I had a previously scheduled event at the precise time as first pitch yesterday. With the Mets 16 games under .500, that should not have been an issue. And yet, I couldn’t help but follow the game on my phone.
I was pumped when I saw the 7-0 led propelled by a Michael Conforto three run homer:
— New York Mets (@Mets) July 14, 2018
I then lamented how Wheeler may soon join Matt Harvey as an ex-Met as this dream rotation is dismantled before it really ever got off the ground.
In the end, really, I write about the Mets because I love this team no matter how bad they are and no matter how awful ownership is.
While the Mets are trying to pull out all the stops against a Marlins team actively trying to lose games, over in Cincinnati, it seems Matt Harvey is starting to put things together.
Over his last three starts, Harvey has been terrific pitching to a 1.47 ERA, 0.818 WHIP, and a 7.0 K/BB ratio. Over these starts, opposing batters are hitting just .200/.257/.231 against the Dark Knight. What makes these starts all the more impressive is when you consider they have come against the Cubs, Braves, and Brewers.
That’s three quality offensive opponents in games all started in hitter’s parks.
But it’s more than just the opponents and the results. His velocity and control are back. As already noted, Harvey is no longer walking batters, and apparently, he’s not leaving the ball in a position to be teed up by opposing batters:
Matt Harvey, 96mph Fastball paint. 🎨🖼️🖌️👨🎨 pic.twitter.com/ZJ4RHx09yc
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) July 1, 2018
According to Brooks Baseball, Harvey is back to throwing 95+ with a slider near 90. Before getting traded to the Reds, Harvey was missing a tick or two on all of his pitches. In some of his outings, he had nothing but guts out there.
As noted by C. Trent Rosencrans of The Athletic, Harvey says he is feeling better than at any time since 2013. That’s notable because in 2013, he had Tommy John and in 2016 he was diagnosed with Thoracic Outlet Syndrome.
That could partially because the Mets never really let Harvey get back to full strength post TOS surgery. It also could be because Harvey always believed he was getting better and getting there. It just so happened that has actually proven true with the Reds.
Maybe the credit should go to Reds interim pitching coach Danny Darwin and an assistant pitching coach Ted Power. The duo, especially Darwin, are beginning to get credit for helping turn not just Harvey around, but also what was once considered a bad Reds pitching staff.
That’s not a criticism of Mickey Callaway and Dave Eiland. After all, the Mets duo has helped Jacob deGromreach another level in his game. They have also seen Zack Wheeler and Steven Matz possibly turn the corner in their careers becoming more reliably and healthy starters.
What it is an indictment upon is the Mets patience and their ability to properly evaluate their own players. After all, Harvey’s spot in the rotation was effectively taken over by Jason Vargas to be an effective starter this season. Therein lies the problem.
To that point, here’s the series of transactions and moves the Mets made immediately after designating Harvey for assignment:
- May 5th – Call up Hansel Robles
- May 6th – Call up P.J. Conlon for spot start
- May 8th – Call up Corey Oswaltas an extra arm in the bullpen
Since that time, the Mets have designated both Robles and Conlon for assignment. We’ve also seen the Mets give chances to Buddy Baumann, Scott Copeland, and Chris Beck. At a minimum, this is really bizarre roster management, and you have to question what the Mets saw in Baumann, Copeland, and Beck that they didn’t see in Harvey.
Even if you invoke all the Justin Turner non-tender defenses (wouldn’t happen here and the like), that doesn’t mean getting rid of Harvey was the right decision.
It’s not the right decision when you look at the pitchers who have made appearances and struggled in his stead. It’s not he right decision when you consider the team miscalculated on whether Harvey had something left in the tank. Really, they miscalculated on his being a disruption.
Since his being traded, the Mets are 14-30 (.318). They just had a 5-21 month. On the other hand, the Reds 26-19, and they were 15-11 in June.
Overall, both the Mets and Reds are sellers, and right now the key difference between them is as a result of the deal, the Mets will be looking for someone to take Devin Mesoracowhereas the Reds will have Harvey, who is suddenly a pitcher who is building up trade value.
In the end, it’s funny. Harvey was partially traded to remove a distraction to help them win ballgames. In fact, in pure Metsian fashion, the opposite happened. They fell apart with his replacement in the rotation, Vargas, going 2-6 with an 8.60 ERA and a 1.832 WHIP.
