Brandon Nimmo Should Be Celebrated, Not Criticized

Aside from his rare ability to draw walks and find a way to get on base, Mets fans have take a real liking to Brandon Nimmo because he expressly the very same joy on the baseball field we have watching him play.  The homegrown Mets always has a positive attitude and a smile on his face.  Overall, he plays the game the right way, and he has the right attitude in everything he does.

This begs the question as to why he seems to rub people the wrong way.

Seeing Nimmo’s disposition, it was of no surprise Nimmo is willing to accept any role with this team.  In fact, he went a step further saying, “I want to be part of a World Series team, and if that means I need to come off the bench and put up a good at-bat for a pinch hit or whatever, it may be then that’s what I’m going to do.”  

On the Afternoon Drive with Carlin, Maggie, and Bart, Chris Carlin implored him to “Dial it back” because he’s Brandon Nimmo.  Bart Scott told him to “Be quiet young man” and even called him “Rex, Jr.”  It should be noted Maggie Gray defended Nimmo for being upbeat and buying in.

In the sixth inning on Sunday, Nimmo hit a big game-tying home run the half inning after the Mets had lost the lead.  There were no bat flips and slow trots.  Instead, he sprinted around the bases with a smile on his face.

Apparently, this rubbed Mark DeRosa, former Major Leaguer and Mets managerial candidate this past offseason, the wrong way.  On MLB Central, DeRosa would feel the need to put Nimmo in his place saying, “I get it.  We’re grown men competing!  Wipe the smile off your face!  It’s game 14!”

Last night, with the Mets down 3-2 in the sixth inning, Nimmo was hit by a pitch by Tanner Roark, which loaded the bases.  Nimmo responded to the beaning by smiling, clapping his hands, and running to first.  That prompted this reaction from WFAN overnight host John Jastremski:

So far in his career, Nimmo has not had a cross word to say about anyone.  He plays hard, and he does not take one game off. In everything he does on the field, he plays the game the right way.  He’s that rare quality of being both a grinder and being a guy who gets both his team and the fans into the game.

When it comes to the team or the clubhouse, no one ever has a bad word to say about him.  In fact, Mickey Callaway went so far as to compliment him after Nimmo had to be sent down to the minors despite his terrific play saying, “Tough break for Nimmo, he deserves to be here, he handled the news unbelievably. What a guy. He’s a winning player, he’s going to help us for a long, long time so it’s tough but we felt like it was necessary.” (northjersey.com)

This is a guy who loves being a Met, baseball, and life itself.  He checks his ego at the door, and he is willing to do whatever it takes to win.  Normally, players like this are celebrated.  However, because Nimmo does it with a smile on his face and plays with joy on the baseball field, people want to just tear him down.

Through it all, Nimmo has risen above it, and he’s been a great ambassador for baseball.  It’s why Mets fans love him, and it’s why he’s quickly become a fan favorite.  So, they can all go ahead and mock him and criticize him.  Mets fans will be here cheering for him and smiling along with him every step of the way.

Mets Blogger Roundtable: Pleasant Surprises of The 2018 Mets Season

After the Mets lost a brutal game to the Washington Nationals with an epic eighth inning meltdown, you’d be hard pressed to think of anything good about the 2018 Mets even with the team having a 12-3 record.  Of course, last night, the Mets had their own eighth inning rally to remind everyone just how good this Mets team can be.

With there being so many different surprises this season, our Mets bloggers answered the question about what they believe to be the most pleasant surprise of the 2018 season:

Roger Cormier (Good Fundies)

I would have to say it’s all of the winning. Now don’t get me wrong – I didn’t expect a 1-161 season (the Mets always win Opening Day), but boy, all of the winning at the jump? It was an embarrassment of riches. I would *never* ask for 11 wins after 12 games. Yet the other shoe kept refusing to drop. My shoes just stayed on my beach blanket as I danced in the sands of glory. I have pneumonia now of course thanks to this weather, but boy was it fun. They say you never know when you’re living in a golden age, and I wanted to prove this ‘they’ wrong. Back to reality though. *Nyquil chug* Sorry, what was I saying? Oh right, the winning. Yes, the surprise was all of the winning.

