Luis Guillorme

Mets Fans Have Reason Other Than Van Wagenen To Cheer

True to his word, Brodie Van Wagenen say with The 7 Line for today’s game against the Yankees. It was a bold move because this is a Mets team nine games under .500 with every move he made this offseason blowing up.

In fact, all the players Van Wagenen acquired this offseason have accumulated a -1.7 WAR. Meanwhile, by and large, the prospects they traded are performing well.

Given all of that, you’d think Van Wagenen could be booed. At a minimum, you’d think they wouldn’t celebrate him. You’d be wrong. Very wrong.

They cheered a man who acquired J.D. Davis. In the second, Davis threw to the wrong base on a Gleyber Torres RBI single allowing Edwin Encarnacion to go from first to third unchallenged.

Later that inning, opposing pitcher James Paxton came up with runners at the corners with one out, and he laid down the safety squeeze. It was an excellent bunt which hugged the third base line.

Wilson Ramos, a catcher Mets pitchers are increasingly demanding not to have behind the plate, and who was signed because Van Wagenen didn’t go the extra mile to get Yasmani Grandal, picked up the ball. He would spin and throw without looking Encarnacion back.

With Zack Wheeler slipping on the play, and Ramos failing to execute fundamentals, Encarnacion scored without a challenge.

It’s a shame for Wheeler because he was very good tonight. Those three singles were three of five hits he allowed all night. In total, he’d last 6.1 innings allowing just those two earned while walking one and striking out eight.

Despite pitching well, he wouldn’t get the win. It was no matter to Van Wagenen who loved every minute of the Mets losing 2-0.

In the second, Torres flat out robbed Michael Conforto of an RBI base hit instead starting an inning ending double play. Conforto wouldn’t be robbed when he ended a rally with another 4-6-3 double play. The latter ended a sixth inning rally.

For his part, Wheeler popped up two bunts hurting the Mets chances. Between that, the defense, and getting squeezed by the home plate umpire, it was not Wheeler’s night.

Still, he wouldn’t take the loss.

In the eighth, Pete Alonso hustled hard out of the box, and he was able to take advantage of a D.J. LeMahieu throwing error. Then, Davis was able to take advantage of Aaron Hicks playing well out of position in right center. Hicks got a great jump, but his dive wouldn’t be enough. Davis doubled scoring Alonso to tie the game.

After Robinson Cano was intentionally walked (your guess is as good as mine), Ramos singled to load the bases. The Yankees pulled Adam Ottavino to bring in Zack Britton to pitch to Conforto. There would be no inning ending double play this time as Conforto hit a two run double over Brett Gardner‘s head to give the Mets a 4-2 lead.

This put Seth Lugo in line for the win with Edwin Diaz coming in for the ninth for the save.

Things didn’t start well when Diaz was slow covering first and couldn’t catch an Alonso throw on what was a Didi Gregorius leadoff single. Fortunately, Diaz settled down to get the next three out to preserve the win.

Gardner foul tipped a ball after a long at-bat. It popped out of Ramos’ glove, and he caught it with his hand. It was the type of ending this bullpen deserves.

The Mets pulled out an unlikely win with their bullpen standing strong. They now have as many saves as blown saves on the season. They snapped the Yankees streak of 31 consecutive games with a homer. For one night at least, everything went according to plan.

Well, partially according to plan anyway. In the end, a win is a win, and you take them, especially with the season the Mets are having.

Game Notes: Steven Matz will be moved to the bullpen until the All Star Break. He will join Justin Wilson, Jeurys Familia, and Luis Avilan were all activated from the IL.

Mets Completely Mismanaging Upper Levels Of Minor Leagues

Tim Tebow is a problem because the Mets are making him one. So far, he has played in 60 of Syracuse’s first 79 games. Essentially, this means he is playing fairly regularly despite his hitting just .150/.232/.209. It should come as little surprise he’s not getting better with June being his worst month of the season.

If the Mets problems handling the player assignments and playing time at the Double-A and Triple-A level were limited only to Tebow, you can overlook things a bit. After all, whether you like to admit it or not, the Mets operate a business, and they are going to attempt to use Tebow to generate revenue for their newly acquired Syracuse franchise. Unfortunately, the problems run deeper than Tebow.