Back in 2015, Hansel Robles was a revelation for a Mets bullpen needing an additional arm.
He made some further strides in 2016. After that, he was much worse. What made it so frustrating was his stretches of just absolute dominance.
As we all know, he’d follow that with a complete and utter inability to get an out. Inevitably, he’d be there pointing to the sky again and again and again.
It was the finger point that was the most frustrating. In his mind, that 500 foot blast was a pop up to second.
Part of the frustration really was how despite his talent, he just couldn’t get the results. That doesn’t mean he wasn’t trying.
Maybe it was too many cooks in the kitchen. Maybe it was him ignoring all four and doing his own thing. Who knows with him?
As always with Robles, no one quite knew the answer.
Robles being designated for assignment makes the second time this season the famed pitching gurus failed to get through to a pitcher. The other time was Matt Harvey.
At the moment, the Mets decision to designate Harvey for assignment does not seem to have come back to haunt them even with Harvey showing flashes. It also helps Devin Mesoraco has been much better than the Mets could have ever imagined.
That doesn’t mean it was the right decision to designate Harvey for assignment. It wasn’t.
For proof of that, look no further than Jason Vargas, who is 2-6 with an 8.60 ERA and a 1.832 WHIP while averaging just over four innings per start. Really, when he takes the mound, the only people he’s fooling is the Mets front office and coaching staff.
This same coaching staff and front office are once again fooling themselves by replacing one of their guys with another AL Central pitcher.
Heading into this season, Chris Beck had a career 6.38 ERA, 1.760 WHIP, and a 5.2 BB/9. To that end, this year is his career year with him posting a 4.18 ERA, 1.479 WHIP, and a 4.2 BB/9.
Despite these being career bests, they’re poor numbers, which is why a very bad White Sox team released him. For some reason, despite trusting their internal talent, the Mets picked him up, and he’s been worse.
And yet, it’s Robles, a guy who has actually performed well in his career and had some glimpses this year, who would be designated for assignment.
It should also be noted Marcos Molina still keeps his spot on the 40 man roster despite his losing his velocity and pitching very poorly this year. In fact, his last start for Binghamton lasted just 3.1 innings. In that start, he allowed 13 runs (10 earned) on 11 hits.
How do you look at either Molina or Beck and decide Robles is the real problem?
Sure, you can be frustrated with Robles and believe he has done more than enough to be designated for assignment. What he hasn’t been is worse than Beck or Molina.
We shouldn’t be surprised by this at all as this front office constantly makes just plain decisions like this all the time. After all, Jose Reyes and Rafael Montero continue to be members of this organization while a score of more talented players have left this organization in their stead.
As the Mets opened the 2018 season, there was supposed to be a catching competition, or at least a time sharing between Kevin Plawecki and Travis d’Arnaud. This situation was created because both catchers had failed to do anything to truly claim the job as their own, but they had shown flashes which gave your confidence either or both could figure it out this year.
Then, in one week, both players would suffer injuries. With respect to d’Arnaud, it was a season ending injury requiring Tommy John surgery. For Plawecki, it was a broken hand resulting from getting hit by a Tayron Guerrero fastball.
From there, the Mets had to turn to the tandem of Tomas Nido and Jose Lobaton. Neither one of these players would Wally Pipp Plawecki as they and the Mets struggled. With their play behind the plate, and with Plawecki not healing as quick as the team hoped, it was time to do something drastic.
That drastic move came from Matt Harvey being designated for assignment. Now, Harvey was not designated for assignment as a means to get a catcher. However, when he was designated, and the Mets having a small window to get a deal done, the team did all they could do to land a catcher.
The end result was Reds backup catcher and former All Star Devin Mesoraco.
After the injuries and hitting .195/.291/.318 in 316 plate attempts between 2015 and the trade, Mesoraco and the remainder of his $13.1 million salary was more than expendable for the Reds. In many ways, getting a broken down player who could no replicate his prior success due to extensive injuries was the perfect return for Harvey.
