Chris Flexen

Mets Problem Isn’t Analytics, It’s The Wilpons

As reported by Mike Puma of the New York Post, Mets owner Fred Wilpon does not want to hire a younger and more analytics driven executive for two reasons.  The first is he feels he will have a harder time connecting with that person.  The second and perhaps all the more baffling is the “thought among team officials that perhaps the Mets became too analytics driven in recent seasons under Sandy Alderson’s watch . . . .”

Taking the thought at face value, we really need to question which analytics the Mets are using to inform their decisions.

For starters, look at Asdrubal Cabrera.  Everyone knew he was no longer a shortstop, so that left the question over whether he should have been a second or third baseman heading into the 2018 season.

In 2017, Cabrera was a -6 DRS in 274.1 innings at second.  That should have come as no surprise as he was a -10 DRS the last time he saw extensive action at second base (2014).  Conversely, in his 350.1 innings at third last year, he had a 1 DRS.

Naturally, the Mets went with Cabrera at second this season where he has been an MLB worst -20 DRS.  That makes him not just the worst second baseman in all of baseball, it makes him the worst defensive infielder in all of baseball.

Of course, the Mets got there by acquiescing a bit to Cabrera’s preference to play second over third.  This was also the result of the team turning down a Paul Sewald for Jason Kipnis swap.  That deal was nixed over money.

With respect to Sewald, he was strong when the season began.  In April, he had a 1.91 ERA and a 0.805 WHIP.  Since that point, Sewald has a 5.73 ERA, a 1.485 WHIP, and multiple demotions to Triple-A.

As for Kipnis, he has struggled this year hitting .226/.313/.363.  It should be noted this was mostly due to a horrific April which saw him hit .178/.254/.243.  Since that tough start to the season, Kipnis has gotten progressively better.  Still, it is difficult to lose sleep over Kipnis even if the rejected trade put Cabrera at second and it led to the Mets signing Todd Frazier, who is hitting .217/.298/.368.

In addition to bringing Cabrera back into the fold, the Mets also brought back Jay Bruce after having traded the then impending free agent to the Cleveland Indians for Ryder Ryan.

At the time the Mets signed Bruce, they needed a center fielder.  The team already had Yoenis Cespedes in left, and once he returned from the disabled list, the team was going to have Michael Conforto in right.  Until the time Conforto was ready, the team appeared set with Brandon Nimmo in the short-term.

In 69 games in 2017, Nimmo hit .260/.379/.418.  In those games, Nimmo showed himself to be a real candidate for the leadoff spot on a roster without an obvious one, especially in Conforto’s absence.  With him making the league minimum and his having shown he could handle three outfield positions, he seemed like an obvious choice for a short term solution and possible someone who could platoon with Juan Lagares in center.

Instead, the Mets went with Bruce for $39 million thereby forcing Conforto to center where he was ill suited.  More than that, Bruce was coming off an outlier year in his free agent walk year.  Before that 2017 rebound season, Bruce had not had a WAR of at least 1.0 since 2013, and he had just one season over a 100 wRC+ in that same stretch.  In response to that one outlier season at the age of 30, the Mets gave Bruce a three year deal.

Still, that may not have been the worst contract handed out by the Mets this past offseason.  That honor goes to Jason Vargas.

The Mets gave a 35 year old pitcher a two year $16 million deal to be the team’s fifth starter despite the fact the team had real starting pitching depth.  At the time of the signing, the Mets had Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Steven Matz, Zack Wheeler, Matt Harvey, Seth Lugo, Robert Gsellman, Chris Flexen, and Corey Oswalt as starting pitching depth.

Instead of using five of them and stashing four of them in Triple-A, the Mets opted to go with Vargas as the fifth starter.  Even better, they depleted their starting pitching depth by moving Gsellman and Lugo the to bullpen.  Of course, this had the added benefit of saving them money thereby allowing them to sign Anthony Swarzak, a 32 year old reliever with just one good season under his belt.

The Mets were rewarded with the decision to sign Vargas by his going 2-8 with an 8.75 ERA and a 1.838 WHIP.  He’s also spent three separate stints on the disabled list.

What’s funny about Vargasis he was signed over the objections of the Mets analytics department.  From reports, Vargas was not the only one.  Looking at that, you have to question just how anyone associated with the Mets could claim they have become too analytics driven.  Really, when you ignore the advice of those hired to provide analytical advice and support, how could you point to them as the problem?

