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.
Now that the Mets postseason hopes are officially over, there will come a time to write post mortems to assess all that went wrong and how the Mets could improve in the future.
Before doing that, we should first acknowledge these Mets players fought tooth and nail giving all they could give to help make an improbable run. What we would discover is this is a tough and very likeable group who deserves our gratitude.
Pete Alonso – for having perhaps the greatest rookie season in MLB history while being just a good person.
Aaron Altherr – his RBI double and scoring later in the game proved to be the winning run in a game against the Pirates as the team looked to turn their season around.
Luis Avilan – limited LHB to a .104/.189/.188 batting line making him an exceptional LOOGY, perhaps the last true LOOGY with the incoming MLB rule changes.
Brad Brach – came to the Mets like he always wanted, and he helped stabilize a bullpen which desperately needed his help.
Keon Broxton – had a go-ahead RBI against the Nationals in April helping the Mets get off to another great start.
Robinson Cano – returned from what should’ve been a season ending injury to do all he could to help get this team into the postseason.
Michael Conforto – reminded us how great he is when he is healthy. Yes, great.
Travis d’Arnaud – came back too soon, never complained, and he left the Mets with pride and dignity after a good Mets career.
J.D. Davis – had a season better than anyone could’ve imagined with a number of big hits. More than that, he became a fan favorite as he was a player who clearly loved being a part of this team.
Rajai Davis – the lifelong Mets fan came home, and he would deliver two absolutely huge pinch hits to keep the Mets afloat at times they needed them.
Jacob deGrom – we are experiencing greatness everytime he takes the mound, and at some point we will need to begin having Hall of Fame conversations about him.
Edwin Diaz – there was a real dignity with him when he faced the media everytime he struggled. He made no excuses, and he put the work in to try to get back to where he was in Seattle. From what we’ve seen, he will get back there next year.
Jeurys Familia – you have to say something about someone who loved being a Mets player, and he came back to be a part of another winning team. Hopefully, that will be next year.
Chris Flexen – reinvented himself as a reliever who showed potential with the ability to strike out batters.
Wilmer Font – showed the Mets real value as a reliever before he was inexplicably designated for assignment.
Todd Frazier – provided this team with real leadership and defense, and he had a number of hot stretches which helped the Mets get back into it.
Drew Gagnon – for a month stretch from late April to late May he was an extremely reliable reliever.
Carlos Gomez – came back to the Mets and started the fun “Ye! Ye! Ye!” rallying cry.
Robert Gsellman – before he began to breakdown due to overuse, he was putting together a really good season out of the bullpen.
Luis Guillorme – when he finally got his chance, he proved himself showing this team he needs to be a part of the future. His pinch hit homer was one of the biggest hits of the season.
Sam Haggerty – like Eric Young in 2015, he was a weapon as a pinch runner.
Donnie Hart – albeit in just one appearance, he’s one of the few pitchers in Mets history who has never allowed a run.
Adeiny Hechavarria – showed surprising power and helped keep the Mets going in May.
Juan Lagares – at the end, he reminded us of how great a fielder he can be, and he had one last hurrah with his first two home rungame.
Walker Lockett – his start in San Francisco was the lone win in what was otherwise a lost series.
Jed Lowrie – despite suffering significant injuries, he pushed onward to make himself a viable pinch hitting option.
Seth Lugo – he has been absolutely great, and he has kept an otherwise struggling bullpen afloat.
Steven Matz – for the second straight year, Matz made 30 starts, and he made huge strides forward with a big second half and being dominant at home.
Chris Mazza – a 29 year old rookie is a feel good story, and he had quite the debut against a very good Braves lineup.
Jeff McNeil – proved last year was no fluke, and his versatility allowed the team to get the most out of the roster.
Tomas Nido – was a terrific defensive catcher and framer who helped get the most out of the starters and help them get their minds straight.
Brandon Nimmo – came back from a bulging disc in his neck to pick up where he left off last year. His enthusiasm and love of baseball is always a breath of fresh air.
Stephen Nogosek – put together a great year in the minors to get to the majors.
Corey Oswalt – strong year in Triple-A giving the Mets real rotation depth going forward.
