Well, the last place Mets took a series from the first place Marlins. That’s certainly something we never thought would happen in August 2020, but that’s where we are.
2. If you’ll note, since the Mets have been forced to switch to a vastly superior defensive alignment, they’ve begun winning.
5. On a related note, the Mets embarrass themselves, when they tout average plays as being great plays as part of their endeavoring to make a horrendous GM look somewhat competent.
6. Gimenez shows how great the Mets had been identifying Major League talent in the draft and international free agent market during the Sandy Alderson era.
7. The Mets bullpen had stepped up in August. Part of that is Edwin Diaz returning to his old form. No, it’s not because he’s out of the closer role. It’s because he has great stuff.
8. Seth Lugo needs to be used in the highest leverage spots. That’s not always the ninth, and that’s why he can’t be used as just a closer.
9. Speaking of pitchers with great stuff, Jacob deGrom is the best pitcher in baseball and not even a blister or “hot spot” can get in his way.
11. Jared Hughes is one of those players who come along and are a pure joy. Not only has he pitched well, but he’s also shown the ability to laugh at himself. Like the Juan Uribe era, the Jared Hughes era will go down as one of the most enjoyable in Mets history.
12. Even with the juiced ball appearing to return, the Mets offense has looked off all year. That’s most likely the result of their inability to hit with RISP.
13. Pete Alonso struggling doesn’t help either. The frustrating part is every time he appears to break out, he starts slumping again.
14. Mets have been lucky getting serviceable starts from David Peterson. He did it again in this series helping the Mets turn things around.
16. This further highlights how the Mets desperately need Marcus Stroman back. That was the case when Wacha was “healthy.”
17. Michael Conforto has a hit in every game this season, and Brandon Nimmo has reached in 30 straight games (dating back to last year). Somehow, Mets fans still have a hard problem embracing them and instead ask why they’re not perfect.
18. The Cardinals have only played five games, and seemingly every time they appear set to return, there’s another positive test. Maybe they should just be contracted . . . at least for the 2020 season.
20. If the Mets want to be taken seriously, they need to beat up on a Washington Nationals team who is undermanned and playing terribly right now.
It was a shock to see Andres Gimenez Matt the Mets Opening Day roster. It was a shock because his Double-A numbers weren’t off the charts. It was a bigger shock because there was no obvious opportunity.
With the recent slate of injuries coupled with his strong play, he’s currently an everyday player. As we saw today, he may be here to stay.
The Mets would win 4-2, and Gimenez was in the middle of each rally serving as a spark plug for the Mets offense.
In the third, he led off the inning with a single off Marlins starter Pablo Lopez. He’d immediately put himself in scoring position by stealing second.
Lopez would walk the bases loaded moving Gimenez to third. He’d then score on a Jeff McNeil RBI groundout. The second run of the inning scored when Corey Dickerson couldn’t field a Michael Conforto liner.
— Justin Groc (@jgroc) August 9, 2020
In the ensuing inning, Gimenez again set the table. This time it was a one out double. He’d score on a Brandon Nimmo two out RBI single.
In the sixth, Gimenez laid down a great drag bunt to lead-off the inning. The Mets would load the bases, and he’d score on a McNeil sacrifice fly.
Andrés Giménez, man… pic.twitter.com/YqsftSZIsZ
— Jacob Resnick (@Jacob_Resnick) August 9, 2020
Overall, Gimenez was 3-for-4 with three runs, a stolen base, and a double. He had three of the Mets eight hits, and he scored all three of the Mets earned runs. In the end, he did the near impossible in providing Jacob deGrom with run support.
With deGrom, he dealt with an issue on his middle finger. Some called it a blister. He called it a hot spot. It was no matter as deGrom is deGrom.
You could say it led to back-to-back walks in the second, but that might’ve been more the result of Home Plate Umpire Mark Carlson who was terrible, and that’s being kind.
No one had any idea what was a strike. The only thing we did know was deGrom was going to overcome it. In that second inning, he got out of a bases loaded jam unscathed.
