Right now, the Mets outfield depth is a mess. Michael Conforto suffered a concussion, and while early indications are positive, no one can be quite sure when he will return. Jeff McNeil has been dealing with an abdominal issue. Keon Broxton was designated for assignment, and now, Brandon Nimmo was placed on the IL with a neck injury he’s been dealing with all season.
Due to that situation, the Mets needed to call up another outfielder. The problem there was with the 40 man roster full someone was going to have to be designated for assignment. That person wound up being Paul Sewald.
Assuredly, the reaction from most Mets fans is who cares, or that Sewald stinks, and he should have been designated for assignment long ago. With Sewald going 107 Major League appearances without a win and his having a career 5.18 ERA, you could understand the point. However, that point misses the overall point. Sewald had actual value and use to this Mets team.
So far this year, Sewald has made four appearances. Three of those appearances were for more than three outs. Yes, the Mets lost by a heavy margin in each of those games, and that is part of the reason why it was Sewald who pitched. It also underscores Sewald’s value to this Mets team. He is the pitcher who is able to come in and absorb innings saving the rest of the bullpen in these blowouts.
Last year, Sewald pitched multiple innings in 18 of his first 32 appearances. Overall in his career, he has pitched multiple innings in 30 percent of his relief appearances. When Sewald has been on the roster, this means he is the one who gets the brunt of the mop up work thereby leaving Seth Lugo and Robert Gsellman to perform their multiple inning magic on another day.
And after Sewald mops things up, with his options, the team can just send him to Syracuse for another reliever. This matters, and it helps teams win.
More than what he does well, Sewald is just better than the pitchers the Mets kept over him. As previously explained, he has been a better and more effective Major League reliever than Jacob Rhame. Tim Peterson has a worse Major League ERA, FIP, H/9, K/9, and K/BB. Ryan O’Rourke has always had control issues as exemplified by his walking three of the six batters he faced this year. Clearly, Sewald has been better than these pitchers in his career.
In the end, that may be what matters most. The Mets had options upon whom to designate for assignment (or in Rhame’s case, release) with the aforementioned four relievers being the most likely targets. When boiling it all down, the Mets opted to remove the most effective reliever who also happened to be the one reliever who the organization could consistently rely upon to save the bullpen by going multiple innings in his relief appearances.
Yes, Peterson would be designated for assignment after the Mets claimed Aaron Altherr, but that is also besides the point. The point here is the thought process and manner of dealing and operating.
Ultimately, even if fans want to be dismissive of Sewald and the decision, this was a mistake. Worse yet, it was an unforced error. While we may not know the full impact of such a decision, it will have some negative impact on the Mets, no matter how small. Still, even if you don’t believe that, we should still wonder about the poor decision making process which led to keeping three inferior relievers over Sewald.
With Jacob deGrom and Max Scherzer starting tonight, you suspected you were getting the pitcher’s fuel you’d normally suspect this to be, especially with how the respective offenses are performing. Both pitchers would deliver.
Between the two aces, the only run allowed was a solo homer by Adam Eaton, who the second batter of the game. Both aces went six innings with deGrom striking out eight to Scherzer’s nine. After six, Scherzer was in line for the win.
But he wouldn’t get it. The win would go to Drew Gagnon because he pitched a scoreless eighth and because the Nationals bullpen is hysterically bad.
In the eighth, Adeiny Hechavarria would start a rally with a one out double off Kyle Barraclough. Hechavarria was only in the game because Robinson Cano left the game with a tight quad after actually running out a third inning ground out. [Insert your own joke here].
BIG CLUTCH pic.twitter.com/YXICrdKofu
— New York Mets (@Mets) May 23, 2019
As unexpected as that was, after an intentional walk to Wilson Ramos, Rajai Davis hit a pinch hit three run homer in his first at-bat as a Met. To put it in perspective how unlikely this homer was, Davis arrived at the ballpark after the game started. The Mets are sure glad he got there in time.
After a scoreless ninth from Tyler Bashlor, the Mets had a 6-1 victory in a game that once seemed destined for heartbreak. Instead, it was the extremely unlikely pair of Lagares and Davis with all six of the team’s RBI just like the team drew it up.
