Watching the game tonight, it is really difficult to assess how well Zack Wheeler performed. On the one hand, he was executing his pitches as well as he ever has, and yet he earned the loss against a bad Marlins team.
Actually, there is a debate how much he “earned” that loss. Really, there was just one hiccup for him, and that was in the second inning when the Marlins scored all three of their runs.
The first run was on Wheeler, who allowed three straight hard hit balls by Brian Anderson (double), Derek Dietrich, and Miguel Rojas. After that, it’s hard to pin anything else on him. Caleb Smith popped up a sacrifice bunt attempt, which Jose Reyes fielded on hop, looked at every single base, and then threw the ball in the dirt thereby loading the bases.
That three run lead was brutal because as Keith Hernandez and Ron Darling kept opining, Smith was dealing for the Marlins. That is a plausible explanation considering Smith entered the game striking out 12 batters per nine. However, it needs to be noted the Mets bats are really awful against left-handed batters. Tonight, was no exception as Smith allowed one run on three hits over 6.2 innings.
The one run he allowed was in the bottom of the second, and it started with a Jose Bautista double. Speaking of Bautista, he was signed just before the game, and he was put in the starting lineup ahead of Jay Bruce, and he played left field. After the predictable Reyes out, Bautista moved to third, and he scored on a Tomas Nido sacrifice fly.
The Mets really wouldn’t get another rally started until the eighth. Adrian Gonzalez led off the inning with a double, and later than inning Brandon Nimmo earned a one out walk. The rally would falter there as Cabrera would hit into an inning ending 4-6-3 double play.
While disappointing, that rally was too little too late anyway. In the top of the inning, Derek Dietrich hit a two run homer off AJ Ramos to expand the Marlins lead to 5-1. That would be the final score on a deeply disappointing day.
Game Notes: Reyes made two errors in the game, and he now has three hits and two errors on the month. Devin Mesoraco did not start after getting hit on the elbow with an errant swing last night. He did pinch hit in the seventh and flew out.
One of the fun parts of baseball is players sometimes have colorful nicknames. One of the classic examples is Catfish Hunter getting the nickname Catfish because Athletics owner Charlie Finley thought the 19 year old James needed a catchy nickname. To put it mildly, Finley was the opposite of the Yankees in that he actually encouraged players to express themselves and for them to have wild facial hair like Rollie Fingers‘ handlebar mustache.
The nicknames over the years have somewhat subsided, but with Player’s Weekend last year, we have seen these nicknames emerge like Michael Conforto being dubbed Scooter. There was also the Mets fans naming Bartolo Colon “Big Sexy” even before it became ironic with his failure to pay child support. To that end, it is time for Mets fans to step up again and find a nickname for Devin Mesoraco, who is quickly becoming a fan favorite.
Given his unique look, prompting Rocko’s Modern Life type of comparisons. Given his “Rocko” jersey for Player’s Weekend last year, it makes a ton of sense. However, as Mets fans, we can do better. Why not call him “The Groundhog.”
With him coming from Punxsutawney, PA, the home of the famous Punxsutawney Phil, it would seem a natural fit.
You can extrapolate this further to be a more clever and apt comparison. With the trade, the Mets have emerged from the shadows of the Matt Harvey Era, and the team is back on the winning path with him behind the dish. As a catcher, he crouches down deep, and he springs up to let the base runner know if it’s all clear, or if he will have to face six more weeks of winter. Admittedly, these comparisons can be a bit pained.
Really, in the end, this is about being able to take something about his past, his birthplace, and merge it with a great movie like Groundhog Day. There is a quote or gif for everything:
Mets won’t call a game due to rain? pic.twitter.com/E31NSg5maJ
— Mets Daddy (@MetsDaddy2013) May 22, 2018
Since Mesoraco is from Punxsutawney, can we all agree to call him The Groundhog?
