Baseball

Seriously though, I assume you all saw this with your psychic vision: the Mets have acceptable starting pitching, whereas the Cubs do not. It’s a 3.12 vs. a 3.72 ERA. Jacob deGrom played against Robert Stock of Literally Who status. deGrom was hurt, for God’s sake, and only pitched three innings, but it was enough to beat out the Cubs for the day. deGrom was also the only Mets starter to pitch less than 6 innings, which is how you can save your bullpen from getting overworked.

Seeing a team with good starting pitching makes me hope we’ll get some by the trade deadline, and hopefully the Cubs will produce more offensively on a regular basis to make a playoff push. Let’s break this series down and move on, shall we?

June 14, 2021
Cubs 2, Mets 5
WP: Peterson (2-5) LP: Arrieta (5-7)
Box Score

If you had any hope after last series that the starting pitching would continue to pleasantly surprise you, it’s probably time to take a step back. Jake Arrieta, loved by this city thanks to his contributions to the team from 2013-2017, is not who he used to be. As the season wears on, Arrieta’s ability to get to 6 innings pitched seems to dwindle, as three of his four six-inning games came in April and the last one he threw was on May 14.

Though it was a pitching duel for the first three innings, Arrieta broke down in the 4th inning when he gave up three runs against the Mets, allowing three hits and two walks, one intentional. Dominic Smith hit a solo home run off of him in the 5th inning before he got pulled between innings. Tommy Nance took over and allowed his first run of the season in his 13th appearance, after throwing two walks and allowing a single to score a runner to make it 5-0 Mets.

On the other side of the coin, the Cubs offense was nothing to speak of. A small rally was drummed up in the 7th inning after Anthony Rizzo and Patrick Wisdom hit back-to-back solo homers, but the pitching had already dug the Cubs in a hole that couldn’t be dug out of. The winning streak always has to end sometime.

June 15, 2021
Cubs 2, Mets 3
WP: Walker (6-2) LP: Mills (2-1)
Box Score

The Cubs didn’t look very good for this game either, not even leading for half an inning before the Mets were able to tie it up and then eventually take the lead entirely. Alec Mills started this game, his first appearance since May 15, and allowed five hits and all three runs on his time out, only lasting for 4.1 innings. He did, however, strike out six batters, so it certainly seems like he’s doing something…sort of right? If he can limit throwing pitches that players can crush and try to focus more on soft contact, perhaps the defense behind him can help him out in the future. He hasn’t pitched in a month, so I want to be sympathetic, but we also need quality outings from our starters and stat.

The rest of our bullpen once again gave us nothing to worry about — unless, of course, you’d like to worry about all the innings they’re being asked to throw. However, Rex Brothers, Keegan Thompson and Dan Winkler allowed no runs in their 0.2, 2.0 and 1.0 innings, respectively. They walked four batters altogether, though, which could probably be limited as well.

The most horrifying news of the day, however, was when Kris Bryant got hit by a pitch in the 1st inning and was almost immediately taken out of the game, replaced by Wisdom. Ironically, it was one of Bryant’s rare starts at third base, his “usual” position, as he’s been asked to pick up the slack for other injured players over most of the past month or so. Luckily, his x-rays seemed to come out negative, but the possibility of him sitting a game was likely.

The Cubs’ two runs came from Wisdom trading in his routine dingers for a single in the 3rd inning. Javier Baez took matters into his own hands the very next at-bat, hitting a home run to score them both. However, a walk, double and single at the bottom of the 3rd inning allowed the Mets to tie it, and a sac fly in the 5th inning gave them the lead they’d never give back.

June 16, 2021
Cubs 3, Mets 6
WP: Reid-Foley (2-0) LP: Stock (0-1)
Box Score

As soon as the lineups came out you knew what was coming with this one. The Cubs decided to start a 31-year-old pitcher named Robert Stock in his Cubs debut after only 51 major league appearances. And they had him pitch against Jacob deGrom, one of the best starters in baseball. deGrom, granted, was just coming off a start he left due to injury, but it only really took his three innings pitched for the Mets to establish themselves as the dominant team.

Stock was pulled up apparently because he was throwing 4 innings consistently in the minor leagues and was also hitting upwards of 100 mph. He was only able to throw his fastest pitch at 99 mph on his fastball in today’s outing, but that still might be something interesting to mix in with the Cubs’ entirely soft tossing rotation? However, he gave up four hits and five runs in his, again, 4-inning outing, and walked 6 players for an 11.25 ERA this season.

Anthony Rizzo hit a solo homer in the 4th, but other than that the Cubs weren’t able to figure out the Mets’ pitching, often leaving runners stranded on base if not getting struck out three times in a row like in the 2nd, 3rd AND 8th innings.

The Mets finished up their scoring by the 5th inning, where a solo homer made it 6-1 Mets. The Cubs ended up scoring two runs in the 9th inning after Wisdom walked and Rafael Ortega homered to drive them both home, but it wasn’t enough to overcome New York.

