In his first start back from the All-Star break, Kodai Senga continued his strong pitching, as in a six-inning stint he fanned nine batters and allowed only one run. But that strong outing went for naught, as neither the bullpen nor the offense contributed very much in a 5-1 loss. Senga got a no-decision but lowered his season-long ERA to 3.20, which places eighth in the NL.

Senga had a decent start to his first season here in the U.S. but has really turned things on in his last 10 games. In that span, he cut his walks and home runs allowed, while keeping his strikeout rate high. The result has been limiting opposing batters to just a .578 OPS, which has produced a sparkling 2.61 ERA since May 17.

Of course, everyone is aware of Senga’s splitter. And at this point, his fastball, which tops out at 98-99, is on everyone’s radar, too. But what catches people off guard is his cutter, which by FanGraphs’ Pitch Values has easily been his best pitch. Since the season started, Senga has introduced a curve into his repertoire. The Mets had him cut back on the various pitches he threw in Japan to start things off in his debut season in this country.

It seemed a curious decision for the Mets to eliminate his changeup but Senga hasn’t really needed one. Typically, that’s a pitch that you throw when you don’t have the platoon advantage. But when facing LHB this season, Senga has limited them to a .189/.292/.272 line in 195 PA. Among pitchers with at last 100 ABs versus lefties this season, Senga’s .565 OPS ranks fourth in the majors.

In a season where not much has gone right, the signing of Senga has been a home-run move.

THE GALVIS LINE TRIO – When batting average ruled the world, we had the Mendoza Line, which was set for a .200 AVG, to establish where a player wasn’t really MLB-worthy. Here in the 21st Century, we have the Galvis Line, which is set for an 80 OPS+. Perhaps you can flirt with the Galvis Line and still be worth a spot in the majors. But you should definitely be a reserve, one with as few PAs as possible.

One of the reasons the Mets have had so much trouble producing consistent offense this year in general and in particular here lately is that they have three players in their every day lineup either approaching or at the Galvis Line. Brett Baty has an 83, Jeff McNeil has an 82 and Starling Marte has an 80. That’s, um, not good. And the problem is that there aren’t a lot of better options for the club. It would help if Buck Showalter would play Mark Canha and his 105 OPS+ more often. Regardless, it will be curious to see how much longer the Mets stick with Baty. It’s not out of the realm of possibility that Mark Vientos gets a recall and some more consistent playing time at third base.

HE’S BEEN RALEY GOOD – People like to slam Billy Eppler, saying he hasn’t made any good moves. Of course, this is hyperbole. He’s the one who brought Senga aboard as a free agent and he’s also the one who traded for Brooks Raley. And while most of the bullpen this year has been a disappointment, Raley has become the team’s second-best reliever, as he sits with a 2.23 ERA and he’s limited opposing batters to a .658 OPS.

Raley was nothing special when he first came to the majors, which resulted in him pitching in Korea for five seasons. He came back to the U.S. in 2020 and in ’20 and ’21, he had good peripherals and so-so results. But Raley found those good results in 2022 and he’s continued them here in this season. Showalter sometimes goes overboard using Raley as a lefty specialist. But he’s really a crossover pitcher, as he’s limited RHB to a .564 OPS in 71 PA.

Historically, Raley has been tough on lefties but he hasn’t had that same level of success with the platoon advantage this season. In 68 PA versus LHB, Raley has a .750 OPS for the Mets. He’s still providing terrific value, even if not in the way the club anticipated. And given that he was traded for a guy who’s 23 years old and pitching in A-ball with a 3.98 ERA, it seems this has been a move to put in the “win” column for Eppler.

POWER TO THE CF RIGHT ON!Brandon Nimmo has a broad range of skills and if everything comes together, he could potentially put up a .300/.400/.500 line. But after posting a .219 ISO in 2018 and a .204 ISO in 2020, Nimmo has seen his power drop off considerably. He notched just a .145 ISO in an injury-marred 2021 and a .159 ISO in a healthy 2022. And after 64 games this season, Nimmo had just a .133 ISO in 290 PA.

But since June 13, a span of 119 PA, Nimmo has 9 HR, which has led to a .303 ISO and a .529 SLG mark. With 13 BB and 4 HBP in this stretch, he’s done a good job of getting on base without a hit, too. Unfortunately, the hits aren’t falling in for him. Typically, Nimmo runs high BABIPs, as he has a lifetime .334 mark in the category. But in these last 119 PA, he has just a .222 mark.

