Robert Gsellman

20/20 Hindsight: Mets Season A Little Less Rocky

The Mets went from a very bad loss on Friday to winning a series against the Rockies, a team ahead of them in the Wild Card standings. All in all, it was a good weekend with a lot of great things happening:

1. Noah Syndergaard is not getting enough credit for reinventing himself on the fly. He’s lost his slider due to the new ball, and he’s adapted by throwing more four seamers and his curveball, two pitches he needed to develop further. He’s really turned a corner and maybe he’s on the brink of a stretch like he had in 2016.

2. It does seem every Mets pitcher likes pitching to Tomas Nido. It should come as no surprise as he is a first rate defensive catcher and pitch framer.

3. That said, we cannot have Nido being the personal catcher to Syndergaard and Jacob deGrom. That is especially the case when Wilson Ramos has been the Mets best hitter for over the past three weeks, and he has improved his rapport with the pitching staff. Fact is, Ramos has to play.

4. That said, Nido should play a little more. In the first month plus of the season Ramos played in 28 of 29 possible games, and he started in 22 of 29 games. The Mets played 28 games in May, he played 24 games and started 19. Apparently, easing off the throttle off the 31 year old catcher with an injury history has benefits.

5. Speaking of easing off the throttle, Robert Gsellman was dominant in his one inning on Friday, and then he didn’t pitch in the subsequent two days. Getting him more rest could make him more effective like he was earlier in the year. That’s the hope at least.

6. For those who were clamoring for Drew Gagnon in pressure situations, you got to see why Mickey Callaway was hesitant to put him in those spots as he allowed homers to David Dahl and Daniel Murphy. In three of his last five appearances, hes’ allowed runs with two of them being three run blowups.

7. That’s the thing with pitchers like Gagnon. They’re effective in a role like long reliever, but pressure situations are a different animal. From what we’ve seen, Gagnon definitely has a spot in a Major League bullpen just not in the seventh or eighth inning. That’s alright. There’s nothing wrong with having pitchers who can pitch effectively in certain roles.

8. Jeurys Familia has been great in his last two appearances retiring the side both times. If he’s turning the corner, the Mets bullpen is now more than just Edwin Diaz and Seth Lugo.

9. Todd Frazier is not this good, but he was also not as bad as he was to start the season. That’s the inherent problem with judging players over hot and cold streaks and especially over week-to-week production. Overall, what we have seen from Frazier is he’s a very good defensive third baseman who can draw walks and has pop in his bat. At least, that is what he is when he’s healthy. He’s healthy now, and he’s finally helping the Mets much in the same fashion Sandy Alderson thought he would.

10. The Mets need Frazier all the more because Jed Lowrie is apparently as real as the Tooth Fairy.

11. Speaking of moves which blew up unexpectedly, Robinson Cano has been less productive than Jay Bruce or Anthony Swarzak, both of whom have been traded in the division and are now working to beat the Mets.

12. With Juan Lagares having a -3 DRS in center and seeing Carlos Gomez play in center, the Mets should give a real consideration to seeing Jeff McNeil in center. As we see he has above average speed, good instincts, and an ability to quickly learn new positions. This would allow Brandon Nimmo to go to left field, which is a more natural fit whenever he comes off the IL.

13. Of course, if Dominic Smith continues to hit and play a passable left field, you could move McNeil to second. Of course, when Cano is healthy that raises a whole other list of issues. However, that falls under the category of good problems to have, which is a really nice change of pace around here.

14. Amed Rosario is an extremely talented player. We keep seeing glimpses of it, but we also see frustrating stretches. Part of this is the coaching staff with the Mets being one of the worst shifting teams there are, which has a negative impact on Rosario’s defensive numbers. There’s also the fact he’s still working to figure things out. Hopefully, sooner or later, something finally clicks.

15. Speaking of something clicking, Mets need to hope Pete Alonso is finally clicking again. While he’s hitting just .223/.298/.559 since May 1, Alonso is hitting .281/.349/.649 0ver his past 15 games. One thing to track here is Alonso is much better against left-handed pitching.

16. Bob Klapisch’s article in Bleacher Report on the Wilpons on their handling of their attempts to void Yoenis Cespedes‘ contract as well as all the other areas where the Wilpons are petty, over-matched, cheap, and whatever other adjective you want to use, is exactly the type or articles which need to be written instead of the paint-by-number fire Mickey Callaway articles which are being written.

17. Prior to this series against the Rockies, the Mets had exactly one series win against a team with a winning record. That series was the April 22 – 24 series at home against the Phillies where they blitzed them over the first two games before the Phillies destroyed Jason Vargas in the final game of that series. Things went sour for the Mets after that.

