Luis Avilan

Mets Fan Ideal 2019 World Series Winners

First and foremost, we all know the ideal 2019 World Series would involve the Mets beating whichever American League team won the pennant. As it stands, the 2019 World Series winner is not going to be an ideal situation for Mets fans. To that end, here’s a ranking on what Mets fans would probably like to see happen.

Houston Astros

The Mets and Astros broke into the Majors together in 1962. Through that time, the only time these two franchises ever really clashed was the 1986 NLCS. In the NLCS, there were (proven) allegations Mike Scott was scuffing the ball. Fortunately, thanks to a miracle rally in Game 6 and Keith Hernandez threatening Jesse Orosco if he threw another fastball, the Mets prevailed in that series.

Really, if you want to be sour grapes about the Astros, you could pinpoint how an Astros World Series would cement their status as a better expansion franchise than the Mets. Still, when you see the other options, that is the least of Mets fans concerns.

Washington Nationals

The Washington Nationals franchise began in 1969 when they were the Montreal Expos. Before the time the Expos moved to Washington, the only real issue you’d have is the Expos taking out the Mets in 1998 ending their Wild Card dreams. Of course, with the Expos sending the Mets Gary Carter in 1985, you could overlook it.

Really, if you look deeper, there isn’t much to the Mets/Nationals rivalry. The two teams have only been good together in three seasons. In 2015, the Mets embarrassed a Nationals team who choked figuratively, and thanks to Jonathon Papelbon attacking Bryce Harper, they literally choked too.

In 2016, Daniel Murphy tipped the power balance between the two teams, but that still didn’t keep the Mets out of the postseason. After that season, the Nationals would remain a competitive team while the Mets fell by the wayside.

This year, the two teams were good again with some memorable games. The August 10th game was a real highlight for the Mets with Luis Guillorme‘s pinch hit homer followed by J.D. Davis‘ sacrifice fly to give the Mets an exciting victory. Of course, the less said the better about Paul Sewald, Luis Avilan, Edwin Diaz, Ryan Zimmerman, and Kurt Suzuki, the better.

New York Yankees

Putting aside Yankee fans crowing about all the rings won back in the days of the reserve clause and the game being integrated, there is enough history between these teams to despite the Yankees. There’s Derek Jeter being named the MVP of the 2000 World Series. As bad as the blown game against the Nationals was, Luis Castillo dropping Alex Rodriguez leading to Mark Teixeira scoring the winning run arguably felt all the worse.

Since Interleague Play started, this has been an intense rivalry with the Mets having a number of low moments. Aside from these, there was Mariano Rivera being walked to force in a run, Johan Santana having a career worst start, and everything Roger Clemens. Really, Clemens throwing a ball and bat at Mike Piazza with the Yankees who once accused Clemens of head hunting rushing to his defense is sufficient enough to hate them.

Of course, we then have Joe Torre, who has been the one who not only delivers the message but also defends Major League Baseball not allowing the Mets to wear the First Responders’ caps on 9/11.

St. Louis Cardinals

The so-called “Best Fans in Baseball” called the New York Mets teams of the 1980s pond scum. That’s how intense this rivalry was, and really, continues to be.

Going back to the 1980s, this was as intense a rivalry as there was in baseball. You can pinpoint to any number of plays and player like Terry Pendleton, John Tudor, and so much more. Even with realignment, this rivalry never truly subdued. The Mets got the better of the Cardinals with Timo Perez, Edgardo Alfonzo, and NLCS MVP Mike Hampton running roughshod over the Cardinals.

In 2006, Adam Wainwright freezing Carlos Beltran is forever crystalized into everyone’s minds. Beyond that was Scott Spiezio‘s game tying RBI triple off Guillermo Mota (why did he shake off Paul Lo Duca) and So Taguchi‘s homer off Billy Wagner. There was much more including Albert Pujols trash talking Tom Glavine (back when that was a bad thing).

Overall, the absolute worst case scenario is a Cardinals-Yankees World Series. Really, Yankees against anyone is the worst case scenario. Of course, that is the worst case for this World Series. The real worst case is seeing what Brodie Van Wagenen has in store as he tries to top trading away Jarred Kelenic and Justin Dunn to get Robinson Cano and Edwin Diaz.

Five Second Half Games Which Helped Cost The Mets The Wild Card

Michael Conforto would put it off for a day, but now, the Mets are officially eliminated from postseason contention. With the Mets falling short in the fashion they have, there are a number of what ifs which occurred during the course of the season.

One of those what ifs is what if the Mets didn’t blow this game or lose that game. While there were several of those games in the first half, that was all the more the case in the second half when the team was playing well and making a charge. With the Mets being five games out, here are five games in the second half which the Mets certainly wish they had back:

Reds 3 – Mets 2
Saturday, September 21

The Mets absolutely had to have this game. For the Mets to actually grab a Wild Card spot, they were going to have to win out or come very close to it. With a big pitching mismatch between Zack Wheeler and Anthony DeSclafani, this seemed like a game the Mets should win easily.

