Rains, Reds Drown Mets

Give Jason Vargas credit.  It only took him just 14 pitches to earn the loss in tonight’s game.  That’s a new low for even him.

Sure, there were extenuating circumstances.  Four batters into the game, and the Reds already up 1-0, there was an hour and 45 minute rain delay.  This necessitated Vargas depart after just one-third of an inning, and it meant the Mets were going to use two pitchers before the Reds even used one.

Vargas left behind two baserunners, each of whom Paul Sewald allowed to score.  At that point, the Reds had an impenetrable 3-0 lead.

One of the reasons it was impenetrable was because Reds starter, Sal Romano, who grew up rooting for the Mets, dominated his hometown team.  In six innings pitched, he limited the Mets to one run on two hits with three walks and five strikeouts.

The Mets lone run off Romano came courtesy of a Jose Bautista two out RBI single which scored Brandon Nimmo, who had doubled earlier that inning.  The Bautista single ended a long 0-fer drought for Bautista.  After that single, he would begin a new one as the Mets offense wouldn’t get another hit until the ninth inning.

Overall, the Mets would use six pitchers to differing results.

Bobby Wahl had his first blemish as a member of the Mets allowing a two run homer to Phil ErvinJacob Rhame allowed a deep bomb to former Met Dilson Herrera.

Other than that, Tyler Bashlor and Drew Smith would combine to pitch four scoreless to both help save the bullpen and to also raise their stock with the organization.  It was a good thing they did because when you lose 6-1 like this, many don’t notice the positives many do actually contribute.

Game Notes: Between pitching changes and pinch hitters, the Mets would have nine different players appear in the ninth spot in the order – Vargas, Sewald, Wahl, Luis Guillorme, Bashlor, Jose Reyes, Smith, Austin Jackson, Rhame.

Meet The Mets Fan: Jerseylicious’ Anthony Lombardi

The Mets Fan

My name is Anthony Lombardi. I’m a Hairstylist and salon owner from NJ. I was also featured on the reality show Jerseylicious.

How You Became a Mets Fan

My father is a Mets fan and that’s pretty much how I became one. Same way my 9 yr old son is a Mets fan.

Favorite Mets Player

I have different favorite players from different periods of my life. As a young kid it was Lee Mazzilli. During our golden years it was Keith Hernandez. In my 20’s, Mike Piazza and currently Michael Conforto. All time I’d have to say Piazza.

Favorite Moment in Mets History

Winning the World Series. Followed by taking my son to his 1st Mets game with my dad.

Message to Mets Fans

My message would be. Stay loyal. And root for the name on the front of the Jersey not the back. Also never believe the Wilpons.

Mets Bullpen Holds On

With the Mets continue to struggle, Homer Bailey, who entered the game with a 7.22 ERA against the Mets, was a sight for sore eyes.

The Mets quickly went to work against Bailey with three first inning runs highlighted by birthday boy Wilmer Flores opening the scoring with an RBI single.

Overall, it was a really good birthday for Wilmer. He would go 3-for-4 with a run, two RBI, and a HBP. As noted during the telecast, Flores was one of 14 players with three singles and a HBP on his birthday. Two of the other players were Lou Gehrig and Shoeless Joe.

That 3-0 first inning Mets lead grew to 6-0 in the strength of another Flores RBI single, and homers by Kevin Plawecki and Jeff McNeil.

That McNeil homer was absolutely crushed going way up the Pepsi Porch:

(Yes, it’s the Coke Corner now, but the Pepsi Porch sounds better).

That 6-0 lead was looking very safe with Noah Syndergaard dominating the Reds. That was until the seventh.

With one out, Syndergaard plunked consecutive batters. The Preston Tucker one really must’ve been bad as he was checked on by the trainers multiple times, and he could score from second on a Billy Hamilton single, and that’s even with Brandon Nimmo overrunning the ball in right.

Tucker would score on a Jose Peraza single which chase Syndergaard.

In a pleasant surprise, Mickey Callaway initially went to Bobby Wahl in the bases loaded one out situation. Given the Mets record, this is exactly what the team needs to be doing.

