New York Mets: Jordan Walden

Series preview: Mets vs. Braves

May, 23, 2013

This weekend at Citi Field, the Mets face (left to right) Kris Medlen, Mike Minor and Julio Teheran.
METS (17-27, fourth place/NL East) vs. ATLANTA BRAVES (28-18, first place/NL East)

Friday: RHP Jeremy Hefner (0-5, 5.00) vs. RHP Kris Medlen (1-5, 3.02), 7:10 p.m. ET

Saturday: RHP Dillon Gee (2-5, 6.04) vs. LHP Mike Minor (5-2, 2.78), 7:15 p.m. ET

Sunday: RHP Shaun Marcum (0-5, 6.59) vs. RHP Julio Teheran (3-1, 3.99), 8:05 p.m. ET, ESPN

Braves short hops

• Left fielder Justin Upton, who was acquired from the Arizona Diamondbacks on Jan. 24, is tied with Baltimore’s Chris Davis for the MLB lead in homers with 14. Upton became the first player in major league history to homer five times in his first five games with a team, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

• Right fielder Jason Heyward is hitting .304 with two RBIs in six games since returning from the disabled list Friday. Heyward underwent an appendectomy on April 22. He missed 22 games. He was hitting .121 when he landed on the DL.

• Center fielder B.J. Upton (.155, 4 HRs, 7 RBIs) snapped an 0-for-16 skid Saturday. He then homered Wednesday for the first time since April 23. He has yet to record a hit in three straight games, and will be bidding to accomplish that Friday at Citi Field.

Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images
Evan Gattis has an MLB rookie-leading 10 homers.

• Catcher Brian McCann made his season debut May 6 after recovering from Oct. 16, 2012 shoulder surgery.

The Braves are now carrying six relievers and three catchers: McCann, rookie phenom Evan Gattis and Gerald Laird.

Gattis hit an opposite-field grand slam on a 3-0 pitch from Minnesota’s Vance Worley on Wednesday, in the catcher’s first start in eight days. He has 10 homers, which lead major league rookies, in only 122 at-bats. Manager Fredi Gonzalez has struggled to find playing time for Gattis in the three-catcher alignment. Gattis also can play first base or left field, but those are occupied.

• The Braves lost a pair of top-notch relievers to Tommy John surgery in a six-day span. Lefty Jonny Venters, who had not appeared this season, underwent the procedure last Thursday; this was his second Tommy John surgery. Fellow southpaw Eric O'Flaherty, who had held lefty batters to a .143 average this season, underwent the elbow procedure Tuesday.

Atlanta pitchers have undergone a spate of Tommy John surgeries -- seven among major leaguers in the past five years, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. The recipients: Peter Moylan (May 2008), Tim Hudson (August 2008), Kris Medlen (August 2010), Arodys Vizcaino (March 2012), Brandon Beachy (June 2012), Venters and O’Flaherty.

• The Braves have a 2.79 bullpen ERA, narrowly behind the San Francisco Giants (2.77) and Pittsburgh Pirates (2.78) for the MLB lead. Craig Kimbrel notched his 100th career save on May 9, becoming the second-youngest to reach that plateau (24 years, 348 days). Only ex-Met Francisco Rodriguez (24 years, 246 days) was younger.

• Since O’Flaherty landed on the DL, Triple-A closer Cory Rasmus was promoted. He's the younger brother of Toronto Blue Jays center fielder Colby Rasmus. Cory made his major league debut Wednesday. The siblings’ brother Casey is a 23-year-old catcher who is hitting .300 for the St. Louis Cardinals’ Class A Peoria affiliate.

• Beachy is set to begin a rehab assignment, so Atlanta will have to create a rotation spot soon.

• Reliever Jordan Walden (shoulder) is not eligible to be activated from the DL until after the Mets series.

• With their bullpen injuries, Atlanta signed lefty reliever Joe Beimel, 36, to a minor league contract. He also is returning from Tommy John surgery.

Andrelton Simmons is the only every-day shortstop without an error.

Dan Uggla (.182, 8 HRs, 16 RBIs) is 3-for-35 with 13 strikeouts in his last 10 starts. Ramiro Pena has started two games at second base in the past week.

Julio Teheran is coming off an outing in which he allowed one run in 8 1/3 innings against the Minnesota Twins.

• Medlen limited the Los Angeles Dodgers to one run (unearned) in seven innings in his last start. The Braves are 3-6 in Medlen's starts this season. Entering this year, Atlanta had won 23 straight games started by Medlen -- the most in one pitcher’s starts in major league history.

• The Braves arrive in New York off a 6-0 homestand, during which they swept the Dodgers and Twins.

Rapid Reaction: Mets 7, Braves 5 (10)

May, 3, 2013
WHAT IT MEANS: The Mets' most reliable pieces -- David Wright, Bobby Parnell, Jordany Valdespin and John Buck -- all played starring roles as the Mets survived for a 7-5 win in 10 innings against the Atlanta Braves on Friday night at Turner Field.

With the Mets two outs from defeat, Wright belted a solo homer against Braves closer Craig Kimbrel in the ninth to even the score. Kimbrel had entered the game with the fifth-best career save percentage in MLB history among closers with at least 100 opportunities (89.1 percent).

Parnell then had a stellar moment, too.

Inheriting a runner on third base from Brandon Lyon with one out and the score tied in the bottom of the ninth, Parnell wriggled free of the jam. He stranded the potential winning run 90 feet from home plate by ultimately retiring Justin Upton on a groundout to third base.

The final dramatics: Ruben Tejada delivered a two-out single against Jordan Walden in the top of the 10th that scored Valdespin and Daniel Murphy added an RBI single against Luis Avilan. Valdespin had walked as a pinch hitter with two outs and stolen second.