It wasn’t until the fifth the Marlins would get to him. He missed on a pitch, and Jesus Aguilar hit a two run homer. At that point, the Marlins pulled to within 3-2. They’d get no closer even with deGrom being done after the fifth.
The Mets bullpen continued their impressive August.
Diaz was brilliant even if he was nearly victimized. He blew the first two Marlins away, and he should’ve stuck out Ryan Lavarnway, but Carlson blew the call.
Lavarnway singled on the next pitch. Then, Eddy Alvarez hit what appeared to be an easy fly ball. Instead, in what looks like the return of the juiced ball, it carried to the wall.
Fortunately, it didn’t go out. Diaz shook it off, and he struck out Monte Harrison on an absolutely overpowering pitch.
The big pitch has eluded Edwin Díaz so far.
Not this time. pic.twitter.com/8Y36bwkgEw
— Jacob Resnick (@Jacob_Resnick) August 9, 2020
That left Seth Lugo to pitch the ninth. Lugo pitched a scoreless ninth to preserve the 4-2 win. It was his third save of the season and first one inning save of the year.
Through it all, the Mets won their first series of the year. They did it featuring their homegrown talent, talent like Gimenez.
Game Notes: deGrom’s back-to-back walks in the second was the first time he did that in 25 starts. Michael Wacha landed on the IL with shoulder inflammation, and Ali Sanchez took his place on the roster. Dating back to last season, Nimmo has reached safely in 30 straight games.
In case you thought things were really bizarre with the Mets in 2020, we just saw something truly bizarre. The Mets gave Jacob deGrom run support.
The big outburst came in a four run third.
With runners at first and second, Michael Conforto delivered the hit the Mets desperately needed with an RBI single off Mike Soroka. After Pete Alonso walked, Robinson Cano delivered an RBI single scoring Conforto.
— New York Mets (@Mets) August 4, 2020
Disaster would strike that inning. When it seemed Soroka couldn’t get anyone out, J.D. Davis hit a fielder’s choice to Freddie Freeman. When Soroka went to go to first he pulled up lame, and he had to be helped off the field.
Soroka was not the only injury on the day.
Davis was plugged into the starting lineup because Jeff McNeil experienced lower back tightness. After hitting a single in the third, reaching third on a Marcell Ozuna error, Amed Rosario was pulled from the game with left quad tightness. Robinson Cano, who has been insanely hot of late, left the same with left groin tightness.
Aside from the injuries, the Mets offense was clicking. Cano would have another RBI single before departing the game. Wilson Ramos had an RBI single and a two run homer.
— New York Mets (@Mets) August 4, 2020
Those seven runs were more than enough for deGrom. He’d allow just two runs over six with one of them being a Travis d’Arnaud fifth inning solo homer. His final line was
— New York Mets (@Mets) August 4, 2020
It wasn’t complete smooth sailing for the Mets. Jeurys Familia loaded the bases with one out in the seventh. He’d strike out Ozzie Albies, and Justin Wilson would relieve him to get Freeman to ground out to end the jam.
Jared Hughes made his Mets debut pitching two scoreless innings to secure the 7-2 win. Even with all the injuries, it seemed like this was a game where the Mets got healthy.
With the crazy 2020 schedule, the Mets had a four game two city set with the Boston Red Sox. The road teams had the better of it.
3. With Smith and Luis Guillorme, it’s hard to conclude anything other than the Mets aren’t prioritizing getting them into games. After all, Brian Dozier wasn’t in full game shape and missed Summer Camp, yet he was activated and started the finale.
5. Diaz imploding again, and the Mets essentially admitting Robinson Cano is now a platoon player, that trade somehow got worse.
7. Aside from Rick Porcello, the Mets have gotten good starting pitching. Their offense, while disappointing, has been good. And yet, they’re under .500. Why? Because they’re the worst defensive club in baseball.
8. Much of that is attributable to J.D. Davis, who has been dreadful in left. Much like last year, he’s the worst defensive LF in baseball. It was his defense which led to the game winning rally on Wednesday.
9. The Mets need to go back to the drawing board and re-figure things out. Davis doesn’t belong in left. Amed Rosario is not a lead-off hitter. Your top OBP guy in Brandon Nimmo can’t hit ninth. Jeff McNeil is struggling at third.
