On the night, Steven Matz would make just two mistakes. With how putrid the Mets offense has been lately, those two mistakes were enough to tag him in the loss.
At that point, it was 3-1 Brewers with the Mets only run coming in the top of the first. After a strike ’em out-throw ’em out double play, Robinson Cano walked, and he would come home to score after consecutive singles by Michael Conforto and Wilson Ramos.
After the first inning, the Mets could not get out of their own way against Brandon Woodruff, Alex Claudio, Junior Guerra, and eventually Josh Hader. Overall, the Mets struck out 12 times, grounded into two double plays, and they were 1-for-7 with RISP.
The Mets would have a terrific chance in the ninth inning. With Hader in his second inning of work (apparently teams are allowed to do this), Conforto lead off the inning with a double. Ramos then walked putting the tying run on base. Hader would then strike out J.D. Davis, Todd Frazier, and Amed Rosario to end the game.
The left side of the Mets infield was particularly bad tonight. Frazier was 0-for-4 with two strikeouts and a GIDP. Rosario was 1-for-4 with two strikeouts and a stolen base. In the field, while he wasn’t charged with any errors, he had a few defensive miscues.
Overall, it’s not that fair to pick on the left side of the infield. The right side wasn’t much better and neither was the non-Conforto portion of the outfield. At the end of the day, when nearly every hitter is bad, and the defense is suspect, you’re not winning even if Matz wasn’t half bad.
Game Notes: Dominic Smith was sent to Syracuse to make room for Adeiny Hechavarria, who had earlier exercised the opt out provision in his contract. Luis Avilan left with an apparent elbow injury in the eighth.
The New York Mets finished a 10 game home-stand going 5-5. Part of the reason was because while their pitching started to pick up, their offense has cratered. Still, as they depart for a very difficult road trip which will take them to Milwaukee and San Diego, they are a team over .500:
- Noah Syndergaard did what you are supposed to do against bad offenses. You are supposed to completely dominant them, and he did with a magnificent performance striking out 10 in a complete game shut out.
- Syndergaard became just the third Mets starter (Pete Falcone, Johan Santana) to homer in a complete game shut out. He is the only Mets pitcher to provide the only run of support in a shutout.
- We can debate whether the right retaliation is to throw at a batter or not. However, there is nothing better than seeing Syndergaard strike out Jesse Winker three times in a game and having Winker lose his cool to the point where he is thrown out of the game.
- With the fans waiving to Winker and their booing Pete O’Brien, it’s clear the Mets fans are desperately searching for and need a real villian now that Chase Utley has retired.
- This was certainly the series for Mets pitchers to get healthy. Jacob deGrom looked like Jacob deGrom again, and even Jason Vargas would finally pitch more than five innings in a start.
- While a pitcher’s success isn’t really tied to any one catcher, it may behoove the Mets to let deGrom get into some sort of a rhythm with Tomas Nido. So far this year, deGrom has had six starts, and he has had the same catcher catch him in back-to-back starts just once this year.
- Mickey Callaway is oft criticized for his decision making, but he was unfairly in this series. He had little choice but to trust Jeurys Familia for six outs, and he went with Edwin Diaz over Seth Lugo in the ninth because Diaz is supposedly the best reliever in baseball. When you put guys in position, and they fail, sometimes it is on the players and not the manager.
- For a moment, it really looked like Familia was back, and then all of a sudden he falls apart and heads to the Injured List.
- You can read too much into it, or not, but it is surprising in his career opposing batters hit .333/.403/.608 off Diaz in tie games. It’s too soon to overreact to it, but it is noteworthy.
- Speaking of too soon to overreact, Pete Alonso is struggling. Alonso has homered once in his last 39 at-bats, and he has had one homer against a RHP over his last 11 games. While he snapped an 0-11 with a 3-5 game, he is been 3-18 since.
- Speaking of cooling off, Dominic Smith is now 0 for his last 7, and 2 for his last 12.
- While we’re on the topic of Smith and Alonso, it is great to see Smith lifted for Alonso and his cheering on and applauding Alonso as he walked. It’s a shame they play the same position because these are two likeable guys who are good ballplayers.
- Amed Rosario is heating up at just the right time. He just had a five game hitting streak and is in the middle of a seven game errorless streak. This comes right as Jed Lowrie is playing shortstop in rehab games.
