Back in 2005, Pedro Martinez was having a Cy Young caliber season that was about to be cut short due to a toe injury. From Rick Peterson to Willie Randolph to the training staff, they all agreed with the Mets out of the race, Pedro should shut it down for the rest of the year. However, there was one person that didn’t agree – Jeff Wilpon.
As Pedro would later tell in his the eponymous book “Pedro,” Jeff Wilpon approached him telling him to pitch to help the Mets sell-out a September 22nd game against Dontrelle Willis and the Marlins. Pedro protested leading to an argument where Pedro even offered to give back the rest of his contract. Ultimately, he pitched because, as Wilpon told him, “While I’m the boss here, you’re going to have to do what I say.” (Tyler Kepner, New York Times).
While we can never be sure of the root cause of the injury, this moment resonates as Pedro would suffer a torn rotator cuff making him unavailable for the 2006 postseason. That was one of many what-ifs that happened that year.
Fast forward a decade.
Last year, Steven Matz had what was described as a massive bone spur the team knew needed to be removed surgically. Rather than have the surgery right away, Matz was pumped full of cortisone shots, told to scrap the slider, and pitched until he could no longer pitch. The odd thing is Matz initially didn’t want to go this route.
As Jon Heyman of Today’s Knuckleball reported, “[Matz] was seriously considering surgery, and maybe even leaning that way, before a meeting with the Mets brass.” Sound familiar?
During Spring Training this year, Matz had arm issues, which he self-described as a strained flexor tendon. The team disagreed with an unnamed Mets official with knowledge of Matz’s medical care telling Bob Klapisch of the Bergen Record, “Our [doctors] found nothing wrong.”
The answer was once again to pitch through the pain and to abandon the slider. Matz continued to pitch despite his elbow reportedly swelling to the size of a grapefruit.
One thing that is quite notable is a passage from Marc Carig’s Newsday column on the topic, “Matz insisted on powering through, perhaps in defiance of a reputation he’s gained for often being injured. And the Mets proceeded as if he were dealing with inflammation.” More damning was this statement, “One source described a belief by some in the organization that Matz was simply learning to get over the ‘mental hurdle’ of pitching through pain.”
Certainly, this wasn’t the first time we’ve heard people discuss Matz needing to learn the difference between pitching through pain and pitching hurt. Ron Darling has made the point a number of times during games. His manager Terry Collins previously said Matz needed to learn how to pitch through his issues. (Anthony Rieber, Newsday).
Seeing these comments, we should not be surprised the Mets were completely blind-sided by Matz’s recent ulnar nerve injury and need for surgery. It is even less surprising considering the team and team doctors dealt with the same issue with Jacob deGrom.
Seeing this happen time and again, we all look to point the finger at someone. Over the past decade, we have see a change at General Manager, manager, and pitching coach. The Mets have been affiliated with the Hospital for Special Surgery, which is one of the top hospitals in the country. Many will point to Ray Ramirez, but he is actually well-regarded in his field. No, the issue is the Mets organizational culture.
In 2005, they forced Pedro to pitch. In 2010, they were livid Carlos Beltran had knee surgery, which turned out to be a necessary and possibly career saving procedure. Now, they have both pressured Matz to pitch and are surprised by his suffering as a result. Really, the only thing that isn’t surprising is the Mets culture not changing over the past decade. How can it with Jeff Wilpon still calling the shots?
Like he has most of his career, Cespedes has failed to hustle this year. While deemed acceptable when things are going well, this becomes an issue for everyone.
When he comes to Gsellman, he basically said as much. Well, that’s a bit of a stretch. When he was told Sandy Alderson said he needed to pitch better, Gsellman replied he didn’t care.
On the field tonight against a very good Diamondbacks team, they were both very good.
Gsellman was reminiscent of the pitcher we saw last year. He mostly kept the ball out of the air preventing him from being victimized by the long ball. With a much better defense behind him, which somehow included Wilmer Flores making some nice plays at third, Gsellman went deep into the game.
In the odd chance the ball was in the air, the outfield got to those balls. This included Cespedes making not one but two hustle plays in the outfield.
With the defense playing well behind him, and his sinker working, Gsellman arguably had his best start of the year. His final line was 6.1 innings, five hits, one run, one earned, one walk, and three strikeouts.
