The New York Mets came into today having the best Opening Day record in the the Major Leagues with a 35-20 record. They increased their number to 36 wins thanks to a 7th inning rally that pushed across 7 runs.
The second-largest crowd in Citi Field was starting to get frustrated as the Braves kept the Mets silent for six innings, but then both the fans and the bats woke up for a late implosion of the Braves bullpen. The runs started with an overturned call at home that plated Wilmer Flores and was capped with a bases clearing, 3 RBI double for Lucas Duda.
Noah Syndergaard pitched six lights-out innings for the Metropolitans before exiting the game early due to a blister on the top of his right middle finger. Although he said it did not impact his grip on the baseball too much; his seven strikeouts can act as evidence. Syndergaard is not expected to miss his next start, but will be pushed back a day.
Terry Collins gave 24-year-old Noah Syndergaard the nod to take the mound in the first game of the new season. The selection was pretty much a no-brainer. “It was the easiest [decision] I’ve made in a while,” Collins said. The man dubbed, “Thor,” led the Mets rotation in ERA, strikeouts and WHIP, among a multitude of categories last season.
“It’s just a huge honor,” Syndergaard said later in the afternoon. “It’s something I’ve been working for ever since I was with the Mets, to be the Opening Day starter at one point. I’m extremely thrilled that Terry instills that kind of confidence in me. I’m going to go out there and get the job done.”
Syndergaard is also the only returning starter to have not missed time due to undergoing a surgery like Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom and Steven Matz all did. In his first full MLB season, Syndergaard went 14-8 with a 2.60 ERA. He struck out 218 batters over 183.2 innings pitched. He also started the National League Wild Card game in which he gave up only two hits and struck out 10.
Mets closer Jeurys Familia will be suspended for the first 15 games of the regular season. The suspension came after a meeting with commissioner Rob Manfred earlier this week. Familia was arrested on Oct. 31 after police found a bruise on his wife’s cheek that was allegedly caused by the All-Star.
The charges were dropped in December after his wife said she did not feel that she was threatened during the incident. “With all that has been written and discussed regarding this matter, it is important that it be known that I never physically touched, harmed or threatened my wife that evening,” Familia said in a statement issued Wednesday. “I did, however, act in an unacceptable manner and am terribly disappointed in myself. I am alone to blame for the problems of that evening.”
Familia has already completed 12 sessions of 90-minute counseling and will also travel and speak with a domestic violence group.
The MLB released a report that said, “there was evidence that determined physical assault, force, or harm.” This statement shows why Familia got 15 games opposed to a harsher 30 games fellow closer Aroldis Chapman got for his case last year, when a gun was involved.
With Familia missing over the first two weeks of the season, Addison Reed is expected to close for the Mets in the meantime .
Pitcher Robert Gsellman will certainly make the Mets’ Opening Day rotation following a solid spring performance. He ended his Spring Training with a 2.31 ERA in six starts.
The 23-year-old was called by late in the 2016 season due to issues the Mets had with injuries to their starters. When the season ended, Gsellman had a 2.42 ERA with 42 strikeouts in 44 innings pitched.
“There are guys who just have a feel for when they’re on the mound and a demeanor when they pitch,” Terry Collins said. “Robert’s learned a lot from his experience last year. He sees the older guys, the way they prepare this spring. I think he’s grown up in his preparation and how he goes about things. He knew he had to impress people, and I thought he handled it really well.”
Gsellman came into Spring Training in competition with Seth Lugo for the fifth and final spot in the rotation. However, due to the recent injury to Steven Matz, it appears to be a foregone conclusion Gsellman will make the rotation in his first full Major League season.
Irritation in the Matz’s elbow will cause the lefty to skip his next pitching appearance. With Opening Day just weeks away this issue could be troublesome as the Mets are trying to set spots in the starting rotation.
“It’s worrisome that he continues to be injured off and on,” Sandy Alderson said, referring to Matz’s. “That’s the difficulty. We don’t think it’s serious. On the other hand, starting pitchers are relied on every five days. I’m not sure exactly where this is going to take us.”
Matz also had issues with his left elbow last year when he missed several starts due to bone spurs in the elbow. Matz said that he felt the irritation after his last start against the Marlins, a start where he allowed five runs in four innings Wednesday against the Marlins.