Joe Marcic (Loud Egg)

I was going to say the bullpen… but maybe not.

Besides the bullpen, I’d say the DL. I do not want to say this too loudly and jinx things, but Mickey Callaway‘s handling of his players (especially pitching) has been great. Both catchers being out hurts, but it’s not too bad this early in the season. Unpleasant surprise: Jose Reyes not getting a hit. Did not see this coming.

Metstradamus (Metstradamus Blog)

Adrian Gonzalez. Everything else is a distant second.

Greg Prince (Faith and Fear in Flushing)

The most pleasant surprise of the early season was that the ugly 8-6 loss to the Nationals fifteen games in was considered a total shock as opposed to business as usual. Wouldn’t have seen the status quo reshaping itself so definitively prior to Opening Day.

Mets Daddy

The Todd Frazier effect on everything Mets.  He’s brought a winning attitude to the team.  He’s become the upbeat clubhouse guy, and he’s started this fun friendship with Yoenis Cespedes.  He also helped start that goofy grinder thing that has someone become not just a team bonding thing, but a thing Mets fans have come to actually like.

Speaking of Mets fans, Frazier is one of the good ones, like Wilmer Flores, who takes time to interact with the fans.  He’s already making himself a fan favorite, and he seems like one of those players we will irrationally love for the next 40 years.

While the Mets have been a surprise this season, the excellent work from the participating bloggers isn’t.  As always, I encourage you to visit their sites to get their unique, thoughtful, and interesting takes on the Mets.

 

This Time, The Mets Own The Eighth Inning

Considering what happened the last two nights, the Mets really could have used a fast start to this game.  Instead, they got Steven Matz threw a 3-2 changeup that Ryan Zimmerman hit for a three run home run to give the Nationals an early 3-0 lead.

After the Zimmerman homer, Matz would allow a Moises Sierra single before going on a tear where he retired the next 11 Nationals in a row.  That stretch included a pick-off (scored a caught stealing), no walks, and five strikeouts.  He was at 74 pitches, and he looked good to go for a few more innings.

Essentially, Matz settled into the game.  However, where Matz settled in, his manager Mickey Callaway, did not.

With Tanner Roark starting to bark at the home plate umpire over some borderline calls, the Mets began to rally in the bottom of the fourth.

Asdrubal Cabrera led off the inning with a double, and Todd Frazier would follow with a one out walk.  Once again, it was Adrian Gonzalez delivering a key and unexpected RBI single.  The single scored Cabrera and allowed Frazier to go to third.

Jose Lobaton followed with what should have been an inning ending double play.  The only problem for the Nationals is Zimmerman can’t throw anymore, and he pulled Trea Turner off the bag not only preventing the Nationals from getting the double play, but also them getting even just one out.

On the play Frazier scored pulling the Mets to within 3-2 with runners on first and second and just one out and Matz due up.  Instead of using Matz in an obvious sacrifice bunt situation, Callaway pinch hit Brandon Nimmo.

Considering the events of the past two days, this reeked of a panic move.  You could only hope it would work out.  Initially, it looked like it would with Roark hitting Nimmo, who smiled and cheered all his way to first base.  Still, the move blew up as Amed Rosario hit into the inning ending 6-4-3 double play.

Considering how the Mets left a small island nation on the bases yesterday, and the team going all-in on the fourth inning, there was legitimate concern the Mets blew their shot.

That’s where Paul Sewald came in, and he gave the Mets another incredible three inning relief appearance.  If not for an extremely ill advised Jay Bruce dive, it’s likely all three innings would have been scoreless.  Instead, his final line would be 3.0 innings, one run, one earned, one hit, no walks, and five strikeouts.

Sewald both saved a taxed bullpen, and he gave the Mets a chance to win.  For once this series, the Mets took advantage of that chance.

With Ryan Madson working a third day in a row, the Mets offense would immediately go to work starting with back-to-back-to-back singles from Michael Conforto, Yoenis Cespedes, and Cabrera to load the bases.  After an injured and struggled Bruce popped out, Frazier delivered with the game tying RBI single. On the single up the middle, Cespedes would get his hand in just ahead of the Severino tag.

