Jason Vargas

20/20 Hindsight: Mets Needed To Complete Sweep

After a brief hiatus after a nice family vacation, I’m back watching games at home instead of on the app and able to get back to things like the 20/20 Hindsight. Without further ado:

1. The 1969 and 1973 Mets overcame five game deficits entering September and so can this team, but in order to do so, they need to complete sweeps and not settle for 2/3.

2. There’s a lot of attention on Mickey Callaway for losing Sunday night. No matter your opinion on the moves, when you boil it down, the Mets lost because Jeurys Familia was flat out bad. They also lost because their three best hitters (Jeff McNeil, Pete Alonso, Michael Conforto) didn’t get the big hit in the eighth after the inning was set up for them to deliver.

3. Seeing Luis Guillorme get that bunt down, we see a player who does all the small things really well. It’s also a reminder how much time the Mets wasted on Jose Reyes and Adeiny Hechavarria instead of giving him his chance.

4. On the bunt, there are actually a few times it’s the right move. This was actually one of those times.

5. Who really wanted to see Familia instead of Daniel Zamora against Bryce Harper?

6. On the call-ups, it was great to see Brandon Nimmo back. His getting a walk and drawing a run shows how terrific a player he is. That said, he needs to throw to second.

7. Zack Wheeler set the tone. Steven Matz slayed some Citizen’s Bank Park demons. Marcus Stroman had his best start as a Met. The starting pitching really stepped up in this series after it disappointed against the Cubs.

8. Speaking of starting pitching it was nice seeing the Mets getting a chance to hit against Jason Vargas, who was his typically bad self on the mound.

9. As usual Joe West is a terrible umpire, but in a surprise twist, he nearly killed Rajai Davis.

10. Just when you want to give up on Todd Frazier, he hits two homers and makes a potentially season saving leaping grab.

11. On those nights, the Mets bullpen has Seth Lugo, Justin Wilson, and Luis Avilan available, this is a great bullpen. When they’re not all available, Sunday happens.

12. Paul Sewald has been a godsend, and it’s at the point where he may be the most reliable right-handed reliever not named Lugo.

13. We should be excited Edwin Diaz had two dominant appearances while remembering it’s just two.

14. Past two weeks, Wilmer Flores is hitting .429/.478/.810, and J.D. Davis is hitting .209/.306/.488. Both have 0.7 WAR for the season with Flores playing fewer games and not costing three prospects. The Diamondbacks are ahead of the Mets in the Wild Card standings.

15. Wilson Ramos hitting streak has come at a critical time. Mets need him to keep hitting at this level if they’re going to have a real chance.

16. The video of Sam Haggerty getting informed by Tony DeFrancesco was great, and you love to see players get their first chance at the MLB level.

17. You’ll note Haggerty was called up while Jed Lowrie was not activated. There is some question whether these decisions were linked.

18. With how he’s slowed down of late, Amed Rosario should move back down the lineup. Even with his slowing down, we’ve seen enough to be excited for the future.

19. After early and justifiable buzz, Joe Panik and Brad Brach are reverting to the players they were before the Mets signed then.

20. Four back of the Cubs is still doable. Three would have been moreso. Of course, this all overlooks how much the Mets blew it against the Cubs.

A Metsian Podcast (The Temperature Mets) Appearance

On Sunday, I had the privilege of being invited back on A Metsian Podcast to discuss the Braves series and all things Mets. During the podcast, I recall mentioning Pete Alonso, Jacob deGrom, Matt Harvey, Dillon Gee, Logan Verrette, Aaron Altherr, Tomas Nido, Jed Lowrie, Brandon Nimmo, J.D. Davis, Amed Rosario, Wilson Ramos, Joe Panik, Todd Frazier, Jeff McNeil, Jason Vargas, Carlos Delgado, Endy Chavez, and others.

Please take time to listen. Thank you.

20/20 Hindsight: Mets Sweep Marlins Like Good Teams Do

The Mets are three games over .500 for the first time since April 23rd. They are now just one game behind in the Wild Card race, and they are eight games out in the division. Things are much more interesting in Queens.

1. The Mets went 14-2 against an easy stretch of games which included the Padres, White Sox, Pirates, and Marlins. Malign this all you want, but this is exactly how good teams play against bad teams.