In some ways,. Mesoraco has revitalized the Mets. He has worked well with the pitching staff, and he has hit again. In 15 games with the Mets, Mesoraco is hiting .261/.358/.630 with two doubles, five homers, and 10 RBI. During telecasts, we hear Keith Hernandez dropping Mike Piazza comparisons on him. Yes, it’s related to his back swing, but the way he has slugged in a Mets uniform, the comparisons are apt.
With Mesoraco’s emergence, things are murky again for Plawecki. While he has not hit for power so far his year, he was handling the staff quite well before his injury, and he was getting on base with a .455 OBP.
Certainly, both catchers have made a case for why they should be the primary or starting catcher with Mesoraco likely ahead. Yesterday, in both games of the doubleheader, both catchers made their claim for the spot.
In the first game, Mesoraco was 2-3 with two runs, a homer, and two RBI. His homer should have proven to be a go-ahead game winning homer in the top of the ninth.
In the second game, Plawecki was 3-4 with two runs, an RBI, and a walk. He also reached on an error meaning he reached safely in all five of his plate appearances.
There are many other factors at play including how comfortable the pitching staff is with each catcher and certainly Noah Syndergaard‘s seeming need to have a personal catcher. Through all the stats, there is one interesting consideration. In games Mesoraco starts, the Mets are 6-6 as opposed to being 7-1 in games Plawecki starts.
Right now, with the Mets trying to figure out the infield, bench, and back end of the starting rotation, the catching situation presents a welcome “problem” for Mickey Callaway and his staff. Fortunately, the Mets have two good options back there – two options who have raised their game with the prospect of competition.
Let the best catcher win.
In many ways, Devin Mesoraco proved to be the perfect return for Matt Harvey – former first round draft pick and All Star whose career has been completely altered by injuries, and he has now been surpassed by others. While we don’t know if Mesoraco wore out his welcome in Cincinnati, we do know that like Harvey, he needed a change of scenery to at least see if it could rejuvenate his career.
In that way, New York was the perfect place for Mesoraco.
Right off the bat, with Jose Lobaton and Tomas Nido, the one thing the Mets were able to provide was playing time. With playing time comes opportunity, and after that it is just a matter of whether you take advantage of it or not.
Another thing in Mesoraco’s favor was the lack of expectation. That’s not just because Mesoraco hit .195/.291/.318 in 316 plate attempts between 2015 and the trade. No, it is because Lobaton was hitting .152/.250/.239 before he was designated for assignment, and Nido is hitting .154/.214/.179. Simply put, even is Mesoraco was the bad version of himself, he’s an offensive upgrade for this Mets team.
He’s also an upgrade behind the plate. From a pitch framing perspective, he’s a better catcher than Lobaton, and he’s on par with Kevin Plawecki. Since a tough start to his career, with the nadir coming in 2014, he has made significant strides blocking balls in the dirt, and he is now quite capable to good in that perspective.
Perhaps it is a change of scenery, consistent playing time, playing for a better team, or the limitations of a small sample size, but Mesoraco certainly has looked like a much improved player since coming to the Mets. In eight games, he is hitting .200/.333/.600 with a double, three homers, and five RBI.
More than anything, his play behind and at the plate shows early indications of a player who is rejuvenated. This doesn’t mean Mesoraco will return to his All Star form. The injuries may limit him from ever being that again. However, we see for the first time since those injuries how good a catcher Mesoraco can still be if given the chance, and right now, the Mets are being rewarded for taking this chance.
There is a tangible effect too. In one of the most bizarre stats you’ll ever see, the Reds were 0-18 in games Mesoraco played this season. Since coming to the Mets, the team is 5-2 in games he has started. Part of that is how much his bat is a big upgrade over what the Mets had. Another part is how well he has handled the pitching staff.
As noted by Wayne Randazzo, the Mets pitchers are 5-2 with a 2.03 ERA in games Mesoraco has started. Keep in mind, those games include games started by Jason Vargas, Steven Matz, and Zack Wheeler as well as a bullpen game when Jacob deGrom couldn’t pitch past the first due to a high pitch count.
Overall, the Mets are seeing tangible results from the significant upgrade Mesoraco has provided. They are playing better baseball, and they are winning games.
One of the fun parts of baseball is players sometimes have colorful nicknames. One of the classic examples is Catfish Hunter getting the nickname Catfish because Athletics owner Charlie Finley thought the 19 year old James needed a catchy nickname. To put it mildly, Finley was the opposite of the Yankees in that he actually encouraged players to express themselves and for them to have wild facial hair like Rollie Fingers‘ handlebar mustache.
