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.
Before the game, it was announced Matt Harvey refused an assignment to the minors, and in response the Mets designated him for assignment effectively ending his Mets career. This may have been a long time coming, and arguably, you could see Harvey being scapegoated for a Mets team that has struggled since it’s incredible 12-2 start.
Well, Harvey might be gone, but the Mets problems still remain.
Zack Wheeler, who allowed five first inning runs is still inconsistent. Michael Conforto is not hitting for any power, and really, he isn’t even getting on base anymore going 0-5with the golden sombrero. Jay Bruce, for that matter, isn’t hitting for any power either. Maybe there was an impact on Jose Lobaton, who was 1-4, and Amed Rosario, who was 2-4 with an RBI, but probably not.
No, we wouldn’t see Jose Reyes or Adrian Gonzalez bat, both of whom have been utterly terrible, and we did not see Jason Vargas, who by comparison made Harvey look like the 2013 version, and we’ll see what Steven Matz contributes tomorrow.
Overriding point is the Mets problems are still present even with Harvey gone because as bad as Harvey was pitching, he was probably fourth or fifth on lower on the tiers of what is actually wrong with this Mets team.
On the bright side, Bruce played first allowing Brandon Nimmo to hit leadoff going 1-4 with a walk. Of course, he drew a walk. He also scored on the Asdrubal Cabrera home run. That provided a jolt that lasted until Charlie Blackmon hit a homer in the top of the second.
By the time the Mets awoke, it was too late. Todd Frazier‘s eighth inning two run homer made it 8-4. A ninth inning rally with Rosario knocking in Wilmer Flores, who hit a pinch hit double, made it 8-5 This led to Wade Davis coming into the game to close it out . . . just like he did in Game 5 of the World Series.
He allowed a Cabrera RBI triple and subsequently a Frazier RBI single to pull the Mets to withing 8-7. It ended there as Conforto struck out to end the game. Again, somehow Harvey being released didn’t fix him.
Starting tomorrow, it seems like the Mets are going to have to focus on the things that are actually wrong with the team. Seeing how Reyes was re-signed in the offseason, no one should hold their breath.
Game Notes: With Harvey gone, Jerry Blevins and his 6.43 ERA is the worst ERA in the Mets bullpen.
Jason Vargas‘ last start of 2007 was a 3.1 inning effort where he allowed nine runs on 11 hits. His first start of this season was a 3.2 inning effort where he allowed nine runs on nine hits. Seeing that, you would only assume Vargas could only improve from there.
Seeing his start today, you would be right. That’s the good news. The bad news is he’s still terrible.
Really, at that point, the game was over. It was.
Not only did the Braves have Julio Teheran on the mound, but the Mets had another one of their non-competitive lineups enragingly featuring Jose Reyes leading off and playing third. To be fair, Reyes limited the damage by going 0-4 and misplaying what should have been a foul out.
To perfectly encapsulate both how this game and this series was, Teheran was 2-2 with an RBI and a sac fly. The entire Mets offense had just two hits off of him, and those did not come until the seventh inning when the score was already 11-0.
That’s right. 11-0.
It got to that point because the Braves chased Vargas in the fifth with a Ronald Acuna and Markakis home run. Matt Harvey would get the Mets out of the fifth inning jam, and he would pitch a perfect sixth.
Harvey’s velocity was back up to 95, and for a moment you caught yourself thinking maybe he turned the corner. Well, he didn’t. Not even close. In the seventh, he allowed five runs on three hits and three walks.
After the game, you heard people like Nelson Figueroa say Harvey isn’t even a Major League pitcher anymore. Of course, the silence on Reyes, who was terrible again, and Adrian Gonzalez, who wasn’t great again, was deafening.
Right now, there are a lot of problems with the Mets. Fortunately, one of them isn’t Jacob deGrom, who appears to be healthy enough to make his next start. So, there’s that.
Game Notes: The Mets entered this series without being swept or shut out all year. They’ve now been swept and been shut out in consecutive games.
The Mets started 12-2, and it seemed like they could do no wrong. That was until a complete bullpen eighth inning meltdown against the Nationals. Since that point, the Mets have gone 5-9, and they have fallen to second place in the division. With that as the backdrop, we turned to the Mets Blogger Roundtable to ask if Mickey Callaway‘s Mets team is for real:
We’re already seeing the Mets falling back to earth, and there was never any question that they would lose more than 15 games this year. The positive is that they have a core that’s skilled, and a new manager who will hopefully find ways to adapt and keep the room positive throughout the highs and lows of a season.
