There’s a lot of blame directed at Luis Rojas for another brutal New York Mets loss in September. Absolutely, there were some questionable moves.
Marcus Stroman was lifted after six great innings despite being at 89 pitches. On a day when Seth Lugo was unavailable, Aaron Loup, Trevor May, and Edwin Diaz didn’t go multiple innings. There were also pinch hitting decisions.
Putting aside the fact the pitching increasingly looks scripted like with Kevin Cash and Blake Snell in the 2020 World Series, the real issue is this roster. It was a roster largely unaddressed at the trade deadline.
This was a team which had zero hits from innings 2-8 until Javier Báez‘s clutch game tying homer. Yes, he was a trade deadline acquisition, and he’s been great.
— New York Mets (@Mets) September 15, 2021
However, that’s one, and with all apologies to Trevor Williams, really, the only player the Mets added at the deadline. A team in first place didn’t feel terribly compelled to go for it.
The days of the 40 man September rosters are no more. With all due respect, these are three players who should not be rostered at this point in the season. It’s inexcusable for a front office to let this happen.
Rojas did all he could to stop the game from getting to this point. However, you can only avoid the bottom of your roster for so long. Eventually, they’re going to get to play and impact a game and a season.
Ultimately, that’s what happened last night. Instead of asking why Rojas used those players when he did, we should be asking why are these players even here.
In a series where the New York Mets and Yankees were fighting not just for bragging rights but to stay afloat in their postseason races, this was an important rubber game. Short of Roger Clemens committing assault against Mike Piazza, this turned into the most emotionally charged Subway Series game.
In the season and series finale, it was Francisco Lindor who would knock out the Yankees. First, he hit a three run homer in the second inning to give the Mets a 4-2 lead.
— New York Mets (@Mets) September 13, 2021
Entering the sixth, that 4-2 lead was a narrower 5-4 lead. Lindor would hit a solo shot to increase the Mets lead to 6-4. As he rounded the bases, he made a whistling motion to let the Yankees know he was angry with their whistling during not just Taijuan Walker‘s previous start to let the batters know what was coming, but we would also hear it during the game.
— New York Mets (@Mets) September 13, 2021
That Mets lead would evaporate when Giancarlo Stanton hit a two run homer off of Brad Hand in the seventh to tie the game at 6-6. Notably, when Stanton would pass short, he would make it a point to trash talk Stanton leading to the benches clearing. Also noteworthy is while the benches were clearing, Stanton went to the dugout to take off his batting helmet and gloves before coming back out of the dugout to stand in the back.
While Stanton would shrink from the trash talk, Lindor would stand tall. The Mets superstar shortstop came up in the bottom of the eighth, and he would join Kirk Nieuwenhuis and Lucas Duda as the only Mets hitters to have a three home run game at home. Lindor would be the only switch hitter.
— New York Mets (@Mets) September 13, 2021
As if this wasn’t sweet enough, Stanton would come up in the top of the ninth with runners on second and third and two outs. He was facing Edwin Diaz who has struggled mightily in September, and he appeared on the verge of another blown save. Instead, Stanton popped out to none other than Lindor to end the game. As he and the Yankees left the field, both Lindor and Javier Baez waved them off of the field.
Don't come back now, ya hear? pic.twitter.com/wow2aDl8jZ
— Meditations in Panic City (@MedInPanicCity) September 13, 2021
People are calling this Lindor’s signature game with the Mets. That’s probably too soon to call. There are going to be 10 more years of Lindor after this season. With that is going to come All-Star appearances and hopefully multiple World Series titles. Chances are we haven’t yet seen Lindor’s signature game. Instead, we have probably seen Lindor’s first real great game in a Mets uniform.
That is more than good enough for now, and those three homers were more than enough to TKO the Yankees. As for the Mets, it’s kept them alive for at least another day. Maybe, just maybe, with Lindor playing at this incredible level, there may just be a miracle run.
There are many reasons the New York Mets blew this game to the Miami Marlins and lost a game they couldn’t afford to lose. Sandy Alcantara was brilliant, and the offense came up short again.
