It was never set up for Luis Rojas to succeed as the manager of the New York Mets. With his firing, which is what happened when the Mets didn’t pick up his option, it was deemed Rojas did not succeed.
In 2020, he took over a team after Carlos Beltran was forced out without managing a game. He had to take over a team in Spring Training with a coaching staff he didn’t assemble, and by the way, a once in a century pandemic hit.
Entering this season, there were massive expectations, and understandably so given the ownership change and Francisco Lindor trade. That said, the cards would be stacked against Rojas a bit.
Unless you count his two late September appearances as an opener, Syndergaard didn’t start a game. Carlos Carrasco didn’t pitch until July 30, and he was rushed.
The injuries really were the story and the problem. Of course, the biggest injury was Jacob deGrom. In the midst of what was his best year, he went down.
Michael Conforto had COVID, got hurt, and faltered. Lindor struggled to adjust, and when he did, he got hurt. At one point, there were so many injures, James McCann had to play first base for a stretch.
Keep in mind, the Mets entered the season without a third baseman or left fielder. Dominic Smith can hit (when he wasn’t playing through injuries like he did all year) and he can play a terrific first, but he’s just not a left fielder.
Eventually, the replacements to the replacements got hurt. Eventually, the dam had to break.
Despite everything, Rojas had the Mets in first place at the trade deadline by 3.5 games. At various times, even if it was just in passing, he was mentioned as a potential Manager of the Year.
The pitching was on fumes, and the best the Mets could do at the trade deadline was Trevor Williams. The Mets thought so highly of him, he was immediately assigned to Syracuse.
Eventually, the magic touch wore off, but then again, when Albert Almora is on your bench, you don’t need magic; you need a miracle. There were no miracles forthcoming.
We saw the cracks in the team. The offense who shifted from Chili Davis to Hugh Quattlebaum never clicked. The barren upper levels of the minors leagues left behind by Brodie Van Wagenen haunted the team. Ultimately, there were just too many injuries which probably should’ve been expected a year after the 2020 COVID impacted season.
There were embarrassments like the first Mets GM Jared Porter being fired for harassment. The next, Zack Scott, took a leave of absence after his DUI arrest during the season. While not of the same vein, there was the Javier Báez-Lindor thumbs down drama.
At some point, the team we all thought would win the World Series became a flat out bad team. They’d set a record by being in first place for as long as they did only to finish under .500.
Yes, during this time, Rojas made some bizarre moves. While the focus was on that, his successes were overlooked, downplayed, or not acknowledged. That’s unfortunate.
What’s also unfortunate was after what was only one full season, Rojas was fired. He never got the opportunity to learn and grow as a manager. He didn’t get to build on the things he did well.
Instead, he’s out as manager.
With the collapse, this was obviously coming. After all, Sandy Alderson wasn’t going to fire himself for punting the trade deadline and having his big time hires blow up in his face.
Between the need for a fall guy and the Mets pursuing a new president of baseball operations, Rojas was as good as gone. After all, the new POBO would want his own guy as manager.
The end result was Rojas losing his job as manager. It’s unfortunate because he never really had a chance. It’s very likely he will get that chance somewhere else, and he will very likely do well.
Until then, it’s incumbent on the Mets to prove they did the right thing. If Rojas’ all too brief tenure is any lesson, that stats and ends with building your roster because no manager, no matter how good, is going to be able to win without two regular players, shallow pitching depth, and all those injuries.
After Taijuan Walker struggled allowing five runs in the second, he’d actually settle in and give the Mets six innings giving them a chance to win the game. You won’t hear Luis Rojas get credit for sticking by Walker because he’s just become a punching bag.
Keeping in Walker, who’d actually have an RBI single, helped the Mets get into a position to win the game. After a surprise James McCann two run homer, the Mets would take a lead heading into the seventh.
Seth Lugo shut the New York Yankees down in the seventh with just seven pitches. The Mets added an insurance run in the bottom of the inning carrying a 7-5 lead into the eighth.
The Mets would blow it, and for some reason, fans want to say it’s all Rojas’ fault.
It didn’t matter to them Lugo has not been good in a second inning of work this year. The hard hit balls off of him also didn’t matter. He needed to stay in the game.
It didn’t matter Trevor May has been great lately allowing just one run in his last 10 appearances. Apparently, Judge, one of the best players in all of baseball, only could’ve hit a homer off May in that spot to tie the game. (Never mind the second inning homer).