The Reds would score two first inning runs due to a Todd Frazier error and misplay. It would be hard to put this loss on Frazier as he would collect two of the Mets three hits on the day, and he would score one of their only two runs scored.

Ultimately, the team squandered two huge opportunities. They only scored one run after having runners at second and third with no outs in the third. They’d only score one run with the bases loaded and one out with the top of the lineup coming up in the top of the fifth.

The loss was made all the worse with Justin Wilson getting into trouble, and Seth Lugo allowing one of his inherited runners to score. As bad as that was, it would be Christian Colon who delivered the RBI single, off a Lugo curveball to boot, to put an effective end to the Mets season.

Marlins 8 – Mets 4
Friday, July 12

The Mets were 10 games under .500 heading into the All Star Break. Despite the team being that many games under .500, they had a favorable schedule in the second half, and with their being only seven games back of the second Wild Card, they did have an opportunity. The key for them was getting off to a fast start out of the break.

Instead of putting their best foot forward, they started Jason Vargas. Vargas would blow a third inning 2-0 lead allowing homers to Curtis Granderson and Garrett Cooper in the third. Vargas would last into the sixth where he would implode again. Overall, he’d allow six earned over his five plus innings.

After the bullpen couldn’t keep it closer, the Mets ninth inning rally would fall short in an 8-4 loss. Sadly, this would not be the only time the Mets were beaten by Caleb Smith and the Marlins in the second half.

Giants 3 – Mets 2 (16)
Thursday, July 18

Back when the Mets were pairing Noah Syndergaard with Tomas Nido to get the best out of Syndergaard, they’d get a great performance from Syndergaard with him allowing just one earned over seven innings. Much like the 2016 Wild Card Game, the Giants had Madison Bumgarner match him pitch for pitch, and we’d see Bumgarner last nine innings.

After nine, it was tied at 1-1, and the Mets would get an opportunity they didn’t have in that Wild Card Game. They’d get to face the Giants bullpen.

In the 10th, that appeared serendipitous as they loaded the bases with just one out against Will Smith only to see Conforto and Jeff McNeil strike out. The Mets would also squander opportunities in the 13th and 15th as their bullpen put forth their best effort of the season.

Then finally, the Mets broke through as Pete Alonso would break out of his slump hitting a huge go-ahead homer in the 16h inning giving the Mets a 2-1 lead. That’s when seemingly innocuous decisions made previously would present their ramifications.

In Minnesota, the Mets had used Chris Mazza to pitch the final two innings of a blowout 14-4 victory over the Twins. What was curious about that decision was the Mets had Jacob Rhame available for that game, and they knew he had a suspension looming from an April incident. Before the game against the Giants, Rhame agreed to a suspension making him unavailable for this game.

With Mazza being the last guy in the bullpen, the Mets would look on as a tired pitcher could not record one out as the Giants would score two in the bottom of the inning to win 3-2. This loss was made all the worse because there was a clear hangover with the Mets being unable to score a run over 10 innings leading them to waste yet another Jacob deGrom start.

Braves 2 – Mets 1 (14)
Friday, August 21

The Mets were flying high entering this series having won 16 out of their last 18 games. As a result, they were seven games over .500 for the first time since April 24, 2018. At the time, the Mets were only 1.5 games out of a Wild Card spot putting them in the thick of the postseason race. With a strong series against the Braves here, the Mets had an opportunity to put the division in play.

Instead, the Mets would get swept by the Braves leading to the team losing six straight games. Even though the Mets would make another run at it, they ultimately could not overcome this stretch, and it would being with an absolutely brutal loss.

Mike Foltynewicz, a pitcher with a 6.09 ERA entering this game, would allow just two hits over seven innings. Ultimately, the only batter to get to him was deGrom, who would hit a sixth inning homer to tie the score at 1-1. As bad as the Mets bullpen had been all year, you could argue the Braves bullpen was worse. That combined with the Mets having last licks, you could argue the Mets were in position to pull out this game.

The Mets had a huge opportunity in the 10th against former teammate Anthony Swarzak. The team would put together a two out rally and load the bases, but Amed Rosario would strike out to end the inning.

The Mets blew an 11th inning chance as well. After Joe Panik was hit by a pitch by Sean Newcomb, he’d move to third after two wild pitches during Alonso’s at-bat. Alonso and Conforto would strike out, and the Braves intentionally walked J.D. Davis to force Brad Brach out of the game and to face the Mets last pinch hitter on the bench – Aaron Altherr. He’d ground out to end the inning.

What would make that even more maddening was the Mets passed on the opportunity to claim Billy Hamilton, who would have been a real upgrade to this team, off waivers. As luck would have it, Hamilton would face Jeurys Familia, and he would drive home the go-ahead run.