They’re not.

In the end, the problem is the same as it always has been.  It’s the Wilpons.

They’re the ones looking for playing time for Jose Reyes at a time when everyone in baseball thinks his career is over.  They’re the ones not reinvesting the proceeds from David Wrights insurance policy into the team.  They’re the ones who have a payroll not commensurate with market size or World Series window.  They’re the ones rejecting qualified people for a job because of an 81 year year old’s inability to connect with his employees.

Really, you’re not going to find an analytical basis to defend making a team older, less versatile, more injury prone, and worse defensively.

What you will find is meddlesome ownership who thinks they know better than everyone.  That’s why they’re 17 games under .500 with declining attendance and ratings while saying the Yankees financial model is unsustainable at a time the Yankees are heading to the postseason again and the team has the highest valuation of any Major League team.

Embarrassing Mets Lineup Does The Expected

For quite a while, Mets fans have bemoaned the ridiculous lineup with Eric Campbell and John Mayberry, Jr. hitting in the middle of the lineup.  As bad as that lineup was, tonight’s ridiculous lineup might have taken the cake.

Despite Luis Guillorme arguably being the best defensive shortstop in the entire Mets organization, he started the game at third with Jose Reyes, a player who has been a bad everything for a few years now playing the most important position on the infield.

Dominic Smith started the game in left field because for some reason the Mets wanted to get another look at Kevin Plawecki at first base.  This meant the far superior pitch framer in Plawecki was at first base while Devin Mesoraco caught.

Taking it slightly a step further, because of the injuries to pitchers, Seth Lugo, a man who looks like Andrew Miller in the Mets bullpen, was pressed into another start.

Really, looking at this lineup, you have to wonder if the person making that lineup wanted to get fired.  Considering Mickey Callaway essentially let it be known he didn’t want to play Reyes, he may not be the person filling out the lineup card.

Whatever the situation, it was a sick joke, and it was a joke that had no one laughing, especially not Lugo.

The good news for Lugo was he would allow just one earned run in his five innings pitched.  The bad news is when he left the game in the fifth, the Mets trailed 3-0.  The reason for that is the defense behind him was terrible.

What was a surprise was both of the errors leading to the unearned runs came from Guillorme.

Guillorme couldn’t field a ball off the bat of Starling Marte.  Marte was probably safe anyway, but it was ruled an error.  The first batter of the game reached, would promptly steal a base, and he would eventually score on a Josh Harrison sacrifice fly.

It was Harrison who reached on a two out throwing error by Guillorme in the third.  He’d score on an Elias Diaz single.  It should be noted that was a ball Rosario probably fields.

Really, the only earned run against Lugo was a second inning Gregory Polanco second inning solo shot.

After Lugo labored through five, partially due to his defense abandoning him, it was time for Tyler Bashlor to make his Major League debut.  He was rudely welcomed to the big leagues by a Josh Bell excuse me opposite field line drive two run homer.

Other than that, Bashlor looked pretty good in his two innings, and it made you question why the Mets have been subjecting their fans to the Chris Becks and the Jacob Rhames of the world.

While none of this was a surprise, okay, the Guillorme defensive struggles was a bit of a surprise, the Mets fighting back in this game was a bit of a surprise.

After Jameson Taillon dominated the Mets for six innings, the team would finally get to him in the seventh.

A pair of doubles by Reyes and Plawecki scored the first run.  After Tyler Glasnow entered the game, Guillorme walked, and Wilmer Flores hit a pinch hit three run homer to pull the Mets within 5-4.

That prompted Clint Hurdle to bring in Steven Brault.  He walked Michael Conforto putting the tying run on base with no outs.  The rally would die there as Jose Bautista struck out, and Asdrubal Cabrera hit into an inning ending double play.

In the eighth, the Mets put two on with one out.  That rally fizzled as Plawecki struck out, and Guillorme grounded out.

That was pretty much it for the Mets.  In his second inning of work, Robert Gsellman couldn’t get through the ninth unscathed.  This time a tough play for Guillorme was scored a hit.  Gsellman would do well to limit the Pirates to one run when they had the bases loaded with one out, but really, who cares at this point?

The Mets aren’t doing nearly enough to win games, and now, they are putting out embarrassing lineups.

