Jerry Blevins

Eleven Years Later, Vargas Wins

There are many different ways to gauge how bad the Marlins are after they traded Giancarlo Stanton, Christian Yelich, and Marcell Ozuna. Perhaps the best way to gauge it was how Jason Vargasshut them down tonight.

Entering tonight, Vargas was 0-3 with a 13.86 ERA, and he had yet to pitch long enough to qualify for a win, which based on his ERA, was the least of his problems.

Astonishingly, Vargas was perfect through three. He wouldn’t get into trouble until the fifth. He was able to get through the two on one out situation by striking out Lewis Brinson and Elieser Hernandezto get out of the jam.

At 86 pitches, Vargas was done putting the game into the Mets offense and bullpen’s hands.

The Mets did have a lead when Vargas departed thanks to the speed of Amed Rosario.

In the third, Rosario reached on a one out single, and he was standing there when Asdrubal Cabreracame to the plate. Like he’s done all year, he delivered with a double to right center. On the double, Rosario took off, and with his incredible speed, he scored from first.

This gave the Mets a lead, but with the offense struggling, the bullpen did not have any margin of error.

In the sixth, Paul Sewald got into some trouble. After a two out Starlin Castro single, Sewald walked Brian AndersonJerry Blevins didn’t help matters but walking Justin Bour to load the bases. AJ Ramos came on and fell behind 2-0 to Derek Dietrich. Ramos battled back in that at-bat, and he struck out Dietrich to end the inning.

As impressive as that was, Ramos helped negate a lead-off walk to Miguel Rojas by being aggressive with his defense. He quickly and adeptly fielded a comeback we from JB Shuck. He quickly whipped and threw to second for the 1-6-3 inning ending double play.

The Mets would plate another run lather that inning on a rally started with a one out Devin Mesoraco double. After Luis Guillorme reached on an error by Martin Prado, Wilmer Flores made sure to make the Marlins pay for the misplay by going with an 0-2 fastball on the outer half to drive the ball past Castro and expand the Mets lead to 2-0.

Those two runs were plenty as Seth Lugo and Jeurys Familia combined to shut down the Marlins in the 8th and 9th to give the Mets their fourth win in a row.  It was also the first time Vargas won a game in a Mets uniform breaking a streak stretching back 11 years (and three teams).

Game Notes: The Mets are purportedly showing interest in recently released Jose Bautista.  It will be interesting to see what the corresponding move will be because the team says Jose Reyes‘ spot on the roster is safe.

Rosario, Syndergaard, Mets Breaking Out

Before this series against the Diamondbacks, much of the discussion surrounding this Mets team was about what was wrong with this team.  There were many, many answers, but two of the more surprising ones were Amed Rosario and Noah Syndergaard.

With Rosario, he was struggling at the plate.  He was swinging at too much, and he was not hitting for any power whatsoever.  This also prevented him from using his game breaking speed, and when he tried, he was inevitably caught stealing.

With respect to Syndergaard, he hasn’t been bad, but he hasn’t been Thor.  Considering how this team and pitching staff has been assembled, for this team to have a shot at competing, they needed Thor to be Thor.  Yesterday, Syndergaard made a huge step getting back to that point.

At first, it didn’t seem that way.  Syndergaard got himself into a bit of trouble in the first, but he managed his way out of it.  He would not be as lucky in the second allowing back-to-back hits to Jarrod Dyson and Nick Ahmed, i.e. the soft spot of the Diamondbacks lineup, before yielding an RBI groundout to Jeff Mathis to give the Diamondbacks an early 1-0 lead.

Through those first two innings, he had thrown 44 pitches, and it looked like it was going to be another one of those short five inning starts Syndergaard has made this year.

Then, something clicked . . . finally, and it began with a 1-2-3 third, and it also helped that Syndergaard got some help in the fifth.

After Mathis led off the inning reaching on a Wilmer Flores error, Buchholz sacrificed him to second.  David Peralta hit what initially looked like an RBI single, but Jay Bruce made a perfect throw to nail Mathis at the plate.

