Jay Bruce

Keep Michael Conforto’s AAA Production in Mind

Currently, the Mets outfielders are Jay Bruce, Yoenis Cespedes, Alejandro De Aza, Curtis Granderson, and Justin Ruggiano.  Not on this list is Michael Conforto as the Mets have no intention of calling him up until September 1st.

Conforto is absolutely raking in AAA.  In the 10 games since his demotion, Conforto is 22-40 with four doubles, four homers, eight RBI, and two walks.  That is a .550/.581/.950 batting line.  Offensive statistics in the Pacific Coast League are typically inflated, but they aren’t that inflated.

Better yet, over his two stints in the minors this year, Conforto is hitting .500/.559/.633 with a double, a homer, and seven RBI in 30 at bats.

No, the Mets have no interest in that production right now even with them playing in a crucial three game set against the Cardinals that will have a dramatic impact upon their chances of winning the Wild Card.  Instead, the Mets want to go with the following:

  • Bruce who is hitting .169/.263/.282 in 19 games as a Met
  • De Aza who is hitting .192/.287/.308 on the season and .133/.264/.311 in August
  • Granderson who is hitting .224/.312/.428 on the year and .186/.240/.347 since the All Star Break
  • Ruggiano who was released from the Rangers while he was in AAA and is a career .258/.322/.438 hitter

Overall, the only player who deserves to be in the lineup day-in and day-out is Cespedes.  After that, the Mets have to pick two other outfielders who are playing best to man center and right.  Looking at the Mets 40 man roster, it is hard to believe that Conforto isn’t one of those players right now.

Hopefully, the Mets will sweep the Cardinals and get terrific production from their center and right fielders.  If not, we will all be left asking why were the Mets willing to field their best possible team and best possible lineup in the most important series of the year.

Cespedes Is Back!

Hopefully, all the suddenly (if relatively) healthy Mets needed to get going was to get one game under their belts. It certainly seemed to be the case as the August 2015 Yoenis Cespedes returned:

Cespedes powered the Mets offense to nine runs by going 3-5 with two runs, a double, two homers, and three RBI. He was just one of the Mets to tee off on Matt Moore and Jake Peavy. Even more amazing was the fact that the Mets were 5-9 with runners in scoring position. 

Like it once did a decade ago, it all started with Jose Reyes, who doubled to leadoff the game en route to going 1-4 with two runs, a walk, a double, and a stolen base. He was the only Met to score in a first inning that saw the first four Mets get on base with two of the Mets hitting doubles. 

The reason for the one run was partially a TOOTBLAN from Asdrubal Cabrera and his Ryanochte hair dye trying to go to second on what really didn’t amount to a wild pitch. At the time, the out loomed large. However, he’d make up for it with a third inning sacrifice fly scoring Reyes and his overall solid day at the plate going 2-4 with an RBI. 

Soon to be dadNeil Walker, was 2-4 with two runs, one walk, and one double. Justin Ruggiano was 2-3 with a run, a walk, and an RBI. Ruggiano needed a good day at the plate as he had some miscues in the field as he is apparently learning how to play alongside Cespedes. 

The icing on the cake was an Alejandro De Aza three run sixth inning homer which capped off a four run inning. At the time, it put the Mets up 7-2, and they seemed to be in control. 

It certainly was enough for Bartolo Colon, continued his good start, bad start pattern with a good one with a final line of 6.1 innings, nine hits, two runs, two earned, one walk, and five strikeouts. He departed with a runner on first. Josh Smoker came on and got Colon out of the inning. 

While the lead was safe for Colon, it initially seemed the lead wasn’t safe for the bullpen.  Hansel Robles was brought in to pitch the eighth, and he sandwiched walks to Brandon Belt and Brandon Crawford around a Buster Olney line out. Even with the big lead, Collins was right to move to get the recently slumping Robles out of the game. However, Collins went to Addison Reed as Collins is the only one who doesn’t know Reed struggles with inherited runners. 

Reed would allow both inherited runners to score on an Eduardo Nunez two RBI double. Reed would allow another run to score before getting out of the inning. Reed would settle in in the ninth shutting the Giants down ensuring the Mets 9-5 win. 