18. Mets haven’t been good for a while now, and it does seem like things are turning a corner. Fortunately, the Wild Card and division are still well within reach.

19. The Subway Series always seem to be a seminal moment in the Mets season. They appear headed in the right direction and the Yankees not so this next series could prove to be a springboard for the Mets.

20. What happened to David Ortiz was horrific, and instead of rushing to judgment like Dallas Braden, we should be just offering our prayers for Ortiz for a speedy recovery.

20/20 Hindsight: Mets Overcome More Than Giants

On Monday, people wanted Mickey Callaway sacrificed to the baseball gods, and by Wednesday, the Mets had won a home series. As you can guess a lot happened in just three games:

1. While the vast majority of people would have let Noah Syndergaard face Evan Longoria, it doesn’t mean pulling him from the game was the wrong decision, especially with Syndergaard’s numbers a fourth time through the lineup.

2. If you’re upset Seth Lugo entered the game and/or pinpoint his entering the game as the reason the Mets lost, you don’t trust or have faith in him. There’s no arguing around it.

3. Callaway’s real mistake was Robert Gsellman in the ninth. While we can all understand the other non-Lugo set-up men are terrible, you can’t pitch Gsellman into the ground this way. It’s indefensible.

4. Under the unjustifiable workload, Gsellman has a 12.96 ERA raising his season ERA from 2.48 to 5.05. Essentially, Callaway made one of his few reliable guys completely unreliable.

5. With everything that’s happened to the Mets bullpen, Jeurys Familia going out there and looking like the Familia of old might’ve been the most important thing that happened in this series.

6. Considering the state of the Mets bullpen and the complete lack of starting pitching depth, they needed one of Craig Kimbrel or Dallas Keuchel. Not only did that not happen, the overwhelming odds are the Mets didn’t even try.

7. Keuchel going to the Braves makes it so much the worse. His replacing one of Kevin Gausman or Mike Foltynewicz making their rotation much improved. That’s huge for a team just one game back in the division.

8. Andrew McCutchen trading his ACL is bad for both the Phillies and baseball. That said, it does open a door permitting the Mets to contend for a division title.

9. One cure for the bullpen ills is the Mete starters going deeper into games. Mets starters are on a streak of nine straight games of pitching at least six innings.

10. If before the season, someone told you Jason Vargas had a complete game shut out in the same game Adeiny Hechavarria hit a homer, you’d probably talk about the terrific job Wally Backman has done with the Long Island Ducks.

11 With that Hechavarria homer, he now has one more homer and just one fewer RBI than Robinson Cano despite having 114 fewer plate appearances.

12. With Cano leaving a game early, and his season in general, you’d realize this is just year one of what’s an onerous contract.

13. With Brandon Nimmo staring his rehab assignment, and Dominic Smith playing well, you do have to question if the Mets aren’t better off with McNeil at second, Frazier at third, Smith in left, and Cano as a pinch hitter.

14. Things have certainly changed over the past few weeks when it’s Clint and not Todd who’s the Frazier who is subject to scorn.

15. With his go-ahead homer, you realize Frazier has been the Mets best player over the past few weeks.

16. Carlos Gomez hasn’t been good, but at least he didn’t cost three players like Keon Broxton did.

17. The Mets and Juan Lagares needed him to have the game he had yesterday. If nothing else, he becomes a more viable fourth outfielder or defensive replacement.

18. Van Wagenen does deserve credit for keeping Tommy Tanous and Marc Tramuta. That duo helped the Mets have another terrific draft.

19. If nothing else, the Mets are great at home. At Citi Field, they’re 17-10 (.630), have a 118 wRC+ at home (third best in the Majors), and a 3.73 FIP (fourth best in the NL). Essentially, they’re the best team in baseball when they’re at home.

20. It’s great to see and hear Ron Darling again. He’s been sorely missed. Here’s hoping he’s healthy and will not have to leave the booth again anytime soon.

Apparently This Roster Is Callaway’s Fault

Last night, Mickey Callaway trusted Seth Lugo to finish the seventh inning over Noah Syndergaard. Even with Syndergaard cruising, the numbers were the numbers. As a result, Callaway decided to go with his best reliever to get the team a win rather than let Syndergaard get himself into a jam. It didn’t work out.

Sometimes managers make the right move, and it doesn’t work,. Sometimes, you want the managers to have a feel for the game and stick with their starters. After all, that was the justification for Terry Collins sticking with Matt Harvey, and we know how that ended.

But it’s not just Collins/Harvey, it’s also Callaway/Syndergaard.

Take the April 10th game against the Twins as an example. Syndergaard allowed one earned on two hits. He came out to start the eighth, and he allowed three straight hits starting what was a four run inning which chased him from the game.