- It is going to be interesting to see what the Mets do when Lowrie returns. We’ve seen Brodie Van Wagenen have selective memory when it comes to his best 25 man mantra, and as noted Keon Broxton has been really bad. It will be interesting to see if he’s saved because Van Wagenen obtained him or if he befalls the Travis d’Arnaud treatment.
- Wilson Ramos has been bad. He has no power, which is partially the result of his having MLB and career worst ground ball rates. He has also been a poor pitch framer and has yielded the most passed balls in the majors.
- Drew Gagnon is showing the Mets something out of the bullpen. He saved them when Steven Matz couldn’t get an out, and his 1.1 scoreless allowed the Mets to walk it off. He has earned his shot in the bullpen.
- With Daniel Zamora coming into a game to face Joey Votto, and the Mets calling up Ryan O’Rourke, it’s getting fairly clear Luis Avilan‘s time as a Met is going to end fairly soon.
- It’s fair to say Avilan hasn’t been used properly, but when your manager has no faith in you, and you haven’t pitched in seven games, you really have no place in the bullpen.
- Every time there is a blow up with a Mets starter or with the bullpen, we hear how the Mets are keeping tabs on Dallas Keuchel and Craig Kimbrel. It’s nothing more than a ruse, and I wish reporters would stop giving it the time of day.
- This upcoming road trip to Milwaukee and San Diego is tough travel, and it is the kind of road trip which has the potential to make or break a season.
In a nine year Major League career, Craig Kimbrel has saved 333 games, which is the 14th most all-time. His career 1.91 ERA and 211 ERA+ is the best all-time for a reliever. He is a seven time All-Star, and he has finished in the Top 10 in Cy Young voting in five of his nine seasons. How Kimbrel performs during this next contract will go a very long way in determining whether or not he goes to the Baseball Hall of Fame when he retires.
With the Hall of Fame on the line and with his being an elite closer for NINE SEASONS, you can understand why Kimbrel would insist on remaining a closer. While there are no public statements confirming this is Kimbrel’s hold-up, there have been a number of outlets who have drawn the inference.
According to recent reports, the Mets are not willing to have Kimbrel pitch the ningth. To put it as simply as it can be put, if the only hold-up with Kimbrel right now is he wants to close, the Mets as an organization are stupid for letting that be a hold-up.
No, this is not an indictment whatsoever on Edwin Diaz. So far this season, Diaz has been everything the Mets could have possibly asked him to be. He is a perfect 7-for-7 in save opportunities with a 16.4 K/9. His 11th inning save against the Phillies where he mowed down Bryce Harper, Rhys Hoskins, and J.T. Realmuto on 11 pitches was awe inspiring.
Understandably, you want to have a pitcher like Diaz closing out games in the ninth. However, you also want a closer like Kimbrel closing out games in the ninth. What you don’t want is the current state of the Mets bullpen.
What is not great is the rest of the Mets bullpen. So far, Jeurys Familia has been a massive disappointment. We have also seen some unexpected struggles from Seth Lugo. In the long run, both pitchers should be fine, and with Justin Wilson and Robert Gsellman, the Mets do have the pieces for a good bullpen.
Still, there are major issues in the bullpen. Luis Avilan has been used as more of a mop up reliever than a LOOGY, and frankly, there is no way he is going to succeed in that role. Worse than that, the Mets have had a revolving door this year of Tim Peterson, Drew Gagnon, Paul Sewald, Jacob Rhame, and Corey Oswalt for the last spot in the bullpen.
Realistically speaking, the Mets cannot expect any of those pitchers to truly succeed at the Major League level. Exacerbating a very soft spot in the bullpen is the fact the Mets entered the season with just four MLB caliber starting pitchers in their rotation. As a result, at least every fifth day, the Mets are going to need to get some quality innings from their worst relievers. Put another way, the Mets can ill afford to have a weak spot in the bullpen when they have a glaring hole in the rotation.
That hole in the bullpen can be repaired with Kimbrel. Moreover, if you put Kimbrel in the ninth inning, him and Diaz pitching the final two innings makes every game a seven inning game for the Mets. The tandem would combine to make the best 8-9 combination in Major League history.