The nicknames over the years have somewhat subsided, but with Player’s Weekend last year, we have seen these nicknames emerge like Michael Conforto being dubbed Scooter. There was also the Mets fans naming Bartolo Colon “Big Sexy” even before it became ironic with his failure to pay child support. To that end, it is time for Mets fans to step up again and find a nickname for Devin Mesoraco, who is quickly becoming a fan favorite.
Given his unique look, prompting Rocko’s Modern Life type of comparisons. Given his “Rocko” jersey for Player’s Weekend last year, it makes a ton of sense. However, as Mets fans, we can do better. Why not call him “The Groundhog.”
With him coming from Punxsutawney, PA, the home of the famous Punxsutawney Phil, it would seem a natural fit.
You can extrapolate this further to be a more clever and apt comparison. With the trade, the Mets have emerged from the shadows of the Matt Harvey Era, and the team is back on the winning path with him behind the dish. As a catcher, he crouches down deep, and he springs up to let the base runner know if it’s all clear, or if he will have to face six more weeks of winter. Admittedly, these comparisons can be a bit pained.
Really, in the end, this is about being able to take something about his past, his birthplace, and merge it with a great movie like Groundhog Day. There is a quote or gif for everything:
Mets won’t call a game due to rain? pic.twitter.com/E31NSg5maJ
— Mets Daddy (@MetsDaddy2013) May 22, 2018
Since Mesoraco is from Punxsutawney, can we all agree to call him The Groundhog?
Even if it is just an excuse to use awesome quotes and gifs from the movie? pic.twitter.com/XO9WCcaCHm
— Mets Daddy (@MetsDaddy2013) May 22, 2018
Mesoraco in a big spot pic.twitter.com/TZK3IQfJUo
— Mets Daddy (@MetsDaddy2013) May 22, 2018
Oh look, Mesoraco popped out in a big spot pic.twitter.com/bx7mx3ry2E
— Mets Daddy (@MetsDaddy2013) May 22, 2018
Mesoraco hits a big fly pic.twitter.com/kKZzOqimLH
— Mets Daddy (@MetsDaddy2013) May 22, 2018
Mesoraco delivers a big hit pic.twitter.com/p9fVWS9rT4
— Mets Daddy (@MetsDaddy2013) May 22, 2018
Chase Utley is at the plate pic.twitter.com/k0tasJcj0g
— Mets Daddy (@MetsDaddy2013) May 22, 2018
Really, it is endless, including the multiple uses of Ned Ryerson’s “BING!” In the end if this takes off, and the Mets win the World Series, we will all celebrate. While the champagne corks are popping and the beer is flying around the room, we will drink to both a World Series, and of course, to world peace.
Back in 2013, the Cincinnati Reds had their second consecutive 90 win season. Unfortunately for them, they were not able to make the postseason like they were the previous year when they were bounced from the NLDS by the San Francisco Giants. Due to a number of factors, there was an open question after that season how long the Reds could keep this core group together.
At the same time, the New York Mets finished the season in third place in the National League East with a 74-88 record. In that season, the team saw a rejuvenated David Wright, and Matt Harveywas the talk of the town, at least until he needed Tommy John surgery.
Using that all as a backdrop, imagine explaining to a person from 2013 how the Harvey deal went down . . .
2018: Well, no . . .
2013: So wait, tell me which Reds are members of the Mets now.
2018: Well, no, not exactly.
2013: I’m guessing Davis never got over the Valley Fever.
2018: While I’m not sure if it was Valley Fever, Davis is no longer in the majors. In fact, he’s trying to pitch now.
2013: And I’m guessing despite the team shoving him down our throats, I’m assuming Duda never panned out.
2018: Actually, he became a 30 home run hitter.
2013: Really, so if that’s the case, why are the Mets looking to move him off first? Do they really think he can play the outfield? He was dreadful out there.
2018: No, no, no, no. Duda signed as a free agent with the Royals.
2013: Ok, so the Mets got Frazier to play first.
2018: No, they signed him to play third.
2013: So, Wright is playing first.
2018: About that . . .
