Mickey Callaway

Free Agents Mets Should Avoid This Offseason

With the way Yasmani Grandal is outright struggling during the NLCS, he is invariably going to damage his value on the free agent market this offseason.  Exactly how much remains to be seen, and you will likely see in some uneducated corners that the Mets should not pursue Grandal this offseason.  To a certain extent, it’s absurd to ignore a player’s entire career over a few games.

When looking at Grandal, this is a Mets team built on pitching, and as such, they should prioritize a catcher who thrives at pitch framing.  They should also avoid players who are terrible at it.  Really, overall, there are a number of players the Mets should absolutely avoid this offseason.

C – Wilson Ramos

In case you have missed the past decade of Mets baseball, the last thing this franchise needs is another injury prone player who is over 30 years old.  As bad as their injury issues were previously, they suddenly become worse when they wear a Mets uniform.  When you combine that with Ramos having terrible pitch framing numbers and his probably getting a fairly large contract, the Mets should be a hard pass on him.

1B – Marwin Gonzalez

Gonzalez’s reputation seems to be much better than the player he actually is.  This is not unusual for a player who is not too far removed from a great year or for a player who is playing for a great team.  Breaking down Gonzalez’s career, he is a .264/.318/.419 hitter with just one good offensive season under his belt.  He’s a versatile player whose best position is LF.  He’s going to be 30 and overpaid.  Mostly, he’s a complimentary piece which helps a great team like the Astros but will not be a significant contributor to a team like the Mets.

2B – DJ LeMahieu

With the emergence of Jeff McNeil, the Mets are not likely in the market for a second baseman, but then again, due to McNeil’s versatility, they could opt to sign a second baseman and move McNeil elsewhere.  If they do so, they need to avoid LeMahieu.  While very good defensively, this is a guy who just can’t hit outside of Coors Field, and for what it’s worth, he doesn’t hit all that well at Coors Field either as evidenced by his career 96 wRC+ there.

3B – Asdrubal Cabrera

When he was with the Mets, Cabrera was a clutch second half player.  Despite all the injuries, he tried to play everyday.  He was a popular player, and he was much better than anyone could have anticipated he would be when the Mets signed him.  That said, he’s no longer an everyday player, and it’s questionable just how much he’d be willing to accept a utility role.

SS – Jose Reyes

Over the last two seasons, he was just about the worst player in baseball, and he was a malcontent who was not above going to the press to try to lobby for more playing time.  His team in a Mets uniform or really any MLB uniform should be over.

LF – Rajai Davis

As we saw with Jackson with season (more on him in a minute), the Mets are likely looking for a cheap right-handed hitting veteran who can play CF.  After Davis hit that incredible game tying homer in Game 7 of the 2016 World Series, he has not done much since.  He may come cheap, but the 37 year old will be cheap for a reason.  The Mets need to do much better than this to fill out a bench.

CF – A.J. Pollock

Back in 2015, Pollock was a superstar in the making.  He was a Gold Glover, and he was probably the third best center fielder in all of baseball.  Since that time, Pollock has been injury prone, and he has not played more than 113 games in a season.  He’s no longer a big bat in the lineup.  While his defense is still good, it has been in decline, and there is a fair question over how long he can stay there (whether due to injuries or regression).  He’s going to get a big contract, but it should not be by a Mets team with a horrendous history of dealing with over 30 year old injury prone players.

RF – Austin Jackson

The Mets signed Jackson late in the season presumably to see if he should be part of the mix next season.  In 57 games, Jackson was a bad hitter and an equally poor fielder.  Especially with Juan Lagares coming back from injury (again), the Mets should steer well clear of Jackson.

SP – Bartolo Colon

We get it.  Fans love him because he’s fat, old, has been suspended for steroids, and didn’t pay child support to his second family.  When you strip down the whole contrived lovable gimmick, he’s a bad MLB pitcher who should either be retiring, fighting for a bullpen spot, or rounding out a terrible team’s rotation just like he did with the Rangers this past year.

RHP Reliever – Cody Allen

Like with Bryan Shaw last year, there will likely be a call for the Mets to reunite some of the Indians bullpen with Mickey Callaway.  While the urge is understandable, the Mets should resist as the wear and tear of his workload seemingly took a took a toll on him this season.  After posting very good numbers in the first six years of his career, Allen had a career worst 4.70 ERA, 93 ERA+, and a 4.56 FIP.  While he may be salvaged to be a good reliever, with how the market has gone insane with relievers the past few years, it’s not likely Allen will be paid as the rehabilitation project he just might be.

