Right now, the Mets outfield depth is a mess. Michael Conforto suffered a concussion, and while early indications are positive, no one can be quite sure when he will return. Jeff McNeil has been dealing with an abdominal issue. Keon Broxton was designated for assignment, and now, Brandon Nimmo was placed on the IL with a neck injury he’s been dealing with all season.
Due to that situation, the Mets needed to call up another outfielder. The problem there was with the 40 man roster full someone was going to have to be designated for assignment. That person wound up being Paul Sewald.
Assuredly, the reaction from most Mets fans is who cares, or that Sewald stinks, and he should have been designated for assignment long ago. With Sewald going 107 Major League appearances without a win and his having a career 5.18 ERA, you could understand the point. However, that point misses the overall point. Sewald had actual value and use to this Mets team.
So far this year, Sewald has made four appearances. Three of those appearances were for more than three outs. Yes, the Mets lost by a heavy margin in each of those games, and that is part of the reason why it was Sewald who pitched. It also underscores Sewald’s value to this Mets team. He is the pitcher who is able to come in and absorb innings saving the rest of the bullpen in these blowouts.
Last year, Sewald pitched multiple innings in 18 of his first 32 appearances. Overall in his career, he has pitched multiple innings in 30 percent of his relief appearances. When Sewald has been on the roster, this means he is the one who gets the brunt of the mop up work thereby leaving Seth Lugo and Robert Gsellman to perform their multiple inning magic on another day.
And after Sewald mops things up, with his options, the team can just send him to Syracuse for another reliever. This matters, and it helps teams win.
More than what he does well, Sewald is just better than the pitchers the Mets kept over him. As previously explained, he has been a better and more effective Major League reliever than Jacob Rhame. Tim Peterson has a worse Major League ERA, FIP, H/9, K/9, and K/BB. Ryan O’Rourke has always had control issues as exemplified by his walking three of the six batters he faced this year. Clearly, Sewald has been better than these pitchers in his career.
In the end, that may be what matters most. The Mets had options upon whom to designate for assignment (or in Rhame’s case, release) with the aforementioned four relievers being the most likely targets. When boiling it all down, the Mets opted to remove the most effective reliever who also happened to be the one reliever who the organization could consistently rely upon to save the bullpen by going multiple innings in his relief appearances.
Yes, Peterson would be designated for assignment after the Mets claimed Aaron Altherr, but that is also besides the point. The point here is the thought process and manner of dealing and operating.
Ultimately, even if fans want to be dismissive of Sewald and the decision, this was a mistake. Worse yet, it was an unforced error. While we may not know the full impact of such a decision, it will have some negative impact on the Mets, no matter how small. Still, even if you don’t believe that, we should still wonder about the poor decision making process which led to keeping three inferior relievers over Sewald.
Last night, Drew Gagnon absolutely bailed out the Mets. He took the ball in a bases loaded situation, and he got out of the jam. He then navigated through the 10th allowing Pete Alonso to deliver his first career walk-off RBI.
This was not the first time Gagnon impressed out of the bullpen. Back when Steven Matz couldn’t get an out against the Phillies, it was Gagnon who took it on the chin. Despite being on short rest, he pitched 5.1 innings. Yes, he would allow five earned, but three of those came after he was gassed and frankly pushed too far.
That’s been what we have seen from Gagnon in the Majors. In short spurts, he has been fine. When he has been pushed past two innings, he has not been nearly as effective. We saw that in his only start in the Majors, and we saw it in Philadelphia. But in those shorter stints, Gagnon has really showed something.
Last year, he made four relief appearances. In those relief appearances, he allowed one earned in 7.1 innings. His ERA this year may be 6.75, but he has pitched better than that. While it’s always a dangerous game to do this in evaluation, if you eliminate that one-third of an inning, his ERA would drop to a more impressive 2.70.
This is another way of saying Gagnon may prove to be something if he is used properly. As a long man or a short reliever, he could be effective. Since coming to the Mets organization, he throws strikes. He has struck out nearly a batter an inning. With the sinking action on his pitches, he has relatively low home run rates. Overall, while an opponent can beat him, Gagnon is typically not going to beat himself.