June 17, 2021
Cubs 2, Mets 0
WP: Hendricks (9-4) LP: Stroman (6-5)
Box Score

For the seventh start in a row, Kyle Hendricks was able to throw at least 6 innings, helping the Cubs get tonight’s win. When the Cubs have good starting pitching, they can almost always outhit their other problems, if they even have any. Although the Cubs’ bats weren’t super good this game, they once again faced a hot starter having a career year who struck out eight batters, walked only one and allowed four hits over 7 innings. Javier Baez produced the only runs of the game at the top of the 1st inning: with Kris Bryant (who luckily returned) singling before him, he was able to hit a dinger to center field to score them both. It would end up being all the Cubs needed — the other two hits for the Cubs all game long came from Joc Pederson and Jason Heyward, respectively.

The Mets were, for once, confounded by tonight’s pitching staff, only getting two hits the entire game, both off of Hendricks. The bullpen pitchers kept the Cubs in it as per usual around here, with Andrew Chafin allowing no hits and throwing a pretty nifty strikeout. Tepera had a strikeout, too, and Craig Kimbrel was able to come in and save the game, despite getting to a three-ball count a few times. Hopefully the Cubs can use this win, however meager it may seem, to help propel them back into a winning streak and help get some offense back.

The Cubs are finally getting an easy matchup this weekend against the Miami Marlins, down in the dumps of the NL East with a meager 29-39 record. The Marlins have won two of their last three series, but the series they won were against similarly garbage teams like the Braves and the Rockies. If there was ever a time to get out of an offensive funk, it’s now. Now that I’ve said that, the opposite will likely happen, but I don’t think a winning weekend series against this team is a lot for me to ask for. See you on the other side of it. Go Cubs go!

Baseball

Well, at least we know there’s a team somewhere in this league that sucks more than we do.

The Mets were honestly atrocious to watch nearly all series. Their fielding sucks, their batting sucks, their bullpen sucks…I was going to say their pitching generally sucks, but we didn’t see Jacob DeGrom this series. (And even when he does play, the Mets tend to lose anyway.)

At least the Cubs have won a series and looked…not horrific doing it?

April 20, 2021
Cubs 3, Mets 1
WP: Arrieta (3-1) LP: Walker (0-1)
Box Score

Contreras continues to be the biggest piece of trade bait on the Cubs. Although this 8-game hit streak ended the game before this, he was a part of two of the Cubs’ three runs this game. First he was able to reach first base in the 3rd inning, allowing Eric Sogard to score. He also walked in a bases-loaded situation in the 4th to score Sogard again.

Speaking of Sogard, yes, David Bote, was out of this game because he had some sort of stomach bug, and Sogard took his place. He was more than an able replacement, as he was able to top even Contreras as a part of all three Cubs runs this game. He scored twice and singled to score Heyward in the 4th. Other Cubs that got hits were Kris Bryant and Heyward, and that’s about it.

It’s been a hot minute since Craig Kimbrel had to make a save, but today was his big opportunity. He got himself into a bases loaded jam in the 9th, and every Cubs fan watching was probably at least a little skeptical about whether he could get out of it. But he was able to get a strikeout and a ground out to end the game, thankfully.

April 21, 2021
Cubs 16, Mets 4
WP: Mills (1-0) LP: Peterson (1-2)
Box Score

Good grief, the bats are either on it or they aren’t, huh?

The Cubs’ team batting average is officially at .201, thanks to a .12-point increase from this game alone. Things didn’t start out so pretty, however; the first inning started with a Mets home run off Zach Davies for the second batter to open scoring. Then we watched some hilarious Mets baserunning in the 2nd when Bote dropped the ball and couldn’t get the out at second base. The Mets baserunner, however, decided to run to third base anyway for kicks, where Matt Duffy promptly tagged him out.

The baserunning didn’t help the Cubs for long, as it only took some time in the 3rd for Davies to give up a single, a walk and a double to make it 2-0 Mets. Although the bats were dead for the first three innings, something sparked the Cubs in the 4th, because Contreras, Bryant and Anthony Rizzo singled three guys in a row and were able to score two runs. It also didn’t help that the Mets made another egregiously horrible baseball play, as it was now their time to drop the ball at second base. Unlike the Cubs, however, quick thinking didn’t save them any outs.

Matt Duffy, in at third base today, was able to walk soon after that, and a Bote single (wow!) scored two runners. Jake Marisnick scored Duffy, Sogard singled to score Bote, Ian Happ singled to score Sogard and things started to look pretty good for us. I don’t Sogard after these two games, but also the Mets are a really bad baseball team. Let’s see some more from him.

At this point, the score was 7-2 and it seemed like this game was pretty much in the bag, even though Rex Brothers came in to replace Davies in the 5th and immediately gave up a single and a homer to tighten the score slightly to 7-4. However, more horrendous fielding screw-ups by the Mets and then a Duffy single was able to score two Cubs to make it 9-4.

In the next inning, the Mets bullpen allowed three walks to load the bases and then a Baez grand slam just completely slammed the door shut for any Mets comeback, the score being 14-4. The Cubs weren’t done yet; they had a walk and three hits in the 8th inning to score two runners for that final score of 16-4.

April 22, 2021
Cubs 3, Mets 2
WP: Winkler (1-0) LP: Diaz (1-1)
Box Score

Well, Joc Pederson is on the 10-day IL thanks to an injured wrist, which means Nico Hoerner is officially up and available to play for the Cubs. We’ll see how that goes; for tonight, however, Happ was shifted to left to replace Pederson, Marisnick replaced Happ in center field, Kris Bryant in right field to give Heyward the day off, and Duffy at third base.

