Luis Avilan

Davis Just Delivered A Walk-Off

The Mets had every reason to lose this game. Marcus Stroman left the game after four with what was a hamstring injury, which for some reason has been an injury plaguing the Mets a bit of late. This made this a bullpen game for the team in what became an extra inning game.

It was an extra inning game partially because Brad Brach gave up the lead in the sixth. It hurt all the more because the Mets bottom of the lineup delivered that run.

Heading into the fifth, Adam Plutko was rolling having allowed just one hit. Given the lineup, he appeared poised to rip through the fifth carrying the 1-0 lead forward as the Mets were already in their bullpen with Jeurys Familia having pitched the top of the inning.

After getting the first out, Todd Frazier singled. The Mets followed the single with a hit-and-run which Juan Lagares hit to the wall for a double. As surprising as the Lagares double might’ve been, the and Luis Guillorme pinch hit double was all the more so.

In actuality, the big hits from Lagares and Guillorme weren’t really surprising. Both have been playing very well over the past month, and we’re even seeing Lagares get back to his Gold Glove form.

As alluded to earlier, Brach gave the lead right back. He’d issue a leadoff walk to Carlos Santana, and then he’d allow a one out triple to Jose Ramirez. The triple ruling was a bit generous as J.D. Davis did misplay it along the wall, and Ramirez just beat the throw to third. While Brach did give up the lead, he did settle down getting the next two outs keeping the game tied.

It stayed tied partially because the Mets blew some chances.

The Mets had two on and one out as Frazier and Lagares found a way to start a rally again. This time, it was Rajai Davis pinch hitting, and he struck out. Amed Rosario failed to deliver as well popping out to end the inning.

As bad as that blown opportunity was, for some Mets fans, it was probably worse for them to see Oliver Perez pitch a scoreless eighth. Even worse that included strike outs of Pete Alonso and Michael Conforto.

Perhaps worse than that was having to use Aaron Altherr as a pinch hitter in the ninth knowing he wasn’t going to deliver a big hit.

After Seth Lugo was Seth Lugo for two innings, it was time for Luis Avilan in the 10th. There were two outs, and Avilan had a 1-2 count to Santana. Three pitches later Santana reached across and hit a change-up for a go-ahead homer.

The Indians went to Brad Hand, who had been shaky of late. He was very shaky tonight.

Rosario began the inning with a double with the Indians catching a break because Rosario did not notice Greg Allen bobbling the ball on the transfer in center. In any event, Rosario would make his way to third when Joe Panik laid down a perfect sac bunt.

The Indians wanted no part of Alonso, so they opted to intentionally walk him to have Conforto hit the left-handed Hand. With the Indians infield halfway, Conforto hit a ball grabbed by Santana.

Instead of going home to try to get Rosario, Santana sought to start the 3-6-1 double play. The problem was Hand didn’t go to first apparently thinking Santana would go home. Instead of what could’ve been a close play at first, it was a tie game.

Wilson Ramos then extended his hitting streak to 15 games with an infield single which rolled feet from home plate. This brought the hot hitting Davis to the plate. He battled back from 0-2 to a full count. Finally, on the eighth pitch, Hand hung a slider over the plate, and Davis delivered his first career game winning hit.

As much of a frenzy the crowd was in, the players were in one themselves. Davis Jersey was torn off his back in what seems to be the new walk-off celebration, and in the postgame Davis sounded like he’s been a Mets fan all of his life belting out a loud “Lets Go Mets!”

The Mets should not have won this game at all. This was a game they lose easily a month ago. They’re winning these games now, and they’re six games over .500 for the first time all season.

Game Notes: Ramos’ 15 game hitting streak is the longest streak a Met has had since Ruben Tejada‘s streak in 2012.

Paul Sewald Has Real Value

While things have been going well recently, the Mets have had trouble identifying those relievers whom they can use and trust to eat up innings and take care of games where they have large leads. When that is an issue for your team, you wind up using and wasting good relievers in non-critical spots. You are also forced to use good relievers when it should not have been necessary.

