Edwin Diaz

Paul Sewald Has Real Value

While things have been going well recently, the Mets have had trouble identifying those relievers whom they can use and trust to eat up innings and take care of games where they have large leads. When that is an issue for your team, you wind up using and wasting good relievers in non-critical spots. You are also forced to use good relievers when it should not have been necessary.

On August 6, the Mets had a five run lead heading into the ninth inning against the Miami Marlins, the worst team in the National League. After eight dominant innings from Zack Wheeler, the Mets went to Robert Gsellman in the ninth. The following night, the Mets once again had a five run lead heading into the ninth. The team would use Jeurys Familia and Luis Avilan to close out the game.

On the roster at that time was Chris Mazza and Donnie Hart. The team did not use either reliever in that spot or really any spot. Truth be told if you can’t trust those relievers to close out games against the worst team in the National League, you don’t have any business being on the roster. It should come as no surprise neither pitcher is currently on the Mets roster.

When Mazza and Hart went down, Drew Gagnon was one of the relievers who replaced them on the roster. The Mets would bring Gagnon to pitch the eighth inning in the August 15 game against the Braves. At that time, the Mets had a 10-3 lead, and they just needed someone to pitch the final two innings to give the bullpen a rest. Instead, Gagnon would allow four homers, including a homer to Freddie Freeman in consecutive innings, thereby necessitating Edwin Diaz coming into the game to record the save in a 10-8 game.

This led to Paul Sewald being selected from Syracuse and re-joining the Mets bullpen. While this was largely met with eye rolls and consternation, Sewald is exactly what the Mets needed. In yesterday’s 9-2 victory over the Indians, the Mets would use Sewald out of the bullpen in the ninth. There would be no drama as he would allow a double while striking out three batters. In the grand scheme of things, these are the types of outings which are both necessary and overlooked.

Since his debut in 2017, Sewald has handled these situations well. In his career, in what is characterized as low leverage situations, he has held opposing batters to a .209/.262/.341 batting line. When there is a four run lead in either direction, Sewald has held opposing batters to a .223/.294/.365 batting line. This has permitted him to pitch multiple innings in these situations. In turn, this has allowed the Mets to save their better relievers for higher leverage situations.

This has an immense amount of value to a team, and these are the types of outings which helps a team get to the postseason. This is what Pat Mahomes provided the Mets in 1999 and 2000, Darren Oliver provided in 2006, and Sean Gilmartin provided in 2015. This is what Sewald can be over the remaining 37 games of the season. His doing that frees up Lugo, Diaz, Familia, and Justin Wilson for the higher leverage situations.

All told, Sewald can provide an immense amount of value to the Mets bullpen by eating up those innings and not having Mickey Callaway need to worry about needing to go deeper into the bullpen in these situations. As we have seen this year, this is not a role which is easily filled. Ultimately, Sewald can perform well in situations where others cannot, and as a result, he provides this bullpen and this Mets team with real value.

20/20 Hindsight: Mets Win A Series In Kansas City

The Mets went to Kansas City looking to sweep, and they wound up having to settle for less than that. Ultimately, they got the job done even if they did not perform well at all:

1. Alex Gordon may be the only Royals player remaining, but it was still good to see the Mets win a series in Kaufman Stadium, and it felt even better seeing Jeurys Familia get the win in a deciding game.

2. It’s also great to see Michael Conforto homer in a game against the Royals and not watch the Mets not blow the game. Seeing where Conforto hit that homer, we should have called that a Blue Moon Shot.

3. Congratulations to Pete Alonso for breaking Cody Bellinger‘s National League rookie home run record. He now joins Mark McGwire and Aaron Judge as the only rookies to hit 40 homers in a season. This has been a great ride, and he’s now in line to join Darryl Strawberry as the only other Mets position player to win Rookie of the Year.

4. It is criminal that when Alonso broke the record the call was made by Wayne Randazzo on the radio side and Gary Apple on the TV side. The Mets have all-time great broadcasters, and somehow that’s what we were left with for this great moment. Mets needs to do better when there are vacations.