Really, there is no good explanation to not give Kimbrel the ninth. While you could argue the Mets did not give up Jarred Kelenic and Justin Dunn to have Diaz as a set-up man, the obvious counter-argument is the Mets did not give up those players to have relievers like Rhame derail games and ultimately the season. Additionally, with how great a pitcher he has been, no one should expect Diaz to falter in the eighth.
Overall, when you break it down, if the ninth inning is a breaking point for Kimbrel, just give it to him. He has the resume to justify such a demand, and really, he has the ability to not come to the Mets. Worse yet, he could go to Philadelphia to stick it to the Mets.
Of course, that would be the ultimate irony. The Mets gave up Kelenic to keep Diaz away from the Phillies, but they weren’t willing to have the best bullpen situation in Major League history to keep him away from Philadelphia.
After losing two out of three to the Cardinals, the Mets have lost six of their last eight games, and they are now just one game over .500. In the series and this bad stretch as a whole, we are starting to see some troubling patterns emerge:
- This Mets team was supposedly all-in, and Brodie Van Wagenen had a “Come get us!” bravado. Somehow, this led to Jason Vargas and Chris Flexen starting in back-to-back games. The season isn’t even a month old, and the Mets complete lack of pitching depth is already getting exposed.
- There is no good explanation why the Mets would have Jacob deGrom skip a precautionary MRI when he landed on the disabled list due to an elbow injury.
- Moreover, in a game against a team the Mets may very well be competing for a Wild Card spot this season, the Mets threw Flexen, Luis Avilan, Jacob Rhame, and Paul Sewald.
- If Avilan is not going to be used as a LOOGY but instead as a mop up reliever, you have to question why he is even on this roster.
- At some point you do have to question if this is really a bad team. Through 21 games, the team has a -19 run differential. The only team with a worse run differential in the National League is the Marlins.
- Again, the defense the Mets put behind their pitching is embarrassing. Their -22 DRS is the worst in the National League, and the combination of Amed Rosario and J.D. Davis form the worst left side of the infield in the majors by a pretty healthy margin.
- With respect to Rosario, at some point we have to question if this is who he is. He’s not making real progress in any parts of his game, and it’s getting to the point where he is hurting the Mets (again) on both sides of the ball.
- It is possible Rosario could use a day off. However, the short sighted Mets decided Luis Guillorme again did not merit a fair opportunity and instead chose to carry a string of Four-A relievers. So in addition to no pitching depth, the Mets have no shortstop depth.
- On Davis, there is no way you want him in the outfield. He’s slower than Freddie Freeman, Hanley Ramirez, and Jay Bruce among others.
- Davis’ inability to play third and the fact he can’t hit the fastball (.167), you cannot continue to play him once Todd Frazier is up. Sure, he had one or two nice games, but you cannot let small sample size successes blur the picture, especially when his defense is killing the Mets out there.
- If you look at Noah Syndergaard‘s advanced numbers, he’s the same pitcher he has always been. The biggest issue for him has been the defense. When the ball is in play, it’s a hit as evidenced by his .346 BABIP against (he’s at .311 for his career) and his 50.6% strand rate (career 73.7%).
- Really, Syndergaard has been unlucky because the fielding behind him is putrid. Hence, he has a 2.92 FIP.
- On the subject of Syndergaard, narratives are just tiresome. For example, when Syndergaard is bad in Philadelphia, not one word is said about Wilson Ramos‘ catching, but when it’s Travis d’Arnaud, we hear trumped up charges saying he’s not a good catcher or game caller. In the end, it’s confirmation bias.
- With respect to d’Arnaud, it’s clear he wasn’t yet ready to return. Certainly, you have to question why they rushed him back when the team was winning, and Tomas Nido was doing a quality job in the games he played.
- Robert Gsellman has been terrific of late. Not only did he bail the Mets out of that eighth inning jam, but he also pitched three innings to save the bullpen yesterday. If the Mets aren’t going to do the right thing and sign Gio Gonzalez or Dallas Keuchel, it may be time to start stretching him out to replace Vargas in the rotation.
- Good for Pete Alonso to respond to his first slump by mashing the ball against the Cardinals. Also, you have to love him talking his way into the lineup a day after having to leave the game with his getting hit by a pitch on the hand.
- The umpires handling of Robinson Cano getting hit on the hand was embarrassing for baseball and the umpires. There was no way he swung, and when you make a call that egregious, you cannot throw out Mickey Callaway.
