What to look for: Dodgers vs. Mets, NLDS Game 4 at 8:00 PM

NLDS Dodgers Mets Baseball

The Mets will look to finish off their National League Division Series against the Dodgers on Tuesday night at 8:00 PM at Citi Field.

Rich MacLeodHere is tonight’s starting lineup for New York:

Curtis Granderson – RF
David Wright – 3B
Daniel Murphy – 2B
Yoenis Cespedes – LF
Lucas Duda – 1B
Travis d’Arnaud – C
Wilmer Flores – SS
Juan Lagares – CF
Steven Matz – LHP

Here is tonight’s pitching matchup:

Steven Matz (4-0, 2.27 ERA in 2015) will start for the Mets.

Clayton Kershaw (0-1, 4.05 ERA in the postseason) will start for the Dodgers.

Mets vs DodgersHere’s what I’m looking for from the Mets tonight:

A battle of lefties.

The fourth–and potential final–game of the 2015 NLDS between the Mets and Dodgers will feature a battle of left-handed starters as Steven Matz and Clayton Kershaw will take the mound.

Tonight will be Matz’s first major league appearance since September 24th as he’s dealt with a side issue, but in six starts at the big league level he’s impressed. One year after pitching coach Dan Warthen compared Matz to Kershaw, he now has the chance to face him and defeat him, which wound send this team to the NLCS.

On the other side of it, while Kershaw is starting on three-days rest and has a reputation for his postseason failures, I fully expect him to bring it tonight.

For six innings in Game One, Kershaw was absolutely brilliant, allowing just one run and striking out 11 Mets hitters. He faded late and allowed three walks in the 7th inning, but the final two runs he allowed were given up by Dodgers reliever Pedro Baez.

In addition to that, in two prior postseason starts that Kershaw’s made on three-days rest, he has a 2.24 ERA. If the Mets want to beat this guy for the second time in a four-day span, it’s not going to be easy.

Finish it.

On Tuesday night at Citi Field, the Mets have the opportunity to do something they haven’t done in 15 years, and that’s clinch a postseason series in their home ballpark.

With a win tonight, the Mets would do so for the first time since 2000, and head to the NLCS for the first time since the 2006 season.

As I said, it won’t be easy for this team as they’re facing Kershaw once again, and while Matz has yet to have a bad start at the big league level, you just don’t know what you’re going to get. However, the Mets need to take advantage of their 2-1 series edge.

While the Mets showed that they could win in Los Angeles earlier in this season and they would have their ace Jacob deGrom–who was dominant in his postseason debut–on the hill, you don’t want to have to go back out to the West Coast in a winner-take-all contest against the likely NL Cy Young Award winner in Zack Greinke.

Everything is right there for this team tonight. They have the 2-1 series lead. They’re playing at home in front of a hungry, electric fan base. The time is now.

Take the damn thing.

The Mets are one win away from the NLCS – watch #THIS video to get ready…

MLB’s #THIS campaign is designed to showcase the personality of Major League Baseball, the game and all of it’s players, teams and fanbases.

#THIS is a hashtag meant to capture the essence of Major League Baseball.

Here is a video on the Mets being just one win away from returning to the National League Championship Series for the first time since 2006:

Juan Uribe still idle, seemingly unlikely to be available for the NLCS

Juan Uribe 1 slice

BaronIf the Mets advance to the National League Championship Series, they’re going to probably be without Juan Uribe once again.

Uribe, who injured his chest diving after a ball in a game against the Yankees more than three weeks ago, has not begun baseball activities and there is no timetable for that process to begin, either.

As such, it would seem unlikely Uribe would be available in time for Saturday, which marks the beginning of the NLCS either in New York against the Cubs or in St. Louis against the Cardinals if the Mets advance.

There’s no option that can replace Uribe and his postseason experience. It’s one of the reasons Sandy Alderson acquired Uribe to begin with, and he’s already shown a knack for the big hit in key situations for the club during the regular year.

In this Division Series alone, Uribe would have been a very valuable right-handed weapon for Terry Collins against the likes of Clayton Kershaw and Brett Anderson.

Sandy Alderson recently said Uribe’s injury is cartilage-related, seemingly in the upper part of his chest towards the clavicle. X-rays and MRI’s taken since the injury have shown no break, but Uribe remains unavailable at this time.