LHP Reliever – Jerry Blevins

Look, Blevins has had a good career, and his best years were clearly with the Mets.  His numbers were skewed this year by a bad April and an equally bad September.  More troubling than that is Blevins really struggled getting left-handed batters out this season.  While it’s possible that issue will iron itself out, the real issue is his walks.  For three straight seasons, his walk totals have gone up while his K/BB ratio has gone down.  With the emergence of Daniel Zamora and with other relievers available this offseason, it’s time to turn the page.

Mets General Manager Search Is A Farce

There are a number of indications the Mets General Manager search is a complete and utter farce.  The fact the team knew of this opening in June and has just now even contemplated conducting a search was a big indicator.  However, there are even bigger signs beyond that, and they are just now coming to the surface.Perhaps the biggest indication come from Jon Heyman, who recently reported for Fancred:

There’s a split on Mickey Callaway within the Mets’ front office, so expect him to have a short leash in 2019. The Mets have consistently said Callaway will return to manage next year even before hiring a GM. However, some within the Mets’ hierarchy see it as a work in progress that may not work out.

Think about it for a second.  The Mets have no hired a new GM to replace Sandy Alderson.  Presumably, when you hire that GM, you are going to permit him to actually build a front office.  Maybe that includes John Ricco and Omar Minaya, who Jeff Wilpon reportedly wants to keep, and maybe it doesn’t.  The point is the people who are there now should be there on an interim basis until such time as the new GM constructs his new front office.

And yet, reports are there’s a split on the manager in the front office, which is s clear indication the new GM will be brought in to execute a plan instead of creating one of his or her own.  Other news reports bear this out.

Mike Chernoff, who has the opportunity to return home and get somewhat of a soft hand from the press with his dad being station director at WFAN, has declined the Mets job.  Others who have declined include Twins GM Thad Levine, Dodgers President of Baseball Operations Josh Byrnes, and Blue Jays Vice President of Baseball Operations Ben Cherington.  There are likley more names which have not been reported.

As Mike Puma of the New York Post reports, there “is the perception that team COO Jeff Wilpon will run the baseball operations department, with the new hire as the real No. 2 in the organization.”

There are other reports Jeff Wilpon blatantly lied about how the team operates according to the recommendations of the General Manager.  In fact, Tim Healey of Newsday reported not just how this is untrue, but also how it has led to the organization bleeding talented people.  As Healey reports, “Multiple sources disputed Wilpon’s statement, saying ownership denied repeated requests in recent years from Alderson’s baseball operations department to add to the analytics staff.”

What is downright absurd about Healey’s report is Omar Minaya “badly wanted” to keep now Brewers GM David Stearns once his internship ended.  The Wilpons did not approve the extra headcount, and Stearns, someone who grew up a Mets fans, went to Milwaukee.  Now, Stearns has built the Brewers into a World Series contender while the Wilpons are interested in the man he replaced.

This whole search is a joke, and in the end, it’s not going to be about who can do the best job, but who can carry out Jeff Wilpon’s plans.  That’s not a search for a GM.  It’s a search for a figurehead.  This is a farce.

Is Mickey Callaway The Right Manager?

When the Mets hire a new General Manager, one of his, or in the case of Kim Ng getting the job, her, first duties is to decide if they want to retain Mickey Callaway as the Mets manager.  Given how Callaway may come attached at the hip with Dave Eiland and seeing how this pitching rotation took off this year, you’d be inclined to keep Callaway on the job.

However, seeing Aaron Boone in Games 3 and 4 of the ALDS, we know a General Manager needs to look at much more than that.  Basically, the new General Manager needs to assess not just if Callaway is the guy who can bring the Mets to the postseason, but he needs to assess if Callaway would stand as an impediment to the Mets winning a World Series.

In the regular season, we have seen some really good and really terrible things from Callaway and his coaching staff.  The question is what is fixable and what are flaws which stand in the way.

