Heading into this year’s Yankee Stadium portion of the Subway Series, the Mets had a decided advantage in starting pitching. Yesterday, that led to a win with Noah Syndergaard on the mound.
Up until that point, the Mets had a 1-0 lead due to a Michael Conforto second inning homer. That lead completely evaporated in the bottom of the fourth.
It started innocuously enough with a Giancarlo Stanton leadoff single. Then with one out in the inning, Matt den Dekker would make a number of defensive miscues starting with the Didi Gregorious RBI “triple.”
Throughout that fourth, Matz would make his pitches, but his team, specifically den Dekker, wasn’t making a play behind him. All told, it was a four run inning for the Yankees.
With two outs in the inning, Amed Rosario hit an RBI single that not only brought Conforto home, but it allowed Bautista to go to third. It mattered because Robertson threw away a pickoff attempt allowing Bautista to score. The rally would end there as den Dekker struck out.
The Mets would quickly see the 4-3 deficit grow and grow.
It’s hard to say Matz pitched well considering he surrendered five runs, all earned, but he did. The defense was that poor.
In the ninth, it seemed like Aroldis Chapman was in to pitch his inning and let everyone get home before the rain came later tonight. The issue with Chapman was he couldn’t get an out.
Now, it should be noted Asdrubal Cabrera should have been due up. The problem was he was ejected in the fifth after getting tossed arguing balls and strikes. When that happened, he joined hitting coach Pat Roessler who was tossed in the third for the same issue.
Cabrera was replaced in the lineup by Devin Mesoraco (as a DH). He’d face Chasen Shreve who came on for Chapman, get the most important at-bat of the game, and he’d hit into a rally killing 4-6-3 double play.
With that, the Mets did just enough to lose. Just enough.
Game Notes: Jeurys Familia was finally traded to the Athletics. Yoenis Cespedes was unavailable as he was too sore to play. As it turns out, he also needs surgery to remove calcifications in both heels. The recovery time is approximately 10 months.
Brandon Nimmo led off the game with a walk against Yankee starter Domingo German. After that leadoff walk, Asdrubal Cabrera, Michael Conforto, and third baseman Jose Bautista hit RBI doubles giving the Mets a quick 3-0 lead.
That lead would grow to 4-0 when Cespedes had a Yankee Stadium special ding off the foul pole:
— New York Mets (@Mets) July 21, 2018
That 4-0 lead was good for Syndergaard who had another five inning effort where he could not get that 1-2-3 inning.
Fortunately, Syndergaard, who was popping off at the mouth before the game, was able to navigate through the jams effectively. The only damage against him was a Giancarlo Stanton third inning sacrifice fly.
In the fifth, Cespedes led off the inning with a walk, advance to second on a Wilmer Flores one out walk, and he’d score on a Conforto RBI single.
Bautista walked to load the bases, and they’d come away with just one more run. With the Mets having a 6-1 lead, you knew it was a tight margin for the Mets pen.
Amed Rosario didn’t help matters playing poor defense and going 0-4 at the plate.
With that, the Mets carried a 6-5 lead into the ninth. With the team producing a run with Cabrera getting on, Flores going the opposite way to get him over, and a Conforto sacrifice fly would get him in.
Game Notes: Conforto had a terrific night going 2-4 with a run, double, and three RBI. Bautista has a nice barehanded play. Bautista started at third over Jose Reyes.
In some ways, the Mets final game before the All Star Break was a microcosm of the entire first half of the season. It started with a lot of promise, and things would quickly unravel from there.
Really, the biggest thing you want to take away from this game is just how good Corey Oswalt pitched. He only needed 59 pitches to get through five innings. In those five innings, he allowed just one earned on two hits while walking none.
In four of his five innings, he got the Nationals to go down 1-2-3. The only issue was the second when Anthony Rendon and Matt Adams led off the inning with back-to-back singles setting the stage for a Michael Taylor RBI ground out. Even with that rally, Oswalt still impressed inducing Matt Wieters to hit into a rally killing and inning ending double play.
Of course, with how well he was pitching, you knew Mickey Callaway was going to be double guessed for lifting him for a pinch hitter in the fifth.