The Mets blew it in the 10th inning. There was probably a botched call from the umpires and replay. That meant instead of Jesus Sanchez‘s error leading to runners at the corners, it was just prolonging the at-bat.
— MLB Replays (@MLBReplays) September 9, 2021
First, it was Luis Guillorme for Kevin Pillar. Guillorme walked. Then, in a somewhat incredulous decision, he pinch hit Patrick Mazeika for James McCann. Mazeika meekly grounded out to end the inning.
With the Mets other high end relievers having been used, Rojas was essentially forced to bring in Edwin Diaz. What was over concern should now be alarm.
After blowing consecutive saves to the Washington Nationals, Diaz was entrusted with getting this tied game to the 11th inning. He’d fail miserably.
The first batter, Magneuris Sierra, laid down a good bunt. Diaz got there and nearly threw it away. Really, it took a great play from Báez to not only get the out, but to also stop Diaz from throwing it away to end the game.
Diaz did rebound to strike out an overmatched Sanchez. Then, Bryan De La Cruz came to the plate. Make no mistake, there’s just no way Diaz should’ve been pitching to De La Cruz.
After the game, Rojas cited a number of reasons why. Those included the R/R matchup as well as Diaz’s control issues. No matter what, the real issue was Diaz.
Here’s Rojas on the decision to pitch to De La Cruz: pic.twitter.com/Db6QSgCTHD
— Steve Gelbs (@SteveGelbs) September 9, 2021
Despite ordering the intentional walk being the right call, Diaz would pitch to De La Cruz. Instead of being careful, Diaz would throw a 1-1 fastball over the heart of the plate which De La Cruz launched to dead center to end the game leading to Diaz with the Hansel Robles signature finger point:
Incase you weren't familiar with Bryan De La Cruz already: pic.twitter.com/g3KiWlgiiV
— Miami Marlins (@Marlins) September 9, 2021
Again, blame the offense all you want for the 2-1 loss. Blame Rojas for some weird pinch hitting decisions and for pitching to De La Cruz. Those are all valid critiques.
However, at the end of the day, the Mets have a closer who can’t seem to pitch in September in a pennant race. He had a 7.36 ERA in September 2019. He’s allowed five runs in 3.0 innings taking a loss and going 1/3 in save chances.
Closers like Diaz, or at least what many pretend Diaz to be, are supposed to hide some of the deficiencies by ensuring the close games go in your favor. That just doesn’t happen with Diaz in the huge spots.
For the third straight outing, that was the case. You just wonder how many more outings like this he has before the Mets are completely out of contention.
The New York Mets are fighting for their postseason lives. Due to the lead they blew, they put themselves in a bad position, and they can’t afford to blow any games.
Enter Edwin Diaz.
For the second straight outing he blew the save in a game the Mets needed to have against a dreadful Washington Nationals team. Break it down any way you want, but it’s inexcusable.
This leaves Diaz’s stats to again be not ordinary but subpar. After these last two appearances, Diaz is 5-5 with a 3.93 ERA, 1.145 WHIP, and a 3.6 K/BB.
More importantly, he’s blown six out of his 34 save opportunities. It’s not a dreadful stat by any means, but it’s not great. It’s not indicative of being the “Elite Closer” people want to make him out to be.
Keep in mind, even when he’s elite, he’s still unreliable. Take last year for example. He had a 1.75 ERA while striking out a career high 17.5 batters per nine. He’d blow four of his 10 save opportunities.
With this latest blown save, he’s at an 82.3 save percentage. Over the course of his Mets career, Diaz has converted 77.9% of his save opportunities.
That’s just not good. It’s an indication of how unreliable Diaz is when the game is on the line.
Yes, saves are a contrived stat, and not every blown save is actually on the pitcher. Notably, until this season, the Mets defense has been putrid. Still, converting under 80% of your save chances is unacceptable.
Look at it this way. Mets fans reviled Armando Benitez. He was bad in the big spots late in the season and in the postseason. As a Met, he converted 86.5% of his save opportunities with the Mets.