Even if it is just an excuse to use awesome quotes and gifs from the movie? pic.twitter.com/XO9WCcaCHm
— Mets Daddy (@MetsDaddy2013) May 22, 2018
Mesoraco in a big spot pic.twitter.com/TZK3IQfJUo
— Mets Daddy (@MetsDaddy2013) May 22, 2018
Oh look, Mesoraco popped out in a big spot pic.twitter.com/bx7mx3ry2E
— Mets Daddy (@MetsDaddy2013) May 22, 2018
Mesoraco hits a big fly pic.twitter.com/kKZzOqimLH
— Mets Daddy (@MetsDaddy2013) May 22, 2018
Mesoraco delivers a big hit pic.twitter.com/p9fVWS9rT4
— Mets Daddy (@MetsDaddy2013) May 22, 2018
Chase Utley is at the plate pic.twitter.com/k0tasJcj0g
— Mets Daddy (@MetsDaddy2013) May 22, 2018
Really, it is endless, including the multiple uses of Ned Ryerson’s “BING!” In the end if this takes off, and the Mets win the World Series, we will all celebrate. While the champagne corks are popping and the beer is flying around the room, we will drink to both a World Series, and of course, to world peace.
Admittedly, this is beating a dead horse, a horse deader than Jose Reyes‘ ability to contribute to a Major League team, but if you are going to complain about something, you need to present solutions. After all, what is the good in saying Reyes should be released if you are not prepared to suggest improvements?
As much as I like to joke about it, no, David Wright would not be an improvement over Reyes right now, even if the argument could sadly be made. Jokes aside, there are plenty of better options available to the Mets over what Reyes is giving the team right now and in the future:
MLB Stats: .400/.400/.500, 2B, RBI
MiLB Stats: .300/.394/.433, 7 2B, 3B, HR, 15 RBI, 2 SB, CS
The main thing Guillorme brings to the table is great middle infield defense. Even if his ability to drive the ball will remind you of Luis Castillo, he does have the ability to give you a good at-bat and get on base. At a minimum, since getting called-up, he has show he is not over-matched, and he is ready right now to contribute as a utility player for the Mets right now.
MiLB Stats: .274/.350/.500, 7 2B, 4 3B, 6 HR, 24 RBI, SB
The immediate reaction whenever Kelly is mentioned is he is a Four-A player because he has a MLB career stat line of .211/.297/.340. Even if you’re right, it bears mentioning this would be a huge upgrade over Reyes’ current stats. More than that, Kelly is a versatile player and switch hitter who can play all four infield positions and can handle both corner outfield spots. And for the knocks against him, he is .255/.351/.340 against left-handed pitching.
MLB Stats: .154/.214/.179, 2B, RBI
MiLB Stats: .257/.333/371, 4 2B, 6 RBI
Nido would mean carrying three catchers and pressing Wilmer Flores to become a backup at short as well. Given Reyes’ -15 DRS at short last year, Flores is not a dropoff defensively. Nido’s presence on the roster would accomplish a few things. First, you can give Noah Syndergaard his own personal catcher, which may not be a bad thing given the challenges catching Syndergaard possesses. Second, having Nido would free up both Devin Mesoraco and Kevin Plawecki for more pinch hitting attempts. Third, Nido would allow the Mets to take it easier on Mesoraco, who has an extensive injury history, and it permits the team to not over rely on Plawecki, who is still not quite established as a major leaguer. However, you would ideally keep Nido in the minors once Plawecki returns to give him the regular at-bats he needs to improve offensively.
MiLB Stats: .294/.342/.468, 11 2B, 3B, 2 HR, 9 RBI, SB, CS
After a lost season last year, Cecchini worked on a number of things in the offseason, and he is back to being the player he was just two years ago. However, this is more on the long-term view as Cecchini has not played since May 9th when he fouled a ball off his foot.
MiLB Stats: .328/.403/.715, 11 2B, 3 3B, 12 HR, 31 RBI, SB
For all the clamoring over Peter Alonso, many are overlooking his teammate McNeil, who has recently surpassed Alonso in doubles, homers, SLG, and OPS. The 26 year old is healthy after a few injury riddled seasons, and he’s flat out raking. With him mashing right-handed pitching, he would be a good platoon partner for Wilmer Flores in Todd Frazier‘s absence. However, ideally, you’d like to keep him in Double-A longer, and you would want to see him in Triple-A before rushing him to the majors, especially when there are more than sufficient options ahead of him.
