Adam Ottavino

May 20/20 Hindsight: Best Mets Team Ever?

The New York Mets have finished the first two months of the season in first place with a 10.5 game division lead. That is tied for the best ever lead on June 1 in MLB history.

1.  It doesn’t matter what happens with this team. They are perhaps the most resilient Mets team we have ever seen.

2.  Luis Guillorme has earned a job in the starting lineup, and he’s playing like someone deserving of an All-Star right now.

3.  Playing time may hold back Guillorme, but it should not hold back Pete Alonso, Francisco Lindor, Jeff McNeil, and Brandon Nimmo. They’re not just having All-Star caliber seasons, but they are also building budding MVP campaigns.

4.  Lindor going around humming the Rangers goal song is awesome. That run is having a big impact on this Mets team, and it seems to be driving them all the more to have their own special season.

5.  Colin Holderman and Stephen Nogosek have earned a permanent place in the Mets bullpen.

6.  If Drew Smith is hurt, just put him on the IL. There is no need to mess around and have the chance he hurts his arm compensating for the pinkie.

7.  Trevor Williams has stepped up big time, and he has taken that last spot in the rotation for now. He might’ve been a throw-in last season in the Javier Baez trade, but he’s been a very importance piece for this Mets team.

8.  The pitching injuries necessitated Dominic Smith be sent down. The team needs the arms, and right now, Smith hasn’t made the case he should stay in the majors. Then again, J.D. Davis hasn’t either, but looking at everything, he is on borrowed time as well.

9.  Eduardo Escobar is slowly but surely coming out of his struggles, and he is primed to have the same big June he has always had. To his credit, he has not let his struggles get the better of him as he was always out there hustling. That’s why he had the big extra innings catch followed by the walk-off hit.

10. The Mets are in a tough spot at the catcher position, and it seems like the problem isn’t improving as Patrick Mazeika just can’t seem to get on the same page as his pitchers, and he’s made some questionable pitch calls. Case-in-point was that Adam Ottavino fastball.

11. The most important move the Mets made all season was Chris Bassitt. While he was not pegged as such, he has been the team’s ace all season long. That’s because he has pitched that way and because he’s the last man standing.

12. There is not enough we can say about how Carlos Carrasco and Taijuan Walker have stepped up this season. This team is in first place because of them as any other reason.

13. With Jacob deGrom and Max Scherzer coming back at some point this season, it is really difficult to pinpoint where this team desperately needs to make a move to make it a World Series contending club.

14. That said, Joely Rodriguez and Chasen Shreve at least have you wondering if the Mets need a left-handed reliever. Then again, maybe David Peterson can move there for the postseason and have a 2015 Jon Niese type of impact.

15. Having Johan Santana out there with Tylor Megill, Smith, Rodriguez, Seth Lugo, and Edwin Diaz was one of the coolest photos in Mets team history.

16. It is amazing hearing Dwight Gooden and Darryl Strawberry will return to Flushing for Old Timers’ Day. It seems like all of the Mets greats want to come back to experience this.

17. Nick Plummer is what makes a season like this so special. He’s a former first rounder who was given the bust label before having a good year in Triple-A with the St. Louis Cardinals organization. It wasn’t enough to keep him around, and the Mets have been the beneficiaries for taking a chance on him.

18. It’s astonishing to think it took the Mets nearly two months to complete their first series sweep of the season. Of course, they may follow it with yet another sweep.

19. The Mets impending west coast trip isn’t really anything but a series of nine tough games. It’s not a litmus test because we know this team is good, and we also know they don’t have all of their pitching.

20. Starling Marte has responded to hearbreak by being great. If there is anyone who understands what it means to be a Met, it may just be him.

20/20 Hindsight: Mariners Make Mets Regret Sewald

For the first time this season, the New York Mets lost a series. To make matters worse, it was Mets incompetence of the past which came back to haunt them.

1.  Paul Sewald is absolutely right. The Mets gave up on him. More to the point, as I’ve pointed out, and as Keith Hernandez and Gary Cohen noted on the broadcast, the Mets completely and utterly botched how they handled him. Sewald absolutely deserved this moment.

2.  Sewald was all the more of a debacle when you consider the Mets kept Ryan O’Rourke, Tim Peterson, and Jacob Rhame over him. None of those three pitched past the 2019 season. Sewald is now a very good late inning reliever.

3.  It’s not just Sewald, but Chris Flexen where the Mets screw up was the Mariners gain. The good news here is the morons in charge who made those decisions are now gone.