This was really the last time all game the Diamondbacks threatened.  Part of the reason for that is in the sixth Syndergaard actually picked Paul Goldschmidt off of first:

Syndergaard’s final line was a very Thor like 7.0 innings, six hits, one run, one earned, on walk, and seven strikeouts.

The only problem is with the Mets offense being stymied by a Clay Buchholz, who had not pitched in over a year, and the strong Diamondbacks bullpen, Syndergaard was not in line for the win.

Fortunately, he was not in line for a loss because in the sixth inning, Rosario hit his first home run of the year off of Buchholz to tie the score at 1-1:

In the seventh inning, it was apparent Syndergaard was done for the day, and with two quick outs, it seemed as if he was destined for a no decision.  However, Tomas Nido, who took the place of the recently designated for assignment Jose Lobaton, singled to allow Mickey Callaway to use Asdrubal Cabrera to pinch hit.  Like he has done all season, he delivered hitting a go-ahead two run homer off Jorge De La Rosa.

Then, Rosario is what might have been his best game in a Mets uniform, followed with his second homer of the game to give the Mets a 4-1 lead:

For Rosario, this would be his first two run homer game of his career.  It was also a big step forward after his making incremental steps forward over the past few weeks.  If he really takes off now, the sky is the limit for this Mets team.

After Jerry Blevins started the eighth by striking out David Peralta, Robert Gsellman took it home by pitching the final 1.2 innings for his first career save.

With that, the Mets have their first three game home sweep of the season, and they have their first series win at home since the April 13-15 series against the Brewers.  They are now back on track and once again ahead of the Nationals.  Things are once again looking much better.

Game Notes: Luis Guillorme went 0-4 snapping a 13 game hitting streak he had combined between the majors and Triple-A.

 

Jake Great, Conforto Getting There In Win

There aren’t many things which are right with the Mets right now, but a big thing that’s right with this team right now is Jacob deGrom, and with him, we are seeing reports how the team may look to trade him.  Of course, the best way to do that is to win as many games as you can between now and the trading deadline.  Part of doing that is going out and not wasting deGrom starts.

Part of that is letting deGrom go out there and do his thing, and really he did his thing tonight.

In seven phenomenal innings of work, deGrom tied his career high with 13 strikeouts, and as noted by the great Michael Mayer, he became the 10th pitcher in Mets history to reach the 800 strikeout mark.  He also lowered his ERA this season to 1.75.

There are many ways to say how great deGrom was, but perhaps the best way to say it is his final line: 7.0 IP, 6 H, R, ER, 0 BB, 13 K.

He carried into the game and extended his scoreless inning streak to 24.1 innings.  It ended in the top of the sixth when Jake Lamb scored Steven Souza from first on a double.  On what was a truly bizarre play, Souza ran through the stop sign only to stutter step and then take off from home.  After Asdrubal Cabrera missed the relay, Adrian Gonzalez backed him up and nailed Lamb at third.

The Diamondbacks threatened in the seventh again with a Daniel Descalso leadoff double.  Being the great pitcher he is, deGrom settled down, and he got the next three out in order.

Fortunately for deGrom, this would be one of the few games where he got real run support, and it began with a first inning rally against Diamondbacks starter Zack Godley, and like with many Mets rallies this season, it all began with a Brandon Nimmo walk.

After Descalso botched what was at a minimum a force out, and quite likely with Cabrera’s speed a double play ball, runners were at the corners with no outs.

Wilmer Flores drove in the first run with a ground out, and then Michael Conforto came through with a big two out RBI single.

Conforto would repeat that feat in the fifth inning.  After a Flores two out walk and Jay Bruce walk, the inning was on Conforto, and he delivered with another RBI single.  It was part of Conforto’s first three hit night of the season and just the second four hit night of his career.  Overall, he was 4-4 with two RBI.

Really, the Mets need more of that from Conforto because he is not just the best hitter in the lineup, he’s the best hitter on the team.  When the team is without Yoenis Cespedes and Todd Frazier, Conforto has to carry even more of the load.  He did it tonight, and if he continues doing it, like he did last year, this Mets team will be in much better shape.

