The National League East is supposed to be a tight race all season long. So far, it is proving itself out to be that way with the Phillies tied for first place with the Braves. The Mets are only just 4.5 games behind both teams (four in the loss column).
Because of the Subway Series, the Mets get four games against the Yankees – two at Yankee Stadium and two at Citi Field. That’s four games the Mets have against a Yankees team with a 40-24 record. With that record, the Mets get four games against the team who has the fifth best record in baseball. If the Yankees were in the National League, they would have the second best record.
The Braves split series is against the Blue Jays (23-42). The Phillies don’t have a split series. Rather, they just have two road games against the Red Sox (34-33). Now, some years we will see the Blue Jays as being great, and other years, like this year, they are bad. That makes a matchup with them all the better.
With respect to the Yankees, even when they’re rebuilding, they’re good. That’s four good games that’s on the Mets schedule that is not definitively on the schedule of another National League East rival. That means every year the Mets get four difficult games in place of somewhat randomly generated games which typically is not as strong as the games the Mets need to face.
Overall, the Mets are getting screwed here, and it is all in the name of some gimmick, albeit a still popular gimmick in New York which generates sell outs and increased ratings.
The Mets went from a very bad loss on Friday to winning a series against the Rockies, a team ahead of them in the Wild Card standings. All in all, it was a good weekend with a lot of great things happening:
1. Noah Syndergaard is not getting enough credit for reinventing himself on the fly. He’s lost his slider due to the new ball, and he’s adapted by throwing more four seamers and his curveball, two pitches he needed to develop further. He’s really turned a corner and maybe he’s on the brink of a stretch like he had in 2016.
2. It does seem every Mets pitcher likes pitching to Tomas Nido. It should come as no surprise as he is a first rate defensive catcher and pitch framer.
3. That said, we cannot have Nido being the personal catcher to Syndergaard and Jacob deGrom. That is especially the case when Wilson Ramos has been the Mets best hitter for over the past three weeks, and he has improved his rapport with the pitching staff. Fact is, Ramos has to play.
4. That said, Nido should play a little more. In the first month plus of the season Ramos played in 28 of 29 possible games, and he started in 22 of 29 games. The Mets played 28 games in May, he played 24 games and started 19. Apparently, easing off the throttle off the 31 year old catcher with an injury history has benefits.
5. Speaking of easing off the throttle, Robert Gsellman was dominant in his one inning on Friday, and then he didn’t pitch in the subsequent two days. Getting him more rest could make him more effective like he was earlier in the year. That’s the hope at least.
6. For those who were clamoring for Drew Gagnon in pressure situations, you got to see why Mickey Callaway was hesitant to put him in those spots as he allowed homers to David Dahl and Daniel Murphy. In three of his last five appearances, hes’ allowed runs with two of them being three run blowups.
7. That’s the thing with pitchers like Gagnon. They’re effective in a role like long reliever, but pressure situations are a different animal. From what we’ve seen, Gagnon definitely has a spot in a Major League bullpen just not in the seventh or eighth inning. That’s alright. There’s nothing wrong with having pitchers who can pitch effectively in certain roles.
9. Todd Frazier is not this good, but he was also not as bad as he was to start the season. That’s the inherent problem with judging players over hot and cold streaks and especially over week-to-week production. Overall, what we have seen from Frazier is he’s a very good defensive third baseman who can draw walks and has pop in his bat. At least, that is what he is when he’s healthy. He’s healthy now, and he’s finally helping the Mets much in the same fashion Sandy Alderson thought he would.
10. The Mets need Frazier all the more because Jed Lowrie is apparently as real as the Tooth Fairy.
11. Speaking of moves which blew up unexpectedly, Robinson Cano has been less productive than Jay Bruce or Anthony Swarzak, both of whom have been traded in the division and are now working to beat the Mets.
12. With Juan Lagares having a -3 DRS in center and seeing Carlos Gomez play in center, the Mets should give a real consideration to seeing Jeff McNeil in center. As we see he has above average speed, good instincts, and an ability to quickly learn new positions. This would allow Brandon Nimmo to go to left field, which is a more natural fit whenever he comes off the IL.
13. Of course, if Dominic Smith continues to hit and play a passable left field, you could move McNeil to second. Of course, when Cano is healthy that raises a whole other list of issues. However, that falls under the category of good problems to have, which is a really nice change of pace around here.
14. Amed Rosario is an extremely talented player. We keep seeing glimpses of it, but we also see frustrating stretches. Part of this is the coaching staff with the Mets being one of the worst shifting teams there are, which has a negative impact on Rosario’s defensive numbers. There’s also the fact he’s still working to figure things out. Hopefully, sooner or later, something finally clicks.