11. Don’t discount Drew Smith who has been terrific.
12. Speaking of terrific young Mets pitchers, David Peterson took his velocity and game to another level in his first career start. It this is who he is now, his ceiling is much higher.
13. Despite what delusional Yankees fans will tell you Jacob deGrom is the best pitcher in baseball. He now has a 2.23 ERA in no decisions.
14. deGrom should’ve had the win, but that’s nothing new. He needs more run support.
15. The Mets had some very ugly ABs in crucial situations. Michael Conforto had a few of those. Don’t make too much of that as Conforto is a terrific hitter.
16. It’s interesting Dozier was activated but not Juan Lagares when both were very similarly situated. It’s all the more interesting when the Mets activated Ryan Cordell over Lagares when the team needed to replace Marisnick’s defense.
17. Overall, this Mets team should be better. It’s just better situational hitting (which comes and goes) and playing a better defensive lineup, which the Mets refuse to do.
18. You wonder how much longer the Mets can stick with Yoenis Cespedes. At times, he looks lost. Other times, he’s battling in AB and seems very close.
19. Speaking of Cespedes, it seems odd today is July 31 and we’re not awaiting Brodie Van Wagenen making a dumb trade.
20. We may never reach that new trade deadline with the Phillies on the cusp of an outbreak themselves, no one knowing when the Marlins can play again, and with Rob Manfred not taking this pandemic seriously.
Oft times, managers catch too much blame for team losses. For example, last year, people were livid with Mickey Callaway for bringing in Seth Lugo, the best reliever in the game. That actually happened.
Then, there are times like tonight where you really have to wonder what the manager was thinking. Tonight was one of those nights for Luis Rojas.
The Mets had entered the bottom of the seventh with the game tied 3-3. Because life isn’t fair, the Mets failed to get Jacob deGrom a win.
deGrom has allowed just two runs over six innings. Both runs came in the fourth. Rafael Devers and Mitch Moreland hit a pair of doubles, and then deGrom unleashed two wild pitches allowing Moreland to score.
In the sixth, Andres Gimenez, who got his first Major League start at short, came up huge hitting an RBI triple in the sixth. It was his first career triple and RBI. With Lugo coming in, you had to feel good about the Mets chances.
Unfortunately, Lugo hung a curve to Christian Vazquez, who hit a solo homer to tie the game. Still, it was only tied, and the Mets had a chance in the bottom of the seventh.
Jeff McNeil was hit by a pitch, and Pete Alonso singled putting two on with one out. Michael Conforto failed to deliver the RBI, but he did advance the runners. That should have brought up Smith, the team’s RBI leader up against a tired Josh Osich.
To compound the mistake of using Davis as a pinch hitter, Rojas put him in left. That proved wrong when Kevin Pillar hit a fly ball literally every other LF in baseball, Smith included, catches. But that’s what happens when you have to play very deep to accommodate insufficient range to play the position, and Davis lacks the instincts and ability to read the ball causing him to let an extraordinarily playable ball drop in front of him.
That play was all the more problematic because Justin Wilson was on fumes. To put it in perspective, this was Wilson’s fourth appearance, and this was the Mets sixth game.
He would load the bases with one out. After Wilson struck out Devers, the bad luck would start. Moreland has a swinging bunt McNeil could not cleanly pick up. Then, for some reason with Dellin Betances earning and ready in the pen, Rojas stuck with the fatigued Wilson to face the right-hand hitting Vazquez.
Vasquez hit a bleeder past a diving Alonso scoring two giving the Red Sox a 6-3 lead. After Wilson walked Alex Verdugo to reload the bases, Rojas finally went to Betances, who got the Mets out of the inning.
From there, well, the Mets did what they do best. They ripped your heart out.
Heading into the bottom of the ninth, it was 6-4 because Cespedes crushed his second homer of the season in the eighth.
— New York Mets (@Mets) July 30, 2020
Brandon Workman had no command whatsoever, and the Mets loaded the bases with no outs. The Mets failed to tie it.