What made that all the more maddening was it was an Adeiny Hechavarria ground rule double which put the go-ahead run into scoring position. In essence, the player the Mets cut rather than pay him a roster bonus, and the player the Mets would not claim so they didn’t have to pay him more than the league minimum Altherr, would prove to be two players who helped cost the Mets the game.

As we know, that was a winnable game the Mets needed to have. While it did not push the Mets out of contention, it would prove to be the first in a series of losses which took the Mets from the thick of the race to the periphery.

Nationals 11 – Mets 10
Tuesday, September 4

After a potentially season ending sweep against the Cubs, the Mets got off the mat taking two of three from the Phillies, and they took the first game in the series against the Nationals to pull within 4.0 games of a Wild Card spot. They were up 10-4 and about to pull within seven games of the Nationals for the top Wild Card spot.

The Mets had a 99.7 percent chance of winning that game, and they were 806-0 in franchise history when they led by six after nine innings.

That’s when we saw an epic bullpen meltdown; one we have never before seen the Mets have in their history. Paul Sewald, Luis Avilan, and Edwin Diaz combined to record just one out as the Nationals scored seven ninth inning runs. While many in hindsight would question removing Seth Lugo or question not using Justin Wilson against two batters with great numbers against left-handed pitching, the truth of the matter neither of those things were the problem.

The problem was this Mets bullpen was so unreliable that they cannot even be trusted to hold a six run lead. Therein lied the problem with this game, and it was a big problem throughout the season. It was a contributing factor in this and other losses the Mets suffered both in the first and second half. Huge soul crushing losses. That makes this bullpen just one of the biggest reasons why the Mets are not going to be in the postseason this year.

Thank You 2019 Mets Players

Now that the Mets postseason hopes are officially over, there will come a time to write post mortems to assess all that went wrong and how the Mets could improve in the future.

Before doing that, we should first acknowledge these Mets players fought tooth and nail giving all they could give to help make an improbable run. What we would discover is this is a tough and very likeable group who deserves our gratitude.

Pete Alonso – for having perhaps the greatest rookie season in MLB history while being just a good person.

Aaron Altherr – his RBI double and scoring later in the game proved to be the winning run in a game against the Pirates as the team looked to turn their season around.

Luis Avilan – limited LHB to a .104/.189/.188 batting line making him an exceptional LOOGY, perhaps the last true LOOGY with the incoming MLB rule changes.

Tyler Bashlor – had a seven game scoreless streak in May and another four game one from June to July where he picked up his first hold.

Brad Brach – came to the Mets like he always wanted, and he helped stabilize a bullpen which desperately needed his help.

Keon Broxton – had a go-ahead RBI against the Nationals in April helping the Mets get off to another great start.

Robinson Cano – returned from what should’ve been a season ending injury to do all he could to help get this team into the postseason.

Michael Conforto – reminded us how great he is when he is healthy. Yes, great.

Travis d’Arnaud – came back too soon, never complained, and he left the Mets with pride and dignity after a good Mets career.

J.D. Davis – had a season better than anyone could’ve imagined with a number of big hits. More than that, he became a fan favorite as he was a player who clearly loved being a part of this team.

Rajai Davis – the lifelong Mets fan came home, and he would deliver two absolutely huge pinch hits to keep the Mets afloat at times they needed them.

Jacob deGrom – we are experiencing greatness everytime he takes the mound, and at some point we will need to begin having Hall of Fame conversations about him.

Edwin Diaz – there was a real dignity with him when he faced the media everytime he struggled. He made no excuses, and he put the work in to try to get back to where he was in Seattle. From what we’ve seen, he will get back there next year.

Jeurys Familia – you have to say something about someone who loved being a Mets player, and he came back to be a part of another winning team. Hopefully, that will be next year.

Chris Flexen – reinvented himself as a reliever who showed potential with the ability to strike out batters.

Wilmer Font – showed the Mets real value as a reliever before he was inexplicably designated for assignment.

Todd Frazier – provided this team with real leadership and defense, and he had a number of hot stretches which helped the Mets get back into it.

Drew Gagnon – for a month stretch from late April to late May he was an extremely reliable reliever.

Carlos Gomez – came back to the Mets and started the fun “Ye! Ye! Ye!” rallying cry.

Robert Gsellman – before he began to breakdown due to overuse, he was putting together a really good season out of the bullpen.

Luis Guillorme – when he finally got his chance, he proved himself showing this team he needs to be a part of the future. His pinch hit homer was one of the biggest hits of the season.

Sam Haggerty – like Eric Young in 2015, he was a weapon as a pinch runner.

Donnie Hart – albeit in just one appearance, he’s one of the few pitchers in Mets history who has never allowed a run.

Adeiny Hechavarria – showed surprising power and helped keep the Mets going in May.

Juan Lagares – at the end, he reminded us of how great a fielder he can be, and he had one last hurrah with his first two home rungame.

Walker Lockett – his start in San Francisco was the lone win in what was otherwise a lost series.

Jed Lowrie – despite suffering significant injuries, he pushed onward to make himself a viable pinch hitting option.

