Oliver Perez

Former Mets Available In Free Agency

It may be every fan base, but it seems like whenever the Mets need to add players via trade or free agency, fans seem to look towards acquiring former players.  It may not be just the fans either as the Mets bucked conventional wisdom by signing Jay Bruce and Jason Vargas last year.  If the fans and organization wants to go down that road again, there are plenty of options this offseason:

Jose Lobaton – If he’s back, we may actually see fans boycott the team.

Devin Mesoraco – Other than like a one week stretch, he was terrible in every facet of the game.  There is no way he should be back in Queens next year.

Rene Rivera – He would be a fine addition on a minor league deal to work with up and comers like Justin Dunn.  If there’s an injury or two (ideally three), he could resume his role as Noah Syndergaard‘s personal catcher.

Lucas Duda – Fans used to debate at length whether Duda was a good or bad player.  The debate is over.  He’s now a bad player who has not much to offer anymore.

Asdrubal Cabrera – Unless Cabrera is looking to accept a utility role behind two still largely unproven young players, there would be no reason to bring him back to the Mets.

Daniel Murphy – There is a scenario in which bringing him back makes sense, but that includes the Mets moving at least one bad contract to put him at first base because his knees have made his already poor defense all the worse.  There are many other variables past that making this a non-starter.

Jose Reyes – He shouldn’t even be playing for the Long Island Ducks next year.

Neil Walker – Considering he accepted a utility role for the Yankees last year, he could be willing to accept one with the Mets next year.  If so, he could be quality depth for the Mets roster which has not had depth on their bench since 2015.

Carlos Gomez – Judging from last year, it does not seem like Gomez can hit much anymore, but he can still play defense.  The Mets need a right-handed outfielder or two, and he would be a much better option than Austin Jackson by the simple fact he’s not Austin Jackson.

Chris Young – In 2014, the Mets made a $7.25 million bet Young still had something in the tank.  They wound up releasing him, thereby allowing other teams to discover he did have something left in the tank.  That something was hitting left-handed pitching, which is something he didn’t do at all last year.

Austin Jackson – He used up all the playing time he should receive in a Mets uniform last year.

Curtis Granderson – With Bruce, Michael Conforto, and Brandon Nimmo, you could argue the Mets have no need for another left-handed hitting corner outfielder.  Lost in all of that is the fact Granderson is still a productive player who is great in the clubhouse.  It would not be the worst idea to bring him back to let him serve as a mentor to the Mets young players.

Bartolo Colon – If you want him back, you deserve to see the Mets go under .500 again.

Matt Harvey – Harvey has basically said he doesn’t want to return.  If you ask the Mets, the feelings are probably mutual.

Chris Beck – He was terrible for the Mets last year, so if you’re upgrading your bullpen, you should probably avoid the guys who were terrible for you.

Tyler Clippard – He had surprisingly good stats last year, which is all the more incredible when you consider he pitched in the AL East.  Signing him to a minor league deal with an invitation to Spring Training is not the worst idea in the world.

Jeurys Familia – Familia is the best right-handed reliever in Mets history, and unlike the other free agent relief options not named David Robertson, none of them have proven they can pitch in pressure situations in New York.  If you’re looking to compete, Familia could be a big boost to the bullpen.

AJ Ramos – The main reason Ramos didn’t work out this year was because he was injured.  He did have surgery to repair his shoulder, but we don’t know what he will be when he is ready to pitch again.  The Mets need far more certainty than that from their bullpen.

Fernando Salas – Salas helped pitch the Mets to the 2016 Wild Card, and the thanks he received was getting over-used by Terry Collins to the point he was released by the Mets in 2017.  He returned to a slightly below average reliever last year.  The Mets have plenty of those already.

Jerry Blevins – Even with last year’s struggles, Blevins has traditionally been a good LOOGY for the Mets.  If Dave Eiland and Mickey Callaway think he can return to form, and he signs a reasonable one year deal, the Mets should bring him back.

Oliver Perez – If Brodie Van Wagenen had a sense of humor, he would work out a contract with either Manny Machado or Bryce Harper, but the day before the Mets officially signs either one of them, the Mets would announce Ollie was returning to the Mets organization.