Michael Conforto will be an everyday player in 2016, but not right now

BaronMichael Conforto has been limited to one start in the Division Series, which came in game two against Zack Greinke in Los Angeles.

In that game, he delivered a line drive solo home run off of the fair pole which at the time helped the Mets build a 2-0 lead over the Dodgers.

But he has yet to appear in a game in which the Dodgers have started a left-handed. He did not appear in game one against Clayton Kershaw, game three against Brett Anderson, and he is once again on the sidelines against Kershaw again in game four on Tuesday night.

On Sunday, manager Terry Collins said he was considering starting Conforto against Anderson on Monday, but ultimately started Juan Lagares and his .771 OPS against southpaws in centerfield with Yoenis Cespedes in left.

“I think he can hit lefties,” Collins said on Monday about Conforto. “I think he’s going to be an outstanding player, but this is what we’ve been doing since he came here and we said you know what, it gives us our best defense.”

Collins is going with the same outfield configuration on Tuesday night, and intends to do so through the remainder of the postseason.

But Collins said that will change beginning in 2016.

“Michael Conforto is going to be a very good player, and next year he’s going to be an everyday player,” Collins said.

The feeling around the team regarding Conforto and facing left-handed pitching is simply that there’s no reason to fix anything that isn’t broken. 

Sure, Michael Cuddyer struggled on both sides of the ball recently, but he’s also not starting at the moment. And the Mets certainly aren’t losing anything with Lagares in centerfield and Cespedes in left, either. 

And with the need to strengthen the defense up the middle with the loss of Ruben Tejada, the logic is indeed sound to test Conforto later, especially against lesser left-handlers in less pressurized situations.

Conforto had just 15 plate appearances against left-handers in 2015. He did face LHP JP Howell as a pinch hitter in the seventh inning on Monday night, and drove in a run with a sacrifice fly.

Once compared to Clayton Kershaw, Steven Matz has a chance to beat him on the big stage


Rich MacLeodAs the hours, minutes and seconds count to Game Four of the NLDS between the Mets and Dodgers, young lefty Steven Matz prepares himself for the biggest start of his baseball life.

It will be not easy task for Matz, not only because he hasn’t pitched a major league game since September 24th in Cincinnati, but also because of the presence that opposes him on the mound.

Clayton Kershaw.

Yes, he has a reputation for struggling in the postseason. Yes, the Mets beat him in Game One. Yes, he’s pitching on three-days rest… But it’s still Kershaw. (more…)

Watch #THIS video on Yoenis Cespedes’ three-run home run in Game 3 of the NLDS

MLB’s #THIS campaign is designed to showcase the personality of Major League Baseball, the game and all of it’s players, teams and fanbases.

#THIS is a hashtag meant to capture the essence of Major League Baseball.

Here is a video of Yoenis Cespedes and his massive three-run home run in Game 3 of the NLDS on Monday:

Despite a convincing lead in the NLDS, the Mets know the series is far from over

BaronThe percentages play right into the Mets hands as they prepare for game four of the National League Division Series against the Dodgers.

The team that wins game three in a tied series has gone on to win 75.6 percent of the time.

But of course, the game isn’t determined on statistics. It simply provides a measurement for success and failure in this case.

Often times, those measurements go out the window, especially with the Mets facing Clayton Kershaw in game four at Citi Field, and if there is a game five, Zack Greinke back in Los Angeles on Thursday.

“We came into this knowing we were going to see him twice and possibly Greinke twice. That’s a tall order for anybody, any team. But it is what it is,” manager Terry Collins said early Tuesday. (more…)

While not having his “A” game, Matt Harvey delivered an “A” effort on Monday

Matt Harvey 1 slice

BaronMonday’s game three was a highly anticipated affair at Citi Field, for it would be Matt Harvey’s first opportunity to shine under the spotlight of playoff baseball in front of an electric crowd with the chance of taking a pivotal third game in the Mets best-of-five National League Division Series against the Dodgers.

It’s how Terry Collins and the Mets drew it up, too.

Sort of.

There was of course the added spice of how the Mets might retaliate to Chase Utley’s illegal slide in game two, and whether or not Harvey would execute any kind of retaliation, be it against Utley or anyone else in the Dodgers lineup.