Even with that terrific outing, he still didn’t get the win because the Mets offense continued to squander their scoring opportunities against Taijuan Walker.
The Mets could bring home Brandon Nimmo after he lead-off the top of the first with a double.
Wilmer Flores and Dominic Smith lead off the second with consecutive singles. Amed Rosario struck out. After Kevin Plawecki intentionally walked to load the bases, Gsellman struck out, and Nimmo lined out.
Flores came up in the third with runners at first and second with one out, and he grounded into the 6-4-3 inning ending double play.
Plawecki’s two out double in the fourth didn’t amount to anything with Gsellman hitting it back to the pitcher.
Plawecki came up in the sixth with runners on the corners and two outs. It would be runners on second and third after Rosario stole second. David Hernandez came on for Rubby De La Rosa, and he got Plawecki to tap it back to him to end the inning.
Finally, the Mets broke through in the sixth.
Travis d’Arnaud, who came on for Plawecki in a double switch in the top half of the inning, hit a lead-off double. Nimmo then sacrificed him to third.
Asdrubal Cabrera and Michael Conforto then earned walks to load the bases putting the game in Cespedes’ hands. As noted above, he played this game with a different energy than he has been playing with for most of the season.
Cespedes battled back from 0-2 against Archie Bradley to rip an RBI single past a diving Jake Lamb to tie the game.
It only tied the game because David Peralta nailed Cabrera at the plate. It’s a tough play to pin blame on anyone. With it being so close, it was a good send by Glenn Sherlock. Likely, Cabrera would’ve been safe if his leg was on the ground instead of in the air. You can’t blame Cabrera because that was just tough luck.
In any event, after a Flores foul out, this was now a battle of the bullpens.
The Mets went to Erik Goeddel in a rare second straight day of work to pitch the 10th. In a rare appearance on consecutive days. We saw the reason why he rarely does this.
The homer snapped a Meys bullpen 17.2 streak of not allowing an earned run.
Mets still has a chance in the bottom of the 10th with the heart of the lineup due up against Diamondbacks closer Fernando Rodney.
Conforto got the inning off on the right foot hitting an opposite field lead-off home run to pull the Meys within 3-2. That’s as close as the Mets got as Rodney set down Cespedes, Flores, and Smith to end the game.
The main thing that really stood out today was the Mets played with a different energy. At this point in the season, it’s all we can reasonably expect. Well that and better situational hitting.
When that happen, we will see a much better brand of baseball much like we saw tonight.
Jacob deGrom is all of us. He watched the Mets play behind him all afternoon with no run support and poor defensive, and he just threw his hands up in the air.
The play that caused it was a seventh inning Dee Gordon grounder to Amed Rosario. Like he did in his first game against the Rockies, Rosario did a glove tap, and that was the difference between safe and out.
This was all prelude to another Giancarlo Stanton home run. If deGrom is Superman, Stanton is 245 pounds of Kryptonite. Stanton’s three run homer here was his fourth off deGrom in his career, and it gave the Marlins a 5-1 lead.
Not to be outdone, Yoenis Cespedes dropped a flyball later that inning. It brought the boo birds out on a day he showed continued lack of hustle. At least, he hit a homer in the first.
A Marcell Ozuna single after the Cespedes two base error gave the Marlins a 6-1 lead. It was a disappointing start for deGrom, but that’s to be expected when he isn’t getting any help in the field or at the plate.
His final line would be 6.1 innings, 10 hits, five runs, five earned, no walks, and eight strikeouts.
When deGrom threw his arms up, something he later admitted he shouldn’t have done, he spoke for all Mets fans tired of seeing the same mistakes being repeated game-in and game-out.
With d’Arnaud and Cespedes, it is more of the same. We see great defensive aspects to d’Arnaud’s game, but he just doesn’t trust his arm. For Cespedes, his lack of hustle borders on the pathological.
At least with Rosario, the play was part of growing pains. Same goes for Dominic Smith going 0-3 with three strikeouts against the left-handed Conley. It certainly doesn’t help Terry Collins having him out of the lineup against left-handed pitching.
It should be noted young players don’t just come with growing pains. They come with improvement.
We saw that with Brandon Nimmo leading off the eighth with a pinch hit double and Michael Conforto following with a one out walk. This led to the Mets making a game of this, which was a nice departure from most Sunday games.
