Perhaps the biggest name and surprise non-tender was Archie Bradley. After all, Bradley is coming off a great season in limited duty. Bradley was limited both by a shortened season and by a back injury.
In 2020, Bradley made 16 appearances. He was 2-0 with six saves, a 2.95 ERA, 1.091 WHIP, 1.5 BB/9, and an 8.6 K/9. He also had a 2.59 FIP and a 163 ERA+. If you break it down, it is somewhat ridiculous Bradley would be non-tendered. That goes double when you consider his full career.
From 2017 – 2020, Bradley had a 2.95 ERA, 152 ERA+, 3.19 FIP, 1.197 WHIP, 3.1 BB/9, and a 9.9 K/9. Those are excellent to elite numbers. However, those numbers only tell part of the story for Bradley.
Bradley broke out with an absurdly good 2017. In that year, Bradley was 3-3 with a 1.73 ERA, 1.041 WHIP, 2.6 BB/9, and a 9.7 K/9. So far, this season has been an anomaly in his career. Over his subsequent two seasons, Bradley had a 3.58 ERA, 1.291 WHIP, 3.5 BB/9, and a 10.2 K/9. When looking at the advanced numbers, his ERA+ dropped from 273 to 122, and his FIP dropped from 2.61 to 3.56.
Essentially, Bradley went from a elite reliever to a very good one. Part of the reason was his 2017 season was very difficult to replicate. There are also factors where his .276 BABIP against and 88.2 LOB% were going to stabilize. We actually did see that happen the subsequent two seasons, and that is one of the reasons why his stats began to return to earth.
Another and perhaps more important reason is Bradley’s stuff has been in decline. In 2017, Bradley averaged 96.3 MPH with his fastball. He’s been gradually losing velocity to the point where he has lost two full MPH off his fastball. He’s also lost spin off of his fastball. He’s similarly lost MPH and spin off of his curveball which is his primary secondary offering.
Looking specifically at that curve, Bradley had very good vertical movement. That was part of the reason why he had a 26.7 Whiff% on the pitch. Again, those numbers have been in decline each and every year to the point where that Whiff% has dropped to 16.7 in 2020. That Whiff% was good in 2019, but that season is an outlier.
With Bradley, you see a pitcher who is losing velocity and spin. As a result, he is becoming more hittable. That is problematic for any pitcher, especially for a reliever.
Now, it is eminently possible Bradley returns to his 2019 form. After all, the 2020 season was unique, and we saw it impacted the way many players were able to train and prepare for the season. With a full offseason to prepare and with his getting further away from his back injury, Bradley could reasonably be expected to gain some of his lost MPH off his fastball.
Still, it is far from a guarantee, and it is notable he was losing MPH and spin off of all of his pitches prior to the 2020 season. This makes Bradley a bit of a gamble, and it may be a relatively expensive one. Looking at the Mets current bullpen, they are really ill suited to go looking for gambles like this.
The Mets already have Dellin Betances who is a gamble with his injury history and his own history of losing velocity and spin. The same goes for Brad Brach and Jeurys Familia. With those pitchers in the bullpen, the Mets need more reliable options much like the one they got when they signed Trevor May.
The team also could use a pitcher like a Brad Hand who could be effective against left-handed hitters. The left-handed reliever is of premium concern when the NL East has hitters like Juan Soto, Bryce Harper, and Freddie Freeman. Certainly, given the Mets heavy left-handed hitting roster, it would behoove them to grab the top left-handed relievers just to keep them away from their division.
All told, Bradley is a good reliever, but he is one who has been in decline. While you may believe he could return to form, this Mets bullpen is not constructed well enough to take on a gamble like that. With that being the case, the Mets should probably look towards one of the better relief options on the market, preferable a left-handed one like Hand.
Could you believe all the things the Mets needed to happen for them to make the postseason actually happened? It literally had a less than 2% chance of happening at one point, but it did happen!
Actually, no, that’s not entirely correct. The Mets making the postseason was contingent on them winning out. The Mets didn’t do that part. In fact, they lost their last three, four of five, and seven of their last 10.
By losing their last three games, they finished in last place in the NL East. To add insult to injury, they got completely blown out in the final game of the season.
While it’s terrible having to watch the Mets lose a game like this, there is solace in the fact this is the last game of the Wilpon era. For all they put this fanbase through for nearly two decades, their lasting memory as majority owners is getting their doors blown off with their team being completely embarrassed.
Yes, the Mets will lose games like this is the future. It’s unavoidable. That said, we’ve just seen the last time the Wilpons get to react to this kind of loss. Actually, that time has already passed. Now, they just have to watch and be powerless to do anything about it.