The Mets weren’t done either.  Gonzalez was intentionally walked to re-load the bases, Madson struck out Wilmer Flores leaving the game in the hands of Juan Lagares.  Historically, Lagares has struggled against right-handed pitching, but this season he can do no wrong, and he did no wrong in this at-bat hitting a go-ahead two RBI double.

As the inning continued, and the Mets batted around, Sammy Solis would issue a bases loaded walk to Conforto giving the Mets a 7-4 lead.  The capper would be Cespedes hitting a grand slam to give the Mets an 11-4 lead.

No, it wasn’t quite the Nationals coming from down 6-1, but it still felt good and nearly as important.  Also, it might have demoralized a Nationals team who thought they were going to return the favor to the Mets for them sweeping them at home last week.

Thanks to the heroics of Sewald and a revitalized Mets offense, the Mets won 11-5, and they are well back on track as they go on the road to make a statement against the Braves.

Game Notes: Jose Reyes grounded out to the pitcher in a seventh inning.  He’s now 0-18 on the season.

Callaway May Be Overworking The Mets Bullpen

After an epic eighth inning bullpen meltdown against the Washington Nationals, the fans and media began the process of second guessing Mets manager Mickey Callaway. With that the central question was why Callaway went to Seth Lugo instead of allowing Jacob deGrom to face Howie Kendrick, who deGrom has completely dominated both that night and over the course of his career.

As we know, Lugo did the inexcuable and walked Kendrick on four pitches. This led to Jerry Blevins, AJ Ramos, and Jeurys Familia not getting the job done. With the exception of Blevins, there were ensuing questions about how each reliever was used in that inning.

These questions are interesting for debate, but they are missing the larger issue here. In his brief managerial career, Callaway has ridden the bullpen too hard for this team to have sustained success over the course of a 162 game schedule.

There are a number of caveats many people will cite. There have been a number of off days. The Mets pitchers aren’t going deep enough into games thereby forcing Callaway’s hand. The bullpen can’t possibly be overworked because they have pitched just the 17th more innings in the majors.

Here are some other key stats to consider. There are 15 pitchers in baseball who have made double digit appearances this season. The Mets have three of those pitchers with Familia, Ramos, and Blevins. By the way, they were also the three pitchers who failed to get the job done that fateful eighth inning.

By the way, the Mets are the only team to have three relievers make double digit appearances, and that number will grow to four when Robert Gsellman, who has scuffled a bit of late, makes his next appearance.

We tend to over-focus just on the number of appearances, innings, and pitches relievers throw. Them getting up to warm up also counts. It is part of the fatigue which can set in for a reliever.

At this point, we can not be definitively sure any of the Mets relievers are gassed even with the recent drop-off. Really, that can be explained by regression to the mean or just a fluke small sample size.

Here’s what we do know. For most of this season, Callaway has had a bullpen with an extra arm in it. Despite that, the Mets have had to make roster moves on two separate occasions to get a fresh arm into the bullpen. First, it was Corey Oswalt for a day. Now, it’s Gerson Bautista for who knows how long?

The answer to that one may just be up until he gets gassed and the Mets need to go back to the minors to pull up Hansel Robles or Jacob Rhame again. Maybe this time, it’s Tyler Bashlor who comes up to the majors straight from Double-A.

Point is, the way Callaway is using this bullpen is having an effect, and it is causing the Mets to need to dip into their minor league depth to get fresh arms into this bullpen. Maybe this was the plan all along, and that plan is buttressed by Sandy Alderson’s moves at the trade deadline last year. Probably not.

Whatever the case, the Mets are going to have to figure something out because this cannot continue for 162 games.

Mets Don’t Execute, Callaway Makes Another Mistake, Mets Lose

In the top of the first, the Nationals quickly loaded the bases against Zack Wheeler with one out.  This is normally where Wheeler would implode, and based off of what happened last night, you’d think this was a spot where the Nationals would jump right out and put up a crooked number on the board.

Instead, Wheeler induced Moises Sierra to hit into the inning ending 6-4-3 double play.

What this told us about the Mets was this was not a completed deflated team.  They still had fight in them despite last night’s horrendous loss.  So, yes the fight was there.  The question was if the execution would be there to pull out a win.

