Well, after the first series of the season was canceled due to COVID19, the Washington Nationals and New York Mets finally got to play in a series. The Mets would win yet another home series and stay above .500:
1. Jacob deGrom is already the second best pitcher in Mets history, and in short order, we will consider him the second best Mets player to ever wear a Mets uniform. In fact, he may already be there.
2. To put in context just how great deGrom is, he’s set the record for most strikeouts to start a season, and he has passed Tom Seaver in Mets ERA and ERA+. Yes, he has been so great he has put himself in Seaver territory.
3. Seeing deGrom hit, you are reminded pitchers can actually hit and help themselves at the plate. The fact other pitchers don’t do it is their own failing, and it is not a good argument for the universal DH.
4. deGrom has driven in and scored more earned runs than he has allowed.
5. Marcus Stroman had one bad day. There is nothing more that should be read into it.
6. We saw Robert Gsellman step up, and he has looks ready to be a solid contributor to the bullpen. Overall, the bullpen has picked it up across the board, and they seem to be outperforming the early season expectations. In some ways, this could be attributable to Jeremy Hefner who had a similar effect in Minnesota as an assistant pitching coach.
7. Once again, Taijuan Walker was really good, and he appears to be the steal of the offseason for the Mets. Notably, when starters are going deep into games, that also helps the bullpen.
8. Michael Conforto‘s defense is still worrisome, especially his arm, but he appears to be getting going at the plate. We saw him hit his first homer of the season, and we saw him get extra base hits on back-to-back days for the first time all season.
9. For reasons that defy expectation, this Mets front office seem to believe more in J.D. Davis than Jeff McNeil. Davis can cost Mets consecutive games with his glove, and they give him on brief rest, but McNeil has some struggles at the plate, and they refuse to try to put him where he thrives in the lineup or let him work through it.
10. Albert Almora doesn’t play much, but when he does, he makes an impact. He scored from first in a pinch running opportunity earlier in the season, and he robbed Kyle Schawarber of an extra base hit as we have only seen Juan Lagares do previously.
11. Jonathan Villar has contributed quite well in the games he has played, and he has earned his playing time. It is really curious why the Mets won’t sit Davis for him, but they will sit McNeil. It’s also curious what Luis Guillorme has to do to get into the lineup.
12. The Mets sat Dominic Smith against a left-handed pitcher again despite his being one of their best hitters against left-handed pitching. Again, better players sit so Davis can be force fed into the lineup.
13. While Sunday was a really good game defensively, the Mets defense continues to be atrocious, second worst in the National League by DRS, and the Mets show little to no interest in playing their best defensive players.
14. It needs to be mentioned again. Jacob deGrom is doing things we haven’t seen since Seaver, and we may never get to see greatness of this level in a Mets uniform again for quite some time, if ever. He is that good, and he is going to be the player we tell our children and grandchildren about for years to come.
16. Brandon Nimmo is very quietly emerging as one of the best players in baseball. He is an on-base machine, and we see his defense steadily improving. This is someone using all the information at his disposal to be better. He should be an All-Star, and at some point, we may need to have serious MVP discussions about him. Then again, that award should go to deGrom.
17. The state of umpiring in the majors may be at its worst. We see calls routinely blown, especially by the home plate umpire. Needless to say, if Nimmo takes a pitch, it’s a ball.
18. Pete Alonso is really heating up at the plate, and we have seen him just demolish homers.
19. Put aside the offense, the work James McCann and Tomas Nido have done behind the plate has been nothing short of phenomenal. They are getting their pitcher the calls they need, and they are playing all around great defense. If McCann can start hitting like we know he can, watch out. Hopefully, that RBI single on Sunday for McCann was a start.
20. Listening to the game on the radio really makes you miss Josh Lewin. No one really wants to hear Francisco Lindor needs to run out foul balls or Nimmo is swinging at pitches because he’s finally confident at the plate. The Mets can and should do better than that, but in some ways, that’s an allegory for their season so far.
The New York Mets sent Taijuan Walker to the mound to take the series against the Washington Nationals. He did everything the Mets could possibly ask of him, and we saw his team step up around him.