That hasn’t been the case for the Mets other options. We have seen Jacob Rhame, Tim Peterson, and Paul Sewald struggle at the Major League level. Tyler Bashlor and Eric Hanhold have yet to establish themselves. Considering the options at hand, the Mets would have to come up with a long list of excuses before sending him back down for one of these relievers.
After all, we have seen this happen in year’s past for the Mets. Pat Mahomes came up huge in 1999. The same happened with Sean Gilmartin in 2015. If given an opportunity, Gagnon may prove to be the 2019 version of that. It’s time the Mets found out if he has what it takes to be just that.
The Mets have a big Noah Syndergaard Game of Thrones Bobblehead on Saturday, so they were playing tonight even if it meant starting the game at 10:00, or in this case 9:52.
It didn’t matter Jacob deGrom was making the start after coming off the Injured List. It didn’t matter Juan Lagares suffered a severe injury in similarly poor field conditions last year. The Mets just had to play this game.
To that extent, the Mets organization suffered the loss they so richly deserved.
That Cain catch, though, with Frazier reaction: pic.twitter.com/PIFEK3hB6e
— Tim Britton (@TimBritton) April 27, 2019
In the ensuing inning, the Brewers put up a five spot against deGrom. Basically, while deGrom was able to navigate out of trouble in the first and second, the dam burst in the third.
His final line was an unsightly 4.0 IP, 5 H, 5 ER, 3 BB, 7 K. It’s almost like it’s a terrible idea to have a pitcher who is coming off an injury and hasn’t pitched in nearly two weeks sit around and mess up his routine to get in the game.
By the time this was written, Gary Cohen and Keith Hernandez are going through staff Instagrams to discuss their offseason vacations. In essence, they’ve stopped feigning interest in this 9-2 game, which should not have been played today.
Mets fans were so angry over Roger Clemens hitting Mike Piazza in the head in 2000, and the subsequent bat throwing incident, they wanted blood when Clemens was finally pitching in Shea Stadium two years later. It didn’t matter that Shawn Estes wasn’t a teammate in 2000. What mattered was Clemens needed justice.
Anytime a pitcher throws a ball near a players head, there is going to be a visceral reaction from fans, and there should be. It is a dirty play.
On Tuesday, Drew Anderson went up and in twice on Michael Conforto. Anderson did control it a bit, and while it brushed Conforto back, he was not getting hit in the helmet by the pitch. But if he was hit in the head, Mets fans would want blood. They would want him suspended, and Major League Baseball would have been well within their rights to suspend him.
So far this year, the Phillies have hit three Mets batters. There is already animosity between the teams, and in this particular game, we saw that animosity grow.
So when Jacob Rhame takes the mound and throws one behind Rhys Hoskins back, he earned a suspension. When Rhame knocks Hoskins back twice, he earned the suspension. When Rhame goes up and in FOUR TIMES, he earns a suspension.Again, if you switch the names, there’s not one Mets fans saying Rhame shouldn’t be suspended.
The counter-argument is Rhame didn’t have intent. The basis behind this claim is Rhame is a bad pitcher with poor control, and as a result, he wasn’t really throwing at Hoskins. Rather, he’s just terrible.
Assume for a second this is correct. Why should this matter? Why should we allow pitchers to recklessly throw at batters? Why should Hoskins be hit in the helmet and suffer an injury just because Rhame is an awful pitcher? Shouldn’t we penalize those pitchers who go inside knowing they don’t have the ability or control to go inside?
Really, when you break it down, pitchers should not be allowed to throw near a batter’s head, intentional or otherwise. Sure, sometimes a pitch gets away. It happens. No one is suggesting you should penalize a pitcher for one errant pitch. However, when you go inside FOUR TIMES and brush a batter off the plate TWICE, you need to be suspended.
If you did it on purpose, you earned the suspension. If you are terrible, and you can’t handle throwing inside and you didn’t anyway thereby risking a severe injury to a better, you earned the suspension.
