“If you roll with Apu, I’m down with you!”
This intends to be exactly what it states at the top – a recap/look back at the last series of Apu Nahasapeemapetilon’s favorite squadron – The New York Mets.
Win With Your Worst, Lose With Your Best? – Click the link to read my thoughts on Friday night’s 5-3 loss and the 8th inning pitch selection of Ralaef Montero.
The title of the post is my mindset as a catcher and one I feel was the likely downfall for the Mets on Friday. It goes something like “I would rather get beat throwing my best pitch than lose on my 2nd or 3rd best pitch.”
The same goes in reverse – If I can get this batter out with my 2nd or 3rd pitch, I’ll go to that…or ‘I’ll throw my best stuff, then trick the hitter by throwing my 2nd or 3rd best pitch when they least expect it.’ This is the basic mindset behind a change-up or any off-speed pitch – something the hitter isn’t expecting.
Therefore, it’s easy to see why I wanted Travis d’Arnaud to call anything other than a fastball. Especially since Montero had just struck out Cameron Maybin with nothing but fastballs. Especially since Phil Gosselin had seen six pitches in the at-bat and they were all fastballs.
I said it before and I’ll say it again. I find it hard to believe he wouldn’t have swung out of his shoes if they came with a full-count change-up.
What Does Spring Training Really Mean? – The Mets left Port St. Lucie with 19 wins, the most wins in the Grapefruit League (teams in Florida) and tied for the most by any team in the National League. Juan Lagares had the most at-bats on the team and batted .359 with a 1.046 OPS (on-base percentage plus slugging). Wilmer Flores had 17 hits, six of which were doubles, and struck out seven times in 64 at bats.
But in just six regular season games, Flores has struck out six times already with just three hits, if you divided Lagares’ spring OPS by three you’d still be higher than his current total, and it took a gutsy team performance on Sunday to ensure the team started their home schedule on even footing.
You could say “Look at the opponents they’ve faced”, but these are some of the same guys they saw during the spring. Maybe it’s the difference in weather, where the lower temperatures help keep long fly balls in the park instead of mimicking the 25 home runs hit by starters in the Sunshine State.
But this team wasn’t built on the long ball. It was built for long innings, drives to the gap, singles behind the runner, and taking the extra base. It was built for Curtis Granderson to be productive (.348 OBP) despite having just one hit on the year. So the question becomes do you believe his spring performance (team high 23 hits, .442 average), his performance from last year (.227 average, .326), or that he’ll fall somewhere in-between?
What’s Next? – A 10-game home stand over 11 days, followed by a three-game set across the city against the Yankees. Did I mention all games are against NL East opponents? In fact, the Mets don’t play a non-division National League team until a four-game set in Chicago starting May 11. So it’s clear getting off to a good start is extremely important.