Drew Gagnon

20/20 Hindsight: Mets Escape Bronx With Split

The Mets and Yankees had their first doubleheader since 2008, which was also their first doubleheader in one ballpark since the inception of the Subway Series. The Mets walked out of Yankee Stadium with a split, and they are still one game under .500. How that happened was quite eventful:

1. The Subway Series needs to stop. The Mets get four games against the Yankees while the teams they are fighting against for the division or Wild Card don’t have the same four tough games locked into their schedule all year. I don’t care how much fun it is, it is putting the Mets at a competitive disadvantage.

2. We can and should talk about payroll disparity and ownership commitment when it comes to why the Mets are the Mets and the Yankees are the Yankees. However, it’s more than that. The Yankees got Luke Voit and IFA money for essentially nothing while the Mets traded three prospects for J.D. Davis.

3. Speaking of Davis, it’s inexcusable hes’ one of three players who started both ends of the doubleheader in the field. Really, the team needs to stop trying to make this ill-advise trade work and instead focus on making decisions to help this team win games.

4. The Mets defense was terrible in the first game. Amed Rosario missed first. Todd Frazier threw one away. J.D. Davis couldn’t get to anything because he was sitting in the front row of the bleachers to make up for his lack of range. Overall, this is a terrible defensive club with a National League worst -51 DRS.

5. With respect to the poor defense, Juan Lagares is a -2 DRS in center, which seems unfathomable. However, if you look at the new stat called jump, Lagares is not getting the same read on the ball as he did over the previous two years. Who knows why that is, but until he figures it out, he’s borderline unplayable at this point.

6. Zack Wheeler needs to be better than this. Yes, the defense behind him was atrocious, but he wasn’t much better. It was not the defense who served up the homers to Gio Urshela or Luke Voit. Overall, his peripherals show he’s better than this, and he has shown himself to be a second half pitcher. You just wish he would get to being the second half Wheeler sooner rather than later.

7. Yankee Stadium is a real joke where pop flies to the infield in other parks go out. That said, Pete Alonso‘s homer in the second game of the doubleheader would have left Yosemite.

8. Alonso is becoming way too much of an all or nothing guy. Since May 1, he’s hitting .224/.300/.560 with 13 of his 30 hits being homers. He has also struck out 26 percent of the time while walking six percent of the time. As the season progresses, he looks more and more like this type of a hitter than he does the guy who set the world ablaze in April.

9. Alonso’s being in the top five in All Star voting is fun. We should celebrate that. However, it’s bizarre Mets fans are only rushing to help him when Michael Conforto and Jeff McNeil have been so good all year.

10. As noted previously, McNeil is hitting like Ichiro Suzuki. This shouldn’t be sustainable, but yet, it has been. Hat tip to Jerry Beach, a man whose taste in television shows is as excellent as his taste in managers is poor, for saying McNeil is like Wade Boggs after Gare tried to say McNeil wasn’t Boggs.

11. As much as I adore Gary, Keith, and Ron, they need to stop talking about the advanced stats, especially since they clearly don’t fully understand it, and they are mostly doing it to disparage them. Case in point was Gare saying how the shift only affects ground balls.

12. Jeurys Familia has been looking much more like Familia. He now has three consecutive completely dominating innings/appearances. We are getting closer and closer to trusting him in pressure situations again. And the Mets should if everything is ironed out as this looks more like a mechanical issue than a mental one.

13. The Mets bullpen has too many bottom feeders in it. At most, you can have one of Wilmer Font, Drew Gagnon, Tim Peterson, or Hector Santiago. You cannot have four of them. That’s how you start burning out productive arms in the pen and putting games way out of reach.

14. Yesterday, Brandon Nimmo, Robinson Cano, and Justin Wilson played in a rehab game in Syracuse. The team needs all three of them back as soon as possible to help this team go on a run, but the team cannot bring them back until each one of these players is fully healthy and ready to contribute.

15. Somehow, someway, Jason Vargas escaped the third allowing just three runs, and he got out of the fourth unscathed. When all was said and done, he had a quality start and a win. That’s a big credit to him.

16. Right now, Vargas is on one of the better stretches in his career. He pitched well against two good offensive teams, and he flat out dominated a terrible Giants team. The .286 BABIP and 83.3 LOB% would indicate this is not at all sustainable. That said, Vargas is getting results, so you might as well ride this out as far as this takes you.

17. Wilson Ramos seems to be doing with the extra days off here and there. Starting in May, he played less frequently, and he started to become much more productive. When Tomas Nido hits like he did in the first game of the doubleheader, the plan to get the over 30 and injury prone Ramos more rest becomes a more viable solution.

