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.
Sometimes, one bad decision or call can change the reflection of an entire game. We saw that happen in the fifth inning.
Up until that point, the Mets were leading 2-0. The first run came when Jeff McNeil singled home Todd Frazier in the second. The Mets might’ve done more damage, but that inning ended on a strike ’em out-throw ’em out double play with McNeil getting thrown out at second.
The shift ain't stopping this one. 💪 pic.twitter.com/2fxUnkZP83
— New York Mets (@Mets) September 7, 2019
At that time, Steven Matz was cruising. He limited the Phillies to two hits over the first four innings. He was in trouble once in the third when he allowed a double to Jean Segura, and he’d hit Bryce Harper in the hand. With one out, he’d get the ground ball, but it was in the hole. It didn’t matter as Amed Rosario got to the Rhys Hoskins grounder to start the inning ending double play.
It looked like nothing could stop Matz. As it turned out, Fieldin Culbrith stood in the way with a bad (non-reviewable) call.
To Whom It May Concern,
We respectfully disagree with this being called a fair ball.
Gary, Keith, Ron and the Social Media Person Running This Account pic.twitter.com/z3h7moBGOI
— SNY (@SNYtv) September 7, 2019
That foul ball was ruled a Segura double. He’d then score on a J.T. Realmuto RBI double. Matz escaped that jam, but he wouldn’t escape the one in the sixth.
After Hoskins walked to lead off the inning, he’d move to second on a fielder’s choice. With Matz not paying attention, Hoskins would steal third.
At that time, there was a base open with noted Mets killer Maikel Franco at the plate. Instead of walking him to set up a better matchup, Mickey Callaway made the very curious move of letting Matz pitch to him. It didn’t end well as Franco hit the game tying RBI single.
After a Jose Pirela single and Phil Gosselin being announced as the pinch hitter, Callaway made the unorthodox move of going to his LOOGY Luis Avilan to ensure Gabe Kapler wouldn’t go to hit potent left-handed bats on the bench (Jay Bruce, Corey Dickerson) wouldn’t come up.
Avilan was careful throwing nothing but change-ups, but he’d walk Gosselin to load the bases. This led to Brad Brach coming into the game to face Segura. Despite his dealing with a shoulder injury, he’d not only get Segura out, but he’d also pitch a scoreless seventh as well.
After Justin Wilson pitched a scoreless eighth, the Mets would finally rally in the bottom of the eighth after being stymied by the Phillies bullpen for two innings.
The rally started with Frazier drawing a leadoff walk against Blake Parker. With Frazier being the go-ahead run, Callaway went to his bench and pinch ran the fast Sam Haggerty. He then made the odd decision of using Luis Guillorme as a pinch hitter to sacrifice Haggerty over. Guillorme wanted to do more with his bunt, and he almost got a base hit as he seemingly purposefully popped it over the charging Hoskins.
Well, if you insist on bunting, at least make it weird. pic.twitter.com/6gorZNYMN8
— Roger Cormier (@yayroger) September 7, 2019
In any event, it got the sacrifice part of the job done. After McNeil walked, Kapler played games trying to get Hector Neris more time. Kapler did get more time for Neris, but apparently, it wasn’t enough time with Pete Alonso delivering the go-ahead RBI single.
On the play, it should be noted Haggerty scored easily despite the hard hit ball and Dickerson’s strong arm. In some ways, pinch running Haggerty bought the Mets a run. An insurance run would score on a Wilson Ramos RBI single.
For a brief moment, Diaz looked electric striking out Logan Morrison. Then, it was a Segura single and no-doubter Realmuto game tying homer. Diaz would strike out the final two batters, but it was too little too late as he blew his seventh save and his second straight save opportunity.
This is a good time to remember just how resilient this Mets team is. After Mike Morin got two quick outs, the hand changed when Juan Lagares hit a 1-2 pitch for a single. J.D. Davis then hit a 3-2 pitch for a single setting up runners at the corners for McNeil.
Kapler went to his bullpen yet again bringing in Nick Vincent. It would prove to be a huge mistake. The moment was way too big for Vincent who first hit McNeil before being wild against Alonso. Honestly, if Alonso doesn’t go out of the zone, it’s not a full count. Ultimately, it didn’t matter as Alonso would draw the bases loaded walk to literally give the Mets a walk-off 5-4 win.
Once again, the Mets backs were against the walls. They were delivered a guy punch. Like all season long, they didn’t go down. Rather, they staggered, delivered the knockout blow themselves, and they live to fight another day.
Game Notes: Diaz has allowed 14 homers, and Cano has hit 11. Diaz “earned” the win, his second of the year.
