Five Second Half Games Which Helped Cost The Mets The Wild Card

Michael Conforto would put it off for a day, but now, the Mets are officially eliminated from postseason contention. With the Mets falling short in the fashion they have, there are a number of what ifs which occurred during the course of the season.

One of those what ifs is what if the Mets didn’t blow this game or lose that game. While there were several of those games in the first half, that was all the more the case in the second half when the team was playing well and making a charge. With the Mets being five games out, here are five games in the second half which the Mets certainly wish they had back:

Reds 3 – Mets 2
Saturday, September 21

The Mets absolutely had to have this game. For the Mets to actually grab a Wild Card spot, they were going to have to win out or come very close to it. With a big pitching mismatch between Zack Wheeler and Anthony DeSclafani, this seemed like a game the Mets should win easily.

The Reds would score two first inning runs due to a Todd Frazier error and misplay. It would be hard to put this loss on Frazier as he would collect two of the Mets three hits on the day, and he would score one of their only two runs scored.

Ultimately, the team squandered two huge opportunities. They only scored one run after having runners at second and third with no outs in the third. They’d only score one run with the bases loaded and one out with the top of the lineup coming up in the top of the fifth.

The loss was made all the worse with Justin Wilson getting into trouble, and Seth Lugo allowing one of his inherited runners to score. As bad as that was, it would be Christian Colon who delivered the RBI single, off a Lugo curveball to boot, to put an effective end to the Mets season.

Marlins 8 – Mets 4
Friday, July 12

The Mets were 10 games under .500 heading into the All Star Break. Despite the team being that many games under .500, they had a favorable schedule in the second half, and with their being only seven games back of the second Wild Card, they did have an opportunity. The key for them was getting off to a fast start out of the break.

Instead of putting their best foot forward, they started Jason Vargas. Vargas would blow a third inning 2-0 lead allowing homers to Curtis Granderson and Garrett Cooper in the third. Vargas would last into the sixth where he would implode again. Overall, he’d allow six earned over his five plus innings.

After the bullpen couldn’t keep it closer, the Mets ninth inning rally would fall short in an 8-4 loss. Sadly, this would not be the only time the Mets were beaten by Caleb Smith and the Marlins in the second half.

Giants 3 – Mets 2 (16)
Thursday, July 18

Back when the Mets were pairing Noah Syndergaard with Tomas Nido to get the best out of Syndergaard, they’d get a great performance from Syndergaard with him allowing just one earned over seven innings. Much like the 2016 Wild Card Game, the Giants had Madison Bumgarner match him pitch for pitch, and we’d see Bumgarner last nine innings.

After nine, it was tied at 1-1, and the Mets would get an opportunity they didn’t have in that Wild Card Game. They’d get to face the Giants bullpen.

In the 10th, that appeared serendipitous as they loaded the bases with just one out against Will Smith only to see Conforto and Jeff McNeil strike out. The Mets would also squander opportunities in the 13th and 15th as their bullpen put forth their best effort of the season.

Then finally, the Mets broke through as Pete Alonso would break out of his slump hitting a huge go-ahead homer in the 16h inning giving the Mets a 2-1 lead. That’s when seemingly innocuous decisions made previously would present their ramifications.

In Minnesota, the Mets had used Chris Mazza to pitch the final two innings of a blowout 14-4 victory over the Twins. What was curious about that decision was the Mets had Jacob Rhame available for that game, and they knew he had a suspension looming from an April incident. Before the game against the Giants, Rhame agreed to a suspension making him unavailable for this game.

With Mazza being the last guy in the bullpen, the Mets would look on as a tired pitcher could not record one out as the Giants would score two in the bottom of the inning to win 3-2. This loss was made all the worse because there was a clear hangover with the Mets being unable to score a run over 10 innings leading them to waste yet another Jacob deGrom start.

Braves 2 – Mets 1 (14)
Friday, August 21

The Mets were flying high entering this series having won 16 out of their last 18 games. As a result, they were seven games over .500 for the first time since April 24, 2018. At the time, the Mets were only 1.5 games out of a Wild Card spot putting them in the thick of the postseason race. With a strong series against the Braves here, the Mets had an opportunity to put the division in play.

Instead, the Mets would get swept by the Braves leading to the team losing six straight games. Even though the Mets would make another run at it, they ultimately could not overcome this stretch, and it would being with an absolutely brutal loss.

Mike Foltynewicz, a pitcher with a 6.09 ERA entering this game, would allow just two hits over seven innings. Ultimately, the only batter to get to him was deGrom, who would hit a sixth inning homer to tie the score at 1-1. As bad as the Mets bullpen had been all year, you could argue the Braves bullpen was worse. That combined with the Mets having last licks, you could argue the Mets were in position to pull out this game.

The Mets had a huge opportunity in the 10th against former teammate Anthony Swarzak. The team would put together a two out rally and load the bases, but Amed Rosario would strike out to end the inning.

The Mets blew an 11th inning chance as well. After Joe Panik was hit by a pitch by Sean Newcomb, he’d move to third after two wild pitches during Alonso’s at-bat. Alonso and Conforto would strike out, and the Braves intentionally walked J.D. Davis to force Brad Brach out of the game and to face the Mets last pinch hitter on the bench – Aaron Altherr. He’d ground out to end the inning.

What would make that even more maddening was the Mets passed on the opportunity to claim Billy Hamilton, who would have been a real upgrade to this team, off waivers. As luck would have it, Hamilton would face Jeurys Familia, and he would drive home the go-ahead run.

