The Dodgers open a four game series against the Mets on Monday evening at Dodger Stadium. The NLDS rematch kicks off a nine game home stand for the Dodgers. The two clubs have not met since last October’s chippy 5-game playoff series. The Dodgers came up on the short end, but not before there was no shortage of drama and exciting moments. Unfortunately the Dodgers were eliminated and the Mets went on to lose to the Royals in the World Series.
As Steven Matz and Scott Kazmir duel Monday in the series opener, I figured I would check in with the enemy, a Mets blog called Brew and Orange. The site is run by two Mets dudes named Brian and Alex. The guys cover the Mets and also do beer reviews. Before each Met’s series they preview the series, talk to the opposition and then preview a specific local beer. For the Dodger series, they did a question and answer with us, and then reviewed a beer named point the way IPA. We might all need more than one beer after this series is over.
Brew and Orange and I talked Chase Utley, the Dodger’s prospects and what’s wrong with Matt Harvey among other things. So check out my conversation with Brew and Orange and then read below for their answers to my questions. Thanks again guys! Here’s hoping the Mets lose badly tonight.
Question for Mets guys
It seems like the Mets are having a pretty good start to the season. What do you contribute the most for the Met’s hot start?
Mets fans were a bit worried at the very early going: after a dismal spring training, the team was lukewarm out of the gate – going 2-5 with a couple of losses to the Phillies and Marlins. Since then, the Mets have returned to their post-July 2015 level of performance, aided by dingers and dominant pitching. Despite a slow start from Matt Harvey, the rotation has been every bit as solid as advertised. It’s always a good sign when your fifth starter (Steven Matz) is sporting a 2.37 FIP.
I think the starting pitching was entirely expected, but the dingers, although talked about to death by Terry Collins, have been a pleasant surprise. I guess Mets fans shouldn’t be too shocked: the team lead the league in OPS after the all-star break last season and have 8 position players that could conceivably hit 20+ home runs. That being said – I don’t think many would’ve predicted that the Mets would lead the league in HRs in May.
I think the biggest surprise that is contributing to the Mets success would be the bullpen. That was clearly our biggest weakness last year, and it was completely exposed by the Royals in the World Series. The Mets lead in every single game, and still managed to lose that series 4-1. This year is a different story; Jim Henderson and Antonio Bastardo have been solid additions to a bullpen that is second in the league in runs allowed per game, and fourth in the league in stranding runs (17% Inherited Runs Scored).
Limiting the opposing team’s runs and scoring your own seems like a good strategy to win ball games. It may be outside the box thinking by Terry Collins, but let’s hope they can keep it up!
Question for Mets people
Does anyone know what’s going on with Matt Harvey? Is he hurt? Or is he just kind of screwed up in the head?
I don’t think anyone but Matt Harvey, and possibly Scott Boras, knows what is wrong with Matt Harvey. One can point to his BABIP and infer that he has been a bit unlucky (.347 BABIP vs. a career .280 BABIP), but he genuinely has seemed to leave more pitches up in the zone – allowing hitters to square up on contact.
I don’t think it is a health issue. His fastball has lost about 1 mph since last year, but that shouldn’t be a major concern this early in the season. The bigger concern, in terms of pitch type, is his slider. He hasn’t gotten as much late breaking movement off of his ‘out-pitch’, allowing hitters to drive the ball when it is in the zone and lay off of ones they may have changed in season’s past. Prior to this season – opposing hitter held a sub-.200 average against Harvey’s slider. This season they are hitting a remarkable .385.
Last night’s game was definitely a bit of redemption for Harvey; Mets fans are hopeful that he rediscovered his secondary pitches and will continue to keep opposing batters off balance.
Question for Marv Throneberry fans
Would you say that the acquisition of Yoenis Cespedes was the missing ingredient for the success of the Met’s offense? How would you rate the Mets hitting right now?
Long Answer: I think a few things happened at the all-star break that really shored up the Mets offense. Marv Throneberry couldn’t carry the 1962 Mets to a record that was better than historically bad by himself, and I think the same way – Cespedes isn’t the only reason the Mets are piling on runs. The Mets promoted rookie Michael Conforto in August last year – and he is sporting a .869 OPS and locked down the 3-hole since he broke onto the scene. That’s a big step up from Michael Cuddyer. Daniel Murphy started hitting the ball in August last season, and the Mets brought in Kelly Johnson and Juan Uribe for infield depth; they’ve since been supplanted by Asdrubal Cabrera and Neil Walker – and their contribution cannot be understated. David Wright, who is as healthy as someone who a degenerative back condition can be, also came back when Cespedes came in. Lastly – Curtis Granderson was, statistically speaking, as productive as Cespedes last year. There are a lot of moving pieces; Cespedes is just one big piece.
Short answer: Yes. Cespedes is to homeruns as Saint Marq is to tattoo’s on Spike’s Ink Master: He is a homerun God.
The Mets hitting is a bit boom or bust to get an 80 grade rating. I’d probably say the Mets are a 65 grade offensive team right now.
Question for losers of the 1988 NLCS
Are you guys really still upset about the Utley slide? Do you think there could be any kind of retaliation against Utley during the series?
No – not seriously upset. I don’t think the “Utley is a Butt-ley” meme will die out anytime soon (not until he retires at least), but that’s just because of a cute kid in the bleachers. Any lingering hate for Utley has more to do with his history against the Mets; he is just someone Mets fans intrinsically dislike, and the slide added injury to years of Philthy insults. I did think his slide was a bit egregious (I’d argue that it was against the rules as they are written) but would echo your concerns regarding the rule change. You’d think they’d reestablish the neighborhood play and just be bit more strict enforcing the original base path rule (6.06(6))
“If, in the judgment of the umpire, a base runner willfully and deliberately interferes with a batted ball or a fielder in the act of fielding a batted ball with the obvious intent to break up a double play, the ball is dead. The umpire shall call the runner out for interference and also call out the batter-runner because of the action of his teammate. In no event may bases be run or runs scored because of such action by a runner.”
I don’t think there will be any retaliation. Tejeda isn’t on the team anymore, and even if he was – he appears to have recovered fully from the injury. I will be shocked if we see anything – and certainly don’t think fans are calling for any of that (I hope not at least).
I want to thank Brian and Alex for taking time to chat. Hopefully the Dodgers can take at least 1 game in this series. It’s not looking good for the Dodgers. Tuesday night sees another unfavorable match-up for the Boys in Blue as Jacob deGrom counters Alex Wood at 7:10 PM.
Wood (1-3 5.18) vs. Mets (0-3 4.35)
deGrom (3-1 1.99) vs. Dodgers (0-2 3.66 vs. Dodgers)