- We are seeing Jeff McNeil in his first real slump as a Major Leaguer. In the series, he was 1-f0r-11. It will be interesting to see if the Cardinals discovered something other teams could emulate, or if St. Louis is just a terrible place where good things go to die.
- With all the troubles the Mets are having right now, Keon Broxton is getting saved from the spotlight, which is good for him because he has been terrible.
- If the only impediment to signing Craig Kimbrel is he wants to close, the Mets are even dumber than you could have imagined for wanting to have Rhame on the roster just so they could have Edwin Diaz close.
In the offseason, the Mets traded over five prospects. Why? They were all-in.
The Mets opted to forego a year of control over Pete Alonso by having him start the year on the Opening Day roster. Why? The Mets we’re all-in.
The Mets opted to go with just four MLB caliber starting pitchers in their organization because that’s apparently being all-in as well.
On the bright side Flexen was throwing 96 MPH. On the downside was everything else.
Flexen got through the first unscathed, but the wheels would come off starting with a Wilson Ramos passed ball allowing Jose Martinez to score. During that at-bat, Miles Mikolas would deliver with a two RBI single giving the Cardinals a 3-0 lead.
That was it. Game over.
Mikolas was cruising, and one pitcher after another couldn’t get out of their own way. Here are their disappointing but not unexpected final lines:
- Chris Flexen 4.1 IP, 7 H, 6 R, 5 ER, 4 BB, 0 K
- Luis Avilan 1.1 IP, H, 2 R, 2 ER, BB, 2 K
- Jacob Rhame 1.1 IP, H, R, ER, 2 BB, 0 K
- Paul Sewald 1.0 IP, H, R, ER, 0 BB, 0 K
Against a team the Mets are likely going to fight for a Wild Card spot, the Mets threw Flexen, Avilan, Rhame, and Sewald. They did it because they came into the season with no depth, and by mid-April, it’s already become an issue.
We also the Mets play continued shoddy defense. We also saw their offense begin to regress to the mean meaning it wasn’t there this time to bail out the pitching or defense.
Other fun notes include the Mets opting not to have deGrom undergo an MRI despite him having an elbow injury significant enough to put him on the IL. Alonso was hit on the hand with x-rays fortunately being negative.
Mostly, the Mets have been outscored by 17 runs this year, and they’ve allowed over 10 runs five times. It’s still early, but we’re starting to see very real problems with this team, and the way Van Wagenen built it, you legitimately have to ask how fixable they are.
The Mets gave up Jarred Kelenic and Justin Dunn while taking on $100 million of Robinson Cano‘s contract because they apparently believed Edwin Diaz was such a difference maker, they needed to not only have him, but they also needed to keep him away from the Phillies.
While Diaz has five saves in as many opportunities, tonight was the first time the Mets really needed their difference making closer.
Entering the bottom of the eighth, the Mets were up by a run, and Jeurys Familia immediately got into trouble, and he couldn’t get out of it even with Jeff McNeil making a nice play on a very hard hit grounder by Maikel Franco to turn the 5-4-3 double play.
They needed him to come into the game to strikeout Jean Segura to end the threat and take the 6-5 lead into the ninth. The Mets needed their supposed big time closer to face the middle of the Phillies order to get four outs to get the save.
Jeff Wilpon: We didn’t want the Phillies to get him. We also don’t want the Phillies to face him.
— Andrew Sodergren (@NDN_ASodergren) April 16, 2019
Gsellman walked Segura on four straight pitches to force home the tying run. Fortunately, Bryce Harper popped out to end the inning. Normally, you’d question why Gsellman and not Luis Avilan for Harper, but you avoid asking it because you know there’s no possible good answer.
All told, the Mets absolute failure to use Diaz was the reason why the Mets blew this lead and had to fight even harder to try to win a game they already were well in position to win.
The frustrating thing with Syndergaard was he was handed leads of 3-0 and 5-4, and he couldn’t hold either.
Somehow, the Mets survived Gsellman for 1.1 innings and one from Avilan, who was bailed out by Segura swinging at a pitch well out of the zone to end the 10th.
Travis d’Arnaud was the last bat on the bench, so with the pitcher’s spot up, Callaway used d’Arnaud to try to sac bunt. Well, d’Arnaud doesn’t bunt well, and his at-bat ended in a pop out. Robinson Cano then struck out putting the game on Michael Conforto‘s bat.