Game Notes: Jim Henderson was activated off the disabled list but did not pitch. Erik Goeddel was sent down in his place. Slumping Jay Bruce sat against the lefty Moore. It was classified as day to get himself going than a benching. 

Despite Travis d’Arnaud catching, there were no stolen base attempts once again showing there are more forces at work in a stolen base other than a catcher’s arm. 

Is the Mets Window Closing?

Right now, the Mets are four games out of a Wild Card spot, and they are desperately hoping with Yoenis Cespedes and Asdrubal Cabrera coming off the disabled list this week that the team goes on a run that will bring them back into the postseason.  Whether or not that works, it is fair to ask if this is the Mets last chance to win the World Series.

The foundation of this team is its starting pitching.  Matt Harvey has gone from Opening Day starter to question mark with his season ending surgery to address his thoracic outlet syndrome.  There is no telling how effective he will be if he is able to come back.

Zack Wheeler was supposed to be back by the All Star Break.  Now, it appears that he will miss his second consecutive season.  While rehabbing from the surgery, Wheeler has had to have a second surgery to deal with forearm irritation caused by stitches, sensory nerve irritation, and now a flexor strain.  He had been treated by Dr. Dave Altchek, and he sought a second opinion from Dr. James Andrews.  We are continuously assured there are no structural issues, and yet, time and again there is a new excuse why he can’t pitch.  At the end of the day, it does not matter if he is unable to pitch due to his elbow or for other reasons.  Who knows when he can return or how effective he will be when returning.

There are more question marks in the rotation.  Steven Matz has yet to have a healthy season in the majors.  Bartolo Colon will be 44 years old next year meaning there is no guarantee that he pitches beyond this year.  Even if he does, there is no guarantee he will be this effective.  Logan Verrett has shown he is not capable of being a member of the starting rotation.  Sean Gilmartin‘s season ended early with shoulder problems.  The Mets aren’t going to pick up Jon Niese‘s option, and even if they did bring him back, you should probably expect more of the same from him.

The Mets other options are Gabriel Ynoa and Robert Gsellman, both of whom are probably not ready to start in the majors.  Even if they are, both realistically project to be middle to back of the rotation starters.  That certainly helps, but that also a huge drop off from someone like Harvey.

As if the starting pitching wasn’t a big enough issue, there is the issue of the Mets offense.

As we saw this year, you cannot rely upon David Wright at all.  The Mets have no internal options to replace his bat in the lineup.  Worse yet, there is a lack of very good options on the free agent market choices available even if the Mets were so inclined to add a bat.  Keep in mind, they may also have to replace Lucas Duda at first base.  In 2015, Duda had a disc issue.  This year, Duda will miss almost the entire season with a stress fracture in his back.  There is a very real chance that he is a non-tender candidate.  The Mets do not have a first base option in the minors who is on track to play in the majors next year, and again, the free agent market is less than promising.  That means James Loney can once again be the Mets best option, and as we have seen, he is not a terribly good everyday option.

This isn’t even the Mets biggest problem, not by a long shot.

Cespedes can opt out of his contract at the end of the season, and he will easily become the best free agent available.  The narrative coming out of last offseason was how much Cespedes wanted to be a Met, and that is why he returned.  That’s the hope why he will stay.  However, it’s more narrative than fact.

The fact is Cespedes didn’t get a fair market value offer on the free agent market.  Judging from the free agent contracts handed out, teams placed a higher value on Jason Heyward and Justin Upton.  The teams you would think would be interested in Cespedes gave the money to somebody else.  The Nationals were interested, but due to budgetary constraints, they only offered Cespedes a largely backloaded deal. It is possible that after another postseason berth, and Jonathan Papelbon‘s salary off the books, the Nationals could make another run at Cespedes in the offseason.  It is also possible that the Giants, Dodgers, Rangers and/or the Angels could emerge as suitors for Cespedes.  There’s always the phantom mystery team that could join the bidding.

It is certainly plausible the Mets get outbid from Cespedes, or they simply move on from him.  Keep in mind, there were rumblings all over that the Jay Bruce trade was made, in part, as insurance for Cespedes leaving in the offseason.  If that is the case, the Mets outfield will yet again be left without a true center fielder.