If you are a Mets fan, instead of questioning why Rhame was suspended, the question is why Anderson wasn’t. After all, he purposefully threw in hard to Conforto with what looked like clear intent.
After a tough road trip, the Mets returned home, and they looked like a much better team. They would win what became a contentious series, but they couldn’t complete the sweep:
- It’s beyond absurd the Mets believe Gio Gonzalez was just a marginal upgrade over Jason Vargas. It’s more absurd they not only wouldn’t guarantee a spot in the rotation to a pitcher they thought was better, but they also let $2 million stand in the way.
- Once again, the Mets were only “all-in” when it came to Pete Alonso on the Opening Day roster.
- So far, Alonso has gone 3-for-17!against the Phillies with two doubles. Let’s hope this is a strange blip instead of the Phillies figuring something out other teams can catch up on.
- Zack Wheeler was great becoming one of a few pitchers to throw 100 MPH and have an exit velocity of 100+ MPH in a game.
- Oh, and he struck out 11 while walking none. This was case in point why we should not overreact to slow starts.
- On the topic of not overreacting to slow starts, Robinson Cano is raking going 8-for-16 with two doubles and a homer in his last four games.
- While Mickey Callaway and his intellect and acumen are very unfairly maligned he used Cano perfectly as a decoy to get the matchup he wanted in Tuesday’s game.
- Todd Frazier and Luis Guillorme gave the Mets significantly better defense, and they provided some key hits.
- Two days off didn’t help Amed Rosario. You have to wonder how much longer the Mets can deal with him not hitting or fielding, especially with Guillorme looking good in this series.
- It was always interesting how there were two different sets of rules as to handle Rosario’s and Dominic Smith‘s struggles. Those separate rules may have led to neither being the player they thought they could be for the Mets.
- Seeing Rosario’s struggles and the defense in general, you see how much the Mets miss Tim Teufel. You should also question how much of a positive impact Gary Disarcina has had.
- The Mets replay process needs to be better. Dom held the bag and saved Rosario from an error . . . if the play was called properly and/or the Mets challenged the play.
- There was zero reason to demote Paul Sewald, who was pitching well, for Jacob Rhame, who was not pitching well in Syracuse.
- That move may have led to what has becoming a fractured Phillies team, and it galvanized them when Rhame, intentionally or not, threw two high and in to Rhys Hoskins.
- Hoskins got the perfect revenge hitting a homer off Rhame, and then he had a home run trot which made Darryl Strawberry‘s look like he was faster than Usain Bolt.
- Bryce Harper has very good stats for the Phillies so far, but he’s going to have to be better than what he was in this series if the Phillies are going to have a chance.
- Jeff McNeil is in a slump. His GIDP stopped whatever chance the Mets had at a comeback. He’s also three for his last 17
- Speaking of McNeil, the Mets getting plunked, especially on the hand, is getting ridiculous. The pitchers retaliating should not be an issue, but they can’t do what Rhame did.
- After the game Marc Malusis commented the Mets started things. Of course this completely overlooks the Phillies hitting three Mets and Drew Anderson going up and in on Michael Conforto multiple times.
- This is Example 1,693,085 why SNY is unwatchable aside from Mets games.
Right away, it appeared as if things were going to be ugly. J.T. Realmuto hit a one out double, and he scored on a Bryce Harper RBI double giving the Phillies a 1-0 lead. After the double, Hoskins walked, but the rally sputtered.
That’s the way it would go for the Phillies against Vargas.
In the second, after Sean Rodriguez reached on an Amed Rosario error (coupled with a puzzling no challenge from the Mets after replays showed Dominic Smith held the bag), the Phillies rally sputtered with them bunting twice in a row. The first was understandable with Vince Velasquez laying down a sac bunt, Roman Quinn ran into his own bunted ball.
In the third, after a lead-off walk, Vargas got the next three out. That includes a Harper strikeout. On Harper, after that double, he was really bad tonight striking out three times.
In the fifth, Vargas was lifted after 89 pitches leaving Seth Lugo to get him out of the jam.