5. There were two different times Alonso looked like he was going to break that record. The first ball was called foul, and to his credit, Alonso shook it off and delivered with a huge go-ahead two RBI single. The next time the ball actually hit the foul line towards the top of the right field wall. Many times we see people struggle or slump as they near a milestone; Alonso powered onward.

6. Jacob deGrom had his 12th start of the season pitching 7.0+ innings allowed two earned or fewer. That mark ties him with Hyun-Jin Ryu for the most in the Majors. This should only highlight how great deGrom has been this year and how deserving he is of another Cy Young.

7. Yes, Ryu is having a great year, but deGrom’s year is arguably better. For starters, deGrom has more innings pitched and strikeouts. Moreover, he has a higher K/9, K%, K-BB%, FIP, xFIP, fWAR, and bWAR while leading in other other categories as well.

8. One of the reasons the Mets took this series was Joe Panik playing great. Since joining the Mets, Panik is hitting .333/.379/.444 with a double, triple, and two RBI with two walks. On a side note, he was the second baseman when the Giants beat the Royals in the 2014 World Series.

9. With Jeff McNeil down, the Mets needed Panik to step up, and he has. The same goes for Juan Lagares, who has been the 2015 postseason version of Lagares who has hit .458/.458/.583 since August 13.

10. With the way Panik and Lagares are playing, it appears Todd Frazier is the guy who has to go to the bench. Since the All Star Break, he is hitting .192/.239/.377. If he’s hitting this way, he cannot be in the lineup.

11. Going forward, Frazier has hit .283/.359/.543 off left-handed pitching. To that end, he should work out a de facto platoon with Panik, and given his glove, he should be the third baseman when Marcus Stroman is on the mound. Short of that, he should be a power bat off the bench and late inning defensive replacement.

12. These two were needed all the more with J.D. Davis twice going down with a calf injury in this series. With how hot he’s been hitting, the Mets need his bat in the lineup, and they were without it in a series against the Royals. One side point here, good for Mickey Callaway for being cautious in taking him out rather than leaving him to run 90 feet.

13. Davis coming out of Sunday’s game forced Amed Rosario to play left field. It didn’t take long for the ball to find him, and the played the ball like he’s been out there all year. He also doubled in his only at-bat as an outfielder. Maybe this shouldn’t be a surprise because Rosario has been legitimately great lately.

14. Since the All Star Break, Rosario has hit .368/.403/.544. He’s a 3 DRS at shortstop. When McNeil went down, he took over the leadoff spot, and he’s been hitting .333/.383/.535 in the leadoff spot. He is literally doing all that is being asked of him, and he is emerging as a legitimately great player. This has been a real joy to watch.

15. Rosario having to play left field only highlights the stupidity of the Mets going with Ruben Tejada over Dilson Herrera. What makes the move all the more hilariously stupid was the Mets justification for going with Tejada over Herrera was versatility. Between the two, Herrera is the only one with outfield experience. Since Tejada rejoined the Mets, he is 0-for-8 at the plate with two strikeouts and someone already a -0.3 WAR. Herrera is hitting .294/.368/.706 while playing second base and left field. Again, this decision made zero sense.

16. On the topic of baffling decisions, when Robert Gsellman landed on the Injured List, the Mets called up Walker Lockett over Chris Flexen. Between the two, Flexen has the better stuff, and he has experience pitching out of the bullpen.

17. One area where Callaway was criticized for making a baffling decision was using Edwin Diaz to get out of a bases loaded no out situation. While it was a near disaster with a grand slam overturned on replay, Diaz got out of the inning allowing just two runs. In his next appearance, he pitched a scoreless ninth with two strikeouts. Maybe, just maybe in the long run, this was a great decision by Callaway.

18. Zack Wheeler‘s start against the Royals was disappointing. That’s two straight disappointing five inning starts from him. This time, it was probably more bad luck than anything. However, this is his first real postseason race, so it will be interesting to see how he handles things in his next start.

19. The Mets would have been better off with a sweep, but they still won the series. They’re also just two games back of the second Wild Card. Overall, when looking at this stretch of six games, many are discounting just how hot and grueling that stretch of road games are in Atlanta and Kansas City along with their losing one of their hottest hitters.