John Franco, a closer with as many detractors as supporters, converted 81% of his save opportunities. In the seasons he was the full time closer, it was 82%.
Take someone who had no business closing like Braden Looper. He converted 81% of his chances, and again, he wasn’t good.
That’s the puzzling thing with Diaz. He’s really good, or at least, he ought to be. We can cite stats and metrics till we’re blue in the face, and yet, he’s not converting save opportunities at the level of Looper.
Sure, you could say the stat is skewed because of a terrible 2019. However, when he was great in 2020, he still wasn’t a lock down closer.
To be fair, he was that guy in Seattle. However, for whatever the reason, we haven’t seen the Seattle version of Diaz in Flushing.
Maybe part of the reason is this is a reliever with real limitations.
Diaz struggles pitch back to back days with a .708 OPS against on no rest. With RISP, he has a .703 OPS against. With the bases loaded, he has a .842 OPS against.
When he needs to go over 25 pitches, he allows a .932 OPS. This is indicative of his inability to pitch more than one inning.
As an aside, while he has been good against the Atlanta Braves and Miami Marlins, he has an 8.27 ERA against the Philadelphia Phillies and a 4.58 ERA against the Washington Nationals.
Now, Diaz has made strides with RISP and going back-to-back days. Also, his stuff is as dominant as there is from the reliever side. And yes, he’s at an 82% save percentage.
Looking at Diaz, sure, he can close games. He’s better than most relievers in the league. He goes through periods where you truly wonder how anyone can even attempt to try to hit him.
However, that’s only part of the story. He’s also a closer who is limited in the situations you can use him, he struggles against some of the Mets division rivals, and you never quite feel like you can trust him.
This is his second September with the Mets fighting for the postseason. He was lost in 2019, and he’s off to a poor start this month.
If you’re the Mets, you could have him close the rest of this year because that’s the position they’ve put themselves, and it’s highly unlikely they go to Jeurys Familia or a committee approach. That said, if the Mets really want to take the next step forward, they should be investigating better closing options to move Diaz towards being the elite set-up man he probably should be.
Well, it was bound to happen. After all the times the New York Mets were going to ignore his track record, they were bound to get Rich Hill through six. Tonight was that night.
This was Hill’s best start as a Met, and he was helped along by his defense and some Nationals snafus.
Garcia hit his second double in the fifth. If not for a terrific play off the wall by Michael Conforto and a strong relay throw, Riley Adams scores. Instead, Hill got Keibert Ruiz popped out to end the inning
As evidenced by the above and Francisco Lindor, really the play behind Hill was phenomenal. Hill dropping down some and getting Juan Soto out in big spots, like the sixth, is exactly how you pitch six shutout innings.
Hill got the win because the Mets offense did just enough. It also helped they were able to absolutely abuse Soto’s poor defense in right.
Fortunately, Nolin was able to move enough it didn’t hit him in the head. More than that, he was able to stay in the game.
In the third, Brandon Nimmo drew a one out walk, and Pete Alonso hit a ball the other 29 right fielders in baseball catch. Soto was the one who couldn’t turning it into an RBI triple giving the Mets a 2-0 lead.
At this point, the hope was the Mets offense would take off and put the game away. Instead, the Mets offense went away leaving very little margin for error.
The Mets had chances. In the fifth, there were runners on second and third with one out. In the seventh, they had first and third with one out. They failed to score in either situation.
This is where Nimmo almost cost the Mets the game.
On an 0-2 pitch, Stevenson took off, and Adams lined it to center. Nimmo had no chance to catch it, but he dove anyway. If not for Conforto backing up the play, the Mets lose on an inside the park homer.
Instead, they lost their catcher. Conforto made a strong relay, and Báez made a strong but albeit offline throw. Sisco just got blown up on the play, Stevenson scored. and the game was tied with the tying run at third.
Patrick Mazeika came in, and Diaz settled down to get the next two outs to send it to extras. The Mets would score more in the tenth than the previous nine.
With Lindor as the ghost runner, Alonso golfed one to center giving the Mets a 3-2 lead. When Baez fouled out to deep left, Alonso had heads up base running to tag up and go to second.