There’s no sugar coating it. The Mets flat out didn’t show up, and this is the type of game which gets managers fired. If Mickey Callaway was smart, he’d be reaching out to Terry Francona and his other friends around the game to get his next job lined up sooner rather than later.
Steven Matz was activated off the IL, and he allowed two earned over 3.2 innings. It might as well have been 50 runs because this team wasn’t even going to score one even if Lopez walked three straight, went 3-0 to the batter, and he threw a pitchout.
If you as a fan have a problem with any Mets player, they gave you reason to be more irritated with them. That includes Robinson Cano not hustling after yesterday’s snafu. Todd Frazier and Wilson Ramos struck out two times a piece. List goes on and on.
We could talk about McNeil returning and the bullpen’s great work (Tyler Bashlor, Robert Gsellman, Edwin Diaz), but we’re not. This team didn’t show up, and they were terrible. They deserve nothing good to be said about them.
You know things are going south fast with the Mets when Jacob deGrom gets battered by the Marlins. In five innings, he allowed seven runs (six earned) on nine hits.
Sure, deGrom was abandoned by his defense. Misplays by the team’s two best defensive players, Juan Lagares and Todd Frazier, led to runs. Carlos Gomez threw a ball away allowing a run to score and move a runner into scoring position. However, it wasn’t either one of them who allowed a Jorge Alfaro bomb.
Paul Sewald, who was called up today, would eat up two innings to help save the bullpen. When he left the game, it seemed like the team was just going through the motions.
Brandon Nimmo singled, and Amed Rosario walked in front of Robinson Cano. Instead of delivering the key hit, he’d ground into an inning ending 1-6-3 double play. Although he’s done it his whole career, he certainly chose an awkward spot to not even bother running it out.
For what it’s worth, Cano said the scoreboard said there were two outs.
Still, the Mets had another rally in them even after Sewald allowed a run in the bottom of the seventh.
For some reason, Don Mattingly thought it was a good idea to bring in Adam Conley to start an inning which Alonso was leading off. Alonso made Mattingly pay by hitting a homer which sparked, not killed, rally.
The decision briefly looked like it’d haunt Mattingly when Lagares hit an RBI single. However, the rally stifled from there. After a Davis pop out, Nimmo hit a sacrifice fly. That’s when Mickey Callaway made a game altering decision.
Amed Rosario, who has been one of the Mets better hitters of late, was due up. Romo was a tough matchup for him, and you could understand the inclination to hit for him, especially when the guy you’re bringing in was Jeff McNeil. However, that overlooks McNeil not only left yesterday’s game with an abdominal injury, but he also wouldn’t start tonight because of it.
McNeil didn’t look quite like McNeil striking out against Romo. As bad as that was, things would get worse in the ninth.
After two quick outs, Wilson Ramos hit a double to keep the Mets hopes alive. Because of Callaway’s decision in the eighth, that meant the game was Adeiny Hechavarria‘s hands. He predictably struck out and the Mets lost 8-6.
There was plenty of blame to go around. The defense abandoned deGrom, who didn’t pitch well. Cano didn’t run it out and/or didn’t know how many outs there were. Callaway set a series of dominos into effect which led to Hechavarria striking out to end the game.
This is what a bad baseball team looks like.
Game Notes: Michael Conforto was placed on the seven day concussion IL. Keon Broxton was designated for assignment to make room for Gomez on the roster. Gomez is wearing 91. Frazier was 2-for-3 with a walk and a triple.
Last night, Drew Gagnon absolutely bailed out the Mets. He took the ball in a bases loaded situation, and he got out of the jam. He then navigated through the 10th allowing Pete Alonso to deliver his first career walk-off RBI.
This was not the first time Gagnon impressed out of the bullpen. Back when Steven Matz couldn’t get an out against the Phillies, it was Gagnon who took it on the chin. Despite being on short rest, he pitched 5.1 innings. Yes, he would allow five earned, but three of those came after he was gassed and frankly pushed too far.
That’s been what we have seen from Gagnon in the Majors. In short spurts, he has been fine. When he has been pushed past two innings, he has not been nearly as effective. We saw that in his only start in the Majors, and we saw it in Philadelphia. But in those shorter stints, Gagnon has really showed something.