There have been a number of instances all year where Syndergaard was cruising and just like that he lost it. There was the game against the Tigers where he struggled in the first two, but seemed to settle down only to allow homers in back-to-back innings. There was also his game against the Padres where he allowed homers, and as he got deeper into the game, he began to allow more base hits.

If we’re being honest, while Syndergaard has been much better starting May 1, he still has his issues while he is struggling with this slider. He’s allowed the most hits in the majors. He has a 4.83 ERA, 83 ERA+, and a 3.60 FIP. He’s allowed the most hits in the majors. Most of his numbers, including his strikeout rate, now stand at career worsts.

This isn’t the 2016 Syndergaard who was one of the best pitchers in baseball. This is a very talented pitcher impressively gutting through starts giving his team a chance to win while he’s still trying to rediscover pitches he’s lost due to the new ball.

Point is, we have seen Syndergaard lose it this year at a moment’s notice. It’s one of the reasons why Mets fans and reporters have jumped at the chance to criticize him all year long. But now, all of a sudden, everyone gets amnesia and pretends like they didn’t say the things they said about him about a week ago.

While you can defend keeping Syndergaard in, you can also realize why Callaway would go to Lugo. What you don’t understand is the composition of the roster and why there hasn’t been more attention focused upon it.

Right now, this team has only two reliable bullpen arms – Lugo and Edwin Diaz. That’s it.

In yesterday’s game, the Mets started J.D. Davis in left field and Carlos Gomez in center. They rushed Jeff McNeil off of the IL. Against a Giants bullpen, they mustered just four singles over the final four innings. They played poor defense in the field.

When Lugo blew the lead, eventually Callaway had to go to Robert Gsellman. Now, Callaway does deserve blame for completely overusing Gsellman. It’s led to him being terrible. However, as bad as he is, Callaway’s other options are worse. Honestly, in a pressure spot who do you want him to pick:

Looking at those options and the players who currently comprise the roster, you see that even with Callaway’s faults, this is on Brodie Van Wagenen and the just ridiculously bad offseason he had.

Take into consideration the fact he gave Jed Lowrie a two year $20 million deal. That’s $20 million to a 35 year old with a knee issue. In true J.J. Putz fashion, the Mets didn’t discover anything during the physical before the deal was consummated.

In lieu of that $20 million, the team could have signed Adam Jones ($3 million) and Greg Holland ($3.25 million) and saved some money to add another bench piece or reliever. The point is the Mets needed more depth in the outfield and the bullpen, and Van Wagenen instead opted on another infielder.

Sure, we can criticize Callaway for his faults, but this isn’t on him. This was a poorly constructed roster, and it will remain that way even if he’s fired and the team replaces him with Jim Riggleman, Joe Girardi, Buck Showalter, or whoever else you could conjure up.

So go ahead, blow up at Callaway for using a terrific reliever while pulling a starter you have likely been killing all year. Get angry with him for putting in one of his not up to the task relievers in a spot. Get upset when the offense full of bench players and Triple-A starters can’t score runs in a close game.

Certainly, he’s the issue here and not Van Wagenen or the Wilpons who haven’t come up with the money for Dallas Keuchel or Craig Kimbrel despite the team desperately needing the. Make Callaway the whipping boy here just like Van Wagenen and the Wilpons want. After all, what good is a human shied if he’s not there to block all the the criticism really due to other people?

 

Callaway’s Mistake Was Gsellman, Not Lugo

In the rematch of the 2016 NLDS between Noah Syndergaard and Madison Bumgarner, the key difference tonight seemed to be the Mets weren’t starting James Loney and Rene Rivera.

It seemed that way in the sixth inning when Pete Alonso homered to lead off the inning, and three batters later Wilson Ramos would hit a go-ahead two run homer to give the Mets a 3-2 lead.

With the lead in hand, Syndergaard went to pitch the seventh. There were two outs with a runner at first and Evan Longoria heading to the plate.

Some things to consider here. Longoria entered the game 3-for-10 off Syndergaard. Syndergaard was over 100 pitches. In his career, batters are hitting .320/.358/.400 off of him. Really, when you break it down, even if you wanted to see Syndergaard finish that inning, Mickey Callaway pulling Syndergaard for Seth Lugo.

After all, Lugo is the team’s best reliever, and although the bullpen had been taxed, Mets starters had a streak of six straight games with 6.0+ innings pitched, and the Mets were off yesterday. You may not agree, but Callaway made a defensible and arguably the right decision.

