When Brodie Van Wagenen took over as GM, the Mets organization had an embarrassment of starting pitching depth. He was gifted a starting rotation which had Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Zack Wheeler, and Steven Matz.
Now, the Mets rotation this week was literally posted as deGrom followed by a bunch of TBAs. The reason? The starting pitching depth is gone. Kaput!
For some reason, Van Wagenen thought the old adage you could never have enough pitching didn’t apply to him. For some reason, he actually thought he improved the Mets rotation and depth with Rick Porcello and Michael Wacha.
Someone will undoubtedly argue the Mets pitching staff suffered a number of injuries, and Marcus Stroman opted out. But that completely misses the point. That’s exactly why you need quality depth. That quality depth is long gone.
Now, at the trade deadline, Van Wagenen could’ve looked at this and pursued another starter. Maybe he did. Maybe he didn’t. What we do know is not only did he not obtain a starting pitcher, but he would also get rid of one.
Van Wagenen traded Kevin Smith for Baltimore Orioles reliever Miguel Castro. He traded a promising left-handed starting pitcher who continues to improve and defy scouting reports for a reliever with a career 4.94 FIP and 1.409 WHIP.
Yes, Castro is talented reliever for sure, but his skills have yet to translate to tangible Major League success. This is the guy you take a flier on in the offseason. He’s not the player you overpay to get as your big time late inning reliever to help get your over the hump. Castro has not been and is not that guy.
As for Smith, he’s the latest starting pitching prospect Van Wagenen needlessly traded away for pennies on the dollar. Van Wagenen explained it away like Smith was a future fifth starter. That’s not too different from how he was dismissive of Dunn’s and Kay’s abilities before being shown how embarrassingly wrong he was.
In what should hopefully be Van Wagenen’s last trade deadline, he traded away his fourth starting pitching prospect. You could form what would’ve been a good Major League rotation with what Van Wagenen traded.
Instead, the Mets will gave zero starting pitching depth and next to nothing in return for all of these trades.
After a Mets player and coach tested positive for COVID19, they haven’t played since Thursday. They came back to play today, and they didn’t figure out how to hit with RISP during their time off.
In the fourth, Rosario grounded out with runners on first and second.
In the fifth, Robinson Cano grounded out with runners on first and second.
In the seventh, Brandon Nimmo led off the inning with a double. Davis grounded out. Conforto reached on an error. Cano lined out.
That was it. No, not because the Mets didn’t do anything afterwards. It’s because doubleheaders are only seven innings now. Mostly, it’s because Rob Manfred apparently hates baseball.
The Mets ultimately lost 4-0 because of their complete inability to hit with RISP. It also doesn’t help Rick Porcello struggled.
The Marlins got to him for three runs in the second. All three runs were scored with two outs. The key difference in the game was the Mets went 0-for-10 with RISP while Lewis Brinson and Miguel Rojas had two out RBI singles.
Porcello allowed another run in the third. It would be his last inning as he’d be pulled after a rain delay of over an hour. He was replaced by Corey Oswalt, who was the Mets bright spot of the game.
Oswalt allowed just one hit over the final four innings while striking out three. He’d also get some help from Dominic Smith.
WHAT A CATCH BY DOM SMITH!!!!!! pic.twitter.com/jPI6RAw6n8
— SNY (@SNYtv) August 25, 2020
Overall, this was a flat out bad loss by the Mets. They need to be better than this. Hopefully, they will in the second part of the doubleheader.
Game Notes: Andres Gimenez and Tomas Nido were put on the 10 day IL for “undisclosed reasons.” Juan Lagares and Patrick Mazeika were called up. Ali Sanchez was the 29th man for the doubleheader. McNeil batted eighth.
Time and again, we’ve seen Seth Lugo come up huge. That’s both in the starting rotation, where he wants to be, and the bullpen, where he has established himself as the best reliever in baseball.
When it comes to Lugo, it’s never really been a question of whether he could pitch in the rotation. The question is what is his best role on this Mets team.
As this Mets bullpen and pitching staff as a whole is constituted, they lean on Lugo’s ability to not just go multiple innings, but to also get the biggest outs in the game. With the current state of the rotation, you could argue Lugo’s ability to eat those innings in pressure spots makes him all the more needed in the bullpen.
With injuries and opt outs, Jacob deGrom is the only Mets starter guaranteed to give you at least five innings. That’s it. As a result, there’s an onus and strain on the bullpen.
