With the Mets winning 8-6 yesterday in what was an odd and messy game between two also rans, the Mets took the season series against the Nationals for the first time since 2015.
This only underscores just how vulnerable the Nationals were this year.
There was an opportunity for the Mets to take this division. The Mets record against the rest of the NL East further proves this out:
- Atlanta 4-12
- Philadelphia 11-8
- Miami 10-6
Even with their struggles against the Braves, the Mets are two games over .500 in the division. Seeing how well the Mets performed in their own division, you have to question what went wrong.
We all know the answer. It was that 5-21 June.
All of this offset a Jose Bautista return to form making him a surprise contributor. Still, that Bautista contributing highlights a key problem.
The Mets answer is always to go older, older and more injury prone. We see the Mets have a healthy foster, they can compete, but when are they ever healthy?
The McNeil case was the worst of them all.
First, he wasn’t much of a prospect. Then, he couldn’t play third base. Now, the Mets are pinpointing second as a position they could upgrade at this offseason. They wouldn’t feel this way if they observed McNeil this season.
This is emblematic of how this organization’s views on how to build a roster. Worse yet, despite evidence to the contrary, they repeat this behavior.
This is why 2018 fell apart. That is why we should treat the 2019 version with skepticism, at least until such time as the Mets change the way they conduct their business.
That’s why, even with the this window opening, the Mets could not take advantage. If they continue operating the same way, they’ll continue not competing.
Austin Voth, a 26 year old rookie pitcher with an 11.81 ERA, yielded only a Michael Conforto fourth inning infield single before departing after five. A pretty bad Nationals bullpen would not surrender a hit over the final four innings giving Voth his first MLB win.
Corey Oswalt got the start for the Mets, and the shame for him was he was pretty good. If not for his allowing a two run bomb to Treat Turner in the third, it’s possible Oswalt walks off with a no decision.
Not that it was going to happen with the Mets bats being completely listless, but any hopes of a comeback were essentially eliminated with the Nationals hitting Jerry Blevins hard in the sixth.
The big blow that inning was a Matt Wieters three run homer.
All told, the Mets lost this game 6-0. On the bright side, no matter the outcome both of these teams are missing the postseason.
Tomas Nido, who was catching either because Kevin Plawecki was hit with another pitch or because Noah Syndergaard likes having a personal catcher, cleared the bases with an RBI double to give the Mets a 3-0 second inning lead.
3⃣ drives in 3⃣.
— New York Mets (@Mets) September 8, 2018
Don't mess with the big dog. 💪 pic.twitter.com/Zt1SEFxUCy
— New York Mets (@Mets) September 9, 2018
Jeff McNeil was great going 3-for-5 with two runs, and a triple. Michael Conforto surpassed Asdrubal Cabrera for the team lead in RBI. Not too long ago, Conforto also surpassed Cabrera for the team lead in homers. Jay Bruce looked good again at the plate going 2-for-2 with two runs, an RBI, and two walks.
However, this is the Mets, so nothing can be this easy. Not even in a 10-5 win that they led 7-0 heading into the sixth and 9-2 after six.
Speaking of Reinheimer, you’d be hard pressed to explain why he’s here and Luis Guillorme isn’t.
That wasn’t the worst of it. No, that was Cesar Hernandez hitting a hard liner that went off Syndergaard’s ribs. It may have chased him from the game, but he was able to laugh about it later:
— Erin Fish (@Erinnicolefish) September 9, 2018
Syndergaard’s final line was 6.2 innings, 12 hits, four runs, four earned, five walks, and four strikeouts. The low strikeouts are alarming, but not as much as the walks or the career high in hits allowed.
Still, this was mostly a fun game with some terrific signs for the Mets going forward. Here’s hoping the Mets didn’t burn through all their offense for this series with Jacob deGrom going Sunday.
With Jeff McNeil hitting .300/.417/.500 in his first 14 games in the Major Leagues, Mickey Callaway said of evaluating the second baseman, “Is this guy going to be a kid we might not have to go find a second baseman over the winter? That’s where we’re at right now.” Seeing how McNeil was coming off three straight injury riddled seasons and how the team made every excuse to keep him in the minors this season, McNeil’s even being considered for the 2019 second base job is quite startling.
