On Thursday, I had the privilege of being to be invited on the Simply Amazin‘ Podcast. On the podcast, I mentioned Wilson Ramos, Tomas Nido, Rene Rivera, Pete Alonso, Gerson Bautista, Jarred Kelenic, Jeff McNeil, Robinson Cano, Edwin Diaz, Jeurys Familia, Brad Brach, Daniel Zamora, Seth Lugo, Robert Gsellman, J.D. Davis, Dominic Smith, Noah Syndergaard, Steven Matz, Marcus Stroman, Luis Santana, Keon Broxton, Felix Valerio, Juan Lagares, Luis Guillorme, Paul Sewald, Luis Avilan, and others.
The Mets have swept the Arizona Diamondbacks, and once again they are back in the thick of the Wild Card race after having played their way out of it. This has been one of the most mercurial seasons in team history setting forth what should be a fun emotional roller coaster ride over the final 16 games.
1. If you want to get off to a great start, there is no better way to accomplish that than starting with Jacob deGrom. He proved that by going seven innings of shut out ball. When you follow that up with Seth Lugo for two innings, there is no team in baseball that has a chance.
2. To put into perspective how incredible deGrom’s season was last year, he may be the leader in the clubhouse for the 2019 National League Cy Young award, and his ERA this year is a full run higher than it was last year.
3. In terms of this year’s Cy Young Award, tonight will be the second time over his last three starts where he faces off against another Cy Young leader. He pitched better than Max Scherzer the last time out, and this time he is facing off against Hyun-Jin Ryu, who has not been the same pitcher he was in the first half.
4. It is not just deGrom who is pitching great for the Mets lately. Zack Wheeler has three straight starts of 7.0 innings and just one earned. It might’ve taken a little more time than expected, but second half Wheeler finally arrived, and it could not have happened at a better time.
5. As good as deGrom and Wheeler are going, that is nothing compared to Steven Matz at Citi Field. This year, he is 7-1 with a 1.94 ERA at home. This is part of his pitching very well in the second half with a 2.52 ERA limiting opposing batters to a .227/.281/.364 batting line.
6. Then Marcus Stroman followed this trio with his best start in a Mets uniform. With him keeping the ball on the ground, you got a glimpse on just the pitcher the Mets thought they were going to get when they traded for him.
7. On Stroman, you see the impact a catcher can have on a pitcher. With the Blue Jays, Stroman had a 44.2 GB%, but when Wilson Ramos was catching him, it went down to 44.2 percent. Yesterday, the Diamondbacks only got the ball in the air 40.7 percent of the time.
8. This is another reason why we should note Noah Syndergaard‘s objections over Ramos are fact based. Even if it’s not, there is clearly a psychological impact upon him. Really, if the Mets are interested in winning, they would pair Syndergaard up with Tomas Nido or Rene Rivera.
9. What was surprising was seeing Nido homer yesterday. That wasn’t as surprising as Juan Lagares having a two home run game. We had Gary Cohen’s voice cracking as evidence of that. It was a great moment for Lagares who has been a good Met likely playing his final games in a Mets uniform.
10. Homers were a theme in this series with the Mets setting a team record hitting five homers in two straight games. They also set team records for homers at home in a season (114) and homers in a series (13). What is really surprising about this stretch is while everyone went homer happy, Pete Alonso didn’t hit one over the final two games.
11. Alonso is struggling now in an 0-for-12 stretch with seven strikeouts. Things must be getting to him as he took time to go into the clubhouse and shave his mustache mid-game. Unfortunately, it didn’t work, and it may get worse with the Dodgers coming into town with Ryu, Clayton Kershaw, and Walker Buehler.
12. Of course, it was not all bad news with Alonso. He had a two home run game to surge to the Major League home run lead. However, that was nothing compared to his getting first responder cleats for the entire team. That was an incredible move which not only shows character, but it also shows he gets it.
13. The fact Alonso was forced to go that route is because yet again Major League Baseball refused to permit the Mets to wear the first responder caps. They did it while touting Sammy Sosa running with the American flag, and Mike Piazza hitting that homer.
14. They also sell special 9/11 patched caps. That’s Major League Baseball for you. They won’t let players do the right thing because it would interfere with their ability to profit off of a tragedy were many Americans lost their lives, and they continue to do suffering from 9/11 related illnesses.
15. It was not only special to see all the Mets wearing them, but specifically the local Mets like Matz, Stroman, Todd Frazier, Rajai Davis, Joe Panik, and Brad Brach. On that note, Matz pitched six shutout innings, and Frazier would homer wearing those cleats.
