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Thursday, October 6, 2022


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By Marvin A Azrak

Around this time last season, i published a piece illustrating the epic collapse of the New York Metropolitans because incredibly after staying atop the NL East for the first 100+ days of  the season, the team let their potential crown slip away and watched helplessly as they sunk below .500 and the Braves swooped win and used that as their ticket to the dance before riding all the way to the top of the mountain and a World Series title. But in the offseason, the Mets bulked up their starting rotation with the additions of Max Scherzer and Chris Bassit, and took fliers on stouts like Adam Ottavino, Joely Rodriguez to try and shore up the bullpen. New GM Billy Eppler also addressed outfield needs by agreeing to deals with Mark Cahana, the slugging Starling Marte, and Eduardo Escobar, while also addressing a need for a deep bench with the trade-deadline acquisitions of Darin Ruff, Tyler Naquin and Daniel Vogelbach.

Additionally, the team anointed the studious Buck Showalter as their manager, and have since then took off towards the top of baseballs summit themselves. At 70-39, the Amazins boast the second best record in baseball behind the 75-33 Dodgers, have supplanted the rival Yankees as New York’s finest to this points and   Now lead by an incremented 6.5 games  over the reigning champions after convincingly taking four of five from Atlanta  (6-4, 6-9, 8-5, 6-2, 5-2) this weekend at a robust Citi Field in Flushing. If that’s not enough, the Mets entered this tilt not only having bested the Braves 2-1 on the road recently when they were shorthand, but now welcomed top-flight hurler Jacob Degrom and Scherzer  to the fold of this rivalry. So what has led to this franchise-altering transformation of a campaign? Let’s dive in.


The Braves and Mets have faced  each other 12 times this season and only once has an Atlanta starter took his outing into seventh inning, which was Kyle Wright in early May when he was outpitched by Carlos Carrasco in a 3-0 New York win at Citi Field. This weekend in particular, Wright went six frames in game one but allowed six runs on seven innings on 97 pitches(16.16 per inning, pitchers prefer max 15). Although Atlanta took game two, Ian Anderson didn’t qualify for the victory of record going just 4.2 innings, giving up 4 runs on 7 hits on 95 pitches(23 per inning, incredible). Game three saw the newest Brave Jake Odorozi, acquired from the Astros for World Series reliver Will Smith, face the wrath of the relentless Mets  lineup, lasting 4.2 of the way, serving three runs on six hits while too being forced to throw 96 pitches.

Max Fried faired better in game three, lasting six and limited  the Mets to two runs, but was taxed with 93 pitches himself as New York physically made their mark.

However, it was rookie of the year candidate Spencer Strider who took it on the chin, as he was lifted after allowing four runs on 79 pitches in the third , and then proceeded to call his opponents the beneficiary of “Lucky hits”. How about giving them credit for forcing you  to  throw 35 pitches per inning.  Discipline and relentlessness is what’s led to making this New York lineup difficult to put away or even strikeout. They’re getting hard-nosed hits through grinding down starting pitchers and are rightfully getting rewarded for it. Jeff McNeil leads the team with a .304 batting average, and the revelation of Starling Marte isn’t far behind at .295 in addition to the fact he leads the team in stolen bases with 14. Mark Cahana’s got himself an impressive.362 on base percentage, and Francisco Lindor is starting to live up to the hefty contract the Mets gave him last season, as the shortstop has put together a torrid past 15 games, batting .426, with three homers, 11 RBIs 10 walks(Leads team with 46), and has stolen 10 bags. Indeed per SNY, Francisco Lindor has a four-game hitting streak, hitting .500/.500/.563 with a double and 3 RBI during that span.

Over his last 23 games, Lindor is hitting .382/.456/.607 with 6 doubles, a triple 4 home runs and 17 RBI. But the resourceful powerhouse  wouldn’t be the same without Pete Alonso, as the Polar bear has put together a season worthy of NL MVP considerations, crushing homers to the tune of an an NL leading 95 RBIs, 281 batting average and sports a .906 OPS in addition to his much improved defense at first base. Per SNY, Pete Alonso has a six-game hitting streak. He’s hitting .391/.482/.696 with a double, two home runs and nine RBI during that span.

He’s also hitting .358/.456/.672 with 6 doubles, 5 home runs and 19 RBI over his last 18 games. It’s safe to say that come October, this will morph into a pitchers worst nightmare, and Atlanta(And  the other teams the Mets have played ) got a personal look at that for five straight games this weekend, dropping four of them.