With the lead, Callaway finally turned to Diaz, who struck out Harper, Hoskins, and J.T. Realmuto to earn the save. Too bad he didn’t get that chance earlier in the game.
Game Notes: Despite his being on two days rest, the Mets called up Drew Gagnon. To make room for him on the roster, Luis Guillorme was sent to Syracuse. Dominic Smith got lucky not getting thrown out if the game after spiking and breaking bid helmet after being called out on a very borderline strike three.
Before the season, it was expected the National League East would be extraordinarily tight, and so far it has proven to be true. Entering this series, the Mets, Braves, and Phillies had a 7-4 record, and the Nationals were 6-5.
Entering the season, the Mets were looking for something to separate themselves from the pack. One of those things is the possibility Steven Matz and/or Amed Rosario could break out. Tonight, against the Braves, we got a glimpse as to what that might look like.
In Matz’s last start, he appeared to figure something out. Aside from a pair of very hard hit balls, Matz carried that success into tonight.
— Atlanta Braves (@Braves) April 11, 2019
That speaks to Lagares’ insane ability out there more than it does how catchable that ball was. Seriously, there are maybe three center fielders who could even be in position to make that play.
Those were but two of the four hits Matz allowed as he shut down the Braves. At one point, he would retire 13 in a row. Overall, he would pitch six innings allowing just those two runs while walking one and striking out eight.
He’d be in line for the win because Rosario was great tonight.
First, there was the no doubter three run homer off Kevin Gausman in the second inning:
— New York Mets (@Mets) April 11, 2019
Rosario came up in the sixth with runners on the corners and two outs, and the Braves went to the bullpen to bring in Wes Parsons. Rosario would hit an opposite field RBI single to increase the Mets lead to 4-2.
Rosario accounted for the first four Mets runs. The next two came courtesy of a monster Pete Alonso homer:
— New York Mets (@Mets) April 12, 2019
Cespedes 115.1 x2
Conforto 114.9 x2
— Jacob Resnick (@Jacob_Resnick) April 12, 2019
For a moment, that 6-2 lead didn’t look like it’d be enough. All season long, the Mets bullpen has been suspect, and Robert Gsellman has been one of those frustrating relievers.
He’d load the bases with one out, and against expectations, Gsellman would get out of the jam. First, he’d strike out Ozzie Albies, and then he’d get Josh Donaldson to ground out to get out of the jam.
Luis Avilan wasn’t as lucky. After retiring Freddie Freeman to start the eighth, Acuna hit a bomb to make it 6-3. The Braves pinch hitting Charlie Culberson, the Mets went to Jeurys Familia for the final two outs of the inning.
Edwin Diaz then came on and recorded his fifth save in as many chances for the Mets. Although, it should be mentioned it wasn’t easy with Freeman coming up as the tying run (he struck out). This is definitely a Mets thing.
With the win, the Mets are ahead of the Braves in the standings for at least a day, and on this day, the difference makers were Matz and Rosario.
After the Mets swept the Marlins, they’re now 5-1 and in first place as they come home for their home opener. Here’s the 20/20 observations from the last series:
- When Pedro Martinez compared Jacob deGrom to himself, you got the perfect comparison to just how dominant deGrom is right now. Although we can be sure the Dodger loving Wilpons think Sandy Koufax (either way you take it).
- With deGrom pitching great with Wilson Ramos on Opening Day and Tomas Nido yesterday, we’re seeing giving any credit to Devin Mesoraco was nonsense. Moreover, we’re seeing how better catchers help produce better results.
- In addition to their producing well on the field so far, it’s great to see Pete Alonso and Dominic Smith cheering for one another. Since late last year, and perhaps before that, they were adversaries as far as the future of first base was concerned. They rose above it to show they’re better people than they are players.
- While we believe Juan Lagares‘ extension was a mistake, there’s no doubt he impacts the game when he’s on the field. In the series, we saw him hit a game tying homer, and with his hustle, he reached base even on outs. He’s already at a 1 DRS, and he’s flashing his arm again. He’s potentially a difference maker.
- When the Mets traded Ross Adolph, Scott Manea, and Luis Santana, they paid a hefty price for J.D. Davis. It’s becoming increasingly clear, he’s not going to hit well or play good defense. As a result, each game the Mets force him into the lineup only serves to make a bad situation worse.
