Tonight, Gio Gonzalez had his fourth consecutive good start. He’s now 2-0 with a 1.69 ERA. Of course, because Brodie Van Wagenen felt the need to keep his former client Jason Vargas and his 5.92 ERA and his 3.2 innings per start in the rotation, despite knowing Steven Matz was dealing with elbow issues, Gonzalez is pitching well for the Milwaukee Brewers and not the New York Mets.
Instead, Van Wagenen made a panic trade for Wilmer Font, a 29 year old reliever with a 6.39 career ERA, to slot into the rotation. Perhaps, Van Wagenen is the only man alive who is surprised Font pitched like a 29 year old reliever with a career 6.39 ERA thrust into a starting role.
It was 1-0 off an Anthony Rendon ground rule double before Font recorded an out. The lead grew to 3-0 on a Juan Soto RBI groundout and Howie Kendrick RBI single. If Brian Dozier could still hit and Kendrick didn’t get caught stealing, things could have been much worse.
Actually, things did get worse. After a scoreless second, the Nationals tacked on two more in third off a Victor Robles solo shot and another Rendon RBI double.
With Patrick Corbin dealing, it was game over. The hanging slider J.D. Davis hit for a two out RBI double in the third was about his only mistake on the night. He’d last eight innings allowing just the one run on four hits and one walk while striking out 11.
The real shame for the Mets is Drew Gagnon pitched well in relief of Font. He’d allow no runs on three hits over 2.2 innings. Certainly, seeing Gagnon pitch, you have to question why the Mets traded for Font (or if Van Wagenen knows what he’s doing). Add in two scoreless from Tyler Bashlor, and the Mets bullpen did what Font couldn’t – pitch well.
About the only real positive from the night was Jeurys Familia pitching a 1-2-3 inning in his first game since coming off the IL. It may seem like a stretch, but when the Mets lose to a bad Nationals team because of an inept set of decisions by a novice GM, you take what you can get from this once again under .500 team.
Game Notes: Davis made his LF debut with the Mets in the eighth. He did not have a ball hit to him. The Mets remain disinterested in trying Dominic Smith in left field.
Nothing like the league worst Marlins to come into town to help the Mets offense get rolling:
3. Batting Conforto fifth is plain stupid and reactionary, especially when he’s their best hitter. Same goes to batting Brandon Nimmo sixth.
4. Alonso’s numbers look good due to his first 12 games. Since that time, he’s batting .222/.316/.444. He’s increasingly becoming an all or nothing hitter, albeit one with the propensity for the big hit.
5. Nice to see the Mets wait too long before putting Steven Matz on the IL. It’s like for all of Brodie Van Wagenen’s boasting about things being different, nothing has changed with him in charge.
7. Say what you want about Jason Bay, but at least he played for the Mets.
8. The Mets giving Mickey Callaway no information on Lowrie and then having him be the one answer questions about his status once again shows nothing has changed under Van Wagenen.
10. Seeing how well things worked with Wilson, the Mets are using the same plan of action with Jeurys Familia.
11. You have to admire Van Wagenen’s refusal to learn and adapt on the job.
14. If Tomas Nido starts hitting that’s a game changer. Over his last three, Nido 4-for-11 with a homer.
15. While it was overlooked, Nido had LASIK surgery in the offseason. It may take time to adjust, but if he’s seeing the ball better, he may begin to hit better.
17. Amed Rosario went from a below average hitter over the first month to a 111 wRC+ so far in May. Seeing his offense progress this way, maybe there’s still hope for his glove to catch up.
18. Keon Broxton has been worse than terrible, and Carlos Gomez has been hot in Syracuse. That doesn’t erase the past few years, and Broxton should get a longer rope considering he’s out of options, has actually been a successful bench player, and has arguably been a better player over the past few years.
19. Mets going a perfect 5-for-5 for the Marlins is no small feat. It’s exactly what they need to do, and destroying bad teams is exactly how the 2015 Mets won the division.
20. Whoever came up with the new backpack policy is an idiot, and the Mets deserve to have decreased attendance for having implemented it.
With Travis d’Arnaud struggling in his limited chances since returning from Tommy John surgery, he was designated for assignment. Instead of seeking to outright him to Syracuse, the Mets opted to release d’Arnaud. Now, d’Arnaud is reunited with Bob Geren in Los Angeles. It’s easy to forget now, but with Geren being the Mets catching coach, he got the very best out of d’Arnaud.