The Yankees take the lead on a wild throw! pic.twitter.com/dqZicSAQGz
— FOX Sports: MLB (@MLBONFOX) September 12, 2021
It’s odd Rojas would order Báez to throw the ball away allowing the go-ahead run to score. That’s doubly irresponsible after Rojas apparently told May to surrender a homer to Judge.
The Mets would have their chances to reclaim the lead. In the bottom half of the inning, there were two on and two out. Pete Alonso gave one a ride which fell near the warning track for the final out of the inning.
The final backbreaker was in the ninth. With a runner on second and one out, Kevin Pillar struck out. That’s where Rojas struck again.
The pitch went to the backstop. Instead of breaking immediately Pillar hesitated. That hesitation, clearly ordered by Rojas, cost Pillar the chance to reach first safety.
You can’t help but wonder if McCann’s fly ball to end the game could’ve scored by tying run. We’ll ever know.
What we do know is one of the Mets better relievers, who has pitched extraordinarily well lately, chose a bad time to have a bad outing. Baez threw a ball away. Pillar didn’t immediately break for first.
Like it or not, this one was simply on the players for not executing. It happens. Unfortunately, it just means the Mets are a day closer to the end of the season and possibly a day closer to Rojas being the fall guy.
Game Notes: The Mets wore special alternates with no pinstripes and New York in the Tiffany font. They once again wore the First Responder caps.
Believe it or not, this wasn’t more of the same of what we’ve seen from the New York Mets. Rather, it was the start of the Mets completely derailing of the New York Yankees in the start of the Citi Field portion of the Subway Series.
Megill had his best start as a Major Leaguer pitching a career high seven innings while recording a career high 10 strikeouts. He’d pick up his third career win as the Mets dominated.
A 1️⃣0️⃣ K night for Tylor Megill. 💪 pic.twitter.com/4MzJwvuxOA
— New York Mets (@Mets) September 11, 2021
The first indication of what we were about to see happened in the first inning. Gary Disarcina had an all-time bad send (his speciality), and yet Jonathan Villar was safe due to what can only be classified as the worst tag attempt in Major League history.
— MLB Replays (@MLBReplays) September 11, 2021
Right there, Gary Sanchez set the tone. The rest of the Yankees team would take it home.
Javier Báez hit a ball to Gio Urshela. Urshela made a poor throw home thereby keeping the bases loaded and allowing the run to score. Jeff McNeil followed with a perfect drag bunt to increase the score to 4-2.
— New York Mets (@Mets) September 11, 2021
A Kevin Pillar sacrifice fly and James McCann RBI double later, and the Mets had a five run inning. They were far from done. The lead was expanded to 7-2 when Francisco Lindor hit an opposite field one out homer.
— New York Mets (@Mets) September 11, 2021
Later in the inning, Báez doubled home Michael Conforto from first. The rally ended there with Báez being nailed at third. It was just about the only thing the Yankees did right all night.
As Keith Hernandez put it, the Yankees were “Pepe Le Peu.” They had two errors and a number of misplays. They looked every bit the team who has now lost seven straight.
As for the Mets, this 10-3 win was a glimpse at what could’ve been. With the exception of Alonso, their top six hitters reached safely at least twice.
Overall, this looked like a real postseason team. The shame of it is they likely won’t get there. Instead, we see them in the black jerseys and dream.
Game Notes: McCann hit what should’ve been an inning ending double play in the seventh. Instead, Gleyber Torres threw it away allowing two runs to score. Yennsy Diaz surrendered a solo homer to Anthony Rizzo in the ninth.
There are many reasons the New York Mets blew this game to the Miami Marlins and lost a game they couldn’t afford to lose. Sandy Alcantara was brilliant, and the offense came up short again.
The Mets blew it in the 10th inning. There was probably a botched call from the umpires and replay. That meant instead of Jesus Sanchez‘s error leading to runners at the corners, it was just prolonging the at-bat.
— MLB Replays (@MLBReplays) September 9, 2021
First, it was Luis Guillorme for Kevin Pillar. Guillorme walked. Then, in a somewhat incredulous decision, he pinch hit Patrick Mazeika for James McCann. Mazeika meekly grounded out to end the inning.
With the Mets other high end relievers having been used, Rojas was essentially forced to bring in Edwin Diaz. What was over concern should now be alarm.
After blowing consecutive saves to the Washington Nationals, Diaz was entrusted with getting this tied game to the 11th inning. He’d fail miserably.
The first batter, Magneuris Sierra, laid down a good bunt. Diaz got there and nearly threw it away. Really, it took a great play from Báez to not only get the out, but to also stop Diaz from throwing it away to end the game.
