WHAT HAPPENED, THE TODD FATHER:
It’s tough to say Luis Severino did not have his best stuff on Sunday. Sure he didn’t throw a clean inning, but that might be more of a credit to a Mets lineup that seemed to barely pester the Yankee’s ace. Whether it was Brandon Nimmo and Jay Bruce working a pair of two-out walks in the first, Todd Frazier singling before stealing second base with two outs in the third or Devin Mesoraco singling in the fourth, it felt like the Mets did their best work on Sunday when they were one out away from the inning being over.
(Re-)Enter Todd Frazier.
In case you didn’t know, TODD FRAZIER PLAYED FOR THE YANKEES LAST YEAR. Also, one of the lesser known things about Frazier is that TODD FRAZIER IS FROM NEW YORK (WELL, ACTUALLY: TOMS RIVER, NEW JERSEY). I don’t think this has ever been mentioned before, but there you go. The more you know. Another more well-known fact is that, though the team has enjoyed quite the skid of late, getting Frazier back has worked out quite well. That narrative would continue into Sunday, as Frazier stepped up to the plate in the fifth inning with a runner on first and two outs. What followed was a majestic ball hit just enough to left to clear the wall, giving the Mets a 2-0 lead. Following the homerun, the Mets felt comfortable enough to rest at the plate — finishing the game 0-10 with one walk. That said, it is hard to blame them for struggling against that New York Yankee bullpen.
Frazier, whose Sunday homer is his second in as many days, is now 5-16 since coming off the disabled list. For an offense that hasn’t been incredibly helpful to their pitchers, it is nice to cite Frazier’s case and fantasize about this team getting healthy. Well, “healthy,” or whatever the nearest state is for the Mets these days. Eighty percent? Able to crawl to first base? Maimed, but with limbs still attached? Those all seem plausible for healthy-adjacent in Metland.
WHAT HAPPENED, LUGO-LED METS BLANK YANKS:
Seth Lugo, heard the name before? The righty, who found his way into the rotation for just the second time this season, made a lasting impression on Sunday. Lugo blanked the Yankees for six innings, striking out eight and surrendering just two hits, on just 84 pitches. That is, as the kids say, wildly impressive. It would be so against any team in the league, but the Yankees? Incredible. If you had Seth Lugo as the first pitcher to blank the Yanks this season, please come claim your cash prize. I’m fairly certain the estimated value is…all the money.
Lugo’s outing lowered his season ERA to 1.77 in 45.2 innings and improved his strike out rate to about 27 percent. He has yet to allow a run in 10 innings as a starter this season, which brings the next conversation to the forefront: will Lugo become a mainstay in the rotation?
In a perfect world, it wouldn’t even be an issue. Even when Noah Syndergaard returns from his DL-stint, Lugo is a clear and notable upgrade over Jason Vargas. The problem with moving Lugo into the rotation mainly lies in the bullpen. Currently it is a dark and desolate place, conquered only by Robert Gsellman. Alas, this is a problem currently more avoidable than it had been. Steven Matz and Zack Wheeler have pitched better and, more importantly, they have worked deep into their most recent outings. Wheeler has worked into the sixth inning or later four consecutive times, while Matz has done so in just his two previous outings. The track record isn’t amazing, but it is an improvement. The later these two work into games diminishes the burden on a bullpen struggling with depth issues.
Now if you think Vargas can give you five innings every time out, sure. But I’d be more willing to take a chance at Vargas turning into some sort of low-leverage, useful reliever, while Lugo can gives you five or six innings at a much higher quality.
WHAT HAPPENED, YESTERDAY:
Seth Lugo and Todd Frazier saved the day as the Mets snapped their eight-game losing streak. How, you ask? By becoming the first team to shutout the Yankees all year. Sure, it was a Yankees team without Aaron Judge, but shut up. Let us have this one.
WHAT HAPPENS, TODAY:
It’s an off-day for the Mets as they travel to Atlanta to take on the tied-for-first place Braves. The aforementioned Vargas will take his turn in the rotation on Tuesday, opposed by Braves’ right-hander Mike Foltynewicz.
Photo credit: Wendell Cruz – USA Today Sports