Mets Game 138: Win Over Nationals

Mets 6 Nationals 3

By taking two of three from Washington, the Mets solidify their third-place spot in the standings, separating themselves from the Nationals by four games with only 24 games to play. Ah, the excitement of September baseball!

Mets Game NoteS

Mike Pelfrey started out the afternoon pitching with a purpose — he looked confident, determined, aggressive, and almost mean. He cruised through the first three frames, firing strikes and looking like the guy we saw for a brief period in the first half of 2010. Then in the fourth inning, facing the Nats lineup for the second time around, he fell apart. Completely. Suddenly, he wasn’t throwing strikes. His demeanor changed — he became unsure, less aggressive. He picked around the plate, and when he went to two strikes on a hitter, couldn’t put him away. Pelfrey threw 36 pitches in that fourth frame, allowing three runs on three hits and a walk. He threw another 29 pitches in the fifth inning, and left it with two outs. Of his 106 pitches on the afternoon, 64 were for strikes. Of those 64, 6 came on swings and misses. Of those 6, 5 were from fastballs, and only 1 from the slider. He threw 16 sliders, and got only one swing and miss from it — that’s a problem, because the slider is supposed to be a swing-and-miss pitch. But, this goes back to Pelfrey’s first foray into MLB, when his curveball was taken away from him to speed his progress and he was forced to use the slider as his offspeed / breaking / second pitch.

Lucky for Pelfrey, the Mets came back in the sixth with a four-run outburst to get him off the hook and spare him from what could’ve been his 12th loss of the year.

The Mets successfully executed their first squeeze play of 2011 in the sixth, with Mike Nickeas bunting home Jason Bay. This is exactly the type of aggressive small ball that Terry Collins was supposed to be bringing to the game plan. So, why did it take until early September, with the Mets completely out of the race, for us to see it?

Josh Satin made his MLB debut, starting at 1B and stroking a single in his first at-bat. Curious why he didn’t play second base — his primary position — especially considering that Ruben Tejada started at short. I guess the organization does not see him as a second baseman, but he is unlikely to have a future with the Mets at first base. I know, it’s only one game, but we really don’t need to see how youngsters can do at first base — and we do need to see who can handle second. Don’t we?

The “other” Josh — Josh Stinson — pitched two innings without allowing a run but was less impressive compared to his MLB debut. Stinson threw 17 pitches in the sixth, only 8 of them for strikes, and allowed a booming double to Wilson Ramos. Stinson did induce a double-play ball, though, which is what he does as a sinkerballer. Overall he threw 29 pitches, 14 for strikes. Not a good ratio.

Lucas Duda hit another bomb, a solo shot to deep centerfield, to start the sixth.

More good news: Bobby Parnell converted the save without incident.

Next Mets Game

The Mets move on to Miami to face the Marlins on Monday. Game time is 7:10 PM and has Chris Capuano facing Javier Vazquez.

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. Steve S. September 4, 2011 at 5:07 pm
    Pelfrey just doesn’t get it/have it, and should be non-tendered. I’d like to see more of Stinson, but agree that he didn’t look as good today. Do you think Herrera is a good option in the pen?
    • Joe Janish September 4, 2011 at 5:15 pm
      Pelfrey is a #4 or #5 starter, and as long as that is the expectation, he’s fine for that role. But I’m not sure the Mets can afford his salary next year — which may seem high for a #4 or #5 until you look at what people like Jason Marquis get on the open market.

      As for Herrera, we’ve seen him throw 8 pitches, so who knows? He’ll cost the MLB minimum next year, which is a million less than Byrdak, so I expect to see him get a shot.

      It’s all about the Benjamins next year.

      • Steve S. September 4, 2011 at 11:55 pm
        I was thinking that the might re-sign Byrdak and have Herrera as a second LH arm in the pen—at a cost of under $2m. for both…..
        • Joe Janish September 5, 2011 at 3:36 pm
          Under $2M is too much to spend on LOOGYs for a club in rebuilding mode. Further, I doubt Byrdak will stick around — he’ll have suitors this winter. Alderson will find another TJ survivor from the junk pile for $1M or less.
  2. Joe September 4, 2011 at 5:49 pm
    Pelfrey is a back-end starter but he’s starting to get too expensive for that sort of thing. And, even for a back-ended starter, he’s tiresome to watch.

    I say there is some scrap heap sort out there to fill the Mets needs in that department given that ’12 isn’t exactly going to be a playoff year either. This is especially the case if Santana manages to pitch a few months.

