Well, the last place Mets took a series from the first place Marlins. That’s certainly something we never thought would happen in August 2020, but that’s where we are.
2. If you’ll note, since the Mets have been forced to switch to a vastly superior defensive alignment, they’ve begun winning.
5. On a related note, the Mets embarrass themselves, when they tout average plays as being great plays as part of their endeavoring to make a horrendous GM look somewhat competent.
6. Gimenez shows how great the Mets had been identifying Major League talent in the draft and international free agent market during the Sandy Alderson era.
7. The Mets bullpen had stepped up in August. Part of that is Edwin Diaz returning to his old form. No, it’s not because he’s out of the closer role. It’s because he has great stuff.
8. Seth Lugo needs to be used in the highest leverage spots. That’s not always the ninth, and that’s why he can’t be used as just a closer.
9. Speaking of pitchers with great stuff, Jacob deGrom is the best pitcher in baseball and not even a blister or “hot spot” can get in his way.
11. Jared Hughes is one of those players who come along and are a pure joy. Not only has he pitched well, but he’s also shown the ability to laugh at himself. Like the Juan Uribe era, the Jared Hughes era will go down as one of the most enjoyable in Mets history.
12. Even with the juiced ball appearing to return, the Mets offense has looked off all year. That’s most likely the result of their inability to hit with RISP.
13. Pete Alonso struggling doesn’t help either. The frustrating part is every time he appears to break out, he starts slumping again.
14. Mets have been lucky getting serviceable starts from David Peterson. He did it again in this series helping the Mets turn things around.
16. This further highlights how the Mets desperately need Marcus Stroman back. That was the case when Wacha was “healthy.”
17. Michael Conforto has a hit in every game this season, and Brandon Nimmo has reached in 30 straight games (dating back to last year). Somehow, Mets fans still have a hard problem embracing them and instead ask why they’re not perfect.
18. The Cardinals have only played five games, and seemingly every time they appear set to return, there’s another positive test. Maybe they should just be contracted . . . at least for the 2020 season.
20. If the Mets want to be taken seriously, they need to beat up on a Washington Nationals team who is undermanned and playing terribly right now.
It was a shock to see Andres Gimenez Matt the Mets Opening Day roster. It was a shock because his Double-A numbers weren’t off the charts. It was a bigger shock because there was no obvious opportunity.
With the recent slate of injuries coupled with his strong play, he’s currently an everyday player. As we saw today, he may be here to stay.
The Mets would win 4-2, and Gimenez was in the middle of each rally serving as a spark plug for the Mets offense.
In the third, he led off the inning with a single off Marlins starter Pablo Lopez. He’d immediately put himself in scoring position by stealing second.
Lopez would walk the bases loaded moving Gimenez to third. He’d then score on a Jeff McNeil RBI groundout. The second run of the inning scored when Corey Dickerson couldn’t field a Michael Conforto liner.
In the ensuing inning, Gimenez again set the table. This time it was a one out double. He’d score on a Brandon Nimmo two out RBI single.
In the sixth, Gimenez laid down a great drag bunt to lead-off the inning. The Mets would load the bases, and he’d score on a McNeil sacrifice fly.
Andrés Giménez, man… pic.twitter.com/YqsftSZIsZ
— Jacob Resnick (@Jacob_Resnick) August 9, 2020
Overall, Gimenez was 3-for-4 with three runs, a stolen base, and a double. He had three of the Mets eight hits, and he scored all three of the Mets earned runs. In the end, he did the near impossible in providing Jacob deGrom with run support.
With deGrom, he dealt with an issue on his middle finger. Some called it a blister. He called it a hot spot. It was no matter as deGrom is deGrom.
You could say it led to back-to-back walks in the second, but that might’ve been more the result of Home Plate Umpire Mark Carlson who was terrible, and that’s being kind.
No one had any idea what was a strike. The only thing we did know was deGrom was going to overcome it. In that second inning, he got out of a bases loaded jam unscathed.
