Robinson Cano

Stop Criticizing How Mickey Callaway Handled Amed Rosario’s Hustle

In Sunday’s game against the Dodgers, Braves manager Brian Snitker pulled Ronald Acuna Jr. from the game due to Acuna’s not hustling. More specifically, Acuna hit what he apparently thought was a homer in the third inning, and when it didn’t go out, he was left standing on first. Acuna then compounded the problems by getting caught stealing.

After the game, Snitker was widely lauded for how how he handled the situation. The same could be said for Acuna who was said to handle it maturely. You can be cynical and say these are the things a team can do when they are up six games in the loss column in the division, but being fair, this was a big game against the Dodgers.

For some reason, people took this moment to criticize Mickey Callaway in his handling of Amed Rosario. First up was John Harper of SNY who said Snitker handled things much better than Callaway:

Then, there was Matt Ehalt of Yahoo who didn’t use the opportunity to necessarily criticize Callaway. Instead, he thought it was interesting to compare how the Braves handled the situation to how Callaway and the Mets “Went out of their way to avoid saying they benched Rosario.”

Revisiting the moment, in the eighth inning of the July 13 game against the Cardinals, Rosario hit what appeared to be a routine fly ball out. However, it turned out to be anything but routine as the ball dropped between JT Riddle and Brian Anderson. Instead of standing on second, Rosario was at first. In terms of the game, it didn’t matter much as Tomas Nido flew out to end the inning, and the Mets won the game 4-2.

Going back to that point in time, the Mets were 10 games under .500, and they had the second worst record in the National League. All season long Robinson Cano‘s lack of hustle was an issue amongst fans and talking heads (something Ehalt alluded to in his tweet). At that time, it at least felt like Callaway could be fired for a season which had gone very wrong.

Initially, Callaway couched it as Rosario getting a scheduled day off. For some reason, the real reason was told to SNY. That was Rosario was being benched for a lack of hustle. Why the different messages is anyone’s guess. If you want to get on Callaway and the Mets for that, you absolutely should as the constant mixed messages has been an issue for the team.

If you’re going to criticize how Callaway handled Rosario, you should stop while you’re ahead. If you have been paying any attention, Rosario has blossomed this year.

At the time of the incident, Rosario was having a bad year hitting .263/.301/.413. Since that time, Rosario is hitting .367/.404/.555. He’s been a 3 DRS at shortstop. With Jeff McNeil‘s injury, he has stepped into the leadoff role, and he has hit well. When J.D. Davis had to be removed from Sunday’s game, Rosario played three innings in left, and he played them well. Ultimately, since the incident, Rosario has not had another “hustling incident,” has blossomed as a player, and he has been everything this team has needed.

Of course, this is all just garbage narratives.

The truth is likely Rosario had a bad moment in a brief career, and really, it wasn’t all that bad a moment. It was a routine fly ball which never should have dropped. Almost every single Major Leaguer would have been standing on first in that moment. Actually, almost every single Major Leaguer would have been sitting in the dugout.

Rosario has always been noted for his hustle and for his drive to be a better player. He didn’t need to be benched to be driven to be what he is now. Callaway didn’t need to deliver a message for Rosario to suddenly start hustling all the time like he does on 99 percent of plays. Mostly, Callaway doesn’t need to handle Rosario the way Snitker handled Acuna because they are two completely different players on two very different teams.

Callaway has his faults. How he’s handled his team and the development of his players like Rosario isn’t one of them. In fact, Rosario has never really been a problem in terms of his drive. We should all just move along and stop rushing to make criticisms of Callaway for everything that happens. Save your criticism for something he actually does wrong.

And while we’re at it, maybe start giving him some credit for the things he does well. Same goes for giving Rosario credit for the things he did well which led to this breakout. Mostly, just stop pushing agendas and narratives.

Mets Significantly Improved With Brad Brach And Joe Panik

This past week the New York Mets could not bring themselves to trust Donnie Hart or Chris Mazza to close out a five run ninth inning lead against the worst team in the National League. There were two opportunities to use them, and the Mets passed each time. More than anything, this was a sign the Mets were 1-2 arms short in the bullpen and something needed to be done.

