October 4, 2016. Rogers Centre. American League Wild Card Game between the Baltimore Orioles and the Toronto Blue Jays.
The Blue Jays tie the score 2-2 in the bottom of the sixth. In the seventh inning, Buck Showalter used Donnie Hart to relieve Mychal Givens in the seventh. He went to Brad Brach in the eighth and ninth. When Brach was in trouble in the ninth, Showalter went to Darren O’Day. After using Brian Duensing to record an out in the 11th, Showalter went to Ubadlo Jimenez, who would lose the game.
The Orioles would be eliminated from the postseason, and it all happened while Zack Britton waited around for a save opportunity. That year, Britton was unequivocally the best reliever in baseball with a 0.54 ERA. He was awesome, but with elimination on the line, Showalter went with a number of different pitchers including Jimenez, a starter.
Buck: "Playing on the road had something to do with it too."
— JJ Cooper (@jjcoop36) October 5, 2016
This was not an isolated instance in Showalter’s career. Go back to Game 5 of the ALDS. After pushing David Cone too far, the game was tied in the bottom of the eighth. Instead of going to John Wetteland, he opted for Jack McDowell, a starter. McDowell would lose the game in the 11th.
A lot changed in baseball from 1995 until 2016, and yet, Showalter hadn’t changed. Yes, there were instances he used a closer in a non-save situation on the road (Matt Mantei, Game 4 NLDS), but ultimately, this is who Showalter has been for better or for worse. He is not one to worry about leverage, stats, etc. He is going to manage by his guy more than anything else. As he puts it, he wants to use them to verify himself, not the other way around.
That’s not to say he hasn’t or won’t evolve. After all, his Orioles teams did implement shifting, and in an attempt to put his team in the best position to win, they tracked the results all season. However, when all is said and done, he’s going to do what he thinks is best. Again, this works at times and fails other times.
Here’s the big problem. He would be working for Sandy Alderson and Billy Eppler. Alderson notoriously wanted to minimize the manger role, and he wants constant input. It was something which beleaguered former Mets manager Luis Rojas, who had to strictly follow the scripts given to him.
Eppler was the Los Angeles Angels General Manager when Mike Scioscia “stepped down.” He then went with a more analytical and modern manager in Brad Ausmus, who was replaced after one season when the owner wanted Joe Maddon.
Another note here with Alderson and Eppler is the type of team they are building. They are clearly going heavy on older veterans in an attempt to win now. Mark Canha, Eduardo Escobar, Starling Marte, and Max Scherzer are all in their 30s and have played for several years. That has usually been a bad mix for Showalter.
As noted when he was fired by the Arizona Diamondbacks, their veteran laden roster needed less of a disciplinarian and more of a player’s manager. That’s been his career. He is exceptional with younger teams teaching them the right way to play. He gets the most out of them. After a while, his personality and style of managing tends to wear on players, and he’s out.
None of this is to say he’s not a good manager. Showalter is a very good manager. If this were the 2019 Mets, he was a perfect fit for that younger team learning how to win. This is not that team. This is a very veteran team who needs a manager better suited to getting top performances from top players. They need more of a collaborator with the front office who will demand it.
Who the Mets new manager should be remains a very good debate. If they do wind up hiring Showalter, they will certainly win games. However, at the end of the day, this is a poor fit with Showalter and the Mets being better suited to finding a different match.
Brach grew up a Mets fan. In fact, he loved the Mets so much he went to Game 3 of the World Series as a fan despite being a member of the Baltimore Orioles at the time. Brach would say seeing David Wright homering in that game was one of his favorite moments.
"When David Wright hit that home run…it was probably one of the best baseball moments I've had"
Brad Brach is a huge Mets fan and was at Game 3 of the 2015 World Series pic.twitter.com/utq57MBFfS
— SNY (@SNYtv) August 9, 2019
Speaking of Wright, he was also a huge Mets fan growing up. Like Brach, he’s also not a part of the organization. While Wright was a part of the front office with the Wilpons, he’s not right now as his contract with the team expired.
As if that’s not bad enough, it appears his number 5 was given to Albert Almora. You’d have to assume this was a mistake, and yet, there it is. Not only is his role gone but apparently so is his number. On the former, the door could be open for Wright to have a role with the team in 2021.
The same can not be said for Wright’s former teammate Steven Matz. The Long Island native grew up a Mets fan. What was once a fairy tale with his grandfather literally jumping for joy ended with him being traded for the Toronto Blue Jays.
It could be worse. Rick Porcello grew up a Mets fan, and when he hit free agency for the first time, he actually took less money to fulfill his childhood dream to pitch for the Mets. What ensued was a career worst season.
Now, he’s a free agent, and at the moment, it seems like no one has any interest in him. That puts him in the same situation as Brach.
Two lifelong Mets fans who dreamed of pitching for the Mets only for it to all go wrong. Now, they’re looking for a new place to play because the place they wanted to play more than anywhere doesn’t want them.
All told, that just sums up just how bad of an offseason for a player to be a Mets fan. If you grew up a Mets fan, there just doesn’t seem to be a spot for you with the Mets in 2021 or beyond.
When evaluating what the New York Mets do this offseason, the team has to balance building a competitive 2021 roster with their ability to re-sign players. Part and parcel of that is building a sustained winner and not a typical Wilpon style one and done team.
As noted previously, the Mets have to evaluate their priories when looking to extend Michael Conforto, Francisco Lindor, Steven Matz, Marcus Stroman, and Noah Syndergaard. Keeping that quintet is going to be difficult.
That is going to become all the more complicated based on what the Mets continue to do this offseason. Players like Brad Hand and George Springer will be expensive. That affects the Mets ability to spend in 2021 and the ensuing years.
Sure, you can point out the Mets have money coming off the books at the end of the year. It’s a significant amount too with Jeurys Familia ($11.67), Dellin Betances ($6), and Brad Brach ($2) in addition to the aforementioned players.
However, as noted, the Mets have significant players who will require significant money. On top of that, after 2022, key players like Brandon Nimmo and Seth Lugo are free agents. Exacerbating that is Jacob deGrom having an opt out, and the Mets having a team option on Carlos Carrasco.
You really have to wonder how the Mets are able to keep this going without surpassing the luxury tax threshold. On the other hand, why are people so concerned when the Mets aren’t?
Jared Porter on luxury tax threshold, "No, it's not something we have to have a line in the sand on."
— Michael Mayer (@mikemayer22) January 8, 2021
At some point, everyone became concerned about the luxury tax threshold. Maybe, it was watching the Wilpons operate the Mets for a decade. Maybe, it was the rumors floating around the owners were going to limit the Mets ability to spend as a condition of his buying the team.
Whatever the case, there is only one man who has concern about the Mets spending, and that’s the man cutting the checks. At the end of the day, the only person who truly knows the Mets ability and willingness to exceed the threshold is their owner Steve Cohen.
That’s nothing to say of the expiring CBA. For all the hand wringing about the current constraints, those parameters are going to be readdressed and reset after this offseason. On that front, it makes little to no sense to get over wrought about provisions not set and not really dickered.
At the moment, the only people who should be concerned about the Mets ability and willingness to surpass the luxury tax threshold in 2021 and beyond is the Mets front office. Well, them and the National League East who has to contend with the sudden Mets juggernaut.
For the rest of us, the luxury tax threshold is merely a talking point with only guesses as to the Mets true intentions.
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.