As far as the Nationals were concerned the theme of the nights would be soft hits.  They’d use them to set up a Bryce Harper sacrifice fly in the third, and they’d use them to score two runs off Wheeler in the fourth to give the Nationals a 3-0 lead.

By that time, you were left wondering if the Mets had a rally in them.  They would in the bottom of the fifth with a leadoff single from Wheeler of all people.

Wheeler quickly found himself on third after an Amed Rosario double, which might have been a triple had Wheeler not been ahead of him on the basepaths.  Asdrubal Cabrera followed with a sacrifice fly.  With Michael Taylor overthrowing the cutoff man, Rosario moved to third allowing him to score on the subsequent Yoenis Cespedes RBI groundout.

That pulled the Mets to within 3-2.  The Mets would have their chances to take the lead, but they couldn’t get out of their own way.

In the sixth, the Mets had runners at the corners after back-to-back one out singles from Juan Lagares and Tomas Nido.  For reasons that defy all logic, Mickey Callaway decided to pinch hit Jose Reyes instead of using Michael Conforto, Brandon Nimmo, Adrian Gonzalez, or even the newly called-up reliever Gerson Bautista.  If you thought Callaway had a rough night last night, he showed he learned nothing.

Reyes struck out in an ugly at-bat against Gio Gonzalez, and Rosario followed with a weak pop out in foul territory to end the inning.

In the seventh, runners were once again on the corners with one out.  This time it was due to a Wilmer Flores and Cespedes single.  They’d be stranded when Todd Frazier had an ugly strikeout, and Jay Bruce got rung up on a pitch on what the umpire believed was the inside corner.  Bruce disagreed.

In the eighth, it was a two out rally that sputtered out after a Conforto walk and Rosario single.  Brandon Kintzler would completely overmatch Cabrera to strike him out for the final out of the inning.

While the Mets were failing to cash in on rallies going 0-9 with RISP, the Nationals were tacking on runs to give themselves some breathing room.  They’d push a run across in the seventh and eighth, both against Robert Gsellman expanding their lead to 5-2.

The run in the eighth was a little troubling.  Michael Taylor singled and stole second.  On the stolen base, Nido’s throw was there by Rosario whiffed on the tag.  Later in the inning, Pedro Severino hit the ball directly to the drawn in Rosario, who froze thereby allowing Taylor to score easily.

In the end, the Mets lost this game not because they didn’t have fight after last night’s loss.  No, they lost it because they didn’t execute against a Nationals team they breathed new life into.  As a result, the Mets have now lost their first series of the year and are now looking to prevent getting swept.

Game Notes: Bautista made his MLB debut in the ninth walking one, allowing a hit, and striking out on in a scoreless inning.

Mickey Callaway’s Eighth Inning

Look, it was bound to happen.  The revamped and praised bullpen was finally going to have a meltdown.  Mickey Callaway was going to have a game leaving fans scratching their heads a bit leading up to him getting criticized.  The fact it came against the Nationals was tough.  The fact it was a blown 6-1 lead was tougher.  The combination of the two left a really sour taste in your mouth despite the Mets 12-3 start.

In that eighth inning, the Mets would use five pitchers who allowed six runs on five hits, three walks, and a hit batter.  Two of those walks were bases loaded walks.  With the exception of Jacob deGrom, each and every pitcher who appeared that inning has some explaining to do.

Naturally, when you have a complete bullpen meltdown like that, much like we saw cause the 2008 Mets collapse, there are going to be some questions about how Callaway handled the inning.  Let’s take a look.

Questionable Decision No. 1 – Lifting deGrom

At the time Callaway lifted deGrom, the Mets had a 6-1 lead in the top of the eighth.  A Michael Taylor strikeout was book-ended by a pair of singles by Moises Sierra and Trea Turner.  At that point, deGrom had thrown 103 pitches, and he was about to go to the Nationals lineup a fourth time.

Before moving on, some key stats should be considered.  In his career, batters hit .277/.300/.447 when facing deGrom for a fourth time.  However, that stat should be mitigated by the batter Howie Kendrick.

For his career, Kendrick is hitting .087 with no walks or extra base hits against deGrom.  Last night, Kendrick was 0-3 with three strikeouts against deGrom.