Things got interesting in the eighth.  After a Conforto one out single, Gonzalez dropped a perfect bunt against the shift.  After a Jose Reyes pinch hit walk, the bases were loaded with two outs.  This led to Amed Rosario popping one out to Descalso, but he then dropped it.  Initially, it was ruled a drop leading to two runs scoring.  Upon the umpires commiserating, it was ruled an out meaning it was a 3-1 and not a 5-1 lead.

After Robert Gsellman and Jeurys Familia shut the door, deGrom had his fourth win of the season, and the team beat a Diamondbacks team who is having a very similar season to the one the Mets are having.  Hopefully, this weekend the Mets will take advantage of a reeling team like other teams have done to them over the last few weeks.

Game Notes: Juan Lagares, who suffered a toe injury in the rain soaked game is likely done for the year leaving the Mets with three healthy outfielders on the 40 man roster.  Jerry Blevins was activated from the paternity list, and he took Lagares’ spot on the roster.  Paul Goldschmidt had the golden sombrero.

Callaway’s Sewald/Blevins Decision About His Odd Thought Process

In the sixth inning of yesterday’s game, Mickey Callaway was faced with a crucial decision.  Does he go to the well rested Jerry Blevinsto get out the left-handed pinch hitter Nick Williams?  Does he stick with Paul Sewald, who has good splits against left-handed batters?  It was also remotely possible he could have gone with AJ Ramos, who also has good splits against left-handed batters.

Starting backwards, Ramos would have been an intriguing and possibly inspired decision.  On the season, Ramos has limited left-handed batters to a .211/.348/.263 batting line.  Basically, if he isn’t walking the left-handed batter, they’re not getting on base.

If Callaway turns to Ramos, this could have prevented Gabe Kapler from switching to a right-handed batter to undo the decision to go to the LOOGY.

Now, you could understand Callaway’s reluctance to go to that LOOGY.  Blevins hasn’t been good this season allowing left-handed batters to hit .273/.333/.364 off of him.  It’s a big reason why Blevins has a 5.63 ERA and a 1.500 WHIP this year.

Still, he is your LOOGY in the bullpen, and Williams was 0-3 against Blevins.  More than that, Callaway got Blevins up for exactly this type of situation.  It was Blevins’ job to go out there and get the left-handed batter out in a key spot.

Instead, Callaway went with Sewald.  You can make differing opinions on Sewald.  On the one hand, he has been much better against left-handed batters than Blevins this year.  Sewald came into the game limiting left-handed batters to a .220/.238/.341 batting line, and if we’re looking a small sample size pitcher-batter matchups, Williams was 0-1 against Sewald.

However at 35 pitches, Sewald was nearing his pitch limit, which was part of the reason Ramos and Blevins were warming in the first place.  He had also been struggling in the Month of May.  Prior to this appearance, Sewald had a 5.63 ERA and batters were hitting .273/.273/.515 off of him, and that was with a low .269 BABIP.

Overall, the point is you had your reasons to both stick with Sewald and to pull Sewald from the game.  Really, you could go in either direction.  However, that’s not the point.  Far from it.

Sticking with Sewald goes to the thought process, and frankly, this was one that was lacking with Callaway.

As the manager, he is likely well aware Sewald hasn’t been the Sewald of April.  Aside from that, he is aware Sewald is nearing his pitch limit for the game.  This is the exact reason he had Ramos and Blevins warming in that spot.

At this point, the Mets margin of error is razor thin.  They need to find a way to get out of that inning with a 1-0 lead AND find a way to manage their bullpen for the final 3.1 innings because Jacob deGrom needed to be lifted after a 45 pitch first inning.

When analyzing whether or not Callaway made the correct decision, you need to put aside the Williams’ home run.  It’s easy to look at that home run and say Callaway made the wrong decision.  It’s possible Ramos or Blevins allows that same homer, and the Phillies continue the rally to making a 3-1 lead a 4 or 5-1 lead.  You don’t know.

Here’s what we know.  Callaway knew his reliever was tiring.  He had a right-handed reliever who pitches well against left-handed batters up and ready to go.  He had his LOOGY up whose sole role is to get a left-handed batter out in a key situation. We also know he thought this out:

Hearing him, it was almost paralysis by analysis. Reading more into it, his thought process was lacking.