But manager Terry Collins instructed Harvey and the rest of the team to save any physical retaliation for another time long before the first pitch of game three was ever thrown.

“This is too big a game. We need to not worry about retaliating. We need to worry about winning,” Collins said before Monday’s game.

The Mets obliged, and retaliated in another way, by beating up on the Dodgers to the tune of 13 runs.

But it didn’t come as easy as it might sound. For the Mets once trailed 3-0 early in game three, planting doubt in the minds of the crowd of over 44,000 at Citi Field the Mets would be able to comeback.

This was all because Harvey did not have his A-Game going on Monday. He allowed three consecutive hits to open the second inning, after while Yasmani Grandal drove in two with a single to right field followed by a throwing error from Curtis Granderson to allow one more run to cross. (more…)

Mets served their cold dish of revenge in the form of a dominating playoff win

Cespedes Wright Murphy

Baron“Revenge is a dish best served cold.” 

It’s an old proverb used to describe the best way to seek vengeance upon any perceived wrong doing.

In the Mets case, such revenge can simply be served in the form of winning.

And winning big.

On Monday night, in the first playoff game in the easternmost borough of New York City in nearly nine years to the date, and just 48 hours removed from one of the most epic and controversial take-out slides in playoff history, the Mets issued their payback to the Dodgers on a cold dish of dominance in their most pivotal game in a decade.

They whitewashed the Dodgers in a 13-7 rout in front of nearly 45,000 electric and hungry fans who have waited patiently and courageously for a success story in Flushing. (more…)

Watch: David Wright’s leaping catch to prevent a run in the second inning of Game 3

In the second inning of Monday’s Game 3 of the NLDS with Yasmani Grandal at second base and two outs with three runs already in for the Dodgers, David Wright made this leaping catch to prevent a run and stop further bleeding.

The Mets responded with four runs in the bottom of the second to take a 4-3 lead, a lead they would not relinquish as they were en route to a 13-7 route of the Dodgers at Citi Field:

The constant evolution of Curtis Granderson as a power hitting leadoff hitter…


BaronAny player, coach or manager at any level will say baseball is a game of constant, in-game adjustments.

And for Curtis Granderson, not only does he continue to adjust, but he is evolving on the grand stage of the playoffs.

Granderson was among many of the standout performers for the Mets in their 13-7 rout of the Dodgers on Monday night, single-handed lay producing five of the 13 runs the Mets plated against the Los Angeles pitching staff in what was an electrified Citi Field crowd.

But for Granderson in particular, there was more than met the eye in his two-hit, five RBI performance.


Takeaways from the Mets 13-7 win over the Dodgers on Monday…

NLDS Dodgers Mets Baseball

The Mets defeated the Dodgers by the score of 13-7 on Monday night at Citi Field, taking a 2-1 lead in their best-of-five National League Division Series.

Here are my takeaways from the win…

BaronAn energetic slugfest for the Mets.

It wasn’t looking good early, but it sure was pretty for the Mets when the light went out on game three for the Mets.

They feel into an early 3-0 hole when Matt Harvey loaded the bases with nobody out in the second thanks to three straight singles from Justin Turner, Andre Ether, and Carl Crawford, all preceding a Yasmani Grandal single which cleared the bases thanks to a throwing error by Curtis Granderson.

Grandal had previously been in a 4-for-87 abyss before that single.

Travis d'Arnaud cespedes floresBut the Mets roared right back in the bottom of the second inning. They countered with three straight hits from Yoenis Cespedes, Lucas Duda and Travis d’Arnaud which brought the Mets back to within two runs. Then, Wilmer Flores reached on an infield single to load the bases with nobody out again.

And just when it looked like the Mets would squander an opportunity after Juan Lagares grounded into  force out and Matt Harvey struck out, Curtis Granderson turned on a first pitch fastball from Brett Anderson and cleared the bases with a three-run double to give the Mets the lead and all of the momentum in this pivotal game three.

They netted two more runs in the third thanks to a two-run home run from Travis d’Arnaud, and another four runs in the fourth thanks in part to a monumental three-run home run into the second deck in left field to give the Mets a 10-3 lead, sending them on their way to a laugher in their first playoff game in nine years.