2. The pivotal point in this series was with the Mets trailing 4-2 heading into the bottom of the seventh in the second game of the doubleheader. The homers by J.D. Davis, Michael Conforto, and Pete Alonso saved the game, and it served not just as a launching pad for the Mets winning that game but also sweeping the series. Who knows how much further that inning will take them.

3. Davis has been the Mets best hitter at home. For some reason, Citi Field is like Coors Field to him. With the Mets having a lot of home games remaining, he becomes increasingly more important to the team.

4. Conforto has arguably been the Mets best player in the second half. Since the All Star Break, he is hitting .315/.406/.641. Before his concussion, Conforto was hitting .274/.412/.519. Ultimately, when he is healthy, this is the level of player Conforto is, and that level is being a great player.

5. Alonso has homered in three straight, and he is just two behind Cody Bellinger‘s National League Rookie record. He is four behind the Mets single season record shared by Todd Hundley and Carlos Beltran. He’s followed every bad month with a good month. His defense has been much better than it was last year. What else is there to say about him?

6. Like many of the Mets players, Wilson Ramos has stepped it up. So far in August, he is hitting .417/.440/.708. To a certain extent, this outburst should have been foreseen. Traditionally, August is Ramos’ second best month of the season, and he hit .337/.396/.483 in the second half for the Rays and Phillies last year.

7. The Mets need these bats and others to step up in Robinson Cano‘s absence. While Cano has been frustrating at times, his replacements have not fared that well this year. The combination of Aaron Altherr, Luis Guillorme, Adeiny Hechavarria, and Juan Lagares have combined to go 2-for-26 with a run, three walks, a double, and 10 strikeouts.

8. Seeing this production, the Mets should go out and claim Joe Panik. As noted yesterday, even at a 69 wRC+, Panik would be the best hitter of this group. His defense would also be an improvement over what Cano offered. It should also be noted Panik has some upside as well.

9. On the idea of upside candidates, the Mets need some bullpen help. The Mets appear loathe to use Donnie Hart and Chris Mazza, and the Mets cannot continue to operate with no trust at all with two of the arms in their bullpen. On that front, Cody Allen, Brad Brach, and Greg Holland are available. The Mets also have quality organization options in Chris Flexen, Eric Hanhold, and Paul Sewald.

10 One interesting development with no August trades is we are seeing teams designate players for assignment now instead of floating them through waivers and holding onto them until competing teams look to obtain them right before rosters expand to 40 in September.

11. As we have seen with Lee Mazzilli and Addison Reed, the player the Mets obtain in August can make a huge different for a team looking to win a pennant and a World Series. Given the team’s depth and bullpen issues, they need to take a hard look at whomever hits the waiver wire over the next few weeks.

12. There was a time where people were calling for Mickey Callaway to be fired, and now, we are seeing writers begin to advocate for his winning National League Manager of the Year.

13. Remember most discussions about the manager are narrative driven and are reflective of a team’s performance. They are rarely, if ever, resultant of actual analysis of player progression and effort.

14. The Mets need better than Wayne Randazzo on the radio. He has no sense of team history, and as evidenced by his being unaware of egg creams, he’s not even well versed in the area. Really, when you break it down, you really have to question what he does well.

15. It certainly isn’t analysis with his attributing Conforto’s success to Alonso. Aside from the studies refuting the concept of lineup protection, it’s absurd a hitter as good as Conforto needed lineup protection to succeed.

16. The Mets radio play-by-play job is perhaps the radio job with the highest standards there are. Two of the greatest to ever do it, Bob Murphy and Gary Cohen, have held that job. Howie Rose is every bit their peer. We need better than Randazzo.

17. The Mets defense has been much better of late. We saw this with the Mets infield turning 10 double plays against the Marlins. When you play defense this way, all the pitchers look better. The real key has been Amed Rosario becoming a plus defender at SS.

18. Jason Vargas getting roughed up by the Diamondbacks is a reminder bad players outplaying their peripherals regress, and the Mets trading him to the Phillies was the one trade which really helped the Mets chances of grabbing a Wild Card.

19. The last time things were like this with the Mets, they had just obtained Yoenis Cespedes right before sweeping the Nationals to tie for the division lead and make a march towards the pennant. This year is starting to have the same feeling.