The Mets continued to be absolutely horrendous on the field, allowing a Contreras infield hit to score a runner to put us on the board. Not soon after, Bryant was able to double and score two people thanks to another overthrow to the catcher. Contreras and Trevor Williams scored on this play.

Speaking of Trevor Williams, although his outing wasn’t the best, it certainly wasn’t his worst either. He had 6 strikeouts, 5 hits, only 1 walk and 1 home run allowed. His outings still greatly excite his father, who is still doing the scorebook, which is quickly becoming the staple camera pan during every Williams start for Marquee.

Things were going okay until the 4th inning when Pete Alonso hit a 2-run homer to make this game close. Soon after, a double was reviewed to see if it should’ve been a home run because it hit the outfield netting. Luckily, the double call on the field was sustained, allowing the Cubs to cling to the one-run lead.

Williams was pulled for the 6th, being replaced by Jason Adam, who struck out one guy and allowed the defense to clean up contact with a fly ball and pop-up. After hitting Jonathan Villar in the 7th, he was pulled for Ryan Tepera who gave up a big double to center field that allowed the Mets to tie it up. Andrew Chafin replaced Tepera to get the important out.

Baez got on base in the 7th as the go-ahead run; he hit a fly ball to center field but the incompetence of the Mets’ fielding allowed the ball to drop on the ground. However, the throw to 1st was almost in time and Javy almost got caught off the plate. The ruling on the field was out but after a challenge that was overturned. It didn’t matter, however, because then Baez actually got caught stealing second base. Fantastic job, everyone.

Kimbrel closing the 9th allowed us to get to extra innings. Marisnick had a huge triple to start off the bottom of the inning, but in true Cubs fashion they were unable to bat in the runner in scoring position and got tagged out baserunning because of course. The Cubs got out of a huge jam in the 10th thanks to a double play. Heyward pinch batting won the game, scoring Baez at third base.

Did you enjoy not having to watch a team from the NL Central for the first time in over a year? Too bad. The Cubs now must prepare to get skulled by the Brewers again, who are sitting at the top of the division with an 11-7 record. See you then.

Baseball

Hello there. Over the next couple weeks, I’ll be cycling through some realistic, and not so realistic offseason targets for the Cubs, either via trade or free agency. Today, we start with the not s0 realistic. 

Now that the World Series is over, and as I’ve said already, I’m going to wake up every morning terrified that this is the day the Cubs do something truly stupid. Not that it’s ever been in the Theo DNA to reach for the truly outlandish, but it feels like the walls are closing in on the front office. There’s the pressure of its first truly disappointing season (again folks, they won 95 games in ’18 with half a Kris Bryant), the expectations of fans, and the demands of ownership both for a winner to fill the park and get eyeballs to Marquee while also squeezing the payroll. There seems to be a reckoning coming for the Cubs in two seasons when just about everyone who matters aside from Kyle Hendricks (and possibly Yu Darvish matters now?) are free agents and just how the Cubs will get out of that.

That’s a lot of pushing from opposing sides, which could leave an irrational pimple like me to pop. I’ve concluded that the Cubs will make a big trade, involving a name we all love, and that’s just how it’s going to be. My deepest fears are that it will be Kris Bryant, which I’ve already spent months outlining just how stupid that would be, and will spend many more weeks doing so even more.

But there’s going to be one. So my only hope is that it brings someone fun and good back. Which is why we’re kicking off with Noah Syndergaard.

Why could this happen? Because the he hates the Mets and they hate him. Any Met who ever bothers to point out that the Mets are run in a very Mets way generally ends up not-a-Met before too long. And Syndergaard nearly ended up not-a-Met-anymore at least year’s deadline. Also, Thor will be due his own windfall of cash in two seasons as well, and even though they’re a New York team the Mets seem to find a lot of ways to not pay people anymore. Call it PBSD (Post Bonilla Stress Disorder).

Now hey, maybe the hiring of Carlos Beltran signals a turn to rationality for the Mets. And maybe Blake Lively will leave Ryan Reynolds for me. This is the goddamn Mets we’re talking about. They’re always likely to do something stupid. In fact, they want to do something stupid.

Why A Spoon, Sire? Because it’s Thor! He’s 27, can throw a fastball through three live horses the long way if he wanted to, with a devastating slider and a very improved change-up. He’s got Cy stuff. And he’s under team control for two more years. So even if he’s projected to make $9.9M this year, considering what he can provide he’s the biggest bargain financially you’ll find. He’s been a four-WAR pitcher the past two seasons, with a FIP under four and a 2.80 one in ’18. In a season where everyone was giving up hard contact, Thor simply didn’t, with hard-contact rates under 30% in ’18 and ’19 and a line-drive rate under 20% this year. Quite simply, he can be a dominating presence, and you can’t have enough of those.

Ein minuten bitte, vous einen kleinen problemo avec de religione (he was from everywhere): The thing with Thor is that when you see the stuff, you’re sure he should have deGrom like numbers. And he kinda doesn’t? He’s always struck out a hitter per inning at least, but never gotten into the 11 or 12 per nine innings range where the citizens of Olympus live. And…well actually that’s it, because Thor has put up ERAs under 3.00 twice and another season of 3.03. While deGrom has stolen the headlines with his Cy Young and likely another one on the way, Thor would be the #1 on a lot of teams. It’s not his fault the Mets have been pretty much garbage since his rookie season or that they somehow stumbled into one of the few pitchers better than him on the same rotation.