Being the Mets, it didn’t work out. Longoria singled, and Brandon Belt doubled to tie the game. The Giants didn’t take the lead there because Michael Conforto and Jeff McNeil executed a perfect relay to cut down Longoria at the plate.

After Lugo pitched a scoreless eighth, and Edwin Diaz pitched a scoreless ninth, Callaway would make an indefensible decision. He brought in Robert Gsellman for the tenth.

Even with the off day and the starters giving length, Gsellman is completely gassed. He’s allowed at least one earned run in five of his last six appearances and has a 9.95 ERA over the stretch. Believe it or not, things got worse.

Stephen Vogt hit a two RBI double off Gsellman to give the Giants a 5-3 lead. As if that wasn’t enough, after a Kevin Pillar groundout and an intentional walk to Brandon Crawford, Steven Duggar hit what should’ve been an inning ending double play. Instead, it deflected off Gsellman’s back and became an RBI double giving the Giants a 6-3 lead.

Well, if you’re a fan who questions why exactly Callaway has gone to the whip so often with his top three guys, Hector Santiago would provide the answer.

He’d allow an RBI double to Pablo Sandoval and an RBI single to Mike Yastrzemski making it a 9-3 game. The inning would mercifully end when Santiago retired Tyler Austin, who became the zombie batter (PH making a second plate appearance in the inning).

The Mets lost this game 9-3. They lost it to the second worst team in the NL. With the Mets now four games under .500, they’re looking more and more like one of the worst teams in the game.

Game Notes: Despite saying Robinson Cano was much closer to return than McNeil, McNeil was activated while Cano wasn’t. Tyler Bashlor was sent down to make room for McNeil on the roster.

20/20 Hindsight: Mets Blow Another Series

You can understand blowing games against the Dodgers. They are both a really good and a relentless team. It really becomes an issue when you do it against mediocre teams like the Diamondbacks:

1. The most bizarre criticism of Mickey Callaway was his lifting Pete Alonso for a pinch runner in the eighth inning of a game where the Mets had a four run lead. By lifting him for Juan Lagares, you’re getting more speed on the basepaths, and you are helping bolster both the infield and the outfield defense. It was 100% the right decision.

2. The criticism over his use of Jeurys Familia and Robert Gsellman was understandable, but let’s not pretend there was another real option. Drew Gagnon was bad in his last two pressure situations. Tyler Bashlor had three consecutive blown saves, and he wound up being the losing pitcher in the game. Really, other than those two and with it being too early to utilize a fatigued Edwin Diaz, there really wasn’t a better choice.

3. On Familia, there appears to be two problems. The first is he’s walking too many. The second is the defense behind him. He has a career worst .344 BABIP (.312 career) and a 66.2% LOB (75.4%) career. Essentially, the Mets are combining a ground ball pitcher with a bad infield defense. Not a good mix.

4. We should again note that as of today Craig Kimbrel no longer has draft pick compensation attached to him. We should also note he is now only going to get a prorated portion of the salary he wanted. If you’re all-in, there’s absolutely no excuse for the Mets to not sign him today.

5. The Mets have a National League worst -48 DRS with Amed Rosario (-13), J.D. Davis (-9), Wilson Ramos (-7), and Robinson Cano (-4). That’s -26 DRS from your infield.

6. Davis had a hot start, but he’s regressed to the mean, and he’s now one of the problems with the team. His defense is unplayable across the diamond, and he has been hitting .248/.313/.385. Since May 1st, Davis is hitting .208/.238/.351. As a point of reference, Eric Campbell hit .221/.312/.311 in his career with the Mets.

7. Seeing Arizona is a reminder how much the Mets miss Wilmer Flores. Aside from the things he did well as a player, he would have been great for this clubhouse. Flores went through this in 2015 and 2016. He also knows what it’s like to go from struggling to fan favorite. His attitude, rapport with his teammates, and his ability to play is needed on this team.

8. Looking at the team Brodie Van Wagenen assembled, the players he brought in have combined for a -0.7 WAR. The best position player he has brought aboard was Adeiny Hechavarria. Not to unfairly dump on Hechavarria, who is playing the best baseball of his career, but no General Manager in the history of baseball should ever be in a position to say the most productive position player he added to the roster was Adeiny Hechavarria.

9. The Mets are winning behind the talented players left behind by Sandy Alderson. One of those players has been Dominic Smith, who the team didn’t even want to give a chance to win the first base position in Spring Training.

10. Smith has really proven himself. He’s in the best shape of his life, and he’s a better player having had better treatment of his sleep apnea. He’s been great in the clubhouse, and he finally got his chance. It’s an extremely small sample size, but he’s hitting .359/.519/.609 with a 1 DRS when he’s a left fielder.

