Robert Gsellman

Rhame Over Sewald A Bigger Deal Than Believed

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.

Craig Kimbrel Should Be The Mets Closer

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.

 

20/20 Hindsight: Did Cardinals Expose Mets?

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. 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%).
  12. Really, Syndergaard has been unlucky because the fielding behind him is putrid. Hence, he has a 2.92 FIP.
  13. 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.
  14. 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.
  15. 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.
  16. 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.
  17. 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.
  18. 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.
  19. 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.
  20. 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.

Diaz Dictate

Last night, we once again saw Mickey Callaway‘s go to Robert Gsellman, who is arguably the team’s fifth best reliever with the game on the line in the eighth inning. Callaway did this because he had little other choice.

Much like what Brian Cashman once did with Joe Torre and Joba Chamberlain, Brodie Van Wagenen has implemented his own version of the Joba Rules. A Diaz Dictate if you will.

As Brodie Van Wagenen and Callaway would explain, Edwin Diaz is only to be used for three outs in the same inning, and he is to be used for save situations only.

This means when the game is on the line with one or two outs in the seventh, the Mets must pitch anyone other than Diaz. It does not matter if the team had a short start from someone like Jason Vargas and has to throw Chris Flexen the following day in place of an injured Jacob deGrom.

This means the Mets will have to send in lesser relievers against the Phillies, a team they will fight season long for the division, or the Cardinals, a team the Mets will potentially be competing against for a Wild Card spot.

This means if there is a tie game on the road, Diaz doesn’t enter the game. Like we saw in Philadelphia, Diaz stays in the bullpen like Buck Showalter once had Zack Britton infamously stay in the bullpen in a tie game waiting for a save opportunity which may never arise.

Right now, there’s no gray area. There’s no assessing the team’s and bullpen’s needs day-to-day. Instead, the Mets are putting a premium on limiting Diaz’s usage.

Ultimately, like with the Joba Rules, it means the General Manager does not trust the manager with a young reliever. It means despite all the Mets gave up to acquire him, the Mets are not going to allow Diaz to be the game changing closer they purported him to be. It means a supposed all-in team is willing to lose games to save a closer for a postseason run which may never materialize.

Mets Win Despite Vargas And Bullpen Restrictions

With Jason Vargas taking the mound, Robinson Cano chose a good game to break out.

His two out first inning double off Adam Wainwright helped set up a two run rally. He scored on a Wilson Ramos RBI single, and Michael Conforto (who walked) scored on a J.D. Davis RBI double.

In the second, Cano had another hard hit ball off Wainwright. This time it was an RBI single which scored Juan Lagares. With that, through two, by some miracle, the Mets were up 2-0.

Really, once again, Vargas wasn’t good. He was helped by the wind blowing in, and he somehow navigated through three walks, three hits, and an Amed Rosario error over four.

Surprisingly, the only Cardinals run off Vargas was a Jose Martinez fourth inning solo shot.

With Vargas going just four and Wainwright going just three, this became a battle on the bullpens, and the Mets bullpen did what it needed to do. That doesn’t mean it was easy.

Entering the bottom of the sixth, the Mets had a 5-1 lead because of a fourth inning rally and Pete Alonso annihilating a Ryan Helsley pitch:

The Mets would every single one of those runs. First, in his second inning of work, Seth Lugo allowed a two run shot to Lane Thomas.

After needing just seven pitches to mow down the Cardinals in the seventh. Jeurys Familia began the eighth. He was chased after allowing a one out double to Yadier Molina.

With the left-handed Dexter Fowler due up, Mickey Callaway went to Justin Wilson, who wasn’t sharp, nor was his defense. Fowler grounded it to third. Despite already playing the line, Davis had to dive for the ball. Despite not having a play, he made an awful throw to first which Alonso was lucky to keep nearby. While lucky, he couldn’t prevent Fowler from going to second or Molina from scoring to make it 5-4.

After a Kolten Wong walk, the Cardinals had runners on first and second with one out. Due to Brodie Van Wagenen’s Diaz Dictate, Callaway couldn’t go to his best reliever. With Callaway using Lugo in the fifth and sixth, he couldn’t go to his second best reliever.

This meant once again, with the game on the line Callaway had to go to Robert Gsellman. This time, Gsellman got out of the jam by getting Jedd Gyorko to pop out and Matt Carpenter to ground out.

Now, things were far from easy for Edwin Diaz in the ninth. He needed McNeil to rob Paul DeJong of an extra base hit.