The real value with Lugo is his versatility. He’s a one inning closer. He’s a long man. He’s there to bail you out of the inning. No one else can do what he does.
The aforementioned long men can give you innings, but they cannot be relied upon in a crucial spot. Right now, Justin Wilson and maybe Jared Hughes can be relied upon in a crucial spot, but they can’t give you more than three outs in a consistent fashion.
As we saw last night, the Mets bullpen is still very suspect in those late innings when Lugo is unavailable. Part of the reason is Dellin Betances, Edwin Diaz, and Jeurys Familia are occasionally prone to fits of wildness.
With respect to Diaz and Familia, they’ve made significant strides from their disastrous 2019 season. As previously explained, Diaz can likely be relied upon to close again. However, like most closers, he’s not as good or as reliable when being brought into a jam.
With respect to Betances, he’s not the same reliever he once was. His velocity is down, and he’s more hittable. As a result, he’s no longer the guy you can just plug into the seventh or eighth.
Now, you may want to argue Steven Matz may be able to be that guy. If that is the case, why remove him from the rotation and disrupt the status quo.
Taking Matz out of the rotation implicitly means the Mets don’t trust him. That goes double when the Mets won’t start him against a Martins team with the fifth wurst wRC+ in the National League.
Digging deeper, the Marlins are the worst offensive team the Mets face all year. This is the team you let Matz get right against. That is all the more the case when the Marlins have a 69 wRC+ against left-handed pitching.
All told, the Mets bullpen is already getting taxed. It’s going to get worse with every Gsellman and Oswalt start. Now, it’s going to get worse with each Lugo 2-3 inning start.
Removing Matz from the rotation now is a short-sighted panic move. The team simply doesn’t have the arms for three bullpen games through each turn through the rotation. They’re even less equipped without Lugo.
In the end, Lugo will be a good starter. It’s just that the entire team is not built to have Lugo in the rotation. The Mets should be aware of this, but as usual, Brodie Van Wagenen thinks he knows better than everyone. Each and every time he thinks that, the decision blows up in the Mets faces.
Chances are, this decision will too.
Around many corners, many were wondering if this was it for Amed Rosario. The one time uber prospect was struggling while Luis Guillorme and Andres Gimenez seemed to be forming an all-time great Mets middle infield.
That’s what small sample sizes will do to you. That’s also what the urgency of the 60 game season will do.
To their credit, the Mets haven’t given up on Rosario’s talent. Last night, they were rewarded.
It started as an ominous day. That was because in typical Mets fashion David Peterson‘s shoulder injury being worse than originally advertised. That led to Peterson being placed on the IL, and Corey Oswalt being recalled to make the emergency start.
Oswalt acquitted himself well. He threw three scoreless before getting into trouble in the fourth. In that inning, Jesus Aguilar hit an RBI double and come in to score on a Brian Anderson RBI single. That Marlins rally narrowed the score to 3-2.
The first two Mets runs came via solo homers off Marlins starter Humberto Mejia. The first of which was a Brandon Nimmo third inning shot which has continued his impressive stretch of extra base hits.
— New York Mets (@Mets) August 18, 2020
The Mets rallied in the fourth with another solo homer. After that Michael Conforto walked, and Pete Alonso hit a one out single. Dominic Smith would drive in the Mets third run with a ground rule double.
That put Oswalt in position for the win, but he would fall just short. Overall, his final line was 4.1 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 0 BB, 4 K. He’d also have a pick-off.
Magneuris Sierra led off the fifth with a single, and he would steal second. With the Mets holding a one run lead and the tying run in scoring position, Luis Rojas brought in Justin Wilson to relieve Oswalt with one out in the fifth.
They’d maintain the lead and see it grow as Rosario began to put on a show. In addition to making diving stops in the infield, we’d see his bat come back to life. We first saw that with a no doubter in the seventh.
— New York Mets (@Mets) August 19, 2020
He wasn’t done. In the eighth, the Mets loaded the bases, and Smith drew a wall forcing home a run. Then, Rosario came up and delivered an opposite field two RBI single effectively ending the game.
— New York Mets (@Mets) August 19, 2020
Nimmo delivered the final RBI with a single to increase the Mets lead to 8-2. In addition to Rosario, Nimmo had a huge game as well going 3-for-5 with a run, triple, homer, and three RBI.
