Jose Lobaton

Trivia Friday: Most Home Runs By Mets Catcher

After the production the Mets got at catcher from Kevin Plawecki, Devin Mesoraco, Jose Lobaton, and Tomas Nido, many believe the team needs to upgrade at catcher more than any other position.  Given the issue with the Mets lineup, you would ideally want a power at the position.

Looking at Mets history, they have actually had some power bats from the catching position.  Can you name the catchers who have had the most homers for the Mets?  Good luck!


Mike Piazza Todd Hundley Gary Carter Travis d’Arnaud John Stearns

Former Mets Available In Free Agency

It may be every fan base, but it seems like whenever the Mets need to add players via trade or free agency, fans seem to look towards acquiring former players.  It may not be just the fans either as the Mets bucked conventional wisdom by signing Jay Bruce and Jason Vargas last year.  If the fans and organization wants to go down that road again, there are plenty of options this offseason:

Jose Lobaton – If he’s back, we may actually see fans boycott the team.

Devin Mesoraco – Other than like a one week stretch, he was terrible in every facet of the game.  There is no way he should be back in Queens next year.

Rene Rivera – He would be a fine addition on a minor league deal to work with up and comers like Justin Dunn.  If there’s an injury or two (ideally three), he could resume his role as Noah Syndergaard‘s personal catcher.

Lucas Duda – Fans used to debate at length whether Duda was a good or bad player.  The debate is over.  He’s now a bad player who has not much to offer anymore.

Asdrubal Cabrera – Unless Cabrera is looking to accept a utility role behind two still largely unproven young players, there would be no reason to bring him back to the Mets.

Daniel Murphy – There is a scenario in which bringing him back makes sense, but that includes the Mets moving at least one bad contract to put him at first base because his knees have made his already poor defense all the worse.  There are many other variables past that making this a non-starter.

Jose Reyes – He shouldn’t even be playing for the Long Island Ducks next year.

Neil Walker – Considering he accepted a utility role for the Yankees last year, he could be willing to accept one with the Mets next year.  If so, he could be quality depth for the Mets roster which has not had depth on their bench since 2015.

Carlos Gomez – Judging from last year, it does not seem like Gomez can hit much anymore, but he can still play defense.  The Mets need a right-handed outfielder or two, and he would be a much better option than Austin Jackson by the simple fact he’s not Austin Jackson.

Chris Young – In 2014, the Mets made a $7.25 million bet Young still had something in the tank.  They wound up releasing him, thereby allowing other teams to discover he did have something left in the tank.  That something was hitting left-handed pitching, which is something he didn’t do at all last year.

Austin Jackson – He used up all the playing time he should receive in a Mets uniform last year.

Curtis Granderson – With Bruce, Michael Conforto, and Brandon Nimmo, you could argue the Mets have no need for another left-handed hitting corner outfielder.  Lost in all of that is the fact Granderson is still a productive player who is great in the clubhouse.  It would not be the worst idea to bring him back to let him serve as a mentor to the Mets young players.

Bartolo Colon – If you want him back, you deserve to see the Mets go under .500 again.

Matt Harvey – Harvey has basically said he doesn’t want to return.  If you ask the Mets, the feelings are probably mutual.

Chris Beck – He was terrible for the Mets last year, so if you’re upgrading your bullpen, you should probably avoid the guys who were terrible for you.

Tyler Clippard – He had surprisingly good stats last year, which is all the more incredible when you consider he pitched in the AL East.  Signing him to a minor league deal with an invitation to Spring Training is not the worst idea in the world.

Jeurys Familia – Familia is the best right-handed reliever in Mets history, and unlike the other free agent relief options not named David Robertson, none of them have proven they can pitch in pressure situations in New York.  If you’re looking to compete, Familia could be a big boost to the bullpen.

AJ Ramos – The main reason Ramos didn’t work out this year was because he was injured.  He did have surgery to repair his shoulder, but we don’t know what he will be when he is ready to pitch again.  The Mets need far more certainty than that from their bullpen.

Fernando Salas – Salas helped pitch the Mets to the 2016 Wild Card, and the thanks he received was getting over-used by Terry Collins to the point he was released by the Mets in 2017.  He returned to a slightly below average reliever last year.  The Mets have plenty of those already.