On the one hand, the Mets took two out of three, which is a good result against the Nationals as they push for a Wild Card. On the other hand, there was an absolutely brutal loss in that mix making this result feel worse than anticipated:
1. It is high time Mickey Callaway gets credit for keeping this team together. There have been a number of absolutely brutal losses and each time the team picks itself up and surprises us. There are a number of things you can point to that you don’t like with Callaway. However, the way he manages that clubhouse appears to be truly special.
2. Getting back to that bullpen meltdown, that was arguably the worst regular season loss between games 1 – 161 in team history. The least said about it the better. Honestly, if you want to dwell on it, you can go here or here, but there needs to be no more focus on that.
3. Robinson Cano showed no ill effects of the hamstring going 3-for-4 with a walk, homer, and two RBI. The Mets need him to be just like this, which coincidentally is just how Moises Alou was in 2007.
4. Just to outline the job Brodie Van Wagenen did this past offseason, Edwin Diaz has allowed more homers (13) than Cano has hit this year (11).
5. On that front, the Mets have still gotten nothing from Jed Lowrie, who has requested to continue his rehab assignment, one which has not gone well at all. After playing seven innings in the field on August 31, he has DHed twice, had a day off, and played just five innings in the field. This is shaping up to be one of the worst signings in Mets history.
6. Brandon Nimmo is not only back, but he is in mid-season form drawing six walks in 12 plate appearances. He also has a double and a homer. This is exactly what he did last year when he was the second best hitter in the National League. It may be time to put him back atop the lineup.
8. Pete Alonso‘s 45 homers are the most in a player’s first season. Of note, Mark McGwire and Aaron Judge had cups of coffee previous to their full first season. On the subject of Alonso and Judge, Alonso is on pace to tie his 52 homer mark.
9. There were two completely shocking things from Juan Lagares yesterday – an error and a homer to dead center.
11. After struggling since his return from the IL, Jeff McNeil has been himself again going 5-f0r-14 in the series with two homers and seven RBI.
12. There is something special when you watch a player like Zack Wheeler struggle so much on the mound only to allow one run over five innings. The way he fought when the Mets needed him to fight like that to get the team back on the winning track.
13. Jeurys Familia has been horrible his past two outings presenting what is probably the low point of his season, which is truly saying something. The only thing worse than Familia is the Mets other right-handed relief options not named Seth Lugo in the bullpen.
14. Lugo continues to be great, and he bailed the Mets out by going two innings a game after he pitched. It’s scary to think where this team would be without him.
15. At the moment, Lugo, Justin Wilson, and Luis Avilan are about the only reliable arms in the bullpen. In terms of Lugo and Wilson, they both have elbow issues, and the Mets need to be careful with them. In case there is a postseason, they need to keep them fresh. They also need to keep them healthy for 2020.
16. We see Asdrubal Cabrera still has that clutch gene going 4-f0r-12 in this series with a double, homer, and four RBI. The Mets did well getting Joe Panik, but you wonder how things would have been different had Van Wagenen not decided to sign his own former client who has not played a game this year.
17. Mets are 10 games over .500 at home, and 17 of their final 23 games are at home. Their six road games come against the Rockies and Reds. Looking at this schedule, there is the potential for a lot of wins on the schedule.
18. In order for the Mets to get into the postseason, they are going to have to have no more missteps, and they are going to have to beat the Dodgers and Braves at home. Keep in mind, if the Mets do have the luck to make it to the postseason, they are going to have to do this in October as well.
19. Robert Gsellman is trying to get back this year from a torn lat by throwing yesterday. With no real opportunity for a rehab assignment, you do have to wonder just how much of a chance he is going to get to come back. That said, given the state of the bullpen, you might as well throw him out there when he’s finally ready.
20. All told, somehow the Mets are still alive even with the chances being fleeting. Lets just enjoy this ride for as long as it lasts, and who knows, maybe they will pull it out.
This was a show down not just of the past two Cy Young winners in the National League. In many ways, it was a showdown between the two pitchers who could finish 1-2 in this year’s Cy Young voting.
Advantage Jacob deGrom . . . at least in the Cy Young race.
In the first, the Nationals had deGrom on the ropes scoring a run on a pair of doubles from Asdrubal Cabrera and Juan Soto. Matt Adams would strike out getting deGrom off the hook. It wouldn’t be the first time he and the Nationals would do that.
This wasn’t classic deGrom. Instead, this was the version of deGrom who uses his guile and intellect to navigate his way out of jams. Overall, deGrom would have just 1-2-3 inning all night. In a way, deGrom not having his best stuff and getting his way out of trouble minimizing damage proves his greatness every bit as much as his 10+ strikeout performances.