20. Good for the White Sox for having Bill Walton and Michael Schur do color commentary with Steve Stone out. As noted on Saturday, that is what the Mets should have been doing by using the multitude of great local broadcasters and fans in Gary Cohen’s and Howie Rose’s absence. On a final note there, John Sadak did a great job on the radio. Here’s hoping there’s a spot for him in 2020.

Like Bill Walton And The White Sox Mets Should Have Mike Breen And Walt Clyde Frazier Call A Game

While Mets fans are stuck with Gary Apple doing an absolutely atrocious job calling Mets games with Gary Cohen on vacation, the Chicago White Sox decided to do something fun by having Bill Walton in the booth. It was magic.

At its core, this was fun, and it something every baseball team should be doing when their man guys go on vacation. Sure, it will get old for more than a game or two, but why not have some fun for that one game or two.

Seeing how much fun that was and how much attention that game has garnered, other teams should be doing this. On that front, Knicks play-by-play announcer, Mike Breen, is a Mets fan, and he calls Knicks games with Walt Clyde Frazier is a legend. Having them call a Mets game would be magic.

Who wouldn’t want to hear Clyde call Noah Syndergaard “prodigious,” how Zack Wheeler is “Wheeling and dealing,” how Jacob deGrom is “slicing and dicing” up opposing batters, or how Seth Lugo‘s curveball is “spinning and winning!”

How about after Pete Alonso or Todd Frazier celebrate a homer, Frazier refers to their “styling and profiling.” As Amed Rosario attempts to stretch a single into a double, he will be “hustling and bustling.” When Jeff McNeil gets yet another hit, we can hear about how he’s “percolating .”

Certainly, with the state of umpiring in baseball we will hear multiple times there was “a dubious call by the officials.”

Finally, if the Mets have a lead and bring on Edwin Diaz for the save, Clyde can say what we’re all thinking when he ponders whether “It will be more glory or purgatory.”

For at least a game, this would be absolutely great, and it is something the Mets need to seriously consider. If nothing else, it’s better than Gary Apple calling a Michael Conforto foul ball 20 rows deep and well short of the fence like it’s a grand slam.

Inexplicably Bad Loss And Performance Against Royals

Noah Syndergaard pitched perfectly well. Through four, he allowed just one hit. It’s the fifth where he got into trouble allowing back-to-back doubles to Meibrys Viloria and Nicky Lopez in what was a two run fifth for the Royals.

Before that fifth, Syndergaard appeared poised to shut out the Royals. It’s what the Mets needed to because the Mets couldn’t do anything against Mike Montgomery and the Royals bullpen, which is bizarre considering Montgomery entered the game with a 5.19 ERA, and the Royals bullpen had a 4.68 ERA.

It would take Whit Merrifield dropping a throw on what could’ve been a Pete Alonso GIDP to set up a Michael Conforto RBI single. That’s it. That was the extent of the offense.

After that third inning, the Mets offense could only muster two hits and one walk with no runners reaching scoring position. With the exception of Amed Rosario and J.D. Davis, each of whom were 2-for-4, it seemed no one brought their bats without them from Atlanta to Kansas City.

The 2-1 lead grew to 4-1 with Brad Brach having his first bad outing as a Met loading the bases with no outs in the eighth. For some reason, Mickey Callaway thought it wise to bring in Edwin Diaz.

Like last night, Diaz walked the first batter he faced, Brett Phillips, forcing in a run. He then allowed an RBI single to Bubba Starling. By some miracle, a Ryan O’Hearn long fly went just foul. If not, it would’ve been the 8-1 it was for a moment before the replay overturned the grand slam.

After O’Hearn then struck out in that at-bat, Vitoria hit into an inning ending double play. We could say it kept things to a manageable three run deficit, but who are we kidding?

Not even when the Mets loaded the bases in the ninth with Rosario up could you have had faith. His game inning fielder’s choice confirmed that.

It was an inexcusable performance against a very bad 43-78, sorry 44-78, Royals team. Syndergaard took the loss for the penalty of only going six snapping his six start streak of pitching 7.0+ innings.