11. The Mets are playing Smith and Davis in left field because the team went into the season with just two starting everyday outfielders. This has also led them to flipping coins over whether Carlos Gomez (79 wRC+, 0 DRS), Aaron Altherr (-40 wRC+, 0 DRS), and Lagares (40 wRC+, -1 DRS).

12. It should also be noted the Mets had a chance to give Keon Broxton more playing time to see if they could salvage him. Instead, they cut him so they could call up Gomez. Since being traded to the Orioles, Broxton is hitting .250/.300/.500 (0.2 WAR). That’s a clear upgrade over the mess they have now.

13. Between Broxton and Davis, that’s just five prospects and Bobby Wahl thrown away from nothing.

14. That is a good reminder when Adam Jones hit that game tying three run homer off of Gsellman. It’s important to remember here Jones signed for just $3 million. THREE MILLION!

15. Steven Matz needed to be better than what he was on Sunday. The team needed a lift, and he gave up two runs before he even recorded an out. He gave up five runs total. Yes, the offense and defense didn’t show up either, but the Mets needed more from him. To be fair, he at least gave them length to help the pen, and unlike most of the lineup, he actually had a hit.

16. This team sure looks a lot different when Seth Lugo is available. His ability to pitch well and give the team length certainly masks a lot of problems with the bullpen.

17. It is great to see the Jacob deGrom of last year return. Maybe it’s Tomas Nido, and maybe it’s just getting back into a groove, but he’s looked like the guy he was last year. Since May 1st, he’s allowed two earned or fewer in six of his seven starts. Even with the inexplicable clunker in Miami, he has a 2.68 ERA, 1.008 WHIP, and a 4.6 K/BB over this stretch.

18. The hysteria about the personal catcher for deGrom is muchado about nothing. If deGrom pitches well to Nido, let him pitch to Nido. We should also note his pitching to Nido also affords Wilson Ramos a little extra rest. That seems to be working for him with him hitting .293/.376/.500 since May 1.

19. Zack Wheeler could’ve been better on Friday, but he did give the Mets a chance to win that game, and he gave them length to help save that bullpen.

20. After playing 20 consecutive games and going 9-11 over the stretch, the Mets are in need of today’s day off. Seeing Mets fans completely overreact to Callaway’s every look and smile, the fans can use the day off as well.

Mets Treat Diamondbacks Like Dodgers Treated Them

With the way Zack Wheeler was pitching, you figured the Mets had this game in the bag, and it was time to start looking ahead to see if the team could put together a winning streak.

Entering bottom of the sixth, the Mets had a 3-1 lead on the strength of a second inning rally. In that inning, Michael Conforto had a leadoff single, and he would move to second on a Wilson Ramos single. Conforto scored on a Todd Frazier RBI single, and everyone scored on an Adeiny Hechavarria double which landed just below the yellow line in center.

Wheeler had allowed one earned, but he had allowed just four singles. He had also struck out six. With his having thrown just 73 pitchers, his going deep or completing the game wasn’t out of the realm of possibility. It was after the sixth.

Ketel Marte led off the inning with a homer. After an Adam Jones one out single, Christian Walker hit a go-ahead homer making it 4-3.

Walker was the guy who really did Wheeler in. He was 3-for-3 off Wheeler with two runs, the homer, and two RBI. The other Diamondbacks combined to go 4-for-24 off Wheeler.

For a while, this looked like it was going to be another brutal Mets loss. After the Hechavarria double, the Mets offense had an 0-for-10 stretch with RISP.

This meant the team blew a fifth inning leadoff double by Wheeler, who is now hitting .321 this year.

In the seventh, Juan Lagares snapped an 0-for-13 streak with a leadoff single. Wheeler bunted him over and later that inning Dominic Smith drew a walk after an eight pitch at-bat. Neither Lagares nor Smith would score as Pete Alonso grounded out to end the jam.

Fortunately, the Mets not only got Wheeler off the hook, but they also got him a lead with a big two out rally started by a Frazier bloop hit off Matt Andriese. Hechavarria singled to put that dreaded runner in scoring position for J.D. Davis, who was pinch hitting for Lagares.

Davis hit a soft tapper deflected by Andriese which could not be fielded cleanly by Nick Ahmed. This allowed Frazier to score.

Carlos Gomez pinch hit for Wheeler, and he hit a ball down the line. With it picked up by the ball boy (or man), it was ruled a ground ball double allowing Hechavarria to score giving the Mets a 5-4 lead.

Fresh off the IL, Seth Lugo relieved Wheeler in the bottom of the eighth. He would allow a one out “triple” to Eduardo Escobar. In reality, Gomez completely misplayed that routine fly into a triple.