Mets Worst Free Agent Signings

In their history, the Mets have had a number of truly awful free agent signings.  Their foibles on the free agent market have inspired books, and they have led to the Mets having prolonged down periods which have led to the team being under .500 for extended periods and eventually rebuilding.  Their mistakes are not limited to just any position.  Really, they have made mistakes across the diamond:

C Rod Barajas (1 year, $500,000) – In the Mets history, they have had just four free agents catchers as their Opening Day starter with Barajas being one of them.  With respect to Barajas, he was the cheap option in a truly uninspiring free agent group of catcher, and he would not last the season getting released towards the end of August.

1B Eddie Murray (2 years, $7.5 million) – Murray was the first piece the Mets locked down in what was to be known as the Worst Team Money Could Buy.  In his previous stops, he was a surefire Hall of Famer and one of the best switch hitters to ever play the game.  With the Mets, Murray had two disappointing seasons where he hit .274/.330/.446.

2B Luis Castillo (4 years, $25 million) – In 2007, the Mets needed a second baseman, and the team was able to get Castillo for nearly nothing.  While that team collapsed, Castillo was hardly to blame hitting .316/.404/.418 over the final month of the season.  To that end, it made sense to bring him back but not for the extreme overpay which was immediately panned by everyone.  Castillo would disappoint from that point forward, and eh woudl become a symbol of what was wrong with the team with the seminal moment being his dropping Alex Rodriguez‘s pop up leading to the Mets losing a game to the Yankees.

3B Todd Frazier (2 years, $17 million) – After a year in which Frazier had his first ever trips to the deisabled list and he had a careeer worst .390 SLG and .693 OPS, he was an obvious candidate.  Frankly, the choice was much easier when you consider how well Robin Ventura played during his Mets tenure and the Mets predominantly using homegrown players or trades to fill the position.

SS Kazuo Matsui (3 years, $20.1 million) – Despite the presence of Jose Reyes, the Mets opted to sign Matsui to be their shortstop.  It looked like a great move when Matsui homered in his first ever at=bat, but it was all downhill from there as Matsui disappointed at the plate and in the field.  Matsui dealt with injuries, was moved to second base, had a negative WAR in his last two years with the Mets, and he was eventually traded for Eli Marrero, who lasted just two months with the Mets.

LF George Foster (5 years, $10 million) – The Mets first free agent splash was Foster, and in many ways, Foster set the tone for some for the big moves the Mets would make in the future.  Foster would go from being an All Star who hit .295/.373/.519 to someone who hit .252/.307/.422 in a Mets uniform.  Overall, Foster had a rocky tenure with the team, and he would be released in 1986 after making comments to the press.

CF Vince Coleman (4 years, $11.95 million) – It wasn’t enough the Mets let Darryl Strawberry go to the Dodgers they replaced them with Coleman, a player who tortured the Mets.  If Mets fans didn’t despise him enough when he wore a Cardinals uniform, they certainly did during his Mets tenure which featured not just poor play but also throwing firecrackers at a group of fans.

RF Roger Cedeno (4 years, $18 million) Cedeno wasn’t just an important part of the 1999 team, but he would also serve as a key piece of the trade which brought the Mets Mike Hampton.  When he was a free agent, the Mets pounced to bring him back.  Just three years later, he was a shadow of the player he was leading to his being traded to Wilson Delgado.

SP Oliver Perez (3 year $36 million) – After being obtaine by the Padresx, Perez was great in Game 7 of the 2006 NLCS, won 15 games in 2007, and gave the Mets every chance to win in the final game every played in Shea Stadium.  Despite all of that, there were red flags everywhere, and Perez predictably failed after getting his big free agent deal.  He struggled, and he would refuse a stint in the minors leading to the team freezing him out.  His Mets career would end in infamy as he was brought into the 14th inning of the final game of the season after not having pitched in nearly a month.  He’d be released after the season with a one year and $12 million left on his deal.

