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.
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.
The New York Mets were reeling, and honestly, they were on the verge of not just falling out of the race, but completely falling apart. They turned desperate activating Javier Báez without so much as a rehab stint.
This was actually the perfect time for a Marcus Stroman start.
In his career, Stroman was established himself as a big game pitcher. We saw it as he rushed back from an ACL injury to help the Toronto Blue Jays in the postseason. He was the World Baseball Classic MVP. We now have his Mets performance to add to the list.
Entering his start yesterday, Stroman had a 3.07 ERA in the second half. That’s nearly a run and a half lower than the Mets team ERA in the second half. Of course, that team ERA is lower partially due to Stroman.
He took the mound against the Los Angeles Dodgers with the Mets a season worst three games under .500 and 7.0 games back in the division.
Báez proved to be a spark plug to the offense with an RBI double in the first. It actually led to three first inning runs and an offensive explosion of seven . . . SEVEN! . . . runs.
However, before it got to seven, it was 3-0, and it was up to Stroman to ensure the win. After that top of the first, he did what great pitchers do. He shut down the side, and he did it in order.
In fact, Stroman wouldn’t allow a hit until the third. That was a single by the opposing pitcher David Price. A position player wouldn’t get a hit until the fourth. The reason was Stroman was filthy.
Marcus Stroman, Sick 88mph Split Change. 🥴 pic.twitter.com/AEOWoEoDu3
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) August 22, 2021
He would get into trouble in the fourth, and it was partially because J.D. Davis couldn’t make a play a third baseman needs to make. The bases would be loaded, and Cody Bellinger hit a two RBI single pulling the Dodgers within 3-2.
That’s as close as the Dodgers would get. Patrick Mazeika came up big throwing out Bellinger trying to steal second for the third out of the inning.
Speaking of Mazeika, this was the second straight start he worked with Stroman, and they look like they’ve been working together for years. It’s something Stroman spoke about and for the second straight start, he gave credit to his catcher.
.@STR0 shouts out Patrick Mazeika for adapting to his pitching style so quickly:
"The camaraderie and the relationship is usually developed over time, so for him to just come in and pick up and be great, that just says a lot to his character and his commitment to his work." pic.twitter.com/o4Hc8JMIqy
— SNY (@SNYtv) August 23, 2021
The Dodgers wouldn’t get another hit off Stroman, and they wouldn’t score another run in the game. Stroman’s final line was 6.0 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 6 K.
This isn’t just the line of a pitcher who wants to push his way into the Cy Young discussion, or one who has free agency pending. No, this is the line of a pitcher who wants to will his team into the postseason.
What was a tight game became a blowout. Again, it was Báez igniting things with a double. That seventh inning double didn’t just spark two runs, it was also the smoothest slide you’ll ever see. It was in front of Trea Turner to boot.
In the end, it wasn’t just a 7-2 win, it was a desperately needed win. Mostly, it was a big time pitching performance against a loaded lineup at a time the Mets needed one.
There were many players who stepped up on the day, but in the end, Stroman loomed largest. This is what he does, and it’s what he may well continue to do as he looks to push the Mets into the postseason.
After being swept by the Los Angeles Dodgers, the New York Mets were perilously close to being swept by the San Francisco Giants. With all that was happening, you almost expected it.
After all, even by Mets standards, things were completely haywire. It started with Steve Cohen’s tweet calling out the offense.
There was also Tim Healey of Newsday sending a bizarre tweet including the amount of times Marcus Stroman re-tweeted his highlights amongst his game stats. Then, there was Stroman re-tweeting tweets promoting violence against Healey and calling Cohen a clown.
James McCann was still dealing with back spasms, and the Mets still weren’t aware of whether he’d need to be put on the IL. This necessitated Chance Sisco getting emergency called up and Patrick Mazeika doing the dreaded starting a day game after a night game.
Then, well, there was a game where a lot happened. Again, that’s a lot by Mets standards.
Tylor Megill was terrific allowing just one run over six innings. Of course, he’d leave on the losing side because the Mets offense has been terrible. That’s even with Giants starter Anthony DeSclafani leaving the game in the second with an injury.