18. Speaking of back-up catchers, good for Travis d’Arnaud for turning things around with the Rays. In addition to catching, he’s also working out at other spots in the diamond. This is what the Mets should have done with him. Instead, they rushed him up way too soon, and they then DFA’d him in a complete overreaction.

19. There was a real fear this team was going to repeat it’s horrendous June of last year. So far, the Mets are 4-4 this month meaning they are just one short of the total win total from June 2018. While things could be better, things could also be a lot worse.

20. Mickey Callaway said about the team how he believes once this team gets back to .500 they are going to take off. With Nimmo, Cano, and Wilson in Syracuse and as Syndergaard puts it, the Mets are a second half team, it’s hard not to believe him.

20/20 Hindsight: Mets Season A Little Less Rocky

The Mets went from a very bad loss on Friday to winning a series against the Rockies, a team ahead of them in the Wild Card standings. All in all, it was a good weekend with a lot of great things happening:

1. Noah Syndergaard is not getting enough credit for reinventing himself on the fly. He’s lost his slider due to the new ball, and he’s adapted by throwing more four seamers and his curveball, two pitches he needed to develop further. He’s really turned a corner and maybe he’s on the brink of a stretch like he had in 2016.

2. It does seem every Mets pitcher likes pitching to Tomas Nido. It should come as no surprise as he is a first rate defensive catcher and pitch framer.

3. That said, we cannot have Nido being the personal catcher to Syndergaard and Jacob deGrom. That is especially the case when Wilson Ramos has been the Mets best hitter for over the past three weeks, and he has improved his rapport with the pitching staff. Fact is, Ramos has to play.

4. That said, Nido should play a little more. In the first month plus of the season Ramos played in 28 of 29 possible games, and he started in 22 of 29 games. The Mets played 28 games in May, he played 24 games and started 19. Apparently, easing off the throttle off the 31 year old catcher with an injury history has benefits.

5. Speaking of easing off the throttle, Robert Gsellman was dominant in his one inning on Friday, and then he didn’t pitch in the subsequent two days. Getting him more rest could make him more effective like he was earlier in the year. That’s the hope at least.

6. For those who were clamoring for Drew Gagnon in pressure situations, you got to see why Mickey Callaway was hesitant to put him in those spots as he allowed homers to David Dahl and Daniel Murphy. In three of his last five appearances, hes’ allowed runs with two of them being three run blowups.

7. That’s the thing with pitchers like Gagnon. They’re effective in a role like long reliever, but pressure situations are a different animal. From what we’ve seen, Gagnon definitely has a spot in a Major League bullpen just not in the seventh or eighth inning. That’s alright. There’s nothing wrong with having pitchers who can pitch effectively in certain roles.

8. Jeurys Familia has been great in his last two appearances retiring the side both times. If he’s turning the corner, the Mets bullpen is now more than just Edwin Diaz and Seth Lugo.

9. Todd Frazier is not this good, but he was also not as bad as he was to start the season. That’s the inherent problem with judging players over hot and cold streaks and especially over week-to-week production. Overall, what we have seen from Frazier is he’s a very good defensive third baseman who can draw walks and has pop in his bat. At least, that is what he is when he’s healthy. He’s healthy now, and he’s finally helping the Mets much in the same fashion Sandy Alderson thought he would.

10. The Mets need Frazier all the more because Jed Lowrie is apparently as real as the Tooth Fairy.

11. Speaking of moves which blew up unexpectedly, Robinson Cano has been less productive than Jay Bruce or Anthony Swarzak, both of whom have been traded in the division and are now working to beat the Mets.

12. With Juan Lagares having a -3 DRS in center and seeing Carlos Gomez play in center, the Mets should give a real consideration to seeing Jeff McNeil in center. As we see he has above average speed, good instincts, and an ability to quickly learn new positions. This would allow Brandon Nimmo to go to left field, which is a more natural fit whenever he comes off the IL.

13. Of course, if Dominic Smith continues to hit and play a passable left field, you could move McNeil to second. Of course, when Cano is healthy that raises a whole other list of issues. However, that falls under the category of good problems to have, which is a really nice change of pace around here.

14. Amed Rosario is an extremely talented player. We keep seeing glimpses of it, but we also see frustrating stretches. Part of this is the coaching staff with the Mets being one of the worst shifting teams there are, which has a negative impact on Rosario’s defensive numbers. There’s also the fact he’s still working to figure things out. Hopefully, sooner or later, something finally clicks.

15. Speaking of something clicking, Mets need to hope Pete Alonso is finally clicking again. While he’s hitting just .223/.298/.559 since May 1, Alonso is hitting .281/.349/.649 0ver his past 15 games. One thing to track here is Alonso is much better against left-handed pitching.

