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.
— New York Mets (@Mets) September 29, 2018
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.
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:
— New York Mets (@Mets) September 29, 2018
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.
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.
— New York Mets (@Mets) September 21, 2018
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
— New York Mets (@Mets) September 19, 2018
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:
— New York Mets (@Mets) September 19, 2018
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.
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.
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:
#RedSox challenge call that Austin Jackson is safe at home in the 6th; call confirmed, runner is safe.
— MLB Replay (@MLBReplays) September 16, 2018
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.
In an emotional press conference, David Wright announced he was playing on Saturday, September 29th and never again. While we’ve already entered into a post-Wright Mets era, this was a crushing confirmation of the news.
With news like this, the last thing on most people’s minds was playing a game. Let alone two. And yet, there was a scheduled doubleheader.
In the first game, we were treated to a terrific performance from Steven Matz.
— New York Mets (@Mets) September 13, 2018
Overall, Matz pitched 6.1 innings allowing three earned on three hits with two walks and four strikeouts.
It seemed the Marlins were going to win this game 3-2, but that was until Don Mattingly made a mistake. Instead of sticking with Adam Conley, who absolutely owns the Mets, Mattingly went to Kyle Barraclough because Amed Rosario was due up.
While Smith wouldn’t deliver, Michael Conforto would hitting a game tying homer off Barraclough. It was his fourth homer in five games.
Three pitches later, Todd Frazier would hit a walk-off homer.
With that, the game ended with a homer by Wright’s heir apparent for best homegrown position player followed by a homer by the guy signed to replace Wright. Really, it was quite the fitting ending.
But still, there was more baseball to be played.
Vargas would get the win for a few reasons. Chief among them was his catcher Tomas Nido, who made a great play in the field
— Elite Sports NY (@EliteSportsNY) September 14, 2018
before hitting his first career homer
Tomas Nido, the @Mets' No. 12 prospect, went deep to left for his first MLB homer. The 🚀 went 400 feet and had an exit velocity of 101.9 mph. Watch live: https://t.co/nY6ru3JzAQ pic.twitter.com/n8SdejjbMq
— MLB Pipeline (@MLBPipeline) September 13, 2018
The Nido solo shot opened the scoring for the Mets in a three run inning capped off by a two out Conforto RBI double.
That 3-2 lead would hold up as Seth Lugo was as dominant as you can be in his two innings. In fact, Lugo would strike out five of the seven batters he faced.
The Mets built a seventh inning rally starting starting with a Jeff McNeil two out single. As the inning progressed, the Mets scored insurance runs on singles by Conforto and Smith.
That 5-2 lead proved to be save for Robert Gsellman to shut the door on a seemingly rare doubleheader sweep.
With the sweep, the Mets are now just 10 games under .500 for the first time since June 21st.
Tomas Nido, who was catching either because Kevin Plawecki was hit with another pitch or because Noah Syndergaard likes having a personal catcher, cleared the bases with an RBI double to give the Mets a 3-0 second inning lead.
3⃣ drives in 3⃣.
— New York Mets (@Mets) September 8, 2018
Don't mess with the big dog. 💪 pic.twitter.com/Zt1SEFxUCy
— New York Mets (@Mets) September 9, 2018
Jeff McNeil was great going 3-for-5 with two runs, and a triple. Michael Conforto surpassed Asdrubal Cabrera for the team lead in RBI. Not too long ago, Conforto also surpassed Cabrera for the team lead in homers. Jay Bruce looked good again at the plate going 2-for-2 with two runs, an RBI, and two walks.
However, this is the Mets, so nothing can be this easy. Not even in a 10-5 win that they led 7-0 heading into the sixth and 9-2 after six.
Speaking of Reinheimer, you’d be hard pressed to explain why he’s here and Luis Guillorme isn’t.
That wasn’t the worst of it. No, that was Cesar Hernandez hitting a hard liner that went off Syndergaard’s ribs. It may have chased him from the game, but he was able to laugh about it later:
— Erin Fish (@Erinnicolefish) September 9, 2018
Syndergaard’s final line was 6.2 innings, 12 hits, four runs, four earned, five walks, and four strikeouts. The low strikeouts are alarming, but not as much as the walks or the career high in hits allowed.
Still, this was mostly a fun game with some terrific signs for the Mets going forward. Here’s hoping the Mets didn’t burn through all their offense for this series with Jacob deGrom going Sunday.
That would start with Jay Bruce hitting a first inning homer, and it would continue thanks to the younger players on the Mets roster.
Nola would make a tough pitch, but with McNeil being excellent with his bat control, he was able to put a cricket swing on the pitch and hit it into right field for an RBI double.
For a moment, it looked like Bruce was going to drive home McNeil, but he was robbed by Carlos Santana.
At that point, it was tied at 2-2 with Steven Matz matching Nola pitch for pitch. Over his five innings, he allowed two earned on three hits while walking two and striking out eight.
Those two runs were the result of a Santana homer. As it would turn out, Santana would not be the only first baseman flashing leather and hitting homers.