Really, who was he saving Blevins to face? The switch hitting Cesar Hernandez? The right-handed hitting Aaron Altherr? Was it Odubel Herrera, who was three batters away?

That was is a little hard to believe.

No, this was a case where Callaway had Blevins warmed up to either face a left-handed batter or try to prevent Gabe Kapler from using Williams.

If it was a deke, Kepler not only called his bluff, but to that extent, he out-managed Callaway.

If it was Callaway using his gut over his head, well, his guy failed him.

Whatever that case, there was a scenario where Callaway set everything up to have Blevins face Williams, and he didn’t pull the trigger. Perhaps, this is an indictment on Blevins.

Quite possibly, this is part of the growing pains of a former pitching coach who has never managed professionally and is surrounded by a coaching staff with zero Major League managerial experience.

Whatever the case, when you set everything up for one key matchup, and you don’t immediately go to that pitcher, you not only set yourself up for second guessing, you also make everyone wonder what’s the thought process behind any of his decisions.

Mets Bullpen Can’t Pull Inside Straight on Another Brutal Mother’s Day Loss

When the 2019 schedule is released, and the Mets are going to have to make sure Jacob deGrom doesn’t start the game because it will inevitably lead in heartbreak.  Last year, it was the inexplicable loss to the Brewers.  This year, it was one of those everything goes wrong type of games.

For his one inning of work, deGrom turned into Houdini.  After walking the bases loaded to start the game, deGrom had to recalibrate and try to get through the inning by limiting the damage.  Well, he would do much more than that.

First, he struck out Rhys Hoskins.  Then on a dribbler in front of the plate, deGrom got to the ball, and he nailed Cesar Hernandez at home.  Finally, he got Maikel Franco to strike out on a 3-2 pitch.  It was downright miraculous.

It also required 45 pitches.  With that heavy first inning workload, and with his just coming off the disabled list prior to the game after his hyper-extended elbow issue, Mickey Callaway did the prudent thing and put the game in his bullpen’s hands.

While the bullpen was going to the whip, the Mets offense was getting whipped by Aaron Nola who would allow just one run over six to lower his season ERA to 1.99.

It wasn’t that this Mets offense was dominated.  Far from it.  It’s that the offense didn’t do anything when they had the opportunities.

After Brandon Nimmo got things started with a bunt against the shift, the Mets loaded the bases with one out.  Wilmer Flores then struck out on four pitches, and Michael Conforto hit the second pitch he saw for an inning ending ground out.

In each of the subsequent innings, the Mets would get at least one base runner on against Nola, and they would do nothing.  That was until the sixth when Nola didn’t get one in enough to Yoenis Cespedes, who would hit it out to give the Mets a 1-0 lead.

The rally would continue with Adrian Gonzalez and Flores hitting back-to-back singles, and Conforto getting ahead in the count at 2-0.  That 2-0 count would turn into an awful at-bat with Conforto striking out, and Devin Mesoraco following with an inning ending double play.  Essentially, they did the polar opposite of what they did on Friday night.

Really, this one run gave the Mets bullpen little margin of error.  Until the sixth, they were pitching quite well.  Robert Gsellman threw three scoreless before the Mets turned to Paul Sewald, who pitched a scoreless fifth.  Sewald, who has mostly struggled in May, wouldn’t have it in the sixth.

Santana began the inning with a double, and Scott Kingery walked.  Between the rally and this being a bullpen game, Callaway had AJ Ramos and Jerry Blevins warming in the bullpen.  They were there when Sewald struck out Jorge Alfaro, and they were there when the left-handed pinch hitter Nick Williams hit a go-ahead three run homer off of Sewald.

Now, there are many ways you could choose to defend the decision.  Sewald has been better than Blevins all season long against left-handed pitching.  Callaway wanted to get length from as many people as he could muster.  However, he had double barrel action going on so he would have Blevins ready for the big at-bat against a left-handed batter, and he didn’t use him.

While you can agree with the decision to go with Sewald, you cannot agree with the thought process of getting your LOOGY warmed up for a big spot and then refusing to use him in that big spot.  If you are not using Blevins there, you’re not going to use him in the game.

