The Kings of Queens

A place for all things New York Mets related.
19 Apr

Mets' Late-Inning Rally Falls Short to Braves 7-5

Frank Franklin II/AP

When the starting job at closer became Jose Valverde's responsibility, the Mets did not expect it to be a major concern. Unfortunately, Jose Valverde has allowed four home runs in his last three outings, one of which gave the Braves a 7-3 lead in the top of the ninth inning tonight after the Mets came within one run to make the score 4-3 heading into the inning. 

Even though Valverde's job was to keep things close for the bottom of the ninth instead of closing out the game for a win, he still looked as off as ever. Valverde continuously threw ball after ball and finally left a fastball right in Justin Upton's wheelhouse to give Atlanta a four-run lead heading into the bottom half of the ninth. 

In the bottom of the inning, the Mets began to rally off of one of the elite closers in baseball, Mr. Craig "Lights Out" Kimbrel. Even though they fell short, the Mets did put up quite the rally. 

With one out and nobody on base, Eric Young Jr. went to first after being hit by a pitch. That was then followed by a Daniel Murphy single and an RBI double by David Wright to make the game 7-4. 

Curtis Granderson came up to bat as the tying run and struck out on Kimbrel's deadly slider. 

Chris B. Young followed with an RBI single up the middle and became the tying run on first. After a walk to Lucas Duda and a pitching change that sent Kimbrel to the dugout and Jordan Walden to the mound, Walden got Travis d'Arnaud to ground out to Andrelton Simmons and leave the bases loaded to end the game with the tying run on second base. 

The ball game was close for the majority of the night but Upton's three-run homer off Valverde in the ninth proved to be the difference. 

The Mets scored early on Ervin Santana in the first inning before falling behind 4-1 in the eighth and scoring two in the ninth to make the game 7-5.

Bartolo Colon threw seven innings, allowing three earned runs on eight hits and six strikeouts. Colon's ERA on the season is now 5.40 and now has a 1-3 record. 

The Met bats did not pick it up until the late innings when they chipped away at Braves relievers David Carpenter and Craig Kimbrel. Although they made a valiant effort to come back and almost tie the game more than once, Jose Valverde's woes were too much for them to get the win.

The Mets are now under .500 once again at 8-9 while the Braves improved to 12-5 and are still in first place in the N.L East.

It will be interesting to see who becomes the Mets' ninth inning man in their next game. I know one thing, Terry Collins won't be choosing Mr. Valverde. 


18 Apr

After a successful road trip, Mets welcome home sizzling Braves

Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press

I'm never one to complain about a successful road trip. After all, the Mets managed to take two out of three from the top dog Braves in Atlanta (10-5, 1st in NL East), sweep the dreadful Diamondbacks in Phoenix, and finish a long nine-game road trip with an above .500 record on the season (currently 8-7) for the first time since April 24 of last year when they were also 8-7.

Since the season-opening series against the Nationals where the Mets were swept and simply outplayed, New York has captured three out of four series and gone 8-4 in that span of time. 

With the exception of April 13th's 14-2 lose in Anaheim, the Mets have not trailed by more than one run in any of their loses. Thanks to quality starting pitching and timely, situational hitting, the Mets are feeling a lot better about themselves; as are their fans at this point in mid-April. 

Outfielder Eric Young Jr. played one of the key roles in providing the Mets with runs, stolen bases, and chances for more runs while successfully reaching base 21 times throughout the road trip. In 21 total trips to the bases, Young scored 12 times; largely because he was nine for nine in stolen base attempts. Young's on-base percentage increased from .231 at the beginning of the road trip to .344 as of today. Without EYJ' ability to reach base, the Mets most certainly would've lost more than three games in their past nine. 

Quality starts from Dillon Gee and Jenery Mejia also proved to be crucial for this ball club on the road. 

Mejia looked stellar in his last outing; throwing five innings, allowing no runs on only two hits and capturing his second win of the season. Gee also looked strong in his last start, tossing seven shutout innings against the D-backs while surrendering only three hits and earning his first win of the year. 

Zack Wheeler and Bartolo Colon both showed good and bad signs as they each went 1-1 on the road trip. The Mets pitching staff combined for a 4.06 ERA over the last nine games.

Returning to Citi Field for a ten-game home stretch, the Mets now welcome in one of the hottest teams in all of baseball: the Atlanta Braves.