Back in 2012, the Mets would trade reigning Cy Young winner R.A. Dickey to the Toronto Blue Jays for a package which included d’Arnaud and Noah Syndergaard. At that point, d’Arnaud was the best known prospect, and he was certainly a coveted one having previously been traded the Phillies to the Blue Jays so the team could obtain Roy Halladay.
The book on d’Arnaud was he was going to be a good hitting catcher. Being a good hitter or even a catcher was something which was next to impossible to ascertain when d’Arnaud was first called up to the majors in 2013. He didn’t hit at all, and he struggled mightily behind the plate. After that year, d’Arnaud would put his work in and become a much better player.
While the bat never quite materialized the way we anticipated, he did became very good behind the plate. We saw d’Arnaud become one of the best pitch framers in the game. It was one of the reasons why he was in the top 10 in Rookie of the Year voting in 2014, and it was one of the reasons why the Mets would take off in 2015.
Like he would most of his career, d’Arnaud would have injury issues in 2015, but he would be an impactful player when he was on the field. His elite pitch framing helped a staff featuring Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom, and Syndergaard not only win the division, but also go all the way to the World Series. It gets overlooked, but d’Arnaud didn’t contribute with his strong play behind the plate, he also contributed as a hitter.
In the 2015 postseaon, d’Arnaud would hit three homers. That included one in Game 1 of the NLCS which would actually hit the Home Run Apple, which led the Mets to put a temporary band-aid on it prior to Game 2.
Of course, the homers overlook his key moments in the NLDS. In a pivotal Game 3, it was d’Arnaud who hit the RBI single which tied the game in the second, and it was d’Arnaud who hit the three run homer in the third which helped the Mets begin to pull away. We also forget with the heroics of deGrom, Jeurys Familia, and Daniel Murphy in Game 5, it was d’Arnaud who had the sacrifice fly which had tied the game setting the stage for the Mets to eventually take the lead and head to the NLCS.
After the 2015 season, d’Arnaud would deal with injuries including the torn UCL which practically cost him the entire 2018 season. Still, when he played, he was a terrific pitch framer, who was an asset to his pitching staff. He would still have the occasional highlight like his 16th inning homer against the Marlins.
One thing which really stuck out with d’Arnaud was how he was a team first player. In his tenure with the Mets, he wore three different numbers partially because he changed from number 7 to accomodate Jose Reyes when he returned to the organization. There was also the August 16, 2017 game which will live in infamy.
With both Wilmer Flores and Reyes unable to play due to injuries, and with Gavin Cecchini and Matt Reynolds unable to arrive from Las Vegas in time for the game, it meant someone was going to have to play out of position. That player would be d’Arnaud, who donned David Wright‘s mitt while switching back and forth between second and third with Asdrubal Cabrera. The lineup card was a mess with it reading d’Arnaud played “3B-2B-3B-2B-3B-2B-3B-2B-3B-2B-3B-2B-3B-2B-3B-2B-3B-2B-3B-2B-3B-2B-3B.”
In the game, d’Arnaud would hit a game tying sacrifice fly in the sixth. Despite all of Terry Collins‘ machinations, the ball would finally find d’Arnaud when Todd Frazier popped it up to him in the ninth. With d’Arnaud securing it, he now stands as the Mets all-time leader in fielding percentage among Mets second baseman.
When it comes to d’Arnaud, aside from that magical 2015 season, he was never quite the player everyone hoped he would be. He battled injuries during his Mets tenure, and he was never the hitter everyone expected even if he was above average at the position. Mostly, he was very good behind the plate having been one of the best pitch framers in the game.
His Mets tenure ended with a whimper. While fans villified him for what he wasn’t instead of celebrating him for what he was, d’Arnaud opted for the high road thanking the fans and the organization for everything and expressing his gratitude to all.
While things ended poorly here, he is now playing for his hometown team. It is a team who has his former catching coach, who get everything out of d’Arnaud’s talent. He’s at the place where former Met Justin Turner‘s career took off. He’s playing for a very good team, a smart organization, and he will be put in a good position to succeed.
In his tenure, d’Arnaud was a good Met, and the 2015 run doesn’t happen without him. Despite everything, he never complained, and he was willing to do everything asked of him. Every Mets fan should wish him the best of luck. I know I will.
