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.
Given everything that has happened since Game 5 of the 2015 World Series, you can hardly blame Matt Harvey for refusing a minor league assignment and for the Mets designating him for assignment. Ultimately, this is something which may prove beneficial to all parties involved.
For Harvey, he has a lot of work ahead of him. Unfortunately, the same goes for the Mets, who for reasons unbeknownst to anyone, stopped their roster alterations at Harvey.
There is no doubt Harvey was under-performing, but at the time of the Mets decision he was the last guy in the bullpen mopping up games like the 6-0 mess left for him by Jason Vargas. Rarely is the last guy in your bullpen the real issue with your team, and the Mets are not one of those exceptions.
One of the main issues with this time right now is the lineup. With injuries, slumps, and flat out benching more talented players, the team needs to make changes there desperately.
One of the changes that needs to be made is to get Brandon Nimmo into the lineup everyday. At the moment, Nimmo is hitting .256/.448/.442 with a 17.2% walk rate. By OPS+ and wRC+, he is the second best hitter in the Mets lineup. There is no justifiable reason to keep him as the fourth outfielder.
However, he is because the Mets are trying to make Adrian Gonzalez happen. Well, if you go by his hitting .231/.311/.372 with a -0.4 WAR, it’s not happening, and it’s not going to happen. Game-in and game-out, he’s showing why the Dodgers took on Matt Kemp to get rid of him and why the Braves were happy to pay him $21.8 million to go away.
Really, there is no reason why the Mets continue to trot him out there when they can put the hobbled Jay Bruce at first base.
Whether it is the plantar fascitiis or something else, Bruce has struggled this year and playing the outfield is doing him no favors. Really, he and the team is best served by moving Bruce to first and allowing more athletic players like Nimmo and Juan Lagares play out there.
Again, the only thing standing in the way of the Mets optimizing both their defensive alignment and their lineup is a 35 year old with a bad back who already has a -0.4 WAR.
Speaking of players in their mid 30s, well past their prime, and standing in the way of more talented players, the Mets need to do something about Jose Reyes.
So far this season, Reyes is hitting .139/.184/.222. To put that in perspective, the recently designated for assignment Matt Harvey was batting .286/.286/.286. Put another way, Reyes is hitting like a pitcher . . . or worse.
That’s except when he’s coming off the bench. When he’s pinch hitting, he’s not hitting at all going 0-9 with three strike outs. When he substitutes into games, he’s 0-4.
Really, what’s the point of having a bench player who can’t hit when he comes off the bench?
Remember this was the same Reyes who posted a -0.6 WAR last year and his -26 DRS was the worst among Major League infielders. There is really not hope there’s any upside.
Looking at Las Vegas, Gavin Cecchini is hitting .313/.359/.500 while mostly playing the middle infield with a game at short.
After a slow start, Luis Guillorme is in the midst of an eight game hitting streak that has seen him go 13-28 with three doubles and seven RBI. After starting the year hitting .211/.338/.281, he’s not hitting .294/.394/.376.
In addition to Cecchini or Guillorme, the Mets could opt to go with Phillip Evans, who won a bench job out of Spring Training or Ty Kelly, who is once again dominating in Las Vegas hitting .300/.364/.600 with four doubles, four triples, six homers, and 21 RBI.
Even if you didn’t like the group as a collective, you’d be hard pressed to present an argument where they would not be able to get at least one hit while coming off of the bench.
Now, are Gonzalez and Reyes the only two problems? Far from it. The catching situation is still a mess, the bullpen is regressing, and every starter not named Jacob deGrom or Noah Syndergaard has been completely unreliable.
That said, Gonzalez and Reyes are blocking more talented players who promise to be more productive than what we have seen from both players not just this year, but stretching back to last year. If the Mets are truly interested in becoming a better team, these two need to join Harvey in looking for another team.
This is the point where the Mets were in 2015, 2016, and 2017. A Mets team with much promise has either regressed or been exposed, and you are left wondering how exactly things were going to get better for this team.
One of the more troubling things we saw both yesterday and throughout this season was how Noah Syndergaard hasn’t been Thor. It’s not too dissimilar to how Matt Harvey had stopped being The Dark Knight, except with Syndergaard there really isn’t any reason to suspect any injury.
That’s not to say Thor was or has been bad. Far from it. His only allowing two runs over six innings is a testament to that. However, it was the way he pitched that was the problem.