In complete fairness, Phillip Evans, who has not gotten a hit in seven at-bats and was not great in Las Vegas was not mentioned. Also not mentioned is T.J. Rivera because no one can be quite sure when he will be ready to return to playing after his Tommy John surgery. Really, the Mets need Rivera to return as soon as he can because he would be the best possible internal addition to the Mets bench.
Yesterday, while at Target, I stopped to get a Diet Coke. With the summer nearing, they’re back to putting names on bottles. Here’s what I would up grabbing:
Vargas as in Jason Vargas.
With Coke now having the Coke Corner at Citi Field, you’d think they can do better than that.
Really, any other pitcher.
In retrospect, maybe it was genius. After all, the soda was done in the first inning. After that, there was nothing left leading me to find something else. And that Vargas bottle was quickly discarded.
On the bright side, I didn’t have to overpay for it or carry it around empty for two years, so that was a positive.
In 29 games this season, Jose Reyes is hitting .143/.176/.204 with a 6 OPS+ and 6 wRC+. To put it in perspective, a league average OPS+ or wRC+ is 100. That’s a major reason why Reyes has a -0.4 WAR so far this season.
When he is getting into games, he’s making mistakes like how he was picked off of first base by Jake Arrieta. We’ve also seen more than a few occasions where he has failed to make the proper read off the bat, or he is just not hustling around the bases.
His struggles are apparent to all including his manager Mickey Callaway. Even with Todd Frazier on the disabled list, Wilmer Flores is getting the starts at third base against right-handed pitching. When the Blue Jays pitched J.A. Happ in the series finale, Callaway opted to have Flores play first, Luis Guillorme get his first professional start at third, and have Phillip Evans play left.
Based on the past few seasons, hitting left-handed pitching was one of the things Reyes had continued to do quite well. Also judging from the past few seasons, Flores and his career -19 DRS at third base should never be called upon to play the position on an extended period of time.
And yet, here we are. Flores is the top third base option, and Reyes is not getting any real playing time. When he finally does get to play, he is unable to get any hits.
Put your personal feelings aside. This applies to all Mets fans. The group who still adores the homegrown player and sparkplug of the early 2000s. The fans who can never forgive him for the domestic violence. The younger crowd who may have seen him as an energetic player who helped the Mets capture one of the two Wild Card spots in 2016. Everyone.
Ask yourself one simple question: Is Jose Reyes done?
When looking at Reyes’ career, you always thought the last thing which would go was the spark. That smile. The energy. An excitement unlike almost any other player who has ever played the game.
Seeing his lackadaisical effort in his increasingly limited playing time, you don’t notice that same spark anymore. It’s not that he’s going through the motions. That’s an unfair statement. It’s just that he’s not the same guy on the field. It seems the boundless joy he had is slowing dissipating.
Seeing Guillorme start his MLB career the way he has, and seeing Gavin Cecchini bounceback after a down 2017, Reyes is getting pushed, and based upon this play on the field, he may not be able to push back, at least not hard enough to stem the tide.
Considering how well respected he is by ownership (despite his domestic violence past), it is incumbent upon them to work with Reyes to find him a respectable way to end his Major League career. Something akin to what the Mariners did with Ichiro Suzuki.
Schedule a day. Let him leadoff and start at short. Let him get a bunt hit in his first at-bat, and let him depart the field to the chants of “Jose-Jose-Jose-Jose . . . Jose-Jose!” Whatever you need to do to make it feel to Reyes like a respectful and fitting end before taking a front office or coaching job within the organization.
Really, whatever the Mets can do to get Reyes to agree to retirement will do because the one thing this Mets team cannot afford is to let him continue to play and drag a team desperate for each every win down.
There aren’t many things which are right with the Mets right now, but a big thing that’s right with this team right now is Jacob deGrom, and with him, we are seeing reports how the team may look to trade him. Of course, the best way to do that is to win as many games as you can between now and the trading deadline. Part of doing that is going out and not wasting deGrom starts.
