Rick Porcello

20/20 Hindsight: Mets Season All But Over

Lloyd Christmas may want to say there’s still a chance here, but there isn’t. Any realistic shot the Mets had faded when they lost this series to the Atlanta Braves:

1. Like Daniel Murphy before him, the Mets absolutely deserve Travis d’Arnaud become the next Mets killer.

2. People rightfully focus on the starting pitching and pitching staff as a whole when examining what a terrible job Brodie Van Wagenen has done. Looking at it Wilson Ramos‘ production against d’Arnaud, and his other moves, he might’ve bungled the catching position even worse.

3. Yes, we saw d’Arnaud be this player in a Mets uniform previously. Yes, it was fair to believe he’d return to his 2015 form post Tommy John. Yes, he has always been a very good catcher. Anyone saying otherwise is lying to you, pushing an agenda, or just doesn’t know that much about catching.

4. You’ll notice with the Wilpons selling Gary Cohen and Brandon Nimmo were quite vocal in their support for d’Arnaud and wishing he didn’t leave the Mets.

5. Nimmo has every right to talk as he’s come back from injury and proven himself to be a terrific ballplayer. He’s just not a center fielder.

6. On the note of people who have performed well, Michael Conforto, Dominic Smith, Andres Gimenez, and Jeff McNeil are part of the still young core who have had good seasons and are very much a part of the Mets future.

7. Seeing that young core, we should all celebrate Steve Cohen bringing back Sandy Alderson to the Mets organization. Hopefully, Cohen will right some other wrongs in due time.

8. David Peterson stepped up big time in what was the biggest start of his career. Hopefully, that’s a sign of his figuring things out and raising his ceiling.

9. Rick Porcello stepped up and was phenomenal yesterday. If the Mets truly invest in infield defense this offseason, he can be a part of the 2021 equation.

10. It’s beyond impossible to judge the jobs Luis Rojas and Jeremy Hefner did this year. They deserve another shot, and it looks like the Mets are building a front office who might do exactly that.

11. Sending down Luis Guillorme was stupidity. He did everything to earn not just the role he had but a much bigger one at that.

12. Amed Rosario lost his starting job, and he needed a recent hot streak to improve to a .266./283/.379 hitter. He should’ve been sent down.

13. J.D. Davis is hitting .248/.376/.383 since August 1, and he’s incapable of playing a defensive position. He should’ve been sent down.

14. Instead, it was Guillorme so Franklyn Kilome could allow six earned over 1.1 innings giving the Mets zero chance to win a game at a time when they can ill afford to punt games. Another great decision by Brodie Van Wagenen.

15. Speaking of brilliant Van Wagenen decisions trading Steve Villines, a promising reliever, for Ariel Jurado, a bad pitcher who gave up five runs over four.

16. The Mets are in a precarious spot with Steven Matz. After last year and in Spring Training, he appeared poised for a breakout. Since the return, he looks like a non-tender candidate. These are critical franchise and season altering decisions.

17. Alex Rodriguez confirming he’d have Jeff Wilpon in the front office in a prominent role shows just how much the Mets dodged a bullet when A-Rod failed to beat out Cohen in the bidding.

18. Brodie Van Wagenen and Jeff Wilpon thinking they’re smarter than everyone and watching their team failing to make an expanded postseason is the perfect way for them to leave this organization.

19. Normally, we’d be saying it was time to tear it down and rebuild. Thanks to Cohen and competent baseball people in charge, we know the Mets can build off this strong core.

20. This season has been a massive disappointment, but on the bright side, we got 60 games of Mets baseball. That’s a real positive.

Mets Lose But Are A Day Closer To Steve Cohen

Look, Rick Porcello wasn’t as bad as his final line indicated. For example, it wasn’t entirely his fault J.D. Davis threw the ball and his glove in the air on an Alec Bohm grounder.

Then again, it was Porcello who allowed the ensuing batter Didi Gregorius to hit a massive two run homer with two outs in the fifth.

In total, Porcello allowed four runs over six, and he pitched well enough to win, especially in that ballpark. The problem was the Mets offense continued to get in its own way. The only run was a Brandon Nimmo homer off Jake Arrieta.

The Mets were 0-for-6 with RISP leaving 12 runners on base. Both Davis and Wilson Ramos hit crippling double plays.

In the sixth, Ramos came up as the go-ahead run. He was facing JoJo Romero who had to enter the game after Arrieta hurt his groin when he plunked Andres Gimenez. Ramos would hit into an inning ending double play.

