In tonight’s game, you got to see reasons why the Mets should and should not fire Mickey Callaway.
Over his first six innings, he allowed just two hits with one of those being a second inning Juan Soto solo homer. Entering the seventh, the score was tied 1-1 partially thanks to a Jeff McNeil fifth inning RBI single. With Wheeler at 99 pitches, you expected Callaway to pull Wheeler.
However, with Wheeler dominating and the Mets in a stretch of 14 straight games without an off day, Callaway pushed him. When Wheeler struck out Soto, you got a sense it was the right move. It probably still was even with Gerardo Parra hitting a single and Brian Dozier getting his first hit off a Mets pitcher this year. Unfortunately, that was a two run home run giving the Nationals a 3-1 lead.
While you may question sending Wheeler out for the top of the seventh, you have to give Callaway credit for utilizing his bench to take the lead in the bottom of the inning.
Wilson Ramos led off the inning with a single off Wander Suero, who was in his second inning of work. After Carlos Gomez struck out, Callaway sent up a pair of pinch hitters for Juan Lagares and Wheeler.
Dominic Smith walked putting the tying run on base. Then, J.D. Davis came up for Wheeler. Apparently, the Nationals are the only team who doesn’t have a scouting report on him because with two strikes against him, Suero didn’t throw a fastball to him. Nope, he hung a curveball, and Davis hit it off the top of the right field wall and out for a go-ahead three run homer:
— New York Mets (@Mets) May 22, 2019
The Mets had a lead with an opportunity to win their first game when trailing in the seventh. For some reason, Callaway went to Jeurys Familia despite his pitching 1.1 innings yesterday and struggling in that second inning, and that’s nothing to say of his coming off the IL recently.
Familia didn’t have it. Howie Kendrick hit a leadoff single, and he scored on a Trea Turner RBI double. Kendrick was able to score there partially because Davis, who is not a left fielder, couldn’t handle a ball hit to the corner.
Callaway went to Daniel Zamora to get Soto and Parra out. Soto jumped all over the first pitch hitting a go-ahead RBI double. After Zamora retired Parra, Tyler Bashlor came in and got Victor Robles out. Certainly, with how good Bashlor has been of late and with Familia going more than an inning yesterday, Callaway looked bad when Bashlor got that huge out.
We’d soon forget that as Callaway’s team played hard for him. That started with Pete Alonso, a player vocal in his support of Callaway, hit a mammoth homer in the eighth, tying the game:
— New York Mets (@Mets) May 22, 2019
Seriously, no one could quite tell if that was fair or foul. What we do know was that was Tommie Agee-esque, and it’s a new Mets rookie record for most first half homers.
With that homer and Edwin Diaz pitching a scoreless ninth, the Mets had a chance at a walk-off win.
Kyle Barraclough came in and got deep into McNeil’s kitchen. McNeil hit a bloop toward second. Dozier got cut waiting on it. This led to getting Davis out at second easily, but Hechavarria and McNeil were easily safe. This put the game in Amed Rosario‘s hands . . . and feet.
METS WIN!!! pic.twitter.com/CQFdgKwmQM
— SNY (@SNYtv) May 22, 2019
Rosario hit a high chopper to short. Turner had to back up on it, and just as he was about to throw, McNeil jumped in his line. Maybe it made a difference, and maybe it didn’t. Whatever the case, the throw was a tad high, and with Rosario absolutely busting it down the line, he was safe by a half step, and the Mets won the game 6-5.
A week ago, the Mets lose this game. However, a team playing for a manager they apparently seem to like and respect, they pulled this one out. Even with a couple of questionable moves, maybe Callaway is the right guy for the job. He was at least for tonight.
Game Notes: Brandon Nimmo was a late scratch from the lineup with a neck injury.
When a team disappoints, the manager will be on the hot seat. So far this year, the Mets are one game under .500, the organization had a meeting to discuss what was wrong with Mickey Callaway and to see if there are things the team can do to prevent a repeat of what happened last year. Considering how the team traded away all those prospects in a clear win-now move, it does not seem Callaway is going to stand on firm footing.
The question is whether Callaway should be on the hot seat. The Mets Bloggers offer their views:
There’s no question about it. I never like to blame the roster or it’s issues on the manager, but the fact remains they have under-performed to this point in the season. The schedule has been rough, but that’s not an excuse for good teams. And the decision making in the dugout continues to be perplexing at its best, which only exacerbates the problems they have. I think there could be action taken if the Mets don’t come through what should be a lighter 16 games heading into Memorial Day over .500.