Conforto, who struggled mightily today, struck out looking on a 3-2 pitch on the corner. After an infield single pulling the Mets to within 6-5 because Devers couldn’t make a string enough throw, Cespedes came up.
Cespedes had a poor AB swinging at a 2-0 pitch out of the strike zone and whiffing on a 3-2 flat cutter in the middle of the strike zone. That put the game in Robinson Cano‘s hands. Sadly, he lined weakly to short to end the game.
Frankly, this was an abominable loss. The game was replete with poor at-bats in key spots, and Rojas made a number of mistakes. With Rojas, this is game six for him. We can and should expect better from him.
Game Notes: Jake Marisnick was put on the IL. Ryan Cordell was called up to take his place on the roster. Jordan Humphreys was designated for assignment to make room on the 40 man roster. Alonso had a four hit game.
The fun part about MLB debuts is you can never quite be sure how it will go. Will they be the player they were in the minors? Will the stage be too big for them? Or, will they rise to the occasion and take their game to the next level?
Peterson raised his velocity from the high 80s to low 90s to 94 MPH. He showed slightly better control. He rose to the big moments.
Case in point was the third inning. Former Met Kevin Plawecki hit a routine fly ball J.D. Davis misplayed into a double. After an ensuing walk to Andrew Benintendi, Brandon Nimmo sprinted and dropped a deep Jose Peraza fly ball to load the bases.
Peterson responded by striking out J.D. Martinez. Then, he got the ground ball he needed. It was an odd play where Robinson Cano was ruled to have caught a ball he seemed to short hop. The second base umpire had a delayed out call leading to Benintendi taking off for third.
Benintendi was finally tracked down in the run down as Plawecki scored. At that time, it was 3-1 Mets.
The Mets got that lead with a three run third. The first run game on a Cano RBI double. After that double, Nimmo was walked to load the bases. Amed Rosario then delivered a bloop single scoring two.
With the lead, Peterson was pitching well despite not getting much help from his defense. As mentioned above, Davis misplayed a ball, and we’d see Jeff McNeil throw a ball away. On McNeil, his arm may be something which needs monitoring because his throws to first haven’t been good. Really, the only standout defensive play came from Michael Conforto.
Michael Conforto, wow pic.twitter.com/yuviWa9DOp
— Jacob Resnick (@Jacob_Resnick) July 29, 2020
After that odd third inning run, Peterson starting putting up a string of zeros. That I included his inducing an inning ending double play to end the fifth.
Peterson hit the end of the line in the sixth. Rafael Devers and Kevin Pillar hit a pair of doubles pulling the Red Sox to within 5-2. Drew Smith came in for Peterson, and he had another impressive performance striking out Mitch Moreland to end the inning.
While Smith was impressive, the story was Peterson. He was much better than you could’ve hoped. With the increased velocity and better control, he suddenly changed what could be his ceiling. You could not ask for a better debut than this.
— New York Mets (@Mets) July 29, 2020
On that note, Cano started that rally. TGIF was a great night for him where he seemed rejuvenated. Overall, he was 2-for-3 with a run, double, and an RBI.
In fact, for the second straight night, the Mets offense was clicking. Overall, Yoenis Cespedes and Pete Alonso were the only two Mets without a hit. However, both would reach base safely with Alonso drawing a walk and Cespedes getting hit by a pitch.
Overall, if you’re looking for something to lament, Hunter Strickland struggled again allowing a run in the ninth. Still, there’s no need to focus on that with the Mets beating up on the Red Sox again and getting to over .500.
Today would normally be a good day. With Peterson’s great debut, it was a phenomenal day.
Game Notes: Despite entering the game as the team’s RBI leader and homering yesterday, Dominic Smith was benched again. In response to the Marlins COVID19 outbreak, they’re being shut down for the week. The Phillies series against the Yankees has been canceled, and the Yankees will play the Orioles instead.
With Marcus Stroman injured and the Mets senseless use of Corey Oswalt, the team put former first round pick David Peterson on the taxi squad, and they may activate him to make his MLB debut tonight. Certainly, this will be a popular pick among Mets fans who wanted him over Oswalt.