Joe Panik – came back home to New York to help keep the team afloat at the time the Mets were in desperate need for a second baseman, and he performed quite well.
Tim Peterson – earned his way onto the Opening Day roster,and he’d pitch fairly well in his limited opportunities.
Brooks Pounders – six of his seven outings were really good.
Wilson Ramos – turned what was going to be an awful year around with a great August, and his ability to frame the high pitch proved to be a real help to deGrom.
Jacob Rhame – before landing on the IL to end the year, he was showing glimpses of being the type of arm who could be a useful part of the bullpen going forward.
Rene Rivera – brought back warm memories from the 2016 season with him combining with Syndergaard to dominate the Nationals.
Amed Rosario – he made a fools out of people who didn’t believe in his work ethic and talent by showing he is going to be an impact player on both sides of the ball in the future.
Hector Santiago – picked up a big win in extra innings against the Tigers.
Paul Sewald – despite being an afterthought, he once again proved he was a Major League caliber reliever, and he would finally get that first win which proved to be so elusive for him.
Dominic Smith – despite his being maligned and dropped down the depth chart, he would get healthy, and he would show everyone just how good a player he is, and he showed himself to be a great teammate more interested in how he could help the team than his role.
Marcus Stroman – the man was born to pitch on the biggest stage, and he would show it to us. A full year of him is going to be a thrill.
Jason Vargas – he really helped the Mets Wild Card hopes by bombing with the Phillies.
Zack Wheeler – he desperately wanted to be a part of a Mets postseason push, and he not only got that chance, but he would be great down the stretch.
Justin Wilson – he put the elbow problems aside, and he had just a terrific year out of the bullpen.
Daniel Zamora – 13 of his 16 appearances were scoreless, and with his splits, he showed the Mets he could be a modern LOOGY with the changing bullpen rules.
Overall, while you may hate what Brodie Van Wagenen has done as the General Manager, and you can hate the Wilpons for not being invested in this team, you simply have to love each and every one of these players for all they gave this team. We should appreciate them for fighting to the finish and giving us hope for next year.
The New York Mets completely blew it last night. Behind that loss was a a number of players failing. Todd Frazier couldn’t get a hit in two key RBI situations. Steven Matz allowed a grand slam. Brad Brach failed to cover first in time. There’s obviously more.
Behind the players failing was a number of questionable to flat out indefensible decisions from Mickey Callaway.
Callaway should not have let Matz face Jorge Alfaro. With the team having zero margin for error, you cannot use Walker Lockett under any circumstance. There’s no saving the top arms in the bullpen to fight for another day because if you lose, there isn’t going to be another day.
There were other decisions like not starting Brandon Nimmo or allowing Michael Conforto to bat against Brian Moran. You could also question using Rajai Davis as a pinch hitter in the sixth over Nimmo. To be fair, these decisions were mitigated by Juan Lagares going 1-for-3 with a run and a walk, and Amed Rosario hitting a grand slam.
The pinch hitting decisions were mitigated by the actual options available. Tomas Nido and Rene Rivera are not good hitters. Jed Lowrie hasn’t had a hit in his limited pinch hitting appearances, and he has just one right-handed at-bat all year. That’s it for the right-handed bench options against the left-handed pitching the Marlins had out there in the form of Caleb Smith and Moran.
It certainly makes you question why the Mets never made a roster move to add Dilson Herrera to the roster. After all, they lost Eric Hanhold so they can have Chris Mazza and Donnie Hart on the roster, neither of whom have pitched one meaningful inning in September.
Taking that into consideration, you have to look at the bullpen again. Seth Lugo and Justin Wilson are the only reliable arms down there. You can trust Brach against right-handed batters but not left, and vice versa for Luis Avilan. After that, it’s a straight roll of the dice. Sadly, it’s a heavily weighted pair of dice putting the odds stacked against the Mets.
Look at those ERAs again. Lockett wasn’t even the worst ERA available in the bullpen last night. He wasn’t the only one with an ERA over 5.00. In fact, taking away the top two relievers, there were only three relievers with an ERA under that mark, and one of those, Hart, has only pitched 1.0 innings.