From there, the Mets had another rally they didn’t fully cash in on.  Nimmo drew his first or two walks for the game, and he scored on the ensuing Asdrubal Cabrera double.  It was a one run game, and Cespedes strode up to the plate.  There was no guessing right this time as Luis Garcia got him to pop out to end the inning.

From there, Jeurys Familia allowed a homer to Santana, and the Phillies didn’t use Hector Neris, so there would be no recreation of Friday’s magic.

Instead of building on the momentum from Friday’s Conforto homer, the Mets once again failed to muster enough offense, and maybe even energy to pull this one out.  We were also left wondering about Callaway’s thought process with his failing to use Blevins.  All-in-all, a disheartening loss.

Game Notes: Luis Guillorme collected his first MLB hit with a bloop pinch-hit single to center in the second inning.  Dominic Smith struck out in his only plate appearance, and he will be sent down to Triple-A with Jay Bruce‘s paternity leave ending.  Buddy Baumann was sent down to the minors to make room for deGrom.  His Mets experience amounted to little more than his getting a pending one game suspension out of the way.

Mismanagement, Vargas Has Mets Seeing Red in Blowout Loss

Well, if you were feeling good about the Mets after their win last night, those feelings were quickly dispatched.  Todd Frazier, arguably their second best position player all year, landed on the disabled list meaning Jose Reyes was in the starting lineup.  Worse than that, Jason Vargas was the starter.

Right away, Vargas loaded the bases, and he then allowed a Eugenio Suarez two RBI single to give the Reds an early 2-0 lead.  It was a minor miracle the Reds did not score more from that point.

However, they would score two more in the second with Suarez once again being the catalyst.  His RBI double scored Joey Votto from first, and he would come home on a Tucker Barnhart, the catcher the Reds kept, RBI single.

Overall, Vargas’ final line was 4.0 innings, six hits, four runs, four earned, two walks, and one strikeout.  As poor as that start was, it should be noted this was his best start this year.  With his pitching, you almost have to question why he’s guaranteed a starting spot while the team is keeping some pitchers in the minors and sending another one to Cincinnati.

That four run margin would prove to be enough for a number of reasons.

The first was Reds starter, Luis Castillo, no not that one, but then again it doesn’t really matter because nothing good happens to the Mets when there is a Luis Castillo on the field.  He would limit the Mets to just a single over the first five innings.

Finally, in the sixth, the Mets would break through on a Wilmer Flores one out homer.  Now, Flores did not start the game.  Rather, he was double switched in for Amed Rosario despite Rosario being the one Met with a hit, and Reyes being a terrible defensive shortstop.

The Mets would continue from there with a two out rally.  With consecutive walks to Yoenis Cespedes, Jay Bruce, and Adrian Gonzalez, the Reds forced home a run.  That’s when Mickey Callaway opted to pinch hit Brandon Nimmo instead of Juan Lagares or even the newly acquired Devin Mesoraco to face the left-hander Amir Garrett.

Nimmo struck out to end the rally, and things would only go downhill from there.

AJ Ramos was fighting it, but he kept the Reds off the board in the sixth, but he would allow a double to Scott Schebler, and with Votto coming up, Jerry Blevins would come into the game.  He got his man, but he would be pulled for Hansel Robles.

After a Suarez single, Scooter Gennett would have Robles pointing to the sky again with his three run homer giving the Reds a 7-2 lead.

Making this game worse was the fact the Mets had called up Corey Oswalt in place of P.J. Conlon to give them some length in the bullpen.  Of course, they called up Oswalt on three days rest instead of Chris Flexen on full rest.  The end result was Callaway ripping through his bullpen trying to save Oswalt’s arm . . . the very same Oswalt who was called up to supposedly help protect against that.

That’s embarrassing.  Almost as embarrassing as getting blown out by the now nine win Reds team.

Game Notes: On the eve of the game, Matt Harvey was traded to the Reds for Mesoraco.

