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:
Don't doubt Dom. 💣💣💣 pic.twitter.com/QUc6agkDty
— New York Mets (@Mets) July 17, 2019
— New York Mets (@Mets) July 17, 2019
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.
#Mets with 2 H + 4 RBI off the bench:
Dominic Smith — today
Jose Bautista — 8/16/2018
Mackey Sasser — 7/6/1990
Hawk Taylor — 6/20/1964
Felix Mantilla — 5/25/1962
— Jacob Resnick (@Jacob_Resnick) July 17, 2019
This was a big development not just because of the win, but also because it solved a real bullpen issue.
Jeurys Familia, Disgusting 99mph Sinker. 🤮 pic.twitter.com/DC3Gph4jxf
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) July 17, 2019
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.
#Mets shortstops with a 4 H/4 R/3 RBI game:
Amed Rosario — Today
Amed Rosario — 8/16/2018
End of list.
— Jacob Resnick (@Jacob_Resnick) July 17, 2019
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.
The Mets begin the second half of the season 10 games under .500 and 13.5 games back of the Braves for the division. They are only six games ahead of the Marlins for the worst record in the National League and seven games behind the second Wild Card with nine teams ahead of them. Suffice it to say, things are bleak, and the Mets are going to be in a position to sell rentals like Zack Wheeler, Todd Frazier, and Jason Vargas.
Still, being Mets fans, we have examples in team history where they have overcome long odds like these to reach the postseason. The 1973 Mets entered the All Star Break nine games under .500 and six games out of first place. Even more recently, the 2016 Mets entered the All Star Break six games out of first place. That team would be two games under .500 and 5.5 games out of a postseason spot on August 19th. They would finish the season on a tear and claim the top Wild Card.
Based on history, we can see there is always a chance. The question now is do the 2019 Mets actually have a chance. Looking at everything, you could paint a scenario where they do.
The first thing to look at is the Mets schedule. Right now, the Mets have six games against the Phillies and three against the Nationals. With both teams currently having a Wild Card spot, this gives the Mets a chance to get closer in the Wild Card race by beating their direct competition.
Beyond the head-to-head match-ups, the Mets do have a weak second half schedule. Right off the bat is a 10 game road trip featuring three against the last place Marlins and four against the last place Giants. In fact, the Mets have 18 games remaining against teams who are currently in last place.
Looking further, 36 of the Mets remaining 72 games are against teams with a .500 record or worse. That’s half of their games. So far this year, the Mets have fared well in those games. In their 21 games against second division clubs, they are 13-8 (.619). Now, to make up the deficits, the Mets are going to have to play at a higher clip than that. It’s certainly possible, especially with 11 of those 36 games coming against teams currently 20+ games under .500.
The Mets also have six more games at home than they do on the road. This is an important point because the Mets have actually played over .500 at home with a .548 winning percentage.
That schedule certainly lines up well for the Mets to have a big second half for a second year in a row. Remember, last year, the Mets were eight games over .500 in the second half last year, and as Noah Syndergaard will tell you, the Mets are a second half team.
That is partially the result of how their players perform. Syndergaard’s career second half ERA is 38 points lower, Jacob deGrom‘s K/BB improves considerably in the second half, and Steven Matz strikes out 1.4 batters more per nine. Michael Conforto‘s second half career OPS is 65 points higher, and Robinson Cano‘s is 55 points higher.
Speaking of Cano, the Mets have had a number of under-performing players who had an opportunity to clear their heads and fix things for the second half. The Mets will be a significantly better team with Cano returning or coming much closer to career averages. The same can be said of Edwin Diaz and Jeurys Familia.
There is also the chance the Mets finally get that Amed Rosario breakout. The Mets could also potentially get help from a rookie like Anthony Kay. Overall, for the Mets to have any shot, they need players like this to raise their games with the veterans stepping up their performances. With that schedule, maybe, must maybe, the Mets could contend in the second half.
However, this is asking a lot. In addition to everyone stepping up, the Mets need Pete Alonso, Jeff McNeil, and Dominic Smith to keep up a very high level of performance. If they want to contend, they will have to hang onto Wheeler, which given their place in the standings is flat out irresponsible.
All things considered it is fun to imagine, but the chances of it all happening are remote. Really, the best we can hope for is Brodie Van Wagenen executing smart deadline deals with Jed Lowrie and Brandon Nimmo healing and being ready to put forth strong 2020 campaigns.
On Seinfeld Night, it’s only fitting this season, which has become about nothing, looks like a team run by Wilhelm.
The Mets had a 2-1 lead thanks to a Pete Alonso homer and RBI double. It wouldn’t last due to bad umpiring and the Mets bullpen.