20. Marcus Stroman‘s first Citi Field start is going to be absolutely electric. That game and the series cannot get here soon enough.

20/20 Hindsight: Mets Wash Away White Sox

Well, now the Mets are just two games under .500, and they are four games back of the second Wild Card. They are now heading to Pittsburgh, a team they just swept, to try to get over .500 and make further headway in the Wild Card race:

1. You know things are going well when Robinson Cano powers the offense, Amed Rosario is playing Gold Glove level defense, Wilson Ramos wasn’t the worst defensive catcher, and Jeurys Familia was pitching a clean inning.

2. If you didn’t believe in the Mets chances, seeing Pete Alonso‘s LFGM Tweet, you see the players believe. If the players believe, there is a real chance this could happen.

3. This is not paid advertising, but with Alonso’s statement, you should consider buying one of the new LFGM t-shirts from Athlete Logos. On a personal note, I have used Athlete Logos for personal projects, and he has done a great job. Seriously, why have you not bought a shirt yet?

4. Now that things are going well again, we hear from Brodie Van Wagenen. This should surprise no one as he was taking victory laps after his big moves in the offseason, and he was nowhere to be seen when the Mets were struggling, and everyone was demanding answers. What makes his suddenly speaking again all the worse was his Tweet was a clear rip-off of Alonso’s. At this point, just let the players be front and center and go hiding like you did previously.

5. As noted yesterday, Jacob deGrom is pitching like he did last year, and suddenly, he is right near the top of the Cy Young race. With Max Scherzer hurt, deGrom can very well pass him over the next month.

6. Noah Syndergaard has four straight outings of seven plus innings with eight plus strikeouts. Just like deGrom is in his Cy Young form, Syndergaard is in his 2016 form.

7. Remember Syndergaard once said the Mets are a second half team. He’s backing up that statement by pitching like the best pitcher in baseball lately. Seeing him pitch like this you have to be happy the Mets did not trade him. Seeing him pitch, you really have to wonder why the Mets aren’t considering giving him a contract extension, especially with him wanting to be here.

8. Speaking of being happy a player who wants to be here wasn’t traded, Zack Wheeler was great yesterday. There are parameters for a contract extension for him with Nathan Eovaldi being a really good comparison. With the threat of the qualifying offer, you would think the Mets have leverage to get something done here.

9. With the Mets not selling, there was a legitimate case to be made the Mets should have added a reliever. While the Mets didn’t directly do that, by replacing Jason Vargas with Marcus Stroman in the rotation, the Mets did just that. With the pitching staff going 6-7 innings or more every night there is less of a need for your bullpen every night.

10. The pitching staff really has been great lately with them having the best ERA in the National League since July, and the best pitching staff in all of baseball since the All-Star Break. This is the result of the starters going deeper into games. This is a replication of the plan in 2015 which served the team quite well.

11. It also works well when Seth Lugo pitches like the best reliever in the game. That should surprise no one because he is that. There is no reliever more versatile and smart. Recently, he has pitched multiple innings, earned a save, and came in to face one batter to get the Mets out of a bases loaded jam.

12. On the pitching front, Mike Petriello of MLB.com points out just how much Ramos’ inability to frame the low pitches has hurt a Mets team heavily reliant on sliders and sinkers. That may be a reason why Syndergaard has thrived with Tomas Nido behind the plate. On that front, the Mets may want to consider pairing Stroman with Nido too.

13. Howie Rose made an interesting comparison between Edwin Diaz and Tug McGraw yesterday noting like Diaz, McGraw really struggled up until August of that 1973 season. On August 1, McGraw had a 5.77 ERA. From August 1 until the end of the season, he had a 1.65 ERA for a Mets team which made a miracle run.

14. For Diaz, it is time he turns things around. He has a 5.14 ERA, and he has allowed a run in three straight games with a homer in two of his last three games. On the home run front, he has allowed more homers than he did last year, and he is one off of a career worst.

15. Michael Conforto has been great. He had key walks leading to runs in tight games, and when he came up with the Mets needing insurance runs he delivered including his massive 11th inning homer. Yesterday, he had his hitting streak snapped, but he still contributed with a great sliding catch.

16. Jeff McNeil had a great catch of his own flying into the netting in the right field corner to make a catch. Even with his defense, he needs a day to rest what his an ailing wrist. Lately, he has been struggling at the plate. Over his last seven games, he is hitting .174/.240/.435.

