You’d be hard pressed to argue Aaron Loup wasn’t the best reliever in baseball in 2021. Over 65 appearances, he was 6-0 with a 0.95 ERA, 0.935 WHIP, 2.5 BB/9, and a 9.1 K/9. Looking at advanced stats, he had a 422 ERA+, 2.45 FIP, and a 2.8 WAR.
His ERA was the best among all relievers, and that was backed up by his FIP being the eighth best. Perhaps more importantly, Loup backed up an impressive 2020 campaign which saw him finally learn how to handle right-handed batters effectively.
In 2020, Loup had what was then a career best year. Part of that was limiting right-handed batters to a .192/.246/.423 batting line. There was reason for skepticism with right-handed batters hitting .264/.332/.424 off of him in his career up to that point. Well, in 2021, Loup proved the improvement was real limiting right-handed batters to a .211/.290/.257 batting line.
This is a huge development. This means Loup is no longer just a LOOGY. No, Loup is an effective late inning reliever. That puts his value off the charts in an era where pitchers face a three batter minimum. Unless you get the opportunity to bring in a left-handed reliever with two outs, you need a reliever who can at least hold their own against right-handed batters. That’s easier said that done, and it’s all the more complicated when you’re trying to get innings from a pitching staff over a 162 game season.
The Mets were quite lucky getting Loup for just $3 million in 2021. Obviously, even with Loup turning 34 at the end of the year, he is going to get a raise and a multi-year deal. Obviously, he has more than earned it. It should also be obvious the Mets who are still short in the bullpen need him, and it may also behoove Loup to stick with Jeremy Hefner, who helped him continue his progress as a two way reliever. On that front, Loup has said he wants to return to the Mets.
In many ways, that just puts the ball in the Mets court. The season has been over for over a week, and Loup’s comments were well over a month ago. Still, there has been no reports of any news on a Loup deal. The longer this goes on, the more there is the risk Loup actually hits free agency at the end of the month and has a team blow him out of the water with a deal the Mets would not be willing to match.
Yes, there are a lot of pressing matters with the Mets. They are searching for a new president of baseball operations. They need to make determinations on making qualifying offers for Michael Conforto and Noah Syndergaard. They are apparently trying to keep Luis Rojas in the organization. There is that and so much more.
However, as we have seen with Rojas and much of the coaching staff being dismissed, there are some things which absolutely need to be done now. Considering the state of the bullpen, his performance, and his desire to return, re-signing Loup is one of those things. Keeping him in the fold makes the job of the new president of baseball operations, whoever that will be, much easier when that hiring is official. It is long past time this deal gets done to allow the Mets to focus on other issues.
Mets need to re-sign Aaron Loup now.
After a Dominic Smith pinch hit two run double in the fifth, the game was tied 2-2. Understandably, even the most optimistic of New York Mets fans were wondering how this would turn into another one run loss.
But then, in the bottom of the seventh inning, Jeff McNeil would hit his first homer since August 1. It would give the Mets a 3-2 lead.
— New York Mets (@Mets) September 20, 2021
At the moment, the Mets are 73-77. They’re 5.5 games behind the Atlanta Braves for the division (seven in the loss column). They behind the St Louis Cardinals by seven games (eight in the loss column) for the second Wild Card.
All told, the Mets elimination number is nine with 12 games remaining. By no means do the Mets have control of their destiny, and at this point, you have to assume the postseason is a figment of our collective imagination.
There’s a lot of blame directed at Luis Rojas for another brutal New York Mets loss in September. Absolutely, there were some questionable moves.
Marcus Stroman was lifted after six great innings despite being at 89 pitches. On a day when Seth Lugo was unavailable, Aaron Loup, Trevor May, and Edwin Diaz didn’t go multiple innings. There were also pinch hitting decisions.
Putting aside the fact the pitching increasingly looks scripted like with Kevin Cash and Blake Snell in the 2020 World Series, the real issue is this roster. It was a roster largely unaddressed at the trade deadline.
This was a team which had zero hits from innings 2-8 until Javier Báez‘s clutch game tying homer. Yes, he was a trade deadline acquisition, and he’s been great.
— New York Mets (@Mets) September 15, 2021
However, that’s one, and with all apologies to Trevor Williams, really, the only player the Mets added at the deadline. A team in first place didn’t feel terribly compelled to go for it.
The days of the 40 man September rosters are no more. With all due respect, these are three players who should not be rostered at this point in the season. It’s inexcusable for a front office to let this happen.
