On Thanksgiving, it’s time to go around the Mets 2017 roster and name something each player should be thankful for:
Nori Aoki – He looked so much better in September than he did in all of 2017 by being competent while playing on a dysfunctional team.
Jerry Blevins – Throughout all the stress of the season and his extreme workload, the man didn’t even put on one pound.
Chasen Bradford – With his call-up to the majors, he’s now on the short list for best beards in Mets history.
Jay Bruce – He learned from his experience last year, and he played well for a team that acquired him in a trade.
Asdrubal Cabrera – As we found out this season, all he wanted the Mets to do was to pick up his option so he could provide for him family. With the Mets having done that, he can now rest easy.
Jamie Callahan – One day when bards tell the tale of the six right-handed relievers the Mets acquired at the 2017 deadline, they will regale us all with stories of how Callahan was the first of them to finish out a game the Mets won.
Gavin Cecchini – He made the switch from short to second where it will be easier for him to make it to the majors. That goes double if the Mets who are tightening payroll off a poor season don’t bring in a free agent to play the position.
Yoenis Cespedes – With Cespedes missing half the season, that left a lot of time for him to hit the course.
Michael Conforto – Collins is gone meaning no one is standing in his way from being a superstar anymore.
Travis d’Arnaud – He became the greatest defensive second baseman in Mets history by posting a 1.000 fielding percentage at the position.
Jacob deGrom – With him pitching so well this year, he knows he will finally be able to cash in in arbitration thereby allowing him to afford a haircut.
Phillip Evans – After winning a batting title in 2016, having a good Spring Training, and a good second half for Vegas, the Mets finally decided to let him post similarly good numbers for them in September.
Jeurys Familia – Blood clots in his shoulder costing him most of the season made most people forget why he missed the beginning of the season.
Wilmer Flores – He fouled a ball off his face, and he lived to tell about it.
Sean Gilmartin – With his going from the Mets to the Cardinals, he was able to prove he wasn’t bad. It was just the Mets as an organization did not employ anyone capable of knowing he was actually injured.
Erik Goeddel – No matter how much he struggled this season, he will never be the most hated person in pro sports with the last name pronounced GO-dell\n
Curtis Granderson – He had a front row seat to seeing Chase Utley fail in the postseason.
Robert Gsellman – He has so much self confidence he doesn’t care what anyone things of him.
Matt Harvey – Between the Tommy John, TOS, and the Mets rushing him into the rotation with atrophied muscles in his throwing arm knowing he wouldn’t really be ready until a month into the season, he should be thankful for getting out of the season with his right arm still attached.
Ty Kelly – He got out of here after one game thereby preventing Nurse Ratched from getting to him and ending his season.
Juan Lagares – With all the injuries and the Mets looking to cut payroll, he is once again the center fielder of the future.
Steven Matz – With him suffering the same injury deGrom suffered last year, we all know he can come back from this to be the same exact injury prone pitcher he was before the surgery.
Kevin McGowan – He will always have a special place in Mets fans hearts as it was his call-up that forced Ramirez off the roster.
Tommy Milone – He was able to find a team that was okay with him having an ERA over 8.00.
Rafael Montero – For the first time in his life, he wasn’t a complete abomination as a pitcher.
Tomas Nido – Even with his struggles at the plate in Binghamton, he can rest easy knowing the Mets don’t expect an OBP over .300 from their catchers.
Brandon Nimmo – No one, not matter what, has been able to wipe that smile off of his face.
Tyler Pill – In a year of embarrassing pitching performances by Mets pitchers, Pill actually acquitted himself quite well before suffering his season ending injury.
Kevin Plawecki – He’s so well liked by his teammates that someone left him a present in his locker, which apparently has inspired him to hit the ball harder and longer thereby resurrecting his career.
Neil Ramirez – Somehow, someway, he was not the absolute worst pitcher on a team’s pitching staff.
AJ Ramos – To him, getting traded to the Mets meant he was traded to a team that actually spends money in the offseason.
Addison Reed – He was so good this year he was worth not just one but three right-handed relievers.
Jose Reyes – The Mets didn’t cut him or his playing time no matter how horrible he played during the 2017 season.
Matt Reynolds – He got that long look in September Sandy Alderson promised him. Unfortunately, that only amounted to him getting 10 games to show what he could do at the MLB level.
Jacob Rhame – He’s with an organization that has had success getting flame throwing right-handed pitchers who have slimmed down since getting drafted reach their full potential.