Seth Lugo – he has been absolutely great, and he has kept an otherwise struggling bullpen afloat.

Steven Matz – for the second straight year, Matz made 30 starts, and he made huge strides forward with a big second half and being dominant at home.

Chris Mazza – a 29 year old rookie is a feel good story, and he had quite the debut against a very good Braves lineup.

Jeff McNeil – proved last year was no fluke, and his versatility allowed the team to get the most out of the roster.

Tomas Nido – was a terrific defensive catcher and framer who helped get the most out of the starters and help them get their minds straight.

Brandon Nimmo – came back from a bulging disc in his neck to pick up where he left off last year. His enthusiasm and love of baseball is always a breath of fresh air.

Stephen Nogosek – put together a great year in the minors to get to the majors.

Ryan O’Rourke – in his low moment, he gave us real human insight into what it was like being cut from a team.

Corey Oswalt – strong year in Triple-A giving the Mets real rotation depth going forward.

Joe Panik – came back home to New York to help keep the team afloat at the time the Mets were in desperate need for a second baseman, and he performed quite well.

Tim Peterson – earned his way onto the Opening Day roster,and he’d pitch fairly well in his limited opportunities.

Brooks Pounders – six of his seven outings were really good.

Wilson Ramos – turned what was going to be an awful year around with a great August, and his ability to frame the high pitch proved to be a real help to deGrom.

Jacob Rhame – before landing on the IL to end the year, he was showing glimpses of being the type of arm who could be a useful part of the bullpen going forward.

Rene Rivera – brought back warm memories from the 2016 season with him combining with Syndergaard to dominate the Nationals.

Amed Rosario – he made a fools out of people who didn’t believe in his work ethic and talent by showing he is going to be an impact player on both sides of the ball in the future.

Hector Santiago – picked up a big win in extra innings against the Tigers.

Paul Sewald – despite being an afterthought, he once again proved he was a Major League caliber reliever, and he would finally get that first win which proved to be so elusive for him.

Dominic Smith – despite his being maligned and dropped down the depth chart, he would get healthy, and he would show everyone just how good a player he is, and he showed himself to be a great teammate more interested in how he could help the team than his role.

Marcus Stroman – the man was born to pitch on the biggest stage, and he would show it to us. A full year of him is going to be a thrill.

Noah Syndergaard – with Nido and Rivera, he showed he’s a Cy Young caliber pitcher, and he has time and again said he wants to be a real part of this team going forward.

Ruben Tejada – there’s a poetic justice in his playing in 2019 and Chase Utley not.

Jason Vargas – he really helped the Mets Wild Card hopes by bombing with the Phillies.

Zack Wheeler – he desperately wanted to be a part of a Mets postseason push, and he not only got that chance, but he would be great down the stretch.

Justin Wilson – he put the elbow problems aside, and he had just a terrific year out of the bullpen.

Daniel Zamora – 13 of his 16 appearances were scoreless, and with his splits, he showed the Mets he could be a modern LOOGY with the changing bullpen rules.

Overall, while you may hate what Brodie Van Wagenen has done as the General Manager, and you can hate the Wilpons for not being invested in this team, you simply have to love each and every one of these players for all they gave this team. We should appreciate them for fighting to the finish and giving us hope for next year.

Mickey Callaway Screwed Up, Brodie Van Wagenen Screwed Up More

The New York Mets completely blew it last night. Behind that loss was a a number of players failing. Todd Frazier couldn’t get a hit in two key RBI situations. Steven Matz allowed a grand slam. Brad Brach failed to cover first in time. There’s obviously more.

Behind the players failing was a number of questionable to flat out indefensible decisions from Mickey Callaway.

Callaway should not have let Matz face Jorge Alfaro. With the team having zero margin for error, you cannot use Walker Lockett under any circumstance. There’s no saving the top arms in the bullpen to fight for another day because if you lose, there isn’t going to be another day.

There were other decisions like not starting Brandon Nimmo or allowing Michael Conforto to bat against Brian Moran. You could also question using Rajai Davis as a pinch hitter in the sixth over Nimmo. To be fair, these decisions were mitigated by Juan Lagares going 1-for-3 with a run and a walk, and Amed Rosario hitting a grand slam.

The pinch hitting decisions were mitigated by the actual options available. Tomas Nido and Rene Rivera are not good hitters. Jed Lowrie hasn’t had a hit in his limited pinch hitting appearances, and he has just one right-handed at-bat all year. That’s it for the right-handed bench options against the left-handed pitching the Marlins had out there in the form of Caleb Smith and Moran.

It certainly makes you question why the Mets never made a roster move to add Dilson Herrera to the roster. After all, they lost Eric Hanhold so they can have Chris Mazza and Donnie Hart on the roster, neither of whom have pitched one meaningful inning in September.

Taking that into consideration, you have to look at the bullpen again. Seth Lugo and Justin Wilson are the only reliable arms down there. You can trust Brach against right-handed batters but not left, and vice versa for Luis Avilan. After that, it’s a straight roll of the dice. Sadly, it’s a heavily weighted pair of dice putting the odds stacked against the Mets.

