Blue Jays at Mets, July 23-25
Friday, July 23 2021 @ 12:01 PM EDT
Contributed by: Magpie
It's the Steven Matz homecoming trip - tonight's starter for the Jays spent his first six MLB seasons in the other team's dugout and hails from nearby Long Island. He's probably been hitting on his teammates all week for tickets for tonight's game. He will be motivated!
Matz's former squad sits atop the NL East with a fairly impressive 50-43 record, achieved mainly by playing .667 ball right here at Citi Field. Jacob deGrom, their awesome ace, the Best Pitcher on Planet Earth, is on the IL and so is their big off-season acquisition, shortstop Francisco Lindor. Second baseman Robinson Cano, of course, was suspended for the entire season last November. But here they are.
Luis Rojas is the man who manages this crew - he was something of an emergency hire, in the wake of the Astros scandal that led to the Mets cutting ties with Carlos Beltran before he'd managed a single game. Rojas is an organization man with baseball bloodlines - his father is Felipe Alou, Moises is his half-brother. Rojas spent 13 seasons as a coach and manager in the Mets system before joining the major league team as a coach in 2019 and he's still a few months shy of his 40th birthday.
The Jays won't face their old chum Marcus Stroman this weekend, although knowing Stroman he's probably furiously lobbying Rojas for a chance to pitch on Sunday with three days rest (and his manager is probably saying "I understand, but we need to beat the Braves more than we need to beat these guys. You're pitching on Monday, Marcus.")
There will still be plenty of former Jays to say hello to, although Billy McKinney has just been dispatched to the Dodgers, Brandon Drury is down in AAA, and Sean Reid-Foley is on the IL. Tajuan Walker will start tomorrow night. He's coming off an unfortunate outing that saw him give up 6 runs in a third of an inning, thanks largely to his own spectacular error - still, retiring just one of nine batters is never a key to success. Slow rollers up the line notwithstanding, Walker's pitching just as well as everyone expected him to and he's managed to remain healthy so far, never a sure thing with him. Aaron Loup has been having an outstanding season, and has somehow hit just 2 batters in 31 IP so far this season. Miguel Castro has settled in as a competent back of the bullpen piece and somehow is still just 26 years old. Yennsy Diaz is also out in the Mets bullpen - he had his MLB debut with the Jays back in 2019, walked 4 of the 7 batters he faced, and went to the Mets (along with Reid-Foley) in the Matz trade. And Jonathan Villar is more or less the regular third baseman.
Do we care about any of these guys? Not that much. But we surely remember Kevin Pillar with great fondness. We had some times, didn't we? Not to be forgotten. Pillar seems to be slipping into a role as the fourth outfielder, as Brandon Nimmo has returned from almost two months on the IL to take over in centre field. Nimmo and home run derby king Pete Alonso are really the only dangerous hitters on this team - everyone else is pretty average, although no one is actually terrible.
The Mets may need to make a roster move - Jerad Eickhoff, currently listed as Sunday's starter, was actually Designated For Assignment last Tuesday - but the guy who took his spot (Robert Stock) and started against Cincinnati on Tuesday hurt his hamstring, had to leave the game, and is now on the IL.
We haven't heard yet if the Jays need to make a roster move - Danny Jansen went limping off the field Wednesday night and Alejandro Kirk was pulled from Buffalo's game shortly thereafter. Nothing official yet. Jansen has "right hamstring tightness" and the team was waiting to see how he felt the next day. To Be Updated As Necesary!
And welcome to the world, Cleveland Guardians.
But seriously - is this the best they could do? It's a missed opportunity. They could have been the Cleveland Rocks, and made Ian Hunter fans everywhere proud. They could have been the Spiders, although it should be understood that this team was never called the Spiders and it might have been a case of tempting fate to bring that name back. The Spiders were a different franchise, in the National League, who folded after their infamous 20-134 season in 1899 (the team's owners also owned the St. Louis franchise, and had sent all Cleveland's good players to Missouri. You know, guys like Cy Young, Jesse Burkett, and Bobby Wallace, all of whom have plaques in Cooperstown.)
This team started out in the Western League as the Grand Rapids Rustlers in 1894. They moved to Cleveland in 1900, where they called themselves the Cleveland Lake Shores. In 1901, the Western League remade itself as the American League, and the Cleveland team started calling themselves the Bluebirds (the press called them the Blues.) The players tried to adopt the name Broncos, but it didn't catch on. They then became the Naps, short for Napoleons after their great second baseman Napoleon Lajoie. When Lajoie moved on in 1915, upon the suggestion of the local press they went with Indians, which had been a nickname for the Spiders when Lou Sockalexis of the Penobscot tribe had played for them. And now this.
It's still an improvement.
Fri July 23 - Matz (8-4, 4.43) vs Megill (0-0, 2.63)
Sat July 24 - Ryu (9-5, 3.32) vs Walker (7-3, 2.99)
Sun July 25 - Stripling (3-6, 5.04) vs Eickhoff (0-1, 4.96)