The other knock on Thor is health, which is a valid concern. But he’s also coming off a season where he threw 197 innings, a career-high, and he’s basically made every start asked in three of his five seasons. With someone who throws this hard there’s always questions about durability. But hey, you can’t make a Molotov cocktail without lighting a fire here and there.

Some Silver? Little Gold?: Ah, here’s the problem. Syndergaard isn’t coming cheap. And we don’t mean in terms of money. The Mets probably know they have a golden ticket here, and sadly they’re not so stupid to miss what that means. So you’re not going to get him pried loose by giving up thrift store fodder.

So what could they use? Wilson Ramos wasn’t exactly terrible for them last year, but he’s going to be 33 next year and has fallen off some of his big years with the Nationals and his one year in Tampa. He’s got two years left on his deal, though the second is a team option and both are at $10M. They couldn’t really find anyone behind him.

So Willson Contreras would be an upgrade, considering he was the best hitting catcher in all of baseball last year in wRC+. He’s an offensive upgrade on everyone, whether you like it or not. He’s also five years younger than Ramos, with what at least appeared or could be argued was improving defense/framing. The Mets had a middling offense last year and could use the boost.

Sure, the Mets could probably more use an upgrade in centerfield, but I don’t think Albert Almora is getting this deal done somehow.

Would Willson for Syndergaard be enough for the Mets? Probably not. But you wouldn’t have to throw in too much more than that, especially if you took Ramos back to split time with Caratini.

Could It Happen?:

But we can get to reality later.

 

Baseball

Game 1 Box Score: Cubs 5, Mets 2

Game 2 Box Score: Cubs 10, Mets 7

Game 3 Box Score: Cubs 4, Mets 1

While the Cubs may be the only team, or fanbase, that still gets shivers when thinking about the Mets, it’s also important to remember they’re still the Mets. Which means they can METS at anytime, and it just might be for your benefit if you time it right. There was no better cure for the Cubs than the Mets on a downswing, And once again, this team looks on the upswing, and we’re just going to have to get used to the ride if you haven’t already.

Let’s..

-I wish Yu Darvish‘s overall numbers reflected how good he’s been lately. This fucking baseball, amirite? It’s something when walking one dude is newsworthy, but the Mets weren’t anywhere close to him. Then again, no one has been lately except for that weirdness with the Giants. He apparently struck out Jeff McNeil with a knuckle-curve he just decided a week ago to fuck with. That’s the good stuff, baby. It’s gone to where you’re actively looking forward to his start Sunday.

-Of course Kyle Hendricks would fail to get through five with a nine-run lead on the same day I went at it with Joe Sheehan about calling him a #3 starter. Timing, Cerebral Assassin!

-It can be a little upsetting when Baez busts out by going the other way and up the middle, because he should never get away from it. But as long as he gets back there, because the Cubs will need him.

-Ok, that’s enough of Jason Heyward in the leadoff spot. Yes, he doesn’t want to be moved around, but he lost the right to complain by not being able to hit a bull in the ass with a banjo since he moved there. Back to Schwarbs, now.

-The first inning off Thor might have been the most enjoyable inning of the whole season. Not only did the Cubs tee off on a premier starter we had turned into Darth Vader in our heads, but it contained some true Mets-iness with Rosario’s error that started it all. Without that, they might not even get one.

-Remember when everyone was shitting themselves that the Cubs didn’t have a backup catcher? That Willson would die of exhaustion because of it? Good stuff there.

-It felt like it was going to be one of THOSE Lester starts. Itchy, sweaty, twitchy, yell-y, bad. When he gets through five or six innings well, it still doesn’t feel like it. You kind of wonder how he did it. But if we call him the 5th starter, that’s what 5th starters do. It’s never really comfortable unless you’re blessed.

-This pen can make last night’s game interesting, and then smother for nine outs tonight, because they hate us. I kind of wanted to see if Chatwood could take it to the house, but with Kintzler not having thrown on Wednesday it’s fine. I’m not going to lose a kidney over it.

-I was going to shit a chicken over removing Schwarber and Happ for Lucroy and Kemp against deGrom, as it felt like Maddon felt that two of three was enough and tonight was a bonus. The Cubs have lost that right. But hey, whatever works. Though I don’t need to see Kemp start again, I really don’t.

Can end the Brewers season over the next week. Onwards…

Baseball

vs.

RECORDS: Cubs 69-61   Mets 67-61

GAMETIMES: Tuesday-Thursday 6:10

TV: NBCSN Tuesday/Wednesday, ABC 7 Thursday

OUR DAY WAS RUINED: Amazin’ Avenue

PREVIEW POSTS

Depth Charts & Pitching Staffs

Mets Spotlight

It feels like this season is on the precipice now, doesn’t it? And three games in Queens only exacerbates that. Queens. The Black Cat. Victor Fucking Diaz. The Goddamn Mets. Arrieta running out of gas in ’15. Daniel Motherfucking Murphy. If they asked you where any Cubs season was most likely to come totally unglued, you’re picking right off the 7 train and you know it.