Reliever ERA
Jeurys Familia 6.00
Drew Gagnon 8.74
Walker Lockett 7.66
Tyler Bashlor 7.65
Paul Sewald 4.67
Chris Mazza 6.43
Brad Brach 3.95
Daniel Zamora 5.63
Donnie Hart 0.00

Look at those ERAs again. Lockett wasn’t even the worst ERA available in the bullpen last night. He wasn’t the only one with an ERA over 5.00. In fact, taking away the top two relievers, there were only three relievers with an ERA under that mark, and one of those, Hart, has only pitched 1.0 innings.

Put aside for a moment the Mets entered the season with Tim Peterson in the bullpen putting the team 1-2 relievers short to start the season. At the trade deadline, the Mets went out and got Marcus Stroman, and they didn’t back it up with another move. Sure, they got Brach, but he fell into their laps. It wasn’t a proactive move on the Mets part.

The bench has always been an issue too. We have seen the Mets cycle through Aaron Altherr, Keon Broxton, Carlos Gomez, Adeiny Hechavarria, and Ruben Tejada while rage cutting Travis d’Arnaud. Again, the Mets did little to address this at the trade deadline with Joe Panik falling into their laps like Brach did.

This team was ill constructed from the get-go, and for some reason when the Mets doubled down at the trade deadline, they did nothing to fix their two biggest problems – the bench and the bullpen.

Now, it’s possible a very good manager like Terry Francona or Bruce Bochy could’ve navigated their way around these problems, but we know Callaway couldn’t. The Mets knowing that and handing him a roster which feeds into his deficiencies as a manager makes what Brodie Van Wagenen did all the worse.

So, yes, Callaway screwed up yesterday, and he has screwed up in other spots. But make no mistake, this was largely the result of the roster he was given. For that, Brodie Van Wagenen should shoulder the blame he was absolutely unwilling to accept earlier in the year.

deGrom With Run Support Is Unbeatable

The anticipated pitchers’ duel that was Jacob deGrom and Luis Castillo didn’t disappoint with there being a combined six hits against the two pitchers.

For deGrom, he further cemented his Cy Young case. Over 7.0 innings, he limited the Reds to just four singles. He walked none while striking out nine. The best way to sum it up was he was deGrom on that mound.

As good as deGrom was, Castillo was nearly his equal. He was getting the Mets to pound the ball into the ground. As a result, over his first 5.1 innings, he allowed just one hit. On a night where he needed to be perfect to beat deGrom, he was nearly perfect.

Nearly.

As noted by Keith Hernandez during the broadcast, Castillo made just two mistakes on the night. The first came with one out in the sixth:

That Jeff McNeil homer gave the Mets a 1-0 lead. It was his 16th homer in the second half as he’s focused more on power than contact much like he did in Binghamton last year.

At the time, most thought that was all the run support deGrom would get. After all, the Mets offense has been dormant for well over a year when deGrom pitches. On top of that, Castillo was great.

As great as he was, he’d make his second mistake in the seventh. Like McNeil, Amed Rosario would make him pay.

That two run homer gave the Mets a 3-0 lead. That’s two more runs than deGrom needed.

What was interesting was after the seventh, it appeared Mickey Callaway was set to pull deGrom even though he only threw 96 pitches. While we don’t know if deGrom said something or Brodie texted something, with what’s on the line, it was a surprise move.

Fortunately, the Reds went to their bullpen in the eighth, and Pete Alonso would take advantage hitting his 50th homer of the season.

50!

The list of players who have hit 50 in their rookie year stands at Alonso and Aaron Judge. With two more games in this ballpark and the Mets playing the Marlins next, you almost have to believe Alonso’s going to break Judge’s rookie record of 52.

On another note, the 50 homers passes Mark McGwire for the rookie first base record. It was also Alonso’s 81st extra bass hit surpassing the single season record held by Carlos Beltran (2006) and Howard Johnson.

With respect to the game and the Mets Wild Card hopes, the homer gave the Mets a 5-0 lead. That made it a whole lot easier to go to the bullpen allowing deGrom to save his bullets for his final two (or maybe three) starts.

In the eighth, Brad Brach allowed a two out single before getting lifted for Luis Avilan with Joey Votto due up. After Avilan walked Votto, things were on the verge of getting dicey with Eugenio Suarez due up. Given his home run propensity and Diaz having hit 48 homers this year, Edwin Diaz was a very curious choice even if a homer only makes it 5-3.

Diaz responded to the challenge by striking out Suarez.

With the Mets into their bullpen, even with a 5-0 lead, insurance runs couldn’t hurt. They got that when Brandon Nimmo scores from first on a McNeil double increasing the Mets lead to 6-0.

