This game was a clear dichotomy of what is going right and what is going wrong for the Mets. First, the wrong –
The first moment was in the fourth inning. Paul Goldschmidt broke out of his funk by hitting a homer off Steven Matz to tie the game at 2-2. Later that inning, Matz went from 1-2 to walking Jarrod Dyson. Matz then seemed to get out of the inning by picking Dyson off first:
#Mets challenge call that Jarrod Dyson is safe at 2B in the 4th; call stands, runner is safe.
— MLB Replay (@MLBReplays) May 20, 2018
Somehow both the umpires and the replay officials miss what everyone watching the game saw – Asdrubal Cabrera got the tag in ahead of the slide.
Well, it was a blown call, which led to a typical Matz letdown. Diamondbacks backup catcher and former Yankee John Ryan Murphy hit a go-ahead two run homer.
With that, you had your typical 2018 Matz start. He didn’t get through five. He allowed two homers. He allowed a big walk, and he had a meltdown.
Still, down 4-2, the Mets were still in this game, and it looked like they were going to break through in the sixth with Patrick Corbin on the ropes. The team didn’t break through.
First, Devin Mesoraco popped out, and after the Diamondbacks put Michael Conforto on first, the inning was in Jose Reyes‘ hands. Now, Reyes presumably got the start because he had good career numbers against Corbin. He wouldn’t get a hit off Corbin, and he was in there to face Jimmie Sherfy.
Reyes fouled out, and Adrian Gonzalez couldn’t get the pinch hit. This left the Mets trailing, but it wouldn’t stay that way because of the things that have gone right for the Mets.
First, Conforto is back. After a 4-4 game, he came up in the second inning, and he delievered a two run homer to give the Mets a 2-1 lead.
After Matz surrendered the lead and couldn’t go five innings, the game was once again on the bullpen. The combination of Seth Lugo, Paul Sewald, and AJ Ramos pitched four scoreless walking none, allowing one hit, and striking out six. Ultimately, they gave the Mets a chance.
— New York Mets (@Mets) May 20, 2018
Jeurys Familia pitched a perfect ninth giving the Mets a chance to walk this one off.
Like many rallies this season, it began with Brandon Nimmo, who led off the ninth with a double, and then the most clutch Met on the team this year, Asdrubal Cabrera laid down a bunt single moving Nimmo to third. This put the game in Wilmer Flores‘ hands, and as we know he has his own history with walk-off hits.
While not the dramatic homers we have seen, he did end the game with a fly ball to the outfield. This one was a sacrifice fly scoring Nimmo giving the Mets a 5-4 win.
This was the first time since April 10-11 that the Mets have won consecutive games. They are now in position for their first home sweep of the season. They do that, and things will definitely be more good than bad right now.
Game Notes: With the Mets lack of outfield depth, Dominic Smith started in right field for the Las Vegas 51s. Reyes is now 7-53 on the season.
The Mets were aware but not yet set on putting Jacob deGrom on the 10 day disabled list, so rather than make sure Corey Oswalt was in line to start the opener against Cincinnati, the team decided to add P.J. Conlon to the 40 man roster and have him make the start.
After Conlon’s short start and with Jason Vargas making a start, the Mets needed to add a fresh arm in the bullpen who could give them some length. Instead of calling up Chris Flexen, who was on normal rest, the team called-up Oswalt, who was on three days rest. Since that time, the team has more than ample opportunity to use him, and they haven’t:
|Game||Bullpen Innings||Relievers Used|
|May 8th||6.0||Lugo (1.0), Ramos (1.0), Blevins (0.1), Robles (0.1), Sewald (1.1)|
|May 9th||3.0+||Gsellman (2.0), Lugo (1.0), Ramos (0.0)|
|May 11th||4.0||Lugo (1.0), Sewald (1.0), Ramos (1.0), Familia (1.0)|
|May 12th||7.0||Gsellman (3.0), Sewald (2.0), Ramos (1.0), Familia (1.0)|
Overall, the Mets needed to go to their bullpen for 19+ innings in a four game stretch. Robert Gsellman and Paul Sewald went multiple innings on multiple occasions. AJ Ramos appeared in four games with Seth Lugo appearing in three. Breaking it down, there were plenty of chances for the Mets to get Oswalt in for even an inning. They didn’t.