The main task may first fall to Curtis Granderson, who has struggled mightily this year and should not be counted on to rebound in 2017.  The Mets could go with a Juan Lagares/Brandon Nimmo platoon in center, but that would leave no room for Michael Conforto to play everyday.

Speaking of Conforto, there is another major issue with this Mets team.  Both Conforto and Travis d’Arnaud have regressed this year.  Certainly, Conforto’s wrist and d’Arnaud’s shoulder are factors, but the fact remains, they have regressed.  Couple that with Kevin Plawecki not progressing at all, there is a major issue.  Either the Mets young talent is not as good as anticipated, or there are impediments at the major league level that is preventing them from reaching their full potential.  In order for the Mets to remain contenders, they will need their young players to step up.

Between the aforementioned free agent market and lack of major league ready prospects, the Mets only real hopes of improving the roster is on the trade front.  The problem there is the cupboard is getting bare.  The Mets have already moved big pieces in Michael Fulmer and Dilson Herrera.  They’re not willing to move Amed Rosario, and they are really unlikely to move Dominic Smith.  The Mets could move Nimmo, but that depletes from their depth for next season, and as we have seen, the Mets need all the depth they can get.

Keep in mind that over the past two seasons, the Mets have also moved Robert Whalen, Luis Cessa, John Gant, Akeel Morris, and Casey Meisner.  They lost Matthew Bowman and Dario Alvarez without getting anything in return.  Their departures leaves a gap of mid-tier prospects the Mets could move for upgrades.

Yes, the Mets can field a very competitive baseball team next year.  As long as you have pitchers like Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard, you are going to have a chance to compete.  With another year of Addison Reed and Jeurys Familia, it is a seven inning game for the Mets.  It’ll become a six inning game if Hansel Robles takes the next step.  But after that?

You’re counting on Neil Walker returning, which is not a guarantee.  You’re counting on Asdrubal Cabrera developing more range at shortstop while hitting better than .255/.308/.410.  He was a .249/.307/.405 hitter from 2013 – 2015.  You’re counting on Jose Reyes to hit better than his .250/.302/.466 and be healthy all of next year.  Reyes hit .274/.310/.378 while hitting in two of the best hitter’s parks last year.  You’re counting on Wilmer Flores being able to learn to hit righties.  You’re counting on the Mets not having to rely on the Eric Campbells and Ty Kellys on the world for prolonged stretches of time over the next season.  It’s all possible, but it’s not likely.

As things look right now, the Mets better start winning some ballgames and make a run because there is no guarantee that the Mets window to contend will remain open past this season.

Jon Niese and a Terrible Night of Mets Pitching

Well Jon Niese‘s first start since returning to the Mets went about as well as you expected it would go. 

Niese’s defense failed him in the fourth with the Rickie Weeks and Yasmany Tomas homers turning a 1-0 lead into a 3-1 deficit. Niese wouldn’t make it through the fifth departing with two outs in the inning and a runner on second. His final line would be 4.2 innings, four hits, four runs, four earned, two walks and six strikeouts. 

Terry Collins then turned to Erik Goeddel because he obsessively and compulsively overworks relievers with arm issues – just ask Jim Henderson. In a shock to no one but Collins the overworked Goeddel was wholly ineffective needing to be bailed out by Seth Lugo, who was the only effective pitcher in the night. Goeddel recorded no outs while allowing two hits (including a Weeks homer), two runs, two walks, and no strikeouts. 

For the crowd suggesting Gabriel Ynoa should’ve started over Niese (myself included), Ynoa certainly didn’t make his case tonight. He pitched one inning allowing two hits, three runs, three earned, and one walk with no strikeouts. 

Josh Edgin was similarly bad. His final line was one inning, two hits, four runs, four earned, two walks, and one strikeout. He gave up a long homer to Tomas is the eighth. 

Overall, Mets pitching was horrendous allowing 13 earned runs. 

Perhaps the only thing worse than the pitching was the offense. Through the first seven innings, the Mets only mustered one hit off Zack Godley, and that was Jose Reyes single to leadoff the game. Reyes would score later that inning on a wild pitch. 