We got a sense of what type of day this was going to be when Josh Harrison reached on a lead-off single. However, he was not there for long when Walker, who has an excellent move, picked Harrison off of first:
— SNY (@SNYtv) April 25, 2021
Long story short, Walker and the Mets were going to make this a long afternoon for the Nationals offense. That topsy turvey first inning would end for the Nationals when Jonathan Villar robbed Josh Bell of a hit:
Jonathan Villar with the leaping catch to save a run 🙌 pic.twitter.com/vV43qbzFXM
— SNY (@SNYtv) April 25, 2021
We saw this again in the third when Victor Robles got greedy. Robles had hit a ball to the right center field wall where Michael Conforto fielded it. Now, to Robles’ credit, Conforto’s arm hasn’t been good at all this year. However, on this play, he was perfect with a relay to Jonathan Villar, who nailed Robles at third:
Conforto ➡️ Villar ➡️ JD to gun down Robles at third 🚫 pic.twitter.com/baYTzI3qvu
— SNY (@SNYtv) April 25, 2021
Here’s what is so fascinating. The first two hits by the Nationals off of Walker were IMMEDIATELY erased off the basepaths. That’s a real problem when you are trying to score runs. That’s an even bigger problem when you get all of three hits off of Walker over his seven scoreless innings.
Of course, a very large part of that was the way the Mets played defense in this game. There was perhaps no bigger defensive play in this game or even the season than what we saw from Albert Almora in the sixth.
In the sixth, Walker had issued a one out walk to Yadier Hernandez and then hit Trea Turner with a pitch. After a fielder’s choice by Bell, there were runners at the corners with Kyle Schwarber at the plate. Schwarber would give one a ride which Almora tracked down in Juan Lagares fashion:
Albert Almora with his best Juan Lagares impression 🔥 pic.twitter.com/eC4AIma2EU
— Jacob Resnick (@Jacob_Resnick) April 25, 2021
There was literally nothing the Nationals could do to crack what was seemingly an impenetrable Mets defense. What was odd about that is the Mets defense was the second worst in the National League coming into this game with a -7 DRS. However, this still made the plays when it counted, and they would put Walker in a position to win.
One of the reasons why is the Nationals started Patrick Corbin, who is not only just a shell of himself so far this year, but he also struggles against the Mets hitter. Chief among them is J.D. Davis and Michael Conforto. It should come as little surprise both had a good day at the plate.
Davis was 3-for-4 at the plate with two runs, a homer, and two RBI. We also saw Conforto go 1-for-4 with a double, but he deserved a better fate. In the bottom of the fifth, Conforto had hit what was originally ruled a sacrifice fly. However, upon reply, Francisco Lindor missed touching home plate making that a double play and not an RBI:
— MLB Replays (@MLBReplays) April 25, 2021
Honestly, it was just one of those weird days for the Mets offense, and home plate umpire Doug Eddings just had one of those really bad days. Case-in-point, in the fourth inning, the Mets had already scored a run on a James McCann RBI single. They had loaded the bases thereafter with two outs with Brandon Nimmo coming to the plate.
As is usually the case, Nimmo worked the count full. The last pitch was further outside than a pitch already called a ball in the at-bat, and frankly, it was well off the plate and towards the opposite batter’s box. As Nimmo started sprinting towards first, Eddings rang him up.
Robot Umps please.
Mets should've been up 4-0 with Pete Alonso hitting with the bases loaded. pic.twitter.com/GA9iKioHEK
— Michael Mayer (@mikemayer22) April 25, 2021
What really hurt about that was not only was that going to be another run to make it a 4-0 game, but Pete Alonso was going to come up with the bases loaded. Instead, with the game 3-0, Alonso would lead off the fifth, and he would make it 4-0 all on his own:
Alonso is ready for take off. 🛫 pic.twitter.com/PZZ55f40zu
— New York Mets (@Mets) April 25, 2021
The Mets offense wouldn’t do much from that point, but it didn’t matter as the pitching and defense carried them the rest of the way. That doesn’t mean there wasn’t any drama.
Miguel Castro relieved Walker to start the eighth, and the Nationals offense seemed to come alive. Andrew Stevenson and Yadiel Hernandez book ended a Harrison striking out to put two on and one out. Castro responded by striking out Ryan Zimmerman, who was pinch hitting for Turner after he had been hit by a pitch earlier in the game, and Bell to end the jam.
