How meaningful it is to be the one chosen to pitch Game 1, given the talent on his team’s pitching staff…
“In our pitching staff, any of the guys can take on Game 1, and when they told me I had it I was really honored. I want to be able to go two games in this series, I was honored with that. So, I don’t really know. I’m excited to have it though.
Whether he has talked with any veteran pitchers about what to expect…
“I haven’t talked to them really yet. I don’t think I’ll really approach them tomorrow before my start. I think I’ll prepare how I usually do. I’ll go over it with Dan and Travis and come up with a good game plan from there.”
If he watched the Wild Card games…
“I watched both of them. Watching those guys pitch, it was like it was during the regular season and they were making their pitches when they needed to. You know, keeping the ball down in the zone, which I think that helps out.”
How he’s preparing to face the Dodgers lineup…
“My approach every game is to try to keep the ball down and get ground ball outs. So I think that’s going to be my main game plan going into this game. I’ll take one batter at a time and try not to think about it too much.”
The Mets will host the Dodgers for Game 3 of the NL Division Series on Monday, October 12, at 8:37 pm ET.
In the event there is a Game 4 at Citi Field, it will be Tuesday, Oct. 13, at 8:07 pm ET. The series will return to Los Angeles for Game 5, if needed, which will be begin 8:07 pm ET on Thursday, Oct. 15.
The two teams will begin the series Friday, Oct. 9, in Los Angeles at 9:45 pm ET, with Game 2 being played the next night in LA at 9:00 pm ET.
His connection to the Dodgers organization, coming up in their organization and what it means to be playing them in his first postseason series…
“I’m sitting in this chair because of the Los Angeles Dodgers and Bill Schweppe who was our Minor League Director when I was a player here. For some unknown reason, he liked me. He should have released me a dozen times and he kept me around, gave me my first job in managing the Minor Leagues. So when you talk about what I learned, I learned baseball. I learned Dodger baseball. And at a time when you can walk out on the field in Spring Training and you had Drysdale, and Koufax, and Maury Wills, and Wes Parker, and Roy Campanella was talking after dinner at night. You talk about learning baseball and learning the history of the game, I spent a little time in that training camp. So, I learned everything here.”
His first impression of Clayton Kershaw when he was in the minor leagues…
“I told our guys, after we drafted Clayton and we signed him, he came to the Gulf Coast League or whatever it was, and Rick Honeycutt was my minor league pitching coordinator at the time. And Rick was throwing, and I was over on one of the other fields watching something. When I was done, I was walking and I saw Rick walking over, and he stopped and said have you seen this Kershaw guy? And I said no, not yet. He went, oh, wow. Turned around and walked away. So am I surprised by what he’s done? No. If you know him, you get to know him, you know what kind of a person he is, and he’s not going to let anything get in the way of him being great.
His relationship with Sandy, second to none. I think he’s got that same competitive attitude that Sandy had, and we’ve seen it on TV. When he takes the ball he wants to finish what he starts. So I’m not surprised that he’s as good as he is, no.”
Why Yoenis Cespedes so comfortable in big games…
“If you know Cuban baseball, you better be good or you don’t play. Yeah, they played on a world stage, the big stages for them all over the world, and they had to win. So I think this guy knows how to win. I don’t think he’s intimidated by anything. When you’ve had to somewhat run for your life, not much else scares you. He knows how good he can be, how good he is, and so he’s comfortable. He’s just comfortable playing.
When I put him in centerfield I said to him, how much centerfield did you play? He said I’m a center fielder, and he is. He’s a legitimate guy.”
How much of an impact Juan Uribe and Kelly Johnson had on the team after being acquired in late July…
“In my opinion, I believe that was the trade that set things where we started to go. It was a situation when Sandy made the deal, he came in and he and I talked. I took the same message that he and I talked about out to the players and hey, look, we’ve got a good team. You hit, you play. Lucas Duda took off, Flores took off, Kelly Johnson and Juan kept playing as well. The two professional at-bats in that lineup and in that clubhouse, all of a sudden guys are looking at their jobs saying, oh my gosh, I’ve got to step up here and they did. I think that to me is when we started turning things around.”
The development of Lucas Duda…
“He hit the 30 homers and 92 RBIs playing only part-time because we started out the year last year with Ike Davis as the first baseman, and when Lucas got his chance, he ran with it. This year, huge expectations, huge expectations. Talks of 40-plus homers, 100 RBIs, and if you know Lucas, that’s a big challenge, instead of just letting him go play. As the season went on, he certainly put a lot of extra pressure on himself, because he’s hitting third in the lineup, and he wasn’t hitting home runs, even though his on-base was still good. He wasn’t hitting homers. He’s the kind of guy that knows he’s got to carry his end, and he’s got to hit the ball in the ballpark. When all of a sudden, Kelly came and Juan came and he got hot, I think he started to relax. He said, ‘Hey, look I’m going to be okay.’ So I think he’s finished great. He’s very, very excited. He certainly came to me a while ago and wanted me to know, he said I can hit lefties, and I said, yeah, I know you can. I told him the other day, remember when you told me you hit lefties? Well, you’re going to face a pretty good one on Friday, so you better.