It’s more than that. For a team gun shy to use Oswalt on short rest, between days off and rain outs, Oswalt has not pitched since Saturday, May 5th, he is not going to get a chance to pitch until 10 days after his last star, and that’s if he’s even used. Effectively, Oswalt has skipped two starts so he can sit idly by in the bullpen.
This is not how a team handles their top Major League ready starter. Oswalt needs to be on a mound pitching, working on his game, and generally improving as a pitcher. Really, there is no benefit to him by his not pitching, and seeing how Mickey Callaway is reticent to use him, there is really no benefit to him even being on the roster.
The roster spot could be better allocated towards Buddy Baumann, who could serve as a second left-handed pitcher in the bullpen, or Tyler Bashlor, who has been lights out in Binghamton. You could even argue the spot should go to Conlon, who could serve as the 2015 version of Sean Gilmartin.
As for Oswalt, he’s serving no purpose right now, and he’s not getting the starts he needs. The Mets need him in Triple-A at the ready in case Vargas doesn’t improve. He needs to be at the ready in the event Steven Matz suffers another injury. Really, they need him to do anything other than sitting unused in the bullpen. That’s not benefiting anyone.
In the sixth inning of yesterday’s game, Mickey Callaway was faced with a crucial decision. Does he go to the well rested Jerry Blevinsto get out the left-handed pinch hitter Nick Williams? Does he stick with Paul Sewald, who has good splits against left-handed batters? It was also remotely possible he could have gone with AJ Ramos, who also has good splits against left-handed batters.
Starting backwards, Ramos would have been an intriguing and possibly inspired decision. On the season, Ramos has limited left-handed batters to a .211/.348/.263 batting line. Basically, if he isn’t walking the left-handed batter, they’re not getting on base.
If Callaway turns to Ramos, this could have prevented Gabe Kapler from switching to a right-handed batter to undo the decision to go to the LOOGY.
Now, you could understand Callaway’s reluctance to go to that LOOGY. Blevins hasn’t been good this season allowing left-handed batters to hit .273/.333/.364 off of him. It’s a big reason why Blevins has a 5.63 ERA and a 1.500 WHIP this year.
Still, he is your LOOGY in the bullpen, and Williams was 0-3 against Blevins. More than that, Callaway got Blevins up for exactly this type of situation. It was Blevins’ job to go out there and get the left-handed batter out in a key spot.
Instead, Callaway went with Sewald. You can make differing opinions on Sewald. On the one hand, he has been much better against left-handed batters than Blevins this year. Sewald came into the game limiting left-handed batters to a .220/.238/.341 batting line, and if we’re looking a small sample size pitcher-batter matchups, Williams was 0-1 against Sewald.
However at 35 pitches, Sewald was nearing his pitch limit, which was part of the reason Ramos and Blevins were warming in the first place. He had also been struggling in the Month of May. Prior to this appearance, Sewald had a 5.63 ERA and batters were hitting .273/.273/.515 off of him, and that was with a low .269 BABIP.
Overall, the point is you had your reasons to both stick with Sewald and to pull Sewald from the game. Really, you could go in either direction. However, that’s not the point. Far from it.
Sticking with Sewald goes to the thought process, and frankly, this was one that was lacking with Callaway.
As the manager, he is likely well aware Sewald hasn’t been the Sewald of April. Aside from that, he is aware Sewald is nearing his pitch limit for the game. This is the exact reason he had Ramos and Blevins warming in that spot.