Even with the help, Diaz would white knuckle this one as the Cardinals rallied with two outs. Marcell Ozuna walked, and Martinez hit a single to set up runners at the corners. With Molina at the plate, Mets fans were justifiably nervous, but those concerns were assuaged as Molina lined out to Lagares to end the game.

With that, the Mets bullpen made a game closer than it needed. Van Wagenen hamstrung his manager, and Callaway didn’t properly align the relievers he was permitted to use prior to the ninth in the highest leverage situations. Despite all that, the Mets improbably won on a day Vargas started.

Game Notes: Jacob deGrom was placed in the IL with a not yet specified elbow injury. He will have an MRI on Monday. After six consecutive multi-hit games, McNeil was 0-5.

Callaway Needs To Manage to Game Not Save Situation

Last night, the game hung in the balance with two outs in the bottom of the eighth inning. Even after Jeff McNeil had bailed out Jeurys Familia with a fine play to start a 5-4-3 double play, Familia walked the subsequent two batters to load the bases. With the heart of the Phillies lineup coming up, Mickey Callaway needed to get Familia out of the game.

This past offseason, the Mets made a blockbuster deal with the Mariners to acquire Robinson Cano and Edwin Diaz. In the deal, the Mets paid a hefty price including not just Justin Dunn, but also Jarred Kelenic. At the introductory press conference for the two new Mets stars, Jeff Wilpon admitted the Mets parted with Kelenic partially to make sure Diaz did not go to the Phillies.

This was the precise moment the Mets needed Diaz. They needed a pitcher whom they touted as the best reliever in baseball to do what the best reliever in baseball does. He needed to go out there and strike out Jean Segura and ensure the Mets took the lead into the ninth. That’s not what happened.

Instead, Callaway went to Robert Gsellman, who is arguably the team’s fifth best reliever. In terms of pinch hitting, this is equivalent to Callaway sending up Juan Lagares to face a tough right-handed reliever with bases loaded and two outs in the eighth just so he could save Dominic Smith for a pinch hitting opportunity in the ninth inning.

In terms of pinch hitting, you are not sending one of your worst options at the plate with the game on the line, but for some reason, Callaway opted to send one of his worst relievers out there with the game on the line.

After the game, Callaway would rightfully point out Gsellman has a job to do, and he needs to get out of that jam. However, this is a bit misleading. While it is Gsellman’s job to get out of that jam, it is also incumbent on the manager to put the right people in the right situations. Using the earlier example, if Lagares strikes out while Smith is on the bench people would be far less understanding.

Now, we did learn after the game the Mets do not want Diaz pitching more than three outs during the regular season. Putting aside whey the team would sacrifice two former first round picks for a one inning reliever, we still have to question the strategy.

Already, there have been two instances where Diaz came on to get just one out. So clearly, the Mets are not going to shy away from Diaz entering the game to get a huge out. What is bizarre is the Mets were not trusting their best reliever to go get that out.

If Gsellman allows a hit to Segura or Harper, it’s game over. Diaz never sees the game, and the Mets lose. Why is this a more acceptable result than having Diaz get one out?  That was potentially the game right there, and the Mets didn’t have the guy they gave up so much to acquire go get that out.

If the Mets didn’t want Diaz going four outs, then have hit get that out. Callaway then had the option to give the ball to Gsellman or Justin Wilson for the ninth. Both relievers have closed games in their careers. We have also seen Callaway give the ball to Jacob Rhame for a save.

Overall, Callaway does not have to manage to the save statistic, he has to manage to the game situation. When he was managing to the statistic, the Mets almost blew a game against the Phillies. The Mets almost didn’t get a chance to use the pitcher they were so afraid the Phillies were going to get. Ultimately, that is completely unacceptable.

 

 

Diaz Saves Game Three Innings Too Late

The Mets gave up Jarred Kelenic and Justin Dunn while taking on $100 million of Robinson Cano‘s contract because they apparently believed Edwin Diaz was such a difference maker, they needed to not only have him, but they also needed to keep him away from the Phillies.

While Diaz has five saves in as many opportunities, tonight was the first time the Mets really needed their difference making closer.

Entering the bottom of the eighth, the Mets were up by a run, and Jeurys Familia immediately got into trouble, and he couldn’t get out of it even with Jeff McNeil making a nice play on a very hard hit grounder by Maikel Franco to turn the 5-4-3 double play.