 RP Francisco Rodriguez (3 years, $37 million) -Needing a close, the Mets went out and signed the closer who just set the single season saves record to a massive contract.  In his first year in the deal, he had the second most blown saves in the NL and a then career worst ERA, strikeouts, WHIP, HR/9, BB/9, and K/9.  In the second year of his deal, he was placed on the restricted list after being arrested for assaulting his girlfriend’s father in the family room at Citi Field.  The Mets finally traded him in the last year of his deal to accomplish both rebuilding and to prevent an onerous option from being activated.

In Brodie Van Wagenen’s first offseason as Mets manager, it is incumbent upon him to navigate through the minefield of potential free agent busts which are lurking.  The success of the 2019 Mets and his success during his tenure as the Mets General Manager depends on it.

Bad Postseason Results Does Not Mean Managers Made The Wrong Decisions

Prior to Game 7 of the 2006 NLCS, there was much debate over who Willie Randolph should give the ball.

It was Steve Trachsel‘s turn in the rotation, but he was terrible in Game 3 and bad in the NLDS. Possibly, it was the result of the microdiscectomy he had in 2005, but he didn’t have in anymore.

Due to the rainouts in the series, Tom Glavine in one day of rest was a non-starter leaving the Mets unable to throw their best (healthy) pitcher in a winner-take-all-game.

As a result, when you broke it all down, the Mets best option was Darren Oliver Perez.  That’s right, it was some combination of Darren Oliver, the former starter who was brilliant in the Mets bullpen in 2016, and Oliver Perez, the pitcher who did just enough to win Game 4.  With Perez not being nearly as good as he was as his 2002 breakout season, and him starting on three days of rest, this truly was an all hands on deck type of game.

Looking at the game, it made sense to put the Mets bullpen front and center.  The Mets had the best and deepest bullpen in the National League.  That bullpen led the National League in wins, ERA, and fWAR.  It was dominant, and even with the hiccups in Games 2 and 5 in the series, you certainly trusted it much more than you trusted anyone in the rotation.

As we are aware, things turned out much differently than anticipated.  With the help of Endy Chavez making the greatest catch you will ever see, Perez would allow just one earned on four hits in six innings of work.  He went far beyond what anyone could have anticipated, and really, he put the Mets in position to win that game.

Ultimately, the Mets would lose the game and as a result the series for two reasons.  The first was the Mets offense didn’t deliver.  After Endy’s catch, Javier Valentin struck out with the bases loaded, and Endy did not have more magic left for the inning instead flying out.  In the ninth, Cliff Floyd struck out, Jim Edmonds robbed Jose Reyes, and Carlos Beltran struck out looking.

The second reason was the bullpen, specifically Aaron Heilman.  He pitched a scoreless eighth, and he started off the ninth well striking out Edmonds.  After the Scott Rolen single, he really was through the dangerous part of the lineup.  He should have gotten through that inning unscathed to give the Mets a chance to walk off.  Realistically speaking, no one could have anticipated what came next.

In 2006, Heilman did not get hit hard.  He yielded just a 4.4% FB/HR ratio, and he had a 0.5 HR/9.  He had not given up a home run since July 16th, and that was hit by Phil Nevin.  Again, no one could see Yadier Molina‘s homer coming.

That didn’t stop it from coming, but just because it came, it did not mean Randolph and the Mets made the wrong decision trusting Heilman.

Sometimes, you make the right decision, and the wrong thing happens.  It is what we saw happen last night with the Athletics.

Like the 2006 Mets, the real strength of that team was the bullpen.  In a winner take all game, Bob Melvin put his faith in them.  Ultimately, it was two of his best relievers, Fernando Rodney and Blake Treinen, who failed most.  They took a close game and put it well out of reach.

That doesn’t mean he was wrong to trust those arms for one game.  It just means the team’s best players didn’t perform, which is the reason the Athletics lost.  Really, it was the use of an opener or the bullpenning.  It was Rodney and Treinen, two pitchers who were definitively going to pitch in the game even if the Athletics used a traditional starter, who lost the game.

In the end, there is still a debate at the merits of using an opener or bullpenning, but the Athletics losing this game did not settle this debate.  Not in the least.