17. The Mets are still winning with McNeil and Alonso struggling because everyone around them has picked it up. That includes Rosario who is really breaking out in every aspect of his game. That also includes Conforto who seems to have shaken off the effects of his concussion. There is also Todd Frazier, who has been much better of late.

18. One interesting development of late is the Mets going to Aaron Altherr over Juan Lagares for a late inning defensive replacement. Prior to this year, it would have seemed to be insane, but this year, it looks like the right move.

19. I’m still laughing over this deGrom quote I saw on MMO: “I would’ve hated to see anybody go. We’re staying together and that says they believe in us and hopefully we can keep the ball rolling.” Apparently, deGrom didn’t think Vargas was anybody.

20. The last time the Mets tried to make a run like this was 2016 with Asdrubal Cabrera being the bat who helped push them into the top Wild Card spot. With Cabrera now available, the Mets should really consider bringing him back to be a big bat off the bench.

Jason Vargas Trade Was Fine But Speaks To Larger Organizational Issue

Yesterday, the Mets traded Jason Vargas to the Philadelphia Phillies for Double-A catcher Austin Bossart. Considering Bossart is a 25 year old catcher repeating Double-A hitting .195/.303/.335, this is nothing more than a salary dump. On the surface, there is nothing wrong with that.

Fact is, Jason Vargas hasn’t been good for the Mets, and he is expensive. The team needed to unload him, and it was going to be difficult to do so.

Since the 2017 All Star Break, Vargas has a 5.30 ERA with opposing batters hitting .264/.334/.472 off of him. He has walked 3.5 per nine, and he has averaged 4.2 innings per start over that stretch. No matter how you want to manipulate or massage those stats, that’s not good, and it is not befitting the production you need from a fifth starter.

His pitching that way really hurt the Mets early in the season. It caused them to go to the bullpen much earlier, and it was one of the biggest reasons why the Mets bullpen was so taxed early in the season. It is not even about the Mets being under .500 in his starts over the first few months, it was about the lasting effect on the team.

The counter-argument many will have is Vargas has been much better of late. To that point, over his last six starts, he is 3-2 with a 4.46 ERA and a 1.165 WHIP. In a vacuum, that level of production is more than acceptable from a fifth starter. The problem is he’s not going to be able to maintain that level of production.

Over these six starts, Vargas has yielded a .227 BABIP while walking 3.4 BB/9. He is stranding 76.2 percent of batters. This is nowhere near what he is as a pitcher. In his career, Vargas has a .282 BABIP in his career with a 73.1 percent strand rate.

When you stablize his current BABIP and LOB% to his career norms, you get the pitcher you saw in 2018 and the first few months of this season. Put another way, you are getting a bad pitcher who you need to take out of the rotation. By trading Vargas now, they’re doing just that. They’re getting the bad pitcher out of the rotation now.

Even better, they’re dumping him on the Phillies. If you want to make that miracle run to the Wild Card, weaken one of your top competitors. While a small sample size, he’s allowed batters to hit .250/.362/.563 off of him in four starts there. It’s part of the reason he has a 6.23 ERA at that ballpark. Ultimately, he should prove to be a nightmare for the Phillies over the final two months of the season.

When you break it down, Vargas isn’t good, and every team knows it. None of them are going to buy in on six starts fueled by unrepeatable peripherals. Given what we know and have seen, the Mets were always going to have to salary dump him. They were lucky they found a team.

Really, if you want to criticize the deal it is taking on a complete non-prospect who was a former collegiate teammate of Jeff Wilpon’s son. Looking at that, it looks more like a favor to a friend than an actual baseball move. An actual baseball move here would have been to identify someone at the lower levels of the minors who had potential like the Rays did when they obtained Neraldo Catalina for Wilmer Font or the Brewers did when they got Felix Valerio in the Keon Broxton deal.

Ultimately, that is the result of the Mets not scouting those levels of the minor leagues. If you want to criticize the Mets for that, you absolutely should. Their actions on that front are indefensible. However, their actions salary dumping Vargas are eminently defensible as they are a better team without him, and the Phillies are worse off with him.