The key moment for him did feature some luck. In the sixth, after Juan Soto was hit by a pitch, Adams singled. After that single, Kurt Suzuki hit about the longest single you’ve ever seen. He hit it to the center field wall, and Brandon Nimmo couldn’t make the catch on the leaping attempt. For some reason, Adams stopped at second keeping the double play in order.
Three pitches later, deGrom got the ground ball he needed with Gerardo Parra hitting into the inning ending 4-6-3 double play. That was a huge chance for the Nationals, and it was a key moment in the game.
At that point, the Mets led 4-2. Part of the reason was Mickey Callaway seemed to guess right stacking his left-handed batters against Scherzer. To the consternation of some Joe Panik and Luis Guillorme would play over J.D. Davis and Amed Rosario, but Callaway would be vindicated partially because the Mets opted to attack Scherzer. The strategy worked in the fourth.
On three straight pitches, Scherzer allowed singles to Pete Alonso and Michael Conforto before allowing an RBI double to Wilson Ramos. Of course, Nimmo would be the first batter in the inning to take a pitch, and in that at-bat, he’d hit the go-ahead sacrifice fly. Then, well, the impossible happened:
HOW ABOUT PANIK AT THE DISH THO 💥 pic.twitter.com/vbQTaFIiM1
— SNY (@SNYtv) September 4, 2019
That was Panik’s first homer as a Met, and it was his first since May 28th. It gave the Mets a 4-2 lead which the Mets would not relinquish partially because the Nationals bullpen is terrible.
One of the key plays in this game would prove to be Jeff McNeil homering off Roenis Elias in the top of the eighth. It proved so important because Callaway would make a very questionable move sending deGrom out for the eighth.
Anthony Rendon hit an infield single neither deGrom nor Todd Frazier could field. Then, instead of having Luis Avilan up or going to a warmed up Seth Lugo, Callaway allowed deGrom to face Soto a fourth time, and Soto made deGrom and the Mets pay by hitting a two run homer.
The homer pulled the Nationals to within 5-4, and it would sour what was an impressive deGrom performance. With Lugo shutting down the Nationals, it wouldn’t cost deGrom the win.
The Nationals would stick with the left-handed Elias in the ninth, and Nimmo would homer to leadoff the inning expanding the Mets lead to 6-4. Things would devolve from there for the reverse splits Elias who allow a hit to Panik.
Daniel Hudson “relieved” Elias, and he’d immediately walk Frazier. After Guillorme lines out, Tomas Nido hit what should’ve been the inning ending double play. It wasn’t as Trea Turner forgot how many outs there were, and he’d only get Nido at first.
McNeil made the Nationals pay with an RBI single, and Alonso would put this game supposedly out of reach with his 44th homer of the year putting the Mets up 10-4.
This allowed Callaway to pull Lugo and go to Paul Sewald to wrap it up. While Sewald typically thrives in these situations, he was bad tonight recording just one out while Turner and Rendon would drive runs home.
With runners at first and second with one out and Soto due up, Callaway was forced to go to Avilan. He didn’t get the job done allowing a single to Soto to load the bases.
Zimmerman would hit a two run double just past the diving Conforto, and suddenly the laugher was 10-8 with the tying runs in scoring position. Then, Suzuki hit a Gabe winning three run homer to cap off a seven run ninth.
There are no words for how bad a loss this is.
After a brief hiatus after a nice family vacation, I’m back watching games at home instead of on the app and able to get back to things like the 20/20 Hindsight. Without further ado:
1. The 1969 and 1973 Mets overcame five game deficits entering September and so can this team, but in order to do so, they need to complete sweeps and not settle for 2/3.
2. There’s a lot of attention on Mickey Callaway for losing Sunday night. No matter your opinion on the moves, when you boil it down, the Mets lost because Jeurys Familia was flat out bad. They also lost because their three best hitters (Jeff McNeil, Pete Alonso, Michael Conforto) didn’t get the big hit in the eighth after the inning was set up for them to deliver.
3. Seeing Luis Guillorme get that bunt down, we see a player who does all the small things really well. It’s also a reminder how much time the Mets wasted on Jose Reyes and Adeiny Hechavarria instead of giving him his chance.
6. On the call-ups, it was great to see Brandon Nimmo back. His getting a walk and drawing a run shows how terrific a player he is. That said, he needs to throw to second.