Atlanta, who currently resides atop the N.L East at 10-5, are first in the league with a 2.44 ERA and tied for first in quality starts with 12. Atlanta's starting pitching has been the key to their success of late, and the Mets will try to match the Braves' deep staff of quality arms as they return home and face the same arms that they saw in Atlanta just six games ago.

Here's a look at the probable match-ups:

Friday: LHP Niese (0-1, 3.46) vs. RHP Harang (2-1, 0.96), 7:10 p.m. ET 

Saturday: RHP Colon (1-2, 6.00) vs. RHP Santana (1-0, 0.64), 7:10 p.m. ET 

Sunday: RHP Wheeler (1-2, 4.76) vs. RHP Hale (0-0, 2.89), 1:10 p.m. ET 

The Mets will try to improve on their 2-1 record this year against Atlanta. After those three games, the Mets will host four against St. Louis (10-6) and three against Miami (6-10) before traveling to Philly, Colorado and Miami. 


8 Apr

Mets Braves Series Preview

Welcome to Hot-lanta, home of the Tomahawk Chop!

The Mets begin a nine game road trip in Atlanta that will follow with visits to Anaheim and Phoenix. 

After beginning the season 2-4 against the Nationals and Reds at Citi Field, the Mets will try to challenge the 4-2 Braves who seem to always play them well at Turner Field. (Braves went 7-2 last year against NYM at home) 

On the mound for the Mets today is RHP Bartolo Colon, (0-1, 4.50) who got off to a shaky start in his first outing as a Met, allowing three runs on nine hits in six innings pitched against Washington. 

Opposing the former Cy-Young Award winner is former-Met and long-time Red RHP Aaron Harang (1-0, 0.00), who threw in only 23.0 innings with New York last year.

The Braves, who have a great deal of quality pitching in both their rotation and bullpen, will prepare against a struggling Mets' lineup that has already struck out 61 times so far this year, a franchise record through the first six games of a season. 

As the battle for first base continues between Lucas Duda and Ike Davis, it has been reported that Duda will start on Tuesday in Atlanta after sitting on Sunday at home. 

Here's a look at the next two pitching match-ups against Atlanta:

Wednesday: RHP Wheeler (0-1, 4.50) vs. RHP Santana (0-0, -.--), 7:10 p.m. ET 

Thursday: RHP Mejia (1-0, 1.50) vs. RHP Hale (0-0, 0.00), 7:10 p.m. ET
 



1 Apr

Bullpen struggles as Mets lose season opener to Nats

Anthony J. Causi (left) and Paul J. Bereswill

The Mets' bullpen last season ranked 12th in the National League with a 3.98 ERA. 

Yesterday, after a 9-7 Opening Day loss, it looked as if the Mets were on that same pace again.

Starting pitcher Dillon Gee threw 6.2 innings and allowed four earned runs on four hits. With men on first and second and two down in the seventh, Terry Collins turned to his bullpen. Following Gee's departure, Carlos Torres came in and threw four total pitches, all for balls, and was then replaced with Scott Rice.

Rice came in and did the exact same thing as Torres, only his four-pitch walk was with the bases loaded, causing Washington to tie the game at 4. 

4-4, Bottom 7

Rice would leave after his four balls and Jose Valverde, the newly-acquired 36 year-old veteran reliever, would be called to the mound to get New York out of a bases loaded jam. 

Valverde, being the deceptive, hard-throwing pitcher that he is, was able to strikeout Ryan Zimmerman to end the inning. 

An inning later, in the bottom of the eighth with the score still tied at 4, Juan Lagares stepped up and belted the go-ahead solo home run to put the Mets up 5-4 on the Nationals late. 

Bobby Parnell came in for his first save opportunity of the season, and that's when it all went down hill.

Parnell came in throwing his fastball at around 90-92 mph, taking a lot off his hard stuff. As a result, Parnell's pitches were not electric, but more flat. 

Ian Desmond, the leadoff hitter in the top of the ninth for Washington, took advantage of the Mets' closer and smacked a line drive single into centerfield to begin the inning. 

Parnell then got Adam Laroche to pop up and Anthony Rendon to strikeout looking for the first two outs.

Two outs.

Danny Espinosa came up as Washington's last hope. With Desmond on first and Espinosa down to a 3-2 count, Parnell tossed ball four, allowing Desmond to reach scoring position and Washington to still have a chance at tying the game.