On August 6, the Mets had a five run lead heading into the ninth inning against the Miami Marlins, the worst team in the National League. After eight dominant innings from Zack Wheeler, the Mets went to Robert Gsellman in the ninth. The following night, the Mets once again had a five run lead heading into the ninth. The team would use Jeurys Familia and Luis Avilan to close out the game.

On the roster at that time was Chris Mazza and Donnie Hart. The team did not use either reliever in that spot or really any spot. Truth be told if you can’t trust those relievers to close out games against the worst team in the National League, you don’t have any business being on the roster. It should come as no surprise neither pitcher is currently on the Mets roster.

When Mazza and Hart went down, Drew Gagnon was one of the relievers who replaced them on the roster. The Mets would bring Gagnon to pitch the eighth inning in the August 15 game against the Braves. At that time, the Mets had a 10-3 lead, and they just needed someone to pitch the final two innings to give the bullpen a rest. Instead, Gagnon would allow four homers, including a homer to Freddie Freeman in consecutive innings, thereby necessitating Edwin Diaz coming into the game to record the save in a 10-8 game.

This led to Paul Sewald being selected from Syracuse and re-joining the Mets bullpen. While this was largely met with eye rolls and consternation, Sewald is exactly what the Mets needed. In yesterday’s 9-2 victory over the Indians, the Mets would use Sewald out of the bullpen in the ninth. There would be no drama as he would allow a double while striking out three batters. In the grand scheme of things, these are the types of outings which are both necessary and overlooked.

Since his debut in 2017, Sewald has handled these situations well. In his career, in what is characterized as low leverage situations, he has held opposing batters to a .209/.262/.341 batting line. When there is a four run lead in either direction, Sewald has held opposing batters to a .223/.294/.365 batting line. This has permitted him to pitch multiple innings in these situations. In turn, this has allowed the Mets to save their better relievers for higher leverage situations.

This has an immense amount of value to a team, and these are the types of outings which helps a team get to the postseason. This is what Pat Mahomes provided the Mets in 1999 and 2000, Darren Oliver provided in 2006, and Sean Gilmartin provided in 2015. This is what Sewald can be over the remaining 37 games of the season. His doing that frees up Lugo, Diaz, Familia, and Justin Wilson for the higher leverage situations.

All told, Sewald can provide an immense amount of value to the Mets bullpen by eating up those innings and not having Mickey Callaway need to worry about needing to go deeper into the bullpen in these situations. As we have seen this year, this is not a role which is easily filled. Ultimately, Sewald can perform well in situations where others cannot, and as a result, he provides this bullpen and this Mets team with real value.

Simply Amazin (Into The Wild) Podcast Appearance

On Sunday, I was invited to join Tim Ryder for the Simply Amazin podcast to discuss the series against the Royals as well as other Mets matters. Off the top of my head, I remember mentioning J.D. Davis, Pete Alonso, Ruben Tejada, Brandon Nimmo, Dilson Herrera, Aaron Altherr, Amed Rosario, Seth Lugo, Jeurys Familia, Justin Wilson, Luis Avilan, Jeff McNeil, Joe Panik, Juan Lagares, Dominic SmithZack WheelerSteven MatzRajai Davis, Luis Guillorme, and others.

Please take a listen and keep an eye (or ear) out for Thursday when I’m next scheduled to appear.

Rosario And Alonso Five Alive

There was a time Julio Teheran owned the Mets. Not anymore. Not tonight. The roles are now reversed.

The tone was set when Amed Rosario began the game with a double. Joe Panik singled, and then Pete Alonso tied Cody Bellinger‘s National League rookie record for homers in a season:

The Mets were up 3-0 before recording an out, and the offense was off and running. Teheran wouldn’t make it past the second. Every starter would get at least one hit, and the Mets would record a season high 22 hits.

