Addison Reed

I Still Have Hope . . . Sandy Shouldn’t

After a sweep of the Giants in San Francisco, fans could allow themselves hope for the 2017 season again.  Yes, the Giants are a dreadful team, but there was a lot to like about the Mets in that series.  If you dig deeper, there is still things to like about this Mets team.

Jacob deGrom is in a stretch where he has gone at least eight innings in three consecutive starts.  This could be the best stretch of his career, which is certainly saying something.

Rafael Montero has now had three consecutive strong outings allowing just two earned runs over his last 14.1 inning pitched. In this stretch, he not only finally looks like a major league pitcher, he looks like a good major league pitcher.

Curtis Granderson has been the best hitting National League outfielder in the month of June (204 wRC+), and he’s been hitting .297/.408/.595 with 13 doubles, two triples, nine homers, and 23 RBI since May 1st.

Jay Bruce has been resurgent hitting .315/.358/.629 with four doubles, eight homers, and 17 RBI.  He’s on pace for his first 40 home run season and just his second 100 RBI season.

While acting unprofessional about the switch to second base in the clubhouse, Asdrubal Cabrera has been nothing but professional on the field going 7-14 in the series and playing a very good second base. 

Lucas Duda is flat out raking hitting .375/.474/.813 over the past week, and as we know when Duda gets hot like this, he can carry the team for a long stretch.  Just ask the 2015 Nationals.

Lost in all of that is Yoenis Cespedes being Cespedes, Addison Reed being a dominant closer, and Seth Lugo stabilizing the rotation.  There is even the specter of David Wright returning to the lineup.  When you combine that with the Mets schedule, this team is primed to reel off nine straight wins.

If the Mets were to win nine straight, they would be just one game under .500.  At that point, the Mets will be red hot heading to another big series in Washington.  Last time the teams played there, the Mets took two of three.  After that is a bad Cardinals team before the All Star Break.

Combine this hypothetical Mets run with a Rockies team losing six straight, and the Mets are right back in the mix with a bunch of teams hovering around .500 for a shot at the postseason.  Last year, the Mets were under .500 as late as August 19th, and they still made the postseason.  Throw in a potential Amed Rosario call up, and you really have things cooking.  Why not this year’s team?

Well, that’s easy.  The bullpen is a mess.  You have no idea when Noah Syndergaard and Neil Walker can return if they can return at all.  Jose Reyes is playing everyday.  The route to the postseason partially relies upon Montero being a good major league pitcher, and the Mets calling up Rosario.  At this point, those are two things no one should rely.

As a fan?  We should all enjoy the ride for as long as it will carry us.  As Mets fans, we have seen miracles.  We saw this team win in 1969.  We saw a team dead in the water in 1973 go all the way to game seven of the World Series.  We watched a Mookie Wilson grounder pass through Bill Buckner‘s legs.  We saw Mike Piazza homer in the first game in New York after 9/11.

As fans, we can hold out hope for the impossible.  We can dream.  Sandy doesn’t have that luxury.  He needs to look at the reality of the Mets situation and make the best moves he possibly can.  That includes trading Bruce, Duda, Granderson, and any other veteran who can get him a good return on the trade market.

That still shouldn’t stop us from dreaming.  Who knows?  Maybe Rosario, Gavin Cecchini, and Dominic Smith can led the Mets to the postseason after Sandy is done selling.

Mets Should Be Angry They’re Terrible, Not at Puig Homers

Yesterday, the Mets lost their cool with Yasiel Puig‘s home run trot.  Wilmer Flores had something to say to him as he passed first base.  Travis d’Arnaud said something as Puig crossed home plate.  Between innings, Yoenis Cespedes and Jose Reyes pulled Puig aside to talk with him about the incident.  Jay Bruce voiced his displeasure with Puig in a post-game interview.  That’s where we are this season.
Cespedes and Reyes, two players known for their on field celebrations, are talking to another player about how he acts on the field.  More than that, it’s bizarre that a Mets team who has played terrible baseball this year is going to go out there and tell another player how the game should be played.  Instead of Puig, maybe the Mets players should be focusing on their own issues:

1.  They Can’t Pitch

The Mets have a team 5.05 ERA, which is the worst ERA the Mets have had since the 1962 Mets.  It doesn’t matter Matt Harvey, Noah Syndergaard, Seth Lugo, and Steven Matz have been injured this year.  That ERA is just inexcusable.  There was still enough talent on this roster that an ERA that high should never be that possible.  Certainly, there is no reason why this pitching staff should be in the same conversation as the worst baseball team in history.

