Mark Canha

Mets Admit Offseason Mistakes

When you think of the New York Mets offseason, you think Max Scherzer. How can anyone blame you. After all, he’s a future Hall of Famer, and he’s still pitching like he’s in his prime.

The other big move was Starling Marte. He’s possibly been even better than expected. He’s an All-Star and may find himself getting down ballot MVP votes.

These are two great moves which have helped the Mets be in first place. They’re phenomenal moves having the exact impact you’d hope. There were other decisions which have fallen short.

First and foremost is the DH disaster.

The Mets decision to go with Robinson Canó at the start was a mistake. Just ask the San Diego Padres and Atlanta Braves.

Stubbornly trying Canó shelved J.D Davis and Dominic Smith, neither on whom got going on the season. Davis flopped in his extended chance and was shipped out to replace him. Smith never got his shot, and now he’s injured.

This failed triumvirate has been replaced by Daniel Vogelbach and Darin Ruf. Vogelbach has been great so far with Ruf not yet getting a plate appearance as his platoon partner.

While they’re useless against same side pitching, they’re absolutely lethal against opposite side pitching. That makes this platoon nearly unstoppable, and it seems platoon is the name of the game with the Mets.

One platoon move they made without a trade is at third base. That was forced by Eduardo Escobar’s play. After a strong first month, he’s stopped hitting right-handed pitching, and he has a -4 OAA at third.

There were indications signing him to play out of position was a bad idea, but the Mets proceeded anyway. To a certain extent, they’ve been bailed out by Luis Guillorme (and the organization finally being willing to give him a shot to play everyday).

What’s a surprise is the Mets thought they needed a platoon partner for Mark Canha. By all accounts, Canha was having a good season, and the Mets were finding a way to get the best of him.

Canha has a 121 wRC+ and a -1 OAA. The defense isn’t great, but it’s playable.

That said, we did see continued signs of regression. Canha hit but with no power. He got on base but with a reduced walk rate and high .321 BABIP (.290 career).

That was with Travis Jankowski as his caddy. Jankowski was the late inning replacement in the field and on the base paths. The issue was Jankowski got hurt and then stopped hitting.

Rather than be victims to regression, the Mets were proactive acquiring Tyler Naquin. In a sense it was necessary with the Canha risk, but in another, it was odd considering Canha has always hit right-handed pitching better than left-handed pitching.

For that matter, he’s a better hitter overall than Naquin regardless of the split. However, Naquin has power, and Canha doesn’t. Looking at all the moves, this is an area the Mets specifically targeted.

The offseason approach was players who put the ball in play. That worked over the first two months of the season as the Mets had the best offense in baseball.

However, as the Mets hitting with runners on regressed to the mean, so did the offense. Over the past two months, this was an average to below average offense.

The Mets pitching, more specifically the starting pitching is too special to waste. Rather than wait for players to start hitting while hoping others didn’t stop, the Mets made a course correction.

Rather than be stubborn, the Mets acknowledged the limitations of their offseason plan. They made the necessary pivot. The end result is a far more dangerous team.

Whether this results in a World Series remains to be seen. What we can see is the Mets better positioned themselves to win because they acknowledged what wasn’t working and worked to fix it.

Tyler Naquin Bizarre Move For Mets

The New York Mets struck a deal to acquire OF Tyler Naquin and LHP Phillip Diehl from the Cinnanati Reds for prospects RHP Jose Acuña and center field prospect Hector Rodríguez. From a Mets perspective, the move really didn’t make any sense for the team.

Let’s get the easy one out of the way. Diehl has not been all the good in his career, and that may be kind. His strikeout rates from the minors has not translated to the majors, but his control issues have. If this is the Mets answer for left-handed reliever, the Mets have completely failed on that front. Chances are, he goes to the minors and stays there.

As for Naquin, over his career, he is a good bat against right-handed pitching, and he has real speed on the basepaths. This season he has a 117 wRC+ against right-handed pitching, and for his career, he has a 111. Between him and the Daniel Vogelbach acquisition, you see the Mets are attempting to address the team’s offense against right-handed pitching.

