When Jim Riggleman was hired as the bench coach this past offseason, the running joke was the Mets hired their interim manager. With the Mets faltering, Mickey Callaway‘s seat grows hotter by the day, and it would appear this is less of a joke than it is becoming a reality. Or is it?
Not only is Rojas a rising star, baseball runs through his veins. From the moment he was born, baseball encapsulated his entire life. This is the way things are when you grow up in country like the Dominican Republic. It’s also that way when your father is famed player and manager Felipe Alou, and your brother is Moises Alou. Taking a look at the bloodlines, you could almost see being a Major League manager as Rojas’ destiny.
For his part, Rojas believed this upbringing has influenced not just his career choice but also his views. Rojas would tell Anthony Dicomo of MLB.com, “Growing up in that environment was very impactful, very influential in my baseball growth. Just being born in a baseball atmosphere, right away opening my eyes on baseball from the beginning of my understanding was just really helpful. Right away, I wanted to follow my brothers’ steps. I wanted to follow the family’s steps.”
Obviously, Rojas was never the baseball player he brother was. From 1999 – 2005, he was a part of the Orioles, Marlins, and eventually Expos farm systems. He’d play 37 games for the Expos Gulf Coast League affiliate in 2004 hitting .240/.315/.352. Two years later, Rojas would begin his managerial career for the Expos Dominican Summer League team.
After that one season, the Mets jumped on Rojas, and they made him their DSL Manager for one season. The team then brought him stateside to serve as a coach for two years in the Gulf Coast League. Finally, in 2011, at the age of 29, Rojas would be named the manager of that same affiliate. From that point until this year, Rojas has been a manager in the Mets farm system.
During his time as a manager in the Mets system, he has managed a number of Mets prospects including current Mets Pete Alonso, Tyler Bashlor, Michael Conforto, Jacob deGrom, Drew Gagnon, Robert Gsellman, Seth Lugo, Steven Matz, Brandon Nimmo, Jeff McNeil, Amed Rosario, Dominic Smith, Amed Rosario, and Daniel Zamora. Put another way, Rojas has helped develop the current Mets core become not just Major League players, but in some instances, All-Star caliber players.
He’s certainly left an impression on each of these players. When hired, Alonso shared a story about Rojas’ enthusiasm for his players saying, “He was jumping up and down, arms waving in the air. I honestly think Luis was happier than [Nick Sergakis].”
But it’s more than enthusiasm and relationships, Rojas can coach. It’s one of the reasons why the Mets see him as a rising star and why they were so enthusiastic to name him the team’s first ever quality control coach. In addition to those duties, he is also the team’s outfield coach.
We are seeing his impact as an outfield coach right now. Entering this season, McNeil had played all of 26.1 innings in left field over a six year span. It was up to Rojas to get McNeil up to speed. As he explained, Rojas’ plan was to begin “with the basics: pre-pitch, stance, route, reads off the bat and we progress into other things that we are taking here into camp and then some of the drills that we bring in with some of the outfielders.” (NY Post).
With Rojas coaching McNeil, McNeil has quickly become good in the outfield with a 2 DRS, which is sixth best in the league. It’s also important to note when Conforto was drafted, the knock on him was his defense. He worked with Rojas on his defense, and he has been really good out there. Now that he’s reunited with Rojas, Conforto has a 3 DRS which is good for sixth best in the majors.Credit is due to the players, but they got to that point because they are working with an excellent coach.
Rojas is not just a coach who is able to connect with this players, he is also comfortable not just with analyzing advanced data, but also putting it in terms which are useful to the players. As noted by MMO‘s Michael Mayer, it is Rojas’ responsibility to streamline the data to the players.
While comparisons of this nature tend to be unfairly lofty, in some ways Rojas does remind you of Alex Cora. Rojas has shown the ability to understand not just the fundamental aspects of the game, but he is also well versed and comfortable handling analytical data. He is an excellent communicator and coach. He loves the game, and he loves his players.
Whenever the time comes, Rojas should prove to be a good manager for the Mets. He is everything an organization and its players want in a manager. Being the communicator he is, he should also be able to handle the press well. Hopefully, another team doesn’t realize what the Mets have in Rojas and grab him before the time the Mets have a chance to elevate him into the manager’s role he was destined to be seemingly since the day he was born.
Recently, there has been a number of questions from the media regarding Mickey Callaway‘s job status. Based upon the roster and his statements yesterday, maybe the media should instead be asking Brodie Van Wagenen if he knows what he’s doing.