2.  The Defense Is Terrible

The team -9 DRS and team -7.3 UZR ranks 21st in baseball.  Their -14 DRS at the shortstop position is the worst in baseball, and the -6.0 UZR is ranked 27th.  At third base, the Mets -7 DRS is 27th and -4.8 UZR is 26th.  Behind those numbers, Asdrubal Cabrera has no range anymore.  Travis d’Arnaud is having difficulty throwing out base stealers.  Flores and T.J. Rivera have once again showed they are bats without a position.  Overall, it’s ugly, and they are not helping their pitching staff.

3.  They’re Always Injured

Of all the position players on the Opening Day roster, Michael Conforto, Bruce, and Reyes are the only ones who have not spent time on the Disabled List.  For his part, Conforto is playing through back issues, and his play has dipped in June.  The only two pitchers in the starting rotation from the famed seven deep group who haven’t been on the Disabled List are deGrom and Gsellman, both of whom are coming off of offseason surgeries.  In the bullpen, the Mets have seen Jeurys Familia go down with an injury, and Terry Collins pitched Josh Smoker into one.  If the Mets want to be angry, be angry with their trainers, physicians, and maybe even themselves for how they prepare.

4.  They’re Under-Performing

So far this season, the Mets have had 13 position players with at least 100 plate appearances.  Only five of them have an OPS+ over 100.  Cespedes is the only player with a .300 batting average.  Conforto is the only one with a .400 OBP.  Aside from Cespedes, each player has had one month where they have been in a deep slump.

Other than Addison Reed and Jerry Blevins, no Mets pitcher who has thrown at least 15 innings has an ERA below 3.29, and that ERA belongs to Syndergaard.  After him the lowest ERA on the team is 3.94.  There are five pitchers who have an ERA over 6.00 and seven with an ERA over 5.0

We can get on Collins for his bizarre managing decisions all we want, and they are quite justified.  Still, Collins is not to blame for these players under-performing.  That’s on all of them.

5.  They’re Not Showing Up For The Big Games

It’s easy to forget, but the Mets were on the precipice of being relevant in the National League East and Wild Card races.  They had back-to-back four game sets against the Nationals, who were reeling with their terrible bullpen, and the Dodgers, who have had injury issues of their own.  Instead of taking control of their destiny and making themselves relevant, the Mets fell flat on their faces.  In the seven games thus far, they have allowed 14 homers and have been outscored 53-22.  It is one thing lost six of seven.  It is a whole other thing to be dominated by teams the Mets believed they were better than entering the season.

If the Mets want to be angry with anyone, they should be angry with themselves.  They are allowing the homers.  They are the ones who are getting their doors blown off on a nightly basis.  They are the ones who have taken a promising season and made it a disaster.

For once, Collins had it right when he said, “We’ve got bigger problems than somebody’s home run trot right now.” (Anthony DiComo, mlb.com).  Maybe instead of focusing on Puig, the Mets should be focusing on those bigger problems.

What Is There To Even Sell?

After getting outclassed by the Washington Nationals, the Mets are now six games under .500, and they are 10.5 games back in the division.  Things are bleaker in the Wild Card race.  The Mets are now 12 games out of the second Wild Card spot.  One of the teams they are trailing are the defending World Series champion Chicago Cubs.  While it may be too early on July 20th to say the season is over, realistically speaking, the Mets really need to consider selling.

Aside from Michael Conforto, Yoenis Cespedes, and the core group of starting pitchers, the Mets should look to sell everyone on the major league roster.  The problem is why would anyone want what the Mets are selling?