Going back to Rosario, he was 2-for-5 with a run, homer, and three RBI. Perhaps more than any Met, he needed this one. Maybe, he just needed to get away from Citi Field as he’s been a MUCH better hitter on the road.
Whatever the case, he put together a big game with Guillorme and Gimenez seriously vying for playing time. He helped a Mets team desperately trying to right the ship. They’re now 11-14 and three games behind the Braves.
Game Notes: Wilson picked up the win on his birthday. Jacob deGrom appears set to start the series finale against the Marlins.
Well, the last place Mets took a series from the first place Marlins. That’s certainly something we never thought would happen in August 2020, but that’s where we are.
2. If you’ll note, since the Mets have been forced to switch to a vastly superior defensive alignment, they’ve begun winning.
5. On a related note, the Mets embarrass themselves, when they tout average plays as being great plays as part of their endeavoring to make a horrendous GM look somewhat competent.
6. Gimenez shows how great the Mets had been identifying Major League talent in the draft and international free agent market during the Sandy Alderson era.
7. The Mets bullpen had stepped up in August. Part of that is Edwin Diaz returning to his old form. No, it’s not because he’s out of the closer role. It’s because he has great stuff.
8. Seth Lugo needs to be used in the highest leverage spots. That’s not always the ninth, and that’s why he can’t be used as just a closer.
9. Speaking of pitchers with great stuff, Jacob deGrom is the best pitcher in baseball and not even a blister or “hot spot” can get in his way.
11. Jared Hughes is one of those players who come along and are a pure joy. Not only has he pitched well, but he’s also shown the ability to laugh at himself. Like the Juan Uribe era, the Jared Hughes era will go down as one of the most enjoyable in Mets history.
12. Even with the juiced ball appearing to return, the Mets offense has looked off all year. That’s most likely the result of their inability to hit with RISP.
13. Pete Alonso struggling doesn’t help either. The frustrating part is every time he appears to break out, he starts slumping again.
14. Mets have been lucky getting serviceable starts from David Peterson. He did it again in this series helping the Mets turn things around.
16. This further highlights how the Mets desperately need Marcus Stroman back. That was the case when Wacha was “healthy.”
17. Michael Conforto has a hit in every game this season, and Brandon Nimmo has reached in 30 straight games (dating back to last year). Somehow, Mets fans still have a hard problem embracing them and instead ask why they’re not perfect.
18. The Cardinals have only played five games, and seemingly every time they appear set to return, there’s another positive test. Maybe they should just be contracted . . . at least for the 2020 season.
20. If the Mets want to be taken seriously, they need to beat up on a Washington Nationals team who is undermanned and playing terribly right now.
With Marcus Stroman injured and the Mets senseless use of Corey Oswalt, the team put former first round pick David Peterson on the taxi squad, and they may activate him to make his MLB debut tonight. Certainly, this will be a popular pick among Mets fans who wanted him over Oswalt.
Hopefully, fans expectation levels are reasonable.
To a certain extent, this is like when the Mets called up Mike Pelfrey in 2006. Pelfrey was rushed up to the majors from Double-A because the Mets frankly ran out of starting pitching options. Pelfrey simply was not ready, and he’d pitch to a 5.48 ERA in four starts.
To a certain extent, Pelfrey profiled similar to Peterson. Like Pelfrey, Peterson is a sinkerball pitcher. Unlike Pelfrey, Peterson has a well developed slider with Pelfrey relying on a curve in college and the minors. While they struck out over a batter an inning in Double-A, they expectation for Peterson is he won’t do that in the majors.
It should again be noted Peterson pitched in Double-A last year, and he did not face higher level batters you see in Triple-A. His results in Binghamton were very much a mixed bag.
Overall, Peterson made 24 starts pitching 116.0 innings (4.2 innings per start). He was 3-6 with a 4.19 ERA, 1.345 WHIP, 2.9 BB/9, and a 9.5 K/9. Part of the reason for the low innings per start was an injury suffered last year, and it was also the result of his not going deep into games on a consistent basis.
While his traditional stats were not promising, some of the analytical numbers were quite favorable. For example, he had a 3.19 FIP and 2.91 xFIP. Other numbers were not favorable like a 10.5% HR/FB which coincided with a dropping GB%.