The Cubs sit three games out, which feels significant, though the Cardinals won’t get to play the Rockies and decomposing Brewers the rest of the season. They’ve just come off getting swept at home, and are now staring down the gun of the meat of the Mets pitching staff. Their lineup feels like it was exposed against the Nationals, though that’s just three games. They have a whole bunch of questions and a dearth of answers. That teetering feeling is real.

So what do the Cubs have to get past here to remain on terra firma? They already spent a week not getting Jeff McNeil out earlier in the season, so that’s on the list. It’s not a great offense in Queens, as past Alonso and McNeil there isn’t that much. Michael Conforto has the sweetest swing and looks like he should hit .330 every year, but he hasn’t yet though he still gets on base a ton. J.D. Davis has juiced the lineup a bit from left field, though he probably should be playing third, but it’s a top-heavy crew. Still, Alonso already has 41 homers and can get the Mets close to a lot of wins by himself. When the Cubs need big out against him or McNeil or Conforto…well, you know the drill.

A string of Marcus StromanNoah SyndergaardJacob deGrom is just about the last thing you’d ask for when you need at least two wins, but the Cubs blew the chance to get past the Nats when they didn’t have to see Scherzer or Corbin and actually came out tied with Strasburg. So now they have to do it the hard way. Stroman doesn’t get the mass amount of grounders he used to, and has had pretty big walk problems. Thor and deGrom are Thor and deGrom though, so Hendricks and Lester are just going to have to be at the top of their games. No other way around it.

And if you can hang close with the starters of the Mets, the bullpen is aching to give it all back to you. Edwin Diaz has been a mess all season, same goes for Jeurys Familia, and they’ve been making up the rest along the way. Of late, they’ve been counting on Justin Wilson for big outs, which is a choice. Luis Avilan has been good the last month, but never count on Mickey Callaway to make the right choices at the right times. Again, this is the Mets. You have to allow them the platform to be the Mets.

And they come in licking their wounds as well. They just got swept at home by the Braves and their wildcard hopes are on the line here. They’re two games behind the Cubs, which is something the Cubs have to be aware of now. Since that big streak to get back into things they’re 5-7, so they need to find it again.

There’s also the road woes to consider for the Cubs, which eventually might be their undoing. On the other side, they did win their last road series in Pittsburgh/Williamsport. We keep saying it’s time for the Cubs to stand up, be counted, show what they really are. But at this point, it’s hard to conclude they’re anything else than what they’ve shown. Which means if they continue their wayward/doofus ways this week, they may find the division is already over. And then the questions they’ll have to answer are a lot harder than the ones they biffed after last season.

Baseball

The one thing you can count on is that the Mets will always try and destroy anything special about themselves. But this being the Mets, they can’t ever be consistently successful at anything, which every so often works to their benefit. Take their acquisition of Marcus Stroman. There is no one on this planet who believes that getting Stroman was part of some short-term or long-term plan. Most believe he was insurance to make up the gap when either Zack Wheeler or Noah Syndergaard were traded mere hours later.

But neither happened. And even with Wheeler likely to move along in the winter in free agency, the Mets are better than they were for 2020 with Jacob deGrom, Syndergaard, Steven Matz, and Stroman. It certainly wasn’t the plan, but thanks to the Mets inability to always shoot themselves in the face, they’ve come out ahead.

And their handling of Syndergaard all season matches that kind of confusion and goofiness. From spring training on, Thor has heard trade rumors and whispers that the Mets didn’t want him anymore. Of course, deGrom heard the same thing during the winter, and then he ended up with a fat new contract extension. You never know which way the wind blows with the Mets.

It seems ridiculous that the Queens Club would ever consider moving Syndergaard along. After all, this is probably still the best pure stuff in the game, and in the team photo if it’s not. He’s also under team control for another two seasons after this one, so even if he gets a good settlement in arbitration the next two years he’s still probably coming in at value. He’s also only 26. Could you ever get more than 75 cents on the dollar for him? What were the Mets thinking?

Well, this is the Mets, so there’s never a guarantee they ever were. Certainly health played a role. Syndergaard missed most of 2017 with arm problems, and only made 25 starts last year. Considering how hard he throws everything, the idea that his arm would never be able to hold up isn’t a farcical notion. So naturally, because logic never applied to Queens, he’s taken the ball for every start this season. Maybe that takes its toll down the road, or maybe he’s finally matured into the burden he asks his arm and body to carry.

Syndergaard has clashed with the Mets brass in the past, as he definitely is a free thinker. But that would seem ultimately petty, at least it would for most any other organization in any sport. But again…METS.

Perhaps the Mets thought, or still think, that Syndergaard is just never going to live up to what they original hype, what the stuff suggests, and what he’s flashed in the past. Considering he’s got their repertoire, Thor has never vaulted himself into Cy contention with deGrom or Scherzer or Verlander or the like. His best season was ’17, but his strikeout rate has declined in each of the next two seasons. And his walks have increased.

However, it’s not like his stuff has got worse. His fastball averages 98 MPH, and while he’s lost velocity on both the slider and curve, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Syndergaard has gone away from his slider more this season, but has used his four-seam more rather than a sinker, even though he threw a sinker at 97 goddamn miles-per-hour. Still, you’d think you’d get more Ks from him considering how hard he throw.