Tim Ryder (MMO)
Unfortunately, yes, I think he should be. His players appear to enjoy playing for him. But if the results aren’t there, despite his players’ support, he’s gonna have a hard time sticking around.
Joe Maracic (Joe Art Studio)
I never want to see someone lose their job but Mickey should be on the hot seat. Back to back seasons of starting strong then fading is not a good sign. He was a pitching coach and has been anything but creative handling the staff.
Mark Healey (Gotham Baseball)
Should he be? Yes, this team was built to get off to a fast start and should have, despite the injuries. I like Mickey, seems to be a good man who the players seem to like. But that sounds like how people described Terry Collins for the majority of his tenure. Will he be? Hard to tell. Brodie didn’t hire him, and Jeff Wilpon is reactive, so if the team starts creeping toward being 10 games under, a change will be made.
Here’s the rub for me; the heir apparent is Jim Riggleman, who is the living embodiment of a retread. Not much winning in his background, but a get along, go along persona that will fit right in with an organization that thinks scripting the lineup is the way to run the day-to-day. Think a more assertive, more veteran type of skipper is needed in New York, esp a team that has a perception of not being “all in” financially. A guy who can get more out of players, a guy who has the confidence to walk into his office, see a lineup on his desk, and choose to write up his own if he feels it will be a better one.
Metstradamus (Metstradamus Blog)
He will be, but he shouldn’t be. I think he should get the season and I think that’s probably going to be it for him. But this team started struggling when it stopped hitting. The players that stopped hitting were Brodie’s acquisitions. They may come out of it and when they do, everything will be fine again. Callaway hasn’t been the best, but we’re living in an age where front offices are taking more of a role in how a manager does his job and makes more decisions than ever. More of what makes a manager successful these days is having a good bench coach. So a manager does less and less, right? Then why now, when we look at fall guys, do we still look at the manager? And if Callaway goes, who replaces him long term, assuming Riggleman is the interim for the season? Is it going to be Joe Girardi or Buck Showalter or Wally Backman? Can you picture the Wilpons hiring a strong personality like that? Okay, so Callaway’s long term replacement is probably going to be somebody else just like Callaway. So my quesion is: what’s the point? Fire Callaway if you want. It won’t do much. This is the way we’re going in baseball now. GMs and team presidents are the stars of the show now. The only question is how long are they going to get away with using managers as scapegoats before people pull back the curtain and realize that front offices have most of the responsibility these days anyway?
Greg Prince (Faith and Fear in Flushing)
The hot seat is a terrible concept, but Mickey Callaway hasn’t been much of a manager.
James Schapiro (Shea Bridge Report)
To me, it seems like too many fans judge managers mostly based on whether or not they look like Lou Brown from “Major League.” I’ve seen a lot of people saying things like “Mickey has no fire” or “this team isn’t hungry enough,” or things like that, but I think the simple truth is that we hit a bunch of offensive skids (Robinson Cano, Michael Conforto, Pete Alonso, Wilson Ramos, Jeff McNeil to an extent, Todd Frazier, J.D. Davis, Brandon Nimmo) and not many teams could overcome that. To me, the manager barely matters at all, and in terms of actual managing, I’d say Mickey has been pretty much solid so far. If there was someone else who could make the team better, I’d say sure, go out and get them — but I don’t think the manager is where our problems are coming from right now, and our problem certainly isn’t some ridiculous 1950s-style intangible, like “not wanting it more,” that could be fixed if we just brought in a guy with a beer gut and a mustache who cursed a lot.
Greg Prince (Faith and Fear in Flushing)
Lou Brown was an analytics pioneer. Knew exactly how many wins the Tribe would need to take the division.
James Schapiro (Shea Bridge Report)
Oh, believe me…the moment the Mets call the California Penal League and sign a big arm with no control who doesn’t realize he needs glasses, Lou Brown is the guy you want.
Until then, though…
There are many and varied valid criticisms of Callaway. Personally, I find his willingness to just burn pinch hitters late in game to be a bizarre move, especially when the front office routinely gives him short benches. But when you look at it, this is the team the front office gave him.
