Apr 30, 2020

Marcus Stroman: 2019 Mets Pitcher (2019-2020)

Marcus  Earl Stroman was born May 1st 1991 on Long Island, in Medford, New York. His parents divorced when he was in the 5th grade. His father is a Suffolk County detective. 

He was very close to his grand mother & she regularly attended his high school games.

The five foot seven, right hander, attended Patchogue high school in Medford, Long Island. He was an outstanding pitcher & all around star baseball player. He would face his current Mets team mate, Steven Matz who also grew up on Long Island.

Stroman was drafted by the Washington Nationals in 2009 but did sign, instead electing to go to college at Duke University. 

At Duke he pitched & set a Duke career record for strike outs (290 in 222 innings). He also played second base & short stop in his Duke years. In 2012 he became the first Duke player to get drafted in the first round. He was the 22nd pick overall, selected by the Toronto Blue Jays.

Blue Jays Career: Stroman debuted on May 4th, 2014 in an inter league game at Pittsburgh. He came in the 8th inning in relief, giving up a run. In his next relief appearance, he earned his first career victory pitching the 9th & 10th innings at Philadelphia. 

By May 3st, he was in the rotation, in his first start, he beat the Kansas City Royals, then won his second as well. On September 8th, he pitched a complete game three hit, shut out, beating the Chicago Cubs. 

Later in the month he intentionally threw at Baltimore's Caleb Joseph & was suspended for six games. He would finish the year in the bullpen. In his first season at 11-6 with 111 strike outs in 130 innings, posting a 3.65 ERA.

In Spring Training 2015, he tore his ACL & needed surgery. He was shut down for most of the year, returning by September. In his time off he went back to Duke & earned his degree in Sociology. When he returned to the mound he went 40 with a 1.67 ERA.

Post Season: That year the Jays won the AL East & Stroman got to pitch in his first post season. He pitched seven innings of Game #1 of the ALDS loss to the Texas Rangers earning no decision. He got the call for the series ending Game #5, going 6 innings allowing two runs striking out four. He got no decision but the Jays advanced to the ALCS.

In Game #3 he got the win, in a wild, 11-8 Toronto win, over the Kansas City Royals at Skydome. Stroman allowed four runs on eleven hits but still won the game. The Royals won the series, advancing to the World Series to play the New York Mets.

In 2016, he was the Jays Opening Day starter, he pitched eight innings to beat the Tampa Rays. He had a good start to the year at 4-0, but finished at 9-10 on the year. J.A. Happ, Aaron Sanchez & R.A. Dickey all won more games than him in the staff. 

His ERA was 4.37, but he had the leagues highest ground ball % & the leagues lowest fly ball %.  as he made 32 appearances. That year he had a career high 204 innings pitched. 

2016 Post Season: That year the Jays tied the Baltimore Orioles for second place & both teams won the wild card spots. Stroman pitched six innings in the Wild Card Game, he struck out six, allowing two runs on four hits. The Jays won the game, but he got no decision. 

He was scheduled to start Game #4 of the ALDS but Toronto swept the Texas Rangers in three games. He took a loss to the Cleveland Indians in the ALCS Game #3 at Toronto. The Indians advanced to the World Series in five games.

He started out 2017, with a few exciting days at the plate. On April 25th, he was sent up in a pinch hit role & doubled, becoming the first Toronto pitcher to ever have a pinch hit. 

On May 18th, he became the second Toronto pitcher in team history, to ever hit a HR. His HR followed a HR from his catcher Luke Maile, making them the first battery to hit back to back HRs, since 1970.The blast came off Julio Tehran of the Atlanta Braves. In that game he shut out the Braves for seven innings earning the win.

From late April into mid June he went on a personal six game win streak & lowered his ERA to 3.09. The Jays fell to fourth place that year & Stroman was the ace of the staff & was voted the teams Pitcher of the Year. 

He had career highs in win (13) & starts (33). The 33 starts were 3rd most in the AL. For the second year in a row he tossed over 200 innings & posted a 3.09 ERA (fourth best in the AL). He walked a career high 62 batters (10th most in the AL). He allowed the fourth most HRs per nine innings for the second straight year. Defensively he won the Gold Glove award, as he also led all pitchers in assists & would do so the next year as well.

In the 2018 off season he lost his arbitration case & started out badly on the year. By the end of May he 0-5 with a 7.71 ERA, he had given up at least four runs in all his starts. He was placed on the 10 DL with shoulder fatigue. He was back in the rotation by late June. 

On June 29th he finally earned his first win. He would have to leave games twice during the summer due to blisters & made his last start of the year on September 3rd. It was his worst season going 4-9 with a 5.54 ERA in just 19 starts.

He was still the Blue Jays Opening Day starter in 2019, getting no decision. He lost his first three decisions, but just gave up two runs & the three runs in those starts. 

