Mets back at .500 mark for first time since April 9

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The Mets might not be contenders come July, but we can at least hold off on the fire sale talk for a few days. With a 2-1 win over the Yankees last night, the Mets are back at the .500 mark (22-22) for the first time since April 9.

R.A. Dickey, who entered the night with a 5.08 ERA, tossed six innings of one-run ball for his first win since his first start of the season. Justin Turner continued his hot hitting by going 3-for-4 with an RBI double while Daniel Murphy put the Mets ahead with a solo shot in the sixth inning. Francisco Rodriguez pitched for the third straight day and converted his 15th consecutive save.

The Mets were 5-13 as recently as April 20, but have won 17 out of their last 26 games. Yes, they have had some surprising contributions from the likes of the Jason Pridie and the aforementioned Justin Turner, but the big key has been the pitching staff. They have an impressive 2.89 ERA since April 20.

Sure, many still wonder when Sandy Alderson will take a hammer to the roster or how the club will find a way to avoid K-Rod’s vesting option, but the team’s recent surge should put a stop to all that. At least for a little while. It’s depressing, anyway. It’s time to enjoy the season for what it is.

Once again, Cy Young votes from the Tampa Bay chapter were interesting

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In 2016, Red Sox starter Rick Porcello narrowly and controversially eked ahead of then-Tigers starter Justin Verlander in Cy Young Award balloting, winning on points 137 to 132. Verlander was not included at all in the top-five of two ballots, both coincidentally belonging to writers from the Tampa Bay chapter, MLB.com’s Bill Chastain and Fred Goodall of the Associated Press. Verlander had more first-place votes than Porcello, but being left out of the top-five on two ballots was the difference maker.

In the aftermath, Verlander’s then-fiancée Kate Upton fired off some angry tweets, as did Justin’s brother Ben.

Verlander was again in the running for the 2018 AL Cy Young Award. He again finished in second place, this time behind Blake Snell of the Rays. Snell had 17 first-place votes and 169 total points to Verlander’s 13 and 154. There weren’t any ballots that made a big difference like in 2016, but there were two odd ballots from the Tampa Bay chapter again.

If a chapter doesn’t have enough eligible voters, a voter from another chapter is chosen to represent that city. This year, Bill Madden of the New York Daily News was a replacement voter along with Mark Didtler, a freelancer for the Associated Press. Both writers voted for Snell in first place, reasonably. But neither writer put Verlander second, less reasonably, putting Corey Kluber there instead. Madden actually had Verlander fourth behind Athletics reliever Blake Treinen. Didtler had Treinen in fifth place. Two other writers had Verlander in third place: George A. King III of the New York Post and Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune. The other 26 had Verlander in first or second place.

Voting Kluber ahead of Verlander doesn’t make any sense, especially we finally live in a world where a pitcher’s win-loss record isn’t valued highly. Kluber had 20 wins to Verlander’s 16 and pitched one more inning. In every other area, Verlander was better. ERA? Verlander led 2.52 to 2.89. Strikeouts? Verlander led 290 to 222. Strikeout rate? Verlander led 34.8% to 26.4%. Opponent batting average? Verlander led .198 to .222. FIP and xFIP? Verlander led both 2.78 and 3.03 to 3.12 and 3.08, respectively. And while Treinen had an excellent year, Verlander pitched 134 more innings, which is significant.

Upton had another tweet for the occasion: