feliciano wouldn’t mind expanding his role from LOOGY to setup man. I don’t know if Perpetual Pedro could handle the role, but it certainly would’ve made sense to give him the chance this September. Everyone is in agreement that Feliciano can retire lefthanded hitters with acceptable consistency, and Mets manager Jerry Manuel has bemoaned many times the lack of a “crossover guy”. It’s too late now, but it might have made sense to give Feliciano a shot to pitch against both lefties AND righties, to learn whether he could be that guy, rather than continuing to set up “matchups” in these meaningless games.

Next Mets Game

The Mets and Nationals play again on Tuesday night at 7:05 PM. Mike Pelfrey faces J.D. Martin.

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Mets Game 152: Loss to Braves

Braves 3 Mets 1

The Mets were down by only a run for most of this game — in fact they were winning for a few minutes — but there was never a point where I felt, “hey, they have a chance to win”. I simply sat in front of the TV and waited for them to lose. Sad.

Nelson Figueroa was very good, but not good enough to earn a win. He allowed two runs on two hits and three walks in a seven-inning, 126-pitch effort.

Unfortunately for Figgy, Atlanta’s Jair Jurrjens was just a little bit better, allowing only one run on five hits and three walks through seven-innings and 94 pitches.

The Braves added an insurance run against Frankie Fantastik, who may have thrown a scoreless inning if Carlos Beltran had been playing a deeper centerfield on Yunel Escobar’s double — or if Angel Pagan had been playing more shallow in left on Adam LaRoche’s single that scored Escobar. Or maybe if Omir Santos could have caught the ball before it was hit. Certainly, it wasn’t Frankie’s fault.

Notes

Figgy has had his rough outings, but he’s also proven he can hold his own as a starting pitcher at the MLB level. I would like to see him return in 2010 as a swing man / spot starter. He may not wow the sabermetricians with his stats but he gets the most out of ability and finds a way to compete. That is inspiring, can rub off on teammates, and is a value that can’t be measured with a calculator.

Last night I noticed Brian Stokes with a little extra rotation. Tonight my eyes saw Sean Green going just a little more underhand. To me it seemed Green was closer to 6 o’clock / 5:30 as opposed to his more 3:30 / 4 o’clock angle. Are my eyes deceiving me lately, or am I seeing actual mechanical changes?

If Green IS in fact going more “down under”, I would think that’s a good thing. The closer he gets to Chad Bradford-like underhand, the less stress there is on the arm — which in turn would allow him to pitch more frequently without a loss in effectiveness. Assuming, of course, that he can pitch as effectively at such an angle.

Brooks Conrad made a pinch-hitting appearance for the Braves. His name makes me think of a 1950s character actor.

Gary Cohen reported that Alex Cora had successful surgery on his other thumb, then further suggested that the Mets “need to see more of him next year”. Huh? Even if he returns — which in itself is a longshot — I don’t believe we want to see any MORE of Alex Cora in 2010. He’s a bench player, which means if we see more of him, it also means one (or more than one) of the starters is on the DL for a significant period of time. I get Cohen’s point — that Cora is supposedly a great clubhouse guy and a veteran leader — but we don’t want to see any more of him than we saw in 2009. Less, preferably.

Next Mets Game

The final game of the series occurs at 7:10 PM on Wednesday night. Mike Pelfrey faces Tim Hudson, who will be making his fifth MLB start since returning from Tommy John surgery.

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Mets Game 147: Loss to Braves

Braves 7 Mets 3

You can’t pin this one on Danny Boy.

Daniel Murphy went 3-for-4 with a double, two runs scored, and his 10th homerun of the season, but it wasn’t enough to carry the team to victory.

Since there was no postgame interview with Frankie Rodriguez, I’m not sure who’s to blame for this one. Instead I’ll move right on to the notes …

Notes

Nelson Figueroa had a rough night, allowing 6 runs on 9 hits and a walk in 5 innings — an average of 2 baserunners an inning. Not a good formula for success. He may have felt the game was falling apart from the opening pitch, since Murphy was starting at first base. Though, he didn’t admit that publicly.