Last year, he made four relief appearances. In those relief appearances, he allowed one earned in 7.1 innings. His ERA this year may be 6.75, but he has pitched better than that. While it’s always a dangerous game to do this in evaluation, if you eliminate that one-third of an inning, his ERA would drop to a more impressive 2.70.
This is another way of saying Gagnon may prove to be something if he is used properly. As a long man or a short reliever, he could be effective. Since coming to the Mets organization, he throws strikes. He has struck out nearly a batter an inning. With the sinking action on his pitches, he has relatively low home run rates. Overall, while an opponent can beat him, Gagnon is typically not going to beat himself.
That hasn’t been the case for the Mets other options. We have seen Jacob Rhame, Tim Peterson, and Paul Sewald struggle at the Major League level. Tyler Bashlor and Eric Hanhold have yet to establish themselves. Considering the options at hand, the Mets would have to come up with a long list of excuses before sending him back down for one of these relievers.
After all, we have seen this happen in year’s past for the Mets. Pat Mahomes came up huge in 1999. The same happened with Sean Gilmartin in 2015. If given an opportunity, Gagnon may prove to be the 2019 version of that. It’s time the Mets found out if he has what it takes to be just that.
After a tough road trip, the Mets returned home, and they looked like a much better team. They would win what became a contentious series, but they couldn’t complete the sweep:
- It’s beyond absurd the Mets believe Gio Gonzalez was just a marginal upgrade over Jason Vargas. It’s more absurd they not only wouldn’t guarantee a spot in the rotation to a pitcher they thought was better, but they also let $2 million stand in the way.
- Once again, the Mets were only “all-in” when it came to Pete Alonso on the Opening Day roster.
- So far, Alonso has gone 3-for-17!against the Phillies with two doubles. Let’s hope this is a strange blip instead of the Phillies figuring something out other teams can catch up on.
- Zack Wheeler was great becoming one of a few pitchers to throw 100 MPH and have an exit velocity of 100+ MPH in a game.
- Oh, and he struck out 11 while walking none. This was case in point why we should not overreact to slow starts.
- On the topic of not overreacting to slow starts, Robinson Cano is raking going 8-for-16 with two doubles and a homer in his last four games.
- While Mickey Callaway and his intellect and acumen are very unfairly maligned he used Cano perfectly as a decoy to get the matchup he wanted in Tuesday’s game.
- Todd Frazier and Luis Guillorme gave the Mets significantly better defense, and they provided some key hits.
- Two days off didn’t help Amed Rosario. You have to wonder how much longer the Mets can deal with him not hitting or fielding, especially with Guillorme looking good in this series.
- It was always interesting how there were two different sets of rules as to handle Rosario’s and Dominic Smith‘s struggles. Those separate rules may have led to neither being the player they thought they could be for the Mets.
- Seeing Rosario’s struggles and the defense in general, you see how much the Mets miss Tim Teufel. You should also question how much of a positive impact Gary Disarcina has had.
- The Mets replay process needs to be better. Dom held the bag and saved Rosario from an error . . . if the play was called properly and/or the Mets challenged the play.
- There was zero reason to demote Paul Sewald, who was pitching well, for Jacob Rhame, who was not pitching well in Syracuse.
- That move may have led to what has becoming a fractured Phillies team, and it galvanized them when Rhame, intentionally or not, threw two high and in to Rhys Hoskins.
- Hoskins got the perfect revenge hitting a homer off Rhame, and then he had a home run trot which made Darryl Strawberry‘s look like he was faster than Usain Bolt.
- Bryce Harper has very good stats for the Phillies so far, but he’s going to have to be better than what he was in this series if the Phillies are going to have a chance.
- Jeff McNeil is in a slump. His GIDP stopped whatever chance the Mets had at a comeback. He’s also three for his last 17
- Speaking of McNeil, the Mets getting plunked, especially on the hand, is getting ridiculous. The pitchers retaliating should not be an issue, but they can’t do what Rhame did.
- After the game Marc Malusis commented the Mets started things. Of course this completely overlooks the Phillies hitting three Mets and Drew Anderson going up and in on Michael Conforto multiple times.
- This is Example 1,693,085 why SNY is unwatchable aside from Mets games.