This led the Nationals to intentionally walk Conforto to set up the double play. Instead, Kevin Pillar ripped a two RBI double to left extending the lead to 5-2.
That lead would be extended to 6-2 later in the inning when Jonathan Villar hit an RBI single. Remarkably, Villar started the game 0-for-2, and he would still have a four hit game.
Jeurys Familia entered the game in the 10th, and there would be no blowing it. He shut the door on a game the Mets had to have.
Well, the Mets need them all. In any event, the Mets turned what could’ve been a bad loss to a terrific 6-2 win.
Game Notes: Brad Hand was activated. Dominic Smith was placed on the bereavement list. Gary Cohen, Keith Hernandez, and Ron Darling went on the road to broadcast a game for the first time in nearly two years.
This is the way it works with Carlos Carrasco. He struggles in the first, and he shuts the opponent down after that. That’s what happened again in his start against the Miami Marlins.
— New York Mets (@Mets) September 2, 2021
In the fourth, we’d see Francisco Lindor put his stamp on the game.
Brandon Nimmo led off the fourth with an infield single. He went to second when Isan Diaz threw it away. Lindor drove home Nimmo with an RBI double and moved to third on a fielder’s choice. That put him in position to score when he induced Alcantara to balk.
Francisco Lindor is really good at thispic.twitter.com/mssjOn9eWj
— SNY (@SNYtv) September 3, 2021
This speaks to how bizarre the game was from a defensive standpoint. There were just a number a terrific defensive plays. However, there were also a number of errors and miscues. By some miracle, there were no unearned runs in the game.
Case-in-point, in the fifth, Jorge Alfaro reached on a Villar error. He took off on a pitch which Bryan De La Cruz lined to right. Javier Báez brilliant deked Alfaro allowing Michael Conforto to easily throw him out at first.
You don't see a 9⃣-3⃣ double play everyday. 🧐 pic.twitter.com/y5ISbRBXlg
— New York Mets (@Mets) September 3, 2021
We saw that in the sixth. Mets killer Miguel Rojas, who opened the game with a homer, hit a lead-off single, and he moved to second on an error from Carrasco. After a one walk, Luis Rojas brought in Aaron Loup.
While he’s been the Mets best reliever, Loup just didn’t have it. He’d walk back-to-back batters to force home the tying run. He’s dig down to get out of the inning, but the damage was done.
After Jeurys Familia pitched a scoreless seventh, he was in line for the win. They’d get it for him giving him a team high nine wins.
Rojas went to his bench to have Dominic Smith pinch hit. Smith sat because he’s been struggling and due to his best 0-for-9 off Alcantara. After he ripped a double off Jesus Aguilar‘s glove, he’s now 1-for-10.
— New York Mets (@Mets) September 3, 2021
If Aguilar didn’t touch it, the ball probably goes foul. However, he did, and in a fitting fashion, the go-ahead run scored on an almost play.
The Mets made good on that 4-3 lead. First, it was Trevor May in the eighth. May did all he could do that inning including trying to dive to catch a foul ball.
Trevor May deserves a tweet just for the effort… 🔥 pic.twitter.com/jNteyyWUPO
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) September 3, 2021
In the ninth, Edwin Diaz continued his recent stretch of dominance. He struck out two in a perfect inning saving the sloppy 4-3 win featuring seven errors and a number of misplays.
Game Notes: Brad Hand was claimed off waivers. As it happened after August 31, he will not be postseason eligible. Khalil Lee was sent down for Yennsy Diaz. Like Lee briefly was, Albert Almora is a September call-up.
Before the suspended game from April 11 resumed, there was the theatre of the absurd where Javier Báez and Francisco Lindor were forced to apologize for the thumbs down controversy. Their qualifying the apology certainly didn’t help matters.
What really didn’t help was the Mets falling behind 5-1 to the Miami Marlins. It also didn’t help Jesus Aguilar was taunting them during the game.