Diaz did rebound to strike out an overmatched Sanchez. Then, Bryan De La Cruz came to the plate. Make no mistake, there’s just no way Diaz should’ve been pitching to De La Cruz.
After the game, Rojas cited a number of reasons why. Those included the R/R matchup as well as Diaz’s control issues. No matter what, the real issue was Diaz.
Here’s Rojas on the decision to pitch to De La Cruz: pic.twitter.com/Db6QSgCTHD
— Steve Gelbs (@SteveGelbs) September 9, 2021
Despite ordering the intentional walk being the right call, Diaz would pitch to De La Cruz. Instead of being careful, Diaz would throw a 1-1 fastball over the heart of the plate which De La Cruz launched to dead center to end the game leading to Diaz with the Hansel Robles signature finger point:
Incase you weren't familiar with Bryan De La Cruz already: pic.twitter.com/g3KiWlgiiV
— Miami Marlins (@Marlins) September 9, 2021
Again, blame the offense all you want for the 2-1 loss. Blame Rojas for some weird pinch hitting decisions and for pitching to De La Cruz. Those are all valid critiques.
However, at the end of the day, the Mets have a closer who can’t seem to pitch in September in a pennant race. He had a 7.36 ERA in September 2019. He’s allowed five runs in 3.0 innings taking a loss and going 1/3 in save chances.
Closers like Diaz, or at least what many pretend Diaz to be, are supposed to hide some of the deficiencies by ensuring the close games go in your favor. That just doesn’t happen with Diaz in the huge spots.
For the third straight outing, that was the case. You just wonder how many more outings like this he has before the Mets are completely out of contention.
The New York Mets offense has been dreadful lately. With that being the case, you can never quite tell if it’s the offense or the opposing pitcher.
Because the Los Angeles Dodgers started Walker Buehler it’s easy to concede it was the starting pitcher. After all, Buehler is arguably the current NL Cy Young favorite. Despite that, the Mets almost got him.
That would be the last time a Dodger reached base. Carlos Carrasco settled in, and he would have his finest start since coming off the IL. It was the first time he went five innings, he struck out a season high six, and he seemingly started figuring stuff out.
After Carrasco, the Mets bullpen did their job putting up zeros. That kept the Mets in the game, and a Pete Alonso fourth inning solo shot had the Mets trailing 3-1 entering the eighth.
— New York Mets (@Mets) August 21, 2021
That eighth inning set umpiring back decades, and you could actually argue putting players on the honor system would be better.
That McNeil at-bat is where home plate umpire Nestor Ceja which would’ve left Eric Gregg scratching his head. McNeil appeared to work out a walk loading the bases. That was until Ceja called a pitch a foot off the plate a strike.
Yeah…about that… pic.twitter.com/rzyA5f6Wis
— SNY (@SNYtv) August 21, 2021
That bogus strikeout was the difference between bases loaded one out and two on with two outs. It would make a huge difference.
It was Alonso driving in another run with an infield single pulling the Mets within 3-2. Problem is it shouldn’t have been a single.
Good catch from SNY broadcast: Alonso's infield single appeared to hit his foot in the box, which would have rendered it foul: pic.twitter.com/Ie99PAaL2m
— Tim Britton (@TimBritton) August 21, 2021
Alonso who has a ton of hard hit outs lately got some assistance from his cleat. On the subject of Ceja, he had called a foul off Jonathan Villar‘s foot when the ball easily cleared his foot.
Davis would strike out. It was the fifth time Davis struck out with the bases loaded, and he has yet to get a hit in that situation. It’ll be interesting to see how he blames that on Alonso.
After Kenley Jansen made quick work of the Mets in the ninth, the Mets fell to two games under .500 and six games behind the Braves. There are just no words for that right now.
After being swept by the Los Angeles Dodgers, the New York Mets were perilously close to being swept by the San Francisco Giants. With all that was happening, you almost expected it.
After all, even by Mets standards, things were completely haywire. It started with Steve Cohen’s tweet calling out the offense.
There was also Tim Healey of Newsday sending a bizarre tweet including the amount of times Marcus Stroman re-tweeted his highlights amongst his game stats. Then, there was Stroman re-tweeting tweets promoting violence against Healey and calling Cohen a clown.
James McCann was still dealing with back spasms, and the Mets still weren’t aware of whether he’d need to be put on the IL. This necessitated Chance Sisco getting emergency called up and Patrick Mazeika doing the dreaded starting a day game after a night game.
Then, well, there was a game where a lot happened. Again, that’s a lot by Mets standards.