2013: Francesca always yammered on and on about how he belongs at third because of his arm. Honestly, I can’t believe the Mets listened to that blowhard. Speaking of which, I’m sure he gloated about that for at least a week.
2018: Believe it or not, Francesca was retired when the Mets got Frazier.
2013: With Francesca retired, who is now on during the drive home?
2018: It’s a long story, but it’s Francesa. He unretired.
2013: Of course he did. And he’s probably telling us all the time how Wright shouldn’t be compared to Derek Jeter because Wright hasn’t won, and Jeter does everything perfect.
2018: Believe it or not, Jeter owns the Marlins.
2013: Like, he’s still playing, and he won the World Series MVP?
2018: No, he’s actually a part owner of the Marlins.
2013: The media must love him and the Marlins now.
2018: People think Jeter is a prick now. He fired a cancer patient while he was in the hospital.
2018: Oh yeah, he’s alienated everyone, including their biggest fan, Marlins Man.
2013: What’s a Marlins Man?
2018: It’s this guy who goes across the country sitting behind home plate of every nationally televised game while wearing an orange Marlins jersey.
2013: That’s a thing?
2018: For a while now.
2013: So let me get this straight. In the future, Jeter owns the Marlins. Francesca pretends to be Brett Favre. There is some guy who is a celebrity because he’s rich and wears an orange Marlins jersey, and the Mets displaced Wright in favor of Frazier.
2018: I hate to tell you this, but Wright’s career is done.
2013: With the Mets? I knew the Wilpons wouldn’t pay him. Where did he go? Please don’t tell me he’s a Yankee.
2018: No, Wright’s baseball career. It’s over.
2013: Shut up. He would be just, what, 34?
2018: He’s 35.
2013: So, what? He’s the Mets Don Mattingly?
2018: He is. Back in 2015, when the Mets went to the World Series
2013: THE METS WENT TO THE WORLD SERIES?!?!?!?!?
2018: They did.
2013: Wow, Terry Collins must’ve really turned things around with better players.
2018: Let’s not get too ahead of ourselves here.
2013: Sorry, you were saying about Wright.
2018: Anyway, Wright was diagnosed with spinal stenosis. He was actually able to play in the World Series, but after that point his career was essentially over.
2013: That’s the most depressing thing I’ve ever heard.
2018: Well, it gets worse.
2013: How could it get worse?
2018: Well aside from the Mets losing the 2015 World Series –
2013: Oh, they lost? To who?
2018: The Royals.
2013: HOW! THEY ALWAYS SUCK!
2018: Well, for two years they didn’t, and they were helped along by some really bad decisions by Collins in that World Series, including leaving Harvey out too long.
2013: Let me guess. Hurt again.
2018: Thoracic Outlet Syndrome, but not because of that. At least, I don’t think.
2013: Thor – what?
2018: No, not Noah Syndergaard. Thoracic Outlet Syndrome.
2013: Wait, Syndergaard calls himself Thor.
2018: Yeah, and he picks fights with Mr. Met on Twitter.
2013: I thought Mr. Met doesn’t talk.
2018: Yeah, it’s this whole thing. You know what. Nevermind, it’s even dumber when you explain it.
2013: Fine, what’s the deal with Harvey again?
2018: Thoracic Outlet Syndrome. At best it’s a shoulder condition that changes your career. For some, it ends it. Remember Josh Beckett?
2013: Yeah, he was bad last year.
2018: That’s why.
2013: So wait, the Mets went to a World Series with an injured Harvey and Wright?
2018: Well, Harvey wasn’t injured yet.
2013: But now he is. Well, I got to give it to Sandy. He was able to turn Harvey and Herrera into Bruce, Frazier, and Mesoraco, who was a promising catcher.
2018: Well, the Mets did use Herrera to get Bruce. Frazier was a free agent, and the Mets used Harvey to get Mesoraco.
2013: Wow, that was one first round draft pick which really must’ve worked out for the Reds. You’d hope for more for Harvey, but still, you have to give Sandy credit for getting a young impressive catcher for Harvey before Harvey broke down.
2018: Oh, Mesoraco is broken down himself. He’s had shoulder and hip issues. He can’t play everyday, and he’s been hovering around the Mendoza line for years.