Mets Swept by Rockies, For Homestand

This is the point where the Mets were in 2015, 2016, and 2017.  A Mets team with much promise has either regressed or been exposed, and you are left wondering how exactly things were going to get better for this team.

One of the more troubling things we saw both yesterday and throughout this season was how Noah Syndergaard hasn’t been Thor.  It’s not too dissimilar to how Matt Harvey had stopped being The Dark Knight, except with Syndergaard there really isn’t any reason to suspect any injury.

That’s not to say Thor was or has been bad.  Far from it.  His only allowing two runs over six innings is a testament to that.  However, it was the way he pitched that was the problem.

A pitcher with remarkable control walked four batters.  That included him issuing back-to-back walks in the third inning to Nolan Arenado and Gerardo Parra to force in a run.  Between that and the solo home run he allowed to Ian Desmond in the second, he gave away the Mets 2-0 lead.  Yes, it was a thin margin of error, but we have seen Thor thrive with even narrower margins.

The Mets two runs were scored in the first off of Kyle Freeland.  The first run was the result of three straight singles from Juan Lagares, Yoenis Cespedes, and Asdrubal Cabrera to start the game.  After that, Todd Frazier hit a sacrifice fly to give the Mets a 2-0 lead.  In that first inning, Cespedes once again injured his right quad:

He would be removed from the game for Brandon Nimmo, who we would find out can still draw a walk off a left-handed pitcher, but with two strikeouts, he sure does struggle hitting off of them.

Really, the Mets struggled to hit Freeland for the rest of the game.  After that three hit onslaught to begin the game, the Mets would get just one more hit off of him until he departed after seven strong innings.

With the Mets not hitting, Syndergaard settling back down, and Jerry Blevins and AJ Ramos combining to pitch a scoreless seventh, Mickey Callaway went to Hansel Robles in the eighth.  No one can be quite sure if Robles pointed to the sky again, but we do know he surrendered another homer.  This time to Desmond, his second of the game.

With the Mets inability to hit right now, it might as well have been a walk-off home run for all intents and purposes.

The 3-2 loss ended a dreadful home stand which saw the Mets go 0-6.  They pitched poorly and hit even worse.  They dropped from first to third place in the NL East.  They don’t look like a team in a freefall inasmuch as they look like a bad baseball team without any answers.  Hopefully, the trip to Cincinnati and Philadelphia will awaken their bats.  Although, we should shutter to thing what will happen to the pitching.

Game Notes: Wilmer Flores was 0-2 with a walk against Freeland.  He is now hitting .161/.235/.226 off of left-handed pitching this season.

Post-Harvey Mets Rally Late And Still Come Up Short

Before the game, it was announced Matt Harvey refused an assignment to the minors, and in response the Mets designated him for assignment effectively ending his Mets career.  This may have been a long time coming, and arguably, you could see Harvey being scapegoated for a Mets team that has struggled since it’s incredible 12-2 start.

Well, Harvey might be gone, but the Mets problems still remain.

Zack Wheeler, who allowed five first inning runs is still inconsistent.  Michael Conforto is not hitting for any power, and really, he isn’t even getting on base anymore going 0-5with the golden sombrero.  Jay Bruce, for that matter, isn’t hitting for any power either.  Maybe there was an impact on Jose Lobaton, who was 1-4, and Amed Rosario, who was 2-4 with an RBI, but probably not.

No, we wouldn’t see Jose Reyes or Adrian Gonzalez bat, both of whom have been utterly terrible, and we did not see Jason Vargas, who by comparison made Harvey look like the 2013 version, and we’ll see what Steven Matz contributes tomorrow.

Overriding point is the Mets problems are still present even with Harvey gone because as bad as Harvey was pitching, he was probably fourth or fifth on lower on the tiers of what is actually wrong with this Mets team.

On the bright side, Bruce played first allowing Brandon Nimmo to hit leadoff going 1-4 with a walk.  Of course, he drew a walk.  He also scored on the Asdrubal Cabrera home run.  That provided a jolt that lasted until Charlie Blackmon hit a homer in the top of the second.

As bad as the five run first was or the Blackmon homer was, it was the Josh Thole-esque Tony Wolters hitting one to the top deck off Wheeler that was the worst.