Wahl started by throwing three straight balls to Joey Votto. To his credit, Wahl battled back into the count getting two quick strikes. After Votto fouled off two, Wahl walked in a run making it 6-2 Mets.

Wahl rebounded by striking out Scooter Gennett on a 3-2 pitch.

After a tough couple of at-bats, and with Plawecki saving Wahl’s bacon a few times by blocking balls in the dirt, Callaway went to Robert Gsellman.

Gsellman would allow a two RBI single to Eugenio Suarez before getting out of that inning and pitching a perfect eighth.

In a surprise, Jerry Blevins pitched the ninth, and he recorded his first save of the season. In what has simply been a goofy year, Blevins has a start and a save this year.

Overall, the Mets won 6-4 in a game where we saw some good things from youngish players who could be pieces next year. That’s a pretty good day for the 2018 Mets.

Game Notes: Mets had a tribute video for Matt Harvey before the game. Luis Guillorme had an infield single in the eighth. With that hit, Guillorme extended his MLB best 50 at-bats without a strikeout.

Calm Down on the Callaway Criticism

In yesterday’s 5-4 loss in 10 innings to the Atlanta Braves, people had a field day criticizing manager Mickey Callaway for the perceived errors the first time manager made.  Of course, all these criticisms first ignored how the Mets lost because the Braves at that much better, especially over this injury ravaged Mets team.  Moreover, the perceived errors were not really errors in and of themselves:

Error No.1 – The Starting Lineup

Considering how when he had the appearance of autonomy, Callaway buried Jose Reyes on the bench, we can see he lost some of his control, especially after Reyes complained publicly through the press.  Overall, Reyes is in the lineup because ownership wants him there (and fans won’t boo him like he deserves).  As for Brandon Nimmo, he’s been scuffling lately, and he could probably use a day off.

Error No. 2 – Going Too Long with Oswalt

Entering the seventh inning yesterday, Corey Oswalt was dealing.  At that point, he had allowed just one earned on five hits with no walks and four strikeouts.  He was only at 75 pitches, and he had just made fairly quick work of the Braves in the sixth inning.  It was the bottom of the lineup, and he was due up second.

Considering how well he was pitching, how well he has pitched, and this being a period to evaluate players, the mistake would have been pulling Oswalt.  He should have started that inning.  It’s just unfortunate he gave up the two run homer to Ender Inciarte to lose the lead.

Error No. 3 – Double Switching Nimmo into the Game

Looking at the Mets bench, the player you most wanted up in the bottom of the seventh was Nimmo.  If you are going to burn a bench player, you might as well move the pitcher’s spot as far away as possible to at least give yourself the chance to let Paul Sewald pitch more than just the end of the seventh.

Ultimately, do we really care if it mean Austin Jackson and not Jose Bautista came out of that game?  Sure, Jackson is hitting better, but it’s Bautista who you are showcasing in the hopes he snaps out of this funk and once again becomes a trade piece.

Error No. 4 – Not Waiting for the Pinch Hitter to be Announced

Before criticizing Callaway on this one, ask yourself one key question: Who would you rather face?  Ryan Flaherty, a career .218/.288/.350 hitter or Adam Duvall, a former All Star with two 30 home run seasons under his belt?  If you have a brain cell remaining, it’s Flaherty every single day of the week.

Well, Callaway checked to make sure Duvall wasn’t announced, and he went with Sewald over Jerry Blevins, who was warming, to enter the game.  By doing that, Callaway helped pressure Brian Snitker to put up the far worse hitter.

Seriously, how is that a bad thing?

As for the narrative spewed on SNY, it’s false.  Just completely false.

This is the National League.  A manager is not going to burn two hitters in a tie game in the seventh inning.  You don’t have that luxury.  Knowing that, Callaway was proactive and got the matchup he wanted.  Really, Mets fans should be happy he had the foresight to say he wanted to face Flaherty over Duvall.

And with Callaway, we know this is a strategy he likes to utilize.  After all, this is not the first time he has done it, and with this happening two times, we can expect to see this happen again.  That’s a good thing.