With a runner on third and two outs, Familia loaded the bases by walking Andrew Knapp and Andrew McCutchen. This is the exact spot the Mets needed Diaz.

They needed him to come into the game to strikeout Jean Segura to end the threat and take the 6-5 lead into the ninth. The Mets needed their supposed big time closer to face the middle of the Phillies order to get four outs to get the save.

Mickey Callaway didn’t even have him warming. Instead, he put this game in Robert Gsellman‘s hands.

Gsellman walked Segura on four straight pitches to force home the tying run. Fortunately, Bryce Harper popped out to end the inning. Normally, you’d question why Gsellman and not Luis Avilan for Harper, but you avoid asking it because you know there’s no possible good answer.

All told, the Mets absolute failure to use Diaz was the reason why the Mets blew this lead and had to fight even harder to try to win a game they already were well in position to win.

Neither Aaron Nola nor Noah Syndergaard pitched like aces today as both allowed five earned. For Nola, it was over four innings, and for Syndergaard, it was over five.

The frustrating thing with Syndergaard was he was handed leads of 3-0 and 5-4, and he couldn’t hold either.

Seth Lugo calmed things down with two brilliant innings, and Brandon Nimmo homered to put the Mets in position . . . to blow the lead.

Somehow, the Mets survived Gsellman for 1.1 innings and one from Avilan, who was bailed out by Segura swinging at a pitch well out of the zone to end the 10th.

The Phillies went to Pat Neshek to start the 11th. He got into trouble immediately by allowing a single to Juan Lagares and walking Nimmo. Callaway then almost blew the game again.

Travis d’Arnaud was the last bat on the bench, so with the pitcher’s spot up, Callaway used d’Arnaud to try to sac bunt. Well, d’Arnaud doesn’t bunt well, and his at-bat ended in a pop out. Robinson Cano then struck out putting the game on Michael Conforto‘s bat.

Conforto tattooed a ball which was too hot for Rhys Hoskins to handle at first. With the ball bouncing off him, Lagares, who was hustling on the play, scored from second giving the Mets a 7-6 lead.

With the lead, Callaway finally turned to Diaz, who struck out Harper, Hoskins, and J.T. Realmuto to earn the save. Too bad he didn’t get that chance earlier in the game.

Game Notes: Despite his being on two days rest, the Mets called up Drew Gagnon. To make room for him on the roster, Luis Guillorme was sent to Syracuse. Dominic Smith got lucky not getting thrown out if the game after spiking and breaking bid helmet after being called out on a very borderline strike three.

Mets Internal Options Better Than Vargas

At this point, it’s clear Jason Vargas isn’t just pitching with a fork in him; he’s got the whole utensil drawer there. As such, it’s time to look for someone to replace him in the rotation. While Mets fans have been imploring the team to add Dallas Keuchel, it seems like the Mets would not be willing to add that much payroll.

Fortunately, the Mets still have some very interesting internal options:

Seth Lugo – definitively the Mets fifth best starter, but he arguably has more value in the bullpen.

Robert Gsellman – hasn’t had the success in the bullpen everyone imagined he be and may just be better suited to the rotation

Corey Oswalt – it’s hard to get a read on him with how the Mets have jerked him around, but he’s still had flashes of viability

Chris Flexen – he has a surgically repaired knee and is in terrific shape giving hope he can finally put that fastball/curve combo to good use.

Anthony KayMets haven’t been shy rushing starters from Double-A to the majors, and Kay has excellent spin rates on his fastball and curve.

David Peterson – the Mets 2017 first round pick is off to a good start, which is more than you can say for Vargas.

Hector Santiago – he was an All-Star in 2015, and based on what we’ve seen having previously being an All-Star is all you need to get a rotation spot.

Drew Gagnon – in his one start last year, he at least managed to pitch into the fifth, which is much better than what we’ve seen this year.

P.J. Conlon – last year, Conlon showed he shouldn’t be trusted for more than 2-3 innings. It’d be nice to get a fifth starter who could provide that much length.

Walker Lockett – he’s in Extended Spring Training with an injury, and he had a 9.60 ERA in the majors last year, so all told, he’s an upgrade.

Mickey Jannis – there’s a better chance he turns into the next R.A. Dickey than Vargas has another quality start

Paul Sewald – Mets have never been worried about pushing Sewald too far, so certainly, you could see them randomly asking five from him, and those five would likely be better than any five Vargas throws this year.

Nelson Figueroa – if he was good enough for the Mets to lose Darren O’Day, he’s certainly good enough to pitch in Vargas’ stead.