    If Batista doesn’t make the next Niese start, who would?

  3. JerrysKids September 4, 2011 at 6:31 pm
    “So, why did it take until early September, with the Mets completely out of the race, for us to see it?”

    I know you like to b*%ch about everything, but that wasn’t their first squeeze of the year.

    • Joe Janish September 5, 2011 at 10:30 am
      It wasn’t? Huh. Gary Cohen was very emphatic about it being the first suicide squeeze of the year when it happened, and it was mentioned as the “first” several times afterward by the SNY crew. And then it was identified as the “first” during the SNY postgame. So if it was NOT the first, I apologize for not fact-checking my source.

      Personally I don’t remember a pure squeeze myself, though there may have been a “safety” squeeze once or twice.

      Could you please reply with the date and/or game # when the Mets last executed the suicide squeeze, so we can all be corrected? Many thanks.

      • argonbunnies September 5, 2011 at 2:35 pm
        I think your point stands either way. Whether it was the first or second, why so few?

        FWIW, I remember a squeeze being called for, but someone missed a sign, so it didn’t happen. I believe Pagan was caught off third on the play, and I’d guess it was in July. I also remember a pitcher trying to bunt with a runner on 3rd, bunting it foul, and there being some unhappiness over the runner’s jump from 3rd, so that might have been another botched squeeze.

      • argonbunnies September 5, 2011 at 2:43 pm
        oops, this post about Pelf was supposed to be at bottom
  4. Jerseymet September 4, 2011 at 10:06 pm
    Pelf is head case. Perhaps he could catch on with the Royals. Returning to Kansas could help him.
  5. Jimmy Prinzler September 4, 2011 at 10:59 pm
    Our first squeeze play and its September? If you wanted to win a division/wild card, you got to gamble early not in late when you’re out of race? So Mets are out of race and it’s a GO to gamble? Not what we need for our young core Mets to start with.
  6. Joe September 5, 2011 at 10:51 am
    Another thing — annoying that Iggy got the win for what amounts to a one batter hold.
  7. argonbunnies September 5, 2011 at 2:45 pm
    Pelf can give us what used to be acceptable #4 / #5 performance. Look around the NL now. It’s no longer acceptable.

    I mean, if you aim higher for your 5th guy and wind up with Mike Pelfrey, okay, not the end of the world. But you shouldn’t aim for Mike Pelfrey.

    Personally, I think Pelf needs to be led. He needs a coach and catcher to lay down the law, he’s not allowed to even think about shaking off a pitch. Between starts he should work on using his legs and seeing if he can stay around 93-96mph. Focus on his best secondary pitch and work on it until it becomes nasty or he blows out his elbow.

    He’ll never have great command or smarts, so focus on pure stuff and let someone else do the thinking.

    In the meantime, we should be testing his greatest asset, durability, by letting him throw 120-130 pitches per start to see what happens.

    • Joe Janish September 5, 2011 at 3:40 pm
      You may have a point re: what “used to” be acceptable for a back-end starter. So what is acceptable? Is it Capuano, who hasn’t been that much better but who “feels” like he’s been better because we had low expectations? Is Gee a #5, who, again, we had similarly low expectations and is also making the MLB minimum? Or is a backend guy better than all three …. for example, is Jon Niese a #4 or #5? I’m really not sure.

      What complicates things is when you go on the open market, for a proven back-end veteran starter, and you wind up having to pay Pelfrey-like salaries for guys like Jon Garland, Kevin Millwood, Jason Marquis, et al.

    • Joe Janish September 5, 2011 at 3:41 pm
      Also, I agree with your assessment that Pelfrey needs guidance. What are the chances he’s non-tendered, picked up by the Cardinals, and wins 15 games under Dave Duncan?
      • argonbunnies September 5, 2011 at 7:36 pm
        I know! Pelf pulling an ’09 Pineiro would be heartbreaking. However, Duncan’s general strategy seems to be “don’t walk anyone, keep the ball on the ground,” and Pelfrey’s already tried and failed at that, so I’ll take my chances.

        As for an acceptable #5, for a bad team, Pelf fits, but for a good team, I think you want someone who can give you 5-6 average innings for 25 starts, or 6-7 mediocre innings for 30 starts. And by mediocre, I mean maybe half a run above league average. Which, for the 2011 Mets, would mean a 4.20 ERA.

        Looking at Ks and BBs, I’m willing to call Niese and Capuano unlucky. I’d welcome them back as pitchers with the upside to do better in the future. With Pelf’s 4.9 K rate, I don’t see that same upside.