Part of that is letting deGrom go out there and do his thing, and really he did his thing tonight.
In seven phenomenal innings of work, deGrom tied his career high with 13 strikeouts, and as noted by the great Michael Mayer, he became the 10th pitcher in Mets history to reach the 800 strikeout mark. He also lowered his ERA this season to 1.75.
There are many ways to say how great deGrom was, but perhaps the best way to say it is his final line: 7.0 IP, 6 H, R, ER, 0 BB, 13 K.
He carried into the game and extended his scoreless inning streak to 24.1 innings. It ended in the top of the sixth when Jake Lamb scored Steven Souza from first on a double. On what was a truly bizarre play, Souza ran through the stop sign only to stutter step and then take off from home. After Asdrubal Cabrera missed the relay, Adrian Gonzalez backed him up and nailed Lamb at third.
The Diamondbacks threatened in the seventh again with a Daniel Descalso leadoff double. Being the great pitcher he is, deGrom settled down, and he got the next three out in order.
Fortunately for deGrom, this would be one of the few games where he got real run support, and it began with a first inning rally against Diamondbacks starter Zack Godley, and like with many Mets rallies this season, it all began with a Brandon Nimmo walk.
After Descalso botched what was at a minimum a force out, and quite likely with Cabrera’s speed a double play ball, runners were at the corners with no outs.
Conforto would repeat that feat in the fifth inning. After a Flores two out walk and Jay Bruce walk, the inning was on Conforto, and he delivered with another RBI single. It was part of Conforto’s first three hit night of the season and just the second four hit night of his career. Overall, he was 4-4 with two RBI.
Really, the Mets need more of that from Conforto because he is not just the best hitter in the lineup, he’s the best hitter on the team. When the team is without Yoenis Cespedes and Todd Frazier, Conforto has to carry even more of the load. He did it tonight, and if he continues doing it, like he did last year, this Mets team will be in much better shape.
Things got interesting in the eighth. After a Conforto one out single, Gonzalez dropped a perfect bunt against the shift. After a Jose Reyes pinch hit walk, the bases were loaded with two outs. This led to Amed Rosario popping one out to Descalso, but he then dropped it. Initially, it was ruled a drop leading to two runs scoring. Upon the umpires commiserating, it was ruled an out meaning it was a 3-1 and not a 5-1 lead.
After Robert Gsellman and Jeurys Familia shut the door, deGrom had his fourth win of the season, and the team beat a Diamondbacks team who is having a very similar season to the one the Mets are having. Hopefully, this weekend the Mets will take advantage of a reeling team like other teams have done to them over the last few weeks.
Game Notes: Juan Lagares, who suffered a toe injury in the rain soaked game is likely done for the year leaving the Mets with three healthy outfielders on the 40 man roster. Jerry Blevins was activated from the paternity list, and he took Lagares’ spot on the roster. Paul Goldschmidt had the golden sombrero.
There was a famous scene in The Shawshank Redemption where Red says to Andy Dufresne, “You’re gonna fit right in. Everyone in here is innocent, you know that?”
The joke carried on later in the movie when it was discovered Andy really wasn’t a murderer. A shocked Heywood would later exclaim, “Red? You saying Andy’s innocent? I mean *for real* innocent?”
Whenever another player is caught for steroids, these scenes from Shawshank should be replayed right after the accused and punished player offers their excuse. Same goes for Robinson Cano, who after it was announced he was suspended for using a masking agent, put out a tweet saying:
Like all the players before him, Cano is innocent. Really!
He’s just the next in a long line of innocent players who were screwed over by someone. Jenrry Mejia‘s mom was only trying to treat his asthma. Manny Ramirez was only trying to have a child. Ryan Braun was the victim of a vicious anti-Semitic attack. David Ortiz was falsely accused because someone needed to balance out all the Yankees suspensions in the Yankees-Red Sox rivalry.
The list goes on and on with innocent man after innocent man either being duped by a medical professional or falsely accused to settle a score. Again, there are no guilty men in Shawshank.
The thing with Cano’s statement is you want to believe him. Maybe he is Andy. Afterall, he had a medical issue, and he says it is a drug that is commonly prescribed in the Dominican Republic!