16. Matz wearing them was reminiscent of John Franco wearing an FDNY cap in the Mets first game post 9/11. With respect to Matz, he has undertaken charitable work to help those first responders, and due to his efforts he has been a Roberto Clemente Award nominee for the second straight year.
17. On Frazier, he his red hot right now. He has hit three homers over two straight games, and he is playing his usual good defense at third. He is getting hot just at the right time because the Mets need their absolute best from everyone right now.
18. That is something which has made this Mets team really special. They are all giving what they could give. Robinson Cano is playing as much as his leg would allow, and based upon what we heard from Mickey Callaway, J.D. Davis is doing the same. Brandon Nimmo has returned from a potentially season ending injury to play great. Brach is dealing with a shoulder injury, and Justin Wilson has an elbow issue. Right now, everyone is giving this team what they can. That deserves the fans’ love and admiration.
19. We’re also seeing players doing all they can to come back. Dominic Smith is hitting off a tee and running. Robert Gsellman is throwing on the side. They are both doing this despite both having suffered what really was season ending injuries. Again, say what you will about this team, but this is a special group of players.
20. The 1999 Mets overcame a two game deficit over the final three games of the season to force a one game playoff. This team has 16 games. Anything is possible.
This game wasn’t even close. The Mets absolutely destroyed the Diamondbacks hitting six homers and Marcus Stroman having his best start as a Met in their 11-1 win. There were all sorts of records.
There's no sweeter sound than a well-hit homer
Here's all six(!!) of today's Mets home runs pic.twitter.com/JWQ9etZvTd
— SNY (@SNYtv) September 12, 2019
It was the first time in team history they hit five homers in consecutive games. With the six homers, they’ve eclipsed their single season team record of homers at home.
Those homers came courtesy of Todd Frazier, Juan Lagares, Robinson Cano, Tomas Nido, and Michael Conforto (number 30 for number 30). If you noticed that’s just five names meaning someone must’ve hit two.
That would be Lagares. If you think you are incredulous, you should’ve heard Gary Cohen’s call for Lagares’ first career grand slam:
Go to bed with some positive vibes heading into Friday, courtesy of Juan Lagares and Gary Cohen pic.twitter.com/sWUFpm44GO
— SNY (@SNYtv) September 13, 2019
It was Lagares’ first homer at home since September 7, 2017. He wouldn’t have to wait much longer for his next one. The liost of Mets center fielders fo homer and collect such RBI are Lagares and Yoenis Cespedes.
His game had everyone happy for him. Fans cheered him. His teammates were elated. There was universal love and admiration for the player who is currently the longest tenured Met. He’s also a player who is a pending free agent, which means these could be the final days of Lagares’ Mets career.
Lagares has been the single most talented defensive outfielder. He won the Gold Glove in 2014, and he probably should’ve won the year prior. He was a player who always played the game the right way. He always hustled, and as you would hear from the Mets, he would leave no stone upturned in trying to improve as a player.
There are some who may want to dwell on his never being the player they hoped he would be. Part of the reason that was the case was the injuries, which were largely the result of his hustling like none other. It did lead to the Mets moving him away from being an everyday player to his being a role player. He never did receive enough credit for willingly accepting the role for the betterment of the team and not disrupting the clubhouse.
In the end, Lagares was a player who just wanted to win. On that front, he did all he could do with an excellent 2015 postseason. He also had an excellent stretch this year helping the Mets get back into contention. If the Mets are going to continue to contend this year, they’re going to need his glove, and on days like yesterday, his bat. When he hits like that he’s going to receive the love and admiration of Mets fans and players.
Yesterday was probably his last great game as a Mets player. It was probably the last time he’s going to receive the cheers he received. It might’ve been the last time the Mets fans got to say thank you for his performance on the field without having to say good-bye.
It was a great moment yesterday for someone who has been a good Met in his career. He’s been someone who has always played the game the right way, and he is someone who has been worthy of our admiration and respect. This was probably his last hurrah on this front for personal accomplishments. The good news is there is still more time for him to help experience glory in a Mets uniform. If that’s going to happen, the Mets are going to need him.
The New York Mets had another golden opportunity to make headway in the Wild Card race, and once again, they failed. Instead of taking control of their destiny, they have lost two out of three propelling the Phillies and not the Mets forward:
1. To a certain extent, it would be better if the other Wild Card teams would just put the Mets out of their misery. They’re not, and we’re all hanging on desperately hoping they’ll find their way to the Wild Card Game.