Put aside for a moment the Mets entered the season with Tim Peterson in the bullpen putting the team 1-2 relievers short to start the season. At the trade deadline, the Mets went out and got Marcus Stroman, and they didn’t back it up with another move. Sure, they got Brach, but he fell into their laps. It wasn’t a proactive move on the Mets part.
The bench has always been an issue too. We have seen the Mets cycle through Aaron Altherr, Keon Broxton, Carlos Gomez, Adeiny Hechavarria, and Ruben Tejada while rage cutting Travis d’Arnaud. Again, the Mets did little to address this at the trade deadline with Joe Panik falling into their laps like Brach did.
This team was ill constructed from the get-go, and for some reason when the Mets doubled down at the trade deadline, they did nothing to fix their two biggest problems – the bench and the bullpen.
Now, it’s possible a very good manager like Terry Francona or Bruce Bochy could’ve navigated their way around these problems, but we know Callaway couldn’t. The Mets knowing that and handing him a roster which feeds into his deficiencies as a manager makes what Brodie Van Wagenen did all the worse.
So, yes, Callaway screwed up yesterday, and he has screwed up in other spots. But make no mistake, this was largely the result of the roster he was given. For that, Brodie Van Wagenen should shoulder the blame he was absolutely unwilling to accept earlier in the year.
The New York Mets faced off against the Los Angeles Dodgers in a series the Mets and their fans had hoped would be an NLDS preview. Judging what we saw in this series, if this was a preview, Major League Baseball would’ve been thrilled, but it seems like this won’t be the series they’ll get:
1. Not only did the Dodgers beat the Mets, they beat the best the Mets could throw at them. This is the biggest sign the Mets were just not good enough to claim the Wild Card or have a real shot at the World Series.
2. Pete Alonso, Michael Conforto, and Jeff McNeil combined to go 0-for-25 with two walks and five strikeouts. If they’re going to do that against any opponent, the Mets have little to no chance of winning no matter how good their starting pitching is.
3. For the most part, the starting pitching was really good too. Jacob deGrom further cemented his being the Cy Young front runner going toe-to-toe with Hyun-Jin Ryu. After that game, deGrom was the only starter in the National League in the top five in innings, strikeouts, ERA, WHIP, FIP, ERA+, bWAR, and fWAR. If that’s not a Cy Young Award winner, we don’t know what is.
4. Back in 2015, when Zack Wheeler was on the precipice of being traded with Wilmer Flores for Carlos Gomez, Wheeler called Alderson to ask to not be traded, so he could pitch for this Mets team in a pennant race and hopefully win a World Series. He got his chance, and he took full advantage of the opportunity pitching great against the Dodgers limiting them to one run over seven.
5. In that game, Wheeler got a number of big outs. After allowing a leadoff double to Joc Pederson in the sixth, he struck out the next three. After allowing a single to Gavin Lux putting runners at first and second with one out in the seventh, he struck out the next two.
6. Wheeler showed more emotion he ever has in a Mets uniform, and the way he is closing out the season, it is a reminder the Mets are going to have to do better than the qualifying offer for him. They are going to need to lock him up if they want to legitimately have an opportunity to win in 2020.
7. The criticism of Mickey Callaway for lifting Wheeler was inane. He saw Wheeler was tired, and Wheeler admitted as such. He was turning over the game to Justin Wilson and Seth Lugo, who have been great all year. This is the exact opportunity you want, and they didn’t deliver.
8. There’s no need to criticize Wilson or Lugo. They’ve been great all year. Just lament what could have been and tip your cap to them for being what they’ve been to this team.
10. The only Mets starter who did not pitch well was Noah Syndergaard. Of course, the Mets thought it more important to send a message to him by having Wilson Ramos catch him than to set him and the team up for success by having Tomas Nido or Rene Rivera catch him.
11. For all the talk of the desperate need for Ramos’ bat in the lineup, he was 1-for-10 with a walk and three strikeouts in the series, and he is hitting .211/.268/.368 over the past two weeks. That should’ve been a further indication he should have sat when Syndergaard started, but you know, messages trump winning.
12. That next message came during Sunday Night Baseball. All season long, Jessica Mendoza has refrained from offering insight into what the Mets are thinking about anything or any one player. However, during the broadcast, she took the time to smear Syndergaard and pretend like the whole issue was blown out of proportion.
