Sunday, August 9, 2020

Rounding the Quarter Pole

The Mets have played and won a pair of games since I posted yesterday afternoon. It's funny, but every time I've written a really pessimistic post about the Mets they seem to win a game, or in this case, two. Your welcome. A game into the second quarter of their season, the Mets grabbed an outright series victory for the first time in 2020. Good times.

It's still quite frustrating to watch the Mets fail to convert baserunners into runs.  Today's game was a nail biter over the last few innings, and it really didn't have to be. Still, it's hard to quibble with a game where they actually scored enough runs to give deGrom a win and the bullpen doesn't cough up the lead.

Some general observations from the last couple of days:
  • While the bullpen has turned it around from the disaster they were early on, there are still some concerns. Jeurys Familia has really looked quite good at times, but then there are days like yesterday where he can't find the plate. Thanks to 3 more bases on balls last night, Familia has 6 walks in 6-1/3 innings pitched. Throw in the 6 hits he's allowed, and that's a lot of baserunners. The Mets need Familia to be solid. There are going to be a lot of bullpen innings this year. If the "good Familia" shows up more often he can be a huge piece of the puzzle. His sinker has looked great when he can throw it over the plate.

  • In all three games of this Marlins series, this umpire crew has featured seriously bad home plate umpiring. The strike zone wasn't consistent from one pitch to another, and they managed to frustrate both the pitchers and the hitters.

  • Speaking of bad umpiring, it almost cost the Mets the game in the eighth when Diaz was pitching. He had Ryan Lavarnway struck out for the third out of the inning, but ump Mark Carlson called it a ball. Sure enough, Lavarnway gets a soft single and then Eddy Alvarez hits a ball off the left field wall that didn't miss tying the game by much. Credit to Diaz for striking out the next batter to get out unscathed, but my heart is still beating fast an hour later.

  • When Robinson Cano comes back, the Mets will have some interesting decisions to make if Andres Gimenez keeps playing at this level. He might even steal some playing time at shortstop from Amed Rosario against righties. Rosario looked good at the start of the season, but now he's not hitting much and is overaggressive at the plate. He's chasing again and hasn't drawn a walk this season.

  • Of course, Gimenez has only drawn one walk this season himself. His average is up to .333 now, so drawing walks doesn't matter. Sooner or later, however, the league is going to figure him out a little and his average will likely come back down to earth. An ability to have some patience and draw some walks might mean the difference between being a utility man or earning a starting job. He brings a lot of energy and baseball smarts to the game, and has a chance to be a really good player.

  • J.D. Davis' improvement at 3B has been pretty remarkable. McNeill is a better outfielder than he is, so the Mets have upgraded defensively and found a way to keep Davis' bat in the lineup. As I've said before, if he can even be a slightly below average third baseman that can make the basic plays, his offense would make him a really valuable player at that position. But he's not only made the basic plays, he's made some exceptional ones lately.

  • Speaking of J.D. Davis, as much as I hated Brodie Van Wagenen's trade for Cano and Diaz, the deal to get Davis was pretty awesome. 

  • Pete Alonso is having a tough season with the bat, though he's shown some signs of breaking out lately. His defense, however, has been shaky all season. I understand the desire of many Mets fans to see Dom Smith play more first and Pete to be DH in those games, but I also see Luis Rojas' point of view, too. He wants Pete to keep getting defensive reps at first base. He's more valuable as a first baseman than a full time DH.

  • Given the injuries to Stroman and now Wacha, it's hard to picture the Mets still hanging around and contending without David Peterson's huge step forward. If he keeps pitching like he has so far he should have a leg up on a rotation spot next year, too.

  • Robert Gsellman had an impressive debut in Saturday night's game. He's always had pretty good stuff. Is this the year he finally develops some consistency? The Mets can use all of the bullpen depth they can find, and Gsellman could be an important piece with his ability to pitch multiple innings.

  • Speaking of bullpen depth, Jared Hughes was a pretty nice scrap heap pickup by the Mets. It's kind of hard to believe a reliever of his pedigree was available in a year when teams were working to build pitching depth.
The Mets are facing the Nationals next. While the Nats haven't been playing great, they will certainly have the starting pitching advantage in this series. The Mets aren't likely to have as many scoring opportunities as they had against the Marlins, so it would be nice if they could figure out how to cash in the ones they do get.

Steven Matz has the first crack against the Nationals. He had a promising first start when the pitchers were still ahead of the hitters, but since then has had a couple of stinkers. It seems a long time since 2015 and 2016 when he showed so much promise. At 29 years old maybe my expectations for the guy were just too high.

I'm out for today. Please stay safe, be well and take care.

 Follow me on Twitter @MikeSteffanos

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