Assessing Mets Marcus Stroman Trade

Before going into the weeds on the cost, it should first be noted the Mets are a much better team for getting Marcus Stroman. This is a pitcher who has pitched quite well in the AL East, and he is a pitcher with big game experience being named the World Baseball Classic MVP in addition to some really good postseason performances.

Stroman grew up a Mets fan, and as a result, the Mets are getting a player who should become a fan favorite in short order. Assuming no other moves for a moment, the Mets rotation is very clearly the best in baseball, and you can argue acquiring Stroman makes their chances of making the postseason this year significantly better.

The one ding people will bring up with Stroman is he’s reliant upon a good infield defense to be successful, and the Mets defense has not been good this year. On that note, the Blue Jays have been a below average defensive team this year with a -6 DRS with them having a -4 DRS at first, -9 DRS at second, 1 DRS at third, and a 0 DRS at shortstop. With the Mets having Todd Frazier at third and Amed Rosario playing a to positive DRS in the second half, they fair well in comparison to the Blue Jays. Eliminate the turf, and you can argue this is actually a better situation for Stroman to be even better.

Now, if the Mets were in the position the Braves were in, you understand this trade. Stroman is the piece which arguably puts the Mets over the top. When you roll out Jacob deGromNoah SyndergaardMarcus StromanZack WheelerSteven Matz in your rotation, you’re dangerous in both the regular season and post season. As for the bullpen issues, with that collection of five guys, the Mets could take a page out of Alex Cora‘s book last postseason and utilize their starters to dominate the entire series.

Stroman would be an overpay, but it would be one along the lines of the Cubs trading Gleyber Torres for Aroldis Chapman. If you win the World Series, who cares? In some ways, Stroman is even better than that because he is under control for next year as well. This not only gives you the best rotation in baseball right now, but it puts you in a position where you’ve insulated your team from losing Wheeler in the offseason.

The problem with the Mets is they’re five games under .500, and they are six games out of the division and the Wild Card. They are in real striking distance, but they also have many obstacles in their way.

The Mets have three teams ahead of them in the division, and they have four teams ahead of them in the Wild Card standings. The team just lost Dominic Smith which somehow depletes an already suspect outfield depth even further, and it also stands in the way of the Mets finding some more games for Pete Alonso, who is really struggling so far in the second half.

Speaking of depth, the Mets already suspect starting pitching depth did take a hit. On the one hand, yes, assuming no other moves, acquiring Stroman exponentially improves the depth as he’s a significant upgrade over Jason Vargas, who should now find himself in the bullpen. On that note, the bullpen also looks better. However, that assumes no other moves.

At the moment, it seems the Mets are looking to move Noah Syndergaard in a companion move to help fill out the current roster. Of note, the team still desperately needs a center fielder. It should be noted with the current rumors, Manuel Margot isn’t that guy. He’s yet to be a league average hitter in his career, and he’s a -1 DRS this year in center. On that front, it should be noted he was really good prior to this year with an 8 DRS in 2017 and a 9 DRS in 2018.

If the Mets move Syndergaard, they are again relying on Walker Lockett and Corey Oswalt to be their starting pitching depth this year and the next. Aside from one Lockett start this year, that is misplaced faith. This means the Mets need David Peterson to step up instead of hoping one of him or Anthony Kay are ready.

Like with trading Justin Dunn to the Mariners, trading Kay hurt the depth, and it deprived the organization of real starting pitching upside. It also eliminated the possibility of taking either pitcher to send them out there and try to replicate with Seth Lugo or to a lesser extent Robert Gsellman are doing.

Being fair, in the end a package headlined by Kay was a fair return for Stroman. It did make sense to gamble Kay away for the year plus of Stroman, especially if you are really going to go for it as an organization. On that note, they did not do that after trading Jarred Kelenic and Dunn in the trade for Edwin Diaz and Robinson Cano. On the Cano point, the Mets are up against the luxury tax next year, and they seem to be already using it as an excuse not to add despite the team collecting tens of millions of dollars in insurance proceeds on David Wright and Yoenis Cespedes while also deferring $12 million of deGrom’s contract.

From a Mets standpoint, the part of the deal which really hurts is Simeon Woods Richardson. This is an 18 year old pitcher already pitching for a full season affiliate. He is getting his fastball up to 97 MPH with a promising and developing curve and change which could both be plus pitches. Despite being almost four years younger than the competition, he is striking out 11.1 batters per nine while having an incredible 5.71 K/BB. This is a special arm, and the Mets traded him away with a top 100 prospect for one plus year of Stroman.