On that front, while the Mets have one of the best offenses on the season with a 112 wRC+ against right-handed pitching, they have only had a 101 wRC+ since June 1. Another note here is the Mets only have 67 homers belying a real power outage in the lineup. On that front, you understand Naquin who has a .472 SLG this season against right-handed pitching.

However, is has to be noted here Mark Canha has actually been a better hitter against right-handed pitching. This season, Canha has a 138 wRC+ against right-handed pitching, and he has a 122 for his career. While he has zero power left, sitting him to play Naquin doesn’t make all the much sense. That goes double when you consider Naquin is a very poor outfielder.

While Naquin is fast, he has always been bad in the outfield. This year, he has a -1 OAA, and for his career he has a -25 OAA in the outfield. This is not a late inning replacement by any means.

Yes, he does hit better than Travis Jankowski, but in terms of roster construction, Jankowski offered more to this team. While Naquin has a 28.0 ft/sec sprint speed, Jankowski has a 29.0 ft/sec sprint speed. Whereas Naquin has historically been a very poor base stealer, Jankowski has been a very good one.

Another factor here is Buck Showalter has liked lifting Canha for Jankowski for late inning defense or to pinch run. In his career, Jankowski has been a very good fielder capable of playing all three defensive positions. As noted, Naquin is a horrible fielder and should actually be lifted late in games.

Seeing all of this, you have to question what is the end game here? Did the Mets look at Canha and not trust he can keep up his offensive production? You can understand that because his hard hit rates are very low, and that .317 BABIP is due for a course correction. If that is the case, Canha didn’t last a year before the Mets admitted they needed to upgrade over him making his signing a mistake (even if he has a half season worth of good production).

If it was to have Naquin sit on the bench, well, he’s been an awful pinch hitter in his career. In his 65 attempts, he is hitting just .196/.292/.286.

Again, it’s just a bizarre move. Either, you want him to take over for Canha, who is hitting better against right-handed pitching, or you want him to be a reserve where he is a poor pinch hitter, doesn’t steal bases, and plays bad defense.

Given all that, it would seem a mistake to give up Acuña and Rodríguez. These are two very promising prospects who were already considered top 30 prospects in this system. That’s a high cost to pay for an outfielder who does not really have a role on this team.

Hopefully, the Mets are not done, and there are still moves to be made where eventually this move will make sense. It’s doubtful, but the Mets do have five days to make good on this. If they don’t, they got rid of two promising and rising prospects to not really improve the team.

Vogelbach Trade Hurt Mets For Now

With the New York Mets current DH situation, you can understand pursuing Daniel Vogelbach. He annihilates right-handed pitching and adds a power threat behind Pete Alonso.

That said, the Mets made the move without ever optimizing their lineup. As pointed out here, the Mets never fully tried Luis Guillorme at second, Jeff McNeil in left, and Mark Canha at DH.

With respect to that, here are the respective wRC+ this season for the players at issue:

* Canha 123 wRC*

* Guillorme 119 wRC+

* Vogelbach 118 wRC+

Vogelbach is the worst hitter of that group. Of course, it’s more about Vogelbach against right-handed pitching. With respect to that, he is better.

However, not so much, you ravage your bullpen. Vogelbach does have a 149 wRC+ against right-handed pitching, but both Canha and Guillorme are at a 136.

Again, they’re better against right-handed pitching, but they were already good against right-handed pitching, at least with an optimized lineup. Also, their bullpen is worse.

We saw it in the Mets 4-1 loss to the San Diego Padres. Max Scherzer left with the Mets down 2-0 after six. Joely Rodriguez was wholly ineffective allowing two runs before needing to be bailed out by Seth Lugo.

It was a perfect illustration as to why the Mets couldn’t just frivolously part with Colin Holderman. As noted above, with the offensive production so close, it was frivolous because it further weakened a weakness.

On the season, Holderman was 4-0 with a 2.04 ERA, 1.019 WHIP, 3.6 BB/9, and a 9.2 K/9. Seeing those numbers and his pure stuff, you understand why the Pirates wanted him.

However, it’s why the Mets couldn’t afford to part with him, at least not now. Right now, there is no bridge to Edwin Diaz. Holderman was emerging to be part of that bridge, but now, he’s gone.

Sure, Billy Eppler said there’s plenty available on the relief market. However, you have to be able to get them. Moreover, you now need another arm to replace Holderman.

