Kevin Plawecki

Mets 2020 Roster Without Brodie Van Wagenen

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.

Lineup

C Travis d’Arnaud

1B Dominic Smith

2B Jeff McNeil

3B Todd Frazier

SS Amed Rosario

LF Brandon Nimmo

CF Juan Lagares

RF Michael Conforto

DH Pete Alonso

Bench

C Kevin Plawecki

INF Wilmer Flores

1B/OF Jay Bruce

INF Luis Guillorme

Starting Rotation

RHP Jacob deGrom

RHP Zack Wheeler

LHP Steven Matz

LHP Anthony Kay

LHP David Peterson

Bullpen

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

This isn’t set in stone. The Mets could’ve opted for one fewer reliever for Andres Gimenez. On the subject of top 100 prospects, the Mets also would’ve still had Jarred Kelenic.

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.

David Peterson Debut Knocked The Red Sox Off

The fun part about MLB debuts is you can never quite be sure how it will go. Will they be the player they were in the minors? Will the stage be too big for them? Or, will they rise to the occasion and take their game to the next level?

On the last one, we have seen Jacob deGrom and Seth Lugo do that. They’re now the best starter and reliever in the game. That should get you all the more excited seeing David Peterson tonight.

Peterson raised his velocity from the high 80s to low 90s to 94 MPH. He showed slightly better control. He rose to the big moments.

Case in point was the third inning. Former Met Kevin Plawecki hit a routine fly ball J.D. Davis misplayed into a double. After an ensuing walk to Andrew Benintendi, Brandon Nimmo sprinted and dropped a deep Jose Peraza fly ball to load the bases.

Peterson responded by striking out J.D. Martinez. Then, he got the ground ball he needed. It was an odd play where Robinson Cano was ruled to have caught a ball he seemed to short hop. The second base umpire had a delayed out call leading to Benintendi taking off for third.

Benintendi was finally tracked down in the run down as Plawecki scored. At that time, it was 3-1 Mets.

The Mets got that lead with a three run third. The first run game on a Cano RBI double. After that double, Nimmo was walked to load the bases. Amed Rosario then delivered a bloop single scoring two.

With the lead, Peterson was pitching well despite not getting much help from his defense. As mentioned above, Davis misplayed a ball, and we’d see Jeff McNeil throw a ball away. On McNeil, his arm may be something which needs monitoring because his throws to first haven’t been good. Really, the only standout defensive play came from Michael Conforto.

After that odd third inning run, Peterson starting putting up a string of zeros. That I included his inducing an inning ending double play to end the fifth.

Peterson hit the end of the line in the sixth. Rafael Devers and Kevin Pillar hit a pair of doubles pulling the Red Sox to within 5-2. Drew Smith came in for Peterson, and he had another impressive performance striking out Mitch Moreland to end the inning.

While Smith was impressive, the story was Peterson. He was much better than you could’ve hoped. With the increased velocity and better control, he suddenly changed what could be his ceiling. You could not ask for a better debut than this.

Justin Wilson and Dellin Betances each put together scoreless innings out of the bullpen. In a three run eighth, Nimmo and McNeil hit a pair of RBI doubles to increase the Mets lead to 8-2.

On that note, Cano started that rally. TGIF was a great night for him where he seemed rejuvenated. Overall, he was 2-for-3 with a run, double, and an RBI.

In fact, for the second straight night, the Mets offense was clicking. Overall, Yoenis Cespedes and Pete Alonso were the only two Mets without a hit. However, both would reach base safely with Alonso drawing a walk and Cespedes getting hit by a pitch.

Overall, if you’re looking for something to lament, Hunter Strickland struggled again allowing a run in the ninth. Still, there’s no need to focus on that with the Mets beating up on the Red Sox again and getting to over .500.

Today would normally be a good day. With Peterson’s great debut, it was a phenomenal day.

Game Notes: Despite entering the game as the team’s RBI leader and homering yesterday, Dominic Smith was benched again. In response to the Marlins COVID19 outbreak, they’re being shut down for the week. The Phillies series against the Yankees has been canceled, and the Yankees will play the Orioles instead.

Walker Lockett More Realistic Target Than Steven Matz For Yankees

It is not even Opening Day, and the New York Yankees pitching rotation is getting decimated. Luis Severino is done for the year after opting for Tommy John surgery. James Paxton had a microscoptic lumbar discectomy and is out until June. Throw in Domingo German being suspended for the first 63 games of the 2020 season.

