You’d be hard pressed to argue Aaron Loup wasn’t the best reliever in baseball in 2021. Over 65 appearances, he was 6-0 with a 0.95 ERA, 0.935 WHIP, 2.5 BB/9, and a 9.1 K/9. Looking at advanced stats, he had a 422 ERA+, 2.45 FIP, and a 2.8 WAR.
His ERA was the best among all relievers, and that was backed up by his FIP being the eighth best. Perhaps more importantly, Loup backed up an impressive 2020 campaign which saw him finally learn how to handle right-handed batters effectively.
In 2020, Loup had what was then a career best year. Part of that was limiting right-handed batters to a .192/.246/.423 batting line. There was reason for skepticism with right-handed batters hitting .264/.332/.424 off of him in his career up to that point. Well, in 2021, Loup proved the improvement was real limiting right-handed batters to a .211/.290/.257 batting line.
This is a huge development. This means Loup is no longer just a LOOGY. No, Loup is an effective late inning reliever. That puts his value off the charts in an era where pitchers face a three batter minimum. Unless you get the opportunity to bring in a left-handed reliever with two outs, you need a reliever who can at least hold their own against right-handed batters. That’s easier said that done, and it’s all the more complicated when you’re trying to get innings from a pitching staff over a 162 game season.
The Mets were quite lucky getting Loup for just $3 million in 2021. Obviously, even with Loup turning 34 at the end of the year, he is going to get a raise and a multi-year deal. Obviously, he has more than earned it. It should also be obvious the Mets who are still short in the bullpen need him, and it may also behoove Loup to stick with Jeremy Hefner, who helped him continue his progress as a two way reliever. On that front, Loup has said he wants to return to the Mets.
In many ways, that just puts the ball in the Mets court. The season has been over for over a week, and Loup’s comments were well over a month ago. Still, there has been no reports of any news on a Loup deal. The longer this goes on, the more there is the risk Loup actually hits free agency at the end of the month and has a team blow him out of the water with a deal the Mets would not be willing to match.
Yes, there are a lot of pressing matters with the Mets. They are searching for a new president of baseball operations. They need to make determinations on making qualifying offers for Michael Conforto and Noah Syndergaard. They are apparently trying to keep Luis Rojas in the organization. There is that and so much more.
However, as we have seen with Rojas and much of the coaching staff being dismissed, there are some things which absolutely need to be done now. Considering the state of the bullpen, his performance, and his desire to return, re-signing Loup is one of those things. Keeping him in the fold makes the job of the new president of baseball operations, whoever that will be, much easier when that hiring is official. It is long past time this deal gets done to allow the Mets to focus on other issues.
Mets need to re-sign Aaron Loup now.
It was a very poorly kept secret back in 2017 if he had his druthers Sandy Alderson wanted to hire Kevin Long to succeed Terry Collins as the New York Mets manager. Long didn’t take anything for granted coming extremely prepared for the interview with binders of information. More than that, he had already had a profound impact on the Mets organization rejuvenating Curtis Granderson while transforming Yoenis Cespedes and Daniel Murphy.
However, it wasn’t to be. Instead, Jeff Wilpon got it in his mind he wanted to have Mickey Callaway as the manager. Despite Callaway interviewing poorly, it was enough for Wilpon to hire Callaway after one interview because the Philadelphia Phillies showed interest. As Mets fans can recall, this went over about as well as when the Mets included Jarred Kelenic in the Robinson Cano trade because the Phillies showed interest in Edwin Diaz.
Since then, the managerial position has been a disaster for the Mets. Callaway proved to be an awful human being harassing female reporters. After him, the Mets hired and then were effectively forced to fire Carlos Beltran. In a mad scramble, they hired Luis Rojas while completely failing to give him any chance to succeed in the position. Rather that let him continue to grow, the team has decided they need to go in a different direction.
Now, there are many moving pieces before the Mets get to hire a new manager. The biggest is the need to hire a new president of baseball operations. Presumably, that is the person who will and should have the biggest input on who the Mets next manager will be. Whatever the case, the Mets have the right to correct the mistake they made in 2017 and hire Long.