4.  The people in charge now get us Max Scherzer and Chris Bassitt who were again great in their starts. Much of the Mets success this season is directly attributable to bringing those pitchers onboard.

5.  That Patrick Mazeika start behind the plate was rough, and it limited Bassitt to 5.1 innings when he had the stuff to go much deeper.

6.  That said the legend of Mazeika grew. Not only did he have the game winning homer, but he also had a key hit in that ninth inning rally which fell short.

7.  You cannot have worst at-bats than what Starling Marte and Pete Alonso did with the game tying and go-ahead runs on base than what they did. The Alonso one was even worse considering he got one strike in that at-bat, and he didn’t even swing at the pitch over the heart of the plate.

8.  Brandon Nimmo came up huge in that inning with an RBI double. In fact, he’s been great all season and has been the Mets best player. He’s clearly an All-Star, and sooner or later, if he keeps this up, he is going to get MVP consideration.

9.  Drew Smith went from impenetrable to allowing runs in consecutive appearances. He will be fine.

10. Carlos Carraso looked bad. While he was worse against the St. Louis Cardinals, he arguably looked worse in this start. Again, he’s been very good for all but two starts, so there is no need to dwell too much here.

11. Good for Adam Ottavino for picked up that win. He’s responded well to that rough patch, and part of the reason is Buck Showalter has been much more responsible in how he uses them.

12. Congratulations to Colin Holderman on his Major League debut. It was rocky, but it was a scoreless inning, and he did flash what could be very good stuff out of the pen.

13. Sewald wasn’t the only pitcher to stick it to his old team. Edwin Diaz struck out all three batters he faced in his only save opportunity in the series. By the way, he’s now played more seasons with the Mets than the Mariners.

14. Joely Rodriguez wasn’t great, and Chasen Shreve allowed homers in consecutive appearances. On that note, Aaron Loup is having another great season. So far, this looks like an unforced error by the Mets, and you do have to wonder how much of that is attributable to the Robinson Cano contract.

15. James McCann being out is going to hurt the Mets. He was great behind the plate, and believe it or not, he was a starting level bat at the position in the majors so far this year.

16. Tomas Nido did step-up in this series actually drawing two walks. To put that in perspective, he drew five all of last season.

17. McCann’s injury is the type which may cost him this year even when he can return. Those hammate bone injuries tend to linger and hamper the ability to hit again. Unfortunately, Francisco Alvarez has been struggling in Double-A putting him even further off the horizon.

18. Francisco Lindor hit a big homer. The Mets need more of that from him.

19. One massive takeaway from this series, even with the series loss, is the Mets beat up on reigning AL Cy Young winner Robbie Ray. It doesn’t matter if it was an off game or not from Ray, the Mets finally hit left-handed pitching.

20. The Mets were at the Rangers beating the Penguins in Game 7. Perhaps, we will see the Rangers at Citi Field watching the Mets win their own Game 7 this postseason.

Mets Trading Jarred Kelenic Remains A Disaster

With Jarred Kelenic and the Seattle Mariners coming to town, many will attempt to re-litigate the shocking trade which sent Kelenic to the Seattle Mariners organization as a part of a trade package for Robinson Cano and Edwin Diaz. Of course, 2022 performances invite revisionist history here.

This season, Diaz has clearly been the top performer from this trade. Through 14 appearances, he is 1-0 with seven saves, a 1.93 ERA, 0.857 WHIP, 3.2 BB/9, and a 15.4 K/9. He looks like he’s having a career year, but it’s important to note much of that is due to Jeremy Hefner.

Hefner has diligently worked with Diaz on his mechanics making sure his delivery has been repeatable, and he’s landing with his foot pointed towards home plate. He’s also helped Diaz create more break and spin leading to a 55. Whiff%. Really, it took four years for Diaz to be what the Mets expected him to be.

In many ways, Diaz is not the same pitcher he was in his first three years with the Mets. That’s very good to a certain extent because that Diaz was not the difference maker he was advertised to be.

On that point, it is important to remember the trade to obtain him was a win-now deal for the Wilpons who were nearing being forced to sell the New York Mets to the highest bidder. Really, the deal smelled like a one last shot to try to win a World Series, and ironically, it was the trade that prevented the Mets from winning that World Series.

In 2019, Diaz was dreadful with a career worst 5.59 ERA, 74 ERA+, and 4.51 FIP. He blew seven saves and lost seven games for a Mets team which missed the postseason by three games. Really, Diaz was a big reason why the Mets missed the postseason that year.