Right there, the Yankees will enter the season missing 3/5 of their rotation. This has them relying on J.A. Happ more than they intended, and they are going to have to hope a couple of pitchers step up. That includes Jonathan Loaisiga, who struggled last year, and Jordan Montgomery, who is returning from Tommy John, and Luis Cessa, who has proved to be more reliable in the bullpen.

When you consider one of the more “reliable” arms in the Yankees rotation is Masahiro Tanaka, who has a torn UCL. Looking at that and everything going on, the Yankees need arms. To that end, there is no surprise the Yankees reportedly called the Mets to inquire on Steven Matz.

While it would make sense for the Yankees to attempt to obtain Matz from the Mets, it doesn’t make much sense for the Mets to trade Matz away.

Matz is the only left-handed option for the Mets rotation. He is under team control through the 2021 season, which is all the more important considering Marcus Stroman, Rick Porcello, and Michael Wacha are free agents after this season. More than that, Matz has potential for a real breakthrough season.

No, the Mets need Matz in the rotation in 2020 and 2021. Moreover, trading Matz runs counter to the Mets plan of building starting rotation depth over re-signing Zack Wheeler and keeping their aces together. Still, even with Matz being off the table, there is a realistic trade between the Mets and Yankees.

Walker Lockett is out of options, and realistically speaking, there is no path to him to make the Opening Day roster. This leaves the Mets in a position to lose Lockett, a player they acquired in the Kevin Plawecki trade last year, for nothing.

Instead of risking a Lockett falling to them in waivers, the Yankees could obtain Lockett now. If they did that, they get the added benefit of seeing how he works with their own coaching staff. Another added benefit to acquiring Lockett is he’s a groundball pitcher, which could be useful to a team with a good infield defense and a home run friendly ballpark.

Ideally, the Mets return could be a player similarly out-of-options. While ideal, it is not realistic as Kyle Higashioka, Michael Tauchman, and Gio Urshela will very likely make the Yankees Opening Day roster. Maybe the Yankees would be willing to part with a player like Tyler Wade or Thairo Estrada, each of whom have an option remaining, but really that doesn’t seem likely for a player the Yankees could wait out to obtain on waivers.

Really, the Mets potential return for Lockett is really limited, but it is better they seek out what they can get for him now instead of risking losing him for nothing. With the Yankees, they at least have an obvious fit. The question is whether these two teams can find a middle ground, or really, if the Yankees would have any interest whatsoever in Lockett.

Apparently Mets Backup Catcher No Longer A Concern

As the Mets embarked on the offseason, Brodie Van Wagenen specifically said the Mets were looking to upgrade over Tomas Nido as a backup catching option. Given Wilson Ramos‘ durability concerns, Nido’s 40 wRC+, and pitchers like Noah Syndergaard pushing for a personal catcher, you could understand Van Wagenen’s position.

However, as it stands today, the Mets appear as if they are going to go into the 2020 season with Nido returning as the backup catcher.

Now, there are some reasons for that. Players who could have fit that mold like Robinson Chirinos and Jason Castro got starting jobs elsewhere, and they essentially signed for starter money. While we can have a debate as to the merits of not upgrading over Ramos, the fact is if the Mets wanted a pure backup, these players ultimately were not going to fit the mold.

Still looking past that, there were plenty of players who fit exactly what the Mets wanted, and yet the team didn’t strike. There was Francisco Cervelli, who signed a cheap deal with the Marlins. Worse yet, there was Kevin Plawecki who signed for under $1 million. More than any other player, Plawecki was the fit due to framing ability, familiarity with the pitching staff, and cost.

Now, when you look at the free agent market, there isn’t much left. At this point in his career, Jonathan Lucroy appears near done as a Major League caliber player. John Ryan Murphy never panned out to be the catcher some thought he might be. Really, when you parse through it all, there remains one viable option on the market – Russell Martin.

According to Baseball Savant, Martin is a strong pitch framer on the lower half of the plate. That should help Syndergaard and pitchers like Rick Porcello and Marcus Stroman. On that point, Martin actually caught Stroman.