Edwin Diaz came on for the ninth, and he pitched a perfect inning. With that, the Mets are once again above .500, and they have won two out of the three series at home (tying the other). In the end, we see the Mets taking care of business at home, which is a recipe for a good season.
Game Notes: This marks the first time the Mets have played consecutive series all season without a postponement. Nimmo has reached base safely in 15 out of the 16 games he has played. Jeff McNeil did not start for the fourth time this season.
With the Mets signing of Albert Almora, it is important to understand what the signing is and is not. The signing wasn’t to find the Mets everyday center fielder. Rather, this was purely a signing for depth and defensive replacement purposes.
Almora, 26, is a defensive replacement for all three outfield positions. Since 2017, he has a 6 DRS and a 11 OAA. Most of those stats were accumulated during an outstanding defensive 2018. Past that season, he has been a slightly above average defensive centerfielder. For the Mets perspective, that makes him a significant upgrade defensively.
Offensively, Almora really isn’t a good player. Since 2014, he has declined precipitously at the plate. After posting a 104 wRC+ that season, he dropped all the way down to a 36 in 2020. That 36 wasn’t even fully attributable to the shortened and disjointed season. In fact, when the ball was juiced in 2019, Almora only mustered a 64 wRC+.
However, that doesn’t mean Almora is completely over-matched at the plate. In his career, he has been able to handle left-handed pitching. In his career, he has just an 85 wRC+ against right-handed pitching as opposed to a 95 against left-handed pitching. Perhaps, he can be more than that. In fact, we know he once was.
On Baseball Savant, we see Almora has been able to hit both fastballs and breaking pitches fairly well at different points in his career. However, he has not been able to do both in the same season. In fact, in 2020, he did neither. Still, that doesn’t mean he can never do it. That is something to keep in mind for a player entering his prime.
In many ways, that makes Almora akin to what Juan Lagares once was for the Mets. He’s a defensive replacement who can be a viable platoon partner when he is hitting well. Of course, the fair question is what can Almora possibly offer if he’s not hitting because as we know, if he’s not hitting, he’s not really a good enough hitter to justify taking up a roster spot.
On that front, Almora has an option remaining. That means, if he’s bad, the Mets can demote him to Triple-A Syracuse. Keeping that in mind, that makes him outfield depth this organization did not have over the course of the past two seasons. Mostly, because of that, this makes signing Almora a relatively risk free move.
If Almora recaptures something, he could emerge as an important part of this Mets team. If not, he’s a good depth piece. Over the last two years, we saw Brodie Van Wagenen trade valuable prospects to try to plug this role. This offseason, the Mets did this by signing him to a free agent deal. It was a good deal at that as well. That is why, in the end, this was a very good move for the Mets. They acquired depth and fulfilled a need without having to part with much.
One of the best parts of the 2020 season was watching Luis Guillorme and Andres Gimenez perform pure magic in the middle infield. It rivaled Edgardo Alfonzo and Rey Ordóñez, and at times, you could imagine it being better.
Luis Guillorme and Andrés Giménez are making it look it easy out here. pic.twitter.com/NFRyvPzin6
— SNY (@SNYtv) August 12, 2020
Rick Porcello gets a BIG double play to end the 4th 🙌 pic.twitter.com/Yie43Yclep
— SNY (@SNYtv) August 12, 2020
Luis Guillorme can pitch and make great plays in the field. Versatility >>> pic.twitter.com/uzEQkSyYb2
— SNY (@SNYtv) August 11, 2020
If you value up the middle defense and believe it’s a key to winning, there is arguably none better than the tandem of Guillorme and Gimenez. In 2021, Gimenez seems to be a lock at short, but we don’t ever hear Guillorme’s name for consideration of the starting second base job.
In just 102.0 innings at second last year, he had a 1 OAA and a 12.5 UZR/150. In his Major League career, he’s played 176.0 innings accumulating a 2 DRS and a 2 OAA.
While this is a small sample size, Guillorme was always known for elite defense. It’s one of the reasons the Mets once protected him from the Rule 5 Draft and have kept him as a utility player.
We’ve seen through Mets and baseball history glove first players like Guillorme can play everyday and be a tremendous asset. The classic example in Mets history is Ordóñez and Juan Lagares in 2013 and 2014.
When it comes to Guillorme, he’s a more promising hitter than those two elite defenders. We saw a classic example of that when he posted a 144 wRC+ with a career best 14.7% walk rate.