It wasn’t until the fifth the Marlins would get to him. He missed on a pitch, and Jesus Aguilar hit a two run homer. At that point, the Marlins pulled to within 3-2. They’d get no closer even with deGrom being done after the fifth.
The Mets bullpen continued their impressive August.
Diaz was brilliant even if he was nearly victimized. He blew the first two Marlins away, and he should’ve stuck out Ryan Lavarnway, but Carlson blew the call.
Lavarnway singled on the next pitch. Then, Eddy Alvarez hit what appeared to be an easy fly ball. Instead, in what looks like the return of the juiced ball, it carried to the wall.
Fortunately, it didn’t go out. Diaz shook it off, and he struck out Monte Harrison on an absolutely overpowering pitch.
The big pitch has eluded Edwin Díaz so far.
Not this time. pic.twitter.com/8Y36bwkgEw
— Jacob Resnick (@Jacob_Resnick) August 9, 2020
That left Seth Lugo to pitch the ninth. Lugo pitched a scoreless ninth to preserve the 4-2 win. It was his third save of the season and first one inning save of the year.
Through it all, the Mets won their first series of the year. They did it featuring their homegrown talent, talent like Gimenez.
Game Notes: deGrom’s back-to-back walks in the second was the first time he did that in 25 starts. Michael Wacha landed on the IL with shoulder inflammation, and Ali Sanchez took his place on the roster. Dating back to last season, Nimmo has reached safely in 30 straight games.
In case you thought things were really bizarre with the Mets in 2020, we just saw something truly bizarre. The Mets gave Jacob deGrom run support.
The big outburst came in a four run third.
With runners at first and second, Michael Conforto delivered the hit the Mets desperately needed with an RBI single off Mike Soroka. After Pete Alonso walked, Robinson Cano delivered an RBI single scoring Conforto.
— New York Mets (@Mets) August 4, 2020
Disaster would strike that inning. When it seemed Soroka couldn’t get anyone out, J.D. Davis hit a fielder’s choice to Freddie Freeman. When Soroka went to go to first he pulled up lame, and he had to be helped off the field.
Soroka was not the only injury on the day.
Davis was plugged into the starting lineup because Jeff McNeil experienced lower back tightness. After hitting a single in the third, reaching third on a Marcell Ozuna error, Amed Rosario was pulled from the game with left quad tightness. Robinson Cano, who has been insanely hot of late, left the same with left groin tightness.
Aside from the injuries, the Mets offense was clicking. Cano would have another RBI single before departing the game. Wilson Ramos had an RBI single and a two run homer.
— New York Mets (@Mets) August 4, 2020
Those seven runs were more than enough for deGrom. He’d allow just two runs over six with one of them being a Travis d’Arnaud fifth inning solo homer. His final line was
— New York Mets (@Mets) August 4, 2020
It wasn’t complete smooth sailing for the Mets. Jeurys Familia loaded the bases with one out in the seventh. He’d strike out Ozzie Albies, and Justin Wilson would relieve him to get Freeman to ground out to end the jam.
Jared Hughes made his Mets debut pitching two scoreless innings to secure the 7-2 win. Even with all the injuries, it seemed like this was a game where the Mets got healthy.
With Noah Syndergaard and Marcus Stroman going down, the Mets need a fifth starter. Whenever the Mets need a starter, the debate once again turns to whether Seth Lugo should be put back in the rotation.
Certainly, you can understand the impetus. Lugo was a revelation in the rotation in 2016, and without him in the rotation, the Mets very likely miss the postseason. We also saw him back that up by being the ace for Puerto Rico in the 2017 World Baseball Classic.
We know Lugo can start, and we know he can be extremely good in the rotation. We also know Lugo is one of, if not the best, reliever in baseball. It’s extremely difficult to part with that.
The Mets starting pitching and bullpen injuries make it even tougher to remove Lugo from the bullpen.