There’s no amount of managing Callaway can do to make Cano younger, or to make players who are playing through injuries, like Nimmo, play better. Also, when a team buys into Chili Davis‘ offensive approach like the Mets seemingly have so far, you begin to realize this is more a problem of design than execution.
When looking at Callaway, you do see a team continuing to play hard, and you do see the team pitching well. These are two areas which could be attributable to Callaway. You also see a manager handling the bullpen much better than he did last year. Taking a long term view, the real strength of this team is the pitching, and it has been Callaway and Dave Eiland who has taken them to the next level.
What the Mets need to do before even considering putting Callaway on the hot seat for the inherent flaws in this roster, is they need to figure out who they can hire to keep Eiland around even if they fire Callaway. Short of Girardi, is there really anyone? Of course, the next step is to figure out why Girardi would make this team his last stop or how exactly the Mets plan to pay him.
No matter what the Mets decide with Callaway, this great group of fans and bloggers aren’t going anywhere. You should do yourself a favor and follow the links to their sites to read their great analysis of Callaway and all things Mets.
The Mets went to Atlanta in first place, and they leave a half-game back. At one point, it didn’t seem like it was going to be the case, but that is how it proved to shake out. There were a number of reasons why:
- The Mets had the Braves on their heels, and they were in a position for a statement making four game sweep. Instead, they walk away with a split. The biggest reason why is they started Jason Vargas.
- The Mets need to give Corey Oswalt an opportunity to succeed. They had him rush to be ready to relieve on three days rests, and they instead had him on extended rest. They then decide to have him rush his warm-ups to enter a game with runners on base. How did they think his outing on Saturday was going to go.
- The Mets have to make a decision once and for all with the fifth starter spot. Enough of these half measures. It’s either Vargas or an open try out. You can’t keep pushing Vargas back and putting more pressure on the rest of the rotation. It’s still April, and the Mets are running their rotation like it’s late September and there’s a postseason spot on the line.
- Dave Eiland said it well when he said no one can succeed with how the Mets are handling Vargas. If the team doesn’t trust him, name Oswalt or Chris Flexen the fifth starter or sign Dallas Keuchel. If they do trust him, keep him in the rotation on regular rest. Overall, don’t make things worse than they already are.
- If the Padres get Keuchel on top of signing Manny Machado and having Fernando Tatis Jr. being the season in the majors, the Padres will be everything Brodie Van Wagenen has purported the Mets to be.
- The Mets sold us they needed Pete Alonso on the Opening Day roster to win the division. In that time, they won eight games. With their starting Vargas, they gave one of those wins back, and Vargas (or the fifth starters spot) has at least 28 starts to go.
- Just as we all expected, Steven Matz has been the best pitcher in the Mets rotation. If he continues to be so, he’s going to help overcome a lot of the problems created by the fifth starter spot.
- Zack Wheeler and Brandon Nimmo showed in Atlanta we should not overreact to slow starts from people who have historically performed. That is something to remember as Robinson Cano is hitting .183 with a -0.3 WAR.
- Michael Conforto is playing like an MVP candidate. Mets should be looking to lock him up, and don’t play the Scott Boras card. The Nationals locked up Stephen Strasburg. It may be an uphill climb, but it is possible if you have the will.
- With Jacob deGrom struggling with Wilson Ramos behind the plate, we can probably put to rest the insane notion deGrom’s last start was attributable to Travis d’Arnaud.
- The biggest warning sign with deGrom is batters hitting the long ball against him again. It may be just a slight adjustment, but he needs to find a way to keep the ball in the ballpark again. On the other hand, deGrom is striking out batters more than he ever has (14.7 K/9).
- Ramos really needs to step up his game. He’s been quite poor behind the plate with very poor pitch framing and balls getting by him. While he’s hitting, he’s bound to regress as he’s hitting for no power, and he’s hitting the ball on the ground.
- While J.D. Davis hit that homer, his defense is hurting the team. Yesterday, his inability to make a play on an Ender Inciarte infield single helped drive up deGrom’s pitch count, and it led to deGrom not being able to have the pitcher lead off the top of the third. These little things always look large.
- Mets defense is the worst in the National League, and Davis leads the way with a -5 DRS. This is why when Todd Frazier is ready, the team should give consideration to keeping Luis Guillorme up. Another reason why is Amed Rosario (-3 DRS) has not played a particularly good shortstop.
