Archive for the ‘Mets Postseason’ Category

By Steven Inmangiants-mets

After a rollercoaster year, the Mets 2016 season comes down to one game. As Met fans, it’s easy to complain that after 162 games  it’s unfair to be put in this position, to face off with the best postseason pitcher of this generation in a 1-game series but after all the injuries the Mets had, this 87 win team should consider themselves lucky to be here. If this was still 5 years ago with just the 1 Wild Card, the Mets would be in this spot anyway with the Giants, who finished with the same record as New York. They would have just played a 1-game tiebreaker at Citi Field anyway. While this Met team has made an incredible run, the statistics are not on their side. Madison Bumgarner is coming off the best regular season of his career in terms of ERA (2.74), innings pitched (226.2) and strikeouts (251). The Mets also badly struggle against lefties and that has gotten worse since Wilmer Flores slid head first into a catcher and was lost for the season. Flores had 11 homers against left-handers this season, the most by any Met.

With that said the Giants are not unbeatable. Other than a huge confidence boost to the San Francisco club, even-year magic is not a thing. If the Mets do the following things, they will be in Chicago on Friday.

 

  1. Get that Bumgarner pitch count up

This one seems fairly obvious but the Mets chances to advance would spike dramatically if Bumgarner doesn’t go long tonight. Bumgarner averaged just 15.8 pitches per inning in the regular season which would give him at least 7 innings tonight. That isn’t going to get it done for the Mets. Not only is Bumgarner efficient but he works deep in games. No National League pitcher averaged more pitches per game than the Giants ace (105 per game). Bumgarner throws a ton of strikes and the Mets are going to have to work good at-bats. The at-bats that end in 7 or 8 pitch outs will be considered small victories tonight for New York.

Keep in mind that the Giants will have two starters waiting in the pen should Mad Bum not give San Francisco the length they need or if this game goes extras like the American League Wild Card game did. While Johnny Cueto and Jeff Samardzija are no slouches, I would rather take my chances with them over a guy with a 0.25 ERA in 36 World Series innings and a 5-0 record with a 1.80 ERA against the Mets.

 

  1. Stick with the home run ball

While it’s not going to be easy to square up Bumgarner, he has been susceptible to the long ball this season. Bumgarner gave up 26 homers this year, a career high. When the Mets don’t homer they flat out don’t win a lot of ball games. It’s crucial that the Mets flex their muscles tonight whether against Bumgarner or the Giants bullpen. Both Jay Bruce and Rene Rivera have a home run against Bumgarner in limited at-bats. The Mets are going to need Yoenis Cespedes, who left the regular season in his biggest slump since becoming a Met, to wake up. Bumgarner doesn’t walk many so it’s unlikely he’ll pitch around Cespedes tonight.

 

  1. Noah Syndergaard, Rene Rivera slows down the Giants running game

It seems pretty obvious to the baseball world now that Noah Syndergaard can’t hold baserunners. The number of stolen bases he allowed led baseball by a wide margin. It looked like for most of the regular season if a player on first or second felt like padding his stolen base stats he could at any point in the game without contest. While Rene Rivera becoming the starting catcher has helped calm things down, Syndergaard and Rivera are still going to have to deal with that tonight. The Mets catch a huge break as Eduardo Nunez (hamstring), one of the Giants biggest stolen base threats, is not on the Wild Card roster. Syndergaard doesn’t have much of a pickoff move, allowing runners to get huge leads so he must change his times to the plate by holding the ball different amounts of times before going home. Or he can simply get everyone out tonight and not let the running game influence this critical matchup.

 

  1. Terry doesn’t pull a Buck Showalter

Jeurys Familia has had an incredible season, a year where he eclipsed the Mets save record by a wide margin but there was a better closer in the American League this year by the name Zach Britton. Britton was perfect in save chances on the year and watched his team’s season end from the bullpen. Now not using Familia or even Addison Reed has never been a Terry Collins issue but it is imperative that should the Mets have a lead in the 7th he skip the middle men and get the ball to Reed and Familia once Syndergaard’s day is done. The Mets may need the two dominant relievers to get 9 outs tonight.