He also had a decent season at the plate for a backup catcher with an 83 wRC+. Moreover, he is seen as a leader in the clubhouse, and he has already shown an ability to handle New York during his time with the Yankees. When looking at him, he makes a lot of sense for the Mets.

Of course, the Mets would still have to be interested in addressing one of the primary needs they laid out as the offseason opened. On that front, Van Wagenen has walked back those remarks a bit to indicate he is now comfortable with Nido and Ali Sanchez in Triple-A as his catching depth. You could see his point if he was addressing other areas of the team, but he isn’t.

Ultimately, the Mets are going to need an upgrade from their backup catcher. Based upon his career and 2019 season Martin is that guy. In fact, based on the market, he’s really the only guy remaining. If not him, the Mets are going to have to just hope Nido makes significant strides forward in 2020 while receiving very limited playing time.

Three Backup Catching Options Mets Should Pursue

According to reports, the New York Mets are currently looking to upgrade their bullpen and backup catcher situation. While Tomas Nido was a strong defensive catcher, he had just a 40 wRC+, which probably necessitates this search.

Ideally, whomever the Mets acquire can offer the Nido’s defensive abilities while also providing a better bat. Also, given the Mets shoestring budget, the player they acquire is likely going to have to be cheap. Here are five catchers who should meet those requirements:

Kevin Plawecki

The mention of Plawecki may not excite Mets fans who had grown exacerbated with his never quite fulfilling his offensive potential. Even with his offensive struggles in Cleveland, Plawecki’s 63 wRC+ was far better than Nido’s. If he reverts to the catcher who had a 10.8% walk rate and 96 OPS+ in his final three years with the Mets all the better.

Another factor with Plawecki is he has historically been a strong pitch framer. As noted by Baseball Savant, Plawecki was a strong pitch framer on the lower half of the plate. That is of no small significance with a pitching staff which includes Marcus Stroman, Noah Syndergaard, Jeurys Familia, and Edwin Diaz.

Of note with Syndergaard, who had his issues with Wilson Ramos, his 5.33 K/BB with Plawecki behind the plate is the best mark he has had with any catcher not named Rene Rivera.

Russell Martin

On the topic of the Mets pitchers who need the low strike to succeed, there was a Grantland article which described Martin’s strong framing, which included his exceptional work on the lower half of the zone. While he is not the same framer he was in his prime, he is still one of the better framers in the lower part of the zone getting a called strike a little over 50% of the time.

In addition to framing the low strike, Martin had a strong offensive season for a backup catcher with an 83 wRC+. However, it should be noted that was part of a three year drop off offensively, and he is 36 years old. Still, Martin is a respected veteran presence, and that should not be underestimated.

If the Mets do change course and go with the personal catcher route, it would be much more palatable to Ramos and the clubhouse for the Mets to defer to a catcher of Martin’s stature than it probably was with Nido last year. Overall, this should help the clubhouse and the pitching staff. Speaking of saving the pitching staff, Martin can be relied upon as a reliever in blow out games.

Jason Castro

With the Mets hiring Jeremy Hefner as the pitching coach, the organization is looking for an advanced analytical approach to help bring the pitching staff to bring them to the next level. This requires the implementation of a new organizational philosophy across the board. That process could be helped along by the Mets bringing in Castro, who worked with Hefner in Minnesota.

In addition to his knowledge of what Hefner is looking to do, Castro is a strong framer, and like aforementioned catchers, he is strong in the lower parts of the zone. He is also exceptional at getting the corners. Unlike the aforementioned catchers, he was an above average league hitter with a 103 wRC+.

On that note, it was the highest mark he had in six years, and it was just the second time in the past decade he was an above-average league hitter. Of course, some of the impact to that is the ball which was much maligned last year. Despite that, Castro is still a good hitter for the position with strong framing metrics.

Looking beyond these three, it is difficult to find a catcher who would fulfill the criteria of being a better hitter than Nido as well as a strong framer, especially in the lower half of the zone. The framing in the lower half of the zone really needs to be a focus for this Mets team given their pitchers and in their attempts to find a complement to Ramos.

Other popular names like Martin Maldonado may not come as cheap, and others like a Francisco Cervelli do not have the lower half framing numbers you want. Those three catchers should be the overall upgrade at a cheap cost over Nido, who the Mets may very well lose as he is out of options.

