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Mets roll to another victory as Buck Showalter once again demonstrates his strategic mastery
The Mets have won 14 of their last 16 games and have the second-best record in MLB
What’s Up with the Mets? ⚾
The Mets defeated the Reds by a score of 6-2 on Tuesday night at Citi Field (Box)
Carlos Carrasco pitched into the seventh inning and allowed just two runs - both on a two-run home run from Jake Fraley in the seventh - with nine strikeouts to earn his team-best 13th win of the season
Francisco Lindor hit a third inning, two-run home run, Jeff McNeil delivered two hits and two RBI, and Darin Ruf hit a key two-run single in the seventh inning to give the Mets two additional tack-on runs
The Mets are 33 games over .500 for the first time since September 20, 2006 and have scored five or more runs in eight straight games
The Mets are now 37-18 at home, are 8-2 in August, 26-6-3 in series, 12-3-2 in series at home, 56-11 when they score first, 63-0 when leading after eight innings, 14-5 against the National League Central, 53-5 when scoring five or more runs and 42-14 when their starting pitcher goes at least six innings
Who’s Hot 🔥
Jeff McNeil now has a twelve-game hitting streak - he is hitting .412/.434/.706 with six doubles, three home runs and eight RBI during that span with seven multi-hit games
Francisco Lindor has reached base safely in each of his last 17 games (.397/.473/.667) and scored at least one run in 12 straight games, one game shy of tying David Wright’s mark of 13 straight games (7/13 - 7/29/2008) for the franchise mark - he joins Paul Goldschmidt and Aaron Judge as the only players with 20+ home runs, 70+ RBI and 70+ runs scored this season
Carlos Carrasco has 14 starts with two earned runs or fewer allowed this season, the 12th-best mark in the National League. His 13 wins are tied for second-most in the majors
Injury Updates 🏥
Dominic Smith (sprained ankle) went 1-for-4 and played nine innings at first base for Triple-A Syracuse on Tuesday night
Playoff Odds Tracker 🎲
The Mets are 72-39 and lead the Braves by seven games in the National League East with 51 games to go. They are on-pace for 105 wins, which would be the second-highest mark in franchise history (108 in 1986)
The Mets have the sixth-easiest schedule down the stretch of the season (.480 opposing winning percentage, per Tankathon)
Playoff odds (FanGraphs):
Make the playoffs: 100 percent ↔️
Win the National League East: 93.3 percent ⬆️
Clinch first round bye: 93.1 percent ⬆️
Win the World Series: 18 percent ⬆️
Magic Number to clinch the National League East: 4️⃣5️⃣
Today’s Game 🗓
Match-up: Mets (72-39) vs Reds (44-65)
Where: Citi Field — Flushing, New York
Starters: RHP Taijuan Walker (9-3, 3.45) vs RHP TJ Zeuch (2022 debut)
When: 1:10 PM EDT
Where to Watch: SNY
Buck Showalter could serve as that final piece for the 2022 Mets 📝
At the beginning of the year, I thought the Mets had a pretty good team. I figured this would be an 85-90 win team with an offense still in need of a transformational bat and a bullpen in need of a late-inning presence (yeah, I didn’t trust Edwin Díaz to be that guy).
I felt the Mets would be instantly better merely by the presence of Buck Showalter alone and it was hard to believe Francisco Lindor would disappoint again. And of course there was Max Scherzer who offered stability and credibility to their starting rotation as a co-ace along with Jacob deGrom, who was an unknown heading into spring training.
Still, the Mets were coming off a season where they had fallen off a cliff and fast late in 2021 to finish with a 77-85 record. Despite the new acquisitions and the new star manager at the helm, I had tempered expectations.
After all, any team has to walk before they can run.
Well, not these Mets apparently. They went from limping to the finish line in 2021 to a consistent fire power in Major League Baseball and the best Mets club since 1986.
Never did I imagine the Mets would be this good. They have captured even my imagination of what the possibilities can be for this franchise in 2022. Their starting pitching has been excellent all year and that’s been without both Scherzer and deGrom in large measure, their contact-first offense - which seemed unsustainable at first and appeared as though it had dried up in June and July - has sparked once again and has become a left/right juggernaut up-and-down the lineup.