Cano might’ve been a bigger reason. Cano was the target as Brodie Van Wagenen sought to bring his former client back to New York as Cano wanted. Cano responded with a career worst season with a 0.6 WAR and a 94 wRC+. This was supposed to be a key bat in the lineup, and Cano was terrible while Van Wagenen ensured Mickey Callaway batted his former client third.

With Cano, it is the gift which keeps on giving. Yes, he had a bounce-back 2020 season, but as we learned, he was using PEDs again. That cost him the 2021 season, and with him able to physically return, it was $40.5 million the Mets did not get to spend.

Instead of keeping Aaron Loup or further addressing the bullpen, the Mets were restricted to Adam Ottavino and Chasen Shreve. Instead of a Kris Bryant, Michael Conforto, or Seiya Suzuki, the Mets obtained Mark Canha and Eduardo Escobar, who have so far underwhelmed this season.

Really, that has been the theme of Cano’s time on the Mets. It’s been the organization wasting resources on him that could have been better spent. The biggest example of that is Zack Wheeler desperately wanted to stay with the Mets, but they couldn’t keep him because the money was going to Cano.

As a result, the Mets dead weight became the Phillies ace. The Wilpons didn’t have any money to spend in the ensuing offseasons, and Steve Cohen has $20.25 million per year he can’t spend on better talent through next season.

There’s also the matter of this season. The Mets completely wasted plate appearances over the first month of the season trying to see what they had in Cano. The answer was nothing, and they were happy to part with him and his onerous contract. However, that came with a consequence with Dominic Smith and J.D. Davis not getting the playing time they needed to succeed this season.

There were some who wanted to defend the trade because the Mets moved “untradeable contracts.” The Mariners had no problem trading Jay Bruce whatsoever. They also traded Anthony Swarzak, who helped the Atlanta Braves win the division.

Also, keep in mind the Mets parted with two Top 100 prospects in Kelenic and Justin Dunn. Certainly, Kelenic has struggled early in his career, and Dunn is dealing with a shoulder injury. Certainly, that is part of a very suspect Mariners player development system where we constantly ask why their prospects never seem to pan out.

However, this is also very much besides the point. Back in the 2018 offseason, that duo could have gotten the Mets anything they wanted. Teams would have been literally lining topping one another to get Kelenic and Dunn.

Remember, this deal came in the same offseason the Miami Marlins traded J.T. Realmuto. Instead, the Mets hastily accepted a closer and an albatross.

That deal cost the Mets the 2019 postseason. It cost them the opportunity to compete in 2020. It cost them the ability to make deadline deals in 2021 because that trade and all of Van Wagenen’s trades cost them valuable prospect depth needed to swing the trades the Mets needed. It was also $40.5 million the Mets did not have to spend on free agents.

It will again impact the Mets at the trade deadline and this ensuring offseason. All told, this deal remains an unmitigated disaster no matter how great Diaz is or how much Kelenic struggles.

Trevor Williams Forgotten Man In Mets Bullpen

In the third game of the season, Buck Showalter shoehorned Trevor Williams into a game under the auspices he needed to get the reliever work. In that game, Williams was credited with a blown save and a loss after allowing two unearned runs. After Williams blew that game, it seems like Showalter feels no need to get him into a game again.

In fact, since that game, Williams has only gotten into four more games. Aside from the “start,” each of those times the score differential was more than four runs. That included when the Atlanta Braves put a beating on the Mets. All told, whatever you want to call a low leverage reliever, that’s what Williams is.

It’s really bizarre when you look at is. For example, Sean Reid-Foley, a pitcher who was widely anticipated was going to be designated for assignment, was used on seven different occasions. He’s been on the IL for about two weeks now, and he still has three more appearances.

We have also seen some diminishing returns from Adam Ottavino. Ottavino has been mostly good with nine scoreless relief appearances out of his 12 appearances for the season. That said, Showalter also felt compelled to use him for three consecutive days in a series against the Braves. That helped lead to the aforementioned blowout and Williams’ fourth appearance of the season.

The problem there is the Mets need that one extra right-handed arm in the pen. Edwin Diaz, Seth Lugo, and Drew Smith are the late inning relievers. Joely Rodriguez and Chasen Shreve are there for the left-handed relievers. Ottavino was fine for the middle innings, and Trevor May was there for that bridge, but now he’s injured and gone for months.

This could have been a chance to see what Williams has in the tank. However, the Mets haven’t seemed inclined to use him at all. That was even the case in doubleheaders where a spot start opportunity was there. The Mets understandably and correctly went with David Peterson.

Williams was actually useful in the Mets bullpen last season, and he did show some promise. In eight appearances, he pitched 22.1 innings with a 9.3 K/9 and a 3.83 K/BB. Digging deeper, there is something there with Williams.