Entering the top of the seventh, the only hit deGrom allowed was a homer to the first batter of the game Scott Kingery. After walking Rhys Hoskins to start the seventh, the second hit was a J.T. Realmuto double setting up second and third with no outs.
After a Jay Bruce groundout with the infield drawn in, Cesar Hernandez hit a slow roller to third. Todd Frazier did all he could do by going home. At first blush, Hoskins beat the Wilson Ramos tag. Upon further review, Hoskins didn’t touch the plate. Didn’t matter because the Mets lost a challenge earlier in the game:
— MLB Replays (@MLBReplays) July 6, 2019
We’ve seen plenty of times umpires initiate a crew chief review after being persuaded by a manager. Here, Mickey Callaway tried to get the review. In 99 times out of 100, there is a crew chief review, but on the night Brian Gorman was content with his incorrect and game alerting call.
This game is like eating a Snickers bar with a fork. No one is around to take credit for this big salad. We can’t send Robinson Cano and Diaz back to the Mariners like an old man trying to send soup back in the deli. In this unspongeworthy season, each loss is real, and it’s spectacular.
Game Notes: Alonso set the Mets rookie record for most extra base hits surpassing Ty Wigginton. He also broke Jose Abreu‘s rookie record for most extra base hits in the first half. Mets are 16-30 over deGrom’s last 46 starts despite his having a 2.15 ERA.
True to his word, Brodie Van Wagenen say with The 7 Line for today’s game against the Yankees. It was a bold move because this is a Mets team nine games under .500 with every move he made this offseason blowing up.
In fact, all the players Van Wagenen acquired this offseason have accumulated a -1.7 WAR. Meanwhile, by and large, the prospects they traded are performing well.
Given all of that, you’d think Van Wagenen could be booed. At a minimum, you’d think they wouldn’t celebrate him. You’d be wrong. Very wrong.
Chants of “Brodie, Brodie, Brodie.” #mets
— Zach Braziller (@NYPost_Brazille) July 2, 2019
Later that inning, opposing pitcher James Paxton came up with runners at the corners with one out, and he laid down the safety squeeze. It was an excellent bunt which hugged the third base line.
Wilson Ramos, a catcher Mets pitchers are increasingly demanding not to have behind the plate, and who was signed because Van Wagenen didn’t go the extra mile to get Yasmani Grandal, picked up the ball. He would spin and throw without looking Encarnacion back.
With Zack Wheeler slipping on the play, and Ramos failing to execute fundamentals, Encarnacion scored without a challenge.
It’s a shame for Wheeler because he was very good tonight. Those three singles were three of five hits he allowed all night. In total, he’d last 6.1 innings allowing just those two earned while walking one and striking out eight.
Despite pitching well, he wouldn’t get the win. It was no matter to Van Wagenen who loved every minute of the Mets losing 2-0.
Brodie said experience was "awesome." Loved it. Was all positive. #mets
— Zach Braziller (@NYPost_Brazille) July 3, 2019
In the second, Torres flat out robbed Michael Conforto of an RBI base hit instead starting an inning ending double play. Conforto wouldn’t be robbed when he ended a rally with another 4-6-3 double play. The latter ended a sixth inning rally.
For his part, Wheeler popped up two bunts hurting the Mets chances. Between that, the defense, and getting squeezed by the home plate umpire, it was not Wheeler’s night.
Still, he wouldn’t take the loss.
In the eighth, Pete Alonso hustled hard out of the box, and he was able to take advantage of a D.J. LeMahieu throwing error. Then, Davis was able to take advantage of Aaron Hicks playing well out of position in right center. Hicks got a great jump, but his dive wouldn’t be enough. Davis doubled scoring Alonso to tie the game.
After Robinson Cano was intentionally walked (your guess is as good as mine), Ramos singled to load the bases. The Yankees pulled Adam Ottavino to bring in Zack Britton to pitch to Conforto. There would be no inning ending double play this time as Conforto hit a two run double over Brett Gardner‘s head to give the Mets a 4-2 lead.
Things didn’t start well when Diaz was slow covering first and couldn’t catch an Alonso throw on what was a Didi Gregorius leadoff single. Fortunately, Diaz settled down to get the next three out to preserve the win.
Gardner foul tipped a ball after a long at-bat. It popped out of Ramos’ glove, and he caught it with his hand. It was the type of ending this bullpen deserves.
The Mets pulled out an unlikely win with their bullpen standing strong. They now have as many saves as blown saves on the season. They snapped the Yankees streak of 31 consecutive games with a homer. For one night at least, everything went according to plan.