Rene Rivera – After failing to whisper loud enough to help the Mets pitchers pitch better, he was able to go to the Cubs to help their pitchers lead them to an NLCS berth.
Hansel Robles – In his mind every ball hit in the air is an inning ending pop up.
Amed Rosario – He didn’t have to have his development hampered by being expected to be the savior when he was called-up to the majors as the Mets were well out of contention on August 1st.
Fernando Salas – Despite his rough stint with the Mets, he was able to land with the Angels to end the season thereby proving it was the Mets handling of pitchers and not him that was terrible.
Paul Sewald – As a reward for all of his hard work in Vegas, he got the privilege of being the arm Collins loved to abuse during the season.
Dominic Smith – He finally got his call-up in August in Philadelphia of all places allowing him to celebrate the accomplishment and the win with a cheesesteak from Pat’s. (NOTE: not a cheapshot at his weight, this actually happened)
Josh Smoker – After the Mets finally gave up on using a pitcher with a history of shoulder issues as the long man in the pen, he showed the team in September that he could be as a lefty out of the pen to get lefties out.
Noah Syndergaard – Mr. Met flipped off someone this year other than him.
Neil Walker – The Mets moved him to the Brewers where he was able to re-establish his free agency value by being productive and by staying healthy, which was coincidentally was when he was away from the Mets medical team.
Adam Wilk – Because Harvey was at home one day in his pajamas, he set off on a path where he would become eligible to earn a share of the postseason money awarded to the Twins for claiming the second Wild Card.
Zack Wheeler – Instead of missing two years due to injury, he missed two months.
David Wright – Despite all evidence to the contrary, the Mets still have not given up on him.
Terry Collins – At the end of the day, he was able to make a friend of Fred Wilpon who had his back no matter what. We should all be so lucky.
Dan Warthen – He found a new group of pitchers in Texas who have elbows waiting to learn how to throw that Warthen Slider.
Sandy Alderson – Collins was so poor at managing, he was able to convince ownership it was all Collins’ fault and not his for poorly constructing a roster.
Mets Fans – Well, even if it wasn’t at this post, we all still have a sense of humor, and we can still laugh at what we put up with from this team on a daily basis.
It is nice to see the Mets win a game because the other team had mental lapses in the field, poor managerial decisions, and had a bullpen blow a late lead and finally the game. Through the first 82 games, that seemed to be the Mets specialty. Today, in what was mostly a lethargic afternoon game, the Mets got bested by the Cardinals in something they had seemingly mastered.
Through the first 4.2 innings, Seth Lugo had a no-hitter going. Somewhere someone must’ve taken notice and said something because Greg Garcia hit a double for the Cardinals first hit of the game. Still, things were in good shape for the Mets because Lugo erased Garcia, and the team had a 1-0 lead.
— TheRenderMLB (@TheRenderMLB) July 20, 2017
The sizzling hot Duda has homered three times over his last five games. Duda was also good in the field saving his infielders from a few errors. Most notably, his scoop of a bad T.J. Rivera throw in the seventh saved a run. Hopefully, one of the teams that needs a 1B/DH, and there are more of them than people will lead you to believe, have taken notice.
That 1-0 lead evaporated in the sixth. After a one out walk to Matt Carpenter, Tommy Pham, who has been killing the Mets of late, doubled him home to tie the score. Once again, Lugo settled in, shut the door in the sixth, and he pitched a scoreless seventh.
The Mets hurler deserved the win with his outstanding performance, but will have to settle for a no decision. His final line was 6.2 innings, four hits, one run, one earned, one walk, and five strikeouts. With him and Lynn out of the game, it became a battle of the bullpens, and a battle of wits between the managers.
With Erik Goeddel getting the last out of the seventh, Terry Collins turned to him to pitch the eighth. It’s hard to fault Collins when everyone else in the bullpen is terrible, but the decision backfired when Pham hit a 3-1 pitch out of the park to give the Cardinals a 2-1 lead. With the way this game was going, and with how poorly the Mets have played of late, it seemed like this was how the game was going to end.
That was until Mike Matheny thought it was a good idea to let the left-handed Brett Cecil pitch to Wilmer Flores in the eighth. Everyone and their mother knows Flores crushes left-handed pitching. Matheny either didn’t know that, or didn’t care. That decision cost him as Cecil hung one to Flores:
— TheRenderMLB (@TheRenderMLB) July 20, 2017
From there, the Mets turned to the one reliever in their bullpen that they can have confidence – Addison Reed. Reed did his job pitching a scoreless ninth thereby giving the Mets a chance for a walk-off victory.