Generally speaking, he induces weaker contact than most pitchers, and batters have a hard time squaring the ball up against him. Typically speaking, he induces pull side ground balls. With the Mets ability to shift plus having Francisco Lindor and Jeff McNeil up the middle, this should play right into the Mets hands.

He has an effective sinker, and his change is a weapon. We’ve seen his sinker be one as well. There is something there with Williams even if that is being a long or low leverage reliever. Perhaps he could be more, especially refining things and working on pitch mixes with Jeremy Hefner, but he would have to get the reps to do that.

On the long reliever front, he’s been dormant for even that role. For example, Sean Gilmartin made 50 appearances in 2015, and we saw Darren Oliver make 45 appearances in 2006. So far, Williams is on a pace to make 21 appearances. That’s not going to help him, and it’s not going to help the rest of the bullpen.

Sooner or later, the Mets are going to have to give Williams more chances. They’re going to have to get him in a rhythm and try to establish himself as a real part of this bullpen. If he does, this bullpen is even better. If not, you can move on and find someone else. However, if you’re not pitching him, you can’t make any of these needed assessments. That needs to change soon.

 

20/20 Hindsight: Mets Blow Opportunity

The New York Mets had won seven straight series before a key divisional match-up against the Atlanta Braves. They would not make it an eighth straight series.

1.  Last season, the Mets failed on multiple occasions to deliver a knockout blow to the Braves leading to the Braves buying at the deadline, winning the division, and eventually, winning the World Series. This was the Mets first chance to deliver a huge blow to the under .500 Braves, and instead, they let the Braves walk away with a split.

2.  You can’t use Adam Ottavino for three straight games. That’s just an unforced error that helped lead to the Mets getting blown out.

3.  Buck Showalter came into this season with a number of questions. Seeing how he burns Drew Smith for two innings instead of saving him for another day and used an injured Trevor May in a key spot, it would seem like he hasn’t improved in the slightest in this area.

4.  Chris Bassitt and Tylor Megill deserved better.

5.  If Bassitt wants to sign an extension, the Mets should sign him to one. This is a good pitcher who seems to like pitching here. You keep those guys.

6.  The walks are starting to pile up with Megill. If he isn’t pounding the strike zone, he becomes vulnerable to the big inning. That is essentially what happened to him. Right now, this isn’t any cause for alarm.

7.  All the metrics say Francisco Lindor is hitting the ball very well, but the results aren’t there. Put another way, it’s too soon to overreact, but it is something we need to monitor.

8.  The Mets poor hard hit rates is not an issue for players like Jeff McNeil and Luis Guillorme. However, it is a much larger issue for the rest of the team who are more line drive power hitters.

9.  Eduardo Escobar went from pleasant surprise and leader to looking like the player the Mets shouldn’t have jumped the market to sign. His hard hit rates are cratering as is his defense.

10. Starting J.D. Davis over Dominic Smith, especially with a right-handed pitcher starting is just plain wrong. With extended playing time, Davis’ struggles with any sort of velocity and with pitches up in the zone are magnified.

11. For all the focus on the struggles of the bullpen, Edwin Diaz, Seth Lugo, and Smith have the final 2-3 innings locked down. Looking at that, building the rest of the bullpen is a much easier task until May returns from the IL.

12. It’s very interesting how May and Jacob deGrom were dealing with very similar injuries. What that says about the Mets is anyone’s guess.

13. The umpiring in this series was embarrassing. It helped cost one game with Dansby Swanson being ruled to have a double on a clear foul ball. Dom was called out on a pitch well out of the zone. Between this series and the Madison Bumgarner ejection in Arizona, the umpiring has been unacceptably poor this season. Really, you know it’s bad when Max Scherzer gets thrown out of a game when he’s not pitching.

14. The notion anything other than balls and strikes is not reviewable is ludicrous.

15. Travis d’Arnaud is certainly going the way of Daniel Murphy and Justin Turner in how he is making the Mets pay for their flat out wrong decision to cut him loose and look in another direction.

16. Players like Travis Jankowski and Guillorme deserve more respect. They fill their roles in perfectly and make this ball club infinitely better. Jankowski knows people won’t buy his jersey, but we will all cheer him on like he’s a superstar.

17. Carlos Carrasco has been amazing this season, and his eight innings not only helped the Mets pick up a win, but it also saved the bullpen.