Travis d’Arnaud has had another injury this year and has regressed in all aspects of his game.  His backup, Rene Rivera has been hitting .162/.205/.297 over his last 10 games.  With Rivera, this isn’t too far from what he’s been his entire career.

Across the infield, the situation is no better.  Lucas Duda has had his typical hot and cold season with him hitting .175/.283/.375 over the past two weeks.  It also doesn’t help that he struggles against left-handed pitching.

Just as Neil Walker was playing great again, he suffered a tear in his hamstring, and he will not be able to come back from the disabled list until after the All Star Break.  That leaves little time for him to get back into form before the trade deadline assuming he is even able to return by then.

Asdrubal Cabrera is having a terrible season.  He has twice landed on the disabled list with a thumb injury.  His already poor range has been further limited.  While he’s always been a second-half hitter, his stats this season lag behind last year’s first half stats.

Flat out, Jose Reyes has been the worst infielder in the major leagues.  With his poor defense, he is little more than a pinch runner.

In the outfield, Curtis Granderson has shaken off his cold start, and he has been much better of late.  However, he’s still hitting .212/.302/.396, and he’s still 36 years old.  If a team were interested in Juan Lagares and his Gold Glove defense, that opportunity has passed with Lagares’ thumb injury.

Outside of Addison Reed and Jerry Blevins, the bullpen has been mostly terrible.  Josh Edgin has had a nice season there, but 30 year old LOOGYs hardly fetch a large haul at the trade deadline.  And for what it’s worth, the Mets still have years of control over Edgin.  He’s more valuable to the team as a pitcher than a trade asset.

Certainly, if the Mets were interested in moving Blevins, many teams would be interested in the LOOGY.  With his outstanding season, he’s probably going to get a larger return than your standard LOOGY, which still won’t be a prospect who will be a major piece of the future.

No, the only two players really capable of that are Reed and Jay Bruce.  With respect to Bruce, the bar has been set fairly high for his return.  Last year, the Mets traded Dilson Herrera, who was seen as an important part of the Mets future, and Max Wotell, who is an interesting left-handed pitching prospect.  If the Mets can match or come near that, they’ve done well.  The problem is Bruce is now a pending free agent making that kind of a return all the more unlikely.

Based on last year’s trade deadline, the Mets can legitimately ask for the moon for Reed.  He’s been great as a Met, and he’s been great this year.  He’s a great eighth inning reliever, and this year, he is showing he can replicate that success as a closer.  At the trade deadline, everyone is looking for relief help meaning everyone should be looking at Reed.

And the Mets better maximize that return because looking at the team as a whole, the Mets aren’t likely to get a whole lot back at the trade deadline.  Certainly, it will be paltry compared to the Yankees haul last year.  The sad part is if these players were playing better, the Mets return might’ve surpassed that.  Then again, if these players were playing that well, we wouldn’t be talking about selling at the trade deadline.

It Was Juan Grandy Win

This game started just like yesterday’s game with Anthony Rizzo leading off the game with a home run. Then, things were worse than where last night’s game started when Ian Happ followed with a home run of his own to make it 2-0 Cubs before there was an out in the game. 

It seemed Iike things were going to be worse than that. It has become passé to say Matt Harvey didn’t have it, but he really didn’t have it tonight. He was throwing his two seamer in the high 80s. Even when Harvey’s been at his most injured, he was never there. The Cubs would take advantage too. 

Kyle Schwarber was chief among them with this shot OVER the Shea Bridge:

The Cubs would go up 4-1, and Harvey would only last four innings. 

However, unlike last night, the Mets were in this game. 

In the second, the Mets took advantage of an error by Kris Bryant to cut the lead to 2-1. Bryant’s throw in the dirt allowed Jose Reyes to reach safely, and it allowed Jay Bruce to score. 

In the fourth, the Mets loaded the bases with no outs with Harvey due up. Yoenis Cespedes wasnot yet warmed up to play, because, why have all your players ready to play the game.  Michael Conforto likely wasn’t an option with the left-handed starter Mike Montgomery on the mound. Terry Collins opted to go with Steven Matz as the pinch hitter. 