As an aside, let’s remember the thoughts each of the people criticizing Callaway have had:

Maybe we should pump the brakes on taking what this group says as gospel and look for them more for entertainment.

Also, it should be noted, doing it that way allowed Callaway let Sewald face the pinch hitter an Ronald Acuna before going to Blevins for the left-handed Ozzie Albies, Freddie Freeman, and Nick Markakis.

Error No. 5 – Double Switching McNeil out of the Game

The Jeff McNeil decision is a little tricky.  On the one hand, you want him to get as many reps as he possibly can in the field and at the plate.  Yes, his turn in the lineup did come up in the ninth, but it was really unlikely to happen.  To that extent, double switching him out to get some length from Seth Lugo did make sense on paper.

Of course, the real anger here was Reyes stayed in the lineup.  That’s understandable, but remember this is a player being not just forced on the manager, but also into the lineup.  Reyes’ strangehold is such the Mets are challenging plays where he is clearly out because Reyes demands it:

Summation

During the game, Callaway showed he was a guy who was balancing both playing the guys he is told to play while trying to develop young players and winning games.  It’s unfortunate Oswalt couldn’t get an out in the seventh, and it’s a shame Tyler Bashlor gave up the game winning homer in the 10th.

When it comes to Bashlor, there’s your areas of criticism.  Callaway is still feeling his way through bullpen management, and even now, he’s still leaning on veteran arms like Lugo over ones like Bashlor.

As for the other decisions?  Give him credit for being willing to buck trends and try to dictate match-ups he wants.  Allow him to grow on the job and learn from his mistakes, but admit this wasn’t one of them.  Overall, remember the level of interference he has.

Ultimately, remember this is a guy who gets his guys to play.  In this three game set, the Mets went toe-to-toe with a much better Braves team, and they nearly took the series.  Give credit where it is due.

More importantly, don’t distract from the real problem with the Mets – ownership is not spending and is putting an inferior product on the field.

Game Notes: Once again, Luis Guillorme did not get into the game.  Part of the reason being is the Mets have said they do not see him as more than a pinch hitter or late inning replacement.  Instead, Reyes played the whole game while Todd Frazier, who originally did not start because he was just coming off the disabled list, came on late shifting Reyes to second.

Wheeler Dominates And Gets aWin.

This is exactly the way the Mets are supposed to play things over the final two months of the season. Sure, it’s easy to say that after a 3-0 win, but even if the Mets fell behind or lost the lead, they did he right thing.

Zack Wheeler, who the Mets were right to hold onto at the trade deadline, once again showed the Mets he’s turned a corner.

Over seven shutout innings, Wheeler linter a Braves team who had the third highest batting average in the majors and the fourth most runs in the National League to just three hits and one walk.

Really, Wheeler dominated from the jump with him striking out the side in the first, which would set the tone for a none strike out night. Overall, only one Brave would even reach second against Wheeler.

That was Freddie Freeman with a leadoff double to start the seventh. Wheeler responded by getting three quick outs.

With this not being a Jacob deGrom start, Wheeler would get the run support he would need to get the win.

The first run, and really only run needed came in the second when new Brave Kevin Gausman hit Todd Frazier. He’d quickly move to third on a Jeff McNeil double.

Overall, McNeil was a perfect 4-for-4 as he raised his batting average from .190 to .320.

The Mets mostly squandered the two on no out situation, but Amed Rosario was still able to get Frazier home on a fielder’s choice to give the Mets a 1-0 lead.

Once again, it was Frazier and McNeil getting things started. They’d follow a Michael Conforto sixth inning leadoff single with consecutive singles to both load the bases and chase Gausman.

Austin Jackson hit one off the reliever Shane Carle for an RBI leadoff single. Kevin Plawecki brought the next run home with a sacrifice fly.

Once again, it was an opportunity largely squandered, but the Mets did enough to get a 3-0 lead.

Surprisingly, Mickey Callaway would tab Bobby Wahl for the eighth. He’d get into some trouble, but he worked around it to get the ball to Robert Gsellman.

Gsellman for the ninth is an inspired move as it lets you know if he could be part of the later inning bullpen mix.

Well, tonight, Gsellman was up for the challenge much loot McNeil was just for almost the full night.