On the bright side, Tobi Stoner looked good. Not good by MLB standards, but good compared to what we’ve seen of him thus far. He allowed a run on 4 hits and a walk. You know it’s a bad season when a reliever allows 5 baserunners in 3 innings and it’s called a “good” outing.

Angel Pagan hit another triple – his 10th of the season, and the second-best total in the NL.

Other than Pagan, Murphy, and two hits by Wilson Valdez of all people, the Mets didn’t do much against Jair Jurrjens, who hurled seven stellar frames and allowed one earned run.

The Mets were swept for the second time this September, and have lost five in a row. They’re making a strong run for the #4 pick overall in next June’s draft. Pray for a hot run by the Orioles.

The Braves, meanwhile, are on a seven-game win streak, and narrowed the gap between them and the Wild Card-leading Rockies to 4 1/2.

Next Mets Game

The Mets return to New York for a three-game series with the Nationals — before seeing the Braves follow them to Flushing on Monday. Friday night’s opener vs. Washington pits J.D. Martin vs. Mike Pelfrey.

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Mets Game 141: Loss to Phillies

Phillies 4 Mets 2

An uninspiring loss on a gloomy day of sad memories through stormy weather.

Nelson Figueroa wasn’t pretty, but he did the job, holding the Phils to two runs in 5 1/3 innings while scattering 9 hits and 5 walks. He struggled every inning but somehow managed to keep too many runs from scoring. Unfortunately, the Mets offense was completely handcuffed by Cole Hamels, who allowed only one run through 6 2/3 innings.

Hamels earned his first win over the Mets since 2006, and his ninth victory of the season.

Notes

Hamels had an intriguing approach in this game, relying predominantly on his change-up and other soft stuff to set up his fastball, which he used sparingly. Generally you see more fastballs on a windy, rainy day, but the plan worked well for Hamels. The Mets waved weakly at the low-speed hurls and froze when the 90+ heaters entered the zone. In fact it looked as though the umpire was surprised at some of the fastballs, to the point where he might have missed a few calls that should’ve been strikes.

When Angel Pagan made a nice running catch to nab a Carlos Ruiz fly ball in the seventh, Keith Hernandez remarked, “That was ‘Carlos Beltran-esque’. Angel Pagan can go get ’em, he’s an excellent defensive outfielder”. He forgot to add, “when he’s not running into other outfielders, misjudging fly balls, taking bad routes to balls in the gap, and forgetting how many outs there are.” Otherwise, yeah, he’s “excellent” out there.

Jeremy Reed is quietly winning a job as a fourth or fifth outfielder next year — though it may not be for the Mets. He ripped his 15th pinch-hit of the season, which would’ve scored anyone in baseball from second other than Omir Santos or Ramon Castro (unfortunately, Santos was the runner). Having that kind of bat in the late innings is hard to find, and rarely found matched with a plus-plus glove and above-average speed. However, I doubt the Mets will pay the $1M+ he’ll command. Watch him get non-tendered and hook up with someone else next year.

Things are so bad that I caught myself rooting for Jimmy Rollins and Jayson Werth at certain points in the game. Sorry, but it’s hard for a former player not to appreciate the effort and execution of the Phillies. They’re tough, motivated, unflappable, confident, and polished.

The Mets have now lost four in a row, and are 19 games behind the league-leading Phillies. I’m not certain, but I think one more loss this weekend will mathematically eliminate the Mets from the NL East championship.

Next Mets Game

The Mets and Phillies do it again at 4:05 PM on Saturday afternoon. Eternal enigma Mike Pelfrey faces the ageless Jamie Moyer.

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Mets Game 136: Loss to Cubs

Cubs 5 Mets 3

So much for the winning streak.

Nelson Figueroa was rocked for four runs on seven hits in six innings, and the Mets offense couldn’t unravel the mystery of Rich Harden, as the Flushing nine was beaten for the first time since Wednesday in Colorado.

Notes

Figgy wasn’t all that bad, and he struck out 8, but two of his mistakes left the ballpark. Allowing four runs in six innings is about par for the course for a #5 starter.

Rookie sensation Josh Thole rapped another two singles. His swing reminds me of a cross between Pete Rose and Rod Carew. No passed balls and no wild pitches allowed behind the plate; he caught a fairly solid game.