Of course, his .463 BABIP is unsustainable. Still, behind that were some sustainable things like the improved walk rate. Other important factors are his opposite field approach and improved line drive rate.
Guillorme knows what he is as a hitter, and he’s maximizing his skill set. Where he winds up as a hitter is a good guess, but you can probably safely assume he’ll hit enough to justify his Gold Glove caliber defense at second.
Now, if Jeff McNeil can handle third, Guillorme needs to be strongly considered at second. In terms of the current roster, Guillorme at second and McNeil at third is probably their best roster.
Of course, free agency and trades can change that. However, up until there’s a clear obvious upgrade available, and those options may not be readily attainable for the Mets, Guillorme needs to finally get the chance at a starting position.
According to reports, Steve Cohen is bringing Sandy Anderson back to the Mets as an advisor, and he is planning on finding a replacement for Brodie Van Wagenen. Both are excellent and needed decisions.
When it comes to Van Wagenen, it’s difficult to quantify exactly how much damage he has done to the well built and talented Mets organization gift wrapped to him from Alderson. Essentially, all that Alderson built needs to be rebuilt.
Van Wagenen was given a starting staff comprised of Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Zack Wheeler, and Steven Matz. Behind them were well regarded prospects in Justin Dunn, Anthony Kay, and Simeon Woods Richardson.
The Mets rotation over the final week of the 2020 season will be deGrom, Rick Porcello, maybe Matz, and who knows what else?
The position player core was remarkably cheap and talented. There was Michael Conforto, Brandon Nimmo, Pete Alonso, Jeff McNeil, Dominic Smith, and Amed Rosario. Behind them was Andres Gimenez and Jarred Kelenic.
Sure, there were some bad contracts, but they were short term in nature, and they were not going to serve as an impediment to either building on or retaining this core.
For example, the Jay Bruce and Yoenis Cespedes contacts were set to expire after this season. That coincided perfectly with having to have the money to re-sign deGrom and to have extension talks with Conforto, Matz, and Syndergaard.
Instead, the Mets no longer have Kelenic giving them a buffet against losing one of Conforto or Nimmo. They also have Robinson Cano‘s onerous contract on the books which already served as an impediment to re-signing Wheeler.
That’s nothing to say of the quality prospect purge in the same of finding a late inning defensive replacement in center for a team who already had Juan Lagares and adding J.D. Davis to a team already overstocked in 1B/DH players.
Couple this with the Mets getting rid of Wilmer Flores for nothing only for him to be more productive than anyone Van Wagenen brought into the organization and signing Jed Lowrie for $20 million to get eight pinch hitting attempts, and the Van Wagenen stint as GM has been an unmitigated disaster.
If you want to point to Van Wagenen’s drafts as a positive, you should. However, in doing that, remember, that was a scouting group built by Alderson and Omar Minaya. The Mets will be keeping both advisors.
When you take everything into account, Alderson built the Mets to be a competitive team in 2019 and 2020. With any luck, he had a deep farm system to make the types of trades he made in 2015 to help get the team over the top.
The real window for this Mets team was supposed to open in 2021. Given the talent on the Major League roster and in the farm system, it promised to be a 1980s like run.
Instead, Alderson is back to figure out how yo fix this mess. Fortunately for him, he won’t have Van Wagenen or Jeff Wilpon standing in his way. Instead, he will have an owner with deep pockets who intends to let smart baseball people like Alderson do their jobs.
If you ever wanted the perfect encapsulation of what it means to be a Mets fan and the Wilpon Era has been, this was the series for you:
1. Amed Rosario takes first with two outs in the ninth after a wild pitch on strike three. He got picked off first.
2. That’s being a Mets fan. There’s a near miracle which gives you hope, and it’s followed with a massive blunder which leaves you completely befuddled.
3. Speaking of befuddled, how does Wilson Ramos swing at ball three against a reliever who can’t find the strike zone? That double play helped cost the game more than Rosario getting picked off.
5. It seems Rojas hasn’t found that balance of when to push a starter or go to the bullpen. It at least seems his decision comes back to bite the Mets no matter what.
6. Of course, that’s a larger sign of how bad the Mets rotation has been and just how bad the Mets bullpen is without Lugo.