Entering the season, the Mets had a glut of infielders with Robinson Cano, J.D. Davis, Todd Frazier, Jed Lowrie, Jeff McNeil, and Amed Rosario. The Mets added to this glut by first signing and then calling up Adeiny Hechavarria. Considering the situation, the last thing the Mets needed were veterans taking up space on the Syracuse infield.

Despite that, the Mets signed Danny Espinosa, who is a career .221/.297/.344 hitter and hit .197/.286/.344 between 2016-2017 and did not play in the majors last year. To make matters worse, he leads the team in games played. Second on the team is Travis Taijeron, who has established himself as not being a Major League caliber player. Fourth in games played is Gregor Blanco, who hit .217/.262/.317 last year.

Those three players right there are not just taking up space on the roster, but it is also taking away at-bats from players who truly needed it.

It’s easy to forget Dilson Herrera is just 25 years old, but he is making him a young player with potential to develop. To be fair, he is third on the team in games played. However, it was not until recently the team has sought to develop him more into a utility player. Prior to June, he had only played two full games in left field and none at any other position but second and third.

To be useful to the organization, Herrera needed to be playing first, second, third, and all three outfield positions. However, he can’t partially because those spots are taken by Espinosa, Taijeron, and Blanco, three players who were never going to be a factor for the Mets in 2019. When you add Tebow, that’s four.

This has a necessary trickle down effect. Players like David Thompson and Gavin Cecchini, who just came off the IL, have been assigned to Binghamton. At this stage in their professional development, they need to be in Triple-A working on things. For both, that means become more versatile and becoming better hitters. However, they can’t be in Syracuse getting regular playing time because the Mets are wasting playing time on two has beens and two never will bes.

Those players being in Binghamton has a trickle down effect interfering with playing time for players like Luis Carpio. Carpio was someone once regarded as a top prospect, but he would suffer shoulder injuries. On that front, he has gotten healthy and shown some promise. Of course, that promise only goes as far as the team’s willingness and ability to get him playing time.

There are other issues like Braxton Lee, a 25 year old who plays good defense and has good speed, being forced to Double-A instead of getting real development time in Syracuse. There’s also the fact Luis Guillorme is in Triple-A splitting middle infield playing time instead of just playing over Hechavarria at the Major League level.

Really, the list goes on and on, and that is before you consider Rene Rivera catching everyday leaves the Mets having Patrick Mazeika and Ali Sanchez sharing catching duties in Binghamton instead of them being split up to allow them both to get regular playing time and thrive.

While we rightfully focus on what has transpired with the Mets, the organization’s problems run deeper than just the team in Queens. The same shortsightedness and reliance on under-performing players over promising young players is also very present in Triple-A.

If things continue this way, this will prove to be not just a lost season in Queens but Syracuse as well.

20/20 Hindsight: Braves End Mets Season

The Mets went to Atlanta with an opportunity to make a statement, and they did. It was just the wrong one:

1. The Mets needed to address their bullpen, defense, and depth. Brodie Van Wagenen completely failed in his efforts.

2. The bullpen has been the biggest culprit this year. What makes it all the more depressing is Anthony Swarzak has been better this year than Edwin Diaz. It gets better when you realize Swarzak is now a Brave pitching well against his former team.

3. The Mets followed a season with the second worst defense in the National League with the worst this year. There’s being a horrible shifting team, and there is also having players like J.D. Davis way out of position in left field.

4. On the topic of Davis, Gary Disarcina‘s send of him was inexplicably bad. It was the latest in bad decisions he’s made there. When you combine that with how horribly the infield has been shifted and his inability to help Amed Rosario improve defensively, you realize he’s been a bad coach for two years now. Really bad.

5. The defense killed Zack Wheeler‘s and Steven Matz‘s starts, but that was not the only reason. Both pitchers needed to be better in their starts. They needed to pick up their defense. They didn’t, and they unraveled and lost. Their failures are as much on them as the defense.