If the Mets get Bumgarner’s pitch count up, hit a homer or two, limit the Giants running game and Terry Collins doesn’t do anything head scratching, the Mets will be set to face the 103-win Cubs Friday night. The Giants have a ton of experience in games like this but the experience that Noah and the team received in Game 5 of NLDS on the road last year should help prepare them for the pressure that come with surviving an elimination game tonight.

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By Steven Inman

New York Mets Spring Training

Daniel Murphy’s bat will be missed on the 2016 Mets

After years of speculation that Daniel Murphy was on his way out of Queens, it has finally happened. Daniel Murphy held out hope this winter that the Mets would change their minds and negotiate with him but it never happened.

With Neil Walker becoming the Mets second basemen, Murphy, the 2nd longest tenured Met, is no longer is a fit. After the Neil Walker trade, Murphy’s agreement to join the rival Nationals came together fairly quickly. The Mets were never interested in bringing Murphy back on anything longer than a one or possibly two-year contract. Even though Murphy wanted to stay, the club really never considered a contract extension for Murph while he wore the blue and orange.

Having draft pick compensation attached to the postseason hero hurt Murphy in free agency, but not enough to prevent him from netting a three-year contract worth a reported $37.5M with the Nats.

While Walker is a very solid player, it is easy to see Murphy returning to Citi Field next season and hurting the Mets in an important divisional matchup.

In a league where offense is down throughout the sport, Murphy’s strengths make him a good fit on most teams but he is a perfect fit for the Washington Nationals. The Nats are extremely right-handed as Bryce Harper and the switch-hitting Danny Espinosa are the only lefty bats in the Nats everyday lineup. (Espinosa is a career .217 hitter left-handed)

Murphy will likely play second base for Washington which will allow Anthony Rendon to continue to play at third base. If Rendon or Ryan Zimmerman (two players who missed a combined 149 games last season) go down Murphy could move all around the infield.

Murphy, 30, is a .294 hitter in 56 career games at Nationals Park. No everyday player struck out less than Murphy in 2015. He is a consistent hitter that will bring some stability to a Nationals lineup that was extremely streaky a season ago. Perhaps most importantly the Nationals are taking away that consistent bat from their biggest threat to take back the NL East.

Will the Mets regret letting Murphy walk?

By Steven Inman

Daniel Murphy and Yoenis Cespedes will be cashing in this winter

Daniel Murphy and Yoenis Cespedes will be cashing in this winter

With the World Series now over, 9 Mets have become free agents. The Mets can’t rest on their NL Pennant and must get to work in bringing back or replacing the players they are losing. Sandy Alderson and company as always will be looking for more power but finding players that can play a little defense too wouldn’t hurt after seeing the infield defense struggle the way that they did in the 5 games vs the Royals.

if the goal is to improve the defense obviously fan favorite Daniel Murphy will not be re-signed. Murphy, 30, will be a free agent for the first time in his career if he declines the qualifying offer, which he is likely to do. He has played in 903 regular season games as a Met and is 2nd on the Mets all-time list in doubles. Murphy has had some incredible moments as a Met most notably 7 homers in the first two rounds of the 2015 playoffs and is the second longest tenured Met behind David Wright but it probably makes the most sense for the Mets to let Murphy sign elsewhere and get a draft pick for him. Wilmer Flores would perform better defensively at second base and it would allow the club to look for a more defensive minded starting shortstop. Murphy is likely deserving of a Chase Headley type contract (4 years, $52M) and the Mets with their limited resources are better off using that money to find shortstop/relief help. Despite his poor play in the World Series, Murphy should be remembered fondly by the Citi Field faithful for his amazing postseason.

Yoenis Cespedes is looking for a contract north of $100 million this winter. Based off his strong 2015 regular season if you compare him to similar outfielders, he certainly deserves it. Having said that it would probably be best for the Mets to spread out that money on a number of players. Cespedes was a key factor in the Mets winning their first division title in nine years as his August was one of the best in Mets history and his homer off Drew Storen really seemed to win the Mets the NL East. That being said he had a difficult postseason and is probably best in a corner outfield spot, where the Mets already have Michael Conforto and Curtis Granderson. While the Mets are better off spending their money elsewhere, acquiring Yoenis from the Tigers was one of if not the best move Alderson has made as the Mets General Manager. The Mets should look for a lefty hitting centerfielder to pair with Juan Lagares. A player like Gerardo Parra or Colby Rasmus could work.