16. Bob Klapisch’s article in Bleacher Report on the Wilpons on their handling of their attempts to void Yoenis Cespedes‘ contract as well as all the other areas where the Wilpons are petty, over-matched, cheap, and whatever other adjective you want to use, is exactly the type or articles which need to be written instead of the paint-by-number fire Mickey Callaway articles which are being written.

17. Prior to this series against the Rockies, the Mets had exactly one series win against a team with a winning record. That series was the April 22 – 24 series at home against the Phillies where they blitzed them over the first two games before the Phillies destroyed Jason Vargas in the final game of that series. Things went sour for the Mets after that.

18. Mets haven’t been good for a while now, and it does seem like things are turning a corner. Fortunately, the Wild Card and division are still well within reach.

19. The Subway Series always seem to be a seminal moment in the Mets season. They appear headed in the right direction and the Yankees not so this next series could prove to be a springboard for the Mets.

20. What happened to David Ortiz was horrific, and instead of rushing to judgment like Dallas Braden, we should be just offering our prayers for Ortiz for a speedy recovery.

Murphy Is A Reminder Of Better Times

Things really changed for the Mets when they showed ZERO interest in bringing back Daniel Murphy. He was a clutch player who was a good teammate, and he loved being a Met. His going to the Nationals swung the future fortunes of both franchises.

Murphy left the Nationals, and now they’re terrible. Maybe it’s coincidence, and maybe it’s not. Still, tonight, we saw his impact on a team.

Against his old friend Jacob deGrom, he was 1-for-3. When deGrom was removed from the game, he hit a long homer off Drew Gagnon. It was the second homer of the inning against Gagnon as he melted down and ensured deGrom would be saddled with the loss.

Gagnon followed the homer by plunking Ian Desmond. Seeing this Murphy was the first guy over the railing. Again, good teammate who helps his team win.

Maybe it never mattered he left. Maybe the Mets were just destined to do what they always do because the Wilpons are terrible and not committed to winning.

Thing is the Mets are missing something whether or not it’s Murphy.

They had their ace deGrom gut his way through six innings allowing just two earned. The offense couldn’t get out of their own way against Antonio Senzatela, a pitcher with a 5.33 ERA.

He didn’t have one strikeout all night, and he had just one 1-2-3 inning over his six innings pitched. Part of that is the Mets hitting into two double plays, going 0-for-3 with RISP, and failing to take advantage of opportunities.

The biggest example was the fourth. Dominic Smith had a one out walk, and for a moment, it looked like Wilson Ramos was going to hit into an inning ending double play. Instead Brendan Rodgers whiffed Trevor Story‘s flip setting up first and third with one out. Mets didn’t deliver a hit or even a sacrifice fly.

If not for a Michael Conforto sixth inning homer, the Mets don’t score a run. Overall, it was basically Conforto and Smith who showed up tonight accumulating four of the Mets six hits.

Well, maybe Brodie Van Wagenen will finally look to do something about it instead of ducking the media and leaving his manager twisting in the wind.

Game Recap: This was the first time Ramos caught deGrom instead of Tomas Nido since May 17th.

Apparently This Roster Is Callaway’s Fault

Last night, Mickey Callaway trusted Seth Lugo to finish the seventh inning over Noah Syndergaard. Even with Syndergaard cruising, the numbers were the numbers. As a result, Callaway decided to go with his best reliever to get the team a win rather than let Syndergaard get himself into a jam. It didn’t work out.

Sometimes managers make the right move, and it doesn’t work,. Sometimes, you want the managers to have a feel for the game and stick with their starters. After all, that was the justification for Terry Collins sticking with Matt Harvey, and we know how that ended.

But it’s not just Collins/Harvey, it’s also Callaway/Syndergaard.

Take the April 10th game against the Twins as an example. Syndergaard allowed one earned on two hits. He came out to start the eighth, and he allowed three straight hits starting what was a four run inning which chased him from the game.

There have been a number of instances all year where Syndergaard was cruising and just like that he lost it. There was the game against the Tigers where he struggled in the first two, but seemed to settle down only to allow homers in back-to-back innings. There was also his game against the Padres where he allowed homers, and as he got deeper into the game, he began to allow more base hits.

If we’re being honest, while Syndergaard has been much better starting May 1, he still has his issues while he is struggling with this slider. He’s allowed the most hits in the majors. He has a 4.83 ERA, 83 ERA+, and a 3.60 FIP. He’s allowed the most hits in the majors. Most of his numbers, including his strikeout rate, now stand at career worsts.

This isn’t the 2016 Syndergaard who was one of the best pitchers in baseball. This is a very talented pitcher impressively gutting through starts giving his team a chance to win while he’s still trying to rediscover pitches he’s lost due to the new ball.

