The New York Mets came out on top in the first round of Subway Series games this week at a raucous Citi Field, taking both games from the Yankees in front of over a combined 86,057 thrilled fans this week. It was a hyped-up series this year, with both teams at the top of their divisions, playing at a high level. But it was the Mets fans that have the bragging rights for now.
Mets Subway Series Takeaway 1: The Mets rotation depth will win lots of games for the team.
Tuesday night’s start was a pivotal one for Taijuan Walker. He had a 7.13 ERA in the second half of last season and needed a strong performance to give the Mets a chance to win. It did not look good at first when he gave up home runs on consecutive pitches to Aaron Judge and Anthony Rizzo, but he settled in, and fought like heck to give the Mets a quality start. Considering how it started, giving Buck Showalter six innings of three-run ball was huge. Showalter only had to use Adam Ottavino and Edwin Diaz to get the final nine outs.
If Taijuan Walker can replicate his first half numbers for the rest of the season, the depth might catch opposing teams off guard more than just the co-aces of Max Scherzer and Jacob deGrom.
And speaking of Scherzer, he was tremendous on his 38th birthday last night. Seven scoreless innings against the No. 1 offense in baseball, including three strikeouts of Aaron Judge, including his last one in a pressure situation in the seventh. Scherzer is worth every single penny of his $43.3 million salary.
Note to the rest of the league: Be very scared of the Mets rotation.
Mets Subway Series Takeaway 2: The Mets can find different ways to score runs, which is unique to this year’s crop of contenders.
Runs were hard to come by for the Mets until Sunday night where they scored eight runs in two innings against San Diego. The difference in this series was the Mets got the big hits, while the Yankees did not. The Mets went 6-for-20 with runners in scoring position in the series, while the Yankees were 0-for-15 in that same situation. The Mets didn’t rely on the long ball, although they got three of them between the two games. Instead, the run-scoring hits the Mets got allowed Buck Showalter to be more comfortable with his decision making.
The Yankees had just one run score without the home run, while the Mets had five. This is an encouraging sign for the Mets, who had struggled for six weeks bringing in runners in after dominating the league for the two months prior in that situation.
The team that hits better with men in scoring position will usually win games, and that is particularly relevant come the playoffs. Just ask the 107-win Giants team last year that couldn’t buy a clutch hit in October last year.
Mets Subway Series Takeaway 3: Buck Showalter will often have the advantage in in-game coaching.
How did Aaron Boone not know that Edwin Diaz was warming up in the bullpen in the eighth inning on Tuesday night? Boone pinch-hit Joey Gallo for Isiah Kiner-Falefa representing the tying run. The same Gallo had the highest strikeout rate of any hitter and he faced Diaz, the one with the highest strikeout rate of any pitcher, and the at-bat ended in a predictable strikeout.
Showalter knew that Boone’s lovefest with Gallo would show up and had the game’s premiere reliever ready to overwhelm and embarrass Boone. This does not happen with Luis Rojas calling the shots from the Mets dugout. Showalter has been at the forefront of many decisions that won games for the Mets this season, and having him manage this team with this talent is a wonderful marriage, and proved he was prepared for his first Subway Series action.
And then, on Wednesday, Boone brought in his All-Star closer Clay Holmes to pitch the eighth in a non-save situation, which, to me, made no sense either, because the Yankees could have scored in the 9th to make it a save situation. Instead, the Yankees used Wandy Peralta, who proceeded to give up a double to Eduardo Escobar on the first pitch he threw and misplay a soft grounder by Brandon Nimmo, leading to the walk-off single by Starling Marte to complete the sweep.
Poor in-game managing was a thing that buried the Mets in the past. Not this year.