15. Speaking of something clicking, Mets need to hope Pete Alonso is finally clicking again. While he’s hitting just .223/.298/.559 since May 1, Alonso is hitting .281/.349/.649 0ver his past 15 games. One thing to track here is Alonso is much better against left-handed pitching.
16. Bob Klapisch’s article in Bleacher Report on the Wilpons on their handling of their attempts to void Yoenis Cespedes‘ contract as well as all the other areas where the Wilpons are petty, over-matched, cheap, and whatever other adjective you want to use, is exactly the type or articles which need to be written instead of the paint-by-number fire Mickey Callaway articles which are being written.
17. Prior to this series against the Rockies, the Mets had exactly one series win against a team with a winning record. That series was the April 22 – 24 series at home against the Phillies where they blitzed them over the first two games before the Phillies destroyed Jason Vargas in the final game of that series. Things went sour for the Mets after that.
18. Mets haven’t been good for a while now, and it does seem like things are turning a corner. Fortunately, the Wild Card and division are still well within reach.
19. The Subway Series always seem to be a seminal moment in the Mets season. They appear headed in the right direction and the Yankees not so this next series could prove to be a springboard for the Mets.
Want to know what type of year it has been for the Mets? Pete Alonso was thrown out trying to stretch a double into a triple, and on the play, he was awarded home:
A yes doubter. pic.twitter.com/RK1H1w8hEU
— Roger Cormier (@yayroger) June 9, 2019
That’s right nothing makes sense when it comes to the Mets this year. That said, you have to keep your eyes on them because you never know what’s going to happen next.
A month ago, Todd Frazier looked completely washed up and on the precipice of being designated for assignment, possibly a forced retirement. He’s been the Mets best player since hitting homers and robbing Nolan Arenado of a base hits.
We are constantly told Steven Matz is mentally weak. He battled a tough Rockies lineup and just flat out horrendous work from the Home Plate Umpire Mike Winters to go six strong to put himself in line for the win.
That included his taking the rare step of going a fourth time through the lineup and throwing 120 pitches. That’s really rarified territory for him, and the purportedly mentally weak Matz allowed three runs (two earned) on six hits and two walks while striking out 10. The reason for that is partially due to his having his curve working:
Got 'em looking. 😬 pic.twitter.com/5l7HcHCyCb
— New York Mets (@Mets) June 8, 2019
If Amed Rosario has some thoughts after the game, this is going to be why (strike 3) pic.twitter.com/SIJxknfTWZ
— Mike Petriello (@mike_petriello) June 9, 2019
Push finally came to shove, and we saw yet another completely unexpected thing. Mickey Callaway was ejected. He argued the awful strike zone and was tossed. Again, this is completely uncharacteristic of him.
Another unexpected development was Daniel Murphy going 0-for-4 with two strikeouts on the night. With him not killing the Mets for once, the Mets had a chance to win.
Just that like that, for one day, things look good for the Mets. Let’s see if they can get more positive unexpected things to happen in the ensuing days, weeks, and months, to keep it going.
There’s also the performance of Cano. By the looks of it, the Mets may not even get one good year from the 36 year old second baseman coming off a PED suspension. Remember, this is just year one of a five year $100 million commitment.
As bad and/or injured as Cano has been, no one could have reasonably predicted he wouldn’t be as good as Jay Bruce has been this year. For that matter, he hasn’t even been as good as Anthony Swarzak. To make it all the worse, the Mariners traded Swarzak to the Braves and Bruce to the Phillies.
Essentially, the end result of the trade is Bruce, Swarzak, and Cano have been working to keep the Mets out of the postseason. That’s well beyond what most assumed would be the reasonably pondered worst case scenario for this trade.
And again, this is just year one of Cano. Mets fans should shudder to see year five . . . and that’s when Dunn and Kelenic should reasonably be contributing at the MLB level.
Not good. Not good at all.
Things really changed for the Mets when they showed ZERO interest in bringing back Daniel Murphy. He was a clutch player who was a good teammate, and he loved being a Met. His going to the Nationals swung the future fortunes of both franchises.
Murphy left the Nationals, and now they’re terrible. Maybe it’s coincidence, and maybe it’s not. Still, tonight, we saw his impact on a team.
Against his old friend Jacob deGrom, he was 1-for-3. When deGrom was removed from the game, he hit a long homer off Drew Gagnon. It was the second homer of the inning against Gagnon as he melted down and ensured deGrom would be saddled with the loss.