Point is, we have seen Syndergaard lose it this year at a moment’s notice. It’s one of the reasons why Mets fans and reporters have jumped at the chance to criticize him all year long. But now, all of a sudden, everyone gets amnesia and pretends like they didn’t say the things they said about him about a week ago.

While you can defend keeping Syndergaard in, you can also realize why Callaway would go to Lugo. What you don’t understand is the composition of the roster and why there hasn’t been more attention focused upon it.

Right now, this team has only two reliable bullpen arms – Lugo and Edwin Diaz. That’s it.

In yesterday’s game, the Mets started J.D. Davis in left field and Carlos Gomez in center. They rushed Jeff McNeil off of the IL. Against a Giants bullpen, they mustered just four singles over the final four innings. They played poor defense in the field.

When Lugo blew the lead, eventually Callaway had to go to Robert Gsellman. Now, Callaway does deserve blame for completely overusing Gsellman. It’s led to him being terrible. However, as bad as he is, Callaway’s other options are worse. Honestly, in a pressure spot who do you want him to pick:

Looking at those options and the players who currently comprise the roster, you see that even with Callaway’s faults, this is on Brodie Van Wagenen and the just ridiculously bad offseason he had.

Take into consideration the fact he gave Jed Lowrie a two year $20 million deal. That’s $20 million to a 35 year old with a knee issue. In true J.J. Putz fashion, the Mets didn’t discover anything during the physical before the deal was consummated.

In lieu of that $20 million, the team could have signed Adam Jones ($3 million) and Greg Holland ($3.25 million) and saved some money to add another bench piece or reliever. The point is the Mets needed more depth in the outfield and the bullpen, and Van Wagenen instead opted on another infielder.

Sure, we can criticize Callaway for his faults, but this isn’t on him. This was a poorly constructed roster, and it will remain that way even if he’s fired and the team replaces him with Jim Riggleman, Joe Girardi, Buck Showalter, or whoever else you could conjure up.

So go ahead, blow up at Callaway for using a terrific reliever while pulling a starter you have likely been killing all year. Get angry with him for putting in one of his not up to the task relievers in a spot. Get upset when the offense full of bench players and Triple-A starters can’t score runs in a close game.

Certainly, he’s the issue here and not Van Wagenen or the Wilpons who haven’t come up with the money for Dallas Keuchel or Craig Kimbrel despite the team desperately needing the. Make Callaway the whipping boy here just like Van Wagenen and the Wilpons want. After all, what good is a human shied if he’s not there to block all the the criticism really due to other people?

 

20/20 Hindsight: Mets Blow Another Series

You can understand blowing games against the Dodgers. They are both a really good and a relentless team. It really becomes an issue when you do it against mediocre teams like the Diamondbacks:

1. The most bizarre criticism of Mickey Callaway was his lifting Pete Alonso for a pinch runner in the eighth inning of a game where the Mets had a four run lead. By lifting him for Juan Lagares, you’re getting more speed on the basepaths, and you are helping bolster both the infield and the outfield defense. It was 100% the right decision.

2. The criticism over his use of Jeurys Familia and Robert Gsellman was understandable, but let’s not pretend there was another real option. Drew Gagnon was bad in his last two pressure situations. Tyler Bashlor had three consecutive blown saves, and he wound up being the losing pitcher in the game. Really, other than those two and with it being too early to utilize a fatigued Edwin Diaz, there really wasn’t a better choice.

3. On Familia, there appears to be two problems. The first is he’s walking too many. The second is the defense behind him. He has a career worst .344 BABIP (.312 career) and a 66.2% LOB (75.4%) career. Essentially, the Mets are combining a ground ball pitcher with a bad infield defense. Not a good mix.

4. We should again note that as of today Craig Kimbrel no longer has draft pick compensation attached to him. We should also note he is now only going to get a prorated portion of the salary he wanted. If you’re all-in, there’s absolutely no excuse for the Mets to not sign him today.

5. The Mets have a National League worst -48 DRS with Amed Rosario (-13), J.D. Davis (-9), Wilson Ramos (-7), and Robinson Cano (-4). That’s -26 DRS from your infield.

6. Davis had a hot start, but he’s regressed to the mean, and he’s now one of the problems with the team. His defense is unplayable across the diamond, and he has been hitting .248/.313/.385. Since May 1st, Davis is hitting .208/.238/.351. As a point of reference, Eric Campbell hit .221/.312/.311 in his career with the Mets.

7. Seeing Arizona is a reminder how much the Mets miss Wilmer Flores. Aside from the things he did well as a player, he would have been great for this clubhouse. Flores went through this in 2015 and 2016. He also knows what it’s like to go from struggling to fan favorite. His attitude, rapport with his teammates, and his ability to play is needed on this team.

