Time and again, we’ve seen Seth Lugo come up huge. That’s both in the starting rotation, where he wants to be, and the bullpen, where he has established himself as the best reliever in baseball.
When it comes to Lugo, it’s never really been a question of whether he could pitch in the rotation. The question is what is his best role on this Mets team.
As this Mets bullpen and pitching staff as a whole is constituted, they lean on Lugo’s ability to not just go multiple innings, but to also get the biggest outs in the game. With the current state of the rotation, you could argue Lugo’s ability to eat those innings in pressure spots makes him all the more needed in the bullpen.
With injuries and opt outs, Jacob deGrom is the only Mets starter guaranteed to give you at least five innings. That’s it. As a result, there’s an onus and strain on the bullpen.
The real value with Lugo is his versatility. He’s a one inning closer. He’s a long man. He’s there to bail you out of the inning. No one else can do what he does.
The aforementioned long men can give you innings, but they cannot be relied upon in a crucial spot. Right now, Justin Wilson and maybe Jared Hughes can be relied upon in a crucial spot, but they can’t give you more than three outs in a consistent fashion.
As we saw last night, the Mets bullpen is still very suspect in those late innings when Lugo is unavailable. Part of the reason is Dellin Betances, Edwin Diaz, and Jeurys Familia are occasionally prone to fits of wildness.
With respect to Diaz and Familia, they’ve made significant strides from their disastrous 2019 season. As previously explained, Diaz can likely be relied upon to close again. However, like most closers, he’s not as good or as reliable when being brought into a jam.
With respect to Betances, he’s not the same reliever he once was. His velocity is down, and he’s more hittable. As a result, he’s no longer the guy you can just plug into the seventh or eighth.
Now, you may want to argue Steven Matz may be able to be that guy. If that is the case, why remove him from the rotation and disrupt the status quo.
Taking Matz out of the rotation implicitly means the Mets don’t trust him. That goes double when the Mets won’t start him against a Martins team with the fifth wurst wRC+ in the National League.
Digging deeper, the Marlins are the worst offensive team the Mets face all year. This is the team you let Matz get right against. That is all the more the case when the Marlins have a 69 wRC+ against left-handed pitching.
All told, the Mets bullpen is already getting taxed. It’s going to get worse with every Gsellman and Oswalt start. Now, it’s going to get worse with each Lugo 2-3 inning start.
Removing Matz from the rotation now is a short-sighted panic move. The team simply doesn’t have the arms for three bullpen games through each turn through the rotation. They’re even less equipped without Lugo.
In the end, Lugo will be a good starter. It’s just that the entire team is not built to have Lugo in the rotation. The Mets should be aware of this, but as usual, Brodie Van Wagenen thinks he knows better than everyone. Each and every time he thinks that, the decision blows up in the Mets faces.
Chances are, this decision will too.
For all his bravado, Brodie Van Wagenen has not only stripped the farm system down, but he did it while impinging the Major League roster’s ability to compete for a World Series. To put it in perspective, let’s just look at what the Mets roster would look like right now if Van Wagenen only kept the Mets players in the organization had he not taken the job, or, if he did nothing.
Some caveats here. This assumes free agents were re-signed. Without the Robinson Cano deal, that would’ve been possible. Also, it assumes the same players who are injured for the season would remain injured. Finally, this will eliminate those players not on active 28 man rosters. With that in mind, here’s what the 2020 Mets would’ve looked like.
2B Jeff McNeil
3B Todd Frazier
SS Amed Rosario
CF Juan Lagares
DH Pete Alonso
INF Wilmer Flores
1B/OF Jay Bruce
INF Luis Guillorme
RHP Jacob deGrom
RHP Zack Wheeler
LHP Steven Matz
LHP Anthony Kay
LHP David Peterson
RHP Seth Lugo
RHP Rafael Montero
RHP Justin Dunn
RHP Robert Gsellman
RHP Drew Smith
LHP Blake Taylor
RHP Bobby Wahl
LHP Daniel Zamora
RHP Paul Sewald
RHP Franklyn Kilome
Looking at the team overall, the starting pitching is vastly superior as is the team defense. The bullpen may not be as deep, but they certainly have the arms.
Overall, this non-Van Wagenen impacted roster would’ve certainly been better than the 9-14 team his Mets roster is. This just goes to show you how bad of a GM Van Wagenen is.