The negatives have been oft discussed.  There was the lineup card incident.  Callaway had real difficulty handling the media.  We saw him exhaust the bullpen, especially Seth Lugo and Robert Gsellman, early in the season.  He was also not above continuing to go back to that well even with them being overused.  At times, the lineups were outright baffling, and unlike some of his other issues, this was something which seemed to get worse (more traditional?) as the season progressed.

On the positive, the Mets players did progress.  According to wRC+, Brandon Nimmo was the second best hitter in the National League.  Michael Conforto returned to his All Star form.  Amed Rosario went from potential bust to improving young player.  Jeff McNeil emerged as an everyday second baseman.  Lugo became a dominant reliever.  As noted previously, the rotation improved.  Mostly, this team did not quit even after the season was over after a 5-21 June.

We have also seen Callaway use analytics to inform his decisions.  In April, he was started Juan Lagares because Jacob deGrom was a flyball pitcher, and the Cardinals starter, Michael Wacha, had reverse splits.  Essentially, he is well versed in analytics, and he’s able to use them to inform his decision making.

He’s also an aggressive manager.  On multiple occasions, he brought in a reliever to force the other managers hand.  Instead of being reactive to another manager’s pinch hitting choice, Callaway ensured he brought in his better pitcher to get a worse hitter up at the plate thereby ensuring himself of the better match-up.

Essentially, there’s enough here to suggest Callaway is the right guy for the job, but make no mistake, it is not a clear-cut decision.  While he was strong in motivating and developing players as well as being aggressive in his pitching decisions, his position player choices left something to be desired and arguably got worse as the season progressed.

In the end, if the Mets are going to keep him or replace him, they better be right.

Go Ahead Jeff, Make Yourself The Mets General Manager

For years, we have heard rumors about how much Jeff Wilpon interferes with baseball operations.  The famous quote along these lines came from Peter Gammons who once said of the Mets hierarchy, “Ask the general manager, Jeff Wilpon.” Judging from the rumors we have heard over the years, things have not changed much, if at all, from the days Omar Minaya was the Mets General Manager.

Of course, Jeff Wilpon says otherwise.  In fact, on the topic of the Mets spending the past few seasons, Jeff Wilpon had the audacity to pin the blame on Sandy Alderson saying the team not signing top free agents was based on Alderson’s recommendations.  Notably, Jeff would not answer questions about the team’s willingness to spend this offseason.

While he would not address the budget, Jeff would certainly address personnel decisions.  While Jeff gave some lip service to the notion he would give the new General Manager final say on everything, he also offered he wants to see the triumvirate of General Managers (Omar Minaya, J.P. Riccardi, John Ricco) as well as Mickey Callaway and the entire coaching staff return.

Given what we’ve seen the past few years, we should expect Jeff to get his way.

Considering Jeff wants to be the guy, much like he was at the trade deadline when he made himself the team’s General Manager, Jeff should just make himself the guy.  Drop all the pretext.  If Jeff thinks he’s smart enough to run an entire organization, he should go out and do it.

Stop hiring shields and figureheads.  Stop sending out General Managers and managers to deliver confused and clearly false messages to the media.  Instead, be the guy.  Get in front of a microphone and tell everyone why you made this trade or signed this guy instead of that guy.

If Jeff is being honest, that’s what he wants.  He wants all the credit.  He wants us all to believe he is the smartest guy in the room. For that to happen, he’s going to have to pull back the curtain and make himself accountable.

The hope for Mets fans is if Jeff does actually make himself the General Manager, the person with whom praise or blame befalls, if he is the guy who has to answer to all the organization does, the team will open the pocketbooks.  He will be motivated to sign Manny Machado because he wants to look like the genius.  Mostly, he is not going to want to fail.

So go ahead, Jeff.  Do it.  Drop the charade and finally make yourself the General Manager.  Show us all you really do know more than everyone and that you are up for the job.  In the end, if you do it, and the Mets are successful, we will all love you for it.  Seriously.

But, if you’re not going to do it, knock it off.  Stop interfering and sabotaging the front office and manager.  Give them a budget, and give them the freedom to do their jobs.  Let them build the Mets next World Series winner.

There’s no other course.  Either do the job or let someone else do it.  The nonsense has to stop, and it has to stop now.