Worse yet, this was the same old story with the Mets blowing chance after chance after chance. That includes the eighth when Báez was announced as a pinch hitter. He was booed lustily by the sparse crowd. It’ll probably be the last time he’s ever booed.
— New York Mets (@Mets) August 31, 2021
Báez hit an infield single scoring Smith pulling the Mets to within 5-4. Michael Conforto followed with an opposite field single easily scoring Alonso to tie the game. When Jorge Alfaro, a catcher somehow thrown to left, bobbled the ball, Báez made a mad dash for home.
— New York Mets (@Mets) August 31, 2021
It was a run arguably only Báez could score. It involved a player with speed who always hustles, and a player with a high baseball IQ willing to take calculated risks. The end result was a win and a great call from Gary Cohen.
Michael Conforto blasted one a long way in Tuesday's nightcap, so here's another Gary call and pen slam for your timeline 🎙️
— SNY (@SNYtv) September 1, 2021
This was a win which flipped the script. Not only did it take a bad loss and make it a great win, but it changed the narrative and reaction towards Báez.
It was also a win with legs. The Mets would get off and running in the fourth with a Conforto two run homer.
— New York Mets (@Mets) September 1, 2021
Later in the inning, Jeff McNeil would double home Báez. It was 3-0, and the Mets would hold on.
Edwin Diaz came in the seventh and retired the side in order for his eighth consecutive save. With that, it was a doubleheader sweep.
This day had all the feel of the Wilmer Flores walk-off. With the Mets 5.5 games out of a postseason spot with a month left in the season, who knows?
Doubleheader Notes: Jeurys Familia picked up the win in the first game. Loup won the second game. Between games, Luis Guillorme was activated off the IL, and Brandon Drury was optioned. Yennsy Diaz was the 27th man.
After being swept by the Los Angeles Dodgers, the New York Mets were perilously close to being swept by the San Francisco Giants. With all that was happening, you almost expected it.
After all, even by Mets standards, things were completely haywire. It started with Steve Cohen’s tweet calling out the offense.
There was also Tim Healey of Newsday sending a bizarre tweet including the amount of times Marcus Stroman re-tweeted his highlights amongst his game stats. Then, there was Stroman re-tweeting tweets promoting violence against Healey and calling Cohen a clown.
James McCann was still dealing with back spasms, and the Mets still weren’t aware of whether he’d need to be put on the IL. This necessitated Chance Sisco getting emergency called up and Patrick Mazeika doing the dreaded starting a day game after a night game.
Then, well, there was a game where a lot happened. Again, that’s a lot by Mets standards.
Tylor Megill was terrific allowing just one run over six innings. Of course, he’d leave on the losing side because the Mets offense has been terrible. That’s even with Giants starter Anthony DeSclafani leaving the game in the second with an injury.
Over the first eight innings, the Mets only had just three hits. When they did get a base runner, well, they didn’t knock them in, and even better, Jonathan Villar got picked off again. Even for Villar, this was horrendous.
Got hiiiiim pic.twitter.com/nICC2uW7MP
— SFGiants (@SFGiants) August 18, 2021
That seemed to give the Mets life as Michael Conforto followed with a single sending Alonso to third. He’d then score on a sacrifice fly to tie the game. He’d then leave the game as a result of the HBP.
Edwin Diaz mowed down the Giants on six pitches sending it to extras. In the tenth where the Mets inability to score runs went to comical levels.
Villar was the ghost runner, and for some reason, Luis Rojas wanted Mazeika to bunt him to third. Naturally, Mazeika had a poor bunt, and Villar was out by a wide margin.
Diaz again came up big. While he would plunk Austin Slater with one out, he dominated the other Giants hitters sending it to the 11th.
In the 11th, Conforto came up big with a one out RBI double giving the Mets the lead. To no one’s surprise, he’d be stranded there. That hurt as Jeurys Familia allowed a single to the first batter he faced tying the game at 2-2.
— New York Mets (@Mets) August 18, 2021
In the 12th, the Mets offense finally woke up and put the game away. Mazeika hit a one out single, and then Kevin Pillar hit a three run homer giving the Mets the lead.