These stats coincide with what has been a very mixed opinion on Peterson from the moment he was drafted. When the Mets selected him 20th overall in the 2017 draft, some thought the Mets got a steal. There were some who thought that was the right spot, and there were a few who thought it was an aggressive spot to grab him.
Putting that aside, Peterson does have the stuff which suggests he can be a Major League pitcher. He has a low 90s fastball with sinking action. The spin rates on his fastball and slider are relatively average albeit on the low end of that spectrum. With all of these pitches, there is promise and real hope for improvement.
Therein lies the rub. Peterson is not a finished product. He still needs work on his fastball, change, and slider. Many times, that gets exposed.
On the other hand, Jacob deGrom was able to take his game to a completely different level when he was promoted to the majors. This isn’t to say Peterson will be the next deGrom. He won’t. Rather, at times, the extra adrenaline of pitching in the majors coupled with better coaching, helps a pitcher improve significantly.
Overall, Peterson is a pitcher with real yet still somewhat raw talent. He’s yet to fully hone his arsenal, and we really haven’t seen him have the level of game-to-game consistency you want from a pitcher before calling him up.
That said, the Mets have put themselves into a box and may have to call him up. The hope there is Jeremy Hefner can work with him to accelerate his development, and that the work he’s been putting in translates to him being able to succeed at the Major League level.
It’s certainly possible, but that said, we probably should expect more early Pelfrey than early deGrom.
Last night, Corey Oswalt was thrust into action, and well, he was terrible. In addition to allowing two inherited runners from Rick Porcello to score, he allowed five runs over four innings. He was sent down after that poor performance.
Looking at Oswalt’s career, it’s difficult to say last night was surprising. After all, over the last two years, he has made 12 starts and seven relief appearances with uninspiring results. Overall, he was 3-4 with a 6.43 ERA and 1.458 WHIP.
There’s nothing there which would suggest last night was a fluke. In fact, last night wasn’t a fluke. Really, last night was a microcosm of why Oswalt has struggled so mightily in his Major League career.
Even if the Mets would not officially confirm it, Oswalt was slated to be the Mets fifth starter. He was supposed to be preparing for a Tuesday start against the Boston Red Sox.
Instead, Oswalt was rushing to warm up to relieve and bail out Porcello. Luis Rojas could have used an actual relief pitcher to get the Mets out of the inning and then switch to Oswalt. He also could’ve gone to Paul Sewald, who has experience entering a game with runner on and giving the Mets multiple innings.
Instead, Oswalt was rushed to warm up and again put in a position to fail. This has been the story of Oswalt’s brief MLB career.
We have seen Oswalt flown cross country and make relief appearances on fewer than three days rest. We’ve seen him sit for weeks unused. He’d been shuttled back-and-forth between Triple-A and the majors and shuffled between the rotation and bullpen.
No pitcher can develop, thrive, and succeed under these circumstances. It’s simply bizarre the Mets continue to do this with Oswalt and expect different results. If this was any team other than the Mets, you’d be shocked a team would treat a prospect this way.
When you look at his career, he really only had one almost normal stretch of starts in the Majors. From July 4 – August 16, he made seven starts (plus an additional one in Triple-A), and he was 2-1 with a 4.26 ERA while averaging 5.1 innings per start.
When you take out his first poor start, which came on the heels of his being unused for over a week, Oswalt was 2-1 with a 4.24 ERA while averaging 5.2 innings per start.
No, these are not great numbers. However, these numbers show the then 24 year old rookie had the ability to pitch at the Major League level. With some time to develop, he could’ve improved and maybe emerged to be more than the fifth starter he appeared to be.
Maybe not. Fact is, we don’t and can’t know. The biggest reason why is the Mets absolutely refuse to put Oswalt in a position where he can succeed. Somehow that includes this year for a team with no starting pitching depth. It’s just ponderous.
Hopefully, at some point someone will present Oswalt with a chance to succeed. When he gets that chance, he may well prove everyone who says he can’t succeed wrong, very wrong. For that to happen, it may have to happen with a different organization, one who believes in helping all of their pitchers succeed.
Baseball is finally back, and the Mets offense looked like they haven’t played a game since September losing 2/3 to the Braves.
1. Jacob deGrom is still the best pitcher on that planet.
2. And Seth Lugo is still the best reliever.
3. Yoenis Cespedes homering on Opening Day to help give the Mets a 1-0 victory may be the highlight of the season . . . especially if the backend of the rotation will be this bad.