He’s made the Mets worse in 2020, and he’s made the Mets future less promising. You could not have done a worse job than Van Wagenen has done.
It seems at least once a year the Washington Nationals just embarrass the Mets. While much has changed in this COVID19 world, apparently, this tradition has survived.
Brandon Nimmo had a rough night in the outfield. He didn’t make an error, but he didn’t get to a lot of balls. He wasn’t the only one off during the Nationals 16-4 thrashing of a the Mets.
The Nationals hit four homers with two of them coming from former Met Asdrubal Cabrera. That included a true juiced ball homer.
JUICED BALL HR OF THE NIGHT pic.twitter.com/uGxSYEHKSb
— Dylan Hornik (@_Hornik_) August 11, 2020
You may remember Cabrera from his stint with the Mets. If not, you may remember him as the guy Brodie Van Wagenen didn’t give a courtesy call to when he instead opted to sign his former client Jed Lowrie, who had a busted knee.
Lowrie gave the Mets nine pinch hit attempts, and Cabrera helped the Nationals win the World Series. He also helped destroy the Mets tonight. So, thanks for that Brodie.
Really, the less said about this debacle, the better. It’s time to turn the page and just try to figure out how to piece together a starting rotation. Again, thanks for that Brodie.
Well, after losing two in a row, Rick Porcello got to play the role of stopper for his hometown team. Initially, it didn’t look good.
After two quick outs, notorious Mets killer Freddie Freeman got the rally started with a single. That started a string of four starting singles. The last two came for Matt Adams and former Met Travis d’Arnaud. That gave the Braves a 2-0 lead when if they lowered Porcello’s ERA.
Rick Porcello just allowed two runs in the first inning, which LOWERED his ERA from 27.00 to 24.00.
— Ed Leyro (@Studi_Metsimus) July 31, 2020
Porcello would actually settle in, and he’d put up some zeros. Thanks to a six run fifth, he’d be in position to pick up the win.
— New York Mets (@Mets) August 1, 2020
Alonso walked to force in a run, and then Michael Conforto showed incredible wrist strength on a 3-2 check swing and also walked to force in a run. Yoenis Cespedes hit a two run double. The Mets then batted around with Cano hitting an RBI single increasing the Mets lead to 8-2.
You’d think the Mets should cruise, but then again, this is the Mets.
After Porcello issued a lead-off walk to Dansby Swanson, J.D. Davis just flat out dropped a fly ball. His error was dubbed the Mets worst error of the year by Gary Cohen. Instead of one on, one out, it was two on, no outs. That led to Paul Sewald replacing Porcello thereby cheating Porcello of the chance of getting the win.
Again, it was Adams and d’Arnaud hurting the Mets. Adams hit an RBI double, and d’Arnaud singles to pull the Braves within 8-4. An Austin Riley RBI groundout made it 8-5.
An Amed Rosario homer to lead off the sixth began a two run inning giving the Mets a 10-5 lead. It still wasn’t enough.
— New York Mets (@Mets) August 1, 2020
Chasen Shreve, easily the Mets best pitcher of the night still allowed a run in his two innings. On the bright side, five of his six outs recorded were strikeouts. His one non-strikeout was a great play by Gimenez
— Matt Musico (@mmusico8) August 1, 2020
The Mets brought on Dellin Betances to start the eighth, and that’s when the wheels fell off.
Betances didn’t have it both in terms of control and stuff as he was only hitting 94 MPH on the gun. The bad inning started with a leadoff single by Adeiny Hechavarria. Then, Betances walked Ender Inciarte.
Swanson singled to pull the Braves within 10-7. Then, Betances nearly hit Freeman on a 3-0 pitch. That pitch got past Ramos. Betances was late to the plate, and he still almost got the tag down on Inciarte. In fact, it appeared he did, but replay confirmed the run.
Lugo wasn’t sharp. He walked Marcell Ozuna. That was the seventh walk Mets pitchers issued and the fifth by the Mets bullpen. After Lugo got Johan Camargo to hit a shallow fly ball, d’Arnaud came up to the plate.
d’Arnaud would hit an RBI double to right center. Notably, on that play career right fielder Ryan Cordell, put in center for defense, couldn’t cut it off in time. As a result, it was a bases clearing double giving the Braves an 11-10 lead.