Mets Blogger Roundtable: How Many Wins Will deGrom Have?

As frustrated as Mets fans have been this season, imagine being Jacob deGrom. Short of his pitching a complete game shut out and hitting a homer, he’s not getting the win.

In fact, deGrom has made four straight seven inning starts, and in each start, he has allowed one earned or less. He has gone just 1-0 with three no decisions. That makes eight no decisions on the season.

With the way the Mets offense has been, it begs the question over just how many wins will deGrom have with the Mets this season. The Mets Blogger Roundtable attempts to answer:

Logan Barer (MMO)

4

Roger Cormier (Good Fundies)

Zero. The Mets are aware of this and have stopped using the word “wins” entirely to keep morale up, so that’s good. Jacob will be traded to, I dunno, the Barves at the deadline for five relief pitching prospects and $10 million, after the Yankees offer Aaron Judge and Gleyber Torres knowing full well Fred Wilpon will agree to it before saying “psyche” and hanging up his rotary phone. deGrom will go 8-0 with a 6.00 ERA in Atlanta and then completely dominate in all of his postseason appearances. I will remark “neat” to nobody in particular as he accepts his World Series MVP trophy while my cat continues to clean himself.

Ed Leyro (Studious Metsimus)

Fear not, Mets fans, for deGrom will actually do something to knock Oliver Perez out of the Mets’ record books.

In 2008, Perez went 10-7 in 34 starts to set a franchise record with 17 no-decisions. DeGrom will shatter that mark by going 9-3 with 20 no-decisions. Jacob already has eight NDs in his first 12 starts. Ollie didn’t pick up his eighth no decision in his record-setting campaign until his 19th start on July 11.

Joe Maracic (Loud Egg)

deGrom will probably get his next win at the end of July, in another uniform. Getting traded in itself will be a win for him.

Greg Prince (Faith and Fear in Flushing)

DeGrom will win 9 games, matching Craig Swan‘s total from 40 years ago when he won the NL ERA title. Who says the Mets don’t honor their history?

Mets Daddy

Right now, Felix Hernandez and Fernando Valenzuela share the MLB record for fewest wins by a starter in the season they won the Cy Young Award. Valenzuela’s came in the strike shortened 1981 season whereas King Felix accomplished his feat over the course of a full 162 game schedule.

Through King Felix’s first 12 starts, he had three wins, which is one fewer than where deGrom is now, so being optimistic, let’s say deGrom gets to that 13 number with far fewer losses.

When deGrom finally gets to win number five, please make sure to see what each one of these writers say about it. It’s sure to be better than watching the Mets offense.

Former Mets In The Postseason

When determining which team to root for this postseason, the general rule of thumb is to root against the Mets rivals.  With the Mets making a number of trades this season, you could also root for teams according to their Mets connections:

AMERICAN LEAGUE

East – Boston Red Sox

Assistant Pitching Coach – Brian Bannister (2006)

Bannister made the Mets out if Spring Training in 2006. His tenure was short lived as he injured his hamstring, and Omar Minaya rebuilt the rotation in-season pushing a healthy Bannister out. He’d be moved that offseason in an ill-fated trade for Ambiorix Burgos.

RHP Blaine Boyer (2011)

Boyer pitched just five games for the Mets before leaving via free agency. He would not pitch in the majors again until 2014.

RHP Addison Reed (2015 – 2017)

Acquired on the eve of September, Reed quickly became an important seventh inning reliever on the Mets pennant winning team. He was even better the next season helping pitch the Mets back to the postseason. With Jeurys Familia‘s suspension and injury, Reed became an effective closer before being traded for a trio of Red Sox relief prospects at the trade deadline.

OF Chris Young (2014)

After a few down years, the Mets took a one year gamble on Young. He struggled all year, and he was released with the Mets eight games under .500 and 10.5 games back in the division. Since that time, Young has been a much more effective player.

Central – Cleveland Indians

First Base Coach Sandy Alomar, Jr. (2007 – 2009)

Alomar ended his playing career playing eight games with the Mets in 2007.  He would then begin his coaching career with the Mets serving two years as a special catching instructor.