Bartolo Colon was a joy for Met fans to watch in 2015. He gave the Mets a chance to win a majority of his time on the mound and his at-bats were must watch tv. After 18 seasons in the big leagues as a starting pitcher, Colon somehow morphed himself into a solid reliever in the playoffs. A reliever that Terry Collins probably should have used more. Colon, 42, is still a serviceable back end starter and likely is looking for a contract in the $6-7M range. While Colon was worth that money for the Mets in 2015, it’s probably best to go with Jonathon Niese in the Mets 5th starter role in the upcoming season.

Tyler Clippard was the move that was supposed to fix the bridge to Jeurys Familia. While that worked at first, Clippard struggled down the stretch and was a disaster in the playoffs. Collins’ loyality to Clippard betrayed him in Game 4 of the World Series. Clippard was unable to get his great changeup down in the zone as a Met and as a result was hit very hard. It is probably best if the Mets look elsewhere for relief help.

The Mets got a lot out of these 4 players in 2015 and while they all have value, it is probably best if the Mets replace these players with cheaper options or even internally. Players like Juan Uribe, Jerry Blevins and Kelly Johnson could have value to the Mets in some type of role and their free agent status should be monitored.

Who should the Mets be looking to re-sign?

By Steven InmanCapture

The Mets roller coaster 2015 season has now come to an end. This may be the Mets most memorable year since 1986. A season that started with an early 11-game winning streak, followed with months of offensive ineptitude, a pair of sensational rookie starting pitchers finding their footing in the bigs, a trade that wasn’t, a trade that was, a strong summer overtaking the division favorite Nationals followed by a magical playoff run. The ride ended on a somber note Sunday when the Royals came back late in Game 5 to defeat the Mets and win the World Series 4 games to 1.

It was a tough ending to a great season but the Mets have plenty to be proud of. The Mets hadn’t been over .500 in 6 straight seasons and somehow found themselves in the World Series.

The weaknesses (infield defense, bullpen) we discussed last March somehow didn’t seem to impact the Mets much in the regular season or even in the first two rounds of the playoffs but New York was really exposed defensively by the Royals put the ball in play approach.

The Royals were 7 of 7 stealing bases off Travis d’Arnaud in the World Series and key errors by Daniel Murphy, David Wright and Lucas Duda really seemed to open the door in three Royals wins. The Mets were simply a bad matchup with the Royals because of the Royals strengths but the World Series would still be going on if the Mets weren’t so sloppy defensively. Looking back on it, the Mets long layoff after the NLCS obviously didn’t help the Mets sleeping offense.

Despite all that this season is a major step forward for the New York Mets. Back in July we were all on “Terry Watch”  waiting to see if Collins would be fired if the team continued to slump offensively. We wondered when Sandy Alderson would finally make a bold move to acquire a hitter. Three months later thanks to those bold moves the offense got hot and New York finally got to see what the Mets Big 4 pitchers could do on the big stage as the Mets won their 5th pennant in franchise history.

The Mets Big 4 pitchers all are under club control for the next few seasons and the Amazin’s will get a full season of Michael Conforto next year so there is no reason to think Terry Collins’ club can’t make another World Series run next season. A lot depends on what Alderson and company do this winter but the Mets should be NL East favorites next season. With the added playoff revenue perhaps the Mets will be able to acquire a bat or two to replace Yoenis Cespedes and Daniel Murphy as they hit free agency.

By Steven InmanMLB World Series

By now you are aware that for the first time since 2000, the Mets are going to the World Series. The Amazin’s journey to this point has been incredible but the final step to get this club down the Canyon of Heroes depends on the next two weeks. This Kansas City Royals team is on a mission after a difficult loss in Game 7 to the San Francisco Giants during the 2014 World Series.

The Royals biggest strength is their bullpen led by Wade Davis and Kelvin Herrera. Obviously it is imperative that the Mets get leads before KC can go with those two dynamic pitchers. KC will be the toughest test this Met team has seen all year but the Royals can be defeated if the Mets can do the following things.