We then saw just how much the Mets bullpen missed Lugo. Lugo responded by getting Jones to pop out. After an intentional walk to Walker, he got Tim Locastro to pop out to end the jam.

With this being Lugo’s first game back since coming off the IL and Edwin Diaz still unavailable, Mickey Callaway went with Robert Gsellman for the save opportunity. Gsellman pitched a clean ninth to record his 14th career save (first this year).

Now, you feel a lot better about this Mets team. They pulled back to within a game of .500 after a hard fought win. We will see if this is the start of something or just a blip.

Game Notes: Home Plate Umpire Randy Wolf was forced to leave the game after getting hit in the mask by a foul tip. Details are emerging with respect to Nelson Figueroa‘s firing from SNY. Daniel Zamora was sent down to make room for Lugo on the roster.

20/20 Hindsight: Dodgers Expose Mets For What They Are

The Mets seemed to have righted the ship as they headed out to Los Angeles on a tough road trip. In a four game series against the Dodgers, we learned just how good the Mets are against the top teams in the National League:

1. The one thing we saw in this series was just how better the Dodgers are. Sure, it is the talent on the field, but it is also ownership’s dedication to winning. We see that when the Dodgers hire Andrew Friedman away from the Rays and the Mets hire a former agent who has never run an organization. For example, we see the Mets trade three good prospects for J.D. Davis, who continues to regress. The Dodgers use their superior scouting and player development to identify players like Justin Turner and Max Muncy.

2. The Mets did have an opportunity to earn at least a split on two different occasions. The fact they didn’t speaks volumes to how the Dodgers are just a better and more resilient team.

3. It is easy to jump all over Edwin Diaz for blowing a save in a game the Mets absolutely had to have. Then again, he’s been overworked pitching in eight of the past 11 days not including the times he was dry humped. This blow-up was bound to happen. What’s eerie was his 0.1 IP, 4 ER performance was a year to the date since his last one.

4. You can certainly get on Mickey Callaway for his usage of Diaz. He has to be better in handling him to try to prevent these types of blow ups. Then again, what other options does he have? With Seth Lugo on the Injured List, he’s down to maybe one other reliable set-up man in Robert Gsellman. Fact is, the bullpen remains an arm or two short, and the front office seems uninterested in getting him the help he needs.

5. We can point to the draft coming on Monday as the point where the Mets could sign Dallas Keuchel or Craig Kimbrel without forfeiting a pick, but that would be idiotic. We all know that’s not the type of compensation preventing the Mets from signing either pitcher, especially with Van Wagenen being all too happy to purge all of those prospects.

6. Baseball is funny. Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard struggled against the Dodgers, but it was Jason Vargas who really pitched well against the Dodgers allowing just one earned over seven innings. Give credit to him not just for the big game but also for saving a depleted and exhausted bullpen.

7. With respect to Vargas, let’s not get ahead of ourselves here. Today is the last day of May, and he finally has a quality start. This was the first time all season he has consecutive games pitching at least five innings. In his previous four starts, he’s averaged 4.2 innings per start. If he can pitch at least five in his next start maybe then we can talk about his FINALLY being a viable fifth starter.

8. Steven Matz has been quite good this year, and he showed it in this series picking up the Mets only win in the series. In some ways, he has emerged as the Mets most reliable starter.

9. It’s a dangerous game to play, but if you eliminate his horrendous start against the Phillies and his short start in his first game off the Injured List, Matz is 4-1 with a 2.30 ERA and a 1.191 WHIP.

10. Give Noah Syndergaard credit for gutting through six innings when he didn’t have anywhere near his best stuff. While he’s getting killed for it, that looks more like Syndergaard looking like a great pitcher. The great ones can get quality starts when they are throwing junk. But let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves on that front. He needs more consistency to get to that point.

11. Mets fans frustations at the starters seem to be misplaced. If you look at their FIP, Zack Wheeler has been the team’s best pitcher with a 3.25. While not what you expected, deGrom (3.56) and Syndergaard (3.62) have pitched better than their results are indicating. Unfortunately, this also indicates Matz is due for a regression. Honestly, you take that if those other three get going.

12. We can’t get too worked up about Hyun-Jin Ryu shutting down the Mets. He is currently pitching like deGrom did last year. It’s also noteworthy the Mets offense was humming prior to that scoring 6.7 runs per game in the series and 5.5 runs per game over their prior 11.

13. Todd Frazier has completely turned his season around. Over his last 16 games, he is hitting .327/.403/.491, and he continues to play a very good third base. That was a great tag he got down on Corey Seager after what was a terrific throw from Carlos Gomez (which came after a terrible play – details, details).