RF Jay Bruce (2016-2017)

Bruce went from bust who struggled mightily after being acquired at the trade deadline last year to fan favorite this year. Fortunately for the Indians, Bruce wouldn’t repeat his struggles helping propel the Indians to 102 wins.

RHP Joe Smith (2007 – 2008)

Smith went straight from being a third round draft pick in 2006 to being a very good reliever for the Mets in two seasons.  Ironically, he moved as part the three team J.J. Putz trade intended to improve the Mets bullpen.

West – Houston Astros

DH Carlos Beltran (2005 – 2011)

Seeing him in the postseason again will certainly evoke memories of Adam Wainwright, but he was so much more than that in a Mets uniform.  Beltran was the best center fielder in Mets history and perhaps their best outfielder ever.

Juan Ceteno (2013 – 2014)

Ceteno is a strong defensive catcher who played just 14 games over two years before he was claimed off waivers by the Milwaukee Brewers.

Bench Coach Alex Cora (2009 – 2010)

Cora joined the Mets in the hopes of being an important utility player on a playoff caliber team.  Unfortunately, injuries and a ballpark ill-suited for the talents of the players on the roster brought that run to an end.

Hitting Coach Dave Hudgens (2011 – 2014)

Hudgens was the Mets hitting coach who was entrusted with helping the Mets adapt to a new ballpark.  While he was much embattled in the position, Mets offensive highlights during his tenure included Ike Davis hitting 30 homers and the last great season from David Wright.

Pitching Coach Brent Strom (1972)

Strom was the Mets 1970 first round draft pick.  He appeared in just one season with the team going 0-3 with a 6.82 ERA and a 1.615 WHIP.

Third Base Coach Gary Pettis (2003 – 2004)

Pettis served as the first base and outfield coach during the Art Howe Era.

Wild Card – New York Yankees

RHP Luis Cessa

Cessa was the other pitching prospect the Mets sent to the Tigers in the Yoenis Cespedes trade.

Wild Card – Minnesota Twins

Pitching Coach Neil Allen (1979 – 1983)

While Allen had a noteworthy Mets career of his own, he will forever be known as one of the two players traded by the Mets in exchange for Keith Hernandez.

RHP Bartolo Colon (2014 – 2016)

“Big Sexy” became a fan favorite and a mentor to the young pitchers in the clubhouse.  There are a number of highlights you can choose from his Mets career, but the one that keeps coming to mind was the unbelievable home run he hit in San Diego last year.

RHP Dillon Gee (2010 – 2015)

Gee is an example of a pitcher who has gotten everything out of his ability.  He has been resilient overcoming a number of injuries in his career with his career highlight possibly being his named the Mets 2014 Opening Day starter.

NATIONAL LEAGUE

East – Washington Nationals

OF Alejandro De Aza (2016)

De Aza had an interesting year with the Mets.  He was terrible to begin the year, and he then had a great July helping propel the Mets second half run to the Wild Card.

Pitching Coach Mike Maddux (1993 – 1994)

Maddux pitched two years for the Mets pitching to a 4.16 ERA as a reliever before departing via free agency.

2B Daniel Murphy (2008 – 2015)

Somehow Murphy has become one of the most divisive players among the Mets fanbase.  Many still fondly remember his for his time witht he Mets, especially his incredible NLDS and NLCS propelling the Mets to the pennant.  Others see a player who annihilates the Mets since leaving the team.

LHP Oliver Perez (2006 – 2010)

Believe it or not, there was a time where Perez was beloved for his Game 7 performance and his start the final game of the 2008 season.  He then fell off a cliff upon receiving a huge contract.  Things got so bad, he refused a minor league assignment, and his last appearance as a Met would be the team throwing him into the 14th inning on the last game of the season just to get the game over with.

Central – Cubs

Quality Control Coach Henry Blanco (2010)

“Hank White” was brought on as a defensive back-up, and he excelled in the role throwing out 50% of base stealers.

