And The Winner Is…

By: Paul DiSclafani

NLDS Mets-Dodgers

The Mets are not going to score six runs off Zack Grienke tonight and the Dodgers are not going to score six runs off Jacob deGrom. Do we all agree on that?

If that does happen, the team that scores those six runs is going to win the game and the rest of this article is moot.
What we are looking at (most likely) is 6-7 innings of tight, intenese, playoff baseball. One run, two runs each at the most. Since neither of these pitchers is considered a workhorse (like Kershaw) and capable of throwing 130 pitches, we are probably not looking at complete games either.

So far, so good?

That leaves the 8th and 9th innings. For the Mets, Tyler Clippard (1.2 IN, 1ER, 2H) and Addison Reed (1.1 IN, 2H, 1ER, 1K) have been shaky, but Jeurys Familia (3.1 IN, 0H, 0R/ER, 0W, 1K, 2 SV) has been solid. For the Dodgers, the tandem of Chris Hatcher (2.2 IN, 0H, 4K, 2 Holds) and closer Kenley Jansen (2.1 IN, 0H, 3K, 2 SV).

So let’s say that we get past nine innings in a tie game. Both teams have not really had to get into the soft spots of their bullpen. Who does that leave as available pitchers? The Mets will still have most of their starting arsenal available – Noah Syndergaard, Matt Harvey, Bartolo Colon, even Jonathan Niese. The only one who may not be available is Steven Matz, Tuesday’s starter. For the Dodgers, good luck with that. The only pitcher they can depend on is Clayton Kershaw, who threw 94 pitches on Tuesday against Matz.

But is that what Mets fans have been reduced to? Rooting for an extra innings game? There has to be something else the Mets can do, right?

What about working the count and getting Grienke’s pitch count up and get him out of the game early? Not a good strategy. Grienke is more effective as his pitch count rises. Hitters are batting just .148 against him when his pitch count is between 76-100 pitches. “You have to be aggressive,” David Wright said when asked about working deep counts against Grienke to “up” his pitch count. “If you go up there thinking that way, you’ll be behind 0-2 and then he has got you right where he wants you.”

That said, Grienke is not the workhorse that Kershaw is and has only thrown more than 115 twice all year.

But don’t the Dodgers have the same dilemma with deGrom? They need to get runs off him to get to their late inning guys with a lead. Only twice in his 33 starts (including the NLDS Game 1) has deGrom given up more than three runs. And only three times has he given up more than two.

This is really a conundrum, isn’t it?

The guess here is that the only X-factor in this entire equation is the Mets offense. For three of the four games so far, we saw the “bad” Mets offense, and the “good” Mets offense showed up when they roughed up all the pitchers not named Kershaw and Grienke. Unfortunately, the guy pitching tonight has “Grienke” on the back of his jersey.

Let’s not forget that the Mets did hit two solo home runs against that guy with the “Grienke” on his back and did have a 2-1 lead with just eight outs to go when the roof fell in following the debacle that will forever be known as “The Slide”. Syndergaard had given up just one run to that point on five hits and 9K.

And didn’t deGrom out-duel Kershaw in Game 1 and get the win?

And it’s not like Grienke pitched a perfect game in Game 2. The Mets touched him up for 5 hits including two home runs. That has to count for something, right?

And wasn’t it the Mets who stopped Grienke’s 43+ shutout innings streak and handed him one of his three loses in the regular season?

Time to drink the Kool-Aid again Mets fans. I’m going to mix mine with champagne, win or lose…



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