Well, if the miracles were going to happen, it needed to start tonight. Fortunately, Jacob deGrom was on the mound. Unfortunately, the Mets are still the Mets.
It started with Michael Conforto going from routine day off in a must win game to having hamstring tightness. Then, it was the Mets calling up Guillermo Heredia to replace the yet again injured Jake Marisnick while leaving Luis Guillorme in Brooklyn. Finally, it was the game.
The run in the second inning never should have scored against deGrom.
After deGrom issued a rare leadoff walk to Nate Lowe, Joey Wendle doubled. On the play, Lowe overran third and was dead to rights. However, that mattered little as Amed Rosario flat out dropped the relay throw. That allowed Lowe to not only retreat back safely but also to score on the ensuing Manuel Margot sacrifice fly.
That meant it was 2-0 Rays and not 1-0 Rays when Lowe homered off deGrom in the fourth.
The real shame is deGrom was otherwise phenomenal striking out 14 Rays. He rose to the occasion to keep the Mets in the game and the season. That included his working around a Wilson Ramos passed ball putting Lowe on third with one out in the sixth.
It didn’t matter as the Mets offense was stymied by the bullpenning Rays. The Mets were limited to just four hits and could only muster a two out rally in the fifth.
In that fifth inning, Heredia drew a two out walk. The bases were loaded after a Ramos single, and Brandon Nimmo was hit by a pitch.
Jeff McNeil came through with what should’ve been a game tying single. However, Willy Adames made a great sliding play up the middle to smother the ball. It was still an RBI single, but it was 2-1 instead of 2-2.
That was magnified when J.D. Davis lined out to end the inning. Overall, Davis was 0-for-3 with two strikeouts and a walk dropping his plummeting OPS to .777.
After Davis failed to deliver there, the Mets didn’t get another hit. In the end, the Mets went down weakly in this 2-1 loss and have now lost three out of four to all but destroy their postseason chances.
Game Notes: deGrom became the first Mets pitcher since Dwight Gooden in 1985 to strike out 14 twice in a season.
If you ever wanted the perfect encapsulation of what it means to be a Mets fan and the Wilpon Era has been, this was the series for you:
1. Amed Rosario takes first with two outs in the ninth after a wild pitch on strike three. He got picked off first.
2. That’s being a Mets fan. There’s a near miracle which gives you hope, and it’s followed with a massive blunder which leaves you completely befuddled.
3. Speaking of befuddled, how does Wilson Ramos swing at ball three against a reliever who can’t find the strike zone? That double play helped cost the game more than Rosario getting picked off.
5. It seems Rojas hasn’t found that balance of when to push a starter or go to the bullpen. It at least seems his decision comes back to bite the Mets no matter what.
6. Of course, that’s a larger sign of how bad the Mets rotation has been and just how bad the Mets bullpen is without Lugo.
7. Speaking of the state of the Mets pitching, Jeff McNeil apparently left the game to go to the bathroom.
8. At that point in the game, he had scored the Mets only run, and well, it seems the runs went with them.
9. Dominic Smith continues to be great this year. Not bad for a guy the team didn’t realize was one of the best players on the team.
10. Speaking of players the Mets thought were better than Smith, J.D. Davis has a .780 OPS and dropping, and he still can’t play third.
11. On the topic of ill conceived Brodie Van Wagenen trades, one poor appearance for Anthony Kay doesn’t suddenly make Kay bad (he isn’t), the Marcus Stroman trade good (it wasn’t), or Simeon Woods Richardson not a key part of the deal (he was).
12. Brandon Nimmo is a good hitter who can play a good corner outfield. He should not be the 2021 center fielder. In fact, he shouldn’t be that in 2020.
14. Again, Jacob deGrom showed he’s the best pitcher in baseball, and he’s nearing towards locking down his third straight Cy Young.
15. Even with deGrom having another historical great year, the Mets rotation is historically bad and are challenging the 1962 Mets for the worst starting rotation ERA in team history.
16. The Mets have legitimate candidates for Cy Young (deGrom), MVP (Michael Conforto), and Rookie of the Year (Andres Gimenez). Despite that, odds are they won’t finish above .500 or compete for a postseason spot.
17. When does Brodie Van Wagenen collect his Executive of the Year award?
18. Mets will be promoting the team being just three games back despite all that’s gone wrong on the final game of the season.
19. Steve Cohen is almost complete in his purchase of the Mets. This means the Wilpons will not win a World Series as majority owners of the team.
20. MLB finally did the right thing allowing the players to wear the first responder caps again. Everyone involved in making that happen, including Jeff Wilpon, should be commended.