Instead, the Mets fell behind. The decisive blow was delivered by their former catcher, a guy Brodie Van Wagenen cut. Last year, d’Arnaud was more productive than Ramos, and tonight, d’Arnaud was 3-for-4 with a double, walk, and five RBI.
In a nice juxtaposition, it was Ramos, who is hitting .208 this year, who flew out to end the game with the tying run at second. That saddled Lugo with the loss and the entire Mets team with an uglier loss.
This was an ugly loss which exposed the Mets bullpen and only further highlighted the team’s bad defense. When you have that, you’re going to have more than your fair share of these losses.
Game Notes: Gimenez started at third over Jeff McNeil. Mets scored 10 runs tonight. They’ve scored 12 runs in five home games.
Apparently, Christian Vazquez now belongs on this list.
After an impressive first start of the season, Steven Matz was good again tonight. Good, not great, and that was because of Vazquez.
Over his 5.1 innings, Matz allowed three runs on eight hits. All three of those runs came on Vazquez homers.
The first homer came in the top of the second. Matt settled in, and the Mets would get him a lead. In the third, Jeff McNeil hit a bases loaded two RBI single. The Mets only had one out, but failed to push across another run. It would cost them.
In the fourth, Matz had one of his moments of old. Xander Bogaerts led off the inning with a slow roller down the third base line. McNeil had little choice but to eat it. Matz was visibility frustrated by getting beat on a slow dribbler off a good pitch.
Like we’ve seen in the past with him, he can let the emotions get the better of him. He’d leave a fastball up and over the middle of the plate, and Vazquez would hit his second homer of the game giving the Red Sox a 3-2 lead.
Vazquez really just wore out the Mets in this four game two city set. He was 4-for-12 with three homers and four RBI. All three of his homers came over the last two games.
It wasn’t just his work at the plate. He was also terrific behind the plate. He worked well with Martin Perez. On that note, Perez allowed just two runs on two hits and four walks over 5.1 innings.
Vazquez would also throw out one of the two stolen base attempts against him.
Back to Perez, he was good but very wild walking four. Even with those four walks, the Mets really only got something started in the third against Perez.
Fortunately, the Mets bullpen was great with Drew Smith pitching 1.2 scoreless with two strikeouts. Jeurys Familia has his turbo sinker working striking out two in a 1-2-3 eighth. That gave the Mets a chance.
Michael Conforto came up with a chance, but he had a terrible at-bat. He was uncomfortable with many check swings, and he’d just get overpowered when he struck out. As good as Conforto was to start he year, he’s been that bad the last two games.
Despite not really preparing for the season and missing Summer Camp, the Mets activated Brian Dozier. Not only was he activated, but he’d also be thrust into the starting lineup.
Dozier was 0-for-2 with a GIDP. With the Red Sox pitching the right-handed Heath Hembree, Luis Rojas sent Robinson Cano to the plate. After Cano’s lead-off single, Rojas sent Gimenez in to pinch run for Cano. Gimenez would steal a base, but he’d get stranded.
That meant Gimenez was up in the Dozier/Cano spot in the eighth. Unlike yesterday when he tripled, he rolled over one for the inning ending groundout.
Brandon Workman, who really labored yesterday and nearly blew the save, came on to try to get another save tonight.
Alonso swung at a 2-2 pitch well out of the zone to strike out and end the game. The Mets turned what should’ve been a series sweep with two flat out ugly loses at home, and they fell back under .500.
Game Notes: Dozier replaced Eduardo Nunez, who was placed on the IL. Daniel Zamora was recalled, and Hunter Strickland was designated for assignment. Despite having a 22 game on base streak, Brandon Nimmo continues to bat ninth.
Last night, Corey Oswalt was thrust into action, and well, he was terrible. In addition to allowing two inherited runners from Rick Porcello to score, he allowed five runs over four innings. He was sent down after that poor performance.
Looking at Oswalt’s career, it’s difficult to say last night was surprising. After all, over the last two years, he has made 12 starts and seven relief appearances with uninspiring results. Overall, he was 3-4 with a 6.43 ERA and 1.458 WHIP.
There’s nothing there which would suggest last night was a fluke. In fact, last night wasn’t a fluke. Really, last night was a microcosm of why Oswalt has struggled so mightily in his Major League career.