Both the Mets and Matz do not think the injury is significant, but they are starting to look at other options to round out the rotation should Matz not be ready for Opening Day.
Zack Wheeler made his first Grapefruit League start on Friday at the ESPN Wide World of Sports complex in Disney World. Wheeler has missed the last two full seasons after having Tommy John surgery in March 2015. Wheeler went 11-11 with a 3.54 ERA with 187 strikeouts in 185 1/3 innings (32 starts) during 2014; his first and only season in the majors. It was considered Wheeler would be able to come back late last year for the playoff push, but was shutdown in August with an elbow strain.
Wheeler, who is considered to round off the Mets young, stud pitching rotation, is likely to start the season in the bullpen. The idea is because of his innings limit, it will allow the bulk of his innings to be pitching in games late in the season, when they matter the most.
In his start against the Braves, Wheeler allowed one earned run, two hits, and one strike out in two innings of work. In the coming weeks, The Mets will be able to get a better feel on how they are going to use Wheeler at the beginning of the season.
Tim Tebow saw his first action in the Major Leagues on Wednesday, batting eighth as the designated hitter. Tebow was thrown right into the deep end by having to face the Red Sox’ reigning Cy Young winner, Rick Porcello. He struck out his first at-bat on four straight fastballs.
Tebow went 0-3 on the day with two strikeouts. He was hit by a pitch and grounded in to a double play with the bases loaded, but picked up an RBI. Tebow received a large ovation from the crowd. No doubt, the loudest anyone has ever cheered for a rally-killing double play.
Although the outcome of his performance was unsurprising, Mets’ hitting coach Kevin Long still has high praise for Tebow. “You see the raw power, and you see ability in the cages and in batting practice — it’s up there with some of the best hitters in the game,” Long said. “But it’s not game action. He needs those at-bats, and he needs to be tested that way.”
Tebow will also be in the lineup for the Mets’ split-squad game on Friday against the Astros.
Michael Conforto and Travis d’Arnaud were two players the Mets expected to be breakout players last year. Instead, they both took a large step backward.
Conforto, who was called up for the second half of the 2015 season, had a coming out party in the World Series that year. In 2016, he struggled at the plate and bounced around between Triple-A and the Major Leagues.
d’Arnaud also played an important role in the Mets’ World Series run, tallying three home runs throughout the playoffs. Last year, d’Arnaud only had four home runs and 15 RBI in 75 games. The Mets’ front office continues to believe in him as they did not jump at any opportunities to upgrade behind the plate in the offseason.
Through five games, both players are hitting north of .330, with Conforto tallying two home runs to d’Arnaud’s one. If they can come through on the offensive side of the ball, the Mets are going to make some noise in the National League.
David Wright has been diagnosed with an impingement in his throwing shoulder and is questionable to be ready for Opening Day. This is just the latest unfortunate layer on what is becoming an injury-plagued career for Wright. Just last week he was expected to be playing at 100% by mid-March.
Wright is seeking a second opinion on his shoulder, but the more alarming thing is that there was no timetable given for when he could resume baseball activities. He addressed it as just a “speed bump.”Before this injury, Wright said he started playing a little first base. So you wonder if this was a sign he was having trouble throwing.
The Met Captain will start a long, aggressive rehab for the third time in three consecutive years. When asked about the notion of retirement, Wright said, “At the end of the day I love taking the field, and if I can do this rehab in time to get back on the field, do what I love doing, it’s all worth it in my mind.” Wright still has four years and $67 million remaining on his contract.
The Mets do not expect David Wright to play any third base for a couple more weeks. The Mets’ captain is battling spinal stenosis and coming off surgery for a herniated disk that saw him miss 125 games last season. Wright has been able to swing the bat and field ground balls for a couple of months, but has just recently began throwing a baseball for the first time since his surgery in June.
Manager Terry Collins said mid-March is the current timetable for Wright to begin playing third base. “He is making strides,” Collins said. “You are looking at, three weeks from today we will have a real good idea where he is at.” Wright is expected to DH this weekend in the team’s first exhibition game against the Red Sox. How he progresses over the next six weeks will give a glimpse to the Mets and their fans, just what type of production they will get this year out of the seven-time All-Star.