Vargas’ final line was 4.2 innings, three hits, run, earned run, two walks, HBP, and four strikeouts. Now, it was a much better start than most accepted, but no, pitching fewer than five innings (again) is unacceptable.
Equally as unacceptable was the Mets offense. That’s usually the case when you’re shut out.
In addition to the poor offense, we unfortunately saw the poor defense return, and it wasn’t all Rosario. That included what would become a Robinson Cano harmless error.
In the eighth, the defense abandoned Robert Gsellman. Hoskins hit a gapper, which he turned into a triple partially because Brandon Nimmo dove and missed, and Michael Conforto had difficulty picking up the ball. That led to an RBI single expanding the Phillies lead to 2-0.
The Phillies continued to rally. Now, with the score 3-0 and runners at the corners Roman Quinn laid down a bunt. Dominic Smith pounced with the intent of getting the out at home. However, he had no shot at the speedy Cesar Hernandez, and his indecision led to Quinn reaching safety.
To add insult to injury, Rhame would pitch the ninth, and Hoskins would get his revenge:
Lovely night for a stroll …
— Philadelphia Phillies (@Phillies) April 25, 2019
After Rhame allowed three in the ninth, the Phillies won 6-0. This means the Mets didn’t get the statement making sweep they wanted. Of course, that’s what happens when you have a starter who can’t go five.
After a tough end of their road trip, which included losing two out of three to the Phillies, the Mets have returned home, and they look like a completely different team. It could be the pitchers being more comfortable in warmer weather. It could be Todd Frazier and Luis Guillorme vastly improving the defense the past few days. Maybe, it is just being home after spending all that time on the road.
At the same time, we are watching a Phillies team go through some turmoil. Bryce Harper was ejected Monday, and he came back yesterday to go 0-for-3 with two strikeouts. Jake Arrieta went full blown Jon Niese and pointed fingers at everyone while berating his team. Jean Segura, Scott Kingery, David Robertson and Odubel Herrera are all on the Injured List.
The Phillies are a literally wounded team, and the Mets took advantage of that fact by winning the first two games of this series in decisive fashion. The Mets can really make an early season statement by sweeping the Phillies. With that potentially toxic clubhouse mix and an overmatched manager like Gabe Kapler, who knows what impact a sweep in this fashion could have on this Phillies team.
As the Mets near in for the kill, they are going to start . . . Jason Vargas tonight.
So far this year, Vargas is 1-0 with a 9.58 ERA, 2.323 WHIP, and a 0.86 BB/K. That’s right, he’s actually walked more batters than he has struck out. Batters are hitting .362/.444/.660 off of him. He’s only pitched 9.1 innings total in his three starts.
Now, it is fair to point out this is a small sample size, and we shouldn’t draw conclusions from small sample sizes. By that token, Vargas has been bad for a while. Since the 2017 All Star break, Vargas has a 6.25 ERA, 1.543 WHIP, and a 2.08 K/BB. Batters are teeing off on him hitting .288/.357/.516. Essentially, Vargas on the mound makes each batter look like Michael Conforto.
Looking at the Phillies team right now, they are angry with the Mets. Juan Lagares was running in the sixth inning of what was then an 8-0 game. In the ninth, Jacob Rhame delivered two pitches in and high to Rhys Hoskins. The Phillies are angry with the Mets, and they are justifiably so.
The absolute worst thing the Mets could do right now is to give the Phillies some life. You cannot throw out a batting practice pitcher like Vargas to allow them to put their issues behind them as they hit hard ball after hard ball after hard ball off of him. You cannot have them picking up their heads a bit and feeling like they delivered an ounce of revenge to the Mets.
Really, this is inexcusable for the Mets. There is no way Vargas should be pitching in this game, especially when the Mets could have signed Gio Gonzalez and plugged him right into their rotation. That’s not to say Gonzalez is anything great, but the five innings he is likely to give you is much more credible than the maybe four innings Vargas is going to give you.