It’s all the more startling when you consider if things had been different, McNeil may never have received this opportunity.
Coming off a terrible 2017 season, former first round draft pick Gavin Cecchini set out to rededicate himself and to improve himself in each and every aspect of his game. Overall, the goal was for the Mets to give him more than just a cup of coffee in the majors. The next time, he wanted to stick.
As Cecchini noted in an interview with Abbey Mastracco of nj.com, he sought out to improve every aspect of his game. This meant doing work with Mets hitting coach Pat Roessler to not only change his stance and bat angle, but he would begin studying video. Cecchini also spent time improving his physique, and he began talking about trying to steal more bases. Really, he was turning over every stone to become a better baseball player. Cecchini would describe the result of those efforts:
It feels so strong, like the ball is just exploding off my bat. I never felt the type of pop and power that I have no before. Yeah, I’ve gotten stronger, I gained 15 pounds, but still, the ball is just, I can really tell that my body is always in a good position to hit and the ball is just exploding off my bat.
His efforts paid immediate dividends with him getting noticed during Spring Training, but given the Mets infield depth already set, he would begin the season in Triple-A. With his Spring, and the health issues on the Mets roster, Cecchini looked to be on the verge of getting a shot at a call-up in the event his new and improved approach translated to regular season success.
Through 30 games, Cecchini was hitting .294/.342/.468 with 11 doubles, a triple, two homers, and nine RBI. His .174 ISO was the best of his minor league career. While stats can admittedly be inflated in the Pacific Coast League, his 110 wRC+ indicates he was an above average hitter for the league.
All told, Cecchini was doing everything he needed to do to earn another call-up. All he needed was a chance.
Ironically, while he was waiting for a member of the Major League roster to get injured for him to get a chance, it would be Cecchini who would be the one to get injured.
On May 9, Cecchini would foul a ball off his foot, fall to the ground, and he would need assistance to get off of the field. Initially, he sat out some games while he did some work on the side. The hope he would have a quick return quickly faded as Cecchini was sent to New York to have his foot evaluated by a specialist, who fitted him with the dreaded walking boot.
While the walking boot has been removed, Cecchini remains unable to resume baseball activities. Last month, Las Vegas manager Tony DeFrancesco indicated Cecchini is feeling a tear in his foot.
Ultimately, this likely means Cecchini is done for the year. After that is anyone’s guess.
While Cecchini has been unable to play, the Mets have seen Todd Frazier make multiple trips to the disabled list. Asdrubal Cabrera was traded to the Phillies. Amed Rosario has struggled leading the team to sit him multiple days a week. Long story short, the opportunities for Cecchini to prove himself would have been present.
Instead, those chances went to Luis Guillorme and McNeil. As noted by Callaway, McNeil has at least played well enough to merit consideration for being the Mets 2019 second baseman. Where Cecchini will be at that point is anyone’s guess.
Last year, Player’s weekend was a hit as fans got to see their favorite players wear fun jerseys featuring their nicknames on the back of their jerseys. Believe it or not, some of those were nicknames were rejected for various reasons.
For example, Brandon Nimmo wanted to use his Twitter handle, You Found Nimmo, but MLB was afraid of copyright issues. When it came to Kyle Seager, he wanted to go with “Corey’s Better.” With that rejected, he paid homage to his brother Corey Seager by merely noting on his jersey he was “Corey’s Brother.”
Well, the Mets officially approved Player’s Weekend nicknames and jerseys have been released. However, as noted with Nimmo, there were other names the players wanted which were rejected by MLB:
Tyler Bashlor – Mickey, I’m Available To Pitch
Jose Bautista – Trade Value Going, Going, Gone!