By the time the Mets awoke, it was too late.  Todd Frazier‘s eighth inning two run homer made it 8-4. A ninth inning rally with Rosario knocking in Wilmer Flores, who hit a pinch hit double, made it 8-5   This led to Wade Davis coming into the game to close it out . . . just like he did in Game 5 of the World Series.

He allowed a Cabrera RBI triple and subsequently a Frazier RBI single to pull the Mets to withing 8-7.  It ended there as Conforto struck out to end the game.  Again, somehow Harvey being released didn’t fix him.

Starting tomorrow, it seems like the Mets are going to have to focus on the things that are actually wrong with the team.  Seeing how Reyes was re-signed in the offseason, no one should hold their breath.

Game Notes: With Harvey gone, Jerry Blevins and his 6.43 ERA is the worst ERA in the Mets bullpen.

 

Mets Desperately Need Plawecki Back

On April 11th, the New York Mets were soaring at 10-1, and they lost their second catcher when Kevin Plawecki was hit on the hand by a Tayron Guerrero pitch.

Up until that point, the Mets catching situation was actually one of the bright spots to what was a great start to the season.  The combination of Plawecki and Travis d’Arnaud combined to hit .229/.341/.343 with six runs, a double, a homer, and four RBI.  While they were catching, the Mets pitching staff had a 2.47 ERA, 3.2 BB/9, and a 9.9 K/9.

Since d’Arnaud opted to have Tommy John surgery and Plawecki’s hand has taken longer to heal than expected, things have gone quite differently for this Mets team with the new catching tandem of Jose Lobaton and Tomas Nido.

Whereas the Plawecki/d’Arnaud tandem was at least passable offensively, Lobaton/Nido have not.  Combined, Lobaton and Nido have hit .164/.269/.218 with a double, triple, and four RBI.

While we should be cautioned not to rely upon things like catcher ERA or results in small sample sizes, the Mets pitching staff has had a 5.30 ERA.  Surprisingly, the walks have come slightly down to a 3.0 BB/9 while the strikeouts have remained at a 9.9 K/9.

More troubling, the Mets who got off to a 10-1 start have gone 7-9 with their new catching duo.

There are many reasons for the difference in records including a natural regression from a team that started the season 10-1.  Really, no one believed the Mets were going to go 147-15 for the full season.

And the catching situation has nothing to do with Amed Rosario regressing, Michael Conforto not hitting for power, or Adrian Gonzalez not contributing anywhere near what the Mets expected.  Still, these catchers are part of a black hole the Mets have in the bottom of their lineup.

The Mets have also had two bad bullpen meltdowns with Lobaton behind the plate.  The first one was the Nationals six run 8th inning.  It was a complete meltdown, and no one quite knew how to stop it from happening.  Not Mickey Callaway.  Not Dave Eiland.  Not Lobaton.

The second one, much smaller in scale was the Mets blowing a 3-0 lead to the Braves.  Lobaton was on for the two run eighth, and Nido was there for the two run ninth.

Maybe these meltdowns were coincidences.  It’s possible Matt Harvey would have regressed the way he has anyway.  We’ve seen enough of Steven Matz to know we don’t know what he’s going to provide.  AJ Ramos and Jerry Blevins always had difficulty with walks.  The list goes on and on.

Whatever the case, the one thing that is apparent, even if this stretch is not completely the fault of either Lobaton or Nido, the Mets miss their catchers.  Unfortunately, d’Arnaud is gone for the season, and he may never suit up for the Mets again.  As for Plawecki, he’s still a few weeks away.  Seeing how the Mets are performing in his absence, he cannot get back here soon enough.

Mets Led by deGrom, Cabrera, and Lobaton (Yes, Lobaton) in Win

With the Mets having lost three straight series, the last thing they needed was a West Coast trip.  They needed to play in Petco Park even less.  It’s not just that it’s a suddenly woeful Mets offense was going to one of, if not the, most extreme pitcher’s park in the league.  No, it was the Mets all-time record at Petco Park entering this game was 18-32.

Fortunately for the Mets, they had their best weapon out there tonight – Jacob deGrom.