- If Frazier was smart, he would not come up one second before he was ready. He can ill afford another injury plagued year, and with the team’s depth, if he doesn’t get off to a hot start, he may never get off the bench.
- It’s odd how quiet things are surrounding Jed Lowrie.
- Sometimes we over focus on what guys are instead of understanding their roles. Paul Sewald is well suited for mop up duty and for eating up innings. The 1.1 innings he gave yesterday helped save the pen a bit.
- The Mets offense is humming, but there are some warning signs. Alonso is striking out 30.6% of the time. Jeff McNeil has a .439 BABIP. Ramos has a 64.1% ground ball rate. Who knows what to make of Rosario yet?
- The Mets have missed an opportunity in the past two division series losing a series to the Nationals at home and missing a chance to win or sweep a four game set against the Braves.
- With Tiger Woods winning The Masters, the Game of Thrones premiere, and the extensive Hank Aaron interview during the game, the Mets were a complete afterthought yesterday, which is a shame because that was a first place Mets team playing a bitter rival.
It may be every fan base, but it seems like whenever the Mets need to add players via trade or free agency, fans seem to look towards acquiring former players. It may not be just the fans either as the Mets bucked conventional wisdom by signing Jay Bruce and Jason Vargas last year. If the fans and organization wants to go down that road again, there are plenty of options this offseason:
Jose Lobaton – If he’s back, we may actually see fans boycott the team.
Devin Mesoraco – Other than like a one week stretch, he was terrible in every facet of the game. There is no way he should be back in Queens next year.
Rene Rivera – He would be a fine addition on a minor league deal to work with up and comers like Justin Dunn. If there’s an injury or two (ideally three), he could resume his role as Noah Syndergaard‘s personal catcher.
Lucas Duda – Fans used to debate at length whether Duda was a good or bad player. The debate is over. He’s now a bad player who has not much to offer anymore.
Asdrubal Cabrera – Unless Cabrera is looking to accept a utility role behind two still largely unproven young players, there would be no reason to bring him back to the Mets.
Daniel Murphy – There is a scenario in which bringing him back makes sense, but that includes the Mets moving at least one bad contract to put him at first base because his knees have made his already poor defense all the worse. There are many other variables past that making this a non-starter.
Jose Reyes – He shouldn’t even be playing for the Long Island Ducks next year.
Neil Walker – Considering he accepted a utility role for the Yankees last year, he could be willing to accept one with the Mets next year. If so, he could be quality depth for the Mets roster which has not had depth on their bench since 2015.
Carlos Gomez – Judging from last year, it does not seem like Gomez can hit much anymore, but he can still play defense. The Mets need a right-handed outfielder or two, and he would be a much better option than Austin Jackson by the simple fact he’s not Austin Jackson.
Chris Young – In 2014, the Mets made a $7.25 million bet Young still had something in the tank. They wound up releasing him, thereby allowing other teams to discover he did have something left in the tank. That something was hitting left-handed pitching, which is something he didn’t do at all last year.
Austin Jackson – He used up all the playing time he should receive in a Mets uniform last year.
Curtis Granderson – With Bruce, Michael Conforto, and Brandon Nimmo, you could argue the Mets have no need for another left-handed hitting corner outfielder. Lost in all of that is the fact Granderson is still a productive player who is great in the clubhouse. It would not be the worst idea to bring him back to let him serve as a mentor to the Mets young players.
Bartolo Colon – If you want him back, you deserve to see the Mets go under .500 again.
Matt Harvey – Harvey has basically said he doesn’t want to return. If you ask the Mets, the feelings are probably mutual.
Chris Beck – He was terrible for the Mets last year, so if you’re upgrading your bullpen, you should probably avoid the guys who were terrible for you.
Tyler Clippard – He had surprisingly good stats last year, which is all the more incredible when you consider he pitched in the AL East. Signing him to a minor league deal with an invitation to Spring Training is not the worst idea in the world.
Jeurys Familia – Familia is the best right-handed reliever in Mets history, and unlike the other free agent relief options not named David Robertson, none of them have proven they can pitch in pressure situations in New York. If you’re looking to compete, Familia could be a big boost to the bullpen.
AJ Ramos – The main reason Ramos didn’t work out this year was because he was injured. He did have surgery to repair his shoulder, but we don’t know what he will be when he is ready to pitch again. The Mets need far more certainty than that from their bullpen.