2. Mickey Callaway was terrible in this series. You can’t let Tomas Nido bat knowing you’re pulling Marcus Stroman. You can’t let Luis Avilan face Maikel Franco. Intentionally walking Andrew Knapp makes little to no sense. His decision making in those three instances was just ugly.
3. Really, Callaway put the Mets in a position to fail, and like when Franco predictably homered off of Avilan, the Mets did fail. However, it should be noted it was the players failures before and after the decisions which magnified the simply awful decisions Callaway made.
4. J.D. Davis has to catch that ball, and Stroman has to pick him up. Even with that ridiculous error, there is no reason that had to become a four run inning except for the Phillies hitting Stroman quite hard.
5. Going to Davis for a second, defense matters, and you can’t keep putting him in the field if you really want to win. That is all the more the case when Brandon Nimmo is back and playing great. Really, you can’t have someone with a -8 DRS over 474.0 innings out there. It’s irresponsible.
6. Noah Syndergaard needs to be better. Under no circumstances can he surrender a 3-0 lead in that spot. He’s a big time pitcher who tries to back it up with his talk and swagger. Big time pitchers don’t lay an egg like he did with the season on the line. He’s better than that.
7. Also, pinch hitting for Syndergaard was the right move. He can slam his helmet all he wants. He deserved to be lifted from that game, and Todd Frazier gave that team a much better chance to score with the bases loaded and two outs. Neither player delivered when they needed it most, which was a theme this weekend.
8. One of the reasons why the Mets didn’t win was Pete Alonso and Michael Conforto came up well short. Each came up two times in the late innings as the tying run. They couldn’t get the key hit or even draw a walk. When you boil it all down, even taking into account Callaway’s terrible decision making, that’s why they lost.
9. On the bright side with Alonso, his bases loaded walk winning Friday night’s game was a real sign of maturity. He was clearly amped up for that at-bat, and while he ran the count full swinging at some pitches he probably shouldn’t have, he did take the one he needed to take to draw the walk to win the game.
10. The bigger problem with the Mets is this bullpen. The one day Justin Wilson doesn’t have it, and the Mets don’t have someone to pick him up. When you dig deeper, it’s very likely Paul Sewald is the third or fourth most reliable reliever out of the bullpen. That can’t happen.
11. Speaking of the bullpen, you can’t have a series like this and not have Seth Lugo not throw one pitch. Not one. Unless he is hurt, that’s inexcusable, especially with the season on the line yesterday.
12. In terms of Lugo, at some point the Mets need to begin contemplating shutting him down for the year. If you are not going to win this year, you should not be wasting his innings. In all likelihood, that decision will likely be fueled by how the Mets do in this upcoming series against the Diamondbacks.
13. Seeing all that Brodie Van Wagenen did this past offseason, he deserves to watch the Diamondbacks pass them in the Wild Card standings led by a Wilmer Flores who he did not want on the team.
14. On that note, while Stroman was struggling, Anthony Kay had a strong Major League debut against the Rays. His eight strikeouts was a Blue Jays debut record. It should also be noted in that game Travis d’Arnaud would drive home the go-ahead run for the Rays.
15. In Seattle, Justin Dunn was called up. That means Jarred Kelenic remains the only first round draft pick made by Sandy Alderson who has not made it to the majors. Sandy really acquired about built up the young talent in the Mets system.Of course, Van Wagenen couldn’t wait to get rid of them in one bad trade after another.
16. When you boil it all down, the issue isn’t Callaway or the bullpen or the depth. The issue is Van Wagenen. As one noted on this site, Van Wagenen mortgaged the future and ruined the payroll flexibility to build the fourth best team in this division. Seeing how he’s operated the team and how the Wilpons continue to operate this team, Major League Baseball needs to intervene. At a time with their being concerned about attendance and ratings, they cannot possibly let a team in the largest media market in the world continue operating this way. It’s not good for the game.
17. What is good for the game is Nimmo. He’s always enthusiastic on the field, and as we saw this weekend, he can come up big when the Mets need him. Since he came off the IL, he walked nine times in 22 plate appearances. He drove in a run and found a way on base with the game on the line. He’s been great . . . just like he was last year.
18. Credit is due to Amed Rosario. He made a great play in the hole on Friday to turn what could’ve been a Rhys Hoskins RBI single into an inning ending double play. He was also 3-for-5 yesterday getting on base twice in the late innings starting what should’ve been run scoring rallies. If you want to take some solace in this series and season, Rosario’s growth is the biggest takeaway.
19. Mets fans won’t want to hear this, but Edwin Diaz is THIS CLOSE to figuring it out. He has struck out 12 out of the last 20 batters he has faced. That shows he is getting back to what he was last year with the Mariners. Of course, he still has allowed too many big homers, and even if he is starting to figure it out, it appears to be too little too late.