14. Amed Rosario also had a very good series. Even with yesterday’s 0-f0r-4, he was 6-for-16 in the series with two doubles, a triple, a homer, and two RBI.

15. It’s been an interesting year for Rosario. Just when you think he’s figured things out, he suddenly struggles. Even with all of that, he is showing marked improvement over the first two years of his career. If he were to find some consistency, he’s going to make the leap into stardom. Hopefully, that happens in the second half.

16. Adeiny Hechavarria has the same amount of homers and just three fewer RBI than Robinson Cano who has had 151 more plate appearances. This is both a statement about how Hechavarria has played well over his head and how bad Cano has been.

17. Diaz currently has mediocre stats (at least for the moment), and Cano has already looked like the $100 million albatross we knew he would eventually be. Jarred Kelenic has already been promoted to High-A, and Justin Dunn has a 2.25 ERA over his last three starts and has struck out 11.2 per nine this year. Mind you, this is just two months into the season. Wonder how this trade will look five years from now.

18. Between Dominic Smith and J.D. Davis, the Mets have two players who have no business playing left field. With Davis, they really have a guy who doesn’t have a position. Taking that into account, the Mets just need to play the better bat, and without any doubt, that is Smith.

19. Juan Lagares needed to be better than this. At a time when the Mets desperately needed him, he has completely faltered. Hes in the middle of an 0-for-13 stretch, and he is just one for his last 26. Worse yet, he’s at a -1 DRS. Yes, his 17.3 UZR/150 shows he is still the same fielder, but the Mets needed him to be more productive than this. Really, they needed him to be actually productive.

20. Give credit to Pete Alonso. Over a 41 game stretch entering this series, he was hitting .214/.305/.497. Put another way, it appeared the league had figured him out after a hot start. In the series against the Dodgers, he was 7-for-16 with two doubles, a triple, two homers, and five RBI. This is an indication he might be adjusting to what pitchers are doing to him. If so, that’s a sign he’s on his way to becoming a great player.

Smith Bloop, Alonso Blast, Mets Completely Blow Big Lead

One of the truly fascinating and heart warming parts of the Mets season has been the friendship which has developed between Pete Alonso and Dominic Smith. What makes it so special is they are two young players vying for playing time at the same position. Seeing them so far this year, you wondered what could happen if they were in the lineup together.

With all the injuries to the Mets outfielders and Walker Buehler starting for the Dodgers, Smith would get the start in left and bat second. The decision would pay immediate dividends as Alonso followed a Smith one out single with a homer:

The duo would combine to do it again in the fifth inning with the two celebrating in the dugout.

Combined with an Adeiny Hechavarria second inning double scoring Todd Frazier, and the Mets had a 5-3 lead.

All the runs were in support of Noah Syndergaard who despite still struggling with his stuff had an admirable effort against the best offense in the National League.

It seemed as if the Dodgers had him on the ropes in the second and third as he was getting BABIPed a bit and giving up more solid contact than he usually does.

In the second, Corey Seager, Matt Beaty, and Alex Verdugo hit consecutive doubles to then tie the game at 2-2. On the Verdugo double, Smith did have trouble playing it in the gap, but it ultimately did not hurt the Mets.

In fact, the Dodgers would hit five doubles off Syndergaard. The fourth was a leadoff double by Max Muncy to start the third. He’d come home to score on a Justin Turner RBI single.

The fifth, well, that was a bit of hometown scoring. With two outs in the bottom of the fifth, Seager hit a ball to the center field wall. It was a ball Carlos Gomez absolutely should have had. Instead, he fumbled it.

However, he would make up for it by unleashing a great throw to third. As good as that throw was, Frazier’s tag was even better.

Frazier followed up that fine play with a double off Pedro Baez to start the sixth. After a Gomez bunt, Frazier scored on an Hechavarria RBI single. This was part of a very good game for Frazier. In addition to the defense, he was 2-for-4 with two runs and a double.

Through the struggles, Syndergaard threw a season high 116 pitches in a quality start. It may not have looked good, but he allowed just the three earned off seven hits. Mostly, he gave the Mets needed length to help preserve an already tired Mets bullpen the day before a Jason Vargas start.

After he was lifted, Amed Rosario and Dominic Smith would open the seventh with back-to-back homers off Julio Urias.

After the homers, the Mets offense continued to go to work with an Alonso single and Michael Conforto double setting up second and third with no outs. At the time, it was 8-3 Mets, and it looked like the Mets were going to blow it completely open.

They didn’t, and worse yet, the game would tighten a bit. In the seventh, Joc Pederson doubled off Robert Gsellman, and he’s score on a two out RBI single from Turner. In the eighth, Seager homered off Jeurys Familia to make it 8-5. Fortunately, Familia got out of the inning allowing no further runs and keeping the save chance alive for Edwin Diaz.