The New York Mets finished a 10 game home-stand going 5-5. Part of the reason was because while their pitching started to pick up, their offense has cratered. Still, as they depart for a very difficult road trip which will take them to Milwaukee and San Diego, they are a team over .500:
- Noah Syndergaard did what you are supposed to do against bad offenses. You are supposed to completely dominant them, and he did with a magnificent performance striking out 10 in a complete game shut out.
- Syndergaard became just the third Mets starter (Pete Falcone, Johan Santana) to homer in a complete game shut out. He is the only Mets pitcher to provide the only run of support in a shutout.
- We can debate whether the right retaliation is to throw at a batter or not. However, there is nothing better than seeing Syndergaard strike out Jesse Winker three times in a game and having Winker lose his cool to the point where he is thrown out of the game.
- With the fans waiving to Winker and their booing Pete O’Brien, it’s clear the Mets fans are desperately searching for and need a real villian now that Chase Utley has retired.
- This was certainly the series for Mets pitchers to get healthy. Jacob deGrom looked like Jacob deGrom again, and even Jason Vargas would finally pitch more than five innings in a start.
- While a pitcher’s success isn’t really tied to any one catcher, it may behoove the Mets to let deGrom get into some sort of a rhythm with Tomas Nido. So far this year, deGrom has had six starts, and he has had the same catcher catch him in back-to-back starts just once this year.
- Mickey Callaway is oft criticized for his decision making, but he was unfairly in this series. He had little choice but to trust Jeurys Familia for six outs, and he went with Edwin Diaz over Seth Lugo in the ninth because Diaz is supposedly the best reliever in baseball. When you put guys in position, and they fail, sometimes it is on the players and not the manager.
- For a moment, it really looked like Familia was back, and then all of a sudden he falls apart and heads to the Injured List.
- You can read too much into it, or not, but it is surprising in his career opposing batters hit .333/.403/.608 off Diaz in tie games. It’s too soon to overreact to it, but it is noteworthy.
- Speaking of too soon to overreact, Pete Alonso is struggling. Alonso has homered once in his last 39 at-bats, and he has had one homer against a RHP over his last 11 games. While he snapped an 0-11 with a 3-5 game, he is been 3-18 since.
- Speaking of cooling off, Dominic Smith is now 0 for his last 7, and 2 for his last 12.
- While we’re on the topic of Smith and Alonso, it is great to see Smith lifted for Alonso and his cheering on and applauding Alonso as he walked. It’s a shame they play the same position because these are two likeable guys who are good ballplayers.
- Amed Rosario is heating up at just the right time. He just had a five game hitting streak and is in the middle of a seven game errorless streak. This comes right as Jed Lowrie is playing shortstop in rehab games.
- It is going to be interesting to see what the Mets do when Lowrie returns. We’ve seen Brodie Van Wagenen have selective memory when it comes to his best 25 man mantra, and as noted Keon Broxton has been really bad. It will be interesting to see if he’s saved because Van Wagenen obtained him or if he befalls the Travis d’Arnaud treatment.
- Wilson Ramos has been bad. He has no power, which is partially the result of his having MLB and career worst ground ball rates. He has also been a poor pitch framer and has yielded the most passed balls in the majors.
- Drew Gagnon is showing the Mets something out of the bullpen. He saved them when Steven Matz couldn’t get an out, and his 1.1 scoreless allowed the Mets to walk it off. He has earned his shot in the bullpen.
- With Daniel Zamora coming into a game to face Joey Votto, and the Mets calling up Ryan O’Rourke, it’s getting fairly clear Luis Avilan‘s time as a Met is going to end fairly soon.
- It’s fair to say Avilan hasn’t been used properly, but when your manager has no faith in you, and you haven’t pitched in seven games, you really have no place in the bullpen.
- Every time there is a blow up with a Mets starter or with the bullpen, we hear how the Mets are keeping tabs on Dallas Keuchel and Craig Kimbrel. It’s nothing more than a ruse, and I wish reporters would stop giving it the time of day.
- This upcoming road trip to Milwaukee and San Diego is tough travel, and it is the kind of road trip which has the potential to make or break a season.
Well, this game looks awfully familiar. Without having to navigate rain delays or other stupid obstacles from the team, Jacob deGrom was Jacob deGrom again. Unfortunately, you get all of it with him tonight.