 

Mets Should Be Looking To Bring Back Kevin Plawecki

The New York Mets are in a position where they need to build depth and improve the team, but they do not have the budget to make significant additions. This means they are in a position where they need to make smart decisions to help them improve their roster.

Specifically, the Mets have been looking for an upgrade over Tomas Nido as the backup catcher. One of the reasons why is Nido had a woeful 40 wRC+. Given his approach at the plate, there is a real debate as to how much better he could be as a hitter.

As a defensive minded backup, that’s not the worst thing in the world. However, when you break it down, while Nido does have good framing numbers, they do not appear to be strong enough to justify not looking to upgrade from him especially with him hitting like a pitcher.

When you look at the framing numbers from Baseball Savant, Nido had a strong season, but it was not as good of a year as the season Kevin Plawecki had with the Cleveland Indians. Specifically, Plawecki was stronger on the lower half of the plate where Noah Syndergaard and some of the other pitchers on the staff like Marcus Stroman, Jeurys Familia, and Edwin Diaz like to get outs.

While Plawecki has frustrated Mets fans, he has shown an ability to work with this Mets pitching staff. With the Mets, he never quite fulfilled his offensive promise, but he still walked 10.8% of the time in his last three years with the Mets, and he had a manageable 96 OPS+.

Of course, he fell apart last year with the Indians putting up his worse offensive season since his 2015 rookie year when he was rushed to the majors. Still, even if he is now a 63 wRC+ level player, that is still a considerably better hitter than Nido with better framing numbers, especially in the zones where key Mets pitchers need help.

Breaking it down, Plawecki is a considerable upgrade over Nido, and with him likely coming cheap, a reunion with the Mets makes a lot of sense.

Rick Porcello Makes No Sense For Mets

The Mets are in a spot where they need to find a fifth starter to replace Zack Wheeler in the rotation. Finding such a starter is complicated because the team is attempting to at least give the allusion they are trying to contend in 2020, but so far, they have very limited resources this offseason. In some ways, that makes Rick Porcello a prime candidate, which according to reports, he is.

Porcello, 30, is just a few years removed from winning the 2016 American League Cy Young. With his Cy Young, being a local kid from Morristown, New Jersey, and his having won a World Series, he is someone who could be sold to the fan base. The fact he has proven to be a durable starter who will make 30 starts a year and pitch over 170.0 innings is of real value. In essence, he could be viewed upon as a Bartolo Colon who keeps himself in shape, doesn’t cheat, and is not a deadbeat dad.

Make no mistake, Porcello does have real value as a fifth starter for any team. There is also some potential for some upside with him. After all, his ERA was worse than his FIP, and the Red Sox having just a putrid defense last year with a -40 team DRS. To that end, the Red Sox were particularly bad on the infield.

Among the biggest culprits were SS Xander Bogaerts (-21 DRS) and 3B Rafael Devers (-6 DRS). Ultimately, the Red Sox team -11 DRS at second was the second worst in the majors. Their -12 team DRS at third and -20 team DRS at short were the third worst in the majors. When you are a pitcher like Porcello who is a sinkerball pitcher, albeit one who is generating more fly balls in two of the last three years, that is not a recipe for success.

That is exacerbated by the batters only going the opposite way against Porcello 22.3% of the time. Ultimately, if Porcello is going to be successful, he needs a strong infield defense behind him. Moreover, with Baseball Savant noting how Porcello likes to pound the bottom of the strike zone, he needs a catcher who is adept at framing the low strike. Breaking it all down, Porcello and the Mets are a very poor match.

In terms of the infield defense, the Mets actually had a worse team defense than the Red Sox with a -93 DRS. That was the worst in the National League, and the second worst in the Majors. Remarkably, that was even worse than the -77 DRS the team had in 2018. What makes those numbers all the more daunting is the Mets appear set to lose Todd Frazier, their best defensive infielder, to free agency.

Like the Red Sox, the Mets were bad defensively across the infield. The Mets -5 DRS at first and -7 DRS at second were sixth worst in the majors. Their -5 DRS at third was the seventh worst in the majors. Finally, their -18 DRS at short was the fourth worst in the majors. As noted by Mark Simon of The Athletic, this is all exacerbated by the Mets being one of the worst defensively aligned infields in the majors. Part of that is an organizational philosophy which tries to minimize the extent to which the infield is shifted.