Now, Mets fans have an owner with actual resources to operate a baseball team. He’s hired someone who knows what he’s doing, and he’s going to show both Jeff Wilpon and Brodie Van Wagenen the door, which will make the Mets infinitely better.
As Brandon Nimmo said before the game, “I’m glad that somebody who is a lifelong Mets fan is going to end up owning the team.” We all feel the same way.
The Wilpons being gone wasn’t the only highlight of the day. Luis Guillorme sports an incredible fu manchu, and he was 2-for-3 with a double, walk, and run.
Pete Alonso was also great hitting two homers. It was fun seeing fan favorites perform this way. It’s even better when it leads to a Mets win. But that didn’t happen.
Instead, we saw the Mets lose just like Jeff Wilpon did. Now, (we ,@6$!@)see him go witwell is as
The New York Mets never cease to be completely ridiculous and absurd. They never cease to amaze and shock you.
When you gotta go to the bathroom and you don't trust anyone to watch your bat. pic.twitter.com/LoFYokB7cF
— Roger Cormier (@yayroger) September 13, 2020
Believe it or not, this was due to “gastrointestinal discomfort,” which is probably just another way of saying he had to use the bathroom.
With the one man who scored a run over the first seven innings gone, the Mets had their own runs issues.
David Peterson had allowed two earned over five, but he had retired nine of the last 10 batters he faced. Despite his being at 81 pitches, he was lifted as the Mets went to the bullpen.
The Mets added two cosmetic runs in the eighth, but all that did was make the score 7-3 giving the allusion it was much closer than it was.
The Mets now have the fourth worst record in the NL, and they’re two games behind the Giants in the loss column for the final postseason spot with 13 games remaining.
Essentially, we’re watching the 2020 Mets season being flushed down the drain while McNeil is standing there watching with a bat.
Game Notes: Dominic Smith has an eight game hitting streak, and he knocked in two of the Mets three runs.
Not even Jacob deGrom would stem the losing streak. Not even in the day time against the Marlins with a lead.
After that, the Mets again forgot how to hit in RISP going 2-for-10 in the game. However, you would’ve thought that wouldn’t matter. After all, deGrom was on the mound.
Well, the near impossible happened. He would have a near Steven Matz moment in the sixth.
Garrett Cooper led off the inning with a homer. Then, Pete Alonso couldn’t field a somewhat tough hop allowing Matt Joyce to reach. That’s usually when deGrom bears down, but he just didn’t seem to have it in this inning.
He was up 1-2 on Lewin Diaz who then hit an RBI double. deGrom was up 0-2 on Miguel Rojas, who then hit a go-ahead RBI single. He was then up 1-2 on Jorge Alfaro, who hit an RBI to put the Marlins up 4-2.
The odd part was deGrom was his normal self over the first five innings, and he struck out nine. Of the four runs he allowed, only one was earned. Still, you have some to expect much more from deGrom.
The Mets didn’t get him off the hook. Robinson Cano homered in the bottom of the sixth to pull the Mets to within 4-3. The Marlins got that run back when Brian Anderson homered off Brad Brach in the eighth.
This 5-3 loss was yet another bad loss for this team. The Mets can fool themselves they’re still in the race, but nothing we have seen recently suggests they’ll stay in it.
Game Notes: deGrom became the first pitcher to face an opponent four times in a row since Freddie Fitzsimmons did it in 1929.
— New York Mets (@Mets) August 29, 2020
That homer got Robert Gsellman off the hook. It’s a good thing because Gsellman didn’t deserve to lose this one.
After allowing the second batter of the game, Luke Voit, to homer, he turned in his best work since returning to the rotation. After that homer, he allowed just three more hits while walking none and striking out four.
The plan was to have Steven Matz piggyback his start, but Matz left the game after one inning with a shoulder injury and may very well land on the IL.
That meant to the Mets bullpen needed to step up again. It really wasn’t quite up to the task.
— New York Yankees (@Yankees) August 29, 2020
Ramos really had no chance to catch Betances’ wild pitch. With that wild pitch, the Mets wouldn’t have another big come from behind win. Instead, they’d be walk-off losers.
On the bright side, Steve Cohen agreed to buy the Mets . . . again. This time it’s for $200 million cheaper. That should allow him to fix all the mistakes Brodie Van Wagenen made which led to losses like this.
After an inexplicable hiatus, Luis Guillorme was back in the lineup, and he picked up offensively and defensively. The beneficiary of his great play was Jacob deGrom who has been unaccustomed to Mets players stepping up their games when he’s on the mound.