- On Davis, do yourself a favor and don’t look at the Astros 1B/DH situation.
- While it was nice to see Luis Guillorme finally get into a game, he needs to see more action, especially with Davis playing his way to a demotion.
- It’s very cool to see Yoenis Cespedes‘ brother Yoelkis regarded as one of the top Cuban prospects available. Here’s hoping the Mets can find a way to add him to the organization.
- The schadenfreude seeing the Yankees follow a Mets-like offseason with a series of Metsian injuries (CC Sabathia, Luis Severino, Dellin Betances, Didi Gregorius, Giancarlo Stanton, Miguel Andujar, Troy Tulowitzki, Jacoby Ellsbury) is off the charts.
- With respect to Brandon Nimmo, it was shocking to see him not get a day after getting hit on the hand. Even if he was alright, with him scuffling, it made sense to give him the extra day.
- Mickey Callaway‘s handling of the bullpen in the series was both bad and dangerous. He pushed a Luis Avilan, a LOOGY with a history of shoulder injuries, to try to pitch two innings. He also pushed Seth Lugo to try almost 40 pitches despite his being ill. That’s how you make two laughers nail biters.
- That said, Robert Gsellman needs to be better. It was his performance which led to Callaway needing to turn to Edwin Diaz for the save.
- Even with the struggles from the rest of the pen, the Mets are more than alright with Diaz, Jeurys Familia, and Justin Wilson ready to go 7-8-9 to close out a win.
- If the Mets can’t trust Jason Vargas to go more than five innings against the worst team in baseball when the bullpen is short, why is he in the rotation, especially when Dallas Keuchel is still a free agent.
- With the Mets not trusting Vargas, we need to keep a close eye on Anthony Kay who impressed in Spring Training and will be the Opening Day starter for Binghamton today.
- It was hard to tell on TV, but with a large contingent of Mets fans at Marlins Park, is booing Peter O’Brien still going to be a thing.
- Umpire Ron Kulpa’s behavior was unnecessarily confrontational and unbefitting to the impartiality and temperance we should expect from an umpire. A.J. Hinch was right to confront him, and now it’s time for MLB to confront and potentially begin to suspend umpires who behave this way.
- With respect to Ron Darling‘s book, former teammates Dwight Gooden, Kevin Mitchell, and Darryl Strawberry defending Lenny Dykstra doesn’t mean Darling is lying. There’s a lot of room between those players not hearing something and it actually happening even if Oil Can Boyd said he didn’t hear anything.
- More troubling than the Darling/Dykstra controversy is Darling saying Bob Murphy would pass out drunk in the clubhouse and saying Gary Carter tried to stuff the All-Star ballots. Dykstra is a man who is all too eager to defend himself. Dead men like Murphy and Carter can’t.
- It’s going to be sad to not hear David Wright‘s name announced with the team on Opening Day. It’s not too similar from 2006 when we didn’t hear Mike Piazza‘s name. Hopefully, this will be like 2006 in more ways than one.
There are many ways to describe how great Jacob deGrom has been since the start of the 2018 season. There are not enough superlatives, and there is almost no such thing as hyperbole. And yet, we are all running out of ways to describe him.
With his slider ramping up to 95 MPH, he set a career high with 14 strikeouts. That made him the first Mets pitcher to start a season with back-to-back 10+ strikeout games.
— New York Mets (@Mets) April 4, 2019
With his home run off Marlins starter Trevor Richards, he’s knocked in more runs than he’s allowed all year.
— New York Mets (@Mets) April 3, 2019
His final line was 7.0 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 ER, BB, 14 K. That’s his 31st consecutive start allowing three earned or fewer extending his own MLB record. With this quality start, he tied Bob Gibson‘s MLB record of 26 consecutive quality starts.
When you break it all down, it’s hard to quantify or explain just how great deGrom has been. Perhaps the best way to put it is what Pedro Martinez said tonight about deGrom, “He reminds me a lot of myself.”
Remember this is the same Pedro who had one of the greatest seasons and stretches in MLB history with his 1999 and 2000 seasons.
In many ways, this comparison could be the best way to describe just how great deGrom is right now. With Pedro being Pedro, he added deGrom is a taller and better looking version.
That’s all for some other time. Tonight was about how great deGrom is.