Overall, the Mets have young players and a chance to play them. For tonight, it worked.

Mets Fans Should Not Want Alonso Called Up

Last night’s starting lineup had Jose Bautista, Jose Reyes, Austin Jackson, and Devin Mesoraco in it while Wilmer Flores, Luis Guillorme, Jeff McNeil, and Kevin Plawecki sat.

This isn’t really an anomaly as the aforementioned 30+ year old veterans on expiring deals have been getting regular playing time over the younger players.

Earlier this season, Dominic Smith was up with the Mets for a 31 game stretch. The 23 year old former first round pick started in just 16 of those games. During this time, Mickey Callaway described Smith as a bench player.

That’s better than what Guillorme got. Despite his not getting a chance to ever really prove himself, he was described as a pinch hitter and late inning replacement who should not be getting starts the rest of the year. Naturally, this was said on a day Reyes got a start at second.

Seeing how the Mets don’t play the young players when they’re here on how they seemingly go out of their way to disparage those players, as a fan, ask yourself why you would want Peter Alonso called up right now.

Do you want to see him on the bench behind Bautista, or in the event be actually does manage to return this year, Jay Bruce?

Do you want to see him get benched for failing to scoop out a Reyes throw in the dirt leading to his eventual (punishment) benching?

Do you want to see him sit and have the team refer to him as a late inning power threat off the bench?

Judging from what we’ve seen this year and the last, we know that’s what’s going to happen to Alonso.

With that in mind, again ask yourself, do you really want to see the Mets call up Alonso this year?

deGrom Has Off Night By His Standards And Loses

Tonight, Jacob deGrom pitched eight innings allowing just two earned on six hits. He struck out nine and walked one.

Believe it or not, this outing increased his ERA from 1.82 to 1.85. He lowered his K/9 from 10.7 to 10.6.

Put another way, deGrom has been so great this season that this qualifies as an off night for him.

He did his part to offset his “poor” pitching by driving home a run. That would be one of the Mets only two hits on the night.

To make matters worse, it’s not even like the Mets lost with the young players either:

  • You could almost understand playing the veterans to get deGrom a win, but it hasn’t worked so far this season. In fact, deGrom is the only pitcher in MLB history with a sub 2.00 ERA after 20 starts with fewer than seven wins.
  • Well, he doesn’t have seven wins. He’s stuck at five with seven losses.
  • As great as deGrom is is as bad as the Mets are. We are well past the point of ridiculous. This better not cost deGrom the Cy Young.
  • Game Notes: Before the game, Mickey Callaway said the Mets organization views Guillorme, a player they added to the 40 man roster to protect him from the Rule 5 Draft, as a pinch hitter and late inning defensive replacement. He said this on a day the Mets started Reyes at second.
  • Smith’s And Alonso’s Battle Is The Veterans, Not Each Other

    After not being utilized by the Major League club, the Mets sent Dominic Smith back down to Triple-A where his traditional first base position was already occupied by Peter Alonso.

    For the past year, Smith and Alonso had been battling it out to see who was going to be the Mets first baseman of the future. In that time period, Smith has struggled while Alonso has thrived. That has especially been the case this year with a slimmed down Smith not being able to hit for any power in a hitter friendly Pacific Coast League while Alonso has been drawing comparisons to Mark McGwire as he has leaped into Top 100 lists this summer.

    While it is interesting to debate them from afar, it is more interesting to see how they stack up when they are in the same lineup on a day-in and day-out basis.

    Much like he has done for most of the season, Alonso has risen to the challenge.

    Before Smith was sent back down to Triple-A, Alonso was hitting .196/.323/.477 while striking out in 28.5 percent of his plate appearances in the 29 games. Since he has been in the same lineup as Smith, he is hitting .286/.333/.429 with three doubles, a homer, and 10 RBI in 10 games.

    Unfortunately for Smith, he has struggled. In his 10 games back in Las Vegas, he is hitting .200/.267/.400. On the bright side, he did put together a four game hitting streak where he was 6-for-16 with two homers and four RBI. At a minimum, that once again shows us Smith does have the talent to perform at this high a level, but again, the question remains if he can do this on a long term basis.