On the Woods Richardson front, the Mets were beyond loaded with teenage talent heading into this year. In addition to him, the Mets had Kelenic, Ronny Mauricio, Mark Vientos, Francisco Alvarez, Shervyen Newton, Luis Santana, and others along with a pitcher like Thomas Szapucki. This was a group poised to break into the majors around 2022, and when they came up, the Mets could have really had a prolonged World Series window open.

With Brodie Van Wagenen as the General Manager, that is what he has been trading away. He has severely hampered the next window from opening. Of course, that assumes the Mets window is currently open. This is a big reason why many baseball people don’t understand this trade. This seems one of those moments like when they pulled off the Cano deal or Scott Kazmir for Victor Zambrano the Mets are trying to tell us they are smarter then everyone when they’re really not.

Ultimately, you may not like this trade, but you would have certainly understood it if the Mets were 10 games over .500. They’re not. This trade becomes all the more puzzling when you consider they are supposedly doing this as a precursor to trading Syndergaard. Really, when looking at the entire plan right now, none of this makes sense. It makes even less sense if you are trading Syndergaard for prospects because the Mets just obtained one plus year of Stroman and not five.

Overall, this was an overpay for Stroman, and depending on what the Mets do now, it could be a completely unforced error. Typically in these moments, you like to sit and wait before passing judgment on the total plan, but considering how Van Wagenen has lost every trade he’s made thus far, there shouldn’t be much hope this was the first strike in what is one grand master plan.

In essence, enjoy Stroman while he’s a Met. He’s a fun player and really good pitcher who is coming home to pitch for the team he rooted for when he was growing up. Also, root for another hometown kid in Kay and hope Woods Richardson fulfills his potential. Root for everyone to succeed because it helps the Mets in the short term, and it will also help in the long run to remind the Mets that they’re really not better at this than everyone else. They have been and will continue to be considerably worse until Jeff Wilpon realizes he’s the problem.

Robinson Cano Channels His Inner Kirk Nieuwenhuis

When the Mets season was on the line, and they still had a legitimate chance to make a run to get back into contention, Robinson Cano was 3-for-15 in the series against the Giants with no RBI, and he was 3 for his last 21. In the Mets 100th game of the season, when the team is nine games under .500 and basically forced to sell at the deadline, Cano finally showed up:

Cano joined Kirk Nieuwenhuis and Lucas Duda as the only Mets to hit three homers in a home game. That may the best way to summarize this season. It took Cano 100 games to equal Kirk Nieuwenhuis.

Cano hitting these homers overshadowed what was supposed to be Round 2 between Pete Alonso and Chris Paddack. In the first matchup, Paddack threw his three fastest pitches of the year to Alonso striking him out two times. This matchup was a relative dud with Alonso going 0-1 with a walk off Paddack.

With Jason Vargas pitching well with six shut out one hit innings, the Mets were up 5-0 after seven and should’ve ended the game without drama.

Robert Gsellman has to rescue Tyler Bashlor from a seventh inning jam, and he’d allow a run in the eighth. In the ninth, Justin Wilson would walk the only two batters he faced pressing Edwin Diaz into the game for a save opportunity.

Diaz would make things interesting allowing an RBI double to Fernando Tatis, Jr. making it 5-2. Diaz wouldn’t let it get past that point shutting the door and earning his 22nd save of the year.

On the day, Cano provided the margin, and Diaz shut the door. One hundred games later we finally see how Brodie Van Wagenen drew things up.

Game Notes: Cano surpassed Damion Easley to become the oldest second baseman with a three home run game. It’s Cano’s first three home run game in his career.

Bring Matt Harvey Home

The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim who used to be of California first designated Matt Harvey for assignment and then later released him. This marked the second time Harvey was designated for assignment in as many years.

Looking at the numbers, you can’t blame the Angels. In 12 starts, he was 3-5 with a 7.09 ERA, 1.542 WHIP, 4.4 BB/9, and a 5.9 K/9. This isn’t the Harvey we all knew from 2012-2015, and it’s not even the Harvey of last year. TOS will do that to you.