6. For Wheeler, this follows his career splits. His Junes are always terrible. He then rebounds to have a great second half. The problem for the Mets is his following this pattern is taking them out of contention, and it’s also not letting him build up trade value for when they have to sell him a month from now.

7. As bad as they were, Jacob deGrom is back and once again pitching to a Cy Young level. Sadly, he can only pitch once every five days.

8. You get a sense of how bad things are when Mickey Callaway felt compelled to use Robert Gsellman to handle the ninth after deGrom’s start. Essentially, Callaway said he didn’t want one of his other relievers tacking on runs to his starter and ruining the good feeling that start would’ve had on his ace and the club.

9. It’s funny. That seemed like the perfect opportunity to use Stephen Nogosek to break him in easily. That said, as fans we’re never privy to the internal dynamics of a clubhouse and wanting to build up your players.

10. Nogosek and Daniel Zamora showed they are not answers to what has been ailing the bullpen. Instead, this was the team shifting deck chairs on the Titanic. It’s something to keep in mind when they previously passed on Craig Kimbrel and still have yet to sign Cody Allen.

11. That said, Chris Flexen showed us something. When he entered that game, the Braves had a real chance to put it out of reach. He stepped up and pitched two scoreless innings. In what was a lost series, he emerged as a potential bright spot.

12. Michael Conforto has been great lately with a 10 game hitting streak and a hit in 15 of the 17 games this month. In addition to his good defense in right field, he is easily the most underappreciated player on this roster.

13. After a bad May, Pete Alonso has picked it back up in June. He’s been a monster at the plate. It will be very interesting to see how this continues to play out this season.

14. Why isn’t Jeff McNeil playing in center? Juan Lagares hasn’t been good. Neither has Carlos Gomez. Really, McNeil can’t be worse and making him the everyday center fielder would allow the team to get Dominic Smith into the lineup everyday. Sure, Smith in left won’t help the defense, but he’s a better option than Davis out there.

15. For all the talk about Adeiny Hechavarria needing to play over Rosario, if you look, he’s hitting like Hechavarria again with him hitting .176/.222/.176 over the last two weeks and a .241/.276/.434 batting line overall. If you’re going to go down like this as a team, shouldn’t you be looking at Luis Guillorme in this role?

16. Both Brandon Nimmo and Justin Wilson have been shut down after the team’s repeated efforts to try to get them to play through their injuries. You really have to question how the Mets continue making this mistake with their players. It takes an extra level of a complete lack of self awareness and examination to repeatedly make the same mistake.

17. While this is a very down time for the Mets and being a Mets fan, just remember this team still has a young core, and they have been better than anyone could’ve hoped. While the hope for 2019 is fading fast (if not completely gone), there is real hope for 2020.

18. We could talk about the division being unofficially being out of reach and the Mets needing to focus on the Wild Card, but that’s only fooling ourselves. It’s time to sell. That said, if the Mets sweep the Cubs, I’ll probably talk myself into this team being a competitor. With Walker Lockett starting things off for the Mets, the chances of that happening are remote.

19. The worst place in baseball to be is inbetween being a competitor and a bad team. The Mets were in that position in 2002, and they made a horrendous trade with the Rockies trading Jason Bay as part of a package for Steve Reed. A few years later, we’d see it happen with the Scott Kazmir/Victor Zambrano trade. With Brodie Van Wagenen’s hubris, another awful deal like this is a real danger.

20. If Brodie Van Wagenen did nothing this offseason but keep what was here, the Mets would still be a fourth place team, but instead they would’ve been one with payroll flexibility and a farm system on the cusp of being the best in the game.

Why Have Dom And Rosario Been Handled So Differently?

In 2017, Amed Rosario and Dominic Smith were Top 100 prospects, and they both appeared to be cornerstone players for the Mets. They were supposed to join Michael Conforto as the wave of young position players who could help a pitching staff led by Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom, and Noah Syndergaard win a World Series.

As we all know that hasn’t happened, and in all likelihood, it’s not going to happen.

Starting in 2017, we didn’t see the results from either prospect. In 46 games, Rosario hit .248/.271/.394. He had a 75 wRC+, 1 DRS, and a 0.3 WAR. He had glimpses of pure excitement, but he didn’t hit, and his fielding was not the Gold Glove level advertised.