Perhaps for the first time, we can have an honest discussion about moving Nimmo out of the leadoff spot and into a power position in the lineup. The issue then becomes who to bat first. If he wasn’t tied to the bench, Canha might be an option. If you believe this is the real Tommy Pham, and not just a guy who finished a six-week hot streak, he’d be an option, too. But neither of those are really good choices.

Batting order position aside, does Nimmo provide more value as an OBP machine or as a power threat? When the hits were falling in early this season, he had a 1.005 OPS thanks to a .394 BABIP in his first 95 PA. But Nimmo hasn’t had another unique stretch close to that this season. A .400 OBP is a wonderful thing, one that a lot of people don’t fully appreciate. But a .303 ISO is pretty terrific, too.

It’s not an easy choice.

WHAT DOES DOMINATION LOOK LIKE? – Earlier this season, the Braves swept the Mets and many people claimed that was an indication that they were a better team, playing on a different level than the Mets. That wasn’t my takeaway. The Mets had leads in all three games and my opinion is that what that series showed was how much better the Braves’ pen was performing than the Mets’ relievers. But this first series against the Dodgers, at home no less, might be a different story.

After two games, the Mets have been outscored, 11-1, and haven’t held a lead in a single inning. Only a strong outing by Senga has kept the run differential this low, as if a 10-run difference in two games can be described as remotely positive in any way. This has happened with the Mets’ two-best starters pitching. Max Scherzer goes later today and normally that would be a good thing. But Scherzer has a 1.85 HR/9 this season and in his last seven games, he’s allowed 11 HR in 40 IP, which has led to an ugly 5.63 ERA. Ordinarily, you’d look to Scherzer to stop the bleeding. But it’s more likely than not that the Dodgers will continue to outclass the Mets, unless Scherzer somehow turns back the clock to how he was pitching 12 months ago.

7 comments on “Kodai Senga’s brilliant pitching, the Galvis Line trio, Brandon Nimmo’s unusual surge

  • T.J.

    Nice Sunday morning write up, as usual. Thanks.

    Some follow ups…
    – Senga is definitely a hit, this dude has elite stuff. If he stays healthy and can manage to align with MLB rest, he is a quality #2 at a bargain rate
    – glad you gave Eppler some kudos as well…Raley was a good get and controllable beyond 2023.
    – Eppler has made some head scratchers…Ruf, the pen, etc. but he also has some hits
    – The 2023 Mets clearly don’t belong with the big boys. Just watch. Given their payroll that is disappointing/embarrassing, but it is also reality
    – At this stage, it’s all about 2024 and sustainable winning. Selling guys for some prospect depth (likely not top 10 returns) and opening spots for the kids to get reps makes most sense. Kudos to Pham for his performance…Eppler needs to turn him into something that can help going forward
    – Verlander/Scherzer should be marketed, but I just don’t see any team providing a return that would be worth a deal. If these guys go, Uncle Steve will need to eat millions, plus replace them in 2024…possible if you can get back some high end MLB-ready pitching, but who will pay that price?
    – Likely, only Carrasco will need to be replaced (upgraded) for the 2024 rotation. And, Robertson. Two pitching stud additions required. The bigger issues are with the lineup.
    – The Galvis trio has killed the 2023…no way around it. Baty is the only guy that can get close to a pass given his age and youthful struggles.
    – Marte, McNeil, Scherzer, and Verlander have sunk 2023. That said, Alonso is close to these 4. Not so much on his batting average. Yeah, he has lots of HRs and came back from the HBP quick. But, he needs to OPS 900 or above to carry his middle-of-the-lineup responsibilities. Especially given that his bat is the only contribution. Hitting 3/4 with an 800 OPS and tons of K no D no baserunning is not how elite teams are built.
    – Vientos may be able to do what Pete does, lower in the lineup, for much less cost, using that money to fill other needs, and maybe dealing Pete to fill those needs as well
    – Nimmo looks like he could evolve into a very good #3 hitter…this would require the Mets to get someone that profiles more like a #1…OBP skills, perhaps less power but strong base running skills…

    • Brian Joura

      Yeah, it’s funny to me. Most people blame Eppler, most people blame the SP and most people just say “the offense,” without holding specific players responsible. And most people look at me like I have two heads when I say the Mets should see what Alonso’s trade value is.

      Alonso is extremely important to the Mets’ lineup, given the power potential he has. But while important, he’s replaceable. I compare it to the 80s Cardinals. George Hendrick was really important when he was putting up OPS+ numbers in the 130s. And then he was replaced with Jack Clark and things went on merrily, with the Cardinals going to the Word Series in two of the three years Clark was in St. Louis.