Daniel Murphy goes deep to add some more insurance! pic.twitter.com/0CtFlx59Z4
— Colorado Rockies (@Rockies) June 8, 2019
Gagnon followed the homer by plunking Ian Desmond. Seeing this Murphy was the first guy over the railing. Again, good teammate who helps his team win.
Maybe it never mattered he left. Maybe the Mets were just destined to do what they always do because the Wilpons are terrible and not committed to winning.
Thing is the Mets are missing something whether or not it’s Murphy.
They had their ace deGrom gut his way through six innings allowing just two earned. The offense couldn’t get out of their own way against Antonio Senzatela, a pitcher with a 5.33 ERA.
He didn’t have one strikeout all night, and he had just one 1-2-3 inning over his six innings pitched. Part of that is the Mets hitting into two double plays, going 0-for-3 with RISP, and failing to take advantage of opportunities.
The biggest example was the fourth. Dominic Smith had a one out walk, and for a moment, it looked like Wilson Ramos was going to hit into an inning ending double play. Instead Brendan Rodgers whiffed Trevor Story‘s flip setting up first and third with one out. Mets didn’t deliver a hit or even a sacrifice fly.
If not for a Michael Conforto sixth inning homer, the Mets don’t score a run. Overall, it was basically Conforto and Smith who showed up tonight accumulating four of the Mets six hits.
Well, maybe Brodie Van Wagenen will finally look to do something about it instead of ducking the media and leaving his manager twisting in the wind.
Game Recap: This was the first time Ramos caught deGrom instead of Tomas Nido since May 17th.
On Monday, people wanted Mickey Callaway sacrificed to the baseball gods, and by Wednesday, the Mets had won a home series. As you can guess a lot happened in just three games:
1. While the vast majority of people would have let Noah Syndergaard face Evan Longoria, it doesn’t mean pulling him from the game was the wrong decision, especially with Syndergaard’s numbers a fourth time through the lineup.
2. If you’re upset Seth Lugo entered the game and/or pinpoint his entering the game as the reason the Mets lost, you don’t trust or have faith in him. There’s no arguing around it.
3. Callaway’s real mistake was Robert Gsellman in the ninth. While we can all understand the other non-Lugo set-up men are terrible, you can’t pitch Gsellman into the ground this way. It’s indefensible.
4. Under the unjustifiable workload, Gsellman has a 12.96 ERA raising his season ERA from 2.48 to 5.05. Essentially, Callaway made one of his few reliable guys completely unreliable.
5. With everything that’s happened to the Mets bullpen, Jeurys Familia going out there and looking like the Familia of old might’ve been the most important thing that happened in this series.
6. Considering the state of the Mets bullpen and the complete lack of starting pitching depth, they needed one of Craig Kimbrel or Dallas Keuchel. Not only did that not happen, the overwhelming odds are the Mets didn’t even try.
7. Keuchel going to the Braves makes it so much the worse. His replacing one of Kevin Gausman or Mike Foltynewicz making their rotation much improved. That’s huge for a team just one game back in the division.
8. Andrew McCutchen trading his ACL is bad for both the Phillies and baseball. That said, it does open a door permitting the Mets to contend for a division title.
9. One cure for the bullpen ills is the Mete starters going deeper into games. Mets starters are on a streak of nine straight games of pitching at least six innings.
10. If before the season, someone told you Jason Vargas had a complete game shut out in the same game Adeiny Hechavarria hit a homer, you’d probably talk about the terrific job Wally Backman has done with the Long Island Ducks.
12. With Cano leaving a game early, and his season in general, you’d realize this is just year one of what’s an onerous contract.
13. With Brandon Nimmo staring his rehab assignment, and Dominic Smith playing well, you do have to question if the Mets aren’t better off with McNeil at second, Frazier at third, Smith in left, and Cano as a pinch hitter.
15. With his go-ahead homer, you realize Frazier has been the Mets best player over the past few weeks.
17. The Mets and Juan Lagares needed him to have the game he had yesterday. If nothing else, he becomes a more viable fourth outfielder or defensive replacement.
18. Van Wagenen does deserve credit for keeping Tommy Tanous and Marc Tramuta. That duo helped the Mets have another terrific draft.
19. If nothing else, the Mets are great at home. At Citi Field, they’re 17-10 (.630), have a 118 wRC+ at home (third best in the Majors), and a 3.73 FIP (fourth best in the NL). Essentially, they’re the best team in baseball when they’re at home.
20. It’s great to see and hear Ron Darling again. He’s been sorely missed. Here’s hoping he’s healthy and will not have to leave the booth again anytime soon.