Cory Sullivan knocked one over the fence for the second time in as many days. If he keeps up this rate he could wind up leading the Mets in homers before the end of the month.

The Mets struck out a remarkable 13 times — including 10 whiffs in the first 5 innings against Harden. This is not normal — the Mets are the hardest team to strike out in the NL.

Some of the hometown crowd was thrilled to see Aaron Heilman allow a run, two hits, and a wild pitch in his Citi Field debut. At least some people had something to cheer about.

Derrek Lee went 3-for-4 with 3 RBI, 3 runs, and 2 homeruns.

The boxscore claims the Mets had ten hits … I must’ve missed nine of them.

Next Mets Game

The rubber match will be played at 1:10 PM on Sunday. Mike Pelfrey pitches against Randy Wells.

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Do the Auditions Really Matter?

The Mets’ season has been officially meaningless for several weeks now, making the last quarter of the season something of a mass tryout. Heading into September, we’re hoping to see a few more fresh, young faces, and assuming we’ll garner information that will help shape the 2010 Mets roster.

Or will we?

A major consideration is this: what happens if some of the auditions go bad? For example, what if Bobby Parnell continues to have trouble getting past the fourth inning, remains very hittable, and still doesn’t have a reliable secondary pitch at the end of September? He still will be penciled in to the back of the 2010 rotation, won’t he? Somehow, the Mets will glean a shining moment or two from his outings, grasp onto it, and spin it as the reason he has “a bright future”.

Similarly, we’ll get a whiff of Josh Thole — and if he fails, does that mean the Mets will sign Bengie Molina or make a blockbuster trade to bring in a new catcher over the winter?

In contrast, what if Thole hits .400 and proves to be adequte behind the plate over, say, a 15-game span? Is that enough of a sample to mark him down as the catcher of the future? To bring back Brian Schneider at a reduced rate to be his guru? Methinks the decision has already been made, one way or the other.

And what does this last month really mean for players like Cory Sullivan, Angel Pagan, and Jeremy Reed? Are all three in competition for next year’s fourth outfielder position? Maybe, but if at least two of them are re-signed, the competition begins again next March, does it not? In fact, September likely means more to those three outfielders than to anyone else on the 40-man roster. (Though, in the end the least expensive of the three is most likely to be seen in Port St. Lucie in March — and that’s probably Pagan.)

Dan Murphy may be the biggest question of all — and one mystery that may not be unraveled by October. Should Murphy continue the strong pace he’s held for the last few weeks through September, he’ll finish around .275-.280 with a .325 OBP and maybe 10 HRs. What will that strong finish mean to the Mets plans for first base? The starting job for Murphy next year? And if Murphy slumps in September, does the plan become to acquire a first baseman?

Other than Parnell, is anyone getting a true “audition” for the pitching staff? The starting rotation currently includes Tim Redding, Pat Misch, and Nelson Figueroa. Are any of those three really being considered for next year? Figgy is coming off an outstanding start, but he’ll likely have to repeat that performance four or five times to get a legit shot at next year’s rotation. Yet, if Parnell pulls off a similar outing, many will point to it as a reason to mark him down as the #4 starter in 2010.

My point is this: during these “auditions”, people will see only what they want to see — the opinions are predetermined, and people will look for evidence to support that determination. If someone believes today that Bobby Parnell should be starting next season, it won’t matter if his ERA continues to balloon over the next four weeks — they’ll hang on to the fact that his slider has improved. If Figueroa spins three more starts like yesterday’s, they’ll be dismissed by those who view him as a journeyman at the end of his career. Should Dan Murphy slump in September, his supporters will accentuate his hot streaks and point out his advancement in the field; conversely, if he hits .350 over the final weeks, his detractors will harp on his lack of homerun power.