But hey, when you need to make it up to Ruben Tejada for missing the rest of the 2015 postseason, you have to do it even if it means DHing your best infield defender. Maybe now that the Mets took this loss, he can be designated for assignment for literally anyone else in Syracuse.

Game Notes: After allowing four homers last night, Drew Gagnon was optioned back to Syracuse, and the Mets selected the contract of Paul Sewald. To make room for Sewald on the 40 man roster, Tim Peterson was designated for assignment.

Rosario And Alonso Five Alive

There was a time Julio Teheran owned the Mets. Not anymore. Not tonight. The roles are now reversed.

The tone was set when Amed Rosario began the game with a double. Joe Panik singled, and then Pete Alonso tied Cody Bellinger‘s National League rookie record for homers in a season:

The Mets were up 3-0 before recording an out, and the offense was off and running. Teheran wouldn’t make it past the second. Every starter would get at least one hit, and the Mets would record a season high 22 hits.

Rosario and Alonso each had their first five hit games, and it’s the first time in Rosario was a homer short of the cycle, and he’s had nine hits over the past two games. Alonso had a career high six RBI.

Another note with these two is Alonso was charged with an error when Rosario literally threw a ball through his mitt.

Juan Lagares continues his reawakening with a three hit game. Lagares’ eight hits in the series where as many as he’s had in his previous 52 AB.

J.D. Davis now has a nine game hitting streak, Wilson Ramos had a four hit game, and Todd Frazier homered.

Marcus Stroman was good enough allowing three runs (two earned) in four hits on four walks and five strikeouts in 5.1 innings. Luis Avilan and Brad Brach continued their improved pitching before handing it off to Drew Gagnon to mop up the game.

Gagnon was terrible allowing two homers to Freddie Freeman along with homers to Ronald Acuna Jr. and Josh Donaldson. That’s four homers making a 10-3 lead a 10-8 nail biter necessitating Edwin Diaz enter the game with two outs in the ninth to try to get the save.

Diaz walked Brian McCann on four pitches bringing Ender Inciarte up as the tying run.

Even if the Mets made a laugher scary, they got the win they needed, and now they fly to Kansas City where the can do some damage.

Game Notes: Jeromy Burnitz and David Wright are the other two Mets rookies to record six RBI in a game.

Should Jeurys Familia Return To Closer’s Role?

With each appearance, it is becoming increasingly clear the Mets can no longer trust Edwin Diaz in the closer’s role until he figures things out. This isn’t even hypothetical. This has been how the Mets have operated with him not getting one save opportunity in August.

You cannot blame the Mets with how Diaz has pitched. This is the worst he has pitched in the Majors. He has already tied a career worst with five blown saves. The 11 homers and 49 hits against him this year are also a career worst. His six losses ties a career worst. His current 5.60 ERA, 74 ERA+, 4.48 FIP, 1.467 WHIP, 9.8 H/9, 2.2 HR/9, and 3.4 BB/9 are all on pace for career worsts for what is increasingly looking like a career worst season.

As alluded to earlier, the Mets have responded to Diaz’s struggles by removing him as the full-time closer. In fact, the Mets last save opportunity, the only one in August, went to Seth Lugo. Lugo and Diaz have split the last four save opportunities.

With respect to Lugo, the natural inclination is to just make him the closer. However, by doing so, the Mets are limiting what makes him great. As evidenced on Saturday, he is someone who can come into a game and give you six big outs. During the course of the season, the Mets have deployed him anywhere from the fifth inning to the ninth inning.

Lugo’s versatility is what makes him such a big weapon out of the bullpen. By saving him for the eighth or ninth, you are severely limiting how you use your bullpen. It also leaves the Mets trusting lesser relievers in the highest leverage situations in the game. That’s not how to best deploy Lugo or to handle the bullpen.

That said, Lugo is the only reliever the Mets should trust in a big spot and/or to close games. If the Mets decide to install him as a closer, the question becomes who closes those games he’s not available because he just pitched over an inning the previous night. Seeing what we saw this weekend, maybe the answer to that question is Jeurys Familia.