As noted by T.J. Quinn of ESPN, the drug, Furosemide, is a commonly used to mask PEDs. Also noted by Quinn, the suspension is likely the result of MLB being able to sufficiently prove in appeal after appeal after appeal Cano used it not for a medical benefit, but really as a masking agent.
Now, as noted by some, like Jared Diamond of the Wall Street Journal noted the drug does have a valid medical use to reduce edema mostly related to the heart, liver, or kidneys.
Could it be possible Cano had a real medical emergency which required quick thinking leading to his being prescribed and using Furosemide? After all, he did say it was used to treat a medical ailment. Maybe, just maybe he’s the innocent one.
But, he’s not.
Remember, Cano is not some wide eyed rookie. This is a 14 year veteran in the midst of a 10 year $240 million contract. He was previously represented by Scott Boras, and he is now being represented by Roc Nation.
If there is any player who should know better, it’s Cano. Putting aside the avenues MLB makes readily available to its players to make sure these mistakes do not happen, his agents are a phone call or text message away. Cano should know a suspension may not just mean a loss of over $10 million, but it could also cost him his shot at the Hall of Fame.
Yes, if this was a split second medical emergency, you can’t fault Cano. But here’s how you know this wasn’t the case. There was no leaked report. Any agent worth his salt would have made sure this was leaked THE MINUTE Cano either took a test or tested positive. That’s PR damage control.
That didn’t happen because it’s very likely Cano knew what he was taking, and he thought he could get away with it. How long this innocent man in Shawshank got away with it is anyone’s guess . . . .
Heading into the game, there was much said about how Dave Eiland challenged or disrespected Noah Syndergaard in his saying Thor hasn’t accomplished much at the Major League level. During the broadcast, it was discussed, and Ron Darling said as a player, he would have taken it the wrong way.
Whatever the case, Syndergaard seemed motivated by it in the first inning as he struck out the side while needing just 15 pitches. You got all the more excited seeing Syndergaard knocking home Devin Mesoraco from first after he had drawn a leadoff walk against Jaime Garcia giving the Mets a 1-0 lead. For a moment, it seemed as if things would go rolling on from there, and we would see the Syndergaard we saw prior to the lat injury.
Instead, we saw the Syndergaard we have seen all this season.
In the third, he allowed a one out single to old friend Curtis Granderson, who was playing his first game against the Mets since being traded to the Dodgers for Jacob Rhame last year. After Josh Donaldson popped out, that should have been the end of any prospect of danger.
Instead, we got to see some of Granderson’s knowledge from his playing time with the Mets. He would put himself in scoring position stealing a base, and he would hold at third on a Justin Smoak single. It wound up being a terrible throw from Juan Lagares, but he charged the ball hard, and Granderson, being perhaps well aware of Lagares’ arm, held on third. It didn’t matter because after Syndergaard plunked Teoscar Hernandez with a pitch, Yangervis Solarte hit a two RBI single.
On the single, it is quite arguable any other second baseman but Asdrubal Cabrera gets to that ball, but he didn’t leading the the Blue Jays taking the 2-1 lead.
Seeing how the Mets have played of late, this was a real danger sign. Fortunately, the Mets offense would finally break out.
Beginning with a Jay Bruce double, the Mets would quickly load the bases for Syndergaard, who tied the score with a sacrifice fly. Amed Rosario then nearly hit one out with the ball hitting the top of the fence and bouncing in instead of out. In any event, it was a two RBI double giving the Mets a 4-2 lead.
It should be noted Jose Reyes, who started because with the left-handed pitcher on the mound, Wilmer Flores started at first and Adrian Gonzalez sat, somehow did not score from first. Really, he did not score from first on a ball which was nearly a homer to one of the deeper parts of the park. At best, this was shades of Timo Perez. At worst, this is a player who no longer belongs in the majors.
Lagares would make sure both Reyes and Rosario both scored as he slashed a two RBI single to center, and even with Donaldson cutting it off, he would get to second ahead of the throw.
.@Mets challenge call that Juan Lagares is out at 2B in the 4th; call overturned, runner is safe.