Fernando Salas – Salas helped pitch the Mets to the 2016 Wild Card, and the thanks he received was getting over-used by Terry Collins to the point he was released by the Mets in 2017. He returned to a slightly below average reliever last year. The Mets have plenty of those already.
Jerry Blevins – Even with last year’s struggles, Blevins has traditionally been a good LOOGY for the Mets. If Dave Eiland and Mickey Callaway think he can return to form, and he signs a reasonable one year deal, the Mets should bring him back.
Oliver Perez – If Brodie Van Wagenen had a sense of humor, he would work out a contract with either Manny Machado or Bryce Harper, but the day before the Mets officially signs either one of them, the Mets would announce Ollie was returning to the Mets organization.
Brodie Van Wagenen is the agent for Jacob deGrom, Yoenis Cespedes, Robert Gsellman, Todd Frazier, Tim Tebow, and others. Through his representation of his clients, Forbes pegged his 2018 commissions at $25 million. Now, instead of collecting commissions from these players and pushing management to either pay or play these players, he could be the one making the decisions for the Mets.
The mere idea Van Wagenen would take the Mets General Manager job is fascinating.
First and foremost, Van Wagenen would presumably need to take a paycut to join the Mets front office. He would be doing that to go from one high stress job to the next, and he would presumably need to work the same hours. His job will now come with public scrutiny and much less job stability. Considering all that’s involved, it just begs the question why Van Wagenen is even considering this.
If he gets the job, you then have to consider how his relationship with the Mets players will impact how he runs the team.
This past season, Van Wagenen said the Mets needed to either trade or extend deGrom. Does he do that now, or does he keep deGrom on his current contract and spend the money elsewhere? If the extension talks were ever to occur, how would he handle them? Clearly, he knows what deGrom wants. Does he give it to him in full? If he doesn’t, does the deGrom situation become a problem?
Can he trade Frazier to clear room for another player? Is he willing to keep Tebow in the minors all year, or if the situation presents itself, could he actually cut Tebow?
Go back to Cespedes. The Mets organization rushed him back to DH in the Subway Series. Does Van Wagenen rush Cespedes back from his double heel injury this year, or does he break ranks with how the Mets have handled injuries the past few years? Could his opinion on these matters be swayed by those players he used to represent and those who didn’t?
On that front, do the Mets players see Van Wagenen’s treatment of his former clients as favoritism? What impact would this have on the Mets clubhouse?
Speaking of the clubhouse, what impact would Van Wagenen have on Mickey Callaway‘s authority? Assume for a second Gsellman has an issue, and that issue was not handled by Callaway or Dave Eiland to his satisfaction. Gsellman has a prior relationship with Van Wagenen. Should he ever go behind the coaching staff’s back, how would it be received? Does Van Wagenen take his manager’s side, his player’s side, or does he effectively mediate?
Looking further, what impact does Van Wagenen’s relationship CAA have? Like the Mets have done the past few years, does he go towards them for the free agents, or is he willing to branch out and speak with Scott Boras about Manny Machado? Would Boras or other agents be cautious in their dealings with the Mets? Is there preexisting bad blood which would hamper or even infringe upon negotiations?
But it’s more how he handles the Major League team. He is now responsible for an entire organization. To that end, we know he is capable of running an organization. We don’t know if he can handle running a baseball operation, especially one where the Wilpons are rumored to meddle in even the smallest of decisions.
There are people already in place, and presumably Van Wagenen has a relationship with those people. Obviously, the dynamics of that relationship are about to change. There are many reasons why, including but not limited to the fact, Van Wagenen has people outside the organization he trusts. He will seek out their opinions and may even hire them over existing staff. That is certain to have ripple effects.
Overall, there are many minefields and issues which accompany Van Wagenen. There are the conflict of interests with this players, and the conflicts his relationships could have in the clubhouse and throughout the organization. It is interesting to see how the Mets and Van Wagenen himself handles the whole situation . . . should he get the job.
When the Mets hire a new General Manager, one of his, or in the case of Kim Ng getting the job, her, first duties is to decide if they want to retain Mickey Callaway as the Mets manager. Given how Callaway may come attached at the hip with Dave Eiland and seeing how this pitching rotation took off this year, you’d be inclined to keep Callaway on the job.