Like Diaz, Familia has been having a career worst season, and we were wondering if he would ever return to form. In order to help him, the Mets went so far as to bring Ricky Bones back as the Mets bullpen coach. The thing about bringing Bones back is it is apparently working.

Since June 20, Familia has made 15 appearances. Over that stretch, Familia has had 12 scoreless appearances, and he has allowed fewer than two runs 14 times. In August, Familia has not allowed a run in five of his six appearances, and he is striking out 12.7 batters per nine. Over this stretch, batters are hitting .105/.261/.263.

He has not blown a lead since Bones rejoined the Mets staff. This is partially the result of his pitching in lower leverage situations, but it should be noted he has converted his last two hold opportunities. In a four game July stretch from July 16 – July 21, he appeared in four close games, and he allowed no runs over 2.1 innings against the Twins and Giants. He had not appeared in a pressure situation again until Sunday.

In that game, Familia struck out the side against the Nationals. It wasn’t just the results but how he performed. Familia had his swagger back, and he would even break out his old quick pitch. This was an indication Familia felt like the Familia of old. Maybe like many closers, he needs that pressure to be his best on the mound. That Familia put together perhaps the best two year stretch any Mets closer has ever had. It was a sign he may be ready to resume that role again.

Is this an overreaction to a small sample size? Absolutely. That said, the Mets are in a position where they need to be riding the hot hand, and right now, among relievers on the Mets roster with closing experience, Familia is arguably the hot hand.

If you have a game on the line, the Mets need to and should be going to Lugo. With the way he has been pitching lately, he is the best reliever in baseball. The Mets problem is they cannot keep going to Lugo time and again. It’s not possible. They need to find an answer for those nights Lugo isn’t available. With the way things are shaking out right now, Familia may just be the person who should be closing those other games.

 

20/20 Hindsight: Mets Capitalize On Opportunity

The Nationals came into town, and the Mets players and fans raised their games in what was the biggest series since 2016. There was a lot to digest, mostly positive:

1. Who in the pool had Todd Frazier having the biggest hit all season?

2. That ninth inning culminating in Michael Conforto‘s first walkoff hit was crazy, and it was perhaps the best Mets moment since Asdrubal Cabrera‘s famous walk-off homer against the Phillies in 2016.

3. Things were so crazy for the Mets this series that Amed Rosario was understandably overlooked. He was 4-f0r-14 in the series with a double, and he made what proved to be somewhat of a game saving catch robbing Brian Dozier of an RBI single.

4. Marcus Stroman proved to be the perfect man to start that series. Even though he had allowed four earned on his six plus innings, he was electric to begin the game, and he really helped get the fans into that game. That set the stage for what was an electric Citi Field.

5. When Wilson Ramos homered off of Patrick Corbin, Citi Field was the loudest I’ve ever experienced it. To put that into context, I was there for when David Wright homered in Game 3 of the World Series.

6. J.D. Davis is unconscious right now. Since his hot streak started on June 30, his 189 wRC+ is the best in the National League. Like Steve Pearce in the World Series last year, just enjoy this ride for as far as it takes the Mets. Hopefully, like with the Red Sox, it will take them to a World Series Championship.

7. There is perhaps no bigger Mets fans and cheerleader right now than Dominic Smith. Despite being on a knee scooter, he has been leading “Lets Go Mets” chants from the dugout, and he has been rolling around the outfield with his “LFGM 2019” license plate cheering with the team. Seeing all of this, it is hard not to love him.

8. Noah Syndergaard put together another seven inning start giving the Mets a chance to win. That’s six in a row, and he has a 1.91 ERA over this stretch. It is a shame he had a rough start to the season while he was trying to figure out the ball because with the stretch he is on now he could have very well been in Cy Young discussions.

9. One important development this weekend was Ramos catching everyone this weekend which is an indicator as to how the Mets would handle things in the postseason should they make it that far. You can certainly understand the Mets pursuing that route with the way he’s been hitting of late. In August, he is hitting .400/.432/.714.

10. While you understand the push, the Mets need to be mindful Ramos is 32 and injury prone. He does not need to be catching day games after night games especially when Jacob deGrom is pitching. Let deGrom compensate for the lack of offense by shutting down the opponent. This will allow Ramos to stay fresh and continue hitting at this level.