18. Trevor Williams wasn’t great, but he took one for the team pitching 3.2 innings. Outings like this often get overlooked and under appreciated, but it is something which will really help the Mets in the long run. With May out, you do wonder if the Mets can give him more of a look out of the pen. After all, it’s not like they have other options.

19. The Showalter suspension was ridiculous, especially when you consider Stubby Clapp wasn’t suspended. You do wonder how much that impacted the Mets in the opener of the series, especially with Showalter being informed right before game time.

20. Alonso is heating up just when the Mets need his bat to carry this team. Hopefully, he can help carry the offense as they try to give the Philadelphia Phillies the knock out blow they failed to give the Braves.

Recaps

Same Old Mets Against Braves

Mets Send Message to Braves

Credit to Trevor Williams

Mets Send Message To Braves

After losing the opener of the four game set to the Atlanta Braves and playing their worst baseball of the season, the New York Mets had a doubleheaders scheduled. With maybe not as important in the grand scheme of things, the Mets actually needed to sweep that doubleheader to continue their streak of winning their eighth series to start the season.

They did just that.

In the first game, the Mets jumped all over Charlie Morton not giving him a chance. Now, this wasn’t the Mets hitting bombs, but rather, they kept making contact and putting it where they ain’t.

It all started with surprise lead-off hitter Travis Jankowski hitting an infield single. After the perfunctory HBP, this time it was Francisco Lindor, the Mets got RBI singles from Pete Alonso and Eduardo Escobar to jump out to the early 2-0 lead.

Jankowski would be great in this game. He was a huge part of the Mets offense taking part in all of the run scoring rallies. He was there again in the second drawing a one out walk after Luis Guillorme‘s leadoff walk. Lindor hit an RBI groundout to drive home Guillorme, and again, it would be an Alonso single driving home Jankowski.

In the fourth, Jankowski put on a show with his speed. After reaching on a fielder’s choice, he stole second, and then took third on Travis d’Arnaud‘s wild throw. That permitted him to score on a Mark Canha sacrifice fly. Really, as Jankowski explained properly, he does those things a winning teams need to do.

Right there, the Mets had five runs. It would barely be enough.

David Peterson got the call up for the start with the doubleheader. For four innings, he was really good allowing just one run. It would fall apart in the fifth, which is a shame because he should have been out of the inning.

After Travis Demeritte hit a lead-off single, Guillermo Heredia struck out, and Ozzie Albies hit what should’ve been an inning ending double play. However, Peterson booted it leading to everyone being safe. On the very next pitch, Matt Olson hit a three run homer to pull the Braves within one.

The thing is, that’s the last run the Braves would score in the doubleheader.

The Mets bullpen was awesome. Adam Ottavino struck out two in his scoreless inning. Drew Smith struck out two over his two innings. Finally, Edwin Diaz was unhittable yet again. With that, the Mets took the opener 5-4.

If you thought that pitching performance was impressive, you were in for a real treat with Carlos Carrasco in the second end.

After coming out of the gates red hot, Carrasco took a major step backwards in his last start. Given what happened last season, you could understand fans concerns. This start should have allayed all of those fears.

Ronald Acuna Jr. hit a lead-off double, which again gave rise to concerns of the first inning problems last year. Carrasco settled down to mow down the Braves and pitch the first of what was eight scoreless innings.

In doubleheaders, you need at least one starter to step up. When you don’t have that, you run the risk of absolutely burning out your bullpen. Carrasco being the first Mets starter to go eight innings was bigger than the start itself. He saved the Mets bullpen for the next day. This is what veteran leaders do.

After the second inning, Carrasco would allow just two more hits. He would put the Mets in line for a big win.

After making the roster for good with the Robinson Cano DFA, Dominic Smith would get his first start since his 4-for-4 game. He picked right up where he left off hitting a two run double in his first at-bat to give the Mets an early 2-0 lead.

With respect to Dom, it is important to note just how horrid the umpiring was in these games and overall. For example, when Peterson allowed his first run of the game in the first end of the doubleheader, the ball that was hit was clearly foul. However, due to inane MLB replay rules, it was not reviewable.

With respect to Smith, one of his issues this season has been horrendous strike calls against him. We saw it again in the sixth with Smith striking out on a pitch that was a foot off of the plate.

This call was too much for everyone to take. In fact, after seeing this strike call, and really, the umpiring so far in this series, Max Scherzer would actually get ejected for arguing balls and strikes. This was actually the second time in his career he was ejected with both times coming in games he didn’t pitch.