Not only do the Mets win, they win with spunk and they win with style too. But they’re also winning with guile and strategic excellence with an ability to stave off rallies and score tack-on runs late.
And for all the credit the likes of Scherzer, deGrom, Lindor, Pete Alonso, Taijuan Walker, Jeff McNeil and pretty much everyone on this roster deserves for being a hero on any given day for this club, perhaps the best acquisition Steve Cohen and Billy Eppler made this past winter was Buck Showalter.
Unquestionably, the Mets have never had a roster like this, and obviously never had a payroll like this. But the Mets have had star-studded rosters in the past that under-performed expectations (like, you know, 2021). It takes a strong presence at the helm of a roster to navigate the rough waters every team undoubtedly encounters throughout a 162-game season. The Mets hit those rough waters in June when they were faced with the most difficult part of their schedule, and then again in July when the offense went cold for the better part of a month.
But there was the stone-faced Showalter, not wavering from the strategy that landed him in first place and with a 10.5 game lead in the division on June 1. He kept the team on-course for their North Star, a destination they haven’t even reached yet knowing full well what Eppler needed to find ahead of the August 2 trade deadline.
Think about it for a second. How many mistakes has Buck made this season in that dugout? How many times has a moved backfired on him? You can count on one hand both answers, and you might have a finger or two left over to use. I can maybe think of one or two days fans have questioned a move Buck has made, and the arguments were really rather thin.
Case in point, think about the strategic mastery employed last night in the seventh inning when Buck let Darin Ruf hit against RHP Joel Kuhnel. He had Daniel Vogelbach in his back pocket understanding Ruf was acquired to hit left-handed pitching. But he knew if he had injected Vogelbach into the lineup, Reds manager David Bell would neutralize that move by bringing in a left-handed pitcher.
So the question became what was better? Ruf against a right-hander or Vogelbach against a left-hander? Statistically, the answer was Ruf against a right-hander.
Perhaps another manager would’ve showed his or her hand by having Vogelbach announced as a pinch-hitter and shooting himself in the foot in the process. But not Buck.
And like all of the other buttons Buck has pushed this season, this one worked too - Ruf laced a two-run single to plate two very important insurance runs for the Mets.
We’ve talked so much about the big games Max Scherzer has and will pitch in and why he is worth every penny because of it. But it’s moves like this one yesterday which make Buck worth his paycheck as well. The Mets haven’t had a strategic master like Buck since perhaps Bobby Valentine.
The way Buck has steered this team towards the finish line has unquestionably made him the leading candidate for manager of the year in the National League.
Like, it’s not close anywhere else, even in Philadelphia with manager Rob Thompson turning that ship around and back into the playoff picture (he and they deserve a lot of credit for their 39-19 mark since June 1).
Most of the time, it’s a player or two that serves as a final piece for a championship run. In the case of the 1986 Mets, it was the likes of Gary Carter and Keith Hernandez who served as those final pieces. But they also needed a steady, confident and arrogant manager at the helm to steer that roster properly in Davey Johnson.
And while that player on the 2022 Mets might be Scherzer and the role he plays both on and off the field, the other piece might be Showalter and his unwavering presence and strategic brilliance.
Down on the Farm 🌾
Daniel Palka (DH, Triple-A): 2-for-4, 2 HR, 2 RBI, 2 R
José Mena (C, Single-A): 3-for-4, 2 RBI
Carlos Dominguez (OF, Low-A): 2-for-4, HR, 3 RBI, 2 R
Jack-Thomas Wold (1B, Low-A): 2-for-5, HR, 4 RBI, 2 R
Around the League 🚩
The Braves out slugged the Red Sox at Fenway Park 9-7 thanks in part to a five RBI night from MVP candidate Austin Riley
The Phillies got home runs from JT Realmuto and Jean Segura as they defeated the Marlins 4-1 for their sixth win in a row
The Mariners outlasted the Yankees 1-0 in 13 innings in Seattle on Tuesday night
The Orioles edged the Blue Jays 6-5 to move to within 1/2 game of the third wild card spot in the American League
Shohei Ohtani threw six scoreless innings for his tenth win of the season, joining Babe Ruth as the only two players in baseball history to win ten games and hit ten home runs
Juan Soto hit his first home run for the Padres in a 7-4 win over the Giants
After being designated for assignment by the Mariners, Travis Jankowski elected to become a free agent