Over the first eight innings, the Mets only had just three hits. When they did get a base runner, well, they didn’t knock them in, and even better, Jonathan Villar got picked off again. Even for Villar, this was horrendous.
Got hiiiiim pic.twitter.com/nICC2uW7MP
— SFGiants (@SFGiants) August 18, 2021
That seemed to give the Mets life as Michael Conforto followed with a single sending Alonso to third. He’d then score on a sacrifice fly to tie the game. He’d then leave the game as a result of the HBP.
Edwin Diaz mowed down the Giants on six pitches sending it to extras. In the tenth where the Mets inability to score runs went to comical levels.
Villar was the ghost runner, and for some reason, Luis Rojas wanted Mazeika to bunt him to third. Naturally, Mazeika had a poor bunt, and Villar was out by a wide margin.
Diaz again came up big. While he would plunk Austin Slater with one out, he dominated the other Giants hitters sending it to the 11th.
In the 11th, Conforto came up big with a one out RBI double giving the Mets the lead. To no one’s surprise, he’d be stranded there. That hurt as Jeurys Familia allowed a single to the first batter he faced tying the game at 2-2.
— New York Mets (@Mets) August 18, 2021
In the 12th, the Mets offense finally woke up and put the game away. Mazeika hit a one out single, and then Kevin Pillar hit a three run homer giving the Mets the lead.
— New York Mets (@Mets) August 18, 2021
That 5-2 lead grew to 6-2 with McNeil and Sisco hitting a pair of two out doubles. With Diaz and Familia done, the Mets turned to Jake Reed to close out the game.
Once again, Reed was very impressive. He retired the Giants in order. While it wasn’t a save with the Mets having a four run lead, it was every bit of a save considering the Mets struggles and needs to win this game.
In many ways, the Mets had to have this one. It got them back to .500, and it has them past a brutal losing streak. It also has them feeling better heading into a four game set at the Dodgers.
Time will tell whether then can turn their season around and get back in the race. If so, this was a huge next step.
This was a big game, and Marcus Stroman reminded us all he’s a big game pitcher. He went out there and did all he could do to will the New York Mets to a win, but they couldn’t follow.
Stroman went a season high 114 pitches and seven innings. He struck out nine. He had a hit. He was great in the field.
"Don't do that against Stroman. He's just too good." pic.twitter.com/amx7T2DrKv
— SNY (@SNYtv) August 18, 2021
Unfortunately, he made just two mistakes. The first was hit for a two run homer by Tommy La Stella in the first. In the seventh, when Stroman was somewhat surprisingly back out there, Evan Longoria hit a solo homer.
That’s how the Giants built a 3-0 lead. The other reasons for the lead was the Mets did nothing against Logan Webb. Some of it was how good Webb was. Some of it was the Mets shooting themselves in the foot.
Since Conforto didn’t look to advance when Longoria made the play, he didn’t score on the error. Then, no one scored when Jeff McNeil hit into an inning ending double play.
In the fifth, a Mets two out rally ended when Brandon Nimmo hit a hard liner right at La Stella.
The Mets are on the board!
Pete makes it a one-run game 👀 🐻❄️ pic.twitter.com/XRidFbGxtB
— SNY (@SNYtv) August 18, 2021
After Aaron Loup pitched a scoreless inning, the Mets had their chance in the ninth. In that inning, we’d see what separates these two teams.
McNeil led off with an opposite field single. It got past the center fielder, but it was backed up by Lamonte Wade Jr. As a result, McNeil stayed at first.
McNeil moved to second but would not score. The game down to Kevin Pillar. In a very poor at-bat, he’d strike out looking to end the game.
The loss put the Mets deeper into third place and finally put them under .500. It doesn’t matter who is stepping up because as a team the Mets just don’t have it.
While he may not normally be recognized as such, Brandon Nimmo is the best hitter on the New York Mets. The Washington Nationals got a first-hand glimpse of that in the first end of the doubleheader.