In a surprise decision, Dominic Smith got the start at first against one of the best pitchers in the National League despite not having started a game in over a week. Despite the difficult circumstances, Smith would deliver:
— New York Mets (@Mets) September 8, 2018
That homer would tie the game at 3-3, but the Mets would not be able to pull this one out as the young bullpen was not up for the task.
Tyler Bashlor entered in the seventh, and he dominated the Phillies with two strikeouts and a pop out. The problem would be Callaway left him in for the eighth.
In the eighth, Rhys Hoskins hit a leadoff homer to put the Phillies up 4-3. The Phillies couldn’t muster a rally past that as McNeil and Smith combined to make a phenomenal defensive play:
— New York Mets (@Mets) September 8, 2018
Overall, the Mets would increase Nola’s ERA from 2.23 to 2.29, but they would also give him his 16th win of the season. Time will tell if this will be sufficient to help deGrom.
Game Notes: While downplaying the possibility David Wright will return this season, John Ricco admitted he has not spoken to Wright.
Here’s how good Zack Wheeler has been pitching in the second half of the season. Last night, he allowed three runs on three hits while walking two and striking out nine. For him, that now qualifies as a poor start.
The Dodgers were able to score the three runs off of him because they hit two homers. It should come as no surprise one of those homers was by Cody Bellinger, who absolutely owns Wheeler. In fact, Bellinger is 4-for-8 against Wheeler with four homers and nine RBI.
The other homer was in the fourth inning. After Justin Turner hit a comebacker which hit Wheeler in the ribs, Max Muncy would hit a two run homer off of Wheeler. Given how Wheeler was still dealing with the shot to the ribs, you could put a bit of a mental asterisk next to that one, especially when you consider Wheeler would retire eight of the next nine batters he faced.
Even with those homers, the Dodgers could not pull ahead of the Mets.
In the fourth, the Mets finally broke through against Hyun-Jin Ryu. Amed Rosario singled and Jeff McNeil doubled to put runners at second and third with no outs. From that point forward, the Mets would BABIP the heck out of Ryu.
Mets hits tonight with a hit probability <50%:
Flores, 4th inning single: 9%
Nimmo, 5th inning single: 34%
Rosario, 5th inning single: 48%
McNeil, 7th inning single: 13%
— John Edwards (@John_Edwards_) September 6, 2018
Wilmer Flores would hit one back which hit Ryu that allowed him to reach safely and would allow Rosario to score. McNeil would challenge Joc Pederson‘s arm on a Michael Conforto flyball, and he would score because Yasmani Grandal could not hold onto the ball. In an odd official scorer position, Conforto was not given the RBI as it was ruled an error on Grandal.
Part of the key to that play was Flores going to third, which would allow him to score from third on the two out RBI single from Austin Jackson. That was important as Jackson was nailed at second trying to challenge Alex Verdugo‘s arm. Had Flores been at third, it’s very likely he does not score on the play.
Kevin Plawecki led off the fifth with a double, and he moved to third on a Brandon Nimmo bloop hit. After Wheeler struck out, Rosario singled home Plawecki. Later that inning, Flores brought home Nimmo on a ball Enrique Hernandez was not quite tall enough to get. With that, the Mets had a 5-2 lead, and they were in control of the game.
That became a stranglehold with Conforto delivering a seventh inning RBI single, and Ryan Madson throwing a wild pitch to allow McNeil to come home from third.
After 105 pitches, Wheeler was done after seven, and Mickey Callaway brought on Seth Lugo to close out the final two innings. He did just that allowing no hits and striking out a batter. With the win, the Mets have now won consecutive West Coast series, and the team is playing much better baseball of late. They are two games over .500 in the second half.
Game Notes: In his final at-bat ever against the Mets, Chase Utley lined out to Nimmo. So in the end, the dirtiest player alive lined out to the nicest and most genuine player in the majors.
When he was struggling earlier in the year, Noah Syndergaard was saying he was struggling now, but he’ll dominate in September. With how he had struggled in his last few starts, this seemed like a punchline waiting to happen. As it turns out, Syndergaard was right.
Yesterday, he was simply brilliant in his first ever complete game. If not for a Jay Bruce throwing error, on a ball he should not have pursued and probably not thrown, the Giants would not have had a base runner since the fourth inning.
If not for the Alen Hanson third inning triple, the Giants probably never score a run.
All told, Syndergaard allowed one run on just two hits while walking just one and striking out 11.
He’d get his 10th win of the season as the Mets gave Syndergaard run support starting with Michael Conforto‘s 20th homer of the season:
Syndergaard got more run support in the eighth as he helped himself a bit.
After a Tomas Nido leadoff single, Syndergaard bunted it just right enough of the pitcher to get Nido, who got a great jump, to second.
Amed Rosario singled to set up runners at the corners, and he’d then take the double play out of the equation by stealing second. Jeff McNeil brought him and Nido home with a two RBI single giving the Mets a 4-1 lead.
With that three run lead and Syndergaard still at 99 on the gun, Mickey Callaway had every excuse he needed to keep Syndergaard in the game.
The end result was a 114 pitch masterpiece and finally a return to the Thor we had been awaiting all season long.