  • NYM6986

    I guess if you are headed to a potential rebuild no one is untouchable. I do believe
    the best plan is to rebuild around Lindor, Alonso and Alvarez. Eppler gets the blame because his players did not perform. His moves with the exception of cheaping out in building the pen, seemed good at the time. McNeil is also worth saving but where exactly is our coaching staff in the face of inconsistent pitching and terrible hitting. What was the rationale of changing our hitting coach after we won 101 games? And what is Jeremy Hefner‘s value if he can’t straighten out our pitchers? Excuse
    my old time belief that batting average still reflects a players offensive worth to some extent. Batting .200 vs .250 means one less hit. A similar drop from 3 more players translates into 3 less hits and less runs. Nimmo could move down in the order if we had someone else who could bat lead off. High hopes and low expectations for today’s game with Max in the bump. A week ago it looked like series against the Red Sox, White Sox and Nationals, with a brief two games against the Yankees looked like a good time to get back into the fray. It still might be but I’m not so sure now.

  • Metsense

    Senga has established himself as the #1 pitcher on the Mets and a solid #2 pitcher in MLB and he is trending upward. The offseason season, they can sign another Japanese pitcher, 25-year-old starting pitcher Yamamoto without trepidation.
    The Galvis Trio should have their playing time reduced. The Mets are not winning with them so try different players. Vientos should be promoted and Baty should be demoted as to assure Vientos a position. If Mauricio is promoted he should play second base and left field. The Mets offense has been dormant and needs to be shook up and woken up.
    Eppler did trade for Raley and signed Robertson and Ottavino. He didn’t break Diaz’ leg either.
    Nimmo is a star and should have been selected to the all-star roster the last 2 years. He is a great leadoff hitter. Mookie Betts leads off for the Dodgers so why not Nimmo?
    In the of the Mets players they see themselves as good and a dominant team. Their record speaks a different story. Reality is a hard pill to swallow.

  • Paulc

    This team has fallen short in so many ways that it’s hard to begin. Three starters below the Galvis line is a start and we can add Vogelbach as a weak DH (91 OPS+) so that’s 4 of 9 hitters below league average in the lineup. The most puzzling is McNeil whose 82 OPS+ is 40 points below his career rate. While Baty and Vogelbach’s underperformance are not a surprise, Marte’s dropoff at age 34 seems too hard and too soon.

    Aside from Senga, not a single SP is performing well. But having 3 SP over age 36 was always a risk. Maybe Max and JV will improve, but Carrasco has never been close to their class. Perhaps Quintana’s arrival in a few weeks will help the rotation.

    Of course, the bullpen…but that’s a problem for many teams. RPs are all failed SPs, so it’s usually luck of the draw to catch lightning in a bottle for a good bullpen any year.

    My gut tells me that getting younger is the answer. This is an old team and it’s showing. This year’s squad challenges the 1992 team for The Worst Team Money Can Buy. Only an August-September run worthy of the Miracle Mets will save this season.

    I picked the wrong year to get the Mets Sunday season tickets package! The triumph of hope over experience.

  • Mike W

    I am really happy with Senga. He has pitched great. Rumor is, another good Japanese pitcher Yoshi Yamamoto may come over for next season. That could be a big draw for Ohtani to pitch on a team that could have Ohtani, Senga and Yamamoto as one, two, three in the rotation.

    I think they should dump Scherzer and Verlander if they can and do a reset with the three pitchers listed above.

    Alonso makes me nervous. Sure, he has great power numbers, but not much more than that. I just had this feeling that he shouldn’t have gone to the home run derby. You say George Hendrick, but Mark Reynolds comes to mind. And also, ahem, yes, glimpses of Dave Kingman. Alonso is looking for a big payday, but I would be really wary about that. He is too one dimensional. So, yes, put him on the market too.

    Now, for the Galvis line, that is painful. A third of our lineup is at the Galvis line. I’ll give Baty a pass, but he needs to step up and show some improvement. The other two are painful to watch.

    As a fan, this season is drifting away. For the Mets to compete next year, they need to make some big changes. Atlanta is stacked and they aren’t going anywhere, so let’s get started and blow this team up and also see what Vientos and Mauricio can do with steady at bats.

    I wonder what Cohen is thinking and what Epplers marching orders may be.

  • MikeW

    Dave Kingman 82 Mets
    37 Home Runs
    99 RBIs
    .204 Batting Average
    Alonso is close. I think the problem is, every at bat, he tries to hit the ball a mile. Good hitters, take what they can get and drive it. You add a lot more value Pete, if you would take this approach rather than trying to kill every pitch.

    Chili, where are are you. Please come back.

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