However, seeing Aaron Boone in Games 3 and 4 of the ALDS, we know a General Manager needs to look at much more than that. Basically, the new General Manager needs to assess not just if Callaway is the guy who can bring the Mets to the postseason, but he needs to assess if Callaway would stand as an impediment to the Mets winning a World Series.
In the regular season, we have seen some really good and really terrible things from Callaway and his coaching staff. The question is what is fixable and what are flaws which stand in the way.
The negatives have been oft discussed. There was the lineup card incident. Callaway had real difficulty handling the media. We saw him exhaust the bullpen, especially Seth Lugo and Robert Gsellman, early in the season. He was also not above continuing to go back to that well even with them being overused. At times, the lineups were outright baffling, and unlike some of his other issues, this was something which seemed to get worse (more traditional?) as the season progressed.
On the positive, the Mets players did progress. According to wRC+, Brandon Nimmo was the second best hitter in the National League. Michael Conforto returned to his All Star form. Amed Rosario went from potential bust to improving young player. Jeff McNeil emerged as an everyday second baseman. Lugo became a dominant reliever. As noted previously, the rotation improved. Mostly, this team did not quit even after the season was over after a 5-21 June.
We have also seen Callaway use analytics to inform his decisions. In April, he was started Juan Lagares because Jacob deGrom was a flyball pitcher, and the Cardinals starter, Michael Wacha, had reverse splits. Essentially, he is well versed in analytics, and he’s able to use them to inform his decision making.
He’s also an aggressive manager. On multiple occasions, he brought in a reliever to force the other managers hand. Instead of being reactive to another manager’s pinch hitting choice, Callaway ensured he brought in his better pitcher to get a worse hitter up at the plate thereby ensuring himself of the better match-up.
Essentially, there’s enough here to suggest Callaway is the right guy for the job, but make no mistake, it is not a clear-cut decision. While he was strong in motivating and developing players as well as being aggressive in his pitching decisions, his position player choices left something to be desired and arguably got worse as the season progressed.
In the end, if the Mets are going to keep him or replace him, they better be right.
One of the major positives from the 2018 season was how Mickey Callaway and Dave Eiland have rejuvenated the pitching to the point where this once again looks like a rotation which can lead the Mets to a World Series.
Through all the exploits, there was just one thing the Mets had yet to accomplish – a complete game shut out. Well, it took 162 games, but Noah Syndergaard would accomplish the feat.
In a completely and utterly dominant performance, there would only be one Marlin who would even reach second base. That was Magneuris Sierra with a two out double in the eighth. That amounted to nothing as Syndergaard responded by striking out JT Riddle.
In the complete game shutout, Syndergaard’s final line was 9.0 IP, 5 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 6 K.
It was the second complete game of Syndergaard’s career. Both complete games came this season. It was also the first shutout of his career.
Other than that, the Mets offense did just as little as the Marlins. Perhaps, this was just the last two teams in the division looking to go home for the year. Maybe, as Syndergaard would show, something was up with the bats:
Noah Syndergaard just broke his bat without making contact with the ball pic.twitter.com/SSBm9AWr2B
— SportsNet New York (@SNYtv) September 30, 2018
No matter the case, after the 1-0 game, it was time to say goodbye.
It was time to say goodbye to Jose Reyes, who led off and exited the game after a first inning groundout. With that, his Mets and likely his Major League career comes to an end.
While yesterday was his final game, it was one last chance to see David Wright in a Mets uniform.
It’s time to bid adieu to a bizarre and strangely beautiful 2018 season. The season was at times full of hope and at times full of despair. We say good bye to Wright and Reyes and usher in the next generation of Mets baseball.
It’s going to be very interesting to see where we go from here.
Let’s Go Mets!
Game Notes: Like yesterday, Amed Rosario was the player who substituted into the game.
While the Mets are trying to pull out all the stops against a Marlins team actively trying to lose games, over in Cincinnati, it seems Matt Harvey is starting to put things together.
Over his last three starts, Harvey has been terrific pitching to a 1.47 ERA, 0.818 WHIP, and a 7.0 K/BB ratio. Over these starts, opposing batters are hitting just .200/.257/.231 against the Dark Knight. What makes these starts all the more impressive is when you consider they have come against the Cubs, Braves, and Brewers.
That’s three quality offensive opponents in games all started in hitter’s parks.