11. It is just like to deGrom to struggle and allow zero earned runs. What was not like deGrom was his failing to really cover first base on that Pete Alonso throw. He also needs to make a better throw to Ramos, who should have had that throw anyway. Really, that was just an ugly play all around.

12. Brad Brach quickly endeared himself to Mets fans by relaying a story about how the lifelong Mets fan bought a Mets jersey to attend Game 3 of the 2015 World Series and calling it one of his favorite moments. He further endeared himself by getting Luis Avilan out of that sixth inning jam yesterday.

13. Joe Panik also made a good impression on Mets fans. He may have only had two hits in the series, but both times he got a hit was in the middle of a rally. He also played a good second base. In all, he looked like a real boost to this team.

14. The Mets had contributions up and down the roster. That even includes Juan Lagares who looked like his vintage self robbing Yan Gomes of an extra base hit on Saturday.

15. Speaking of Lagares, when are the Mets going to learn he can’t bunt? You cannot send him up there to bunt. In the future, if the Mets need a bunt to get down, and Guillorme has already been used, the Mets should sent in Steven Matz, who is very good handling the bat.

16. While the position players all contributed, the bullpen was not very good with much of their struggles masked by the Mets comebacks. When Seth Lugo allows a run, you know things are going bad for the bullpen. Of course, with Lugo being Lugo, he rebounded from the Juan Soto homer to close out the win.

17. Soto has joined Anthony Rendon in being Mets killers. If the Mets didn’t step up Friday and Saturday night, those two really were in a position to bury the Mets chances of making this miracle run.

18. Speaking of Mets killers, Edwin Diaz has been one of those. He has been worse than anyone could have possible imagined. He’s already lost his role as the full-time closer, and now there are rumblings the Mets should consider demoting him to Triple-A to get straightened out. Of course, that happens the same weekend Jarred Kelenic is promoted to Double-A.

19. One of the brightest spots all weekend was Jeurys Familia striking out the side on Sunday. Whether this is the Mets straightening him out or his stepping up in a big moment, it was a great thing to see, and it gives the Mets some hope for the future, especially if Diaz is not ready to really contribute for the rest of the year.

20. The Braves have not had a good August with a 6-5 record. That record looks all the more suspect when you consider they split four game series with the Reds and Marlins. This has helped keep the Mets alive in the division race, and now, the Mets have a real opportunity to go to Atlanta and go from alive to being a real threat.

Why Are Chris Mazza And Donnie Hart On Mets Roster?

You can hardly blame Mickey Callaway for going to Robert Gsellman in the ninth last night. The Mets are in a race for the Wild Card, and they cannot afford to blow winnable games. With a five run lead in the top of the ninth, that was not a spot for Seth Lugo or Edwin Diaz, but the Mets needed to go with someone whom they can trust.

This meant Gsellman pitching a night after he threw 1.1 innings. He struggled a bit, but he pitched a scoreless inning. As a result, the Mets locked down their fifth straight win, and their 13th win over their last 15 games. They also will be without Gsellman in a game where the unpredictable Steven Matz is scheduled to pitch.

Now, you could argue the Mets could have gone with Luis Avilan or Jeurys Familia in that spot. For Familia, he has shown he has looked better with some rest, so you can understand not pushing him. You can really argue for Avilan with his being one of three relievers who did not pitch in Monday’s doubleheader. With his shoulder history, you can understand the need to save bullets in his arm.

What you cannot understand is not going to Donnie Hart or Chris Mazza last night.

In terms of Hart, the Mets did use him in the 13-2 blowout win over Pittsburgh. He would pitch a clean eighth. He only threw nine pitches in that game, so there were no fatigue issues. If he is a guy who you can only trust with a 12 run lead on the road, why did the Mets waste their time claiming him off waivers?

There’s also Mazza. After blowing the game against the Giants over a week ago, he made two starts in Triple-A before being recalled on August 2. He has not pitched since he was recalled. Make any argument you want as to his true talent level, but the team is not trusting him to close out a five run lead against the worst team in the National League.