20. On that front, thanks to the Brewers this weekend, the Mets are still alive. Until such time as the odds become impossible, the Mets have a chance especially since they have Jacob deGrom and a host of other very good players. As long as the Mets have a pulse, and seeing how they continued to fight back in this series, they do, we should continue to believe.
There are a number of reasons why the Mets lost this game to the Phillies. Going 0-for-11 with RISP and leaving nine runners on base certainly attributed to that. Behind that was defense.
The key play was in the first. The Mets loaded the bases with two outs, and Todd Frazier hit what should’ve been a bases clearing double off Drew Smyly. It appeared that was going to be the case until Adam Haseley made a leaping catch in right to end the inning.
🎶 Isn’t he (g)lovelyyy! 🎶 pic.twitter.com/ibKvxQKKzh
— Philadelphia Phillies (@Phillies) September 7, 2019
Conversely, the Phillies four run fourth began when J.D. Davis had a brutal error allowing Scott Kingery to reach. From there, the Phillies continued to hit Marcus Stroman, who allowed a season high 10 hits. One of the reasons why was the BABIP gods were unfair tonight. There were others including defense. All told, it was a four run inning putting the Phillies up 5-0.
Those two errors were the difference as was the ability to capitalize on them. For example, the Mets had first and second no outs in the bottom of that inning with Todd Frazier and Juan Lagares reaching on successive Brad Miller errors.
That’s where Mickey Callaway made some very curious decisions. At that point, Stroman had been laboring all night, and the Mets were down five. This was their chance to capitalize, and Callaway stood in the way.
Knowing he was removing Stroman, he still let Tomas Nido hit over Wilson Ramos. After not using Ramos, he then didn’t have Ramos, who has been great in the second half, hit. Instead, he used Jed Lowrie who just rejoined the team after a very lengthy IL stint.
From there, the Mets never really threatened, and that Phillies continued to play very good defense. In the end, it was a 5-0 loss. That’s a loss the Mets cannot afford to have. They need to be better than this because they’re running out of time. That being better especially includes defense.
After a brief hiatus after a nice family vacation, I’m back watching games at home instead of on the app and able to get back to things like the 20/20 Hindsight. Without further ado:
1. The 1969 and 1973 Mets overcame five game deficits entering September and so can this team, but in order to do so, they need to complete sweeps and not settle for 2/3.
2. There’s a lot of attention on Mickey Callaway for losing Sunday night. No matter your opinion on the moves, when you boil it down, the Mets lost because Jeurys Familia was flat out bad. They also lost because their three best hitters (Jeff McNeil, Pete Alonso, Michael Conforto) didn’t get the big hit in the eighth after the inning was set up for them to deliver.
3. Seeing Luis Guillorme get that bunt down, we see a player who does all the small things really well. It’s also a reminder how much time the Mets wasted on Jose Reyes and Adeiny Hechavarria instead of giving him his chance.
6. On the call-ups, it was great to see Brandon Nimmo back. His getting a walk and drawing a run shows how terrific a player he is. That said, he needs to throw to second.
7. Zack Wheeler set the tone. Steven Matz slayed some Citizen’s Bank Park demons. Marcus Stroman had his best start as a Met. The starting pitching really stepped up in this series after it disappointed against the Cubs.
8. Speaking of starting pitching it was nice seeing the Mets getting a chance to hit against Jason Vargas, who was his typically bad self on the mound.
12. Paul Sewald has been a godsend, and it’s at the point where he may be the most reliable right-handed reliever not named Lugo.
14. Past two weeks, Wilmer Flores is hitting .429/.478/.810, and J.D. Davis is hitting .209/.306/.488. Both have 0.7 WAR for the season with Flores playing fewer games and not costing three prospects. The Diamondbacks are ahead of the Mets in the Wild Card standings.
15. Wilson Ramos hitting streak has come at a critical time. Mets need him to keep hitting at this level if they’re going to have a real chance.
20. Four back of the Cubs is still doable. Three would have been moreso. Of course, this all overlooks how much the Mets blew it against the Cubs.
The Mets are seven games over .500 for the first time since May 1, 2018. Yes, that’s Two Thousand Eighteen. That’s where the Mets are after sweeping an Indians team which had apparently given the Yankees fits. This goes to show you just how well these Mets are playing right now:
1. Not too bad for a fringe postseason team, huh Cleveland?
2. One of the reasons why the Mets won this series, and one of the reasons why they have been winning games in the second half is how clutch they have been. Specifically, by wRC+, the Mets offense is the second best in the Majors in the second half from the seventh inning on.