Through the first 4.1 innings, deGrom kept the Reds hitless, but that doesn’t mean he wouldn’t have any trouble.
Joey Votto gave one a ride in the top of the fourth which center fielder Brandon Nimmo misjudged and misplayed into a two base error. Essentially, Nimmo had more room than he thought he had, but he ran into the wall anyway.
Photo of the night:
NY Mets outfielder Brandon Nimmo crashes into the wall at Citi Field pic.twitter.com/JdFdb7GXUh
— TodayInSports🗯 (@TodayInSports3) May 2, 2019
With his walking Jesse Winker and hitting Derek Dietrich, deGrom would load the bases. He’d get out of that jam by striking out Tucker Barnhart. Barnhart was deGrom’s third strikeout victim that inning.
From there, the Reds never really challenged deGrom again. Part of the reason was deGrom was deGrom again. In seven scoreless, deGrom allowed just three hits and two walks while striking out six.
Much like last year, deGrom got ZERO run support. Overall, the Mets lineup was shut down by Anthony DeSclafani. It would not be until the seventh inning, after he left game, that the Mets would get more than two base runners on in an inning.
That would happen in the seventh in what would be the Mets best (and last) chance to get deGrom a win.
With runners at first and second, the Reds would bring on Wandy Peralta, and Mickey Callaway would also go to his bench. Wilson Ramos pinch hit for Tomas Nido and struck out. Dominic Smith pinch hit for deGrom and grounded out to end the rally.
Ryan O’Rourke made his Mets debut, and he got it started by striking out Votto. After retiring the first two, O’Rourke walked Winker on four pitches. Callaway went to Seth Lugo to get the last out of the inning. Thanks to Jeff McNeil, Lugo would get Yasiel Puig to end the inning.
Here's a cool angle of that Jeff McNeil "Flying Squirrel" catch to end the top of the eighth. pic.twitter.com/hRb608szXk
— Anthony DiComo (@AnthonyDiComo) May 2, 2019
With the Mets offense doing nothing in the eighth, Callaway went to Edwin Diaz in the ninth inning of a tied game. Like he did two days prior, Diaz would get beat by a two out homer. This time it was by Jose Iglesias, a man who averages 2.75 homers per year in his career.
Once again, this will prompt the second guesses of Callaway. Lugo only pitched one-third of an inning. Batters are now hitting .333/.403/.608 off Diaz in a tied game. However, all of this ignores how Lugo nearly blew the tie himself. It also ignores Diaz being the Mets best reliever, and you want your best reliever in these situations.
It just didn’t work out. Sometimes players have to deliver much like how Winker delivered another wave to Mets fans. This time it was after his sliding catch to rob Nimmo.
This was quite a night for the Mets who have frustrated the fan base with poor play and not meeting expectations. That started with the night’s starter Jason Vargas.
Against a Reds team with the fifth worst team wRC+, Vargas had his best and longest outing of the year. With the help of some good defense, balls dying on the track, and some rope-a-dope, he would allow just one earned on three hits and three walks with five strikeouts.
Mickey Callaway trusted Vargas to go out for the sixth. After getting one out, Eugenio Suarez finally got to Vargas with a home run. With Vargas at 86 pitches, he was lifted for Robert Gsellman. The shame was Vargas did pitch well enough to win, but he wouldn’t get it because he left the game with the score tied 1-1.
On the other side, the Reds had Luis Castillo on the mound. No, not the Luis Castillo of dropped ball infamy. No, this Castillo has been great all year for the Reds entering the game with a league leading 1.23 ERA.
Even with him having a dominant outing tonight, the Mets would get to him partially because Amed Rosario proved to be his kryptonite. The struggling Rosario had a great game going 2-for-3 with a walk and a stolen base.
In the third, Rosario started a rally with a leadoff single. Juan Lagares hit into a fielder’s choice, and Lagares would be sacrificed to second by Vargas. He was then on third when Castillo unleashed a wild pitch. This put him in a position to score when McNeil laid down a great bunt:
— New York Mets (@Mets) May 1, 2019
What was interesting is McNeil seemed intent on bunting his way on there. In fact, two pitches prior to the hit, he fouled off a bunt attempt. McNeil pulled a Roberto Alomar and dove to first JUST beating Castillo to the bag.