But like we discussed with Giolito earlier today, or rather opposite of that, Thor doesn’t use the upper part of the zone with it nearly as much:

Which seems a shame, because there’s gold for him higher than he’s using his fastball:

But he just doesn’t use it as a put-away pitch:

He also doesn’t use his curve enough at all, especially with two strikes, because it gets half whiffs when anyone swings at it. Just overthinking things?

Still, you’d bet on something being unlocked with Syndergaard much more than him just being a pretty good #2 starter–which admittedly is all the Mets need him for when they have deGrom. But when you’ve got this guy for cheap for the next couple years, why let him go?

It’s the Mets, so what they really want is to be cheap. And while Thor isn’t expensive yet, the prospects he would have brought back are even cheaper. And now that Pete Alonso is up, the Mets don’t have much in the minors. But still, with this pitching staff next year, and Alonso, Conforto, and McNeil in the lineup, the Mets can’t be all that far away from competing. That is if they’d stop doing dumbass things like getting Robinson Cano‘s name and wasting what little money they deign to spend. Or trying to crowbar Jay Bruce into the lineup like last year. Or playing Todd Frazier ahead of J.D. Davis at third.

But it’s the Mets. You can always overdose on logic when studying them.

Baseball

Game 1 Box Score: Mets 5, White Sox 2 (F/11)

Game 2 Box Score: Mets 4, White Sox 2

Game 3 Box Score: Mets 4, White Sox 0

Just when you think that getting swept in a 4-game set by the Royals means the White Sox couldn’t possibly find a new low, they go and get swept by the Mets at home. I mean in some ways it’s unsurprising, because they had to face three of the Mets best pitchers, two of whom are considered among the absolute best in the game. And they had to do with a lineup that ended up missing Yoan Moncada and therefore was comprised of Tim Anderson, Yoan Moncada, and a bunch of replacement level or worse players. Then again, the same could kinda be said about the Mets, but they swept the damn set. So.

Let’s just do this.

– Yoan Moncada getting hurt is obviously a terrible thing, but the manner in which he was hurt makes it a little harder to swallow for me. It’s one thing to strain your hammy running the bases or making an extraordinary play, but doing it on a routine grounder that requires minimal movement is tough. He’s had a number of these seemingly innocuous moments turn into injuries that make him miss time, and some people are starting to call him soft. And it’s a little hard to argue. But he’s still the best player on this team and will be for hopefully the next decade, so I can learn to live with it I suppose.

– If there was any doubt that Lucas Giolito is deserving of recognition as one of the best pitchers in the game, him going toe to toe with Jacob DeGrom should remove it. Sure it was the Mets but it was still Jacob DeGrom, and Giolito kept his team in striking distance of a win for a long time. It’s too bad the lineup was made up of trash and couldn’t get more than one run, even it was Jacob DeGrom.

– The bullpen blowing both of the first games of this series was not exactly surprising, but Alex Colome being the one that blew Game 2 was a little disheartening, but also put many things into perspective. Obviously at that point it meant nothing for his trade value – the Sox had already not traded him before the deadline. And the reason for that was clearly that they didn’t get an offer they liked, because even if he is controllable for next year, relievers are always out there to be had so keeping him to contend does not make sense. It’s just what they’re saying they decided. Colome finally having an epic meltdown, however, did make sense. His peripherals have been bad for a while, which also allows them not getting what they wanted for him to make sense as well. Hopefully he cleans his shit up and actually helps this team contend next year.

Dylan Cease took another loss today moving his record to 1-4, but overall he was solid. He lost control as the game went on, but he finally went 7 and gave up only 3 ER, making it a quality start. Control is going to be an issue for him for a while, but him sorting it out in the bigs makes farmore sense than doing it in AAA. As long as he has the 70 grade fastball and a curveball that is at least a 60 (which is currently leading MLB in average break, by the way) he is going to have a strong ceiling.

Baseball

vs.

 

RECORDS: White Sox 46-57   Mets 50-55

GAMETIMES: Tuesday/Wednesday 7:10 Thursday 1:20

TV: Tuesday WGN, Wednesday/Thursday NBCSN

And that’s when the CHUDs came at me: Mets Blog

 

PITCHING MATCHUPS

Reynaldo Lopez vs. Noah Syndergaard

 Lucas Giolito vs. Jacob deGrom 

Dylan Cease vs. Zack Wheeler

 

PROBABLE METS LINEUP

Jeff McNeil – LF

Pete Alonso – 1B

Robinson Cano – 2B

Michael Conforto – RF

Wilson Ramos – C

Todd Frazier – 3B

Amed Rosario – SS

Juan Lagares – CF

 

PROBABLE WHITE SOX LINEUP

Leury Garcia – CF

Yoan Moncada – 3B

Jose Abreu – 1B

James McCann – C/DH

Eloy Jimenez – LF

Jon Jay – RF

Tim Anderson – SS

Wellington Castillo – DH/C

Yolmer Sanchez – 2B

 

This has the makings of an interesting series. The pitching matchups are about as marquee as the Sox could hope for. Tim Anderson and Eloy Jimenez are both going to be back in the lineup, which hopefully means less Adam Engel and AJ Fieri on my TV set. Also, the MLB trade deadline is tomorrow which could add some intrigue to the games, as both the Mets and Sox have pieces to move.  Some of which have been linked to the other team. While I’m not holding my breath that the Sox will trade for Syndergaard or Wheeler, it would be pretty hilarious to watch one of those guys amble out of the Mets dugout and walk across the field to head right into the Sox one.