2013: So, let me get this straight.
2018: Go ahead.
2013: Wright is broken. Harvey is broken. They also got Mesoraco, who is also broken. Ike is both broken and a pitcher.
2018: Pretty much.
2018: You know what? I think that’s enough for right now.
This was panning out to be another one of those horrible Mets losses we have seen recently. The Mets were not scoring runs at all even though they were in a hitter’s park. And yes, there was even the really embarrassing and inexcusable moment.
After a Devin Mesoraco double play grounder erased a Michael Conforto seventh inning leadoff single, Jose Reyes got his first pinch of the season in 11 attempts. Understandably, with Reyes’ speed, the Mets reeling, and the team down 1-0, Mickey Callaway went for it.
Instead of going with Amed Rosario, Callaway went with Dominic Smith, who was up due to Jay Bruce going on paternity leave, to get that big hit. Smith wouldn’t get that hit because Jake Arrieta picked Reyes off first base. And with that, all hope seemed lost yet again.
Then Wilmer Flores battled back not just from 0-2, but looking over-matched on the first two pitched of the at-bat to rip a single into left. The Mets at least had life, and for a split second, it looked like Conforto was going to give the Mets the lead, but he pulled it foul. Two pitches later, and Conforto wouldn’t pull it foul.
Conforto HOME RUN puts the Mets ahead 2-1!! pic.twitter.com/GaOTKkqImn
— SportsNet New York (@SNYtv) May 12, 2018
Mesoraco followed with a homer on the very next pitch. Suddenly, the Mets 1-0 lead, and the team falling to .500 turned into a 3-1 lead. That became a 3-1 victory after a Jeurys Familia 1-2-3 ninth.
Suddenly, the stories weren’t how Steven Matz walked four while somehow managing to allow just one run over five. It wasn’t about how a combination of Seth Lugo, Paul Sewald, and AJ Ramos had to pick up the slack to keep it close for an offense, which did nothing.
No, the story is now how the Mets had perhaps their best victory of the year, and how they may have turned things around with Noah Syndergaard taking the mound tomorrow.
Game Notes: Mesoraco’s teams are now 1-20 in games he has played this season. In Los Angeles, Matt Harvey made his Reds debut pitching four scoreless while allowing just one hit while striking out two.
When the Mets designated Matt Harvey for assignment, it marked the beginning of the end. When he was traded to the Reds for Devin Mesoraco, it was all officially over, and we, as Mets fans, were left trying to figure out what to make of the entire era. In the latest edition of the Mets Blogger Roundtable, we attempt to do just that:
Kid Gorgeous, Kid Presentable, Kid Moe. The first two phases were enjoyable. The third phase was not.
Despite all the negativity surrounding Matt Harvey, I will continue to root for him. This guy has been through a lot, and if you don’t like a good comeback story, you’re not human. I will forever be thankful for his three great years. They’re right up there statistically with the greats. While Matt may need an attitude check, I respect what he’s done and wish him nothing but the best, unless he lands with a rival or the Yankees.
Matt Harvey reminds me a little of Gregg Jefferies in that Jefferies had so much talent and got off to a scalding start with the Mets, but he never quite reached his potential in New York.
Like Harvey, Jefferies also rubbed some people the wrong way. Whereas Jefferies always thought he was better than everyone else even though his production on the field said otherwise, Harvey’s off-the-field antics served as a constant distraction to what was happening on the field. Both players let their egos get the best of them, and because of that, Mets fans never got to see them realize their full potential for an extended period of time.
It’s true that injuries have also taken their toll on Harvey, but he’s had several years to try to reinvent himself and still hasn’t been successful. Perhaps a change of scenery will help him get back to being a serviceable pitcher, just like leaving the Mets extended Jefferies’ career by nearly a decade.
Sad, because this is Doc and Darryl all over again in terms of high end talent not coming close to their ceilings. I’m not going to split hairs about the reasons. Drugs in the first two cases, three surgeries in Harvey’s case. It doesn’t matter. Because those are three careers that could have gone to Cooperstown.
Doc and Darryl’s story didn’t end with the Mets. Guess we will have to wait for Harvey to join the Yanks eventually.