C Rene Rivera (2016 – 2017)

Rivera was a defensive specialist who helped Noah Syndergaard overcome his issues holding on base runners.  It was more than Syndergaard, Rivera served as a mentor for young starters Seth Lugo and Robert Gsellman who helped pitch the Mets to the Wild Card.

West – Dodgers

Bench Coach Bob Geren (2012 – 2015)

Geren served as the bench coach for the Mets serving as a mentor for the Mets catchers.  Since his departure, we have seen Mets catchers regress in their pitch framing, and we have certainly seen Travis d’Arnaud regress in nearly every aspect of his game.

OF Curtis Granderson (2014 – 2017)

Granderson is one of the finest men to ever put on a Mets uniform.  He also came up biggest when the Mets needed him most.  Granderson kept the Mets afloat in 2015, and if not for some blown leads, he was in line to be the MVP of that series.  His big outburst to end the 2016 season helped lead the Mets back to the postseason.

3B Justin Turner (2010 – 2013)

Turner was an effective utility player in his years with the Mets who was really non-tendered because he was arbitration eligible.  Turner would find himself a home in Los Angeles where he has become a terrific player.

Third Base Coach Chris Woodward (2005 – 2006)

Woodward was a valuable utility player for the Mets for two seasons having the second best season of his entire career in 2005.

Wild Card – Diamondbacks

RHP Matt Koch (2012 – 2015)

Koch was one of the two minor league pitchers traded by the Mets for Addison Reed.  While Koch is on the 40 man roster, it is not expected he will be on the postseason roster.

Wild Card – Rockies

None

Based on the sheer volume of Mets affiliations, it would appear Mets fans would be pulling for the Astros in the American League and either the Nationals or Dodgers in the National League.  Considering the presence of Chase Utley on the Dodgers and the recent rivalry with the Nationals, most Mets fans will understandably choose rooting interests for different reasons all together.

 

David Cone And Why You Should Watch Today

Today is the last day of the season, well at least for the Mets. With the Mets being 28 games out of first, the only thing left to do is to play this game, hope no one else gets hurt, and not drag things out more than they need. 

If there are extras, let’s not hope either manager waits until the 14th inning to put Oliver Perez into the game. 

More than any of that, you want to see a great game. You want to have your decision to watch that game and frankly your fandom rewarded. You want David Cone‘s start to end the 1991 season. 

The 1991 Mets were officially the end of the line for the best run in Mets history. There would be no finish of second place or better. Instead, the Mets were in fifth place, and they fired their manager Bud Harrelson

None of that mattered when Cone started the finale of the regular season in Philadelphia. 

Cone came out, and he struck out the side in the first. He did it again in the second. He was well on his way to tying Tom Seaver‘s then National League mark of 19 strikeouts in a game. 

For those roughly two and a half hours, the Mets weren’t a bad team having their worst season in about a decade. No, they were the best team in baseball, and the baseball world tuned in to see if Cone would achieve baseball immortality. 

And that’s why we watch. 

You never know what’s going to happen. The 1991 season was a disaster, and Cone had himself a down year. You couldn’t tell that day. 

That start there was why you watch. Sure, with Noah Syndergaard pitching 1-2 innings, you’re likely not going to see anyone have a 19 strikeout performance.  But that’s just one possibility. 

Really, the possibilities are endless. Those endless possibilities are why we watch now. We watch because we’re Mets fans. We watch as baseball fans. 

Today, there will be baseball games. As long as there are games being played, there is ever the chance something  special will happen. 

So, yes, tune in and see the Mets final game.  Tune in to see if you can see something you’ve never seen happen in a game. Really, you tune in because you’re a Mets fan. 

Hopefully,  you’ll be rewarded somehow today with a great performance by the Mets. 

Mets Win Meaningless Long Extra Inning Game 

You just knew the Mets and Phillies would have an extra inning game in the final series of the season. This is the epitome of a meaningless series, so you knew at least one of these games would get dragged out. That was tonight’s game. 

Due to Jacob deGrom‘s gastroenteritis, Seth Lugo was pressed into duty a game earlier than anticipated. 

In what was his last appearance of the season, Lugo lasted four innings allowing two runs on six hits. While he left the game on the short side, the Mets rallied to take the lead after he departed. 