Even if the Mets would not officially confirm it, Oswalt was slated to be the Mets fifth starter. He was supposed to be preparing for a Tuesday start against the Boston Red Sox.
Instead, Oswalt was rushing to warm up to relieve and bail out Porcello. Luis Rojas could have used an actual relief pitcher to get the Mets out of the inning and then switch to Oswalt. He also could’ve gone to Paul Sewald, who has experience entering a game with runner on and giving the Mets multiple innings.
Instead, Oswalt was rushed to warm up and again put in a position to fail. This has been the story of Oswalt’s brief MLB career.
We have seen Oswalt flown cross country and make relief appearances on fewer than three days rest. We’ve seen him sit for weeks unused. He’d been shuttled back-and-forth between Triple-A and the majors and shuffled between the rotation and bullpen.
No pitcher can develop, thrive, and succeed under these circumstances. It’s simply bizarre the Mets continue to do this with Oswalt and expect different results. If this was any team other than the Mets, you’d be shocked a team would treat a prospect this way.
When you look at his career, he really only had one almost normal stretch of starts in the Majors. From July 4 – August 16, he made seven starts (plus an additional one in Triple-A), and he was 2-1 with a 4.26 ERA while averaging 5.1 innings per start.
When you take out his first poor start, which came on the heels of his being unused for over a week, Oswalt was 2-1 with a 4.24 ERA while averaging 5.2 innings per start.
No, these are not great numbers. However, these numbers show the then 24 year old rookie had the ability to pitch at the Major League level. With some time to develop, he could’ve improved and maybe emerged to be more than the fifth starter he appeared to be.
Maybe not. Fact is, we don’t and can’t know. The biggest reason why is the Mets absolutely refuse to put Oswalt in a position where he can succeed. Somehow that includes this year for a team with no starting pitching depth. It’s just ponderous.
Hopefully, at some point someone will present Oswalt with a chance to succeed. When he gets that chance, he may well prove everyone who says he can’t succeed wrong, very wrong. For that to happen, it may have to happen with a different organization, one who believes in helping all of their pitchers succeed.
The Mets have done their part protecting the confidentiality of their players. We know Brad Brach and Robinson Cano aren’t in camp, but the team will not say why. Thar said, Luis Rojas might’ve given us an indication it’s COVID19 related:
Luis Rojas said the Mets haven't had any baseball-related injuries so far during camp.
— Tim Healey (@timbhealey) July 12, 2020
As is typically the case when a player is going to miss time, the discussion begins on what the Mets should do to replace these players.
There’s a ton of options available to replace Cano, and it’s an interesting debate.
It’s similar to Brach. Newly signed Jared Hughes is obviously the first man up to replace him. There’s also Paul Sewald, Drew Smith, Stephen Gonsalves, Franklyn Kilome, Walker Lockett, Corey Oswalt, and some interesting minor league arms.
If this were a normal 2020 season, we’d debate the correct path, and we’d see the Mets have time to get it wrong, get it wrong again, and hopefully, finally make the correct decision.
However, this is far from a normal season. There is a pandemic which threatens the lives and long-term health of people. We’ve already heard about Freddie Freeman and his struggle with this disease. We’re hearing about Rudy Gobert of the Utah Jazz still experiencing some issues.
Right now, we don’t know if Brach or Cano have COVID19. To the extent they do have it, we don’t know how much it’s impacting them now, or will affect their health in the future.
The only thing we do know is there’s a pandemic which is affecting people differently. We know this pandemic has no vaccine. Even with precautions, we can’t guarantee players won’t become infected.
With all we know and don’t know with COVID19, at some point we need to pivot from who will replace these infected players to whether there should be baseball in 2020.
Remember, it’s alright to desperately want baseball to return. It’s also alright to believe it’s not safe for these players to play. We’re all human, and there’s no clear cut answer or solution.
When it comes to Mets fans choosing the best Mets player to ever wear the number 51 is a bit of a pick your poison. After all, the first Mets player of note to wear the number 51 was Mel Rojas, who imploded the 1998 season. There was also Jack Leathersich and Jim Henderson who saw their arms and careers blow up due to gross mishandling by the Mets organization. There is also current Met Paul Sewald who finally got his first MLB win after starting it 0-14 over his first 119 appearancess.