What *is* reality anyway? We are all one big consciousness agreeing upon a never ending list of rules and quibbling over interpretations of shared perceptions, right? That’s what I learned in third grade from the bus driver who smelled weird. If the reality of the situation is I am being asked if the Mets are as good as they were when they started 11-1, then no, they are not “for real.” They have been the fourth-luckiest team in all of baseball while the Nationals have been the most unlucky. We aren’t going to cry over Bryce Harper‘s misfortune (the Vegas native should be aware of streaks of bad luck at the very least anecdotally). We will cry over the Mets though. Yet we shouldn’t; they just have to play .500 ball from their 13th to 162nd game to hit lucky number 86 wins. They uh, haven’t played over .500 ball since that time but I guessed they would make the wild card game five weeks ago, so I might as well keep my chips on 86.
Right now I want to jump off of my seat in section 509.
Editor’s Note: this response was sent during the game after we learned about deGrom’s elbow.
Yes, but they have holes to fix and this passive approach to every situation is part of the problem.
Are the Mets for real in the sense that they have a genuine chance to end the season where they ended April, in first place? Based on what we’ve seen…sure, why not? I’d hate to think they’re pulling the cap down over our eyes.
Are the Mets for real in the sense that I’m supremely confident they won’t fall out of the race altogether after a while? That’s what the rest of the schedule is for: to find out.
But overall I feel pretty good about this team. The next 130+ games are always the hardest.
Caveat: All of the above is up for grabs in light of the uncertainty surrounding Jacob deGrom.
I think the Mets’ start is most-definitely indicative of the potential of this team moving forward through the season.
The inevitably-oncoming adage of “Jake and Thor, then pray for it to pour” that was true for most of the first month of the season seems to be slowly fading away.
After the inconsistencies of Steven Matz and Zack Wheeler over their first few starts, as well as the banishing of Matt Harvey to the bullpen and the alarming start to Jason Vargas’ second stint with the Mets, things have started to look up lately.
If Wheeler can be effective (read: keep his pitches low), his stuff alone places him among the upper-crust of middle-of-the-rotation starting pitchers in the NL, and the same goes for Matz.
If Vargas has shown anything over his career, he’s proven to be the model of mediocre-but-efficient consistency, and that’s all the team really needs out of him.
I think this offense is truly one of the more-dangerous groups we’ve seen here since the days of Carlos Beltran/David Wright/Carlos Delgado, and I mean that. The recent upticks in production for Jay Bruce and Adrian Gonzalez are promising.
The Mets’ bullpen has, for the most part, been the strength of this team and will continue to be, in my opinion. AJ Ramos looks to have found his groove and Robert Gsellman is absolutely thriving in his new role. Even Seth Lugo, who may not be adapting as easily as Gsellman has, has had some success and only figures to get more comfortable as time goes on. And, to be honest, Harvey could come to be a key cog in the relief corps once he gets a feel for things.
Are the Mets for real? It’s hard to say, but what’s becoming clear is that this season certainly won’t be easy. We got off to a hot start with Yoenis Cespedes, Michael Conforto, and Bruce all slumping, and you have to think we’ll get more from all of them going forward — but we’ll also presumably see regression from Todd Frazier and Asdrubal Cabrera, and the pitching has gone downhill fast since the first few turns through the rotation. Now deGrom is hurt too…if our starters besides Thor are a failed Harvey, a failed Matz, an inconsistent Wheeler, and an unimpressive Jason Vargas, there’s only so much room to get wins with that kind of rotation. Sure, things could turn out well — anything can happen. But as I said, the only thing that’s clear is that it certainly won’t be easy.
Initially, I had a long piece detailing how much the lineup and the pitching staff could benefit from Kevin Plawecki‘s return. How even with the inability to hit for power right now, Conforto is playing a good outfield and getting on base. How when you look deeper into the farm, you see Gavin Cecchini and Peter Alonso getting off to terrific starts making you wonder “What if . . . .”
None of that matters if deGrom is injured like he was in 2016 or Syndergaard was in 2017.
This is not to say his having a serious injury ends the Mets season. Rather, it means the season needs a miracle. In 2016, the Mets got that out of Lugo and Gsellman. Maybe the Mets get that this year out of some group that includes Harvey, Matz, Corey Oswalt, or Chris Flexen.
Maybe . . . .
Personally, I’d like to thank everyone for being able to respond to this roundtable. It was all the more impressive when you consider how panic striken we were collectively as a fanbase when deGrom left the game last night. We do know when that news finally breaks, there will be some terrific things written about deGrom and the Mets. Some of the best things will be written by the people in this roundtable, and I hope you will visit their sites.
That is except for Becky. She is currently a free agent and needs a home to write about the Mets. Hopefully, someone will soon jump in and find a home for her terrific work.
Through the first four innings, Jacob deGrom was pitching like the ace we know he is. After a tough loss, and with first place in the balance, he was as great as he has ever been. Through the first four innings, deGrom had walked none, allowed just two hits, and he struck out six.