Hopefully, fans expectation levels are reasonable.
To a certain extent, this is like when the Mets called up Mike Pelfrey in 2006. Pelfrey was rushed up to the majors from Double-A because the Mets frankly ran out of starting pitching options. Pelfrey simply was not ready, and he’d pitch to a 5.48 ERA in four starts.
To a certain extent, Pelfrey profiled similar to Peterson. Like Pelfrey, Peterson is a sinkerball pitcher. Unlike Pelfrey, Peterson has a well developed slider with Pelfrey relying on a curve in college and the minors. While they struck out over a batter an inning in Double-A, they expectation for Peterson is he won’t do that in the majors.
It should again be noted Peterson pitched in Double-A last year, and he did not face higher level batters you see in Triple-A. His results in Binghamton were very much a mixed bag.
Overall, Peterson made 24 starts pitching 116.0 innings (4.2 innings per start). He was 3-6 with a 4.19 ERA, 1.345 WHIP, 2.9 BB/9, and a 9.5 K/9. Part of the reason for the low innings per start was an injury suffered last year, and it was also the result of his not going deep into games on a consistent basis.
While his traditional stats were not promising, some of the analytical numbers were quite favorable. For example, he had a 3.19 FIP and 2.91 xFIP. Other numbers were not favorable like a 10.5% HR/FB which coincided with a dropping GB%.
These stats coincide with what has been a very mixed opinion on Peterson from the moment he was drafted. When the Mets selected him 20th overall in the 2017 draft, some thought the Mets got a steal. There were some who thought that was the right spot, and there were a few who thought it was an aggressive spot to grab him.
Putting that aside, Peterson does have the stuff which suggests he can be a Major League pitcher. He has a low 90s fastball with sinking action. The spin rates on his fastball and slider are relatively average albeit on the low end of that spectrum. With all of these pitches, there is promise and real hope for improvement.
Therein lies the rub. Peterson is not a finished product. He still needs work on his fastball, change, and slider. Many times, that gets exposed.
On the other hand, Jacob deGrom was able to take his game to a completely different level when he was promoted to the majors. This isn’t to say Peterson will be the next deGrom. He won’t. Rather, at times, the extra adrenaline of pitching in the majors coupled with better coaching, helps a pitcher improve significantly.
Overall, Peterson is a pitcher with real yet still somewhat raw talent. He’s yet to fully hone his arsenal, and we really haven’t seen him have the level of game-to-game consistency you want from a pitcher before calling him up.
That said, the Mets have put themselves into a box and may have to call him up. The hope there is Jeremy Hefner can work with him to accelerate his development, and that the work he’s been putting in translates to him being able to succeed at the Major League level.
It’s certainly possible, but that said, we probably should expect more early Pelfrey than early deGrom.
Baseball is finally back, and the Mets offense looked like they haven’t played a game since September losing 2/3 to the Braves.
1. Jacob deGrom is still the best pitcher on that planet.
2. And Seth Lugo is still the best reliever.
3. Yoenis Cespedes homering on Opening Day to help give the Mets a 1-0 victory may be the highlight of the season . . . especially if the backend of the rotation will be this bad.
5. With the exception of the Braves offense going bezerk yesterday, it appears the juiced ball is gone. That’s going to be a problem for some of the Mets hitters who relied upon it.
7. That goes double when his defense is that bad. It’s already turned a single into a double and an out into a game altering RBI double.
8. No, you don’t want to overreact to a slow start, but remember a three game set is the equivalent of eight games. That’s over a week of the season.
9. On that note, Porcello was bad last year, and Davis was extraordinarily lucky with his hitting a juiced ball. These two are more than worth monitoring and having a short leash.
10. As for Porcello, he’s locked in the rotation because the Mets have no starting pitching depth. That, and there’s no way the Mets bench him and his prorated $10 million.
11. One of these days, Corey Oswalt will be given a legitimate opportunity to succeed. Last night, being rushed to warm up and brought into the middle of an inning when he was supposed to be preparing to start on Tuesday isn’t remotely giving him a fair shake.