Godley’s final line was 7.1 innings, two hits, two runs, two earned, two walks, and four strikeouts. To be fair, Godley did enter the game 3-2 with a 5.24 ERA and a 1.366 WHIP. 

After  Curtis Granderson and Rene Rivera applied some lipstick to this pig of a game with a couple of homers, the Mets lost the game 13-5. 

Worse than the pitching and the hitting is just the Mets play in general. They have gone 1-5 against the Diamondbacks, and they have gone 3-6 in the easiest nine game stretch on the schedule. It’s why the Mets are back to .500, and are now four games out in the Wild Card race. 

Game Notes: Neil Walker missed his second straight game with a back injury. Jay Bruce had a RBI double in the eighth. He is no longer the major league RBI leader. 

Pennant Race: The Cardinals beat the Astros 8-2. The Nationals lost to the Rockies 12-10. The Pirates beat the Giants 6-5. The Dodgers beat the Phillies 7-2. The Marlins lost to the Reds 3-2. 

Syndergaard Sparks the Offense as the Mets Hold On

After Noah Syndergaard allowed a fourth inning laser homerun to Yasmany Tomas, it looked like Syndergaard was going to have to take matters into his own hands if the Mets were going to win the game. He did:

The home run was Syndergaard’s third of the year tying him with Tom Seaver and Walt Terrell for the Mets single season home run record. Syndergaard’s homer was a no doubter homer scoring him and Alejandro De Aza giving the Mets a 3-1 lead.

De Aza was on second because Michael Bourn absolutely robbed Rene Rivera of an extra base hit. With runners on second and third, it turned into a sacrifice fly scoring T.J. Rivera. It was part of a huge inning the Mets had off Braden Shiply that saw the Mets bat around scoring four runs.

That Syndergaard home run did more than give the Mets the lead, it sparked the offense.  Later on that inning, Jose Reyes tripled and scored on a Curtis Granderson sacrifice fly.  In the fifth, Kelly Johnson would lead off the inning with a solo home run.  Rivera would then single and score on a De Aza double.  De Aza would then come home on a two out RBI infield single by Reyes.   Just like that it was 7-1 Mets through the first five and a half innings.

However, it wasn’t a laugher.  Nothing is that easy with the Mets.

The Diamondbacks sixth inning rally started on a Rivera “throwing error” allowing Jake Lamb to reach.  It wasn’t a great throw, but it was another example of James Loney not making a full stretch at first base.  Lamb and Wellington Castillo would score on a Mitch Haniger triple.  Haniger would come in to score on a Rivera two out fielding error (that one was on him).  Overall, while Syndergaard started the game out strong, he would up struggling again.  He pitched 5.2 innings allowing seven hits, four runs, two earned, and two walks with eight strikeouts.  He was fortunately bailed out by Jerry Blevins to end the sixth.

In the seventh, Hansel Robles continued his recent shaky play giving up a leadoff double to Paul Goldschmidt and issuing a two out walk to Castillo.  Terry Collins would then go to Addison Reed as he is the only person on the planet that does not know the Reed isn’t good with inherited runners.  Reed was welcomed with a Haniger (him again) double scoring Goldschmidt.  Just like that it was 7-5 Mets, and they were in for a fight.

Fortunately, Reed would settle down in the eighth with a 1-2-3 innings, and Jeurys Familia would slam the door shut in the ninth.  With that, the Mets are now a game over .500 again, and they kept pace in the Wild Card race.

Game Notes: Rivera was a surprise late replacement for Neil Walker who had to sit out the game with a sore back.  Rivera had the two errors, but he had a strong day at the plate going 4-4 with two runs.  Reyes seems closer to his old self going 2-4 with a run, RBI, and a triple.  Jay Bruce had his best day as a Met going 2-4 with a walk.

Pennant Race: The Dodgers beat the Phillies 15-5.  The Reds beat the Marlins 6-3.  The Cardinals beat the Astros 8-5.  The Rockies beat the Nationals 6-2.  The Pirates beat the Dodgers 4-3.  The Mets are in third place in the NL East 10.5 games out, and they are 3 games out of the final Wild Card spot behind the Cardinals, Pirates, and Marlins.

