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20/20 Hindsight: Mets Somehow Still Alive

Somehow, the Mets were able to pull off a minor miracle by not just pulling out a victory but somehow also pulling to withing three games of the Cubs and Brewers for the second Wild Card with 10 games remaining in the season:

1. Mickey Callaway not pinch hitting any one of Luis Guillorme, Joe Panik, J.D. Davis, or Wilson Ramos for Rene Rivera with two outs and the bases loaded in the top of the sixth was easily the worst decision of his tenure as the Mets manager. There is zero plausible explanation for it, and if the Mets lost that game, he would have merited the Willie Randolph treatment. It was that bad.

2. As it turned out, Ramos and Davis did get their chance to pinch hit, and they delivered by setting up runners at the corners for Brandon Nimmo to deliver the game tying base-hit. It was easily the biggest hit of Nimmo’s career, and it was another indication just how special a player he is.

3. After Jeff McNeil had a great at-bat to draw a walk, you could see Joe Harvey wanted no part of Pete Alonso walking him on four pitches. With Alonso hitting his 49th homer earlier in the game tying Mark McGwire‘s first base rookie home run record, you could understand why. In any event, it gave the Mets a 5-4 lead in a game the Mets won 7-4.

4. Seth Lugo delivering an RBI single in that ninth inning was the most passive aggressive way to show the Mets he should be in the starting rotation. How could you not help but love the guy?

5. No, Syndergaard was not good yesterday, but to pass judgment on one start in Coors Field is absurd. After all, are we going to say Max Scherzer isn’t any good and the Nationals need to trade him because he has a 5.88 career ERA at Coors.

6. On the topic of Scherzer, his getting roughed up by the Cardinals only strengthens Jacob deGrom‘s Cy Young case.

7. There is far too much evidence in the pitcher heat maps and the framing abilities of the Mets three catchers where we know Rivera and Tomas Nido make a real difference behind the plate. One start in the most difficult place to pitch in all of baseball doesn’t undo that.

8. On the topic of baseless narratives, the Mets didn’t cave to Syndergaard. It was a day game after a night game. The Mets would’ve sat Mike Piazza or Gary Carter.

9. We finally got a glimpse of how good a pitcher Marcus Stroman is. His seven shutout innings showed not just the reason why the Mets added him at the trade deadline, but it also showed just how much of a big game pitcher he is. His next two starts should be something special.

10. Steven Matz finally had that meltdown inning he had avoided all second half. That six run inning cost the Mets a chance of winning that game. Overall, we should not read too much into it as it is Coors Field, and he has been just that good of late.

11. In July and August, when the Mets saved their season going from 10 games under to the thick of the Wild Card race, Michael Conforto was their best player (1.6 fWAR highest among Mets position players). In September, he has completely fallen apart hitting .150/.239/.283. The team desperately needs him to get back on track.

12. When Todd Frazier was hit on the hand, it appeared his Mets career was effectively over. Fortunately, he has been able to play after a few days off, and he has contributed going 2-for-6 with an RBI and two walks in addition to his good defense over the last two games.

13. To the shock of everyone, Jeurys Familia came into the game yesterday, and with runners on second and third, he struck out Ryan McMahon to keep the game at 4-2 allowing the Mets to make that comeback.

14. If the Mets are going to pull this off, they are going to need relievers like Familia to step up because the team cannot only rely on Lugo and Justin Wilson. On that front, the Mets bullpen did acquit itself well in this series allowing just five runs over 11.1 innings (3.97 ERA).

15. The Mets designated Eric Hanhold, a promising young reliever, for assignment, and he was claimed by the Baltimore Orioles. Instead of keeping him, the Mets replaced him on the 40 man roster with Donnie Hart, who has yet to pitch in September, and they kept Chris Mazza, who has a 6.43 ERA and has pitched just once this month. That’s an example of just how incompetent Brodie Van Wagenen is.

16. Jed Lowrie finally got on base drawing a walk making him 0-3 with a walk this year.

17. Perhaps the Mets player who came up biggest in this series was Amed Rosario. He was 2-for-4 in the first two games, and he hit the key homer on Tuesday giving the Mets life. Overall, this was just the latest example on how he is figuring things out, and he is going to be a big part of the Mets going forward.

18. Say what you will about the Rockies, but that team can play defense. In fact, between their being great defensively, and the Mets not being good defensively, the Rockies almost pulled out this series. That would have been a disaster.