A pitcher with remarkable control walked four batters. That included him issuing back-to-back walks in the third inning to Nolan Arenado and Gerardo Parra to force in a run. Between that and the solo home run he allowed to Ian Desmond in the second, he gave away the Mets 2-0 lead. Yes, it was a thin margin of error, but we have seen Thor thrive with even narrower margins.
The Mets two runs were scored in the first off of Kyle Freeland. The first run was the result of three straight singles from Juan Lagares, Yoenis Cespedes, and Asdrubal Cabrera to start the game. After that, Todd Frazier hit a sacrifice fly to give the Mets a 2-0 lead. In that first inning, Cespedes once again injured his right quad:
I thought he was just doing the Robert Gsellman exercises pic.twitter.com/aUQXXO631T
— Good Fundies is short for Good Fundamentals (@goodfundies) May 6, 2018
He would be removed from the game for Brandon Nimmo, who we would find out can still draw a walk off a left-handed pitcher, but with two strikeouts, he sure does struggle hitting off of them.
Really, the Mets struggled to hit Freeland for the rest of the game. After that three hit onslaught to begin the game, the Mets would get just one more hit off of him until he departed after seven strong innings.
With the Mets not hitting, Syndergaard settling back down, and Jerry Blevins and AJ Ramos combining to pitch a scoreless seventh, Mickey Callaway went to Hansel Robles in the eighth. No one can be quite sure if Robles pointed to the sky again, but we do know he surrendered another homer. This time to Desmond, his second of the game.
With the Mets inability to hit right now, it might as well have been a walk-off home run for all intents and purposes.
The 3-2 loss ended a dreadful home stand which saw the Mets go 0-6. They pitched poorly and hit even worse. They dropped from first to third place in the NL East. They don’t look like a team in a freefall inasmuch as they look like a bad baseball team without any answers. Hopefully, the trip to Cincinnati and Philadelphia will awaken their bats. Although, we should shutter to thing what will happen to the pitching.
Game Notes: Wilmer Flores was 0-2 with a walk against Freeland. He is now hitting .161/.235/.226 off of left-handed pitching this season.
In September 2015, Scott Boras tried to intervene and limit Matt Harvey‘s innings in what could be perceived as an attempt to save the pitcher not just from the Mets, but also from himself. There would be a modified schedule and some skipped starts, but Harvey eventually took the shackles off because he wanted the ball.
Harvey always wanted the ball.
He wanted the ball in the NL East clincher against the Reds. Instead of the five innings he was supposed to pitch, he pitched into the seventh because, well, he wanted to get ready for the postseason, and the Mets were lucky he did.
Harvey won a pivotal Game 3 of the NLDS. With that series going five games, it was Harvey who got the ball in Game 1 of the NLCS. In front of a raucous Citi Field crowd, Harvey set the tone for that series. As he stepped off the mound with two outs in the eighth, he wasn’t tipping his cap. No, he was pumped up like all of Citi Field was because he knew what we all knew . . . this team was going to the World Series.
When telling the story of Matt Harvey, we will forever go back to Game 5. With the Mets team trying to rally back from a 3-1 series deficit, Harvey wanted the ball for the ninth. Terry Collins initially wanted Jeurys Familia, but he relented, and he gave Harvey the ball.
You’d be hard pressed to find a time in Citi Field history louder than when Harvey took the mound in that ninth. A blown lead and Game 5 loss later, you’d never find Citi Field more despondent.
Now, looking back, that Game 5 was the microcosm of Harvey’s Mets career.
He came in, and he gave us all hope the impossible could happen. He brought us all along for the ride. There was no one we wanted out there more than Harvey. And yet at the very end, despite all the hope and brilliance he brought, we were all left in disbelief, and yes, some in tears, over the how and why Harvey was still out there.
Mainly, Harvey was there because despite no matter what anyone said, Harvey wanted to be there, and he was not going to let anyone stop him.
And you know what? Back in 2013, no one could stop him.
In 26 starts, Harvey was 9-5 with a 2.27 ERA, 0.931 WHIP, and a 9.6 K/9. His 2.01 FIP that year would not only lead the Majors, but it would be one of the 10 best over the past 100 years. His WHIP still remains a single season Mets record. It may have seemed premature to put him in the conversation with Tom Seaver and Dwight Gooden, but really, it made sense. Harvey was just that good.