For starters, deGrom was his usual brilliant self and showed no ill effects of his neck issue. The Marlins only had five base runners against deGrom and one of those was courtesy of a J.D. Davis error.
While that wasn’t surprising, deGrom getting support was mildly surprising. After being inexplicably benched a few games, Guillorme was back in the lineup, and he delivered almost immediately with an almost literal cue shot double.
— New York Mets (@Mets) August 19, 2020
Luis Guillorme's defense is 🔥 pic.twitter.com/rlXokv0DTm
— SNY (@SNYtv) August 20, 2020
deGrom would also get some defensive help from Alonso. Good defense and a lead is a rare experience for deGrom.
Get 🆙 Pete!! pic.twitter.com/vLPtp0reNS
— SNY (@SNYtv) August 20, 2020
When the Mets went to the bullpen in the bottom of the seventh, the Mets had a 2-0 lead. The second run came in the top of the seventh when Guillorme singled home Dominic Smith, who had doubled earlier in the inning.
The bottom of the seventh didn’t get off to a great start with Jeurys Familia walked Francisco Cervelli. After a fielder’s choice, Davis wasn’t able to get a throw off after diving after a Logan Forsythe grounder.
After a Villar groundout, Wilson would throw a pitch in the dirt. Instead of getting in front of it, Ramos missed on the backhand. The pitch went to the backstop as a run scored.
The Mets would get that run back in the top of the eighth when Smith doubled in Conforto. Unfortunately, the two run lead was not enough for Dellin Betances.
The Marlins loaded the bases with two outs against Betances. Instead of going to the bullpen for another reliever, Rojas let Betances pitch to Eddy Alvarez. With his second pitch of the at-bat, Betances hit Alvarez to force in a run.
Rojas then made a very curious decision. Edwin Diaz has a history of bouts of wildness. Bases loaded with the tying run at third was probably a better situation for Brad Brach who has better control and also has closing experience.
Diaz walked Forsythe on five pitches with none of them all that close. After blowing the save, Diaz rebounded to strike out Villar.
At that point, deGrom’s brilliance was wasted. It seemed Guillorme’s efforts were all for naught. At this point, the hope was the Mets would not fall apart and lose a game they should’ve won.
That didn’t happen, and that’s because Michael Conforto had another clutch ninth inning hit.
— New York Mets (@Mets) August 20, 2020
That two run homer gave the Mets a 5-3 lead. That was enough for Diaz who struck out the side in the ninth to vulture the win.
With the win, the Mets pull themselves to within two games of .500. They also are close to completing their first series sweep of the season.
Game Notes: Lugo was unavailable as he will start the series finale against the Marlins. He will be taking over Steven Matz‘s spot in the rotation with Matz moving to the bullpen.
Starting with just about the longest homer you’ll ever see off the bat of Juan Soto, the Washington Nationals would hit four homers. Two of those homers were by Soto.
That Soto homer off Robert Gsellman in the first was an ominous sign for a Mets team forced to bullpen this game due to the injury to Michael Wacha and the state of “depth” created by Brodie Van Wagenen.
Brandon Nimmo with the leadoff home run to get the Mets on the board 💪 🏃♂️ pic.twitter.com/pX5r7VanL7
— SNY (@SNYtv) August 12, 2020
What had been a 3-0 deficit heading to the bottom of the first became a 4-3 Mets lead. The Mets wouldn’t trail again.
It was 5-4 entering the bottom of the sixth. That’s when the Mets blew the game open. First, Conforto ripped a two RBI double over Adam Eaton‘s head. The ball probably could’ve been played better by Eaton, but it seemed as if Conforto was at least getting a hit even if Eaton played it well.
After that misplay, Alonso and Smith would go back-to-back to give the Mets a 10-4 lead.
— New York Mets (@Mets) August 13, 2020
Those 10 runs stood partially because the Mets got some decent work from their bullpen. They also had another night of exceptional defense. It began with Nimmo robbing Kurt Suzuki of a homer in the second.
GET UP BRANDON!!! pic.twitter.com/TZezpQNDZ9
— SNY (@SNYtv) August 12, 2020
Gimenez and Luis Guillorme were again great in the field turning two double plays. They were also forces at the plate again.
Gimenez was 1-for-5 with an RBI and a stolen base. Guillorme was 1-for-2 with a run, two walks, and a stolen base.
That was offset by Alonso getting back on track with two doubles and a homer. We also saw Smith have a double and a homer.
It was the best Betances looked striking out the side. Mostly, this 11-6 win was the best the Mets looked in a while. The hope is they can keep this going.
Game Notes: Alonso batted fifth for the first time this year. It was Gsellman’s first start since 2017.