But that doesn’t apply only to fans — it’s also pervasive in the front office and the coaching staff. We know this because it’s the way they’ve operated over the past several years. Ironically, you need look no further than Murphy for the most recent evidence. As you may remember he was written in as the starting left fielder on the first day of spring training — it didn’t matter that Jeremy Reed flashed a better glove and was the team’s leading hitter. The handling of Mike Pelfrey at the beginning of his career was similar; the Mets made the decision that Pelf was ready for MLB and kept sending him to the mound regardless of how overmatched he looked (sound familiar?). The Mets’ expectations regarding players coming off injury is perhaps most telling. For example, the 2008 bullpen was built around the assumption that Duaner Sanchez would be the setup man –and stayed with that plan even after he failed to break a pane of glass in spring training. Similarly, they assembled the 2009 starting rotation with the idea that John Maine was 100%. Again, even after Maine struggled mightily all spring, he was expected to be the #2 or #3 starter. They had not seen his lack of command and hittability — they saw whatever it was they wanted to see (velocity? spin on the curve?), that would justify their preconceptions.

We can pretend that the final month is a “tryout” of sorts, but really, it’s four weeks to gather and collect information that supports preconceived notions. Along the way, someone for whom you have reserved no judgment may surprise you.

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Mets Game 131: Win Over Cubs

Mets 4 Cubs 1

The Mets continue to impress by salvaging at least one win per series. If they can continue to win at least one out of every three, they are almost guaranteed to stay ahead of the cellar-dwelling Nationals. Keep fighting, men!

Though the season is over for most of the Mets fan base, it’s just beginning for Nelson Figueroa. He made the most of his opportunity in Chicago, pulling off perhaps the best start of his Major League career. Figgy struck out 10, walked 2, and allowed only 6 hits and 1 earned run in 7 innings.

Meanwhile, the Mets made mincemeat out of Carlos Zambrano, pummeling him for 4 runs and 11 hits in only 3 1/1 innings of work. Strangely enough, the Mets basically singled him to death — Anderson Hernandez’s run-scoring triple in the fourth was the only extra-base hit of the afternoon.

Brian Stokes pitched a perfect eighth and Frankie Fantastic earned his 28th save of the season with a scoreless ninth.

Notes

Figueroa also had an RBI single, scoring the fourth run of the ballgame.

Figgy became the only Mets pitcher not named Santana to strike out 10 in a game this season.

Former Cub Angel Pagan was 3-for-5 with a run scored and his 12th stolen base. Luis Castillo was the only other Met with more than one hit; he was 2-for-5 but struck out twice — unusual for him.

After Zambrano left the game, the Mets mustered only one hit the rest of the way against four Cub relievers.

Next Mets Game

The Mets get a well-deserved day off on Monday, then meet the Rockies in Colorado on Tuesday night. Mike Pelfrey starts for the Mets, no word yet on the Colorado hurler. Game time is 8:40 PM EST.

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Mets Game 126: Loss to Marlins

Marlins 2 Mess 1

After a whirlwind of news, moves, and another appearance by Mushmouth, the Mets game against the Marlins was something of a denouement. What the Mets needed was a deus ex machina.

(Why all the literary references? Why not? If the Mets can’t provide any entertainment, at least we can provide some education … the kiddies will be on their way back to school shortly, after all.)

Nelson Figueroa did a workmanlike, respectable job in the ace’s hole, allowing one earned run on four hits in five innings. About the best as could be expected, considering that he’d thrown 6 innings in the previous seven days and was sent to the mound on short notice. However, his best wasn’t good enough on this evening, as the Mets offense could muster only one run against the Fish.

Two key moments of the game: Dan Murphy’s two errors on one play in the fourth that led to the Marlins’ tying run, and the Mets’ inability to score any runs in the top of the fifth, despite loading the bases and having Jeff Francoeur at the plate with a 3-0 count. Francoeur eventually popped out, and Fernando Tatis followed with a strikeout to end the inning and the only semblance of a rally for the Mets on the evening.

Notes

Sean Green threw 50 pitches over two innings of scoreless relief; he allowed five baserunners but none crossed the plate.

Francoeur was the only Met to collect more hits than Nelson Figueroa.

Dan Murphy’s ten-game hitting streak came to an end; he was 0-for-4, seeing 10 pitches in his four plate appearances.

Former Met Matt Lindstrom made an appearance, striking out one and looking dominating with a 98-MPH fastball. Good thing the Mets traded that guy.

Next Mets Game

The Mets and Marlins do it again at 7:10 PM on Wednesday night. Mike Pelfrey faces Josh Johnson in a battle of giants.

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