13. Saying Syndergaard needed the training wheels taken off was both a stupid thing to say and an unwarranted insult. Syndergaard is the last Mets pitcher with a World Series win. He has proven to be the only pitcher in Major League Baseball who has matched zeros with Madison Bumgarner in the postseason. But sure, he needs his training wheels taken off like Greg Maddux did in his career, or A.J. Burnett did as he helped pitch the Yankees to the 2009 World Series.
14. It’s interesting how Mendoza offered insight on Syndergaard, but there was no discussion on the Mets thinking on Wheeler, who was an impending free agent, when she was discussing the starters available in free agency. That makes the shot all the more unwarranted.
15. If not for Rajai Davis, the Mets likely get swept as the Mets starters did not do anything at the plate against the excellent Dodgers starting pitching. Seeing him deliver, it makes you question why the Mets wasted so much time on Aaron Altherr, Keon Broxton, Gomez, and whatever flew through the 40 man roster this year.
16. Actually, there was one Mets starter who delivered – Brandon Nimmo. His RBI triple was a huge hit. The same goes for J.D. Davis‘ homer off Clayton Kershaw. Other than that, the Mets starters did little to nothing.
17. When you break it all down, this was a series where the Mets showed they could stand toe-to-toe with the Dodgers, but they also showed they are not good enough to beat the Dodgers right now. Sure, it’s possible in the NLDS the Mets could still pull it out like they did in 2015, but it’s an uphill climb to get to that point.
18. The Mets are really behind the eight ball being four back with 13 games left in their season. The good news there is the Mets next 10 games come against the Reds, Rockies, and Marlins. That means a 10-0 stretch is not out of the question, and if they do that, it can make the final weekend all the more interesting.
19. Ultimately, no one in that Mets clubhouse deserves any blame. They gave the Mets everything they could give, and they’ve played their hearts out. Really, if you want to blame anyone, look at the front office who completely failed to build the type of roster that was needed to win this year.
20. Lets just enjoy the final stretch of the season and do post mortems later. This team still has a pulse, and they’ve earned our faith and belief in them. No one should speak of them being done until they are actually done.
On Sunday, I had the privilege of being invited back on A Metsian Podcast to discuss the Braves series and all things Mets. During the podcast, I recall mentioning Pete Alonso, Jacob deGrom, Matt Harvey, Dillon Gee, Logan Verrette, Aaron Altherr, Tomas Nido, Jed Lowrie, Brandon Nimmo, J.D. Davis, Amed Rosario, Wilson Ramos, Joe Panik, Todd Frazier, Jeff McNeil, Jason Vargas, Carlos Delgado, Endy Chavez, and others.
Please take time to listen. Thank you.
As has seemingly been the case since the dawn of time, the Mets played a big series against the Braves, and the Braves left them in the dust. Somehow, the Mets were not all that worse for ware:
1. Congratulations are due to Pete Alonso who tied Todd Hundley‘s and Carlos Beltran‘s Mets single season mark for homers. Of note, this broke his tie with Mike Piazza for single season homers by a right-handed batter.
2. That homer should’ve been a momentum change in Saturday’s game and for the rest of the series. Instead, due to the way the Mets played, it proved to be a footnote.
3. Speaking of historic footnotes, Jacob deGrom became the first ever pitcher to homer in a game where he struck out 13 batters twice in his career. In that game, the Mets struck out 26 tying a Major League record.
4. With the Yankees roughing up Hyun-Jin Ryu, we should be reminded the Cy Young race is still wide open. On that front, deGrom leads the league in bWAR, fWAR, and strikeouts while being top five in nearly every important statistical category.
5. Steven Matz has also been great recently. On Sunday, he ripped off his fourth straight start of at least six innings allowing two earned or fewer. Of course, with the way the Mets played in this series, he’d take the loss.
6. Two of the three losses were games Billy Hamilton had a huge impact. He got the game winning hit in one, and he scored from first on a single on what proved to be Ronald Acuna‘s game winning two RBI single.