Unfortunately, things have gotten worse for Rosario. Since his 2017 debut, he is hitting .257/.296/.380. He has an 85 wRC+, which is fourth worst among Major League shortstops over that span. As bad as that is, his -22 DRS is the worst among Major League shortstops, and it is the fourth worst of all Major League players. In total, he has a -1.5 WAR.

Despite these struggles and his failing to make noticeable progress from a statistical standpoint, Rosario’s stature with the team has never been challenged. In 2018, the team had Jose Reyes as the backup shortstop and mentor. This year, the Mets entered the season with Luis Guillorme, and they sent him down after just 16 games leaving Rosario as the only shortstop on the roster.

While we have not seen Rosario yet develop, we have also not seen him challenged by the Mets in any way, shape, or form. This is a completely different experience than Smith’s.

As bad as Rosario has been since his debut, Smith has been worse. In 2017, Smith hit .198/.262/.395, and he had a -1.1 WAR. Because of his struggles, the Mets brought in Adrian Gonzalez in a first base “competition.” Smith certainly made things easy for the Mets when he was late showing up for the first Spring Training game.

During the 2018 season, the Mets gave time to Gonzalez, Wilmer Flores, and Jay Bruce at first base while they moved Smith to left field, where he faltered. As the season progresses, Smith saw his status of the first baseman of the future complete evaporate with every Pete Alonso homer.

The end result was Smith obviously being part of the Mets long term plans. Even though he came into Spring Training in phenomenal shape and having made clear improvements to his game, he didn’t get much of a chance to fight for the first base job, one Alonso arguably won anyway. Smith didn’t even get a small chance like Mike Olt once did while the Cubs waited to get an extra year of control over Kris Bryant.

No, the Mets just passed over Smith. They punished him for not being what they hoped he would be. Ironically, he may just be showing the Mets he’s ready to be that player hitting .400/.516/.480 as a bench player and late inning defensive replacement.

Conversely, Rosario continues to struggle. He’s not hitting or fielding well despite being given every opportunity to do so. At some point, the question needs to be asked if Rosario received the treatment Smith received, would he be a better ballplayer now? We don’t know, and we will never know.

The only thing we do know is there were two different sets of rules for Smith and Rosario. One was allowed to struggle, and the other wasn’t. One was challenged, and the other wasn’t. So far this year, one has improved, and the other hasn’t. Time will tell if the double standard will have cost the Mets the future of both players.

Bet Mets Wish They Didn’t Force Getting This One In

The Mets have a big Noah Syndergaard Game of Thrones Bobblehead on Saturday, so they were playing tonight even if it meant starting the game at 10:00, or in this case 9:52.

It didn’t matter Jacob deGrom was making the start after coming off the Injured List. It didn’t matter Juan Lagares suffered a severe injury in similarly poor field conditions last year. The Mets just had to play this game.

To that extent, the Mets organization suffered the loss they so richly deserved.

The tone was set with Lorenzo Cain robbing Todd Frazier of a homer in the second inning.

In the ensuing inning, the Brewers put up a five spot against deGrom. Basically, while deGrom was able to navigate out of trouble in the first and second, the dam burst in the third.

His final line was an unsightly 4.0 IP, 5 H, 5 ER, 3 BB, 7 K. It’s almost like it’s a terrible idea to have a pitcher who is coming off an injury and hasn’t pitched in nearly two weeks sit around and mess up his routine to get in the game.

If there was any hope of a comeback, Corey Oswalt would dash them. In the fifth, he’d allow four runs to put the game completely out of reach.

By the time this was written, Gary Cohen and Keith Hernandez are going through staff Instagrams to discuss their offseason vacations. In essence, they’ve stopped feigning interest in this 9-2 game, which should not have been played today.

Game Notes: Jacob Rhame is appealing his suspension but will do so in the minors. Both he and Luis Guillorme were sent down to make room for deGrom and Oswalt on the roster.