The Mets come into the series on somewhat of a roll, having won four in a row and five out of their last six games. Overall, they’re 10-5 since coming out of the All Star break having scored 94 runs in that 15-game span.  Their pitching has been pretty lights out, having only given up 48 runs in that time. Syndergaard in particular has looked more like his old self after having a rocky first half of the season (just in time for the trade deadline!). In his last seven starts he’s gone 3-1 with a 3.43 ERA and 45 Ks compared to 15 BBs. This is a far cry from the 5.00+ ERA he sported at the end of May. He’s still vulnerable to the long ball, which works in the Sox favor playing at home and having Eloy and Tim back.

On the offensive side, the Mets still have their table set for them by super utility man Jeff McNeil and Amed Rosario.  Both of them get on base at a prodigious clip and allow rookie (and noted Paul Konerko Fan) Pete Alonso to knock them in. Alonso has slashed himself to a .258/.363/.596 line with 34 HR and 77 RBI so far in the season. The scary thing about that line is his BABIP currently sits at .269, which shows despite the gaudy stats he’s actually had pretty bad batted ball luck.  If he were to rise to the mean…man. Dude is a pretty special hitter, and I’m super glad to have him on my fantasy team.

On the other side of the field the Sox have been the polar opposite of the Mets.  Having gone 4-13 after the All Star break and scoring a meager 51 runs in that span while giving up 92, the Sox are hoping the return of Eloy and Tim to the lineup and the ejection of Dylan Covey to the Negative Zone will help those splits. They’ll have a decent chance with Lopez, Giolito and Cease taking the bump against the Mets. Lopez has been above average post ASB with a 1-1 record and a 1.90 ERA over his last three starts. Lopez’ has found the control on his fastball, being able to dot it at the top of the zone with added movement. In addition his off-speed offerings have been in the lower part of the zone, keeping hitters off balance. Most importantly he’s lasted longer in games, as he’s gone 21 innings in those three starts.

Offensively the Sox have been…offensive. Anyone not named Yoan Moncada has been scuffling, especially Jose Abreu. Hopefully with some protection in the lineup for him now Abreu will settle back down and his OBP will rise back up to it’s usual .390 area. Anderson hit pretty well during his rehab stint in Charlotte and had no issues in the field so the hope is that he can hit the ground running.

Trade deadline implications aside, the Sox have a decent shot at winning this series if all breaks their way. I’d prefer to not think about the other side of the coin. Here’s hoping that not only they win the series, but score a starter from the Mets in the process to fill that void in the rotation.

Let’s go Sox!

 

Baseball

With the trade deadline looming, and the Mets already active in it with their acquisition of my personal Man-Crush Marcus Stroman last night, I thought it would be fun to take a look at the man behind the madness, Brodie Van Wagenen. Plus I find the inner workings of professional sports teams fascinating, and this gives me the perfect excuse to delve even further down that rabbit hole.

Van Wagenen was hired this past off-season after previous GM Sandy Alderson decided to take an extended leave of absence to spend more time with his remaining brain cells. Van Wagenen previously had been a player agent, having represented some of the Mets top talent (and Tim Tebow) like Jacob deGrom, Robinson Cano and the remaining ligaments of Yoenis Cespedes. While you might think that hiring a former agent to be the GM of a baseball team that has previously negotiated with said agent might be a conflict of interest, it’s not without precedent. Former A’s and Blue Jays ace Dave Stewart went from being a player, to an agent, and then eventually to GM of the Arizona Diamondbacks.

The issue that a lot of people in baseball had with this move is that as the agent of some of these players, Van Wagenen was privy to the medical information of his clients which he could then in theory use against them in salary negotiations.  Granted, the likelihood of that is slim as it would immediately result in a grievance being filed against the Mets by the player’s union but it’s not a concern without merit.  This didn’t deter the Mets, however, as they signed Van Wagenen to a five-year contract last October.

Van Wagenen didn’t waste much time making moves, as he sent their top rated OF prospect Jared Kelenic and Jay Bruce to the Mariners for the 2018 saves leader Edwin Diaz and the corpse of Robinson Cano and it’s $100 million dollar price tag.  Also in the deal was the Mets top pitching prospect Justin Dunn who also sits in the top 100 ranked ML players as of last week.  He also signed free agent catcher Wilson Ramos and added infield utility man Jed Lowrie to one year deals.

The only one of those moves that has panned out thus far is Wilson Ramos, and then only just barely as he’s been worth 0.2 WAR thus far this season slashing .259/.335/.387 with 10 dingers and 45 RBI. The guy he replaced behind the dish was Travis D’Arnaud, who ended up with Tampa Bay and has produced 1.2 WAR for them with a .249/.316/.482 line. Whoops. Robinson Cano has predictably continued the downward spiral on the back half of his career.  He’s been worth -0.2 WAR thus far and played below average D at 2B.  He’s also logged a decent amount of time on the IL with various maladies.  Edwin Diaz has been a shadow of his former self at the back end of the Mets bullpen.  His ERA currently sits at an ugly 4.95, and he’s blown five saves thus far and has been worth 0.4 WAR.