7. One of the reasons Hamilton scored from first was J.D. Davis‘ not hustling in to field it and his weak throw back to the infield. It should be noted he’s a -7 DRS in left.
8. The only thing uglier than his defense was the uniforms this weekend. Seriously, what’s the point of having uniforms promoting players and their personalities if you can’t read them.
9. The only thing worse than that was not claiming Hamilton so you can keep having Aaron Altherr on the bench. To end the narratives, no, Hamilton would not have been designated for assignment when Jeff McNeil and/or Brandon Nimmo returned, especially with rosters expanding in September.
10. Nimmo’s recent rehab appearance looks promising. If he’s right, and Juan Lagares keeps hitting while playing Gold Glove defense, you have to wonder how long the Mets will be willing to live with Davis and his cooling bat in left.
12. On the topic of injuries, the Mets need to be heavily fined for how they handled Tomas Nido‘s concussion. He was hit on the head with the follow through of Josh Donaldson‘s back swing and went down. He had to be pulled then and not finish the inning with him then going through concussion protocol between innings. This is not okay.
13. This wasn’t the Mets only terrible decision. Mickey Callaway having Amed Rosario bunt was one of the dumbest decisions he’s made as Mets manager. He doubled down by overmanaging ordering a hit-and-run with Joe Panik. Panik swung and missed, and Rosario was caught at second easily.
16. On the Rivera point, Francisco Cervelli was released by the Pirates and was picked up by the Braves. Yes, he’s been bad, bout Nido was hitting .088/.162/.176 in the second half. With Ramos’ injury history, the Mets needed more depth, and they passed on that depth. Like with Hamilton, Cervelli made the Mets pay.
17. Brad Brach needs to be better. After allowing runs on three of his last five appearances, his 7.50 Mets ERA is higher than what it was with the Cubs before he was released. The Mets can’t afford for him to be this while Edwin Diaz is dealing with a trap issue. If he’s not, Paul Sewald May take his spot on the depth chart.
18. This series and history highlights why the Braves are the Mets biggest rival and should be the most hated team by Mets fans, not the Nationals.
19. If you’ve ever heard anyone scream about Brian Jordan, Mel Rojas, Kenny Rogers, or anything Armando Benitez and weren’t quite sure why the vitriol, just look at this series. Mets-Braves games in the late 90s were always like this series.
20. Feel depressed after watching this series? Don’t be. The Mets went from two games out of the Wild Card to two games out of the Wild Card. They’re now hosting the Cubs, the team currently in the second Wild Card spot, and they’re a bad road team.
Somewhere even Plaxico Burress can’t believe just how much the Mets shot themselves in the foot tonight.
Zack Wheeler walked back-to-back batters in the second, and both runners would score on a Francisco Cervelli RBI double. Cervelli is the other guy the Braves claimed this past week to build this thing other baseball teams call depth.
The first run came on a rally started on a Juan Lagares double off Max Fried. Lagares has simply been great lately. Not only is he hitting (2-for-4, 2 R, 2B), but He’s also playing Gold Glove defense again. He’d double again in the fifth, and he’d score on an Amed Rosario single.
Pete 4⃣1⃣onso. pic.twitter.com/kgJ3WruHg3
— New York Mets (@Mets) August 25, 2019
That homer also passed Mike Piazza for the Mets single season record for homers by a RHB or for that matter a non-switch hitter.
That should’ve been the turning point. It should’ve been the point where the Mets turned things around and not only won the game but the series. Instead, the Mets just played hideous baseball.
The Mets had a chance to take the lead in the seventh, but Mickey Callaway and the Mets must’ve just completely stopped thinking.
Fresh off the IL, in typical fashion Jeff McNeil hit the first pitch he saw for a double. Then, despite Amed Rosario hitting .348/.384/.510 in the second half, Callaway asked him to bunt. If you think that was bad, after two bad attempts, he’d swing away and hit a grounder to short.
Instead of staying home on the ball hit in front of him, he’d break for third, and he was out as Adeiny Hechavarria‘s throw to Donaldson. Then, trying to make something happen, Callaway called for a hit-and-run. Panik swung and missed at the Josh Tomlin pitch, and Cervelli would throw out Rosario easily. As bad as that was, the top of the eighth would be so much worse.