2018 Mets Season Ends On A Sad Note

Perhaps more than any season, there is a sense of sadness which washed upon me when the 2018 season ended.  Perhaps, it was because my father is another year older, and I have yet to truly experience the Mets winning the World Series with him.  Maybe it is because my son follows the game a little bit more and he is starting to become attached to some players, and those players are up in limbo.

There is the sadness with David Wright leaving.  He was the most beloved Mets player in history, and he was arguably the best position player this organization has ever produced.  He was a Met for his entire career, and he ended his career the right way – on the field.  Unfortunately, that career did not end with him winning a World Series.

Past Wright, there are question marks about some other players.  Is this the last time Wilmer Flores ever wore a Mets uniform?  Are we just waiting for him to shed tears when he is wearing another team’s uniform?  Could we have already seen the last of Travis d’Arnaud?  How about Juan Lagares?  With him in the last year of his deal, he is certainly more tradeable, and there should be savvy teams lining up to acquire his defense.  Is he just destined to go somewhere else where the will be able to finally put it all together?  Will a new General Manager come in and opt to start a rebuild that would likely begin with trading Jacob deGrom?

Honestly, will Yoenis Cespedes ever be able to play again?  He has only had one of the two heel surgeries he needed.  Whenever you see a report on him, no one seems to be able to pinpoint a date he can play next year.  At some point, you have to question if he will ever really be able to play.  That seems like such a big departure from the larger than life figure he has been since joining the Mets.

Really, when you look around the 2015 Mets team we loved so dearly has been slowly trickling away.  Matt Harvey and Jeurys Familia were traded away this year.  Addison Reed, Lucas Dudaand Curtis Granderson were traded away last season.  Juan Uribe, Kelly Johnson, and Daniel Murphy are distant memories.  Bartolo Colon is off making goofy barbecue ads in Texas.  Sandy Alderson, the man who orchestrated it all, “took a leave of absence” because he is battling cancer.

What we have left is good, really good.  We have seen Brandon Nimmo be the player the Mets hoped he would be when he was drafted.  After concerns about his shoulder, Michael Conforto was once again Michael Conforto in the second half.  Amed Rosario figured things out in the second half of the season, and Jeff McNeil seemingly came out of nowhere.

We watched deGrom reach a level we never thought possible making him a sure Cy Young award winner.  Zack Wheeler went from enigma to ace.  Steven Matz actually made 30 starts.  Finally, Noah Syndergaard seemed to return to form as the season drew to a close.  This is reminiscent of the pitching of 2015, pitching which led the Mets to a World Series.

Looking at it, the Mets had the best ERA in the majors in the second half (2.97), and they had the best record in the division in the second half (38-30).  When you combine the finish with the start, you can see there is a World Series contender somewhere in the fabric of that clubhouse.  In order for that to happen, the Wilpons are going to have to go out there and get the pieces necessary to put this team over the top.  If they were to do so, it would be the first time since they signed Pedro Martinez and Carlos Beltran in 2005, and added Billy Wagner and Carlos Delgado the subsequent offseason.

Making bold moves like that to this core WILL put this team over the top, especially since Mickey Callaway and his staff grew during the season and showed they can be a coaching staff who can win you a World Series.

There’s a hesitation there.  After Madoff, no Mets fan can really be assured this team is going to make the bold moves they need to take this roster over the top.  Whatever hope you had was dashed when Jeff Wilpon told us all it was really Sandy Alderson who refused to spend and limited the size of the analytics department.

Thinking back, you realize this is partially why Wright retired without a ring.  Sure, the Shea Stadium days were different.  The Mets did add the aforementioned players, and they did make the Johan Santana trade.  But after that?  Well, it was Madoff and always finding themselves one or two players short.  After all, the Mets traded for Kelly Johnson in consecutive seasons partially because the team believed Eric Campbell, and his major league minimum salary, was part of the solution.

In the end, this is a really likeable team.  Watching Nimmo, Conforto, Rosario, deGrom, Syndergaard, Seth Lugo, and the rest of this Mets team, you can’t help but like and root for these guys.  They are what makes being a Mets fan great.  We don’t want to see deGrom, who looks to take up Wright’s mantle as the next great Mets player, leave Flushing without a ring.  That can’t happen.

In the end, the ending of the 2018 season was a sad one.  Hopefully, that sadness will quickly subside as the Mets go forth and seize the opportunity that is here.  Hopefully, the 2019 season is going to be the year we finally see the Mets win another World Series.  I hope so because I don’t know how many more opportunities I’ll have to celebrate it with all of my loved ones.