Denard Span did not hesitate. He swung at the first pitch he saw by Parnell and lined it into left field for a hit. Desmond came around to score.

5-5. 

And the season had officially begun. 

Another opportunity for the bullpen to close things out, another blown save. 

Following Parnell's blown save, the Mets failed to score in the bottom of the ninth. 

Jeurys Familia came in for the top of the tenth and Washington led off with two singles to begin the inning. Eventually one of those base runners scored on a sacrifice fly out to make the game 6-5 Washington. Then, as if it was doomed to happen, the Nats left two men on for Anthony Rendon, who brought them all home after crushing a three-run homer to nearly put the game out of reach and spoil the Mets Opening Day. 9-5 Washington. 

The Mets came closer by scoring two runs in the bottom of the tenth off of David Wright's two run homer, but it didn't matter. The Mets had lost the game, and it was obvious that the bullpen was responsible for that. 

Mets Bullpen: 3.1 IP, 5 ER, 4 BB 

Opening Day or not, four walks and five earned runs by a bullpen is unacceptable. 

The Mets will be in trouble if they fail to figure out how to improve this bullpen. 

I'm hoping the Opening Day jitters just got to the Met relievers and that was the reason why they looked off. 

Fingers crossed.


31 Mar

Opening Day is here, time to hope for a better year

Adam Rubin/ ESPN

"Opening day, and here's the first pitch — and the season's over."

Thank you, Seth McFarlene. I love to be reminded how good the Mets are at losing.

We've heard it all before. The season's over as soon as it starts. The lack of competitiveness year after year. 

But Mets fans have always been accustomed to the ongoing trend of losing. It's the same story. Until Opening Day comes around, of course.

Opening Day is the moment of hope, where anything and everything is possible.

It's the moment the lineups are introduced. The moment the stadium seats begin to fill up. The moment the delicious smell of frankfurters and freshly cut grass fill the ballpark's atmosphere for the first time in  a long time. It's the moment of opportunity.

The possibilities of making a run are actually realistic, because it's a new chapter.

Opening Day is not merely the start to a season, it's the chance to create something stable. To build off the hopes and expectations of a team and formalize something magical.

That is why, regardless of what the past dictates for the Mets, a clean slate will never get old. 

Over the offseason, Mets general manager Sandy Alderson acquired Curtis Granderson, Bartolo Colon, Chris B. Young, Jose Valverde and John Lannan in order to fill holes in the roster and make good of a clean slate on Opening Day in 2014.

The quality of these offseason acquisitions are not overly impressive, but they are definitely a step up for a team that won 74 games for the second straight season last year. Sandy Alderson needed to sign solid players this offseason, and he did attempt to make this team better in 2014 by doing so.

With the young pitching talents of Zack Wheeler, Jenery Mejia, and Noah Syndergaard emerging as the top prospects from the Mets farm system, and the consistent forms of Dillon Gee, Bartolo Colon, and Jon Niese (when healthy) as the veteran arms on the staff, the Mets starting pitching could easily be the brightest spot of this team. 

When Matt Harvey returns and Syndergaard settles into the mix by 2015, the Mets starting rotation will be deep enough to go up against anyone and come out on top. 

For this season, however, the position players will be the difference. Players like David Wright, Daniel Murphy and Curtis Granderson will have to be the consistent players they're known for being if the Mets want to come close to the front office's expectations of 90 wins. 

Less-recognized starters like Ruben Tejada, Ike Davis, and Travis d'Arnaud will also need to step up and produce at higher rates than ever before. This team has yet to prove they can hit day in and day out. If all nine starters remain healthy and consistently put up better-than-average numbers at the plate, the team will be in a much safer situation come July.

Realistically speaking, the Nationals and Braves are the top dogs of the N.L East.

Stephen Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez, Jordan Zimmermann, Tanner Roark, and Doug Fister is as deep a rotation as they come in baseball this year.

The same can be said for Julio Teheran, Alex Wood, Adam Harang, Mike Minor, and Ervin Santana. 

What the Mets need to understand as they try to rebuild and reconnect with their winning ways is that the Nats and Braves are already versions of what they strive to be, and they are going to be the teams that have it easier than anyone else in making a run for all the marbles. 

But it's okay.

The sport of baseball is very unpredictable and the best teams on paper almost never win it all. The winning comes down to determination, team chemistry, fundamentally sound baseball, and a little bit of luck. That is why every team has a chance.