For his part, Long served the world with a reminder why he was managerial material. During the National League Wild Card Game, he was sitting next to superstar Juan Soto, a player Long has helped get the most out of his ability. Soto was wearing a Trea Turner jersey (another player Long has helped immensely) while Long wore a Max Scherzer jersey.
Max Scherzer went over to high five Juan Soto and Kevin Long after the walk-off home run 😂 pic.twitter.com/HvV0s4FLzE
— Blake Finney (@FinneyBlake) October 7, 2021
In that moment, you saw everything you could have possibly wanted to see from a future manager of your team. He was standing there with his star player, a player in Soto he helped take from a 19 year old wunderkind to a bona fide Major League superstar. More than that, he showed the incredibly great relationship he fostered with his superstar player, the very type of relationship a manager absolutely needs to have any level of success.
We also saw the sense of loyalty he has for his players. He went out there to support both Turner and Scherzer. It was a moment which meant so much to them Scherzer made sure to go over to the stands to celebrate his team’s walk-off win with them. Keep in mind here, Scherzer is a free agent who should be on everyone’s radar.
When we look at the modern game and the current status of the managerial role, it is increasingly about relationships with the players and the ability to communicate. It’s no longer about Gil Hodges playing a hunch or Davey Johnson trusting his eyes over the data. Increasingly, it’s about taking the game plan prepared by the front office and not just executing it, but getting the players to buy in on the plan.
Putting aside what happened in the NL Wild Card Game, this is exactly what Long does. He helped transform Cespedes from a wild swinger to a player better able to identify his pitch and become a monster at the plate. There was also Murphy who went from gap to gap hitter to a legitimate threat at the plate. Murphy showed the 2015 postseason wasn’t a fluke by any means when he became an All-Star and MVP candidate with the Washington Nationals. It should be noted Long followed Murphy to Washington, D.C.
In total, Long is what you want in a manager. He can process data and translate it to players in a way where they can understand and execute it. We also see he is a coach who can foster great relationships with this players. He is also loyal to his players, and they love him. Short of being able to steal away the Bob Melvins of the world, you’re not going to find a better managerial candidate than Long.
Alderson knew it in 2017, and he can do what he wanted to do back then and make Long the Mets manager. If that is the case, we can expect the maddening Mets offense to finally click and for this team to reach the World Series potential we know they have.
With the New York Mets failing to make the postseason, and worse yet, with their collapse, the narrative has become this core hasn’t been good enough to win a World Series. Sandy Alderson seemed to echo that sentiment a bit when he said there were going to be changes to the core this offseason. Of course, with free agency and the like, that was probably going to happen anyway.
Before Steve Cohen purchased the team, the Mets core could probably be defined as Pete Alonso, Michael Conforto, Jacob deGrom, Jeff McNeil, Brandon Nimmo, Dominic Smith, and Noah Syndergaard. At least, that was the homegrown core. In that core, you had two ace level pitchers, two All-Star level first baseman (yes, Smith was that in 2020), two All-Star level outfielders, and a jack-of-all trades All-Star.
When you add Francisco Lindor, who joins deGrom as a future Hall of Famer, you’d be hard pressed to find much better cores in all of baseball. This level of talent should be the envy of the other 29 teams in the league. That begs the question what went wrong in 2021.
On the one hand, this was a team which was 3.5 games in first place at the trade deadline. Their high water mark was 5.5 games up on June 16. As we know, this team had the bottom completely fall out as they finished eight games under .500 and 11.5 games back of a mediocre Atlanta Braves team for the division.
The narratives emerged. Luis Rojas was in over his head. The ReplaceMets got them the division lead, but the regulars couldn’t seal the deal. This team had no heart, no will to win, no killer instinct, etc. Basically, chose your narrative and apply it to this team.