Rojas did all he could to stop the game from getting to this point. However, you can only avoid the bottom of your roster for so long. Eventually, they’re going to get to play and impact a game and a season.
Ultimately, that’s what happened last night. Instead of asking why Rojas used those players when he did, we should be asking why are these players even here.
After Taijuan Walker struggled allowing five runs in the second, he’d actually settle in and give the Mets six innings giving them a chance to win the game. You won’t hear Luis Rojas get credit for sticking by Walker because he’s just become a punching bag.
Keeping in Walker, who’d actually have an RBI single, helped the Mets get into a position to win the game. After a surprise James McCann two run homer, the Mets would take a lead heading into the seventh.
Seth Lugo shut the New York Yankees down in the seventh with just seven pitches. The Mets added an insurance run in the bottom of the inning carrying a 7-5 lead into the eighth.
The Mets would blow it, and for some reason, fans want to say it’s all Rojas’ fault.
It didn’t matter to them Lugo has not been good in a second inning of work this year. The hard hit balls off of him also didn’t matter. He needed to stay in the game.
It didn’t matter Trevor May has been great lately allowing just one run in his last 10 appearances. Apparently, Judge, one of the best players in all of baseball, only could’ve hit a homer off May in that spot to tie the game. (Never mind the second inning homer).
The Yankees take the lead on a wild throw! pic.twitter.com/dqZicSAQGz
— FOX Sports: MLB (@MLBONFOX) September 12, 2021
It’s odd Rojas would order Báez to throw the ball away allowing the go-ahead run to score. That’s doubly irresponsible after Rojas apparently told May to surrender a homer to Judge.
The Mets would have their chances to reclaim the lead. In the bottom half of the inning, there were two on and two out. Pete Alonso gave one a ride which fell near the warning track for the final out of the inning.
The final backbreaker was in the ninth. With a runner on second and one out, Kevin Pillar struck out. That’s where Rojas struck again.
The pitch went to the backstop. Instead of breaking immediately Pillar hesitated. That hesitation, clearly ordered by Rojas, cost Pillar the chance to reach first safety.
You can’t help but wonder if McCann’s fly ball to end the game could’ve scored by tying run. We’ll ever know.
What we do know is one of the Mets better relievers, who has pitched extraordinarily well lately, chose a bad time to have a bad outing. Baez threw a ball away. Pillar didn’t immediately break for first.
Like it or not, this one was simply on the players for not executing. It happens. Unfortunately, it just means the Mets are a day closer to the end of the season and possibly a day closer to Rojas being the fall guy.
Game Notes: The Mets wore special alternates with no pinstripes and New York in the Tiffany font. They once again wore the First Responder caps.
Well, it was bound to happen. After all the times the New York Mets were going to ignore his track record, they were bound to get Rich Hill through six. Tonight was that night.
This was Hill’s best start as a Met, and he was helped along by his defense and some Nationals snafus.
Garcia hit his second double in the fifth. If not for a terrific play off the wall by Michael Conforto and a strong relay throw, Riley Adams scores. Instead, Hill got Keibert Ruiz popped out to end the inning
As evidenced by the above and Francisco Lindor, really the play behind Hill was phenomenal. Hill dropping down some and getting Juan Soto out in big spots, like the sixth, is exactly how you pitch six shutout innings.
Hill got the win because the Mets offense did just enough. It also helped they were able to absolutely abuse Soto’s poor defense in right.
Fortunately, Nolin was able to move enough it didn’t hit him in the head. More than that, he was able to stay in the game.
In the third, Brandon Nimmo drew a one out walk, and Pete Alonso hit a ball the other 29 right fielders in baseball catch. Soto was the one who couldn’t turning it into an RBI triple giving the Mets a 2-0 lead.
At this point, the hope was the Mets offense would take off and put the game away. Instead, the Mets offense went away leaving very little margin for error.
The Mets had chances. In the fifth, there were runners on second and third with one out. In the seventh, they had first and third with one out. They failed to score in either situation.
This is where Nimmo almost cost the Mets the game.
On an 0-2 pitch, Stevenson took off, and Adams lined it to center. Nimmo had no chance to catch it, but he dove anyway. If not for Conforto backing up the play, the Mets lose on an inside the park homer.
Instead, they lost their catcher. Conforto made a strong relay, and Báez made a strong but albeit offline throw. Sisco just got blown up on the play, Stevenson scored. and the game was tied with the tying run at third.