Jerry Blevins – Even with last year’s struggles, Blevins has traditionally been a good LOOGY for the Mets.  If Dave Eiland and Mickey Callaway think he can return to form, and he signs a reasonable one year deal, the Mets should bring him back.

Oliver Perez – If Brodie Van Wagenen had a sense of humor, he would work out a contract with either Manny Machado or Bryce Harper, but the day before the Mets officially signs either one of them, the Mets would announce Ollie was returning to the Mets organization.

Mets Outlast Nationals

Like two nights ago, the Mets had the opportunity to take out one of the leading Cy Young candidates to help Jacob deGrom‘s Cy Young case. Like with the game against Aaron Nola, the Mets dealt a small blow but could not deliver the knockout punch.

The Mets did try. In the third, Michael Conforto and Jay Bruce went back-to-back to give the Mets a 3-0 lead.

The one weakness in Max Scherzer‘s game this year was the long ball, and the Mets took full advantage. Conversely, the major strength in Scherzer’s game was the strikeout, and he mowed down the Mets.

After the Bruce homer, the Mets had just one hit and one walk, which did allow Scherzer to go seven. In total, Scherzer increased his lead over deGrom in innings and strikeouts, but his ERA rose .04.

For a while, it seemed as if the Mets were going to hit Scherzer with a loss because somehow someway Jason Vargas was out-pitching Scherzer.

The only damage against Vargas was an Anthony Rendon two run homer in the sixth. Seth Lugo, as part of his 1.1 innings, got the final out of the inning to preserve the 3-2 lead.

After Scherzer was pulled, the Mets immediately went to work against left-handed reliever Matt Grace.

Jeff McNeil hit a leadoff triple, and he’d come home on a Bruce single past the drawn-in infield to give the Mets a 4-2 lead. It wasn’t enough for this Mets bullpen.

Anthony Swarzak allowed the first two to reach in the bottom of the eighth, and Daniel Zamora would come on to face Bryce Harper. In the lengthy at-bat. Zamora would get the best of Harper who just missed out as he flew out to deep right field.

Maybe because it was because he opted to take the bullpen cart, but Robert Gsellman would surrender the lead. He first run came on a Rendon groundout, and the second scored on a Juan Soto RBI double.

With that, Scherzer was off the hook. With us living in a world where deGrom may win the Cy Young with a losing record, the loss was probably inconsequential.

The game would go extras, and the Mets seemed poised to end it early with them loading the bases in the 10th with just one out.

However, even with Greg Holland losing the strike zone having thrown seven straight balls, Jack Reinheimer swung at a 1-0 pitch and hit a soft tapper to Holland, who started the inning ending 1-2-3 double play.

In that 10th inning, McNeil was surprisingly sent up to bunt. In that at-bat, home plate umpire made a few very questionable strike calls, including ruling McNeil bunted at a pitch. This led Mickey Callaway to flip and earn his second career ejection.

In the 11th, Brandon Nimmo hit a leadoff double, and he would be stranded there.

What was surprising was how Jacob Rhame returned serve. After allowing a leadoff double to Ryan Zimmerman, who tagged up and moved to third on a Matt Wieters line out, Rhame would strike out Mark Reynolds and Victor Robles to end the inning.

Finally, in the 12th, the Mets retook the lead.

Amed Rosario led off the inning with a single off Jefry Rodriguez, and this time, McNeil would get the bunt down.

The bases were loaded after Conforto was intentionally walked, and Bruce walked after him. Jose Lobaton pinch hit for Rhame, and he delivered with a go-ahead sacrifice fly to give the Mets a 5-4 lead.

Paul Sewald was given the 12th, and he delivered his second career save with a 1-2-3 inning. Just because it was a 1-2-3 inning, it doesn’t mean it was uneventful.

After Heyward was called out on a pitch outside the strike zone, he argued the call, and he was tossed by Home Plate Umpire D.J. Reyburn. Heyward didn’t even bother going to the clubhouse. Instead, he watched the final out from the bench.

Come next week, Harper will join the Mets in watching games from the bench as the Nationals will soon be eliminated from the postseason.