The ninth inning rally started with Michael Conforto drawing a lead-off walk against Trevor Rosenthal. It was another excellent game for Conforto that has gone unnoticed. On the day, the Cardinals allowed eight baserunners (six hits and two walks). Conforto accounted for four of those with him going 2-2 with two walks on the day.
Conforto would be erased on the basepaths on what initially appeared to be a double play ball off the bat of Yoenis Cespedes. Credit should be given to Cespedes for busting it down the line and keeping a runner on base. It paid off as he went first to third on a Rivera single. He would then score on what should have been the last out of the inning:
— TheRenderMLB (@TheRenderMLB) July 20, 2017
That Jose Reyes “single” was the improbable winner that sent Mets fans home happy, and it enraged Cardinals first baseman Matt Carpenter:
— Mike Vaccaro (@MikeVacc) July 20, 2017
It was nice to be on the other side of one of these games this year. It was also nice to earn a split in the series. Even if the Mets aren’t going anywhere, it is still always a joy to beat the Cardinals. At the very least, it was a pleasure helping ensure they didn’t get the sweep they needed to get back into an NL Central race that is suddenly in flux.
This is the same Ramirez who has the worst ERA+ and FIP on the Mets roster. The same pitcher who has an 11.56 ERA and a 1.713 WHIP over his last five appearances. As a Mets, he has a 6.50 ERA and a 1.722 WHIP with a 7.5 BB/9.
This is where the Mets are. Their manager is contemplating using his worst reliever more often. If that’s not a sign the Mets need sweeping changes, I don’t know what is.
There are many problems with the Mets bullpen this year. One of the most understated is the complete and utter lack of a long man in the bullpen for much of the season. This has led to Terry Collins needing to trotting out a series of relievers whenever a starter can’t go deep into games. It has led to Collins pushing relievers past their breaking points.
This has saw Hansel Robles completely break down to the point where he’s not even an effective Triple-A reliever. Collins stretched Josh Smoker to the point where he first was sent down to the minors, and then to the point where he landed on the Disabled List. With Smoker gone, Paul Sewald seems to be the guy who gets stretched out for three innings despite his being a 1-2 inning closer in most of his time in the minor leagues.
Doing that means Smoker and Sewald, two pitchers who should have been establishing themselves as late inning relievers this season, have been bounced around in their roles. We have seen uneven performances from them this year to the point where the Mets really don’t know what they have in either pitcher. More to the point, it has led to Neil Ramirez pitching in important spots.
The latest example was on Tuesday. The Mets were riding high after a sweep of the Giants, and the team was in a soft part of the schedule where they could have reasonably been at or even over .500 going into the All Star Break. At that point, who knows?
And this Mets team looked resilient last night. Robert Gsellman went down in the top of the fourth. Sewald came on and gave the team three good innings they desperately needed. Travis d’Arnaud had two RBI, including a solo home run, to tie the game at 3-3 entering the bottom of the seventh. With Sewald, one of the better relievers on the team, no longer available, Collins went with Ramirez. To the surprise of no one, Ramirez would earn the loss.
Why was he and his demonic 6.66 ERA even an option? Ultimately, it is because of the Mets refusal to carry a long man in the bullpen. Instead, the team would rather carry a group of pitchers who ideally should be limited to two innings or less that can post high strikeout numbers.
Why couldn’t the Mets carry Tyler Pill as the long reliever. Sure, he was predictably lackluster, but that is a significant upgrade from Ramirez being an abject disaster. While it is a small sample size, there are indications Pill could be useful as a long man. In this three games, the first time through the lineup teams are only hitting .250/.296/.292 off of him. Extrapolating this out, this means Pill could be good to keep the Mets into a game for about three innings.
This could led to the Mets turning the game over to their best relievers late in the game. Instead, the Mets would rather pitch their pitchers past their breaking points. They would rather pitch Ramirez in important spots. While there are many things you can pinpoint for the Mets failures this season, it’s the lack of a long man in the bullpen needs to be front and center.
The Mets fought hard to get back into this game. In the end, it was the usual culprits that would let the Mets down – injuries, defense, and the bullpen.
