This was supposed to be the day everything got better.
In the first, the Orioles played two against Jason Vargas with a Manny Machado RBI single and a Danny Valencia sac fly. Believe it or not (you should believe it), the Mets could not overcome that deficit.
Ultimately, with runners on second and third with no out, the Mets would only plate one run on a Jose Bautista sacrifice fly. Bautista just missed it, but he missed it all the same.
With Seth Lugo pitching three scoreless and Swarzak returning with a scoreless inning, the Mets would have a chance to tie the game with a big hit, an error, really, anything.
And the Mets has a golden chance in the eighth.
After an Amed Rosario one out walk, Brandon Nimmo laid down a bunt. Valencia got to the ball, but he pulled the first baseman off the bag with his throw. With the heart of the order approaching, Asdrubal Cabrera hit into an inning ending and effectively speaking a game ending double play.
Now, the Mets are four games under .500, and you’re left wondering where the low point is going to be because the Mets certainly haven’t found it yet.
Game Notes: Cabrera is now one for his last 25.
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.
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.
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.
For some reasons after Wheeler threw 97 pitches, Mickey Callaway stuck with him for the seventh.
The game quickly unraveled from there.
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.
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.
More than any game this season, you expected the Mets to lose yesterday. Jason Vargas and his 10.62 ERA were pitching on three days rest. The team made a flurry of moves to add Tim Peterson, Buddy Baumann, and Scott Copeland, a trio many joked were really names spit out by the Madden name generator, to the roster. Once again, they had an extremely short bench.
And to make matters worse, the Braves were pitching Julio Teheran, who has owned the Mets in his career.
But something very interesting happened. Vargas was actually good. The veteran lefty would pitch five shutout innings against the Braves. Better yet because of a pair of fourth inning doubles from Jay Bruce and Adrian Gonzalez, the Mets actually had a 1-0 lead through five.
Interestingly enough, many were actually second guessing Mickey Callaway‘s decision to pull Vargas after five. The main arguments were he was pitching well, and he had only thrown 65 pitches.
Those arguments neglect the obvious counterpoint that Vargas was on short rest, and he’s been bad all year. Those five innings were a gift, and rather than look in the horse’s mouth to see if anything was left, he thanked the baseball gods and gave the ball to Peterson.
Peterson is an interesting story because as the Mets 2012 20th round draft pick, he was going to have to do more than the average prospect to prove himself. He has done just that coming off a 1.14ERA in Binghamton last year, a terrific stretch in the Arizona Fall League, and a 3.45 ERA and 12.6 K/9 for Las Vegas this year. With the rash of injuries, at 27 years old, Peterson was finally going to get his shot.
He would immediately prove he belonged pitching a 1-2-3 sixth inning, an inning where he faced Ozzie Albies–Freddie Freeman–Nick Markakis. That is no small feat indeed. In fact, in his two innings of work, he would allow just one hit. Unfortunately, that one hit was a Johan Camargo homer to the same exact spot he hit his walk-off against Gerson Bautista the previous night.
Fortunately, that homer would cut the lead to 2-1 because the Mets came up with two huge two out hits against Teheran. First, Amed Rosario hit a rope to center past Ender Inciarte that turned into a two out triple. Then, Brandon Nimmo would jump on a 3-2 pitch and rip a single to right to give the Mets a then 2-0 led. That triple set up an important insurance run, but it would not be the last impact Rosario would have on this game.
In the top of the eighth, Shane Carle relieved Teheran, and the Mets immediately went on the attack. After a Jose Bautista double, Bruce was intentionally walked, and Kevin Plawecki worked out a six pitch walk. Gonzalez, who the Braves are paying $21.8 million not to play for them, hit an RBI single giving the Mets a 3-1 lead. The rally would end there as Luis Guillorme hit into an inning ending double play.
Callaway then made a decision he promised to make heading into the season, but he has not followed through. He brought Jeurys Familia into the eighth inning because the Braves had the top of the lineup coming up. No, this was not going to be a six out save chance. Rather, Callaway was using his best reliever to get out the best hitters in the Braves lineup.
The move almost blew up with Albies and Freeman hitting a pair of one out singles followed by Markakis smoking a grounder up the middle. That’s when Rosario made a truly great defensive play to save the inning and perhaps the game:
— SportsNet New York (@SNYtv) May 31, 2018
That 6-4-3 double play ended the inning, and it might’ve saved the game.