Nationals starter Sean Nolin allowed a leadoff single to Jonathan Villar in the second. He was close to getting out of it until Marcus Stroman had a bunt base hit. Yes, this is the same Stroman the Mets once refused to let swing the bat with the bases loaded.
— New York Mets (@Mets) August 12, 2021
That brought Nimmo to the plate, and he gave the Mets an early 3-0 lead:
— New York Mets (@Mets) August 12, 2021
This marked the first time the Mets scored first in a game since August 4. It would set them on the path to win consecutive games for the first time July 21-23.
Nido singled after Conforto and stole a base. That meant Nido had a stolen base and caught stealing. Nimmo would drive home Conforto increasing the Mets lead to 4-0.
In that inning, Pete Alonso would get hit by a pitch by Nationals reliever Andres Machado. Machado clearly wasn’t trying to hit Alonso, but Alonso was jawing. Both sides would, but eventually, cooler heads prevailed.
The Mets would load the bases in that inning with one out, but they wouldn’t increase the lead. Machado settles down after the hullabaloo getting two strikeouts including J.D. Davis.
It’s difficult to say Nimmo was the Mets entire offense on a day where the Mets had 12 hits over seven innings. That said, Nimmo was the only Mets player who drove in any runs.
These four runs were more than enough for Stroman. For the first five innings, Stroman was locked in limiting the Nationals to one hit and one walk. As alluded to earlier, Nido eliminated one of those base runners with a caught stealing.
There was some concern Stroman wouldn’t get to that point. He labored in the fourth. As he admitted later in the postgame, he needed to do a better job hydrating. With the extreme heat today, that was important.
The Nationals finally got to Stroman in the sixth. It started with Stroman losing Riley Adams after being ahead in the count 1-2. It certainly didn’t help Stroman the umpire missed strike three and called it a ball.
With the lefties due up for the Nationals, Luis Rojas turned to Aaron Loup. Loup was phenomenal again. While he did lose and walk Juan Soto, he rebounded to get Josh Bell to hit into the inning ending double play.
Edwin Diaz came on in the ninth and would record his 25th save of the season. With that, the Mets put themselves a half game out of first, the ability to tie atop the division with a win in the second game of the doubleheader, and their first sweep since they took two from the San Diego Padres in June.
Game Notes: This is the first time a Mets starter won a game since Tylor Megill on July 23. The four RBI tied a career high for Nimmo.
The Philadelphia Phillies went after it at the trade deadline while the New York Mets didn’t. Tonight, Kyle Gibson got the win, and Ian Kennedy earned the save, two players the Phillies obtained at the deadline, as the Phillies took over first place from the Mets.
Again, we saw the Mets load the bases with no outs and fail to score. Its depressing to think that’s now become the expectation. It certainly didn’t help matters Marcus Stroman was told not to swing when he recorded the first out.
Speaking of Stroman, he pitched well, and he really gave the Mets a chance to win. Unfortunately for him, he made just two mistakes, and they came back to haunt him.
The end result was a Miller triple. Later in the inning, Gibson, who was actually allowed to hit, drove an RBI single through that drawn-in Mets infield increasing the Phillies lead to 2-1.
Diaz didn’t. Yes, we know the defense he doesn’t pitch well in non-save chances, but this was a huge spot. Jean Segura hit a hot shot, which ate up Jonathan Villar. It was a tough play ruled a single, but a better third baseman (an area of need the Mets didn’t address) makes the play. Bryce Harper followed with a two run homer giving the Phillies a 4-1 lead.
Villar led off the ninth with a homer off Kennedy making it 4-2. The Mets got nothing going after that, and as a result, lost by that score.
It should infuriate every Mets fan the difference in this game was allowing the pitcher to swing. Stroman isn’t incapable with the bat, and he has speed, but he was told not to swing to avoid a double play. As an aside, a double play probably scores a run which is something the Mets can’t do.
Frankly put, when you’re not trying to win games, you don’t deserve to win them. That goes for not letting Stroman swing and how the Mets approached the trade deadline. Whatever the case, they’re now in second place as a result.