Jerry Blevins – One Magic LOOGY
Michael Conforto – Shouldering The Load
Travis d’Arnaud – d’L
Phillip Evans – DFA TBA
Wilmer Flores – 👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻
Robert Gsellman – Don’t Care What You Think
Austin Jackson – 2019 Opening Day CF
Juan Lagares – Out For The Season
Seth Lugo – Quarterrican (That’s perfection; you don’t mess with that)
Steven Matz – Not So Strong Island
Jeff McNeil – 2B/3B/OF
Devin Mesoraco – Harvey’s Better
Brandon Nimmo – Don’t Worry, Be Happy
Corey Oswalt – Vargas (figured it was the only way he would get a start)
Kevin Plawecki – Plawful
Jose Reyes – Melaza Virus
Amed Rosario – Mentor Wanted
Paul Sewald – AAAAll Star
Dominic Smith – Waist And Future Gone
Drew Smith – Mickey, I’m Available To Pitch (Yes, it’s a repeat of Bashlor. They’re trying to prove a point.)
Anthony Swarzak – Still Just One Good Season
Noah Syndergaard – 60’6″ Away
Jason Vargas – $16 Million Dollar Man
Zack Wheeler – Finally Good
David Wright – Hurts Here Doc
Give Jason Vargas credit. It only took him just 14 pitches to earn the loss in tonight’s game. That’s a new low for even him.
Sure, there were extenuating circumstances. Four batters into the game, and the Reds already up 1-0, there was an hour and 45 minute rain delay. This necessitated Vargas depart after just one-third of an inning, and it meant the Mets were going to use two pitchers before the Reds even used one.
Vargas left behind two baserunners, each of whom Paul Sewald allowed to score. At that point, the Reds had an impenetrable 3-0 lead.
One of the reasons it was impenetrable was because Reds starter, Sal Romano, who grew up rooting for the Mets, dominated his hometown team. In six innings pitched, he limited the Mets to one run on two hits with three walks and five strikeouts.
The Mets lone run off Romano came courtesy of a Jose Bautista two out RBI single which scored Brandon Nimmo, who had doubled earlier that inning. The Bautista single ended a long 0-fer drought for Bautista. After that single, he would begin a new one as the Mets offense wouldn’t get another hit until the ninth inning.
Overall, the Mets would use six pitchers to differing results.
Other than that, Tyler Bashlor and Drew Smith would combine to pitch four scoreless to both help save the bullpen and to also raise their stock with the organization. It was a good thing they did because when you lose 6-1 like this, many don’t notice the positives many do actually contribute.
Game Notes: Between pitching changes and pinch hitters, the Mets would have nine different players appear in the ninth spot in the order – Vargas, Sewald, Wahl, Luis Guillorme, Bashlor, Jose Reyes, Smith, Austin Jackson, Rhame.
With the Mets continue to struggle, Homer Bailey, who entered the game with a 7.22 ERA against the Mets, was a sight for sore eyes.
The Mets quickly went to work against Bailey with three first inning runs highlighted by birthday boy Wilmer Flores opening the scoring with an RBI single.
Overall, it was a really good birthday for Wilmer. He would go 3-for-4 with a run, two RBI, and a HBP. As noted during the telecast, Flores was one of 14 players with three singles and a HBP on his birthday. Two of the other players were Lou Gehrig and Shoeless Joe.
That McNeil homer was absolutely crushed going way up the Pepsi Porch:
— New York Mets (@Mets) August 7, 2018
(Yes, it’s the Coke Corner now, but the Pepsi Porch sounds better).
That 6-0 lead was looking very safe with Noah Syndergaard dominating the Reds. That was until the seventh.
With one out, Syndergaard plunked consecutive batters. The Preston Tucker one really must’ve been bad as he was checked on by the trainers multiple times, and he could score from second on a Billy Hamilton single, and that’s even with Brandon Nimmo overrunning the ball in right.
Tucker would score on a Jose Peraza single which chase Syndergaard.
Wahl started by throwing three straight balls to Joey Votto. To his credit, Wahl battled back into the count getting two quick strikes. After Votto fouled off two, Wahl walked in a run making it 6-2 Mets.
Wahl rebounded by striking out Scooter Gennett on a 3-2 pitch.