With Cody Allen, Brad Brach, and Greg Holland available, the Mets opted to sign Brach, who was arguably the best choice of the three.

Yes, Brach has walked an inordinate amount of batters this year. Part of that is the fact Willson Contreras has been one of the wort pitch framers in all of baseball with a -8.5 FRAA. This follows a year in which he was a -15.4 FRAA. Yes, Wilson Ramos has been bad behind the dish, but his -7.1 FRAA is still an improvement. With Ramos being better and Tomas Nido being a good framer, Brach will be getting some help on that front.

More than the walks, Brach still has the ability to get batters out. He has struck out 10.6 per nine which is is best mark since his 2016 All Star season. As noted by Baseball Savant, there are issues like barrels and exit velocity, but there are other factors like his fastball velocity and spin rate which provide hope.

On the hope front, it should be noted Brach had a very similar season last year with his struggling with the Orioles. He was moved to the Braves as the trade deadline, and he turned things back on after the trade. In his 27 games for the Braves, he was 1-2 with a 1.52 ERA, 1.310 WHIP, 3.4 BB/9, and an 8.4 K/9.

Overall, by career ERA, August has historically Brach’s second best month of the season. If that proves true, and his career worst .375 BABIP stabilize (.291 career BABIP), things are really looking up for Brach, and that is before he gets to make adjustments working with Mickey Callaway, Phil Regan, and Ricky Bones.

At a minimum, Brach is another arm to the equation, and he is likely one who will be used unlike Mazza, who is still on the roster, or Hart, who was optioned to Syracuse. Unlike those other two relievers, Brach has Major League success, and with that comes some hope for upside.

The other player the Mets added is Joe Panik, who fills a need a second base with Robinson Cano likely done for the season with a torn hamstring.

Now, let’s get the obvious out of the way. Panik has not been good this year. In fact, this is the worst season of his career by any measure. He has a career worst batting average, SLG, OPS, OPS+, wRC+, and WAR. With his having a -0.4 WAR and a 69 wRC+, you can understand the Giants trading for Scooter Gennett and releasing Panik.

Even with Panik not being good enough for a Giants team who held onto Madison Bumgarner with the hopes of getting a Wild Card spot in Bruce Bochy‘s last season, it does not mean Panik is not an upgrade over what the Mets currently have.

The Mets current second base options are worse than Panik at the plate. Adeiny Hechavarria (62 wRC+) and Luis Guillorme (2 wRC+) have been worse at the plate. You could argue putting Jeff McNeil at second base is a better move, but Juan Lagares (40 wRC+) and Aaron Altherr (-33 wRC+) are probably even worse options than Hechavarria, Guillorme, or Panik.

Arguably, you get more defense at second with Hechavarria (1 DRS) and Guillorme (1 DRS), but Panik is no slouch. He is a former Gold Glove winner, and he has a 0 DRS. Ultimately, when you take the combination of the defense and the bat, Panik is a steadier presence at second.

It should also be noted like with Brach, Panik is historically very good in August with his career triple slash line being better in August than any other month. While it has been just five games, that has proven true so far this year. Overall, Panik finishes seasons well, and the Mets need someone who can finish this season well at second to help propel them into the postseason.

Ultimately, bringing Brach and Panik back home on the roster makes the Mets a significantly improved team. That’s the case even with Brach and Panik not being very good players this year. In some ways, you can treat this as an indictment of the Mets. However, it’s not about that. Right now, the only thing we should care about is the Mets improving. With Brach and Panik, the Mets are improved. With them being improved, they’re in a better position to make the postseason.

20/20 Hindsight: Mets Sweep Marlins Like Good Teams Do

The Mets are three games over .500 for the first time since April 23rd. They are now just one game behind in the Wild Card race, and they are eight games out in the division. Things are much more interesting in Queens.

1. The Mets went 14-2 against an easy stretch of games which included the Padres, White Sox, Pirates, and Marlins. Malign this all you want, but this is exactly how good teams play against bad teams.