What made that all the more maddening was it was an Adeiny Hechavarria ground rule double which put the go-ahead run into scoring position. In essence, the player the Mets cut rather than pay him a roster bonus, and the player the Mets would not claim so they didn’t have to pay him more than the league minimum Altherr, would prove to be two players who helped cost the Mets the game.

As we know, that was a winnable game the Mets needed to have. While it did not push the Mets out of contention, it would prove to be the first in a series of losses which took the Mets from the thick of the race to the periphery.

Nationals 11 – Mets 10
Tuesday, September 4

After a potentially season ending sweep against the Cubs, the Mets got off the mat taking two of three from the Phillies, and they took the first game in the series against the Nationals to pull within 4.0 games of a Wild Card spot. They were up 10-4 and about to pull within seven games of the Nationals for the top Wild Card spot.

The Mets had a 99.7 percent chance of winning that game, and they were 806-0 in franchise history when they led by six after nine innings.

That’s when we saw an epic bullpen meltdown; one we have never before seen the Mets have in their history. Paul Sewald, Luis Avilan, and Edwin Diaz combined to record just one out as the Nationals scored seven ninth inning runs. While many in hindsight would question removing Seth Lugo or question not using Justin Wilson against two batters with great numbers against left-handed pitching, the truth of the matter neither of those things were the problem.

The problem was this Mets bullpen was so unreliable that they cannot even be trusted to hold a six run lead. Therein lied the problem with this game, and it was a big problem throughout the season. It was a contributing factor in this and other losses the Mets suffered both in the first and second half. Huge soul crushing losses. That makes this bullpen just one of the biggest reasons why the Mets are not going to be in the postseason this year.

7 Replies to “Five Second Half Games Which Helped Cost The Mets The Wild Card”

  1. Blair M. Schirmer says:

    It would be difficult to pinpoint those games that were singularly emblematic of all the blunders Callaway, or van Wagenen on his phone made during games, but they’d have to draw from…: Any game where Cano was hitting 3rd or 4th despite being the worst hitter in the starting lineup, which had to be at least 50 games (and in 70 more he was probably the next to worst hitter), because god forbid the FO should attend the evidence and stop giving unnecessary at bats to one of their worst starters–and god forbid they’d figure out any time during the season that Cano shouldn’t have been a starter, certainly not against lefties.

    Any game where Cano was hitting behind Alonso and the two were hitting 3rd and 4th, particularly during that stretch when the Mets had no one who was healthy and could hit in the second half of the lineup–and by moving Alonso from the 2 hole to the 3 hole guaranteed the rookie would see no pitches to hit. Any unnecessary game Ramos played in towards reaching a career high in games played while, obviously tired, his defense suffered and he hit far worse than expected. Any one of the games where thanks to having no CFer in AAA and the peculiar Broxton deal / DFA the Mets played Lagares into the ground and beat his OPS down into the .600 OPS range. I look forward to him latching on somewhere next year, being sensibly played half- to third-time and being one of the best 5th OFers in MLB. Any game Todd Frazier needlessly played in where the Mets ensured he’d be too tired to keep his good stretch of hitting alive…

    Ah, there’s just too many. Feh.

    1. metsdaddy says:

      Oh, there’s much more than five. I just thought these were the five biggest

      1. Blair M. Schirmer says:

        Oh, to be sure. The five you chose are definitely good ones. I was just thinking more of categories of games rather than individual games, for some reason.

        In the vein of interesting ideas, “What went right for the 2019 Mets” might make for a decent article. Combine Vargas and Stroman and you get 150 games started by the Mets top five starters or, put another way, 150 starts from their preferred starters on the roster. Lockett, Font, and Flexen had the other 8. Given Gsellman’s replacement level work in relief it’s too bad they couldn’t see their way to starting him (or even the much maligned Corey Oswalt–a 2.91 ERA in Syracuse this year, and a 4.81 ERA as a starter in 2018 in MLB) instead of going to guys all but guaranteed to get blown out. And given the Mets pen, choosing Font over Oswalt when the former had no chance of going 5 innings while the latter was averaging 5-1/2 per start this year, is inexplicable (and doesn’t count that the Mets gave up an interesting young ballplayer for Font). I’m not a fan of Oswalt–I’m just a fan of making your least awful choice among unhappy alternatives. Things that went well:

        –Great health among the rotation.
        –Alonso’s ROY, and 51 HR and counting.
        –deGrom’s 2nd Cy Young.
        –Jeff McNeil almost winning a batting title while adding 20 HR power to his resume and turning out to be a perfectly acceptable LFer despite having about a dozen innings there for his career before 2019.
        –Very good health overall among the team’s regulars.
        –Todd Frazier rebounding.
        –Rosario taking a step forward.
        –Conforto continuing to rebound towards his 2017 hitting and cranking 30+ HR.
        –JD Davis breaking out at the plate, hitting .300, and even outhitting Conforto by OPS.
        –Dom breaking out at the plate and even being adequate in LF, and combined with Davis providing the equivalent of Conforto’s season at bat.
        –Lagares being good for 130 games.
        –Ramos holding up for 140 games

        If I knew in March 2019 all of the above would happen, I probably would have predicted a division title for this team.

        1. metsdaddy says:

          Funny isn’t it. Mets actually got what they needed from many guys and still fell short.

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