Well, partially according to plan anyway. In the end, a win is a win, and you take them, especially with the season the Mets are having.
This offseason, Brodie Van Wagenen went out and added Keon Broxton, Robinson Cano, J.D. Davis, Edwin Diaz, Jeurys Familia, Jed Lowrie, Justin Wilson, and others in the hopes of building a World Series winner. So far, the end result has been an under .500 fourth place team very reminiscent of the 1992 Mets team dubbed The Worst Team Money Could Buy.
Do you remember the players who made up that 90 loss 1992 team? Good luck!
If you’re going to call a team meeting and shake things up, you do it on the day Jacob deGrom pitches. After all, at a minimum, you know you’re getting a very well pitched game.
But it’s more than that. This Mets team had continued to fight despite gut wrench loss after gut wrenching loss. All they needed was some sort of spark to put it all together. Tonight, they got it in the form of deGrom, Pete Alonso, and Michael Conforto.
Even Mets killer Julio Teheran couldn’t stop this team tonight.
Alonso’s first inning double off Teheran went for naught, but you wouldn’t say the same of his third inning double. That one would plate Jeff McNeil. Conforto would follow with a double of his own. These were part of a four run inning and six doubles hit by the Mets on the night.
At 4-0 in the third, the game was effectively over because deGrom was great. Cy Young caliber deGrom great. Through eight, he’d shut out the Braves while allowing three hits and striking out 10.
Things were so good for deGrom and the Mets, deGrom had five plate appearances, and he’d have one of the six Mets doubles.
Alonso had hit first career four hit game, and he’d walk twice putting him on base safely SIX times. Three of his hits went for extra bases including another mammoth homer:
Pete was tired of keeping them in the ballpark. ❄️🐻
— New York Mets (@Mets) June 19, 2019
He wasn’t the other one to hit a big homer on the night. We’d also see Conforto and McNeil collect homers.
In addition to those three All Star caliber Mets, Todd Frazier knocked in a couple of runs including a bases loaded walk. Robinson Cano had an RBI double. Every starter had a hit, and the Mets returned the favor from yesterday with their own blowout.
The only downside was deGrom couldn’t finish off the shutout. Of course, it was Freddie Freeman who ruined it with a homer. A Josh Donaldson homer pulled the Braves to within 10-2, and it chased deGrom after 8.1 innings.
For some reason, Robert Gsellman was the guy picked to mop this up. He did the job, and suddenly, even if for a night, the Mets season was still alive.
The Mets are currently four games under .500, and the season is slipping away. We see the press criticize the manager’s every move, and with each passing day, you get the sense the manager is going to be the fall guy for this Mets team. Overall, it seems to be a question of when not if. Still, when you weave your way through the narrative, you see Mickey Callaway has actually been doing a good job this year.
First and foremost, this team continues to play hard for him. Look at their recent games as an example. On Thursday night, the Mets had their hearts ripped from their chest. They had their hearts ripped from their chest twice on Friday and again on Sunday. Each time that happened, the Mets responded. They played competitive baseball with their team making comebacks.
The Mets losing these games is not a matter of the team not having fight or giving up. This team has fight, and not matter how many times they have a soul crushing loss, they are getting up off the mat, and they keep fighting. Last year, in a completely lost season, the Mets had the best second half in their division. No matter what the odds or the situation, Callaway’s players play hard for him.
The young players have played well and improved under his stewardship. Brandon Nimmo was regarded as a fourth outfielder entering last year, and he finished the season as the second best hitter in the National League. Pete Alonso was regarded universally as a defensive liability. He’s played to a 1 DRS at first base while also having the second most homers in the National League. Jeff McNeil went from just a second baseman to being a positive DRS at three different defensive positions while having a 131 wRC+. Amed Rosario remains frustrating, but he has made continual improvement in his pitch selection and power.
As impressive as that is, there’s Dominic Smith. Smith was being hailed as a bust. Well, that “bust” Callaway infamously benched last Spring Training has bought into a bench role, and he finally looks like the player the Mets drafted in the first round. This year, Smith has a team leading 172 wRC+ (albeit in part-time duty), and he has a 2 DRS at first and a 0 DRS in left.
Smith is an example of how Callaway’s players have improved during his tenure, and he’s also an example of how Callaway’s players have bought in and are willing to do whatever it takes to win games.
On the pitching front, we have seen Callaway and his pitching coach Dave Eiland work well with the starting pitchers. As we all know, they got career best seasons from Jacob deGrom and Zack Wheeler last year. More than that, we have seen them be able to keep their starting pitchers healthy. For example, Steven Matz made 30 starts last season, and this year, when the depth was so thin, this starting staff has yet to suffer a major injury.