Harvey gave it all on the field, and unfortunately off it. He’s an example of a player putting his brand before his play. The injuries obviously did not help. Deep down I’m still rooting for the guy, since he helped restart the Mets. If he only worried about his teammates more than the models. Maybe when he joins another team like the Angels or the Yankees he will get it all back, and Mets fans will think what could have been?
Love him or hate him, I think we can all agree on 3 words that destroyed his Mets career. Thoracic Outlet Syndrome.
Matt Harvey set an impossibly high standard for himself when, as a rookie, he’d figuratively kick himself after a loss, telling reporters that as the starting pitcher, it was his job to give up no runs. For a while, he practically met his own standard for success.
That’s the Harvey I choose to remember: the 2012 version who thought he should be unhittable and the 2013 sequel who made good on his plan.
Earlier, I wrote about Harvey’s career arc with the Mets. Looking back at it, the one thing I came away with it was hope.
Harvey in 2012 gave us hope this rebuilding plan was going to work out. In 2013, Harvey gave us hope the Mets could become a contender again. In 2015, he allowed us to hope this team could win a World Series. Since that time, our hope has been to first reclaim his former glory and later to be an effective MLB pitcher.
Now, he’s gone, and a small part of the hope we had with him is gone too. In some ways, perhaps it was fitting the Mets have shown they can’t win without him. Perhaps . . .
In some ways, I am personally hoping this is the final word of the Harvey tenure with the Mets. At the moment, there are many storylines with the Mets, good and bad, mostly bad, which merits considerable discussion and analysis. Please keep an eye out for these blogs for that thoughtful discussion and analysis. I know I will.
Well, if you were feeling good about the Mets after their win last night, those feelings were quickly dispatched. Todd Frazier, arguably their second best position player all year, landed on the disabled list meaning Jose Reyes was in the starting lineup. Worse than that, Jason Vargas was the starter.
Right away, Vargas loaded the bases, and he then allowed a Eugenio Suarez two RBI single to give the Reds an early 2-0 lead. It was a minor miracle the Reds did not score more from that point.
However, they would score two more in the second with Suarez once again being the catalyst. His RBI double scored Joey Votto from first, and he would come home on a Tucker Barnhart, the catcher the Reds kept, RBI single.
Overall, Vargas’ final line was 4.0 innings, six hits, four runs, four earned, two walks, and one strikeout. As poor as that start was, it should be noted this was his best start this year. With his pitching, you almost have to question why he’s guaranteed a starting spot while the team is keeping some pitchers in the minors and sending another one to Cincinnati.
That four run margin would prove to be enough for a number of reasons.
The first was Reds starter, Luis Castillo, no not that one, but then again it doesn’t really matter because nothing good happens to the Mets when there is a Luis Castillo on the field. He would limit the Mets to just a single over the first five innings.
Finally, in the sixth, the Mets would break through on a Wilmer Flores one out homer. Now, Flores did not start the game. Rather, he was double switched in for Amed Rosario despite Rosario being the one Met with a hit, and Reyes being a terrible defensive shortstop.
The Mets would continue from there with a two out rally. With consecutive walks to Yoenis Cespedes, Jay Bruce, and Adrian Gonzalez, the Reds forced home a run. That’s when Mickey Callaway opted to pinch hit Brandon Nimmo instead of Juan Lagares or even the newly acquired Devin Mesoraco to face the left-hander Amir Garrett.
Nimmo struck out to end the rally, and things would only go downhill from there.
AJ Ramos was fighting it, but he kept the Reds off the board in the sixth, but he would allow a double to Scott Schebler, and with Votto coming up, Jerry Blevins would come into the game. He got his man, but he would be pulled for Hansel Robles.
After a Suarez single, Scooter Gennett would have Robles pointing to the sky again with his three run homer giving the Reds a 7-2 lead.
Making this game worse was the fact the Mets had called up Corey Oswalt in place of P.J. Conlon to give them some length in the bullpen. Of course, they called up Oswalt on three days rest instead of Chris Flexen on full rest. The end result was Callaway ripping through his bullpen trying to save Oswalt’s arm . . . the very same Oswalt who was called up to supposedly help protect against that.
That’s embarrassing. Almost as embarrassing as getting blown out by the now nine win Reds team.
Game Notes: On the eve of the game, Matt Harvey was traded to the Reds for Mesoraco.