Nimmo scored on a Cespedes double. Conforto scored on a Wilmer Flores sacrifice fly, and Cespedes scored on a two out d’Arnaud RBI single.
That made the score 6-4, which was as close as the Mets would get.
Rosario struck out to end the eighth inning rally, and Asdrubal Cabrera hit into a game ending double play in the ninth.
Like most Sunday games, this was a tough watch. It was tough seeing veterans continuing to have the same issues. The hope is that while these veterans never learned how to correct theirs, the young players like Smith and Rosario will.
If they do, these tough games will all be worth it. If they do, the Mets may very well compete again next year.
Game Notes: Gavin Cecchini got the start at second. With his ninth inning single, he now has a base hit in all five games he’s started.
Right now, the Mets are just a bad baseball team. When you are a fan of a bad baseball team, it is sometimes difficult to find seasons to watch. Thankfully, there still remain reasons to watch the Mets:
Jacob deGrom – This year, deGrom has returned to pitching like an ace. No, he may not be the guy he was in 2015, but he’s still a great pitcher. You know with him on the mound the Mets have a chance to win the game. With his ability, anything is possible.
Michael Conforto – We have been watching Conforto have one of the best, if not the best, season a young Mets player has ever had. He will soon be the youngest Mets player to ever hit 30 homers. He’s showing how special he is taking on more leadership responsibilities in the clubhouse.
Chris Flexen – Very quickly, Flexen has gone from over-matched to holding his own. He’s just 23 and had just seven Double-A starts under his belt. Just holding his own at this point is remarkable. Sooner or later, he may just prove he belongs at this level.
Juan Lagares – One thing that really stood out in the Subway Series was this man can still play Gold Glove defense. In fact, he might be the best outfielder in baseball with his league leading 34.0 UZR/150. Metrics aside, it’s a joy to watch him play center field defense, and you never know when he is going to make his next great play.
Amed Rosario & Dominic Smith – They have essentially been presented as this generations David Wright and Jose Reyes or Dwight Gooden and Darryl Strawberry. If they’re at those levels, the Mets will quickly turn things around. If they are truly this good, we won’t want to miss a minute of them playing. To that end, we have already seen great defense from them, and they’ve already homered in the same game.
With that, there are five very good reasons to continue watching this team. Other than that, we can watch because we’re Mets fans, and we love our team. I know I watched the Jeff Torborg, Art Howe, or Jerry Manuel Mets teams, I can certainly watch this team.
This wasn’t the best of Subway Series games for Mets fans.
Jacob deGrom was good but not great.
The Yankees first got to him in the third when Ronald Torreyes hit a lead-off double that Yoenis Cespedes couldn’t even be bothered to hustle to field. His lack of hustle was all the more damning when Torreyes made it to second with ease despite slipping on the first base bag.
Of course, Cespedes would hustle on two infield singles in the game.
The Yankees then took a 1-0 on an Aaron Hicks RBI single.
That lead grew to 4-0 on a pair of homers. The first was a two run Yankee Stadium special off the bat of Jacoby Ellsbury in the fourth. The Gary Sanchez solo shot in the sixth would’ve been out anywhere.
Even with the four runs, deGrom was largely effective. His final line was 7.1 innings, nine hits, five runs, five earned, two walks, and four strike outs.
deGrom would get the loss because Sonny Gray dominated the Mets for six innings. He had only allowed one walk and four hits while striking out five.
Dominic Smith knocked him out of the game with his first career homer in the seventh:
— Anthony DiComo (@AnthonyDiComo) August 16, 2017
It was an opposite field shot just past Hicks’ glove. The homer brought the Mets to within 4-2, bit the Mets wouldn’t get closer.
One reason why was home plate umpire. Dellin Betances began to get wild after getting two quick outs to start the eighth. Betances then walked Cespedes, and he found himself down 3-1 to Michael Conforto.
The 3-1 pitch was certainly a strike, but the 3-2 pitch was low. Even if it was technically a strike, it was not called a strike all night.
That was the Mets last chance to tie the game.
The Yankees expanded the lead to 5-2 in the bottom of the eighth. Aaron Judge led off with a double by just beating out Cespedes throw to second. It became runners on the corners after Didi Gregorious fought off a pitch and blooped it just over the head of Wilmer Flores.