In the ensuing inning, Nimmo led off the inning with a single, but it didn’t matter as he was erased on a Davis double play.

Obviously, it was more than just that. For example, in the eighth Dominic Smith might’ve scored on a Gimenez grounder, but Jeff McNeil was tagged out by Jean Segura for the final out of the inning.

It was a bad job of base running by McNeil. It wasn’t a force play, and the play was right in front of him. Even with Smith busting it home, he couldn’t score.

In the end, the Mets lost 4-1. They’re now six games under .500, and they’re further out of the postseason picture.

But don’t worry, Steve Cohen is buying the Mets, and the GM should be gone soon. Things should be much better next year.

Have Sympathy For Rick Porcello

Like you and me, Rick Porcello grew up loving the Mets. Unlike you and me, he was not only talented enough to make it to the majors, but he was also able to win a World Series and a Cy Young.

Due to that pedigree, there were teams still interested in him when he became a free agent despite his having the worst ERA in baseball last year. Having his first real chance at free agency in his career, he decided to turn down better offers to fulfill his childhood dream of pitching for the New York Mets.

Porcello was getting his chance to realize his dream. Unfortunately, it’s been a nightmare for him.

Through nine starts, he’s 1-4 with a 6.07 ERA. He’s given up the most hits and earned runs in the league. Opposing batters are hitting .318/.356/.436 off of him. He’s only averaging 4.2 innings per start.

Now, the Mets haven’t done him many favors. For example, given how Porcello is your classic pitch to contact sinkerball pitcher, you need to optimize your defense with him on the mound.

When he had Luis Guillorme and Andres Gimenez up the middle in his August 5 start, he was terrific allowing one run over seven. It was the same alignment up the middle for his August 16 start when he allowed four over six against the Phillies.

We’ve also seen him struggle without that strong up the middle combination. For example, last night, Robinson Cano was at second for his poor start where he allowed five earned over four. In his first Mets start, he allowed seven runs (six earned) with Cano and Amed Rosario up the middle against the Braves.

It must be so frustrating to have success and return to the form where you were considered a bona fide middle to front end starter to getting your brains beaten in with a lackluster defense behind you.

It has to be worse when this is happening to you when this was your dream. Perhaps more than any pitcher in this Mets rotation, he wanted to win a World Series and celebrate with the fans. After all, he’s one of us.

Sadly, he’s not well respected by his fellow Mets fans. They see his putting up similarly poor numbers than he did last year. In some ways, he’s become a poster boy for Brodie Van Wagenen’s dismantling of this once great Mets rotation.

After all, Porcello got a chunk of the money that didn’t go to Zack Wheeler. Wheeler has been great in Philadelphia whereas Porcello hasn’t been so much in New York.

As a fan, if we were allowed in the park, we’d boo him mercilessly. His performance has warranted it even though he’s not always been put in a position to succeed.

Overall, you’re allowed to be frustrated with him. If we were at the park, you’d be well within your right to boo him. Still, we should all realize this has to be painful for Porcello.

Porcello wanted to be a New York Met more than anything. His dreams are becoming nightmares. Certainly, we can identify with that, and because of that, we should have some sympathy for him.

And obviously, we hope his last few starts for the Mets are great, and he still gets that opportunity to win a World Series with the New York Mets.

Mets Complete Comeback

This wasn’t your typical Mets script. This is a team who finds a way to get close enough to just rip your heart out. Tonight, they were doing that to the Orioles instead of their fans.

For a while, it seemed there was no shot for the Mets to win this one as the Orioles were teeing off on Rick Porcello. At one point, they were 9-for-15 off Porcello, and seemingly the only way for the Mets to record an out was to throw out a runner looking to stretch a single into a double as Michael Conforto did to Chance Sisco to lead off the second.

Through three, the Orioles were up 5-1. That one run came in the second when Jeff McNeil singled home Dominic Smith, who led off the inning with his MLB leading 17th double.

The score would be 6-3 heading into the bottom of the fifth after McNeil and DJ Stewart traded a pair of homers. In the bottom of the fifth, Conforto would ignite the Mets with a solo homer.

The rally didn’t end with the homer. Later in the inning, Cano snapped out of his slump to hit an RBI single to pull the Mets to within 6-5. That’s when the Mets defense would shine and keep the Mets in the game.