What Are the Mets Doing with Michael Conforto?

There were a number of reasons why the Mets made the move for Jay Bruce.  There was the obvious reason that Bruce was the major league RBI leader and he was hitting well with runners in scoring position.  His addition was meant to address the Mets issues in those areas.  The Mets also obtained Bruce as Yoenis Cespedes insurance, not just for this year with Cespedes quad, but also for next year in the event the Mets cannot re-sign him after he opts out.  Furthermore, and perhaps more importantly, the Mets acquired Bruce due to the struggles of Michael Conforto.

It’s at least a possibility that the Mets never make the trade for Bruce if Conforto was hitting like he should.  Instead, Conforto was mired in a horrific slump for two months after a hot April all but forcing the Mets hands.  The team would have to send him to AAA to try to set him straight.

Conforto would start out hitting pretty well when he came back from his stint in AAA.  In his first 12 games back, he hit .267/.371/.400 with four doubles and two RBI.   He was taking the right approach at the plate by not only looking to hit he ball the other way, but by also hitting it the other way with authority.  However, Conforto’s success wouldn’t carry forward.  Terry Collins outright refused to give him regular playing time.  He sat Conforto against lefties, and he sat him against tough righties like Justin Verlander and Jose Fernandez.  Collins sat Conforto at times in favor of Ty Kelly because apparently Collins thought Kelly gave the Mets a better chance to win.  By the way, the Mets are 7-14 in games in which Kelly plays.

Predictably, the young player gets lost on the bench, and he starts to press and lose his way.  Conforto began to slump, and he found himself amid a 2-20 slump.  In that stretch, Conforto only started in five of the Mets eight games, and he had only started 13 out of 23 possible games.  Naturally, the Mets decided to send Conforto back to the the minors . . . again . . . so he could get more playing time.  Apparently, this was a better solution than telling the manager the obvious – Play Conforto because he is a much better baseball player than Kelly.

In fact, Conforto, even at his worst, has been a better hitter than the other options the Mets have.  Even with Conforto struggling this year, consider this:

  • Michael Conforto – hitting .200/.298/.340 with four doubles, one homer, and three RBI in the 19 games he played after he spent time in AAA
  • Brandon Nimmo – hitting .237/.297/.288 with one homer and five RBI in 20 games with the Mets
  • Ty Kelly – hitting .186/.280/.256 with one homer and four RBI in 21 games with the Mets
  • T.J. Rivera – hitting .222/.211/.278 with a double and three RBI in six games (none in the outfield).

In relatively similar small sample sizes, Conforto has hit better than Nimmo, who had been called up in his stead when Conforto was first demoted.  Furthermore, Conforto has hit better than Kelly and Rivera, who the Mets have on the major league roster over Conforto now.

Also, take into consideration the Mets have a real center field problem.  The aforementioned Bruce is struggling in right field this year meaning he is not suited to play center field.  That leaves the Mets with the following two options to play in center field:

  • Curtis Granderson – hitting .187/.265/.293 with two doubles, two homers, and two RBI in his last 20 games
  • Alejandro De Aza – hitting .196/.339/.304 with two doubles, one homer, and three RBI in his last 20 games

Essentially, it is only Conforto who is being punished for being in a slump.  Remember that during an epic postgame rant following a 9-0 loss to the Padres on August 11th, Collins had this to say, “Starting tomorrow we’re going to get after it. And those that don’t want to get after it, I’ll find some who do. Because in Las Vegas there is a whole clubhouse of guys that want to sit in this room. And that’s all I have to say.”  (NJ.com).  After that game, Conforto was the only position player sent down because apparently he was the only player in that clubhouse that needed to be taught a lesson.

The end result is the Mets getting diminishing returns from Granderson as he is forced to play every day in center field.  It is also resulting in the Mets playing De Aza, who is once again slumping at the plate, against righties and Kelly, who cannot hit major league pitching, against lefties.  Even with his struggles, Conforto was better than the numbers those three are putting up right now.  Instead, the Mets would rather watch Conforto play everyday in AAA and tear the cover off the ball.  Since his ill advised punishment, sorry demotion, Conforto is 5-9 with a hit by pitch, three runs, a double, a homer, and two RBI.