The big hit was a Brandon Nimmo two run triple in the fifth giving the Mets a 3-2 lead:

The ball Nimmo hit normally would’ve gone out. That goes double when you consider it is Citizens Bank Park. It would be one of two caught in the wind for Nimmo. The Mets certainly could’ve used those runs too even with Asdrubal Cabrera hitting an RBI double in the top of the seventh giving the Mets a 4-2 lead. 

The Mets needed the extra run because in his second inning of work, Paul Sewald imploded issuing three consecutive one out walks to load the bases. 

After an Aaron Altherr sacrifice fly and a Rhys Hoskins RBI single, that game was tied, and it would be tied into extras.

Phillies reliever Adam Morgan would play the role of Oliver Perez in this game allowing a three run homer to Cabrera. 

Jeurys Familia came on and earned the save preserving the Mets 7-4 win. The win gave the Mets their 70th of the season. The Mets have not had a season under 70 wins since 2003. 
Game Notes: On the day before the Mets were supposed to have a bullpen game with Noah Syndergaard scheduled to pitch an inning tomorrow, the Mets used eight relievers. 

Nationals Bullpen Allowing Mets To Get Back In The Race

One of the major reasons for the Mets run in 2015 was the Nationals bullpen. That bullpen had the third most blown saves in the National League. 

It was a bullpen those Mets beat up on to win some key games. In the push to win the division, the Mets swept the Nationals twice. The Nationals bullpen blew four of those six games, and the Mets got the win against the Nationals bullpen in five of those six games. 

The 2017 Nationals bullpen might even be worse than that bullpen. 

After failing to obtain a closer in free agency or to acquire on in a trade, the Nationals went in-house for their closer. This has led to Dusty Baker playing Rusdian Roulette with Koda GloverBlake Treinen, and Shawn Kelley. The end result has been the Nationals blowing the second most saves in the National League. 

But it’s not just the rotating ineffective closers who are poor. It’s the entire Nationals bullpen:

About the only competent bullpen arm the Nationals have is Matt Albers, who is having an extreme outlier season partially fueled by an unsustainable .220 BABIP. In fact, he just blew a save against the Braves last night. 

This bullpen is horrendous, and they’re killing the Nationals. Their 11 blown saves are the second most in the National League, and their 5.11 bullpen ERA is the worst in the National League. 

The bullpen has played a major role in the Nationals losing four straight and five of six. In that timeframe, the Nationals lead over the Mets has shrunk from 12.5 games to 8.5 games in less than o r week. 

Despite all that has happened to the Mets this year, they’re still in the National League East race thanks in large part to the Nationals bullpen.  Who knows?  Maybe a few months from now, we may be saying the Mets won the division because of that Nationals bullpen.  

At Least The Mets Were Competitive 

When Daniel Murphy hit a grand slam in the first inning with no outs against Zack Wheeler, it seemed like the game was over. The Mets have shown nothing of late to suggest they could score four runs, let alone the five it would take to take the lead. With Max Scherzer pitching for the Nationals, the loss appeared to be a near certainty. 

At least the Mets made this one interesting. 

Michael Conforto, who is cementing his spot as this team’s lead-off hitter, hit Scherzer’s second pitch of the game for an opposite field home run:

He also made a nice play in the field:

The Mets would narrow the gap to 4-3 on a Neil Walker third inning two run home run. 

The game remains close because Wheeler was great after the first inning. After the first inning, Wheeler allowed just one hit and issued just two walks. He had a manageable pitch count, and he was able to pitch seven innings throwing just 101 pitches. 

Wheeler’s final line was seven innings, four hits, four runs, four earned, two walks, and six strikeouts. 

It’s hard to say a guy who gave up a first inning grand slam deserved a better fate, but Wheeler probably did. At a minimum, you could argue that one day the hitters need to bail out a starter. With this offense, that’s wishful thinking. 

Any hopes were dashed when Ryan Zimmerman absolutely crushed a two run homer off Josh Smoker in the eighth inning making it 6-3. That would be the final score. 