Thor Makes Season Complete

One of the major positives from the 2018 season was how Mickey Callaway and Dave Eiland have rejuvenated the pitching to the point where this once again looks like a rotation which can lead the Mets to a World Series.

Through all the exploits, there was just one thing the Mets had yet to accomplish – a complete game shut out. Well, it took 162 games, but Noah Syndergaard would accomplish the feat.

In a completely and utterly dominant performance, there would only be one Marlin who would even reach second base. That was Magneuris Sierra with a two out double in the eighth. That amounted to nothing as Syndergaard responded by striking out JT Riddle.

In the complete game shutout, Syndergaard’s final line was 9.0 IP, 5 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 6 K.

It was the second complete game of Syndergaard’s career. Both complete games came this season. It was also the first shutout of his career.

Unlike yesterday’s 13 inning affair, the Mets got this game wrapped up in nine innings with Todd Frazier doubling home Jeff McNeil in the fourth.

Other than that, the Mets offense did just as little as the Marlins. Perhaps, this was just the last two teams in the division looking to go home for the year. Maybe, as Syndergaard would show, something was up with the bats:

No matter the case, after the 1-0 game, it was time to say goodbye.

It was time to say goodbye to Jose Reyes, who led off and exited the game after a first inning groundout. With that, his Mets and likely his Major League career comes to an end.

While yesterday was his final game, it was one last chance to see David Wright in a Mets uniform.

It’s time to bid adieu to a bizarre and strangely beautiful 2018 season. The season was at times full of hope and at times full of despair. We say good bye to Wright and Reyes and usher in the next generation of Mets baseball.

It’s going to be very interesting to see where we go from here.

Let’s Go Mets!

Game Notes: Like yesterday, Amed Rosario was the player who substituted into the game.

Wright Returned

Tonight was about one thing and one thing only – David Wright.

While we always anticipated he could be shut down at any time without warning, after he homered in his third straight game, no one truly expected May 27, 2016 to be his final game as a Met.

In a pleasant surprise,Mickey Callaway said pregame that Wright was going to pinch hit tonight. To ensure he got in, Callaway assured us Wright was going to be the first pinch hitter of the game.

For a brief moment, it appeared that would be the bottom of the fourth. A noticeably nervous Wright emerged from the dugout and the fans erupted.

While Wright began a routine both familiar from his 13 year career and yet new from this being an all too different experience all together, he dropped the bat.

He picked it up and continued that routine etched in our memories. Alas, with Kevin Plawecki grounding out to end the inning, the process would have to begin anew in the fifth.

As I saw this, I knew it was time. My oldest was up next to me in eager anticipation of the moment. We had been talking about it all night, and he was telling me how cool each of the highlights of him was.

I went and I got the baby out of his crib. I had each of my boys on my lap to watch a baseball game. It wasn’t the first time it’s ever happened, but it was the first big Mets moment since my youngest was born.

There was no option other than sharing this important moment with my sons. One day when they are older, they can each honestly say they saw David Wright play.

It’s not too dissimilar how my dad made sure I saw Tom Seaver pitch, or how he actually turned off the Mets game one day as my brother and I watched as Nolan Ryan won his 300th game.

So while my phone was abuzz with texts from my brother and dad, I sat there with my boys on my lap, and we watched Wright eagerly swing at Jose Urena‘s first pitch:

Even with all that Jacob deGrom has done, that groundout to third was the top moment of 2018 because for a brief moment David Wright was once again a Met.

Game Notes: In case you were wondering, the Mets lost 8-1.

Mets Outlast Nationals

Like two nights ago, the Mets had the opportunity to take out one of the leading Cy Young candidates to help Jacob deGrom‘s Cy Young case. Like with the game against Aaron Nola, the Mets dealt a small blow but could not deliver the knockout punch.

The Mets did try. In the third, Michael Conforto and Jay Bruce went back-to-back to give the Mets a 3-0 lead.

The one weakness in Max Scherzer‘s game this year was the long ball, and the Mets took full advantage. Conversely, the major strength in Scherzer’s game was the strikeout, and he mowed down the Mets.

