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49° Good Afternoon

Mets mailbag: Cespedes, Granderson, Gsellman, the bullpen and, yes, Mark Craig

Curtis Granderson of the New York Mets looks

Curtis Granderson of the New York Mets looks on during workout day at Citi Field on Tuesday, Oct. 4, 2016. Photo Credit: Jim McIsaac

Mets beat reporter Marc Carig took questions from Twitter followers as the Mets prepare for the National League Wild Card game at home against the San Francisco Giants on Wednesday night.

Here are 10 questions and answers from the #AskMarkCraig Twitter mailbag. (And if you already follow him on Twitter, you’ll understand the hashtag.)

@gabbydegrom: #AskMarkCraig #AskMarcCarig how are u marc(k)?

Carig: I am outstanding. Thanks for asking! (And it’s Marc, with a C. I know it’s weird).

@MatthewSardo: tonight’s roster?

Carig: Here you go, complete with an explanation of the team’s thinking. There were a few curveballs.

@rpg08403: Who’s the difference maker in the Mets offensively tonight?

Carig: While it would be easy to dive into the stats and get all technical, why overthink it? Yoenis Cespedes has proven himself to be a catalyst in big situations. He has demonstrated the ability to elevate his game when the lights are brightest. And in a one-game wild card against the best postseason pitcher of his era with the season on the line is precisely the spot that Cespedes has conditioned people to expect big things.

@bdw629: Was there any reaction by other Mets players/brass to Ces not celebrating? Kind of weirdz.

Carig: Yeah, it was a bit weird, especially since Cespedes was such a big part of the celebration last season in Cincinnati. But he had just been ejected from the game for dropping an F bomb -- he didn’t like the strike call -- and he’s struggled a bit of late. Also, while he did make a brief appearance in the clubhouse after the clinching game, he spent most of his time in the trainer’s room. Keep in mind, he’s been playing through a leg injury the entire second half. Staying healthy takes precedence over a champagne celebration.

@kazikraze: Should a reliever other than Reed or Familia touch the ball in a 9 inning game tonight if Thor is done after 6?

Carig: It would be easy to say no. But the reality is that in the postseason, starting pitchers throw a lower percentage of a team’s innings than they do when compared with the regular season. That’s because managers will often go to the bullpen sooner since every out in a winner-take-all is so crucial. As good as the pitching matchup is tonight, it’s not crazy to think that both Noah Syndergaard and Madison Bumgarner could be out on the early side. And that leaves a lot of outs between when they depart and when Addison Reed and Jeurys Familia would be called upon, even if they are asked for more. Matchups will often shape these types of games, as the Giants themselves have shown in the past.

@dwm58: Looking back will we remember 2016 as a good year for Granderson?

Carig: Curtis Granderson has had a strange career with the Mets. He was arguably the team MVP in 2015 but his 2014 and 2016 seasons seem to dominate the conversation about him -- even though when measured by OPS+ he finished above the league average in both of those campaigns. The bottom line is he’s been a solid to very good player who in total has helped the Mets. Yes, he’s prone to streakiness and his profile as a player can be maddening. His production is predicated on hitting homers. But that shouldn’t obscure his overall contributions, both on the field and in the clubhouse, where he has been an invaluable veteran presence. When you talk to the younger players who have passed through here in recent years, they all rave about the way Granderson maintains an even keel through his ups and downs. Those are valuable lessons for any player hoping for a long, productive big league career, which Granderson has certainly enjoyed for himself.

@tomthirtysix: Will Matz wear the bone spur on a necklace, like Turk Wendell with the shark tooth?

Carig: Ew, that’s gross. But give Steven Matz some credit for at least attempting to gut through a bone spur that has been described as “massive.” The best news is that the Mets expect him to be healthy by spring training.

@Reactively: Has Flores had an MRI? If it’s just a bone bruise, any chance he goes on the taxi squad if the Mets beat Giants?

Carig: Wilmer Flores has a deep bone bruise in his right wrist. He was recently shut down from baseball activities. And I was told that even if the Mets advance in the postseason, Flores’ season most likely is finished. That’s a shame for the Mets and for Flores, who rallied from an awful start to equal his career-high with 16 homers. In many ways, he also found a niche that should keep him on a big-league roster. He was a dangerous weapon against lefties and had looked better against righthanded pitching down the stretch as well.

@HarMarcusLWOS: Who are you more confident in to start a postseason game and why? Lugo or Gsellman?

Carig: The way it stands now, both would get starts if the Mets advance past tonight’s wild card game. But I would be more comfortable with Robert Gsellman. I think he has better stuff overall and he looks more comfortable every time he goes out there. Make no mistake, Seth Lugo has been impressive as well. With improved command, his curveball could be a legit put-away pitch, which gives him an edge over a lot of similar righthanded pitchers. But Lugo’s peripheral numbers offer some hints that he’s been pitching well over his ability level. He deserves credit for what he’s done, no doubt. However, the question is essentially, who is the safer bet to maintain a solid level of performance? For me, it’s Gsellman.

@AdamJChoit: Besides on the bases, upping his pitch count, scoring, & of course staring at him, how can the Mets “get to” MadBum?

Carig: Run into some home runs. The Mets have hit a ton of them, even at Citi Field. I know much is made of manufacturing runs in tight playoff games. And that makes sense. But I look at it this way. Madison Bumgarner may only make a handful of mistakes in a start like this. So, I’d want a team that could maximize those mistakes. Tell me, what’s easier? Stringing together three hits to score one run? Or taking one good swing and maybe knocking in two or three? Yes, it’s good to manufacture runs. But, yeah, it’s pretty good to hit homers, too. You watched the game last night, yes? Let’s ask the Blue Jays about the virtue of hitting homers.

@Britt_Ghiroli: What kind of hat will you be sporting this postseason?

Carig: My dunce cap, obviously. I can’t break out my cap collection until after the season ends and I’m not at the ballpark!

@jas_jas25: who wins the nba finals warriors or cavs, and in how many games?

Carig: Warriors, in 4. Book it.

@Mr_Besfort: Why are you the best?

Carig: Because I think it’s hilarious when people constantly misspell my name.


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