After a tough couple of at-bats, and with Plawecki saving Wahl’s bacon a few times by blocking balls in the dirt, Callaway went to Robert Gsellman.
Gsellman would allow a two RBI single to Eugenio Suarez before getting out of that inning and pitching a perfect eighth.
In a surprise, Jerry Blevins pitched the ninth, and he recorded his first save of the season. In what has simply been a goofy year, Blevins has a start and a save this year.
Overall, the Mets won 6-4 in a game where we saw some good things from youngish players who could be pieces next year. That’s a pretty good day for the 2018 Mets.
Game Notes: Mets had a tribute video for Matt Harvey before the game. Luis Guillorme had an infield single in the eighth. With that hit, Guillorme extended his MLB best 50 at-bats without a strikeout.
In yesterday’s 5-4 loss in 10 innings to the Atlanta Braves, people had a field day criticizing manager Mickey Callaway for the perceived errors the first time manager made. Of course, all these criticisms first ignored how the Mets lost because the Braves at that much better, especially over this injury ravaged Mets team. Moreover, the perceived errors were not really errors in and of themselves:
Error No.1 – The Starting Lineup
Considering how when he had the appearance of autonomy, Callaway buried Jose Reyes on the bench, we can see he lost some of his control, especially after Reyes complained publicly through the press. Overall, Reyes is in the lineup because ownership wants him there (and fans won’t boo him like he deserves). As for Brandon Nimmo, he’s been scuffling lately, and he could probably use a day off.
Error No. 2 – Going Too Long with Oswalt
Entering the seventh inning yesterday, Corey Oswalt was dealing. At that point, he had allowed just one earned on five hits with no walks and four strikeouts. He was only at 75 pitches, and he had just made fairly quick work of the Braves in the sixth inning. It was the bottom of the lineup, and he was due up second.
Considering how well he was pitching, how well he has pitched, and this being a period to evaluate players, the mistake would have been pulling Oswalt. He should have started that inning. It’s just unfortunate he gave up the two run homer to Ender Inciarte to lose the lead.
Error No. 3 – Double Switching Nimmo into the Game
Looking at the Mets bench, the player you most wanted up in the bottom of the seventh was Nimmo. If you are going to burn a bench player, you might as well move the pitcher’s spot as far away as possible to at least give yourself the chance to let Paul Sewald pitch more than just the end of the seventh.
Ultimately, do we really care if it mean Austin Jackson and not Jose Bautista came out of that game? Sure, Jackson is hitting better, but it’s Bautista who you are showcasing in the hopes he snaps out of this funk and once again becomes a trade piece.
Error No. 4 – Not Waiting for the Pinch Hitter to be Announced
Before criticizing Callaway on this one, ask yourself one key question: Who would you rather face? Ryan Flaherty, a career .218/.288/.350 hitter or Adam Duvall, a former All Star with two 30 home run seasons under his belt? If you have a brain cell remaining, it’s Flaherty every single day of the week.
Well, Callaway checked to make sure Duvall wasn’t announced, and he went with Sewald over Jerry Blevins, who was warming, to enter the game. By doing that, Callaway helped pressure Brian Snitker to put up the far worse hitter.
Seriously, how is that a bad thing?
As for the narrative spewed on SNY, it’s false. Just completely false.
This is the National League. A manager is not going to burn two hitters in a tie game in the seventh inning. You don’t have that luxury. Knowing that, Callaway was proactive and got the matchup he wanted. Really, Mets fans should be happy he had the foresight to say he wanted to face Flaherty over Duvall.
And with Callaway, we know this is a strategy he likes to utilize. After all, this is not the first time he has done it, and with this happening two times, we can expect to see this happen again. That’s a good thing.
As an aside, let’s remember the thoughts each of the people criticizing Callaway have had:
- Gary Cohen – called Daniel Murphy a net negative
- Keith Hernandez – wanted the Mets to get Eric Hosmer, a .254/.322/.389 hitter with a 94 OPS+ and a 0.3 WAR this season.
- Jim Duquette – traded Scott Kazmir for Victor Zambrano
Maybe we should pump the brakes on taking what this group says as gospel and look for them more for entertainment.