Game Notes: Wilmer Flores was shut down for the rest of the year after being diagnosed with arthritis in his knees.

Things Can Never Just Be Good With The Mets

Last night, the Mets were absolutely rolling knocking Zach Eflin out after three and Jerad Eickhoff, who was making his first appearance of the year, out after one.

Tomas Nido, who was catching either because Kevin Plawecki was hit with another pitch or because Noah Syndergaard likes having a personal catcher, cleared the bases with an RBI double to give the Mets a 3-0 second inning lead.

Todd Frazier hit a three inning homer in the third giving the Mets a 6-0 lead leaving you to wonder how long before Gabe Kapler started going to the position players.

Jeff McNeil was great going 3-for-5 with two runs, and a triple. Michael Conforto surpassed Asdrubal Cabrera for the team lead in RBI. Not too long ago, Conforto also surpassed Cabrera for the team lead in homers. Jay Bruce looked good again at the plate going 2-for-2 with two runs, an RBI, and two walks.

However, this is the Mets, so nothing can be this easy. Not even in a 10-5 win that they led 7-0 heading into the sixth and 9-2 after six.

Dominic Smith followed a good game by going 0-for-2 with a walk before leaving the game with a groin injury. He was replaced by Jack Reinheimer for reasons only Mickey Callaway knows.

Speaking of Reinheimer, you’d be hard pressed to explain why he’s here and Luis Guillorme isn’t.

That wasn’t the worst of it. No, that was Cesar Hernandez hitting a hard liner that went off Syndergaard’s ribs. It may have chased him from the game, but he was able to laugh about it later:

Syndergaard’s final line was 6.2 innings, 12 hits, four runs, four earned, five walks, and four strikeouts. The low strikeouts are alarming, but not as much as the walks or the career high in hits allowed.

Still, this was mostly a fun game with some terrific signs for the Mets going forward. Here’s hoping the Mets didn’t burn through all their offense for this series with Jacob deGrom going Sunday.

Game Notes: Bobby Wahl was placed on the 60 day DL to make room for Jose Lobaton on the roster.

Blame Sandy Alderson, Not Mickey Callaway

In a scathing article from David Lennon of Newsday set to take Mickey Callaway to task for the Mets recent poor play ultimately concluding that under Callaway’s 57 game tenure as a manager, the Mets are, “A lot of talk, accomplishing nothing.”

Really, it was full of quick barbs and cheap shots like this gem:

So after two more losses, one lousy run scored in the last 24 innings and a pair of Little League-quality blunders in Sunday’s sweep-completing 2-0 loss to the Cubs, we’re wondering what Mickey Callaway has planned next for the Mets.

A how-to seminar on the basics of baseball? A weeklong retreat to restore all of this depleted self-esteem? Maybe a clubhouse visit by Tony Robbins?

This is just emblematic of how Callaway, who is in a no-win situation is now fair game for mocking, ridicule, and blame.  What is interesting is these downright insults really overlook what Callaway has accomplished in his brief tenure.

Jacob deGrom has gone to a level we had never seen him pitch.  For a Mets organization who looked at Robert Gsellman and Seth Lugo as enigmas, Callaway has helped turn them into terrific relievers.  Speaking of enigmas, the Mets have recently seen Zach Wheeler and Steven Matz turn a corner.  It that holds true this rotation will be every bit as formidable as we all hoped it would be.

Offensively, Brandon Nimmo has gone from fourth outfielder to a terrific lead0ff hitter who leads all National League outfielders in OBP and OPS.  Amed Rosario has been making continued strides.  After beginning his career hitting .245/.275/.371 with a 27.6% strikeout rate, since May 1st, Rosario is an improved .274/.291/.415 with a 16.4% strikeout rate.  It may not seem like much, but it’s a stark improvement.

We have also seen the Mets go dumpster diving for players like Adrian Gonzalez, Jose Bautista, and Devin Mesoraco.  Somehow, these players have been much improved with the Mets than their prior stops, and they have salvaged their MLB careers.

The obvious question from here is if all this is true than why are the Mets 27-30 and in fourth place after such a terrific start?

Much of that answer, i.e. the blame, is attributable to the Mets front office.