Billy Hamilton, a player the Mets had no interest in adding, would hit a pinch hit single off Brad Brach setting up runners at first and second with two outs. Then, J.D. Davis screwed up big time when fielding Ronald Acuna Jr.‘s single.
— Atlanta Braves (@Braves) August 25, 2019
Not only did he not charge the ball, but he’d flip the ball casually into the infield. This all allowed Hamilton to score from first on a single. It’s completely inexcusable from Davis . . . almost as inexcusable as the decision for a team to not claim him so they could play Aaron Altherr. That gave the Braves a 7-5 lead.
Edwin Diaz began the ninth, and he’d immediately allow a homer to Freddie Freeman. Not too long thereafter, Diaz was lifted from the game due to injury. Really bad job by Mets fans booing him in that spot. It was probably a worse moment than any other in this Mets 9-5 loss.
Now, instead of looking to win a series, the Mets are now looking to salvage a game in this series. On the bright side, they’re not loosing ground in the Wild Card race.
Game Notes: Tomas Nido did indeed sustain a concussion, and he was placed on the seven day concussion IL. He was replaced on the roster by Rene Rivera. Rivera was added to the 40 after Altherr was designated for assignment.
Because this is the way his starts have gone the past two years, Mike Foltynewicz and his 6.09 ERA entering the game would duel Jacob deGrom to a draw. Because this is the Braves, the Mets could do nothing against a bad starter and a bad Braves bullpen.
Really, the Mets position players couldn’t push a run across the plate in 14 innings. The only run the Mets would score would be when deGrom took matters into his own hand and hit an opposite field homer in the sixth.
Power on the mound, power at the plate. 💪💪💪 pic.twitter.com/mbafejrG9Y
— New York Mets (@Mets) August 24, 2019
The real shame was this was his only run support in seven brilliant innings. Against a great Braves offense, deGrom struck out 13 including a stretch where he would strike out eight in a row. His striking out 13 and hitting a homer in a game a second time this year would set a new MLB record.
Jacob deGrom has recorded at least 13 strikeouts and hit a home run in the same game twice this season (April 3 and tonight). Since 1893 (when the current mound distance was established), no other pitcher has had two games with 13+ K’s and a HR as a batter over an entire career.
— Elias Sports Bureau (@EliasSports) August 24, 2019
His genius amounted to just a no decision as Freddie Freeman did the Freddie Freeman thing and drove home Ronald Acuna, Jr., who put himself in scoring position by stealing a base, in the top of the sixth.
Up until the 14th, the Mets pitching was phenomenal recording 23 strikeouts. Even though some of them got themselves in trouble, they’d work out of their jams. In total, Seth Lugo, Edwin Diaz, Luis Avilan, Brad Brach, Paul Sewald, and Justin Wilson combined to pitch six shutout innings allowing just two hits and two walks while striking out 10.
Notably, Diaz pitched great in the 10th working around a HBP and Billy Hamilton standing on third with one out after a sacrifice and stolen base. Diaz responded by striking out Acuna and Ozzie Albies.
This and other great performances should’ve been a springboard for a victory, but it wasn’t because the Mets couldn’t get out of their own way.
In the 11th, the Mets completely botched their shot after Joe Panik was plunked by a pitch. Panik would go to third off two wild pitches by Sean Newcomb. What was curious about the second one was Pete Alonso struck out on it, waved Panik to third, and he didn’t break for first. Who knows how different things would’ve been.
Michael Conforto struck out, and after J.D. Davis was intentionally walked, the Game was in Aaron Altherr‘s hands. He’d ground out weakly to end the inning in what was the Mets last chance to score. Keep this in mind.
He was immediately in trouble walking Tyler Flowers to leadoff the inning and then allowing a double to Adeiny Hechavarria. Initially, it was an RBI triple, but upon replay, it was shown to be stuck in the wall and overruled to be a ground rule double. That was the last break Familia got.
After striking out Rafael Ortega, Hamilton hit a ball which Panik couldn’t field for the game winning RBI.