Also, it should be noted, doing it that way allowed Callaway let Sewald face the pinch hitter an Ronald Acuna before going to Blevins for the left-handed Ozzie Albies, Freddie Freeman, and Nick Markakis.
Error No. 5 – Double Switching McNeil out of the Game
The Jeff McNeil decision is a little tricky. On the one hand, you want him to get as many reps as he possibly can in the field and at the plate. Yes, his turn in the lineup did come up in the ninth, but it was really unlikely to happen. To that extent, double switching him out to get some length from Seth Lugo did make sense on paper.
Of course, the real anger here was Reyes stayed in the lineup. That’s understandable, but remember this is a player being not just forced on the manager, but also into the lineup. Reyes’ strangehold is such the Mets are challenging plays where he is clearly out because Reyes demands it:
#Mets challenge call that Jose Reyes is out at 3B in the 2nd; call confirmed, runner is out.
— MLB Replay (@MLBReplays) August 5, 2018
During the game, Callaway showed he was a guy who was balancing both playing the guys he is told to play while trying to develop young players and winning games. It’s unfortunate Oswalt couldn’t get an out in the seventh, and it’s a shame Tyler Bashlor gave up the game winning homer in the 10th.
When it comes to Bashlor, there’s your areas of criticism. Callaway is still feeling his way through bullpen management, and even now, he’s still leaning on veteran arms like Lugo over ones like Bashlor.
As for the other decisions? Give him credit for being willing to buck trends and try to dictate match-ups he wants. Allow him to grow on the job and learn from his mistakes, but admit this wasn’t one of them. Overall, remember the level of interference he has.
Ultimately, remember this is a guy who gets his guys to play. In this three game set, the Mets went toe-to-toe with a much better Braves team, and they nearly took the series. Give credit where it is due.
More importantly, don’t distract from the real problem with the Mets – ownership is not spending and is putting an inferior product on the field.
Game Notes: Once again, Luis Guillorme did not get into the game. Part of the reason being is the Mets have said they do not see him as more than a pinch hitter or late inning replacement. Instead, Reyes played the whole game while Todd Frazier, who originally did not start because he was just coming off the disabled list, came on late shifting Reyes to second.
This isn’t really an anomaly as the aforementioned 30+ year old veterans on expiring deals have been getting regular playing time over the younger players.
Earlier this season, Dominic Smith was up with the Mets for a 31 game stretch. The 23 year old former first round pick started in just 16 of those games. During this time, Mickey Callaway described Smith as a bench player.
That’s better than what Guillorme got. Despite his not getting a chance to ever really prove himself, he was described as a pinch hitter and late inning replacement who should not be getting starts the rest of the year. Naturally, this was said on a day Reyes got a start at second.
Seeing how the Mets don’t play the young players when they’re here on how they seemingly go out of their way to disparage those players, as a fan, ask yourself why you would want Peter Alonso called up right now.
Do you want to see him on the bench behind Bautista, or in the event be actually does manage to return this year, Jay Bruce?
Do you want to see him get benched for failing to scoop out a Reyes throw in the dirt leading to his eventual (punishment) benching?
Do you want to see him sit and have the team refer to him as a late inning power threat off the bench?
Judging from what we’ve seen this year and the last, we know that’s what’s going to happen to Alonso.
With that in mind, again ask yourself, do you really want to see the Mets call up Alonso this year?
Tonight, Jacob deGrom pitched eight innings allowing just two earned on six hits. He struck out nine and walked one.
Believe it or not, this outing increased his ERA from 1.82 to 1.85. He lowered his K/9 from 10.7 to 10.6.
Put another way, deGrom has been so great this season that this qualifies as an off night for him.
He did his part to offset his “poor” pitching by driving home a run. That would be one of the Mets only two hits on the night.
To make matters worse, it’s not even like the Mets lost with the young players either:
- Jose Bautista started at third over Wilmer Flores
- Jose Reyes started at second over Flores, Jeff McNeil, and Luis Guillorme
- Devin Mesoraco started at catcher over Kevin Plawecki