The score would stay tied 1-1 entering the bottom of the seventh. That’s when Todd Frazier jumped all over the first pitch of the inning:
— New York Mets (@Mets) May 1, 2019
In the bottom of the inning, the Mets would also get him an insurance run. McNeil, who was great tonight (4-for-5, R, 2B, RBI) got the rally started with a double against Robert Stephenson.
After a couple of strikeouts, McNeil was in a position to be stranded at second. With Michael Conforto‘s struggled against Castillo all night (3 K), even the LOOGY Amir Garrett must’ve been a welcome site. It sure seemed that way when he delivered an RBI single to give the Mets a 3-1 lead.
Familia then started the ninth with two strikeouts giving the Mets some hope this would end without a hitch.
Of course, Familia would walk Jesse Winker and allow a hit to Jose Iglesias to make things too close to comfort. Callaway stuck by Familia in the spot. It seemed like the wrong move when Kyle Farmer hit a soft RBI single over Pete Alonso‘s head to pull the Reds to within 3-2. Worse yet, the tying run was at third.
Callaway would go too far with Familia. Jose Peraza hit the game tying single. Then again, it seemed like his only other choice was Drew Gagnon, and that’s not exactly a safe choice. Gagnon would find himself in the inning anyway.
With Votto due up, Daniel Zamora came in, and he made matters worse by walking Votto to load the bases. Gagnon would get the job done striking out Suarez to keep the game tied. He’d get into trouble in the 10th, but he’d get out of that jam too.
J.D. Davis had a very good at-bat to start the 10th, and he’d double off a hanging slider from Raisel Iglesias. After a McNeil single, Alonso got his first walk-off RBI with a sacrifice fly giving the Mets a 4-3 win.
This was never how you would draw it up, but you gladly take this one. Certainly, this game was a testament that it takes everyone contributing to win. Hopefully, this won’t be the last time this year we say that.
At a certain point, your chances run out, and you can’t keep getting bailed out. That’s exactly what happened to the Mets today.
Fortunately, the Mets were up against Tanner Roark.
In the second, Michael Conforto and Wilson Ramos hit a pair of doubles to score a run. Amed Rosario knocked in Ramos to halve the deficit. Overlooked in what has so far been a poor year for Rosario is his delivering in these spots:
Amed Rosario is now 11-for-32 (.344) with runners in scoring position this year.
— Michael Mayer (@mikemayerMMO) April 29, 2019
In the fourth, the Mets would tie the score because Roark lost it. What’s funny about it is he got two quick outs and was 0-2 on Juan Lagares.
Despite being a fairly free swinger, Lagares drew a walk. After a Wheeler single and Jeff McNeil walk, the bases were loaded for Pete Alonso. Alonso was walked on four straight to pull the Mets within one.
To Wheeler’s credit, he got through six innings despite that difficult second. He’d then hand it to a Mets bullpen who needed a lot of help.
— New York Mets (@Mets) April 30, 2019
In the eighth, Jeurys Familia got into trouble just like he’s done all year. He followed walking Scott Schebler by hitting Iglesias. Tucker Barnhart then laid down a perfect sacrifice bunt. Todd Frazier made a terrific bare handed play to get the out.
Frazier came up big again later that inning. The Mets intentionally walked Derek Dietrich to load the bases. Peraza then smoked a ball down the line. With the Mets either guarding the lines or shifting (who knows anymore?), Frazier made the play on the backhand, stepped in third, and he threw to first to complete the inning ending double play.
There was pressure on the Mets bullpen to be perfect because the Mets bats went silent. Over the final five innings, the Mets had just one hit and two base runners. None of those hits came after the sixth.
What’s interesting about the Reds was they used their closer Raisel Iglesias in a tie game in the eighth. This meant he got the win instead of the save. Funny how that works.
You’d think on Game of Thrones night, the Mets wouldn’t throw a Lannister who was killed by a dragon. But that was fiction, and this is the Mets.
Instead of a dragon getting Noah Syndergaard, it was a mixture of defense, bad luck, and eventually, just poor pitching.
In the first, Pete Alonso and Jeff McNeil tried to get cute and pick Lorenzo Cain off second after a Mike Moustakas groundout. Instead of an out, Alonso threw the ball into the now vacated left field to allow Cain to score easily.
In the third, he’s load the bases and allow Eric Thames to hit a two RBI single before inducing an inning ending double play.