Right there, the Mets have two pitchers they don’t trust in that spot. Instead, they opted to use Gsellman leaving him unavailable for today. If Matz doesn’t go deep into the game, that leaves the Mets possibly looking to Hart or Mazza, two pitchers they clearly don’t want to use.

If that is the case, the Mets need to call up one of Chris Flexen or Eric Hanhold. If they want to go off the 40 man roster, Paul Sewald would be a fine choice, especially since the Mets know they can at least trust him to preserve a five run lead. More than anything, this is proof the Mets need to bring in Brad Brach. At a minimum, Brach is someone the Mets can use to preserve a five run lead in the ninth. At a minimum, that makes him a much better use of a roster spot than Hart or Mazza, two relievers who the Mets apparently don’t trust at all.

 

Mets Should Be Considering Brach And Allen

While the Mets did not make a trade to improve their bullpen at the trade deadline, they did improve the bullpen by adding Marcus Stroman. Much like in 2015, the Mets are relying upon their starters going deep into games thereby requiring less from their bullpen. When that happens, a bullpen which only needs to use pitchers like Seth Lugo, Edwin Diaz, Justin Wilson, and Robert Gsellman suddenly looks very good.

Then, there is Friday night in Pittsburgh. With Steven Matz only lasting 3.2 innings, the Mets had to go to the part of the bullpen they have not had to in a while. It eventually caught up with the Mets with Tyler Bashlor allowing three earned over 1.1 innings putting a winnable game out of reach.

With the Mets cycling through relievers like Bashlor, Jacob Rhame (10 day IL), Chris Mazza, Stephen Nogosek, and others, it is clear the team is at least a bullpen arm short, and they are attempting to cycle through these pitchers until one sticks. So far, that hasn’t happened, and it is time for the Mets to make a real move. There are some free agent options available.

Brad Brach was recently designated for assignment by the Chicago Cubs in a season where he has gone 4-3, 6.13 ERA, 1.765 WHIP, 6.4 BB/9, and a 10.2 K/9. After seeing his ERA jump in each of the two seasons since his 2016 All-Star season, Brach has put up a career worst 6.13 ERA and a 6.4 BB/9. Beyond the walk rate, opponents have been hitting the ball harder against him, and as a result, he has a high .375 BABIP.

Conversely, he also has the best K/9 since 2016 and the best K% since 2017. Baseball Savant indicates he is above league average in fastball velocity, K%, and xSLB. All told, he still has Major League talent. With Phil Regan and Mickey Callaway, it would be well worth signing a pitcher the Mets have actively pursued over the past few seasons.

Another veteran pitcher who is available as a free agent is Cody Allen. Allen is available because the Los Angeles Angles released him on June 18, and he was released by the Minnesota Twins on July 31 after pitching to a 3.38 ERA with a 1.500 WHIP and 1.40 K/BB for Triple-A Rochester.

The season had gotten off to a good start with Allen converting four save chances to begin the season. Since that time, he has an 8.10 ERA in the Majors. One of the possible reasons for his struggles is his losing fastball velocity. Another reason may be his over reliance on the curveball. While it has been a good pitch for him, he has thrown it with much more frequency with worse results. To be fair, the same can be said for his fastball. Ultimately, with Allen, this is now two straight down years for him, and really, this could just be a sign he is no longer the same pitcher he was for Cleveland.

The hope with Allen is reuniting with Callaway would pay off dividends. Similarly, there may be hope an Addison Reed return to New York would work out well for both sides.

Reed was released by the Twins before throwing a pitch for the team this year. In total, he only made five appearances for Triple-A Rochester during a rehab assignment for a left (non-pitching) thumb sprain. He was shelled over those five appearances allowing eight runs over 5.0 innings. Since being released on May 21, he has not signed with another team.

With Reed, he had not been the same pitcher with the Twins than he was with the Mets. There are a number of reasons including his losing about two MPH off of his fastball making him more hittable. Given the state of the Mets bullpen and depth, it may be well worth bringing him back to the organization on a minor league deal and seeing how he performs in Syracuse.