The first showdown with the Nationals led to a sweep. Regardless of the Mets health, that’s a bad sign for the 2017 season. 

Game Notes: Asdrubal Cabrera is injured, and he stumbles after each play he makes. He looks more injured than he did last year. Travis d’Arnaud couldn’t catch again, but he pinch hit yet again. Kevin Plawecki got his first start of the year. 

Hard Fought Loss Is Still A Loss

As if the Mets weren’t injured enough, the team had a new rash of injuries heading into tonight’s game. 

Wilmer Flores and Lucas Duda went on the disabled list. Travis d’Arnaud and Yoenis Cespedes didn’t, but they couldn’t start. At least d’Arnaud was available to pinch hit. To make matters worse, Asdrubal Cabrera is now dealing with a hamstring injury keeping him out of the lineup, and Jacob deGrom woke up on the wrong side of the bed. 

With deGrom waking up with a stiff neck, he missed tonight’s start, and he probably needs someone to start for him tomorrow. 

With so many people out of the lineup, the Mets needed someone to step up. The Mets had people stepping up all over the place tonight. 

First was Matt Harvey who was the surprise starter. Harvey gave his team a chance to win pitching seven innings. His final line was seven innings, four hits, three runs, three earned, two walks, and two strikeouts. 

Harvey pitched well, but he was tripped up by the long ball. In the first inning, he grooved one to Bryce Harper who launched it for a two run homer. It was a strange site to see when you consider Harper couldn’t get a hit off pre-TOS Harvey. The third run off Harvey came off a Jose Lobaton solo shot in the fifth. 

Despite the two homers and the makeshift lineup, Harvey had a no decision.  

He was first helped by a Michael Conforto first inning blast off Tanner Roark‘s first pitch of the game:

The second and third runs came courtesy of Curtis Granderson. In the fourth, Granderson had a two out RBI single scoring Jay Bruce. He then tied the score in the sixth:

It was a terrific night for Granderson. Coming into the night, he was hitting .143/.197/.214. Just like he’s done in his entire Mets career, Granderson stepped up when the Mets needed him most going 2-4 with a run, two RBI, one walk, and the home run. 

The Mets nearly took the lead in the seventh. Zack Wheeler hit for Harvey and hit a pinch hit double. The Mets would load the bases, and the Nationals would go to Oliver Perez, who got Bruce to line out to end the inning. 

In the ninth, there was some craziness. Rene Rivera earned a lead-off walk off Joe Blanton, and Terry Collins opted to pinch run Robert Gsellman. T.J. Rivera then bunted Gsellman to second. 

Cabrera then pinch hit for Addison Reed and drew a walk. Given his hamstring issues, Collins sent out Kevin Plawecki to pinch run for him. No, it didn’t make sense to do this and force the pitcher’s spot to come up earlier in the lineup, but nothing in this inning made much sense. 

In the long run, Blanton worked his way out of the inning. Another side effect of the inning, Collins’ mechanations led to the pitcher’s spot coming up three spots earlier in the lineup. He did that in a game where the Mets had a short bench. Just an inexcusable move. 

The Mets certainly could’ve benefitted from better managing as the pitcher’s spot did come up in the bottom of the 11th with the Mets down 4-3. 

The Mets were down 4-3 because Jeurys Familia is still rusty. Keep in mind, he only made two relief appearances in the minors before his suspension was over. 

After Josh Smoker allowed a lead-off double to Harper, Murphy was intentionally walked, and Familia entered the game. He threw a wild pitch allowing Harper to go to third. It didn’t matter much as he issued back-to-back walks to Anthony Rendon and Trea Turner to force in a run. Familia settled down after that, but it was too late. The Nationals took the lead. 

Shawn Kelley came on in the 11th and pitched a 1-2-3 inning to earn the save. With that, the Mets fought valiantly, but still lost. They’re now under .500, and who knows who will be healthy enough to play tomorrow. 

Game Notes: Daniel Murphy‘s 19 game hitting streak came to an end. He was 0-4, and he was intentionally walked in the 11th. Apparently, Reed wore the wrong hat during his appearance.