PORT ST. LUCIE — Marcus Stroman is listening to the analytics.
And those numbers tell the Mets right-hander he should be utilizing his slider more often. It’s a pitch Stroman threw only two percent of the time in 2019, according to Fangraphs, as he relied primarily on his changeup and sinker as secondary pitches.
“I’ve been open,” Stroman said after allowing one run on four hits and one walk over 3 ¹/₃ innings in the Mets’ 4-2 exhibition loss to the Marlins. “I am definitely not stubborn and definitely not stuck in my ways when it comes to learning and adapting. I want to hear all the information possible around.”
Stroman said David Lang, the Mets’ coordinator of pitching analytics, has discussed with him utilizing the slider to limit the number of barreled balls and hard-hit percentage against him.
“I’m always trying to adapt, and if there’s an opportunity to get better, why would I not try to take that opportunity?” Stroman said.“I am trying to merge both. Obviously, I feel like I have great feel, and I’m always going to side with confidence, but why not add a little bit of information that is telling me, ‘Hey, Stro, when you don’t have the feel, this is something you can go back to.’ I’m learning.”
Dominic Smith received his first start of the exhibition season in left field — the position he figures to play for the remainder of camp.
Though Smith could shift to first base as a defensive replacement during the regular season, manager Luis Rojas wants Smith’s focus on left field. The Mets limited Smith to DH and first base for the early part of camp as a precaution.
One adjustment: Rojas wants Smith using a big glove in the outfield.
“He likes to use the little glove at first just for the hands, and sometimes he goes to the outfield with the little glove, and we talk about using the big glove all the time just because those catches you make at the end of the glove,” Rojas said.
Tomas Nido was scratched from the lineup because of a bruised left foot from a foul ball in batting practice the previous day. X-rays were negative. Caleb Joseph started behind the plate in Nido’s spot.
Rojas, who attended the pregame workout, missed the game for personal reasons. Bench coach Dave Jauss filled in as manager. Triple-A manager Chad Kreuter served as the bench coach.