2. The pivotal point in this series was with the Mets trailing 4-2 heading into the bottom of the seventh in the second game of the doubleheader. The homers by J.D. Davis, Michael Conforto, and Pete Alonso saved the game, and it served not just as a launching pad for the Mets winning that game but also sweeping the series. Who knows how much further that inning will take them.

3. Davis has been the Mets best hitter at home. For some reason, Citi Field is like Coors Field to him. With the Mets having a lot of home games remaining, he becomes increasingly more important to the team.

4. Conforto has arguably been the Mets best player in the second half. Since the All Star Break, he is hitting .315/.406/.641. Before his concussion, Conforto was hitting .274/.412/.519. Ultimately, when he is healthy, this is the level of player Conforto is, and that level is being a great player.

5. Alonso has homered in three straight, and he is just two behind Cody Bellinger‘s National League Rookie record. He is four behind the Mets single season record shared by Todd Hundley and Carlos Beltran. He’s followed every bad month with a good month. His defense has been much better than it was last year. What else is there to say about him?

6. Like many of the Mets players, Wilson Ramos has stepped it up. So far in August, he is hitting .417/.440/.708. To a certain extent, this outburst should have been foreseen. Traditionally, August is Ramos’ second best month of the season, and he hit .337/.396/.483 in the second half for the Rays and Phillies last year.

7. The Mets need these bats and others to step up in Robinson Cano‘s absence. While Cano has been frustrating at times, his replacements have not fared that well this year. The combination of Aaron Altherr, Luis Guillorme, Adeiny Hechavarria, and Juan Lagares have combined to go 2-for-26 with a run, three walks, a double, and 10 strikeouts.

8. Seeing this production, the Mets should go out and claim Joe Panik. As noted yesterday, even at a 69 wRC+, Panik would be the best hitter of this group. His defense would also be an improvement over what Cano offered. It should also be noted Panik has some upside as well.

9. On the idea of upside candidates, the Mets need some bullpen help. The Mets appear loathe to use Donnie Hart and Chris Mazza, and the Mets cannot continue to operate with no trust at all with two of the arms in their bullpen. On that front, Cody Allen, Brad Brach, and Greg Holland are available. The Mets also have quality organization options in Chris Flexen, Eric Hanhold, and Paul Sewald.

10 One interesting development with no August trades is we are seeing teams designate players for assignment now instead of floating them through waivers and holding onto them until competing teams look to obtain them right before rosters expand to 40 in September.

11. As we have seen with Lee Mazzilli and Addison Reed, the player the Mets obtain in August can make a huge different for a team looking to win a pennant and a World Series. Given the team’s depth and bullpen issues, they need to take a hard look at whomever hits the waiver wire over the next few weeks.

12. There was a time where people were calling for Mickey Callaway to be fired, and now, we are seeing writers begin to advocate for his winning National League Manager of the Year.

13. Remember most discussions about the manager are narrative driven and are reflective of a team’s performance. They are rarely, if ever, resultant of actual analysis of player progression and effort.

14. The Mets need better than Wayne Randazzo on the radio. He has no sense of team history, and as evidenced by his being unaware of egg creams, he’s not even well versed in the area. Really, when you break it down, you really have to question what he does well.

15. It certainly isn’t analysis with his attributing Conforto’s success to Alonso. Aside from the studies refuting the concept of lineup protection, it’s absurd a hitter as good as Conforto needed lineup protection to succeed.

16. The Mets radio play-by-play job is perhaps the radio job with the highest standards there are. Two of the greatest to ever do it, Bob Murphy and Gary Cohen, have held that job. Howie Rose is every bit their peer. We need better than Randazzo.

17. The Mets defense has been much better of late. We saw this with the Mets infield turning 10 double plays against the Marlins. When you play defense this way, all the pitchers look better. The real key has been Amed Rosario becoming a plus defender at SS.

18. Jason Vargas getting roughed up by the Diamondbacks is a reminder bad players outplaying their peripherals regress, and the Mets trading him to the Phillies was the one trade which really helped the Mets chances of grabbing a Wild Card.