One thing that has been impressive with their work with the pitching staff has been their ability to adapt. This year, Noah Syndergaard noted he cannot quite throw his slider with the new ball, so he’s had to adapt. As Syndergaard put it, “I’m still trying to find that slider, but it’s forcing me to continue to develop other pitches.” That’s meant more four seamers and curves. That’s not just for Syndergaard, but also for an entire starting staff who has turned things around as they have adapted.
When you look at this team, the real issue is the bullpen. Yes, Callaway and Eiland deserve some blame because they can’t seem to get through to pitchers like Jeurys Familia, and for some reason or another Edwin Diaz has regressed (as noted the new ball may be a factor). He did overwork Robert Gsellman to dangerous levels causing a total regression. That said, the bullpen has been an arm or two short even when everyone was healthy.
No manager can win with a bad bullpen. Sooner or later, a bad bullpen will always drag a team down. Even with Callaway’s and Eiland’s reputations as pitching gurus, you cannot make bad or Triple-A caliber pitchers good relievers by waving a magic wand.
Overall, when you cut through the narratives and actually look at the team, you see Callaway has been doing a good job as the Mets manager. Sure, you can pinpoint things here and there where he needs improvement. That’s the case with all managers. Still, when you have a manager who has players completely buying in and playing hard for him, and you have young players making improvements under his tutelage, you have a manager who is doing a good job.
And believe it or not, Mickey Callaway is actually doing a good job this year.
Brodie Van Wagenen built a poor defensive club with a bullpen that was an arm or two short. When you do that, you’re not beating average teams like the Cardinals, and you’re not beating good teams like the Braves.
When you get injuries and poor performances from the bullpen, you’re not beating anyone on the road, which is why the Mets have the most road losses in the National League.
Zack Wheeler was decent for four allowing two runs only for the National League worst defense to destroy his and the Mets chances of winning the game.
The Mets got misplays from Jeff McNeil, Pete Alonso, and Wilson Ramos, the latter of which who appeared to not even bother on the tough balls in the dirt. The embarrassingly poor defense and defensive effort took a 2-2 game and made it 5-2.
If you had a glimmer of hope after the Robinson Cano sixth inning homer, the Mets bullpen made sure to destroy those delusions of grandeur.
Jeurys Familia loaded the bases while recording just one out in the seventh causing Mickey Callaway to go to Drew Gagnon to put out the fire. Sadly, Gagnon decided to use a mixture of gasoline and kerosene to try to put out that fire.
By the time he was done, the 5-3 deficit grew to 12-3. Three of the runs were charged to Familia and four were charged to Gagnon. At the end, who cares? Every reliever not named Seth Lugo is pitching extremely poorly. The defense is worse than that.
You can tell yourself the Mets competed with the Braves for most of this game, and that they tied the score off Mike Soroka and his 1.92 ERA. It doesn’t matter because this bullpen is non-competitive.
Game Notes: Wheeler has a .323 batting average with a .828 OPS.
The Mets had an opportunity to not just get back to .500 this weekend. They had the chance to make a statement against the Cardinals while going over .500 and making a real push towards the Wild Card and division ahead of a big road trip. As we know, it didn’t happen:
1. Perhaps everything is different if Edwin Diaz could pitch through the rain. He couldn’t. Instead, he blew the save, and the Mets would have to wait another day to lose that game, and then because this is the Mets, blow another game.
2. The criticism directed towards Mickey Callaway in sticking with Diaz for the 10th inning of that suspended game was plain dumb. It’s not like he was running him right back out there. No, he used him after a night of rest, and remember, Diaz was their best available reliever. Sticking with him was the right call.
3. The criticism of Callaway has gone way over the top. Take for example Wally Matthews hit on him when Callaway said Dominic Smith was one of their better hitters against Cardinals starter Daniel Hudson. Matthews mocked Callaway saying they never faced one another instead of pointing out how left-handed batters are hitting .311/.411/.508 off Hudson. Of course, that fact stands in the way of the narrative that Callaway is an idiot.
4. If you want to get on Callaway, get on his ever allowing Mets pitching to pitch to Paul DeJong. For some reason, he turns into a hybrid monster of Chipper Jones and Barry Bonds whenever he plays the Mets. It’s infuriating, especially when it was DeJong who mostly cost the Mets a chance to at least split the series or possibly more.
5. With respect to DeJong, one of his homers came off of Chris Flexen. That’s a tough spot for Flexen, who was JUST converted to a reliever with one relief outing in Syracuse before getting called up. He pitched well otherwise, and the Mets need to give him more of a look. That said, it’s an indictment on Brodie Van Wagenen that Flexen needed to be rushed like this.