The Mets did this to incrementally improve their offense against right-handed pitching while ignoring the very real problems against left-handed pitching. Their bullpen is overall worse.

So yes, Vogelbach serves a need and is a slight improvement. However, the team is on more uneasy footing because it cannot handle the innings leading up to Diaz.

In the end, you can argue this trade actually hurt the Mets chances. That makes the next 10 days vital to the Mets chances to win the division and World Series.

Michael Conforto Returning To Mets Helps Everyone

The 2022 MLB Draft has passed, and any hopes the New York Mets had for free agent compensation for Michael Conforto has passed. With that in mind, the team might as well just sign him and bring him home.

Starting with the obvious, the Mets DH situation is a disaster. The collective 80 wRC+ is the worst in the National League and is in desperate need of an upgrade.

Yes, we know Conforto cannot play right now. He is still rehabbing an offseason shoulder injury, which may cost him the season. However, as his agent Scott Boras has intimated, it’s possible Conforto could be ready to DH this year.

Certainly, Conforto is going to want to try to play this year. After all, he’s not getting paid. Also, without him being seen, his market value continues to dive.

For him, a Mets reunion may be in his best interests. He’s performed in New York and wanted to stay in New York. This could be his best spot to rebuild value.

As an aside, he did want to stay. Rejecting a lowball extension and turning down the qualifying offer doesn’t mean he wanted to leave. Rather, it means the Mets were not all that serious about keeping him.

The upside with signing him now is the Mets can spread his salary across two seasons for luxury tax threshold purposes. Boras can boast about getting the $20 million (or whatever the cost would be) while giving Conforto an opportunity to re-establish value.

For the Mets, they know how good Conforto is. After all, this is a player with a 124 wRC+ and 9 OAA with the team. He’s one of the Mets best homegrown players.

Seriously, much of the narrative against him is wrong. Streaky? Well, everyone is. Case-in-point, has everyone gotten bent out of shape with Pete Alonso hitting .203/.253/.348 this month? Of course not, even though he does this multiple times a year . . . as does everyone.

He can’t hit left-handed pitching? Well, explain how he has a 105 wRC+ against them since 2019.

Conforto is a very good player, and he’s a leader. Moreover, he’s an insurance policy.

Brandon Nimmo can leave via free agency. It would help to have a cheaper replacement just in case. Moreover, it wouldn’t hurt fostering a good relationship with Scott Boras and bringing Nimmo’s friend back.

We’ve also seen Mark Canha continue to regress. Yes, the Mets have gotten a productive season out of him, but his hard hit rates, speed, and defense continue to decline. The Mets and Canha may not be so lucky next year.

Ultimately, it’s an arrangement which helps both sides. Conforto can get paid to rehab and reestablish value in a place he liked playing. For the Mets, they could get an extra hitter this year while protecting against regression and losing players to free agency.

All told, it’s time the Mets bring Conforto back.

Mets Should DH Mark Canha

With the New York Mets potentially pursuing Juan Soto, the question becomes what the team does with their outfield alignment. Despite Soto being a poor outfielder, the Mets really aren’t going to get the 23 year old superstar to put him at DH.

If Soto was moved to left, where he belongs, this would force Mark Canha to DH. Really, when you look at it, the Mets should probably move Canha to DH as soon as the second half starts.

The predicate for such a decision is the Mets current options at DH have been a complete failure. J.D. Davis is a strikeout and ground ball machine. Dominic Smith has already been demoted once and is easily having the worst season of his career. Neither belong in the everyday lineup right now.

On that front, Luis Guillorme does belong in the everyday lineup. You can argue it’s for his defense alone, but he’s also been hitting this season. Of course, it’s hard to play him everyday.

Remember, Jeff McNeil was an All-Star second baseman. His defense has been good too with a 0 OAA. It’s not Guillorme good (2 OAA), but with his bat, you can more than justify playing him there.

That said, McNeil is versatile. In addition to being a good second baseman, he is a good left fielder (1 OAA). Actually, he is better in left than second.

On that front, Canha has not been good in left. In fact, he has a 0 OAA. Yes, it’s the same as McNeil at second, but across Major League Baseball, McNeil’s zero ranks higher than Canha’s.