7. Zack Wheeler set the tone. Steven Matz slayed some Citizen’s Bank Park demons. Marcus Stroman had his best start as a Met. The starting pitching really stepped up in this series after it disappointed against the Cubs.
8. Speaking of starting pitching it was nice seeing the Mets getting a chance to hit against Jason Vargas, who was his typically bad self on the mound.
12. Paul Sewald has been a godsend, and it’s at the point where he may be the most reliable right-handed reliever not named Lugo.
14. Past two weeks, Wilmer Flores is hitting .429/.478/.810, and J.D. Davis is hitting .209/.306/.488. Both have 0.7 WAR for the season with Flores playing fewer games and not costing three prospects. The Diamondbacks are ahead of the Mets in the Wild Card standings.
15. Wilson Ramos hitting streak has come at a critical time. Mets need him to keep hitting at this level if they’re going to have a real chance.
20. Four back of the Cubs is still doable. Three would have been moreso. Of course, this all overlooks how much the Mets blew it against the Cubs.
Because this is the way his starts have gone the past two years, Mike Foltynewicz and his 6.09 ERA entering the game would duel Jacob deGrom to a draw. Because this is the Braves, the Mets could do nothing against a bad starter and a bad Braves bullpen.
Really, the Mets position players couldn’t push a run across the plate in 14 innings. The only run the Mets would score would be when deGrom took matters into his own hand and hit an opposite field homer in the sixth.
Power on the mound, power at the plate. 💪💪💪 pic.twitter.com/mbafejrG9Y
— New York Mets (@Mets) August 24, 2019
The real shame was this was his only run support in seven brilliant innings. Against a great Braves offense, deGrom struck out 13 including a stretch where he would strike out eight in a row. His striking out 13 and hitting a homer in a game a second time this year would set a new MLB record.
Jacob deGrom has recorded at least 13 strikeouts and hit a home run in the same game twice this season (April 3 and tonight). Since 1893 (when the current mound distance was established), no other pitcher has had two games with 13+ K’s and a HR as a batter over an entire career.
— Elias Sports Bureau (@EliasSports) August 24, 2019
His genius amounted to just a no decision as Freddie Freeman did the Freddie Freeman thing and drove home Ronald Acuna, Jr., who put himself in scoring position by stealing a base, in the top of the sixth.
Up until the 14th, the Mets pitching was phenomenal recording 23 strikeouts. Even though some of them got themselves in trouble, they’d work out of their jams. In total, Seth Lugo, Edwin Diaz, Luis Avilan, Brad Brach, Paul Sewald, and Justin Wilson combined to pitch six shutout innings allowing just two hits and two walks while striking out 10.
Notably, Diaz pitched great in the 10th working around a HBP and Billy Hamilton standing on third with one out after a sacrifice and stolen base. Diaz responded by striking out Acuna and Ozzie Albies.
This and other great performances should’ve been a springboard for a victory, but it wasn’t because the Mets couldn’t get out of their own way.
In the 11th, the Mets completely botched their shot after Joe Panik was plunked by a pitch. Panik would go to third off two wild pitches by Sean Newcomb. What was curious about the second one was Pete Alonso struck out on it, waved Panik to third, and he didn’t break for first. Who knows how different things would’ve been.
Michael Conforto struck out, and after J.D. Davis was intentionally walked, the Game was in Aaron Altherr‘s hands. He’d ground out weakly to end the inning in what was the Mets last chance to score. Keep this in mind.
He was immediately in trouble walking Tyler Flowers to leadoff the inning and then allowing a double to Adeiny Hechavarria. Initially, it was an RBI triple, but upon replay, it was shown to be stuck in the wall and overruled to be a ground rule double. That was the last break Familia got.
After striking out Rafael Ortega, Hamilton hit a ball which Panik couldn’t field for the game winning RBI.
If you’re keeping tabs, the Mets decided they’d rather keep Altherr instead of claiming Hamilton. Altherr didn’t deliver in a spot the Mets desperately needed him to deliver, and he’s now hitting .082/.136/.164 on the season. Hamilton, the guy who the Mets didn’t bother claiming apparently believing Altherr to be the better option, stole a base, and he had the key hit.
You could point to any number of things you want to in the game. However, at the end of the day, the Mets lost because they decided they’d rather Altherr than Hamilton.
Game Notes: Tomas Nido was hit on the head by Josh Donaldson‘s backswing. Despite his going to the ground in pain, he’d stay in the game to finish the inning only to be lifted for Wilson Ramos in the seventh. Ramos extended his hitting streak to 17 games, and he’d steal a base for the first time in his career. .
