It is the seventh postponement of the season for the Mets, who have played just four games in the past eight days.
The teams’ Twitter feeds had some fun with the situation.
— New York Mets (@Mets) April 16, 2021
The real MVP pic.twitter.com/bN8hFF7h58
— Colorado Rockies (@Rockies) April 16, 2021
The game will be made up as a doubleheader — two seven-inning games — on Saturday.
MLB Power Rankings Week 4 — Which early surprise teams climbed into our top five?
Believe it or not, we are already just about a month into the 2021 MLB season with the calendar set to flip to May this weekend.
What does that mean for this week’s edition of our MLB Power Rankings? Well, yes, it is still early — but it also isn’t too early anymore.
How much did our voters reflect that when pitting early surprises like the Kansas City Royals, Milwaukee Brewers, Oakland A’s and San Francisco Giants against slumping preseason favorites such as the New York Yankees, Houston Astros and Atlanta Braves? And did any of those teams impress our experts enough to challenge the Los Angeles Dodgers and San Diego Padres for the top two spots on our list?
Here is what our eight-voter expert panel decided based on what we’ve seen in the first four weeks of the season. We also asked ESPN MLB experts David Schoenfield, Bradford Doolittle, Joon Lee, Jesse Rogers and Alden Gonzalez to weigh in with one Week 4 observation for all 30 teams.
1. Los Angeles Dodgers
Previous ranking: 1
The Dodgers on Tuesday lost a third game in a row for the first time since late August in 2019. That loss, at home to the Reds, gave them seven over the course of nine games, so the Dodgers aren’t unbeatable. Their offense has languished somewhat, but that will undoubtedly turn itself around. The serious questions are in their bullpen, especially with Corey Knebel, David Price and Victor Gonzalez now hurt. As of Wednesday morning, only two bullpens had a higher WHIP than that of the Dodgers — the Rockies’ and Tigers’. Those are, uh, not good teams. — Gonzalez
2. San Diego Padres
Previous ranking: 2
Fernando Tatis Jr. found himself during a four-game series at Dodger Stadium, amassing five home runs and three stolen bases. Trent Grisham, meanwhile, entered Wednesday with an .888 OPS. If those two are clicking at the top of the lineup, the Padres’ offense is among the best in the sport. — Gonzalez
Previous ranking: 6
The A’s ran their winning streak to 13 games before finally losing Sunday to the Orioles. The bullpen has been tremendous, and how about a shout-out to Yusmeiro Petit, who keeps rolling along as one of the most underrated relievers in baseball. Despite his track record and durability, all it took was a one-year, $2.55 million deal to bring him back to Oakland. — Schoenfield
Previous ranking: 3
Whether the Red Sox can hit is not a question at this point — they boast the highest OPS in baseball. Boston’s season will hinge instead on its pitching depth, particularly the back end of the rotation. Garrett Richards, the biggest wild card there, made significant mechanical adjustments before his most recent start, when he went seven innings, struck out 10 and allowed one run against the Mets. If Richards looks more like the pitcher of Tuesday night rather than the one of his four previous starts, watch out. — Lee
5. San Francisco Giants
Previous ranking: 12
The Giants’ rotation holds the sport’s lowest ERA by a wide margin, an amazing feat considering who’s included in that group — a former first-round pick who was once considered a bust; a 14-year veteran who had compiled only 25 starts over the previous three years; a guy coming off shoulder surgery; another guy with a 7.22 ERA last season; a 24-year-old fourth-round pick who had to win a rotation spot during spring training; and a 30-year-old with an exhaustive medical history. Farhan Zaidi is already working his magic. — Gonzalez
Previous ranking: 8
Corbin Burnes hasn’t slowed down much — though the Miami Marlins did get to him for his first loss of the season. He’s two strikeouts away from tying the record for most strikeouts without giving up a walk to start the season. He has 49 strikeouts and zero walks. That kind of production helped vault the Brewers into first place. Sweeping the Padres then taking two of three from the Cubs might be an early-season defining road trip. — Rogers