At this point, the Mets margin of error is razor thin. They need to find a way to get out of that inning with a 1-0 lead AND find a way to manage their bullpen for the final 3.1 innings because Jacob deGrom needed to be lifted after a 45 pitch first inning.
When analyzing whether or not Callaway made the correct decision, you need to put aside the Williams’ home run. It’s easy to look at that home run and say Callaway made the wrong decision. It’s possible Ramos or Blevins allows that same homer, and the Phillies continue the rally to making a 3-1 lead a 4 or 5-1 lead. You don’t know.
Here’s what we know. Callaway knew his reliever was tiring. He had a right-handed reliever who pitches well against left-handed batters up and ready to go. He had his LOOGY up whose sole role is to get a left-handed batter out in a key situation. We also know he thought this out:
— Anthony DiComo (@AnthonyDiComo) May 13, 2018
Hearing him, it was almost paralysis by analysis. Reading more into it, his thought process was lacking.
That was is a little hard to believe.
No, this was a case where Callaway had Blevins warmed up to either face a left-handed batter or try to prevent Gabe Kapler from using Williams.
If it was a deke, Kepler not only called his bluff, but to that extent, he out-managed Callaway.
If it was Callaway using his gut over his head, well, his guy failed him.
Whatever that case, there was a scenario where Callaway set everything up to have Blevins face Williams, and he didn’t pull the trigger. Perhaps, this is an indictment on Blevins.
Quite possibly, this is part of the growing pains of a former pitching coach who has never managed professionally and is surrounded by a coaching staff with zero Major League managerial experience.
Whatever the case, when you set everything up for one key matchup, and you don’t immediately go to that pitcher, you not only set yourself up for second guessing, you also make everyone wonder what’s the thought process behind any of his decisions.
When the 2019 schedule is released, and the Mets are going to have to make sure Jacob deGrom doesn’t start the game because it will inevitably lead in heartbreak. Last year, it was the inexplicable loss to the Brewers. This year, it was one of those everything goes wrong type of games.
For his one inning of work, deGrom turned into Houdini. After walking the bases loaded to start the game, deGrom had to recalibrate and try to get through the inning by limiting the damage. Well, he would do much more than that.
First, he struck out Rhys Hoskins. Then on a dribbler in front of the plate, deGrom got to the ball, and he nailed Cesar Hernandez at home. Finally, he got Maikel Franco to strike out on a 3-2 pitch. It was downright miraculous.
It also required 45 pitches. With that heavy first inning workload, and with his just coming off the disabled list prior to the game after his hyper-extended elbow issue, Mickey Callaway did the prudent thing and put the game in his bullpen’s hands.
While the bullpen was going to the whip, the Mets offense was getting whipped by Aaron Nola who would allow just one run over six to lower his season ERA to 1.99.
It wasn’t that this Mets offense was dominated. Far from it. It’s that the offense didn’t do anything when they had the opportunities.
After Brandon Nimmo got things started with a bunt against the shift, the Mets loaded the bases with one out. Wilmer Flores then struck out on four pitches, and Michael Conforto hit the second pitch he saw for an inning ending ground out.
In each of the subsequent innings, the Mets would get at least one base runner on against Nola, and they would do nothing. That was until the sixth when Nola didn’t get one in enough to Yoenis Cespedes, who would hit it out to give the Mets a 1-0 lead.
— New York Mets (@Mets) May 13, 2018
The rally would continue with Adrian Gonzalez and Flores hitting back-to-back singles, and Conforto getting ahead in the count at 2-0. That 2-0 count would turn into an awful at-bat with Conforto striking out, and Devin Mesoraco following with an inning ending double play. Essentially, they did the polar opposite of what they did on Friday night.
Really, this one run gave the Mets bullpen little margin of error. Until the sixth, they were pitching quite well. Robert Gsellman threw three scoreless before the Mets turned to Paul Sewald, who pitched a scoreless fifth. Sewald, who has mostly struggled in May, wouldn’t have it in the sixth.