As the New York Mets stared down the trade deadline, they needed to address their pitching, and they needed to get a third baseman. Instead of doing that, they instead opted to trade for Javier Baez.
For Baez, the Mets parted with Pete Crow-Armstrong, and the Chicago Cubs threw in Trevor Williams. Considering Baez was going to receive a qualifying offer, the deal was more than fair. In fact, you could argue the Mets got the better end of the deal.
However, while the Mets won the trade, you do have to wonder just how much better Baez makes them. It’s debatable.
For now, Baez stands as a replacement for the injured Francisco Lindor. Baez is not on Lindor’s level defensively, and he has really struggled this year.
So far, Baez has a career worst -1 OAA. DRS tells a different story with a 4 DRS. That’s the second best mark of his career in a full 162 game season. That’s not the defensive wizard he’s purported to be, and it’s probably not a significant upgrade than what Luis Guillorme could provide.
Offensively, Baez is at a 105 wRC+. If he stays at or near this level, that’ll be just the third time over his eight year career he is at least a league average hitter.
The problem with Baez is he’s got a poor mix of not taking walks and swinging and nodding frequently. In fact, he leads the league in strikeouts. Overall, his 36.3 K% is borderline unplayable.
Keep in mind, Baez only exacerbates Mets offensive issues. They’re in the bottom half of the NL in strikeout and walk rates. Baez will serve as a hindrance to both. If anything, Baez moves the Mets further towards an all or nothing offense.
All that said, Baez does make the Mets better. If nothing else, he eventually moves Jeff McNeil to third and J.D. Davis to the bench. That helps the pitching significantly, especially starters like Marcus Stroman and Taijuan Walker.
There’s also his friendship with Lindor and experience playing for Puerto Rico in the World Baseball Classic. With that, he has a familiarity with Edwin Diaz. Diaz has missed Lindor, and it’s shown. Hopefully, Baez can temporarily fill that void.
Baez also has championship pedigree being a part of the 2016 Chicago Cubs. In his career, he’s had some big series including his being the 2016 NLCS MVP.
On that note, Baez does create a more defined path towards winning the World Series. This is going to have to be a team which wins with its pitching and defense. They have enough offense to get it done.
All told, Baez is an improvement. The problem is he may not be sufficient. He hurts the offense, and he’s no longer the defensive genius we thought him to be.
Now, as evidenced by his 2.8 WAR, he’s a good player. In fact, that mark puts him as the Mets top position player. So yes, the Mets are better. However, it’s really debatable if they’re significantly better or really improved their chances to hold onto the division or win the World Series.
When making decisions at the trade deadline, it is not just about where your team is in the standings. It is also about where you are at as an organization. Right now, the Mets are 4.0 games up on the Atlanta Braves and Philadelphia Phillies, two teams who are under .500. As for the organization, well, they are in a much more tenuous spot.
After this season, Michael Conforto, Jeurys Familia, Rich Hill, Aaron Loup, Marcus Stroman, Noah Syndergaard, and Jonathan Villar will be free agents. After the following season, Edwin Diaz, Seth Lugo, Trevor May, Brandon Nimmo, and Kevin Pillar will be free agents. Jacob deGrom can also opt out of his contract, and Taijuan Walker can decline his player option.
Focusing more narrowly, after two years, the Mets could lose 2/3 of their outfield and 4/5 of their starting rotation. They can also lose four key set-up men as well as their closer. Put another way, this team is on the precipice of losing very important pieces of a team which is going to take it to the postseason this year.
Now, this is certainly a much different proposition with Steve Cohen at the helm than it was with the Wilpons. There is an implicit trust Cohen will continue trying to win. However, as we know, you’re not always successful identifying who to keep and who to let go as well as who the right replacements are.
When we look back to the early 90s, the Mets were coming off their best stretch in Mets history. They made the right decision letting Gary Carter and Keith Hernandez go. However, they made some bad calls like thinking Vince Coleman could replace Darryl Strawberry. They over relied on their belief Kevin Elster, Dave Magadan, and Gregg Jefferies could be first division starters. Of course, there was also the Worst Team Money Could Buy.