Back in January, the Mets obtained Keon Broxton from the Milwaukee Brewers for Bobby Wahl, Adam Hill, and Felix Valerio. In the press release announcing the deal, Brodie Van Wagenen said, “Keon is a dynamic athlete with the ability to impact the game in the outfield, on the bases and with his bat. He adds depth to our major league roster for 2019 and into the future.”
In 34 games that did not prove to be the case as Broxton was about as you can be. He had an 8 wRC+ while striking out 41.5 percent of the time while posting a -1 DRS in the outfield. Really, every time he took the field you failed to see not just how he could help the Mets, but also why the Mets would give up three players for him.
Everyone has been frustrated by it, Broxton included. After he struck out to end the game against the Nationals, he said, “From the start of the season I’ve been surprised. I haven’t been playing too much, I haven’t gotten as many opportunities. It’s not like I started out bad. It is what it is though. They got a plan and they’re working with it, so all I can do is try to be ready.”
With his being designated for assignment, he’s going to try to be ready somewhere else.
Van Wagenen addresses the decision before yesterday’s loss against the Marlins. In his comments, there was certainly a bit of revisionist’s history:
Clearly, we gave up a few players for Keon. We said publicly then, and I think it’s played itself out here now that Keon’s move was potentially redundant by design.
The Mets General Manager stood in front of reporters, and he told them he gave away three players for someone he now for the first time admits was redundant.
It needs to be reiterated. Van Wagenen admitted he used prospects and a roster spot on a player with no options and could refuse an assignment to the minors. He did that with full knowledge Broxton was redundant because of Juan Lagares.
He utilized assets and a roster spot for a redundant player.
Van Wagenen did that despite the team entering the season with just two caliber starting outfielders on the roster. He did that despite there being a plethora of veterans available who’d sign a minor league deal to serve the same purpose. Veterans like Gregor Blanco, Rajai Davis, or Carlos Gomez.
Do you want those guys starting games? No, of course not. However, those are the types of players who could serve as redundancies to a backup. But now, in his infinite wisdom, Broxton designates Broxton for assignment for Gomez, someone who they signed without giving up three players.
As if this wasn’t bad enough, the Mets need the depth now. Michael Conforto is on the IL with a concussion, and given the nature of the injury, no one can know when he can return. Jeff McNeil has not landed on the IL, but he’s dealing with an abdominal issue.
It’s also bizarre Van Wagenen suddenly decided Lagares wasn’t going to be injured this year. Lagares has been on the disabled list in each of the past three years and five of his last six. After the Mets played 42 games and lost two of their starting outfielders, Van Wagenen decides the team doesn’t need their redundancy for Lagares.
Even better, the player replacing Broxton is the injury prone Gomez.
In the end, Broxton did little to prove he belonged on the roster. In some ways, he reminded you of Alejandro De Aza, who was terrible to open 2016 with fans begging he be designated for assignment. Of course, De Aza came up huge in July and September to help that Mets team make the postseason.
There will be no such redemption story for Broxton because Van Wagenen decided the team needed LESS outfield depth with their top two outfielders injured. Apparently, the Mets also no longer need redundant players on the roster (as if any team ever needs that).
Of course, despite having effectively throwing away three players for a player Van Wagenen saw as a redundancy, he gets to answer questions about Callaway’s job status. He also gets to make a decision (or have input on the decision) to fire Callaway for his inability to win games with a roster full of underperforming redundant players.
You know things are going south fast with the Mets when Jacob deGrom gets battered by the Marlins. In five innings, he allowed seven runs (six earned) on nine hits.
Sure, deGrom was abandoned by his defense. Misplays by the team’s two best defensive players, Juan Lagares and Todd Frazier, led to runs. Carlos Gomez threw a ball away allowing a run to score and move a runner into scoring position. However, it wasn’t either one of them who allowed a Jorge Alfaro bomb.
Paul Sewald, who was called up today, would eat up two innings to help save the bullpen. When he left the game, it seemed like the team was just going through the motions.
Brandon Nimmo singled, and Amed Rosario walked in front of Robinson Cano. Instead of delivering the key hit, he’d ground into an inning ending 1-6-3 double play. Although he’s done it his whole career, he certainly chose an awkward spot to not even bother running it out.
For what it’s worth, Cano said the scoreboard said there were two outs.