Even if that brutal off-season wasn’t enough, Van Wagenen seems to be a might bit…unstable.  Earlier in the month it was reported that during a post game meeting with staffers Van Wagenen lost his shit and ended up throwing a chair around the room. He’s also been known to manage games from the comfort of his home by calling Mets staffers to relay instructions to manager Mickey Callaway regarding the pulling of deGrom from the game. This new style of management certainly brings back memories of George Steinbrenner doing the kind of shit that made him such a great Seinfeld character.

All this brings us to the trade deadline, which in typical fashion Van Wagenen has jumped by trading top pitching prospects Anthony Kay and Simeon Woods Richardson to Toronto to bring in Marcus Stroman.  On the surface, the move doesn’t seem to make much sense. The Mets currently sit 11.5 games back in the division and six games in the wild card race.  Stroman was largely regarded as the best pitcher available on the market other than Noah Syndergaard at the deadline, and was actively being pursued by the Braves and Yankees.  Granted Stroman has another year of team control before hitting the market, but it seems the Mets need more than just him to compete next year as Zack Wheeler and Syndergaard himself are not long for the team.

Which might be why he traded for Stroman, as a potential replacement for Syndergaard if he’s dealt at the deadline.  If that’s truly the case, it will be very interesting to see the return the Mets get for him. In addition to that, I would sincerely hope that Rick Hahn would be calling and asking about the price for Thor as he’s an immediate upgrade over anyone not named Lucas Giolito.  The main question at this point would be asking price.  Syndergaard has two more year of team control left, then hits the free agent market in a year pretty devoid of starting pitching.  If the Mets were to ask for Michael Kopech, would Hahn be open to making that deal? I think I would, though it would be a tough pill to swallow. I’m hoping Hahn isn’t the one to break Van Wagenen’s streak of terrible deals by getting fleeced by him. Though I’m not expecting much out of this deadline for the Sox, Thor would be a nice surprise as long as the price is right.

Should be an interesting few days.

Baseball

Game 1 Box Score: Cubs 7, Mets 4

Game 2 Box Score: Mets 5, Cubs 4

Game 3 Box Score: Mets 10, Cubs 2

Game 4 Box Score: Cubs 5, Mets 3

There have been a handful of times this year, going against my try-to-keep-calm nature about a baseball season, where I’ve been on the precipice of getting worried or upset about this team and thinking it might need bigger changes than I thought. Or giving up on any sort of glory in October. And then right about as I’m going to Tommen myself over the edge, they’ve pulled a rabbit. Splitting with the Sox and Mets isn’t exactly acceptable, but losing three of four to the Mets would have been far worse. Now you’re only one game off where you should have been on this homestand really, and a series win over the admittedly molten Braves probably gets you there. There’s still much to complain about, but now they’re just complaints instead of outright beefs.

Let’s clean it up.

The Two Obs

-Javy Baez’s last two ABs are the difference between the raw variety show he used to be and All-Star he is now. He was completely overmatched by deGrom in his first two PAs, though a lot of hitters were. He couldn’t pick up the slider and he wasn’t getting within a foot of it. Then in his third AB he went with a plan, fought off some tough pitches, and muscled a single through the middle. Gained a little confidence, and even being down 0-2 to Lugo didn’t phase him. And then he finally remembered right field is legal, and pulled his team’s ass out of a sling. I shouldn’t doubt him.

-If you do want to worry, here’s Jose Quintana for you. It was only four starts ago that he did throw seven against the Rockies, but walks in the last three have been a problem. Yesterday he was wild in the zone, and though I thought he had some rough BABIP luck with Jeff McNeil basically cricket-ing a double for two runs, he fell apart after that. I think it’s just a blip, but when he got in trouble yesterday he abandoned his change. He can’t do that, because then he’s just two pitches. Even if he doesn’t have a feel for it, he’s got to find it. Hopefully back to basics soon.

-I’ve had enough of McNeil and Alonso for a while, thank you.

-Alzolay’s debut was certainly enticing, and no one should get ahead of themselves. But he does present some more interesting options, and one of them the Cubs will use this week is six starters to keep everyone fresh. When Hendricks returns he could again be what Chatwood and Montgomery could have been, a multi-inning weapon out of the pen. He was going to be on an innings-limit anyway. We’re a long way from that, but it’s at least something to get excited about.

-Friday’s loss is the one that hurts. Sometimes it’s not your day and you get stuffed like Saturday. But Friday was there for them. Yu was itchy again, there seems to be this fascination with getting Brach right even though he probably won’t be here next week, and then continued use of Montgomery as a LOOGY which he’s never been. It’s not like McNeil crushed that ball off of him or anything but Monty isn’t missing a ton of bats either. Give him a clean inning, or two, or three. It’s what he’s built to do. He’s not a high-leverage one-hitter dude. Add up enough games you feel like you should have gotten and you’re in the muck with the Brewers and Cardinals. And no one wants that.

-Bryant has two homers in June. He’s slugging .453 in the month. Are we a touch worried about either wear or the shoulder again? This seems long for a slump.

Onwards…