20/20 Hindsight: Dodgers Expose Mets For What They Are
The Mets seemed to have righted the ship as they headed out to Los Angeles on a tough road trip. In a four game series against the Dodgers, we learned just how good the Mets are against the top teams in the National League:
1. The one thing we saw in this series was just how better the Dodgers are. Sure, it is the talent on the field, but it is also ownership’s dedication to winning. We see that when the Dodgers hire Andrew Friedman away from the Rays and the Mets hire a former agent who has never run an organization. For example, we see the Mets trade three good prospects for J.D. Davis, who continues to regress. The Dodgers use their superior scouting and player development to identify players like Justin Turner and Max Muncy.
2. The Mets did have an opportunity to earn at least a split on two different occasions. The fact they didn’t speaks volumes to how the Dodgers are just a better and more resilient team.
3. It is easy to jump all over Edwin Diaz for blowing a save in a game the Mets absolutely had to have. Then again, he’s been overworked pitching in eight of the past 11 days not including the times he was dry humped. This blow-up was bound to happen. What’s eerie was his 0.1 IP, 4 ER performance was a year to the date since his last one.
4. You can certainly get on Mickey Callaway for his usage of Diaz. He has to be better in handling him to try to prevent these types of blow ups. Then again, what other options does he have? With Seth Lugo on the Injured List, he’s down to maybe one other reliable set-up man in Robert Gsellman. Fact is, the bullpen remains an arm or two short, and the front office seems uninterested in getting him the help he needs.
5. We can point to the draft coming on Monday as the point where the Mets could sign Dallas Keuchel or Craig Kimbrel without forfeiting a pick, but that would be idiotic. We all know that’s not the type of compensation preventing the Mets from signing either pitcher, especially with Van Wagenen being all too happy to purge all of those prospects.
6. Baseball is funny. Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard struggled against the Dodgers, but it was Jason Vargas who really pitched well against the Dodgers allowing just one earned over seven innings. Give credit to him not just for the big game but also for saving a depleted and exhausted bullpen.
7. With respect to Vargas, let’s not get ahead of ourselves here. Today is the last day of May, and he finally has a quality start. This was the first time all season he has consecutive games pitching at least five innings. In his previous four starts, he’s averaged 4.2 innings per start. If he can pitch at least five in his next start maybe then we can talk about his FINALLY being a viable fifth starter.
8. Steven Matz has been quite good this year, and he showed it in this series picking up the Mets only win in the series. In some ways, he has emerged as the Mets most reliable starter.
9. It’s a dangerous game to play, but if you eliminate his horrendous start against the Phillies and his short start in his first game off the Injured List, Matz is 4-1 with a 2.30 ERA and a 1.191 WHIP.
10. Give Noah Syndergaard credit for gutting through six innings when he didn’t have anywhere near his best stuff. While he’s getting killed for it, that looks more like Syndergaard looking like a great pitcher. The great ones can get quality starts when they are throwing junk. But let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves on that front. He needs more consistency to get to that point.
11. Mets fans frustations at the starters seem to be misplaced. If you look at their FIP, Zack Wheeler has been the team’s best pitcher with a 3.25. While not what you expected, deGrom (3.56) and Syndergaard (3.62) have pitched better than their results are indicating. Unfortunately, this also indicates Matz is due for a regression. Honestly, you take that if those other three get going.
12. We can’t get too worked up about Hyun-Jin Ryu shutting down the Mets. He is currently pitching like deGrom did last year. It’s also noteworthy the Mets offense was humming prior to that scoring 6.7 runs per game in the series and 5.5 runs per game over their prior 11.
13. Todd Frazier has completely turned his season around. Over his last 16 games, he is hitting .327/.403/.491, and he continues to play a very good third base. That was a great tag he got down on Corey Seager after what was a terrific throw from Carlos Gomez (which came after a terrible play – details, details).
14. Amed Rosario also had a very good series. Even with yesterday’s 0-f0r-4, he was 6-for-16 in the series with two doubles, a triple, a homer, and two RBI.
15. It’s been an interesting year for Rosario. Just when you think he’s figured things out, he suddenly struggles. Even with all of that, he is showing marked improvement over the first two years of his career. If he were to find some consistency, he’s going to make the leap into stardom. Hopefully, that happens in the second half.
16. Adeiny Hechavarria has the same amount of homers and just three fewer RBI than Robinson Cano who has had 151 more plate appearances. This is both a statement about how Hechavarria has played well over his head and how bad Cano has been.
17. Diaz currently has mediocre stats (at least for the moment), and Cano has already looked like the $100 million albatross we knew he would eventually be. Jarred Kelenic has already been promoted to High-A, and Justin Dunn has a 2.25 ERA over his last three starts and has struck out 11.2 per nine this year. Mind you, this is just two months into the season. Wonder how this trade will look five years from now.
18. Between Dominic Smith and J.D. Davis, the Mets have two players who have no business playing left field. With Davis, they really have a guy who doesn’t have a position. Taking that into account, the Mets just need to play the better bat, and without any doubt, that is Smith.
19. Juan Lagares needed to be better than this. At a time when the Mets desperately needed him, he has completely faltered. Hes in the middle of an 0-for-13 stretch, and he is just one for his last 26. Worse yet, he’s at a -1 DRS. Yes, his 17.3 UZR/150 shows he is still the same fielder, but the Mets needed him to be more productive than this. Really, they needed him to be actually productive.
20. Give credit to Pete Alonso. Over a 41 game stretch entering this series, he was hitting .214/.305/.497. Put another way, it appeared the league had figured him out after a hot start. In the series against the Dodgers, he was 7-for-16 with two doubles, a triple, two homers, and five RBI. This is an indication he might be adjusting to what pitchers are doing to him. If so, that’s a sign he’s on his way to becoming a great player.