3. The other reason is the bullpen has been terrific of late. Specifically, Justin Wilson has been great coming out of the bullpen, and he has been the guy Mickey Callaway trusts to get the Mets out of jams. For example, on Tuesday, he came into a situation with runners on first and second with one out, and he struck out Francisco Lindor and Oscar Mercado.
5. Matz is once again on one of those rolls where it seems he is one of the aces on this staff. In the second half, he’s 3-1 with a 2.81 ERA, 1.056 WHIP, and a 4.75 K/BB. Ultimately, this is what Matz can be when he’s used properly by the manager, and he is spinning that curveball.
6. With his great pitching and Wilson bailing him out, Matz would get the win. He also got the win because Michael Conforto hit a huge go-ahead homer in the sixth.
7. As impressive as that homer was, Conforto did something all the more impressive the following day. He visited a children’s hospital to read to pediatric cancer patients, give them better hospital gowns, and overall just spend time with them. Stuff like that will always be more impressive than anything he does on the field.8
8. This really has become a team you enjoy rooting for game-in and game-out. Conforto gives time to pediatric cancer patients. Matz does all that work for first responders. Todd Frazier helped build a special needs baseball field in his home town. The list of the charitable endeavors from these players goes on and on.
9. With respect to Frazier, Gary Disarcina isn’t a very good third base coach. His send of Frazier on the wet dirt with Tyler Naquin‘s cannon in left was plain dumb, especially when he knows the Mets were going to pinch hit for Jeurys Familia in that spot.
11. The Mets bullpen is emerging as the best in the National League right now. Lugo is the best reliever. With Familia, Wilson, and Brad Brach, they have battled tested relievers who are turning it on at the right time. Luis Avilan is as good as a LOOGY as there is right now. We’re even seeing Paul Sewald raise his game up a level.
12. The bullpen breaking out like that came at a key time as Marcus Stroman was lifted from the game due to a sore hamstring. On that note, what is it with the Mets and hamstrings of late?
13. It is good to see Jeff McNeil and Brandon Nimmo on rehab assignments making their way back to the team. On Nimmo, he’s played three games in four days indicating his return is all the more close. When the Mets are healthy, they are going to have some interesting lineup decisions.
14. While we should be excited about the McNeil and Nimmo rehab appearances, the Jed Lowrie rehab assignment seems more like one of those old David Wright “rehab assignments.” Lowrie has only served as a DH, and Callaway has said they are doing that to play it safe. That doesn’t exactly sound like a guy charging his way back to the team.
15. With how great Juan Lagares has been playing of late, the Mets are probably best served platooning Todd Frazier and Joe Panik with McNeil bouncing between second and third. When Stroman pitches, the Mets should probably keep Frazier and Panik on the infield with McNeil in the outfield to optimize the outfield defense.
16. You can understand riding out this J.D. Davis hot streak for as long as it goes, but when this team is fully healthy, he belongs on the bench because Conforto and Nimmo are simply better baseball players.
18. Syndergaard has been great of late, and he is giving Jacob deGrom a run for his money as to who the best ptcher is on this staff right now. Syndergaard is currently on a stretch where he has eight straight quality starts. In that stretch, he has a 1.82 ERA, 0.976 WHIP, and a 9.1 K/9. This is exactly what he was in 2016.
19. Here’s a fun and interesting thought: With the way the Mets starters are pitching, who do you possibly remove from the rotation when the Mets face off against the Dodgers in the NLDS?
20. The Mets have an opportunity to slay a lot of demons from the late nineties in this weekend series against the Braves. While the Braves may have a Freddie Freeman, they no longer have Chipper Jones or Brian Jordan. To that end, the Mets no longer have Armando Benitez or Mel Rojas. This should (hopefully) be a fun series.
The Mets had every reason to lose this game. Marcus Stroman left the game after four with what was a hamstring injury, which for some reason has been an injury plaguing the Mets a bit of late. This made this a bullpen game for the team in what became an extra inning game.
It was an extra inning game partially because Brad Brach gave up the lead in the sixth. It hurt all the more because the Mets bottom of the lineup delivered that run.
Heading into the fifth, Adam Plutko was rolling having allowed just one hit. Given the lineup, he appeared poised to rip through the fifth carrying the 1-0 lead forward as the Mets were already in their bullpen with Jeurys Familia having pitched the top of the inning.
After getting the first out, Todd Frazier singled. The Mets followed the single with a hit-and-run which Juan Lagares hit to the wall for a double. As surprising as the Lagares double might’ve been, the and Luis Guillorme pinch hit double was all the more so.