Still, the Mets had another rally in them even after Sewald allowed a run in the bottom of the seventh.
For some reason, Don Mattingly thought it was a good idea to bring in Adam Conley to start an inning which Alonso was leading off. Alonso made Mattingly pay by hitting a homer which sparked, not killed, rally.
The decision briefly looked like it’d haunt Mattingly when Lagares hit an RBI single. However, the rally stifled from there. After a Davis pop out, Nimmo hit a sacrifice fly. That’s when Mickey Callaway made a game altering decision.
Amed Rosario, who has been one of the Mets better hitters of late, was due up. Romo was a tough matchup for him, and you could understand the inclination to hit for him, especially when the guy you’re bringing in was Jeff McNeil. However, that overlooks McNeil not only left yesterday’s game with an abdominal injury, but he also wouldn’t start tonight because of it.
McNeil didn’t look quite like McNeil striking out against Romo. As bad as that was, things would get worse in the ninth.
After two quick outs, Wilson Ramos hit a double to keep the Mets hopes alive. Because of Callaway’s decision in the eighth, that meant the game was Adeiny Hechavarria‘s hands. He predictably struck out and the Mets lost 8-6.
There was plenty of blame to go around. The defense abandoned deGrom, who didn’t pitch well. Cano didn’t run it out and/or didn’t know how many outs there were. Callaway set a series of dominos into effect which led to Hechavarria striking out to end the game.
This is what a bad baseball team looks like.
Game Notes: Michael Conforto was placed on the seven day concussion IL. Keon Broxton was designated for assignment to make room for Gomez on the roster. Gomez is wearing 91. Frazier was 2-for-3 with a walk and a triple.
The Mets went to Washington to face a bad Nationals team, and they cam out of the series looking like the bad team. They’re now not just bad, but also injured. Things are going south real fast:
1. The Mets absolutely did the right thing pulling Michael Conforto from that game. The team should be commended not just for pulling him but also for sending him to New York by train. It’s good to see they’ve learned something from how they mismanaged the Ryan Church and Jason Bay concussions.
2. It’s not his fault per se, but Robinson Cano cannot both be bad at the plate and in the field while also taking out the team’s best player.
3. With Conforto and Jeff McNeil having injuries, Cano needs to step up now. Same goes to Todd Frazier, who should begin to see some regular playing time, which should allow him to get into a groove. Not only do these two players need it to happen, Brodie Van Wagenen does as well.
4. Other than Edwin Diaz not one move Van Wagenen made this offseason has panned out,and it looks all the worse considering how much the team gave up in terms of prospects in an attempt to improve the team.
5. Drew Gagnon made Van Wagenen look bad when he out-pitched Wilmer Font who looked like a 29 year old reliever with a career 6.81 ERA trying to be a starting pitcher. Looking at Gagnon, you realize, not only was the trade unnecessary, but also giving up a prospect for a when you had a better version of him was plain dumb.
6. Gio Gonzalez continues to make the Mets look worse. In four starts, he is 2-0 with a 1.69 ERA and a 1.078 WHIP. In all four of his starts, he has gone at least five innings, which is something the Mets have only gotten twice from their fifth starts in their 10 starts. That includes Jason Vargas, who is averaging 3.2 innings per start.
7. As if Gonzalez performing well isn’t enough, and knowing the team passed on him thinking Vargas was better and Steven Matz was dealing with elbow issues, we now find out the team never actually made him an offer.
8. Van Wagenen did the same exact thing with his outfield. The Mets entered the year with just two starting caliber starting outfielders, and the team brought in Keon Broxton, who was a worse version of Juan Lagares. As a result, Broxton has seen almost no playing time.
9. It may not be a good look for Broxton to complain after his noncompetitive at-bat to end the game, but he does have a point. The team traded real assets to obtain him only to superglue him to the bench and not give him a real chance to establish himself.
10. Because of the Mets stubbornness not letting Dominic Smith play left field, the team is forced to play J.D. Davis in left field despite his not having the speed to play left field and his hitting .219/.219/.250 during the month.
11. It is going to be fun seeing Carlos Gomez wear a Mets uniform again. He was the big time prospect who was supposed to take us to the next level, except he didn’t because he was traded for Johan Santana. Then, he didn’t come back because he failed his medicals, which was fine by Mets fans as Wilmer Flores became a folk hero. Through all that has happened, it would be great to see Gomez be the key piece to a Mets winner like we thought he would be in 2007 and 2015.