Previous ranking: 7
The early success of the Royals aside, the Twins’ bewildering tailspin of late has coincided with the gradual arrival of the White Sox team we expected this season, and as the first month comes to an end, Chicago looks like the team to beat in the AL Central. The rotation has been one of the more consistent groups in baseball, Lucas Giolito‘s recent scuffling notwithstanding. And Michael Kopech, whose role will continue to evolve, has looked like one of baseball’s most electric pitchers in the early going. — Doolittle
8. Kansas City Royals
Previous ranking: 19
Whatever happens from here, the Royals will be able to look back at late April and say that, for a couple of days at least, they woke up in the morning with baseball’s best record. There are a couple of obvious areas where it appears the Royals’ pace isn’t sustainable. They are 6-1 in one-run games. They are hitting .381 in late-inning, high-leverage spots, a category in which the MLB average is .156. Still, K.C.’s record is what it is, and there are reasons to think the Royals have yet to play their best baseball. — Doolittle
Previous ranking: 5
They haven’t played like the defending AL champs, but don’t write off the Rays. Tyler Glasnow — 2.05 ERA, 0.75 WHIP with 46 strikeouts in 30⅔ innings — is pitching like a Cy Young candidate. And, after a sluggish few weeks, Randy Arozarena looks like the sensation he was last postseason, with eight hits in 19 at-bats this past week. — Lee
Previous ranking: 4
The lack of power has been the biggest problem, as the team has scuffled to score runs, with just 15 home runs in its first 18 games. The Mets scored more than four runs just three times in those games. Meanwhile, Jacob deGrom continues to roll, including a 15-strikeout shutout last Friday against the Nationals, while Francisco Lindor, who got booed at home on Tuesday, continues to struggle. — Schoenfield
11. Atlanta Braves
Previous ranking: 10
Ronald Acuna Jr. continues to be a one-man wrecking crew, showing no ill effects from the abdominal strain that forced him to miss two games. He launched a 481-foot home run on Tuesday, giving him two 480-foot home runs in his career. The only other player with two 480-foot blasts since 2018 is Nomar Mazara. — Schoenfield
12. Houston Astros
Previous ranking: 15
The Astros seem to have weathered a downturn exacerbated by roster issues stemming from health and safety protocols. The pitching has carried the weight, with Cristian Javier building on his fine rookie season of 2020 to take on the look of a bona fide ace. All the metrics shine: 0.89 ERA, 1.46 FIP, 25% K%-BB% rate, average game score of 64. Houston dipped below .500 for a few days but still has baseball’s second-best per-game run differential. It was rocky for a bit, but the Astros are just fine. — Doolittle
Previous ranking: 9
Mike Trout is wrapping up what might be the best month of his career, Shohei Ohtani has been an offensive force, Albert Pujols is showing some promising power numbers and Anthony Rendon is back from the injured list. Once David Fletcher gets going in the leadoff spot, the Angels’ offense will prove to be a major force. The question — perpetually — is whether they can pitch well enough to remain in the hunt. And that’s why Ohtani’s command is so important. — Gonzalez
Previous ranking: 20
Vladimir Guerrero Jr. is beginning to live up to the hype of being one of the most exciting young prospects the sport has seen since Ken Griffey Jr. After losing 40 pounds this offseason, Guerrero is hitting .360/.484/.693 with seven homers following a three-homer bonanza on Tuesday — with two of them, including a grand slam, off Max Scherzer. — Lee
15. New York Yankees
Previous ranking: 16
GM Brian Cashman said he wishes he could forget the first 15 games of the season, but the Yankees have gone 5-3 against Atlanta, Cleveland and Baltimore since, looking more like the team everyone expected this year. While they again benched catcher Gary Sanchez in favor of Kyle Higashioka, they have reasons for optimism in the rotation with Corey Kluber tossing his longest start in nearly two years against the Orioles on Tuesday. — Lee
Previous ranking: 21