At least from a defensive standpoint, it makes sense to put McNeil in left with Guillorme at second. The move makes further sense with McNeil battling a hamstring issue.

So, it makes sense defensively, and it makes sense offensively.

Guillorme (119 wRC+) has hit much better than Davis or Smith. However. However, he hasn’t hit better than Canha (124). The good news is this never needs to be an either/or calculation. It’s a both/and.

Defensively, Guillorme at second, McNeil in left, and Canha at DH. As it so happens, all three of these bats in the everyday lineup with Davis and Smith sitting is also the optimal batting order.

To a certain extent, this is and should be obvious. However, the Mets have not operated this way. Rather, they’ve flipped a coin and picked one of Davis or Smith to diminishing returns.

It’s one thing if the Mets were still invested in Davis or Smith, but they’re not. They’ve gone out of their way to say they’re upgrading the DH position to replace them.

The thing is the Mets may not actually need a DH. In the end, what they may need is to just optimize their lineup with the players already on the roster.

Let Dominic Smith DH

You can argue the New York Mets best options for DH are not currently on their roster. However, it does not appear the Mets are ready to head in those directions as of right now.

Mark Vientos is mashing, but the Mets seem to be scared enough by the 30.7% strikeout rate to keep him in Triple-A. Francisco Alvarez was just called up to Triple-A. He is not an answer for DH as he is being developed as a catcher, and the Mets do not want to find themselves in a Kyle Schwarber or Gary Sanchez situation.

As for a trade, you don’t normally see big trades like this until the end of this month. Certainly, you will not see anything until after the All-Star Break. Everything considered, it seems the Mets solution for DH is already on the roster, at least the short term solution.

Looking at the roster right now, you can only conclude Dominic Smith needs to get the job.

Yes, Smith struggled mightily to start the season. He was hot in Spring Training, and he cooled off considerably as the Mets first tried to see if Robinson Cano had anything left. He didn’t. At that point, the Mets appeared to decide they should go with J.D. Davis, and when the Mets felt a pitching crunch, they sent Smith to Triple-A.

Over that time period, we saw Davis again prove he can’t be a Major League DH. On the season, Davis has 101 wRC+, 31.0% strikeout rate, .099 ISO, 1.81 GB/FB, and ranks towards the very bottom in the majors in whiff% and K%. In sum, there is no way, shape, or form the Mets can justify playing him evreryday at any position.

That brings us to Smith.

The biggest issue with Smith is we only saw him healthy and hitting in one season. That was the pandemic shortened season when he actually received MVP votes despite the Mets being terrible. With that season, you thought he would be a permanent fixture for the Mets. However, he battled an injured shoulder in 2021, and he had the aforementioned nightmare start this season.

Well, after he was recalled Smith has started hitting again. Over the past nine games, Smith is hitting .333/.333/.524 with four doubles and two RBI. Smith came up as a pinch hitter on Saturday hitting a double. After that, he started the following two games. Over this three game stretch, Smith is 4-for-9 with three doubles and 2 RBI.

Simply put, he’s hitting well. With the way the Mets are hitting now, if anyone is hitting well, they simply need to be in the lineup. Does this small sample size seem like grasping at straws? Perhaps, but then again, that’s where the Mets are.

Consider, the Mets 84 wRC+ from the DH position is the second worst in the National League. Since June 1, the entire team has a 99 wRC+, which ranks as tied for seventh worst in the National League. That’s a precipitous drop for one of the best offenses in all of baseball over the first two months of the season.

Now, DH is the only issue. We have seen Mark Canha, Luis Guillorme, Jeff McNeil, and Brandon Nimmo fall into bad slumps. Only recently did Eduardo Escobar and Francisco Lindor battle out of very bad slumps. The team has gotten absolutely nothing from the catcher position. Taking everything into account, the team needs players who are hitting well in their lineup.

Right now, that’s Smith. He’s hitting right now. As a result, he needs to be in the lineup now either at first or DH. Give him a few weeks. If he falters, he can be traded for the needed relief help. If he succeeds, the Mets assets can be directed to fill real needs. Whatever the case, the Mets need Smith, and for Smith, this should be his last opportunity.