That brings us the the pick for the best Mets pitcher to ever wear the number 51 – Rick White.
White was a Mets midseason pickup in 2000 to help solidify the bullpen and help the Mets get to the World Series. He’d have a very good first impression with the Mets not allowing a run in his first three appearances and only allowing two runs over his first 11 appearances. In those appearances, he was worked pitching 17. 1 innings.
During that essentially half-season with the Mets, he was a very good reliever going 2-3 with two holds, a save, and a 3.81 ERA. As good as he was in the regular season, he was even better in the NLDS pitching very important innings to help the Mets upset the San Francisco Giants.
In Game 3 of the NLDS, he entered a tie game in the 12th inning. After pitching two scoreless innings, he would be the winning pitcher when Benny Agbayani hit a walk-off homer. White did not see the same success in the NLCS or World Series partially due to not being used much, but it was his work in a pivotal NLDS game which let the Mets get to that point.
The 2001 season was White’s only fully season on the Mets roster. In that season, his 107 ERA+ was second only to Armando Benitez among Mets relievers who spent the entire season with the team. That made him one of the Mets players who wore the first responder caps. He wore that cap when he appeared in the Mets second game after the 9/11 attacks earning a hold as that Mets team got back to .500.
That Mets team had made a somewhat improbable run to try to get back into the NL East race. White did his part over that stretch. In his five appearances, he was 1-0 with three holds and a 0.00 ERA. That would prove to be the end of his Mets career as he would sign with the Rockies in the offseason.
In his Mets career, he was 6-8 with three saves, a 3.86 ERA, and a 1.286 WHIP. He was a good reliever compiling a 111 ERA+, and he was a member of the 2000 pennant winning Mets team. Ultimately, White was the best Mets player to ever wear the number 51.
3. Curtis Granderson
4. Lenny Dykstra
5. David Wright
6. Wally Backman
7. Jose Reyes
8. Gary Carter
9. Todd Hundley
10. Rey Ordonez
11. Wayne Garrett
12. John Stearns
13. Edgardo Alfonzo
14. Gil Hodges
15. Carlos Beltran
16. Dwight Gooden
17. Keith Hernandez
18. Darryl Strawberry
19. Bob Ojeda
20. Howard Johnson
21. Cleon Jones
22. Al Leiter
23. Bernard Gilkey
24. Art Shamsky
25. Pedro Feliciano
26. Terry Leach
27. Jeurys Familia
28. Daniel Murphy
29. Frank Viola
30. Michael Conforto
31. Mike Piazza
32. Jon Matlack
33. Matt Harvey
34. Noah Syndergaard
35. Rick Reed
36. Jerry Koosman
37. Casey Stengel
38. Skip Lockwood
39. Gary Gentry
40. Bartolo Colon
41. Tom Seaver
42. Ron Taylor
43. R.A. Dickey
44. David Cone
45. Tug McGraw
46. Oliver Perez
47. Jesse Orosco
48. Jacob deGrom
49. Armando Benitez
50. Sid Fernandez
Let’s call it what it is. Rob Manfred and Major League Baseball sought to kill the Major League draft not because of the COVID19 pandemic. No, he used it as a ruse to facilitate his plan to contract minor league baseball.
Remember, Baseball America first reported Manfred’s plans to contract 42 minor league teams in November. That plan included reducing the draft to 20 rounds, and it was going to be pushed back from June to August. There was also going to be a limit of 150-200 minor leaguers for each organization. Currently, there is no limit.
By and through these plans, short season ball is going to be effectively eliminated. In terms of the Mets, that means no more Kingsport Mets, and it means the Brooklyn Cyclones will have to pay a fee in the ballpark from $8 – $12 million dollars to move from the New York-Penn League to Double-A.
That also effectively puts the Binghamton Rumble Ponies in limbo. Actually, that’s not entirely true. The Rumble Ponies have already been pegged as one of the 42 teams subject to contraction. It is something they are fighting fiercely.
One of the key elements to having no short-season ball is to not accumulate a larger number of minor league players. With fewer minor leaguers, you do not have enough players for leagues like the Appalachian, Gulf Coast, New York-Penn, and other leagues. By moving the draft back to August, you no longer have the need to have a league for college and high school players to get some playing time in before the end of the year.