The first came from McNeil who robbed Jose Iglesias of an extra base hit:

Even though that was the second out and there was no one on, Jared Hughes had trouble getting out of that inning. He’d load the bases, and Luis Rojas would bring in the struggling Justin Wilson to face Rio Ruiz. For a moment, it looked like Ruiz hit a bases clearing double:

After those pair of great defensive plays, the Mets would get the big hits they needed. First, it was Andres Gimenez tying the game in the bottom of the sixth with his second career homer:

Then, it was Pete Alonso hitting his 11th homer of the year in the bottom of the eighth to give the Mets a 7-6 lead.

Being the Mets, they weren’t quite out of the woods yet. Edwin Diaz allowed a lead-off single, and for a moment, it looked like the first two would reach. That was until Luis Guillorme, who was brought in for defense, made another great defensive play.

Diaz retired the last two to earn his third save of the year. It was a dramatic and needed win to help keep the Mets postseason hopes alive.

Game Notes: McNeil has homered in four straight. Diaz, Seth Lugo, and bullpen coach Ricky Bones wore 21 today in honor of Roberto Clemente.

Phillies Plan Working Better Than Brodie Van Wagenen’s

The second place Philadelphia Phillies are red hot. With their win tonight against the New York Mets, they’ve now won 10 out of their last 11.

Tonight, the former Cy Young winners, Rick Porcello and Jake Arrieta, who aren’t that anymore, pitched well and to a 2-2 stalemate through six. The Mets two runs coming off an opposite field two run homer by Michael Conforto.

But the Mets couldn’t pull out the win because the Phillies are a better. You see they go to the top of the free agent market, and they use their top prospects to get players who merit it. They built real rotation depth, and they also kept prospects in reserve to address their bullpen issues.

The Mets go searching for discounts. They throw away prospects needlessly. They never address the bullpen by trade.

This left Jared Hughes in a bad spot. He’s just not a two inning reliever. He shouldn’t be going 40+ pitches. In his career, batters have a .900 OPS against him.

After allowing a run in the seventh, he stayed in for the eighth. He ran out of gas allowing two more runs putting the Mets down 5-2.

The Mets had their chance in the eighth. Dominic Smith hit an RBI single to pull the Mets to within 5-3. There were runners on first and second with one out.

Robinson Cano, Van Wagenen’s biggest trade acquisition, lined out. Pete Alonso then popped out to end the inning.

Meanwhile, new Phillies closer, Brandon Workman, recently obtained from the Red Sox, earned the save for the Phillies. Instead of being dismayed by this, just remember Steve Cohen is buying the team, and he can hire a good GM to turn things around.

Game Notes: The Mets DFA’d Billy Hamilton to make room for Erasmo Ramirez. Hamilton is the players the Mets obtained for Jordan Humphreys.

In Potentially His Last Act, Brodie Van Wagenen Completes Dismantling Of Starting Pitching Depth

When Brodie Van Wagenen took over as GM, the Mets organization had an embarrassment of starting pitching depth. He was gifted a starting rotation which had Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Zack Wheeler, and Steven Matz.

Waiting in the wings were promising prospects like Justin Dunn, Anthony Kay, Simeon Woods Richardson, and Kevin Smith. There was also interesting prospects like Corey Oswalt and Franklyn Kilome.

Now, the Mets rotation this week was literally posted as deGrom followed by a bunch of TBAs. The reason? The starting pitching depth is gone. Kaput!

For some reason, Van Wagenen thought the old adage you could never have enough pitching didn’t apply to him. For some reason, he actually thought he improved the Mets rotation and depth with Rick Porcello and Michael Wacha.

Even with the Van Wagenen proclaimed deepest rotation in baseball, the Mets had to move Seth Lugo and Robert Gsellman back to the rotation. Still, they didn’t have enough starting pitching.

Someone will undoubtedly argue the Mets pitching staff suffered a number of injuries, and Marcus Stroman opted out. But that completely misses the point. That’s exactly why you need quality depth. That quality depth is long gone.

Now, at the trade deadline, Van Wagenen could’ve looked at this and pursued another starter. Maybe he did. Maybe he didn’t. What we do know is not only did he not obtain a starting pitcher, but he would also get rid of one.

Van Wagenen traded Kevin Smith for Baltimore Orioles reliever Miguel Castro. He traded a promising left-handed starting pitcher who continues to improve and defy scouting reports for a reliever with a career 4.94 FIP and 1.409 WHIP.

Yes, Castro is talented reliever for sure, but his skills have yet to translate to tangible Major League success. This is the guy you take a flier on in the offseason. He’s not the player you overpay to get as your big time late inning reliever to help get your over the hump. Castro has not been and is not that guy.