Patrick Mazeika came in, and Diaz settled down to get the next two outs to send it to extras. The Mets would score more in the tenth than the previous nine.
With Lindor as the ghost runner, Alonso golfed one to center giving the Mets a 3-2 lead. When Baez fouled out to deep left, Alonso had heads up base running to tag up and go to second.
This led the Nationals to intentionally walk Conforto to set up the double play. Instead, Kevin Pillar ripped a two RBI double to left extending the lead to 5-2.
That lead would be extended to 6-2 later in the inning when Jonathan Villar hit an RBI single. Remarkably, Villar started the game 0-for-2, and he would still have a four hit game.
Jeurys Familia entered the game in the 10th, and there would be no blowing it. He shut the door on a game the Mets had to have.
Well, the Mets need them all. In any event, the Mets turned what could’ve been a bad loss to a terrific 6-2 win.
Game Notes: Brad Hand was activated. Dominic Smith was placed on the bereavement list. Gary Cohen, Keith Hernandez, and Ron Darling went on the road to broadcast a game for the first time in nearly two years.
This is the way it works with Carlos Carrasco. He struggles in the first, and he shuts the opponent down after that. That’s what happened again in his start against the Miami Marlins.
— New York Mets (@Mets) September 2, 2021
In the fourth, we’d see Francisco Lindor put his stamp on the game.
Brandon Nimmo led off the fourth with an infield single. He went to second when Isan Diaz threw it away. Lindor drove home Nimmo with an RBI double and moved to third on a fielder’s choice. That put him in position to score when he induced Alcantara to balk.
Francisco Lindor is really good at thispic.twitter.com/mssjOn9eWj
— SNY (@SNYtv) September 3, 2021
This speaks to how bizarre the game was from a defensive standpoint. There were just a number a terrific defensive plays. However, there were also a number of errors and miscues. By some miracle, there were no unearned runs in the game.
Case-in-point, in the fifth, Jorge Alfaro reached on a Villar error. He took off on a pitch which Bryan De La Cruz lined to right. Javier Báez brilliant deked Alfaro allowing Michael Conforto to easily throw him out at first.
You don't see a 9⃣-3⃣ double play everyday. ? pic.twitter.com/y5ISbRBXlg
— New York Mets (@Mets) September 3, 2021
We saw that in the sixth. Mets killer Miguel Rojas, who opened the game with a homer, hit a lead-off single, and he moved to second on an error from Carrasco. After a one walk, Luis Rojas brought in Aaron Loup.
While he’s been the Mets best reliever, Loup just didn’t have it. He’d walk back-to-back batters to force home the tying run. He’s dig down to get out of the inning, but the damage was done.
After Jeurys Familia pitched a scoreless seventh, he was in line for the win. They’d get it for him giving him a team high nine wins.
Rojas went to his bench to have Dominic Smith pinch hit. Smith sat because he’s been struggling and due to his best 0-for-9 off Alcantara. After he ripped a double off Jesus Aguilar‘s glove, he’s now 1-for-10.
— New York Mets (@Mets) September 3, 2021
If Aguilar didn’t touch it, the ball probably goes foul. However, he did, and in a fitting fashion, the go-ahead run scored on an almost play.
The Mets made good on that 4-3 lead. First, it was Trevor May in the eighth. May did all he could do that inning including trying to dive to catch a foul ball.
Trevor May deserves a tweet just for the effort… ? pic.twitter.com/jNteyyWUPO
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) September 3, 2021
In the ninth, Edwin Diaz continued his recent stretch of dominance. He struck out two in a perfect inning saving the sloppy 4-3 win featuring seven errors and a number of misplays.
Game Notes: Brad Hand was claimed off waivers. As it happened after August 31, he will not be postseason eligible. Khalil Lee was sent down for Yennsy Diaz. Like Lee briefly was, Albert Almora is a September call-up.
Before the suspended game from April 11 resumed, there was the theatre of the absurd where Javier Báez and Francisco Lindor were forced to apologize for the thumbs down controversy. Their qualifying the apology certainly didn’t help matters.
What really didn’t help was the Mets falling behind 5-1 to the Miami Marlins. It also didn’t help Jesus Aguilar was taunting them during the game.
Worse yet, this was the same old story with the Mets blowing chance after chance after chance. That includes the eighth when Báez was announced as a pinch hitter. He was booed lustily by the sparse crowd. It’ll probably be the last time he’s ever booed.