The Mets would wind up winning this game 3-0. The second run came on a monster Alonso home run to the opposite field. Alonso has been shooting that way all year, and now, he has a big homer out there:

This was a big day for Alonso. Between the two games, he was 4-for-8 with a homer and three RBI. This is the type of hitter we have seen him be, and this is the type of hitter who can carry the Mets offense like he did in these two games.

After Seth Lugo pitched a scoreless ninth for his second save of the season, the Mets completed the doubleheader sweep. That was with the help of six scoreless innings out of the bullpen.

Overall, this was not the Mets who have struggled against the Braves. This is a Mets team ready to make a statement. They did in this game and have a chance to win an eighth straight series to start the season and let the Braves know this division belongs to the Mets.

Neon Moment Of The Week: The Stretch

After a 7-3 start to the season, there was genuine excitement about this New York Mets team, but there was still some naysayers. After all, the Mets were beating up on the likes of the Washington Nationals, Philadelphia Phillies, and Arizona Diamondbacks. Some questioned how the Mets would fare against a good team.

On that note, the San Francisco Giants came to town. Last season, the Giants led the majors with 107 wins, and they were off to a 7-2 start. Simply put, this series was going to be a real litmus test for the Mets.

Things did not get off to a great start. Tylor Megill, who had been great in place of Jacob deGrom finally struggled. The pitcher who was unscored upon would allow four runs over six. Fortunately, the Mets would tie the game in the fifth on RBI doubles by Jeff McNeil and Francisco Lindor. The score stayed that way until it was sent to extra innings.

With extra innings comes the gimmick Manfred Man on second base. Brandon Belt was the runner, and he would move to third on a Wilmer Flores flyout. After walking Darin Ruf, Brandon Crawford lined out. That left Thairo Estrada for Adam Ottavino. Estrada would hit a routine grounder to Lindor, but Lindor made an errant throw:

Initially, the umpires ruled Pete Alonso was pulled off the bag. However, upon replay, we saw Alonso made an incredible stretch to stay on the bag. That kept the game tied for the Mets to walk it off on a Lindor game winning RBI single.

That stretch was a key moment in the Mets winning that game. From there, the Mets went on to sweep the doubleheader and take three out of four from the Giants. As a result, the Mets proved they can beat a good team.

That moment was also indicative of just how far Alonso has come. Alonso was known as a poor defender when he was first called up to the majors. He has since made tremendous strides to vastly improve there. As a result, Alonso has shown himself as a player who can help the Mets win with their defense, and that is why “The Strech” is the Mets Neon Moment of the Week!

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Mets Outlast Phillies

Like yesterday, the finale of the three game set between the New York Mets and Philadelphia Phillies promised to be a real pitchers’ duel. It didn’t quite pan out that way due to the relative control issues of both starting pitchers.

With respect to Max Scherzer, he struggled out of the gate walking three in the first before he recorded two outs. As a testament to his status as a true ace, Scherzer would get out of it by striking out Jean Segura before getting Didi Gregorius to ground out to end the inning.

That first inning cost Scherzer as he would have to leave the game after five partially because he had already thrown 96 pitches. The only run he allowed was in the fourth when Bryson Stott singled home Nick Castellanos after Castellons led off the inning with a double. Overall, he left on the long side of the ledger after allowing one run on five hits and three walks while striking out seven.

By no means was this is good start by Scherzer, at least not by his standards. That said, it was more than good enough to get the Mets the win.

On the other side, Aaron Nola didn’t get out of the fourth. There may have been some issue with the ball early on because he too struggled with control to start the game, and he also walked three in the game. Still, the Mets were not able to get to him until Brandon Nimmo homered in the third:

The fourth inning is where the Mets offense started to take off. After Starling Marte singled to start the inning, Pete Alonso doubled him home. That’s when the Mets batters started getting plunked again. After Eduardo Escobar drew a walk, Mark Canha and Jeff McNeil would get plunked to force home a run.

Seranthony Dominguez relieved Nola, and he got Tomas Nido to hit into an inning ending double play. The Mets were up 3-0 at this point, but they were far from done.

After the Phillies got one in the fourth, the Mets got it back in the fifth. Francisco Lindor hit a one out double, and he would score on Alonso’s two out double. If nothing else, you could see in this game just how well Alonso is handling the DH position this season. In fact, he wasn’t done after those doubles.

In the sixth, the Mets appeared to blow the game wide open. Nido singled, and Nimmo walked. After a Lindor fielder’s choice advanced the runners, Marte drove home Nido with an RBI single. Alonso brought home the rest with a three run homer.

At that point, it was 8-1, and the Mets should have had smooth sailing. Of course, with the state of the Mets bullpen, that’s not what happened.