The only hope here is if Vargas is predictably shelled by the Phillies, the Mets can have their offense keep them in the game and eventually win it, and then after the game, Brodie Van Wagenen realizes he cannot keep his former client around any longer, even if he is due $10 million this year, and that he needs to stop fielding a roster which punts every fifth game.
Short of a perfect game, you’re not having a better game than what Zack Wheeler had tonight.
At the plate, he was 2-for-3 with a double, homer, and three RBI:
— New York Mets (@Mets) April 24, 2019
With his homer, he joined Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard as Mets pitchers who have homered this year. That ties a Mets record last set in 1997, and the Mets became the first team to have three pitchers homer in a team’s first 25 games since 1908.
As good as Wheeler was at the plate, he was even better on the mound. In seven scoreless innings, he walked none while allowing just five hits and striking out 11. The one time he got into trouble Jeff McNeil let everyone know he has a hose:
Jeff McNeil nails the runner on a CLOSE play at the plate. pic.twitter.com/QV1jpx5hsm
— Cut4 (@Cut4) April 24, 2019
— New York Mets (@Mets) April 24, 2019
Overall, the Mets would annihilate the Phillies by 9-0. This was a statement game, and it was all the more so after the turmoil in the Phillies clubhouse stemming from Bryce Harper‘s ejection and Jake Arrieta‘s finger pointing.
What will be interesting to see is if there is any bad blood going forward. J.T. Realmuto and Juan Lagares too turns running in an 8-0 game. Anderson was busting Michael Conforto well in, and Jacob Rhame threw a few by Rhys Hoskins head.
Tomorrow should be interesting.
With Todd Frazier set to come off the Injured List, Amed Rosario feeling ill, and Justin Wilson needing to head to the Injured List with elbow soreness, the Mets set for a series of transactions to address the bench and the bullpen. In the end, Luis Guillorme was back with the team, and for some reason Jacob Rhame stayed in the bullpen while Paul Sewald was sent back to Syracuse.
Having seen both pitchers since 2017, you see two very flawed relievers. There is a reason why both have not been able to quite stick at the Major League level. To some, choosing one over the other is not that big of a deal because most fans don’t trust either reliever. That mindset is a bit short-sighted.
For starters, take a look at their career stats. In his career, Sewald has pitched 126.2 innings in 106 appearances. He has a 0-13 record with two saves, a 5.19 ERA, 1.342 WHIP, 3.3 BB/9, and a 9.1 K/9. From an advanced statistic perspective, Sewald has a 76 ERA+ and a 4.09 FIP.
For his part, Rhame has pitched 42.2 innings over 40 apperances. He is 2-3 with one save, a 1.594 WHIP, 3.6 BB/9, and a 7.4 WHIP. From an advanced statistic perspective, Rhame has a 59 ERA+ and a 5.83 FIP.
Certainly, when you look at the stats, Sewald has definitively had more success than Rhame. However to be fair, Sewald has had more chances despite Rhame arguably having much better stuff. Of course, while Rhame’s stuff may be better, it has not yet translated to Major League success.
Ideally, you want to carry the best pitchers on your staff as you possibly can, and so far in their respective careers, Sewald is the better pitcher. However, it is much more than that. There is also an element on how the pieces in the bullpen fit together.
An interesting note with Sewald is he has been fairly consistently used for multiple innings in his career. For example, in two of his three appearances this year, he pitched over one inning. Last year, 18 of his first 32 appearances were more than one inning. Overall, Sewald has pitched more than one inning 32 times in his career, which is 30 percent of his appearances.
With respect to Rhame, this is something he has done as well. In fact, he has done it in 12 of his 40 appearances, which is the same 30 percent rate. However, there is a difference in the amount of innings Rhame and Sewald have gone. For example, Sewald has been able to pitch more than two innings when needed. That’s a feat Rhame has not yet been asked to do.
Looking at the construct of the Mets bullpen, Seth Lugo and Robert Gsellman can both go multiple innings. This creates an issue for the Mets when their starters can’t go deep into games because they’re now using these two relievers in low leverage situations making them unavailable or not as effective when they’re needed for the higher leverage spots.