— New York Mets (@Mets) August 31, 2021
Báez hit an infield single scoring Smith pulling the Mets to within 5-4. Michael Conforto followed with an opposite field single easily scoring Alonso to tie the game. When Jorge Alfaro, a catcher somehow thrown to left, bobbled the ball, Báez made a mad dash for home.
— New York Mets (@Mets) August 31, 2021
It was a run arguably only Báez could score. It involved a player with speed who always hustles, and a player with a high baseball IQ willing to take calculated risks. The end result was a win and a great call from Gary Cohen.
Michael Conforto blasted one a long way in Tuesday's nightcap, so here's another Gary call and pen slam for your timeline ?️
— SNY (@SNYtv) September 1, 2021
This was a win which flipped the script. Not only did it take a bad loss and make it a great win, but it changed the narrative and reaction towards Báez.
It was also a win with legs. The Mets would get off and running in the fourth with a Conforto two run homer.
— New York Mets (@Mets) September 1, 2021
Later in the inning, Jeff McNeil would double home Báez. It was 3-0, and the Mets would hold on.
Edwin Diaz came in the seventh and retired the side in order for his eighth consecutive save. With that, it was a doubleheader sweep.
This day had all the feel of the Wilmer Flores walk-off. With the Mets 5.5 games out of a postseason spot with a month left in the season, who knows?
Doubleheader Notes: Jeurys Familia picked up the win in the first game. Loup won the second game. Between games, Luis Guillorme was activated off the IL, and Brandon Drury was optioned. Yennsy Diaz was the 27th man.
The New York Mets were up 2-1 (an actual lead!) when the San Francisco Giants came to bat in the top of the seventh. An inexplicable stretch would follow.
Kris Bryant, a player the Mets opted to not obtain at the trade deadline, reached on a Jonathan Villar error. Keep in mind, this is a roster basically bereft of third baseman, and Villar is masquerading there (poorly) right now.
After Bryant reached on the error, Alex Dickerson singled. Now, that single probably should’ve been caught, but Jeff McNeil has lingering leg problems, and Michael Conforto got a late read on the bloop.
With first and second and no outs, Luis Rojas had a decision to make. Does he stick with Taijuan Walker who had allowed just a Bryant homer entering the inning? Or, does he go to Aaron Loup to face the left-handed hitting Brandon Crawford?
Rojas went with Loup, and Walker was justifiably angry. After the way he pitched, why wouldn’t he?
Walker is every Mets fan at that moment pic.twitter.com/wImyyJS6j3
— Brett Herskowitz (@bretther) August 26, 2021
Just because Walker was at 74 pitches and was angry doesn’t mean it was the wrong decision. Here are some stats:
- Walker (pitches 76-100) .250/.321/.500
- Walker (third time through order) .279/.324/.500
- Loup 1.03 ERA
- Loup (2nd Half) 0.00 ERA
- Loup (vs. LHB) .159/.203/.159
- Loup (2nd Half) .167/.234/.167
- Loup (Runners 1st & 2nd) .100/.182/.100
Look at the numbers up and down. Loup was the right decision. As for the potential Walker was cruising arguments, so was Matt Harvey.
Yes, Loup did allow a two run RBI double, and the Mets then trailed 3-2. That doesn’t mean it was the wrong decision. After all, if Walker’s career numbers held true, something bad was likely to happen that inning.
For some, they still think Walker should’ve stayed in the game. They’re absolutely wrong. Many will blame Rojas for the loss. Those people should never be taken seriously.
Remember, the Mets hit into five double plays. Nine men were left on base. They were 2-for-8 with RISP. They wouldn’t accept the Giants trying to hand the game to them.
Case-in-point was the ninth. Brandon Belt overran a foul ball, and Jonathan Villar followed with a single. Brandon Drury reached when Dickerson pulled a Bump Bailey causing the easy fly ball to hit the ground.
Alonso was just bad in the game going 1-for-5 hitting into two double plays and stranding seven. He came up with the bases loaded in the sixth too, and the Mets only scored due to a Bryant throwing error.
All told, the Giants begged the Mets to win this game. Despite the Giants best efforts, and aside from a Dominic Smith RBI double in the sixth, the Mets offense was just plain bad.
People can make it all about Rojas all they want. However, just know, when they do that, they’re flat out wrong, and in the end, they’re just looking for a fall guy instead of just admitting this team isn’t as good as advertised.
That’s on the GM and the front office. Not Rojas.