This isn’t a AAA mirage either.  We’ve seen Conforto do that at the major league level.  However, in order for him to do that he actually has to play.  Instead, the Mets would rather leave him in the minors while fielding the worst possible team they can muster.  If the Mets really want to win, they would call up Conforto and play him everyday because at his worst, he’s still better than what the Mets are throwing out there right now.

Editor’s Note: this was first published on Mets Merized Online

The Real Curtis Granderson Problem

The Mets have a serious problem with Curtis Granderson.  He is looking every bit of his 35 years of age hitting .226/.317/.420, and it is getting worse as the season progresses.  Since the All Star Break, a time when players can rest up and get rejuvenated, Granderson has been hitting .186/.250/.304 while striking out in 21% of his plate appearances.  When he does hit the ball, he is hitting an excessive number of grounders into the shift.  It’s a major problem as Granderson has the lowest batting average on groundballs among active players.  Keep in mind that list includes players like David Ortiz and James Loney, both of whom could lose a race to Sid Bream.

Even worse for Granderson is while he was a finalist for the Gold Glove in right field last year, he has taken a real step backwards defensively.  Granderson’s defensive metrics in right field have dropped considerably with him having a -4.9 UZR and a 0 DRS this season. Fortunately, Granderson isn’t the Mets right fielder anymore . . . he’s their center fielder.

More than anything else, that is the issue with Granderson.  He is the team’s best option in center field meaning he has to play everyday despite the fact he has stopped hitting and despite the fact he is no longer a good fielder.

The Mets got to this point for a number of reasons.  The first is injuries.  Yoenis Cespedes was supposed to be the everyday center fielder.  However, with his quad injury, he will be unable to play center for the rest of the season.  The Mets platoon option against lefties, Juan Lagares, is on the disabled list after needing surgery to repair a torn tendon in his left thumb.  The recently imported Justin Ruggiano played only three games with the Mets before needing to go on the disabled list himself.  With the injuries, that leaves the following options on the roster to play center field:

  1. Alejandro De Aza
  2. Jay Bruce
  3. Ty Kelly
  4. T.J. Rivera

With respect to De Aza, he has come crashing back to Earth after a torrid July.  So far in the month of August, De Aza is hitting .088/.244/.176.  As bad as things have been with Granderson, he hasn’t been that bad.

With respect to Bruce, he’s miscast as a right fielder.  After two bad years in Cincinnati where he averaged a -5.2 UZR and a 0 DRS, he is at a -13.2 UZR and a -13 DRS this year.  Honestly, the Mets should be looking for a way to take him out of the outfield and put him at first base rather than put him at a position he is ill equipped to play and last played eight years ago.

That leaves Kelly and Rivera neither of whom are center fielders.  However, they are the Mets next best option as the team decided both should be in the majors over Michael Conforto and Brandon Nimmo.  While you can certainly make the argument that one of them should be on the roster with the need for another third base option with Asdrubal Cabrera on the disabled list moving Jose Reyes to shortstop, it is unfathomable why both of them are on the 25 man roster.  It’s unfathomable to have them both on the roster when you consider Conforto and Nimmo are better hitters than either one of them despite their struggles in the majors this year.

The rationale is the outfield is too left-handed with Granderson, De Aza, and Bruce is quite poor reasoning.  Granderson is a career .224/.296/.398 hitter against lefties, and that hasn’t stopped Collins from playing Granderson against lefties.  Yet somehow, Collins decides that Conforto and Nimmo, two players who have hit lefties in the minors, cannot possibly hit lefties.  The end result may very well have been that Collins is right as his refusal to play either against lefties may have created a mental issue with them.

Regardless, the Mets only options right now in center field are Granderson and De Aza.  While Granderson has struggled mightily this year, he is currently the Mets best option in center field.  With that in mind, Granderson simply has to play every day.  He has to play every day despite his slump.  He has to play against lefties despite him hitting .225/.290/.392 off of them this year.  He has to play in center because the Mets have no other options.