The Mets have won just rubber game all year, and it does seem like these mid-week day game typically ends terribly for the Mets. Even with the Mets starting the game with back-to-back homers from Amed Rosario and Dominic Smith off Giants starter Shaun Anderson, you could understand any unease from the fans. Then it seemed to be happening all over again.
After going through the lineup without allowing a hit, Mike Yastrzemski opened the fourth with a leadoff single, and he would come home on a Brandon Belt two run homer tying the game. The Mets would then fall behind when Wheeler allowed a Pablo Sandoval homer in the sixth. To put the bad luck into perspective, Wheeler allowed just three hits to the Giants all afternoon, and all three of those runs scored on two homers. Worse yet, the team was down 3-2 heading into the bottom of the seventh.
The Mets got something brewing that inning with a Juan Lagares lead-off walk. The Giants then went to their bullpen, which has been pretty good all year, and brought in Reyes Moronta. He allowed a single to Tomas Nido. Then Mickey Callaway would make some curious decisions which stymied the rally.
Instead of allowing Wheeler to stay in and lay down the sacrifice bunt, he pinch hit Carlos Gomez to do that. That decision is all the more curious when you consider Robinson Cano was sitting with a leg injury, and the team did not start Jeff McNeil a day after a night game in order to not overtax him after returning from two injuries. But, he would effectively waste Gomez to do what Wheeler could have done just as well.
Callaway would pinch hit McNeil for Rosario, and he would drop a bloop single just beyond the reach of Brandon Crawford to tie the score and get Wheeler off the hook. Bruce Bochy then went to Tony Watson to pitch to Smith. Now, Smith has been decent against left-handed pitching this year, and he was 2-for-3 with a homer on the day. However, this was the Mets shot, and Callaway went to J.D. Davis. Unfortunately, he hit into the inning ending double play.
Sure, the Giants are terrible, but considering how the Mets bullpen has been of late, the last thing this team wants was a battle of the bullpens in a game which could be going extra innings.
Fortunately, the Mets had their full bullpen available, which meant Seth Lugo and a scoreless eighth. The Mets would then make him the pitcher of record.
Pete Alonso led off the inning with a single against Mark Melancon. Fortunately, Belt could not handle Michael Conforto‘s ensuing liner. This meant instead of a double play, Conforto, the much better runner, was on first. He wasn’t there long as he would steal his fourth base of the year. This put a runner in scoring position for Todd Frazier, who would knock in Conforto and himself:
— New York Mets (@Mets) June 6, 2019
The ball was carrying all day. The Giants certainly took advantage, and it was good to see Frazier do it as well. It was even better to see the homer not killing the rally.
After the homer, Adeiny Hechavarria singled, and Lagares doubled. After a Nido ground out, Wilson Ramos would pinch hit and walk to load the bases. This set the stage for McNeil who would deliver with another RBI single. This time two runs scored making it 7-3 Mets. This single allowed the Mets to sit down Edwin Diaz to save him for another day and put in Jeurys Familia. For seemingly the first time since the 2015 NLCS, Familia had a quick 1-2-3 inning to lock down the game.
After Monday’s loss, the Mets were facing some adversity with Callaway once again the media looking to give him the pink slip. Once again, the team responded and won games for both them and their manager. While you would have wanted more, the Mets took the series against the Giants, and they have righted the ship. The key here is what they do next.
Game Notes: Conforto is a perfect 4-for-4 in stolen base attempts. The four stolen bases are already a career high. McNeil has 40 multi-hit games in his 112 games played.
One thing Jason Vargas has done well this year is pitch well against bad offensive teams. When he’s faced those teams, he’s actually lasted five innings. The Giants are a bottom three offensive team.
The Mets got all the runs they needed when Robinson Cano, fresh off the IL and back in the lineup without a rehab assignment, hit an RBI ground out scoring Jeff McNeil, who had led off the game with a double.
The Mets had a chance to expand the lead in the third, but Canó hit into an inning ending double play. On the play, he pulled up lame likely sending him back to the IL tomorrow. Back in his stead was Adeiny Hechavarria, who would homer in the seventh. With that homer, Hechavarria surpassed Cabo’s home run total with far fewer at-bats.
The Mets also got homers from Michael Conforto
— New York Mets (@Mets) June 6, 2019
and Amed Rosario
— New York Mets (@Mets) June 6, 2019
It was an offensive onslaught with the Mets scoring seven runs on eight hits. McNeil had three hits. Conforto had two RBI, and Rosario has three.