As things started to slip, acting general manager Zack Scott had a press conference blaming the players for their injuries. He also called the team he assembled mediocre.
Now, that the season is falling apart with the Mets in third and 3.5 games back, owner Steve Cohen is now attacking the players:
It’s hard to understand how professional hitters can be this unproductive.The best teams have a more disciplined approach.The slugging and OPS numbers don’t lie.
— Steven Cohen (@StevenACohen2) August 18, 2021
Cohen, Scott, and whoever is with the front office can put the blame on the players all they want. Fact is, they assembled the roster, and they opted not to fortify a roster 3.5 games up in the standings at the trade deadline.
Their lone Major League acquisition was Javier Báez, a player who was dealing with heel issues at the time of the trade. He would play 10 games before hitting the IL.
The team failed to really add another starter. You could say Trevor Williams, but considering the Mets keep stashing him in Syracuse, they didn’t add one.
The Mets didn’t add to a bullpen who has been HEAVILY used. There are signs of overwork and fatigue with everyone but Aaron Loup. The front office opted to instead ride with pitchers like Anthony Banda, Yennsy Diaz, Geoff Hartlieb, and others of the same ilk in big spots.
Another important matter here is Chili Davis. His track record shows how players under his tutelage fall down this path. Despite that, they opted to keep him to start the season.
As an example of the Davis effect look at Kris Bryant. He went from an MVP to the absolute worst offensive season of his career. With Davis gone, he’s again improved to being Bryant again.
There’s another important point on Bryant. The Mets have punted on third base all year. They hoped for J.D. Davis to magically learn the position (he didn’t) or for Jonathan Villar to be a regular player (he’s been somewhat).
The Mets had the option to address the rotation, bullpen, third base, and the depth that includes non-playable players like Kevin Pillar. As we saw with the Braves, that didn’t need to be blockbuster deals.
Remember, the Dodgers current run was jump started by trading for Josh Beckett, Carl Crawford, and Adrian Gonzalez. That option was on the table with the Twins looking to move Josh Donaldson and Kenta Maeda to the Mets.
Adding Donaldson and Maeda would’ve transformed the Mets and made them significantly better. However, the deal fell apart over money.
Therein lies another problem. Entering the season and at the trade deadline, the Mets treated the luxury tax threshold as a hard cap. They were unwilling to surpass it despite the very soft penalties for first time offenders. They were unwilling to surpass it despite a new CBA being negotiated this offseason which will likely change the threshold and penalties.
All told, the Mets front office just wasn’t willing to do what they needed to do to win the division. They failed to give a first place team what they needed to stay there.
In the end, they can point all the fingers they want, but at the end of the day, this team is a direct reflection of their actions, and when this team misses the postseason, they have no one to blame but themselves.
This was a big game, and Marcus Stroman reminded us all he’s a big game pitcher. He went out there and did all he could do to will the New York Mets to a win, but they couldn’t follow.
Stroman went a season high 114 pitches and seven innings. He struck out nine. He had a hit. He was great in the field.
"Don't do that against Stroman. He's just too good." pic.twitter.com/amx7T2DrKv
— SNY (@SNYtv) August 18, 2021
Unfortunately, he made just two mistakes. The first was hit for a two run homer by Tommy La Stella in the first. In the seventh, when Stroman was somewhat surprisingly back out there, Evan Longoria hit a solo homer.
That’s how the Giants built a 3-0 lead. The other reasons for the lead was the Mets did nothing against Logan Webb. Some of it was how good Webb was. Some of it was the Mets shooting themselves in the foot.
Since Conforto didn’t look to advance when Longoria made the play, he didn’t score on the error. Then, no one scored when Jeff McNeil hit into an inning ending double play.
In the fifth, a Mets two out rally ended when Brandon Nimmo hit a hard liner right at La Stella.
The Mets are on the board!
Pete makes it a one-run game ? ?❄️ pic.twitter.com/XRidFbGxtB
— SNY (@SNYtv) August 18, 2021
After Aaron Loup pitched a scoreless inning, the Mets had their chance in the ninth. In that inning, we’d see what separates these two teams.
McNeil led off with an opposite field single. It got past the center fielder, but it was backed up by Lamonte Wade Jr. As a result, McNeil stayed at first.
McNeil moved to second but would not score. The game down to Kevin Pillar. In a very poor at-bat, he’d strike out looking to end the game.
The loss put the Mets deeper into third place and finally put them under .500. It doesn’t matter who is stepping up because as a team the Mets just don’t have it.