Considering Bryce Harper is hitting behind him, and you have Jerry Blevins warming in the pen to face him, there’s no way you second guess Callaway for leaving deGrom in the game.

By removing deGrom, Callaway opened himself up to second guessing.  That second guessing grew louder when Seth Lugo, who had been excellent this year, walked Kendrick on four straight pitches.

Question Decision No. 2 – Using Lugo for One Batter

As noted above, with Harper on deck and Blevins warming, whoever you brought into the game to face Kendrick was only going to be in for one batter, so why Lugo?

There is a time to experiment with your bullpen guys to give them a different taste of different moments, but a game against the Nationals just isn’t that moment.  Not when there was something brewing that caused you to go out there and bring in a reliever to nip a potential rally in the bud.

Since you are bringing Blevins into the game to face Harper anyway, you could have used him to pitch to Kendrick.  After all, Kendrick is just 1-8 off Blevins.  Even if Kendrick hits an unlikely homer, you are still up 6-4 at that point, and you have Blevins to face Harper.

Instead, Lugo was put in an unfamiliar situation, and he struggled.  That doesn’t excuse Lugo’s performance in the least.  He should have gone out there and recorded the out, or at least forced Kendrick to put the ball in play.  Really, this at-bat was a seminal moment as this is where the rally really began to build momentum and begin to spiral out of control.

Questionable Decision No. 3 – Using Ramos

Iseemed odd Callaway would go to AJ Ramos over getting Jeurys Familia into the game at that spot.  Heading into this season, Callaway spoke about getting his best relievers into the biggest spots of the game regardless of whether there was a save situation or not.  That’s not what happened.

Instead of using Familia to nip the rally in the bud and let Ramos start a clean ninth, Callaway took a page out of Terry Collins book and saved his closer.  He also used Ramos, who has allowed 24.5% of inherited runners to score in his career.  Now, to be fair, Callaway may have wanted to shy away from Familia who has had a fairly high workload this season. Still, you have to wonder why Ramos there.

Out of anyone in the Mets bullpen, Ramos has the highest walk rate with a scary 4.9 BB/9 for his career.  That included his walking six batters in the 6.1 innings he had pitched entering last night’s game.  Bringing Ramos into this game into a powder keg of a situation could potentially light a fuse and blow the game.

It started out well with Ramos over powering Ryan Zimmerman to get the second out, and the Nationals sent up Matt Reynolds to the plate.  Right here was why the Mets should have never lost this game.  It’s also why using a walk prone Ramos is dangerous.

Reynolds, who is a career .224/.294/.393 hitter with an 8.1% walk rate, walked on four straight pitches to make it 6-4.

Questionable Decision No. 4 – Double Switching Flores into the Game

When Callaway brought Familia into the game, he obviously had the intention of using him for the four out save.  With the pitcher’s spot due up second in the bottom of the inning, Callaway understandably double switched him into the game.

What is interesting is Juan Lagares had made the last out of the bottom of the seventh.  By the book, you swap him out.  Being smarter than that, Callaway didn’t do that instead opting to keep his best fielder in the game in a crucial spot.  Instead, he went back and pulled Adrian Gonzalez.

Now, Gonzalez isn’t the four Gold Glove Gonzalez anymore.  In 92.1 innings this season, he has a -1 DRS and 0.1 UZR.  It’s a small sample size, but it is in line with what he’s been the past few seasons.  His dimished skill and range were prevalent when Harper had hit an RBI single earlier that inning between him and Asdrubal Cabrera.  That was more on Cabrera’s range, but it did speak to the limited range on the right side of the Mets infield.

Now, Flores arguably has more range than Gonzalez with a 0.2 UZR at first this year and a 2.3 UZR over the past three seasons.  However, he’s not yet good enough to consider using him for defense late in games at any position.  In fact, he also has a -1 DRS at first this year but in just 45.2 innings.  Flores’ poor defense and relative inexperience MIGHT have been at play when Wilmer Difo hit a single by him.  Whether Gonzalez gets to that or not, we’ll never know.

Another important point here is with Flores being double switched into the game, you do not get to deploy him against a left-handed pitcher.  Instead, you have to use him against a right-handed one.  Flores has improved against right-handed pitching, but not to the point where he’s your first option over Yoenis Cespedes or Jay Bruce.

