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Mets listless in loss to the Phillies, an injured reliever, but a strong start in 2022 nevertheless
The .682 winning percentage is tied with the 2016 team for the fourth best March/April winning percentage in franchise history
What’s Up with the Mets? ⚾️
The Mets lost to the Phillies on Saturday night by a score of 4-1 at Citi Field (Box)
Taijuan Walker made a successful return from the injured list, hurling five scoreless innings while throwing 73 pitches, 44 strikes
The Mets left a season-high 13 runners on-base thanks in part to stranding the bases loaded twice on Saturday night - they mustered only four hits but did draw eight walks
Sean Reid-Foley left Saturday night’s game with right elbow discomfort - he will have an MRI today
The Mets must contract their roster from 28 to 26 by Monday
LHP Chasen Shreve has been unsecured upon in six of his first eight appearances
OF Brandon Nimmo reached base two more times on Saturday - he has a .387 on-base percentage over the first 22 games of the year
INF/OF Jeff McNeil saw his six-game hitting streak end on Saturday, but he’s hitting .328/.392/.428 to start his season
Today’s Game 🗓
Match-up: Mets (15-7) vs Phillies (11-11)
Where: Citi Field - Flushing, New York
Starters: RHP Max Scherzer (3-0, 1.80 ERA) vs. RHP Zach Effin (1-1, 3.20 ERA)
When: 7:08 PM EDT
Where to Watch: ESPN
A flat finish to a strong first month of 2022 📝
Not every game can come up roses. And on Saturday, the Mets offense unusually browned out in a flat loss to the Phillies.
Despite drawing eight walks against the Phillies, the Mets mustered only four hits on the night and stranded a season-high 13 runners on-base, six of which came thanks to leaving the bases loaded twice.
Perhaps the highlight of last night’s game was the return of Taijuan Walker, who had been absent for nearly three weeks due to a mild case of shoulder bursitis. He had thrown just two big league innings after a truncated spring training due to a recovery from minor knee surgery in January, so his case was a little more complicated to navigate as they attempted to rest Walker’s shoulder and build up his stamina at the same time (which is kind of hard to wrap one’s head around if you think about it).
Walker gave the Mets five solid innings on Saturday night and certainly deserved better than he received. He allowed two hits, struck out only one and walked two. He struggled to find his feel early in the game and had trouble getting ahead, but he found a groove over his final two innings and instilled confidence in what he can bring to the table in the process.
“I felt really good, just the shoulder and getting through five innings finally, and feeling good with it,” Walker said after the game. “My shoulder feels great and my knee feels great. I’m looking forward to getting back to my routine and pitching again in five days.”
Of course, it’s tough to really gauge the long term prospects for Walker even after an encouraging beginning - he hasn’t allowed a run in seven innings this season. He was an All-Star in the first half in 2021, but severely struggled to even remain competent from that point forward thanks in part to a heavy workload relative to his recent past. While he insists his knee and shoulder feel great, that’s probably going to be something to watch until proven otherwise, as well as his stamina as the season charges forward if he can remain healthy.
But there’s no question Saturday was an encouraging sign for Walker and offered some much needed stress relief for the Mets rotation.
The Mets did suffer an injury to their pitching staff on Saturday - Sean Reid-Foley - who might have been on the bubble ahead of rosters contracting on Monday - went down with right elbow discomfort. Should he need to go on the injured list, that would certainly take care of one of the two roster spots the Mets need to eliminate. The other could come down to a position player - might Robinson Canó be at the end of the road?
As for the club as a whole, the Mets finished their first month going 15-7 and atop the National League East. That .682 winning percentage is tied with the 2016 team for the fourth best March/April winning percentage in franchise history.
Sandwiched into that strong 15-7 start are some very encouraging signs, specifically on the offensive side of the ball. They lead the National League with 124 wRC+ as a team, have the second best team batting average in the National League at .255 (the league average in the NL is .233), are fourth in the National League with 98 runs scored, and their +33 run differential is the third best mark in the National League. And, aside from Saturday night, they’ve been outstanding with two outs and runners in scoring position (.306/.410/.447).
The one glaring gap is the club’s power - they’re seventh in the National league with a .383 slugging percentage. At this point in the season, it can be called a gap and not an area of concern considering the small sample size and weather conditions the Mets have played in to start the year. It should also be noted the league-wide home run rate is down to start the year with questions about more changes to the ball swirling around the league.
Even so, the offense is more fluid, they’re less station-to-station, they’re stealing more bases and making contact at a far greater rate than that of last year - the 170 strikeouts is the fourth best mark in the National League.
And with warmer weather coming, the offense should be able to produce more power in the days and weeks ahead.
As for the pitching, what more can be said? Tylor Megill has been a rotation savior and unquestionably the team MVP through the first month of the season, with David Peterson getting an honorable mention. The bullpen has been a little hit or miss, capped by the leak Adam Ottavino sprung on Saturday night (who has otherwise been lights out, by the way) but much stronger as of late and have the sixth-best ERA in the National League. In the end, the club’s 2.85 team ERA overall is second behind only the Dodgers in the National League, and that has been largely without Walker and completely without Jacob deGrom.
The Mets will be looking to continue their strong start with a series win against the Phillies tonight and extend their season-opening series win streak to seven. They couldn’t ask for a better situation than to have Max Scherzer on the hill for them - he is 15-4 with a 2.47 ERA lifetime against Philadelphia.
This is partially why the Mets got him - to win key games and to win key games in the division for them.
Down on the Farm 🌾
Mark Ventios (INF, No. 4 prospect, AAA): 1-for-4, 2B, BB, 2 RBI in doubleheader
Ronny Mauricio (INF, No. 3 prospect AA): 1-for-4, run scored
Wilmer Reyes (INF, High-A): 3-for-4, 3 runs scored, HR, 2 RBI
Carson Seymour (RHP, Single-A): 6 IP, 4 H, 2K
Around the League 🚩
Future Hall of Famer Clayton Kershaw set a franchise mark with his 2.697th strikeout as a Dodger, surpassing hall of famer Don Sutton for the most strikeouts in franchise history
The Yankees ran their winning streak to eight thanks to another stellar pitching performance from Gerritt Cole and the Yankee bullpen
George Springer hit two home runs in their win over the Mariners in Toronto
Padres RHP Mike Clevinger is set to make his return from Tommy John Surgery next week (MLB.com)