In 2019, Matz averaged 5.1 innings per start. Things improved in the second half when he moved to the middle of the runner. After that, he did average 5.2 innings per start. That’s still under 6.0, but he did make strides towards at least being a six inning pitcher.
Porcello also averaged 5.1 innings per start. That was after averaging 5.2 innings per start the previous year. Looking at his career, Porcello’s innings have declined in each of the last three years. That’s a bad trend for a pitcher the Mets need to be an innings eater.
That means two of the Mets three best pitchers don’t consistently pitch at least six innings. That leaves the bullpen getting 10-11 outs during their starts. That should prove to be a break compared to the fourth and fifth spots.
Last year, Michael Wacha averaged just 4.2 innings per start. Over the final three months of the season, he pitched into the fifth just three times over 11 starts. In his career, he’s never averaged more than 5.2 innings per start. This is from the fourth starter.
After that, the Mets are stuck going to Corey Oswalt, David Peterson, or bullpenning it. The young starters can’t be relied upon to consistently go deep into games. That puts a further burden on the pen, and that gets worse with planned bullpen games.
Further compounding a bullpen game is the lack of people who can go multiple innings consistently. Robert Gsellman was that guy, but he’s injured. Effectively speaking, that leaves Lugo as the only reliever who can consistently give the Mets multiple innings out of the pen.
Really, a lot of the Mets bullpen is a question mark. Can Edwin Diaz and Jeurys Familia rebound from bad 2019 seasons? Will Justin Wilson‘s elbow hold up? Can Dellin Betances return to his dominant pre-injury form?
There’s just far too many questions in the bullpen and far too few innings in the rotation. Asking any bullpen to have to cover 10-12+ outs four out of ever five days is a monumental ask. It’s even worse with few off days.
Fact is, at the moment, the Mets need Lugo in the pen. He’s really the Mets only option who can pitch multiple innings. He’s the best reliever on the team.
Really, Lugo is the best option out of the pen. At a time when the Mets need the bullpen to take on a tough workload due to the schedule, they should have Lugo at the ready to get those innings as it’s not coming from another reliever.
Overall, Lugo may be the best option for fifth starter. He’s also the best reliever the Mets have. They need him out otherwise. In any event, Lugo is where he belongs – in that bullpen.
The Mets have done their part protecting the confidentiality of their players. We know Brad Brach and Robinson Cano aren’t in camp, but the team will not say why. Thar said, Luis Rojas might’ve given us an indication it’s COVID19 related:
Luis Rojas said the Mets haven't had any baseball-related injuries so far during camp.
— Tim Healey (@timbhealey) July 12, 2020
As is typically the case when a player is going to miss time, the discussion begins on what the Mets should do to replace these players.
There’s a ton of options available to replace Cano, and it’s an interesting debate.
It’s similar to Brach. Newly signed Jared Hughes is obviously the first man up to replace him. There’s also Paul Sewald, Drew Smith, Stephen Gonsalves, Franklyn Kilome, Walker Lockett, Corey Oswalt, and some interesting minor league arms.
If this were a normal 2020 season, we’d debate the correct path, and we’d see the Mets have time to get it wrong, get it wrong again, and hopefully, finally make the correct decision.
However, this is far from a normal season. There is a pandemic which threatens the lives and long-term health of people. We’ve already heard about Freddie Freeman and his struggle with this disease. We’re hearing about Rudy Gobert of the Utah Jazz still experiencing some issues.
Right now, we don’t know if Brach or Cano have COVID19. To the extent they do have it, we don’t know how much it’s impacting them now, or will affect their health in the future.
The only thing we do know is there’s a pandemic which is affecting people differently. We know this pandemic has no vaccine. Even with precautions, we can’t guarantee players won’t become infected.
With all we know and don’t know with COVID19, at some point we need to pivot from who will replace these infected players to whether there should be baseball in 2020.
Remember, it’s alright to desperately want baseball to return. It’s also alright to believe it’s not safe for these players to play. We’re all human, and there’s no clear cut answer or solution.