And that all starts with Opening Day.

Only time will tell what the future really holds for this rebuilding ball club. For now, there's a bigger upside than in the past, and that's something to take note of if you bleed orange and blue. 

Happy Opening Day 2014 and LGM! 

 

 


15 Mar

Mets Must Pursue Nick Franklin Before It's Too Late

RICK SCUTERI/Associated Press

The clock is ticking and the doors are slowly closing for Mets general manager Sandy Alderson.

The Mets' current situation at shortstop is still feeble and with only two weeks left in spring training, Alderson must be more aggressive in trading for Seattle's Nick Franklin before another team acquires him and uses the 22-year-old asset in the middle of their infield.

Along with the Mets, the Rays and Orioles are now also interested in Nick Franklin's strong potential for hitting and fielding, reports Jon Heyman of CBS Sports .

Heyman writes, "The likelihood of a trade somewhere seems strong at this point. Discussions are ongoing. Franklin was No. 4 on the list of likely spring trade candidates here a couple days ago." 

New York's Ruben Tejada, 24, was supposed to be the answer at shortstop for the Mets last year after hitting .289/.333/.351 with 134 hits in 464 at bats in 2012, but failed to meet those expectations in 2013 with an injury-plagued campaign that caused him to play in only 57 games and hit .202/.259/.260 with zero home runs and 10 RBIs. 

The underachieving performance of Tejada in spring training thus far (2 for 18, .111/.158/.167) is a major area of concern at the shortstop position for the Mets. However, while the Mets' interest in Franklin should be growing due to Tejada's lack of production, Mike Puma of the New York Post reports that the Mets have not had recent "substantive" talks about Franklin with Seattle since the Winter Meetings in December. 

According to John Harper of the New York Daily News, the Mets continue to scout Nick Franklin while they examine whether the natural second basemen can successfully play at shortstop long term.

Although it's been indicated that Franklin's ability at shortstop is limited, many scouts still consider him "reliable" with a sure glove at the position. The value New York would be getting from Franklin's solid bat and defensive skills overlook his potential to suffer at shortstop on this current Mets roster. Franklin provides depth to the middle infield and the backend of New York's projected Opening Day lineup and is surely a stronger option than Tejada, whose bat has always struggled to produce. 

A rookie just last season, Franklin showed promising value at second base when he committed only 12 errors in 477 chances, posting a .975 fielding percentage. In addition, Franklin impressed with his bat, hitting 12 homers and driving in 45 runs in 102 games as a rookie. 

Still looking over the idea of trading a pitching prospect for Franklin, Sandy Alderson is taking longer than usual in getting something finalized in ink. Whether it is the uncertainty that Franklin can play effectively at shortstop, or the unwillingness to give up a pitching prospect in return, something needs to get done while the opportunity still presents itself. 

The Mets' farming system has an excess amount of pitching prospects in order to satisfy the Mariners' needs and Franklin has already proved he is a better option than Tejada is for the Mets.

If Alderson waits this one out too long, it could end up biting him in the back. 

He needs to pursue Nick Franklin before Baltimore or Tampa Bay does, and he needs to pick up his phone now, before it's too late.



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3 Mar

Syndergaard shines in spring debut against Altanta

HOWARD SIMMONS/ NEW YORK DAILY NEWS

The Mets may only be four games into spring training, but it's never too early to assess Noah Syndergaard's first outing against a solid major league lineup.

Here's Syndergaard's line of work against the Braves on Monday in Disney:

2 IP: 1 H, 0 R, 2 K, 30 pitches

We may have only got to witness him for two innings of work, but Noah did not fail to meet the expectations in his first spring appearance.

In only 30 pitches, the right-handed pitching prospect breezed through Atlanta's top of the order. 

Syndergaard opened up the bottom of the first with a full count to Jason Heyward, then hurled a 3-2 fastball at 98 mph that Heyward could not catch up to. Following Heyward's punchout, Syndergaard retired the Upton brothers in order, getting them both to fly out with only 12 pitches thrown in the first. 

In the second, "Thor" continued to get his fastball around the 95-97 mph area. Against the hard-hitting Evan Gattis to lead off the bottom of the second, he struck him out on three straight fastballs, the first at 95 mph, then the next two at 96 mph a piece.

The next batter Syndergaard faced was his only challenge of the afternoon. 

