The Kings of Queens

A place for all things New York Mets related.
23 Jul

deGrom dominates, puts Mariners to sleep

Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports

The surprising saga of Jacob deGrom's success continues...

In his latest effort, deGrom held the Mariners to one run over seven innings while striking out seven to earn his fourth win of the season. 

The rookie sensation is now 4-5 with a 3.01 ERA and has not allowed a home run in his last 52 2/3 innings pitched. What's more, deGrom's ERA over his last six starts since June 21 is 1.59. 

Because of his recent success, Jacob deGrom is making a strong case for N.L rookie of the month in July, posting a 3-1 record with a 1.72 ERA over that span. He is due to start one more game this month, which is scheduled to take place in Milwaukee next week and will most likely be the deciding factor. 

A reason for deGrom's effectiveness in most of his starts is his changeup. It was apparent last night when he fooled Robinson Cano with it twice to punch him out, and it's been deGrom's weapon against left-handed hitters all season long.

When the count is 2-2, deGrom tends to be most effective. 

Hitters are 7-for-39 with 21 strikeouts and a .179 OBP on at-bats ending with a 2-2 count against deGrom.

The rookie is also good after falling behind in the count.  When behind 2-0, hitters are 6-for-27 against him. After behind 2-1, hitters are 7-for-45.

DeGrom's ability to come back in the count and throw the right pitch has paid dividends in his early ride with the Mets. 

The question now: can he keep it up? 

No signs point to deGrom going anywhere and he should be able to build on his starting pitching resume for the remainder of the season, right where the Mets need him the most. 

"He's got his opportunity," Mets manager Terry Collins said after lat night's win. "And he's made the most of it."

If the 26 year-old rookie can continue what he's been doing the last month, a rookie of the year nomination is very realistic. 


21 Jul

Good Riddance, San Diego; Welcome to Seattle

Ted S. Warren/Associated Press

Sunday's embarrassing 2-1 loss to the mediocre Padres probably made the Mets' journey out of San Diego all the more relaxing. 

The Mets never play well at Petco Park. They are 13-26 there since its inaugural season in 2004 and leaving its premises had to be somewhat relieving for them, which is really unfortunate because these 2014 Padres are considered by many as the worst offensive team in the past decade and could possibly go down as the worst ever.

But never mind that. The Mets must put their last two loses behind them and focus on their next assignment: the overachieving Seattle Mariners (52-46). 

Seattle, unfortunately stakeholders in the A.L West where Oakland (61-37) and Anaheim (59-38) are playing the best baseball on the planet, has still been relatively impressive under the control of their West Coast counterparts. 

Just 9 games out of first, Seattle boasts the second-lowest ERA in the American League behind, you guessed it, Oakland, at 3.13. Seattle has also allowed the fewest runs in the A.L, giving up only 332 in 98 games so far. King Felix is obviously one of the main reasons why the Mariners have been successful, but other pitchers have stepped up big time this year.

Excluding Felix Hernandez's 19 quality starts, Seattle's starting pitchers, former-Met Chris Young, Hisashi Iwakuma, and Roenis Elias, combine for 28 more quality starts on the year. 

Of Seattle's four starting pitchers who have thrown over 100 innings this year (the four previously mentioned), all possess a WHIP under 1.30. 

It's been a steady campaign for the Mariners in 2014 and the Mets will be looking to revise that script over the next three days. 

New York has the great pleasure of missing out on King Felix in his most impressive season to date (11-2, 2.02), but the Mets will still see the likes of Roenis Elias (7-8, 4.54), Erasmo Ramirez (1-4, 4.58) and Hisashi Iwakuma (8-4, 2.95), respectively, as they play in Seattle for the first time since 2005. 

On the mound for the Mets tonight will be Jonathon Niese (5-4, 2.96), who makes his first start back from the DL in the series-opener. Jacob deGrom (3-5, 3.18) starts tomorrow, followed by Bartolo Colon (8-8, 4.12), who will close out the series Wednesday afternoon. 