19. The last time things were like this with the Mets, they had just obtained Yoenis Cespedes right before sweeping the Nationals to tie for the division lead and make a march towards the pennant. This year is starting to have the same feeling.

20. Marcus Stroman‘s first Citi Field start is going to be absolutely electric. That game and the series cannot get here soon enough.

Time For Panik Citi

With Robinson Cano likely down for the rest of the year, the Mets need to figure out what they’re going to do at second base. While Adeiny Hechavarria and Luis Guillorme provide top level defense, their offense is lacking.

The offensive second base option is Jeff McNeil, but that would lead to Juan Lagares or Aaron Altherr in center. That’s effectively the same situation as with Guillorme or Hechavarria.

There was a chance to upgrade somewhat offensively, but Asdrubal Cabrera signed with the Nationals. As luck would have it, the Mets may have another opportunity.

In somewhat of a surprise move, the San Francisco Giants designated Joe Panik for assignment. With the Mets void at second base, it is worth investigating.

So far, this has been the worst year of Panik’s career. He has a career worst wRC+, OPS+, and WAR. It’s hard to make the case a negative WAR and sub replacement level hitter would be an improvement.

On that front, since Cano went down, the combination of Guillorme/Hechavarria/Lagares/Altherr have gone a combined 1-for-19 with three walks and seven strikeouts. No matter how bad Panik has been, he’s better than that. With Panik, there’s also some upside.

In addition to his having a career worst wRC+, he’s also had a career low .254 BABIP. With his having a career .287 BABIP this would indicate a lot of bad luck. Bad luck is further indicated when you look at Panik lowering his ground ball rate, hitting more line drives, and his hitting the ball harder. He’s also been more selective at the plate with a 9.3 perfect walk rate, which is the second best of his career.

Even with numbers indicating he should have better stats, he doesn’t, and he hasn’t for nearly 10 years now. With Scooter Gennett now a Giant, the team has moved on ftom him. They did that despite Panik playing much better defense this year.

No, he’s not the Gold Glove caliber there anymore. Still, his 0 DRS is better than he’s been over the last two years, and it’s a step up from what Cano was defensively.

Looking at Panik overall, if he were on this Mets team, his 69 wRC+ would make him the best hitter out of a group including Altherr, Guillorme, Hechavarria, and Lagares. Like that group, he has a very good reputation as a fielder even if he’s just merely good at second now.

Arguably, the one thing Panik really doesn’t offer is versatility. In his career, he’s only played 9.2 innings away from second base. While a noteworthy, the Mets would be claiming Panik to play everyday. When you look at the options currently available and the chance there’s some upside in his bat, claiming Panik off waivers is a worthwhile endeavor.

Yes, the Mets should claim him. If they don’t, Panik could opt to go to another team under his own volition, or another team, like the Nationals or Phillies could claim him as a bench piece or to even try to block the surging Mets from trying to sign him. Given how much help the Mets need and their depleted depth, it’s time to make Flushing Panik Citi once again.

Surging Mets Still Wheeling Along

The Mets were smart heading into tonight. With the team rolling, and with Zack Wheeler‘s career numbers against the Marlins, the team opted to rest Amed Rosario and Michael Conforto to keep them charged for the stretch run.

As it turns out, the Mets guess they still had enough in the lineup was the right call. It looked even better with Luis Guillorme and Adeiny Hechavarria turning four double plays tonight.

Wheeler needed that improved defensive lineup with his keeping the ball on the ground more than usual. In total, he would get 13 ground ball outs tonight against one fly out and five strikeouts. He was great, and the defense was better helping him out on a night when he did not have one 1-2-3 inning.

Despite all the traffic, Wheeler pitched eight shut out innings allowing 10 hits with one walk and the aforementioned five strikeouts.

Fortunately, the game was never really in doubt.

The Mets took an early 1-0 lead in the first off a Todd Frazier RBI double. The lead grew to 4-0 when Wilson Ramos hit a three run homer in the third:

With respect to Ramos, he has been much better at the plate of late. In August, he has already hit two homers which doubles the homers he hit in July. With Robinson Cano down, the Mets need another bat to step up, and it seems Ramos is ready to fill that void.