Despite time and again facing the same injury issues over and over again, the team AGAIN mishandled a Yoenis Cespedes leg injury, and they are having Jay Bruce and Asdrubal Cabrera play poorly through their own injuries.  What’s hysterical about this is Sandy Alderson actually utter the words, “Honestly, sometimes I think we’re a little too cautious with how we approach injuries.”

He’s also made a number of blunders with the in-season managing of this roster.

Consider this.  After short start, the Mets designated P.J. Conlon in a series of roster moves to help bring up three fresh arms including Scott Copeland.  After Copeland pitched 1.1 scoreless in his only appearance, the Mets called up Jose Lobaton and his -0.6 WAR for the intended purpose of allowing Kevin Plawecki and his .198/.282/.288 split against left-handed pitchers at first base to face Mike Montgomery

Meanwhile, a Mets organization loses Conlon as the Dodgers claimed him, and a Mets organization who has been wringing their hands to find a second left-handed pitcher in the bullpen, looked on as Buddy Baumann get lit up for four runs on three hits and two walks in the 14th inning of a game the Cubs had not scored a run in over three hours.

The front office’s decision making gets worse and worse the more you look at it.

For some reason, they insist on keeping Jose Reyes on the roster.  This, coupled with the aforementioned Gonzalez and Bautista signings, is emblematic of an organization more willing to trust in done veterans reclaiming their past glory than giving a young player like Nimmo, Jeff McNeil, Peter Alonso, or even Gavin Cecchini (before his injury) a chance.

This was one of the reasons why the Mets signed Bruce to a three year deal this offseason.  No, this was not insurance against Michael Conforto‘s shoulder.  Three year $39 million deals are not that.  Rather, this signing showed: (1) the Mets wanted a Cespedes-Conforto-Bruce outfield for the next three years; and (2) the team did not have any faith Nimmo could handle playing everyday at the MLB level on even a limited basis.

Now, the Mets what looks to be an injured $39 million albatross in right, who doesn’t even know to call off a back peddling second baseman with a runner on third.

That’s bad defense, which is something the Mets actively welcome with all of their personnel decisions.  Really, the team has spent the past few seasons looking to plug non-center fielders in center while playing players out of position all across the infield.

Despite what the Lennon’s of the world will tell us, the poor defense and lack of basic fundamentals isn’t Callaway’s doing.  No, it is the result of an organizational philosophy.

The Bruce signing has such short and long term implications.  With his salary, will the Mets bench him instead of Nimmo or Gonzalez when Cespedes comes back healthy.  Will the organization let his salaries in future years block Alonso or Dominic Smith at first base?  Mostly, will his escalating salaries be another excuse why the team rolls the dice and gives a player like Jason Vargas $8 million instead of just going out and signing the player who really fills a need?

Sure, there are plenty of reasons to attack Callaway.  His bullpen management has been suspect at times.  Lately, he’s been managing more out of fear than attacking the game to try to get the win.  Really, this is part of a learning curve for a first time manager in a new league.

It’s a learning curve that could have been helped by a long time veteran National League manager.  Instead, Sandy Alderson thought it best to hire a Gary Disarcina to be the bench coach because who better to help a young first time manager in a new league than a player who has spent his entire playing, front office, and minor league managerial career in the American League?

Really, that’s just one of several examples of how Alderson has set up both Callaway and this entire Mets team to fail in 2018.

Cabrera Fell Back to Earth

After his epic run at the end of the 2015 season, it is understandable how many view Yoenis Cespedes as the driving force of this Mets team.  However, if you look at the past few seasons, the person who has really been at the forefront of the Mets peaks and valleys has been Asdrubal Cabrera.

Looking over the past few seasons, Cabrera never really did get the credit Cespedes received for his propelling the Mets to the postseason in 2016.  Consider from August 19th until the end of the 2016 season, he hit .345/.406/.635 with 11 doubles, a triple, 10 homers, and 29 RBI.  Really, looking at that decimated team who was looking for an everyday second baseman at they entered September, it was Cabrera who carried that team to the postseason.

As the 2018 season began, it was once again Cabrera who was the driving force of this Mets team.

In April, Cabrera hit .340/.393/.580 with nine doubles, five homers, and 17 RBI.  For a Mets team who was in first place, Cabrera was in the all too early conversation for National League MVP.