Matz made Collins look like a genius (nah) with an infield single in a ball Javier Baez didn’t get quite cleanly enough. After Juan Lagares‘ sacrifice fly, the Mets rally sputtered, and the Mets went to the fifth inning and their bullpen down 4-3. 

The Mets pitchers contributions were terrific. Matz had the RBI single. Paul Sewald pitched two scoreless. Fernando Salas pitched two-thirds of an inning scoreless. Jerry Blevins had his longest outing of the year pitching 1.1 scoreless innings. Robert Gsellman entered the game as a pinch runner. 

Their collective work allowed the Mets to stay in the game and have a chance to win. 

The chance came when Curtis Granderson earn a lead-off walk. Two outs later and two strikes on Lagares, it appeared as if the Mets might squander the opportunity. Then, Lagares hit a ball off Pedro Strop only Lagares could’ve caught:

The score remained tied until the eighth when Granderson did what Granderson does when the Mets need a huge hit:

The homer ignited the Mets offense.  The next big hit came from Lucas Duda:

As it turns out, Duda wasn’t even supposed to be in the game. With the left-handed starter on the mound, he was on the bench. However, when Neil Walker suffered a leg injury attempting a bunt single, Duda came in the game.

The homer didn’t kill the rally either. The Mets poured it on against Carl Edwards, Jr. Three more hits would follow culminating in a T.J. RBI single to make it 9-4. 

Collins went to Addison Reed to close out the game.  It wasn’t easy with the Cubs loading the bases with two outs and Rizzo coming to the plate. Rizzo grounded out, and the Mets won 9-4. 

This was a huge win in front of a huge series this weekend. Things are definitely looking up for this Mets team. 

Game Notes: Walker is getting an MRI tomorrow and is likely DL bound. Gavin Cecchini was held out of the 51s game, and he looks like he will get the call once Walker is put on the DL. Granderson’s eighth inning home run was the 300th of his career. 


Addison Reed Is Dominant Again

Prior to joining the Mets, Addison Reed had a career 4.20 ERA and a 1.327 WHIP.  During his time with the Diamondbacks, he was sent back down to the minors because he was struggling.  Despite all of this, a Mets team that was on the verge of making the postseason for the first time in 15 years took a flyer on the former White Sox closer.

The minute Reed put on a Mets jersey he became a completely different pitcher.

In his time with the Mets, Reed has made 97 appearances pitching 93.0 innings.  In that time, Reed has gone 5-3 with two saves with a 1.84 ERA, 0.957 WHIP, and a 10.5 K/9.  His ERA is the best of any reliever with at least 90.0 innings pitched.  He also has the second best WHIP and the third most strikeouts over that stretch.  With him and Jeurys Familia, the Mets had the best 8-9 combination in all of baseball.

Then Reed became the closer for the Mets.  He became the closer because of Familia’s suspension and ensuing surgery.  He struggled.

In his first 18 appearances in his role as the Mets designated closer, Reed was 0-2 converting seven of nine save attempts.  During this time, Reed had a 3.72 ERA, 1.138 WHIP, and a 10.2 K/9.  Overall, Reed looked more like the pitcher who was an average to struggling reliever with the White Sox and Diamondbacks than the dominant reliever he has been with the Mets. About the only thing that resembled the Reed we have come to know with the Mets was his excellent 22:3 strikeout to walk ratio.

If you have taken notice recently, Reed is looking more and more like the pitcher we have come to know him to be with the Mets.  In the month of June, Reed has made four appearances pitching 5.2 scoreless innings with a 0.706 WHIP converting all four of his save opportunities.

With his stretch, Reed’s stats are looking more familiar.  Overall, he is 0-2 with a 2.70 ERA, 11 saves, 1.050 WHIP, and a 10.0 K/9.  He is once again a pitcher the Mets can rely upon to dominate out of the bullpen.  The team needs it too with the relievers who are struggling.

The Mets are at a cross-roads right now, and they need everyone to be at their best.  Fortunately, Reed is, and he once again gives the Mets the best chance to win each and every time he takes the mound.