In the bottom of the first, the Marlins had runners on first and second with two outs, but Gsellman couldn’t come up with that big pitch to get out of the inning. Justin Bour singled to tie the game, and Martin Prado doubled to give the Marlins a 3-1 lead.
It was one of those nights where you knew Gsellman probably wasn’t long for the game. You’d be right, but not for the reason you’d expect.
In the fourth, Lucas Duda got a rally started with a one out double, and it appeared as if the Mets would strand him there. Travis d’Arnaud came up with the big two out RBI single pulling the Mets within one.
Then came the Gsellman injury. Gsellman would ground out to the pitcher. On the play, he’d vacillate between jogging and busting it. It led to a leg injury. Rather go on a rant here about another injury, it’s best to leave it to Ron Darling:
Ron's comments about injuries and training pic.twitter.com/yqf47Nu326
— SportsNet New York (@SNYtv) June 28, 2017
This led to Paul Sewald getting thrown into the game. He did a great job pitching three scoreless innings keeping the Mets in the game. It allowed d’Arnaud to tie the game with a solo shot off Kyle Barraclough.
The hit got the Mets going, and it seemed as if the Mets might take the lead. Brandon Nimmo worked out a pinch hit walk, and Granderson smoked a grounder up the middle.
That’s when JT Riddle made a phenomenal play on the Granderson grounder to get a 6-6-3 inning ending double play.
— #VoteMarlins (@Marlins) June 28, 2017
Ramirez would issue a leadoff walk to J.T. Realmuto, and Riddle would smoke a grounder towards Duda. It was difficult, but Duda needs to make that play. The ball hit off his glove setting up first and third with no outs.
Like all Mets fans, Collins had enough of Ramirez and went to Jerry Blevins, who has pitched poor of late, to pitch to Ichiro Suzuki.
Being the wily veteran with 3,049 career hits entering the game, Ichiro knew just where to hit it – right by Wilmer Flores, who went in the completely wrong direction:
lmao wilmer where are you going?! pic.twitter.com/LgRUZf8nKL
— MetsKevin11 (@MetsKevin11) June 28, 2017
This loss was the same loss that we’ve been seeing all season long. This is the same loss that has derailed the Mets season.
Game Notes: Michael Conforto was not available to pinch hit after getting hit on the wrist in Sunday’s game. Erik Goeddel pitched 1.2 scoreless. He has three scoreless innings in three appearances this year.
It was too good to be true. With the left-hander Rich Hill starting for the Dodgers, and with Michael Conforto‘s cold streak, Curtis Granderson got the start in center. On the second pitch of the game, he would give the Mets the lead:
— TheRenderMLB (@TheRenderMLB) June 22, 2017
It was Granderson’s 19th lead-off homer with the Mets putting him back in a tie with Jose Reyes for the Mets all-time record.
After a scoreless first, the Mets would have their first lead in the series. As we all know at this point, it was too good to last.
Tyler Pill would surrender the lead in the third with some help from his defense. After a lead-off walk to Joc Pederson, T.J. Rivera threw one away to set up runners at second and third with no outs. To his credit, Pill limited the damage to one run on a Hill sacrifice fly.
Surprisingly, despite the Dodgers having scored a run, Pill still had a no-hitter going. That came crashing down in the fourth.
Starting with Cody Bellinger, the Dodgers just teed off on Pill. Bellinger ripped a ball to right field, and he tested Jay Bruce‘s arm. Bruce threw the ball away, and no one from the Mets over shifted infield bothered to cover third thereby just giving the base to him.
Yasiel Puig crushes a three-run home run to left field in the bottom of the 4th inning, before exchanging words with Travis d'Arnaud at home pic.twitter.com/XGKh5aH1pM
— TheRenderMLB (@TheRenderMLB) June 22, 2017
Wilmer Flores had something to say about it. Travis d’Arnaud said something to him. Between innings, Cespedes and Reyes talked with him.
The Mets are out there playing as poorly as you can making mental mistakes all over, not hitting with runners in scoring position, and getting their doors blown off on a nightly basis, but they’re going to talk to Puig about playing the right way? Ok.
In some ways, it should have never come to this point. In the top of the fourth, the Mets had bases loaded with no outs with a chance to take a big lead. Instead, Hill would strike out Reyes, Gavin Cecchini, and Pill to get out of the inning.
Pill didn’t seem to have the same issue as his teammates did decking to plunk Puig in the sixth. Maybe it was because Pill was too worried about how poor he was pitching. His final line was six innings (career high), five hits, six runs, five earned, three walks, and six strikeouts.