There are three big holes in the lineup at the moment. Alec Bohm is off to a slow start, with a sub-.600 OPS and perhaps a few more strikeouts than expected. Andrew McCutchen was given a couple of days off sitting on a .154 average. Center field remains the biggest problem, as Phillies center fielders entered Wednesday hitting .093 with three RBIs, leading the team to call up Odubel Herrera from the alternate site to give him a chance. — Schoenfield
Previous ranking: 14
In a feast-or-famine era for big league offense, Cleveland might be the most extreme all-or-nothing team in the majors and limps into the end of the month with a batting average hovering around .210, which — only in 2021 — is actually better than a handful of other teams. Cleveland ranks in the top five in isolated power, however, so when it hits the ball out of the yard, the pitching is good enough to win. Only the lowly Tigers have been more reliant on home runs to move the scoreboard this season. — Doolittle
Previous ranking: 18
The Cardinals are slowly starting to find their groove, which coincides with starter Carlos Martinez finding his. He’s thrown well over his last two starts — three earned runs in 13⅓ innings — while St. Louis’ rotation overall has been lights out lately. — Rogers
Previous ranking: 26
The D-backs’ offense, led by Carson Kelly, has been a pleasant surprise. And lately they’ve seen some good signs from their starting rotation. Madison Bumgarner threw seven no-hit innings in the second game of a doubleheader against the Braves on Sunday. In the first game, Zac Gallen allowed only one hit. Those two hold the keys to the D-backs’ hopes of staying relevant in a loaded division. — Gonzalez
20. Seattle Mariners
Previous ranking: 17
The bullpen continues to be a key to the good start, with a 2.29 ERA (second in the majors entering Wednesday) and .180 average allowed (best in the majors). It’s certainly a surprise since the Mariners ranked 28th in bullpen ERA (5.92) in 2020 and 26th in average allowed (.258). — Schoenfield
Previous ranking: 11
A seven-game losing streak dropped the Reds out of first place in the NL Central, though they bounced back to beat the Dodgers twice early this week. Despite the losing skid, the Reds still had the best run differential in the NL Central going into games on Wednesday. — Rogers
Previous ranking: 23
The Cubs have holes in their game as well as several key injuries. David Ross lamented his lack of relief depth as two close games ballooned to easy victories for the opponent last week. And their up-and-down offense has been just that — up and down. Kris Bryant has been the most consistent hitter, but even a grand slam on Monday couldn’t stave off defeat. He and Javy Baez are dealing with some minor ailments. The team is dealing with a lot of inconsistency. — Rogers
Previous ranking: 13
What happened? During Minnesota’s recent slump of 13 losses in 15 games, the Twins ranked 28th in scoring and 29th in ERA. That’s not a great combination, especially for a nominal division favorite. The stunning turn of events has manager Rocco Baldelli on the social media hot seat, though he’s probably fine in the eyes of his bosses after establishing himself as one of baseball’s top young managers in recent seasons. Most of it is overreaction, but there’s no doubt that the kind of gaffe that happened recently — Baldelli had to remove Jose Berrios after 83 pitches of an effective start because he forgot that pitching coach Wes Johnson had already visited the mound that inning — can’t happen again. — Doolittle
24. Miami Marlins
Previous ranking: 22
Trevor Rogers is the only starter with a win so far, going 3-1 with a 1.29 ERA. He looks terrific, with swing-and-miss stuff (38 K’s in 28 IP), and has pitched 13 scoreless innings in his past two starts (granted, against the light-hitting Orioles and Brewers). Batters are hitting .175 against his fastball, with just one home run in 63 at-bats. — Schoenfield
Previous ranking: 24
Juan Soto took BP and reported no soreness in his shoulder, although he hasn’t been cleared to throw yet. Still, it looks like he’ll be back shortly. And boy do the Nationals need him. Josh Bell and Kyle Schwarber, the two big offseason pickups, combined to hit .157 in 27 games through Tuesday, with two home runs, six RBIs, 37 strikeouts and six walks. — Schoenfield
Previous ranking: 25