The scoring was capped off when Pete Alonso hit a homer in the fifth which mirrored the one he hit last night:

All-in-all, this was a very good night for the Mets. Wheeler extended his scoreless streak to 15 innings. The defense was impeccable:

They shut out the Marlins, and they’re two games over .500 for the first time since April 24.

Game Recap: The Giants designated Joe Panik for assignment.

Mets Sweep Doubleheader To Get Over .500

With it being a day game and Tomas Nido behind the plate, it was a mild disappointment Jacob deGrom didn’t throw a no-hitter in the first game of the doubleheader. That was a dream which died with a Jon Berti single to begin the game.

Even though he didn’t get the no-hitter, or even the shut out, he would pick up the win with a typical deGrom effort. He struggled in the beginning, and he would eventually settle in and dominate.

Over 7.0 innings, he would allow two runs on five hits with one walk and eight strikeouts. One of those two runs was a homer from Isan Diaz, who was making his Major League debut. It was a great moment with his family in the stands.

Aa a fan you can enjoy these moments because the Mets won and pulled themselves back to .500.

While Diaz was homering in his debut, Robert Dugger wasn’t having as good a time. In fact, the first pitch he ever threw was hit for a homer by Jeff McNeil.

Heading into the third, the score was tied 1-1 when Amed Rosario hit an opposite field blast.

The Mets got a big bases loaded two run single from deGrom in the fourth. The Mets tacked on two more in the fifth on a Pete Alonso RBI single, and a J.D. Davis sacrifice fly.

The bullpen would pitch two scoreless, and suddenly, the Mets were a .500 team for the first time since May 28th. They would have a chance to go over .500 for the first time since May 2nd in the second half of the doubleheader.

With the sinkerballer Walker Lockett going for the Mets, and this being the second end of a doubleheader, the Mets went with a pure defense first infield with Luis Guillorme at second and Adeiny Hechavarria at third.

That already compromised lineup took another hit when McNeil was forced to depart the game in the top of the third with a leg cramp. That basically left the Mets hoping the Michael Conforto two RBI single in the first and Lockett would hold up.

It didn’t happen.

Lockett cruised through the first three innings, but he would get into trouble when Brian Anderson led off the inning with a double. He’d come around to score on a Harold Ramirez RBI single. Lockett would do well to escape this jam, but he wouldn’t be so lucky in the fifth.

Bryan Holaday tied the score at 2-2 with a fifth inning leadoff homer. The homer didn’t kill a rally, and with two on and two out, Mickey Callaway would lift Lockett for Robert Gsellman to face Curtis Granderson.

The move didn’t work with Granderson hitting a go-ahead two RBI double giving the Marlins a 4-2 lead. With their having their All-Star Sandy Alcantara in the mound, the Mets ability to come back was very much in question.

It was even more in question with the Mets blowing a chance to score in the sixth. After back-to-back singles to lead off the inning, Guillorme was called upon to bunt even with the bottom of the Mets lineup coming up.

Guillorme’s bunt didn’t get close enough to the third base line allowing Jeff Brigham to nail Alonso at third. After that Hechavarria struck out, and Todd Frazier pinch hit for Gsellman and grounded out to end the inning.

Brigham would not have the same luck in the seventh as he allowed homers to Davis,

Conforto,

and finally Alonso.

The blast was a huge one for Alonso who had the longest homerless drought of his career. He may not be hitting as many homers in the second half, but he is sure making them count right now.

With Edwin Diaz pitching in the ninth in the first half of the doubleheader, it was on Seth Lugo to get the six out save. Lugo would get the job done without allowing a base runner.

With the doubleheader sweep, the Mets are now over .500 for the first time since May 2nd. At the moment, they’re 2.0 games back and will be either 1.5 or 2.5 games back depending on what the Nationals and Phillies do.

The Mets also find themselves 8.5 games back of the Braves with nine head-to-head matchups allowing us to still dream.

Game Notes: Robinson Cano was placed on the IL with a torn hamstring. Juan Lagares got the first chance to replace him in the lineup with McNeil at second. In the doubleheader, Lagares was 0-for-3 with three walks and a strikeout.