  1. Keep Alcides Escobar off base

Escobar had a difficult regular season offensively (.293 OBP) but has been the Royals spark plug in the playoffs. Escobar who doesn’t hit for much power and almost refuses to walk has been extraordinary in October. Escobar went 11 for 23 (.478 AVG) with three extra base hits in the six ALCS games vs the Blue Jays. While Escobar doesn’t get on base at a high clip normally, the Royals really seem to play much better when he hits leadoff. Escobar led off in 131 games for KC in the regular season and batted first in all 6 games of the ALCS. When Escobar is on base the Royals can do a lot of things with good contact hitters like Ben Zobrist, Lorenzo Cain and Eric Hosmer behind him. Keeping the top of this Royals order off base is going to be a very difficult task.

  1. Met Pitchers change timing to the plate

As most saw in the 2014 playoffs, the Royals have the ability to alter a game with their speed. Lorenzo Cain and company showed in Game 6 of the ALCS that base running is still a major weapon in their offensive attack. While Travis d’Arnaud’s throwing has improved in 2015, base runners still stole at a 74.4% clip in the regular season with the young backstop behind the plate, which ranked 24th in the league among catchers who played in 60 or more regular season games. Met pitchers changing their timing to the plate and even just holding the ball longer on the mound can go a long way in helping d’Arnaud throw out runners this series.

  1. Met pitchers don’t be afraid to throw off-speed pitches in key situations

The Royals all season have feasted off fastballs. The Royals also were the best in the big leagues in batting average against 94+mph fastballs. The Mets big three right-handed starters have some of the best fastballs in the majors. The Royals right-handed bats hit .350 with 13 homers against right-handed fastballs but just .187 against breaking balls. The Royals lefty swingers also performed well against RH fastballs. (.340 AVG, 15 HR vs FB, .169 AVG, 5 HR vs breaking balls) In game 6 of the ALCS Kansas City was hitting David Price’s fastball hard to start the game. The Blue Jays ace starting mixing in his breaking pitches which helped keep hitters off his fastball. Price really got into a rhythm by using his breaking pitches which helped his great fastball play up later on in the game.

When throwing fastballs in key situations against the Royals the best place to attack is up and out of the strike zone. KC hit just .239 against fastballs up and above the zone during the 2015 regular season. (.358 AVG down in the zone) The Mets will hopefully be prepared for this when they head to KC for Game 1 on Tuesday.

The Royals are going to be extremely difficult to beat but the Mets have come back from so much this season. If the Mets follow these keys they have a great chance at being World Champions.

By Steven Inman 

Daniel Murphy has been circling the bases a lot recently Photo from USA Today

Daniel Murphy has been circling the bases a lot recently
Photo from USA Today

In case you haven’t heard by now, Daniel Murphy is having one of the greatest, if not the all-time best postseason a Met has ever had. Murphy is batting .364 with six home runs and 9 RBI in just 8 postseason games. He has struck fear in several Cy Young candidates.

The Mets new slugger has homered in 5 straight games, matching a postseason record set by Carlos Beltran back in 2004 with the Astros. Many consider Beltran’s run with Houston the greatest contract push in the history of baseball. It was a tear that helped Beltran get a seven year $119 million contract with the Mets 10 years ago.

Coincidentally Murphy is a free agent this winter and as we at BrokeMets have been reporting for months, Murphy is highly unlikely to be back with the Mets next season. They have discussed Murphy in trades the past few seasons (including this year) and believe a combination of Wilmer Flores and Dilson Herrera can be nearly as productive in 2016. The Mets weren’t thrilled about paying Murphy $8 million this season so giving him a raise along with a 4 or even 5-year contract is highly unlikely.

That being said, if the Mets can win five more games, Murphy along with the rest of this Met team will be remembered and revered like the 1969 and 1986 clubs were. Murphy will own a piece of Mets history and will be beloved in New York long after his time as a major league ballplayer is up. If the Mets can win Game 4, barring something unforeseen Murphy is likely to be named NLCS MVP, an honor that only one other Met has ever had. (Mike Hampton, 2000)

Heading into the Postseason Murphy’s camp was likely looking for a contract near what Chase Headley got from the Yankees last winter (4-years $52 million) where they would ultimately settle for a Martin Prado type contract. (4-years $40 million) Now after one of the greatest power streaks over the last decade of postseason baseball, Murphy is likely to command Chase Headley money which probably thrills the Mets front office.

