Pitching and power were to be the formula to carry the Mets this season, and today felt like it was supposed to be.
Today’s 6-1, 8-1 sweep was fueled by pitching; strong efforts from Robert Gsellman and Steven Matz, that were backed by Mets power, a grand slam from Yoenis Cespedes and a three-run homer from Jay Bruce in the nightcap.
“This is what we thought we were going to get with the guys we thought we were going to have,” manager Terry Collins said.
The last time the Mets swept a doubleheader was June 18, 2013, when they showcased fire-ballers Matt Harvey and Zack Wheeler, their arms of the future. However, the circumstances then differed greatly from today’s mauling today.
Four years ago, the Mets were a team on the rise; a team to be carried with their young pitching. Today, the Mets are a team fighting to keep open their window of opportunity.
Cespedes came off the disabled list, said he didn’t feel 100 percent, then hit a grand slam in the opener. However, today’s real storyline was Matz’s return in the nightcap after ten months on the disabled list.
Matz gave up one run on five hits and one walk with two strikeouts in seven innings. He accomplished that with just 98 pitches. Conversely, in his start Friday, Harvey threw over 100 pitches in five innings.
“His command of his stuff,” Collins said matter-of-factly about the key to Matz’s success. “He’s around the plate. This is the kind of outing we were hoping we’d see.’’
Matz said he had nerves, but said he always gets them. He said he had to step back and collect himself.
“It feels good to get back out there and compete,” Matz said. “I was able to locate my fastball away. My command was there and I felt really locked in.”
In the opener, Gsellman threw 6.2 scoreless innings while giving up three hits. There has been some talk after this stretch of 18 games in 17 that Gsellman might go to the bullpen, but today’s outing might give pause to that thinking.
While we’re at it, we should give pause to the thinking things will be all right now that Cespedes is back.
“I feel good, but I don’t know that I can run at 100 percent at this point,” Cespedes told reporters prior to the game.
So, why did GM Sandy Alderson activate him? Cespedes didn’t play in the nightcap and may not play Sunday, but could return Monday against the Cubs.
Alderson risked Cespedes for what he got today, the game-icing slam. But, if he can’t run, won’t he cost the Mets in the long run? His failure to advance from second to third on a fly ball could have cost the Mets.
It didn’t, and Collins matter-of-factly said the Mets would protect him, but it the player himself said he’s not 100 percent, then it could be only a matter of time before Cespedes pulls his hamstring again.
As for Matz’s return, he looked sharp and threw free and easy. There never seemed a question that the Mets took their time to protect Matz.
I can’t imagine them starting Matz if he said his elbow was barking, so, why would they start Cespedes if he says he can’t run 100 percent?