Lugo Reminds Us What We Were Missing

At the end of last year, Seth Lugo was everything the Mets needed.  He was a terrific arm in the bullpen who made Anthony Rizzo look downright silly with one of his curveballs.  He transitioned to the starting rotation after the rash of injuries, and he was terrific there too.  Overall, Lugo had a largely unheralded season going 5-2 with a 2.67 ERA and a 1.097 WHIP.

The offseason was a different season.  Many an article was written about the majesty of Lugo’s curveball.  In the World Baseball Classic, he was the ace of a Puerto Rican team that went all the way to the championship game.  As the team ace, Lugo dazzled with his full repertoire, curveball included.  The amazing thing to think watching his was that arm wasn’t good enough to crack the Mets starting rotation.

Then disaster struck not just to Lugo, but the Mets team as a whole.  Lugo went down, and the Mets starters either were injured or under-performed.   Lugo, who was once seen as a luxury for a Mets team purportedly deep in pitching, was now seen as a necessity.  The team needed him back, and they needed him back in the rotation.  They needed him to be the pitcher he was at the end of 2016.  Ideally, they wanted the pitcher they saw in the World Baseball Classic.

Yesterday, we saw Lugo go out there and dominate.  For a Mets team that has struggled to get their pitchers past the fifth inning, Lugo pitched seven innings, and he needed just 90 pitches to do so.  It wasn’t a mirage either.  Lugo did to the Braves what he did all of last year.

For those that forget, Lugo is a throwback.  He doesn’t max out on every pitch.  He pitches to contact because he’s the type of pitcher who is comfortable the opposition is not going to hit him very hard.  When he gets in trouble, he adds a little more to his fastball, and he increases his curveball rate.  This is a major reason why he is able to consistently get out of trouble.

The best example of that was the fifth inning.  After Lugo walked Matt Kemp, the Braves had bases loaded with no outs, and Matt Adams coming to the plate.  In that spot, Lugo did his job.  He got the ground ball from the slow footed Adams he needed.

That play was also reminiscent of what led the 2016 Mets to the postseason.  As we have seen time and time again, Asdrubal Cabrera has little to no range at shortstop.  His real value is being able to make the plays at short that he can get field.  Him and Neil Walker combine to make a veteran up the middle combination that do everything they can to ensure they can turn that double play.  There was no wasted motion by either infielder, which helped them JUST get Adams to get out of the inning preserving the 2-1 lead.

The Mets got the 2-1 lead by playing some small ball.  Michael Conforto led off the game with a double off Braves starter Jaime GarciaJuan Lagares followed by sacrificing him to third, and Conforto would score on a Wilmer Flores sacrifice fly.  It was the old get’em on, get ’em over, and get ’em in type of baseball.  It may not always be the most effective way to score runs, but when executed as perfectly as the Mets did in the first inning, it has its own beauty.

In the third inning, Lugo helped himself hitting a one out double, and he moved to second on a Conforto ground out.  Lagares came up, and he did what he needed to do most in that spot.  He put the ball in play.  Lagares hit a chopper to the left of Braves third baseman Johan Camargo who made a diving stop, but there was no throw.  You can debate whether it was Camargo never quite fully getting control of the ball or Lagares’ speed.  Either which way, Lagares got what was the game winning hit.

From there, the Mets had base runners in every inning but the eighth inning.  However, they could not push the insurance runs across the plate.  The seminal moment was the ninth inning.  Jose Ramirez quickly put Walker and Cabrera on.  After two quick outs, Curtis Granderson hit a pinch hit infield single to load the bases.  This seemed like a big spot for Conforto.  It wasn’t.

The Braves went to Ian Krol, and the Mets countered with Yoenis Cespedes.  Look, it’s easy to criticize Collins in this spot.  Conforto was 2-4 with a double in the game.  He’s a much better hitter against left-handed pitching this year hitting .265/.390/.559 off of them this year.  Collins was taking out a hitter going well for a cold hitter just off the Disabled List.  But, this is Cespedes.  Right now, it’s a fair debate over who is the better hitter right now.  With the way Krol has been dominating left-handed batter this year, Cespedes was the right choice.  His popping out to end the inning doesn’t change that.