With Todd Frazier set to come off the Injured List, Amed Rosario feeling ill, and Justin Wilson needing to head to the Injured List with elbow soreness, the Mets set for a series of transactions to address the bench and the bullpen. In the end, Luis Guillorme was back with the team, and for some reason Jacob Rhame stayed in the bullpen while Paul Sewald was sent back to Syracuse.
Having seen both pitchers since 2017, you see two very flawed relievers. There is a reason why both have not been able to quite stick at the Major League level. To some, choosing one over the other is not that big of a deal because most fans don’t trust either reliever. That mindset is a bit short-sighted.
For starters, take a look at their career stats. In his career, Sewald has pitched 126.2 innings in 106 appearances. He has a 0-13 record with two saves, a 5.19 ERA, 1.342 WHIP, 3.3 BB/9, and a 9.1 K/9. From an advanced statistic perspective, Sewald has a 76 ERA+ and a 4.09 FIP.
For his part, Rhame has pitched 42.2 innings over 40 apperances. He is 2-3 with one save, a 1.594 WHIP, 3.6 BB/9, and a 7.4 WHIP. From an advanced statistic perspective, Rhame has a 59 ERA+ and a 5.83 FIP.
Certainly, when you look at the stats, Sewald has definitively had more success than Rhame. However to be fair, Sewald has had more chances despite Rhame arguably having much better stuff. Of course, while Rhame’s stuff may be better, it has not yet translated to Major League success.
Ideally, you want to carry the best pitchers on your staff as you possibly can, and so far in their respective careers, Sewald is the better pitcher. However, it is much more than that. There is also an element on how the pieces in the bullpen fit together.
An interesting note with Sewald is he has been fairly consistently used for multiple innings in his career. For example, in two of his three appearances this year, he pitched over one inning. Last year, 18 of his first 32 appearances were more than one inning. Overall, Sewald has pitched more than one inning 32 times in his career, which is 30 percent of his appearances.
With respect to Rhame, this is something he has done as well. In fact, he has done it in 12 of his 40 appearances, which is the same 30 percent rate. However, there is a difference in the amount of innings Rhame and Sewald have gone. For example, Sewald has been able to pitch more than two innings when needed. That’s a feat Rhame has not yet been asked to do.
Looking at the construct of the Mets bullpen, Seth Lugo and Robert Gsellman can both go multiple innings. This creates an issue for the Mets when their starters can’t go deep into games because they’re now using these two relievers in low leverage situations making them unavailable or not as effective when they’re needed for the higher leverage spots.
Right there is the reason why the Mets should have kept Sewald on the roster. He is the guy Mickey Callaway needs to bring into the game when his starters falter and the Mets fall behind by a good margin. Sewald can come in and give multiple innings thereby saving the bullpen and letting them fight another day. At this stage in his career, Rhame doesn’t have that same capability.
In the end, that’s why seemingly small decisions like this have larger ramifications. In the end, you really have to wonder how much this was factored into the Mets decision making when they opted to carry the pitcher who not only gives them much less length, but also has not had nearly the same level of success of the Major League level.
In a nine year Major League career, Craig Kimbrel has saved 333 games, which is the 14th most all-time. His career 1.91 ERA and 211 ERA+ is the best all-time for a reliever. He is a seven time All-Star, and he has finished in the Top 10 in Cy Young voting in five of his nine seasons. How Kimbrel performs during this next contract will go a very long way in determining whether or not he goes to the Baseball Hall of Fame when he retires.
With the Hall of Fame on the line and with his being an elite closer for NINE SEASONS, you can understand why Kimbrel would insist on remaining a closer. While there are no public statements confirming this is Kimbrel’s hold-up, there have been a number of outlets who have drawn the inference.
According to recent reports, the Mets are not willing to have Kimbrel pitch the ningth. To put it as simply as it can be put, if the only hold-up with Kimbrel right now is he wants to close, the Mets as an organization are stupid for letting that be a hold-up.
No, this is not an indictment whatsoever on Edwin Diaz. So far this season, Diaz has been everything the Mets could have possibly asked him to be. He is a perfect 7-for-7 in save opportunities with a 16.4 K/9. His 11th inning save against the Phillies where he mowed down Bryce Harper, Rhys Hoskins, and J.T. Realmuto on 11 pitches was awe inspiring.