Rosario and Alonso each had their first five hit games, and it’s the first time in Rosario was a homer short of the cycle, and he’s had nine hits over the past two games. Alonso had a career high six RBI.

Another note with these two is Alonso was charged with an error when Rosario literally threw a ball through his mitt.

Juan Lagares continues his reawakening with a three hit game. Lagares’ eight hits in the series where as many as he’s had in his previous 52 AB.

J.D. Davis now has a nine game hitting streak, Wilson Ramos had a four hit game, and Todd Frazier homered.

Marcus Stroman was good enough allowing three runs (two earned) in four hits on four walks and five strikeouts in 5.1 innings. Luis Avilan and Brad Brach continued their improved pitching before handing it off to Drew Gagnon to mop up the game.

Gagnon was terrible allowing two homers to Freddie Freeman along with homers to Ronald Acuna Jr. and Josh Donaldson. That’s four homers making a 10-3 lead a 10-8 nail biter necessitating Edwin Diaz enter the game with two outs in the ninth to try to get the save.

Diaz walked Brian McCann on four pitches bringing Ender Inciarte up as the tying run.

Even if the Mets made a laugher scary, they got the win they needed, and now they fly to Kansas City where the can do some damage.

Game Notes: Jeromy Burnitz and David Wright are the other two Mets rookies to record six RBI in a game.

Mets Blow Golden Opportunity Against Braves

As impressive as this Braves club has been since the start of last year, and even with them having a big lead in the division, they can be beat. The key is to wait them out.

That’s what the Mets almost did with Steven Matz tonight who was brilliant despite not getting much help in the second.

Matz got himself into trouble allowing a leadoff single to Josh Donaldson and a walk to Adam Duvall. He’d recover by inducing what should’ve been a double play for Johan Camargo. Instead, it was a fielder’s choice with Amed Rosario making a slightly wide throw and Ruben Tejada fielding it like Chase Utley was ready to tackle him.

Following an Ender Inciarte double J.D. Davis was late getting to, it was 1-0 Braves. It’s be like that for a while because Matz was terrific and Dallas Keuchel was very good as well.

Keuchel got out of a jam in the first caused when Tyler Flowers didn’t get down on two of his pitches thereby putting Amed Rosario at third. He’d be stranded there when Michael Conforto struck out.

The Mets got to Keuchel with a rally in the sixth, but it was killed by a Wilson Ramos double play. Conforto followed with a hard fought walk giving Todd Frazier a chance. For a moment, it looked like Frazier would deliver all the way up until Freddie Freeman made the incredible over the shoulder catch on the bloop to end the inning.

Apparently, Freeman doesn’t need a bat to be a Mets killer.

Keuchel looked poised to get through seven until Matz had a two out single. That was it for Keuchel who was lifted for Chris Martin as the lineup flipped over.

Rosario had a hard hit ball which ripped through Johan Camargo. With Duvall trying to get Matz at third, Rosario moved to second. Duvall’s poor decision loomed large when a Davis bloop landed softly into center giving the Mets a 2-1 lead.

At this point, Matz was at 79 pitches. He allowed just the one earned on two hits with a walk and five strikeouts. He retired the last 14 straight.

Conversely, he ran the bases. There was a long delay when Pete Alonso‘s follow through hit Flowers in the mask necessitating a trainer’s visit. The last three outs of the sixth were very hard hit and two of them likely fall for hits if Juan Lagares wasn’t in vintage form.

Opposing batters hit 284/.330/.490 off Matz the third time through the lineup, and Donaldson hits 263/.385/.526 the third time he faces a starter.

Given all involved, Mickey Callaway went with Seth Lugo, who is the best reliever in the National League. He’s also a much more reliable pitcher in that spot.

It just didn’t work out with the umpire squeezing him. A bunch of balls found a hole. There was Alonso going deep into the second base hole instead of allowing Tejada to make a routine play.

Donaldson had a leadoff walk, and Duvall followed with a hard hit single. After that it was hit after hit after hit. By the time he was lifted for Luis Avilan, it was 5-2 Braves. After Avilan allowed an RBI single to Ozzie Albies, it was 6-2 Braves.