Ultimately, that is the real Granderson problem.  It’s not that he’s struggling.  It’s that the Mets don’t have a better option than him right now – especially since the team decided Kelly and Rivera were better than Conforto and Nimmo.

Seen This Type of Loss Too Many Times

With the Mets seemingly in a roll having finally won two games in a row, most thought Bartolo Colon was set to make big league history by not only being the latest pitcher to beat all 30 teams (first done by Al Leiter) and by winning a game in his 39th ballpark. Well, Colon made history, but it had nothing to do with his pitching:

That walk issued by Diamondbacks starter Robbie Ray set up a run, but it wouldn’t matter as Colon would give the run right back. 

Colon was hit very hard by the Diamondbacks all night. Colon pitched four innings, nine hits, five runs, two earned, and two walks with one strikeout. 

The three unearned runs came in the first on a T.J. Rivera fielding error off the bat of the leadoff hitter Jean Segura. Technically, the runs were unearned, but it was Colon who was hit very hard that inning. 

Rivera’s error was part of a tough night for him. Not only did he make that error, but he would also help kill a two on, no out, second inning rally by hitting into a double play. On the night, Rivera was 0-4 with a sacrifice fly and a strikeout. 

Rivera wasn’t the only one that abandoned Colon defensively. On a Paul Goldschmidt gapper to right center between Curtis Granderson and Jay Bruce in the fourth that Bruce stopped chasing leading to Granderson fielding it which just invited Goldschmidt to go to third. He would score on a Jake Lamb sacrifice fly to make it 5-2. 

It was all part of what was a horrible night for the Mets all around. 

Erik Goeddel pitched in the fifth for his fifth appearance in seven days. He came in despite his arm problems and despite Collins continuously warming up Seth Lugo. Goeddel would be predictably hit hard allowing two runs in the fifth to make it 7-2. Naturally, Collins would then bring on Lugo in the sixth. 
The Mets would have their chance in the seventh loading the bases against the Diamondbacks bullpen with no outs. Randall Delgado quickly got ahead 0-2 against Wilmer Flores, but somehow Flores worked out a walk to make it 8-3. Rivera and Ty Kelly hit a pair of sacrifice flies to make it 8-5. Travis d’Arnaud struck out to end the rally. 

It was the only time d’Arnaud made an out all game. On the night, d’Arnaud was 3-4 with two runs. Each time, he was driven in by Jose Reyes, who also had a terrific night at the plate going 2-4 with two RBI. 

Other than Reyes, the Mets were 1-8 with runners in scoring position with no RBI. It wasn’t enough in a 10-6 Mets loss. 

The failure to hit with runners in scoring position and the Mets failing to beat teams they should beat is a microcosm of the Mets season. 

Game Notes: Neil Walker continued his hot hitting going 3-5 with two runs, an RBI, and a homer.  Flores hit well too against the lefty going 2-3 with a walk and an RBI. He was an adventure at first flat out dropping a ball thrown to him by Walker and almost dropping a throw from d’Arnaud after Hansel Robles struck out a batter. Robles was touched up for two runs on a long Yasmany Tomas two run eighth inning homer. 

Pennant Race: The Marlins beat the Reds 6-3. The Nationals beat the Rockies 5-4. The Cardinals had the night off. 

Steven Matz’s Near No-Hitter Throws Padres for a Curve 

Regardless of the results what Steven Matz has been doing this season has been admirable. Matz knows he’s going to need surgery in the offseason to remove bone spurs in his elbow, and yet he still goes out there and pitches because his team needs him. 

With that said the results haven’t been pretty.  From June 7th until August 9th, Matz has gone 1-7 with a 4.65 ERA and a 1.435 WHIP. That is a precipitous drop from the guy who started the year 7-1 with a 2.28 ERA and a 1.030 WHIP. The main reason for the dip is he’s getting hit much harder. He’s gone from an 18% line drive rate with batters hitting .225/.272/.294 with four homers to a 28% line drive rate with batters hitting .297/.346/.475 with 10 homers. 