Right there is the reason why the Mets should have kept Sewald on the roster. He is the guy Mickey Callaway needs to bring into the game when his starters falter and the Mets fall behind by a good margin. Sewald can come in and give multiple innings thereby saving the bullpen and letting them fight another day. At this stage in his career, Rhame doesn’t have that same capability.
In the end, that’s why seemingly small decisions like this have larger ramifications. In the end, you really have to wonder how much this was factored into the Mets decision making when they opted to carry the pitcher who not only gives them much less length, but also has not had nearly the same level of success of the Major League level.
In a nine year Major League career, Craig Kimbrel has saved 333 games, which is the 14th most all-time. His career 1.91 ERA and 211 ERA+ is the best all-time for a reliever. He is a seven time All-Star, and he has finished in the Top 10 in Cy Young voting in five of his nine seasons. How Kimbrel performs during this next contract will go a very long way in determining whether or not he goes to the Baseball Hall of Fame when he retires.
With the Hall of Fame on the line and with his being an elite closer for NINE SEASONS, you can understand why Kimbrel would insist on remaining a closer. While there are no public statements confirming this is Kimbrel’s hold-up, there have been a number of outlets who have drawn the inference.
According to recent reports, the Mets are not willing to have Kimbrel pitch the ningth. To put it as simply as it can be put, if the only hold-up with Kimbrel right now is he wants to close, the Mets as an organization are stupid for letting that be a hold-up.
No, this is not an indictment whatsoever on Edwin Diaz. So far this season, Diaz has been everything the Mets could have possibly asked him to be. He is a perfect 7-for-7 in save opportunities with a 16.4 K/9. His 11th inning save against the Phillies where he mowed down Bryce Harper, Rhys Hoskins, and J.T. Realmuto on 11 pitches was awe inspiring.
Understandably, you want to have a pitcher like Diaz closing out games in the ninth. However, you also want a closer like Kimbrel closing out games in the ninth. What you don’t want is the current state of the Mets bullpen.
What is not great is the rest of the Mets bullpen. So far, Jeurys Familia has been a massive disappointment. We have also seen some unexpected struggles from Seth Lugo. In the long run, both pitchers should be fine, and with Justin Wilson and Robert Gsellman, the Mets do have the pieces for a good bullpen.
Still, there are major issues in the bullpen. Luis Avilan has been used as more of a mop up reliever than a LOOGY, and frankly, there is no way he is going to succeed in that role. Worse than that, the Mets have had a revolving door this year of Tim Peterson, Drew Gagnon, Paul Sewald, Jacob Rhame, and Corey Oswalt for the last spot in the bullpen.
Realistically speaking, the Mets cannot expect any of those pitchers to truly succeed at the Major League level. Exacerbating a very soft spot in the bullpen is the fact the Mets entered the season with just four MLB caliber starting pitchers in their rotation. As a result, at least every fifth day, the Mets are going to need to get some quality innings from their worst relievers. Put another way, the Mets can ill afford to have a weak spot in the bullpen when they have a glaring hole in the rotation.
That hole in the bullpen can be repaired with Kimbrel. Moreover, if you put Kimbrel in the ninth inning, him and Diaz pitching the final two innings makes every game a seven inning game for the Mets. The tandem would combine to make the best 8-9 combination in Major League history.
Really, there is no good explanation to not give Kimbrel the ninth. While you could argue the Mets did not give up Jarred Kelenic and Justin Dunn to have Diaz as a set-up man, the obvious counter-argument is the Mets did not give up those players to have relievers like Rhame derail games and ultimately the season. Additionally, with how great a pitcher he has been, no one should expect Diaz to falter in the eighth.
Overall, when you break it down, if the ninth inning is a breaking point for Kimbrel, just give it to him. He has the resume to justify such a demand, and really, he has the ability to not come to the Mets. Worse yet, he could go to Philadelphia to stick it to the Mets.
Of course, that would be the ultimate irony. The Mets gave up Kelenic to keep Diaz away from the Phillies, but they weren’t willing to have the best bullpen situation in Major League history to keep him away from Philadelphia.