While the Braves and Nationals continue to rise in the standings every night, the Mets must win as much as possible over the next three games in Seattle and the following four in Milwaukee. 

God speed, Kings of Queens. 

LGM


16 Jul

Mets look forward to second half, possibility of contending

At 45-50 and currently in sole possession of third place in the N.L East, the New York Mets are ready to embark on the second half journey in their 2014 campaign. 

The revitalizing 8-2 home stand New York tallied prior to the Midsummer Classic now serves as a spark of motivation and belief in the eyes of the players. For it to translate into continued success, the Mets must continue to showcase their best brand of baseball.

And that all begins with a strong start to the second half; an unfamiliarity the past several years. 

Next on the agenda is a 10-game road trip that begins in San Diego, moves through Seattle and finishes in Milwaukee. The Mets currently hold a 20-27 record on the road this year. 

With the cards now falling into place, what can we expect to see from the Mets in the second half?

1. Stability in the starting rotation

BN-CX110_degrom_G_20140521224720.jpg

Getty Images


This area has been one of the few bright spots for New York this season. Expect Jacob deGrom (3-5, 3.18) and Dillon Gee (4-1, 2.56) to continue having quality outings. Zack Wheeler looks to be settling into a groove and Bartolo Colon, if still occupied in New York by August 1st, should remain consistent enough at the end of the rotation. While Jon Niese recovers from a left-shoulder strain on the DL, Daisuke Matsuzaka replaces him in the mean time, which also shouldn't be much of a concern. 

2. Extra production from Daniel Murphy

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Nick Laham/Getty Images


Daniel Murphy has historically been a better second-half hitter. In his career, Murphy's BA, OBP, and Slug pct all increase after the break. The way Murph's been hitting this year, it's realistic to think he can keep it up and maybe even improve on his All-Star campaign. 

Daniel Murphy's Career

  First Half   Second Half
 BA   .284  .301
 OBP  .328  .345
 Slug %  .403  .452

3. Big second half's for Wright and Granderson

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David Wright was not the David Wright we all have come to know during the first half. I still believe that Wright will turn it around as the rest of his team starts to produce offensively. He's a liability in the lineup, and when he's back to 100%, we all know what he's capable of. 

I also believe Curtis Granderson has found his stride and will continue to produce in the second half. Mostly batting leadoff, Grandy has hit .274 with 13 HR, 36 RBI and a .380 OBP since May 1. With all the criticism he received in the first month of the season, he'll prove to everyone in the second half why he was worth every dollar. 

4. Getting within striking distance of contention

Seven games out of the East, Seven games out of the Wild Card, 67 games left to make a run. 


I know I always tend to get ahead of myself and believe the Mets can make a push for something. Call me an optimist, but this team truly has everything working for them heading into the second half and something tells me they are not going to let the rest of the N.L run away with it. 

The Mets are still contenders in my eyes, and if they can just play above .500 baseball the rest of the way, it should remain that way down to the very end. 

 It should be a thrilling ride, and I can't wait to see if they have what it takes.

LGM


15 Jul

Don't Miss Tonight's All-Star Game, or should I say, "Derek Jeter Game"

Ron Antonelli/ Getty Images

The All-Star Game is a big deal, no matter how you look at it. We all know it decides which league receives home-field advantage in the World Series, but people seem to forget that it culminates a group of the world's best ballplayers all onto one field at the same time.

Among the greats who will be on the field tonight is one who is already and will forever be a household name. That is, with no need for an introduction, Mr. Derek Jeter, who will be playing in his 14th and final All-Star game tonight at the age of 40. 

While the headlines build up and the media soaks in the significance that tonight's event will be for Jeter, the stage is set for what should be an amazing tribute to the Yankee captain and future first-ballot Hall of Famer. 

I am personally excited for tonight's ceremonial event because with it comes a high degree of appreciation for the No. 2 in pinstripes as he makes his way across the diamond to his patch of dirt between second and third base. It will be something I never forget and something everyone at Target Field will hold forever in their memories, regardless of what team they root for. 