Sean Reid-Foley struggled. Right away, he hit Segura on the hand knocking him out of the game. SRF followed that by walking Gregorius. For a moment, it seemed Johan Camargo hit a two RBI double, but upon replay, it was ruled foul. Instead, Camargo brought one home with an RBI single. Successive RBI groundouts by Stott and Matt Vierling pulled the Phillies to within 8-3.

Buck Showalter went to Joely Rodriguez to get Kyle Schwarber and get out of the inning. Rodriguez did his job, but for some reason, with J.T. Realmuto leading off the next inning, Showalter stuck with him. Apparently, Showalter never learned his lesson.

Rodriguez would walk Realmuto and Bryce Harper back-to-back to start the inning. After letting him collect dust, Showalter went to Adam Ottavino. Ottavino was greeted with an excuse me RBI double, and then he allowed Alec Bohm to hit a sacrifice fly to pull the Phillies to within 8-5.

After Gregorius flew out to short, McNeil made a big play keeping a Camargo single in the infield. That kept Castellanos from scoring, and he would not score after Stott lined out to end the inning.

Fortunately, Seth Lugo would come on and pitch a perfect eighth to stabilize things.

In the top of the ninth, Escobar hit a one out triple against Bailey Falter. There was question whether it was a homer or not, but it was ruled fan interference. As Escobar busted it out of the box, and he made it safely to third, the umpires used their discretion in fan interference cases to put him on third.

Smith followed with a fly ball to shallow left. Joey Cora had another horrible send. With even a semi-competent throw, Escobar was dead to rights. Fortuantely, Castellanos made a horrendous throw, and Escobar was safe expanding the Mets lead to 9-5.

Edwin Diaz came on for the ninth, and he was greeted with a Harper homer. Diaz would rebound from there to get Castellanos to strike out. Diaz retired the final two. It was not a save situation, but considering the craziness of the final few innings, it might as well have been.

The Mets have now won their first two road series before returning home for Opening Day. All-in-all, it was an adventure, but the Mets held on to win.

Game Notes: Clayton Kershaw was pulled after seven perfect innings against the Minnesota Twins. Fortunately, the Los Angeles Dodgers would lose the perfect game and the no-hitter. Dominic Smith has had a terrible start to the season going 1-for-11 at the plate with eight strikeouts.

Buck Showalter Not Showing Signs Of Adapting

For all the talk about Buck Showalter being a good manager, there were concerns about his bullpen management and ability to adapt to the modern game. We are not a full week into the season, and we are not seeing signs of Showalter having adapted.

In terms of being more analytically inclined, we see Starling Marte batting second. Ideally speaking, your best hitter should bat second, and Marte is not the Mets best hitter. Instead, he is treated almost like a second lead-off hitter behind Brandon Nimmo because he is fast.

Speaking of Nimmo, we have seen Showalter ask him to sacrifice bunt. Nimmo has been their best hitter for years, and he’s being asked to sacrifice bunt. It’s one thing with Tomas Nido, even if that strategy is still questionable, but with Nimmo, it is just plain bizarre. With the implementation of the universal DH, you would think we not see the sacrifice bunt as a strategy, but with Showalter it is still a strategy.

More than the lineup and the sacrifice bunting, there is the way Showalter is handling the bullpen.

Before delving further, there is the caveat if Pete Alonso didn’t play poor defense, and if Seth Lugo didn’t struggle, we wouldn’t be talking about it. However, beyond that is the fact is Showalter made poor decisions putting pitchers in poor positions. That is what helped lead to the Mets blowing two late leads.

On Sunday, the Mets had a 2-1 lead in the eighth. He chose Trevor Williams for what was the Mets first high leverage relief situation of the season. Trevor May was available, and he warmed up at one point. Instead, Williams would be charged with a blown save. Yes, the caveat there is Alonso was terrible, and there were soft hits.

Another note is how Showalter used the Edwin Diaz less bullpen leading to that game.

In the previous game, the Mets won 5-0, and Showalter used Drew Smith and Adam Ottavino, two of his better options in the late innings. The game before that the Mets won 7-3, and Showalter used Smith and Lugo. To be fair, he would also use Sean Reid-Foley in that game.

Now, this was the first series of the season, and as we saw in that series, Showalter was just trying to get everyone involved. For example, every position player played just one game. Still, why was Showalter using Lugo, May, and Ottavino in spots where he could have been getting pithcers like Williams into games?

On that point, Showalter did say, “We’re too early in the season to be throwing guys three out of four days. We said the whole offseason with the lockout and everything that we’re going to be careful.”