Game Notes: Syndergaard’s 10 wins leads the team. With the win, Syndergaard became the first Met to beat the Giants two times in a year since Steve Trachsel did it in 2003.
When discussing David Wright, it is important to remember exactly who he is. Wright is not just a homegrown Met, but he was once a kid who grew up a Mets fan. Essentially, Wright is to the Mets what Joe Mauer has been to the Twins.
Perhaps, that is the reason Wright signed what was an lucrative albeit under value contract to remain a Met for life. Maybe this is the reason Wright has sacrificed. Or just his career but also his personal health to help the Mets try to win a World Series.
Understandably, Yankee fans bemoan all that could have been with Don Mattingly and his back issues, but what has happened with Wright is all the more heartbreaking.
Heading into the 2015 season, Wright was clearly on the path to the Hall of Fame. That was before disaster struck. What was once thought to be a leg injury turned into a spinal stenosis diagnosis. The path of his career would be forever changed.
Still, there was some hope. After being activated in late August after missing 115 games, Wright homered in his first at-bat. Over his final 30 games he hit .277/.381/.437 with seven doubles, four homers, and 13 RBI.
Wright would finally get his chance to play in a World Series, and in his first at-bat at Citi Field, he electrified the Citi Field crowd:
In 2016, there was still hope for a World Series and for Wright.
Through the first 11 games, he was hitting .279/.404/.512. Through 24 games, he was at .258/.405/.472. Sadly and predictably, his body broke down from there.
His season ended on May 27th. After that, he has undergone neck, back, and shoulder surgery. After those surgeries, Wright has not played in another MLB game.
It’s not for want of trying.
Each year, Wright has gone through the same routine. Report to Spring Training with hope. Eventually, he gets shut down, confers with his doctors, and then he starts an ill-fated rehab assignment.
Through all of this, Wright’s body has been purportedly failing him leading everyone to agree to do the merciful thing and stop Wright from playing.
The thing is Wright still won’t give up, and with him being under contract for just two more years past this year, he’s running out of chances to play again. As it turns out, that contract may be standing in the way of his return.
Mike Puma of the New York Post reports the Mets are hesitant to activate Wright due to the financial implications.
According to David Lennon of Newsday, if Wright played the final month of the season, the team would owe him $3.2 million.
But it’s more than that. For the insurance policy to kick in again, Wright would need to miss another 60 games due to injury. Assuming Wright misses Opening Day, the Mets will have to pay Wright roughly $5 million.
If Wright doesn’t pay at all this year or the next, that $5 million would be roughly $1.25 million with insurance covering the remaining $3.75 million.
Essentially, if Wright plays, the Mets stand to lose somewhere between $6 – $7 million in money which would have been covered by insurance.
With that as a backdrop, we have heard John Ricco recently give the following quotes on Wright:
- “It’s unrealistic to think he’d be activated any time soon.”
- “We just haven’t seen that level of consistency of playing on quantity or quality base at this point.”
- “Quite frankly at this point, he hasn’t been able to make some of the benchmarks that were laid out for him.”
Just when you thought things couldn’t get more absurd, Mickey Callaway offered that while Wright is medically cleared to play in the minors, he’s not medically cleared to play in the Majors.
When told of these and other comments, Wright’s response was, “The challenge has been accepted.”
Here’s the thing. Wright has risen to the challenge. He’s gone out there and played in rehab games, and he’s still standing. He’s still working hard to get back on the field even with his rehab assignment getting cut short. Although, that may be a technicality with Wright’s rehab assignment being up as of yesterday and MLB rules requiring you to sit five days before playing again.
Right now, the challenge isn’t on Wright. No, it’s on the Wilpons to do the right thing here.
Realistically speaking, this may be Wright’s last chance to play again. If we’re being honest, he’s not going to significantly improve this year or the next. Moreover, with this team being 16 games under .500, Wright has a chance to play and not ruin the Mets season.
Him being allowed to play means he gets to end his career on the field and fans can come to Citi Field to wish him good-bye and to thank him for everything.
Insurance money aside, there’s no reason to prevent this from happening, but the insurance money exists and the Wilpons are the Wilpons.
These are the same owners who readily admit the insurance proceeds are not reinvested into the team. These are the same owners who have been willing to take back lesser prospect packages to have their trading partner eat all of the salary. Overall, the Wilpons have arguably made better financial decisions while making bad baseball ones.
While it may be difficult for them to act differently, they need to do so here.
Wright has been the face of their franchise. When times were tough with Madoff, Wright stood by them, didn’t complain, and took less money to stay. With Madoff and just general penny pinching, Wright’s prime was wasted. Even with a chance at a World Series, this organization did not go all-in.
Simply put, the Wilpons owe it to Wright to give him a chance to play again. They owe it to their fans to let them see Wright play again.
Despite all that has happened, the fans and Wright have been there supporting this team. We all deserve our moment. More importantly, Wright deserves a chance to end his career on the field.
Injuries have already cost Wright his shot at Cooperstown. They have robbed him of the end of his prime and the rest of his career. Likely, they cost Wright of the chance to ever win a World Series. Hopefully, it will not be insurance money that prevents him from ever playing again.