After the Bruce homer, the Mets had just one hit and one walk, which did allow Scherzer to go seven. In total, Scherzer increased his lead over deGrom in innings and strikeouts, but his ERA rose .04.

For a while, it seemed as if the Mets were going to hit Scherzer with a loss because somehow someway Jason Vargas was out-pitching Scherzer.

The only damage against Vargas was an Anthony Rendon two run homer in the sixth. Seth Lugo, as part of his 1.1 innings, got the final out of the inning to preserve the 3-2 lead.

After Scherzer was pulled, the Mets immediately went to work against left-handed reliever Matt Grace.

Jeff McNeil hit a leadoff triple, and he’d come home on a Bruce single past the drawn-in infield to give the Mets a 4-2 lead. It wasn’t enough for this Mets bullpen.

Anthony Swarzak allowed the first two to reach in the bottom of the eighth, and Daniel Zamora would come on to face Bryce Harper. In the lengthy at-bat. Zamora would get the best of Harper who just missed out as he flew out to deep right field.

Maybe because it was because he opted to take the bullpen cart, but Robert Gsellman would surrender the lead. He first run came on a Rendon groundout, and the second scored on a Juan Soto RBI double.

With that, Scherzer was off the hook. With us living in a world where deGrom may win the Cy Young with a losing record, the loss was probably inconsequential.

The game would go extras, and the Mets seemed poised to end it early with them loading the bases in the 10th with just one out.

However, even with Greg Holland losing the strike zone having thrown seven straight balls, Jack Reinheimer swung at a 1-0 pitch and hit a soft tapper to Holland, who started the inning ending 1-2-3 double play.

In that 10th inning, McNeil was surprisingly sent up to bunt. In that at-bat, home plate umpire made a few very questionable strike calls, including ruling McNeil bunted at a pitch. This led Mickey Callaway to flip and earn his second career ejection.

In the 11th, Brandon Nimmo hit a leadoff double, and he would be stranded there.

What was surprising was how Jacob Rhame returned serve. After allowing a leadoff double to Ryan Zimmerman, who tagged up and moved to third on a Matt Wieters line out, Rhame would strike out Mark Reynolds and Victor Robles to end the inning.

Finally, in the 12th, the Mets retook the lead.

Amed Rosario led off the inning with a single off Jefry Rodriguez, and this time, McNeil would get the bunt down.

The bases were loaded after Conforto was intentionally walked, and Bruce walked after him. Jose Lobaton pinch hit for Rhame, and he delivered with a go-ahead sacrifice fly to give the Mets a 5-4 lead.

Paul Sewald was given the 12th, and he delivered his second career save with a 1-2-3 inning. Just because it was a 1-2-3 inning, it doesn’t mean it was uneventful.

After Heyward was called out on a pitch outside the strike zone, he argued the call, and he was tossed by Home Plate Umpire D.J. Reyburn. Heyward didn’t even bother going to the clubhouse. Instead, he watched the final out from the bench.

Come next week, Harper will join the Mets in watching games from the bench as the Nationals will soon be eliminated from the postseason.

Game Notes: Wilmer Flores was shut down for the rest of the year after being diagnosed with arthritis in his knees.

Matz Helped His Friend, Mets Didn’t Help Matz

The Mets had won 19 consecutive games in which a Mets pitcher had hit a homer.  That included Steven Matz‘s last start when he had homered.  Well, Matz woud hit a homer again in this game giving you hope it was going to be 20 straight:

That homer came off of Aaron Nola, and it not only gave the Mets the lead, but it put a little dent in Nola’s Cy Young case.  Certainly, Matz was cognizant of that as after Matz trotted around the bases, he walked up to Jacob deGrom and said, “That was for my friend.”

Really, Matz did all he could do to help deGrom win the Cy Young.  In addition to the homer, Matz was good on the mound.  In his five innings, he would allow just two hits while walking five and striking out four.  In addition to the hitting and pitching, Matz would make an incredible behind the back catch to start a double play:

With the four walks, Matz’s pitch count was up.  At 91 pitches, it made the decision to pinch hit for him in the top of the sixth an easier one than it normally would be.

At the time the Mets had a 2-0 lead because Dominic Smith would double home Brandon Nimmo in the fourth inning.  Smith and Nimmo would take part in another two out rally in the fifth.  After Nimmo walked because, well that’s what he does, and Dom singled, Gabe Kapler would pull Nola and put it Pat Neshek.  Neshek walked Kevin Plawecki to load the bases, and Mickey Callaway sent up Wilmer Flores to pinch hit.