That’s not a stretch either as Cabrera’s hot bat masked much of what was wrong with the Mets.  The Mets were winning despite Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard being the only Mets starters who would give the team credible starts.  Amed Rosario was struggling along with Cespedes, Jay Bruce, and countless other Mets.  The teams two catchers, Travis d’Arnaud and Kevin Plawecki went down with injuries, and they were replaced by an underwhelming duo of Jose Lobaton and Tomas Nido.

Through all of it, Cabrera got big hit after big hit after big hit, and the Mets were 17-9, and they led the Braves by 1.5 games in the National League East, and they lead the Nationals by 4.5 games.

Since that time, we have seen Cabrera get nicked up on more than one occasion, have seen his play fall off of a cliff, and we have seen the Mets go 10-21 while plummeting to fourth in the standings.

Since May 1st, Cabrera is hitting .252/.282/.445 with six doubles, a triple, five homers, and 17 RBI.  These are more befitting a hitter towards the end of the lineup than the second place hitter Cabrera has been for this team.

Cabrera isn’t just struggling at the plate.  He’s struggling mightily in the field as well.  In fact, with a -11 DRS, Cabrera is the worst defensive second baseman in all of baseball.  Expanding the worldview a bit more, Cabrera’s -11 DRS ranks worst among all Major League infielders.

Simply put, Cabrera is not hitting or fielding right now.  In a season where the was the driving force who bailed the Mets out of a number of situations, he has become one of the many liabilities on this team.

No, the current state of the Mets cannot be pinned on Cabrera. There are far more issues than his recent play.  However, when he struggles like this, with Cespedes on the disabled list, and Michael Conforto still trying to get back to form, you no longer have a bat in the lineup who can carry this Mets team and help mask some of those other issues.

Mets Finally Under Sewald Level

Well, it took 58 games, but the Mets are finally under .500. Again, it was a combination of the same issues which cost the Mets this game.

Through six innings, the Mets had a 2-0 lead compliments of a Brandon Nimmo homer and six very strong shutout innings from Zach Wheeler.

For some reasons after Wheeler threw 97 pitches, Mickey Callaway stuck with him for the seventh.

After Addison Russell and Tommy La Stella led off the inning with back-to-back singles, Callaway made a double-switch bringing in Jose Reyes (because why not?) and Paul Sewald.

The game quickly unraveled from there.

Kyle Schwarber hit a sac fly, and with Michael Conforto missing the cut-off man, La Stella went to second, which made it easy for him to score on the ensuing Ben Zobrist double.

The Cubs took the lead later that inning on a Kris Bryant RBI single.

Now, the justification for no Robert Gsellman was he needed another day off. Honestly, you can never question managers over giving fatigued pitchers a day off. However, you can question why Sewald for a second inning after a seventh where he had nothing.

Well with one on and two out, Willson Contreras hit a ball, Reyes should have fielded. With him failing to make the play, two runners were on base for a Schwarber three run homer instead of the Mets getting out of the inning.

The Mets did rally in the eighth with a Jose Bautista double putting runners at second and third with two out. Joe Maddon brought in Brian Duensing to face Adrian Gonzalez.

Gonzalez delivered with a two RBI single to pull the Mets within 6-4. That rally would stall as Maddon brought in Steve Cishek, who got out of the jam by striking out Kevin Plawecki on a 3-2 pitch.

From there, Jeurys Familia allowed the Cubs to tack on an insurance run to give the Cubs a 7-4 lead. With the Mets failing to do much of anything in the ninth, that would be the final score.

And with that, the Mets are now under .500.

Game Notes: Jay Bruce left the game in the fifth with back issues. Jose Lobaton was called up, and to make room for him on the 25 and 40 man roster Scott Copeland was designated for assignment.

Catching Competition Begins Anew

As the Mets opened the 2018 season, there was supposed to be a catching competition, or at least a time sharing between Kevin Plawecki and Travis d’Arnaud.  This situation was created because both catchers had failed to do anything to truly claim the job as their own, but they had shown flashes which gave your confidence either or both could figure it out this year.

