NYM/ATL Recap: Bartolo Busts Out, Flores, Home Opener & More

We hope for something better, but things could have been worse than heading home with a .500 record after six divisional games on the road.

The Mets handed the Braves their first loss of the season by the score of 4-3 behind the right arm and big bat of Bartolo Colon. Colon gave up 3 runs over 7 innings, but got the win as the Mets scratched out a run in the top of the 8th to take the lead for good.

There were a lot of good things I took out of this game, so let’s get to those first.

Colon. He’s now 2-0 after another good outing against a division rival. That’s big because the Mets usually get their asses handed to them on a platter within the division. He also only threw 77 pitches in those 7 innings as the Braves were swinging as soon as they got their feet in the batter’s box. 

It’s early in the year, but Colon is building some value right out of the gate that will hopefully continue as we get deeper into the season. The Mets are not a playoff team. They may be able to hang around longer this year, but if Colon is able to keep this going, the Mets should be able to nab something worthwhile at the deadline for him all while opening up a spot for Noah Syndergaard or Steven Matz in the rotation if one hasn’t already been made available.

Michael Cuddyer hit his first dinger as a Met in the 1st inning off Alex Wood. Cuddy has struggled out of the gate and really hasn’t hit anything hard, so this was a nice sign. He did go 0 for his next 3 with two strikeouts after that, so maybe it wasn’t the jump-start we were all hoping for, but he did rake in the spring and is universally regarded as a “professional hitter” so I don’t worry too much about him slumping. My big concern with Cuddyer is injuries and keeping him fresh so I do think they’ll need to sit him down once a week or so just to keep his legs fresh.

Anthony Recker started in place of Travis d’Arnaud today. I like Recker. Fits the mold of back-up catcher really well and everything you hear about him from teammates and coaches is positive. He handles the staff well and offers some power when he’s inserted in the game. He walked twice in four plate appearances today, but had what would have been a two-run hit taken away on a nice grab by Eric Young, Jr. on a ball that was tattooed. 

The bullpen was absolutely stellar. Carlos Torres, Jerry Blevins and Jeurys Familia covered the last two innings well with Blevins especially doing a great job by retiring Nick Markakis and Freddie Freeman to end the 8th and AJ Pierzynski leading off the ninth. Credit where it’s due, Blevins and fellow lefty, Sean Gilmartin did a great job in this series against Freeman who absolutely fucking kills the Mets. After Josh Edgin went down in the spring, it genuinely looked like we’d have no lefty options in the bullpen, but Gilmartin stepped up and the late spring acquisitions of Blevins and Alex Torres may make late-inning lefty match-ups a strength going forward.

Lucas Duda went 3 for 5 with all three hits coming against lefties. That’s good. He had 20 hits against lefties in all of 2014. If he can just tread water against them as the season goes on, or even continues to improve, he’s turned himself into a genuine force.

The not so good? Well, I’d be amiss if I didn’t mention the up-the-middle defense again. Ruben Tejada started at 2B to give Daniel Murphy a day off and – while the Tejada-Wilmer Flores combo didn’t do anything overly bad – there were moments that make you wonder just how long the Mets can really let this experiment play out.

I’ve been outspoken about letting Flores play. I still believe that. But it just seems like every game is giving you an instance where the team is basically walking a tight-rope. Today it was an inability to turn a double play on Jonny Gomes (not exactly Vince Coleman on the basepaths) that led to two runs being scored when, theoretically, the inning should have been over. It’s only the first week of the season and the team was lucky to have won today’s game, but I have to wonder about the kind of effect this will have on the mentality of the rest of the team and, especially, the pitching staff, should routine plays continue to turn into misadventures. 

To be fair, I put some blame on the play in question on both Tejada and Flores. I thought Tejada backed up on the grounder and made a soft flip and Wilmer’s turn was nonchalant when there should have been a sense of urgency. Plays like these lengthen innings and bring in runs that shouldn’t score. With the young pitching staff that the Mets project to have going for them (Colon excluded, obviously), you worry about their ability to move on and pitch around some of the mistakes that will inevitably arise.

Aside from that, they obviously need to score more. For a team that absolutely killed the ball top to bottom in the spring, the power outage has been disappointing. Yeah, Cuddyer homered today and Flores added a double, but you have to wonder if the lineup has anything to do with it. As I said on Opening Day, I wasn’t against Sandy’s-Strange-Computer-Generated-Lineup (TM Shoes 2015) and obviously this is a picture perfect example of small sample size, but I really thought they’d come into the season swinging better than they have been. Of course, they’ve gone against some pretty good pitchers so far, as well. This paragraph is more thinking aloud as opposed to making an argument one way or the other. 

I didn’t do a recap for last night’s game. I apologize if you were awaiting it as I got stuck at my real job much later than I expected and crashed the second I got home. I’ll try to make sure it doesn’t happen again.

The Mets head home for to open Citi Field for 2015 tomorrow. To all of you attending, have a great time. I’d genuinely like to hear from people on their in-game experience as the house should be pretty full and I’m really interested how the building supports having a large crowd. There have been very few “big crowds” since Citi Field opened and there was a good article on MetsPolice.com today about the situation so it made me curious. Gomez and I always joke that we hope the Mets suck forever so it’s easier to get out of the parking lot and keeps the lines for steak sandwiches shorter. 

Enough for today. Enjoy the win. Tomorrow, the deGrominator takes the mound and we should hopefully beat up on the Philthies. #PhuckPhilly #LGM

Joe DiLeo

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