3 keys to Mets' win: Rosario does heavy-lifting

Gsellman pulls escape act; 3rd time a charm for Matz

April 12th, 2019

ATLANTA -- The loudest moment of the Mets’ 6-3 win over the Braves on Thursday was, without question, Pete Alonso’s 118.3-mph home run. But because the Mets were already leading by two runs at the time, it was not the night’s most impactful play. That belonged to , whose three-run homer in the second inning gave the Mets their largest win expectancy spike of the night, according to Fangraphs data -- more than twice as much as Alonso’s shot.

Led by Rosario, here are three of the most significant non-Alonso moments from Thursday’s game:

Rosario hits a three-run homer
Inning: Top second
Win expectancy before the play: 46.6 percent
Win expectancy after the play: 68.5 percent
Net: +21.9 percent

While many have focused on plate discipline as Rosario’s weakness entering the season, a change in approach is actually what has helped him thrive. Rosario is swinging at only slightly fewer pitches out of the strike zone than he did last summer, but he’s using the whole field more effectively when he does swing, shooting more than 80 percent of his hits to center or right field.

That was the case in the second inning Thursday, when Rosario hammered a high fastball to right-center field for a three-run homer. (His second RBI hit, in the sixth inning, also went to right.)

“I think it’s helped me 100 percent,” Rosario said through an interpreter. “It’s helped me let the ball get a little bit deeper, not just to lay off of bad pitches, but also to be able to drive the ball the other way.”

Robert Gsellman gets his men
Inning: Bottom seventh
Win expectancy before the play: 83.1 percent
Win expectancy after the play: 96.6 percent
Net: +13.5 percent

This is not a single play, but a two-batter sequence. Entering the night, Gsellman had allowed at least one run in 10 of his last 17 outings dating to last August, with a 7.63 ERA over that stretch. So it was alarming when he gave up two hits and walked Matt Joyce to load the bases with one out.

This time, though, Gsellman recovered, striking out Ozzie Albies on a 96-mph fastball and inducing an inning-ending grounder from Josh Donaldson.

“To get that was big for him,” Mets manager Mickey Callaway said. “He needed something positive to happen, especially in a big situation. He got out of it with no runs, and when he came off, he was happy. He needed that one tonight.”

Steven Matz navigates the order a third time
Inning: Bottom sixth
Win expectancy before the play: 74.7 percent
Win expectancy after the play: 82.0 percent
Net: +7.3 percent

This four-batter stretch was indicative of what Matz did all night against the Braves. The first batter Matz faced, Donaldson, ran the count full before taking a changeup for called strike three on the inside corner. The second, Freddie Freeman, flew out. And after Ronald Acuna Jr. reached on a single after a 10-pitch at-bat, Matz threw another changeup that Nick Markakis rolled over to end the inning.

All told, Matz threw 22 changeups -- his most in a game since last June, and tied for the fifth-most he’s ever thrown in a start.

“It’s just been more effective,” Matz said. “This pitch has been so effective for me coming up through the Minor Leagues, and I kind of got away from it. So I just stuck with it, and it’s kind of been my go-to pitch.”