That is the beauty of Derek Jeter's legacy. Not a baseball fan in this world can say with full honesty that they don't admire The Captain for the way he plays the game and carries himself on and off the field. If you do say that, then you're either lying to seem "cool," like an outcast of some odd sort, which you're not, or you're just a horrible person that nobody cares for. 

As a Mets fan, I remember all the times Jeter has stepped into that batter's box and proved why he was an elite hitter of his generation. He accepted every pitch with full engagement and never failed to see it all the way. Yeah, so usually that meant a hit or two off Mets pitchers (actually, a lot more than two; Jeter's career BA in 88 games vs. NYM was .364 which was "fun"), but it was Derek Jeter up there. You had to know it was coming, especially if the game was on the line. 

My point is this: If you get a chance to watch tonight's game, remember this is the last time Jeter will participate in an All-Star game and you must at the very least see his at-bats or departure from the game (presumably in the 6th or 7th inning) when he receives a standing ovation and a tip of the cap from everyone in Minnesota and the world.

 It will be historical stuff, people. You won't want to miss it. 


14 Jul

Mets roll into All-Star break on fire, winning eight of last ten

Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

There are many reasons why we love baseball so much. One second you could be slamming your television and crying out to the baseball gods for something, anything to help your team find a stride. The next, you could be in the position I find myself in today, just in time for this year's All-Star break. 

The Mets finished the first half of the season going 8-2 and skipping Miami for third place in the division after yesterday's 9-1 win. If you were to compare that to where they stood just two weeks ago after a major debacle in Atlanta, it would obviously be far from close.

That is why I, as you should too, love baseball. It's simply unpredictable. And sometimes that's a good thing.

As the Mets (45- 50) press pause on their current hot streak, second to none in the National League over their past ten, they find themselves seven games back (which looks a hell of a lot better than 12) of Atlanta (52-43) and Washington (51-42) in third place.

For this team, that feels like an achievement all on its own. They were out of the heap just two weeks ago and after going 8-2, they now have the chance to make an even more impressive run if they find the same success in San Diego, Seattle, and Milwaukee to kick off the second half. 

Over the last eight games, the Mets offensive production has been producing excessively while the pitching has kept opponents to under five runs in every game. With that timely hitting and quality starting pitching that I mentioned the Mets needed to have in order to beat Atlanta, the Mets showed they are capable of doing so with their backs against the wall. 

"We came off the road and, actually, I was talking to the coaches the first day," Terry Collins said. "I said, 'If we go 7-3, that's going to be a tremendous homestand for us.' These guys just stepped it up -- got the offense and pitching going at the same time. And that's how you put streaks together." 

The Mets would love to see the same type of production continue after the All Star break. Over the last two seasons, however, they've entered the break with winning records only to watch them squander it. Last season's second half began with a 1-11 start. The year before, a 14-23 start to the second half.

Right now, Terry Collins and his young group understand by all means the road moving forward is not going to be easy. This team needs to continue playing exceptional baseball. As of now, they've proved they can compete, and these first three series on the road will indicate whether the Mets are serious about giving the Braves and Nats a run for their money, like David Wright proclaimed after yesterday's win. 

I am happy to say, whether this hot streak means something or nothing, at least it gives this team something to play for. They know they've got to keep it going. It's now up to them to let their play do the real talking, because it certainly has over the past 10 games. 

I wish Daniel Murphy, the lone Met All-Star this year, the best of luck in the ASG. Maybe he can show some elite AL hurlers what he's all about.

Have a wonderful Mid-Summer Classic, guys and remember, 

Let's Go Mets! 



7 Jul

Mets hoping for any success against Tomahawks

John Munson/The Star-Ledger

The last time the New York Mets began a series with Atlanta, they were 7 games out of first place with a great chance to gain much-needed ground on their division-rival Braves.

New York helplessly squandered the opportunity at every cost, getting swept and pushed to ten games back. 

Just five days later, the Mets (39-49) find themselves in a desperate position against Atlanta (49-39) as they welcome the N.L East leaders into Citi Field for a four game series. 

