The Kings of Queens

A place for all things New York Mets related.
25 Aug

Duda justifies himself as clear answer to first base

AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill

The Mets' productive hitting display on Sunday afternoon in L.A was a rare sight. The triple-play they recorded was even rarer. However, the one aspect of the game that was not rare by any means was the power-hitting ability of Lucas Duda after he launched two long-balls into the stratosphere located above Southern California. 

It's actually becoming a normality this season. 

Duda is currently in the middle of his best Major League season right now, putting up career highs in home runs (26) and RBIs (76) with nearly a month left to play. The big man is third in the NL in home runs and sixth in RBIs and has five home runs and 12 RBIs in his last ten games. 

So is there now even a question whether the Mets chose right in Duda over Ike Davis? 

No, there isn't. 

There is not much comparison between the two first basemen after Duda broke out of his shell and Davis remained the clueless sub-par hitter who showed signs of real power, but was never able to keep the bat on the ball consistently.

Ike Davis has hit seven home runs and driven in 34 RBIs since moving to Pittsburgh earlier in the season. Davis is batting .239 while Duda is batting .260. 

Now that Duda has undoubtedly locked himself up at first base for next year and presumably the years following if he continues to hit with the same conviction and strength, the Mets can safely say they have fixed another vital piece to the puzzle. 

The Mets have found themselves one piece every team wants and needs but struggles for some time to find. That is a big, power-hitting first basemen like Lucas Duda. 

While New York (61-70) and Sandy Alderson look for any life remaining in 2014, they will continue to look ahead to the future by determining if they have found the answers in left field, shortstop, and catcher, or if the answers are not yet in New York.


18 Aug

Montero improves, Mets bats do not

If there was any positive from the Mets' 2-1 loss to the Cubs Sunday afternoon, it was Rafael Montero's effort in just his sixth career start, where he tossed 7 1/3 innings of one-run ball, struck out six and pitched into the eighth inning for the first time as a big leaguer. 

Montero will likely be sent back to Triple-A Las Vegas next weekend when Jacob deGrom returns from the DL, but nonetheless, the rookie's impressive start surely had to boost his confidence as well as the manager's. 

However, one thing that continues to plague the Mets (59-66) is their extreme lack of hitting over the past two series at Citi Field. 

New York's lineup has not totaled more than four hits in any of their past four games. 

Over the past six games, the Mets have scored 15 total runs, averaging 2.5 runs per game and only exceeding 3 runs once (on Saturday's 7-3 win over Chicago, where the Mets also only had four hits). 

The lack of offensive production is proving costly for Terry Collins' team who just last week found themselves 7.5 games out of first and 6 games out of a Wild Card spot. 

Following a sweep from Washington where New York was outscored 14-4, and two wins in three games over the Cubs, the Mets now sit 11.5 games behind the first-place Nationals in the N.L East.

Fortunately, things aren't as ugly for the Mets in the Wild Card race. 

New York is 7 games back of the top two slots, with Atlanta, Pittsburgh, Miami and Cincinnati all in catching distance ahead. 

For the Mets to make any kind of push from the middle of the N.L pack towards the top, they must find offensive production wherever they can get it. New York's starting pitching has not been the problem, but their porous hitting performances over the last week have really come to hurt them in the race. 

The Mets will look to finish off the Cubs (53-70) Monday afternoon at Citi Field when Carlos Torres (5-5, 3.68) starts in replacement of Bartolo Colon, who was scratched Monday to join his "extremely ill" mother in the Dominican Republic. 

Torres will oppose Cubs' RHP Kyle Hendricks (4-1, 1.73). 

David Wright, who left Saturday's game with shoulder issues after being hit by a pitch and missed Sunday's game, will return to the lineup Monday in the series-finale with Chicago. 


13 Aug

Nats are real Kings of Queens

Barton Silverman/The New York Times

Citi Field was a quiet place last night. 

As I took in the delights of trolling Bryce Harper and ferociously rooted on my Mets against a much-despised first place counterpart in the Nationals, I quickly understood why my sign saying Bryce Harper doesn't respect women would prove to be useless in actually effecting the game's outcome.

Bryce Harper homered in his first at-bat of the evening, putting the Nats up 2-0 early. (I slightly lowered my sign after this. It was the Hunter Pence soap opera all over again.)

Then something hit me. 

Boy, these guys dressed in gray and red in the opposing dugout really know how to play. Of course I knew they were a good team, maybe even a better-than-good team. However, thinking they were a great team would require me to witness their expertise in person, and that is exactly what I did. 

I witnessed them toss my beloved Mets up and down the field. This happened in our ballpark nonetheless, for what seemed like the millionth time.

It was a disgrace. And at the same time, I admired what the other team was accomplishing. 

The Nats ended the night with four home runs, one each from Bryce Harper, Anthony Rendon, Ian Desmond, and of course, a rookie making his MLB debut, Michael A. Taylor. 

