Oft times, managers catch too much blame for team losses. For example, last year, people were livid with Mickey Callaway for bringing in Seth Lugo, the best reliever in the game. That actually happened.
Then, there are times like tonight where you really have to wonder what the manager was thinking. Tonight was one of those nights for Luis Rojas.
The Mets had entered the bottom of the seventh with the game tied 3-3. Because life isn’t fair, the Mets failed to get Jacob deGrom a win.
deGrom has allowed just two runs over six innings. Both runs came in the fourth. Rafael Devers and Mitch Moreland hit a pair of doubles, and then deGrom unleashed two wild pitches allowing Moreland to score.
In the sixth, Andres Gimenez, who got his first Major League start at short, came up huge hitting an RBI triple in the sixth. It was his first career triple and RBI. With Lugo coming in, you had to feel good about the Mets chances.
Unfortunately, Lugo hung a curve to Christian Vazquez, who hit a solo homer to tie the game. Still, it was only tied, and the Mets had a chance in the bottom of the seventh.
Jeff McNeil was hit by a pitch, and Pete Alonso singled putting two on with one out. Michael Conforto failed to deliver the RBI, but he did advance the runners. That should have brought up Smith, the team’s RBI leader up against a tired Josh Osich.
To compound the mistake of using Davis as a pinch hitter, Rojas put him in left. That proved wrong when Kevin Pillar hit a fly ball literally every other LF in baseball, Smith included, catches. But that’s what happens when you have to play very deep to accommodate insufficient range to play the position, and Davis lacks the instincts and ability to read the ball causing him to let an extraordinarily playable ball drop in front of him.
That play was all the more problematic because Justin Wilson was on fumes. To put it in perspective, this was Wilson’s fourth appearance, and this was the Mets sixth game.
He would load the bases with one out. After Wilson struck out Devers, the bad luck would start. Moreland has a swinging bunt McNeil could not cleanly pick up. Then, for some reason with Dellin Betances earning and ready in the pen, Rojas stuck with the fatigued Wilson to face the right-hand hitting Vazquez.
Vasquez hit a bleeder past a diving Alonso scoring two giving the Red Sox a 6-3 lead. After Wilson walked Alex Verdugo to reload the bases, Rojas finally went to Betances, who got the Mets out of the inning.
From there, well, the Mets did what they do best. They ripped your heart out.
Heading into the bottom of the ninth, it was 6-4 because Cespedes crushed his second homer of the season in the eighth.
— New York Mets (@Mets) July 30, 2020
Brandon Workman had no command whatsoever, and the Mets loaded the bases with no outs. The Mets failed to tie it.
Conforto, who struggled mightily today, struck out looking on a 3-2 pitch on the corner. After an infield single pulling the Mets to within 6-5 because Devers couldn’t make a string enough throw, Cespedes came up.
Cespedes had a poor AB swinging at a 2-0 pitch out of the strike zone and whiffing on a 3-2 flat cutter in the middle of the strike zone. That put the game in Robinson Cano‘s hands. Sadly, he lined weakly to short to end the game.
Frankly, this was an abominable loss. The game was replete with poor at-bats in key spots, and Rojas made a number of mistakes. With Rojas, this is game six for him. We can and should expect better from him.
Game Notes: Jake Marisnick was put on the IL. Ryan Cordell was called up to take his place on the roster. Jordan Humphreys was designated for assignment to make room on the 40 man roster. Alonso had a four hit game.
The fun part about MLB debuts is you can never quite be sure how it will go. Will they be the player they were in the minors? Will the stage be too big for them? Or, will they rise to the occasion and take their game to the next level?
Peterson raised his velocity from the high 80s to low 90s to 94 MPH. He showed slightly better control. He rose to the big moments.
Case in point was the third inning. Former Met Kevin Plawecki hit a routine fly ball J.D. Davis misplayed into a double. After an ensuing walk to Andrew Benintendi, Brandon Nimmo sprinted and dropped a deep Jose Peraza fly ball to load the bases.
Peterson responded by striking out J.D. Martinez. Then, he got the ground ball he needed. It was an odd play where Robinson Cano was ruled to have caught a ball he seemed to short hop. The second base umpire had a delayed out call leading to Benintendi taking off for third.
Benintendi was finally tracked down in the run down as Plawecki scored. At that time, it was 3-1 Mets.
The Mets got that lead with a three run third. The first run game on a Cano RBI double. After that double, Nimmo was walked to load the bases. Amed Rosario then delivered a bloop single scoring two.
With the lead, Peterson was pitching well despite not getting much help from his defense. As mentioned above, Davis misplayed a ball, and we’d see Jeff McNeil throw a ball away. On McNeil, his arm may be something which needs monitoring because his throws to first haven’t been good. Really, the only standout defensive play came from Michael Conforto.
Michael Conforto, wow pic.twitter.com/yuviWa9DOp
— Jacob Resnick (@Jacob_Resnick) July 29, 2020
After that odd third inning run, Peterson starting putting up a string of zeros. That I included his inducing an inning ending double play to end the fifth.
Peterson hit the end of the line in the sixth. Rafael Devers and Kevin Pillar hit a pair of doubles pulling the Red Sox to within 5-2. Drew Smith came in for Peterson, and he had another impressive performance striking out Mitch Moreland to end the inning.
While Smith was impressive, the story was Peterson. He was much better than you could’ve hoped. With the increased velocity and better control, he suddenly changed what could be his ceiling. You could not ask for a better debut than this.
— New York Mets (@Mets) July 29, 2020
On that note, Cano started that rally. TGIF was a great night for him where he seemed rejuvenated. Overall, he was 2-for-3 with a run, double, and an RBI.