On April 14th, he gave up three runs, all unearned but still took a loss. On April 19th, he beat the A's in Oakland, getting credit for his first win. Although he ended April 1-3, his ERA was just 1.43.

In May he lost another three straight and was 1-6, although his ERA was just 3.12 He kept in below three until early June, picking up wins against Boston & San Diego to get to 3-6. At the All Star break he was 5-9 with a 3.18 ERA, among the leagues best. He got selected to his first All Star game but did not pitch.

Mets Career: In July, the trade rumors heated up & he was going to go some where. To everyone's surprise he was traded to the New York Mets. Mets GM Brodie Van Wagen pulled off the deal, as the Mets were in the midst of turning their season around. 

All of a sudden the Mets won 14 of 15 games & were in the thick of the wild card hunt. Stroman joined am already strong staff of that year's Cy Young winner, Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Steven Matz & Zack Wheeler.

Stroman was happy to be on the Mets & thrilled to be back near his home. 
He made his first Mets start on August 3rd at Pittsburgh. He allowed three runs on three hits in 4.1 innings. The Mets did go on to win the game & start an eight game win streak, but he got no decision.

His next start came at home at Citi Field against the Nationals, where he had many family & friends in attendance.  Although he struck out a season high nine batters, he gave up four runs & HR to Juan Soto, exiting in tie game after six innings. 

With the Mets down 6-3 in the 9th inning, Todd Frazier tied the game with a three run HR off Sean Doolittle & Michael Conforto's won it with an exciting walk off single.

On August 15th, he earned his first Mets win. It came in Atlanta in a 10-8 Mets win, breaking their four game losing streak after winning 14 of 15. 

In his next start he allowed just one run, but pitched just four innings, leaving the game early. On August 27th, the Cubs roughed him up for a pair of HRs & four runs, giving him his first Mets official loss. After a no decision at Philadelphia, the Phils roughed him up at Citi Field with four earned runs & ten hits in a 5-0 loss.

Although the Mets were to drop out of the wild card race, Stroman personally got himself adjusted & on track. On September 12th, he allowed just one run to Arizona, earning the victory as the Mets swept the d-backs in four games at Citi Field. 

On September 17th, he shut out the Rockies for seven innings in Colorado to earn his second straight win. After a no decision, he won his last start in the first game of a Mets series sweep of the Braves. It was the game Pete Alonso tied the rookie HR mark, a record he would break the next night.

Stroman closed out the year 10-13 with a 3.22 overall ERA. He struck out 159 & walked 58 in 184 innings in 32 starts. With the Mets he was 4-2 with a 3.77 ERA, striking out 60 batters in 59.9 innings, with 23 walks. At the plate he is 1-21with two runs scored.

In his career, he is 51-47 with a 3.76 ERA, striking out 695 batters walking 244 in 849 innings in 146 games, 140 starts. At the plate he is a .105 hitter with a HR & an RBI.

Trivia: At six years old he was on the Nickelodeon game show, Figure It Out.

Stroman also has produced caps for New Era that feature his trademarks.

Stroman said he will give up his uniform #7 in honor of Jose Reyes & will don #0 in 2020.

Apr 27, 2020

Lute Barnes: Early Seventies Top Mets Infield Prospect (1972-1973)

Luther Owens Barnes was born April 28, 1947, in Forest City, Iowa.

He attended Oregon State University getting drafted by the New York Mets in the 21st round (482nd pick overall) in 1969.

As a second baseman there wasn’t much room for Barnes with Ken Boswell & then Felix Millan both steadily holding the position through the mid seventies. He certainly wasn’t seeing any action at short with All Star Bud Harrelson in that spot. The five foot ten infielder even lost out to the solid reserve, Teddy Martinez for any back up duties.

In 1970 Barnes hit .290 in 121 games at AA Memphis. By 1971 Barnes was the AAA Tidewater Tides main second baseman playing for managers Hank Bauer & then former New York Giant Johnny Antonelli. He turned 51 double plays posting a .962 fielding % in 121 games at the position while hitting .273.

Barnes got a major league call up that summer, debuting with the Mets on August 6th 1972 at Shea Stadium in a 12-2 Mets romp over the Chicago Cubs. Lute got a base hit driving in Teddy Martinez in his first MLB at bat. 

Three days later he got to start at short stop in a 8-3 Mets win at St. Louis. He had a big day getting two more hits with a triple, two walks & two runs scored. He was hitting .750 after his first two career games & would have three more multiple hit games that season.

On September 12th he drove in two runs with a triple off the Phillies Ken Reynolds leading New York to a 4-2 win at Veterans Stadium. Ten days later he hit into a double play in the 8th inning of a game against the Phillies at Shea Stadium. The play scored the winning run & helped Tom Seaver beat Steve Carlton 2-1.Overall he played in 24 games total, batting .236 with two triples & six RBIs.