— New York Mets (@Mets) August 18, 2021
That 5-2 lead grew to 6-2 with McNeil and Sisco hitting a pair of two out doubles. With Diaz and Familia done, the Mets turned to Jake Reed to close out the game.
Once again, Reed was very impressive. He retired the Giants in order. While it wasn’t a save with the Mets having a four run lead, it was every bit of a save considering the Mets struggles and needs to win this game.
In many ways, the Mets had to have this one. It got them back to .500, and it has them past a brutal losing streak. It also has them feeling better heading into a four game set at the Dodgers.
Time will tell whether then can turn their season around and get back in the race. If so, this was a huge next step.
With the left-handed Julio Urias starting for the Los Angeles Dodgers, the New York Mets panicked and sat most of their left-handed hitters. That meant the Mets sat their best hitters.
What’s annoying about it was Urias has reverse splits. It’s all the more annoying because players like Dominic Smith are better against left-handed pitchers than their right-handed hitters.
Well, the Mets shot themselves in the foot. Brandon Drury, Kevin Pillar, and Albert Almora combined to go 0-for-6 with one walk and two strikeouts. In defense of Almora, that walk was a great at-bat, and it began the way towards Luis Rojas substituting players into the game to undo the inane front office lineup.
The irony of the game would be the Mets didn’t do anything until the left-handed bats could themselves in the game.
The left-handed batters did their job. Smith followed with an RBI single getting the Mets on the board.
Brandon Nimmo walked (of course), and Alonso was walked to load the bases. Jeff McNeil, another LHP not in the starting lineup, hit a two run single pulling the Mets within one. That run scored on a Will Smith passed ball.
— New York Mets (@Mets) August 14, 2021
The bats who couldn’t be trusted to be in the starting lineup, the Mets best bats, tied the score with a big two out rally.
Now, Aaron Loup has been the Mets best reliever all year, and he was fresh pitching just once over the last week. Meanwhile, Jeurys Familia has been heavily worked lately, and he has been starting to show the strain.
Well, despite Loup’s success against right-handed batters over the past two years, and the reverse splits of Smith, the Mets opted for Familia. The end result was a tired Familia giving up a go-ahead two run homer.
The Mets did get one back in the 10th, but it wasn’t enough. They lost 6-5 in a game they severely hampered themselves by being overly beholden to 1960 platoon theory.
It’s annoying the Mets handcuffed themselves like this unnecessarily and really purposefully ran converse to the analytics. They need to be better and do better than this.
For the first time in the second half, and the first time in nearly two months, the New York Mets swept an opponent. It couldn’t have come at a better time.
He had shut down the Nationals for four innings before getting in trouble in the fifth. In that inning, the Nationals had runners at the corners with one out. With the Mets only having a 2-0 lead, Luis Rojas tabbed Seth Lugo.
Lugo, who hasn’t been great inheriting runners this year allowed a sacrifice fly pulling the Nationals to 2-1. The Mets would get than run back and then some on a Jonathan Villar two run homer in the sixth.
JONATHAN VILLAR WITH THE INSURANCE RUNS! THE METS LEAD 4-1 pic.twitter.com/ssJeFmTx5Y
— SNY (@SNYtv) August 12, 2021
While May has been great in the second half of the season, he didn’t have it in this save opportunity. He loaded the bases with one out leading Rojas to tab closer of yore Jeurys Familia.
This was one of those frustrating Familia blown saves of yore. First, he had a wild pitch scoring run. Truth be told James McCann should’ve had a better effort blocking that ball.
Familia navigated his way through the inning to keep it tied into the bottom of the seventh. After McNeil grounded out, Pete Alonso ended the game.
— New York Mets (@Mets) August 12, 2021
Back when the Mets suffered a brutal loss, Alonso told fans they shouldn’t believe. They should know. Seeing this fame, Alonso gave the Mets reason to know they’re making the playoffs.
The Mets swept the Nationals like they should. Now, they’re in second place with things getting more interesting in the NL East. Now, it’s time to step up and win.
Game Notes: Williams was called up as the 27th man.