In fact, for the second straight night, the Mets offense was clicking. Overall, Yoenis Cespedes and Pete Alonso were the only two Mets without a hit. However, both would reach base safely with Alonso drawing a walk and Cespedes getting hit by a pitch.
Overall, if you’re looking for something to lament, Hunter Strickland struggled again allowing a run in the ninth. Still, there’s no need to focus on that with the Mets beating up on the Red Sox again and getting to over .500.
Today would normally be a good day. With Peterson’s great debut, it was a phenomenal day.
Game Notes: Despite entering the game as the team’s RBI leader and homering yesterday, Dominic Smith was benched again. In response to the Marlins COVID19 outbreak, they’re being shut down for the week. The Phillies series against the Yankees has been canceled, and the Yankees will play the Orioles instead.
Luis Rojas and the Mets had done nearly everything right, and they were one strike away from going to 2-0 on the season.
He got a lead in the fifth on a rally started by the same Michael Conforto we’re all told can’t hit lefties hit a double off Braves left-handed starter Max Fried. Conforto scored on an Amed Rosario RBI triple, and Rosario scored on a Jeff McNeil sacrifice fly.
Jeurys Familia was great out of the bullpen flashing the same power sinker which made him a great closer. Dellin Betances had a rocky debut for the Mets, but it didn’t hurt that Mets for a few reasons.
First, Rojas went to Justin Wilson to face Matt Adams. When Adams singled, it didn’t score a run because in the top of the eighth, Rojas brought in Jake Marisnick for defense. If that’s Brandon Nimmo in center, Adams single goes for extra bases and ties the score. Instead, the Mets got out of the inning with the lead.
Now, there were some questionable decisions. After Wilson Ramos led off the seventh with a single, Rojas didn’t pinch run for him even with the Mets having three catchers. Ramos was stranded at third (even if his speed wasn’t really the reason).
What made that interesting was in the eighth with two outs Rojas did pinch run Eduardo Nunez for Yoenis Cespedes. Nunez would steal second, but he would be stranded there. He was stranded there because in his first MLB at-bat Andres Gimenez.
Gimenez was brought in for defense for Robinson Cano even with Cano due up fourth. It’s not a bad decision, but you do wonder why not Luis Guillorme there when he had a good year last year, especially in those spots.
9th inning. 2 outs. Full count.⁰⁰
— Atlanta Braves (@Braves) July 25, 2020
For those defending the pitch, EVERY PITCH OF THE AT-BAT WAS ON THE OUTSIDE CORNER. Ozuna knew exactly the location allowing him the advantage of knowing to go the other way. You go belt high to a batter knowing the location, bad things are going to happen.
In the bottom of the ninth, the Mets had runners on first and second with one out, but neither Nimmo (who batted ninth) nor McNeil could drive in the game winning run.
In the tenth, we saw that ridiculous new rule putting a runner put on second to start the inning. That runner scored immediately when Hunter Strickland allowed an RBI single to Dansby Swanson. Strickland wasn’t good at all. By the time he allowed a RBI double to William Contreras, the Braves fourth string catcher, it was 5-2.
Honestly, when you look at this game, Diaz was not the only player to blow it.
Nimmo and McNeil twice had runners in scoring position in the late innings, and they failed to deliver the needed insurance run. They also failed to capitalize in the bottom of the 10th.
The Mets loaded the bases with no outs against Luke Jackson in his second inning of work. Instead of Cespedes up, it was Nunez, who hit a shallow fly. Dominic Smith pinch hit for Gimenez and hit a sacrifice fly pulling the Mets to within 5-3.
That would be the final score with Ramos, who was not pinch run for, grounding out to end the game. That groundout came on the heels of some interesting (if not questionable) decisions. It came on the heels of a number of blown chances.
In a normal season, a loss like this feels devastating. In a season where a game is equivalent to 2.7 games, it may actually be devastating.
Game Notes: Last year, Diaz had a 13.50 ERA with zero days of rest, and he had a 6.14 ERA pitching to Ramos. J.D. Davis has started the year 0-for-6 with two strikeouts.
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.
Rick Porcello and Dereck Rodriguez had a pitcher’s duel, and for a moment it looked like Robinson Cano‘s first inning RBI single scoring Michael Conforto was going to be all the runs the Mets would score.
For a while that was enough, at least until Dellin Betances allowed a two run homer to Mike Yastrzemski in the eighth. However, the Mets would not lose as Pete Alonso homered off Reyes Moronta with two outs in the ninth.
That lead grew to 5-2 when on the very next pitch Conforto would homer. That would be the final score with Edwin Diaz recording the save.
Steven Matz allowed two more runs in the fourth before getting the hook. Any chances the Mets might’ve had of coming back to get Matz off the hook were dashed when the Phillies knocked around Justin Wilson in the eighth and Dellin Betances in the ninth.
That made the 7-3 game an ugly 11-3 loss.
Both pitchers lost it in the seventh.
Cano homered for the second time in the game in the eighth. That three run homer put the Mets up 8-4. That would be the final score with Matz picking up the win. Dellin Betances earned the save.
The Mets scored three runs off Diamondbacks new ace Madison Bumgarner, and they never looked back.
Rick Porcello had what was probably the best start of his computer simulated baseball career allowing just one earned to the Cardinals over 6.2 innings.
Even though he had allowed just three hits up until that point, Luis Rojas went to his bullpen. Justin Wilson and Dellin Betances kept the Cardinals off the board heading into the ninth for Edwin Diaz, who converted the save.
In this 2-1 Mets victory, Brandon Nimmo hit a second inning RBI single against Cardinals starter Daniel Ponce de Leon scoring Wilson Ramos. In the fourth, Yoenis Cespedes hit a solo homer, which proved to be the game winner.