— New York Mets (@Mets) August 22, 2019
In actuality, the big hits from Lagares and Guillorme weren’t really surprising. Both have been playing very well over the past month, and we’re even seeing Lagares get back to his Gold Glove form.
Make a nice catch ➡️ get a big hit.
— New York Mets (@Mets) August 22, 2019
As alluded to earlier, Brach gave the lead right back. He’d issue a leadoff walk to Carlos Santana, and then he’d allow a one out triple to Jose Ramirez. The triple ruling was a bit generous as J.D. Davis did misplay it along the wall, and Ramirez just beat the throw to third. While Brach did give up the lead, he did settle down getting the next two outs keeping the game tied.
It stayed tied partially because the Mets blew some chances.
The Mets had two on and one out as Frazier and Lagares found a way to start a rally again. This time, it was Rajai Davis pinch hitting, and he struck out. Amed Rosario failed to deliver as well popping out to end the inning.
As bad as that blown opportunity was, for some Mets fans, it was probably worse for them to see Oliver Perez pitch a scoreless eighth. Even worse that included strike outs of Pete Alonso and Michael Conforto.
Perhaps worse than that was having to use Aaron Altherr as a pinch hitter in the ninth knowing he wasn’t going to deliver a big hit.
After Seth Lugo was Seth Lugo for two innings, it was time for Luis Avilan in the 10th. There were two outs, and Avilan had a 1-2 count to Santana. Three pitches later Santana reached across and hit a change-up for a go-ahead homer.
The Indians went to Brad Hand, who had been shaky of late. He was very shaky tonight.
Rosario began the inning with a double with the Indians catching a break because Rosario did not notice Greg Allen bobbling the ball on the transfer in center. In any event, Rosario would make his way to third when Joe Panik laid down a perfect sac bunt.
The Indians wanted no part of Alonso, so they opted to intentionally walk him to have Conforto hit the left-handed Hand. With the Indians infield halfway, Conforto hit a ball grabbed by Santana.
Instead of going home to try to get Rosario, Santana sought to start the 3-6-1 double play. The problem was Hand didn’t go to first apparently thinking Santana would go home. Instead of what could’ve been a close play at first, it was a tie game.
Wilson Ramos then extended his hitting streak to 15 games with an infield single which rolled feet from home plate. This brought the hot hitting Davis to the plate. He battled back from 0-2 to a full count. Finally, on the eighth pitch, Hand hung a slider over the plate, and Davis delivered his first career game winning hit.
J.D. CALLS GAME! pic.twitter.com/Cictia8VC5
— New York Mets (@Mets) August 22, 2019
As much of a frenzy the crowd was in, the players were in one themselves. Davis Jersey was torn off his back in what seems to be the new walk-off celebration, and in the postgame Davis sounded like he’s been a Mets fan all of his life belting out a loud “Lets Go Mets!”
The Mets should not have won this game at all. This was a game they lose easily a month ago. They’re winning these games now, and they’re six games over .500 for the first time all season.
The Mets went to Kansas City looking to sweep, and they wound up having to settle for less than that. Ultimately, they got the job done even if they did not perform well at all:
1. Alex Gordon may be the only Royals player remaining, but it was still good to see the Mets win a series in Kaufman Stadium, and it felt even better seeing Jeurys Familia get the win in a deciding game.
2. It’s also great to see Michael Conforto homer in a game against the Royals and not watch the Mets not blow the game. Seeing where Conforto hit that homer, we should have called that a Blue Moon Shot.
3. Congratulations to Pete Alonso for breaking Cody Bellinger‘s National League rookie home run record. He now joins Mark McGwire and Aaron Judge as the only rookies to hit 40 homers in a season. This has been a great ride, and he’s now in line to join Darryl Strawberry as the only other Mets position player to win Rookie of the Year.
4. It is criminal that when Alonso broke the record the call was made by Wayne Randazzo on the radio side and Gary Apple on the TV side. The Mets have all-time great broadcasters, and somehow that’s what we were left with for this great moment. Mets needs to do better when there are vacations.
5. There were two different times Alonso looked like he was going to break that record. The first ball was called foul, and to his credit, Alonso shook it off and delivered with a huge go-ahead two RBI single. The next time the ball actually hit the foul line towards the top of the right field wall. Many times we see people struggle or slump as they near a milestone; Alonso powered onward.