The Mets were blown out by the Orioles 11-2. It happens. The way this happened is not always how these things happen, and someone probably should be fired for this game.
Michael Wacha was terrible again. After allowing four earned over 4.0 innings. That raised his season ERA to 7.50.
This is just the latest example of how bad the Mets rotation is. Including Wacha’s ERA, the Mets starting rotation is now 5.21.
That’s impossibly bad. It’s even worse when you consider Jacob deGrom has been great again with a 1.69 ERA. Despite deGrom’s greatness, the Mets are on pace to have their worst ever starter ERA.
Through 43 games this season, the Mets’ starting ERA is 5.21. That is more than two runs higher than it was during their second-half surge last season, and it would be the highest full-season rotation ERA in club history, sneaking past the 5.18 mark of the ‘62 Mets.
— Tim Britton (@TimBritton) September 9, 2020
Remember, this is the same rotation Van Wagenen said was the deepest in baseball. What they’re deep in is anyone’s guess.
To make hatters worse, Robert Gsellman was bad. He was then forced to wear it until he broke.
After a four run fifth, the Mets kept running him back out there. He was out there throwing 76 pitches which was nearly 20 more pitches than his season high. His pitch count would’ve gone higher, but he had to be helped off the field due to an injury.
Just when you thought the Mets couldn’t make things worse, they did. Over this season, Brad Brach has arguably been their best reliever, but he’s been somewhat limited due to the after effects of COVID19.
So, naturally, the Mets wasted him in what was then an 11-1 game. That’s just making a bad situation even worse. We shouldn’t be surprised by this because this is the Mets after all.
Anyway, the Mets were destroyed, and they got a player hurt in the process. Their starting pitching was again exposed. But hey, Jake Marisnick homered, so we’ll probably hear what a great job Van Wagenen has done from all the sycophants.
Game Notes: Jeff McNeil has now homered in three straight games. It’s the second time in his career he’s done that.
— New York Mets (@Mets) August 29, 2020
— New York Mets (@Mets) August 28, 2020
Again, in the second end of the doubleheader, the Mets fell behind the Yankees. However, while David Peterson did struggle in his first start off the IL.
— New York Mets (@Mets) August 29, 2020
With that, Rosario hit a walk-off homer in Yankee Stadium giving the Mets a 4-3 win and doubleheader sweep, and Jared Hughes picked up his first Mets win. The Mets batted last in this game (but were still technically the away team) due to this game being rescheduled from last week.
As if the doubleheader sweep with both wins coming in dramatic fashion wasn’t enough, it appears Steve Cohen will be buying the Mets. All in all, this is about as good a day as it gets for Mets fans.
Game Notes: Juan Lagares was DFAd to make room for Marisnick. In the doubleheader, Smith was an incredible 3-for-4 with two runs, a double, homer, and RBI.
In case you missed it with the Mets making a circus of the Yoenis Cespedes situation, the team once again traded a prospect for a defensive replacement in center. This is the third such trade the Mets have made since Brodie Van Wagenen was hired as the Mets General Manager.
The first trade was trading Adam Hill, Felix Valerio, and Bobby Wahl for Keon Broxton. Broxton played just 34 games with the Mets in 2019. He had a 3 OPS+ and a -0.5 WAR being released. He has signed a minor league deal with the Mariners. Currently, he is part of their 60 player pool, but he has yet to be recalled.
With Juan Lagares departing via free agency, instead of pursuing any one of the cheap defensive center fielders on the fee agent market, Van Wagenen traded Blake Taylor and Kenedy Corona for Jake Marisnick.
Marisnick lasted just four games before landing on the IL. Meanwhile, Taylor has been sensational for the Astros. He’s pitched 7.1 scoreless innings over five appearances. Ironically, his 0.8 WAR would lead the Mets this year.
What is maddening about that is the Mets couldn’t just gone out this past offseason and signed Lagares. Last year, Lagares had a very good 5 OAA. This past offseason, he settled for a minor league deal with the Padres, which based upon incentives, could’ve reached $2.4 million.
The Mets not only gave up prospects for Marisnick, but the perpetually cash strapped franchise, agreed to pay him $3.3 million in arbitration.
Instead of Lagares, the Mets could’ve signed Billy Hamilton. This past offseason, Hamilton signed a minor league deal with the Giants.
Considering the Mets only use their defensive players sparingly, begrudgingly letting them bat on occasion, Hamilton was perfect for this team. He’s an elite defensive CF with speed which could be best utilized as a pinch runner.