But it’s more than just the opponents and the results. His velocity and control are back. As already noted, Harvey is no longer walking batters, and apparently, he’s not leaving the ball in a position to be teed up by opposing batters:
Matt Harvey, 96mph Fastball paint. 🎨🖼️🖌️👨🎨 pic.twitter.com/ZJ4RHx09yc
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) July 1, 2018
According to Brooks Baseball, Harvey is back to throwing 95+ with a slider near 90. Before getting traded to the Reds, Harvey was missing a tick or two on all of his pitches. In some of his outings, he had nothing but guts out there.
As noted by C. Trent Rosencrans of The Athletic, Harvey says he is feeling better than at any time since 2013. That’s notable because in 2013, he had Tommy John and in 2016 he was diagnosed with Thoracic Outlet Syndrome.
That could partially because the Mets never really let Harvey get back to full strength post TOS surgery. It also could be because Harvey always believed he was getting better and getting there. It just so happened that has actually proven true with the Reds.
Maybe the credit should go to Reds interim pitching coach Danny Darwin and an assistant pitching coach Ted Power. The duo, especially Darwin, are beginning to get credit for helping turn not just Harvey around, but also what was once considered a bad Reds pitching staff.
That’s not a criticism of Mickey Callaway and Dave Eiland. After all, the Mets duo has helped Jacob deGromreach another level in his game. They have also seen Zack Wheeler and Steven Matz possibly turn the corner in their careers becoming more reliably and healthy starters.
What it is an indictment upon is the Mets patience and their ability to properly evaluate their own players. After all, Harvey’s spot in the rotation was effectively taken over by Jason Vargas to be an effective starter this season. Therein lies the problem.
To that point, here’s the series of transactions and moves the Mets made immediately after designating Harvey for assignment:
- May 5th – Call up Hansel Robles
- May 6th – Call up P.J. Conlon for spot start
- May 8th – Call up Corey Oswaltas an extra arm in the bullpen
Since that time, the Mets have designated both Robles and Conlon for assignment. We’ve also seen the Mets give chances to Buddy Baumann, Scott Copeland, and Chris Beck. At a minimum, this is really bizarre roster management, and you have to question what the Mets saw in Baumann, Copeland, and Beck that they didn’t see in Harvey.
Even if you invoke all the Justin Turner non-tender defenses (wouldn’t happen here and the like), that doesn’t mean getting rid of Harvey was the right decision.
It’s not the right decision when you look at the pitchers who have made appearances and struggled in his stead. It’s not he right decision when you consider the team miscalculated on whether Harvey had something left in the tank. Really, they miscalculated on his being a disruption.
Since his being traded, the Mets are 14-30 (.318). They just had a 5-21 month. On the other hand, the Reds 26-19, and they were 15-11 in June.
Overall, both the Mets and Reds are sellers, and right now the key difference between them is as a result of the deal, the Mets will be looking for someone to take Devin Mesoracowhereas the Reds will have Harvey, who is suddenly a pitcher who is building up trade value.
In the end, it’s funny. Harvey was partially traded to remove a distraction to help them win ballgames. In fact, in pure Metsian fashion, the opposite happened. They fell apart with his replacement in the rotation, Vargas, going 2-6 with an 8.60 ERA and a 1.832 WHIP.
Back in 2015, Hansel Robles was a revelation for a Mets bullpen needing an additional arm.
He made some further strides in 2016. After that, he was much worse. What made it so frustrating was his stretches of just absolute dominance.
As we all know, he’d follow that with a complete and utter inability to get an out. Inevitably, he’d be there pointing to the sky again and again and again.
It was the finger point that was the most frustrating. In his mind, that 500 foot blast was a pop up to second.
Part of the frustration really was how despite his talent, he just couldn’t get the results. That doesn’t mean he wasn’t trying.
Maybe it was too many cooks in the kitchen. Maybe it was him ignoring all four and doing his own thing. Who knows with him?
As always with Robles, no one quite knew the answer.
Robles being designated for assignment makes the second time this season the famed pitching gurus failed to get through to a pitcher. The other time was Matt Harvey.
At the moment, the Mets decision to designate Harvey for assignment does not seem to have come back to haunt them even with Harvey showing flashes. It also helps Devin Mesoraco has been much better than the Mets could have ever imagined.
That doesn’t mean it was the right decision to designate Harvey for assignment. It wasn’t.