In many ways, that’s what people said about the 2007-2008 Mets. As we all learned, firing Willie Randolph wasn’t a solution. Switching out leaders like Cliff Floyd was a mistake. Really, making change for its own sake proved to be a complete and utter disaster. Certainly, so was the Wilpons involvement in a Ponzi Scheme. That said, the level of dissatisfaction with “the core” rather than a real analysis of what was the problem led to the demise of that team.
The real issue with that Mets team was injuries and pitching. During the back-to-back collapses, the pitching completely fell apart at the end. Certainly, Jeff Wilpon playing doctor played a massive role in that happening. In some ways, we’re seeing the same thing happen but with a completely new regime.
Let’s take a look at the 2021 Mets. The first thing which should jump off the page is the team went into the season without a real third baseman or a left fielder. We all knew by Opening Day J.D. Davis could not handle the position, but there he was. Behind him was Luis Guillorme, who was as good a glove in the middle infield as they come, but he was a poor third baseman. After that was Jonathan Villar, but he has never been a good fielder.
As for left field, it’s the Mets mistake as old as time. You cannot just throw anyone in left field and expect it to work. Todd Hundley wasn’t a left fielder. Lucas Duda wasn’t a left fielder. Sticking a good bat in the outfield just never works, and oft times, we see diminishing returns for that player at the plate. While Smith did an admirable job, he again proved he couldn’t play left field.
Of course, the Mets could have gone with McNeil at either position as he’s played both positions well. Instead, the Mets were obstinate he was a second baseman because that was the belief Sandy Alderson stubbornly held during his first stint with the Mets.
This speaks to a real problem with the Mets and how it colored how the core was viewed. Players were asked to do things they shouldn’t have been asked to do. For example, remember Conforto in center field? It’s been an organizational approach to just plug bats everywhere. The end result was the team suffering as players failed to reach their ceilings as they struggled out of position, and we also saw the defense lag.
Now, the defense wasn’t really the problem in 2021. With the analytics and Rojas at the helm, the defense was much improved. However, to a certain extent, the damage had already been done. Steven Matz, who struggled in large part due to the absence of defense and analytics, was cast off for relievers who pitched poorly. We had already seen pitchers like Chris Flexen and Paul Sewald cast off. There’s more.
Really, the issue isn’t the core, but what the Mets did with it and how they built around it. For years, we knew Alonso and Smith were both first baseman, but they Mets absolutely refused to make the tough decision and pick just one of them and try to move the other to address a need. It’s a decision which has held this team back for three years now. As for the justification of the anticipation of the universal DH, that’s no reason to throw away three seasons, especially with Alonso and Smith is going to a free agency after the 2024 season.
Looking deeper, this was a team really harmed by injuries. Really, you can make the argument if deGrom was healthy, they don’t collapse. If Carlos Carrasco isn’t hurt in Spring Training, they don’t collapse. If Syndergaard returns when anticipated, they don’t collapse. However, that happened. That’s more of a sign of a snake bit team than it is a problem with the core.
Really, despite the flaws in roster building, this team was good enough. We actually saw it with this team being in first place despite the injuries and the odds. If you’re being honest in your assessment, you should be saying the Mets need to get a real third baseman and left fielder, and this team will be primed to win a World Series. After all, this team with a relatively shallow pitching staff and being plagued by injuries was on the precipice.
That brings us to the next issue. The front office didn’t try to go for it. There was the opportunity, and they chose not to get the pitching this team needed. There’s no good explanation why they didn’t.
As a result, the people who failed at supplementing a very good core is now going to call it an eroding one. They’re going to allow people to falsely accuse this core of not being good enough to win. It’s complete and utter nonsense, and it completely obfuscates what the real problem is – how this organization has approached building rosters.
Overall, if the Mets bring back this same exact roster replacing Davis at third with a real third baseman and putting McNeil in left field, they will be the best team in baseball. There should be absolutely no doubts about that.
Make no mistake, Carlos Beltran was screwed. He wasn’t allowed to manage for the New York Mets because of his implication in the Houston Astros sign stealing scandal.
The Mets didn’t release J.D. Davis. After the scandal was public knowledge, the Mets actually traded for Jake Marisnick. Since the scandal broke, Alex Cora was re-hired by the Boston Red Sox, and A.J. Hinch got another opportunity to manage.