5. With the exception of the Braves offense going bezerk yesterday, it appears the juiced ball is gone. That’s going to be a problem for some of the Mets hitters who relied upon it.
7. That goes double when his defense is that bad. It’s already turned a single into a double and an out into a game altering RBI double.
8. No, you don’t want to overreact to a slow start, but remember a three game set is the equivalent of eight games. That’s over a week of the season.
9. On that note, Porcello was bad last year, and Davis was extraordinarily lucky with his hitting a juiced ball. These two are more than worth monitoring and having a short leash.
10. As for Porcello, he’s locked in the rotation because the Mets have no starting pitching depth. That, and there’s no way the Mets bench him and his prorated $10 million.
11. One of these days, Corey Oswalt will be given a legitimate opportunity to succeed. Last night, being rushed to warm up and brought into the middle of an inning when he was supposed to be preparing to start on Tuesday isn’t remotely giving him a fair shake.
12. Aside from Oswalt imploding, the Mets bullpen looked really good with Jeurys Familia rediscovering his power sinker.
14. One nit to pick with Rojas is he needs some consistency. You can’t let Wilson Ramos run the bases with three catchers but pinch run for Cespedes with two outs and a runner on first. It doesn’t make sense to make wholesale defensive changes and leave Dominic Smith on the bench.
16. Diaz’s stuff has looked great. However, that was a bad pitch to Marcell Ozuna. He threw five straight pitches to that side of the plate, and the previous day he went there to strike Ozuna out. Ozuna couldn’t have had a better idea what that pitch was going to be even if he was a Houston Astro.
17. That spoiled a GREAT start from Steven Matz who has seemingly taken another step forward from his second half turnaround. That added velocity and improved change makes him a legit number two instead of the one he is on paper.
18. Mets are going nowhere if Marcus Stroman‘s injury is serious.
19. We have seen Travis d’Arnaud and Tyler Flowers miss this series with COVID19 symptoms. Marlins catcher Jorge Alfaro tested positive along with some teammates. It appears with catchers unable to socially distance during games, they are the players facing the brunt of the COVID19 risks.
20. It’s great having baseball back even with the universal DH and extra inning rules bastardizing the game. On the later, with all four extra inning games ending in the 10th, Rob Manfred may really push for that rule to stay. Naturally, the universal DH fans who love gimmicks to produce offense must love that.
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 were bludgeoned by the Yankees over the two game exhibition set by the combined score of 15-3. The key word there was exhibition.
Neither of these two games counted, and they had all the weight and importance of a Spring Training game. That’s because it was Summer Camp, which was really Spring Training Part Deux.
Really, when you break it down, almost none of what happened the past two games matters. That’s even if you want to get bent out of shape about the Yankees homering off of Corey Oswalt, Drew Smith, and Chasen Shreve, i.e. bullpen bubble guys.
That’s not to say there weren’t some important takeaways. There absolutely were. It’s just the final score of home run barrage weren’t close to them.
The biggest takeaway was Yoenis Cespedes was able to play consecutive days, and he looked good running. He also only played three innings in left meaning he’s not quite in a spot to play the outfield just yet. Put another way, on a team of DHs, he’s the Mets DH.
Jed Lowrie still isn’t really playing, and the Mets have no idea when he can play. Basically, it’s 2019 all over again. To a certain extent, in this topsy turvy COVID19 world, it’s nice having some consistency.
It appears with Wilson Ramos missing these two games to attend to an undisclosed family matter and Rene Rivera being added to the 40 man roster, Tomas Nido might be the Mets Opening Day catcher. Somewhere the rehabbing Noah Syndergaard must be ripping his hair out.
On the topic of Opening Day, Jacob deGrom had a good bullpen session, and he appears set to go.
In that Opening Day lineup, all indications are Robinson Cano will start the year batting third . . . again. Of course, this once again means this wasn’t a Mickey Callaway decision, but rather a Brodie Van Wagenen one. That is, unless, you believe Luis Rojas independently reached the same decision, and Van Wagenen isn’t still trying to prop up his former client he used Jarred Kelenic to obtain.
More than any of this, it’s great having baseball back with Gary, Keith, and Ron calling games. Let’s all just cherish this, hope everyone stays safe, and the Mets got the work in they needed to start their path towards winning the 2020 World Series.