He was the reason to watch a terrible Mets team, and on May 7th, he may have pitched the game of his life. If not for an Alex Rios infield single Ruben Tejada could not turn into an out, Harvey likely pitches a perfect game. Instead, he had to settle for a no decision despite allowing just one hit and 12 strikeouts in nine innings. Just file that away next time someone points out his win-loss record.
That game was the signature Harvey moment. He took the mound with a bloody nose. He was reaching near triple digits with this fastball. He was becoming a superstar. He was making Citi Field his playground.
When we look through the history of Citi Field one day, it will be Harvey who emerged as it’s first superstar. He was the one who brought the crowds. He started the first All Star Game at Citi Field. Arguably, he pitched the two best games ever pitched by a Met at that ballpark.
It would be that 2013 season Harvey broke. He tore his UCL, and he needed Tommy John surgery. Mets fans everywhere who were once so hopeful were crushed. There were many low moments in Mets history since the team moved to Citi Field, but that one is among the lowest.
But when he came back in 2015, hope returned. He may not have been 2013 great, but he was great. For all the criticism over his innings limits, he would throw more innings than any pitcher in baseball history in their first season back from Tommy John.
Looking back at that 2015 season, Harvey gave the Mets and their fans everything he had. He pitched great in the regular season, and he was even better in the postseason. Just like in 2013, he was trying to will the Mets back to prominence. He was taking an organization on his back and trying to win a World Series.
It broke him in 2013, and apparently, it broke him again in 2015.
Really, when he stepped off that mound in Game 5 of the World Series, Harvey was done as we knew him. In 2016, he’d be diagnosed with Thoracic Outlet Syndrome requiring season ending surgery. Last year, Harvey was rushed back to the rotation before he was physically ready, and he suffered a stress reaction. This year, he was healthy, but lost.
Looking back, no one will ever know if Harvey listened to Boras if he’d still be The Dark Knight instead of a guy now looking for a job.
The real shame is how Harvey went out. The same guy who heard the loudest ovations from the fans, the same one who heard Mets fans serenade Stephen Strasburg with “Harvey’s Better!” chants, was booed off the mound the last time he ever pitched on what had once been his mound.
There are some who will find behavioral excuses why Harvey faulted, and maybe they do exist. However, you’d be hard pressed to find a pitcher who was at the top of his game in November only to completely lose it by the next April. Most pitchers get a transition period to figure things out. Harvey’s cruel fate was he had more injuries followed by his getting about a month and a half before being given an ultimatum.
In what once seemed impossible, Harvey was designated for assignment. Sure, Mets fans always expected him to leave one day, but we all thought it would be Harvey who spurned the cheap Wilpon family, not the Wilpons kicking him out the door despite the team still owing him around $4 million.
Much has been made of the Mets crop of starting pitchers, the group who brought them to the 2015 World Series. Make no mistake, Harvey was the best out of the group. Better than Jacob deGrom. Better than Noah Syndergaard.
Really, he was better than anyone not named Seaver or Gooden, and if things had broken right, Harvey could have been a Hall of Famer. He was that good when he was healthy, but he wasn’t healthy making him this generation’s version of Paul Wilson, Jason Isringhausen, or Jon Matlack.
Harvey being designated for assignment wasn’t a shock. With every struggle on the mound, and yes, some personal issues that emerged, he was getting closer and closer to this point. It doesn’t mean this doesn’t hurt the Mets fan, the ones who got to experience in the joy of seeing the real Harvey pitch, any less.
There will come a day down the line where all will be forgiven, and we can all just look back and appreciate all Harvey did for the Mets. We can take a step back and marvel how he potentially sacrificed his entire career to win that one World Series. Really, he has never been thanked or appreciated enough for that.
Now, he is looking for a new team and a new fan base. Hopefully, Harvey rediscovers some of that magic he once had, and hopefully, he gets those cheers again. He’s certainly earned them.
And when he does return to Citi Field, whether it be this year or the next, let’s hope he gets that true standing ovation he deserved, the one he might’ve received on Thursday had we all known it was going to be his last game in a Mets uniform.
No matter what happens, Mets fans everywhere should wish him the best of luck. There was a time we showered him with all the love we had, and he returned the favor by giving us everything he had. Everything. Here’s hoping he gets everything he is looking for in his next stop.
I know no matter what he does, I’m rooting of him. More than that I appreciate Harvey for all he did as a Met. Really, best of luck to you, Matt Harvey.