With Noah Syndergaard and Marcus Stroman going down, the Mets need a fifth starter. Whenever the Mets need a starter, the debate once again turns to whether Seth Lugo should be put back in the rotation.
Certainly, you can understand the impetus. Lugo was a revelation in the rotation in 2016, and without him in the rotation, the Mets very likely miss the postseason. We also saw him back that up by being the ace for Puerto Rico in the 2017 World Baseball Classic.
We know Lugo can start, and we know he can be extremely good in the rotation. We also know Lugo is one of, if not the best, reliever in baseball. It’s extremely difficult to part with that.
The Mets starting pitching and bullpen injuries make it even tougher to remove Lugo from the bullpen.
In 2019, Matz averaged 5.1 innings per start. Things improved in the second half when he moved to the middle of the runner. After that, he did average 5.2 innings per start. That’s still under 6.0, but he did make strides towards at least being a six inning pitcher.
Porcello also averaged 5.1 innings per start. That was after averaging 5.2 innings per start the previous year. Looking at his career, Porcello’s innings have declined in each of the last three years. That’s a bad trend for a pitcher the Mets need to be an innings eater.
That means two of the Mets three best pitchers don’t consistently pitch at least six innings. That leaves the bullpen getting 10-11 outs during their starts. That should prove to be a break compared to the fourth and fifth spots.
Last year, Michael Wacha averaged just 4.2 innings per start. Over the final three months of the season, he pitched into the fifth just three times over 11 starts. In his career, he’s never averaged more than 5.2 innings per start. This is from the fourth starter.
After that, the Mets are stuck going to Corey Oswalt, David Peterson, or bullpenning it. The young starters can’t be relied upon to consistently go deep into games. That puts a further burden on the pen, and that gets worse with planned bullpen games.
Further compounding a bullpen game is the lack of people who can go multiple innings consistently. Robert Gsellman was that guy, but he’s injured. Effectively speaking, that leaves Lugo as the only reliever who can consistently give the Mets multiple innings out of the pen.
Really, a lot of the Mets bullpen is a question mark. Can Edwin Diaz and Jeurys Familia rebound from bad 2019 seasons? Will Justin Wilson‘s elbow hold up? Can Dellin Betances return to his dominant pre-injury form?
There’s just far too many questions in the bullpen and far too few innings in the rotation. Asking any bullpen to have to cover 10-12+ outs four out of ever five days is a monumental ask. It’s even worse with few off days.
Fact is, at the moment, the Mets need Lugo in the pen. He’s really the Mets only option who can pitch multiple innings. He’s the best reliever on the team.
Really, Lugo is the best option out of the pen. At a time when the Mets need the bullpen to take on a tough workload due to the schedule, they should have Lugo at the ready to get those innings as it’s not coming from another reliever.
Overall, Lugo may be the best option for fifth starter. He’s also the best reliever the Mets have. They need him out otherwise. In any event, Lugo is where he belongs – in that bullpen.
The Mets have done their part protecting the confidentiality of their players. We know Brad Brach and Robinson Cano aren’t in camp, but the team will not say why. Thar said, Luis Rojas might’ve given us an indication it’s COVID19 related:
Luis Rojas said the Mets haven't had any baseball-related injuries so far during camp.
— Tim Healey (@timbhealey) July 12, 2020
As is typically the case when a player is going to miss time, the discussion begins on what the Mets should do to replace these players.
There’s a ton of options available to replace Cano, and it’s an interesting debate.
It’s similar to Brach. Newly signed Jared Hughes is obviously the first man up to replace him. There’s also Paul Sewald, Drew Smith, Stephen Gonsalves, Franklyn Kilome, Walker Lockett, Corey Oswalt, and some interesting minor league arms.
If this were a normal 2020 season, we’d debate the correct path, and we’d see the Mets have time to get it wrong, get it wrong again, and hopefully, finally make the correct decision.
However, this is far from a normal season. There is a pandemic which threatens the lives and long-term health of people. We’ve already heard about Freddie Freeman and his struggle with this disease. We’re hearing about Rudy Gobert of the Utah Jazz still experiencing some issues.
Right now, we don’t know if Brach or Cano have COVID19. To the extent they do have it, we don’t know how much it’s impacting them now, or will affect their health in the future.
The only thing we do know is there’s a pandemic which is affecting people differently. We know this pandemic has no vaccine. Even with precautions, we can’t guarantee players won’t become infected.
With all we know and don’t know with COVID19, at some point we need to pivot from who will replace these infected players to whether there should be baseball in 2020.
Remember, it’s alright to desperately want baseball to return. It’s also alright to believe it’s not safe for these players to play. We’re all human, and there’s no clear cut answer or solution.