Flores would strike out on three pitches.

That Flores strikeout was a missed opportunity.  With the inherited runners on base, it was a chance to put a further dent in Nola’s Cy Young wishes.  It was also a chance to tack on some needed runs.

The Mets would add .02 to Nola’s ERA which probably won’t have much impact on his Cy Young chances.  Because the Mets failed to take advantage of the opportunity, they would also miss a chance to saddle Nola with the loss. Well, it was the missed chance and the bullpen implosion.

Jerry Blevins started the fire by walking Carlos Santana and hitting Aaron Altherr with a pitch.  Callaway then brought on Drew Smith, who just could not get anyone out.  First, it was a Wilson Ramos single.  Then a Justin Bour double.  Finally, Jorge Alfaro homered.  Anthony Swarzak would come on and get the Mets out of the inning without allowing another run.

But by then, it was too late.  The Mets fell behind 5-2, and they did not have another run in them.  It didn’t matter much as the chance to really dent Nola’s Cy Young case went by the wayside.

Game Notes: In a recent BBWAA poll, deGrom was overwhelming voted as the Cy Young winner.

deGrom Improved Cy Young Case

Heading into the Month of September, Jacob deGrom was probably the favorite to win the Cy Young, but it was still anyone’s game with Aaron Nola and Max Scherzer having great seasons of their own.  So far this month, deGrom has separated himself ever further from the pack.

In Nola’s three September starts, he is 1-2 with a 5.60 ERA.  Scherzer had a decent start to the month until his loss to the Braves on Friday.  In that start, Scherzer allowed six earned in four innings.  Now, he’s 1-1 with a 5.40 ERA in the month.

Like Nola and Scherzer, deGrom has seen his ERA rise this month.  Still, deGrom’s 2.70 ERA this month is half of Scherzer’s.  That is also because deGrom had a “bad start” in Boston.

For deGrom, it was the bottom of the third in Boston which derailed what had looked to be a truly special start.

After striking out six of the first seven Red Sox batters he faced, Rafael Devers and Christian Vazquez hit back-to-back singles to put runners at the corners with one out.  Mookie Betts brought home Devers with a sacrifice fly.  This is normally where deGrom would get out of the inning, but he would leave one up to Brock Holt, who hit a two run homer to give the Red Sox a 3-0 lead.

Right then and there, deGrom’s streak of 26 starts not allowing more than three earned and his 21 consecutive quality starts streak was on the line.  From there, there were points where you thought deGrom wasn’t going to reatch the sixth.  In fact, Mickey Callaway had Jerry Blevins warming at one point.  There may have also been points where you thought he would allow another run.

He didn’t.

Instead, deGrom would go seven innings allowing the three earned on five hits with one walk and 12 strikeouts.  The 12 strikeouts were really impressive.  Entering the game, the Red Sox were the second hardest team to strike out (19.7%).  In the game, deGrom would strike out 12 of the 27 batters (44.4%) he faced.

Importantly, the Mets would rally to tie the score and get deGrom off the hook.  In the sixth, Amed Rosario would follow an Austin Jackson single to put runners on second and third with no outs.  Jeff McNeil would not hit a liner deep enough to score a run, but Wilmer Flores would  . . . barely:

 

Unfortunately, Betts would get hurt on the play.  It should shift Jackie Bradley, Jr. to right with Tzu-Wei Lin in center.  Michael Conforto would then hit a double to deep center to tie the game.  It’s debatable if Bradley would’ve gotten to it.  Regardless, the Mets were down a run.

They would tie it in the seventh on a two out RBI single by Rosario.  Brandon Nimmo was 90 feet away from scoring the go-ahead run and giving deGrom the lead, but McNeil couldn’t bring him home.

WIth that, deGrom notced another no decision, and he still remains a game under .500, and yet, he he having an all-time great season.  In fact, with this start, deGrom tied Bob Gibson and Chris Carpenter single season mark for consecutive quality starts.  In the seasons Gibson and Carpenter set their marks, they won the Cy Young.

So should deGrom.

Game Notes: Seth Lugo took the loss after allowing a run in the eighth.