Santana began the inning with a double, and Scott Kingery walked. Between the rally and this being a bullpen game, Callaway had AJ Ramos and Jerry Blevins warming in the bullpen. They were there when Sewald struck out Jorge Alfaro, and they were there when the left-handed pinch hitter Nick Williams hit a go-ahead three run homer off of Sewald.
Now, there are many ways you could choose to defend the decision. Sewald has been better than Blevins all season long against left-handed pitching. Callaway wanted to get length from as many people as he could muster. However, he had double barrel action going on so he would have Blevins ready for the big at-bat against a left-handed batter, and he didn’t use him.
While you can agree with the decision to go with Sewald, you cannot agree with the thought process of getting your LOOGY warmed up for a big spot and then refusing to use him in that big spot. If you are not using Blevins there, you’re not going to use him in the game.
From there, the Mets had another rally they didn’t fully cash in on. Nimmo drew his first or two walks for the game, and he scored on the ensuing Asdrubal Cabrera double. It was a one run game, and Cespedes strode up to the plate. There was no guessing right this time as Luis Garcia got him to pop out to end the inning.
Instead of building on the momentum from Friday’s Conforto homer, the Mets once again failed to muster enough offense, and maybe even energy to pull this one out. We were also left wondering about Callaway’s thought process with his failing to use Blevins. All-in-all, a disheartening loss.
Game Notes: Luis Guillorme collected his first MLB hit with a bloop pinch-hit single to center in the second inning. Dominic Smith struck out in his only plate appearance, and he will be sent down to Triple-A with Jay Bruce‘s paternity leave ending. Buddy Baumann was sent down to the minors to make room for deGrom. His Mets experience amounted to little more than his getting a pending one game suspension out of the way.
This was panning out to be another one of those horrible Mets losses we have seen recently. The Mets were not scoring runs at all even though they were in a hitter’s park. And yes, there was even the really embarrassing and inexcusable moment.
After a Devin Mesoraco double play grounder erased a Michael Conforto seventh inning leadoff single, Jose Reyes got his first pinch of the season in 11 attempts. Understandably, with Reyes’ speed, the Mets reeling, and the team down 1-0, Mickey Callaway went for it.
Instead of going with Amed Rosario, Callaway went with Dominic Smith, who was up due to Jay Bruce going on paternity leave, to get that big hit. Smith wouldn’t get that hit because Jake Arrieta picked Reyes off first base. And with that, all hope seemed lost yet again.
Then Wilmer Flores battled back not just from 0-2, but looking over-matched on the first two pitched of the at-bat to rip a single into left. The Mets at least had life, and for a split second, it looked like Conforto was going to give the Mets the lead, but he pulled it foul. Two pitches later, and Conforto wouldn’t pull it foul.
Conforto HOME RUN puts the Mets ahead 2-1!! pic.twitter.com/GaOTKkqImn
— SportsNet New York (@SNYtv) May 12, 2018
Mesoraco followed with a homer on the very next pitch. Suddenly, the Mets 1-0 lead, and the team falling to .500 turned into a 3-1 lead. That became a 3-1 victory after a Jeurys Familia 1-2-3 ninth.
Suddenly, the stories weren’t how Steven Matz walked four while somehow managing to allow just one run over five. It wasn’t about how a combination of Seth Lugo, Paul Sewald, and AJ Ramos had to pick up the slack to keep it close for an offense, which did nothing.
No, the story is now how the Mets had perhaps their best victory of the year, and how they may have turned things around with Noah Syndergaard taking the mound tomorrow.
Game Notes: Mesoraco’s teams are now 1-20 in games he has played this season. In Los Angeles, Matt Harvey made his Reds debut pitching four scoreless while allowing just one hit while striking out two.
Well, just when you think things can’t get worse, you’re reminded this is the Mets. Perhaps the biggest punchline of this season, maybe the past decade, was how the Mets BATTED OUT OF ORDER IN THE FIRST INNING!
