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Simulating the 2020 Mets: Bouncing back against the Marlins and Braves, April 27-May 3

My Mets rebound from a poor week against the Marlins and Braves with a good week against the Marlins and Braves.

New York Mets v St Louis Cardinals Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images

At the end of last week’s installment in my series running and simulating the Mets’ 2020 season OOTP, things weren’t feeling so great. Having started the season pretty well, the team ended the day on April 26 with a 14-14 record, which isn’t the end of the world but certainly isn’t great.

As this series has become a weekly thing, I’ll stick to the format from last week’s post, with a shorter synopsis of each game and links to the WPA graphs and box scores for those who are interested in checking them out.

April 27: Off day

Roster update: With Jed Lowrie having returned from the injured list for exactly one at-bat before getting injured again, I’ve placed him on the injured list again and decided to call up Ryan Cordell, who you may remember from real life Mets spring training earlier this year, to take his spot on the roster.

April 28: Mets at Marlins

With Jacob deGrom cruising in the series opener, neither team scores until the fourth, but the Mets put up a six spot in that inning to take hold of the game. J.D. Davis hits a two-run home run in the inning, Jacob deGrom walks to bring a run home, Jeff McNeil drives in two runs with a single, and Dom Smith, who has been excellent in this simulation, brings home the sixth run with a single.

The Marlins eke out two runs against deGrom, one each in the sixth and seventh innings, but that’s it for them. The Mets tack on four insurance runs in the ninth as Luis Guillorme singles one in just before Jake Marisnick hits a three-run home run.

Why was Marisnick in the game, though? Well, Brandon Nimmo reached on an infield single in the seventh but had to leave the game with an injury. And why was Guillorme in the game? Robinson Cano left the game with an injury, too.

Final: Mets 10, Marlins 2

April 29: Mets at Marlins

Roster update: I start the day by placing Nimmo and Cano on the injured list, even though there’s only been a diagnosis on Cano thus far. He’s dealing with a hyper-extended elbow and is expected to miss one-to-two weeks. I bring up Max Moroff and Andres Gimenez to fill out the active roster for now.

In this game, J.D. Davis opens the scoring with an RBI single in the top of the first before Wilson Ramos hits a two-run home run later in the inning. It’s probably worth noting that with all of the injuries that have piled up, this is my starting lineup for the night:

  1. Jeff McNeil - 3B
  2. Amed Rosario - 2B
  3. Dominic Smith - 1B
  4. J.D. Davis - LF
  5. Wilson Ramos - C
  6. Jake Marisnick - CF
  7. Andres Gimenez - SS
  8. Ryan Cordell - RF
  9. Mike Minor - SP

That’s not exactly what you’d want if you could draw up a Mets lineup, and yes, I’ve at least temporarily moved Rosario to second base because I’ve liked what I’ve seen from Gimenez at short.

This is Minor’s second start since I got him from the Rangers in a trade, and it goes much better than his first one, as he lasts seven innings and strikes out six, issues just one walk, and gives up one run on three hits and just 96 pitches. Thanks to a pair of runs by the Mets in the fourth and one more in the sixth, the fact that the bullpen combines to give up three runs in the eighth and ninth innings—two by Steve Cishek and one by Edwin Diaz—doesn’t matter too much.

Fun fact: The attendance for this game is just 9,092. I suspect the game spits out similar numbers for all Marlins home games, but I just happened to notice it with this one.

Final: Mets 6, Marlins 4

April 30: Mets at Marlins

Steven Matz gets the ball in the series finale as the Mets go for the sweep, but things don’t go well for him. He gives up five runs, three of them earned, in just three innings of work.

The Mets get a run in the second and another in the fourth, and Rick Porcello does yeoman’s work in relief, giving up just one run in five innings of work and—importantly—giving the rest of the bullpen the night off with a series against the Braves set to begin the following night in Atlanta.

The Marlins get that lone run against Porcello in the eighth, and the Mets plate one more run in the ninth but fall short of anything resembling a rally.

Final: Marlins 6, Mets 3

  • WPA
  • Box score: batters / pitcher

May 1: Mets vs. Braves

Coming back to Citi Field with a record just above .500, this series opener is just one of those games. Noah Syndergaard goes 7.1 innings but gives up five runs along the way, and the Mets can barely touch Mike Foltynewicz, who throws eight scoreless innings before the Braves turn to Will Smith, who throws a scoreless ninth.

Final: Braves 5, Mets 0

May 2: Mets vs. Braves

Injury update: So it turns out that Brandon Nimmo has a broken kneecap and will be out for about four months. While several players are out with injuries all at once at this point in the season, this is the first major injury of the year, one that puts a major dent in my outfield plans.

The game on this Saturday night is one of the more exciting ones that I’ve played thus far in OOTP. In real life, I strongly prefer low-scoring, well-pitched games to scoring bonanzas, but a roller coaster kind of game does spice things up a bit on the computer screen.