12. The league has caught up to Pete Alonso. In May, Alonso is hitting just .191/.255/.383 while striking out 29.4 percent of the time. You wonder how long this goes on for before either Alonso adjusts or the Mets are forced to make a decision.
13. Even with Robert Gsellman struggles yesterday, the Mets bullpen has been great in May with the best ERA in the National League.
14. Too much is being made of Gsellman not pitching over eight days. This is a guy the Mets intend on leaning on heavily to pitch multiple innings, and anywhere you can get him a bit of extended rest you do it. It should also be noted between off days and the rain outs, the Mets haven’t played much over the past eight days.
15. So far, Tyler Bashlor has really stepped up and taken advantage of the opportunity given to him. With the way he is pitching, he may be an important piece to this bullpen.
16. Noah Syndergaard is finally looking like Syndergaard again with two of his last three outings being completely dominant.
17. Zack Wheeler‘s own run was broken up with a very disappointing effort against the Nationals. In that spot against that team, Wheeler needed to be better.
18. While we should expect more from Wheeler in that spot, it’s hard to get on Mets pitchers as a whole, as they are the reason the Mets are even close to .500. It’s also important to remember Wheeler is a second half pitcher, and as Syndergaard will tell you, the Mets are a second half team. The trick there is being close enough in the standings to take advantage of that.
20. There are valid criticisms of Callaway like his dry humping Diaz and using Seth Lugo the day before Font was set to start. However, make no mistake, he’s only on the hot seat because none of Van Wagenen’s moves have worked. Ultimately, that makes Callaway the fall guy for a novice General Manager who has looked to be in over his head.
Robinson Cano hit what should’ve been an inning ending double play in the first. Except it wasn’t because Gerardo Parra, who was playing out of position, dropped the ball and probably pulled his foot off the bag as well. The Mets would make the Nationals pay for the play (which is technically not an error), when Ramos hit a grand slam off Jeremy Hellickson:
When you go two days without baseball, why wait any longer for runs? pic.twitter.com/5r35prFfqS
— New York Mets (@Mets) May 14, 2019
Syndergaard had a no-hitter through five off just 59 pitches. He’d sit on the bench for a lengthy sixth inning, one which featured a Brandon Nimmo RBI double off the left-handed Matt Grace, the Nationals would finally get to Syndergaard.
Overall, Syndergaard pitched eight innings allowing two earned on four hits and one walk while striking out six.
The Mets would get an insurance run in the ninth when Dominic Smith hit a 3-0 pitch from Joe Ross out to dead center. It should be noted with the homer, it was no longer a save situation, and as we know there is the Diaz Dictate.
This meant Callaway would dry hump Edwin Diaz, and he would bring in Seth Lugo to pitch the ninth. Callaway made that decision despite Diaz being ready to go, and Wilmer Font likely giving the team a short start tomorrow. Hopefully, that won’t matter as Ramos looks to win his second in a row. If he does, the Mets will be back over .500.
Game Notes: Jed Lowrie has been shut down again, this time with a grade one hamstring strain, and he currently has no timetable for his return.
When a team disappoints, the manager will be on the hot seat. So far this year, the Mets are one game under .500, the organization had a meeting to discuss what was wrong with Mickey Callaway and to see if there are things the team can do to prevent a repeat of what happened last year. Considering how the team traded away all those prospects in a clear win-now move, it does not seem Callaway is going to stand on firm footing.
The question is whether Callaway should be on the hot seat. The Mets Bloggers offer their views:
There’s no question about it. I never like to blame the roster or it’s issues on the manager, but the fact remains they have under-performed to this point in the season. The schedule has been rough, but that’s not an excuse for good teams. And the decision making in the dugout continues to be perplexing at its best, which only exacerbates the problems they have. I think there could be action taken if the Mets don’t come through what should be a lighter 16 games heading into Memorial Day over .500.
Tim Ryder (MMO)
Unfortunately, yes, I think he should be. His players appear to enjoy playing for him. But if the results aren’t there, despite his players’ support, he’s gonna have a hard time sticking around.
Joe Maracic (Joe Art Studio)
I never want to see someone lose their job but Mickey should be on the hot seat. Back to back seasons of starting strong then fading is not a good sign. He was a pitching coach and has been anything but creative handling the staff.