Understandably, you want to have a pitcher like Diaz closing out games in the ninth. However, you also want a closer like Kimbrel closing out games in the ninth. What you don’t want is the current state of the Mets bullpen.
What is not great is the rest of the Mets bullpen. So far, Jeurys Familia has been a massive disappointment. We have also seen some unexpected struggles from Seth Lugo. In the long run, both pitchers should be fine, and with Justin Wilson and Robert Gsellman, the Mets do have the pieces for a good bullpen.
Still, there are major issues in the bullpen. Luis Avilan has been used as more of a mop up reliever than a LOOGY, and frankly, there is no way he is going to succeed in that role. Worse than that, the Mets have had a revolving door this year of Tim Peterson, Drew Gagnon, Paul Sewald, Jacob Rhame, and Corey Oswalt for the last spot in the bullpen.
Realistically speaking, the Mets cannot expect any of those pitchers to truly succeed at the Major League level. Exacerbating a very soft spot in the bullpen is the fact the Mets entered the season with just four MLB caliber starting pitchers in their rotation. As a result, at least every fifth day, the Mets are going to need to get some quality innings from their worst relievers. Put another way, the Mets can ill afford to have a weak spot in the bullpen when they have a glaring hole in the rotation.
That hole in the bullpen can be repaired with Kimbrel. Moreover, if you put Kimbrel in the ninth inning, him and Diaz pitching the final two innings makes every game a seven inning game for the Mets. The tandem would combine to make the best 8-9 combination in Major League history.
Really, there is no good explanation to not give Kimbrel the ninth. While you could argue the Mets did not give up Jarred Kelenic and Justin Dunn to have Diaz as a set-up man, the obvious counter-argument is the Mets did not give up those players to have relievers like Rhame derail games and ultimately the season. Additionally, with how great a pitcher he has been, no one should expect Diaz to falter in the eighth.
Overall, when you break it down, if the ninth inning is a breaking point for Kimbrel, just give it to him. He has the resume to justify such a demand, and really, he has the ability to not come to the Mets. Worse yet, he could go to Philadelphia to stick it to the Mets.
Of course, that would be the ultimate irony. The Mets gave up Kelenic to keep Diaz away from the Phillies, but they weren’t willing to have the best bullpen situation in Major League history to keep him away from Philadelphia.
After losing two out of three to the Cardinals, the Mets have lost six of their last eight games, and they are now just one game over .500. In the series and this bad stretch as a whole, we are starting to see some troubling patterns emerge:
- This Mets team was supposedly all-in, and Brodie Van Wagenen had a “Come get us!” bravado. Somehow, this led to Jason Vargas and Chris Flexen starting in back-to-back games. The season isn’t even a month old, and the Mets complete lack of pitching depth is already getting exposed.
- There is no good explanation why the Mets would have Jacob deGrom skip a precautionary MRI when he landed on the disabled list due to an elbow injury.
- Moreover, in a game against a team the Mets may very well be competing for a Wild Card spot this season, the Mets threw Flexen, Luis Avilan, Jacob Rhame, and Paul Sewald.
- If Avilan is not going to be used as a LOOGY but instead as a mop up reliever, you have to question why he is even on this roster.
- At some point you do have to question if this is really a bad team. Through 21 games, the team has a -19 run differential. The only team with a worse run differential in the National League is the Marlins.
- Again, the defense the Mets put behind their pitching is embarrassing. Their -22 DRS is the worst in the National League, and the combination of Amed Rosario and J.D. Davis form the worst left side of the infield in the majors by a pretty healthy margin.
- With respect to Rosario, at some point we have to question if this is who he is. He’s not making real progress in any parts of his game, and it’s getting to the point where he is hurting the Mets (again) on both sides of the ball.
- It is possible Rosario could use a day off. However, the short sighted Mets decided Luis Guillorme again did not merit a fair opportunity and instead chose to carry a string of Four-A relievers. So in addition to no pitching depth, the Mets have no shortstop depth.
- On Davis, there is no way you want him in the outfield. He’s slower than Freddie Freeman, Hanley Ramirez, and Jay Bruce among others.