The Rangers’ rotation came crashing back to earth after a rough week that saw it go from first in ERA in the American League to ninth. Kohei Arihara was among those to implode in a weekend sweep by the White Sox. The Rangers will still provide their share of spoiler moments, but from last place, which is where they’ve landed in the AL West for now. — Rogers
Previous ranking: 27
Baltimore’s biggest positive was stopping Oakland’s 13-game winning streak with John Means on the mound. Means continues to post one of the most low-profile hot starts of 2021, with a 1.50 ERA and a 0.90 WHIP in five games. Not to turn the Orioles’ spot on the power rankings into the weekly Cedric Mullins update, but the center fielder’s outstanding numbers continue to be a story: He’s hitting .356/.408/.556 with three homers and nine doubles. — Lee
Previous ranking: 28
One of the surprise teams in baseball, Pittsburgh pushed past the .500 mark thanks to a great week on the mound. Over a stretch of seven games, the Pirates gave up just 16 runs, including a streak of five games — which was still alive on Wednesday — giving up two or less. The success isn’t attributed to one or two players — the entire staff had a good week. — Rogers
Previous ranking: 29
The good news for the Tigers during a four-game home series against Kansas City last week was that they gave up just 15 runs in the series. The bad news was that they scored just five and lost all four games. The complete lack of a plus offensive skill — other than middling pop on contact — has Detroit’s offense looking like the AL’s worst. On the plus side, the rotation has been a little better than so-so. Unfortunately, two starters have disappointed, and they are the two pitchers Detroit most needs to succeed: Casey Mize and Tarik Skubal. — Doolittle
Previous ranking: 30
The Rockies, simply put, are a mess. Over the offseason, they paid another team handsomely to take Nolan Arenado, arguably the best player in their history. Earlier this week, their maligned general manager, Jeff Bridich, resigned. Soon they’ll lose the current face of their franchise, Trevor Story, and won’t get much for him because he’s so close to free agency. Hovering above all that is an active roster that has produced the sport’s third-worst winning percentage and a farm system that is ranked 27th by ESPN’s Kiley McDaniel. The Rockies need to rebuild. But first, they need a sound plan. — Gonzalez
New York Mets ace Jacob deGrom’s lack of run support may be reaching new lows
Every Jacob deGrom start these days is a testament to pitching perfection, the most impressive combination of power and command since the peak of Pedro Martinez’s Hall of Fame career.
Yet, once again, the Mets and their fans were left frustrated Wednesday, able to appreciate deGrom’s brilliance but staring at a big fat loss on the scoreboard. The Mets’ ace allowed one run over six innings against the Red Sox, striking out nine to run his season total to 59, which matches Nolan Ryan’s 1978 mark for most through a pitcher’s first five starts of a season.
Unfortunately, that one run was the only one of the ballgame. The Red Sox won 1-0 behind Nick Pivetta, who is not to be confused with Pedro Martinez or Nolan Ryan, and three relievers, who combined to strike out 15 batters and allow just two hits. Pivetta was good, the relievers were good, Matt Barnes struck out the side to finish it off — and a chorus of boos rained down from the stands at Citi Field. The New York fans booed Francisco Lindor for the second straight night, as he went 0-for-3 to see his average drop to .203. They booed Dominic Smith, who went 0-for-4 with three strikeouts to see his average drop to .203. They cheered deGrom.
The lack of run support for deGrom is obviously an ongoing storyline stretching back several seasons. He will finish April 2-2 with a 0.51 ERA. He’s now lost two games in which he allowed one run and received a no-decision in a third start when he pitched six scoreless innings. Wednesday marked the third time in three seasons the Mets have lost 1-0 in a deGrom start and the 33rd time in deGrom’s career he allowed one run or no runs and failed to pick up the win — easily the most in the majors since he debuted in 2014. (Julio Teheran is next with 25 such starts in that span.)