The Mets got one back in the bottom of the inning. After getting on base via a HBP, McNeil would eventually find himself on third. With the shift on with Michael Conforto at the plate, McNeil was well down the line potentially causing a distraction. Not only would Brandon Woodruff lose Conforto walking him, but Yasmani Grandal whiffed (ruled a wild pitch) on ball four allowing McNeil to score.
With this poor five inning outing behind him, Syndergaard now has three consecutive poor five inning starts, and his ERA is now 6.35.
The Mets did come close to getting Syndergaard off the hook. In the seventh inning, the first five Mets would reach base with Travis d’Arnaud making the lone out trying to stretch a single into a double.
With respect to d’Arnaud this was definitely the low point of the season for him. In addition to getting thrown out, he struggled behind the plate. He had a passed ball, and he allowed three wild pitches. He would nail Cain trying to steal a base, but on a Grandal attempt, d’Arnaud tried to be Benito Santiago. Instead, he dropped to his knees and threw the ball into center.
Then Craig Counsell did something a little curious. With three of the next four batters being left-handed, he went to his LOOGY Alex Claudio. After a McNeil infield single, Alonso made Counsell pay for his decision.
He knew. pic.twitter.com/GLid9VoDbK
— Roger Cormier (@yayroger) April 28, 2019
That three run homer pulled the Mets to within one.
The problem for the Mets is Jeurys Familia would give half of the runs back.
After walking Gamel to start the inning, he allowed hits to Cain and Yelich to make it 7-5 Brewers. Cain would then put on a base running display.
With Moustakas at the plate, Familia would throw a pitch off target and in the dirt. d’Arnaud would knock it down, but Cain got a good read and easily took third. In the same at-bat, Moustakas hit a ball back to Familia, who booted it. Cain read the play and scored leaving the only play to first.
The Mets didn’t let the inning get them down. Instead, they went to work against Jeremy Jeffress. The first three Mets reached, and the Mets pulled within 8-6 when Rosario singled home J.D. Davis. With Todd Frazier being announced as the pinch hitter for Ramos, Counsell went to Josh Hader to get the six out save.
Hader made quick work of Frazier, Wilson Ramos (pinch hitting for Familia)), and McNeil striking them all out. Because Counsell does not have the same inane rules for Hader as Mickey Callaway has for Edwin Diaz, Hader stayed on in the ninth.
Hader would strike out five of the six Mets he faced needing just 20 pitches to do it. His save would push the Mets to .500. Who knows where the Mets will be after Gio Gonzalez takes the mound for the Brewers tomorrow.
Recently, the Mets pitchers have been struggling mightily. While the pitchers have their own share of the blame, part of their struggles have emanated from just horrific defense behind them.
The Mets defense has been the worst in the NL with a -22 DRS. It should come as no surprise the Mets have the worst BABIP and LOB%.
Well, now with Todd Frazier coming off the IL, the defense was improved dramatically. Other improvements today was Luis Guillorme at short over the sick Amed Rosario. In addition to that, the Mets best defender, Juan Lagares, was patrolling center.
Between a much better defense and some VERY questionable ball/strike calls, Steven Matz was very good tonight. In six innings, he allowed just one earned on three hits with two walks and six strikeouts.
This start was another good start for Matz making that four good starts and one putrid one. Essentially, if Matz gets at least one out, he’s going to have a good start this year.
He really wasn’t in trouble all night, and the only run came off a Rhys Hoskins fourth inning homer. That was not enough for the Phillies to overcome their then 2-0 deficit or beat the Mets.
Pete Alonso turned this into an RBI double pic.twitter.com/VZ5OTv3QnZ
— SNY (@SNYtv) April 23, 2019
Wilson Ramos increased that lead to 2-0 with an RBI single scoring Alonso. Interesting thing with Ramos is he’s only hitting with runners on base.
Weird split by Wilson Ramos to start 2019:
9-for-24 (.375) with runners in scoring position
8-for-35 (.229) with bases empty
— Michael Mayer (@mikemayerMMO) April 23, 2019
— New York Mets (@Mets) April 23, 2019
Things did not go well for the Phillies past that point, and that was partially because Bryce Harper was ejected in the fourth for arguing (going ballistic) over balls and strikes.
In the seventh, the wheels came off for the Phillies.
What’s interesting here is Cano didn’t start the game after getting hit on the hand yesterday. Really, it was fair to question if this was a deke to get a favorable pitching matchup. If so, Gabe Kapler took the bait and sent in Jose Alvarez to pitch, and Callaway countered with J.D. Davis.