In the end, the Mets external options are extremely limited. Given how the internal options have performed, it may be well worth claiming Brach and having him work with Callaway and Regan. With his strikeout rate, he could well be worth a flyer. The same can be said with Reed on a minor league deal. Overall, with the performances from the pitchers the Mets are willing to pitch, these players present not just a current upgrade, but also more upside than what we’ve seen.

 

Mets Sweep Doubleheader To Get Over .500

With it being a day game and Tomas Nido behind the plate, it was a mild disappointment Jacob deGrom didn’t throw a no-hitter in the first game of the doubleheader. That was a dream which died with a Jon Berti single to begin the game.

Even though he didn’t get the no-hitter, or even the shut out, he would pick up the win with a typical deGrom effort. He struggled in the beginning, and he would eventually settle in and dominate.

Over 7.0 innings, he would allow two runs on five hits with one walk and eight strikeouts. One of those two runs was a homer from Isan Diaz, who was making his Major League debut. It was a great moment with his family in the stands.

Aa a fan you can enjoy these moments because the Mets won and pulled themselves back to .500.

While Diaz was homering in his debut, Robert Dugger wasn’t having as good a time. In fact, the first pitch he ever threw was hit for a homer by Jeff McNeil.

Heading into the third, the score was tied 1-1 when Amed Rosario hit an opposite field blast.

The Mets got a big bases loaded two run single from deGrom in the fourth. The Mets tacked on two more in the fifth on a Pete Alonso RBI single, and a J.D. Davis sacrifice fly.

The bullpen would pitch two scoreless, and suddenly, the Mets were a .500 team for the first time since May 28th. They would have a chance to go over .500 for the first time since May 2nd in the second half of the doubleheader.

With the sinkerballer Walker Lockett going for the Mets, and this being the second end of a doubleheader, the Mets went with a pure defense first infield with Luis Guillorme at second and Adeiny Hechavarria at third.

That already compromised lineup took another hit when McNeil was forced to depart the game in the top of the third with a leg cramp. That basically left the Mets hoping the Michael Conforto two RBI single in the first and Lockett would hold up.

It didn’t happen.

Lockett cruised through the first three innings, but he would get into trouble when Brian Anderson led off the inning with a double. He’d come around to score on a Harold Ramirez RBI single. Lockett would do well to escape this jam, but he wouldn’t be so lucky in the fifth.

Bryan Holaday tied the score at 2-2 with a fifth inning leadoff homer. The homer didn’t kill a rally, and with two on and two out, Mickey Callaway would lift Lockett for Robert Gsellman to face Curtis Granderson.

The move didn’t work with Granderson hitting a go-ahead two RBI double giving the Marlins a 4-2 lead. With their having their All-Star Sandy Alcantara in the mound, the Mets ability to come back was very much in question.

It was even more in question with the Mets blowing a chance to score in the sixth. After back-to-back singles to lead off the inning, Guillorme was called upon to bunt even with the bottom of the Mets lineup coming up.

Guillorme’s bunt didn’t get close enough to the third base line allowing Jeff Brigham to nail Alonso at third. After that Hechavarria struck out, and Todd Frazier pinch hit for Gsellman and grounded out to end the inning.

Brigham would not have the same luck in the seventh as he allowed homers to Davis,

Conforto,

and finally Alonso.

The blast was a huge one for Alonso who had the longest homerless drought of his career. He may not be hitting as many homers in the second half, but he is sure making them count right now.

With Edwin Diaz pitching in the ninth in the first half of the doubleheader, it was on Seth Lugo to get the six out save. Lugo would get the job done without allowing a base runner.

With the doubleheader sweep, the Mets are now over .500 for the first time since May 2nd. At the moment, they’re 2.0 games back and will be either 1.5 or 2.5 games back depending on what the Nationals and Phillies do.

The Mets also find themselves 8.5 games back of the Braves with nine head-to-head matchups allowing us to still dream.

Game Notes: Robinson Cano was placed on the IL with a torn hamstring. Juan Lagares got the first chance to replace him in the lineup with McNeil at second. In the doubleheader, Lagares was 0-for-3 with three walks and a strikeout.