Maybe the most amazing part of the lack of offense for deGrom is that since 2018, which includes his Cy Young seasons of 2018 and 2019, he has a 1.99 ERA over 81 starts — and yet is just 27-21. The Mets are just 38-43 in games he has started since 2018. How are the Mets supposed to win the NL East if they’re a .500 team when the best pitcher in the sport takes the mound?
“I try not to think too much about [the lack of run support],” deGrom said after Wednesday’s game. “I was more disappointed that I wasn’t able to make pitches there in the second inning. … I was just frustrated not being able to make an adjustment when I needed to.”
Indeed, to hear deGrom discuss his outing, he pitched more like Anthony Young, the infamous Mets pitcher who lost 27 games in a row. The Red Sox scored their run in the second, when Xander Bogaerts led off by hitting a 1-0 fastball off the wall in left. It was a difficult play, but a more agile left fielder than Smith may have made the catch. Christian Vazquez knocked Bogaerts in with a one-out double to right-center off a 100 mph, 0-2 fastball up and away. It looked like a great piece of hitting from Vazquez. DeGrom blamed his execution.
Christian Vazquez sends a high pitch the other way for an RBI double off Jacob deGrom.
“There in the second, I didn’t make pitches when I needed to,” deGrom said. “Left the ball over the middle, so Bogaerts hit the double and just wasn’t able to execute on those next few batters to get us out of that spot. Kind of displeased with my mechanics. Last start, it felt really good, this one felt like I was flying open, everything seemed to be flat.”
He said he was mostly disappointed because he felt so good in his last start, when he fanned 15 in a two-hit shutout of the Washington Nationals, the best start of his career. He said being slightly off Wednesday caused his fastball to sail over the middle of the plate too often, which is why he eventually went to more sliders and changeups. Yes, that’s how good deGrom is right now: A disappointing start is allowing one run and striking out nine batters.
The bigger problem for the Mets is that they’re struggling to score no matter who is on the mound, ranking last in the majors at 3.0 runs per game. With runners in scoring position, they’re hitting .187 with a .542 OPS — both last in the majors — a problem that also afflicted them in 2020. The power numbers are also down. They rank last in the majors with one home run every 39.7 at-bats, compared to ranking ninth in 2020 with one every 23.5 at-bats.
“I saw the guys in between today,” manager Luis Rojas said. “The approach was just off, late on fastballs, chasing breaking balls, taking pitches in the zone. It was just off. We were just off.”
Rojas said he had a pregame talk with Lindor, suggesting the new shortstop needed to be a little more aggressive. Lindor has been drawing walks and making contact, but he hasn’t been driving the ball, with just one double and one home run in 19 games. On a pregame Zoom call, he addressed getting booed on Tuesday, something he said never happened when he played for Cleveland.
“It’s interesting and it’s funny and it sucked,” he said. “It doesn’t feel right for sure.”
Here’s Francisco Lindor’s full reaction to being booed by the Citi Field crowd last night: pic.twitter.com/jFRM5u9Jpb
— Anthony DiComo (@AnthonyDiComo) April 28, 2021
Lindor did hit a ball hard in the eighth inning Wednesday, ripping a 95.9 mph line drive that Marwin Gonzalez snared with a leaping grab. To point to Lindor’s problems, that was the 25th ball in play this season he’s hit at 95-plus mph — the level considered a hard-hit ball — but that has produced just eight hits for a .333/.320/.458 line (one of the balls was a sac fly). In 2020, he hit .430/.420/.810 on balls with a 95-plus exit velocity, and in 2019 he hit .549/.541/1.108 on such balls. The two-year trend is certainly worth paying attention to, a sign that he’s hitting too many balls on the ground and not enough line drives or big flies.
Still, Lindor is not the only one struggling. Smith, Jeff McNeil and Michael Conforto all hit .300 last season, but are all hitting under .220 with just five home runs combined. The Mets have to expect things will turn around, given this looked like it would be one of the best lineups in the league.