Veteran catcher Ryan Doumit faced nine total pitches from Syndergaard in his at-bat, four of which he fouled off, and the last of which he placed into left field for an opposite-field single. 

Syndergaard did not seem flustered by Doumit's single. He continued to retire hitters from the stretch with a Tommy LaStella fly out to left in foul territory and a Mark Hamilton comebacker to retire the side. 

Syndergaard was not hesitant to fire his fastball at the accomplished bats of Jason Heyward, Evan Gattis, Ryan Doumit, and B.J and Justin Upton. He showed some of his off-speed action with the "hook from hell" curve, but mostly went with the fastball that stayed around the 96 mph range. 

After the second inning, Terry Collins pulled Syndergaard from the game with two shutout innings under his belt, allowing him to rest following a pretty successful spring training debut. 

This outing was a very small sample of what the Mets are hoping to see from their top-prospect in the near and far future.

Hopefully, the success only continues for the 6-foot-6, 240 pound machine, as he looks to shine for the remainder of the spring and the first half of the season in Triple-A Las Vegas. So far, he's not too shabby in doing so. 


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3 Mar

Syndergaard makes spring training debut against Braves today

Happy Noah Day! 

Or maybe we'll end up compromising on Happy Syndergaard Day! Regardless, today is the day right-handed pitching prospect Noah Syndergaard pitches in his first spring training game as a New York Met, and I'm as excited as you are, Mets fans.

The 21 year-old pitcher is set to make his Grapefruit League debut at 1:05 pm against the Atlanta Braves, where he will face off against a major league lineup for the first time in his highly-anticipated career. 

Syndergaard, coming in at 6-foot-6, 240 pounds, says he's excited for the start, but also a little nervous entering the first big test in his big league career. 

Okay, so maybe the result won't matter that much- this is spring training after all. Nonetheless, this is also a great opportunity to witness the Mets' top prospect and his wonderful throwing ability. 

How it translates at the major league level will be the difference.

Syndergaard's "hook from hell" curveball, as skipper Terry Collins likes to call it, and his relentless 96-97 mph fastball, are two of the reasons why he's looked at the way he is. With Syndergaard's potential higher than the ceiling, the way he performs throughout this spring will tell us quite a bit about what we should expect moving forward and when we should see him later in the season.

The New York Mets are expecting to call up Syndergaard around June or July when he's settled into a groove in Triple-A Las Vegas and Terry Collins has a better idea of what he needs to add to the roster at that point in the season. 

For now, however, Syndergaard is still a minor league pitcher, looking to create some havoc before he debuts in the majors around the All-Star break like Zack Wheeler did last year and Matt Harvey did the year before. 


22 Jan

Mets settle with Lucas Duda to one-year deal, avoid arbitration

AL BELLO/GETTY IMAGES

According to Joel Sherman of the New York Post (Twitter), the Mets agreed with 1B/OF Lucas Duda to a one-year, $1.6375 million contract for 2014. 

The near 28 year-old Duda avoided arbitration with the contract agreement.

In 100 games and 318 at-bats last season, Duda hit .223/ .352/ .415 with 15 home runs and 33 RBIs. 

Duda played 58 games at first base and 34 in left field.

With spring training camp just around the corner and the outfield situation nearly set after the acquisitions of Curtis Granderson and Chris B. Young, it's more than likely that Duda will compete with Ike Davis again for the starting spot at first base when the season begins. 

Duda was the last of seven arbitration-eligible players who settled with the Mets this offseason. 



19 Jan

Mets sign LHP John Lannan

Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP

According to the team's official twitter, the Mets have signed LHP John Lannan, 29, to a minor-league contract along with an invite to spring training. 

Lannan, a Long Beach, Long Island native, went 3-6 with a 5.33 ERA in 14 starts as a member of the Philadelphia Phillies in 2013. 

The south-paw veteran will compete for the final spot in the Mets' starting rotation with Jenrry Mejia and prospects Rafael Montero and Jacob deGrom, reports Adam Rubin of ESPN New York.

With the possible addition of Lannan to the starting rotation, he would join Jonathon Niese as the only other two left-handed starter. 

It will be interesting to see if Lannan has any gas left in the tank for a reasonably durable and consistent season with New York. 

One thing's for sure, he's excited to finally play for a New York-based team, growing up in Long Island as a fan of both the Mets and Yankees.

The long time Nationals hurler has a 4.12 career ERA in 148 starts.


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