Mickey Callaway – had a 6.27 career ERA and last pitched in the majors 15 years ago, which means his arm is probably fresh enough to hit the mid 80s.

Luis Guillorme – it’s not like they’re using him as the team’s backup middle infielder, and we know he’d at least be able to field his position well, which unlike Vargas, would be at least one thing Guillorme could do well as a pitcher.

Devin Mesoraco – since people want to claim he was the reason Jacob deGrom won a Cy Young, maybe he could take that expert knowledge and turn it into pitching effectively instead of sulking at home.

J.D. Davis – he has a career 3.38 ERA in limited appearances, which make sense considering he hits and fields his position like a pitcher.

Dominic SmithSmith pitched well in high school, which is a higher level than Vargas can get out right now.

Pete Alonso – his being on the Opening Day roster was supposed to be the difference between the Mets making the postseason and not. With Vargas being terrible every fifth day, he’s apparently going to need to do more than hit.

And therein lies the problem. The Mets sold their fans they desperately needed 12 games from Alonso while simultaneously punting 32 starts from the fifth spot in the rotation. That’s an even bigger joke than anything said in this post.

Matz And Rosario Difference Makers

Before the season, it was expected the National League East would be extraordinarily tight, and so far it has proven to be true. Entering this series, the Mets, Braves, and Phillies had a 7-4 record, and the Nationals were 6-5.

Entering the season, the Mets were looking for something to separate themselves from the pack. One of those things is the possibility Steven Matz and/or Amed Rosario could break out. Tonight, against the Braves, we got a glimpse as to what that might look like.

In Matz’s last start, he appeared to figure something out. Aside from a pair of very hard hit balls, Matz carried that success into tonight.

Now, the Johan Camargo homer was going to be a homer regardless. However, you do expect Juan Lagares to bail him out on that Ronald Acuna, Jr. triple.

That speaks to Lagares’ insane ability out there more than it does how catchable that ball was. Seriously, there are maybe three center fielders who could even be in position to make that play.

Those were but two of the four hits Matz allowed as he shut down the Braves. At one point, he would retire 13 in a row. Overall, he would pitch six innings allowing just those two runs while walking one and striking out eight.

He’d be in line for the win because Rosario was great tonight.

First, there was the no doubter three run homer off Kevin Gausman in the second inning:

Rosario came up in the sixth with runners on the corners and two outs, and the Braves went to the bullpen to bring in Wes Parsons. Rosario would hit an opposite field RBI single to increase the Mets lead to 4-2.

Rosario accounted for the first four Mets runs. The next two came courtesy of a monster Pete Alonso homer:

For a moment, that 6-2 lead didn’t look like it’d be enough. All season long, the Mets bullpen has been suspect, and Robert Gsellman has been one of those frustrating relievers.

He’d load the bases with one out, and against expectations, Gsellman would get out of the jam. First, he’d strike out Ozzie Albies, and then he’d get Josh Donaldson to ground out to get out of the jam.

Luis Avilan wasn’t as lucky. After retiring Freddie Freeman to start the eighth, Acuna hit a bomb to make it 6-3. The Braves pinch hitting Charlie Culberson, the Mets went to Jeurys Familia for the final two outs of the inning.

Edwin Diaz then came on and recorded his fifth save in as many chances for the Mets. Although, it should be mentioned it wasn’t easy with Freeman coming up as the tying run (he struck out). This is definitely a Mets thing.

With the win, the Mets are ahead of the Braves in the standings for at least a day, and on this day, the difference makers were Matz and Rosario.

Game Notes: Justin Wilson hasn’t pitched since April 6th as he has been sick. Keon Broxton pinch ran for Alonso in the ninth and stole second.

20/20 Hindsight: Mets Blow Chance Against Nationals

After coming in red-hot after going 5-1 on the road to open the season, the Mets had their first series at home, and while they returned to Citi Field, their momentum did not. While it is waaaaaaay to soon to look at these things, the Mets are now 0.5 games back of the Phillies. Here are some observations from the Mets home opening series:

  1. Noah Syndergaard seems to be a spokesman of sorts for this team airing their grievances publicly. Look it anyone is going to be the bad guy, Syndergaard is well suited for it because: (1) the fans are going to love him regardless; and (2) he seems to have the do not care what you think personality to make it work.
  2. Not only did MLB mishandle this by having the Mets play a night game, but they also had a drug test after the game. Considering there were only 7,486 at that game, I cannot imagine attendance was the reason for the later start time.
  3. If the rumors were true, the Mets are absolutely idiots for starting that game at 1:00 P.M. instead of 4:00 P.M. Those three extra hours matter, especially when a player like Robinson Cano has completely forgotten how to transverse New York after signing with the Mariners after the 2013 season.
  4. The Nationals came into this series under .500 with an already beleaguered Dave Martinez, a more beleaguered bullpen, and arguably their best player, Trea Turner, on the disabled list. This was a very wounded team who was primed to be knocked down a peg or two and possibly sent into turmoil. It may still be just April, but the Mets missed a big opportunity here.
  5. The two home run game from J.D. Davis was great to see as was his reaching base safely five consecutive times. However, we are going to need to see a lot more of that before we believe he has finally figured things out.
  6. As we saw from Davis’ two home run game, April is the time for overreaction, and we are seeing that with Zack Wheeler‘s tough start. One thing to keep in mind here is Wheeler has always gotten better as the season progresses.  For example, his career April ERA is 4.95, and his career August ERA is 2.30. Lets give this a month or two before we decided last year’s second half was a blip.
  7. It seems like Steven Matz figured something out in the bottom of the second against the Nationals. If so, watch out, he’s going to have a breakout season.
  8. The Mets have gone from Jason Vargas not needing any competition during Spring Training to only trusting him for five innings in a hitter’s park against the worst team in the National League to skipping his start. It’s not even the middle of April, and the Mets have completely bungled their fifth starter situation.
  9. Perhaps this is an overreaction, but Robert Gsellman has not proven to be that late inning relief ace the Mets imagined him to be. With the Vargas situation, perhaps the Mets should consider sending him down to Syracuse to lengthen him out to rejoin the rotation while making Vargas the long man in the bullpen.
  10. Even with Jeurys Familia‘s blow-up where he allowed his first homer at Citi Field since Conor Gillaspie, and he allowed two homers in an appearance for the first time in his career, he’s been fine.
  11. While there has been justifiable hand-wringing over just how poorly this bullpen has been performing, we are seeing Justin Wilson-Familia-Edwin Diaz turn into a formidable 7-8-9 combination.
  12. Thankfully, Seth Lugo was back to himself Sunday throwing 96 MPH and striking out the side. Overall, he’s very tempting to use, but Mickey Callaway has to be much more judicious in his usage of him.
  13. With the Mets being a starter short and one to two arms short in the bullpen, just a subtle reminder Dallas Keuchel and Craig Kimbrel are still free agents. And for a GM who traded away Jarred Kelenic, Justin Dunn, Gerson Bautista, Ross Adolph, Luis Santana, Scott Manea, Bobby Wahl, Adam Hill, and Felix Valerio, we do not need to hear about giving up a draft pick.
  14. Michael Conforto looks like a real MVP candidate.
  15. Brandon Nimmo is going to be fine. Whether it was an injury or something else, he will get back to being Nimmo. We saw that with his double yesterday.
  16. For all of his prodigious power, and how he already looks like a veteran out there, the one thing which really stands out with Pete Alonso is how great a teammate he is. It is utterly stunning to believe a player with less than 10 games under his belt may already be the glue guy in the clubhouse. Speaking of Alonso, while everyone was celebrating the opposite field hitting, it was nice to see the Mets start hitting for power again.
  17. The Mets signed Wilson Ramos for his bat. We are seeing that with his lackluster pitch framing and how he couldn’t locate a ball which was right behind him allowing a runner to score from second.
  18. It was great to see Travis d’Arnaud return. He’s been an under-appreciated player because he has not been exactly what he was supposed to be, but he is good behind the plate. Sooner or later, his pitch framing is going to really help this team.
  19. On the one hand, all of Callaway’s double switching is maddening because it is partially the reason why this bullpen is so taxed. On the other hand, it is proving to be an adept way to get everyone into the game and having them getting enough reps to contribute when called upon. Ultimately, Callaway just needs to find a way to better handle this bullpen.
  20. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. The Mets sell out when they have these bobble head days. For the life of me, I do not understand how it makes sense to send kids home upset and to ruin their experience at the park by not having enough bobble heads for everyone. This a sponsored giveaway, and they are cheap to make. The mid market Brewers have figured this out, and they order enough so they can donate the extras after the game. Seems like it’s better to have everyone walking out with a Jacob deGrom and Todd Frazier bobble head this weekend than having sad little kids, which is never good for business.