Now, there were some positives to the infield defense with Amed Rosario playing at a 0 DRS in the second half last year. Of course, behind that is the fact he has consecutive -16 DRS seasons at short. Also, while Frazier is leaving in free agency, Jeff McNeil has proven to be very good at third base in this brief Major League career. If it is him who takes over at third, and not J.D. Davis, the Mets might be able to put Porcello in a position to succeed.

The caveat there is Rosario’s second half improvement is real, and McNeil’s successes are not a short sample size illusion. If we believe in that, and there is reason to believe, that could help Porcello who has a high pull rate against him. However, that is mitigated by Robinson Cano and his poor play (-6 DRS) at second last year. It is very difficult to imagine Cano will be better at second in his age 37 season.

Even if the Mets find a way to configure the infield successfully, Wilson Ramos presents a significant problem.

As noted by MMO‘s Mathew Brownstein, the Red Sox were the fourth best framing team in the majors last year. With respect to Porcello, he had “the 13th-most pitches in the shadow zone (edges of strike zone) called for strikes in 2019.” With respect to Ramos, as noted by MMN‘s Roberto Correa, Ramos was in the bottom 15 in the Majors in framing. Particularly, Ramos struggled in the so-called shadow zone and the low pitch.

In terms of the Mets 2019 pitching staff, we would see this have a significant impact on both Noah Syndergaard and Edwin Diaz with Diaz being the far more vocal of the two. Really, across the board, Mets pitchers performed worse with Ramos behind the plate as the pitching staff adjusted from historically strong framers like Travis d’Arnaud and Kevin Plawecki. If Porcello is a Met in 2020, we will likely see him have similar struggles.

Ultimately, Porcello may well prove to be a quality fifth starter or better for some team in 2020. He may very well prove to be a surprise for teams who have good defensive infields as well as a catcher who can get him the low strike. Unfortunately, that team is not the New York Mets. As a result, Porcello should look elsewhere for that bounce-back season, and the Mets need to find another pitcher to fill that fifth spot in their rotation.

Mickey Callaway Officially The Mets Scapegoat

There were plenty of reasons to fire Mickey Callaway if you wanted. In fact, his incident with Tim Healey in and of itself was grounds for firing. To the extent it was Callaway and not the front office making some of those curious moves, you certainly have further justification.

However, what you really can’t do is pin the Mets failures to make the postseason at Callaway’s lap, which is what firing him does. That was all the more the case when Brodie Van Wagenen was trying to spin the 2019 season as a positive, including but not limited to noting Edwin Diaz had 26 saves.

Before proceeding, some background is necessary here.

By and large, the Mets were seen as a third or fourth place team in the division with around 85 wins. For example, ZiPS predicted the Mets would finish the year 87-75 in a three way tie for second place in the division. Looking at the 2019 season, the Mets Pythagorean was 86-76, and it just so happened, that was the Mets final record as they finished in third place in the division.

To that extend, the Mets neither over nor underachieved. Rather, you could argue they performed as expected. Of course, lost in that was all that happened during the season.

Pete Alonso had a season greater than anyone could’ve imagined. Jeff McNeil was an All-Star. Amed Rosario figured things out in the second half. The Mets got more production from J.D. Davis and Dominic Smith than they could’ve reasonably expected.

Looking at that alone, you would say the Mets should’ve finished much better than they did. After all, when you are getting that level of production from your young players, the Mets should have been in the Braves position. They would fall far short of that.

There were many reasons for that. Brandon Nimmo would miss over three months of the season. Jed Lowrie would record no hits in only nine pinch hitting attempts. Robinson Cano had an injury plagued year, and when he did play he was not up to his typical standards. Aside from Seth Lugo, the bullpen was mainly a mess. Noah Syndergaard would struggle with the new ball and the new catcher.

The Syndergaard point brings up another interesting point. All the moves Van Wagenen made this offseason proved to be a downgrade from what was already on the team.

Ramos’ 1.4 fWAR was lower than Travis d’Arnaud‘s 1.6. Another interesting note is d’Arnaud would have a 107 OPS+ with the Rays, which is the same Ramos would have with the Mets the whole year. The Mets would cut d’Arnaud after one horrible game leaving the Mets with Tomas Nido as the backup for the full season. He’d have a -0.5 fWAR, which is lower than both d’Arnaud and Kevin Plawecki (0.2).