Now, there is something to losing the battle to win the war. He’s right that its way too early to abuse relievers, and he does need to keep everyone fresh. On these points, Showalter has managed successfully many years, and there is some level of expertise to which we can demur.

That doesn’t explain the loss to the Phillies. Before getting to the game, we need to revisit what May would say after the game:

He’s been battling bicep and tricep soreness, and he’s been getting treatments. He isn’t accustomed to pitching multiple innings. In fact, he hasn’t done that since 2020. Notably, he performed poorly both times.

Going back to the eighth inning, Showalter had a reliever he knew was dealing with shoulder issues and doesn’t go multiple innings. More than that, it was cold. In a day, Showalter went from you can’t push relievers to pushing a reliever he knew was dealing with arm issues. It doesn’t make sense.

Another factor at play was Lugo was apparently available. As we know, Lugo performs better when he’s starting an inning. The Mets could’ve avoided the whole mess of the inning if they went with Lugo to start the inning. Sure, Lugo probably still struggles, but the Mets could have then pivoted to a Smith or Ottavino if needed.

Instead, it was May then Joely Rodriguez, which made zero sense.

Remember, Rodriguez is horrific against right-handed batters. It was one of the reasons the swap between him and Miguel Castro made no sense. Rodriguez was warming, but May’s injury could have allowed Showalter to pivot and pitch whomever he wanted.

There was a runner on first with no outs. The right-handed hitting Matt Vierling was due up, and the Phillies had other right-handed hitting options on the bench. After the pinch hitter, which was the switch hitting Johan Camargo, the Phillies had Kyle Schwarber followed by J.T. Realmuto before Bryce Harper.

To get Schwarber and Harper, Showalter opted to have Rodriguez face Camargo and Realmuto with no outs. Camargo singled sending Alec Bohm to third. That allowed a run to score on the Schwarber RBI groundout. Realmuto then launched a homer to pull the Phillies within 4-3.

Right there, any margin of error Lugo had was completely gone. To boot, he was facing tough hitters in Nick Castellanos and Rhys Hoskins.

Lugo can and should get out of that situation. Then again, he should not have been brought into that spot. It should not have been. May should not have started that inning, and Rodriguez should not have followed. It was all a mess created by Showalter.

If this was Luis Rojas, writers and fans would have been livid, and they would have demanded he be fired. In fact, when the games were scripted for Rojas,  these are the types of things that happened. Now, that Showalter is doing it on his own volition, he’s getting a pass.

In actuality, he shouldn’t. The ignoring analytics. The bunting. The bullpen management. These were all issues present when he was hired, and Showalter hasn’t shown any signs of progress or any willingness. These are problems before we even address leaning on veterans like Robinson Cano. There is still 157 games for Showalter to adjust and learn. The Mets need him to do it.

Pete Alonso Has Mets Feeling Grand

You’d never know the New York Mets miss Jacob deGrom with the starting pitching they’ve gotten to start the season. Tonight, it was Chris Bassitt‘s turn to dominate.

Over six shutout innings, he only allowed three hits and one walk while striking out eight. He was never really challenged, and he was in sync with James McCann.

In terms of McCann, he’s looked better behind the plate than last year. He’d also get the game winning rally started with a leadoff single in the fifth.

After McCann singled, Brandon Nimmo walked. Starling Marte flew out for the first out of the inning bringing Francisco Lindor to the plate.

Lindor fell behind in the count 0-2 to Washington Nationals starter Joan Adon. Lindor battled back fouling off four pitches before drawing a walk to load the bases. Pete Alonso then unloaded them:

It was Alonso’s first career grand slam. Also, after he and other Mets have been plunked in this series, including Marte tonight, he had quite the bat flip.

In this game, and so far this season, Buck Showalter has been looking for everyone to contribute. That included Luis Guillorme, Travis Jankowski, and Dominic Smith getting the start.

Like everyone else, they would each contribute. That includes Jankowski who became the first Met to steal two bases in his first start.

That 4-0 lead grew to 5-0 in the ninth as Nimmo went to work. He hit a leadoff double, and he went to third as he tagged up on a Marte fly out. That put him in position to score when Andres Machado threw a wild pitch.

Again, the Mets bullpen did its job. Drew Smith (1.0), Joely Rodriguez (1.2), and Adam Ottavino (0.1) kept it scoreless. That made it an uneventful final three innings in the Mets 5-0 victory.

Game Notes: Edwin Diaz was unavailable as he was on the bereavement list after his grandfather’s death. Lindor made his second error of the season. For the first time since 2015, the Mets begin the season 3-0.