As for Smith, he’s the latest starting pitching prospect Van Wagenen needlessly traded away for pennies on the dollar. Van Wagenen explained it away like Smith was a future fifth starter. That’s not too different from how he was dismissive of Dunn’s and Kay’s abilities before being shown how embarrassingly wrong he was.

In what should hopefully be Van Wagenen’s last trade deadline, he traded away his fourth starting pitching prospect. You could form what would’ve been a good Major League rotation with what Van Wagenen traded.

Instead, the Mets will gave zero starting pitching depth and next to nothing in return for all of these trades.

A Doubleheader Of Depressing Losses

The Mets were up 7-2 after a good Rick Porcello start and some late clutch hitting blowing the game open. It was the bottom of the seventh of the top end of the doubleheader, which meant this game should have been over.

But this is the Mets.

Andres Gimenez, ironically in for defense, threw a ball away to allow the lead-off hitter to reach. Later on in the inning, he had a chance to tag out Thairo Estrada to end the game on an insanely bad base running mistake, but Estrada would kick it out of Gimenez’s glove.

Still, that doesn’t explain why Justin Wilson pitched so poorly. Even with those two gaffes, Wilson still allowed two runs leaving runners at the corners with two outs.

For some reason, Luis Rojas thought it would be a good idea to bring Edwin Diaz into this spot despite Diaz being horrendous with inherited runners.

Well, Diaz threw a wild pitch scoring a run before allowing Aaron Hicks to hit a game tying homer. From 7-2 to tied 7-7.

Since this is a doubleheader in 2020 and Manfred hates baseball, this meant the eight inning was considered extra innings, and there was a runner at second to start the innning.

As usual, the Mets can’t get a hit with RISP. In the bottom of the inning, Michael Conforto had Michael Tauchman nailed at the plate, but Wilson Ramos missed the tag.

That meant Diaz got a blown save and a loss in one of the most frustrating losses you will see.

Being this is the Mets, more misery was in order.

Yankees prospect Deivi Garcia made his Major League debut and was great allowing just an unearned run over six.

In that sixth, Jeff McNeil reached and went to second on a Luke Voit error. He’d score on a Dominic Smith RBI single. The rally ended there was J.D. Davis, who has been absolutely terrible of late, hit into an inning ending double play.

That play got Seth Lugo off the hook after he had allowed one run over 3.2 innings. It also meant another maddening loss was on the horizon.

Drew Smith, who was not trusted to protect a five run lead in the first game, came on to pitch the eighth. He’d take the loss because Gary Sanchez would hit a grand slam off of him, and in the bottom of the inning, Ramos would strike out in his bases loaded situation.

Overall, the Mets should’ve won four of these games. Instead, they lost three, and they did so in excruciating fashion.

Game Notes: Luis Guillorme made a pinch hitting appearance and drew a walk. Despite hitting .419, it was just his sixth plate appearance over the past week.

Dellin Betances Throws It Away

Through 7.1 innings, the Mets did nothing against J.A. Happ. Just three singles negated by five strikeouts. He was then lifted for Adam Ottavino.

Aaron Boone‘s decision turned out to be a mistake because Wilson Ramos would hit a game tying homer.

That homer got Robert Gsellman off the hook. It’s a good thing because Gsellman didn’t deserve to lose this one.

After allowing the second batter of the game, Luke Voit, to homer, he turned in his best work since returning to the rotation. After that homer, he allowed just three more hits while walking none and striking out four.

The plan was to have Steven Matz piggyback his start, but Matz left the game after one inning with a shoulder injury and may very well land on the IL.

That meant to the Mets bullpen needed to step up again. It really wasn’t quite up to the task.

After Jared Hughes pitched a scoreless sixth, Brad Brach walked the bases loaded in the seventh. Jeurys Familia fell behind DJ LeMahieu 3-2 before getting LeMahieu to ground out to end the inning.

After Justin Wilson pitched a scoreless eighth, it was Dellin Betances against his former team in the ninth. Betances admitting to being fatigued and not having it. It showed.

Ramos really had no chance to catch Betances’ wild pitch. With that wild pitch, the Mets wouldn’t have another big come from behind win. Instead, they’d be walk-off losers.

On the bright side, Steve Cohen agreed to buy the Mets . . . again. This time it’s for $200 million cheaper. That should allow him to fix all the mistakes Brodie Van Wagenen made which led to losses like this.