During his slump or whatever you want to call it, Matz has been without his main breaking pitch – the fabled Warthen slider. In the beginning of the year, he threw it 15% of the time. Beginning June 7th, he was only throwing it 8% of the time. 

In place of the change, Matz began throwing more changeups going from throwing it 9% of the time to throwing it 14% of the time. It’s not a wise move as opposing batters hit .340 against the pitch while slugging .630. He’s fooling no one with the changeup and the opposition has been teeing off on the pitch. 

Sunday, Matz effectively scrapped both his changeup and his slider focusing on his fastball and curveball. The result was a near no-hitter. 

Over 7.1 dazzling innings, Matz only allowed the one hit allowing no runs and two walks with eight strikeouts. It was his best start since May. It was a return to the Steven Matz everyone once believed would emerge to join Jacob deGromMatt Harvey, and Noah Syndergaard as one of four aces atop the Mets staff. 

Matz did it, in part, because he threw a lot more curveballs. He threw 29% curves on Sunday after throwing it 14% of the time ro start the year. It was the right move as it’s arguably his second best pitch (after his abandoned slider). Matz limits batters to a .235 batting average with his curveball, which is the second lowest batting average allowed against any one of his pitches.

With the fastball and curveball working, the only player who would get a hit off of Matz would be Alex Rios‘ former teammate Alexei Ramirez.  Like Harvey, Matz wouldn’t get the no-hitter. Unlike Harvey, his teammates would score runs did him a get the win. 

Wilmer Flores and Neil Walker hit solo homers in the first two innings respectively off Padres left-hander Clayton Richard giving Matz and the Mets a 2-0 lead. 
In the eighth, the Mets actually scored some insurance runs. Jose Reyes led off the inning with a single. He’d steal second and move to third when Padres catcher Derek Norris threw it into center. Reyes then scored on a Jose Dominguez wild pitch.  All of this happened during Ty Kelly‘s at bat.  It was vintage Reyes. 

The rally continued after the Reyes one man show, and it culminated in a T.J. Rivera two out two RBI double scoring Kelly and Jay Bruce. It was the first extra base hit and RBI in Kelly’s young career. It made the score 5-0. 

The final score would be 5-1 after Gabriel Ynoa allowed a run in the ninth. On the bright side, the Mets are 2-0 in games Ynoa pitched. Speaking of which, the Mets have finally won two games in a row. 

Overall, the story was Matz. He had a magical afternoon, and he made an adjustment to allow him to pitch more effectively. 

Pennant Race: Thr Marlins beat the White Sox 5-4. The Nationals beat the Braves 9-1. Three Cardinals beat the Cubs 6-4.  The Pirates bested the Dodgers 11-4. 

What’s There to Know?

The Mets lost 9-0. Seriously, what do you need to know about a game in which the Mets seemingly didn’t even bother?  That’s right, you should know where to direct your anger. Here’s the starting lineup:

  1. Alejandro De Aza (CF) 1-4, 2 K
  2. Neil Walker (2B) 1-3
  3. Jay Bruce (RF) 0-3
  4. James Loney (1B) 0-4, GIDP
  5. Kelly Johnson (LF) 0-2, BB, K
  6. Michael Conforto (RF) 0-3, K
  7. Rene Rivera (C)1-3 
  8. Matt Reynolds (SS) 1-3, K

And the pitchers:

  1. Noah Syndergaard (L, 9-7) 5.0 IP, 8 H, 3 R, 3 ER, BB, 6 K
  2. Jon Niese 1.0 IP, 3 H, 6 R, 6 ER, 3 BB, 2 K
  3. Josh Edgin 1.2 IP, H, 0 R, 0 ER, BB, 2 K
  4. Jerry Blevins 1.1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, K

Just pick any of the above to direct you ire. Don’t forget the subs, Ty Kelly (0-1), Curtis Granderson (0-1, K), T.J. Rivera (1-2), and Wilmer Flores (0-1). 

By the way, the Diamondbacks were 4/4 in stolen base attempts. 

Don’t forget the manager, Terry Collins, who made his latest entry into the case as to why he should be fired

Game Notes: This team stinks, and it was swept at home by the Diamondbacks.

Pennant Race: Reserved for teams over .500.