He then went into the tunnel into the clubhouse. He was done for the day with a hyper-extended elbow. Based upon the ensuing MRI, he may be gone longer than that. If deGrom is gone, the Mets will have lost much more than a 7-0 game.
Look, we can get into Tom Glavine–Greg Maddux–John Smoltz 1999 strike zone Sean Newcomb was getting from Home Plate Umpire Lance Barrett. The Mets were clearly irritated by it, and we even saw Todd Frazier say something about umpiring in general after the game.
We can even wonder how in the word Wilmer Flores forgot to do the one thing in baseball he is actually good at doing – hitting left-handed pitching.
Really, right now, none of this matters. As it stood, this pitching staff needed at least one more starter, and that was assuming Jason Vargas will get better and Zack Wheeler won’t turn back into the guy who forced the Mets to put him in Triple-A to start the season.
Sure, the Mets are just a half game back, and it is possible Matt Harvey, Seth Lugo, and/or Corey Oswalt step up here. We saw something like that happen in 2016 when Lugo and Gsellman performed a miracle over the last month of the season.
Maybe it’s being a little overly dramatic, but after what we saw with Noah Syndergaard‘s injury last year, and how the energy from the team and the ballpark flat-line after deGrom left the game, it’s very possible the Mets need a miracle.
I guess it’s times like these we all channel our inner Tug McGraw and say, “Ya Gotta Believe”
Up until that point, the Mets catching situation was actually one of the bright spots to what was a great start to the season. The combination of Plawecki and Travis d’Arnaud combined to hit .229/.341/.343 with six runs, a double, a homer, and four RBI. While they were catching, the Mets pitching staff had a 2.47 ERA, 3.2 BB/9, and a 9.9 K/9.
Since d’Arnaud opted to have Tommy John surgery and Plawecki’s hand has taken longer to heal than expected, things have gone quite differently for this Mets team with the new catching tandem of Jose Lobaton and Tomas Nido.
Whereas the Plawecki/d’Arnaud tandem was at least passable offensively, Lobaton/Nido have not. Combined, Lobaton and Nido have hit .164/.269/.218 with a double, triple, and four RBI.
While we should be cautioned not to rely upon things like catcher ERA or results in small sample sizes, the Mets pitching staff has had a 5.30 ERA. Surprisingly, the walks have come slightly down to a 3.0 BB/9 while the strikeouts have remained at a 9.9 K/9.
More troubling, the Mets who got off to a 10-1 start have gone 7-9 with their new catching duo.
There are many reasons for the difference in records including a natural regression from a team that started the season 10-1. Really, no one believed the Mets were going to go 147-15 for the full season.
And the catching situation has nothing to do with Amed Rosario regressing, Michael Conforto not hitting for power, or Adrian Gonzalez not contributing anywhere near what the Mets expected. Still, these catchers are part of a black hole the Mets have in the bottom of their lineup.
The Mets have also had two bad bullpen meltdowns with Lobaton behind the plate. The first one was the Nationals six run 8th inning. It was a complete meltdown, and no one quite knew how to stop it from happening. Not Mickey Callaway. Not Dave Eiland. Not Lobaton.
The second one, much smaller in scale was the Mets blowing a 3-0 lead to the Braves. Lobaton was on for the two run eighth, and Nido was there for the two run ninth.
Maybe these meltdowns were coincidences. It’s possible Matt Harvey would have regressed the way he has anyway. We’ve seen enough of Steven Matz to know we don’t know what he’s going to provide. AJ Ramos and Jerry Blevins always had difficulty with walks. The list goes on and on.
Whatever the case, the one thing that is apparent, even if this stretch is not completely the fault of either Lobaton or Nido, the Mets miss their catchers. Unfortunately, d’Arnaud is gone for the season, and he may never suit up for the Mets again. As for Plawecki, he’s still a few weeks away. Seeing how the Mets are performing in his absence, he cannot get back here soon enough.
One of the most interesting phenomena in sports is how when an aging player returns to his old stomping grounds, sometimes he is just able to turn back the clock. As Mets fans, we saw this in 2006 when Mike Piazza had a two home run game against Pedro Martinez. Yesterday, we saw Adrian Gonzalez have one of those days.
It’s been bad for Gonzalez of late, really bad. He’s been mired in a 1-17 stretch with no extra base hits. Going back a little further, over his last 10 games, he’s hitting .121/.205/.212.
Things have been so bad Wilmer Flores got the previous two starts at first base. Yes, the Padres were starting left-handed pitchers both days, but Gonzalez has killed Clayton Richard. However, when you’re hitting like he’s been hitting, you’re not going to get into the lineup. You’re also going to hear about the Mets planning to move Jay Bruce to first base. This meant if Gonzalez was going to do anything to stop it all from happening, he was going to have to do it now.