At the time, the score was tied 1-1, and to be fair, the Mets weren’t really setting the world on fire against Jeremy Hellickson.
After Jose Reyes hit a one out double and advanced to third on a wild pitch, Amed Rosario had a chance to deliver the go-ahead RBI and not just get the lead but keep Oswalt in the game. He struck out. Dominic Smith, who was given a talking to by Callaway, pinch hit for Oswalt, and he was hit by a pitch.
Unfortunately, Brandon Nimmo, who hasn’t been hitting near as well since he was hit on the hand in Atlanta, couldn’t deliver.
Seth Lugo came out of the pen for a shutdown inning, but after that it was the typical Mets comedy of errors coming out of the bullpen.
The Mets would use Anthony Swarzak, Tim Peterson, and Jerry Blevins in the seventh. None of them were effective. Swarzak was the worst with him walking the two batters he faced before getting pulled. Ultimately, to add insult to injury, it was Daniel Murphy who delivered the go-ahead hit in what would become a five run inning.
In the end, the Mets lost 6-1, and they have not won a series since May. They have the fewest wins in the National League, and they continue to play Reyes everyday while not giving younger players like Jeff McNeil or Smith an opportunity.
Really, this is a bad team whose front office is managing it to the ground.
Game Notes: Blevins escaped the seventh inning jam by picking off a runner. That was his third pick off of the season tying him with Steven Matz for the team lead.
Yesterday, Chase Utley had a press conference to announce he was going to retire from baseball at the end of the season. As a Mets fan, this probably should make you elated.
After all, back from his days in Philadelphia, he has been nothing but a dirty player, and he has been a villain. For proof of that look no further than that tackle which not only broke Ruben Tejada‘s leg, but it really ruined his career. Just remember that as people write and talk about Utley being a hard-nosed player who “played the game the right way.”
Utley is also the guy who completely embarrassed Noah Syndergaard and the Mets. Really, Shawn Estes‘ message to Roger Clemens was more heartful, and really much closer, than the message Syndergaard tried to send that night. As a bonus, we did get that great Terry Collins‘ ejection video.
If you’ve been a Mets fan long enough, there are many, many, many more Utley moments which will instantly spring to mind.
So yeah, in a sense it’s good for the Mets that Utley is gone much in the same way it was good to see players like Chipper Jones retire.
However, the Mets and their fans are nowhere near a position to celebrate the retirement like Utley, even if he was a coward ducking the Mets and and their fans during the NLDS.
Ulitmately, it’s really hard to care when the Mets not only chose to employ the 35 year old Jose Reyes, but they also play him over Amed Rosario, Dominic Smith, Jeff McNeil, and really any player who could hit better than .164/.246/.227.
So, people can go ahead and celebrate Utley’s retirement and pretend like the bad guy is gone. It’s not true.
The real bad guy, the one who is a Met right now because he threw his wife through a glass door, is still with the Mets, and he’s become a major impediment to the Mets organization moving forward and improving for the future.
So congrats on a great career to Utley. He may have been dirty and ruined careers, but at least he didn’t beat his wife and complain to the press to help take playing time away from players he was supposed to mentor.
When Todd Frazier landed on the disabled list, one of the justifications proffered for the Mets not calling-up Jeff McNeil was the organization views McNeil as a second baseman, and at the moment, the team still had Asdrubal Cabrera.
In true Mets fashion, their narrative and their actions made this statement and position increasingly absurd. And that’s before you consider Cabrera having an MLB worst -16 DRS at second base.
First and foremost, the Mets actually had Mickey Callaway say Jose Reyes was playing well enough recently to man third until Frazier returns. It shouldn’t shock anyone that since Callaway uttered those words, Reyes is 1-for-17 at the plate.
While Reyes was hitting, sorry not hitting, Cabrera would hyper-extend his elbow requiring him to come out early from one game and not start the next.
Now, this wasn’t an opportunity to call-up McNeil. Not for a game. However, this was a chance to play Dominic Smith. After all, the former first round pick and once first baseman of the future has only started in 16 of the Mets past 28 games.
Think about that for a second, the Mets actually went out of their way to start the soon to be 31 year old den Dekker in center over giving the 23 year old Smith playing time. Naturally, the Mets are now looking to send down Smith while presumably keeping den Dekker up in the majors.