As an aside, what would have been so wrong if Familia batted?  If he immediately gets out of the inning, you have a two run lead.  Let him go up there and take his strikeout, and you have your optimal defense for the eighth and ninth innings.  Instead, you weakened your infield defense with a power sinker pitcher, and you didn’t try to get a platoon advantage with Flores coming off the bench.

Questionable Decision No. 5 – No Gsellman At All

Arguably, Robert Gsellman has either been the Mets best or second best reliever this season.  In a pressure filled spot, you would think you would’ve found a spot for him, especially at a time when you were looking to get a ground ball double play to get out of the inning.  Instead, Callaway decided to go with Ramos and an obviously fatigued Familia.

Synopsis

When you have a complete meltdown like the Mets had, there is little a manager can do but pray.  Really, Callaway is getting second guessed because the Mets lost a game where they had a five run lead with one out in the eighth inning.  You should never lose those games.

Lugo can’t walk Kendrick on four pitches.  Blevins has to get Harper out in that situation.  Ramos can’t walk and hit batters.  Familia needs to dig just a little deeper and not hit a batter or walk in the go-ahead run.

Also, someone needed to make a play.  Two balls where hit between the first and second baseman.  Cabrera couldn’t make a play on either.  Certainly, you could argue an infielder with even average range gets to the Harper single.  Cabrera would then exacerbate his inability to make a play in the field by getting bizarrely aggressive on the base paths getting thrown out at third with one out in the ninth inning.  That was inexcusable.

Really, this game was your typical Callaway game.  When it comes to his bullpen, he’s going to be a little more aggressive than most in what is typically his attempt to put his players in the best position to succeed.  In his first 15 games, it seems he’d rather put players in a position to succeed than leave them out there and let them  make a play.

Until last night, that made Callaway look like a genius.  Last night?  Well, it made him look like a meddling over-manager.  Ultimately, that’s the way it goes with not just managing, but managing in New York.

Whatever the case, after that brutal loss, we are really going to find out something about both Callaway and this Mets team.  Do they get off the mat and show the Nationals they’re the better team?  Do they come out shell-shocked and lose this game?

Right now, we don’t know, but we are soon going to find out just how special both this team and this manager is and can be.

 

 

 

Mets Lose On Ugly Eighth Inning Meltdown

With two outs in the top of the first inning, Bryce Harper would hit one of the most incredible home runs you will ever see off of Jacob deGrom:

Harper was sawed off, and he still hit a no doubt home run.  Because of who the Mets are this season, they would immediately respond.

In the bottom of the first, Michael Conforto hit an opposite field double off of Jeremy Hellickson that Matt Adams just could not corral. After that, Todd Frazier, who is suddenly the hottest bat in the Mets lineup followed with a two out RBI single tying the game at one.

In the third, it was Frazier again.  After an Asdrubal Cabrera single and Conforto walk, Frazier ripped a go-ahead RBI double giving the Mets a 2-1 lead.  It could have been more but the Nationals nailed Conforto at home.

 

Juan Lagares would create the first rally after drawing a walk off of Matt Grace.  During Jose Lobatons at-bat, he would steal both second and third base. That led to Mickey Callaway surprising everyone by calling a squeeze:

With the ball scooting away, this allowed Lobaton, who had reached earlier by walk, to get to third.  This put him in perfect position to score on an Amed Rosario fielder’s choice giving the Mets a 4-1 lead.

The Mets would quickly make that a 6-1 lead in the seventh.  Brandon Nimmo began the inning with a triple off the outstretched glove of Michael Taylor, and he’d score when Cabrera hit a two run homer off A.J. Cole.

At 6-1, the Mets looked to be in great shape. deGrom was pitching like the ace he is being the first Mets starter to pitch into the eighth inning.  His final line would be 7.1 innings, six hits, three runs, three earned, one walk, and 12 strikeouts.

At the time the Mets added four tack on runs, it didn’t look like deGrom needed them.  While he might not have a suddenly imploding Mets bullpen would actually need more than a five run cushion.

After allowing a pair of singles, deGrom was done with one out in the eighth.  Seth Lugo relieved him and walked Howie Kendrick to load the bases.  This led Callaway to call on Jerry Blevins, who allowed Harper to hit a two RBI single to bring the Nationals to within 6-3.