In 1973 he was back as AAA Tidewaters main second baseman posting a .985 fielding %, he stole 23 bases but hit just .226. He still got another September call up playing in three games for the 1973 NL champion Mets.

On September 13th he pinch ran in the 12th inning in a tie game at Philadelphia. He scored what would be the games winning run on Wayne Garrett's base hit, bringing the Mets within two games of first place. 

He got two pinch hit appearances, getting an RBI single against the Montreal Expos in what would be his last career at bat.

In 27 MLB games he hit .243 (18-74) with two doubles, two triples, six walks & seven RBIs. He posted a .959 fielding % in 14 games at second & short, with a .100% in six games at short. Barnes played in the minor leagues through the 1975 season, retiring at age 28.

Apr 24, 2020

Scott Strickland: Early 2000's Mets Reliever (2002-2003)

Scott Michael Strickland was born April 26, 1976 in Houston, Texas. The right handed fastball pitcher was drafted out of the University of New Mexico by the Montreal Expos in the 10th round in 1997.

After a brief two year period in the minors, Strickland made his debut with the Expos, in 1999 going 0-1 in 17 games. In 2000, the Expos only won 67 games and Steve Kline was their main closer with 14 saves. Strickland would eventually take over that closer role, posting a 3.00 ERA and finishing up 4-3 with nine saves. The next year he lost that job to Uqueth Urbina, but he still saved nine games with a 3.21 ERA but posted a 2-6 record.

During the first week of the 2002 season he was traded to the New York Mets for pitcher Bruce Chen. 

At the time it was believed Scott could help a weak Mets bullpen and possibly even be their future closer. He’ll always be remembered for wearing that thick silver chair around his neck, while on the mound.

He made his Mets debut on April 6th pitching the 7th inning in Atlanta in a 11-2 walloping of the Braves. The next night he blew a save opportunity, serving up an 8th inning RBi single to Mark Derosa. The Braves won the game in the 14th inning on a walk off HR by Marcus Giles off Mets pitcher Satoru Komiyama.

But in his first month, he would not allow another run & finished April with an 0.87 ERA & five holds. In the last week of May, he benefited with three Mets late comebacks to earn victories each time, getting his record to a best 5-2. 

As the season went on, he would win just one more game & take losses seven more times. In the set up role he would not earn another hold in the final two months.

He finished at 6-9 with two saves & 15 holds posting a 3.59 ERA in 68 appearances. Strickland did strike out 69 batters in 69 innings pitched. In 2003 he started out 0-2 but had a good 2.25 ERA before injuries led him to Tommy John surgery ruining his career. The Mets eventually released him.

After rehab & hard work, he returned two years later, to pitch four innings with the 2005 Houston Astros. Strickland never made it back to the big leagues, he would in the minors for the Pirates (2007) Padres (2008) Dodgers (2008) & Marlins (2009).

Trivia: In 2009 with AAA Albuquerque, he became the teams all time saves leader.

 In a six year MLB  career Strickland was 12-21 with 20 saves. He posted a 3.34 ERA, struck out 243 batters & walked 112  in 242 innings, in 239 appearances.

Apr 22, 2020

Remembering Mets History (1969): Koos Earns His First Win Of the Season

Wednesday April 23rd, 1969: On this cool night at Shea Stadium, Gil Hodges Mets (6-8) hosted Larry Shepard's Pittsburgh Pirates (10-5) in front of just 7274 fans. 

Tonight Veteran pitcher, Jim Bunning who had thrown his famous 1964 Fathers Day no hitter against the Mets, when he was with the Phillies was on the mound for the Pirates this evening. Bunning won 17 or more games eight times in his 17 year career. He won 19 games five times & was a twenty game winner once in his career, he made the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1996 thru the Veterans Committee.

Gild Hodges sent a winless Jerry Koosman to the mound. Koosman was in his third season, his second as a dominant left hand starter behind Tom Seaver. Koos won 19 games in 1968 (4th in the NL) with a 2.08 ERA (4th best in the NL) & would win 17 games in 1969, striking out 180 batters while posting a 2.28 ERA (5th best in the NL). Koosman was a vital part of the 1969 Mets success, he also would go 2-0 in the 1969 World Series posting a 2.04 ERA.

Starting Lineups

Koosman rolled through the game shutting out the Pirates, allowing just five hits along the way. He struck out six batters while walking three. This was the first of 16 complete games for Koos in 1969. 

To get an idea of how the games has changed, the 16 complete games were 9th best in the league. It was also the first of his six shutouts, fourth most in the NL.

The Mets just needed two runs for the win, in the home 1st, second baseman Ken Boswell doubled, he was brought in by Cleon Jones for the first Mets run. In the 4th, Jones doubled & Ed Kranepool singled him in with the Mets second run.

Mets notes: Cleon Jones had three of the Mets six hits on the day & was batting .444. He would have 15 games in 1969 where he had three or more hits. Jones would be in the race for the batting title most of the year finishing third with a .340 average.