Here again is a great chance for New York to either gain ground on the Braves and leave with hope moving forward or falter terribly and fall even more back as the All-Star break quickly approaches. 

This time, however, can very likely be the last if the Mets fail again.

Terry Collins and his group will search for an array of wins against a hefty opposition in the Braves' pitching staff. Saddled up and ready to start for Atlanta in Flushing is Mike Minor (2-5, 4.73), Julio Teheran (8-5, 2.29), Ervin Santana (7-5, 3.93), and Adam Harang (8-6, 3.67), respectively. 

The Mets are familiar with facing Atlanta's quality starting pitching, and the lack of success that usually come with it. 

The approach, however, must always be the same. Look for quality at-bats, timely-hitting, and hope for decent pitching on our side of the mound. 

Our last three dates with the Braves did not feature those things at the same time. 

When the starting pitching was there, the bullpen was not. When the Mets had the lead, the pitching held on for dear life. If the bullpen does not improve against the Braves when this team needs it the most, the Mets will not find wins and make it nearly impossible to climb back into contention.

New York will certainly discover a lot about themselves over these next four days. If they show they can compete with the elite teams of the National League and win, they may just get another chance to prove themselves. 

Against the Braves, the Mets are 3-6 this season and have yet to prove much. That must change if they want to be relevant at all moving forward. 

The Mets need to play like their season is on the line, because for the most part, it really is. 


3 Jul

Mets get swept by Braves and do exactly what I said not to

The Mets did not do themselves any favors in the standings over the past three days. 

They may have lost all three games by only two runs or less, but it did not matter how close they came; they came away with nothing but more of a hole to climb out of. 

Sitting a top the N.L East, Atlanta now leads New York by a healthy 10-game cushion on the eve of Independence Day, and will soon look to increase that lead on Monday when they visit Citi Field.

Coming into the Atlanta series, I said the Mets needed to find some wins in order to keep their season from diminishing into a hole of sorrow and irrelevance. They failed to do that and now we move on, just without the Braves and Nationals, of course, because they will continue to win and climb the standings while we sit at the bottom with the helpless Phillies.

So here are on July 3rd of this 2014 baseball season, 10 games out of first place and 9 1/2 out of the Wild Card. This story is becoming so awfully familiar to the one told over the past five years that it's almost inevitable.

Maybe the front office can make some noise around the trade deadline? Or maybe they can watch another one pass before their eyes with absolutely zip, nada, zilch in return.

This team is slowly, but surely, falling out of any and all contention for a playoff spot, and it's becoming hard to watch. I've had to witness it for the last five years. I'm sick to my stomach.

There is this tiny thread of hope that my heart is still clinging to right now and that is the only motivation I have moving forward in this season. Of course anything can still happen, but as the days go by and the losses accumulate, pieces of that once big- now tiny- thread fall and deteriorate into sweet oblivion, as do the Mets' chances in having a promising season this year.

If we're lucky, the Texas Rangers could be having a worse year than us, which says a lot. Only time will truly tell, though. 

LGM



30 Jun

In Atlanta, Mets must find wins, or else...

Daniel Shirey – USA TODAY Sports

The New York Metropolitans find themselves in a heap of desperation coming into a three game series in Atlanta this week. 

The Mets, who currently reside at 37-45 and fourth place in the N.L East, can fall to as many as 10 games behind the first place-Atlanta Braves (44-38) if they fail to earn a win over their next three games. 

No team wants to be 10 games out of first place on July 3rd. It never looks pretty and almost always ends in a postseason-less year. 

The bright side, of course, is that if the Mets can win all three games, they'll be right back in it. 

Now I know asking for a sweep of the Braves in Atlanta is a reach, especially since David Wright is not with the team and may not be for the entire series, but ya gotta believe, right?

And the series doesn't even have to end with an appearance from the brooms. 

