Well, this is a redux of the Ryan Dempster/Glendon Rusch match-up in Miami last week. In that game, Rusch was terrific in that game, but he would be out-dueled by Dempster who threw a one hit shut out. Today, neither pitcher would be nearly at the same level. Part of that could have been the slick conditions for a game which had a 25 minute rain delay at the start.
For Rusch, this is now two bad starts over his last three. Entering the fifth, the Mets were already down 2-0 after Dempster hit an RBI double in the second, and Preston Wilson hit one in the third. At 2-0, the Mets were still very much in the game. They wouldn’t be that after the top of the fifth.
First, it was a three run homer by Wilson, and later that inning, Derek Lee hit a homer. That expanded the Marlins lead to 6-0. Rusch had allowed six runs on 12 hits, including those two homers. After throwing 98 pitches, he was done for the game, and unlike his prior starts, he would be a deserving loser in this game.
What was frustrating for the Mets up until that point was they had their chances, and they didn’t have to wait until the sixth to get a hit off of him.
In the first, they wasted a Rickey Henderson lead-off single, and they did the same with Todd Zeile lead-off singles in the second and fourth. Of course, part of the Henderson wasted lead-off single was Henderson’s signature lack of hustle. He thought he hit one out against Dempter beginning his home run trot. Instead, what he had was a single that hit the wall. With his speed, even at this age, that should never happen.
After falling behind 6-0, the Mets were finally able to get to Dempster, not just in this game, but in 2000.
Henderson got the Mets started with a one out single and then a stolen base. He would then score easily on a Derek Bell RBI double. After Bell, Mike Piazza and Robin Ventura would go back-to-back. Suddenly, the Mets were in this game pulling to within 6-4.
After the Ventura homer, the Mets continued the rally. Jon Nunnally drew a two out walk, and Melvin Mora singled. That brought up Kurt Abbott to the plate as the go-ahead run. He’d pop out to end the inning. From there, the Mets would muster just one more hit the entire game.
Even though they only had one more hit, that doesn’t quite mean they had no more chances. In the sixth, Bell doubled putting runners on second and third with one out. Dempster would rear back and strike out Piazza, his final batter of the game. Armando Almanza relieved Dempster, and he struck out Ventura to end the inning.
In the eighth, Almanza would walk two batters giving the Mets first and second with two outs. With Piazza coming to the plate, the Marlins went to Braden Looper. Looper would get Piazza to ground out meekly to first to end the inning.
The shame of it was the Mets bullpen did their job. Turk Wendell (two innings), John Franco, and Armando Benitez shut down the Marlins over the final four innings. However, when your offense isn’t taking advantage of their opportunities, it doesn’t matter. In the end, this was just another ugly loss to a bad Marlins team; one which has pushed the Mets back to just one game over .500.
Game Notes: Edgardo Alfonzo was held out of the starting lineup with a sore calf, but he was able to pinch hit. With Rey Ordonez‘s shoulder injury, that meant the Mets middle infield was Melvin Mora at second, and Abbott at short. The Mets have officially decided to have Pat Mahomes start in Bill Pulsipher‘s place tomorrow.
Editor’s Note: With there being no games to begin the season, this site will follow the 2000 season and post recaps as if those games happened in real time. If nothing else, it is better to remember this pennant winning season and revisit some of the overlooked games than it is to dwell on the complete lack of baseball.
Before there was Jarred Kelenic, there was Scott Kazmir. Back on July 30, 2004, for some reason or another, a Mets team four games under .500 and 7.5 games out of a postseason spot believed they were in it, so they traded Kazmir and Jose Diaz for Victor Zambrano and Bartolome Fortunato.
That trade could not have gone worse for the Mets.
First, the Mets pinned the blame on Rick Peterson for saying he worried about Kazmir’s mechanics and for saying he could fix Zambrano in a second. They blamed Kazmir for his supposedly abrasive personality. They blamed Al Leiter, Tom Glavine, John Franco, and other veterans for having issues with Kazmir’s clubhouse demeanor. They blamed everyone but the decision makers (read: Jeff Wilpon).
Zambrano would not be the key piece to the Mets rotation they wanted us all to believe. Ironically, for a team worried about Kazmir’s durability, Zambrano broke down. Over his 2+ years with the Mets, Zambrano pitched just 201.1 innings with a 94 ERA+ and 4.35 FIP.
Meanwhile, Kazmir was emerging as a top of the line starter for the Rays. He was a two time All-Star in his six years there, lead the league in strikeouts in 2007, and he helped pitch the Rays to the the 2008 and 2009 postseasons.
To be fair, Kazmir did eventually have injury problems. He recovered from them, and he was an effective starter again. He would then get injured again with his fastball dropping into the 80s leading to his eventual release in the 2017 Spring Training. He didn’t retire, and now, he is attempting a comeback.
— Kevin Poppe, CSCS (@TheKevinPoppe) February 8, 2020
With his being away for a few years, Kazmir has had time to heal and get his fastball back. If you revisit his 2016 season, his last healthy one, Baseball Savant rated extremely well in terms of strikeout rate, hard hit rate, and exit velocity. Point is, when healthy, he could pitch.
At least, right now, he appears healthy. With him now working out for teams, we will soon find out if he can pitch like he did in 2016. If so, the team who takes a chance on him could benefit.
With his being away from the game for a few years and his durability concerns, it would seem Kazmir belongs in the bullpen, which is where the Mets argued he belonged all along. If that is the case, teams should push hard to sign him.
Fact is with the new three batter reliever rule, teams will need left-handed relievers who can pitch to both right-handed and left-handed batters. Like most left-handed starters, that is Kazmir. Or better put, if healthy and has a reasonable facsimile of his stuff, that could be Kazmir.
In terms of the Mets, they really don’t have that type of reliever in the minors right now, at least not a Major League ready one. The hope is Chasen Shreve could potentially be that, but he has had shoulder issues, and he has not been the same. If nothing else, Kazmir would be extra insurance.
It could also right a wrong and could give Mets fans a little more excitement. Much like how fans rallied around Jason Isringhausen, who had a surprise rebound season in 2011, we could see the same with Kazmir in 2020. Maybe, we could see Kazmir helping pitch the Mets to the postseason like he did with the Rays and like Mets fans once hoped he would.
At the end of the day, it will likely cost the Mets just a minor league deal to find out. With that being the case, the Mets should bring him back to the organization.