Thursday, April 15, 2021

Baseball Weather

When I last wrote in this space, I reacted to some things I was reading in the local and national media about the Mets and Phillies. Hot takes abounded that Philadelphia "fixed" its bullpen problems from last year, while the Mets were still struggling to plate baserunners. Could the Phillies indeed be a more successful team than the Mets in 2021? 

Three games and another rainout later, those hot takes have cooled down considerably. At 5-3, the Mets have looked a bit stronger in the three games they were able to play, while the Phillies bullpen hasn't been quite as invincible as they were at the start of the season.

This, I believe, brings us back around to the point that there will be plenty of ebbing and flowing over the next few months, but it will still take a while to see what we really have here. As with any season, I'm sure the high derived from watching the Mets perform pretty well in three straight winning efforts will be offset before too long with more disappointment. Then something good will happen again. Rinse, lather, repeat.

I think the Phillies are indeed a better team than some pundits predicted before the season. It doesn't surprise me. I knew there was no way that their bullpen would be as bad as they were in 2020, and the 1-2 rotation punch of Aaron Nola and Zack Wheeler (thanks, Brodie) is formidable. However, they remind me of many of the better Mets clubs of recent vintage — good enough to compete but not deep enough to be a likely playoff club. Nothing I've seen so far has changed my mind about them. They'll need things to fall almost perfectly to win the division or steal a wildcard spot.

As for the Mets, they're still a work in progress. They'll need to play games much more regularly than MLB and the weather gods have allowed so far. I wouldn't be at all surprised if their offensive woes continued at least in fits and spurts for a while longer.

In Tuesday's post, I also questioned MLB for scheduling the Mets one trip to Colorado for April. Sure enough, there are snow showers and a 20-degree weather forecast for both Friday and Saturday night. Big shocker there. On top of making the Mets go out there in April, why the hell are both Friday and Saturday scheduled night games? I know more fans tend to come out for night games, but how many will be there in their parkas, gloves, and electric socks for the pleasure of freezing their butts off to watch this game? I'm curious to see whether they actually opt to play baseball games in 20-degree weather and can only hope that no one gets hurt.

If they do play in artic conditions, don't be surprised if you see all of the Mets players staying as close to Brandon Nimmo as they possibly can. The dude is so hot right now that he has to be giving off some excess heat. I honestly don't understand why I spend so much time every offseason reading 1,000 trade proposals with Nimmo as part of the deal, not only from pundits but plenty from Mets fans. He's one of the best pure leadoff hitters in baseball and is just hitting his prime. Growing up in Wyoming without even high school baseball, Nimmo took a bit longer to fully come into his own than some other first-round picks.

I don't expect Nimmo to get on base more than half the time for the entire season, but his OBP over 6 MLB seasons is .395, and I do believe he's just touching his full potential. Nimmo's lifetime OPS+ of 132 is identical to the OPS+ George Springer has put up over his career, and Brandon is three years younger than Springer. The Mets control Nimmo for this season and next, then he becomes eligible for free agency. I'd love to see the Mets sign Brandon to a deal before then. I envision a future for the Mets with Nimmo playing LF while Pete Crow-Armstrong patrols CF.

I'm a big fan of both Nimmo and Jeff McNeil, another guy who doesn't get quite all of the love he deserves despite his .316 batting average for his young career. McNeil got off to a much slower start than Brandon, but I think both of them are going to contribute hugely to whatever success the Mets enjoy in 2021. And next winter, there will still be plenty of proposed trade proposals including one or both of them. I honestly don't get it. I know many Mets fans feel the same way as I do about these guys, but there will always be a significant number who want to replace them. 

Finally, I have to say that I'm starting to come around on David Peterson. Not that I didn't appreciate what he gave the Mets in 2020, coming out of virtually nowhere, but I thought there was some luck involved. While I always quite obviously root for anyone wearing a Mets uniform to succeed, I did see Peterson as a potential 1-year wonder in the manner of Robert Gsellman in his 2016 season.

While I'm not prepared to anoint Peterson as the second coming of Jon Matlack, I think he has great potential to be a good MLB starting pitcher. As with all young pitchers, health will play a part in that. As awesome as Peterson was in Wednesday's start against Philadelphia, I was equally impressed with how he bounced back and competed against the Phillies his first time out despite getting torched in the first inning. His final line of 6 ER in 4 IP wasn't pretty, but his ability to hang in through some real adversity was notable. In a way, it's every bit as important for a young pitcher to continue battling when things are going against him as it is to pitch very well when things are going his way.

Please stay safe, be well, and take care.

 Follow me on Twitter @MikeSteffanos.


  1. Hey Mike . . hope things are on the mend for both you and Lisa. Good to see you keep writing.

    Some musings that you have triggered .. yes, April weather in the north (and Rocky Mountains) sucks for sustained baseball.

    Philly is not as deep a squad as necessary to take it into October. It was great to see the Mets take both games their 1-2 guys started. These matter in the end.

    Nimmo is a guy I want out there every day. He has been playing decent center, but yup, Nimmo and Crow-Armstong is a cool dream.

    I am not as much of a McNeil fan as you, but I am also not convinced he is not a .150 hitter. The jury is still out on his long-term second base defense.

    I believe David Peterson has quite a bit higher ceiling than anyone has given him credit for. He could be a strong #2 guy in a couple years. I cannot forget the fact that he was the 20th overall #1 pick in the 2017 draft. 20th picks should be #2 starters before long. I was really happy to see his work following Segura's homer last night - came right back and finished strong. Both he and I were disappointed he didn't pitch the 7th inning.

    The starting rotation looks good for quite a while. To think that Peterson could be the #6 guy when Syndergaard and Carassco come back seems nuts. He could well be 7-1 by then (just a little dreaming, but his ability to throw strikes is everything I look for).

    I am mildly optimistic that the bullpen is going to be a strength before long as long as it is not abused. I would like to see all of their pen guys stretched out to throw two or three innings. I'd really like to see the games where only two pitchers throw on a given night - starter as far as possible, one reliever to finish it up. That could be where Peterson and Lucchesi excel as paired with Stro and Walker.

    Thats it for now.

  2. Yeah, I agree with you on multi-inning relievers. I think more innings and fewer appearances will be key in keeping a bullpen more effective.

    Lisa is out of the hospital. Fingers crossed


The Defense Doesn't Rest

A renewed emphasis on defense would be a good thing for the New York Mets. Mike Vaccaro had an interesting column in the New York Post  abou...