All three runs were charged to deGrom, but the last two were allowed to score by the Mets bullpen.

With Lugo and Blevins not getting the job done, Callaway summoned AJ Ramos with two on and one out in what was now a ballgame.

Ramos would strike out Ryan Zimmerman before allowing a single to Pedro Severino to load the bases.  That put the game in the hands of former Mets infielder Matt Reynolds, who pinch hit for Cole.  After a four pitch walk. the Nationals were within 6-4 and still with the bases loaded with two outs.  At this point, Callaway had little choice but to go to Jeurys Familia.

Familia would choose a bad time to blow his first save of the year as he allowed Wilmer Difo to tie the score with a two RBI single.  It got worse with him hitting Moises Sierra, a player who has not played in the majors since 2014, before issuing a bases loaded walk, the Mets second of the inning, to Taylor to give the Nationals a 7-6 lead.

In the ugliest inning of the year, the Mets bullpen would allow six runs (two inherited) off three hits, three walks, and a hit by pitch.  That really is embarrassingly bad and reminiscent of last year’s terrible Mets team.

Kendrick would homer off Hansel Robles in the ninth to ensure the entire Mets bullpen would pitch poorly on the evening.

Just to make sure this loss would sting all the more, Cabreara would hit a one out double off Ryan Madson, he would try to get to third on a pitch that got away from the catcher.  The play would be reviewed, Cabrera would appear safe, but the out call was upheld.  In the end, it doesn’t matter, Cabrera made a real bone headed decision.

The Mets came into this series with a chance to maybe bury the 2018 Nationals in April.  Instead, they may have breathed new life into a team which desperately needed a shot in the arm with this 8-6 loss.  This is really the Mets first taste of adversity this year.  Let’s see how they respond.

Game Notes: Yoenis Cespedes did not start the game for the first time this year.  He pinch hit in the eighth and flew out.  Jay Bruce didn’t start again today with his plantar fascittis flaring up again.

Power Rankings Show How Underrated Mets Are

Right now, the New York Mets are 12-2, which is the best record in the National League, and they are a half-game behind the 13-2 Boston Red Sox for the best record in baseball.

In getting to that record, the Mets have swept an early World Series favorite Washington Nationals on the road, and they have taken four of six from the Cardinals and Brewers, two teams who are expected to be in the mix for a postseason spot this year.

The Mets pitching staff has three starting pitchers in Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom, and Noah Syndergaard who have previously had Top 10 Cy Young finishes.  Two of those three are pitching well.

The team also has Jeurys Familia who is a former All Star and MLB saves leader, who, right now, is the best reliever in all of baseball.

The group, surrounded by a surprisingly well performing bullpen, has an MLB best 2.58 ERA, eight saves, and 15 holds.  They are best in the National League in batting average against, (.204) and WHIP (1.11).  They are also top five in the majors in strikeouts (152).

In MLB’s late and close category, the Mets offense has scored the second most doubles in the majors and the second most runs and RBI in the National League,

With the Mets pitching and clutch hitting, the Mets are fifth in the majors in run differential.

This is a Mets team with a good to great track record.  The team built on pitching is pitching better than anyone.  They are beating good teams.  They are winning games. The result?

ESPN ranks them as the fourth best team in baseball after ranking them ninth.

CBS Sports moved the Mets up two spots from sixth to fourth in their power rankings.

USA Today moved the Mets up one spot to fifth in their rankings.

MLB.com and Bleacher Report have not yet updated their rankings, but they did have the Mets ranked 11th and 10th respectively last week.

At the core of the problem is not matter how well the Mets play and not matter who they beat, no one is buying this team.  Look no further than ESPN’s analysis of the Red Sox and Mets, two teams that got off to identical 12-2 starts:

It took a week, but J.D. Martinez hit his first home run in a Red Sox uniform. He has continued to hit the ball hard, and he and Hanley Ramirez have powered the Red Sox to a 13-2 start. Less happily, a Xander Bogaerts ankle injury interrupted his hot start at the plate; he had delivered nine extra-base hits in nine games.