19. The Mets owe a debt of gratitude to the Padres and Reds for pulling out those wins last night. It is still an uphill climb, but three back in 10 games is possible.

20. The Mets still being alive this late in the season is a miracle. They may still have to run the table, and they have the schedule to do it. However, that still may not be enough. That makes this all just a fascinating end to this season. We should all continue to enjoy the ride.

12 thoughts on “20/20 Hindsight: Mets Somehow Still Alive”

  1. David Klein says:

    Nah the walk of Knapp to pitch to Harper to get a terrible reliever out of the game was Mickey’s worst move.

    1. metsdaddy says:

      That one was, well, yikes.

      Still, I’m doing with Rivera.

  2. Blair M. Schirmer says:

    The Brewers beat the Padres 5-1 tonight to pull 3.5 games ahead of the Mets

    Milwaukee 83-70
    Cubs 82-70
    Mets 79-73

    Not only do the Mets probably have to go 10-0, the Brewers can’t go 6-3 (tie) or 7-2 (win, outright); and the Cubs can’t go 7-3 (tie) or 8-2 (win, outright).

    The Mets going 10-0 is about a 14 out of 10000 chance (figure 0.52^10 = ~0.0014456). Then deduct for any time the Brewers go at least 7 and 2 or the Cubs go at least 8 and 2.

    The Mets chances improve when we consider they can go 9-1 and still win it, or 8-2 and still win it… even 4-6 and still win it if the Brewers go 0 and 9, the Cubs go 0 and 10, and the Mets beat the Brewers in the playoff for the 2nd wildcard game.

    I’m not optimistic.

    This was an 83-85 win team at the start of the season that’s headed for 84 wins. Some terrific frontline talent, a small, respectable supporting cast, and a whole lot of millstones dragging the good players down. This won’t change until the Wilpons are gone. The combination of stingy and stupid just costs too much, on the field.

    Only wildcards AND a weak NL this year could gin up some phony postseason excitement.

    == If it’s close will the last game of the season go to deGrom on three days rest instead of Syndergaard? A good team, a smart team would stay in formation, let Syndergaard pitch, and on the assumption they win have deGrom ready to go in the wildcard game. Unless they get foolish and think nominally making the postseason is worth throwing the rotation into chaos, there’s no good reason not to let Syndergaard go on the 29th on normal rest. He’s been brilliant in the postseason and I don’t recall any problems otherwise. He’s incredible with 2 outs and RISP, even better in Late and Close situations, and better than normal in high leverage spots.

    Still, the FO’s tendency to give deGrom what he wants is a little worrisome–but they’d be silly to bump Syndergaard when the next game is critical, too.

    The Ramos deal worked out, even with the catcher abuse. A 10m AAV and a short deal from a team with no catching, for a 2 win catcher is pretty good, and he might have been a 3 win guy if handled right. Sticking with Frazier turned out to be a decent move, although it’s possible one reason they wasted 20m on Lowrie was because they wanted to guard against a complete collapse from Todd. Bringing up Alonso surely won them a game or two in the first two weeks, but particularly after they miss the postseason they’ll be sorry they don’t have Alonso’s 2025 season to deal away at the right time. (The Mets never keep his kind around for his walk year.)

    Had the GM not had his conniption fit and bought into his own Fake Contention delusions the team would have dealt Frazier and Wheeler, and would still have their two top pitching prospects. 2021’s going to be ugly.

    1. Blair M. Schirmer says:

      Rosario continues to crater. August 21 through September 18:
      .259/.286/.315 and that’s with an OPS of .310

      Go back further and it’s even more upleasant, given the BAbip of .360 from August 4th through September 18:
      .301/.328/.387. And that’s in the year of the gopher ball. That BABip steered enough seeing eye grounders into the OF to make him look like he could hit a little. The kid’s on the wrong team, though. It would be something, to see Rosario on a club that can teach.

      July 23rd through August 13th: .282/.309/.385 with the BAbip of .328. Not a good second half. Isn’t Rosario going to hit FA before Mauricio’s ready? Or he’ll be in the last year or two of control be and sent packing as his salary creeps past 6m.

      This offseason should be interesting. There will be the usual Syndergaard business. Even w the self-imposed constraints the Mets should keep him–if they deal him they’re selling very low and won’t be able to get the young #3 rotation guy plus a controllable positon player, either 3B or CF, that they’d want for Syndergaard. That leaves Conforto. They might be able to bundle him with Syndergaard for real talent, and not take too big a hit for 2020. Ugh–if they go cheap again in CF and try another Broxton this could get ugly. Nimmo’s a fine player but he’s just not a CF.

