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Mark Canha has a big day, Taijuan Walker shuts down the Nats, and a strong bullpen in Queens?
After a day off on Wednesday, Canha has his biggest day as a Met on Thursday
What’s Up with the Mets? ⚾️
The Mets defeated the Nationals 4-1 in their rubber game against the Nationals in Washington (Box)
Taijuan Walker fired seven scoreless innings and earned his first win in 2022
Mark Canha enjoyed probably his best game as a Met to date, going 3-4 with a homer and 3 RBI
Brandon Nimmo was on base three more times, and is now fourth in the NL with a .413 OBP
Thanks to some horrific baserunning by the Nationals, the Mets completed one of the most absurd double plays you’ll ever see in the 4th inning (Video)
Tomás Nido started the day game after playing last night because James McCann is dealing with a bit of a sore left wrist
The Mets are now 9-0-1 in series so far in 2022, and 13-7 against the National League East
Seth Lugo has delivered eight consecutive scoreless outings and has lowered his ERA to 2.92
Brandon Nimmo is riding an eight game hitting streak and has reached base in 23 straight contests
Edwin Díaz has now struck out 46% of the batters he’s faced in 2022
Today’s Game 🗓
Match-up: Mets (22-11) vs Mariners (14-18)
Where: Citi Field — Flushing, NY
Starters: RHP Max Scherzer (4-1, 2.92 ERA) vs. LHP Marco Gonzales (1-4, 3.91 ERA)
When: 7:10 PM EDT
Where to Watch: SNY
The Mets have very quietly assembled a shut down, late-inning bullpen 📝
It has been a long time since the Mets bullpen’ could be considered anything resembling a strength. The early part of ‘06 is the first thing to come to mind, with Billy Wagner, Duaner Sanchez, and Aaron Heilman forming the last stable, dependable late inning trio.
We’ve lived through bullpen struggles and inconsistency for so long - it’s just become the norm for this franchise. Death, taxes, and sweating out late inning leads in Queens. More often than not, it has led to the club’s downfall (among other things, of course).
But certainly, the 2022 relief corps is not getting enough credit for the Mets success early in the season.
Seemingly every night, there are different guys contributing to New York’s wins. Whether it’s Pete Alonso and his power, Jeff McNeil’s clutch hits with runners in scoring position, or whoever the starting pitcher has been on any given night.
But the Mets bullpen—particularly the back half of it— has gone widely overlooked.
Right now, the Mets formula to close out the final three innings of a game their leading, is Drew Smith, Seth Lugo, and Edwin Diaz. Let’s look at the numbers.
Smith: 12 games - 13.1 IP, 4 H, 6 BB, 17 K, 8 holds, 0.00 ERA
Lugo: 13 games - 12.1 IP, 11 H, 4 BB, 13 K, 5 holds, 2 saves, 2.92 ERA
Díaz: 14 games - 14 IP, 7 H, 5 BB, 24 K, 7/8 saves, 1.93 ERA
All three of Smith, Lugo and Díaz have combined for a 1.61 ERA.
Smith is currently the only pitcher in baseball to throw at least 13 innings without surrendering a single run. The hard-throwing righty has been hurt for much of his career but he’s now completely healthy and thriving, and looking every bit like the winning lottery ticket the Mets hoped they might find when they were trading veterans for minor league power arms at the trade deadline in 2017. New York got him from the Rays in exchange for Lucas Duda, and while trading with Tampa Bay is not something a lot of teams like to do since they almost never make a mistake, this transaction now leans heavily in the Mets favor, even if it took a while for the flower to bloom from the tree.
Lugo, meanwhile, has been the most dependable Mets reliever in recent years. But he struggled during the 2021 season following elbow surgery before spring training and got off to a very concerning start to this season. But he’s looked like himself for most of the last month, delivering eight straight scoreless outings and he was simply overpowering on Thursday in Washington with his elite curveball on full display:
And then there’s Díaz, whose Mets career has been a bit of a whirlwind. Díaz was dreadful in hn his first season in Queens following the blockbuster (and highly controversial) trade that brought him here in 2019. He steadily got better in years two and three but still struggled with consistently and melted down at times as a result, struggling to pitch in non-save situations and while entering in the middle of an inning. But 2022 has been a different story for Díaz - he’s been one of the most dominating relief pitchers in the sport. He’s been the shutdown reliever the Mets envisioned him to be when they acquired him, striking out 46 percent of the batters he’s faced with a 1.93 ERA, the ERA hardly demonstrating how good he’s actually been (and that’s a hell of an ERA).
Recall - all three of Smith, Lugo, and Díaz were a big part of the Mets’ combined no hitter a couple of weeks ago as well.
The rest of the New York bullpen has been largely inconsistent, with Adam Ottavino, Joely Rodriguez, Trevor May and Trevor Williams contributing to that and their 3.27 ERA, which is only the 22nd best in the game. Chasen Shreve has been strong in his role, though he hasn’t been asked to come in to very many key situations. They could absolutely use another reliever down there, especially with May being out until possibly August with a stress reaction in his arm.
But the name of the game for the Mets in the bullpen so far in 2022 has been getting the ball to their big three, a task made much easier thanks to the starters being stretched out and largely pitching effectively and efficiently on a regular basis.
All told, it’s time to start giving some appropriate credit to a late inning relief crew for the Mets strong start to the season.
Down on the Farm 🌾
Mark Vientos (3B, No. 4 Prospect, AAA Syracuse): 1-for-4, HR, RBI
Alex Ramirez (OF No. 6 Prospect, A St. Lucie): 1-for-4, RBI
Khalil Lee (OF, No.7 Prospect) demoted from Triple-A Syracuse to Single-A St. Lucie
Around the League 🚩
Bryce Harper was diagnosed with a tear in his UCL and will not throw for four weeks. He’ll continue to serve as the Phillies’ DH (Sportsnet)
The surging Astros won their 10th game in a row, easily disposing of Minnesota in both games of a Thursday double header
Tyler Stephenson continued to be one of the only bright spots for the Reds, logging three hits, homering, and driving in two runs in Cincinnati’s win over the Pirates
Giancarlo Stanton hit two homers for the Yankees in their contest with the White Sox
Robinson Canó is close to signing a major league deal with the Padres (multiple reports)