Mets Fans All Star Voting Has Been Ridiculous

As a fanbase, you really have to wonder what is going on with New York Mets fans. They are showing up for many of their players, and the vote totals are reflecting that, but they are not showing up for all of them. On that point, here is how the Mets players are faring in the All-Star voting with their National League rank in WAR:

By WAR, Nimmo has been the Mets best player this season. By WAR, he trails only Mookie Betts among all of National League outfielders. However, despite that, he’s not only the lowest ranked of all the Mets outfielders on the All-Star ballot.

Yes, other fanbases vote and look to make their voices heard. That is to be expected. Certainly, there is a measure of popularity in the voting. That is exactly why the voting for Nimmo is so problematic.

Look at the Mets players again. With the exception of McNeil and Nimmo, each one of the Mets players vote ranking outpaces where they are in WAR. For McNeil, it actually matches where he ranks. However, for Nimmo, he is lagging, and he’s unjustifiably far off from where he ranks among National League outfielders.

It’s hard to see this as anything other than a popularity contest. After all, Davis is in the top five in DH voting. This is a player who ranks 21st in WAR among designated hitters. It is worse when you consider he trails Dominic Smith in WAR, and Smith was demoted to Triple-A Syracuse for a stretch. Realistically speaking, it’s hard to fathom how Davis is getting any votes.

For that matter, Escobar ranks fifth, and he has not been good since April. More to the point, you get the sense Mets fans are unfortunately starting to turn on him.

It’s more difficult to fathom why Nimmo isn’t getting any votes. He’s the best player on the team this season. He’s been great atop the lineup and in center field this season. He’s been better than any other position player on this team, and that includes Alonso, who is the player getting MVP talk from the fans.

Overall, Nimmo should not only be an All-Star, he should be a starter. He is the Mets best player, and he has undoubtedly been one of the best outfielders in the National League this season. There may not be enough time left, but Mets fans have to be better than this and step up for him.

 

20/20 Hindsight: Mets Ran Out of Gas

The New York Mets followed an inspired series split against the Los Angeles Dodgers with a less than inspiring performance against the San Diego Padres. To be fair, there are some caveats to this performance:

1.  The Mets played their 30th game in 30 days. Over that span, they had two west coast trips with no scheduled travel day prior to their trip out west. Overall, this team is exhausted, and when that happens, you are going to see what we saw.

2.  What’s impressive is the Mets actually grew their lead from 7.0 to 8.0 games over this stretch. Keep that in mind when they finally get some days off with a chance to rest and play at their peak level.

3.  The Mets won the only game of this series they did because Carlos Carrasco was great again. He stepped up big time saving the bullpen, and he helped secure the Mets only win in the series.

4.  Chris Bassitt has really struggled since James McCann hit the IL with his start in the series finale being the worst start of them all. There are many reasons why this is happening, but one overlooked one is he has really struggled pitching to Tomas Nido. He is just a different pitcher on the mound with Nido back there.

5.  It was great to see Jeff McNeil off the snide. After that recent slump, he was back to being himself at the plate. As noted by Keith Hernandez, McNeil never brings his slumps into the field which is another reason why you have to love him as a player.

6. Speaking of Keith, he was just overly kind to J.D. Davis about his play at first. He was making excuses for Davis dropping balls that where in his mitt and making poor throws. We gets it’s a difficult thing to do on the fly, but Keith went way out of his way to excuse a poor performance.

7.  Speaking of poor performance, Davis has been bad. On this west coast trip, he is 4-for-18 (.222). When it was between him and Dominic Smith, you understood choosing Davis because he was a right-handed bat on the bench. However, now, they need Smith because it appears they will need someone who can play first everyday.

8.  MetsWes put it best with Pete Alonso when he said, “Pete Alonso walked away from an awful car crash and been hit in the head and was fine. You think a little [Yu Darvish] “fastball” is going to break a bone? Tongue-in-cheek for sure, but it does speak to how much Alonso has dealt with this season.

9.  Starling Marte had quietly been one of the Mets best players for a few weeks now. They’re going to miss him in the lineup, and in many ways, they will miss his fire.

10. This is Nick Plummer‘s big opportunity to prove he can be a Major Leaguer. He started by going 0-for-3, but he did hit the ball hard. If he has a big stretch, the Mets would be hard pressed to send him back down to the minors again.