But, Hamilton only required a minor league deal with an invitation to Spring Training. Since that wasn’t coupled with the unnecessary parting of prospects, Van Wagenen wasn’t interested.
However, now, that the Mets were able to give the Giants Jordan Humphreys, who is a very real prospect with a live arm, the Mets were suddenly interested.
They were interested despite Hamilton missing part of summer camp for undisclosed medical reasons. He would not make the Giants Opening Day roster. Instead, he would be part of their player pool.
The Mets made this trade despite having Lagares back. They also had other no-hit defensive replacements like Johneshwy Fargas.
Obtaining Hamilton when you already had reasonable facsimiles is an odd move. Trading an actual prospect for him when you had those pieces is a plain bad move. When you give up pieces for a player you could’ve had for a minor league deal and wasn’t even on a MLB roster at the trade of the trade is pure and simple incompetence.
Parting with five prospects and a MLB reliever for three defensive replacements, two of whom did nothing of value for your team, and the third not even being on a MLB roster, is a fireable offense. That goes double when Lagares has been with the organization.
This is an embarrassing misallocation of resources. Even if you want to make the dumb and highly flawed argument these prospects may not develop into productive major leaguers, the Mets lost the ability to move these players for actual useful pieces.
In the end, we focus on the loss of Jarred Kelenic and Justin Dunn. We can and should look at that to use it to criticize Brodie Van Wagenen. However, if you want a real sign of how Van Wagenen doesn’t know what he’s doing, look no further than his parting with real prospects for the privilege of overpaying players who just could’ve been signed for the league minimum.
In the end, not even comprehending the market and how to properly manage and allocate his resources shows just how much Van Wagenen doesn’t comprehend how to do this job. Whenever the Mets are finally sold we can only hope the new owner has Van Wagenen follow the Wilpons out the door before he inflicts any more damage to the franchise.
Last night, Travis d’Arnaud was 3-for-4 with five RBI. Three of those five RBI came on an eighth inning double which put the Braves ahead 11-10. This was the same d’Arnaud he rage released last year.
You couldn’t help but notice the same game d’Arnaud won, the .208/.269/.250 hitting Ramos flew out with the tying run on second to end the game.
Case-in-point, Ramos called six outside pitches when Marcell Ozuna was up last week, and on a 3-2 pitch, he called the same pitch Ozuna struck out on the previous day. Short of using a megaphone, Ramos couldn’t have made the pitch type and location any more obvious.
This is normally where we go to Jarred Kelenic and Justin Dunn. On that note, the Mets called up Brian Dozier despite his bit really fully preparing for the season and his not taking part in summer camp.
By hastily starting an ill-prepared Dozier, the Mets have admitted Cano is no more than a platoon player making that trade somehow worse.
On the topic of the platoon, you know who was a really good right-handed platoon option? Wilmer Flores.
However, the Mets non-tendered Flores partially because of a knee condition he never actually had. Instead, they replaced him with Jed Lowrie, a player who actually had a knee injury.
That knee injury is the invented condition of PCL laxity. Even better than the conjured up diagnosis was it taking nearly a year-and-a-half to get a second opinion.
While the Mets are getting nothing from the impending free agent Marisnick, and their bullpen has been struggling Blake Taylor has been terrific out of the Houston Astros bullpen.
The list with Van Wagenen goes on and on. He told us he was replacing Zack Wheeler with Marcus Stroman, who was in the same rotation. He then let Wheeler walk and actually replaced him with Rick Porcello and Michael Wacha while trying to tell us the pitching improved.
Don’t forget his continuously telling us he wasn’t going to fire Carlos Beltran only to fire Beltran before he managed a game.
It’s like Van Wagenen is George Costanza. Every instinct is wrought with failure. The key difference is Costanza was the assistant to the traveling secretary, and Van Wagenen is the GM.
The other difference is Van Wagenen is real. He’s all too real.
Arguably, Jeff McNeil was the most important player on the Mets last year. In addition to his 144 OPS+, he was a good defender at four different positions.
It’s still early in 2020, but we’re not seeing the same McNeil this year.
In terms of his offense, it’s way too soon to overreact. First off all, he still has a 112 OPS+. Second, it’s only six games. Mostly, we’ve seen him for over two years now. We have an idea of the good of a hitter he is.
What we really don’t know is how good of a third baseman he is. Yes, his career numbers are good. He entered this season with a 5 DRS, and he’s posted a 2 OAA at the position in each of the past two years.
We’ve also seen him play well across the diamond. Defensively, he appears to have a high baseball IQ, and he’s got the tools to be a good defender no matter where he plays. Still, at third, we really haven’t seen him get consistent playing time at third.