Meanwhile, Beltran has been out of baseball making him the only Astros truly punished. Worse yet, he’s had no opportunity for redemption.
There should be a path back for Beltran. With Luis Rojas being fired, many are pushing the narrative the Mets need to right the wrong and bring back Beltran as manager.
It’s a bad idea.
One of the reasons why Rojas is gone was he was deemed still too raw to manage at the Major League level. Fair or not, that’s the criticism. Keep in mind, this is a well respected minor league manager who helped developed nearly every player in that clubhouse. We also know this is a manager with the respect of that clubhouse.
It’s bizarre to go from Rojas to a manager with even less experience. In fact, the entirety of Beltran’s coaching and managerial career is the roughly two months he was the manager of the Mets.
At that time, the Mets didn’t have a complete roster. He hasn’t met with all of his players. He didn’t make it to Spring Training let alone manage a game. This makes him a complete unknown as to his ability to handle any aspect of managing a Major League team.
Does he go by the gut, or does he rely on data? Will he follow the front office script or trust his eyes? How does he handle player conflict? How will he manage the daily interactions with the press? Can he handle a WFAN spot or a crisis?
Literally, no one knows the answer to any of these questions. Really, the only argument for Beltran is a sense of nostalgia and perhaps justice. That’s simply not a good reason to hire a manager.
The Mets fancy themselves as World Series contenders, or at least have the intention of being that after this offseason. How can they build a roster and hand the keys to someone who hasn’t even learned to ride a bicycle yet?
It’s complete and utter nonsense, and that’s even allowing for the possibility Beltran could be good. That’s the thing no one knows.
It’s time to just put an end to this nonsense. The Mets need to hire a real president of baseball operations and allow him to his manager. It’s a decision which needs to be made with no sentimentality. It’s simply a decision to hire the best and most qualified man for the job.
That’s not Beltran. The Mets can and probably should bring him back in some capacity – just not as manager. That should go to someone qualified.
It was never set up for Luis Rojas to succeed as the manager of the New York Mets. With his firing, which is what happened when the Mets didn’t pick up his option, it was deemed Rojas did not succeed.
In 2020, he took over a team after Carlos Beltran was forced out without managing a game. He had to take over a team in Spring Training with a coaching staff he didn’t assemble, and by the way, a once in a century pandemic hit.
Entering this season, there were massive expectations, and understandably so given the ownership change and Francisco Lindor trade. That said, the cards would be stacked against Rojas a bit.
Unless you count his two late September appearances as an opener, Syndergaard didn’t start a game. Carlos Carrasco didn’t pitch until July 30, and he was rushed.
The injuries really were the story and the problem. Of course, the biggest injury was Jacob deGrom. In the midst of what was his best year, he went down.
Michael Conforto had COVID, got hurt, and faltered. Lindor struggled to adjust, and when he did, he got hurt. At one point, there were so many injures, James McCann had to play first base for a stretch.
Keep in mind, the Mets entered the season without a third baseman or left fielder. Dominic Smith can hit (when he wasn’t playing through injuries like he did all year) and he can play a terrific first, but he’s just not a left fielder.
Eventually, the replacements to the replacements got hurt. Eventually, the dam had to break.
Despite everything, Rojas had the Mets in first place at the trade deadline by 3.5 games. At various times, even if it was just in passing, he was mentioned as a potential Manager of the Year.
The pitching was on fumes, and the best the Mets could do at the trade deadline was Trevor Williams. The Mets thought so highly of him, he was immediately assigned to Syracuse.
Eventually, the magic touch wore off, but then again, when Albert Almora is on your bench, you don’t need magic; you need a miracle. There were no miracles forthcoming.
We saw the cracks in the team. The offense who shifted from Chili Davis to Hugh Quattlebaum never clicked. The barren upper levels of the minors leagues left behind by Brodie Van Wagenen haunted the team. Ultimately, there were just too many injuries which probably should’ve been expected a year after the 2020 COVID impacted season.