Can someone send this down to the third base dugout? https://t.co/htjvJss5k1
— Cincinnati Reds (@Reds) May 9, 2018
Basically, the Mets skipped Asdrubal Cabrera, and Wilmer Flores took his spot striking out. Cabrera, who was supposed to bat second, came up third and doubled. That’s when Reds manager Jim Riggleman pointed out to the umpires the Mets were batting out of order.
Cabrera’s double was erased from the record books, and Jay Bruce, whose turn it was actually to bat, was ruled out.
Aside from making Mickey Callaway and bench coach Gary Disarcina looking completely incompetent, it really hurt the Mets because this game would prove to be a pitcher’s duel between Zack Wheeler and Sal Romano.
For his part, Wheeler was brilliant, and it was one of the better starts in his Mets career. Over six innings, he limited to the Reds to just one run on four hits and three walks while he struck out seven. He would only really face trouble in the first and the sixth. He got out of the jam easily in the first, but he would not be able to escape the sixth.
The sixth inning Reds rally started with a leadoff walk to Jesse Winker. He’d come around to score after a Jose Peraza bunt single. You could get on Wilmer Flores all you like, but he had no shot on this, and really no one does whenever Peraza lays one down as he is the Major League leader in bunt hits with six.
Joey Votto would follow with an RBI single, and the Mets and Wheeler were teetering. While it was not pretty, Wheeler deserves credit for buckling down and getting the last three outs of that inning without allowing another run.
Unfortunately, that rally tied the score 1-1 because the Mets just blew opportunity after opportunity after opportunity.
After the aforementioned blunder in the first inning, Michael Conforto hit a one out double that Adrian Gonzalez could not score. They stood idly by as Wheeler struck out, and Amed Rosario grounded out to the catcher.
In the third, the Mets did actually score. Brandon Nimmo hit a leadoff triple, and with the team hitting in the correct batting order, Cabrera drove him home with an RBI groundout.
In the fifth, the Mets had runners at first and second with one out only to see Cabrera and Flores come up short. From there, the Mets would little to nothing at the plate, which coupled with some strong work out of the bullpen from Robert Gsellman and Seth Lugo, both of whom have had recent multiple inning relief appearances, bore down and pitched a scoreless seventh through ninth.
At this point, it is important to note the Mets had called up Corey Oswalt to help out with an overworked bullpen. They did this despite his being on three days rest yesterday. As a result, the Mets called up a guy they would be hesitant to use making calling him up in the first place a complete waste of transaction.
As a result, in the tenth inning, Callaway went with AJ Ramos for his second straight game and third time in four days. Callaway went with Ramos instead of going with Jeurys Familia, who was presumably being saved for a save situation. This is a far departure from Callaway’s overtures early in the season when he said he was going to use his best reliever in the highest leverage situations.
Well, that save situation Callaway was waiting for never materialized as Adam Duvall hit a walk off homer off Ramos.
As a result, the Mets dropped to 18-17 after losing a series to the worst team in the National League. This is a far cry from the who went 12-2 and were world beaters. Now, they are just getting beaten up by the world.
Game Notes: Luis Guillorme was called-up from Tripe-A, and Tomas Nido was sent down. Guillorme would not appear in the game. Devin Mesoraco started his first game for the Mets, and he was 0-4 with two strikeouts.
Well, if you were feeling good about the Mets after their win last night, those feelings were quickly dispatched. Todd Frazier, arguably their second best position player all year, landed on the disabled list meaning Jose Reyes was in the starting lineup. Worse than that, Jason Vargas was the starter.
Right away, Vargas loaded the bases, and he then allowed a Eugenio Suarez two RBI single to give the Reds an early 2-0 lead. It was a minor miracle the Reds did not score more from that point.
However, they would score two more in the second with Suarez once again being the catalyst. His RBI double scored Joey Votto from first, and he would come home on a Tucker Barnhart, the catcher the Reds kept, RBI single.