Because the Braves bullpen is terrible the Mets had a chance against Mark Melancon in the ninth.

After Tejada grounded out, Lagares jump started the offense with a single. Joe Panik pinch hit for Aaron Altherr and doubled. Rosario then hit an RBI single making it 6-3.

Now, at this point, it was Luis Guillorme pinch hitting instead of Davis batting because Davis was inexplicably double switched out of the game when Lugo entered the game. That decision didn’t come back to bite the Mets as Guillorme hit an RBI single pulling the Mets to within 6-4.

This set the stage for Alonso. Throughout the first half he was great against bullpens and from the seventh inning on. He hasn’t been that in the second half. It was more of the second half Alonso with him hitting what should’ve been a game ending double play.

Instead, Camargo missed second initially, and then he dropped the ball. Bases were now loaded for Ramos. He came up short striking out. The Braves went to old friend Jerry Blevins who struck out Conforto to end the game.

Ultimately, Callaway went with his best guy in the biggest spot in the game. He made the right decision there (with Lugo, not Davis). It didn’t work. It happens. Chances are Lugo won’t blow up like that again, and the Mets win this game the next 10 times.

Game Notes: Tejada was called up for the injured Jeff McNeil.

Mets Might’ve Lost Much More Than A Game To The Braves

As big as the Nationals series was, the series against the Braves is bigger. It’s bigger because it’s on the road, a step up in competition, and it’s an opportunity to get into the division race.

Unlike this past weekend, the Mets were not up to the task.

Right off the bat, Zack Wheeler‘s 15 inning scoreless steak was snapped. Actually, it was 15.1 innings as Ozzie Albies flew out between the trio of singles from Ronald Acuna Jr., Freddie Freeman, and Josh Donaldson. That 1-0 deficit grew to 2-0 on a Matt Joyce RBI single in the first.

To put in perspective how difficult the task was against Max Fried and the Braves tonight, Juan Lagares was the team’s best hitter. To be fair, he was 3-for-3 against Fried.

That first hit was a two out single in the second. He moved to scoring position on a Wheeler HBP, and he’d score on a Jeff McNeil RBI single. It was 2-1, and the Mets would get no closer.

The Braves got that run back in the bottom of the inning on a Freeman RBI single. That lead grew to 3-1 when Acuna homered in the fourth, and then 5-1 when Ender Inciarte hit an RBI double in the fifth.

In total, Wheeler lasted just the five innings allowing a run in four of the five innings he pitched. He was easily out-pitched by Fried, and Acuna was a one man wrecking crew.

For example, in the sixth, the Mets had Fried on the ropes, but they’d shoot themselves in the foot.

Michael Conforto followed a Wilson Ramos leadoff walk with a GIDP. Todd Frazier then just missed a homer hitting it off the center field wall, and he’d need a great slide to get the double. Lagares followed with his third hit of the night, and for some reason, Gary Disarcina thought it wise to challenge Acuna’s arm:

With that, the Mets blew a chance to score, and they trailed 5-1 in what was now a battle of the bullpens.

Brad Brach pitched a clean sixth. Luis Avilan got into trouble in the seventh allowing a leadoff single to Donaldson an led plunking Adam Duvall. With Mets killer Charlie Culberson up, Mickey Callaway turned to Jeurys Familia. Familia continued his recent strong stretch by striking out Culberson to end the jam.

It was 5-1, but with the way the Mets have played and with the Braves weak bullpen, there was a chance. That chance came in the eighth.

Shane Greene, who has already lost his closer’s job, did little to instill confidence tonight.

After allowing back-to-back singles to Pete Alonso and J.D. Davis, he had some bad luck. First, Culberson tripped up what should’ve been a Ramos GIDP getting just the out at second.