20/20 Hindsight: Mets Beat Phillies

After a tough road trip, the Mets returned home, and they looked like a much better team. They would win what became a contentious series, but they couldn’t complete the sweep:

  1. It’s beyond absurd the Mets believe Gio Gonzalez was just a marginal upgrade over Jason Vargas. It’s more absurd they not only wouldn’t guarantee a spot in the rotation to a pitcher they thought was better, but they also let $2 million stand in the way.
  2. Once again, the Mets were only “all-in” when it came to Pete Alonso on the Opening Day roster.
  3. So far, Alonso has gone 3-for-17!against the Phillies with two doubles. Let’s hope this is a strange blip instead of the Phillies figuring something out other teams can catch up on.
  4. Zack Wheeler was great becoming one of a few pitchers to throw 100 MPH and have an exit velocity of 100+ MPH in a game.
  5. Oh, and he struck out 11 while walking none. This was case in point why we should not overreact to slow starts.
  6. On the topic of not overreacting to slow starts, Robinson Cano is raking going 8-for-16 with two doubles and a homer in his last four games.
  7. While Mickey Callaway and his intellect and acumen are very unfairly maligned he used Cano perfectly as a decoy to get the matchup he wanted in Tuesday’s game.
  1. Todd Frazier and Luis Guillorme gave the Mets significantly better defense, and they provided some key hits.
  2. Two days off didn’t help Amed Rosario. You have to wonder how much longer the Mets can deal with him not hitting or fielding, especially with Guillorme looking good in this series.
  3. It was always interesting how there were two different sets of rules as to handle Rosario’s and Dominic Smith‘s struggles. Those separate rules may have led to neither being the player they thought they could be for the Mets.
  4. Seeing Rosario’s struggles and the defense in general, you see how much the Mets miss Tim Teufel. You should also question how much of a positive impact Gary Disarcina has had.
  5. The Mets replay process needs to be better. Dom held the bag and saved Rosario from an error . . . if the play was called properly and/or the Mets challenged the play.
  6. There was zero reason to demote Paul Sewald, who was pitching well, for Jacob Rhame, who was not pitching well in Syracuse.
  7. That move may have led to what has becoming a fractured Phillies team, and it galvanized them when Rhame, intentionally or not, threw two high and in to Rhys Hoskins.
  8. Hoskins got the perfect revenge hitting a homer off Rhame, and then he had a home run trot which made Darryl Strawberry‘s look like he was faster than Usain Bolt.
  9. Bryce Harper has very good stats for the Phillies so far, but he’s going to have to be better than what he was in this series if the Phillies are going to have a chance.
  10. Jeff McNeil is in a slump. His GIDP stopped whatever chance the Mets had at a comeback. He’s also three for his last 17
  11. Speaking of McNeil, the Mets getting plunked, especially on the hand, is getting ridiculous. The pitchers retaliating should not be an issue, but they can’t do what Rhame did.
  12. After the game Marc Malusis commented the Mets started things. Of course this completely overlooks the Phillies hitting three Mets and Drew Anderson going up and in on Michael Conforto multiple times.
  13. This is Example 1,693,085 why SNY is unwatchable aside from Mets games.

Vargas Is Starting Tonight, Gio Still Available

After a tough end of their road trip, which included losing two out of three to the Phillies, the Mets have returned home, and they look like a completely different team. It could be the pitchers being more comfortable in warmer weather. It could be Todd Frazier and Luis Guillorme vastly improving the defense the past few days. Maybe, it is just being home after spending all that time on the road.

At the same time, we are watching a Phillies team go through some turmoil. Bryce Harper was ejected Monday, and he came back yesterday to go 0-for-3 with two strikeouts. Jake Arrieta went full blown Jon Niese and pointed fingers at everyone while berating his team. Jean Segura, Scott KingeryDavid Robertson and Odubel Herrera are all on the Injured List.

The Phillies are a literally wounded team, and the Mets took advantage of that fact by winning the first two games of this series in decisive fashion. The Mets can really make an early season statement by sweeping the Phillies. With that potentially toxic clubhouse mix and an overmatched manager like Gabe Kapler, who knows what impact a sweep in this fashion could have on this Phillies team.

As the Mets near in for the kill, they are going to start . . . Jason Vargas tonight.