Marcus Stroman gives up a run in the top of the first, but Dom Smith hits a two-run home run off Mike Soroka in the bottom of the inning to put the Mets ahead 2-1. Stroman gives up two runs in second, but the Mets answer again, this time with Jeff McNeil driving in Andres Gimenez, who had smoked a double at 108.1 miles per hour to lead off the inning.

With the game tied at three, Stroman gives up one more run in the top of the fifth, though it’s worth noting that just one of the four runs has been earned thanks to four errors by Mets the Mets. Stroman goes one more inning without giving up anything else, and the Mets tie things up again in the bottom of the sixth when Gimenez doubles again, bringing home J.D. Davis.

I turn to Dellin Betances for the seventh, and he’s just awful. He doesn’t walk anyone but gives up a three-run home run to Ender Inciarte that gives the Braves a 7-4 lead. Jeff McNei gets one of those runs back with a leadoff home run in the bottom of the inning, and I bring Seth Lugo in for the eighth. He puts up a zero, settings things up for a glorious bottom of the eighth.

Chris Martin hits Gimenez to start the inning, and Ryan Cordell singles. Unfortunately, Jarrett Parker then hits into a double play, but McNeil follows that up with a single to plate Gimenez. And Amed Rosario hits a two-run home run to give the Mets an 8-7 lead.

With Jeurys Familia having been my best reliever thus far, I give him the ball for the ninth, but after notching an out, an error and a walk put runners on first and second. Familia is 19 pitches in, and I turn to Edwin Diaz, who throws a wild pitch on his very first pitch to move the runners to second and third but thankfully gets Ozzie Albies to strike out for the second out of the inning.

I opt to intentionally walk Freddie Freeman to load the bases because I’ve had enough of Freeman beating the Mets in real life over the years and don’t really care that I am risking Diaz either walking in the tying run, throwing another wild pitch, or that Ronald Acuna Jr. is due up next and could easily make me regret the move. But after fouling off three pitches in the at-bat, Acuna strikes out swinging to end the game. Phew.

Considering how the day started on the injury front, that was a badly needed win.

Final: Mets 8, Braves 7

May 3: Mets vs. Braves

Roster update: Pete Alonso is back from the IL! Jarret Parker is designated for assignment.

Jacob deGrom starts the rubber game, and he and Bryse Wilson trade zeroes through the first four innings of this one. deGrom puts up a zero in the fifth, too, before the Mets explode for seven runs in the bottom of that inning.

Amed Rosario leads off that inning with a home run. Andres Gimenez and deGrom are then retired, but with two outs, Jeff McNeil doubles. Dom Smith walks, and the Braves go to the bullpen. Shane Greene walks Pete Alonso to load the bases, and J.D. Davis singles to score two. A wild pitch moves the runners to second and third, and Rene Rivera singles to plate the fourth run of the inning. Jake Marisnick singles to score another run, and Rosario does the same. The Braves bring in Chad Sobotka out of the pen, and Gimenez singles to score the seventh and final run of the inning.

deGrom ends up going eight innings with 11 strikeouts, one walk, and no runs allowed on just three hits and 99 pitches. He’s now at a 2.63 ERA on the season after having seen a brief spike in his ERA earlier in the season. The Mets tack on a couple of insurance runs along the way, and Michael Wacha pitches a scoreless ninth without issue.

Having gone 4-2 this week against, these Mets are now 18-16 on the season.

Final: Mets 9, Braves 0

Vas’s take: How many more injuries does McShane need to deal with in his first year as manager? With Nimmo and Cano hitting the IL, the Mets have seen half their projected Opening Day regulars hit the shelf and May just started. That April 29 lineup looks like your standard “Mickey Callaway punting an afternoon weekday matinee” game that we’d all be yelling about on Twitter, but you can’t blame the manager this time around given the injuries.

Overall, the team responded nicely against the Marlins and Braves after dropping four of six against these same teams. Whenever you can have deGrom bookmark a week, you feel confident that you’re getting at least two wins, and that’s exactly what the Mets got. The ace registered 20 strikeouts across this two starts, which is what you’d expect. The nice surprise was the team actually providing Jake with some offense (19 runs), which has rarely been seen in his past starts.

Outside of deGrom, the pitching has been less consistent than you’d like it to be, but McShane got a nice boost from Minor in his second start as a Met. If he can get more starts like that from the left-hander, the Mets will be in good shape. Syndergaard and Matz really needs to step up because their performance through the first month has been less than inspiring behind deGrom.

Losing Nimmo for four months sucks (there’s no way to sugarcoat it), but the team getting Alonso back should add some much-needed offensive firepower to the lineup going forward. Polar Bear crushing a home run in his first game back shows you exactly what the team is in for now that he’s back in the lineup. Hopefully guys like Davis and Smith can continue to contribute in their absence. While Davis’ numbers aren’t great, he had a big week and was the catalyst to several big innings.

With so many injuries, McShane’s lineup construction will be put to the test, and we’ll get to see if he pushes the right buttons to navigate this tough stretch.