Overall, Vargas’ final line was 4.0 innings, six hits, four runs, four earned, two walks, and one strikeout. As poor as that start was, it should be noted this was his best start this year. With his pitching, you almost have to question why he’s guaranteed a starting spot while the team is keeping some pitchers in the minors and sending another one to Cincinnati.
That four run margin would prove to be enough for a number of reasons.
The first was Reds starter, Luis Castillo, no not that one, but then again it doesn’t really matter because nothing good happens to the Mets when there is a Luis Castillo on the field. He would limit the Mets to just a single over the first five innings.
Finally, in the sixth, the Mets would break through on a Wilmer Flores one out homer. Now, Flores did not start the game. Rather, he was double switched in for Amed Rosario despite Rosario being the one Met with a hit, and Reyes being a terrible defensive shortstop.
The Mets would continue from there with a two out rally. With consecutive walks to Yoenis Cespedes, Jay Bruce, and Adrian Gonzalez, the Reds forced home a run. That’s when Mickey Callaway opted to pinch hit Brandon Nimmo instead of Juan Lagares or even the newly acquired Devin Mesoraco to face the left-hander Amir Garrett.
Nimmo struck out to end the rally, and things would only go downhill from there.
AJ Ramos was fighting it, but he kept the Reds off the board in the sixth, but he would allow a double to Scott Schebler, and with Votto coming up, Jerry Blevins would come into the game. He got his man, but he would be pulled for Hansel Robles.
After a Suarez single, Scooter Gennett would have Robles pointing to the sky again with his three run homer giving the Reds a 7-2 lead.
Making this game worse was the fact the Mets had called up Corey Oswalt in place of P.J. Conlon to give them some length in the bullpen. Of course, they called up Oswalt on three days rest instead of Chris Flexen on full rest. The end result was Callaway ripping through his bullpen trying to save Oswalt’s arm . . . the very same Oswalt who was called up to supposedly help protect against that.
That’s embarrassing. Almost as embarrassing as getting blown out by the now nine win Reds team.
Game Notes: On the eve of the game, Matt Harvey was traded to the Reds for Mesoraco.
This is the point where the Mets were in 2015, 2016, and 2017. A Mets team with much promise has either regressed or been exposed, and you are left wondering how exactly things were going to get better for this team.
One of the more troubling things we saw both yesterday and throughout this season was how Noah Syndergaard hasn’t been Thor. It’s not too dissimilar to how Matt Harvey had stopped being The Dark Knight, except with Syndergaard there really isn’t any reason to suspect any injury.
That’s not to say Thor was or has been bad. Far from it. His only allowing two runs over six innings is a testament to that. However, it was the way he pitched that was the problem.
A pitcher with remarkable control walked four batters. That included him issuing back-to-back walks in the third inning to Nolan Arenado and Gerardo Parra to force in a run. Between that and the solo home run he allowed to Ian Desmond in the second, he gave away the Mets 2-0 lead. Yes, it was a thin margin of error, but we have seen Thor thrive with even narrower margins.
The Mets two runs were scored in the first off of Kyle Freeland. The first run was the result of three straight singles from Juan Lagares, Yoenis Cespedes, and Asdrubal Cabrera to start the game. After that, Todd Frazier hit a sacrifice fly to give the Mets a 2-0 lead. In that first inning, Cespedes once again injured his right quad:
I thought he was just doing the Robert Gsellman exercises pic.twitter.com/aUQXXO631T
— Good Fundies is short for Good Fundamentals (@goodfundies) May 6, 2018
He would be removed from the game for Brandon Nimmo, who we would find out can still draw a walk off a left-handed pitcher, but with two strikeouts, he sure does struggle hitting off of them.
Really, the Mets struggled to hit Freeland for the rest of the game. After that three hit onslaught to begin the game, the Mets would get just one more hit off of him until he departed after seven strong innings.