Hearkening back to the maddening pitcher Zack Wheeler was before his breakout, he needed 95 pitches to get through five innings. In those five innings, he allowed four earned on six hits. On the surface, this was reason to get concerned not just about Wheeler, but his and the Mets prospects for the 2019 season.
However, when you go deeper than the surface, there wasn’t much of a reason to overthink things. For starters, Wheeler’s stuff looked as good as it ever has. Also, for a pitcher who has long had control issues at at times has had difficulty putting batters away, he walked just one and struck out seven. When you break it down, this was just one of those starts pitchers have from time to time.
One of the issues was Trea Turner hits Wheeler well. Turner has hit .375/.444/.625 off of Wheeler including yesterday’s three run homer. Really, when you go up-and-down that Nationals lineup, they have all faired well against Wheeler:
Combine that with Wheeler pitching to a 4.24 ERA and 1.441 WHIP at Nationals Park, and you realize this was more of a bad matchup for Wheeler than anything else. Still, despite the tough matchup, Wheeler was largely effective against anyone not named Trea Turner.
In addition to Turner’s three run homer, he would steal a base in the fifth, and he would score on a Rendon two out RBI single. Turner was a one man wrecking crew in this game, and he would beat not just Wheeler, but the entire Mets team.
What was interesting about the Mets was how they got back into this game.
Through five innings, the Mets only plated one run off of Patrick Corbin due to a Pete Alonso double in the third. In the top of the sixth, the Mets would get a rally started with runners at the corners and no outs after a J.D. Davis double and a Michael Conforto single. The promising rally ended there when Davis scored on an Amed Rosario double play.
The Mets seemed like they were going to be getting back into this game, especially with how poor the Nationals bullpen already looks. However, Robert Gsellman was not good himself giving the one run the Mets got right back with him allowing a pair of doubles to Yan Gomes and Victor Robles in the bottom of the sixth.
This is where things got a bit dicey for Mickey Callaway.
In Saturday’s game, Davis misplaced a routine grounder, and the end result was instead of the Mets getting out of the inning, Callaway had to bring in Seth Lugo to bail Jeurys Familia out of a jam. Lugo would then have to get bailed out himself. The end result of this was Lugo and Familia basically being unavailable yesterday.
With yesterday’s game close, Callaway opted to chase the game. This meant utilizing Luis Avilian to get Juan Soto instead of allowing Gsellman to pitch an entire second inning. In Callaway’s defense, Gsellman created that situation too by allowing a hit to Rendon.
In that seventh inning, Callaway used Gsellman, Avilan, and Tim Peterson. It became an issue because the Mets went to work against the Nationals bullpen in the eighth.
With the heart of the lineup up, Dave Martinez went to Tony Sipp. Sipp bracketed retiring the right-handed hitting Davis by allowing singles to the left-handed hitting Robinson Cano and Conforto. Martinez brought in Trevor Rosenthal to pitch to Rosario, who, this time, delivered an RBI single.
With the Mets now down by just two, the Nationals went to Sean Doolittle, and Callaway emptied his bench. With the combination of durability history, the left-handed starter, and just trying to get guys into a game to start the year, Jeff McNeil and Wilson Ramos did not get the start. They would be two in a wave of four consecutive players who started the game on the bench getting key at-bats in the inning.
With Callaway having to pinch hit for Peterson to try to take the lead, he would have to go to Justin Wilson for more than an inning. Wilson would mow down the first four Nationals he would face before Turner hit the walk-off home run.
By no means was this a perfect game for the Mets. The Nationals continued to run on them with five stolen bases in the series. Wheeler didn’t look like the ace he was in the second half. Corbin looked like last year was no fluke, and the Mets bullpen was as creeky as the Nationals bullpen looked in the series. Moreover, Callaway did not look like a manager who was taking a step forward this year.
Despite the issues you may want to glean from the loss, the fact of the matter is the Mets fought to get back into this game. It was a tough loss, but it was one where the Mets showed character. It’s one where the team showed they have fight in them, and they are ready to take it to the Nationals and the rest of the National League East. While you hate a loss like this, you should really like how this team handled the situation.
Game Notes: With Avilan and Peterson pitching in the game and Tomas Nido starting at catcher, Luis Guillorme is now the only Mets player on the Opening Day roster who has yet to play in a game. Brandon Nimmo broke his hitless streak to begin the season with a hit off Corbin.