Mark Healey (Gotham Baseball)
Should he be? Yes, this team was built to get off to a fast start and should have, despite the injuries. I like Mickey, seems to be a good man who the players seem to like. But that sounds like how people described Terry Collins for the majority of his tenure. Will he be? Hard to tell. Brodie didn’t hire him, and Jeff Wilpon is reactive, so if the team starts creeping toward being 10 games under, a change will be made.
Here’s the rub for me; the heir apparent is Jim Riggleman, who is the living embodiment of a retread. Not much winning in his background, but a get along, go along persona that will fit right in with an organization that thinks scripting the lineup is the way to run the day-to-day. Think a more assertive, more veteran type of skipper is needed in New York, esp a team that has a perception of not being “all in” financially. A guy who can get more out of players, a guy who has the confidence to walk into his office, see a lineup on his desk, and choose to write up his own if he feels it will be a better one.
Metstradamus (Metstradamus Blog)
He will be, but he shouldn’t be. I think he should get the season and I think that’s probably going to be it for him. But this team started struggling when it stopped hitting. The players that stopped hitting were Brodie’s acquisitions. They may come out of it and when they do, everything will be fine again. Callaway hasn’t been the best, but we’re living in an age where front offices are taking more of a role in how a manager does his job and makes more decisions than ever. More of what makes a manager successful these days is having a good bench coach. So a manager does less and less, right? Then why now, when we look at fall guys, do we still look at the manager? And if Callaway goes, who replaces him long term, assuming Riggleman is the interim for the season? Is it going to be Joe Girardi or Buck Showalter or Wally Backman? Can you picture the Wilpons hiring a strong personality like that? Okay, so Callaway’s long term replacement is probably going to be somebody else just like Callaway. So my quesion is: what’s the point? Fire Callaway if you want. It won’t do much. This is the way we’re going in baseball now. GMs and team presidents are the stars of the show now. The only question is how long are they going to get away with using managers as scapegoats before people pull back the curtain and realize that front offices have most of the responsibility these days anyway?
Greg Prince (Faith and Fear in Flushing)
The hot seat is a terrible concept, but Mickey Callaway hasn’t been much of a manager.
James Schapiro (Shea Bridge Report)
To me, it seems like too many fans judge managers mostly based on whether or not they look like Lou Brown from “Major League.” I’ve seen a lot of people saying things like “Mickey has no fire” or “this team isn’t hungry enough,” or things like that, but I think the simple truth is that we hit a bunch of offensive skids (Robinson Cano, Michael Conforto, Pete Alonso, Wilson Ramos, Jeff McNeil to an extent, Todd Frazier, J.D. Davis, Brandon Nimmo) and not many teams could overcome that. To me, the manager barely matters at all, and in terms of actual managing, I’d say Mickey has been pretty much solid so far. If there was someone else who could make the team better, I’d say sure, go out and get them — but I don’t think the manager is where our problems are coming from right now, and our problem certainly isn’t some ridiculous 1950s-style intangible, like “not wanting it more,” that could be fixed if we just brought in a guy with a beer gut and a mustache who cursed a lot.
Greg Prince (Faith and Fear in Flushing)
Lou Brown was an analytics pioneer. Knew exactly how many wins the Tribe would need to take the division.
James Schapiro (Shea Bridge Report)
Oh, believe me…the moment the Mets call the California Penal League and sign a big arm with no control who doesn’t realize he needs glasses, Lou Brown is the guy you want.
Until then, though…
There are many and varied valid criticisms of Callaway. Personally, I find his willingness to just burn pinch hitters late in game to be a bizarre move, especially when the front office routinely gives him short benches. But when you look at it, this is the team the front office gave him.
There’s no amount of managing Callaway can do to make Cano younger, or to make players who are playing through injuries, like Nimmo, play better. Also, when a team buys into Chili Davis‘ offensive approach like the Mets seemingly have so far, you begin to realize this is more a problem of design than execution.
When looking at Callaway, you do see a team continuing to play hard, and you do see the team pitching well. These are two areas which could be attributable to Callaway. You also see a manager handling the bullpen much better than he did last year. Taking a long term view, the real strength of this team is the pitching, and it has been Callaway and Dave Eiland who has taken them to the next level.
What the Mets need to do before even considering putting Callaway on the hot seat for the inherent flaws in this roster, is they need to figure out who they can hire to keep Eiland around even if they fire Callaway. Short of Girardi, is there really anyone? Of course, the next step is to figure out why Girardi would make this team his last stop or how exactly the Mets plan to pay him.