8. Looking at the team Brodie Van Wagenen assembled, the players he brought in have combined for a -0.7 WAR. The best position player he has brought aboard was Adeiny Hechavarria. Not to unfairly dump on Hechavarria, who is playing the best baseball of his career, but no General Manager in the history of baseball should ever be in a position to say the most productive position player he added to the roster was Adeiny Hechavarria.

9. The Mets are winning behind the talented players left behind by Sandy Alderson. One of those players has been Dominic Smith, who the team didn’t even want to give a chance to win the first base position in Spring Training.

10. Smith has really proven himself. He’s in the best shape of his life, and he’s a better player having had better treatment of his sleep apnea. He’s been great in the clubhouse, and he finally got his chance. It’s an extremely small sample size, but he’s hitting .359/.519/.609 with a 1 DRS when he’s a left fielder.

11. The Mets are playing Smith and Davis in left field because the team went into the season with just two starting everyday outfielders. This has also led them to flipping coins over whether Carlos Gomez (79 wRC+, 0 DRS), Aaron Altherr (-40 wRC+, 0 DRS), and Lagares (40 wRC+, -1 DRS).

12. It should also be noted the Mets had a chance to give Keon Broxton more playing time to see if they could salvage him. Instead, they cut him so they could call up Gomez. Since being traded to the Orioles, Broxton is hitting .250/.300/.500 (0.2 WAR). That’s a clear upgrade over the mess they have now.

13. Between Broxton and Davis, that’s just five prospects and Bobby Wahl thrown away from nothing.

14. That is a good reminder when Adam Jones hit that game tying three run homer off of Gsellman. It’s important to remember here Jones signed for just $3 million. THREE MILLION!

15. Steven Matz needed to be better than what he was on Sunday. The team needed a lift, and he gave up two runs before he even recorded an out. He gave up five runs total. Yes, the offense and defense didn’t show up either, but the Mets needed more from him. To be fair, he at least gave them length to help the pen, and unlike most of the lineup, he actually had a hit.

16. This team sure looks a lot different when Seth Lugo is available. His ability to pitch well and give the team length certainly masks a lot of problems with the bullpen.

17. It is great to see the Jacob deGrom of last year return. Maybe it’s Tomas Nido, and maybe it’s just getting back into a groove, but he’s looked like the guy he was last year. Since May 1st, he’s allowed two earned or fewer in six of his seven starts. Even with the inexplicable clunker in Miami, he has a 2.68 ERA, 1.008 WHIP, and a 4.6 K/BB over this stretch.

18. The hysteria about the personal catcher for deGrom is muchado about nothing. If deGrom pitches well to Nido, let him pitch to Nido. We should also note his pitching to Nido also affords Wilson Ramos a little extra rest. That seems to be working for him with him hitting .293/.376/.500 since May 1.

19. Zack Wheeler could’ve been better on Friday, but he did give the Mets a chance to win that game, and he gave them length to help save that bullpen.

20. After playing 20 consecutive games and going 9-11 over the stretch, the Mets are in need of today’s day off. Seeing Mets fans completely overreact to Callaway’s every look and smile, the fans can use the day off as well.

20/20 Hindsight: Finally Back To .500

With the Mets taking 2/3 from the Tigers, the team is finally back to .500 effectively letting them hit the reset button and start anew:

1. The Mets should have swept the Tigers, but it’s hard to complain about winning two out of three and eight of nine, especially after being swept by the Marlins.

2. It won’t last, but with a pair of three run homers in the series, Adeiny Hechavarria is looking like the slugging second baseman Robinson Cano was supposed to be.

3. Wilson Ramos‘ power has returned exactly when the Mets needed. He hit three homers in the series and had four extra base hits against the Tigers after entering the series with just two homers and five extra base hits.

4. On Saturday, Ramos joined with Tomas Nido to hit three homers to carry the Mets offense in the 13 inning win. So far, Nido has been fine as a defensive minded back-up.

5. Todd Frazier is also stepping up. His bunt to beat the shift was almost as amazing as the diving stop he made to save a run. Over his last eight games, he’s hitting .321/.424/.429.

6. The Mets have completely mismanaged their outfield situation.

7. Brandon Nimmo was very hurt, and the Mets response was to drop him in the lineup, not get him checked out.

8. It’s fair to say Keon Broxton didn’t earn playing time, but the team had the chance to get him playing time and reap the rewards the Orioles are. To make it worse, the $500,000 bonus pool money was a nothing return as it needs to be spent by June 15 and any player deserving of the amount has been long signed.

9. That’s not to see there still aren’t players who could surprise. For example, not too long ago, the Mets signed Gerson Molina, who is impressing after not having played baseball in nearly three years.