Conspicuously absent in that line was a hit by pitch. For some, it was much ado about nothing. For others, it was a sign this team had no fight left.
In any event, a Yasmani Grandal sixth inning and eighth inning home run to make it 7-1. Neil Ramirez in his second inning of work would throw gasoline on the fire allowing two runs before handing the ball to Erik Goeddel. Goeddel would get out of the jam leaving the score at 8-1.
Grandy would hit an RBI double in the ninth to make it 8-2. That’s how it would end.
With that, the Mets are nine games under .500 for the first time this season. As bad as that is, things are really about to get worse than it already is.
Game Recap: Mets 5.01 ERA entering the game is the highest ERA the Mets have had this late in the season since 1962. After offseason elbow surgery, this was Goeddel’s first major league appearance this season.
There’s one fatal flaw if the strategy against the Nationals is to get into their bullpen – you have to actually get into their bullpen. With how dominant Max Scherzer has been against the Mets, and how dominant he’s been this year, that wasn’t happening tonight.
That’s not to say the Mets didn’t have their chances. The Mets grounding into three double plays only confirms the Mets had their chances. Like all double plays, these were back breakers.
The following inning, Steven Matz tried to help his own cause with a lead-off single, but he was erased when Michael Conforto grounded into the double play. The shock here was that entering tonight’s game, Conforto actually hit Scherzer well going 6-15 with three homers off him. Tonight, Conforto was 0-3 with a walk and two strikeouts.
Finally in the sixth, the Mets had runners on first and second with one out. That rally ended with Wilmer Flores grounding into the inning ending double play. It was the latest sign Flores is cold. After scorching through May and earning a starting job, Flores is 2-19.
The squandered opportunities cost the Mets. It put Matz, who was making his second start off the Disabled List, in the unenviable position of having to be perfect. Unfortunately, Matz was just good.
While he generally kept the Nationals off the basepaths, he was victimized by the long ball. Matt Wieters and Michael Taylor went back-to-back to start the third. In the sixth, Anthony Rendon hit an opposite field two run homer that just cleared the wall.
With that, the Nationals were up 4-0 and in position to win despite the Matz pitching fairly well. His final line was seven innings, eight hits, four runs, four earned, no walks, and four strikeouts.
With Dusty Baker understandably not wanting to go to his bullpen, a tiring Scherzer pitched the eighth. Things got a little interesting with Reyes leading off the inning with a homer, and Curtis Granderson sending one to the wall in his pinch hitting appearance.
This is where Scherzer showed how great he is. He was clearly on fumes, but he bore down. He made quick work of Conforto before entering a battle with Yoenis Cespedes. Despite Scherzer quickly getting up 1-2 in the count, Cespedes fouled off a number of pitches, and the count would go full. On the 11th pitch, Scherzer finally got his strikeout.
Still, it was within striking distance at 4-1. That’s when the Mets defense blew their chances.
Taylor led off the inning with a well placed bunt single. Flores made a nice play, but with his arm, he had no shot at Taylor. Same went for d’Arnaud when Taylor stole second. Taylor was certainly helped by Fernando Salas not even bothering to hold him on.
Despite all of that, the Mets had a chance to get out of the ninth inning unscathed. There were runners at the corners with one out, and Brian Goodwin hit a tailor made double play ball. For some reason, T.J. Rivera lollipopped it over to Reyes, who had no shot to get the speedy Goodwin.
After a Bryce Harper single, Ryan Zimmerman hit a single to left. Goodwin seemed like he would score with ease, and for some reason, Harper headed to third. Cespedes made a one hop throw to third Flores could not field. It at least appeared if Flores fielded it cleanly, Harper would’ve been out before Goodwin scored thereby negating the run.
It didn’t happen that way and because official scorers do that the do, Cespedes was charged with the error despite his heads-up play and good throw.
Then Terry Collins does what he does best. He made a questionable move.
Despite the Nationals bullpen being bad, they’re not six runs in the ninth inning bad. The real shame is the Nationals bullpen pitched as expected with Jay Bruce greeting Shawn Kelley with a lead-off home run in the ninth to make it 7-2. The Mets would get no closer.
The Mets have had two cracks at the Nationals to help them make some headway in the National League East. They responded by playing some of their worst baseball this month. They were not fundamentally sound, nor were they smart. They didn’t effectively work counts to get into that bullpen, and they played poor defense.