Once again, deGrom was brilliant.  His final line on the night was 7.1 IP, 5 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 3 BB, and 8 K.

This is the third straight game he would strike out at least eight, and he now has the longest stretch in the National League of pitching at least 5.1 innings.  Basically, deGrom is pitching about as well as anyone, and really, he’s been better than almost everyone.

Given how he’s pitched of late, the offense, and his luck, the questions were whether he was going to get run support and whether the bullpen could hold things down.

Well, deGrom would get his run support before he even stepped foot on the mound.  After Doug Eddings, who had a wildly inconsistent strike zone all game long, ruled a 3-1 pitch was a strike and not a ball, Asdrubal Cabrera hit a lead-off double off Clayton Richard.  After moving to third on a Yoenis Cespedes fly out to deep right, Cabrera scored on a two out Todd Frazier RBI single.

The score stayed that way until the seventh because the Mets could not get anything going against Richard, Michael Conforto made a couple of nice plays in the field, and the Padres were afraid to challenge Yoenis Cespedes‘ arm.

At that point, it was time for Cabrera to once again leave his mark not just on the game but on the early part of the season.

Juan Lagares led off the inning with an infield single just beating Carlos Asuaje throw.  Jose Lobaton, who easily had his best game as a Met, singled to set up runners at the corners with no outs.  With Richard faltering, it seemed like this is where the Mets would blow the game open.  It almost . . . ALMOST didn’t happen.

First, there was the Lagares base running mistake.  Instead of following Christian Villanueva down the line on the deGrom sacrifice bunt/safety squeeze, he immediately dashed back to third.  If he followed Villanueva down the line, it’s quite possible he scores.  Instead he stayed, and when Amed Rosario hit a sharp grounder to Asuaje, the Mets had runners at second and third with no runs and two outs.

With the Padres going into a strong bullpen, it seemed as if they were going to get out of the jam. That perception was absolutely wrong as Cabrera hit a Craig Stammen mistake for a three run homer to effectively end the game.

In the eighth, the Mets would expand their lead with a two out rally.  After recording two quick outs, Kazuhisa Makita hit Lagares with a 1-2 pitch, and Lagares would score on the ensuing Lobaton RBI double.

Again, Lobaton easily had his best game as a Met.  He caught deGrom, who had a great game.  He threw out Franchy Cordero, who was the only Padre to attempt a stolen base.  On the play, it was a perfect throw and a perfect tag by Cabrera.  Finally, and perhaps most surprisingly, Lobaton was 2-4 with a run, a double, and an RBI.

With the 5-0 lead, the only remaining question was whether the bullpen could hold onto the lead or whether there would be another meltdown.

When deGrom parted with one out in the eighth, there was a runner on, and Jerry Blevins came on to face Eric Hosmer.  Conforto needed every bit of that deep right field to corral the long fly Hosmer would send.  Mickey Callaway then went to AJ Ramos who got Villanueva to fly out.

Then, Callaway went with Matt Harvey in the ninth to close the door.  As bad as things have been for Harvey since 2015, no one could have imagined this outing.

No, he didn’t blow the lead, although he did make everyone nervous with Cordero greeting him with a homer, and Harvey walking Jose Pirela.  Given Harvey’s recent history and the recent bullpen meltdowns, this was an ominous sign, and Jeurys Familia was rapidly trying to get loose in the bullpen.

Fortunately for the Mets, Harvey, whose velocity dipped all the way down to 90, yes 90 MPH, got a fly out and a game ending double play.

Yes, there was plenty of reason to be excited for this 5-1 win, but seeing Harvey pitch this way certainly did put a bit of a damper on things.  Hopefully, both Harvey and the Mets can figure something out at this point because this has become sad and painful to watch.

GAME NOTES: Before the game the Mets recalled Jacob Rhame and sent Corey Oswalt back down.  The Mets moved David Wright to the 60 day disabled list to make room for LHP Buddy Baumann, who the team claimed off waivers from the Padres.  Bauman was sent down to Triple-A Vegas.  Despite his good numbers against Richard, Callaway sat Adrian Gonzalez in favor of Wilmer Flores