A revitalized John Buck, Germen unleashed and Harvey’s domination

John Buck got off to a fantastic start in 2013 and to the surprise of no one, manager Terry Collins started to write his name in the lineup as close to every day as possible. It made sense in April, because there was no reason not to ride the hot streak, plus the team was getting regular days off from the schedule. It made less sense in May, as Buck cooled off and the schedule saw fewer breaks. It made no sense in June.

Through June 17th, the Mets had played 65 games and backup catcher Anthony Recker had just 11 starts. The Mets were 25-40 (.385) overall at that point and were 4-7 in games started by Recker. But Recker started getting more playing time and the results all the way around improved dramatically.

Prior to June 18th, Recker had a .158/.233/.316 line for a .548 OPS. But in 10 starts and 15 games played in the following six weeks, the Mets’ backup backstop has a .674 OPS. The Mets are 7-3 in games he has started despite the fact he has not been behind the plate for a start from the club’s best pitcher, All-Star Matt Harvey.

Meanwhile, in his previous 33 games before June 18th, Buck had a .516 OPS and the Mets were 11-22. But starting the following day Buck posted a .688 OPS. He’s been even better in his last 10 games, with a .368/.429/.553 line in 42 PA. The Mets are 13-10 with Buck starting since that June day.

While there are many, many factors that go into the Mets’ improved play recently, it cannot be denied that giving more time off to Buck has resulted in better offensive play from the catcher’s spot, as shown in the stats above. Furthermore, in the first 65 games, Buck started 83% of the time and the Mets played at a .385 clip. In the next 33 games, Buck has started 70% of the games and the team has a .606 winning percentage.

IS THE METS’ STRONG PLAY SUSTAINABLE? – As mentioned above, the Mets are 20-13 in their last 33 games. In that span, they’ve scored 159 runs and allowed 130. Using Bill James’ Pythagorean Record, the Mets’ runs scored and runs allowed record works out to an identical 20-13 mark. The Mets may be playing over their head over the last five weeks, but their record is a perfect example of what we would expect given their runs totals. The key will be if the offense can continue to average 4.8 runs per game, as it has over the previous 33 contests.

A GERMEN ACCENT – Many wondered what the Mets saw in Gonzalez Germen and why he was on the 40-man roster. The intrigue heightened once he was brought up to the majors and Collins refused to use him until the last possible second. It really seemed like Germen was in the manager’s dog house, like he insulted a LOOGY or something. But once finally given a chance, Germen has done a very nice job. He’s allowed just 1 ER in 6.1 IP and has 9 Ks in that stretch. However, before everyone gets too excited, it should be pointed out that while he has a 1.42 ERA, his peripherals show a 4.08 xFIP.

DAVIS SNAPS ONE STREAK BUT THE OTHER LIVES ON – Last update it was pointed out how Ike Davis had failed to have an extra-base hit in 32 ABs. Davis finally delivered a double on July 27th to snap the drought but he still has a homerless streak intact. The slugging first baseman has now gone 57 ABs without a HR and has hit just one homer in his last 159 ABs. Since being recalled from the minors on July 5th, Davis has just a .646 OPS and this despite a .345 BABIP and enjoying the platoon advantage in nearly every PA.

HARVEY CONTINUES DOMINANT PITCHING – During his last game, the SNY broadcasters mentioned that Harvey moved past Jerry Koosman to have the lowest ERA for any starting pitcher in club history after his first 30 games. Harvey’s career mark sits at 2.38, just edging out Koosman’s 2.39 mark. But not only is that a Mets record, it’s also one of the top marks in MLB over the past 30 years. Here are the leaders

ERA
2.16 – Scott Erickson
2.22 – Hisashi Iwakuma
2.33 – Joe Hesketh
2.38 – Matt Harvey

WHEELER KEEPS PILING UP DECISIONSZack Wheeler did not have a particularly good start on Thursday but the offense bailed him out and he got the win, upping his record to 4-1 for the Mets. Wheeler has made seven starts and has five decisions, a stark contrast from Harvey, who has just 10 decisions in 20 starts, despite generally outstanding pitching. Here’s the percentage of decisions for each Mets SP to make at least five starts in 2013:

75% – Shaun Marcum – two of Marcum’s decisions came in relief outings and are not counted
71% – Zack Wheeler
70% – Dillon Gee
64% – Jonathon Niese
60% – Jeremy Hefner
50% – Matt Harvey

There have been 1,517 starts by National League pitchers this year and 1,046 decisions for a 69% average.

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