So far this year, Vargas is 1-0 with a 9.58 ERA, 2.323 WHIP, and a 0.86 BB/K. That’s right, he’s actually walked more batters than he has struck out. Batters are hitting .362/.444/.660 off of him. He’s only pitched 9.1 innings total in his three starts.

Now, it is fair to point out this is a small sample size, and we shouldn’t draw conclusions from small sample sizes. By that token, Vargas has been bad for a while. Since the 2017 All Star break, Vargas has a 6.25 ERA, 1.543 WHIP, and a 2.08 K/BB. Batters are teeing off on him hitting .288/.357/.516. Essentially, Vargas on the mound makes each batter look like Michael Conforto.

Looking at the Phillies team right now, they are angry with the Mets. Juan Lagares was running in the sixth inning of what was then an 8-0 game. In the ninth, Jacob Rhame delivered two pitches in and high to Rhys Hoskins. The Phillies are angry with the Mets, and they are justifiably so.

The absolute worst thing the Mets could do right now is to give the Phillies some life. You cannot throw out a batting practice pitcher like Vargas to allow them to put their issues behind them as they hit hard ball after hard ball after hard ball off of him. You cannot have them picking up their heads a bit and feeling like they delivered an ounce of revenge to the Mets.

Mostly, you cannot have a team feeling so good on getaway day after being completely dominated by Steven Matz and Zack Wheeler.

Really, this is inexcusable for the Mets. There is no way Vargas should be pitching in this game, especially when the Mets could have signed Gio Gonzalez and plugged him right into their rotation. That’s not to say Gonzalez is anything great, but the five innings he is likely to give you is much more credible than the maybe four innings Vargas is going to give you.

The only hope here is if Vargas is predictably shelled by the Phillies, the Mets can have their offense keep them in the game and eventually win it, and then after the game, Brodie Van Wagenen realizes he cannot keep his former client around any longer, even if he is due $10 million this year, and that he needs to stop fielding a roster which punts every fifth game.

Rhame Over Sewald A Bigger Deal Than Believed

With Todd Frazier set to come off the Injured List, Amed Rosario feeling ill, and Justin Wilson needing to head to the Injured List with elbow soreness, the Mets set for a series of transactions to address the bench and the bullpen. In the end, Luis Guillorme was back with the team, and for some reason Jacob Rhame stayed in the bullpen while Paul Sewald was sent back to Syracuse.

Having seen both pitchers since 2017, you see two very flawed relievers. There is a reason why both have not been able to quite stick at the Major League level. To some, choosing one over the other is not that big of a deal because most fans don’t trust either reliever. That mindset is a bit short-sighted.

For starters, take a look at their career stats. In his career, Sewald has pitched 126.2 innings in 106 appearances. He has a 0-13 record with two saves, a 5.19 ERA, 1.342 WHIP, 3.3 BB/9, and a 9.1 K/9. From an advanced statistic perspective, Sewald has a 76 ERA+ and a 4.09 FIP.

For his part, Rhame has pitched 42.2 innings over 40 apperances. He is 2-3 with one save, a 1.594 WHIP, 3.6 BB/9, and a 7.4 WHIP. From an advanced statistic perspective, Rhame has a 59 ERA+ and a 5.83 FIP.

Certainly, when you look at the stats, Sewald has definitively had more success than Rhame. However to be fair, Sewald has had more chances despite Rhame arguably having much better stuff. Of course, while Rhame’s stuff may be better, it has not yet translated to Major League success.

Ideally, you want to carry the best pitchers on your staff as you possibly can, and so far in their respective careers, Sewald is the better pitcher. However, it is much more than that. There is also an element on how the pieces in the bullpen fit together.

An interesting note with Sewald is he has been fairly consistently used for multiple innings in his career. For example, in two of his three appearances this year, he pitched over one inning. Last year, 18 of his first 32 appearances were more than one inning. Overall, Sewald has pitched more than one inning 32 times in his career, which is 30 percent of his appearances.

With respect to Rhame, this is something he has done as well. In fact, he has done it in 12 of his 40 appearances, which is the same 30 percent rate. However, there is a difference in the amount of innings Rhame and Sewald have gone. For example, Sewald has been able to pitch more than two innings when needed. That’s a feat Rhame has not yet been asked to do.