— New York Mets (@Mets) April 29, 2018
That seventh inning three run homer was needed because it helped put what was a close game away. Instead of a tight 4-2 game with Mickey Callaway having to use his best relievers, it was a 7-2 laugher allowing Callaway to get work for guys like Matt Harvey.
It was all part of a great day for Gonzalez. Overall, he was 3-6 with a run, double, homer, and five RBI. He would have had an even better day had Franchy Cordero not robbed him of another double earlier in the game.
With Gonzalez front and center, this was really a day when a lot of beleaguered Mets got healthy. Jose Reyes contributed going 2-5 with three runs, a homer, RBI, walk, and a stolen base. Tomas Nido was 2-5 with a run, RBI, and a walk. And Harvey would pitch a scoreless ninth, even if he did allow a hard hit double to Eric Hosmer. Really, that’s the last time I want to ever put Harvey’s name, double, and a 2015 Royal in the same sentence.
Going with the rejuvenation theme, Zack Wheeler was good, which was needed from a Mets rotation still trying to figure out who can be an effective third starter in this rotation.
He battled most of the afternoon, and he did not get a 1-2-3 inning until the fifth, his last inning of work. That said, what impressed you most about this start was how Wheeler found that extra something at times when he’s usually lost it. Wheeler ended a rally in the first by striking out Freddy Galvis. He helped curb a third inning rally limiting the damage to two runs by striking out Carlos Asuaje. After Manuel Margot‘s two out single, stolen base, and advancing to third on a throwing error, Wheeler struck out Hosmer.
Overall, Wheeler had nine strikeouts, but what was really remarkable was how he got them at key moments when he needed a strikeout. That hasn’t always been his M.O., and it’s a real positive step going forward for him.
Even with his start and with Gonzalez turning back the clock was how the Mets offense put five spots on the board in consecutive innings. It was a full on onslaught by a Mets offense which saw every starting position player register two hits. Even Brandon Nimmo, who came on for Yoenis Cespedes, would register two hits. In addition to Gonzalez, Reyes and Todd Frazier would homer. The sum total of this barrage was a 14-2 Mets win marking the first ever time the Mets have scored double digits at Petco Park.
Of course with this being the Mets, not everything could be a positive. Cespedes, who has been torrid of late, had to come out of the game after executing a double steal with Bruce. In what was his second stolen base of the inning, Cespedes jammed his thumb. The good news is the x-rays were negative. The bad news is Cespedes believes he can’t play over the next three days, and that’s with the Braves coming to town.
Still, things could have been a lot worse with Cespedes, and with the Mets going to Petco, a place where they had only previously won one series, things could have gone a lot worse there. All in all, this was a good series where the Mets got back on track.
Game Notes: Paul Sewald recorded his first hold of the season. He initially came on to relieve Wheeler when it was a two run game. He now has a 1.98 ERA on the season.
Back in 1948, Gerald Hern of The Boston Post penned a poem, which was shortened, and the words have forever lived on in baseball lore: “Spahn and Sain and Pray for Rain.”
The reason for the poem was not so much a reflection on the Boston Braves staff as a whole, but more of a reflection of the greatness that was Johnny Sain and Warren Spahn. Both pitchers were aces, and any manager in their right mind would want them pitching more frequently than the rest of their rotation. And that’s basically what happened with Sain making 39 starts and three relief appearances and Spahn making 35 starts and one relief appearance.
The Braves followed that plan to win the 1948 National League pennant.
With deGrom and Syndergaard, the Mets have two aces and Cy Young contenders atop their rotation. After that, at best, you have question marks.
Matt Harvey has been removed from the rotation, and so far, he can’t figure things out in the bullpen. Steven Matz has been struggling just to get into the fifth inning. Zack Wheeler had a Spring Training so poor he began the year in the minors, and after two strong starts for the Mets this year, he reminded you of that guy again in his last start. Finally, Jason Vargas, the guy who was supposed to be an innings eater, got lit up by the worst hitting team in baseball in the ultimate pitchers park.
Seeing what has happened to the once vaunted Mets rotation, they are now in Spahn and Sain territory. The question is what should the quip be. Here are some ideas.
- Thor and Jake and Pray for an Earthquake
- Jake and Thor and Can’t Watch Anymore
- Jake and Thor and the Revolving Door
- Thor and Jake and Oh for God’s Sake
- Thor and Jake And Who is on the Take?
- Jake and Syndergaard Followed By Batters Going Yard
- Thor and deGrom And The Rest Bomb
Personally, I like the first one as it encapsulates both an event which would cause a game cancellation, and it also conveys the disaster the third, fourth, fifth, and now sixth starters have been to start the season.