The Mets are seven games over .500 for the first time since May 1, 2018. Yes, that’s Two Thousand Eighteen. That’s where the Mets are after sweeping an Indians team which had apparently given the Yankees fits. This goes to show you just how well these Mets are playing right now:
1. Not too bad for a fringe postseason team, huh Cleveland?
2. One of the reasons why the Mets won this series, and one of the reasons why they have been winning games in the second half is how clutch they have been. Specifically, by wRC+, the Mets offense is the second best in the Majors in the second half from the seventh inning on.
3. The other reason is the bullpen has been terrific of late. Specifically, Justin Wilson has been great coming out of the bullpen, and he has been the guy Mickey Callaway trusts to get the Mets out of jams. For example, on Tuesday, he came into a situation with runners on first and second with one out, and he struck out Francisco Lindor and Oscar Mercado.
5. Matz is once again on one of those rolls where it seems he is one of the aces on this staff. In the second half, he’s 3-1 with a 2.81 ERA, 1.056 WHIP, and a 4.75 K/BB. Ultimately, this is what Matz can be when he’s used properly by the manager, and he is spinning that curveball.
6. With his great pitching and Wilson bailing him out, Matz would get the win. He also got the win because Michael Conforto hit a huge go-ahead homer in the sixth.
7. As impressive as that homer was, Conforto did something all the more impressive the following day. He visited a children’s hospital to read to pediatric cancer patients, give them better hospital gowns, and overall just spend time with them. Stuff like that will always be more impressive than anything he does on the field.8
8. This really has become a team you enjoy rooting for game-in and game-out. Conforto gives time to pediatric cancer patients. Matz does all that work for first responders. Todd Frazier helped build a special needs baseball field in his home town. The list of the charitable endeavors from these players goes on and on.
9. With respect to Frazier, Gary Disarcina isn’t a very good third base coach. His send of Frazier on the wet dirt with Tyler Naquin‘s cannon in left was plain dumb, especially when he knows the Mets were going to pinch hit for Jeurys Familia in that spot.
11. The Mets bullpen is emerging as the best in the National League right now. Lugo is the best reliever. With Familia, Wilson, and Brad Brach, they have battled tested relievers who are turning it on at the right time. Luis Avilan is as good as a LOOGY as there is right now. We’re even seeing Paul Sewald raise his game up a level.
12. The bullpen breaking out like that came at a key time as Marcus Stroman was lifted from the game due to a sore hamstring. On that note, what is it with the Mets and hamstrings of late?
13. It is good to see Jeff McNeil and Brandon Nimmo on rehab assignments making their way back to the team. On Nimmo, he’s played three games in four days indicating his return is all the more close. When the Mets are healthy, they are going to have some interesting lineup decisions.
14. While we should be excited about the McNeil and Nimmo rehab appearances, the Jed Lowrie rehab assignment seems more like one of those old David Wright “rehab assignments.” Lowrie has only served as a DH, and Callaway has said they are doing that to play it safe. That doesn’t exactly sound like a guy charging his way back to the team.
15. With how great Juan Lagares has been playing of late, the Mets are probably best served platooning Todd Frazier and Joe Panik with McNeil bouncing between second and third. When Stroman pitches, the Mets should probably keep Frazier and Panik on the infield with McNeil in the outfield to optimize the outfield defense.
16. You can understand riding out this J.D. Davis hot streak for as long as it goes, but when this team is fully healthy, he belongs on the bench because Conforto and Nimmo are simply better baseball players.
18. Syndergaard has been great of late, and he is giving Jacob deGrom a run for his money as to who the best ptcher is on this staff right now. Syndergaard is currently on a stretch where he has eight straight quality starts. In that stretch, he has a 1.82 ERA, 0.976 WHIP, and a 9.1 K/9. This is exactly what he was in 2016.
19. Here’s a fun and interesting thought: With the way the Mets starters are pitching, who do you possibly remove from the rotation when the Mets face off against the Dodgers in the NLDS?
20. The Mets have an opportunity to slay a lot of demons from the late nineties in this weekend series against the Braves. While the Braves may have a Freddie Freeman, they no longer have Chipper Jones or Brian Jordan. To that end, the Mets no longer have Armando Benitez or Mel Rojas. This should (hopefully) be a fun series.
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.
— New York Mets (@Mets) August 22, 2019
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.
Make a nice catch ➡️ get a big hit.
— New York Mets (@Mets) August 22, 2019
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.
J.D. CALLS GAME! pic.twitter.com/Cictia8VC5
— New York Mets (@Mets) August 22, 2019
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.
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.
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 Smith, Zack Wheeler, Steven Matz, Rajai 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.