Game Notes: Offseason additions Betances, Rick Porcello, and Michael Wacha have combined for a 7.19 ERA. Zack Wheeler‘s is 2.58.

Mets Return And Still Can’t Hit With RISP

After a Mets player and coach tested positive for COVID19, they haven’t played since Thursday. They came back to play today, and they didn’t figure out how to hit with RISP during their time off.

In the second, Jeff McNeil and Amed Rosario flew out with runners on first and second.

In third, Michael Conforto flew out and Pete Alonso grounded out with J.D. Davis on second. At least this time, Davis didn’t get picked off of second like he did in the first.

In the fourth, Rosario grounded out with runners on first and second.

In the fifth, Robinson Cano grounded out with runners on first and second.

In the seventh, Brandon Nimmo led off the inning with a double. Davis grounded out. Conforto reached on an error. Cano lined out.

0-for-10.

That was it. No, not because the Mets didn’t do anything afterwards. It’s because doubleheaders are only seven innings now. Mostly, it’s because Rob Manfred apparently hates baseball.

The Mets ultimately lost 4-0 because of their complete inability to hit with RISP. It also doesn’t help Rick Porcello struggled.

The Marlins got to him for three runs in the second. All three runs were scored with two outs. The key difference in the game was the Mets went 0-for-10 with RISP while Lewis Brinson and Miguel Rojas had two out RBI singles.

Porcello allowed another run in the third. It would be his last inning as he’d be pulled after a rain delay of over an hour. He was replaced by Corey Oswalt, who was the Mets bright spot of the game.

Oswalt allowed just one hit over the final four innings while striking out three. He’d also get some help from Dominic Smith.

Overall, this was a flat out bad loss by the Mets. They need to be better than this. Hopefully, they will in the second part of the doubleheader.

Game Notes: Andres Gimenez and Tomas Nido were put on the 10 day IL for “undisclosed reasons.” Juan Lagares and Patrick Mazeika were called up. Ali Sanchez was the 29th man for the doubleheader. McNeil batted eighth.

How Brodie Van Wagenen Ruined 2020 Mets Pitching Staff

Upon taking over the Mets job, Brodie Van Wagenen has traded prospect after prospect in an attempt to win-now. Last year, the Mets fell short. This year, the Mets are under .500 and are currently on the outside looking in on an expanded postseason.

On that front, his trades have not planned out. Another way to analyze it is to see how the players he traded are faring:

Justin Dunn (-0.2 WAR) 1-0, 5.57 ERA, 1.381 WHIP, 6.4 K/9

Anthony Kay (0.5 WAR) 2-0, 3.14 ERA, 1.256 WHIP, 7.5 K/9

Blake Taylor (0.8 WAR) 1-0, 1.38 ERA, 1.077 WHIP, 9.0 K/9

Combined this trio of pitchers have accumulated a 1.1 WAR. Due to their absence and Van Wagenen letting players like Zack Wheeler walk, he’s had to replace them with these players:

Walker Lockett (-0.1 WAR) 0-0, 7.50 ERA, 1.500 WHIP, 7.5 K/9

Rick Porcello (0.0 WAR) 1-3, 5.76 ERA, 1.640 WHIP, 7.6 K/9

Michael Wacha (-0.1 WAR) 1-2, 6.43 ERA, 1.643 WHIP, 11.6 K/9

Through his series of moves, Van Wagenen replaced 1.1 WAR with -0.2 WAR. That’s before you take into account Wheeler’s 1.6 WAR this year.

Now, this is where some will point out Noah Syndergaard undergoing Tommy John, and Marcus Stroman opting out. There’s an inherent problem with that line of thinking.

First and foremost, Van Wagenen traded away the depth which would’ve helped the Mets withstand those injuries. Furthermore, he was the one who opted to allocate money which could’ve gone to Wheeler with other assets. There’s also the fact the Robinson Cano trade hamstrung the Wilpons financially, or at least that’s what we’re led to believe.

What makes this all the more befuddling is Van Wagenen purportedly opted for this path for the sake of depth. If you follow the timeline, he purged depth, then quality, and then signed replacement level pitchers for the sake of saying the Mets had depth.

Overall, the Mets could’ve had a great pitching staff in 2020. Sandy Alderson has left behind great depth on that front. Instead, Van Wagenen pilfered it for short-sighted ineffective trades. Now, that pitching depth is gone. With the sale of the Mets, he may be gone as well.