Looking at the construct of the Mets bullpen, Seth Lugo and Robert Gsellman can both go multiple innings. This creates an issue for the Mets when their starters can’t go deep into games because they’re now using these two relievers in low leverage situations making them unavailable or not as effective when they’re needed for the higher leverage spots.

Right there is the reason why the Mets should have kept Sewald on the roster. He is the guy Mickey Callaway needs to bring into the game when his starters falter and the Mets fall behind by a good margin. Sewald can come in and give multiple innings thereby saving the bullpen and letting them fight another day. At this stage in his career, Rhame doesn’t have that same capability.

In the end, that’s why seemingly small decisions like this have larger ramifications. In the end, you really have to wonder how much this was factored into the Mets decision making when they opted to carry the pitcher who not only gives them much less length, but also has not had nearly the same level of success of the Major League level.

Good Matz And Competent Defense Return

Recently, the Mets pitchers have been struggling mightily. While the pitchers have their own share of the blame, part of their struggles have emanated from just horrific defense behind them.

The Mets defense has been the worst in the NL with a -22 DRS. It should come as no surprise the Mets have the worst BABIP and LOB%.

Well, now with Todd Frazier coming off the IL, the defense was improved dramatically. Other improvements today was Luis Guillorme at short over the sick Amed Rosario. In addition to that, the Mets best defender, Juan Lagares, was patrolling center.

Between a much better defense and some VERY questionable ball/strike calls, Steven Matz was very good tonight. In six innings, he allowed just one earned on three hits with two walks and six strikeouts.

This start was another good start for Matz making that four good starts and one putrid one. Essentially, if Matz gets at least one out, he’s going to have a good start this year.

He really wasn’t in trouble all night, and the only run came off a Rhys Hoskins fourth inning homer. That was not enough for the Phillies to overcome their then 2-0 deficit or beat the Mets.

In the third, Brandon Nimmo got it started with a single, and he’d score on an impressive double by Pete Alonso.

Wilson Ramos increased that lead to 2-0 with an RBI single scoring Alonso. Interesting thing with Ramos is he’s only hitting with runners on base.

Jeff McNeil made it 3-1 with an impressive shot off Jake Arrieta in the fifth.

Things did not go well for the Phillies past that point, and that was partially because Bryce Harper was ejected in the fourth for arguing (going ballistic) over balls and strikes.

In the seventh, the wheels came off for the Phillies.

Lagares got the rally started with a single leading off the inning, and Mickey Callaway then sent Robinson Cano to pinch hit for Seth Lugo, who had a scoreless seventh.

What’s interesting here is Cano didn’t start the game after getting hit on the hand yesterday. Really, it was fair to question if this was a deke to get a favorable pitching matchup. If so, Gabe Kapler took the bait and sent in Jose Alvarez to pitch, and Callaway countered with J.D. Davis.

Davis would hit what should have been a sure-fire double play ball, but Cesar Hernandez threw it away. The ever hustling Lagares made it to third. As the inning continued the Phillies bullpen unraveled a bit.

McNeil was hit by a pitch to load the bases. Juan Nicasio came on for Alvarez, and he hit Alonso to force home a run. Michael Conforto then made it 5-1 Mets with a sacrifice fly.

Jeurys Familia and Edwin Diaz took care of the Phillies in relatively short order to preserve the 5-1 Mets win. It was as easy a win as the Mets have had all year, and it’s a win where the Mets looked like a much better team than they have recently.

Better defense will do that for you.

Game Notes: Justin Wilson went on the IL with a sore elbow. He was replaced on the roster by Guillorme. Paul Sewald, not Jacob Rhame, was sent down to make room for Frazier. With the win, Matz snapped a 14 game winless streak at Citi Field.

20/20 Hindsight: Did Cardinals Expose Mets?

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. 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%).
  12. Really, Syndergaard has been unlucky because the fielding behind him is putrid. Hence, he has a 2.92 FIP.
  13. 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.
  14. 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.
  15. 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.
  16. 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.
  17. 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.
  18. 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.
  19. 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.
  20. 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.