With the lack of insurance runs, that meant the game was now in the hands of the Mets defense and bullpen.  For most of the season, this has spelled disaster.  Today, it worked.

Cabrera made a nice diving stop to get out of the seventh.  With Nick Markakis and Adams due up in the eighth, Collins was able to go to Jerry Blevins for a full inning, and he pitched a perfect inning.  Addison Reed, who has been much better of late, came on to pitch a perfect ninth for his 11th save.

Just like that, the Mets look like the team we expected them to be.  The veterans are playing solid if not spectacular baseball.  The starting pitching is going deep into games.  The left-handed batters can’t hit Blevins.  Reed looks like the dominant reliever he has been since joining the Mets.  The Mets are dominating bad baseball teams like the Braves.

As good as this feels right now, we’re about to find out if this team is for real with the Cubs and Nationals coming into town.

Game Notes: Jose Reyes started for the third time in this series.  He’s now in a 2-30 streak and his -1.1 WAR is the second worst among National League infielders.  This is the first time all season three Mets pitchers pitched into the seventh inning in consecutive games.

 

Cespedes Grand And Pitching Goes Deep In Sweep

Well, this was exactly how the Mets drew it up. Dominant starting pitching and an offense to match. They only thing missing was the players capable of doing it. 

Now that Yoenis Cespedes and Steven Matz are back, the Mets are in position to once again dominate lesser opponents like the Braves. 

But either Cespedes or Matz had an impact in this double header, Robert Gsellman made his latest case as to why the Mets should keep him in the rotation. 

Gsellman flat out dominated the Braves over 6.1 innings allowing just three hits and two walks while striking out four. It was his latest big start after he had been temporarily moved to the bullpen due to his early season struggles. 

The Mets needed that start too. They needed it because the Mets bullpen has been a mess. They needed it because of the double header. They needed it because Sean Newcomb was dealing for the Braves. 

The Mets were only able to scratch one run against him in the second with the assistance of a throwing error from Newcomb. T.J. Rivera hit a sacrifice fly to make it 1-0. Mets had to wait until the eighth to get another real threat going. 

The Mets had second and third with no outs against Luke Jackson after he hit Michael Conforto with a pitch, Cespedes singled, and Jackson threw a wild pitch. Ender Inciarte took what was a sure extra base hit and turned it into a Wilmer Flores sacrifice fly. 

The Mets had Jackson and the Braves on the ropes, but they left him off the hook. Then Fernando Salas allowed an eighth inning homer to Brandon Phillips, and he needed to get bailed out by Addison Reed, who was coming on for the five out save partially because Terry Collins ripped through his bullpen yet again. 

The ominous tone of the game, and perhaps the season changed with one swing of the bat:

Just like that, it was 6-1, but it was more than that.  The Mets were rejuvenated. They won the first game, and then they went out and dominated the second game. 

Like the first game of the double header, it all began with the starter. Matz pitched seven innings allowing just one run. That one run was in the seventh, but by that time, the game was already over. 

Jay Bruce hit a three run homer in the fifth off Matt Wisler. Somehow in the sixth, Flores hit a triple, and he scored on a Travis d’Arnaud sacrifice fly making it 4-0. 
T.J. Rivera provided insurance with an eighth inning two run homer. In the ninth, Juan Lagares hit a two run double making it 8-1. That’s a lead not even Neil Ramirez or Tyler Pill could blow. 
That’s how different things are with Cespedes back in the fold. The Mets are scoring insurance runs, and their bullpen doesn’t blow leads. 

Overall, it was a double header sweep where the Mets dominated the Braves. The Mets looked like the team many thought they would be to start the year. Both starters pitched into the seventh. There was a different vibe around this team. At least for one day, you believed this team still has some life. 

Game Notes: Neil Walker returned from the stiff knee and played in both games starting the second. Cespedes was the 26th man. Rivera and Pill were sent down after the game to accommodate Matz and Seth Lugo being activated from the disabled list. Flores, Jose Reyes, and Conforto were the only players to start both games. Asdrubal Cabrera committed two errors. 