6. Jacob deGrom had his 12th start of the season pitching 7.0+ innings allowed two earned or fewer. That mark ties him with Hyun-Jin Ryu for the most in the Majors. This should only highlight how great deGrom has been this year and how deserving he is of another Cy Young.
7. Yes, Ryu is having a great year, but deGrom’s year is arguably better. For starters, deGrom has more innings pitched and strikeouts. Moreover, he has a higher K/9, K%, K-BB%, FIP, xFIP, fWAR, and bWAR while leading in other other categories as well.
8. One of the reasons the Mets took this series was Joe Panik playing great. Since joining the Mets, Panik is hitting .333/.379/.444 with a double, triple, and two RBI with two walks. On a side note, he was the second baseman when the Giants beat the Royals in the 2014 World Series.
10. With the way Panik and Lagares are playing, it appears Todd Frazier is the guy who has to go to the bench. Since the All Star Break, he is hitting .192/.239/.377. If he’s hitting this way, he cannot be in the lineup.
11. Going forward, Frazier has hit .283/.359/.543 off left-handed pitching. To that end, he should work out a de facto platoon with Panik, and given his glove, he should be the third baseman when Marcus Stroman is on the mound. Short of that, he should be a power bat off the bench and late inning defensive replacement.
12. These two were needed all the more with J.D. Davis twice going down with a calf injury in this series. With how hot he’s been hitting, the Mets need his bat in the lineup, and they were without it in a series against the Royals. One side point here, good for Mickey Callaway for being cautious in taking him out rather than leaving him to run 90 feet.
13. Davis coming out of Sunday’s game forced Amed Rosario to play left field. It didn’t take long for the ball to find him, and the played the ball like he’s been out there all year. He also doubled in his only at-bat as an outfielder. Maybe this shouldn’t be a surprise because Rosario has been legitimately great lately.
14. Since the All Star Break, Rosario has hit .368/.403/.544. He’s a 3 DRS at shortstop. When McNeil went down, he took over the leadoff spot, and he’s been hitting .333/.383/.535 in the leadoff spot. He is literally doing all that is being asked of him, and he is emerging as a legitimately great player. This has been a real joy to watch.
15. Rosario having to play left field only highlights the stupidity of the Mets going with Ruben Tejada over Dilson Herrera. What makes the move all the more hilariously stupid was the Mets justification for going with Tejada over Herrera was versatility. Between the two, Herrera is the only one with outfield experience. Since Tejada rejoined the Mets, he is 0-for-8 at the plate with two strikeouts and someone already a -0.3 WAR. Herrera is hitting .294/.368/.706 while playing second base and left field. Again, this decision made zero sense.
16. On the topic of baffling decisions, when Robert Gsellman landed on the Injured List, the Mets called up Walker Lockett over Chris Flexen. Between the two, Flexen has the better stuff, and he has experience pitching out of the bullpen.
17. One area where Callaway was criticized for making a baffling decision was using Edwin Diaz to get out of a bases loaded no out situation. While it was a near disaster with a grand slam overturned on replay, Diaz got out of the inning allowing just two runs. In his next appearance, he pitched a scoreless ninth with two strikeouts. Maybe, just maybe in the long run, this was a great decision by Callaway.
18. Zack Wheeler‘s start against the Royals was disappointing. That’s two straight disappointing five inning starts from him. This time, it was probably more bad luck than anything. However, this is his first real postseason race, so it will be interesting to see how he handles things in his next start.
19. The Mets would have been better off with a sweep, but they still won the series. They’re also just two games back of the second Wild Card. Overall, when looking at this stretch of six games, many are discounting just how hot and grueling that stretch of road games are in Atlanta and Kansas City along with their losing one of their hottest hitters.
20. Good for the White Sox for having Bill Walton and Michael Schur do color commentary with Steve Stone out. As noted on Saturday, that is what the Mets should have been doing by using the multitude of great local broadcasters and fans in Gary Cohen’s and Howie Rose’s absence. On a final note there, John Sadak did a great job on the radio. Here’s hoping there’s a spot for him in 2020.
Depending on how you look at things, the Mets either showed they can play with the Braves, or they showed they are not in the same class as the Braves or the best teams in baseball leaving the postseason hopes all the more futile. Really, this was a wild three game series with a lot happening:
1. The one injury the Mets could ill-afford to handle was Jeff McNeil. His versatility is arguably more important than his bat. In any event, his absence really exposes not the Mets lineup but really their depth.
2. As we saw with the Mets yesterday, they can compete without McNeil. For that to happen, Pete Alonso needs to be the first half Alonso, and Amed Rosario needs to continue his breakout. The Mets need higher levels of production from Michael Conforto, and ultimately, they need Juan Lagares and Joe Panik to be everyday players.