Then, in one week, both players would suffer injuries.  With respect to d’Arnaud, it was a season ending injury requiring Tommy John surgery.  For Plawecki, it was a broken hand resulting from getting hit by a Tayron Guerrero fastball.

From there, the Mets had to turn to the tandem of Tomas Nido and Jose Lobaton.  Neither one of these players would Wally Pipp Plawecki as they and the Mets struggled.  With their play behind the plate, and with Plawecki not healing as quick as the team hoped, it was time to do something drastic.

That drastic move came from Matt Harvey being designated for assignment.  Now, Harvey was not designated for assignment as a means to get a catcher.  However, when he was designated, and the Mets having a small window to get a deal done, the team did all they could do to land a catcher.

The end result was Reds backup catcher and former All Star Devin Mesoraco.

After the injuries and hitting .195/.291/.318 in 316 plate attempts between 2015 and the trade, Mesoraco and the remainder of his $13.1 million salary was more than expendable for the Reds.  In many ways, getting a broken down player who could no replicate his prior success due to extensive injuries was the perfect return for Harvey.

In some ways,. Mesoraco has revitalized the Mets.  He has worked well with the pitching staff, and he has hit again.  In 15 games with the Mets, Mesoraco is hiting .261/.358/.630 with two doubles, five homers, and 10 RBI.  During telecasts, we hear Keith Hernandez dropping Mike Piazza comparisons on him.  Yes, it’s related to his back swing, but the way he has slugged in a Mets uniform, the comparisons are apt.

With Mesoraco’s emergence, things are murky again for Plawecki.  While he has not hit for power so far his year, he was handling the staff quite well before his injury, and he was getting on base with a .455 OBP.

Certainly, both catchers have made a case for why they should be the primary or starting catcher with Mesoraco likely ahead.  Yesterday, in both games of the doubleheader, both catchers made their claim for the spot.

In the first game, Mesoraco was 2-3 with two runs, a homer, and two RBI.  His homer should have proven to be a go-ahead game winning homer in the top of the ninth.

In the second game, Plawecki was 3-4 with two runs, an RBI, and a walk.  He also reached on an error meaning he reached safely in all five of his plate appearances.

There are many other factors at play including how comfortable the pitching staff is with each catcher and certainly Noah Syndergaard‘s seeming need to have a personal catcher.  Through all the stats, there is one interesting consideration.  In games Mesoraco starts, the Mets are 6-6 as opposed to being 7-1 in games Plawecki starts.

Right now, with the Mets trying to figure out the infield, bench, and back end of the starting rotation, the catching situation presents a welcome “problem” for Mickey Callaway and his staff.  Fortunately, the Mets have two good options back there – two options who have raised their game with the prospect of competition.

Let the best catcher win.

Mesoraco Exactly What The Mets Needed

In many ways, Devin Mesoraco proved to be the perfect return for Matt Harvey – former first round draft pick and All Star whose career has been completely altered by injuries, and he has now been surpassed by others.  While we don’t know if Mesoraco wore out his welcome in Cincinnati, we do know that like Harvey, he needed a change of scenery to at least see if it could rejuvenate his career.

In that way, New York was the perfect place for Mesoraco.

Right off the bat, with Jose Lobaton and Tomas Nido, the one thing the Mets were able to provide was playing time.  With playing time comes opportunity, and after that it is just a matter of whether you take advantage of it or not.

Another thing in Mesoraco’s favor was the lack of expectation.  That’s not just because Mesoraco hit .195/.291/.318 in 316 plate attempts between 2015 and the trade.  No, it is because Lobaton was hitting .152/.250/.239 before he was designated for assignment, and Nido is hitting .154/.214/.179.  Simply put, even is Mesoraco was the bad version of himself, he’s an offensive upgrade for this Mets team.

He’s also an upgrade behind the plate.  From a pitch framing perspective, he’s a better catcher than Lobaton, and he’s on par with Kevin Plawecki.  Since a tough start to his career, with the nadir coming in 2014, he has made significant strides blocking balls in the dirt, and he is now quite capable to good in that perspective.

Perhaps it is a change of scenery, consistent playing time, playing for a better team, or the limitations of a small sample size, but Mesoraco certainly has looked like a much improved player since coming to the Mets.  In eight games, he is hitting .200/.333/.600 with a double, three homers, and five RBI.