McNeil went to third on the throw. After an intentional walk to Alonso and a defensive indifference, Juan Lagares singled home McNeil to make it 7-0. Michael Conforto, who had been taking better at-bats in the game walking twice, snapped an 0-for-21 stretch with an RBI single to make it 8-0.

After Jeurys Familia allowed a monster shot to Aristides Aquino, the Mets won 8-1. That’s three wins in a row with a favorable schedule. The only issue is if this run can continue, and if so, will it be enough.

Game Notes: Cubs lost to the Cardinals in the afternoon, and the Mets now trail them by 1.0 games, but they’re still three games in the loss column behind the Brewers.

Stroman Keeps Mets Alive

Right now, the Mets need great performances from their players game-in and game-out to pull off the near impossible. Tonight, they got it from Marcus Stroman.

Stroman didn’t just look like the pitcher who the Mets sought at the trade deadline, or the pitcher who was having a great year in Toronto. This was the pitcher who was the MVP of the World Baseball Classic.

Even with him pitching in Coors Field, to say this start for Stroman was unexpected is unfair. Aside from his showing he can pitch like this in Toronto, he’s been gradually improving with each start. So far in his Mets career, this was his best start.

Thorough the first five innings, he allowed just two hits and one walk. At that point in time, the question is whether the Mets bats which had been asleep since the fourth inning last night would awaken in time to give Stroman and the Mets a win. They would in the sixth.

After a Todd Frazier leadoff single against Rockies starter Tim Melville, Amed Rosario would hit his 13th homer of the year, which not only have the Mets a 2-0 lead, but it would also start the home run brigade.

After Rosario homered, Brandon Nimmo and Pete Alonso would also homer in the inning giving the Mets a 4-0 lead.

That was plenty for Stroman. He’d shut down the Rockies in the bottom of the sixth. In the seventh, he and Wilson Ramos combined for a strike ’em out (Raimel Tapia) – throw ’em out (Charlie Blackmon) double play.

With that Stroman threw seven scoreless allowing no runs on four hits with a walk and seven strikeouts. This is the deepest he’s gone in a game with the Mets. In fact, it’s the best he’s looked in Mets uniform.

With the way the Mets bullpen has been all year, you can argue the 4-0 lead wasn’t sufficient. If you’d argue that, the top of the fifth provided some peace of mind.

Joe Panik led off the inning with a pinch hit single off Rockies reliever Wes Parsons, and he’d be on second after a Nimmo walk. Alonso, who is clearly busting out of his slump, blooped an RBI double to right.

As noted, Panik scored. However, that’s all they’d get as Daniel Murphy hustled back, and he’d nail Alonso trying to stretch the single to a double.

In the eighth, it was Justin Wilson, who is just one of two relievers in whom Mickey Callaway has any faith. Even with his allowing a double to Pat Valaika, he shut the door.

The Mets added another insurance run in the ninth on a Frazier RBI single scoring Ramos giving the Mets a 6-0 lead. That lead would be enough for Callaway to go with Luis Avilan and not Seth Lugo in preserving this lead.

The Rockies scored one in a on Blackmon solo homer in the ninth, but the Mets would still win 6-1 keeping them afloat.

The Cubs lost to the Reds, and the Brewers beat the Padres. This means the Mets move to 4.0 back. It’s something, and that something is hope.

Game Notes:Frazier played for the first time since getting hit on the hand.

Simply Amazin Podcast Appearance (I Didn’t Hear No Bell)

On Thursday, I had the privilege of being to be invited on the Simply Amazin‘ Podcast. On the podcast, I mentioned Wilson RamosTomas NidoRene RiveraPete AlonsoGerson BautistaJarred KelenicJeff McNeilRobinson CanoEdwin DiazJeurys FamiliaBrad BrachDaniel ZamoraSeth LugoRobert GsellmanJ.D. DavisDominic SmithNoah SyndergaardSteven MatzMarcus StromanLuis SantanaKeon BroxtonFelix ValerioJuan LagaresLuis GuillormePaul SewaldLuis Avilan, and others.

Mets Opted For Wilson Ramos Over Noah Syndergaard And Winning

The Mets are not interested in doing all they can do to grab the second Wild Card. No, they’d rather prove a point and send a message to Noah Syndergaard than do everything they can do to win a pivotal game.

Despite Syndergaard pitching like a Cy Young caliber pitcher with Tomas Nido and Rene Rivera behind the plate, the Mets started Wilson Ramos. After all, as an organization, you’d rather be invested in the 31 year old catcher than the 26 year old pitcher who is the last Mets pitcher to both win a World Series game and have a scoreless postseason start.

Well, as is usually the case, Ramos couldn’t get the low strikes, and as is typically the case, he wasn’t calling for Syndergaard to throw those pitches. The ball was elevated, his pitch count was going up, and eventually he hung one to Gavin Lux who hit a three run homer capping off a four run inning.

With Clayton Kershaw, it was game over. In his 12 year career, he’s lost just one game where he’s had four runs of support. He’s now 104-1. As was expected, he shut down the Mets offense because he’s Kershaw.

