PHOTO CREDIT: Associated Press
Just for the first two games of this extremely young season, we got Max Scherzer facing off with the 41 year old Bartolo "El Porko" Colon, with El Porko edging out the $210 million man via two Ian Desmond errors and Duda and d'Arnaud RBIs. Tonight, we had a great showing from Jacob deGrom and Rafael Montero from the Blue and Orange Brigade, but a 2 run dinger from Ryan Zimmerman in the 1st was all the Nats needed to get a W 2-1.
The strong showing from the pitchers in Games 1 and 2 of this series really has displayed what I love about National League baseball: the strategic nature of the game. While the American League has the designated hitter and is primarily a home run league, the NL is where the baseball purists truly thrive.
Look at some examples: Terry Collins (and Sandy Alderson, to some extent) tinkering the lineup cards for the two first games, actually having deGrom bat 8th instead of the standard 9 spot in tonight's game. Collins going with Granderson, a man known for his deceptive power, leading off, instead of the newly - signed to an extension Juan Lagares. While the Grandy Man found a way to get 2 walks and a run on Monday, he struggled all day at the plate tonight.
Yet, the best thing to see is the confidence of players truly taking stride. In my opinion, there is nothing more exciting than watching athletes become leaders before our eyes. To me, no one personifies that more than the bearded brute at 1st base, Lucas Duda.
PHOTO CREDIT: Evan Vucci - Associated Press
Watching the first two games of the year, combined with Spring Training and the MLB All Stars games in Japan during the offseason, you can notice the immediate shift in Duda's demeanor. His quiet demeanor withholding, his non-verbal swagger is compelling. The Dude's confidence at the plate is noticeable; taking advantage of the already mentioned Desmond error in the 6th inning by driving in 2 RBIs with one swing of the bat showcases that right off the bat (pun not and totally intended). His hard swings show that he has found the ability to go for a big hit every time at the plate. (3 hits in 8 at-bats with 2 RBIs.)
Yet, his defense is most telling. In his first two games, Duda has made some solid plays in the field. Digging out some low throws from David Wright and Wilmer Flores on the left side of the infield during Opening Day were solid pick-me-ups, but 3 particular plays in tonight's loss were very telling.
So take it from this Angry Mets Guy: by the end of 2015, Lucas Duda will be the most complete 1st Baseman in the National League.
Man, I love the purity of National League games. Pitching, strategy, and the development of true talent excite me. The fact that these two teams are playing great thusfar makes me think this is a precursor for the fight these two teams will bring down the line for the 2015 NL East crown.
Don't be surprised if Lucas Duda has a big part on why the Mets possibly make it to the next level.