If you’re keeping tabs, the Mets decided they’d rather keep Altherr instead of claiming Hamilton. Altherr didn’t deliver in a spot the Mets desperately needed him to deliver, and he’s now hitting .082/.136/.164 on the season. Hamilton, the guy who the Mets didn’t bother claiming apparently believing Altherr to be the better option, stole a base, and he had the key hit.
You could point to any number of things you want to in the game. However, at the end of the day, the Mets lost because they decided they’d rather Altherr than Hamilton.
Game Notes: Tomas Nido was hit on the head by Josh Donaldson‘s backswing. Despite his going to the ground in pain, he’d stay in the game to finish the inning only to be lifted for Wilson Ramos in the seventh. Ramos extended his hitting streak to 17 games, and he’d steal a base for the first time in his career. .
The Mets had every reason to lose this game. Marcus Stroman left the game after four with what was a hamstring injury, which for some reason has been an injury plaguing the Mets a bit of late. This made this a bullpen game for the team in what became an extra inning game.
It was an extra inning game partially because Brad Brach gave up the lead in the sixth. It hurt all the more because the Mets bottom of the lineup delivered that run.
Heading into the fifth, Adam Plutko was rolling having allowed just one hit. Given the lineup, he appeared poised to rip through the fifth carrying the 1-0 lead forward as the Mets were already in their bullpen with Jeurys Familia having pitched the top of the inning.
After getting the first out, Todd Frazier singled. The Mets followed the single with a hit-and-run which Juan Lagares hit to the wall for a double. As surprising as the Lagares double might’ve been, the and Luis Guillorme pinch hit double was all the more so.
— New York Mets (@Mets) August 22, 2019
In actuality, the big hits from Lagares and Guillorme weren’t really surprising. Both have been playing very well over the past month, and we’re even seeing Lagares get back to his Gold Glove form.
Make a nice catch ➡️ get a big hit.
— New York Mets (@Mets) August 22, 2019
As alluded to earlier, Brach gave the lead right back. He’d issue a leadoff walk to Carlos Santana, and then he’d allow a one out triple to Jose Ramirez. The triple ruling was a bit generous as J.D. Davis did misplay it along the wall, and Ramirez just beat the throw to third. While Brach did give up the lead, he did settle down getting the next two outs keeping the game tied.
It stayed tied partially because the Mets blew some chances.
The Mets had two on and one out as Frazier and Lagares found a way to start a rally again. This time, it was Rajai Davis pinch hitting, and he struck out. Amed Rosario failed to deliver as well popping out to end the inning.
As bad as that blown opportunity was, for some Mets fans, it was probably worse for them to see Oliver Perez pitch a scoreless eighth. Even worse that included strike outs of Pete Alonso and Michael Conforto.
Perhaps worse than that was having to use Aaron Altherr as a pinch hitter in the ninth knowing he wasn’t going to deliver a big hit.
After Seth Lugo was Seth Lugo for two innings, it was time for Luis Avilan in the 10th. There were two outs, and Avilan had a 1-2 count to Santana. Three pitches later Santana reached across and hit a change-up for a go-ahead homer.
The Indians went to Brad Hand, who had been shaky of late. He was very shaky tonight.
Rosario began the inning with a double with the Indians catching a break because Rosario did not notice Greg Allen bobbling the ball on the transfer in center. In any event, Rosario would make his way to third when Joe Panik laid down a perfect sac bunt.
The Indians wanted no part of Alonso, so they opted to intentionally walk him to have Conforto hit the left-handed Hand. With the Indians infield halfway, Conforto hit a ball grabbed by Santana.
Instead of going home to try to get Rosario, Santana sought to start the 3-6-1 double play. The problem was Hand didn’t go to first apparently thinking Santana would go home. Instead of what could’ve been a close play at first, it was a tie game.
Wilson Ramos then extended his hitting streak to 15 games with an infield single which rolled feet from home plate. This brought the hot hitting Davis to the plate. He battled back from 0-2 to a full count. Finally, on the eighth pitch, Hand hung a slider over the plate, and Davis delivered his first career game winning hit.