7. Speaking of the state of the Mets pitching, Jeff McNeil apparently left the game to go to the bathroom.
8. At that point in the game, he had scored the Mets only run, and well, it seems the runs went with them.
9. Dominic Smith continues to be great this year. Not bad for a guy the team didn’t realize was one of the best players on the team.
10. Speaking of players the Mets thought were better than Smith, J.D. Davis has a .780 OPS and dropping, and he still can’t play third.
11. On the topic of ill conceived Brodie Van Wagenen trades, one poor appearance for Anthony Kay doesn’t suddenly make Kay bad (he isn’t), the Marcus Stroman trade good (it wasn’t), or Simeon Woods Richardson not a key part of the deal (he was).
12. Brandon Nimmo is a good hitter who can play a good corner outfield. He should not be the 2021 center fielder. In fact, he shouldn’t be that in 2020.
14. Again, Jacob deGrom showed he’s the best pitcher in baseball, and he’s nearing towards locking down his third straight Cy Young.
15. Even with deGrom having another historical great year, the Mets rotation is historically bad and are challenging the 1962 Mets for the worst starting rotation ERA in team history.
16. The Mets have legitimate candidates for Cy Young (deGrom), MVP (Michael Conforto), and Rookie of the Year (Andres Gimenez). Despite that, odds are they won’t finish above .500 or compete for a postseason spot.
17. When does Brodie Van Wagenen collect his Executive of the Year award?
18. Mets will be promoting the team being just three games back despite all that’s gone wrong on the final game of the season.
19. Steve Cohen is almost complete in his purchase of the Mets. This means the Wilpons will not win a World Series as majority owners of the team.
20. MLB finally did the right thing allowing the players to wear the first responder caps again. Everyone involved in making that happen, including Jeff Wilpon, should be commended.
— New York Mets (@Mets) August 29, 2020
— New York Mets (@Mets) August 28, 2020
Again, in the second end of the doubleheader, the Mets fell behind the Yankees. However, while David Peterson did struggle in his first start off the IL.
— New York Mets (@Mets) August 29, 2020
With that, Rosario hit a walk-off homer in Yankee Stadium giving the Mets a 4-3 win and doubleheader sweep, and Jared Hughes picked up his first Mets win. The Mets batted last in this game (but were still technically the away team) due to this game being rescheduled from last week.
As if the doubleheader sweep with both wins coming in dramatic fashion wasn’t enough, it appears Steve Cohen will be buying the Mets. All in all, this is about as good a day as it gets for Mets fans.
Game Notes: Juan Lagares was DFAd to make room for Marisnick. In the doubleheader, Smith was an incredible 3-for-4 with two runs, a double, homer, and RBI.
In the first game of the doubleheader, the Mets were 0-for-10 at the plate with runners in scoring position. Things weren’t as bad in the second half as the Mets offense went just 0-for-5.
The no hits with runners in scoring position, the Mets offense was shut out over 14 innings. Even if the Mets played the other four innings, you’d be hard pressed to find an argument why they’d score a run.
In this game, the Mets offense had just two hits, and those hits were originally Red errors. That at least spared the Mets the indignity of joining the Pittsburgh Pirates in being no-hit today.
At least the Pirates faced Lucas Giolito. This Mets team really has no excuses.
The Mets inability to hit ruined a good return to the rotation by Seth Lugo. Lugo lasted three innings, and he didn’t allow a base runner while striking out five.
While Luis Rojas said Lugo was good for 60 pitches, he lifted Lugo after 39 pitches. Seeing how the fourth inning unfolded, he may want to revisit this decision (or text message).
Chasen Shreve would relieve Hughes and get out of the inning, but it was too little too late as the Mets couldn’t drive in a run.
It’s gotten to the point where the Mets are snake-bit. Case-in-point is the sixth. The Mets had runners on first and second with one out, and Luis Guillorme tattooed a line drive.
That ball was hit right at Marlins first baseman Lewin Diaz. Diaz caught the liner before easily beating the runner to the base to end the inning.
That sixth was a very curious inning for Rojas.
After Cano beat the shift by slapping the ball the other way, Rojas tabbed Juan Lagares to pinch run for Cano. He did that even with Billy Hamilton being on the bench. Hamilton is a better runner and weaker hitter. The move made little sense.