Throw in Jeurys Familia, Luis Avilan (why is he allowed to face RHB), and Walker Lockett getting roughed up to that tune of five runs combined along with the Mets only getting one home with the bases loaded in the seventh, you get a 9-2 loss.

That’s on a day the Cubs won pushing the Mets to 3.0 games back of the second Wild Card.

There were a couple of middle fingers to Syndergaard and the fans in this game from the Mets. Despite the purported need for Ramos to catch Syndergaard due to his offense, Juan Lagares would start, and Pete Alonso would sit. Finally, Nido would catch the ninth.

Hopefully, sending this message to Syndergaard was worth it. Judging by the score and losing a game in the standings, it wasn’t making this just a petty decision to cut their noses to spite their ace.

Game Notes: The Dodgers have won nine straight at Citi Field. That’s 10 straight if you include Game 4 of the 2015 NLDS.

Seth Lugo Watched On As The Mets Bullpen Melted Down

On Friday night, the Mets led 4-2 heading into the ninth inning. Mickey Callaway then sent Edwin Diaz out there to earn the save. In the offseason and April, this would’ve seemed like a no-brainer. However, not hasn’t been the case all year. Everyone has lost faith in him.

After a Jean Segura one out single, J.T. Realmuto homered to tie the game. It was the 14th homer he allowed all year, which is just one fewer than he had allowed over the previous two seasons combined. It was the latest down point in a series of down points. In a bit of irony, he’d get the win because of the Mets two out rally culminating in a Pete Alonso walk-of win.

On Saturday, the Mets were tied 4-4 heading into the sixth inning. After Paul Sewald allowed a leadoff double to Rhys Hoskins. After a sacrifice bunt, Luis Avilan came in and had perhaps his worst outing of the season allowing an RBI single to Phil Gosselin before allowing a two run homer to Maikel Franco. Why Avilan was left in to face Franco is anyone’s guess.

With the Mets rallying back in the sixth to make this a 7-6 game, Callaway turned to Justin Wilson, his second best reliever, to start the inning. For the first time since he came off the IL, Wilson didn’t have it. When he didn’t have it with Scott Kingery hitting a two run homer off of him, Tyler Bashlor came in to relieve him.

For his part, Bashlor would walk Sean Rodriguez and allow a double to Franco. Then, for reasons which confounded everyone, Andrew Knapp and his career .219/.329/.322 batting line was intentionally walked to allow Bashlor to face Bryce Harper, who was pinch hitting for reliever Mike Morin.

Bashlor, and his MLB career 4.6 BB/9, which includes a 6.6 this year, was allowed to face Harper with the bases loaded. You could see the walk coming a mile away, and arguably, the walk, driving home the Phillies 10th run of the game, could be argued to be a much better outcome than what could’ve happened if Harper made contact.

With the season on the line, and in the highest leveraged situations the Mets faced all year, the bullpen gave up six runs over two innings. That was after Diaz blew the lead on Friday night. While the bullpen melted down in those two games, Mets fans watched on bewildered and horrified. Do you know who else was watching on?

Seth Lugo.

Somehow, in the latest in a series of the Mets biggest series of the season, Lugo didn’t throw one pitch. Not one. If memory serves, he didn’t even soft tossing let alone warm up in any of those games. Potentially, the Mets chances at winning a Wild Card went by the wayside while the team’s best reliever watched it happen.

As horrible as we all feel, you could only imagine how Brad Brach felt. Remember, he was a member of that 2016 Orioles team who lost to the Blue Jays in 11 innings as Zack Britton, clearly the best reliever in the game that year, never entered the game. At some point, you have to wonder if he was having flashbacks.

With respect to Lugo, it should be remembered he threw two innings on Thursday. That was a day game after a night game, and in that night game, he threw an inning. That’s three innings over a 24 hour period. That’s a lot for a reliever with known UCL issues. It’s a lot for a reliever the Mets have been careful in trying to get him rest so as to not burn him out or injure him.

What we don’t know is whether he was unable to rebound after throwing those three innings. We also don’t know if Callaway was waiting for a late inning situation on Sunday which never presented itself. No matter what the case, the only thing we know is with the season on the line Lugo didn’t throw a pitch. If there is no injury issues, and there very well may be, that’s inexcusable.

The only thing more inexcusable than that is the fact that the Mets do not have another arm who could get a key out or pitch a scoreless frame in those three key innings.

20/20 Hindsight: Mets Blow It Against Phillies

The New York Mets had another golden opportunity to make headway in the Wild Card race, and once again, they failed. Instead of taking control of their destiny, they have lost two out of three propelling the Phillies and not the Mets forward:

1. To a certain extent, it would be better if the other Wild Card teams would just put the Mets out of their misery. They’re not, and we’re all hanging on desperately hoping they’ll find their way to the Wild Card Game.

2. Mickey Callaway was terrible in this series. You can’t let Tomas Nido bat knowing you’re pulling Marcus Stroman. You can’t let Luis Avilan face Maikel Franco. Intentionally walking Andrew Knapp makes little to no sense. His decision making in those three instances was just ugly.