Then, with Jerry Blevins relieving Greene to face Conforto, the Braves could not convert the 3-6-3 double play allowing Alonso to score. Anthony Swarzak came on to face Frazier. After Frazier singled, Lagares hit a ball which ate up Freeman allowing Conforto to score.

Unfortunately, Joe Panik could not get the big pinch hit. This left the Mets squandering what could’ve been a much bigger opportunity and entering the ninth 5-3.

As if things could’ve be bad enough in this frustrating loss, McNeil hurt himself trying to leg out a single against newly installed Braves closer Mark Melancon. With so many games remaining, the Mets could afford to lose a game, but they cannot afford to lose McNeil.

We will all be holding our breath awaiting word.

Game Notes: Drew Gagnon pitched a scoreless ninth. He was recalled earlier in the day with Chris Mazza being sent down to Triple-A.

20/20 Hindsight: Mets Capitalize On Opportunity

The Nationals came into town, and the Mets players and fans raised their games in what was the biggest series since 2016. There was a lot to digest, mostly positive:

1. Who in the pool had Todd Frazier having the biggest hit all season?

2. That ninth inning culminating in Michael Conforto‘s first walkoff hit was crazy, and it was perhaps the best Mets moment since Asdrubal Cabrera‘s famous walk-off homer against the Phillies in 2016.

3. Things were so crazy for the Mets this series that Amed Rosario was understandably overlooked. He was 4-f0r-14 in the series with a double, and he made what proved to be somewhat of a game saving catch robbing Brian Dozier of an RBI single.

4. Marcus Stroman proved to be the perfect man to start that series. Even though he had allowed four earned on his six plus innings, he was electric to begin the game, and he really helped get the fans into that game. That set the stage for what was an electric Citi Field.

5. When Wilson Ramos homered off of Patrick Corbin, Citi Field was the loudest I’ve ever experienced it. To put that into context, I was there for when David Wright homered in Game 3 of the World Series.

6. J.D. Davis is unconscious right now. Since his hot streak started on June 30, his 189 wRC+ is the best in the National League. Like Steve Pearce in the World Series last year, just enjoy this ride for as far as it takes the Mets. Hopefully, like with the Red Sox, it will take them to a World Series Championship.

7. There is perhaps no bigger Mets fans and cheerleader right now than Dominic Smith. Despite being on a knee scooter, he has been leading “Lets Go Mets” chants from the dugout, and he has been rolling around the outfield with his “LFGM 2019” license plate cheering with the team. Seeing all of this, it is hard not to love him.

8. Noah Syndergaard put together another seven inning start giving the Mets a chance to win. That’s six in a row, and he has a 1.91 ERA over this stretch. It is a shame he had a rough start to the season while he was trying to figure out the ball because with the stretch he is on now he could have very well been in Cy Young discussions.

9. One important development this weekend was Ramos catching everyone this weekend which is an indicator as to how the Mets would handle things in the postseason should they make it that far. You can certainly understand the Mets pursuing that route with the way he’s been hitting of late. In August, he is hitting .400/.432/.714.

10. While you understand the push, the Mets need to be mindful Ramos is 32 and injury prone. He does not need to be catching day games after night games especially when Jacob deGrom is pitching. Let deGrom compensate for the lack of offense by shutting down the opponent. This will allow Ramos to stay fresh and continue hitting at this level.

11. It is just like to deGrom to struggle and allow zero earned runs. What was not like deGrom was his failing to really cover first base on that Pete Alonso throw. He also needs to make a better throw to Ramos, who should have had that throw anyway. Really, that was just an ugly play all around.

12. Brad Brach quickly endeared himself to Mets fans by relaying a story about how the lifelong Mets fan bought a Mets jersey to attend Game 3 of the 2015 World Series and calling it one of his favorite moments. He further endeared himself by getting Luis Avilan out of that sixth inning jam yesterday.

13. Joe Panik also made a good impression on Mets fans. He may have only had two hits in the series, but both times he got a hit was in the middle of a rally. He also played a good second base. In all, he looked like a real boost to this team.