It was a bad situation that could have been worse if not for Juan Lagares. Sanchez hit a ball to the deepest part of the park. Instead of it going for extra bases, a shallow playing Lagares not only ranged all the way back, but he also got into good throwing position. This kept Gregorious at first.
Jerry Blevins and Chasen Bradford got out of the inning keeping the score at 5-2. Unfortunately, that insurance run would loom large with the Mets challenging Aroldis Chapman in the ninth.
It started with Terry Collins pinch hitting Jose Reyes for Smith because Collins is apparently the only person on the planet who doesn’t know Rafael Devers hit a home run off Chapman.
Reyes got the infield hit, but who cares? The rest of this season is about player development, and the Mets gain nothing from pinch hitting for Smith against a tough lefty.
It’s complete and utter nonsense. It’s the same nonsense that held up Conforto’s development.
If this is the way Collins manages from here on out, it’s time to get rid of him.
That said, Amed Rosario made things interesting with an opposite field two run homer to bring the Mets to within 5-4.
Gregorious would make a nice play taking a base hit away from Travis d’Arnaud, and Lagares would ground out to end the game.
It was a frustrating loss not just because deGrom wasn’t at his best, but also because Collins continued the same poor managing.
Game Notes: This is the first time Smith and Rosario homered in the same game.
Entering tonight, Jacob deGrom had never lost to the Phillies. With the Phillies being one of the few teams in baseball actually worse than the Mets, it wasn’t about to happen tonight.
deGrom dominated the Phillies over his 6.2 shutout innings allowing just four hits while walking none and striking out nine. The only way the Phillies could take him out of the game would be a Nick Williams line drive off deGrom with two outs in the seventh.
Terry Collins did the right thing pulling deGrom from the game. With the Mets going nowhere, there’s no need to risk anything. There’s less of a reason with the Mets being up 7-0.
One thing we have learned over the years is the Mets have always loved hitting at Citizens Bank Park. In fact, the Mets have homered there more than any other opponent. Tonight, the festivities began with a Wilmer Flores first inning three run homer off starter Vince Velasquez.
He’d fare much better than Velasquez with the lone run against him coming off a Neil Walker solo shot in the third.
It was interesting to see Walker at third again tonight, especially with the Yankees reportedly having interest in him. I’m sure there will be a team to step in to offer a low rated Single-A reliever to prevent that deal from happening.
Conforto got the home run from the clean-up spot. Now that the Mets have traded Jay Bruce, Collins has re-inserted Curtis Granderson in the lead-off spot for the foreseeable future. Collins also promises to keep Conforto in the middle of the lineup as preparation for next year.
Speaking of Granderson, he hit a two run homer in the ninth to give the Mets a 9-0 lead.
That 9-0 lead became 10-0 with a Jose Reyes RBI groundout.
The Mets needed more games like this during the 2017 season. In fact, this is just the Mets fourth shut out on the season. Unfortunately, it hasn’t worked out that way. Still, we should enjoy them whenever they come.
Game Notes: Dominic Smith will join the Mets tomorrow.
Look, we can all agree the Dodgers are a much better team than the Mets. There are several reasons why this is the case, and there is another time to re-evaluate how the Mets have gone from beating the Dodgers in the 2015 NLDS to being completely over-matched in a three game series where Clayton Kershaw didn’t even pitch.
Teams have bad series all the time. Even when the Mets are good, we see clunkers like this from time to time. However, this series seemed more than that. This was a team thoroughly out-classed on the field. It makes you shudder when you consider the Mets had Jacob deGrom and Seth Lugo going.
At this point, it’s time to press the reset button. We all know the Mets aren’t going to the postseason. With each passing day, even getting to .500 is a pipe dream. For what it’s worth, getting to .500 is detrimental. The Mets need to lose as many games as they can to get the best possible draft pick they can in the 2018 draft. You want the Mets to be able to go and draft the next Michael Conforto.
No matter what happens, we know the Mets are going to continue to lose a number of games to close out the season. That’s fine. We’ve all accepted it. What we cannot accept is turning on the game and watching a team lose without any purpose whatsoever.