In the top of the ninth, Rosario and Nimmo added an insurance run off Miguel Socolovich with a pair of one out doubles to increase the Mets lead t0 4-1. That three run margin was more than enough for Robert Gsellman to record his first one inning save.
Ulitmately, in a series of many twists and turns, the Mets battled through injury and fatigue and somehow walked away with a split. Perhaps more importantly, we now have a signature game from Rosario, who suddenly seems like he is figuring it out in each and every aspect of his game. He’s been exciting, and as he continues to develop, you have more and more reason to get excited about this Mets team.
Game Notes: To make room for the aforementioned three relievers, Phillip Evans and Jacob Rhame were sent down to Triple-A. To make room for Copeland and Peterson on the 40 man roster, Juan Lagares was transferred to the 60 day disabled list, and P.J. Conlon was designated for assignment.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
The Mets started 12-2, and it seemed like they could do no wrong. That was until a complete bullpen eighth inning meltdown against the Nationals. Since that point, the Mets have gone 5-9, and they have fallen to second place in the division. With that as the backdrop, we turned to the Mets Blogger Roundtable to ask if Mickey Callaway‘s Mets team is for real:
We’re already seeing the Mets falling back to earth, and there was never any question that they would lose more than 15 games this year. The positive is that they have a core that’s skilled, and a new manager who will hopefully find ways to adapt and keep the room positive throughout the highs and lows of a season.
What *is* reality anyway? We are all one big consciousness agreeing upon a never ending list of rules and quibbling over interpretations of shared perceptions, right? That’s what I learned in third grade from the bus driver who smelled weird. If the reality of the situation is I am being asked if the Mets are as good as they were when they started 11-1, then no, they are not “for real.” They have been the fourth-luckiest team in all of baseball while the Nationals have been the most unlucky. We aren’t going to cry over Bryce Harper‘s misfortune (the Vegas native should be aware of streaks of bad luck at the very least anecdotally). We will cry over the Mets though. Yet we shouldn’t; they just have to play .500 ball from their 13th to 162nd game to hit lucky number 86 wins. They uh, haven’t played over .500 ball since that time but I guessed they would make the wild card game five weeks ago, so I might as well keep my chips on 86.
Right now I want to jump off of my seat in section 509.
Editor’s Note: this response was sent during the game after we learned about deGrom’s elbow.
Yes, but they have holes to fix and this passive approach to every situation is part of the problem.
Are the Mets for real in the sense that they have a genuine chance to end the season where they ended April, in first place? Based on what we’ve seen…sure, why not? I’d hate to think they’re pulling the cap down over our eyes.
Are the Mets for real in the sense that I’m supremely confident they won’t fall out of the race altogether after a while? That’s what the rest of the schedule is for: to find out.
But overall I feel pretty good about this team. The next 130+ games are always the hardest.
Caveat: All of the above is up for grabs in light of the uncertainty surrounding Jacob deGrom.
I think the Mets’ start is most-definitely indicative of the potential of this team moving forward through the season.
The inevitably-oncoming adage of “Jake and Thor, then pray for it to pour” that was true for most of the first month of the season seems to be slowly fading away.
After the inconsistencies of Steven Matz and Zack Wheeler over their first few starts, as well as the banishing of Matt Harvey to the bullpen and the alarming start to Jason Vargas’ second stint with the Mets, things have started to look up lately.
If Wheeler can be effective (read: keep his pitches low), his stuff alone places him among the upper-crust of middle-of-the-rotation starting pitchers in the NL, and the same goes for Matz.
If Vargas has shown anything over his career, he’s proven to be the model of mediocre-but-efficient consistency, and that’s all the team really needs out of him.
I think this offense is truly one of the more-dangerous groups we’ve seen here since the days of Carlos Beltran/David Wright/Carlos Delgado, and I mean that. The recent upticks in production for Jay Bruce and Adrian Gonzalez are promising.
The Mets’ bullpen has, for the most part, been the strength of this team and will continue to be, in my opinion. AJ Ramos looks to have found his groove and Robert Gsellman is absolutely thriving in his new role. Even Seth Lugo, who may not be adapting as easily as Gsellman has, has had some success and only figures to get more comfortable as time goes on. And, to be honest, Harvey could come to be a key cog in the relief corps once he gets a feel for things.