14. The Mets had contributions up and down the roster. That even includes Juan Lagares who looked like his vintage self robbing Yan Gomes of an extra base hit on Saturday.

15. Speaking of Lagares, when are the Mets going to learn he can’t bunt? You cannot send him up there to bunt. In the future, if the Mets need a bunt to get down, and Guillorme has already been used, the Mets should sent in Steven Matz, who is very good handling the bat.

16. While the position players all contributed, the bullpen was not very good with much of their struggles masked by the Mets comebacks. When Seth Lugo allows a run, you know things are going bad for the bullpen. Of course, with Lugo being Lugo, he rebounded from the Juan Soto homer to close out the win.

17. Soto has joined Anthony Rendon in being Mets killers. If the Mets didn’t step up Friday and Saturday night, those two really were in a position to bury the Mets chances of making this miracle run.

18. Speaking of Mets killers, Edwin Diaz has been one of those. He has been worse than anyone could have possible imagined. He’s already lost his role as the full-time closer, and now there are rumblings the Mets should consider demoting him to Triple-A to get straightened out. Of course, that happens the same weekend Jarred Kelenic is promoted to Double-A.

19. One of the brightest spots all weekend was Jeurys Familia striking out the side on Sunday. Whether this is the Mets straightening him out or his stepping up in a big moment, it was a great thing to see, and it gives the Mets some hope for the future, especially if Diaz is not ready to really contribute for the rest of the year.

20. The Braves have not had a good August with a 6-5 record. That record looks all the more suspect when you consider they split four game series with the Reds and Marlins. This has helped keep the Mets alive in the division race, and now, the Mets have a real opportunity to go to Atlanta and go from alive to being a real threat.

Michael Conforto Walks It Off In 2015 Style Win

This game almost down to a questionably managed inning by Mickey Callaway (Brodie texting) in the sixth, bit things got crazy in the ninth.

Everything started with his sticking with Marcus Stroman.

Stroman started the night with electric stuff and was untouchable for the first three innings. He then lost it for three batters allowing an Adam Eaton single, Anthony Rendon RBI triple, and a Juan Soto homer.

On the Rendon triple, Michael Conforto was kicked in the face by Jeff McNeil. Fortunately, neither player looked worse for ware.

After that third, Stroman pitches three more scoreless partially because of an absolute Houdini act in the sixth.

Soto led off that sixth with a double. He should have scored when Matt Adams hit a ball deflected by Pete Alonso into right field. Despite the third base coach waiving him in, Soto stopped there. He wouldn’t get past that point even though runners were at the corners with no outs.

Todd Frazier nailed Soto at the plate on a Kurt Suzuki grounder. Brian Dozier ripper a liner and was robbed of a base bit by a leaping Amed Rosario.

The Mets then intentionally walked Victor Robles to load the bases so Stroman could face and strikeout the opposing pitcher Stephen Strasburg to end the inning.

At the end of five and a half innings, the score was tied at three with the Mets three runs coming in the fourth when Alonso and J.D. Davis went back-to-back.

Strasburg was more dominant than Stroman on the night. Those were just two of the four hits he would allow the entire night. The other two came in the bottom of the sixth in the Mets owned botched chance.

Rosario and Conforto led off the bottom of the sixth with consecutive singles setting up runners at the corners with no outs. This was the Mets chance to take the lead. They didn’t as Alonzo lined out to second, Davis striking out, and Wilson Ramos grounding out.

The Davis strikeout was a particularly egregious call. Down 0-2, he did well to work the count full. The eighth pitch appeared close (possibly too close to take), but that didn’t matter. Despite Davis barely taking the bat off his shoulder, the first base umpire ruled he swung. Strike three.

At that point, Stroman was at 102 pitches. Instead of going right to the bullpen, Stroman was asked to get Trea Turner. Like he did in Turner’s previous at-bat, Stroman lost him and walked him.