As for the Mets hitting, there was almost none of it. The Mets scattered nine hits, eight of which were singles and one being a double. 

Whether it's a lack of hitting or a surplus in Doug Fister's pitching ability when he faces the Mets, I don't know. Fister improved to 12-3 on the year after the win, holding the Mets scoreless through seven on seven hits with three strikeouts. 

The night seemed unforgettable from a Mets point of view. The team looked like trash, and it was very hard to watch at times. As for the other side, it was apparent that team was going places. 

Now I know no one expected Rafael Montero to be perfect, but he could've been anything but worse. Once again, Montero did not look ready for the show and the Nats took clear advantage of that. 

I saw some statistics today (Thank you, Adam Rubin) that made me cringe when looking at the difference between these two ball clubs and I thought I should share them with you:

Since September 11th, 2011, the Nationals are 23-4 at Citi Field. 23-4! The Nats have also won nine consecutive games at Citi Field and they have scored at least seven runs in three of their four games at Citi Field this year while the Mets have scored seven runs just eight times in 56 home games. 

I mean, talk about quality showing up crap. I couldn't even believe these numbers. I thought the Mets were somehow gaining in on their D.C foes. The Mets aren't horrible, they're just not good, which typically means they're just average. Plain and simple.

After looking at the numbers and last night's horror show at Citi Field first-hand, it's really not hard to see anymore. 

The Washington Nationals are not just better than the Mets, they are a lot better. 

I'm hoping this is not the case for long, but you never know with this game. You never know.


12 Aug

Mets prepare for great challenge against top-dog Nationals

AP

The New York Metropolitans (57-62) enjoyed their weekend in Philadelphia as they took three-of-four from the last place Phillies and set up what surely will be their biggest test of the season so far against their first-place foes from our Nation's Capitol. 

The Mets host the first place Washington Nationals (63-53) for three games at Citi Field starting Tuesday night.

Washington took two of three against New York in D.C last week and will look to improve on their fantastic 7-2 record against the Amazin's in 2014. 

For New York to remain hopeful of contending down the stretch they must finally win a series against the Nationals this week. In series against the Nationals, the Mets are 0-3 this season.

Series Probables:

Tuesday: Montero (0-2, 5.40) vs. Fister (11-3, 2.49), 7:10 p.m

Wednesday:  Colon (11-9, 3.97) vs. Zimmermann (7-5, 3.06), 7:10 p.m 

Thursday: Gee (4-4, 3.54) vs. Strasburg (8-10, 3.68), 7:10 p.m

DeGrom placed on 15-Day DL

July's N.L Rookie of the Month, Jacob deGrom, was placed on the 15-day disabled list Monday with rotator cuff tendinitis. The Mets reported he may only miss two starts. Let's hope they're right. Rafael Montero was called up from Triple-A Las Vegas, where he's gone 6-3 with a 3.28 ERA in 15 starts this season.

The last time Montero was called up in May, we all saw how unprepared he was for the big leagues. Now he's got to bring his A-game stuff against a potent Nationals lineup in a nearly must-win for the Mets. 

Following this series, the Mets face the Nats in seven more games (4-home/ 3-away) for the rest of the season. 



4 Aug

Bullpen falters twice, Mets fall to Giants 4-3

AP Photo/Kathy Kmonicek

While the dynamic duo of Jenrry Mejia and Juerys Familia has been excellent of late for the Mets, today's 4-3 loss to the Giants did not follow the same trend. 

Familia surrendered the Mets' 3-2 lead in the seventh when he allowed a lead-off triple to Hunter Pence and followed it up with a walk to Gregor Blanco and a wild pitch, granting Pence with the tying run.

Mejia's afternoon was just as bad. The solidified closer entered the ninth with the game tied at 3. After recording two quick outs, Mejia surrendered a single and stolen base to Blanco, a walk to Buster Posey, and a blooping RBI-double from Pablo Sandoval that landed in the stands and gave the Giants a late 4-3 lead. 

The Mets would have no answer against Giants reliever Santiago Casilla in the bottom half of the ninth, going down 1-2-3 and falling to 53-39 on the season.

Dillion Gee looked a lot shaper in the no-decision, allowing two runs on five hits over 5 2/3 innings with six strikeouts. Gee's ERA entering today was 8.10 in three starts since the All-Star break. 

As for the Mets hitting, the team went 1-for-6 with RISP and left eight runners on base.

Mets pitchers surrendered the lead twice and never went ahead in the game after that. 

San Francisco took 3 out of 4 from the Mets, who now travel to D.C to face off against the division-leading Nationals for a three game series. 

Zack Wheeler (6-8, 3.60), who is 3-0 with a 1.63 ERA in his last six starts, will oppose Gio Gonzalez (6-7, 3.88) on the mound Tuesday evening in our nation's capitol. 


