With the New York Mets completing their first week of the season, it’s time for some way-to-early first impressions of the squad. More specifically, today will be focused on how the new Mets players been performing. While it’s only been four games, already there are some promising and troubling things to make note of.
Golden with a Glove
Starting off with the new position players, this group has flashed quite a bit of leather in the field.
First and foremost is two-time Gold Glover Francisco Lindor. Despite playing half as many innings as most other shortstops, he’s steadily keeping pace with them in raw production. Already he’s racked up 12 assists, 2 DRS and a couple of flashy double plays. While some may be a bit bothered by his lack of offensive production, rest assured that the bat is coming. After all, this is still a guy who averages 30 home runs a season.
The Mets have a shortstop.
This play is not routine. Francisco Lindor made it look easy: pic.twitter.com/WA287Goaxw
— Anthony DiComo (@AnthonyDiComo) April 5, 2021
Behind the plate, James McCann has also been a breath of fresh air. Having gone years without a competent defender at home, seeing McCann at least be average at pitch framing is satisfactory. One worrying sign, however, is that the “McCannon” has yet to throw out a runner, having allowed four stolen bases. Still, as someone who’s thrown out 36% of base stealers in his career, this early slump shouldn’t last much longer.
Rounding out the new infielders is Jonathan Villar. While he’s primarily played shortstop and second base in his career, he looked great at third base in Thursday’s game against Miami. Despite not playing the positing in a major league game since 2016, Villar looked very comfortable in the hot corner with pair of assists. He’s also the only one of this group to look good at the plate so far, having hit a double and a triple in Wednesday’s game in Philadelphia.
As for the new outfielders, Kevin Pillar and Albert Almora have looked solid in their limited time in center field. Granted, only one ball has been hit to Almora in his two innings of work, but it was caught for the game winner on Tuesday so there’s that at least. Pillar, meanwhile, played eight flawless innings on Monday and showed off some impressive arm strength when he gunned down Rhys Hoskins at third base.
Shifting to a more worrisome area, the Mets’ two big bullpen signings have struggled early on. In the season opener, setup man Trevor May was called upon in the eighth to preserve a 2-0 lead. Things started off well enough with a leadoff strikeout, but quickly spiraled out of control. After loading the bases on two hits and a walk, May was replaced by lefty Aaron Loup. In a textbook, lefty-lefty matchup with Bryce Harper, Loup hit Harper with his second pitch to bring in a run. The next three batters all swung at the first pitch and subsequently drove in another three runs.
May has since labored through two more outings, needing 43 pitches to get through just two innings. While he’s recorded four strikeouts in this span, he’s also given up three more hits and thrown a couple of wild pitches. A lack of command appears to be the main issue plaguing May right now. As for Loup, he’s yet to make another appearance this season. For now, the best Mets fans can hope for is that the two are simply rusty due to the delayed start of the season and are still getting back into a groove. The next week will be vital to getting both of them back on track.
A Promising Start
On a more positive note, Taijuan Walker made good on all his offseason promise when he delivered six solid innings in his first start as a Met. Facing off against the Marlins in the Mets home opener, Walker was lights out through the first five innings, even taking a no-hitter into the fifth. Though he ran into a little trouble in the sixth, giving up two runs, he managed to limit the damage and escape the inning with a clutch strikeout. Overall, Walker needed just 87 pitches to get through the day.
Taijuan Walker, 96mph Fastball (foul) and 87mph Slider (Swinging K), Individual Pitches + Overlay pic.twitter.com/IUAc9lyxmF
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) April 8, 2021
Perhaps the most encouraging part of Walker’s first start was his velocity and pitch movement. His four-seamer topped out at 97 mph, the highest its been since 2017. Likewise, he averaged around 2.5 more inches of horizontal movement on the pitch compared to last year. In terms of spin rate, he averaged 2235 rpm on his four-seamer, nearly a 100 rpm increase over last year. Whether or not Walker can sustain any of this throughout the season remains to be seen. Right now, anyways, his future with the Mets is looking pretty bright.
Featured Image Courtesy of Getty Images
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