Of course, they weren’t done. They swiped three more runs thanks in part to another double to plate two runs from Granderson, along with a pinch-hit sacrifice fly by Michael Conforto in the seventh inning.

The Mets needed a laugher after the stress and controversy which has dominated the last 48 hours. They got it and are now pacing this series.

A rusty #HarveyDay?

Matt HarveyFor Matt Harvey, It can be attributed to rust after not pitching in nine days. It could be attributed to a bad night, as well.

This writer will go with the latter.

It just wasn’t a clean or crisp night for the Mets co-ace. He was erratic, had trouble commanding all of his pitches, and just lacked that extra life on his fastball. He didn’t get a lot of swings and misses and was hardly dominant, having to deal with traffic for most of the night.

But he only allowed the three runs in the second and bore down in the battle within himself. It wasn’t easy and he had to navigate some really good hitters, but he was able to do that in the third, fourth and fifth inning to keep the Dodgers off the board and allow the Mets to just stomp all over Brett Anderson and Alex Wood in the middle innings.

That’s what the good ones do. They can’t have their A-game every night. Its just not going to happen. But when they’re off, they’re obligated to find a way and keep the team in the game. He did an admirable job of that, and really earned this win with a gutsy five-inning performance.

A little big thing.

The Dodgers had the Mets on the ropes early in this one, and things were looking very murky for the Mets in this one.

But with two outs in the second inning, David Wright made a fantastic catch, leaping to rob Howie Kendrick of at least a single and certainly one run to end the inning.

It’s a little thing, but a big play in this game which kept the Mets within striking distance. Sometimes players don’t produce solely with the bat, and in the case of Wright and this play, he produced in the run prevention department in a huge way for the club on Monday.

The Grandy Man was huge, again.

GrandersonWhat a series for Granderson, who is shutting up all of the naysayers about his inability to hit left-handed pitching in this series.

He notched two more hits and five RBI against two left-handers in Brett Anderson and JP Howell.

He had two hits against Clayton Kershaw on Friday night, giving him four hits against southpaws in this series.

He had 23 hits in 126 at-bats against left-handers all year.

He’s completely evolved in his reinvention as a hitter this season, embracing the role of a leadoff hitter with his remarkable discipline and patience while muscling up and becoming a run producer all at once. He’s a pro’s pro and understands how to harness the moment, and he has done so in tremendous fashion in this playoff series.

The percentages.

The Mets have been talking up the importance of winning game three for a long time, which is why they wanted Matt Harvey on the mound for this critical contest.

There’s good reason for that.

The team that wins game three when a five-game playoff series is tied at one has gone on to win 75 percent of the time.

So the Mets are in really good shape after the win. Yes, they will face Clayton Kershaw on Tuesday, but he will be pitching on three-days rest and the Dodgers are 7-9 in games pitched by Kershaw on the road.

And, Kershaw is 0-2 with a 9.00 ERA in elimination starts in his postseason career.

The Mets also don’t have to even think about throwing Jacob deGrom on three-days rest, instead saving him for a potential game five in Los Angeles on Thursday night against Zack Greinke.

It’s not as if it isn’t a tough chore to deal with Kershaw and Greinke, but they need to figure out how to get just one more to advance to the NLCS.

The statistics suggest they have a good chance.

Other notes from Monday:

Yoenis Cespedes is 18-for-51 with three home runs and ten RBI in 13 playoff games in his career. He has two home runs in this series.

D’Arnaud broke a 6-for-52 skid with a three-hit performance on Monday.

44,276 fans were in attendance at Citi Field on Monday, the largest paid crowd ever in the ballpark.

The Mets set a postseason franchise record with 13 runs in game three.

Cespedes and d’Arnaud became first two players in franchise history to produce three hits and three RBIs and score three runs in a postseason game.

The Mets have struck out 36 Dodgers in the first three games of the NLDS.

Granderson’s five RBI set single-game franchise mark in a postseason game.2015 Postseason horizontal

Watch: Yoenis Cespedes’ long three-run home run in Game 3 of the NLDS

In the fourth inning of game three of the NLDS, Yoenis Cespedes hit a long three-run home run into the second deck in left field at Citi Field.

It was Cespedes’ second home run of the NLDS:


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