Jacob deGrom’s character and ability to pitch well no matter the circumstance…
“Well, I think certainly in order to play this game at this level you’ve got to believe in yourself and you’ve got to have confidence in what you do. And Jake deGrom has as much confidence in his own ability as anybody I’ve ever known. I just said earlier this guy had to work harder than other people to get to the Big Leagues. So he not only got here, he had very, very good success here. I think he believes he can get anybody out. I think he trusts his stuff which is another thing, because we’ve all seen him when he’s had a bad outing, he just seems to get better as the outing goes because he’s not afraid to continue to throw strikes and I think it makes a difference.”
Citi Field is getting ready…
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In 16 innings against the Mets this season, Dodgers LHP Clayton Kershaw has a 0.56 ERA, having allowed just eight hits and two walks, while striking out 18 batters.
Kershaw will start Game 1 of the NLDS in Los Angeles against Jacob deGrom at 9:45 pm ET.
In July, Kershaw threw a three-hit shutout at Citi Field, striking out 11 batters, while not allowing a hit until the seventh inning. However, John Mayberry Jr. hit fourth that day, followed by Eric Campbell.
“The more times you face a guy, the more comfortable you feel against him,” Michael Cuddyer said earlier this week. “They know the arm angles, they know what the pitches look like, they know the shapes of the pitches. That all helps.”
Kershaw vs. 2015 Mets
“I believe Kershaw is due to have a big postseason,” said Pedro Martinez, who will be an analyst for TBS this postseason. “It’s probably going to go to fundamentals. Who plays the small-ball better?”
In Game 2, the Dodgers will throw Zack Greinke, who ended the regular season 19-3 with a 1.66 ERA.
In two starts against the Mets this season, Greinke had a 1.29 ERA, allowing eight hits in 14 innings.
“We have got to find a way to scratch and claw out runs,” Mets hitting coach Kevin Long told the New York Post (Oct. 8. 2015). “They are guys who don’t historically walk people and don’t give up a whole lot of hits. The good thing is we’ve got the same guys on our side.”
Greinke vs. 2015 Mets
In Martinez’s view, a lot is riding on Noah Syndergaard, who will be tasked with facing Greinke, because, “Right now, deGrom against Kershaw is an uphill battle.”
The Mets won a game Greinke started on July 26, scoring twice against him, but winning in extra innings against reliever Juan Nicasio, who is expected to be on the team’s NLDS roster. Similarly, the Mets won a game against Kershaw earlier in the season, but did it scoring off Kenley Jensen in the ninth inning.
“They are pitchers of great ability, but they still have to throw the ball,” Yoenis Cespedes told ESPN Deportes (Oct. 8, 2015).
Terry Collins has said Curtis Granderson will be in his starting lineup Friday, during Game 1 of the NLDS against LHP Clayton Kershaw, despite Granderson’s struggles against lefties this season.
Granderson hit just .183 in 146 plate appearances against left-handed pitching this season. However, he also became a mainstay batting leadoff for the team, where he hit .260 with 26 home runs.
“For me, he’s been one of the biggest pieces of the whole puzzle,” Collins said earlier this week. “He saved us. We didn’t have anybody. Grandy jumped in that spot and did a tremendous job.”
Maggie Wiggin, MetsBlog.com
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Granderson quietly became one of the most valuable players on the Mets this season. Despite initial concerns about his fit for the role, he turned out to be one of the best leadoff hitters in baseball, while also bringing the element of power. His 26 home runs and 64 RBI as a leadoff hitter ranked first and second in MLB, respectively. He also had a league-best seven home runs leading off a game. They may be worth the same as any other home run on the scoreboard, but the psychological value of starting a game with an immediate score can make a huge statement.
Perhaps most important, Granderson has been consistent. Since his slow start in April, he has produced solid numbers day in and day out, with no major cold streaks to drag down the team’s offense. For an up-and-down Mets season, Granderson has given them nothing but ups and it’s hard to imagine where they would be without him.
Mets LHP Steven Matz threw 80 pitches over five innings during a simulated game in Port St. Lucie on Thursday (Oct. 8).
“I felt really good,” Matz told the Daily News after the outing. “I took two weeks off, so I was a little rusty the first couple innings, but I feel really good, really strong. My arm feels great, back feels great. I’m ready to go.” (Oct. 8)
Matz told reporter Jon Santucci that the team will wait to see how he feels on Friday before a decision is made regarding whether he’ll be on the NLDS roster, which has to be submitted by 1 p.m. on Friday.
Eric Campbell, who is in St. Lucie working out in case he’s needed later in the playoffs, told Santucci that Matz was “outstanding. He was nasty. … He’s ready to go.”
According to Santucci, Matz was consistently hitting 93-94 MPH with his fastball and was so efficient in the fifth inning that he remained on the mound to record a fourth out. Matz was scheduled to throw 90-95 pitches on Thursday and had thrown a successful bullpen session on Tuesday.
If Matz is put on the NLDS roster, the expectation is that he will start Game 4.
If Matz is not put on the roster, the Mets will instead take LHP Sean Gilmartin, Sandy Alderson said on Wednesday. In the event Matz is not on the roster, it’s expected that Bartolo Colon will get the start in Game 4.
If the Mets put Matz on the NLDS roster and have to remove him due to injury, he would be ineligible for the NLCS.