The question now is what if anything Harvey has left?

If you want to be positive, he performed reasonably well with the Reds last year. In 24 starts, he was 7-7 with a 4.50 ERA, 1.250 WHIP, 2.0 BB/9, and a 7.8 K/9.

Looking deeper at last year, he was a different pitcher. According to Brooks Baseball, he threw his fastball 58.35%, his change 11.82%, his slider 23.44%, and his curve 6.00%. This year, we have seen him throw his fastball less and his curve much more.

In fact, his fastball usage is down 13.73% and his curve is up 8.81%. His change and slider usage is relatively the same. On the surface you understand the change with Baseball Savant noting Harvey having a slightly better than average spin on his curve and Fangraphs noting his fastball velocity is down.

Whatever the case, the mix isn’t quite right. For that matter, neither has Harvey. Maybe, he will never be right.

That said, when you’re a team nine games under .500 and continue to dwindle from the limelight, it would make sense to give Harvey another look.

First off, the Mets are currently sending out pitchers like Chris Mazza, Jacob Rhame, Stephen Nogosek, Tyler Bashlor, and a number of other similarly talented pitchers to come out of the bullpen. Looking at it from the Mets perspective, aren’t you better off getting a look at Harvey out of the bullpen to see if you can rekindle something in Harvey? Maybe with Harvey focusing on an inning or two, he can feel more comfortable letting it loose instead of trying to hold something back for later in the game.

With the Mets possibly moving Zack Wheeler and/or Jason Vargas at the trade deadline, the team will need another starter. You could go with Walker Lockett and/or Corey Oswalt (presuming Anthony Kay isn’t ready). You could also see if Harvey could perform better after arguably being “humbled” after leaving.

It’s also possible he will feel more at home with Phil Regan as the pitching coach. Maybe being around friends and teammates like Jacob deGrom can help him rediscover something or find a way to be good again.

As the season progresses, the Mets look all the more like a team playing out the string. In those situations, teams have to make judgment calls, and if teams are properly run, they’re not just going to lose as many games as possible to improve a draft position. Ideally, they’ll try to lose with a purpose.

If the Mets pitch Harvey, either in the bullpen or rotation, they’re losing with a purpose. They’re going to see if they can get him to be an effective pitcher again. Really, if you can get him to pitch out of the bullpen, all the better because with his issues, that may be the best place for him.

Better for the Mets to see if they can get him to be a quality reliever and help a bullpen in need of a few arms than to cycle back through the relievers they’ve seen fail time and again.

Overall, if the Mets are going to lose, they should learn something. It also wouldn’t hurt them to be a little more interesting. If anything, the Wilpons and Brodie Van Wagenen will have a lightning rod to take the attention away from them. Taking all into account, the Mets should just take the flyer on Harvey. After all, there is no possible way things can get worse with him here.

Wheeler’s Injury A Reason To Stand Pat At The Trade Deadline

With Zack Wheeler on the Injured List, and his being unsure as to when he can return, the Mets biggest trade chip has now been compromised. As a result, a player who could have fetched one or possible two very good prospects may not fetch nearly the same level of return. This leaves the Mets organization pondering what to do with Wheeler and really all of their trade assets.

Working backwards a bit, Wheeler is not the only expiring contract the Mets have. There is Juan Lagares, who really has zero value on the trade market between his contract and his regression both offensively and defensively. After him is Jason Vargas, who has failed to go at least five innings in 40 percent of his starts. Vargas also threatened to attack a reporter, and he has had a 5.94 ERA since the incident. That in mind, it’s unlikely he has any value on the trade market.

Todd Frazier is having a nice season, but again, you wonder what his market will be. To put things in perspective, in 2017, he was traded by the White Sox to the Yankees for a package including Ian Clarkin, Tito Polo, Blake Rutherford, and Tyler Clippard. Rutherford was a really good get for the White Sox, but that was mostly because they were trading Tommy Kahnle in the deal. Kahnle had been a very good reliever for a year plus, and he was under team control for four plus years.

For the Mets to get a similar return for Frazier, they would have to package him with an Edwin Diaz or a Seth Lugo. Based upon reports, the Mets are not interested in doing that, and you could understand that with the Mets having a young core still intact. It is also a reason the Mets are not looking to move Noah Syndergaard. As a result, the Mets really do not have any good trade chips; at least trade chips which will return anything more than the collection of right-handed relievers they received when they previously traded Addison Reed, Lucas Duda, and Jay Bruce.