3. Really, Callaway put the Mets in a position to fail, and like when Franco predictably homered off of Avilan, the Mets did fail. However, it should be noted it was the players failures before and after the decisions which magnified the simply awful decisions Callaway made.

4. J.D. Davis has to catch that ball, and Stroman has to pick him up. Even with that ridiculous error, there is no reason that had to become a four run inning except for the Phillies hitting Stroman quite hard.

5. Going to Davis for a second, defense matters, and you can’t keep putting him in the field if you really want to win. That is all the more the case when Brandon Nimmo is back and playing great. Really, you can’t have someone with a -8 DRS over 474.0 innings out there. It’s irresponsible.

6. Noah Syndergaard needs to be better. Under no circumstances can he surrender a 3-0 lead in that spot. He’s a big time pitcher who tries to back it up with his talk and swagger. Big time pitchers don’t lay an egg like he did with the season on the line. He’s better than that.

7. Also, pinch hitting for Syndergaard was the right move. He can slam his helmet all he wants. He deserved to be lifted from that game, and Todd Frazier gave that team a much better chance to score with the bases loaded and two outs. Neither player delivered when they needed it most, which was a theme this weekend.

8. One of the reasons why the Mets didn’t win was Pete Alonso and Michael Conforto came up well short. Each came up two times in the late innings as the tying run. They couldn’t get the key hit or even draw a walk. When you boil it all down, even taking into account Callaway’s terrible decision making, that’s why they lost.

9. On the bright side with Alonso, his bases loaded walk winning Friday night’s game was a real sign of maturity. He was clearly amped up for that at-bat, and while he ran the count full swinging at some pitches he probably shouldn’t have, he did take the one he needed to take to draw the walk to win the game.

10. The bigger problem with the Mets is this bullpen. The one day Justin Wilson doesn’t have it, and the Mets don’t have someone to pick him up. When you dig deeper, it’s very likely Paul Sewald is the third or fourth most reliable reliever out of the bullpen. That can’t happen.

11. Speaking of the bullpen, you can’t have a series like this and not have Seth Lugo not throw one pitch. Not one. Unless he is hurt, that’s inexcusable, especially with the season on the line yesterday.

12. In terms of Lugo, at some point the Mets need to begin contemplating shutting him down for the year. If you are not going to win this year, you should not be wasting his innings. In all likelihood, that decision will likely be fueled by how the Mets do in this upcoming series against the Diamondbacks.

13. Seeing all that Brodie Van Wagenen did this past offseason, he deserves to watch the Diamondbacks pass them in the Wild Card standings led by a Wilmer Flores who he did not want on the team.

14. On that note, while Stroman was struggling, Anthony Kay had a strong Major League debut against the Rays. His eight strikeouts was a Blue Jays debut record. It should also be noted in that game Travis d’Arnaud would drive home the go-ahead run for the Rays.

15. In Seattle, Justin Dunn was called up. That means Jarred Kelenic remains the only first round draft pick made by Sandy Alderson who has not made it to the majors. Sandy really acquired about built up the young talent in the Mets system.Of course, Van Wagenen couldn’t wait to get rid of them in one bad trade after another.

16. When you boil it all down, the issue isn’t Callaway or the bullpen or the depth. The issue is Van Wagenen. As one noted on this site, Van Wagenen mortgaged the future and ruined the payroll flexibility to build the fourth best team in this division. Seeing how he’s operated the team and how the Wilpons continue to operate this team, Major League Baseball needs to intervene. At a time with their being concerned about attendance and ratings, they cannot possibly let a team in the largest media market in the world continue operating this way. It’s not good for the game.

17. What is good for the game is Nimmo. He’s always enthusiastic on the field, and as we saw this weekend, he can come up big when the Mets need him. Since he came off the IL, he walked nine times in 22 plate appearances. He drove in a run and found a way on base with the game on the line. He’s been great . . . just like he was last year.

18. Credit is due to Amed Rosario. He made a great play in the hole on Friday to turn what could’ve been a Rhys Hoskins RBI single into an inning ending double play. He was also 3-for-5 yesterday getting on base twice in the late innings starting what should’ve been run scoring rallies. If you want to take some solace in this series and season, Rosario’s growth is the biggest takeaway.

19. Mets fans won’t want to hear this, but Edwin Diaz is THIS CLOSE to figuring it out. He has struck out 12 out of the last 20 batters he has faced. That shows he is getting back to what he was last year with the Mariners. Of course, he still has allowed too many big homers, and even if he is starting to figure it out, it appears to be too little too late.

20. On that front, thanks to the Brewers this weekend, the Mets are still alive. Until such time as the odds become impossible, the Mets have a chance especially since they have Jacob deGrom and a host of other very good players. As long as the Mets have a pulse, and seeing how they continued to fight back in this series, they do, we should continue to believe.