Game Notes: To make room for Bashlor on the roster, Chris Flexen was sent down to Triple-A.

Rockies Just Turned Another Double Play

There’s shooting yourself in the foot, and then there is doing what the Mets did against the Rockies today.

Somehow, the Mets grounded into five . . . FIVE! . . . double plays.

Each one of them were brutal.

In the second, after the Rockies turned a 1-0 Mets lead (Todd Frazier first inning solo home run) into a 3-1 Rockies lead, Jose Bautista earned a leadoff walk against Rockies starter Kyle Freeland.

Bautista would be erased when Kevin Plawecki grounded into a 6-4-3 double play.

In the third, after Brandon Nimmo hit an RBI single to pull the Mets within 5-2, Frazier would hit into the inning ending 5-4-3 double play.

In the sixth, Michael Conforto led off the inning with a single. He would be immediately erased when Wilmer Flores hit into a 5-4-3 double play.

In the seventh, Jose Reyes, who for some inexplicable reason started a second straight game, was erased on an Amed Rosario 6-4-3 double play.

Speaking of Reyes, he can’t field and doesn’t know how to use sunglasses:

Finally in the eighth, after the Mets pulled themselves to within 6-3 on a Flores sacrifice fly, Devin Mesoraco hit into the inning ending 5-4-3 double play.

You combine all of these double plays with Steven Matz allowing five runs on eight hits and two walks in 5.2 innings, and you have all the makings of a 6-4 loss.

Game Notes: After another poor outing in this game, Paul Sewald was demoted to Triple-A. He is joined by Chris Flexen. In their stead Drew Smith and Kevin Kaczmarski will be called up.

Mets Offense Can’t Keep Up

Much of the game was deja vu back to the previous game.

While Seth Lugo isn’t Jason Vargas, he really struggled in the thin air. Lugo just couldn’t figure out how to throw his curve, and as a result, he allowed six runs on six hits in three innings.

That really put the Mets behind the right ball despite their breaking out for three runs in the first.

Still, despite falling behind 6-4, the Mets would take the lead with a four run fifth.

The rally started with a Dominic Smith triple. After a Wilmer Flores sacrifice fly, the Mets would load the bases, and a run would be forced home on a Brandon Nimmo walk.

Asdrubal Cabrera hit a two RBI single to give the Mets a 8-6 lead.

The bases would reload with Michael Conforto drawing a walk. The Rockies then brought in Bryan Shaw, who got Todd Frazier to ground out to end the inning.

With the lead, Mickey Callaway brought in Robert Gsellman to not just hold the lead but to get multiple innings from him. He got neither.

In the bottom of the fifth, right after the Mets retook the lead, the Rockies took it back with Ryan McMahon hitting a three run homer to give the Rockies a 9-8 lead.

At this point in time, it appeared like this was going to be a classic back-and-forth Coors Field game. It certainly felt that way in the sixth as the Mets loaded the bases with one out and Rockies reliever Harrison Musgrave having lost the strike zone.

In a surprise decision, Callaway tabbed Kevin Plawecki to pinch hit instead of Amed Rosario. Perhaps it was the reliever having lost the strike zone and Callaway wanting a hitter who has a better read of the strike zone.

In any event, the choice was Plawecki, who worked a full count, swung at a borderline pitch which was probably ball four, and he hit into the inning ending double play.

That was it from the Mets. After that, there were no more rallies. With the Rockies scoring a run off Anthony Swarzak in the bottom of the sixth, the final score would be 10-8.

Suddenly, a Mets team who appeared poised to make a little run is now just hoping to earn a split.

Game Notes: Chris Flexen, who is on three days rest, was called up to give the Mets an extra arm in the bullpen. To make room for Flexen, Hansel Robles was sent down to Triple-A.

Vargas Raises ERA, Not Game In Bad Loss To Brewers

After a heartbreaking loss, the Mets immediately responded in the first, and it all began with a Brandon Nimmo leadoff walk.

All nine Mets would bat in the top of the first against Brewers starter Brian Anderson, and things were going so well Jose Reyes would draw a bases loaded walk to expand the Mets lead to 3-0.

Of course, that was not nearly a big enough lead for Jason Vargas, who immediately surrendered the lead in the bottom of the first.

In subsequent innings, Nimmo and Michael Conforto would homer to recapture the lead at 5-3. Of course, in the bottom of the third, the Brewers tied the score again.