There were embarrassments like the first Mets GM Jared Porter being fired for harassment. The next, Zack Scott, took a leave of absence after his DUI arrest during the season. While not of the same vein, there was the Javier Báez-Lindor thumbs down drama.
At some point, the team we all thought would win the World Series became a flat out bad team. They’d set a record by being in first place for as long as they did only to finish under .500.
Yes, during this time, Rojas made some bizarre moves. While the focus was on that, his successes were overlooked, downplayed, or not acknowledged. That’s unfortunate.
What’s also unfortunate was after what was only one full season, Rojas was fired. He never got the opportunity to learn and grow as a manager. He didn’t get to build on the things he did well.
Instead, he’s out as manager.
With the collapse, this was obviously coming. After all, Sandy Alderson wasn’t going to fire himself for punting the trade deadline and having his big time hires blow up in his face.
Between the need for a fall guy and the Mets pursuing a new president of baseball operations, Rojas was as good as gone. After all, the new POBO would want his own guy as manager.
The end result was Rojas losing his job as manager. It’s unfortunate because he never really had a chance. It’s very likely he will get that chance somewhere else, and he will very likely do well.
Until then, it’s incumbent on the Mets to prove they did the right thing. If Rojas’ all too brief tenure is any lesson, that stats and ends with building your roster because no manager, no matter how good, is going to be able to win without two regular players, shallow pitching depth, and all those injuries.
One day, you’re in first place, and you’re a potential NL Manager of the Year. The next, your team is eliminated from postseason contention with no hope of having a .500 record.
That’s the type of year it has been for Luis Rojas and the New York Mets. As is standard, when a team falls short, the manager faces scrutiny.
It comes with the territory. Obviously, Rojas hasn’t been perfect. Assuredly, he’s made bad decisions, and there are times you wonder what in the world he’s doing.
Go pinpoint your most maddening moment. Make it out to be more than it is. Throw a few more moments on there. Magnify that.
Guess what? That’s not the reason the 2021 Mets didn’t make the postseason. It’s far from it.
In fact, for a while, Rojas was one of the things ruse was right about the Mets. At least, that was the narrative. In the end, blaming or crediting Rojas was just that – narrative.
The truth of the matter is it all fell apart. It wasn’t all at once, but rather in pieces. Marcus Stroman and Taijuan Walker were the only two starters to last the year with Stroman the only one to have sustained success into the second half.
Offensively, the Mets went with Chili Davis only to utilize advanced data which runs counter-intuitive to what Davis does. We saw the offense have a big letdown.
Francisco Lindor had a slow start. Michael Conforto dealt with COVID and a career worst year. That’s the tip of the iceberg with everyone not named Brandon Nimmo and maybe Pete Alonso having poor to flat out bad years.
For his part, Rojas listened to the workload management rules. The front office specifically said it was the player’s fault they got hurt.
That brings us in a roundabout way to a big part of the issue. With last year being a COVID impacted year, depth was more important than ever. For some reason, the front office was cavalier with it.
Steven Matz was traded for two relievers who had little impact and another flipped for the poor performing Khalil Lee. They also made odds unforced errors like designating Johneshwy Fargas for assignment. For our mental health, we probably should’ve dwell too much on Jerad Eickhoff pitching in five games.
Fact of that matter is if Jacob deGrom was healthy, much of this season goes much differently. If the Mets hitters were just a reasonable facsimile of their career stats, the season is far different.
For that matter, if the front office looked at the roster problems and attacked them at the trade deadline, things go differently. At the end of the day, this was a first place team at the trade deadline, and the organization opted to fight another day.
In what way is all of this Rojas’ fault? The simple truth is it isn’t.
We can and should have the debate over whether Rojas is the right man for the job. Realistically speaking, he’s only had one year at the helm, and in that time, he’s shown good and bad.
The issue for any pure novice manager is whether he can grow. No one knows that yet. No one.
What we do know is the Mets shown they can win and fall apart with Rojas at the helm. Both instances were entirely tied to the strength of the roster. That brings us to the front office.
