At the end of the projection piece on Kodai Senga for the 2023 season was this bit,

My opinion is that if he’s able to throw strikes, he’s going to dominate. If he has the WHIP that ZiPS forecasts, he’ll have a sub-3.00 ERA. Here’s my totally biased forecast for Senga this year:

155 IP, 3.25 ERA, 1.200 WHIP, 180 Ks, 13 HR

The ZiPS forecast had a 1.08 WHIP for Senga and a 3.46 ERA. Currently, Senga has a 1.249 WHIP and a 3.19 ERA. And that ERA puts him fifth in the National League. You need 1 IP for each game played to qualify for the ERA title, so it’s going to go down to the wire to see if Senga will have enough innings to officially be included among the league leaders. With the reduced innings of SP in 21st Century MLB, this rule may be adjusted in the near future. But whether he qualifies for the ERA title this year or not, Senga has been an unqualified success.

While his overall numbers look good right now, he’s been even better in his last 18 games. In that span he has 103.2 IP with a 2.95 ERA, a 1.167 WHIP and he’s limited batters to a .594 OPS. And it’s not like his first five starts were bad. Rather, he had three very good starts in there and two that were not up to his standards. Interestingly, those two starts were both on the West Coast, where there was likely a huge contingent of Japanese media that he had to accommodate. If we eliminate those two April West Coast games, Senga has a 2.85 ERA in 120 IP.

The big question for Senga moving forward is if he’ll be able to adapt to pitching more regularly on four days rest. The Mets have bent over backwards this year to give him an extra day whenever possible. In only three of his 23 games has Senga pitched on what we consider normal rest. And the results in those games have been noticeably worse. It’s tough to draw conclusions on a sample of three games. But the Mets will gladly sign up for juggling their rotation if it means Senga pitches this well going forward.

MCNEIL MAKING HAY – In the forgettable season of 2021, when the great majority of the team’s hitters struggled, Michael Conforto was able to turn things around in the final two months of the year. Conforto had a .646 OPS the first four months of the season and an .829 OPS over his final 215 PA in August and September. Meanwhile, McNeil this season had a .658 OPS at the end of July. But so far in August, he has an .835 OPS in 83 PA. This is much more in line with what we were expecting.

McNeil has made better contact so far this month, which has led to a .309 BABIP, compared to the .280 mark he had the first four months of the season. But he’s also displayed more power. He had an .077 ISO on the last day of July compared to a .158 mark here in August, thanks to three doubles and three homers in his last 83 PA.

McNeil has been unlucky with the hits falling in this year, as he has a BABIP 38 points below his lifetime mark in the category. But until this month, he hasn’t delivered the power that he should, either. His pull percentage has been good this year. Unfortunately, too many of those have been weak grounders to the right side of the infield. Hopefully for the remainder of the year we’ll see more of his pulled balls reach the outfield and beyond. All six of his XBH this month have been pulled.

DON’T CALL HIM LUCKY LUCCHESI – The Mets called up Joey Lucchesi to give Senga an extra day of rest before his start on Saturday. Friday night, Lucchesi gave the Mets 5.2 IP with 0 R. And his reward was a ticket back to the minors. This year for the Mets, Lucchesi has a 3.54 ERA in six starts. Why they would keep Tylor Megill, who has a 5.53 ERA for the club in 18 starts, over Lucchesi makes no sense to me. FanGraphs shows Megill with three options remaining. And for what it’s worth Lucchesi has a 3.99 ERA at Syracuse this season, while Megill has an 8.67 mark at Triple-A.

Perhaps the club thinks that Lucchesi and Jose Quintana give opponents too similar of a look. But that seems like a pretty flimsy reason to choose a vastly inferior pitcher. It wasn’t that long ago that the rotation trotted out three fireballing RHP and no one complained how similar their looks were to other teams. The Mets still control Lucchesi in 2024 and they should be getting more looks at him in the rotation the remainder of this season.

THE BEST STEWART SINCE JONDJ Stewart has been on a tear his last four games. No, it’s not Julio Rodriguez, who has 17 hits and a 1.909 OPS with 5 SB in his last four games. But it’s pretty darn good. Stewart has fewer hits and no steals. But he’s delivered more power. Four of his six hits have been home runs, giving him a 1.885 OPS, not too far off Rodriguez’ pace. How long can he keep it up? Probably not much, if at all, longer. But he deserves the playing time to find out. A strong finish could give him a leg up on an Opening Day roster spot in 2024.

METS VERSUS THE MARLINS – One of the feel-good stories of the 2023 season has been the performance of the Marlins, who are three games over .500 and half a game back of the Wild Card. The Marlins haven’t finished over .500 in a full season since 2009, when they had Josh Johnson and Hanley Ramirez posting 7-bWAR seasons for them. The Mets played the Marlins seven times early in the season and none since then, posting a 5-2 record against the squad that allegedly always plays them tough.

There’s no way to sugar coat that the Mets have had a hugely disappointing season here in 2023. But the difference between the Mets and Marlins isn’t that much. The Mets have a 59-65 Pythagorean Record, while the Marlins have a … 58-67 record based on their runs scored and allowed. And the difference is the respective teams’ records in one-run games. The Mets are 19-18 in those close contests while the Marlins are 27-11.

The Mets are performing better in one-run games than they are overall. The Marlins are substantially over-performing in these contests. When the margin of victory is two runs or more, the Mets are 39-48 (.448) while the Marlins are 37-50 (.425) so far this season. The Marlins have been incredibly lucky this year. Hey, they were due for some good luck, after going 24-40 in one-run games in 2022. The Marlins were 45-53 (.459) in games decided by two or more runs in 2022. That’s better than their mark this year. Let’s say it again – The Marlins have been incredibly lucky this year.

The Mets play the Marlins six more times in September. Let’s hope McNeil, Stewart and the rest of the Mets’ hitters put enough runs on the board so it’s not a one-run game in any of those remaining contests.

5 comments on “Kodai Senga continues to succeed, Jeff McNeil’s hot August, a Mets-Marlins breakdown

  • Metsense

    Lucchese was sent off to Mauricioland, where the deserving are forgotten. In Epler’s mind it is better to have 32 year old Nittoli and the 34 year old Almonte on the roster.

    • Brian Joura

      The Mets needed to re-balance their pitching staff, as they had six starters. The move was to send Megill down and keep Lucchesi as one of the 5 SP. Nittoli is just the latest eighth reliever.

      • Metsense

        Or Megill as the long reliever so they can evaluate Lucchesi and Megill for 2024. Also, a long reliever would saved the bullpen instead of using 3 pitchers.

  • NYM6986

    Lucchesi being sent down must have something more to do with him not pitching for 5 days and needing replacement players. It would be a hoot to keep on this roll and make the playoffs both think about the team we would have to put on the field? Senga has been one of the great stories of 2023 and clearly pitching as at least a #2. Expect lots of free agents to round out the stuff next year. McNeil is a story of too late to make a difference but his resurgence at least shows he can still hit. Can Cookie snag the sweep today and get us closer to passing the Padres in the wildcard chase?LGM

  • Woodrow1

    A WC chase? It would be fun,it would be exciting it would be another miracle! This team isn’t very good.

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