Mets Last Chance

The Mets have a number of excuses why they are in the position they are.  Those excuses mostly surround the pitching.  Noah Syndergaard went down in April with a torn lat.  Matt Harvey and Jacob deGrom haven’t been the same since returning from their season ending surgeries.  There has been a revolving door at the fifth starter spot that has seen the likes of Rafael Montero, Adam Wilk, Tommy Milone, and Tyler Pill.  This has put stress on the bullpen, and the bullpen broke.

They broke because Jeurys Familia went down for the season.  Hansel Robles couldn’t keep up with the workload and fell apart.  Josh Smoker hasn’t been able to figure it out this year.  Addison Reed is a much better set-up man than a closer.

Through all of this, despite playing a weak schedule, the Mets are seven games under .500.  The Mets are THIS CLOSE to being sellers.

However, there is hope.  Seth Lugo and Steven Matz are coming off the Disabled List.  Last year, Lugo was 5-1 with a 2.68 ERA and a 1.149 WHIP.  He followed that breakout performance with a breakout performance in the World Baseball Classic.

Matz is even better than Lugo.  Before succumbing to the bone spur in his elbow last year, Matz had a stretch from April 17th to June 18th where he was 7-2 with a 1.91 ERA and a 1.047 WHIP.  That was after his rookie season where he was 4-0 with a 2.27 ERA and a 1.234 WHIP.

That combination of Lugo and Matz vastly improves the Mets rotation.  It also bumps a good pitcher like Robert Gsellman into the bullpen.  Lately, Gsellman has figured it out.  In his last four appearances, he’s 2-0 with hold posting a 2.66 ERA and a 1.082 WHIP.  This will give the bullpen a fresh arm.  More than that, it means one of Smoker or Neil Ramirez is going to be gone from the bullpen.

Finally, the Mets will have the pitching to help an offense that has tried to carry this team.  In May, the Mets averaged the second most runs per game (5.7) in the National League.  Things promise to get better with Yoenis Cespedes having played in his first rull rehab game for St. Lucie last night.

With that, the Mets will have as complete a team as they can expect for the reason for the season.  Now, they just have to take advantage of their opportunities.  That starts with the four game series with a Braves team who is a half game up on the Mets for second place in the National League East.  Sweep them, and the Mets will find themselves just three games under .500.

After that, the Mets have a seven game home stand.  First, there are the Chicago Cubs, who are not the same team they were last year.  After that, the Mets have a four game set with the Washington Nationals.

If the Mets take care of business against the Braves and Cubs, that could be a HUGE series for this Mets team.  Sweep the Nationals at home, and all of a sudden the Mets could be just eight games back in the division or better.  That’s still a large deficit to overcome, but it’s not as daunting as the 12 games they are now.

The Mets don’t take advantage of this opportunity?  It’s time to sell.  At that point, the team should look to move everyone to pave the way for Amed Rosario, who frankly should be here now, and Dominic Smith to become the David Wright and Jose Reyes of this generation.

If the Mets don’t want to do that, it’s time to take care of business.  That starts tonight with a huge start for Matt Harvey.  This used to be the exact moment you wanted him on the mound.  It is time for that to happen again. 

Collins Decision Has Blevins Vulturing Wheeler

Tonight, it was a battle of the aces. For the Rangers, it was Yu Darvish who is having another fine season. For the Mets, it was Zack Wheeler. Yes, Zack Wheeler. 

While we watch Matt Harvey and Jacob deGrom struggle, and with Noah Syndergaard gone for most of the year, it has been Wheeler. He’s been the most consistent starter, and he’s getting better as the season progresses. 

Tonight’s start was a microcosm of Wheeler’s season. In the first, the Rangers loaded the bases with no outs, but they only came away with one run on a Nomar Mazara RBI groundout. It was initially ruled a double play, but upon replay, he was ruled safe. It didn’t matter much, as Wheeler got out of the inning by inducing Robinson Chirinos to hit into the inning ending double play. 

From there, Wheeler was brilliant. He mowed down the Rangers, and he pitched into the seventh.  The Rangers put Wheeler on the ropes with runners on first and second with two out, and Delino DeShields coming to the plate. At that point in the game, DeShields was 2-2 with a run and a walk.  Despite this, Wheeler dug deep, and on his 108th pitch of the night, he got DeShields to fly out to right. 