More than anything, Vargas pitched a complete game shut out with a season high eight strikeouts, and Hechavarria homered. If you told someone these things would happen in the same game, they would’ve assumed you meant Syracuse, and even then, they’d seem skeptical.
But it did happen. Vargas, Hechavarria, and the Mets dominated a bad team like they should. They deserve credit for doing it. If we see more of this, the Mets will be fine. Speaking of things being fine, it was readily apparent this team has not quit on Mickey Callaway.
Game Notes: Vargas pitched seven innings in consecutive starts for the first time since June 2017.
Last night, Mickey Callaway trusted Seth Lugo to finish the seventh inning over Noah Syndergaard. Even with Syndergaard cruising, the numbers were the numbers. As a result, Callaway decided to go with his best reliever to get the team a win rather than let Syndergaard get himself into a jam. It didn’t work out.
Sometimes managers make the right move, and it doesn’t work,. Sometimes, you want the managers to have a feel for the game and stick with their starters. After all, that was the justification for Terry Collins sticking with Matt Harvey, and we know how that ended.
But it’s not just Collins/Harvey, it’s also Callaway/Syndergaard.
Take the April 10th game against the Twins as an example. Syndergaard allowed one earned on two hits. He came out to start the eighth, and he allowed three straight hits starting what was a four run inning which chased him from the game.
There have been a number of instances all year where Syndergaard was cruising and just like that he lost it. There was the game against the Tigers where he struggled in the first two, but seemed to settle down only to allow homers in back-to-back innings. There was also his game against the Padres where he allowed homers, and as he got deeper into the game, he began to allow more base hits.
If we’re being honest, while Syndergaard has been much better starting May 1, he still has his issues while he is struggling with this slider. He’s allowed the most hits in the majors. He has a 4.83 ERA, 83 ERA+, and a 3.60 FIP. He’s allowed the most hits in the majors. Most of his numbers, including his strikeout rate, now stand at career worsts.
This isn’t the 2016 Syndergaard who was one of the best pitchers in baseball. This is a very talented pitcher impressively gutting through starts giving his team a chance to win while he’s still trying to rediscover pitches he’s lost due to the new ball.
Point is, we have seen Syndergaard lose it this year at a moment’s notice. It’s one of the reasons why Mets fans and reporters have jumped at the chance to criticize him all year long. But now, all of a sudden, everyone gets amnesia and pretends like they didn’t say the things they said about him about a week ago.
While you can defend keeping Syndergaard in, you can also realize why Callaway would go to Lugo. What you don’t understand is the composition of the roster and why there hasn’t been more attention focused upon it.
Right now, this team has only two reliable bullpen arms – Lugo and Edwin Diaz. That’s it.
In yesterday’s game, the Mets started J.D. Davis in left field and Carlos Gomez in center. They rushed Jeff McNeil off of the IL. Against a Giants bullpen, they mustered just four singles over the final four innings. They played poor defense in the field.
When Lugo blew the lead, eventually Callaway had to go to Robert Gsellman. Now, Callaway does deserve blame for completely overusing Gsellman. It’s led to him being terrible. However, as bad as he is, Callaway’s other options are worse. Honestly, in a pressure spot who do you want him to pick:
Looking at those options and the players who currently comprise the roster, you see that even with Callaway’s faults, this is on Brodie Van Wagenen and the just ridiculously bad offseason he had.
Take into consideration the fact he gave Jed Lowrie a two year $20 million deal. That’s $20 million to a 35 year old with a knee issue. In true J.J. Putz fashion, the Mets didn’t discover anything during the physical before the deal was consummated.
In lieu of that $20 million, the team could have signed Adam Jones ($3 million) and Greg Holland ($3.25 million) and saved some money to add another bench piece or reliever. The point is the Mets needed more depth in the outfield and the bullpen, and Van Wagenen instead opted on another infielder.
Sure, we can criticize Callaway for his faults, but this isn’t on him. This was a poorly constructed roster, and it will remain that way even if he’s fired and the team replaces him with Jim Riggleman, Joe Girardi, Buck Showalter, or whoever else you could conjure up.
So go ahead, blow up at Callaway for using a terrific reliever while pulling a starter you have likely been killing all year. Get angry with him for putting in one of his not up to the task relievers in a spot. Get upset when the offense full of bench players and Triple-A starters can’t score runs in a close game.
Certainly, he’s the issue here and not Van Wagenen or the Wilpons who haven’t come up with the money for Dallas Keuchel or Craig Kimbrel despite the team desperately needing the. Make Callaway the whipping boy here just like Van Wagenen and the Wilpons want. After all, what good is a human shied if he’s not there to block all the the criticism really due to other people?