All told, when the Mets switched from build around a core to replacing and altering the core, things fell apart. We can look at other points in Mets history when that happened. It happened again when the Mets passed on Alex Rodriguez as part of a calamitous offseason after the 2000 pennant. The 2009 Mets made the mistake of keeping Oliver Perez. The 2017 Mets got their money tied up in Neil Walker, and they saw Robert Gsellman and Lugo couldn’t hang as starters for a full season.
In some ways, that leads us to now. The Mets have extremely important decisions to make on who stays and who goes. They need to see who the correct replacements are. From what we’ve see from this front office, we should have faith they are up to the task. That said, we all had very well placed faith in Frank Cashen, and he blew it up.
Seeing where the Mets are, the best decision they can make right now is to absolutely go for it. Yes, that may very well require overpaying for players and rentals. Back in 2015, that didn’t make much sense. It was year one of contending for a young core who was cost controlled. Their decisions, including letting Daniel Murphy walk, turned it into a two year window. That window slammed shut without a World Series.
Right now, the Mets window is definitely open, but it’s being propped open. Without the right options, this window can slam shut after this year. It may well be that after the 2022 season. The Mets definitely need to keep this possibility in mind as they look to add at the trade deadline.
Players like Kris Bryant and Trevor Story dramatically changes the fortunes of this team. The same can be said for a player like Jose Ramirez. It may hurt to overpay for Max Scherzer or another top of the line starter, but imagine a two headed monster of deGrom and Scherzer (and having deGrom insurance) as the Mets look to win a World Series.
Ultimately, the Mets are going to see radical changes to this roster over the next few years. They’re in first place now with a team capable of winning a World Series. They need to make sure they do everything they need to do to get that World Series, or they may be ruing the missed chance for a team in transition over the next few years.
For reasons which defy logic, the New York Mets offense just stops scoring runs all together. That was exactly the case today.
In the first game, the Atlanta Braves scored a run in the second and third off Marcus Stroman. That gave them a 2-0 lead.
Unfortunately, the Mets offense just shot themselves in the foot. In the third, Stroman got it started with a bunt single, and there were two on with one out. Peter Alonso and Michael Conforto struck out to end the inning.
Alonso failed to come through again in the fifth. With two on and one out, he hit a ball down the line which Austin Riley made a 5-5-3 inning ending double play.
The worst one of them all was in the bottom of the seventh. After Tomas Nido singled with one out, James McCann pinch hit for Luis Guillorme (who has been clutch all year) and hit into the game ending double play.
The Mets really wanted that one because not only did Stroman pitch well, but the Mets were also bullpenning the second game of the doubleheader.
Alonso lost a Riley pop up in the lights. Then Dansby Swanson hit what should’ve been a double play, but J.D. Davis couldn’t catch the ball on the dive for a ball literally any other third baseman easily fields for an around the horn double play.
Familia rebounded to strike out the next three batters to end the inning. Anthony Banda followed with two scoreless innings. Of course, while this was happening, the Mets offense wasn’t delivering.
In the first, Davis grounded out with RISP. In the fourth, Jonathan Villar struck out swinging, and McCann followed with an inning ending double play.
— New York Mets (@Mets) July 27, 2021
Speaking of Freeman, earlier in the game, he had some fun with Nimmo after Nimmo drew a walk:
Freddie Freeman looks up to the sky with Brandon Nimmo 🤣 pic.twitter.com/7S2zMvrXTv
— SNY (@SNYtv) July 27, 2021
After Freeman long flyout, Riley hit into an inning ending double play. That set it up for Edwin Diaz, who struck out the side for his 22nd save of the season.
The Mets avoided near disaster in this game in advance of a potential bullpen game tomorrow. Things could’ve gotten ugly quick for a team who scored once in 14 innings. Instead, they got the split, and they fend off the Braves for at least one day.
Game Notes; The Mets have not been swept in a doubleheader this season.