12. Aside from Oswalt imploding, the Mets bullpen looked really good with Jeurys Familia rediscovering his power sinker.
14. One nit to pick with Rojas is he needs some consistency. You can’t let Wilson Ramos run the bases with three catchers but pinch run for Cespedes with two outs and a runner on first. It doesn’t make sense to make wholesale defensive changes and leave Dominic Smith on the bench.
16. Diaz’s stuff has looked great. However, that was a bad pitch to Marcell Ozuna. He threw five straight pitches to that side of the plate, and the previous day he went there to strike Ozuna out. Ozuna couldn’t have had a better idea what that pitch was going to be even if he was a Houston Astro.
17. That spoiled a GREAT start from Steven Matz who has seemingly taken another step forward from his second half turnaround. That added velocity and improved change makes him a legit number two instead of the one he is on paper.
18. Mets are going nowhere if Marcus Stroman‘s injury is serious.
19. We have seen Travis d’Arnaud and Tyler Flowers miss this series with COVID19 symptoms. Marlins catcher Jorge Alfaro tested positive along with some teammates. It appears with catchers unable to socially distance during games, they are the players facing the brunt of the COVID19 risks.
20. It’s great having baseball back even with the universal DH and extra inning rules bastardizing the game. On the later, with all four extra inning games ending in the 10th, Rob Manfred may really push for that rule to stay. Naturally, the universal DH fans who love gimmicks to produce offense must love that.
The last we saw the Mets Dominic Smith was hitting a walk-off extra inning homer against the Braves. So much has happened since then, including but not limited to a pandemic. About nine months later, the Mets and Braves were back squaring off at Citi Field.
With this matchup it seemed like the Mets picked up where they left off. That was the case with Jacob deGrom who pitched like his Cy Young self.
deGrom began the game just throwing 100 MPH with ease. The Braves just could not put up much of a fight against him. Even when Marcell Ozuna, a good MLB hitter, got up 3-0 in the count, deGrom still dispatched him with ease.
Overall, deGrom was limited to just five innings because it’s the first start after the revamp of the season. He’d allow just one hit and one walk while striking out eight. Of course, with this being deGrom, he had a no decision.
Part of the reason was Mike Soroka started for the Braves. Soroka emerged as a future ace in his rookie year last year. Soroka was good . . . and lucky.
In the first two innings, the Mets got the lead-off hitter on only for the runner to be erased on a double play. Ender Inciarte robbed both J.D. Davis and Jeff McNeil of potential RBI extra base hits. There was also a bad McNeil base running gaffe.
While the Mets offense was getting shut down, the combination of deGrom and Seth Lugo was doing the same to the Braves.
Lugo mowed down the Braves in the sixth, but he’d have to come up big in the seventh. Ozuna hit it sharp to left. With a better defender, it might’ve been a single, but the Mets don’t care about defense.
After his one out double, Ozuna took third when Wilson Ramos, who had not caught in a week due to his attending to personal issues, whiffed on a pitch.
The Mets brought the infield in, and we saw one of the most unique plays you’ll ever see. Matt Adams, who was recently released by the Mets, was the Braves DH. He hit a sharp grounder to the right side. McNeil, who flipped from third to second with the shift, fielded the ball and walked it to first for the extremely rare five unassisted at first.
After that unique play, Lugo struck out Austin Riley to get out of the jam. That put Lugo in line for the win in the event the Mets could score at least one run.
Enter Yoenis Cespedes.
Cespedes was back after double heel surgery and a wild boar attack. He was inserted in the lineup as the first ever DH Mets DH in a game between two NL teams. After a pop out and ground out against Soroka, he faced Chris Martin.
— New York Mets (@Mets) July 24, 2020
Right there, the Mets were up 1-0 with a homer we honestly would’ve expected from Cespedes years ago. These were the moments he thrived, and at least today, he seemed primed to be that player again.
What’s fascinating is Cespedes became the first ever DH to record a hit, homer, and RBI in a game between two NL teams. Believe it or not, he has now homered in three straight games.