— MLB Replay (@MLBReplays) May 16, 2018
A Cabrera double after that, and the Mets not only had a five run inning, but they would also have a 6-2 lead. In the fifth, the Mets would add the runs needed to make this the laugher the Mets desperately needed.
Gonzalez, Rosario, and Brandon Nimmo would hit consecutive singles first scoring Mesoraco and later scoring Gonzalez. After that Lagares hit an infield single to third allowing Rosario to score.
When Gonzalez pinch hit for Syndergaard that inning, it was the end of Syndergaard’s night, but really, he was going to be pulled after the fifth anyway.
As noted earlier, Syndergaard labored through the third, and he would do the same in the fifth needing a Hernandez double play to get out of the inning. Overall, Syndergaard needed 103 pitches to get through five. He walked an uncharacteristically high two batters. While he’s been effective, he has not yet been Syndergaard this year.
Finally, in the eighth, the Mets would put a capper on this game. Lagares hit a leadoff triple, and he scored on a Luis Guillorme RBI single, his first RBI. After a force out, Mesoarco hit his second homer as a member of the Mets expanding the Mets lead to 12-2.
All-in-all, a pretty good night for the Mets. Mesoraco could not make an out going 2-2 with three walks, four runs, a homer, and two RBI. Lagares was just as good going 4-5 with two runs, a triple, and three RBI. Really, in a game like this, you are going to see everyone contribute somehow, and that’s what the Mets did. The only hope now is the team left some hits in those bats.
Game Notes: The Blue Jays have never beaten the Mets in Flushing going 0-12.
The Mets were aware but not yet set on putting Jacob deGrom on the 10 day disabled list, so rather than make sure Corey Oswalt was in line to start the opener against Cincinnati, the team decided to add P.J. Conlon to the 40 man roster and have him make the start.
After Conlon’s short start and with Jason Vargas making a start, the Mets needed to add a fresh arm in the bullpen who could give them some length. Instead of calling up Chris Flexen, who was on normal rest, the team called-up Oswalt, who was on three days rest. Since that time, the team has more than ample opportunity to use him, and they haven’t:
|Game||Bullpen Innings||Relievers Used|
|May 8th||6.0||Lugo (1.0), Ramos (1.0), Blevins (0.1), Robles (0.1), Sewald (1.1)|
|May 9th||3.0+||Gsellman (2.0), Lugo (1.0), Ramos (0.0)|
|May 11th||4.0||Lugo (1.0), Sewald (1.0), Ramos (1.0), Familia (1.0)|
|May 12th||7.0||Gsellman (3.0), Sewald (2.0), Ramos (1.0), Familia (1.0)|
Overall, the Mets needed to go to their bullpen for 19+ innings in a four game stretch. Robert Gsellman and Paul Sewald went multiple innings on multiple occasions. AJ Ramos appeared in four games with Seth Lugo appearing in three. Breaking it down, there were plenty of chances for the Mets to get Oswalt in for even an inning. They didn’t.
It’s more than that. For a team gun shy to use Oswalt on short rest, between days off and rain outs, Oswalt has not pitched since Saturday, May 5th, he is not going to get a chance to pitch until 10 days after his last star, and that’s if he’s even used. Effectively, Oswalt has skipped two starts so he can sit idly by in the bullpen.
This is not how a team handles their top Major League ready starter. Oswalt needs to be on a mound pitching, working on his game, and generally improving as a pitcher. Really, there is no benefit to him by his not pitching, and seeing how Mickey Callaway is reticent to use him, there is really no benefit to him even being on the roster.
The roster spot could be better allocated towards Buddy Baumann, who could serve as a second left-handed pitcher in the bullpen, or Tyler Bashlor, who has been lights out in Binghamton. You could even argue the spot should go to Conlon, who could serve as the 2015 version of Sean Gilmartin.
As for Oswalt, he’s serving no purpose right now, and he’s not getting the starts he needs. The Mets need him in Triple-A at the ready in case Vargas doesn’t improve. He needs to be at the ready in the event Steven Matz suffers another injury. Really, they need him to do anything other than sitting unused in the bullpen. That’s not benefiting anyone.