That would be it for Vargas. He lasted just three innings allowing five earned on six hits. With his performance, he managed to raise his 9.87 ERA to 10.62. So much for pitching well against a bad Marlins team.

After that, the Brewers beat up on Jacob Rhame (1.0 IP, 2 H, 2 R, 2 ER, BB, 2 K) and AJ Ramos (0.2 IP, 3 H, 3 R, 3 ER, BB, K, HR).

Chris Flexen, who has been frozen out for over a week by Mickey Callaway, was finally allowed to pitch 2.1 mop up innings. He’d struggle too allowing seven runs (three earned) on eight hits.

After all was said and done, the Mets lost this game 17-6, and with Flexen, they lost a potential option to start in Monday’s doubleheader.

Remember, the Mets lead this one 3-0 before the Brewers even picked up a bat. This is as bad and inexcusable a loss as you get in a season full of those.

Game Notes: According to Callaway, with Amed Rosario getting the day off, Reyes started over Luis Guillorme because Reyes was the better shortstop. Jerry Blevins pitched well not allowing a hit over 1.1 scoreless innings.

Mets Blogger Roundtable: Should Lugo Start?

The Mets once vaunted rotation seemingly has three holes in it.  Steven Matz has failed to pitch at least five innings in half of his starts.  Against teams that are not the Miami Marlins, Zack Wheeler is 1-3 with a 6.97 ERA.  Jason Vargas finally lasted five innings in his last start, and those five scoreless innings lowered his ERA from 13.86 to 9.87.

With each poor start, there is a renewed call for Seth Lugo to join the Mets rotation.  To a certain extent, those fans will get their wish when Lugo gets a spot start next week.  However, the question still remains about whether he should be in the bullpen or the rotation.  In this edition of the Mets Blogger Roundtable, we tackle that exact question:

Michael Baron (MLB)

It’s not that simple, especially without having Anthony Swarzak at their disposal. Right now, they don’t have an effective reliever – other than Lugo – against left-handed hitters. AJ Ramos has struggled as well. Lugo is one of three relievers they can count on to get the ball to Jeurys Familia, and because the rotation is so thin, he continues to come up aces in extended relief outings. Also, Lugo seems to have found a niche in relief, knows how to get outs in short stints utilizing a heavier fastball and that curve, proving to be a huge asset for them in this role. But, there is a need in the rotation – starters not named Jacob deGrom or Noah Syndergaard have an ERA over 6 (as of 5/20) and are struggling to throw even 4 innings consistently. So, they might have to rob Peter to pay Paul at some point in Lugo’s situation.

Ed Leyro (Studious Metsimus)

If Anthony Swarzak can be as effective as Lugo has been when he returns from the disabled list, then and only then should Lugo be considered for a role in the starting rotation. Otherwise, why mess with a good thing? There’s no guarantee Lugo will be able to pitch as effectively when he has to pitch five-plus innings as a starter. It’s up to Wheeler, Matz and Vargas to step up their game so Lugo can continue to be at the top of his in the bullpen.

Greg Prince (Faith and Fear in Flushing)

Moving a pitcher whose primary flaw was the inability to get batters out a third time through the order from a role where he’s more effective because he doesn’t have to do that would not seem to strengthen either the rotation or the bullpen.

Breanna Susa (MMO, That Mets Chick)

He’s a vital part of the bullpen, but if the rotation continues to struggle I would want him in the rotation. But only when Swarzak comes back, so they aren’t short handed in the bullpen.

Mets Daddy

Ultimately, the Mets are going to need to try something.  Ideally, you would give a llook to Corey Oswalt or Chris Flexen in the rotation, especially with a doubleheader scheduled for Monday.  It should be noted Oswalt had a terrific start yesterday in Las Vegas, and Flexen’s last start in Vegas was great as well before he was called up to languish in the Mets bullpen.

Really, the Mets need to try something here because unless the Mets are facing the Marlins, neither Wheeler nor Vargas has been cutting it.  Who knows what will get Matz going again?  In the end, Lugo may just be the best available starting pitching option, and the Mets are going to have to replace him with one of the aforementioned pitchers in the bullpen.  While that may sound risky, it should be noted Lugo has been a much different pitcher in the bullpen than he has in the rotation.  Maybe the same will hold true for Wheeler, Matz, etc.