6. Speaking of Van Wagenen indictments, who is the fifth starter now that Noah Syndergaard is injured? Corey Oswalt is hurt. Flexen is a reliever. Ervin Santana hasn’t been good in years, and Walker Lockett has never been good. Maybe he’ll just trade another asset for a pitcher another organization clearly no longer wants.
7. Like when he traded cash considerations for Brooks Pounders and his career 8.69 ERA. If history is any guide, this will go the way of Tobi Stoner in terms of relievers with fun names who have a big arm and poor results.
8. The Mets entered this season with zero depth in their rotation and their outfield. It’s already caused a huge problem in the outfield, and it is potentially doing so again with the rotation.
9. The outfield really highlights the Mets stupidity. Right now, the Mets are considering playing Jeff McNeil, who is just a second baseman, or Michael Conforto, who will only play right field this year, to play center so they can get Smith, who is only going to play first base, into the lineup as the team’s left fielder.
10. McNeil made a game and season ending play when he nailed Jack Flaherty at the plate. If the Mets lost that game, there may not have been any coming back from it. It’s bizarre to think this was one of just two season altering types of a plays in the same four game series, the other being Amed Rosario‘s inability to get the relay throw in Diaz’s blown save.
11. Say what you want about this team, but they are resilient. They came back from Diaz’s blown save and loss, and they were in position to win the next game until Jeurys Familia blew it. They then came back the next night and won it. They then battled all day Sunday trying to pull out the series split.
12. This team can hit at home. Their 117 wRC+ at home is the fourth best in the majors and second best in the National League. The trick for the team is to find a way to bring that offense on the road.
13. Speaking of offense at home, the team should just leave J.D. Davis at Citi Field because it’s apparently the only ballpark in the majors he can hit. In his career, he hits .209/.274/.341 on the road, .150/.200/.300 at Minute Maid, and yet, somehow, .347/.424/.587 at Citi Field. Maybe there’s just something to the Mets infield dirt that makes those ground balls find a way through.
14. If you are looking for the reasons for the Mets struggles, it’s not Callaway. It’s the bullpen, which is terrible, and it is the defense, which may actually be worse than the bullpen. That’s a combination which is not going to play well on the road, and as we saw in this series, it is not going to play well against good teams.
15. As bizarre and tiresome as this sounds, the Mets still could be in this race. They’re just five games out of a Wild Card and 7.5 back of the Braves, and the Mets have the games against the opponents to make it a race. They just have to go out and to their job.
16. For what it’s worth, Flexen being in the pen along with a returning Justin Wilson may address the bullpen enough that they could be good there. Move McNeil to center with Smith in left, and maybe, this is a team ready to go. After all, we see the fight this team has in it. It’s really just a matter of putting it all together at once.
17. That said, if it was that easy, the Mets wouldn’t be in this position.
18. If you want to know if there is a real chance for the division, look no further than this series against the Braves. If they take two, it’s a whole new ball game. If they get swept, they’ve already lost the division, and they’ll be lucky if there’s still a Wild Card to put their focus.
20. You could buy the criticism directed at Syndergaard for not speaking reporters after his injury if the media held the General Manager and ownership to the same standards. Instead, they fight over themselves to throw jabs at the team’s designated punching bag Callaway, especially when you see how the Mets have handled Brandon Nimmo‘s STILL injured neck.
The Mets picked up last night’s suspended game today. The Mets didn’t score in the ninth, so the game went into extra innings.
Mickey Callaway stuck with Edwin Diaz. Diaz had blown the game in the ninth, but that happened last night. Despite fans consternation, it was the right move because Diaz was the best pitcher available.
Of course, with this being the Mets, it didn’t work out.
The Cardinals won 5-4, and it would not be the last time DeJong and the Mets bullpen would be heard from tonight.
After a tough three run fifth, Steven Matz appeared to be headed for his fifth loss of the year. His fifth inning homer pulled the Mets to within two. The seventh inning rally got Matz off the hook and gave the Mets the lead.
It didn’t matter.
Jeurys Familia immediately gave up the game tying homer to DeJong. With another blown save for him and the Mets in the books, the Mets have a Major League worst 16 blown saves.
It got worse for Familia as the Cardinals continued to hit him hard, and eventually, they’d take the lead on a three run Dexter Fowler homer. It was the second time in his career Familia allowed two homers in a game. Both times happened this year.
Instead of being at .500 or a game over, the Mets are back to three under. This is a team who can’t get out of their own way, and a large part of it is because Brodie Van Wagenen did a bad job and continues to do a bad job.