10. Carlos Gomez is hitting .133. Aaron Altherr followed a homer in his first at-bat as a Met by going 0-for-5 and is now 2-for-36 on the season. Rajai Davis was designated for assignment.

11. As Sandy Alderson and Alejandro De Aza showed, and we’re seeing it again, you can’t completely overreact to the struggles of bench players for almost the sole purpose of throwing some red meat to your fans.

12. As great as it is to see Michael Conforto back, let’s hope he’s actually ready. Given what happened with Ryan Church, Mets fans should be holding their breath with the team flying to Los Angeles.

13. It didn’t work, but bringing in Edwin Diaz in the eighth was absolutely the correct move. It should also be noted with him needing 13 pitches to get that last out, pulling him after the inning was also the correct move.

14. Mickey Callaway pulled all the right strings in the Mets 13 inning victory, and he’s been much better recently.

15. Drew Gagnon deserves a pass for his tough outing. That said, it’s fair to question if he’s ready for that late inning set-up role.

16. Jason Vargas has only gone five innings against the five worst offenses in baseball. This is what an effective long man looks like, not a fifth starter. That’s still better than what Noah Syndergaard did.

17. Syndergaard has been quite mercurial this year, and it might be because of the new ball. He’s talked about having difficulty getting a grip, and if you track it, pitchers who use a slider instead of a curve seem to be disproportionately affected by the new ball.

18. Give Zack Wheeler credit for his ability to put a tough inning or start behind him and still go deep in a game. If he can just find a way to get into a groove the first time through the lineup, he’d be Cy Young material.

19. Seeing Pete Alonso and Dominic Smith play, the Mets should not be 100% convinced Alonso is the guy, especially as Alonso continues to regress.

20. You should take the time to read Nick Francona’s interview with Paul Lukas on Uni Watch, especially today.

Five Homers Not Enough For Thor Or Gagnon

The Mets offense got home runs from Amed Rosario, Adeiny Hechavarria, Pete Alonso, Aaron Altherr, and Wilson Ramos resulting in eight runs scored. In essence, even though the lineup has been decimated by injuries, they did their job against Gregory Soto and the Tigers pitching staff.

This should have been the Tigers tenth straight loss. It wasn’t because Noah Syndergaard and Drew Gagnon were bad.

The Tigers went up 2-0 in the first before Syndergaard recorded an out. Actually, that’s not technically correct as the second run scored on a Miguel Cabrera sacrifice fly.

That lead grew to 4-0 in the second when JaCoby Jones, a career .195/.297/.335 career hitter who looked like Al Kaline tonight, hit a two run homer.

For a second, it looked like Syndergaard calmed down, and the Mets would rally to give him a 5-4 lead. He’d lose that lead surrendering a solo homer to Cabrera in the fifth.

The Mets handed him back the lead after the inning, and he’d hand it right back in the sixth leading to his having to be bailed out by Tyler Bashlor.

On the one hand, with Syndergaard due up in the bottom of the inning, you understand Mickey Callaway sticking with him, especially on a night where Edwin Diaz was unavailable. However, this is the same Callaway who loves double switching.

Despite it all, the Mets went to the top of the seventh with a 7-6 lead. Unfortunately, Gagnon just didn’t have it tonight.

There was a brief instant when you thought he’d get out of it. After a John Hick‘s double, the Tigers had runners at second and third with one out. Todd Frazier made a nice play on a Josh Harrison grounder keeping the runner at third and getting the out at first.

There was no bailing out Gagnon when Jones hit an RBI double after that giving the Tigers an 8-7 lead. After a Brandon Dixon RBI single, it was 9-7 Tigers.

In the bottom of that inning, it looked like the Mets were primed to come back again, but a Frazier double play killed that rally.

Ramos homered in the eighth, and later in the inning, Dominic Smith came up with Hechavarria at second with two outs. He’d strike out against Joe Jimenez to end the inning.

With that, the Mets would lose this game 9-8. They lost the game to a team who lost nine straight and were 11 games under .500. They lost the opportunity to get back to .500.

Game Notes: In addition to Altherr, Hector Santiago made his Mets debut. He pitched scoreless ninth. Like Altherr did tonight, former Met Keon Broxton hit a homer in his first at-bat with his new team.

Lagares And Rajai Power Mets To Win . . . Seriously

With Jacob deGrom and Max Scherzer starting tonight, you suspected you were getting the pitcher’s fuel you’d normally suspect this to be, especially with how the respective offenses are performing. Both pitchers would deliver.

Between the two aces, the only run allowed was a solo homer by Adam Eaton, who the second batter of the game. Both aces went six innings with deGrom striking out eight to Scherzer’s nine. After six, Scherzer was in line for the win.