No matter what the Mets decide with Callaway, this great group of fans and bloggers aren’t going anywhere. You should do yourself a favor and follow the links to their sites to read their great analysis of Callaway and all things Mets.
Nothing like the league worst Marlins to come into town to help the Mets offense get rolling:
3. Batting Conforto fifth is plain stupid and reactionary, especially when he’s their best hitter. Same goes to batting Brandon Nimmo sixth.
4. Alonso’s numbers look good due to his first 12 games. Since that time, he’s batting .222/.316/.444. He’s increasingly becoming an all or nothing hitter, albeit one with the propensity for the big hit.
5. Nice to see the Mets wait too long before putting Steven Matz on the IL. It’s like for all of Brodie Van Wagenen’s boasting about things being different, nothing has changed with him in charge.
7. Say what you want about Jason Bay, but at least he played for the Mets.
8. The Mets giving Mickey Callaway no information on Lowrie and then having him be the one answer questions about his status once again shows nothing has changed under Van Wagenen.
10. Seeing how well things worked with Wilson, the Mets are using the same plan of action with Jeurys Familia.
11. You have to admire Van Wagenen’s refusal to learn and adapt on the job.
14. If Tomas Nido starts hitting that’s a game changer. Over his last three, Nido 4-for-11 with a homer.
15. While it was overlooked, Nido had LASIK surgery in the offseason. It may take time to adjust, but if he’s seeing the ball better, he may begin to hit better.
17. Amed Rosario went from a below average hitter over the first month to a 111 wRC+ so far in May. Seeing his offense progress this way, maybe there’s still hope for his glove to catch up.
18. Keon Broxton has been worse than terrible, and Carlos Gomez has been hot in Syracuse. That doesn’t erase the past few years, and Broxton should get a longer rope considering he’s out of options, has actually been a successful bench player, and has arguably been a better player over the past few years.
19. Mets going a perfect 5-for-5 for the Marlins is no small feat. It’s exactly what they need to do, and destroying bad teams is exactly how the 2015 Mets won the division.
20. Whoever came up with the new backpack policy is an idiot, and the Mets deserve to have decreased attendance for having implemented it.
While we all expect Jacob deGrom to receive little to no run support in his starts, this was the Marlins. When push comes to shove, you’d expect the Mets to give deGrom the run support he needed to get the win.
When opposing pitcher Sandy Alcantara doubled home a run in the third, you figured it would be the only run the Marlins got off deGrom. You’d be right too as deGrom allowed just one run over seven innings off five hits and one walk with eight strikeouts.
The Mets finally broke through in the fourth when Michael Conforto singled home Robinson Cano. Still, entering the sixth, it was tied at one, and aside from that fourth inning, the Mets did little against Alcantara.
Then, Pete Alonso and Conforto would make sure deGrom would get his win:
With respect to Conforto, the Marlins cannot get him out. After his going 3-for-3 yesterday with a HBP, walk, and homer yesterday, he was 2-for-3 with a walk and a homer tonight. Perhaps, he should be hitting higher than fifth, especially when you consider he’s probably the best hitter on the team.
Even with the two homers, Don Mattingly didn’t pull Alcantara. The Mets and deGrom would make him pay. After a Brandon Nimmo two our walk, Tomas Nido and deGrom hit back-to-back singles giving the Mets a 4-1 lead.
In the eighth, Mickey Callaway had some fun. He double switched Seth Lugo into the game putting him in a position to go two innings. He’d line up his defense as well with Dominic Smith, Todd Frazier, and Juan Lagares coming into the game. With the way Lugo pitched, it proved to be a superfluous move.
Diaz got the first two outs quickly, but after Diaz issued a walk to Jorge Alfaro, Harold Ramirez hit an infield single bringing Jon Berti up as the tying run. He’d line out to Conforto to end the game, and suddenly, the Mets are in position to not just go for the sweep tomorrow but also get back to .500.
The all-in Mets who dared everyone to come get them started Wilmer Font against the San Diego Padres. That happened because Jason Vargas and Steven Matz are hurt, and Brodie Van Wagenen could not be bothered to build starting pitching depth this offseason leaving him to trade a PTBNL for Font.
Font isn’t a true starter, but he was pressed into duty. Fortunately for the Mets, he would acquit himself well and not be the reason why the Mets lost.