      1. metsdaddy says:

        Rosario has made huge strides this year, especially on defense. The hard hit rates and zone control are much improved.

        This was a big year for him. It’s now up to him to take the next step.

        1. Blair M. Schirmer says:

          I’ll put myself in the “guardedly optimistic” camp. Certainly the Mets can breathe easier wrt Rosario and 2020 and 2021, and this was a step in the right direction, but a lot of the apparent improvement is due to the much easier hitting environment and what for Rosario is a new high in BAbip. The latter might be sustainable–after all, the harder you hit the ball the less likely fielders are to catch it–but this season was no kind of significant step forward. He had too many very long stretches where he wasn’t helping. Overall he nudged ahead in a few areas while his speed score, for example, declined. Still, a 2 win SS for $1m or less is a 2 win SS for $1m or less, and given the holes on the team, they’ll take it.

          1. metsdaddy says:

            Rosario has been a very good defender in the second half. If this carries forward, he doesn’t need to be more than a .750 OPS guy to be a very good player.

    2. metsdaddy says:

      Ramos hasn’t been a particularly good player, and I’ll note his fWAR, which accounts for framing, is lower.

      Really, a lot of what has gone wrong with the team can be traced to Ramos.

      1. Blair M. Schirmer says:

        I’d argue that’s excessive, but I would agree that one player’s limitations can create a domino effect. Take the Mets going cheap on Broxton, for example. He wasn’t a bad pickup this offseason (4.1 bWAR in 800 career PA, iirc), but he was at an age where defense and speed are fading fast and I’d bet the Mets FO had little idea of where he was wrt his career’s trajectory. In short, they were putting a surprising number of their OF eggs in a single basket. Lagares was a 1/4 time player but because Broxton cratered they ended up playing Lagares excessively and hurt his bat and his speed. And since Lagares was ineffective the Mets went with some of the worst OF defense of any team, which made their pitching look worse and left their pitchers to try to pitch to contact less. Not to mention the half dozen sub-par defenders they cycled through the OF to try to compensate.

        All because they didn’t bite the bullet and pay $5m to a good 5th OFer who could play CF, like Hamilton, who at least was above replacement level and whose performance versus the combination of Lagares, Broxton, and Altherr would have put an additional 2 wins on the board.

        Was Ramos a similar sort of case to the Broxton trade in how the dominos behind him fell? Maybe so, but I remember thinking back in May that Callaway along w the rest of coaching staff seemed mystified by the new ball–that Syndergaard should have had more help from them than he was getting, and that it’s the job of the staff to not put players in positions where they’re over their heads. Letting Ramos catch only the non-deGrom and non-Syndergaard starts would still leave him to play in 110 games, or more than his average total over the last 3 years, while getting the best of both worlds.

        In addition, Syndergaard had the right and even the duty to throw his pitches, so some of this is on him. If Ramos couldn’t catch them on a regular basis that would be clear soon enough. One player is not required to yield some of his ability to the shortcomings of another if it’s going to cost him and the team.

        1. metsdaddy says:

          In terms of Ramos, his impact ranges much further than Syndergaard. He’s also impacted Familia, Diaz, Wheeler, and really the whole staff.

          His ability to get those low pitches, especially low and on the corner, is a very bad mix for a slider heavy pitching staff.

          With respect to Syndergaard, batters know they can spit on those pitches forcing Syndergaard to come up in the zone, which is what has happened.

          Keep in mind, this extends beyond Syndergaard.

  3. Oldbackstop says:

    You say there is no plausible explanation for letting Rivera hit….there is an obvious one. Thor had to get his 100 pitches, since he and deGrom’s personal glory is far more important than the Mets mere record. And Callaway was petrified of the press if he changed catchers and Thor blew up in the 8th, which he did anyway, and WITH Rivera (with his four stolen bases and a passed ball.).

    Funny you bring up Schwerzer, who torpedoes your defense of Thor’s childish behavior, as Schwerzer had very strong career numbers, sub 3.00 ERA, pitching to the exact same dreaded Ramos.

    1. metsdaddy says:

      That’s not a plausible explanation.

      I’d also note with respect to Scherzer he’s a completely different pitcher than Syndergaard on where he likes to attack the zone. Moreover, I’d note entering this year Scherzer’s numbers with Ramos were the worst out of all the Nationals catchers.

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