While what the Mets should do with Lugo remains uncertain, one thing that remains certain is the Mets have a great fanbase and group of bloggers who regularly write about the team.  I encourage you to read their work in the attached links.

Mets Mishandling Corey Oswalt

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.

Mismanagement, Vargas Has Mets Seeing Red in Blowout Loss

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.

Mets Blogger Roundtable: Are the Mets for Real?

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:

Becky (Blue Seat Blogs)

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.

Roger Cormier (Good Fundies)

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.

Michael Ganci (Daily Stache)

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.

Mark Healey (Gotham Baseball)

Yes, but they have holes to fix and this passive approach to every situation is part of the problem.

Joe Maracic (Loud Egg)

Greg Prince (Faith and Fear in Flushing)

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.

Tim Ryder (MMO & FOB)

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 incredible starts of Juan Lagares and Brandon Nimmo are even more exciting, but we, of course, must be wary of Newton’s Law of Physics in their cases.

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.

James Schapiro (Shea Bridge Report

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.

Mets Daddy

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.

Give Harvey One More Start, Just One, And Not With Lobaton

Last night, Matt Harvey had another low moment in his Mets career.  Really after Terry Collins went to the mound in Game 5 of the 2015 World Series, it has been nothing but low moments for Harvey.  He’s was diagnosed with Thoracic Outlet Syndrome, forever complained about his mechanics, and he had stress reactions from being rushed back to the rotation.

Now, this was supposed to be the year Harvey turned it around.  He had Mickey Callaway and Dave Eiland there to help get him back on track.  He is also a pending free agent, and the assumption always is Scott Boras free agents always have their best years in their contract walk years.

In his first start of the season, there was a real glimmer of hope.  In five innings, Harvey limited what is a pretty decent Phillies lineup to one hit over five scoreless innings while striking out five and walking one.  He focused more on locating than blowing it by batters.  Really, this is what everyone agrees Harvey needs to be now, and he looked great doing it.

Since then, he hasn’t been quite as good.  Against the Nationals, he fooled no one allowing four runs on nine hits and one walk in five innings, and he only struck out two.  That said, Harvey did keep the Mets in the game.  That’s something he has failed to do in his two subsequent starts.

The worst of which being last night with the Braves tattooing Harvey in two separate innings to score six runs.

Even with that, if you wanted to find a silver lining, it was there for you as Harvey retired 11 of the last 12 Braves he faced.  After the adversity of the first and third innings, he didn’t meldown.  He refocused, and he at least got the Mets through the sixth inning. If you wanted to justify giving him another start, you had it right there.

As it stands anyway, it does not seem like Jason Vargas is going to be ready in five days.  Corey Oswalt was held out of his last start with an illness meaning he’s no longer lined up for Harvey’s next start, and it’s not likely Chris Flexen is going to be lined up for Harvey’s next start either.

With the Mets in the midst of 10 straight games without an off day, and the team playing 15 games over the next 16 days, including stops at Atlanta, St. Louis, and San Diego, they should avoid using Robert Gsellman or Seth Lugo for a spot start.  The bullpen has issues of its own with the team twice needing to go into the minors to get a fresh arm, and after Gerson Bautista‘s performance last night, they may need to do it again.  The bullpen issues need not be exacerbated for the sake of one start.

Really, all signs indicate Harvey should probably get just one more start.  However, if that does happen Jose Lobaton cannot be the one who catches him.

In the two starts they have been paired, Harvey has an 8.18 ERA and batters are hitting .348/.367/.630 off of him.  Contrast that to the 3.60 ERA and .250/.302/.375 batting line opposing batters have off of him when d’Arnaud caught him.

Maybe it’s just the reflection of small sample sizes.  Maybe its’ the difference in opponents.  Maybe Harvey doesn’t jive well with Lobaton, or maybe Harvey needs a good pitch framer to get those borderline strikes to ensure he doesn’t have to pitch closer to the strike and hitting zone.

Whatever the case, we’ve seen a glimmer of hope with Harvey.  The team needs one more start out of him before Vargas returns.  You’ve invested so much into him the past few seasons.  Give him one last chance with the best chance to succeed with Tomas Nido behind the plate.

If that doesn’t work, you can honestly say you’ve tried all you can do, and it’s time to discuss bullpen, minors, or releasing him.  But before you do that, just give him one last start with every chance for him to succeed.