Are the Mets for real? It’s hard to say, but what’s becoming clear is that this season certainly won’t be easy. We got off to a hot start with Yoenis Cespedes, Michael Conforto, and Bruce all slumping, and you have to think we’ll get more from all of them going forward — but we’ll also presumably see regression from Todd Frazier and Asdrubal Cabrera, and the pitching has gone downhill fast since the first few turns through the rotation. Now deGrom is hurt too…if our starters besides Thor are a failed Harvey, a failed Matz, an inconsistent Wheeler, and an unimpressive Jason Vargas, there’s only so much room to get wins with that kind of rotation. Sure, things could turn out well — anything can happen. But as I said, the only thing that’s clear is that it certainly won’t be easy.
Initially, I had a long piece detailing how much the lineup and the pitching staff could benefit from Kevin Plawecki‘s return. How even with the inability to hit for power right now, Conforto is playing a good outfield and getting on base. How when you look deeper into the farm, you see Gavin Cecchini and Peter Alonso getting off to terrific starts making you wonder “What if . . . .”
None of that matters if deGrom is injured like he was in 2016 or Syndergaard was in 2017.
This is not to say his having a serious injury ends the Mets season. Rather, it means the season needs a miracle. In 2016, the Mets got that out of Lugo and Gsellman. Maybe the Mets get that this year out of some group that includes Harvey, Matz, Corey Oswalt, or Chris Flexen.
Maybe . . . .
Personally, I’d like to thank everyone for being able to respond to this roundtable. It was all the more impressive when you consider how panic striken we were collectively as a fanbase when deGrom left the game last night. We do know when that news finally breaks, there will be some terrific things written about deGrom and the Mets. Some of the best things will be written by the people in this roundtable, and I hope you will visit their sites.
That is except for Becky. She is currently a free agent and needs a home to write about the Mets. Hopefully, someone will soon jump in and find a home for her terrific work.
Up until that point, the Mets catching situation was actually one of the bright spots to what was a great start to the season. The combination of Plawecki and Travis d’Arnaud combined to hit .229/.341/.343 with six runs, a double, a homer, and four RBI. While they were catching, the Mets pitching staff had a 2.47 ERA, 3.2 BB/9, and a 9.9 K/9.
Since d’Arnaud opted to have Tommy John surgery and Plawecki’s hand has taken longer to heal than expected, things have gone quite differently for this Mets team with the new catching tandem of Jose Lobaton and Tomas Nido.
Whereas the Plawecki/d’Arnaud tandem was at least passable offensively, Lobaton/Nido have not. Combined, Lobaton and Nido have hit .164/.269/.218 with a double, triple, and four RBI.
While we should be cautioned not to rely upon things like catcher ERA or results in small sample sizes, the Mets pitching staff has had a 5.30 ERA. Surprisingly, the walks have come slightly down to a 3.0 BB/9 while the strikeouts have remained at a 9.9 K/9.
More troubling, the Mets who got off to a 10-1 start have gone 7-9 with their new catching duo.
There are many reasons for the difference in records including a natural regression from a team that started the season 10-1. Really, no one believed the Mets were going to go 147-15 for the full season.
And the catching situation has nothing to do with Amed Rosario regressing, Michael Conforto not hitting for power, or Adrian Gonzalez not contributing anywhere near what the Mets expected. Still, these catchers are part of a black hole the Mets have in the bottom of their lineup.
The Mets have also had two bad bullpen meltdowns with Lobaton behind the plate. The first one was the Nationals six run 8th inning. It was a complete meltdown, and no one quite knew how to stop it from happening. Not Mickey Callaway. Not Dave Eiland. Not Lobaton.
The second one, much smaller in scale was the Mets blowing a 3-0 lead to the Braves. Lobaton was on for the two run eighth, and Nido was there for the two run ninth.
Maybe these meltdowns were coincidences. It’s possible Matt Harvey would have regressed the way he has anyway. We’ve seen enough of Steven Matz to know we don’t know what he’s going to provide. AJ Ramos and Jerry Blevins always had difficulty with walks. The list goes on and on.
Whatever the case, the one thing that is apparent, even if this stretch is not completely the fault of either Lobaton or Nido, the Mets miss their catchers. Unfortunately, d’Arnaud is gone for the season, and he may never suit up for the Mets again. As for Plawecki, he’s still a few weeks away. Seeing how the Mets are performing in his absence, he cannot get back here soon enough.