Cano’s 0.3 WAR was lower than McNeil’s 5.0. Worse yet, it was only 0.1 higher than Justin Dunn‘s 0.2 in four games with the Mariners this year. In fact, Dunn’s 0.2 WAR was much higher than Diaz’s -0.6. Things get worse when you consider Anthony Swarzak had a 0.0 WAR.

Long story short, the Mets would have been better off in 2019 if this trade was never made. What makes this all the more scary is this was supposed to be the year the Mets benefited most. Things are going to get much worse as Jarred Kelenic continues his way to the majors.

Now, people will want to say not all of Van Wagenen’s moves were bad with Davis being held up as the ideal. On that note, Davis was terrible in the field. Among players with at least 550 innings in left, his -11 DRS was the worst in the National League. Among third baseman with at least 200 innings, his -9 DRS was the third worst in all of baseball.

All told, Davis had a 1.0 WAR on the season. That’s just 0.2 higher than Wilmer Flores despite his having played 51 more games. All told, the Mets would have been better off keeping Flores over trading for Davis and signing Lowrie. It would have been a much better allocation of resources than what Van Wagenen actually did.

Beyond all of that, the Mets had players like Aaron Altherr, Keon Broxton, and Carlos Gomez serve as outfield depth. They’d cycle through relievers like Tim Peterson, Stephen Nogosek, Hector Santiago, Brooks Pounders, and the like all season rather than adding that one other arm the bullpen needed. That would make Jeurys Familia‘s season long struggles and Justin Wilson‘s needing to be limited all the worse.

In the end, you can see all the good mitigated against all the bad. In fact, you could argue given all that happened, the Mets probably could’ve been worse than their third place finish. This is all to say the Mets probably did about as well as could have been expected.

That brings us back to Callaway.

Given the Mets did not underachieve, you have a difficult basis to fire him. If you want to argue a better manager could have gotten more from this team, you certainly have a point. If that is the case, the Mets have to now go out and get that guy. That means you hire Joe Girardi or maybe Buck Showalter or Dusty Baker.

But make no mistake here. By firing Callaway, the Mets are essentially pinpointing him as the reason why this team missed the postseason. In the end, if the Mets are going to sell everyone Callaway was the problem, the next manager is going to have to take the Mets to the postseason. That is the bar which has now been set.

If the Mets don’t make the postseason, then we’ll know what we have known since Spring Training. The Mets weren’t good enough not because of their manager. No, they weren’t good enough because the Wilpons didn’t invest enough money into this team, and the General Manager they hired failed to assemble the roster good enough to back up the “Come get us!” hype.

Conforto Keeps Mets Alive For One More Day

Make tonight about Noah Syndergaard struggling against the Marlins even with him having Tomas Nido behind the plate. Certainly, that’s an area for discussion with him taking the loss after allowing four earned over five innings.

While everyone was handwringing and sending shots Syndergaard’s way, Sandy Alcantara and the Marlins pitching shut down the Mets offense. This was a night after Caleb Smith and the Marlins staff largely shut down the Mets offense.

Yesterday, it was an Amed Rosario grand slam. Today, it was a Michael Conforto two run homer in tonight’s 4-2 loss.

It was Walker Lockett pitching yesterday, and it was Chris Mazza tonight. It’s unfair to call that giving up, and yet, you’d have to come up with some sort of alternative explanation as to why they’d be in the game.

Ultimately, this had the same feel as the Marlins inexplicably sweeping the Mets in June. The Mets looked like the 100 loss team, and the Marlins the team scratching and clawing for the postseason. That’s how the 2007 and 2008 seasons ended. With the Mets tragic number at one, it seemed like that’s how the 2019 season would end.

That was until Conforto came up in the bottom of the ninth with a man on, and he literally hit the homer which saved the Mets season.

If the Mets lost, they were officially eliminated from postseason contention. While that day may come tomorrow, it didn’t happen today because Conforto game up with two huge two run homers to tie the score 4-4.

As improbable as that was, something all the more impossible happened.

In the bottom of the 11th, Conforto drew a leadoff walk leading to Don Mattingly bringing in Jeff Brigham to replace Adam Conley.

Brigham would plunk Rosario, and he’s throw a wild pitch leading to his walking Todd Frazier intentionally to load the bases.