But he wouldn’t get it. The win would go to Drew Gagnon because he pitched a scoreless eighth and because the Nationals bullpen is hysterically bad.

In the eighth, Adeiny Hechavarria would start a rally with a one out double off Kyle Barraclough. Hechavarria was only in the game because Robinson Cano left the game with a tight quad after actually running out a third inning ground out. [Insert your own joke here].

Todd Frazier continued the rally with a two out walk. This walk led to the Nationals going to their closer, Sean Doolittle, to get the four out save. He instead imploded.

On his second pitch, he plunked Carlos Gomez to load the bases. Two pitches after that Juan Lagares hit a bases clearing double to give the Mets a 3-0 lead.

As unexpected as that was, after an intentional walk to Wilson Ramos, Rajai Davis hit a pinch hit three run homer in his first at-bat as a Met. To put it in perspective how unlikely this homer was, Davis arrived at the ballpark after the game started. The Mets are sure glad he got there in time.

After a scoreless ninth from Tyler Bashlor, the Mets had a 6-1 victory in a game that once seemed destined for heartbreak. Instead, it was the extremely unlikely pair of Lagares and Davis with all six of the team’s RBI just like the team drew it up.

Game Notes: Brandon Nimmo was placed on the IL with a neck injury. Paul Sewald was designated for assignment to make room for Davis on the roster. Amed Rosario had a strong game in the field.

Winning Mets Team Now Just An Off-The-Field Disaster

As if things weren’t bad enough with the Mets after losing five straight to two of the worst teams in baseball, the Mets were a full blown disaster before the game.

Yoenis Cespedes fell into a hole and broke his right ankle. This ensures he’s done for the year, and the team can no longer sell him as a “trade deadline acquisition.”

Seth Lugo was put on the IL with shoulder tendinitis, and he was replaced on the roster by Hector Santiago. To make matters worse, Brodie Van Wagenen tried to sell this as improving the roster.

Robinson Cano was benched for a few reasons with one of them purportedly being disciplinary. The only problem there is Cano said Mickey Callaway never informed him of that.

Speaking of the lineup, for about a week now, the Mets has pinpointed Drew Gagnon as today’s starter only to switch it to Wilmer Font with no explanation.

There’s probably a multitude of things overlooked here but it’s hard to keep track of the Mets drama and incompetence. The one thing we do know is for seemingly the first time in a week, the Mets were better off getting on the field and playing a game.

For the first time in nearly a week, the Mets played well.

In the first inning, Amed Rosario and Pete Alonso homered off Nationals starter Patrick Corbin to give the Mets a 2-0 lead.

That lead grew to 4-0 in the third on a rally started with a Rosario lead-off walk. After a Wilson Ramos two out walk, Todd Frazier hit an RBI single. Carlos Gomez doubled scoring Ramos. It was Gomez’s first hit as a Mets in 12 years.

In the fourth, Font’s luck started running out. He was getting hit hard most of the night, and it would be Anthony Rendon who got the Nationals on the board with a homer. The Nationals rally continued, but Font was able to keep things at 4-2. He’d be done after the four.

Gagnon, who was supposed to start, was very good in two scoreless innings walking one and striking out two. With Font not lasting five and how well he pitched, he was in line for the win. That would become dicey.

After a scoreless seventh, Callaway pushed to see if Jeurys Familia could give him six outs. The answer was four.

Rendon hit a one out double chasing Familia from the game. Callaway went to Daniel Zamora to get the left-handed hitting Juan Soto. Soto would punch a single to center. With Rendon getting an excellent read on the ball, he scored easily.

With Lugo on the IL, this meant Robert Gsellman had to step up and fill Lugo’s role. For a split second, it looked like he failed miserably when Howie Kendrick hit a rocket. Fortunately, it was hit right at Brandon Nimmo in left. Gerardo Parra grounded out weakly to end the jam leaving Edwin Diaz a one run lead to protect in the ninth.

Actually, it was two. Carlos Gomez earned a one out 10 pitch walk against Nationals reliever Joe Ross. Ross would then throw over what seemed to be at least three times that amount. Karma stepped in, and Ross threw it away putting Gomez in scoring position.

After Juan Lagares grounded out moving Gomez to third, the Nationals went to Tony Sipp to get the pinch hitting Dominic Smith. Smith jumped on Sipp’s first pitch for an RBI single giving the Mets a 5-3 lead.

For a moment, it seemed like a crucial insurance run. Diaz hit Victor Robles with his first pitch, and two pitches later Yan Gomes blooped a single. Diaz stepped up, and he made sure Gomes was the last National to reach. Diaz recoded his 11th save, and the Mets live to fight another day.

This was a much needed win for the Mets. They had an inexcusable five game losing streak, and just hours before the game, it seemed like the walls were closing in. Instead, the Mets win, so at least for a day, things are good in Flushing.