In four innings, he’d allow two earned on three hits with no walks and a strikeout. This is better than what the Mets could’ve expected, but it wasn’t enough for the struggling Mets offense.
The Mets had grabbed a lead in the game almost immediately due to a Jeff McNeil hustle double to lead off the game followed by an Amed Rosario RBI single. Rosario would then be stranded. That’s certainly been a theme for the Mets of late.
After the Tomas Nido solo shot in the second, the Mets had a 2-0 lead. As noted, Font gave it back, but when you start Font, you should expect that to happen.
In the seventh, Michael Conforto would leadoff the inning with a walk, and he’d steal second base. However, he wouldn’t score on a Jeff McNeil double because Conforto thought Margot caught the ball. It also didn’t help Nido and Todd Frazier struck out to end that rally.
Hunter Renfroe, who like Margot kills the Mets, would homer off Tyler Bashlor in the seventh. It was the only run the Mets bullpen allowed that one run due to the strong work of Robert Gsellman and Drew Gagnon.
The Mets would have a chance in the ninth despite just a horrendous third strike call against Conforto.
— Roger Cormier (@yayroger) May 8, 2019
Despite the horrid calls from the umps on balls and strikes, the Mets would put together a two out rally. J.D. Davis hit an infield single, and Nimmo walked.
This put the game in Nido’s hands. He was having a great game. He was 2-for-3 with the homer. He picked a guy off first base.
But against Kirby Yates, he struck out on three pitches. With that strikeout, the Mets lost the series and finished the road trip 1-5. Fortunately, they’re coming home to a weak schedule.
This game was starting to look awfully familiar. Even with Amed Rosario hitting an RBI triple, he was bad in the field making yet another error. The offense wasn’t scoring runs at all putting Zack Wheeler in a position to be a hard luck loser.
Wheeler was good against the team he was almost traded to four years ago. In seven innings, he allowed two earned on six hits with one walk and 10 strikeouts. Even with him pitching well, in a sick twist, he was in a position to get the loss against Gio Gonzalez.That was until Pete Alonso came up to the plate against Junior Guerra:
— New York Mets (@Mets) May 5, 2019
As Mark Simon of Sports Info Solutions points out, Alonso is now 6-for-10 with three homers in the ninth inning. This is exactly what clutch looks like.
Seth Lugo was also clutch pitching three scoreless innings. Edwin Diaz came into a tie game in the 12th, and he didn’t allow a home run. He would get through the inning unscathed with some help from Jeff McNeil, who made a diving catch to rob Ryan Braun of an extra bass hit.
McNeil came up big again in the 13th. Despite being 0-for-5 up until that point, with two outs, he singled sending Hechavarria to third. The Brewers went to the bullpen to bring in Adrian Houser to face Alonso. Unfortunately, Alonso didn’t come through a second time.
O’Rourke was not particularly effective. He walked both Eric Thames and Mike Moustakas, but he was still able to get through the inning because Wilson Ramos picked Thames off first, and Yasmani Grandal flew out to end the inning.
That left Robert Gsellman as the last line of defense. He navigated his way through a Braun one out double in the 14th. On the play, Rosario just dropped a throw from Michael Conforto, which arrived much earlier than Braun did.
Rosario was at it again in the 15th. His error allowed Hernan Perez to get on to lead-off the inning. Tomas Nido would erase him on the basepaths when Perez tried to advance on a ball which trickled not too far from Nido.
Fortunately, the 16th inning was uneventful for Gsellman, which sent the game to the 17th. It wouldn’t be Gsellman for the 17th as Steven Matz pinch hit for him. This meant it was all gong to be on Chris Flexen.
FINALLY, in the 18th, McNeil would drive home a run. His two out RBI single in the 18th knocked in Hechavarria who easily beat Braun’s run home. It was McNeil’s third straight hit in extras after not getting a hit through nine.
Flexen wasn’t going to make it easy walking Thames to start the inning, and he’d walk Grandal and Travis Shaw to load the bases with one out. Specifically with the Shaw at-bat, Angel Hernandez missed pitches in the strike zone and called then mmm balls.
With that, Braun would hit a ball Alonso couldn’t handle. It was hit very hard, and really, it was a problem of Flexens making.
In the end, it took 18 innings and 33 games for the Mets to finally go under .500.
Game Notes: Adeiny Hechavarria made his Mets debut getting double switched into the game in the ninth.