The most the Mets can hope for now is a split. If they continue playing like this, it won’t happen.
This game was probably over as soon as Anthony Rizzo lead off the game with a homer. If it wasn’t then, it was over in the second inning. Zack Wheeler just didn’t have it, and he got knocked out in the second inning. His final line was 1.2 innings, six hits, eight runs, eight earned, three walks, and three strikeouts.
It was irresponsible for Terry Collins to leave Wheeler in as long as he did. After missing two years due to Tommy John surgery, he let Wheeler throw 46 pitches in the fourth inning.
Look at it this way, Wheeler loaded the bases, walked in a run, and then allowed a grand slam to Ian Happ to make it 6-1. Collins left him in to put on two more runners who scored on an Addison Russell bases clearing double making it 8-1.
Then Collins went to Josh Smoker, and he abused his arm. Smoker threw 81 pitches over four innings. That’s 40 pitches more than his career high.
Sure you don’t want to burn your bullpen in these games, but you don’t risk a player’s health. Smoker is a guy who can get it up to 98 MPH. By the time he was pulled, he was struggling to hit 89 MPH. This gets pitchers hurt, and it’s inexcusable. Yes, it’s even inexcusable when a pitcher has a 7.45 ERA. You don’t mess with careers for one game.
By the way, it was unnecessary. The bullpen is rested with the last four Mets starters pitching into the seventh, and Jacob deGrom throwing a complete game yesterday.
At least Collins wasn’t irresponsible with everyone. Yoenis Cespedes was lifted after the fifth because the Mets were losing 8-1.
Mets just announced that "Yoenis Cespedes was removed because of the game situation." pic.twitter.com/g8DftdkLBr
— Joe Maracic (@GrafixJoker) June 14, 2017
It was that type of night. Gary, Keith, and Ron broke out the baseball cards. Keith was sighing loudly into the mic. Darling was taking pot shots at sabermetrians. Both Smoker and Neil Ramirez pitched.
But you know what? The Mets deserved this loss. Joe Maddon tried to wake up his team and get them going by mixing up the lineup. That included hitting Rizzo lead-off.
On the Mets part, Jose Reyes played in his fifth straight game. And guess what, he’s going to play in at least nine more because Asdrubal Cabrera went on the DL with a thumb injury. Yes, it is the same thing that landed him in the DL earlier this year.
Rather than the Mets using as an opportunity to call up Amed Rosario, the Mets said, “We’re good with Reyes hitting under the Mendoza Line and playing bad defense.”
Organizations like that deserve to lose 14-3.
To make matters worse, the Nationals pen didn’t blow another one, so the Mets fell to 9.5 games out.
Game Notes: Michael Conforto missed a second straight game with a back issue. With the left-handed Jon Lester on the mound, Juan Lagares got the start in center and lead-off. He went 1-4 scoring a run on a Cespedes first inning double. Neil Walker and Lucas Duda hit back-to-back homers in the ninth.
Well, this was exactly how the Mets drew it up. Dominant starting pitching and an offense to match. They only thing missing was the players capable of doing it.
But either Cespedes or Matz had an impact in this double header, Robert Gsellman made his latest case as to why the Mets should keep him in the rotation.
Gsellman flat out dominated the Braves over 6.1 innings allowing just three hits and two walks while striking out four. It was his latest big start after he had been temporarily moved to the bullpen due to his early season struggles.
The Mets needed that start too. They needed it because the Mets bullpen has been a mess. They needed it because of the double header. They needed it because Sean Newcomb was dealing for the Braves.
The Mets were only able to scratch one run against him in the second with the assistance of a throwing error from Newcomb. T.J. Rivera hit a sacrifice fly to make it 1-0. Mets had to wait until the eighth to get another real threat going.
The Mets had second and third with no outs against Luke Jackson after he hit Michael Conforto with a pitch, Cespedes singled, and Jackson threw a wild pitch. Ender Inciarte took what was a sure extra base hit and turned it into a Wilmer Flores sacrifice fly.
The Mets had Jackson and the Braves on the ropes, but they left him off the hook. Then Fernando Salas allowed an eighth inning homer to Brandon Phillips, and he needed to get bailed out by Addison Reed, who was coming on for the five out save partially because Terry Collins ripped through his bullpen yet again.