3. It has been a pure joy to see Lagares become good again both in the field and at the plate. Of note, Lagares has had as many hits in this series as he’s had in his previous 15 games combined. If Lagares plays like this, he’s an everyday player especially with that glove in center.
4. With respect to second, Panik has to play everyday because Ruben Tejada isn’t good. In one game, he showed why he hasn’t been in the majors in two years, and he looked skittish with his back turned on double plays. You can point to his Triple-A stats, but that ball is all the more juiced than the Major League ball is.
5. Since the Mets opted to go with Tejada, Dilson Herrera has responded by going 3-for-6 with three runs, two homers, five RBI, and two walks in the past two games. He is red hot with a seven game hitting streak. While you may want to say the juiced ball theory applies to him as well (it does), his production was near this level last season. Tejada’s wasn’t.
6. It should be noted the Mets are carrying an extra pitcher with Drew Gagnon, who was beyond terrible last night, and really that spot in the bullpen has been terrible all year no matter who has filled the role. Given how the Mets need some power off the bench, and Herrera presents another player who could play outfield, there is no reason why he spends another day in Syracuse.
7. While Gagnon was terrible out of the bullpen, the rest of the bullpen has stepped up. Brad Brach looks as rejuvenated as Jeurys Familia does as late. Along with Justin Wilson, this gives the Mets three battle tested relievers who are pitching very well right now in front of Seth Lugo. That’s suddenly a good bullpen.
8. Lugo blew it on Wednedsay. We can try to say he didn’t have time to warm up (he did), or say it was another problem (not really), but he just wasn’t good. Fortunately for the Mets, he’s going to rebound from this and continue to be great.
9. Mickey Callaway was right in lifting Lugo for Steven Matz. There were many factors at play with that decision, and he ultimately went with the team’s best available pitcher in a high leverage spot. When he doesn’t have it, the Mets aren’t going to win those one run games.
10. On Matz, he was brilliant, and he has been much improved in the second half. In his six second half starts, he is 2-1 with a 3.06 ERA and a 1.047 WHIP. If you’re getting that from your fifth spot in the rotation, you can beat the good and the bad teams.
11. Don’t make too much about Marcus Stroman‘s “struggles” since joining the Mets. He is adapting to a new team and a new pitching philosophy. The main takeaway from him is he has given the Mets a chance to win in his first three starts. This is probably the floor for his performance, and we should see him take off soon.
12. With Zack Wheeler, it was one poor start. Just one. Don’t overreact and just look forward to his next start against the Royals. On that front, it is interesting he is finally getting that chance to pitch against the Royals after he was supposed to be one of the team’s best starters in 2015 and his almost being traded away for Carlos Gomez that year.
13. The Mets really needed that game from Pete Alonso. He’s been struggling in the second half, and with McNeil down, they really need him to get back to being the All-Star level player. His five hit game was a reminder of just how good he can be. His tying Cody Bellinger‘s National League home run record with more than a month remaining in the season is a reminder as to just how good he has been.
14. Alonso and Rosario each having a five hit game in the same game was not only the first time it happened in team history, but it is a reason to get excited for the rest of the 2019 season and each of the ensuing years.
15. Yet again, we need to point out Rosario has figured things out, and he is now one of the best players on the team and emerging as one of the best shortstops in baseball. Since July 1, he is hitting .364/.399/.536, and in the second half he is a 3 DRS. Don’t be surprised, be ready.
16. Mets should have won this series, but they just couldn’t get that one big hit in either of the first two games. The main culprit was Conforto, but Wilson Ramos was also really bad. It should also be noted in Wednesday’s debacle, almost everyone was bad with the exception of Rosario, J.D. Davis, Luis Guillorme, Panik, and the pitchers not named Lugo.
17. Glass half full is the Mets showed they can play with the Braves. Glass half empty is the Mets chances of winning the division went from realistic to near pipe dream.
18. Starting this pivotal stretch of games 3-3 and being two out of the Wild Card is not a bad start. The Mets now have to make real headway in Kansas City before taking care of business at Citi Field. If they do that, we will have real season to be excited for the meaningful games in September.
19. Congratulations are in order to Howie Rose for being inducted into the New York State Baseball Hall of Fame. This is an honor long overdue, and it should hopefully serve as a precursor to both he and Gary Cohen being inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.
20. Gary Cohen and Howie Rose are no longer allowed to take time off at the same time. Gary Apple is terrible. He should never be allowed to do play-by-play again. Given his smug attitude, I wouldn’t care if he was gone from SNY all together.