3 Aug

deGrom solidifies himself as special talent, pitches Mets to 4-2 win

Rich Schultz

Once again the story of the night was Jacob deGrom. 

DeGrom (6-5, 2.77) earned his fifth straight win after allowing just two runs on four hits over 7.1 innings in last night's 4-2 victory over San Francisco. 

DeGrom is 5-0 in his last five starts with only four total runs allowed. In his last eight starts since June 21, he has an ERA of just 1.58.

With "Rookie of the Year" talk every where he turns, it is now expected of deGrom to show his elite craft every time he steps onto the mound. DeGrom has quickly emerged as one of the top starting pitchers on the Mets staff in just his rookie season and continues to impress after every start.

Last night was another perfect example.

Both the Mets (53-57) and the San Francisco Giants (59-51) batters failed to get on base before the seventh inning of last night's game. An all-out pitcher's duel between Jacob deGrom and Jake Peavy was taking place. One, for the win of course, but two, for lasting the longest without allowing a hit. 

With two outs in the seventh inning, Pablo Sandoval broke up deGrom's no-hit bid when he extended his arms on a low, well-located curveball and found himself on second base as the first base runner in the game. 

The no-hit bid was gone for deGrom, but just minutes later Jake Peavy's no-hitter would be gone too, and it would prove to be much more costly for him and the Giants. 

In the bottom of the seventh inning with one out, Daniel Murphy lined an opposite-field double over the head of Michael Morse onto the warning track for the Mets' first base runner of the night. David Wright followed with a bloop single to left, which Michael Morse played on a hop, keeping Murphy held up on third base. 

Lucas Duda was then hit by a pitch and loaded the bases for Travis d'Arnaud, who drove in Murphy on a sacrifice fly to right field. With two outs and David Wright in scoring position on third, Juan Lagares smacked Peavy's first pitch past the shortstop, driving in Wright and putting the Mets up 2-0. 

Next up, Wilmer Flores, who doubled on the second pitch he saw from Peavy, knocking in both Duda and Lagares and extending the Mets' lead to 4-0. 

DeGrom would surrender two runs on three runs in the top half of the eighth, but Juerys Familia came in for relief and silenced the Giants for the remainder of the inning. 

Jenrry Mejia made an appearance in the ninth, allowing a couple of hits and outs, but eventually shutting the door on a ground out to second base and capturing the Mets 4-2 victory and the fifth straight W for Jacob deGrom. 

Next Game:

Bartolo Colon (10-8, 3.88) verus left-hander Madison Bumgarner (12-8, 3.41) at 1:10 p.m. Sunday.


28 Jul

Mets split series with Brewers, end road trip 5-5

Associated Press

Since the All-Star break, the Mets as a team are hitting .186. That's right. Mets hitters went 60-for-322 over their last ten games, averaging 2.2 runs per game. (Only better than the Reds in the National League who are 1-9 over the same span)

The Mets, however, still ended their 10-game road trip at 5-5. 

With the help of quality starts by Jacob deGrom, Bartolo Colon, and a reliable bullpen that shut the door more than once, the Mets came away with an even record on the road. 

Undoubtedly the most significant player on the Mets this second half and the entire last month is rookie RHP Jacob deGrom (5-5, 2.79). 

Every time deGrom takes the mound he delivers and almost seems to improve. 

The month of July was deGrom's coming out party in the majors. He went 4-1 with a 1.39 ERA and allowed only five earned runs over 32.1 innings pitched. He's second to none for N.L Rookie of the Month in July and should easily win the award. 

As for the Mets lone significant bat, it's been Lucas Duda. 

Duda tallied a hit in nine of the 10 games this past road trip, including four home runs and seven RBIs. His pair of late-inning two-run home runs in Milwaukee propelled the Mets to victory both times. Duda has found his stride of late, and that is a great sign for the Mets moving forward. 

The last ingredient for the Mets this road trip was their bullpen's efficiency. 

Jenrry Mejia's been perfect in his last seven save opportunities, while Juerys Familia has not allowed a run in eight straight innings of relief. The Mets bullpen, carried by the emerging Mejia-Familia duo, have become more consistent, more productive, and most importantly, more reliable.

The Mets are at the same spot they were to begin the second half. They are five games under .500 at 50-55 and sit 8.5 back in the N.L East and 7 games back in the Wild Card. 

New York's pitching has generally been strong and is the reason they went 5-5. However, the lack of hitting has come to hurt the Mets more than once and that needs to change if they expect to gain ground on Atlanta, Washington, and now Miami. 

New York faces Philadelphia (46-59) for three games starting Monday night at Citi Field. Tonight's probable starters are RHP Colon (9-8, 4.03) vs. RHP Burnett (6-9, 3.86) at 7:10 pm. 

LGM



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

142477768_11271571_custom-274fe0aaa9013c7bf2eff232b4781d74d36c8b8b-s40-c85.jpg

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

wright-granderson-400x266.png


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