What is the team accomplishing by playing Wilmer Flores and Jay Bruce at first base? Neither one of them are going to be the first baseman next year. That job is going to Dominic Smith. With each game Flores and Bruce play first, and Smith remains in the minors, the Mets have accomplished absolutely nothing.
What does playing Curtis Granderson everyday accomplish? He’s been a good Met and an even better man. He’s also accepted a role as the team’s fourth outfielder. It’s likely he will be gone after the 2017 season. With each game he plays, you learn nothing about him. All the while, Brandon Nimmo sits languishing on your bench not even getting at-bats in Triple-A to help him improve as a player.
For that matter, why is Gavin Cecchini in Triple-A? Do we really need to learn more about Jose Reyes and Asdrubal Cabrera? Isn’t one or two of them likely gone after the season? If not, aren’t their roles going to be much different in 2018? Reyes should be firmly on the bench in 2018, and Cabrera has shown he should be at third base. If that is the case, why isn’t Cecchini playing second base over these two?
Ultimately, you can justify playing any of the aforementioned veterans you want. Certainly, you want Neil Walker to showcase himself to teams after a lengthy disabled list stint. However, the aforementioned veterans have already been showcased and teams have passed on them for a variety of reasons. Playing them everyday serves this Mets team no purposes. That is unless the Mets are going to have a huge push to celebrate Bruce passing Carlos Beltran and Todd Hundley for the Mets single season home run record like they pushed Reyes winning the Mets first ever batting title. Note, Reyes’ batting title didn’t exactly draw fans to the park.
Calling up Amed Rosario was a step in the right direction. Seeing Paul Sewald pitch in some high leverage situations is another step. Taking a chance on Chris Flexen was inspired. However, it’s simply not enough. Sooner or later, Mets fans are going to tune out these games . . . if they haven’t already.
To that end, it’s time to get Smith and Cecchini up here and play them everyday or close to it. Fans would rather see them work through some growing pains at the major league level than watch Bruce, Cabrera, Granderson, Reyes, and Walker lose in lackluster fashion.
It’s time to turn the page if for no other reason than it’s time to give fans a reason to watch what has become a dreadful team.
What could have gone down as a pretty interesting game fell apart.
deGrom's full of surprises pic.twitter.com/mfJVOA0mXI
— Mets Citi (@metsciti) August 5, 2017
— New York Mets (@Mets) August 5, 2017
Other than that, there wasn’t much reason to cheer. After Michael Conforto‘s single to lead-off the bottom of the first, the Mets offense would only get two more hits.
Long story short, Yu Darvish completely dominated the Mets. He pitched seven innings allowing just three hits. If not for the stolen bases, no Met would have made it to scoring position. He only walked one and struck out 10.
Unfortunately, deGrom could not match zeros with him. It was pretty impossible to do it when Chris Taylor homered to begin the game.
In total, the Dodgers just wore down deGrom, who would need 99 pitches to get through just five innings. His final line was five innings, five hits, three runs, three earned, three walks, and eight strikeouts.
Chase Utley continues his torment of the Mets with a two-run home run into the upper deck to give the Dodgers a 5-0 lead in the 6th inning pic.twitter.com/zJPKODklc4
— TheRenderMLB (@TheRenderMLB) August 5, 2017
Just like that, it was 5-0 Dodgers. After scoring a run off Chasen Bradford in the seventh, it was 6-0 Dodgers. It might as well have been 600-0 at that point. The Mets were overmatched and were not going to do much in this game.
This game was a solemn reminder of the different directions these two teams have gone since that epic NLDS just two years ago.
Game Notes: Conforto, Rosario, and deGrom were the only Mets to get a hit in the game. Conforto was the only Met with a multi-hit game.
With Jacob deGrom having won eight straight starts and today’s game being a day game, you’d think this game was as close to being a lock as you could imagine.
Unfortunately, it wasn’t in the cards today. Home Plate Umpire Shane Livensparger had an inconsistent strike zone, and that’s putting it nicely. He also lost some focus after losing control and hitting Mitch Haniger in the face with a fastball.
Mitch Haniger is said to be OKAY after getting drilled in the face by a Jacob deGrom 95 MPH fastball pic.twitter.com/rbE1jItCtq
— Smash Talk Sports (@SmashTalkSports) July 29, 2017
After the game, deGrom admitted the HBP affected him:
Jacob deGrom discusses today's start — particularly the difficulty of continuing after hitting Mitch Haniger in the face. pic.twitter.com/YJrMcsecvE
— Anthony DiComo (@AnthonyDiComo) July 29, 2017
It should come as no surprise. After all, deGrom is human. How else can you explain him allowing a two RBI base hit to Jarrod Dyson?