Because this is the Mets, it can’t be easy. Pederson and Muncy homered off Diaz to lead off the ninth to pull the Dodgers to within 8-7. Turner then doubled bringing Cody Bellinger up as the winning run. He’d just double to tie the game.

Things got much worse. Seager was intentionally walked. As if things weren’t bad enough, Beaty hit a soft roller up the middle which Rosario fielded, but he could not find the bag.

With the bases loaded and no outs, Juan Lagares came in to give the Mets a five man infield. It didn’t matter as Verdugo hit a sacrifice fly.

This was about as bad a loss as the Mets have had all year. They got a tough start from Syndergaard. They also got production from almost their entire lineup. They had their closer who they gave up the world to acquire on the mound with a chance to get back over .500. Instead, they blew it and looked like a terrible team in the ninth in the process.

Game Notes: As noted by MMO‘s Mathew Brownstein, Frazier has three straight multiple hit games.

Mets Catchers Beat The Tigers

With the Tigers having a bottom five offense, you knew Jason Vargas was good for five. Seriously, the only teams Vargas has gone five innings has been against the five worst offenses in baseball (Reds, Marlins, Tigers). As with the typical Vargas start, the question is how would the Mets get enough innings from their relievers to get through the game. The reason that was an issue today was this game went 13.

One reason it went 13 was Wilson Ramos carried the Mets offense today.

His second inning homer tied the score at 1-1. His fourth inning RBI single gave the Mets a 2-1 lead. After Tyler Bashlor surrendered a two run homer to Brandon Dixon, Ramos responded with his second homer of the game:

After having just two homers entering this series, Ramos has three homers over his last two games. He now looks like the catcher the Mets believe they were signing, and with the injuries the team had sustained, it couldn’t have come at a better time.

It also seemed like today was the perfect time to use Edwin Diaz for four outs.

Robert Gsellman was in his second inning of work, and he was in trouble. After hitting a double earlier in the inning, Josh Harrison was on third with two outs. Mickey Callaway went to Diaz.

Because the Mets are making JaCoby Jones look like Al Kaline (recycled joke), he got the game tying RBI single.

Not only did this mean, Diaz would blow his first save as a Met, but with him throwing 13 pitches, it meant the Mets would need relievers to step up big starting in the ninth.

Those relievers did step up big, and it looked all the bigger considering they got themselves into trouble.

Wilmer Font pitched a scoreless eighth and ninth and tenth. In the tenth, the Tigers had two on and one out. Font struck out Grayson Greiner and Jones to end the jam.

Daniel Zamora took the ball in the eleventh. He’d allow two hits in the inning, but no real threat would mount as Ramos picked Gordon Beckham off first on what was supposed to be a bunt play:

For a moment, it looked like the Mets would take that momentum into the bottom of the inning and win the game.

After Tomas Nido flew out to begin the inning, Ramos walked. With his backup catcher already in the game and the Mets looking to pull out the win, Callaway pinch ran Steven Matz.

As is the Mets luck, Dominic Smith and Todd Frazier followed with bloop hits, but Matz couldn’t score. Matz’s inability to score looked fatal because Aaron Altherr struck out, Adeiny Hechavarria popped out to end the inning, and the Tigers had the bases loaded with one out against Hector Santiago in the 12th.

Santiago stepped up striking out Jones on three pitches (after walking two of his last three batters) and getting John Hicks to fly out to end the jam. Santiago then breezed through the top of the 13th, and with him due up second in the bottom of the inning, you wondered if Callaway was going to stick with him.

On Buck Farmer‘s third pitch to Nido, it would become a moot point:

The homer gave the Mets a 5-4 victory and once again pulled the Mets to within a game of .500. With Nido hitting the homer, it was once again an unsung hero. With Nido homering, it was the Mets catchers with all the offense.

Consider this, Ramos and Nido combined to go 4-for-6 with three homers and all five RBI. The rest of the lineup was 3-for-38. When you take out Todd Frazier, who made a nice play in the field to save a run earlier in the game, going 2-for-5, this means the Mets lineup was 1-for-33 with that hit coming from Dominic Smith, who entered the game in the ninth.

Looking at it, Callaway might have had his best game as a manager. He made the right calls (even if they didn’t work out), and he put all of his players in a position to succeed. His bullpen did, and eventually so did Nido.

Game Notes: In typical Mets fashion, Brandon Nimmo‘s injury was worse than the Mets led us to believe. He has a bulged disc in his neck with whiplash.

Decisions Like Designating Sewald For Assignment Matter

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.