MLB: Los Angeles Dodgers at New York Mets

Game recap May 29: If you pretend this was just Clayton Kershaw dominating again, it’s a lot easier to handle


Clayton Kershaw and his other 8 pals in gray jerseys (I guess the Mets too, but in a weird ‘never have to face Kershaw again in the 2016 regular season’ kind of way)


For the second time this season, the Mets had the…we’ll say pleasure…of facing Clayton Kershaw. Here’s the thing: it wasn’t terrible. It’d be better described as lukewarm. The problem was that any production at all came from the top half of the lineup. Curtis Granderson opened the game with a double: leadoff man. Neil Walker doubled in the fourth: four-hole. Asdrubal Cabrera homered in the sixth: two-hole. Overall, the first four batters were 3 for 12, with all three hits being of the extra base variety. Slugging .667 off of the best pitcher in the game is absolutely nothing to hang your hat on and should have led to more production. But, as expected, the mighty Kershaw did not allow these hits in bunches. Having spread themselves out, the Mets generally looked feeble in their efforts to combat the southpaw. Speaking of feeble, the bottom portion of the lineup card last night. Here is how they looked coming into the game:
Juan Lagares occupied the fifth spot in the lineup and had really hit well over the last two games. Having homered in both of the prior series games, he had raised his wRC+ from 80 to 121. He was really the only one in the bottom half who had been swinging it well coming into last night (here’s a hint: he did not swing well last night). Batting sixth was Wilmer Flores, who entered play tonight owning a fun .180/.255/.280 slash across 55 plate appearances. He would then pass it down the line to Kevin Plawecki and his slightly more impressive .191/.294/.270 slash in 102 plate appearances. Plawecki would be followed by starting major league first baseman Eric Campbell, who was also there. All three of these aforementioned hitters, with the exception of Lagares, entered today’s game with a wRC+ somewhere in the 50s. Of course, we also can’t forget about the pitchers spot in the lineup, of which Bartolo Colon used to swing at a pitch above his head before taking a called strike three down the middle. Then he was supplanted by Ty Kelly, who left tonight still in search of his first Major League hit.

So yeah, the bottom half is bad. That didn’t change last night either. The bottom half was bad. Against Kershaw, they were 1 for 14 with 6 strikeouts. Granted, three of those strikeouts were from Lagares and the one hit came from Plawecki to start off an eighth inning in which the Mets bounced Kershaw from the game—it eventually led to them tying the ball game. Nevertheless, if it weren’t for Plawecki’s lone hit, this portion of the order was abysmal.
Now the obvious caveat here is that not every hitter in the lineup is good and injuries to everyday starters have played a role for the Mets in this area as well. That being said, it really isn’t a surprise Kershaw made mincemeat of these five hitters given how they had performed against normal pitching all season.


The Good:
Bartolo Colon looked much better this time against the Dodgers than he did the last time he squared off against Kershaw. Colon allowed one run in the third on two singles and one run in the fifth on three singles. Out of the seven hits he allowed, only one was for extra bases—a double in the fourth by Joc Pederson. He didn’t overpower the Dodgers, although he never really overpowers anyone at the age of 43, but he threw strikes and kept the game close for six innings. Which is all you can really ask for, especially after the way the bullpen had to be used for game two of the series. Out of the bullpen, Antonio Bastardo and Addison Reed threw well. Both threw one inning a piece and did not surrender a run. They were eventually rewarded for keeping the game close, as the Mets would tie the game at two in the bottom of the eighth inning.
The Bad:
Then came the ninth inning, and another installment of Jeurys Familia. It did not go well. If you did watch the game, you saw a second straight outing where Familia’s command looked shaky. If you didn’t watch, a base hit and two walks given up by Familia loaded the bases for Adrian Gonzalez. The lefty singled into center to score two runs and give the Dodgers a 4-2 lead that would eventually be the final score. Familia looked less than impressive and it was the second time he’s struggled against the Dodgers in a non-save situation. Maybe it was just a bad series for Familia, who knows. What we do know is that it’s definitely something to watch closely going forward. If things keep getting worse, Addison Reed did look solid once again and has a 1.82 FIP to back it up. Not to mention that he has closed plenty of ballgames before, if you are someone who likes your relief ace to have closer experience.


Simply put, the Mets faced the best pitcher in professional baseball. That’s about all there is to it, and they actually fared better than most. Two runs against Clayton Kershaw is no small feat, either. This is the last time the Mets will have to face him until, potentially, the postseason. Oh yeah, and no Chase Utley. Both are very good things.


The Mets will play the first of a three-game series against the Chicago White Sox, who had a joyous time in Kansas City this past weekend. This series will wrap up the Mets homestand as they head into June and it’ll be started with a rather large question mark—Matt Harvey. The Dark Knight has not pitched well to kick off his 2016 campaign, so we’ll see if he can turn it around. In terms of the offense, they’ll follow up facing the best pitcher in the National League by facing a stud in his own right, Jose Quintana. So that should be fun.
Photo credit: Anthony Gruppuso – USA Today Sports

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