As the Mets continue their push to snare the final National League Wild Card, we take a moment to catch up on news and notes from the Mets camp…
**** Joining J.D. Davis as a plus on the mixed resume of GM Brodie Van Wagenen’s trades, Wilson Ramos continues to rake. Ramos, Mets fans recall, was shunned by Jacob deGrom, who preferred to pitch to Tomas Nido earlier this year. That’s been put aside, but it’s the bat of Ramos that makes him the darling of Mets pitchers now. Focus on Ramos’s month of August in this table:
That .998 OPS is more than two-hundred and fifty points over the league average of .743. Incredible.
**** It’s safe to say Steven Matz has arrived. In the first half of the season, Matz went 5-6 with a 4.89 ERA. In eight starts during the second half, Matz is 4-2 with a 2.64 ERA.
Those who have followed the career of Matz know it’s been an up and down journey. At times, Matz appeared to be battling himself as much as the batter. Watch him today, and we see a composed and competitive pitcher with a command of all his pitches. Better late than never as they say.
**** Jed Lowrie and Brandon Nimmo will probably get the Jeff McNeil treatment from manager Mickey Callaway when they return to the team, which is expected any day now. Meaning, they’ll be eased into the lineup until everyone in the Mets camp is convinced they are fully mended.
Callaway planned to insert Lowrie at third base replacing the slumping Todd Frazier. But with Frazier hitting two three-run homers to help beat the Phillies on Thursday, those plans can be derailed if Frazier continues to rebound.
One way or another though, both players need to see quality major league pitching with somewhat consistent plate appearances.
**** Pete Alonso needs ten home runs to tie the major league mark of home runs by a rookie set by Aaron Judge (52). As of Saturday, Alonso has 42 homers in 487 at-bats – a ration of about 1 to 8.
If Alonso plays in 25 of the Mets remaining games and averages four at-bats in each, this gives him 100 tries to tie or break Judge’s mark. Using the same ratio, Pete Alonso will add twelve home runs to his total – making him the Rookie Home Run King – finishing with 54 home runs.
What a season, huh?
**** Although an iffy proposition, it seems likely the Mets prefer to see Dominic Smith in action sometime in September. If only to enable the team, and especially GM Brodie Van Wagenen, to showcase Smith for a possible trade in the offseason.
Smith was in the process of showing the Mets he is capable of playing the outfield when he landed on the IL. Alonso is dug in at first base, and there is a zero chance he will be platooned with Smith, whose natural position is first base.
With Jeff McNeil, Michael Conforto, and J.D. Davis cemented for 2020 in the Mets outfield, there is no fit for Smith as a regular.
His status with the team might depend on what the Mets do with Juan Lagares, who has claimed the fourth outfielder spot this year. Known, for his defensive play in center field, Lagares has yet to display consistency with the bat. We’ll need to see how the offseason market develops.
**** You can never know what you are going to get when a team trades for a starting pitcher from the other league. Following his signing with the Braves, Dallas Keuchel‘s first ten starts were anything but vintage Keuchel. In that tenth start against the Miami Marlins, Keuchel was driven to the clubhouse after giving up ten hits and eight runs in 3.1 innings.
Over his last three starts, however, Keuchel has bounced back, surrendering only one run over nineteen innings. All three of which registered as wins.
Which brings us to Marcus Stroman. With a smaller sample than Keuchel, in five starts for the Mets since being traded from Cleveland at the trade deadline, Stroman has a 1-1 record with three no-decisions, all of which the Mets won.
When Stroman left the Indians, his ERA stood at 2.96. With the Mets, he has pitched to a 4.91 ERA. Stroman has not hurt the Mets. It’s not that. What concerns the Mets, though, is looking ahead to 2020, and whether or not Stroman can master the National League as he did with the Indians in the “other league.” Hopefully, Stroman’s four remaining starts will at least partially answer the question.