It gets better.
The average age of the Mets bench last night was 26.0 years old, and that includes the 22 year old Rosario and the 23 year old Smith.
Remember, this is a Mets team who his now 17 games under .500. Sure, you can understand the concept of playing Bautista to try to pump up his trade value. However, it is unfathomable to sit both Smith and Rosario to get Reyes and den Dekker into the lineup.
If you think this is all a sick joke and a gross mismanagement of the team, we have yet to reach the best part.
Last night, McNeil, the guy the Mets solely viewed as a second baseman, played third base for Triple-A Las Vegas. On Monday, McNeil was just a second baseman. By Thursday, he was capable of playing third base. It didn’t take the Mets a week before completely upending their own narrative.
This just highlights how completely lost this entire Mets organization is.
The player the Mets view only as a second baseman is playing third base. The man who is supposed to be the first baseman of the future has played way out of position in left field over one-third of the time. Their starting shortstop, a player upon much of the future hangs, is sat because he’s playing too well.
The Mets would have to significantly improve things in order for them to start looking completely inept and confused. Really, this is as bad as it gets. But hey, at least the Wilpons are doing well financially.
Every fifth day, Mets fans are treated to a pitching duel. It’s Jacob deGrom against whoever the starting pitcher will be for the other team.
Tonight, that pitcher was Vince Velasquez.
Now, Velasquez occasionally shows some flashes. That said, this is a guy with a 4.69 ERA.
Didn’t matter for a Mets team historically inept at home (.207 home batting average).
Velasquez limited to no runs in two hits in six innings. The Phillies bullpen contributed two more scoreless including Adam Morgan coming on in the bottom of the eighth to get Michael Conforto to ground out to end a mini rally.
On the other side, deGrom was once again completely dominant.
In eight brilliant shut out innings, he allowed just five hits and a walk while striking out seven.
Because the Mets gave him absolutely no run support, he walked away with yet another no decision. It’s criminal.
However, for the second straight deGrom start, the Mets would win on a walk-off homer.
Because baseball is sometimes comical, Robert Gsellman got the win. He now has six wins which is one more than deGrom.
Game Notes: In the third, deGrom popped up a bunt Maikel Franco let drop so he could turn an inning ending double play.
Here’s how pointless this 7-3 game was – Keith Hernandez was reading passages from the Mets media guide about the Mets Hall of Famers.
The best thing from this game was Amed Rosario going 3-4 with two runs, two triples, and an RBI. What’s shocking is both triples were to left.
Tyler Bashlor allowed just one run on three hits in 2.1 innings.
P.J. Conlon pitched two scoreless while striking out three.
Dominic Smith singled in his only at-bat.
Perhaps most important, Wilmer Flores made an impressive play in the field.
It was a terrific play in a lost game in a lost season. Flores still cares. Be very careful before you trade him.
Game Notes: Mets are 0-13-2 in their last 15 series.
Heading into the 2018 season, one of the justifications for the Mets bringing back Jose Reyes was for him to serve as a mentor to Amed Rosario. Certainly, that seemed to be the case with Rosario publicly lobbying for the Mets to bring Reyes back into the fold and with article after article mentioning this as a positive from Reyes’ dreadful 2017 season.
Now, it’s quite possible Reyes was more than willing to give his time to a young Rosario who was in the minor leagues. However, with Rosario in the majors serving as an impediment to Reyes’ playing time, it increasingly seems as if Reyes is less mentor and more malcontent.
Aside from his complaining publicly about his playing time and opportunities leading to a significant increase in playing time, there are some things which remain a real concern about his “mentoring role” which was highlighted last night:
Here's Amed's "mentor" Jose Reyes taking a ball away from Amed Rosario. Listen to Gare. Look at Amed's reaction. pic.twitter.com/RWsFbm5YyY
— Good Fundies is short for Good Fundamentals (@goodfundies) July 10, 2018
Reyes, being the “mentor” and a former shortstop, knows that’s this shortstop’s ball. He’s called off the play by Rosario. Instead of giving way, which is the correct baseball play, Reyes lunges in front of Rosario to make the catch.