With the Mets not hitting, Syndergaard settling back down, and Jerry Blevins and AJ Ramos combining to pitch a scoreless seventh, Mickey Callaway went to Hansel Robles in the eighth. No one can be quite sure if Robles pointed to the sky again, but we do know he surrendered another homer. This time to Desmond, his second of the game.
With the Mets inability to hit right now, it might as well have been a walk-off home run for all intents and purposes.
The 3-2 loss ended a dreadful home stand which saw the Mets go 0-6. They pitched poorly and hit even worse. They dropped from first to third place in the NL East. They don’t look like a team in a freefall inasmuch as they look like a bad baseball team without any answers. Hopefully, the trip to Cincinnati and Philadelphia will awaken their bats. Although, we should shutter to thing what will happen to the pitching.
Game Notes: Wilmer Flores was 0-2 with a walk against Freeland. He is now hitting .161/.235/.226 off of left-handed pitching this season.
The Mets started 12-2, and it seemed like they could do no wrong. That was until a complete bullpen eighth inning meltdown against the Nationals. Since that point, the Mets have gone 5-9, and they have fallen to second place in the division. With that as the backdrop, we turned to the Mets Blogger Roundtable to ask if Mickey Callaway‘s Mets team is for real:
We’re already seeing the Mets falling back to earth, and there was never any question that they would lose more than 15 games this year. The positive is that they have a core that’s skilled, and a new manager who will hopefully find ways to adapt and keep the room positive throughout the highs and lows of a season.
What *is* reality anyway? We are all one big consciousness agreeing upon a never ending list of rules and quibbling over interpretations of shared perceptions, right? That’s what I learned in third grade from the bus driver who smelled weird. If the reality of the situation is I am being asked if the Mets are as good as they were when they started 11-1, then no, they are not “for real.” They have been the fourth-luckiest team in all of baseball while the Nationals have been the most unlucky. We aren’t going to cry over Bryce Harper‘s misfortune (the Vegas native should be aware of streaks of bad luck at the very least anecdotally). We will cry over the Mets though. Yet we shouldn’t; they just have to play .500 ball from their 13th to 162nd game to hit lucky number 86 wins. They uh, haven’t played over .500 ball since that time but I guessed they would make the wild card game five weeks ago, so I might as well keep my chips on 86.
Right now I want to jump off of my seat in section 509.
Editor’s Note: this response was sent during the game after we learned about deGrom’s elbow.
Yes, but they have holes to fix and this passive approach to every situation is part of the problem.
Are the Mets for real in the sense that they have a genuine chance to end the season where they ended April, in first place? Based on what we’ve seen…sure, why not? I’d hate to think they’re pulling the cap down over our eyes.
Are the Mets for real in the sense that I’m supremely confident they won’t fall out of the race altogether after a while? That’s what the rest of the schedule is for: to find out.
But overall I feel pretty good about this team. The next 130+ games are always the hardest.
Caveat: All of the above is up for grabs in light of the uncertainty surrounding Jacob deGrom.
I think the Mets’ start is most-definitely indicative of the potential of this team moving forward through the season.
The inevitably-oncoming adage of “Jake and Thor, then pray for it to pour” that was true for most of the first month of the season seems to be slowly fading away.
After the inconsistencies of Steven Matz and Zack Wheeler over their first few starts, as well as the banishing of Matt Harvey to the bullpen and the alarming start to Jason Vargas’ second stint with the Mets, things have started to look up lately.
If Wheeler can be effective (read: keep his pitches low), his stuff alone places him among the upper-crust of middle-of-the-rotation starting pitchers in the NL, and the same goes for Matz.
If Vargas has shown anything over his career, he’s proven to be the model of mediocre-but-efficient consistency, and that’s all the team really needs out of him.
I think this offense is truly one of the more-dangerous groups we’ve seen here since the days of Carlos Beltran/David Wright/Carlos Delgado, and I mean that. The recent upticks in production for Jay Bruce and Adrian Gonzalez are promising.