Arms were added across the league at this years August 2nd trade deadline. The Mariners acquired Luis Castillo, the Yankees acquired Frankie Montas, and the Cardinals took on Jose Quintada and Jordan Montgomery. But undoubtedly it were the Mets who were by default the heralded arms race winners when they unleashed their ammunition in Jacob Degrom  last Tuesday in Washington DC, as the best pitcher in baseball toed the MLB rubber for the first time in over a year, and picked up right where he left off albeit on a limited 59 pitch count, going five innings of one run ball on three hits with six strikeouts. But it was in the series  finale on Sunday against Atlanta where Degrom officially renounced himself to baseball, as the preeminent star flirted with perfection having struck out a dozen through five innings in under 70 pitches, before a hit and two run bomb by Dansby Swanson dampened what was otherwise an adroit  return to Citi Field in front of a playoff-like atmosphere ramped up to see their main man pitch again. During Sundays masterpiece, Jacob became the fastest pitcher to 1,518 strikeouts only needing 200 career starts to do so, and now sits at 1,523. Behind the Degrominator is Max Scherzer, who was also sidelined for most of the season before returning to vintage form last month and hasn’t looked back. On Saturday night in the nightcap of the doubleheader, Scherzer introduced himself to the rivalry by twirling seven scoreless innings and setting down 11 via the punch out, only yielding four hits on the evening. His rousing outing paved the way for Degroms artwork on Sunday and once again has Metsville salivating  of the dynamic 1-2 punch, especially come October baseball.

However, the aforementioned studs weren’t always around this year and in the interim, there needed to be another pitcher that would step up in his absence. That would be David Pederson, who’s pitched to a 6-2 record with a respectable 3.30 ERA rotating between the bullpen and the rotation throughout the year. In the afternoon portion of the doubleheader, David was stupendous and gave the bullpen much needed reprieve by going 5.1 scoreless frames with five k’s, three walks, and only three hits allowed in the Mets 8-5 win which only became tight in “garbage time”. Then there’s Chris Bassit, who was acquired by the Mets from Oakland this past offseason and has proven to be what pitching coaches laud as a “horse”, as he posses an 8-7 record with a 3.61 ERA in 123 innings pitched, with 122 strikeouts, filling in nicely as a premium #3 glue guy in the rotation the Mets need after Degrom and Scherzer. Rounding it out, are Carlos Carrasco and Tajuan Walker, who’ve proven serviceable. Carrasco has a 3.82 ERA in 21 starts with 114 strikeouts, and has an upward trajectory boasting a 2.68 ERA in his last seven starts with a strikeout/ walk ratio of 37/13 and aided his team in the first leg of this crucial five game set with the Braves when he turned in a quality outing of six innings of three run ball and six strikeouts. However considering the pitching depth the Amazon’s have, there’s not much pressure on Carrasco to be anything more than dependable and reliable to a Mets team chasing down a title and could utilize the luxury of having Carrasco as their long relief piece of #4 starter come playoff time. Simply put, this is the best rotation in all of baseball when fully armed and I don’t think it’s particularly close.


The song “Narco” by blasterjax &Timmy trumpets has become synonymous with ninth innings at Mets games this year because it’s the entrance track used for the consensus best closer in baseball, and is someone that has rapidly risen from doghouse to penthouse since the team

acquired him from Seattle in the 2019 offseason, and that’s #39 Edwin Diaz. After a putrid start to his New York tenture, Diaz has enamored fans and teammates with his unhittable  fastball/slider combo that has led him to strikeout(91) more than half the batters he’s faced this season(130). Edwin has rediscovered the “win” in his name from his 57 save 2018 season in Seattle, and this year has a 1.39 ERA in 45.1 innings pitched with a gauddy 0.86 WHIP. Behind him is Ottavino, Adam Ottavino has a 1.13 ERA since June 1, 8th in baseball after a  rocky start to the season. Ideally, you wouldn’t want Seth Lugo being your third man in the pen but that’s what happens when you fail to add relivers at the deadline. Lugo nevertheless has been solid, pitching to a 3.62 ERA in 41.2 innings with 39 strikeouts, and even has a 2.70 ERA in his last seven appearances.


Buck Showalter has pushed all the right buttons and continues to get the most out of his players. Him deploying Daniel Vogelbach as their DH and match them up against pitchers he can mash has been a huge confident boost, as the slugger went deep for a grand slam(his first Mets RBIs) in DC, before smashing another bomb in game one. Elsewhere, Tyler Naquin has recently found his stride as of late and went deep in game one as well, meaning that Showalter has certainly already figured out different avenues to allow these guys to contribute and balance out the bench. Showalter has indeed shown improvement when it’s come to maneuvering his bullpen and displayed that when he entrusted Joely  Rodriguez to get through 2.1 scoreless frames on Sunday and complete the bridge from Degrom ultimately concluding in another Edwin Diaz  save and Mets win #70.

Overall, this Mets team has it all and is one that’s knocking on the door of “Flushing” out the bad from the past 36 years and ushering in a new wave of orange/blue down the canyon of heroes. It’s feels close because the Mets have the pieces to do so, but far because there’s still a lot of work to do to get there. Nevertheless, the Mets are back to MLB relevance and New York is loving every minute of it.

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