Game Notes: Cano made a pinch hitting appearance in the sixth. He hit a double beating out a throw from Adam Eaton. Cano was booed.

If Mets Fire Mickey Callaway, Luis Rojas Should Be His Replacement

When Jim Riggleman was hired as the bench coach this past offseason, the running joke was the Mets hired their interim manager. With the Mets faltering, Mickey Callaway‘s seat grows hotter by the day, and it would appear this is less of a joke than it is becoming a reality. Or is it?

According to Mike Puma of the NY Post, in the event Callaway was fired, the organization would consider hiring Luis Rojas as they view him “as a rising star.”

Not only is Rojas a rising star, baseball runs through his veins. From the moment he was born, baseball encapsulated his entire life. This is the way things are when you grow up in country like the Dominican Republic. It’s also that way when your father is famed player and manager Felipe Alou, and your brother is Moises Alou. Taking a look at the bloodlines, you could almost see being a Major League manager as Rojas’ destiny.

For his part, Rojas believed this upbringing has influenced not just his career choice but also his views. Rojas would tell Anthony Dicomo of MLB.com, “Growing up in that environment was very impactful, very influential in my baseball growth. Just being born in a baseball atmosphere, right away opening my eyes on baseball from the beginning of my understanding was just really helpful. Right away, I wanted to follow my brothers’ steps. I wanted to follow the family’s steps.”

Obviously, Rojas was never the baseball player he brother was. From 1999 – 2005, he was a part of the Orioles, Marlins, and eventually Expos farm systems. He’d play 37 games for the Expos Gulf Coast League affiliate in 2004 hitting .240/.315/.352. Two years later, Rojas would begin his managerial career for the Expos Dominican Summer League team.

After that one season, the Mets jumped on Rojas, and they made him their DSL Manager for one season. The team then brought him stateside to serve as a coach for two years in the Gulf Coast League. Finally, in 2011, at the age of 29, Rojas would be named the manager of that same affiliate. From that point until this year, Rojas has been a manager in the Mets farm system.

During his time as a manager in the Mets system, he has managed a number of Mets prospects including current Mets Pete Alonso, Tyler Bashlor, Michael Conforto, Jacob deGrom, Drew Gagnon, Robert Gsellman, Seth Lugo, Steven Matz, Brandon Nimmo, Jeff McNeil, Amed Rosario, Dominic Smith, Amed Rosario, and Daniel Zamora. Put another way, Rojas has helped develop the current Mets core become not just Major League players, but in some instances, All-Star caliber players.

He’s certainly left an impression on each of these players. When hired, Alonso shared a story about Rojas’ enthusiasm for his players saying, “He was jumping up and down, arms waving in the air. I honestly think Luis was happier than [Nick Sergakis].”

But it’s more than enthusiasm and relationships, Rojas can coach. It’s one of the reasons why the Mets see him as a rising star and why they were so enthusiastic to name him the team’s first ever quality control coach. In addition to those duties, he is also the team’s outfield coach.

We are seeing his impact as an outfield coach right now. Entering this season, McNeil had played all of 26.1 innings in left field over a six year span. It was up to Rojas to get McNeil up to speed. As he explained, Rojas’ plan was to begin “with the basics: pre-pitch, stance, route, reads off the bat and we progress into other things that we are taking here into camp and then some of the drills that we bring in with some of the outfielders.” (NY Post).

With Rojas coaching McNeil, McNeil has quickly become good in the outfield with a 2 DRS, which is sixth best in the league. It’s also important to note when Conforto was drafted, the knock on him was his defense. He worked with Rojas on his defense, and he has been really good out there. Now that he’s reunited with Rojas, Conforto has a 3 DRS which is good for sixth best in the majors.Credit is due to the players, but they got to that point because they are working with an excellent coach.

Rojas is not just a coach who is able to connect with this players, he is also comfortable not just with analyzing advanced data, but also putting it in terms which are useful to the players. As noted by MMO‘s Michael Mayer, it is Rojas’ responsibility to streamline the data to the players.

While comparisons of this nature tend to be unfairly lofty, in some ways Rojas does remind you of Alex Cora. Rojas has shown the ability to understand not just the fundamental aspects of the game, but he is also well versed and comfortable handling analytical data. He is an excellent communicator and coach. He loves the game, and he loves his players.

Whenever the time comes, Rojas should prove to be a good manager for the Mets. He is everything an organization and its players want in a manager. Being the communicator he is, he should also be able to handle the press well. Hopefully, another team doesn’t realize what the Mets have in Rojas and grab him before the time the Mets have a chance to elevate him into the manager’s role he was destined to be seemingly since the day he was born.