In the sixth inning of yesterday’s game, Mickey Callaway was faced with a crucial decision. Does he go to the well rested Jerry Blevinsto get out the left-handed pinch hitter Nick Williams? Does he stick with Paul Sewald, who has good splits against left-handed batters? It was also remotely possible he could have gone with AJ Ramos, who also has good splits against left-handed batters.
Starting backwards, Ramos would have been an intriguing and possibly inspired decision. On the season, Ramos has limited left-handed batters to a .211/.348/.263 batting line. Basically, if he isn’t walking the left-handed batter, they’re not getting on base.
If Callaway turns to Ramos, this could have prevented Gabe Kapler from switching to a right-handed batter to undo the decision to go to the LOOGY.
Now, you could understand Callaway’s reluctance to go to that LOOGY. Blevins hasn’t been good this season allowing left-handed batters to hit .273/.333/.364 off of him. It’s a big reason why Blevins has a 5.63 ERA and a 1.500 WHIP this year.
Still, he is your LOOGY in the bullpen, and Williams was 0-3 against Blevins. More than that, Callaway got Blevins up for exactly this type of situation. It was Blevins’ job to go out there and get the left-handed batter out in a key spot.
Instead, Callaway went with Sewald. You can make differing opinions on Sewald. On the one hand, he has been much better against left-handed batters than Blevins this year. Sewald came into the game limiting left-handed batters to a .220/.238/.341 batting line, and if we’re looking a small sample size pitcher-batter matchups, Williams was 0-1 against Sewald.
However at 35 pitches, Sewald was nearing his pitch limit, which was part of the reason Ramos and Blevins were warming in the first place. He had also been struggling in the Month of May. Prior to this appearance, Sewald had a 5.63 ERA and batters were hitting .273/.273/.515 off of him, and that was with a low .269 BABIP.
Overall, the point is you had your reasons to both stick with Sewald and to pull Sewald from the game. Really, you could go in either direction. However, that’s not the point. Far from it.
Sticking with Sewald goes to the thought process, and frankly, this was one that was lacking with Callaway.
As the manager, he is likely well aware Sewald hasn’t been the Sewald of April. Aside from that, he is aware Sewald is nearing his pitch limit for the game. This is the exact reason he had Ramos and Blevins warming in that spot.
At this point, the Mets margin of error is razor thin. They need to find a way to get out of that inning with a 1-0 lead AND find a way to manage their bullpen for the final 3.1 innings because Jacob deGrom needed to be lifted after a 45 pitch first inning.
When analyzing whether or not Callaway made the correct decision, you need to put aside the Williams’ home run. It’s easy to look at that home run and say Callaway made the wrong decision. It’s possible Ramos or Blevins allows that same homer, and the Phillies continue the rally to making a 3-1 lead a 4 or 5-1 lead. You don’t know.
Here’s what we know. Callaway knew his reliever was tiring. He had a right-handed reliever who pitches well against left-handed batters up and ready to go. He had his LOOGY up whose sole role is to get a left-handed batter out in a key situation. We also know he thought this out:
— Anthony DiComo (@AnthonyDiComo) May 13, 2018
Hearing him, it was almost paralysis by analysis. Reading more into it, his thought process was lacking.
That was is a little hard to believe.
No, this was a case where Callaway had Blevins warmed up to either face a left-handed batter or try to prevent Gabe Kapler from using Williams.
If it was a deke, Kepler not only called his bluff, but to that extent, he out-managed Callaway.
If it was Callaway using his gut over his head, well, his guy failed him.
Whatever that case, there was a scenario where Callaway set everything up to have Blevins face Williams, and he didn’t pull the trigger. Perhaps, this is an indictment on Blevins.
Quite possibly, this is part of the growing pains of a former pitching coach who has never managed professionally and is surrounded by a coaching staff with zero Major League managerial experience.
Whatever the case, when you set everything up for one key matchup, and you don’t immediately go to that pitcher, you not only set yourself up for second guessing, you also make everyone wonder what’s the thought process behind any of his decisions.