Jeurys Familia pitched a scoreless bottom of the 10th for his first major league save. The converted starter's only other professional save came earlier this season with Triple-A Las Vegas.

LYON DOESN’T ROAR: Lyon, who became the eighth pitcher in franchise history to uncork a walk-off wild pitch earlier this week in Miami, nearly twice gave up the lead.

Lyon originally entered with one out in the eighth and the score tied at 4. He served up a tiebreaking homer to Evan Gattis on the first pitch he threw.

After Wright’s long ball pulled the Mets even at 5, Lyon allowed a leadoff double to Ramiro Pena in the ninth, then a sac bunt. Terry Collins then inserted Parnell with the winning run at third base. And Parnell coaxed a flyout that was too shallow for the Braves to attempt to score, the closer ultimately escaped with the Upton groundout.

DEEP THOUGHTS: All of the Mets’ runs before the 10th came via the homer.

Buck's 10th homer of the season, a two-run shot in the first inning against left-hander Mike Minor, came in his 25th game of the season. That tied Buck with Carlos Delgado (2006) and Dave Kingman (1982) for the second-fastest to double digits in franchise history to start a season.

Kingman also has the franchise record. He reached 10 homers in his 23rd game of the 1976 season.

Duda’s solo shot in the second was his sixth long ball of 2013 and staked the Mets to a 3-0 lead. He was the last baserunner Minor allowed.

Marlon Byrd homered to lead off the eighth against left-hander Eric O'Flaherty, which evened the score at 4. O’Flaherty had just replaced Minor, who was pulled with his pitch count at 90 despite retiring the final 18 batters he faced.

OFF THE MARC: Shaun Marcum took a 3-1 lead into the fifth. He then surrendered a one-out RBI single to Andrelton Simmons that pulled Atlanta within a run and departed with the bases loaded.

LaTroy Hawkins limited the damage. Hawkins surrendered a first-pitch sacrifice fly to dangerous Justin Upton that evened the score at 3. Hawkins then struck out Freddie Freeman to strand two in scoring position.

Marcum’s final line: 4.1 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 3 BB, 4 K. He threw 87 pitches (57 strikes).

DEBUTANT: Andrew Brown, starting in right field, went 0-for-3 with a strikeout in his Mets debut before departing for the pinch-hitting Valdespin in the 10th.

OUCH: Braves third baseman Juan Francisco was forced to leave the game after spraining his right ankle on the basepaths in the third inning. Pena replaced him.

WHAT’S NEXT: Jonathon Niese (2-2, 3.31 ERA) opposes right-hander Julio Teheran (1-0, 5.08) at 7:10 p.m. Saturday.

Thanks to Walden, Mets wilt in 9th

June, 18, 2011

Anthony Gruppuso/US Presswire
Angels rookie closer Jordan Walden converted his ninth consecutive save on Friday night against the Mets.

Down one run in the ninth, the Mets found themselves in perfect position to tie things up against the Angels: Rookie closer on the mound. First two runners reach on walks. Citi Field crowd –- or what's left of it –- on its feet. Three-four-five hitters due up.

“We put ourselves in a good situation,” Justin Turner said.

But the Mets couldn’t turn that ‘good situation’ into a win. And there are two simple reasons for that: Jordan Walden’s 100 mph fastball and Jordan Walden’s crippling slider.

Walden, the Angels’ rookie closer, featured both pitches prominently in successive strikeouts of Carlos Beltran, Daniel Murphy and Angel Pagan to end the Angels’ 4-3 win on Friday night.

“(We) didn’t get ‘em tonight. If that situation comes up again, I’d put all my money on those three guys to get it done,” Turner said.

Though the way Walden threw the ball on Friday, that didn’t seem like such a safe bet.

After walking Jose Reyes and Turner (in an eight-pitch battle) to open the inning, Walden buckled down.

He fooled Beltran with two sliders to open the at-bat and got him to chase a third after flashing a 98 mph heater. Beltran said afterward it was tough to see the ball out of Walden’s hand due to his “funky motion.”

That same motion -- along with a few more 98 mph heaters -- was enough to set down Murphy and Pagan.

Pagan went down swinging at Walden's 80 mph slider -- one of the toughest pitches to hit in baseball right now -- after seeing three 98 mph fastballs.

“You have no idea how difficult that is,” Pagan said after the game. “That was the hardest pitch of the night.”

Walden has saved nine straight games and has 16 saves in 19 chances. He routinely hits 100 mph on the radar gun. After what he did to the Mets on Friday night, they're probably happy that he pitches in the American League.

“You just have to tip your hat to him,” Turner said.
The Mets are not alone in waving at Angels reliever Jordan Walden's devastating slider. Turns out that pitch is one of the toughest breaking pitches to make contact against in the major leagues.

According to our pitch performance data, culled with the help of Inside Edge's video scouting group, Walden has thrown 99 breaking balls (in his case, sliders), including seven against the Mets on Friday night.

Hitters have swung at 41 of them and they've missed 28 times.

That's a miss rate of 68 percent. That's not good. It's ridiculously good.

Entering Friday, only two major leaguers had a higher miss rate on their breaking pitches than Walden does right now-- White Sox reliever Sergio Santos (73 percent) and Pirates closer Joel Hanrahan (69 percent).

The Mets boosted Walden a few notches in the rankings. They swung at five Walden sliders and missed on all five tries.



Carlos Torres
2 1.54 14 11
BAD. Wright .316
HRL. Duda 3
RBID. Wright 11
RE. Young Jr. 15
OPSL. Duda .817
ERAJ. Niese 2.84
SOZ. Wheeler 21