More than anything, his play behind and at the plate shows early indications of a player who is rejuvenated.  This doesn’t mean Mesoraco will return to his All Star form.  The injuries may limit him from ever being that again.  However, we see for the first time since those injuries how good a catcher Mesoraco can still be if given the chance, and right now, the Mets are being rewarded for taking this chance.

There is a tangible effect too.  In one of the most bizarre stats you’ll ever see, the Reds were 0-18 in games Mesoraco played this season.  Since coming to the Mets, the team is 5-2 in games he has started.  Part of that is how much his bat is a big upgrade over what the Mets had.  Another part is how well he has handled the pitching staff.

As noted by Wayne Randazzo, the Mets pitchers are 5-2 with a 2.03 ERA in games Mesoraco has started.  Keep in mind, those games include games started by Jason Vargas, Steven Matz, and Zack Wheeler as well as a bullpen game when Jacob deGrom couldn’t pitch past the first due to a high pitch count.

Overall, the Mets are seeing tangible results from the significant upgrade Mesoraco has provided.  They are playing better baseball, and they are winning games.

Pitch Framing Data Underlines Mets Pitching And Catching Woes

Back on April 11th, which was the last day the Mets would have either Travis d’Arnaud or Kevin Plawecki, the Mets would beat the Miami Marlins to improve to a National League best 10-1. At that time, one of the driving forces for the Mets incredible start was their pitching.

Over the Mets first 11 games, the Mets pitching staff had a 2.47 ERA. Robert Gsellman was quickly becoming a dominant weapon, and Seth Lugo was drawing early season comparisons to Andrew Miller.

In that fateful game, Tayron Guerrero broke Plawecki’s hand. Unsurprisingly, d’Arnaud was already on the disabled list with a torn UCL requiring season ending Tommy John surgery.

In the ensuing 21 games with Jose Lobaton and Tomas Nido behind the plate, the Mets have gone 7-14. In that time, one of the main culprits has been how poorly the Mets pitching staff has performed. In fact, the Mets team ERA has ballooned from 2.47 to 4.21. The once dominant bullpen now has a 3.89 ERA.

There are many possible causes for this. Certainly, you could expect some regression to the mean after a fast start. Moreover, there is something to be said about how Mickey Callaway has used his bullpen. There are many reasons you can cite, but one which should not be overlooked is pitch framing, especially with the drop-off we have seen since the injuries. Here are the catchers’ respective RAAs:

d’Arnaud 2.0
Nido 0.9
Plawecki -0.4
Lobaton -1.3

Really, Lobaton is the worst of the group, and yet, somehow, in the absence of Plawecki and d’Arnaud, he is getting the bulk of the playing time. You could almost understand it if he was hitting, but Lobaton is hitting .163/.265/.256, and no, there’s not much upside with him as he is coming off a .170/.248/.277 year and is a .216/.294/.321 hitter.

Whatever it is too, Lobaton is just not working well with this Mets pitching staff. Remember, he was the catcher when the Mets bullpen completely collapsed against the Washington Nationals. During his time, we have seen the ERAs of almost every Mets pitcher rise.

For example, Steven Matz struggled mightily in his three starts with Lobaton. In those three starts, Matz averaged 4.0 innings per start, had a 6.39 ERA, and opposing batters hit .239/.333/.478 off of him. Short sample size for sure, and it may be a coincidence Matz had his best start since July of last year with Nido behind the plate.

It could also be the result of pitch framing. Certainly, the ability to get the extra strike and/or make sure a strike is called a strike is of vital importance. It is the difference between getting ahead in the count to set the batter up to make an out and making sure you get your pitches more over the plate so you don’t walk batters. The more you have to pitch over the plate, the worse a pitcher is going to fare.

Ultimately, with Lobaton behind the plate, nearly all of the Mets pitchers are struggling. There are many reasons why with his pitch framing chief among them. Until Plawecki is ready to return, at a minimum, Nido has to become the primary catcher. Ideally, Sandy Alderson is trying to make a move for a catcher even if if means grabbing Miguel Montero off the scrap heap.

No matter what, the only thing that is clear is Lobaton cannot be the starting catcher anymore.