Tylor Megill was terrific allowing just one run over six innings. Of course, he’d leave on the losing side because the Mets offense has been terrible. That’s even with Giants starter Anthony DeSclafani leaving the game in the second with an injury.
Over the first eight innings, the Mets only had just three hits. When they did get a base runner, well, they didn’t knock them in, and even better, Jonathan Villar got picked off again. Even for Villar, this was horrendous.
Got hiiiiim pic.twitter.com/nICC2uW7MP
— SFGiants (@SFGiants) August 18, 2021
That seemed to give the Mets life as Michael Conforto followed with a single sending Alonso to third. He’d then score on a sacrifice fly to tie the game. He’d then leave the game as a result of the HBP.
Edwin Diaz mowed down the Giants on six pitches sending it to extras. In the tenth where the Mets inability to score runs went to comical levels.
Villar was the ghost runner, and for some reason, Luis Rojas wanted Mazeika to bunt him to third. Naturally, Mazeika had a poor bunt, and Villar was out by a wide margin.
Diaz again came up big. While he would plunk Austin Slater with one out, he dominated the other Giants hitters sending it to the 11th.
In the 11th, Conforto came up big with a one out RBI double giving the Mets the lead. To no one’s surprise, he’d be stranded there. That hurt as Jeurys Familia allowed a single to the first batter he faced tying the game at 2-2.
— New York Mets (@Mets) August 18, 2021
In the 12th, the Mets offense finally woke up and put the game away. Mazeika hit a one out single, and then Kevin Pillar hit a three run homer giving the Mets the lead.
— New York Mets (@Mets) August 18, 2021
That 5-2 lead grew to 6-2 with McNeil and Sisco hitting a pair of two out doubles. With Diaz and Familia done, the Mets turned to Jake Reed to close out the game.
Once again, Reed was very impressive. He retired the Giants in order. While it wasn’t a save with the Mets having a four run lead, it was every bit of a save considering the Mets struggles and needs to win this game.
In many ways, the Mets had to have this one. It got them back to .500, and it has them past a brutal losing streak. It also has them feeling better heading into a four game set at the Dodgers.
Time will tell whether then can turn their season around and get back in the race. If so, this was a huge next step.
This was a big game, and Marcus Stroman reminded us all he’s a big game pitcher. He went out there and did all he could do to will the New York Mets to a win, but they couldn’t follow.
Stroman went a season high 114 pitches and seven innings. He struck out nine. He had a hit. He was great in the field.
"Don't do that against Stroman. He's just too good." pic.twitter.com/amx7T2DrKv
— SNY (@SNYtv) August 18, 2021
Unfortunately, he made just two mistakes. The first was hit for a two run homer by Tommy La Stella in the first. In the seventh, when Stroman was somewhat surprisingly back out there, Evan Longoria hit a solo homer.
That’s how the Giants built a 3-0 lead. The other reasons for the lead was the Mets did nothing against Logan Webb. Some of it was how good Webb was. Some of it was the Mets shooting themselves in the foot.
Since Conforto didn’t look to advance when Longoria made the play, he didn’t score on the error. Then, no one scored when Jeff McNeil hit into an inning ending double play.
In the fifth, a Mets two out rally ended when Brandon Nimmo hit a hard liner right at La Stella.
The Mets are on the board!
Pete makes it a one-run game 👀 🐻❄️ pic.twitter.com/XRidFbGxtB
— SNY (@SNYtv) August 18, 2021
After Aaron Loup pitched a scoreless inning, the Mets had their chance in the ninth. In that inning, we’d see what separates these two teams.
McNeil led off with an opposite field single. It got past the center fielder, but it was backed up by Lamonte Wade Jr. As a result, McNeil stayed at first.
McNeil moved to second but would not score. The game down to Kevin Pillar. In a very poor at-bat, he’d strike out looking to end the game.
The loss put the Mets deeper into third place and finally put them under .500. It doesn’t matter who is stepping up because as a team the Mets just don’t have it.
With the left-handed Julio Urias starting for the Los Angeles Dodgers, the New York Mets panicked and sat most of their left-handed hitters. That meant the Mets sat their best hitters.
What’s annoying about it was Urias has reverse splits. It’s all the more annoying because players like Dominic Smith are better against left-handed pitchers than their right-handed hitters.
Well, the Mets shot themselves in the foot. Brandon Drury, Kevin Pillar, and Albert Almora combined to go 0-for-6 with one walk and two strikeouts. In defense of Almora, that walk was a great at-bat, and it began the way towards Luis Rojas substituting players into the game to undo the inane front office lineup.
The irony of the game would be the Mets didn’t do anything until the left-handed bats could themselves in the game.