For proof of that, look no further than Jason Vargas, who is 2-6 with an 8.60 ERA and a 1.832 WHIP while averaging just over four innings per start. Really, when he takes the mound, the only people he’s fooling is the Mets front office and coaching staff.
This same coaching staff and front office are once again fooling themselves by replacing one of their guys with another AL Central pitcher.
Heading into this season, Chris Beck had a career 6.38 ERA, 1.760 WHIP, and a 5.2 BB/9. To that end, this year is his career year with him posting a 4.18 ERA, 1.479 WHIP, and a 4.2 BB/9.
Despite these being career bests, they’re poor numbers, which is why a very bad White Sox team released him. For some reason, despite trusting their internal talent, the Mets picked him up, and he’s been worse.
And yet, it’s Robles, a guy who has actually performed well in his career and had some glimpses this year, who would be designated for assignment.
It should also be noted Marcos Molina still keeps his spot on the 40 man roster despite his losing his velocity and pitching very poorly this year. In fact, his last start for Binghamton lasted just 3.1 innings. In that start, he allowed 13 runs (10 earned) on 11 hits.
How do you look at either Molina or Beck and decide Robles is the real problem?
Sure, you can be frustrated with Robles and believe he has done more than enough to be designated for assignment. What he hasn’t been is worse than Beck or Molina.
We shouldn’t be surprised by this at all as this front office constantly makes just plain decisions like this all the time. After all, Jose Reyes and Rafael Montero continue to be members of this organization while a score of more talented players have left this organization in their stead.
Over in Washington, D.C., even though the Nationals and Yankees were facing even more pressure than the Mets and Blue Jays to get their game in, they postponed the roughly game and a half they had to play. Perhaps both teams were aware they had important players they did not want to see get hurt, and it was better to do this another day.
Not the Mets.
Despite torrential rains, the Mets decided to play. Despite a rain delay which required the grounds crew to empty the coffers of diamond dust to eliminate the standing puddles on the infield, the umpires decided to let these two teams play.
Actually, check that, it was the Blue Jays who played a game. The Mets were there to get drowned.
For Zack Wheeler things started well enough. Sure, he didn’t get an 0-2 pitch quite up and in enough to Justin Smoak, but other than that, Wheeler was good over the first three innings. In that time, he had struck out six while allowing just the one homer.
Then came the inane rain delay precipitated by J.A. Happ not liking how he landed on the mound. The umpires did the right thing delaying the game to get the field in playing condition. It would have been a better thing to call the game because that field was dangerous.
And yes, someone did get hurt. Juan Lagares went back on a ball, and his foot hit the wall causing a sprained toe. Maybe if the ground conditions were better, he gets back to the ball quicker, and doesn’t need to jump. Maybe in better conditions, he’s better able to plant and go up. Or knowing Lagares, maybe he gets hurt anyway.
Fact remains, he got hurt in nearly unplayable playing conditions. That’s not okay, and the Mets and MLB should be forced to answer to that.
Yes, we know there were problems with these pitchers, but they knew the job when they took it on. It would have been unfair to expect 2015 results from each of these pitchers, but it was fair to expect a progression based on what we saw last year. We haven’t.
That includes Wheeler falling apart after that lengthy rain delay. He began the fourth and fifth yielding lead-off walks. He got through the fourth allowing a two run homer to Teoscar Hernandez. He wouldn’t get an out in the fifth leading Callaway to go to his bullpen.
While the Blue Jays, who play their home games in a retractable roof, were not bothered by the conditions, the Mets couldn’t manage.
Considering in his last start Happ allowed seven runs in 3.1 innings, his two hit seven inning effort made the Mets offense all the more embarrassing. It gets worse when you consider one of those two hits was a Luis Guillorme infield single.
Perhaps, that is also a reflection of the 4-9 hitters having all spent time in Las Vegas over the past year. It’s also an indication Michael Conforto is not Conforto anymore. With each passing day, we get closer and closer to asking the question about whether this is shoulder related.
In the end, there were really no positives until there were two outs in the ninth. That’s when Brandon Nimmo battled back from down 0-2 in the count to hit an opposite field home run. Really, this team needs a lot more Nimmo than whatever it is this team has right now.
That was once again clear after this 12-1 loss.
Game Notes: Guillorme became the first Met since Steven Matz to being his MLB career going 3-3.