This is exactly what Major League Baseball is doing a year earlier, and they are using the COVID19 pandemic as an excuse. They’ll say they didn’t have an opportunity to scout players who are entering this year’s draft due to high school and collegiate years being shut down, but that’s a lie. Major League Baseball has been well aware of those players they were going to draft, and they have been scouting them for years.
What they missed is the opportunity to see them grow or regress. Keep in mind, they have no issue using their big money on those draft picks as the first five picks receive the largest bonuses. This was more about cost control by prorating bonuses paid to minor leaguers over a few years, by capping the bonuses given to now undrafted players, and by taking a step forward in eliminating a significant portion of the minor leagues.
To show you how short-sighted this plan is look at the New York Mets roster by where they were drafted:
- Stephen Nogosek 6th
- Jacob Rhame 6th
- Dellin Betances 8th
- Tomas Nido 8th
- Jacob deGrom 9th
- Luis Guillorme 1oth
- Paul Sewald 10th
- Tyler Bashlor 11th
- Jeff McNeil 12th
- Robert Gsellman 13th
- Seth Lugo 34th
- Daniel Zamora 40th
- Brad Brach 42nd
Think about that for a second. Under this plan, the reigning two-time Cy Young award winner who has established himself as the best pitcher in baseball would not get drafted in 2020. Looking further, under Manfred’s master plan, Mike Piazza, one of two Mets in the Hall of Fame, would never have been drafted, and it is questionable if he ever would have received an opportunity due to the cap on minor league players.
Looking at this plan and agreement, there is one glaring omission. In addition to deferring payments to 2020 draftees, there was no provision in this agreement to pay minor league players their 2020 salary. On that note, both Rob Manfred and Tony Clark should be ashamed of themselves.
Really, this entire agreement is an embarassment for baseball. The sport needed better leadership than what they are providing, and worse yet, the commissioner is taking advantage of global pandemic to take away money and jobs from players and minor league employees.
With the fears over the outbreak of the coronavirus, Major League Baseball is starting to take preventative measures. Different teams have prevented their players from signing autographs for fans. When it comes to the spread of disease and the health of their players, you understand why teams are doing this.
For Spring Training, this is troublesome. This is a time where fans get more access to the players than at any point during the year. That is all the more the case with expanded netting around ballparks. With the reduced access to players, fans get less time to interact and to get autographs.
Some teams are sensitive to that, and as a result, they are having their players sign some items, and those items are going to be distributed to fans. This is something teams should think about doing year-round.
For young fans, batting practice presents an opportunity to get autographs. Unfortunately, not every player takes batting practice, and some of the better players have team obligations pre-game which stands in the way of their ability to sign and take pictures with fans before games.
As a result, some young fans aren’t going to get autographs or get to see the players they want to see. To a certain extent, that’s life. Kids are just going to have to suck it up and grow from it. However, that doesn’t mean teams shouldn’t now be thinking outside the box and using this idea to grow the game.
Take the Mets for an example.
Every Sunday, the New York Mets have Family Sundays. On Family Sundays, there are some fun activities outside the ballpark for young fans. After the game, those young fans have the opportunity to run the bases. Perhaps, the Mets could also give away some player signed items to young fans at games.
Maybe it is a box of pre-signed baseballs given to young fans as they enter the game. It could just be random giving kids a chance to grab a Pete Alonso or Paul Sewald. Perhaps, they could do themed days.
One week could be rotation week with a ball signed by Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Marcus Stroman, Steven Matz, and Rick Porcello. Another week could be the outfield with autographs from Michael Conforto, Brandon Nimmo, and whoever else lands in the outfield. With the 20th anniversary of the 2000 pennant, there could be a ball signed by players from that team including Edgardo Alfonzo, Mike Hampton, Al Leiter, and Mike Piazza.
It doesn’t necessarily have to be balls either. It could be baseball cards, or it could be other items teams have in stock and are just trying to move. In fact, you usually see that at the end of the year with the team having a wheel for fans to spin to win a “prize” which was really nothing more than a promotion they never could give away.
In the end, Major League Baseball is adapting to the threat of the coronavirus, and they are trying to make the game experience safer for their players and fans. They could take what they learned from this, and they can carry the policy through the season. If done well, they could make the game experience more fun for kids and help grow the game.