Now, the pitcher’s spot was due up third in the bottom half of the inning. The Mets bench is exceedingly weak, and a double switch would require lifting Davis, who is the team’s hottest hitter.

With that in mind, Callaway trusted Justin Wilson to get through the rest of the inning. Things started off well with Eaton striking out. Now, Seth Lugo was tossing, but Callaway stuck with Wilson against Rendon. With Soto on deck and Rendon 0-5 against Wilson plus the pitchers spot up third, you could understand. It just didn’t work out well as Rendon hit a go-ahead two run homer.

As bleak as things looked then, they looked worse when Turner struck again in the top of the ninth. He led off the inning with a single, moved to second on an Eaton single, and he took third off McNeil on a shallow fly to right.

Luis Avilan threw one in the dirt which didn’t get too far from Ramos. Turner read it perfectly and scored easily.

Down three and with the bottom of the lineup due up against Sean Doolittle, it didn’t seem like the Mets could pull it out. Just one small thing, Doolittle doesn’t pitch well against the Mets.

After a Davis double and Ramos single, runners were at the corners with no outs. Todd Frazier has been incredibly cold of late, but there’s still pop in his bat. We saw that with him launching an unexpected game tying three run homer:

Unlike the old adage, the homer did not end the rally.

Joe Panik kept things going with a single up the middle. The Mets, who never learn, had Juan Lagares pinch hit to bunt. In typical Lagares fashion, he botched the bunt allowing Rendon to get the force out at second.

After McNeil flew out, Rosario singled. Lost in this game was how great Rosario was tonight. He made the leaping catch to keep the game tied in the sixth. He was 3-for-5 at the plate. He was arguably the Mets best player on the night. He’d get overlooked because of Frazier’s game tying homer, and Conforto’s first walk-off hit.

So much for Conforto not being able to hit left-handers or hit in the clutch. So much for not recognizing how great a player he is.

This was a GREAT 7-6 win. Great. The Mets absolutely stole one. They rose to this challenge, and they’re dangerous right now. They may have started this run beating up on bad teams, but they’ve now continued it ripping the heart right out of the chest of a good team who got a great pitching performance from their best healthy starter.

Game Notes: Luis Avilan got the win. Adeiny Hechavarria was designated for assignment to make room for Panik on the roster. If he was on the roster tomorrow, he was due $1 million.

Matz Can’t Be Beaten At Citi Field

The Mets chances of the Wild Card may very well be tied to Steven Matz. He is the starter in whom you have the least amount of confidence, and he has the propensity to blow up at any time. We need not look any further than recent history with him shutting out the Pirates in one start followed by his getting knocked out in the fourth in his next start against the very same team.

The interesting thing with Matz is you usually get a good read on what type of day it is going to be from his first inning. Today, he allowed a leadoff single to Jon Berti, and two pitches later, he got Isan Diaz to ground into a double play. When he struck out Brian Anderson to end the inning, you got a good feeling about him on the day.

You had a better feeling about the game when Michael Conforto drew a two out walk in front of Pete Alonso who would then give the Mets a 2-0 lead with a homer off of Marlins starter Jordan Yamamoto.

One interesting development in Alonso’s career is how he has a good month followed by a bad month. Well, Alonso had the worst month of his young career in July. He has turned things around in August homering in three straight games.

While this was a big development in this game, perhaps a bigger one was Matz navigating his way out of trouble in the second. He got himself into trouble with a leadoff walk to Garrett Cooper, and Cooper would score after consecutive singles from Starlin Castro and Lewis Brinson. Matz would catch a break with a Brinson TOOBLAN as he would get caught in a rundown when Alonso cutoff Jeff McNeil‘s throw. That was a gift out.

Todd Frazier would then cut down Castro at the plate on a Harold Ramirez ground ball, and Matz would work his way out of trouble to leave the game at 2-1.

From there, the game was basically all Mets as the Mets batters would put on a power show. Michael Conforto hit the first of his two run homers in the third giving the Mets a 4-1 lead. With that homer, he became the 14th Mets player to hit 100 homers, and he joined Darryl Strawberry and David Wright as the only Mets players younger than 27 to hit that mark.

