Mike Stanton’s Grand Slam: I don’t know if Mike Stanton is the best young player in the NL East, but he’s certainly the most impressive. He’s about as big and tall as a position player can be, his throws from right field look like they’re accelerating even after they leave his hand, and it seems like he’s smacking tennis balls at the plate. The scary thing is that Stanton’s plate discipline isn’t very good, 38 walks against 115 strikeouts this season. It’s all raw power at work right now. If he becomes more selective with age, he’s going to hit 50 home runs every season. Presumably all of them coming against the Mets. Stanton is very quickly rising onto the list of opposing players I’d pay to see play.
Lucas Duda’s tying home run: On the topic of young sluggers, I’m finally a little bullish on Lucas Duda. He’s another position player as big as they come, and I don’t think his long-term future is in right field (in a small 83 inning sample, he’s cost the Mets two runs defensively in right by plus/minus). He’s not going to hit enough to justify sticking him in right in Citi Field. Duda might have to unseat Jason Bay in left field to play on the 2012 Mets — oh no, please, anything but that — but that’s looking more like a possibility as he improves as a hitter. Duda has become far more selective this season than last. The Dave Hudgens effect at work?
2010, majors and minors: 587 PA, 66 walks, 106 strikeouts, 0.62 walks per strikeout, 27 home runs
2011, majors and minors: 316 PA, 38 walks, 49 strikeouts, 0.78 walks per strikeout, 10 home runs
The home runs are down, but some of that is moving from homer-friendly Buffalo to homer-unfriendly New York, and the big homerless stretch he went through recently. Duda may prove to be more of a 20-25 home run guy than anything else. But if he can hit 25 home runs, walk 70 times, keep his strikeouts low enough to hit .270 or .280, and play a passable left field . . . that’s Josh Willingham or Luke Scott. Not a star, but a solid player who can do a lot for your offense. The problem is finding him a spot in the field with Daniel Murphy, Jason Bay and Ike Davis all needing to be at first or hidden elsewhere on the diamond.
Jason Isringhausen’s Poor Outing: Mets relievers now have a 4.12 ERA, making them one of four NL teams with a bullpen ERA over 4.00. The problem, as you might have guessed, is home runs. The Mets’ pen is third among NL bullpens in strikeouts-per-nine-innings (8.2), fourth best in walks-per-nine-innings (3.5), and fifth in strikeouts-to-walks (2.3) . . . but they’ve surrendered 34 home runs. Only the Rockies’ bullpen has allowed more longballs, and they play their home games in Coors Field. So the Mets have been giving up some bombs.
Izzy has been the biggest offender among the all-homers club, last night’s grand slam being the bullpen-leading sixth home run he’s allowed this season. Isringhausen’s 3.58 ERA is mediocre for a reliever anyway, but there are big warning lights suggesting he’s pitched worse. His FIP is sitting at 4.54, and after spending most of his career as a ground ball pitcher, Isringhausen has struggled to keep the ball down this season. A lot of contact in the air lead can lead to a lot of home runs, as the Mets saw last night, and that’s not good for Izzy.
On the other hand, Isringhausen looked much better after the All Star break. In July, his ground ball rate was in line with his career rate for the first time in any month this season, and he had his best month by ERA (1.64) and FIP (3.54). He’s old and his arm is taped on, but Izzy’s stuff is still okay. If he can keep his pitches down in the zone, he’ll be all right.
As for the rest of the Mets pen: They might want to work on holding runners on. Mets relievers have allowed 38 stolen bases this season, the most by any bullpen in the majors, against just nine caught stealing. Some of that is the catchers who don’t throw well, and it’s not anywhere near the problem the home runs are. But the relievers could probably help themselves out a little bit more by keeping guys close to first base.
Daniel Murphy Failing to Get DeWayne Wise at First: From the moment he starts his swing until the moment he makes contact, Daniel Murphy looks like he belongs. That’s about a half-second, maybe eight or nine times a game. The rest of the time, though . . . his slight arm-flapping stance before the pitch, his helicopter follow through, his questionable decision-making in the field, his questionable decision-making on the bases, his questionable decision-making with his razor in the morning. It’s impressive how nothing Daniel Murphy does looks graceful. Sometimes it’s painful in the field and on the bases, but the 28 doubles and .320 average make up for it.