The 108 pitches matched a season high for Wheeler. His final line on the night was seven innings, six hits, one run, one earned, three walks, and five strikeouts. Simply put, he was terrific. 

On the opposite side, Darvish probably had better stuff. He was perfect through three, and the Mets didn’t look like they had much of a chance on the night. Things changed in the fourth. 

Michael Conforto got hit by a pitch in the dirt thereby ending the perfect game. He then scored on what was initially a Jay Bruce triple. Upon replay, it was ruled Bruce hit a two run homer:

Darvish would not make another mistake until Bruce came up again in the sixth. Bruce took a slider off the plate, and he drove it opposite field for a solo home run making it 3-1. 

Overall, Darvish was nearly unhittable over his 7.1 innings pitched. In fact, other than Bruce, Juan Lagares was the only Met to get a hit off Darvish. That hit chased Darvish. Former Met Dario Alvarez would walk Conforto before getting Asdrubal Cabrera to hit into the inning ending double play. 

The Mets would rue failing to tack on runs there. Jerry Blevins got the first two out before allowing a Mazara single. That’s where Terry Collins poor managing reared its ugly head. 

Despite Blevins having a terrific year with a 1.42 ERA, he has struggled against righties. On the season, righties are hitting .364/.481/.591 off of him. The batter, Chirinos, the Rangers version of Wilmer Flores, is hitting .353/.389/.529 off lefties. Chirinos struggles against righties hitting just .210/.310/.460 off them. Looking at the splits, it was an obvious spot for Addison Reed to go with the four out save with the Mets having a day off tomorrow. 

If not Reed, at least Fernando Salas, who was warming in the bullpen. Instead of Salas, Collins stuck with Blevins, who hung one to Chirinos. Tie game. 

For the second straight night, the Mets would make Matt Bush in the ninth. Lucas Duda hit a one out double, and Curtis Granderson worked out a two out walk to put the game in Jose Reyes‘ hands. 

Reyes hit a bouncer to Rougned Odor who spiked the throw to Elvis Andrus. Andrus could not come up with the throw, and on the throw, Matt Reynolds, who came on to pinch run for Duda, never stopped and scored from second on the play. 

With the Rangers failing to make the play, and with Reynolds’ hustle, the Mets reclaimed the lead at 4-3. Reed came on in the ninth, and he pitched a rare 1-2-3 save for him.

If nothing else, this win shows this team has heart. They blew a game yesterday.  They had their stomach punched on the Chirinos homer. And yet, they pulled this one out. Maybe, just maybe, there’s still room for hope. 

Game Notes: Reyes got the start with Neil Walker out of the lineup. While Collins said it was a routine day off, reports indicated Walker may have a knee injury. 

Why Bother Watching?

It was a Sunday game, and no offense to him, but the Mets were starting Tyler Pill. With Addison Reed likely unavailable with his pitching two innings last night, you’d be hard pressed to argue the pitching would sufficiently line up to give the Mets a chance. 

Hopefully, you didn’t try to argue the Mets could win this one because they lost a non-competitive 11-1 game. The Mets were probably luck it was that close especially considering both Josh Smoker and Neil Ramirez brought there 7.00+ ERAs to the mound today. 

About the only player who showed up ready to play was the scorching hot Wilmer Flores, who stayed hot going 2-4. Other than that, you’re really stretching to find another positive. 

This season is falling apart fast. In fact, it may have already. Only one team since the 1930s entered June .500 and won the World Series (2003 Marlins). With the Mets not willing to fire their manager and without a Miguel Cabrera to call-up, it’s hard to argue the Mets can repeat that feat. 

It’s next to impossible when you consider the Mets do have uber prospect Amed Rosario, and they still won’t call him up. If we’re being honest, if the Mets do eventually call him up, it’ll probably be too late to salvage this season. 

Game Notes: The Mets scored their only run of the game in the second inning when a run scored on a Travis d’Arnaud GIDP.