The Mets’ bullpen has, for the most part, been the strength of this team and will continue to be, in my opinion. AJ Ramos looks to have found his groove and Robert Gsellman is absolutely thriving in his new role. Even Seth Lugo, who may not be adapting as easily as Gsellman has, has had some success and only figures to get more comfortable as time goes on. And, to be honest, Harvey could come to be a key cog in the relief corps once he gets a feel for things.
Are the Mets for real? It’s hard to say, but what’s becoming clear is that this season certainly won’t be easy. We got off to a hot start with Yoenis Cespedes, Michael Conforto, and Bruce all slumping, and you have to think we’ll get more from all of them going forward — but we’ll also presumably see regression from Todd Frazier and Asdrubal Cabrera, and the pitching has gone downhill fast since the first few turns through the rotation. Now deGrom is hurt too…if our starters besides Thor are a failed Harvey, a failed Matz, an inconsistent Wheeler, and an unimpressive Jason Vargas, there’s only so much room to get wins with that kind of rotation. Sure, things could turn out well — anything can happen. But as I said, the only thing that’s clear is that it certainly won’t be easy.
Initially, I had a long piece detailing how much the lineup and the pitching staff could benefit from Kevin Plawecki‘s return. How even with the inability to hit for power right now, Conforto is playing a good outfield and getting on base. How when you look deeper into the farm, you see Gavin Cecchini and Peter Alonso getting off to terrific starts making you wonder “What if . . . .”
None of that matters if deGrom is injured like he was in 2016 or Syndergaard was in 2017.
This is not to say his having a serious injury ends the Mets season. Rather, it means the season needs a miracle. In 2016, the Mets got that out of Lugo and Gsellman. Maybe the Mets get that this year out of some group that includes Harvey, Matz, Corey Oswalt, or Chris Flexen.
Maybe . . . .
Personally, I’d like to thank everyone for being able to respond to this roundtable. It was all the more impressive when you consider how panic striken we were collectively as a fanbase when deGrom left the game last night. We do know when that news finally breaks, there will be some terrific things written about deGrom and the Mets. Some of the best things will be written by the people in this roundtable, and I hope you will visit their sites.
That is except for Becky. She is currently a free agent and needs a home to write about the Mets. Hopefully, someone will soon jump in and find a home for her terrific work.
Through the first four innings, Jacob deGrom was pitching like the ace we know he is. After a tough loss, and with first place in the balance, he was as great as he has ever been. Through the first four innings, deGrom had walked none, allowed just two hits, and he struck out six.
He then went into the tunnel into the clubhouse. He was done for the day with a hyper-extended elbow. Based upon the ensuing MRI, he may be gone longer than that. If deGrom is gone, the Mets will have lost much more than a 7-0 game.
Look, we can get into Tom Glavine–Greg Maddux–John Smoltz 1999 strike zone Sean Newcomb was getting from Home Plate Umpire Lance Barrett. The Mets were clearly irritated by it, and we even saw Todd Frazier say something about umpiring in general after the game.
We can even wonder how in the word Wilmer Flores forgot to do the one thing in baseball he is actually good at doing – hitting left-handed pitching.
Really, right now, none of this matters. As it stood, this pitching staff needed at least one more starter, and that was assuming Jason Vargas will get better and Zack Wheeler won’t turn back into the guy who forced the Mets to put him in Triple-A to start the season.
Sure, the Mets are just a half game back, and it is possible Matt Harvey, Seth Lugo, and/or Corey Oswalt step up here. We saw something like that happen in 2016 when Lugo and Gsellman performed a miracle over the last month of the season.
Maybe it’s being a little overly dramatic, but after what we saw with Noah Syndergaard‘s injury last year, and how the energy from the team and the ballpark flat-line after deGrom left the game, it’s very possible the Mets need a miracle.
I guess it’s times like these we all channel our inner Tug McGraw and say, “Ya Gotta Believe”