Monday, October 19, 2015

NLCS Mets-Cubs Game 2: Daniel Murphy and the One Hot Hitter Theory

So much for being Eeyore - I thought Game 2 was over in the first inning when the Mets scored three times off of Jake Arrieta, who had not allowed a first-inning run in his previous 25 starts. But Arrieta now had to contend with the October version of Daniel Murphy.

Before the playoffs, which scenario would seem less likely - Murphy homering off Arrieta, Clayton Kershaw (twice), Zack Greinke and Jon Lester in a span of seven playoff games, or Murphy being walked intentionally in favor of pitching to Yoenis Cespedes, which happened last night? And now people are starting to argue over who is more important to re-sign - Murphy or Cespedes.

(In the interest of keeping Eeyore banished for now, I am refraining from commenting on the Mets' likelihood of increasing payroll next season, though I did pause the 2016 season-ticket ad to try to determine which Mets depicted in the promotion are certain to actually be on the team next season.)

Cespedes has cooled off after his torrid few weeks and Lucas Duda has been ice cold after a couple of hot streaks of his own. But with the Mets' amazing starting pitching, which continued with Noah Syndergaard striking out nine and allowing one earned run in  5 2/3 innings, the Mets seem to need only one hot hitter to carry the lineup while the starting pitching does the rest.

Murphy isn't doing it all by himself - Curtis Granderson is hitting .357 in the postseason with 7 RBI and started the first-inning rally with a single.  Juan Lagares has five hits in 11 at bats with five runs scored. But Murphy has been the difference maker, while Cespedes is now hitting .214 and Lucas Duda (.095) and David Wright (.087) are not even on the interstate.

If the Cubs do start pitching around Murphy, someone else will need to step up. Since this has been such a magical run, why not Wilmer Flores?

Obviously, anything can still happen (see Murphy, Daniel). But with the Mets up 2-0 and deGrom pitching Game 3, the magic certainly looks back. Let's Go Mets!

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