11. With Alonso and Marte down, you can understand the Mets scoring just two runs over the final two games. Of course, the Padres pitching had a lot to do with that as well.

12. In addition to the injuries, Luis Guillorme and Francisco Lindor chose the wrong time to go into slumps. More than ever, the Mets need them to start hitting again.

13. Eduardo Escobar is heating up at the right time, and as noted several times here, he is a player who breaks out in June. He became the first player to hit a cycle at Safeco, and the is the first player in Major League history to get his cycle after hitting a homer and triple over the final two innings.

14. Mark Vientos chose the wrong time to get injured. It is very possible he could’ve gotten his chance now with his hot hitting and the Mets recent injuries leaving them looking for offense.

15. Brandon Nimmo is obviously still dealing with his wrist. You can see it when he swings. Frankly, he won’t be put on the IL now because of the other injuries and the fact he provides offense with his ability to draw walks.

16. The Mets batters get plunked more than anyone because it is their approach. Really, do we think anyone is throwing at someone like Mark Canha? Of course not. This is a design of where they are positioned in the box and their approach at the plate. That said, retaliation every so often is merited especially with Sean Manaea buzzing Guillorme by the head multiple times.

17. In case you haven’t heard from Mets fans starting to panic, the Mets have the largest division lead in the National League and are tied for the second largest division lead in all of baseball. There’s absolutely no need to panic. This team is great and will be fine.

18. The impending matchup with Noah Syndergaard is going to garner a lot of attention. With respect to Syndergaard, he went to the Los Angeles Angels for more money and this front office and pitching staff. The Joe Maddon firing was a sign he might’ve been duped.

19. The Mets are catching the Angels at exactly the right time. They’ve lost 14 straight, and Mike Trout is hurt. They got a much needed day off. There is no excuse for not taking at least two out of three.

20. In some ways, the Mets need for the New York Rangers to win this series. They need the Rangers to have some buzz to keep some of the unnecessary heat off of the team at a time when they are tired and hurt. Mostly, I need the Rangers to win the series. so yes, I am selfishly saying this.

 

Mets Lose Game But More Importantly Marte And Alonso

The New York Mets are going to lose games, and they are especially going to lose games where the starting pitcher is great. That was the case with Yu Darvish, who had no-hit stuff. Mark Canha got a hit in the sixth, and it was one of two total from the Mets, so there’s that.

Really, at the end of the day, no one should care about losing this game. It’s going to happen. It will happen many times this season. That said, there was something very troubling during that game.

Both Starling Marte and Pete Alonso left the game with injury.

Marte seemed to injure his leg on a stolen base attempt. First, he was thrown out, and then after he tried to give it a go, he was out of the game. Later in the game, Alonso was hit on the hand with a pitch, and he had trouble with his grip

Both had imaging, and the early results were negative. While initial good news, we have seen through the years how quads and hand injuries can linger. That is even if subsequent MRIs prove to be negative.

Now, we can argue the Mets could handle the absence of either for a prolonged period of time. After all, the Mets are in first place without Jacob deGrom throwing a pitch, and they are 13-6 (.684) with both deGrom and Scherzer out of the rotation. Keep in mind, Tylor Megill was also out of the rotation.

Certainly, the Mets could navigate losing Marte even with how good he has been. Jeff McNeil can shift to left with Canha going to right. Of course, this is dependent on Luis Guillorme playing like an everyday player, which he has even with his latest slump. The Mets also have the option of playing Nick Plummer everyday in right, which he has showed he may be capable of doing right now.

With Alonso is where things get dicey. You could shift Canha to first with McNeil and Plummer in the outfield, but Canha isn’t ready to play first everyday. As noted by Buck Showalter, J.D. Davis neither has the footwork nor the instincts, but he sure has the arm. Considering that was the Mets failed talking point about Davis playing left and third, that’s an indication Davis can’t handle the position long term.

In many times, that means the balance of the season could rest with Dominic Smith.

On the bright side, Smith has responded well to the demotion going 4-for-14 with a double, homer, and three RBI over three games. If he can carry that forward, the Mets are not going to miss a beat. There are a few caveats there.