The ominous tone of the game, and perhaps the season changed with one swing of the bat:
Just like that, it was 6-1, but it was more than that. The Mets were rejuvenated. They won the first game, and then they went out and dominated the second game.
Like the first game of the double header, it all began with the starter. Matz pitched seven innings allowing just one run. That one run was in the seventh, but by that time, the game was already over.
Jay Bruce hit a three run homer in the fifth off Matt Wisler. Somehow in the sixth, Flores hit a triple, and he scored on a Travis d’Arnaud sacrifice fly making it 4-0.
T.J. Rivera provided insurance with an eighth inning two run homer. In the ninth, Juan Lagares hit a two run double making it 8-1. That’s a lead not even Neil Ramirez or Tyler Pill could blow.
That’s how different things are with Cespedes back in the fold. The Mets are scoring insurance runs, and their bullpen doesn’t blow leads.
Overall, it was a double header sweep where the Mets dominated the Braves. The Mets looked like the team many thought they would be to start the year. Both starters pitched into the seventh. There was a different vibe around this team. At least for one day, you believed this team still has some life.
Game Notes: Neil Walker returned from the stiff knee and played in both games starting the second. Cespedes was the 26th man. Rivera and Pill were sent down after the game to accommodate Matz and Seth Lugo being activated from the disabled list. Flores, Jose Reyes, and Conforto were the only players to start both games. Asdrubal Cabrera committed two errors.
The Mets have a number of excuses why they are in the position they are. Those excuses mostly surround the pitching. Noah Syndergaard went down in April with a torn lat. Matt Harvey and Jacob deGrom haven’t been the same since returning from their season ending surgeries. There has been a revolving door at the fifth starter spot that has seen the likes of Rafael Montero, Adam Wilk, Tommy Milone, and Tyler Pill. This has put stress on the bullpen, and the bullpen broke.
They broke because Jeurys Familia went down for the season. Hansel Robles couldn’t keep up with the workload and fell apart. Josh Smoker hasn’t been able to figure it out this year. Addison Reed is a much better set-up man than a closer.
Through all of this, despite playing a weak schedule, the Mets are seven games under .500. The Mets are THIS CLOSE to being sellers.
However, there is hope. Seth Lugo and Steven Matz are coming off the Disabled List. Last year, Lugo was 5-1 with a 2.68 ERA and a 1.149 WHIP. He followed that breakout performance with a breakout performance in the World Baseball Classic.
Matz is even better than Lugo. Before succumbing to the bone spur in his elbow last year, Matz had a stretch from April 17th to June 18th where he was 7-2 with a 1.91 ERA and a 1.047 WHIP. That was after his rookie season where he was 4-0 with a 2.27 ERA and a 1.234 WHIP.
That combination of Lugo and Matz vastly improves the Mets rotation. It also bumps a good pitcher like Robert Gsellman into the bullpen. Lately, Gsellman has figured it out. In his last four appearances, he’s 2-0 with hold posting a 2.66 ERA and a 1.082 WHIP. This will give the bullpen a fresh arm. More than that, it means one of Smoker or Neil Ramirez is going to be gone from the bullpen.
Finally, the Mets will have the pitching to help an offense that has tried to carry this team. In May, the Mets averaged the second most runs per game (5.7) in the National League. Things promise to get better with Yoenis Cespedes having played in his first rull rehab game for St. Lucie last night.
With that, the Mets will have as complete a team as they can expect for the reason for the season. Now, they just have to take advantage of their opportunities. That starts with the four game series with a Braves team who is a half game up on the Mets for second place in the National League East. Sweep them, and the Mets will find themselves just three games under .500.
After that, the Mets have a seven game home stand. First, there are the Chicago Cubs, who are not the same team they were last year. After that, the Mets have a four game set with the Washington Nationals.
If the Mets take care of business against the Braves and Cubs, that could be a HUGE series for this Mets team. Sweep the Nationals at home, and all of a sudden the Mets could be just eight games back in the division or better. That’s still a large deficit to overcome, but it’s not as daunting as the 12 games they are now.
The Mets don’t take advantage of this opportunity? It’s time to sell. At that point, the team should look to move everyone to pave the way for Amed Rosario, who frankly should be here now, and Dominic Smith to become the David Wright and Jose Reyes of this generation.
If the Mets don’t want to do that, it’s time to take care of business. That starts tonight with a huge start for Matt Harvey. This used to be the exact moment you wanted him on the mound. It is time for that to happen again.