“We have nothing but trust in our hitters because we know they can hit,” Rojas said. “We know what they’ve done in the past. You expect that to happen soon, but it’s something that we need to go and turn around right now.”
Luckily, the NL East is a quagmire of mediocrity. The Mets are 8-9, but nobody is over .500. They still have deGrom and that should — in theory — help them win a lot of games. Still, Mets fans are left staring at this nugget: deGrom is the first pitcher with an ERA as low as 0.51 in a month to finish without a winning record since Fernando Valenzuela went 2-3 with a 0.21 ERA in April 1985.
Jacob deGrom ties Nolan Ryan for most strikeouts in first five starts; Mets fall to Red Sox 1-0
Mets right-hander Jacob deGrom tied Nolan Ryan’s record for most strikeouts through a pitcher’s first five starts of a season, finishing Wednesday night’s start with nine strikeouts over six innings to run his five-game total to 59. But deGrom did so in a losing cause, as New York fell 1-0 to the Boston Red Sox at Citi Field.
It was deGrom’s 33rd career start, and third in 2021, in which he allowed one run or fewer and failed to pick up the win, most in the majors since he made his debut in 2014. Julio Teheran has the second-most such starts over that time frame with 25.
“I try not to think too much about it,” deGrom said. “Like I said, I’m more disappointed that I wasn’t able to make pitches there in the second inning. I was trying to battle through but just left some balls over the middle of the plate that got hit. So, that comes down to me controlling what I can control and I didn’t do a good job of that in that second inning.”
DeGrom has made 81 career starts of six-plus innings in which he has allowed no more than one run, but only 48 of those resulted in wins (59%). The MLB average win rate over the past five seasons when pitching at least six innings with one or no runs is 69%.
“For him to only go six, quote-unquote, is a moral victory for our guys,” Red Sox manager Alex Cora said about deGrom. “At the end, one run was enough.”
“Kind of displeased with my mechanics,” deGrom said. “Last start it felt really good. This one felt like I was flying open. Everything seemed to be flat. But you know, just wasn’t able to make pitches when I needed to.”
While the ace is trying not to think about the offensive support, his teammates — disappointed in themselves — certainly are.
“Really there’s no excuse,” Mets catcher James McCann said. “We have to find a way, especially in a game like tonight. … You’ve got to find a way to win those games.”
“Everybody’s out there giving 100 percent. Nobody wants to get out,” deGrom said. “Those guys try to put together the best at-bats, I try to throw the ball to the spot for that pitch. They’re competing. Sometimes you just have to tip your cap to the other team, and they did a nice job keeping our guys off-balance.”
After striking out 14, 14 and 15 batters in his previous three starts, deGrom was a little less dominant Wednesday night. Opposing starter Nick Pivetta even battled him for a 10-pitch at-bat, the most pitches deGrom has thrown to a pitcher and the most he has thrown to a batter this season. Still, deGrom has fanned 48.0% of the batters he has faced this season.
DeGrom finished April with a 0.51 ERA. It’s the 279th instance since earned runs became an official statistic in 1913 in which a pitcher had at least 55 strikeouts in one month, but deGrom ERA’s is the lowest of the 279, beating Pedro Martinez’s 0.64 ERA from July 2002.
In 1978, Ryan began his season with the California Angels with strikeout totals of 13, 12, 8, 15 and 11, finishing with 59 over 41 innings. Ryan also walked 25 batters, whereas deGrom walked four.
Ryan also faced some hard-luck run support, however. He had a 1.98 ERA in his five starts but won just one game, as he had a six-inning outing and a 10-inning outing in which he allowed no runs but received a no-decision.
The all-time record for strikeouts over any five-game stretch is Martinez’s 72 in late 1999, when he recorded totals of 15, 11, 15, 17 and 14. Those five starts were bookended by games of 11 and then 12 and 12, giving Martinez a remarkable eight-game stretch of 107 K’s over 62 innings.
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