Davis would hit what should have been a sure-fire double play ball, but Cesar Hernandez threw it away. The ever hustling Lagares made it to third. As the inning continued the Phillies bullpen unraveled a bit.
Jeurys Familia and Edwin Diaz took care of the Phillies in relatively short order to preserve the 5-1 Mets win. It was as easy a win as the Mets have had all year, and it’s a win where the Mets looked like a much better team than they have recently.
Better defense will do that for you.
Game Notes: Justin Wilson went on the IL with a sore elbow. He was replaced on the roster by Guillorme. Paul Sewald, not Jacob Rhame, was sent down to make room for Frazier. With the win, Matz snapped a 14 game winless streak at Citi Field.
In a nine year Major League career, Craig Kimbrel has saved 333 games, which is the 14th most all-time. His career 1.91 ERA and 211 ERA+ is the best all-time for a reliever. He is a seven time All-Star, and he has finished in the Top 10 in Cy Young voting in five of his nine seasons. How Kimbrel performs during this next contract will go a very long way in determining whether or not he goes to the Baseball Hall of Fame when he retires.
With the Hall of Fame on the line and with his being an elite closer for NINE SEASONS, you can understand why Kimbrel would insist on remaining a closer. While there are no public statements confirming this is Kimbrel’s hold-up, there have been a number of outlets who have drawn the inference.
According to recent reports, the Mets are not willing to have Kimbrel pitch the ningth. To put it as simply as it can be put, if the only hold-up with Kimbrel right now is he wants to close, the Mets as an organization are stupid for letting that be a hold-up.
No, this is not an indictment whatsoever on Edwin Diaz. So far this season, Diaz has been everything the Mets could have possibly asked him to be. He is a perfect 7-for-7 in save opportunities with a 16.4 K/9. His 11th inning save against the Phillies where he mowed down Bryce Harper, Rhys Hoskins, and J.T. Realmuto on 11 pitches was awe inspiring.
Understandably, you want to have a pitcher like Diaz closing out games in the ninth. However, you also want a closer like Kimbrel closing out games in the ninth. What you don’t want is the current state of the Mets bullpen.
What is not great is the rest of the Mets bullpen. So far, Jeurys Familia has been a massive disappointment. We have also seen some unexpected struggles from Seth Lugo. In the long run, both pitchers should be fine, and with Justin Wilson and Robert Gsellman, the Mets do have the pieces for a good bullpen.
Still, there are major issues in the bullpen. Luis Avilan has been used as more of a mop up reliever than a LOOGY, and frankly, there is no way he is going to succeed in that role. Worse than that, the Mets have had a revolving door this year of Tim Peterson, Drew Gagnon, Paul Sewald, Jacob Rhame, and Corey Oswalt for the last spot in the bullpen.
Realistically speaking, the Mets cannot expect any of those pitchers to truly succeed at the Major League level. Exacerbating a very soft spot in the bullpen is the fact the Mets entered the season with just four MLB caliber starting pitchers in their rotation. As a result, at least every fifth day, the Mets are going to need to get some quality innings from their worst relievers. Put another way, the Mets can ill afford to have a weak spot in the bullpen when they have a glaring hole in the rotation.
That hole in the bullpen can be repaired with Kimbrel. Moreover, if you put Kimbrel in the ninth inning, him and Diaz pitching the final two innings makes every game a seven inning game for the Mets. The tandem would combine to make the best 8-9 combination in Major League history.
Really, there is no good explanation to not give Kimbrel the ninth. While you could argue the Mets did not give up Jarred Kelenic and Justin Dunn to have Diaz as a set-up man, the obvious counter-argument is the Mets did not give up those players to have relievers like Rhame derail games and ultimately the season. Additionally, with how great a pitcher he has been, no one should expect Diaz to falter in the eighth.
Overall, when you break it down, if the ninth inning is a breaking point for Kimbrel, just give it to him. He has the resume to justify such a demand, and really, he has the ability to not come to the Mets. Worse yet, he could go to Philadelphia to stick it to the Mets.
Of course, that would be the ultimate irony. The Mets gave up Kelenic to keep Diaz away from the Phillies, but they weren’t willing to have the best bullpen situation in Major League history to keep him away from Philadelphia.