Looking deeper, the Mets are “only” five games (four in the loss) out of the second Wild Card. At the moment, it is noticeable how the teams in front of them have done almost nothing to get going and really stake a claim to being a front runner for one of the two Wild Card spots. This is not too dissimilar from what we saw in 2016 where the Mets went from two games under .500 on August 19 to finish the season on a 27-13 tear to claim the top Wild Card spot.

Believe it or not, the Mets schedule actually does set up for another run like this. After today’s game against the White Sox, the Mets have 20 straight games against teams with a losing record. After that, they have a set at home against the Nationals, a team who currently has the top Wild Card spot.

That’s an incredible 23 game opportunity for the Mets to go on a real run up the Wild Card standings. This could be a team which could take full advantage of that opportunity because as Syndergaard said in 2016, the Mets are a second half team.

Wheeler has always been a strong second half pitcher. Same goes for Syndergaard whose career second half ERA is 38 points lower. Jacob deGrom has a better second half WHIP, K/9, and K/BB. In addition to the starters, we should expect to see a much better bullpen with the return of Justin Wilson. In fact, we have so far with the Mets bullpen ERA being 3.86 in July, which is 11th best in the majors and significantly better than the almost impossibly bad 7.53 June bullpen ERA.

There’s also the Amed Rosario factor. Over the past month, he is hitting .342/.365/.468 indicating he may be poised for a second half breakout. Very quietly, he has started to play better defense. In fact, since the All-Star Break, he is actually a 2 DRS. It’s a small sample size for sure, but it’s a positive development.

When you also consider how Michael Conforto and Robinson Cano are better hitters in the second half, you see a glimmer of hope. Speaking of Cano, with him and Edwin Diaz, you have to believe their second halves have to be better than their first.

Is this enough for the Mets to go out and buy? No, not even close. According to Fangraphs, the Mets postseason odds stand at 7.6 percent. Those are nearly insurmountable odds. However, that does not mean the Mets should go selling their players for little to no return when the schedule does set up favorably for them.

In the end, this is really about Wheeler. If he was healthy, the Mets could have received a significant return for him. If his IL stint changes things, it would behoove the Mets to offer him a qualifying offer at the end of the season and just let things ride with this team. After all, there is still a chance.

Mets Destroy Twins

This is as good as you can feel about the Mets all season with them beating up on the AL Central leading Twins.

Amed Rosario continued his torrid July with a homer off Twins starter Martin Perez. He would also start the seventh inning go-ahead rally with Dominic Smith hitting a pinch hit three run homer to give the Mets a 5-3 lead:

But that’s not the homer everyone will be talking about. Not by a long shot (pun intended). No, what everyone will focus on is Pete Alonso nearly hitting one out of Target Field in the eighth:

That was all part of a six run eighth inning where the Mets annihilated the Twins bullpen. What makes the rally all the more impressive was the Mets scored all six of those runs with two outs.

Aside from the Alonso monster shot, there was a Jeff McNeil RBI double and another Smith RBI base hit.

This was a big development not just because of the win, but also because it solved a real bullpen issue.

After Jason Vargas pitched six innings, Jeurys Familia pitched a scoreless seventh. It was the best he’s looked all year pumping in 99 MPH sinkers.

With the Mets up 11-3 instead of 5-3, they could go to Chris Mazza to eat up the final two innings instead of pressing their top bullpen arms into service after having been worked a good amount since the All Star Break.

This led to the Twins bringing in a position player, Ehire Adrianza, to pitch the ninth. The Mets added three more highlighted by a Rosario two RBI triple. On the play, Jake Cave dove and missed the sinking liner. Even with Rosario trucking, Gary Disarcina was no fun holding up Rosario at third instead of letting him try for the inside the park homer.

When all was said and done, the Mets won 14-4. Suddenly, the Mets have won four in a row, and they are showing signs of life. Their best players are starting to play like it, and the bullpen has been great. Now, they have 20 straight against teams with a losing record. Maybe it’s time to start believing.

Game Notes: Wilmer Font was traded to the Blue Jays for cash considerations.