Early on this season, we’ve seen his arm look like it could be an issue. So far this year, he’s already made three errors with one of those being a throwing error. Of course, that’s only part of the story.
McNeil has been saved of a few errors by Pete Alonso. He was also the beneficiary of some bizarre home town scoring which probably saved him of two errors in Boston.
Now, it’s way too soon to officially say McNeil should move off third base due to his arm. After all, if you’ve been watching, he seems a bit rusty right now. We see he’s not quite hitting at the same level yet, and we’ve seen him make more than enough mental errors on that base paths.
If he’s rusty, it’s certainly understood with the long layoff due to COVID19 and the abbreviated Summer Camp. That said, his ability to consistently make those throws should be monitored.
The Mets should also be assessing their roster with the roster spots soon dropping down to 30 and Jake Marisnick‘s injury.
On that note, J.D. Davis‘ defense in left has continued to be putrid. He has shown no signs of improvement from last year, and he’s already at a -3 DRS. Fact is, he’s very ill suited to playing left, and his defense has already led to outs and singled being turned into extra base hits.
At some point, if McNeil continues to struggle with throws, the Mets should seriously consider putting him back in left. The Mets could then experiment with Davis in left, or better yet, they could look to play Andres Gimenez at third if he continues to do things like hitting an RBI triple.
In any event, it’s too soon to be making rash decisions with McNeil. Then again, this is an abbreviated season where there is not much room for error. Moreover, the Mets are in desperate need for a real left fielder.
It’s only been a week, and it appears the Mets have some very difficult decisions to make.
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.
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.
In the first two games of the season, Luis Rojas brought in Jake Marisnick and Andres Gimenez for defense. For some reason, despite the Mets putting out most of their best defenders, Rojas stopped short at catcher.
It’s not unusual for a team to stick with a vastly inferior defensive catcher. Part of that is the fear of losing a catcher even if that rarely happens.
While CERA is a highly flawed stat, we see Diaz has a 6.07 ERA pitching to Ramos. That’s the second worst he’s had with any catcher and the worst with any catcher who’s caught him at least 14.0 innings.
When we dig into the numbers there are a few reasons to explain this. Chief among them is Ramos’ inability to get the low strike. It’s something which impacted Noah Syndergaard, and it caused Syndergaard to try to get a personal catcher.
As we see with Baseball Savant, Diaz’s real weapon is his slider. Both that and his fastball are great pitches. However, for his slider to be effective, it needs to be low in the zone. When you can’t get it called a strike, a batter can spit on it forcing Diaz to have to bring it up making it more hittable. That happened all of last year.
With his fastball, Diaz has to move it around. He can throw it in all three zones, and really, if he needs to pound the slider down, he needs the fastball to change eye level and side of the plate. That brings us to his blown save yesterday.
(Image from MLB.com)
In the moment, many commented Diaz just got beat by Marcell Ozuna on a good pitch. After all, it was 98 MPH on the black. Batters aren’t supposed to hit that. So, why did he hit it?
First off, it should be noted it wasn’t that good of a pitch. Just because it was 98 MPH doesn’t de facto make it a good pitch. Yes, it was on the corner, but it was also belt high. Professional hitters, especially very good ones like Ozuna, crush belt high fastballs.
The biggest reason why it wasn’t that good of a pitch and why Ozuna was able to jump on it was Diaz and Ramos basically telegraphed where the pitch was going to be. The last five pitches of that at-bat were all towards the outside corner. Give a batter like Ozuna the location and put the pitch belt high, and he’s going to crush it.
These are the situations which led Diaz to allowing a Major League record for most ninth inning homers last year. A veteran catcher needs to make sure his pitcher isn’t telegraphing pitches like this. A team needs to make sure a catcher isn’t negating their closer’s biggest strength.
Yesterday, the Mets brought in Marisnick for defense. They brought in Gimenez for defense. Neither could make a play on a ball hit over the right field wall. That homer made those defensive changes superfluous.
It’s time the Mets realize if they’re going to make these wholesale defensive changes, they need to not stop short at catcher. They need a good defensive catcher behind the plate who can get the low strike and ensure the pitcher is moving the ball around the plate.
Essentially, the Mets need a catcher who will let Diaz be Diaz.
In the end, if you’re going to give up Jarred Kelenic to go get him, it just seems plain stupid and ignorant to not give up one inning of Ramos per game. The Mets went all-in to get Diaz. Now, it’s time to go all-in on helping him succeed.