J.D. CALLS GAME! pic.twitter.com/Cictia8VC5
— New York Mets (@Mets) August 22, 2019
As much of a frenzy the crowd was in, the players were in one themselves. Davis Jersey was torn off his back in what seems to be the new walk-off celebration, and in the postgame Davis sounded like he’s been a Mets fan all of his life belting out a loud “Lets Go Mets!”
The Mets should not have won this game at all. This was a game they lose easily a month ago. They’re winning these games now, and they’re six games over .500 for the first time all season.
So far this season, Aaron Altherr is hitting .085/.141/.169 (-20 wRC+) in 47 games this season. Last year, Altherr played 105 games for the Philadelphia Phillies, and he hit .181/.295/.333 (75 wRC+). As on outfielder this year, Altherr has a -1 DRS in 127.1 innings, and he was a 1 DRS in 524.1 innings last year. That followed a -4 DRS in 837.1 innings in 2017.
Taking everything into account, Altherr is a bad baseball player, and he has been one for two years now. Despite that, the Mets have continued to keep him on the roster, and they do little to challenge his roster status.
When Jeff McNeil went down, the Mets had a need for someone who could fill-in in the outfield. Instead of a Dilson Herrera who has some outfield experience, the Mets instead went with Ruben Tejada, who was no threat to taking away his outfield reps. The team also didn’t call-up Rajai Davis, who also could have presented a threat.
On Davis, most fans remember his Uber ride and his hitting a pinch hit homer. What they don’t see is his hitting .287/.334/.410 with Triple-A Syracuse. That’s not as good as the .274/.384/.565 batting line Altherr put up in admittedly far fewer games with Syracuse. On the one hand, that makes the Mets decision to go with Altherr over Davis defensible. However, it is still curious why you would not even challenge Altherr when you needed that extra outfielder.
What’s all the more baffling is how the Mets let Billy Hamilton go to the Braves.
There are many things you can say about Hamilton and his deficiencies as a player. In 93 games with the Royals this year, Hamilton hit .211/.275/.269 (44 wRC+). That’s actually a step backwards for him as he hit .239/.299/.327 (69 wRC+) in 153 games for the Reds last year. No matter how you look at it, Hamilton is a bad hitter. Terrible actually.
That makes the fact he’s been a significantly better hitter than Altherr all the worse. Hamilton is also a much better outfielder. In fact, Hamilton is an elite defensive outfielder. In 716.1 innings this year, Hamilton has a 9 DRS. Since he was called up in 2013, his 60 DRS trails only Lorenzo Cain among qualifying center fielders.
Right there, Hamilton is a significantly better hitter and fielder than Altherr. When you factor in Hamilton’s great speed and base running, you realize Hamilton does EVERYTHING better than Altherr. Everything.
With rosters expanding in September, and the Mets depth depleted to the point where they have to not only carry Altherr on the roster but also play him, there is zero reason to not put in a claim for Hamilton. He was a significant upgrade, and he was someone the Mets were going to be able to carry on the roster into September. If the Mets were lucky enough to make the postseason, Hamilton would have been a huge weapon as a late inning pinch runner and/or defensive replacement.
Go back and ask the 1969 Mets about the Ron Swoboda and Tommie Agee catches. Go back and ask the 2004 Red Sox about Dave Roberts stealing a base. The ability or a player to make that one impact can make all the difference in the world. Instead, the Mets just let Hamilton go to the Braves, who were lower in the waiver priority, unchallenged.
The Braves will get the benefit of his base running and defense while the Mets cross their fingers on Brandon Nimmo being able to return from a bulging disc in his neck. They’re also hoping Dominic Smith, who is still in a walking boot and using a knee scooter, can return. They’re hoping J.D. Davis‘ leg won’t continue to be an issue. Same for McNeil, who has gone from being able to immediately come off the 10 day IL to needing a rehab stint. There’s also Jed Lowrie, a player who has fewer pictures of him in a Mets uniform than people have photos of Big Foot or the Lockness Monster.
Going into the season, Brodie Van Wagenen kept telling us the Mets were all-in, and the team would have no ifs. It’s August 20, and the team wouldn’t go all-in on improving their roster, and they are seeing IF one of their injured players could contribute. Mostly, they’ve decided the team is better with Altherr, who has been terrible for over a year now, than any of the better alternatives . . . like Hamilton.