Mattingly brought in five infielders due to Wilson Ramos‘ ground ball tendencies. The move seemed to pay off as Starlin Castro would make a great play on a slow hopper up the line. He’d barehand it and flip it just ahead of Conforto.

For some reason, the Marlins kept the five infielders in against Brandon Nimmo. It didn’t matter with Nimmo doing what he does best – drawing a walk. This walk forced home a run giving the Mets a true walk off win.

The end result of the 5-4 win wasn’t just the Mets staying alive for at least one more day. It meant Paul Sewald would get the win after starting his career 0-14.

Game Notes: Before the game, the Mets announced Jerry Koosman‘s number 36 would be retired next season. In response to the announcement, Mickey Callaway switched his number to Kevin Plawecki‘s old 26.

Rain Ends Game, Not Mets Winning Streak

With Noah Syndergaard painting the corners and uncharacteristically dominating up in the zone, the starting pitcher had the stuff.

With J.D. Davis doing his best Mike Baxter impersonation, there was the catch.

Indians starter Adam Civale was doing his part as well pitching well keeping the game moving at a brisk pace.

The back-to-back doubles by Michael Conforto and Wilson Ramos in the fourth provided the 2-0 lead taking that concern out of the equation.

This was close to the optimal defensive lineup with Joe Panik at second, Todd Frazier at third, and Juan Lagares in center.

For a moment, the only real concern seemed to be the weather. Then, with one out in the sixth, Tyler Naquin hit a really tough pitch by Syndergaard up the middle which dropped just in front of Lagares who busted in as hard as he could.

With this being the 50th anniversary of the 1969 World Series, there’s the obvious Tom Seaver/Jimmy Qualls comparisons, this had more of a David Cone/Benny Distefano feel to it even if Syndergaard was perfect through 5.1 innings (Cone was “just” a no-hitter).

As we have seen when many no-hitters/perfect games are lost, we are then left with a ballgame; a ballgame where things are the doubt shifts from the ability of a pitcher to compete the no-hitter to the pitcher being able to maintain the lead.

After Naquin singled, Civale struck out to flip over the lineup. Francisco Lindor made things all the more perilous with a single. The speedy Greg Allen hit a ball hard to the right side which appeared to be a surefire RBI single.

Pete Alonso made an incredible diving play which alone would have prevented the run from scoring. But in direct contrast to the play with Brad Hand last night, Syndergaard busted it to first, and he’d beat Allen to the bag ending the inning.

While Naquin would rain on everybody’s parade, the actual rains came in the bottom of the sixth.

With the way it was coming down and for how long, the Syndergaard gem was over. His final line was 6.0 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 5 K. The line was both amazing and disappointing because we are all left wondering what could’ve been.

After a lengthy rain delay, the Mets brought in exactly the person you wanted to see pitch – Jeurys Familia. Unlike July 30, 2015, there would be no blowup for him. Instead, it was a scoreless inning.

As strange as that might’ve seen for some fans, the bottom of the seventh was all the more bizarre. Frazier initially reached and took second on a Tyler Clippard throwing error. The only reason Frazier didn’t go for third was he respected Yasiel Puig‘s arm. Of course, Puig threw the bell away when he was flashing the arm.

With Frazier at third, Lagares hit a ball to medium left field. Between the wet track and Naquin’s arm, there was zero shot Frazier would be safe, so of course, Gary Disarcina sent him. The ball beat him by a healthy margin as Kevin Plawecki tagged him out.

Thirty-four minutes after the first rain delay, there would be another delay. At this moment in time, Paul Sewald has just a perfect eighth, and due to the delay, the chances of using him for the ninth were gone.

The Mets had runners at the corners due to a Luis Guillorme leadoff pinch hit walk and an Amed Rosario opposite field single. At least that’s where things were when they finally decided to call the game. That means Guillorme and Rosario never reached base, but it does mean Sewald gets the save.

In the end, it’s a series sweep for the Mets who are now SEVEN games over .500. They’re now a half-game behind the Cardinals (one in the loss column) for the second Wild Card. Not too shabby for a fringe postseason team.

Game Notes: Jeff McNeil began a rehab assignment tonight. Ruben Tejada was designated for assignment to create room for the Mets to call up Chris Flexen.