In the end, feel however you want about Rojas. It doesn’t matter because he’s not the reason the Mets disappointed this year. He may eventually be the fall guy but things aren’t magically improving because there’s another manager. The only way that happens is if the roster improves.
There’s a lot of blame directed at Luis Rojas for another brutal New York Mets loss in September. Absolutely, there were some questionable moves.
Marcus Stroman was lifted after six great innings despite being at 89 pitches. On a day when Seth Lugo was unavailable, Aaron Loup, Trevor May, and Edwin Diaz didn’t go multiple innings. There were also pinch hitting decisions.
Putting aside the fact the pitching increasingly looks scripted like with Kevin Cash and Blake Snell in the 2020 World Series, the real issue is this roster. It was a roster largely unaddressed at the trade deadline.
This was a team which had zero hits from innings 2-8 until Javier Báez‘s clutch game tying homer. Yes, he was a trade deadline acquisition, and he’s been great.
— New York Mets (@Mets) September 15, 2021
However, that’s one, and with all apologies to Trevor Williams, really, the only player the Mets added at the deadline. A team in first place didn’t feel terribly compelled to go for it.
The days of the 40 man September rosters are no more. With all due respect, these are three players who should not be rostered at this point in the season. It’s inexcusable for a front office to let this happen.
Rojas did all he could to stop the game from getting to this point. However, you can only avoid the bottom of your roster for so long. Eventually, they’re going to get to play and impact a game and a season.
Ultimately, that’s what happened last night. Instead of asking why Rojas used those players when he did, we should be asking why are these players even here.
After Taijuan Walker struggled allowing five runs in the second, he’d actually settle in and give the Mets six innings giving them a chance to win the game. You won’t hear Luis Rojas get credit for sticking by Walker because he’s just become a punching bag.
Keeping in Walker, who’d actually have an RBI single, helped the Mets get into a position to win the game. After a surprise James McCann two run homer, the Mets would take a lead heading into the seventh.
Seth Lugo shut the New York Yankees down in the seventh with just seven pitches. The Mets added an insurance run in the bottom of the inning carrying a 7-5 lead into the eighth.
The Mets would blow it, and for some reason, fans want to say it’s all Rojas’ fault.
It didn’t matter to them Lugo has not been good in a second inning of work this year. The hard hit balls off of him also didn’t matter. He needed to stay in the game.
It didn’t matter Trevor May has been great lately allowing just one run in his last 10 appearances. Apparently, Judge, one of the best players in all of baseball, only could’ve hit a homer off May in that spot to tie the game. (Never mind the second inning homer).
The Yankees take the lead on a wild throw! pic.twitter.com/dqZicSAQGz
— FOX Sports: MLB (@MLBONFOX) September 12, 2021
It’s odd Rojas would order Báez to throw the ball away allowing the go-ahead run to score. That’s doubly irresponsible after Rojas apparently told May to surrender a homer to Judge.
The Mets would have their chances to reclaim the lead. In the bottom half of the inning, there were two on and two out. Pete Alonso gave one a ride which fell near the warning track for the final out of the inning.
The final backbreaker was in the ninth. With a runner on second and one out, Kevin Pillar struck out. That’s where Rojas struck again.
The pitch went to the backstop. Instead of breaking immediately Pillar hesitated. That hesitation, clearly ordered by Rojas, cost Pillar the chance to reach first safety.
You can’t help but wonder if McCann’s fly ball to end the game could’ve scored by tying run. We’ll ever know.
What we do know is one of the Mets better relievers, who has pitched extraordinarily well lately, chose a bad time to have a bad outing. Baez threw a ball away. Pillar didn’t immediately break for first.
Like it or not, this one was simply on the players for not executing. It happens. Unfortunately, it just means the Mets are a day closer to the end of the season and possibly a day closer to Rojas being the fall guy.
Game Notes: The Mets wore special alternates with no pinstripes and New York in the Tiffany font. They once again wore the First Responder caps.