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The Mets continued their hot start, becoming the 22nd team in the World Series era (since 1903) to start 11-1 or better. Will that start yield postseason success? Of the 21 teams to start 11-1 or better through 12 games before this season, only eight made the postseason, and only three of those won the World Series: the 1955 Dodgers, 1966 Orioles and 1984 Tigers. Of the teams to start that hot in the past 30 seasons, none has even won a playoff series.

Really, it’s fascinating to see how the Red Sox are hitting the ball hard while the Mets are a team in a group that has failed to make the postseason 13 out of 21 times and has not won a postseason series in the past 30 years.

We see the bias, and that’s fine.  Let all of Major League Baseball continue to underestimate this Mets team.  Hopefully, they will continue to do so all the way to the 2018 World Series.

Meet The Mets Fan: Rep. Peter King

The Mets Fan

Pete King – Congressman from Long Island – Raised in Queens, went to high school and college in Brooklyn and then Law School at Notre Dame.

How You Became A Mets Fan

I was a fanatical Brooklyn Dodgers fan and saw the Mets as the successor to the Dodgers.

Favorite Mets Player

David Wright; Ed Kranepool

Favorite Moment in Mets History

1969 World Series Victory

Message to Mets Fans

We never give up. The Mets represent tough, hard-working, blue collar New York.

Wilmer Homer Was a Family Affair

Due to a family event, I was unable to use the Mets tickets I had originally purchased for the game.  Considering it was me who scheduled the family event, it was REALLY poor planning on my part, except for one thing . . . .

With the exception of one of my uncles, an uncle who harbors no ill-will towards the National League team, we are all Mets fans.

We are all split on football and hockey.  Generally speaking, we all prefer NCAA basketball to the NBA, with us each having our own colleges we support.

Despite the many differences we have as a family, it is our being Mets fans that bind us.  Perhaps more than the blood itself.

So, when you have a group of us together, if there is a television around, any and all family occasions will eventually turn into us sitting there watching and rooting for the Mets.  Yesterday was no exception.

We talked about what a great and underrated pickup Todd Frazier was when he delivered an RBI single in the first.

While we all agreed we loved Mickey Callaway, we loudly wondered what the (blank) he was thinking pinch hitting for Tomas Nido with an open base and Thor on deck.

This led to a discussion as to what exactly the Mets should be doing about the cdatching situation.  Some wanted J.T. Realmuto.  Others, myself included, wanted the Mets to go with the catcher who would get the most out of this pitching staff.  Regardless, we all debated what the Marlins would want for Realmuto presuming the discussions would start with Justin Dunn and Peter Alonso.

We marveled at just how dominant Noah Syndergaard was with him finally returning to form early this season with his striking out 11.  We also groaned in that sixth inning when the Brewers plated two unearned runs on an Amed Rosario throwing error.

My family had smiles bigger than the one on Brandon Nimmo‘s face when he hit a game tying homer in the bottom of that inning.  All right, almost as big a smile.

We got nervous and held on for dear life as AJ Ramos had one of those heart in your throat innings, and he was not helped by Jose Lobaton. To a man, we agreed wild pitch or not, your catcher has to get that.  Regardless, Ramos got out of the inning with some help from Jerry Blevins.

Surprisingly, no one seemed that nervous about Hansel Robles anymore.  Sure, he may not have been everyone’s first choice, but there was a calm believing he could get the job done. For Robles, that must’ve been a different feeling from past years.

And in my family, we are smart baseball fans, so there was no waiting for Jeurys Familia to lose the game in the ninth.  We’re better than that, and with his stretch, I hope all Mets fans are getting to that point as well.

Finally, like Citi Field and wherever you were, we cheered and celebrated when Wilmer Flores hit the walk off homer.

Did I get to go to the Mets game yesterday?  No, I didn’t.  However, one of the reasons we go to games is to sit in the stands and have a shared experience.  Considering I watched yesterday with my family, and it was bitterly cold yesterday, I think watching it from an Italian restaurant a state away was probably a much better experience.

The next experience will hopefully be the group of us at Citi Field as we look to recreate one of our old traditions.  Hope to see you all there.

Game Notes: Wilmer’s second career walk-off happened against the very same Brewers team he was supposed to be traded to back in 2015.