First and foremost, the Mets have to want to bring him back up to take over at first. The team really hasn’t shown a willingness to do that even when Smith had his good moments this season. They seem more comfortable giving Davis a run because we are all pretending his hot streak of hitting .286/.360/.381 over seven games means he can justify playing first or DH.

The other caveat here is Smith has to do it. He just hasn’t this year. For him, it is very possible the Mets are going to desperately need him to do it now. In reality, Smith desperately needs to as well because if he doesn’t, it just may mean the end of his Mets career.

So, in the end, this 7-0 loss went from bad loss to existential crisis. We’ll see if this moves to panic as the MRI results come back.

Eduardo Escobar Cycles Mets To Victory

If you were an analyst or New York Mets fan who thought the team had something to prove on this west coast trip, you have to find yourself feeling awful silly. After all, they split with the Los Angeles Dodgers, and now they took the opener of the series against the San Diego Padres.

That’s not to say everything was perfect for the Mets. They had some short starts, and their bullpen has been getting taxed as a result. That means they desperately needed length from Carlos Carrasco. Carrasco would deliver.

Arguably, it was the best performance by Carrasco as a member of the Mets. He pitched 7.0 innings, which was the second most innings he’s thrown in a start, and he struck out a season high 10 batters. He did that while getting the key outs he needed in the big spots.

Entering the bottom of the third, the Mets were up 3-0 largely because Blake Snell could not find the strike zone early on. After Starling Marte stole second with two outs, Snell would walk three consecutive to force in a run, then Eduardo Escobar hit a two RBI single giving the Mets a 3-0 lead. It was not the last time we would hear from him.

As alluded to above, Carrasco got into trouble in the third. It started with a Jorge Alfaro lead-off double past a non-moving J.D. Davis, who got the surprise start at first. Alfaro scored on a Jurickson Profar RBI single. On the play, Mark Canha didn’t come close to getting Alfaro. Tomas Nido read it perfectly, and he came up firing to first to pick off Profar. With that, the rally was stymied to just one run.

The Mets began tacking on runs from there.

In the fourth, Escobar continued his hot hitting with a lead-off single, and he would eventually score on a Brandon Nimmo RBI single. In the fifth, Alonso reached on a Manny Machado error, and he moved to third on a Canha two out double before scoring on a sacrifice fly.

To their credit, the Padres just didn’t go away. In the seventh, Nomar Mazara hit a two out double scoring Ha-Seong Kim from first. Carrasco got out of the inning and ended his night by striking Alfaro.

The Mets would extend their lead in the eighth. Again, it was courtesy of Escobar, who would hit a two run homer to extend the Mets lead to 7-2:

As noted, the Padres wouldn’t go away. In the bottom of the eighth, they went to work against Joely Rodriguez. If you wanted, you could question Buck Showalter going to him, but with a five run lead and a depleted bullpen, you go to Rodriguez in these spots. He allowed two on with one out before Showalter went to Drew Smith.

Smith would get Machado, but he would get tagged by Luke Voit for a three run homer. Suddenly, a 7-2 impending blowout was now a game in question. Well, it wouldn’t be for long.

You see while the Padres refused to go away, the Mets refused to keep this game close.

In his second inning of work, the Mets would rock Craig Stammen beginning with an opposite field one out single by Pete Alonso. After Canha singled, the Padres brought in Tim Hill. Hill would easily dispatch of Davis, but Escobar got a hold of one. Escobar didn’t hit it out of the park, but he would hit that deep right foot wall.

After it ricocheted off the wall, he would himself with a two out two RBI double. More than that, it was the triple he needed for the cycle. It was the first since Scott Hairston in 2012 and the 11th in team history.

The Mets weren’t actually done scoring. Jeff McNeil would double home Escobar. That would set the stage for Tomas Nido who is a monster with two outs and runners in scoring position. Tonight would be no different. As McNeil took off towards third, Nido shot the ball down the third base line driving home a run. With that single, it was 11-5.

That was once too much for the Padres, who didn’t have any fight left in the ninth. With the huge lead, Showalter opted for a second inning of Drew Smith instead of using Edwin Diaz. After the huge top of the ninth, it was no longer a save situation allowing the Mets to save him for another fight. Smith set the side down in order.

Even with the Padres giving everything they had, the Mets were just flat out better. If you wanted a litmus test to see how good the Mets are and can be, here it is.