The Mets are probably ecstatic that Murphy continues drive up his price. First off and most importantly, Murphy is leading the Mets to their 1st World Series berth since 2000. Secondly now the Mets can offer Murphy the $15.8M qualifying offer without a guarantee that he would accept it. If Murphy declines the Mets get a top draft pick should he sign elsewhere. If he accepts the deal (unlikely) then the Mets could trade their postseason hero who will be on another one -year deal. He would still have a market on a $15.8M one-year contract. Jon Heyman reported today that the Mets are now looking to offer Murphy the QO. Lastly now the front office can reasonably justify to the fan base that they tried to keep Murphy by extending him the Qualifying Offer and that their resources are better used elsewhere than matching the large contract he could receive.

A 13th round pick back in 2006 by the Mets, Murphy has given everything he has to the Amazin’s. Last season he was the Mets lone All-Star player and now he and the rest of his Met teammates have gotten the recognition that they now deserve. For someone who works as hard as Murphy it is nice to see a player perform when the lights are the brightest. Continue to enjoy this run Met fans…

By Steven Inman nlds

  • The wait is nearly over. After nine very long years, the Mets will be playing their first postseason game tonight in Los Angeles. Terry Collins and company will hand the ball off to their 1A ace, Jacob deGrom, who was simply spectacular this season and will finish in the top 5 in NL CY Young voting. Despite his accomplishments this season, deGrom and the Mets will still be underdogs in Game 1 facing Clayton Kershaw who has simply been dominant this season. The reigning NL MVP is 7-1, with a 1.37 ERA over his last 11 starts. He is also baseball’s first 300 strikeout pitcher in over a decade. Unfortunately for the Mets, they will likely see Kershaw twice in this best of five series. That being said the Dodgers and Kershaw can be beaten. Here are the Mets keys to the series.

Key 1: Work Long Plate Appearances 

It goes without saying but the Dodgers are obviously a much weaker team when Clayton Kershaw or Zack Greinke aren’t on the mound. The Mets may not be able to do much damage against the Dodgers two aces but if they can get them out of the game after six innings somehow, they should be in decent shape. The Dodgers bullpen is 7-10 with a 4.24 ERA since July 25th. Hardly the same production that Kershaw and Greinke bring. Kenley Jansen is the only reliever that Dodger fans can trust so if the Mets can force Don Mattingly to go to his other relievers then New York should have the advantage.

Curtis Granderson at the top of the order will be the biggest key for Game 1. Granderson who badly struggles against lefties and is just 1 for 10 against Kershaw needs to draw out long at bats. The quicker the Mets can get into the Dodgers bullpen, the better chance they have to win. Plus getting into the Dodgers bullpen allows Terry Collins to utilize lefty bat Michael Conforto more, who is likely just a pinch hitter vs three of the four Dodgers starters in this series.

Key 2: Get ahead in the count on Adrian Gonzalez

Adrian Gonzalez is the Dodgers best bat but like most of the Dodger hitters not named Corey Seager, he has struggled to date, batting just .176 with zero extra base hits over his last 11 games. If the Mets can keep Gonzalez in check, they should have a very good chance at moving on to the NLCS.  Gonzalez is very good at sitting on one particular pitch and waiting for the pitcher to throw it. He can get in trouble when he waits for a pitch that doesn’t come and gets behind in the count. Gonzalez is hitting just .127 with 4 home runs when behind in the count 0-2 this season. Getting head of Gonzalez will be key for the Mets all week.

Key 3: Regain home field advantage

If the Mets can somehow take one of these two games in LA vs Kershaw and Greinke they will be sitting pretty with Matt Harvey on the mound in Game 3 with something to prove. The crowd will be in it and the Mets will be facing Brett Anderson, a solid pitcher but a major downgrade to what LA used in Games 1 & 2.

Expect these to be low scoring games where the Mets great young starting pitching will be asked to match two of the greatest pitchers in the world. They certainly have the talent to do it. It brings together the most important question of the series, are the Mets young pitchers running out of gas? Or will they outpitch the Dodgers and become household names across the nation. We find out tonight.