Looking at it, Rosario was not happy, and Reyes was quite dismissive of Rosario’s being irritated.
Even if this is reading too much into the situation, and Reyes is really mentoring Rosario, you have to ask the question of when that mentorship is going to bear fruit?
In Triple-A, Rosario hit .328/.367/.466, but there were some warning signs in his game. Notably, Rosario had a 5.4 percent walk rate. Another issues is despite his speed and athleticism, Rosario was only successful 76 percent of the time on his stolen base attempts.
When Rosario was called-up to the majors, he struggled mightily. He hit .248/.271/.394 (74 wRC+). In the field, he had a 1 DRS. All told, he was a -2 WAR player.
The good news was supposed to be Rosario was just 21 years old, and really, he could only go up from there. That hasn’t happened.
This season Rosario has been much worse. He’s hitting .234/.279/.347 (69 wRC+). In the field, an area he was supposed to thrive, he’s at a -10 DRS. Overall, he’s a -0.7 WAR player.
He’s a -0.7 WAR player who has shown no improvement in his game. His walk rate is 5.2 percent. He’s got just a 50 percent success rate in stolen bases. When you look at him, you see a 22 year old who is just over-matched. Worse yet, his mentor is publicly lobbying for playing time which is likely to come at Rosario’s expense, and whent heya re in the field, his mentor won’t so much as defer to him on a ball that is his.
Even if Reyes is making an effort to serve as a mentor to Rosario, the results are not there. Rosario is regressing instead of progressing. Reyes’ presence is serving as a distraction, and it is now impeding the playing time of Dominic Smith and Jeff McNeil.
In the end, the Mets have to really reassess this situation and see if this is a dynamic which is serving the best interests of their 22 year old former phenom. If it isn’t, the team is going to have to do what is best for both Rosario and the franchise, not the washed up veteran.
Want a perfect encapsulation of what the 2018 Mets are? Look no further than what happened in yesterday’s game.
Nathan Eovaldi was working on a perfect game entering the seventh inning. Brandon Nimmo stepped up to the plate, and he broke it up with a single. This was followed by Wilmer Flores striking out on three pitches, and Asdrubal Cabrera grounding into an inning ending double play.
At that point, the Mets were already down 7-0 because Chris Flexen pitched poorly, and his pitching was exacerbated by the defense behind him, which was just as poor if not worse. After three innings, he was relieved by Chris Beck, who was once again terrible.
Overall, this is just a bad baseball team, and they’re not even losing with a purpose as the team is starting Jose Reyes over Amed Rosario, and Dominic Smith plays once in a blue moon. To make matters worse, he is playing well out of position in left field.
Simply put, this is bad and unwatchable baseball.
Game Notes: Nimmo was not named an All Star despite leading all NL outfielders with a 148 wRC+. This leaves Jacob deGrom as the lone Mets representative.
The Rays have become a story in baseball for using an opener, i.e. a reliever, to start some games. They’ve arguably had to experiment with it due to the state of their starting pitching. The obvious exception to that is today’s starter Blake Snell, who has been phenomenal this year.
Snell is an ace, and when you face him, you have to take advantage of your opportunities and not make mistakes.
Well, Steven Matz did make mistakes, including walking and hitting Snell, but he fought through it with what was a really good start. In fact, in a fair and just world, Matz gets through his 6.1 innings unscathed.
Matz got the grounder with Wilson Ramos grounding it right at Amed Rosario. Rosario charged in, and the ball hit him in the heel of the glove. This cost him a shot at Duffy, and it gave the Rays a 1-0 lead.
With the Mets offense completely sputtering and shooting itself in the foot, that one run was enough.
In seven of the nine innings, the Mets got their leadoff runner on base. In three of those innings, it was a leadoff double.
Still, the Mets had one really good opportunity in the seventh, and it as bad luck that cost them.
Jose Reyes led off the eight with a double past the outstretched arms of Duffy. Then, in what was a tough at-bat against Snell, Brandon Nimmo hit a ball which seemed destined for center field. Instead it tipped off of Snell’s foot leading to a 1-4-3 put out.
So much for the momentum from Bautista’s grand slam.
Game Notes: Wilmer Flores had nearly half of the Mets seven hits going 3-4 with a double.