Báez created a run with his hustle and base running in the first, and then he homered in the third. He really accounted for all of the Mets runs.
— New York Mets (@Mets) September 9, 2021
Through the first five, Stroman allowed just one hit. In the sixth, he got himself into trouble putting the first two on base, but he limited the damage to one run.
Through six-and-a-half innings, the Mets led 2-1. Luis Rojas stuck with his big game pitcher in the seventh. Sadly, the team failed the pitcher and manager (again).
Hand looked like the pitcher the Toronto Blue Jays released as he struggled to find the zone. Still, he limited the Marlins to just infield singles.
The bigger problem was Hand threw a ball he had no business throwing. He tried to get the speedy Lewis Brinson. Instead of eating it and leaving the bases loaded, his throwing error allowed Isan Diaz to score.
Of course, the Mets would find a way to compound that frustrating inning. After Pete Alonso tripled to lead-off the eighth, he would be left stranded there.
Parenthetically, there was criticisms of Rojas not allowing Davis to face Anthony Bender in last night’s loss. Rojas’ assessment that Bender”s velocity and slider was a bad match-up for Davis proved correct.
Long story short, this was just the latest in inexcusable losses, and if not for the other competition faltering, it would’ve proved to be a death knell for the Mets. Whatever the case, this is a highly flawed team who is going nowhere.
There are many reasons the New York Mets blew this game to the Miami Marlins and lost a game they couldn’t afford to lose. Sandy Alcantara was brilliant, and the offense came up short again.
The Mets blew it in the 10th inning. There was probably a botched call from the umpires and replay. That meant instead of Jesus Sanchez‘s error leading to runners at the corners, it was just prolonging the at-bat.
— MLB Replays (@MLBReplays) September 9, 2021
First, it was Luis Guillorme for Kevin Pillar. Guillorme walked. Then, in a somewhat incredulous decision, he pinch hit Patrick Mazeika for James McCann. Mazeika meekly grounded out to end the inning.
With the Mets other high end relievers having been used, Rojas was essentially forced to bring in Edwin Diaz. What was over concern should now be alarm.
After blowing consecutive saves to the Washington Nationals, Diaz was entrusted with getting this tied game to the 11th inning. He’d fail miserably.
The first batter, Magneuris Sierra, laid down a good bunt. Diaz got there and nearly threw it away. Really, it took a great play from Báez to not only get the out, but to also stop Diaz from throwing it away to end the game.
Diaz did rebound to strike out an overmatched Sanchez. Then, Bryan De La Cruz came to the plate. Make no mistake, there’s just no way Diaz should’ve been pitching to De La Cruz.
After the game, Rojas cited a number of reasons why. Those included the R/R matchup as well as Diaz’s control issues. No matter what, the real issue was Diaz.
Here’s Rojas on the decision to pitch to De La Cruz: pic.twitter.com/Db6QSgCTHD
— Steve Gelbs (@SteveGelbs) September 9, 2021
Despite ordering the intentional walk being the right call, Diaz would pitch to De La Cruz. Instead of being careful, Diaz would throw a 1-1 fastball over the heart of the plate which De La Cruz launched to dead center to end the game leading to Diaz with the Hansel Robles signature finger point:
Incase you weren't familiar with Bryan De La Cruz already: pic.twitter.com/g3KiWlgiiV
— Miami Marlins (@Marlins) September 9, 2021
Again, blame the offense all you want for the 2-1 loss. Blame Rojas for some weird pinch hitting decisions and for pitching to De La Cruz. Those are all valid critiques.
However, at the end of the day, the Mets have a closer who can’t seem to pitch in September in a pennant race. He had a 7.36 ERA in September 2019. He’s allowed five runs in 3.0 innings taking a loss and going 1/3 in save chances.
Closers like Diaz, or at least what many pretend Diaz to be, are supposed to hide some of the deficiencies by ensuring the close games go in your favor. That just doesn’t happen with Diaz in the huge spots.
For the third straight outing, that was the case. You just wonder how many more outings like this he has before the Mets are completely out of contention.