In the series opener, RHP Zack Wheeler (3-8, 4.45 ERA) opposes LHP Alex Wood (6-6, 3.07), which could favor the Mets since Wheeler is 3-1 with a 3.91 ERA in his career against the Tomahawks. In game two, RHP Daisuke Matsuzaka (3-2, 3.23) takes on LHP Mike Minor (2-5, 4.50 ERA) and in the series finale, rookie arm Jacob deGrom will square off against RHP Julio Teheran (7-5, 2.34 ERA).

If the games are low-scoring, then I like our chances to stay alive.

To put it simple for you guys: the Mets cannot let things get disastrous, or they may just have an even bigger hole to climb out of if they want to stay relevant come August, let alone October. 

If that doesn't show you how important these next three will be for the Mets and the stakeholders in their 2014 season, then I don't know what does.

LGM. 


20 Jun

Wheeler dominates in strongest performance of career thus far

Associated Press

At the beginning of last season when Zack Wheeler was still a minor leaguer on his way towards the Bigs, the New York Mets firmly believed they had something special in him. Everyone in the organization did. 

After pitching 100 innings in his rookie campaign and going 7-5 with a 3.42 ERA, Zach Wheeler began the 2014 season in a similar fashion, only he wasn't earning the wins due to a struggling offense. 

Decent start after decent start, Wheeler never excelled nor derailed. He was always quite average with a relatively high rate of walks. Only twice he got lucky and came out with a win. Sometimes he was just the opposite, allowing two earned runs and still receiving the loss. 

Coming into yesterday's outing against Miami, Wheeler's 2-7 record was everything short of special. But as the night ended in Miami, everyone who watched the game saw just what the Mets had seen in Wheeler when they dealt Carlos Beltran for him in 2010: Enormous potential. 

The Marlins had no answer to Wheeler's dominance, earning only three hits and four total base runners the entire night. The evening belonged to the right-handed hurler in blue and orange, showing the world exactly what he's capable of in the first complete game shutout of his career.

Wheeler's great command of the strike zone and ability to get that third strike 8 times was one of the many reasons he earned his third win of the season. All of pitches seemed to possess the right movement and at times really fooled the Marlin hitters. 

Following the strongest outing of his career, Wheeler said, "I know I can do it every time out. I know I have the stuff. Kind of feels good to go out there and do it and be efficient."

A year and a day after making his MLB-debut against Atlanta, Zach Wheeler went out and tossed the game of his life. 

The question now is whether he can turn the page, become more consistent and mold himself into the pitcher he, along with everyone else, knows he's capable of being. 

After last night, Wheeler's future has never looked more bright.


5 Jun

Lack of situational hitting costs Mets again

Jeffrey Phelps

In Wednesday night's 5-4 loss to the Cubs, the Mets found themselves with multiple opportunities to open up the game with the bases loaded. 

In the fifth inning, with the Mets leading 4-2, New York loaded the bases for Anthony Recker, who was looking to add insurance to his team's two-run lead. Recker instead popped out to first baseman Anthony Rizzo in foul territory to end the inning and leave three runners on for New York. 

In the bottom half of the fifth, Daisuke Matsuzaka was pulled after allowing two men on base with only one out and his pitch count rising towards 90. Dana Eveland replaced Dice-K and immediately surrendered a two-run single up the middle to Startlin Castro, tying the game at 4. 

Eveland was then pulled after walking Chris Coghlan to load the bases. Jeurys Familia came in for relief and subsequently threw a wild pitch, allowing Chicago to take a one-run lead.

Just an inning later, New York once again had the opportunity to cash in runs, this time while trailing by one. With Tejada on third, Murphy on second, and Wright on first, Wesley Wright came in and struck out Curtis Granderson with a 78-mph curveball, again stranding runners on base for the Mets in a crucial part of the game.

The Mets would end up losing by the score of 5-4.

New York ended the night by going 1 for 8 with runners in scoring position and leaving a total of ten runners on base. 

It was a loss Terry Collins and his bunch would like to forget about as soon as possible. 

Hopefully they can in the series finale Thursday night when they try to avoid a rare sweep by the 22-34 Cubbies. 

Jacob de Grom (0-2, 2.42) will take the mound for the Mets as they try to get him his first win after four straight quality outings. 

LGM