In addition to Conforto, new puppy owner McNeil would keep is end of his bargain with his wife by hitting another homer.

Going back to Matz, he pitched 6.2 innings allowing just two earned on seven hits with two walks and seven strikeouts. Since the All Star Break, he’s 2-1 with a 3.38 ERA. Better yet, he’s 5-0 at Citi Field. When he is going at least six innings like he has in three of these five starts, you seem him as a very good fifth starter. Really, that’s what the Mets need from him.

They also need this continued good work out of the bullpen. Matz would depart with two outs in the seventh leaving Bryan Holaday at second after a two out double. Justin Wilson came on, and despite allowing a single to Martin Prado, he would get the Mets out of the inning preserving what was then a 4-2 lead.

As noted, Conforto and McNeil would each homer in the seventh expanding that lead to 7-2. That was a safe enough lead for Jeurys Familia, who pitched a scoreless inning even with him allowing a walk. Luis Avilan recorded the final three outs in the ninth with the rain looming to get the Mets the four game sweep of the Marlins.

This win completed a stretch of 16 games against teams with a losing record. The Mets took care of business in that stretch going from nine games under .500 to three games over. They have gone from seven games back in the Wild Card standings to just one game out. Now the hard part begins.

Game Notes: The last time the Mets swept the Marlins in a four game series at Citi Field was April 2015. Once again, the Mets did not trust Chris Mazza or Donnie Hart to preserve a five run ninth inning lead.

Why Are Chris Mazza And Donnie Hart On Mets Roster?

You can hardly blame Mickey Callaway for going to Robert Gsellman in the ninth last night. The Mets are in a race for the Wild Card, and they cannot afford to blow winnable games. With a five run lead in the top of the ninth, that was not a spot for Seth Lugo or Edwin Diaz, but the Mets needed to go with someone whom they can trust.

This meant Gsellman pitching a night after he threw 1.1 innings. He struggled a bit, but he pitched a scoreless inning. As a result, the Mets locked down their fifth straight win, and their 13th win over their last 15 games. They also will be without Gsellman in a game where the unpredictable Steven Matz is scheduled to pitch.

Now, you could argue the Mets could have gone with Luis Avilan or Jeurys Familia in that spot. For Familia, he has shown he has looked better with some rest, so you can understand not pushing him. You can really argue for Avilan with his being one of three relievers who did not pitch in Monday’s doubleheader. With his shoulder history, you can understand the need to save bullets in his arm.

What you cannot understand is not going to Donnie Hart or Chris Mazza last night.

In terms of Hart, the Mets did use him in the 13-2 blowout win over Pittsburgh. He would pitch a clean eighth. He only threw nine pitches in that game, so there were no fatigue issues. If he is a guy who you can only trust with a 12 run lead on the road, why did the Mets waste their time claiming him off waivers?

There’s also Mazza. After blowing the game against the Giants over a week ago, he made two starts in Triple-A before being recalled on August 2. He has not pitched since he was recalled. Make any argument you want as to his true talent level, but the team is not trusting him to close out a five run lead against the worst team in the National League.

Right there, the Mets have two pitchers they don’t trust in that spot. Instead, they opted to use Gsellman leaving him unavailable for today. If Matz doesn’t go deep into the game, that leaves the Mets possibly looking to Hart or Mazza, two pitchers they clearly don’t want to use.

If that is the case, the Mets need to call up one of Chris Flexen or Eric Hanhold. If they want to go off the 40 man roster, Paul Sewald would be a fine choice, especially since the Mets know they can at least trust him to preserve a five run lead. More than anything, this is proof the Mets need to bring in Brad Brach. At a minimum, Brach is someone the Mets can use to preserve a five run lead in the ninth. At a minimum, that makes him a much better use of a roster spot than Hart or Mazza, two relievers who the Mets apparently don’t trust at all.