Cespedes' last three games:
May 13, 2018
July 20, 2018
July 24, 2020
He homered in all three.
— Jacob Resnick (@Jacob_Resnick) July 24, 2020
The Mets pitching, which was excellent, made that 1-0 lead hold up. Justin Wilson worked around a lead-off single in the eighth to pitch a scoreless inning.
Edwin Diaz issued a one out walk to Freddie Freeman in the ninth. In case you had fear this was going to be the same Diaz who imploded all of last year, he’d quash those concerns by striking out Ozuna and Adams on seven pitches to end the game.
The Mets pitching was phenomenal in this win. They combined to shut out the Braves allowing just three hits and two walks while striking out 15. The Braves had no chance today.
When the Mets pitching is at this level, they don’t need much. Last year, they don’t get that run. This year, they have Cespedes. That may be all they need.
Game Notes: The Mets won their first challenge of the season when McNeil was incorrectly ruled out when stretching a single to a double. The play caused Keith Hernandez to quip about the umpire, “Get an eye chart!” Matt Adams made MLB history by being the first DH to have a PA in a game between two NL teams. The Mets wore Black Lives Matter shirts (before the game but did not kneel for the anthem.
— SNY (@SNYtv) July 24, 2020
When Brodie Van Wagenen took over as the Mets General Manager, he was gifted an organization with great pitching depth. It was more than just reigning Cy Young winner Jacob deGrom. It was a rotation so deep, Steven Matz was a fifth starter.
Behind them was an upcoming group of starters at or near top 100 rankings. Of note, Justin Dunn and Anthony Kay were first round picks putting it together and putting themselves in a position to be Major League ready starters sooner rather than later. Notably, both made their Major League debuts last year.
Now, Matz has gone from fifth starter to the Mets second starter, and the Mets rotation currently goes just three deep. How the Mets got here is purely on Van Wagenen’s shoulders.
Some of this was Van Wagenen’s hubris. He was all too willing to trade top prospects close to the Majors and continue with thin pitching depth. It was something the Mets got away with last year with Mickey Callaway who seemed to have a knack for keeping starters healthy. Of course, Van Wagenen couldn’t wait to fire him.
On the top prospects Van Wagenen traded away, he was all too cavalier about it. In fact, he said he was comfortable doing so because he was confident he’d draft well.
Brodie Van Wagenen said he had this aggressive draft strategy in mind when he traded away prospects.
— Tim Healey (@timbhealey) June 30, 2020
Speaking of win-now, the Mets just let Zack Wheeler go to the Phillies even though Wheeler wanted to stay and would’ve signed at a discount. Instead, he signed that discounted deal with the Phillies. To make matters worse, Van Wagenen went out of his way to slight and further motivate Wheeler.
Van Wagenen’s master plan was to instead sign Rick Porcello and Michael Wacha. Porcello is coming off a year where he had the worst ERA in the AL. Wacha has a bum shoulder and a three year decline in FIP, BB/9, K/9, and K/BB.
Again, Van Wagenen’s plan was to dismantle the Mets group of aces and near aces with Major League ready first round picks and replace that with well below average starters in the name of . . . depth. While it’s a sick joke, it wasn’t intended to be funny.
Sure, you can argue injuries hit this rotation. Noah Syndergaard needing Tommy John couldn’t be foreseen. Marcus Stroman tearing his hamstring was bad luck. Conversely, that’s exactly why you hold onto your starting pitching depth, and it’s why you hold onto your top end starters instead of letting them go to a division rival.
These problems have been compounded by the bullpen injuries. This means the Mets are down to three viable starters and no one to fill-in those middle innings when the dubious fourth and fifth starters can’t go deep into games.
However, Van Wagenen will tell us it’s alright because he built depth (he didn’t), and he had a draft strategy (leaving the team with no real MLB ready starters in the minors). Suddenly, the Mets went from a team so needed a couple of tweaks to be a true World Series contender to a team who may now just be the fourth best in the division.
If the Mets fall short this year, make no mistake, it’s all on Van Wagenen and his complete and utter short-sightedness on how he has handled the Mets pitching depth.