As embarrassing as that was, there was Berti flat out embarrassing the Mets in the bottom of the sixth.
That wasn’t the worst of it.
With two outs, Ali Sanchez had looked Berti back to third. Berti moved towards third as Sanchez lollypopped a throw back to Familia.
On the throw, Berti spun and broke for home. Even with Berti slipping, he was able to steal home as Sanchez couldn’t field the throw Familia had spiked in front of him.
What — and I cannot stress this enough — just happened. pic.twitter.com/L2zKweOkFv
— Jacob Resnick (@Jacob_Resnick) August 26, 2020
It’s one thing to lose. It’s a whole other thing to be flat out embarrassed like this. The Mets lost 3-0. It might as well have been 100-0.
Game Notes: With this being a makeup game, the Marlins batted second. Even with the Marlins batting second, the Mets were still the home team. Jacob deGrom is slated to start tomorrow because the Mets wanted to keep him on his regular schedule. Sanchez had his first career MLB start.
After a Mets player and coach tested positive for COVID19, they haven’t played since Thursday. They came back to play today, and they didn’t figure out how to hit with RISP during their time off.
In the fourth, Rosario grounded out with runners on first and second.
In the fifth, Robinson Cano grounded out with runners on first and second.
In the seventh, Brandon Nimmo led off the inning with a double. Davis grounded out. Conforto reached on an error. Cano lined out.
That was it. No, not because the Mets didn’t do anything afterwards. It’s because doubleheaders are only seven innings now. Mostly, it’s because Rob Manfred apparently hates baseball.
The Mets ultimately lost 4-0 because of their complete inability to hit with RISP. It also doesn’t help Rick Porcello struggled.
The Marlins got to him for three runs in the second. All three runs were scored with two outs. The key difference in the game was the Mets went 0-for-10 with RISP while Lewis Brinson and Miguel Rojas had two out RBI singles.
Porcello allowed another run in the third. It would be his last inning as he’d be pulled after a rain delay of over an hour. He was replaced by Corey Oswalt, who was the Mets bright spot of the game.
Oswalt allowed just one hit over the final four innings while striking out three. He’d also get some help from Dominic Smith.
WHAT A CATCH BY DOM SMITH!!!!!! pic.twitter.com/jPI6RAw6n8
— SNY (@SNYtv) August 25, 2020
Overall, this was a flat out bad loss by the Mets. They need to be better than this. Hopefully, they will in the second part of the doubleheader.
Game Notes: Andres Gimenez and Tomas Nido were put on the 10 day IL for “undisclosed reasons.” Juan Lagares and Patrick Mazeika were called up. Ali Sanchez was the 29th man for the doubleheader. McNeil batted eighth.
For all his bravado, Brodie Van Wagenen has not only stripped the farm system down, but he did it while impinging the Major League roster’s ability to compete for a World Series. To put it in perspective, let’s just look at what the Mets roster would look like right now if Van Wagenen only kept the Mets players in the organization had he not taken the job, or, if he did nothing.
Some caveats here. This assumes free agents were re-signed. Without the Robinson Cano deal, that would’ve been possible. Also, it assumes the same players who are injured for the season would remain injured. Finally, this will eliminate those players not on active 28 man rosters. With that in mind, here’s what the 2020 Mets would’ve looked like.
2B Jeff McNeil
3B Todd Frazier
SS Amed Rosario
CF Juan Lagares
DH Pete Alonso
INF Wilmer Flores
1B/OF Jay Bruce
INF Luis Guillorme
RHP Jacob deGrom
RHP Zack Wheeler
LHP Steven Matz
LHP Anthony Kay
LHP David Peterson
RHP Seth Lugo
RHP Rafael Montero
RHP Justin Dunn
RHP Robert Gsellman
RHP Drew Smith
LHP Blake Taylor
RHP Bobby Wahl
LHP Daniel Zamora
RHP Paul Sewald
RHP Franklyn Kilome
Looking at the team overall, the starting pitching is vastly superior as is the team defense. The bullpen may not be as deep, but they certainly have the arms.
Overall, this non-Van Wagenen impacted roster would’ve certainly been better than the 9-14 team his Mets roster is. This just goes to show you how bad of a GM Van Wagenen is.
He’s made the Mets worse in 2020, and he’s made the Mets future less promising. You could not have done a worse job than Van Wagenen has done.