The left-handed batters did their job. Smith followed with an RBI single getting the Mets on the board.
Brandon Nimmo walked (of course), and Alonso was walked to load the bases. Jeff McNeil, another LHP not in the starting lineup, hit a two run single pulling the Mets within one. That run scored on a Will Smith passed ball.
— New York Mets (@Mets) August 14, 2021
The bats who couldn’t be trusted to be in the starting lineup, the Mets best bats, tied the score with a big two out rally.
Now, Aaron Loup has been the Mets best reliever all year, and he was fresh pitching just once over the last week. Meanwhile, Jeurys Familia has been heavily worked lately, and he has been starting to show the strain.
Well, despite Loup’s success against right-handed batters over the past two years, and the reverse splits of Smith, the Mets opted for Familia. The end result was a tired Familia giving up a go-ahead two run homer.
The Mets did get one back in the 10th, but it wasn’t enough. They lost 6-5 in a game they severely hampered themselves by being overly beholden to 1960 platoon theory.
It’s annoying the Mets handcuffed themselves like this unnecessarily and really purposefully ran converse to the analytics. They need to be better and do better than this.
For the first time in the second half, and the first time in nearly two months, the New York Mets swept an opponent. It couldn’t have come at a better time.
He had shut down the Nationals for four innings before getting in trouble in the fifth. In that inning, the Nationals had runners at the corners with one out. With the Mets only having a 2-0 lead, Luis Rojas tabbed Seth Lugo.
Lugo, who hasn’t been great inheriting runners this year allowed a sacrifice fly pulling the Nationals to 2-1. The Mets would get than run back and then some on a Jonathan Villar two run homer in the sixth.
JONATHAN VILLAR WITH THE INSURANCE RUNS! THE METS LEAD 4-1 pic.twitter.com/ssJeFmTx5Y
— SNY (@SNYtv) August 12, 2021
While May has been great in the second half of the season, he didn’t have it in this save opportunity. He loaded the bases with one out leading Rojas to tab closer of yore Jeurys Familia.
This was one of those frustrating Familia blown saves of yore. First, he had a wild pitch scoring run. Truth be told James McCann should’ve had a better effort blocking that ball.
Familia navigated his way through the inning to keep it tied into the bottom of the seventh. After McNeil grounded out, Pete Alonso ended the game.
— New York Mets (@Mets) August 12, 2021
Back when the Mets suffered a brutal loss, Alonso told fans they shouldn’t believe. They should know. Seeing this fame, Alonso gave the Mets reason to know they’re making the playoffs.
The Mets swept the Nationals like they should. Now, they’re in second place with things getting more interesting in the NL East. Now, it’s time to step up and win.
Game Notes: Williams was called up as the 27th man.
The Philadelphia Phillies started the left-handed Ranger Suarez, who was only slated to go about three innings. The New York Mets completely overreacted to this.
Really, the entire Mets offense had looked inept through the first eight innings. They only had two hits and just one extra base hit came from Tylor Megill in the fifth. Of course, he would be stranded.
Megill was really good for four innings. Unfortunately, the Phillies would get to him in the fifth. Brad Miller hit a solo shot, and Odubel Herrera hit a three run homer to give the Phillies a 4-0 lead.
Megill was out after 4.2 innings. He allowed those four earned on five hits and one walk while striking out five.
The Phillies lead would grow to 5-0 when Miller hit his second solo shot of the game. That one came off Yennsy Diaz in the eighth.
With the Mets appearing to be playing out the string in this one, the Phillies went to Mauricio Llovera to mop it up. That proved to be a giant mistake as Michael Conforto, Jonathan Villar, and James McCann went back-to-back-to-back to pull the Mets to within 5-3.
— New York Mets (@Mets) August 7, 2021
That forced the Phillies to bring in their newly obtained closer Ian Kennedy. It was very rocky for Kennedy. Pillar greeted him with a single. After a McNeil pinch hit foul out, Brandon Nimmo drew a walk bringing up Pete Alonso as the go-ahead run.
Now, the talking point around the Mets has been their troubles hitting the fastball. For whatever reason, they’re struggling and seem unprepared. Well, Kennedy took advantage of this getting Alonso to chase fastballs up and above the zone to strike himself out.
Kennedy then essentially repeated the act with Davis. Fittingly, it was Davis who struck out to end the game.
With the loss, the Mets drop to 1.5 games out of first. They’re now also a game back in the loss column with Zack Wheeler starting for the Phillies tomorrow. To make it all the better, the Mets are an Atlanta Braves win within dropping to third.