    In total, we are seeing glimpses from both Alonso and Smith as to why they should be considered the Mets first baseman of the future. The question is when or if either is going to get a chance a the Major League level.

    At the moment, they are being blocked by Wilmer Flores, Jose Bautista, and Austin Jackson not just for playing time but also roster spots on the Major League roster. After that, the Mets will have Jay Bruce, who may be better suited to first, and Yoenis Cespedes, who may be limited to first base after his double heel surgery. This is in addition to Flores, who was already playing over Smith when both were on the Major League roster.

    It seems like Smith will get called-up again this year, but seeing the veterans and how he was previously utilized, we shouldn’t expect him to get much of a look.  With respect to Alonso, the Mets have been adamant he is not coming up this year.

    That’s why, in the end, while we are seeing Smith and Alonso battling head-to-head against one another to make the case why either one of them should be considered the Met first baseman of the future, their real battle is with the Mets organization to prove why they should get the job over more established and much higher paid veterans.

    Given how they are battling in Triple-A instead of the Majors, it does not seem as if they are going to get a fair enough shake to prove themselves . . . at least not this year.

     

    Trivia Friday: 2018 Opening Day Mets Still On Active Roster After Trade Deadline

    As we saw, the Mets were not terribly active at the trade deadline.  Curiously, the team either couldn’t move or didn’t want to trade assets like Jose Bautista and Devin Mesoraco.  Instead, the team has held onto them and other players who have expiring deals.

    Between the moves the Mets did make and the injuries, the Mets only had 14 players from the Opening Day roster on their roster after the trade deadline expired.  Can you name those players?  Good luck!

    Jerry Blevins Jacob deGrom Jeurys Familia Robert Gsellman Matt Harvey Seth Lugo Steven Matz AJ Ramos Jacob Rhame Paul Sewald Anthony Swarzak Noah Syndergaard Kevin Plawecki Travis d’Arnaud Adrian Gonzalez Asdrubal Cabrera Todd Frazier Amed Rosario Wilmer Flores Phillip Evans Jose Reyes Juan Lagares Yoenis Cespedes Jay Bruce Brandon Nimmo

    Some Positives From Expected Loss To Braves

    On the bright side, this was probably one of Jason Vargas‘ best starts of the season. The down side is his final line was 5.0 innings, six hits, four earned, three walks, and seven strikeouts.

    With Mike Foltynewicz on the mound, it basically meant the Mets weren’t winning, and yes, that’s even with him having a 5.72 ERA in July.

    It also didn’t hurt the Mets kept shooting themselves in the foot.

    In the fifth, after Luis Guillorme hit a pinch hit RBI single to pull the Mets to within 4-2, Brandon Nimmo hit into an inning ending double play. On the bright side, Nimmo hit a leadoff homer.

    In the sixth, after a Michael Conforto one out walk, Wilmer Flores was thrown out trying to go to second after Ronald Acuna initially overran his single.

    Speaking of Flores and Acuna, Vargas appeared to have Acuna picked off of first in the third inning. Flores made a poor throw to second giving Acuna the steal. Five batters later and Johan Camargo hit a bases loaded, bases clearing double.

    While the Mets lost 4-2, there were some bright spots including another terrific Nimmo diving grab:

    For the talk of his misplays, Flores was 2-for-3 with a walk. That walked matched a career high. He set his previous career high in 2016 in 45 fewer at-bats.

    Guillorme has not struck out in 49 plate appearances, which is the longest current streak in the majors.

    The bullpen combined to pitch four scoreless innings.

    This included Paul Sewald pitching 1.1 scoreless and Jerry Blevins pitching a scoreless inning which included his finally getting Freddie Freeman out.

    Mostly, the thing which stands out is Bobby Wahl pitching a scoreless inning while hitting 98 on the gun while showing off an impressive slider and curve.

    In the end, the Mets lost, which was to be expected. That said, there were some positives, which is exactly what you want to see from the Mets right now.

    Game Notes: Jose Reyes started over Amed Rosario and will continue to do so for approximately two times a week for the rest of the year.