The Mariners lead grew to 3-0 in the the inning. That wasn’t so much on deGrom as it was Neil Walker. Walker took what should’ve been a double player grounded off the bat of Robinson Cano. Instead of the double play, it was second and third with no outs.
It really is a testament to deGrom the only damage that inning did not spiral out of control. The only run scored that inning was a sacrifice fly off the bat of Nelson Cruz.
The 3-0 lead was problematic because the Mets offense couldn’t get going. In fact, the Mets didn’t get a hit with a runner in scoring position until there were two outs in the ninth inning.
Before that, the Mets were 0-8 with RISP with a wake of missed opportunities. The biggest one was in the sixth inning.
The Mets had Yovani Gallardo on the ropes. It led the Mariners to go to Tony Zych, walked both Curtis Granderson and Wilmer Flores to force in a run. With Jose Reyes lining out on a 3-2 pitch, the rally was over.
Asdrubal Cabrera killed a rally the following inning by hitting into a double play.
The Mets best chance came in the ninth. Michael Conforto singled home Flores, who led off the inning with a double. It pulled the Mets to within 3-2.
It was another good game for Conforto in his hometown. At the plate, he was 1-4 with an RBI and a walk. In he field, he made this play:
Statcast estimated Michael Conforto's catch probability on Seager at 49 percent, making it a four-star grab. Sensational play: pic.twitter.com/6lUljPGLS8
— Anthony DiComo (@AnthonyDiComo) July 29, 2017
Sadly, that’s where it ended with Cabrera striking out to end the game.
The Mets now have one more game in Seattle. For many, this will be their last ever game in a Mets uniform. If that’s the case, let’s hope things go different than they way they did today.
This was about a bizarre a debut as you will possibly see. Unfortunately, that wasn’t always a good thing for Chris Flexen.
On the third pitch of his Major League career, he allowed a homer to Manuel Margot. The inning would continue, and the Padres would have runners on the corners with one out. That’s when Travis d’Arnaud would help his young pitcher with two outstanding tags:
Two clutch plays from d'Arnaud in the 1st! 🤙 pic.twitter.com/8dHX8rZGRf
— New York Mets (@Mets) July 28, 2017
During the next at-bat, Spangenberg broke for second. With d’Arnaud throwing through, Wil Myers broke for home. Wilmer Flores made a strong albeit slightly offline throw. In one motion, d’Arnaud caught the throw and just tagged Myer’s hand before his foot touched the plate.
The second inning didn’t go as well for Flexen.
The Padres loaded the bases with no outs, and Margot struck again hitting a double to the wall. Luis Torrens originally stopped at third, but he came home to score as Asdrubal Cabrera forgot how the pick up a baseball. For reasons that cannot be explained, Michael Conforto got charged with the error.
Flexen was able to navigate out of this inning, and he pitched a good third. With his having thrown 69 pitches, and his turn due up, Terry Collins lifted him.
Flexen’s final line in the loss was three innings, five hits, four runs, three earned, four walks, and two strikeouts.
The young pitcher was shaky in the first couple of innings, and by the time he settled in, his manager went elsewhere. Hopefully, he will get one more start to prove himself.
With Flexen out, Collins went to Tyler Pill despite Pill having thrown two innings yesterday. It came back to burn the Mets as a gassed Pill allowed three runs to give the Padres a 7-1 lead.
The real shame in all of this is just with one or two different things happening, the Mets might’ve won this game. Case in point was the seventh inning outburst.
With the Mets down 7-1, Yoenis Cespedes hit an RBI double leading the Padres to pull starter Luis Perdermo and bring in Jose Torres. Torres immediately balked home a run, and then allowed a home run to Jay Bruce pulling the Mets to within 7-5. They’d get no closer.
After the homer, it was 7-5 Padres. The Mets would get no closer giving the rookie his first major league lost in his first career start.
Game Notes: Flexen became the first Mets pitcher to make the jump from Double-A to the majors since Mike Pelfrey in 2006.