- Davis’ inability to play third and the fact he can’t hit the fastball (.167), you cannot continue to play him once Todd Frazier is up. Sure, he had one or two nice games, but you cannot let small sample size successes blur the picture, especially when his defense is killing the Mets out there.
- If you look at Noah Syndergaard‘s advanced numbers, he’s the same pitcher he has always been. The biggest issue for him has been the defense. When the ball is in play, it’s a hit as evidenced by his .346 BABIP against (he’s at .311 for his career) and his 50.6% strand rate (career 73.7%).
- Really, Syndergaard has been unlucky because the fielding behind him is putrid. Hence, he has a 2.92 FIP.
- On the subject of Syndergaard, narratives are just tiresome. For example, when Syndergaard is bad in Philadelphia, not one word is said about Wilson Ramos‘ catching, but when it’s Travis d’Arnaud, we hear trumped up charges saying he’s not a good catcher or game caller. In the end, it’s confirmation bias.
- With respect to d’Arnaud, it’s clear he wasn’t yet ready to return. Certainly, you have to question why they rushed him back when the team was winning, and Tomas Nido was doing a quality job in the games he played.
- Robert Gsellman has been terrific of late. Not only did he bail the Mets out of that eighth inning jam, but he also pitched three innings to save the bullpen yesterday. If the Mets aren’t going to do the right thing and sign Gio Gonzalez or Dallas Keuchel, it may be time to start stretching him out to replace Vargas in the rotation.
- Good for Pete Alonso to respond to his first slump by mashing the ball against the Cardinals. Also, you have to love him talking his way into the lineup a day after having to leave the game with his getting hit by a pitch on the hand.
- The umpires handling of Robinson Cano getting hit on the hand was embarrassing for baseball and the umpires. There was no way he swung, and when you make a call that egregious, you cannot throw out Mickey Callaway.
- We are seeing Jeff McNeil in his first real slump as a Major Leaguer. In the series, he was 1-f0r-11. It will be interesting to see if the Cardinals discovered something other teams could emulate, or if St. Louis is just a terrible place where good things go to die.
- With all the troubles the Mets are having right now, Keon Broxton is getting saved from the spotlight, which is good for him because he has been terrible.
- If the only impediment to signing Craig Kimbrel is he wants to close, the Mets are even dumber than you could have imagined for wanting to have Rhame on the roster just so they could have Edwin Diaz close.
In the offseason, the Mets traded over five prospects. Why? They were all-in.
The Mets opted to forego a year of control over Pete Alonso by having him start the year on the Opening Day roster. Why? The Mets we’re all-in.
The Mets opted to go with just four MLB caliber starting pitchers in their organization because that’s apparently being all-in as well.
On the bright side Flexen was throwing 96 MPH. On the downside was everything else.
Flexen got through the first unscathed, but the wheels would come off starting with a Wilson Ramos passed ball allowing Jose Martinez to score. During that at-bat, Miles Mikolas would deliver with a two RBI single giving the Cardinals a 3-0 lead.
That was it. Game over.
Mikolas was cruising, and one pitcher after another couldn’t get out of their own way. Here are their disappointing but not unexpected final lines:
- Chris Flexen 4.1 IP, 7 H, 6 R, 5 ER, 4 BB, 0 K
- Luis Avilan 1.1 IP, H, 2 R, 2 ER, BB, 2 K
- Jacob Rhame 1.1 IP, H, R, ER, 2 BB, 0 K
- Paul Sewald 1.0 IP, H, R, ER, 0 BB, 0 K
Against a team the Mets are likely going to fight for a Wild Card spot, the Mets threw Flexen, Avilan, Rhame, and Sewald. They did it because they came into the season with no depth, and by mid-April, it’s already become an issue.
We also the Mets play continued shoddy defense. We also saw their offense begin to regress to the mean meaning it wasn’t there this time to bail out the pitching or defense.
Other fun notes include the Mets opting not to have deGrom undergo an MRI despite him having an elbow injury significant enough to put him on the IL. Alonso was hit on the hand with x-rays fortunately being negative.
Mostly, the Mets have been outscored by 17 runs this year, and they’ve allowed over 10 runs five times. It’s still early, but we’re starting to see very real problems with this team, and the way Van Wagenen built it, you legitimately have to ask how fixable they are.