Options To Improve Mets Depth

With Robinson Cano landing on the Injured List, the Mets depth has once again been exposed. Considering how the Mets operate, it is very likely Adeiny Hechavarria will become the team’s everyday second baseman with Luis Guillorme on the bench.

Now, you could argue the Mets should move Jeff McNeil back to the infield, but there are almost no real viable outfield options unless you believe Juan Lagares or Aaron Altherr should play everyday. With them hitting .190 and .111 respectively that is hardly the case. With that in mind, the Mets have few options to upgrade their roster.

Asdrubal Cabrera is about the only free agent available worth investigating. The 33 year old was designated for assignment after hitting .235/.318/.393 in 93 games for a Rangers team falling out of contention. He was not very good in the field either with Cabrera having a -3 DRS in 793.0 innings albeit with a 2.7 UZR.

Cabrera has not been the same player hitting .233/.307/.393 (82 wRC+) since leaving the Mets in the July 27, 2018 trade to the Philadelphia Phillies. Prior to that trade, Cabrera hit .279/.339/.464 as a Met. That includes his phenomenal second half in 2016 which helped propel the Mets to the top Wild Card spot. Part of the reason for that is as Baseball Savant notes Cabrera having below average exit velocity and hard hit percentages. Despite these numbers, it may well behoove the Mets to have Cabrera as a late inning pinch hitter off the bench especially considering his penchant for heroics in big spots.

Past Cabrera, the Mets best internal infield options are Ruben Tejada and Dilson Herrera.

Tejada is probably the one option who could fill-in at shortstop if needed, and he has arguably been hitting better this year than any point in his professional career. In 64 games for Syracuse, Tejada is hitting 343/.421/.498 with 17 doubles, a triple, six homers, and 35 RBI.

The caution with Tejada is he has not played in the majors since 2017, and he hit .230/.293/.283 that year for Baltimore. Tejada played for Triple-A Norfolk the following year hitting .230/.291/.298 in 101 games. When looking at things from that prism, Tejada has made adjustments this year, and as a result, is a much better player; a player who could help contribute at the Major League level.

Like Tejada, Herrera is having a strong season in Syracuse hitting .250/.331/.538 with 23 doubles, one triple, 22 homers, and 48 RBI. Unlike Tejada, Herrera does not play shortstop. However, he may be more versatile with him playing first (28 games), second (24 games), third (31 games), left field (six games), and right field (four games) this year. Ultimately, if he was added to the roster, Herrera could prove to be a right-handed power threat off the bench which the Mets have not had since J.D. Davis has been pushed into everyday duty with Dominic Smith‘s injury.

Herrera still has played 10 games in the outfield for Syracuse, and he was a -2 DRS in 56.0 innings in left for the Reds last year. While that’s an extremely small sample size, it also speaks to how little experience Herrera has in the outfield.

With that in mind and with the Mets lack of outfield depth, the best option in Syracuse would be Rajai Davis, who notably hit a pinch hit homer for the Mets earlier in the year. Unfortunately, he is not an option as he has been on the IL since July 17. Beyond Davis, none of the other outfielders in Syracuse really present even a hypothetical upgrade.

In the end, the Mets decision may be between signing Cabrera or calling up one of Tejada or Herrera. That assumes Herrera is fine after fouling a ball off his shin on Saturday. If he is not good to go, that further limits the Mets already limited options.

Wilson Ramos Defense Giveth, His Bat Finally Taketh

Wilson Ramos was terrible tonight. He wasn’t getting pitches for Marcus Stroman. Stroman was also charged a wild pitch on what should’ve been ruled a passed ball. Ramos allowed two stolen bases.

Again, like he’s been all of this season, he was flat out terrible behind the plate.

But at the plate, he was vintage Ramos. He had an RBI single in the first to give the Mets a 1-0 lead. Overall, he was 3-for-4 including a huge go-ahead two run homer in the eighth:

As shocking as that was, the homer was set up by a Robinson Cano double. This probably marks the first time this year Ramos and Cano have combined for back-to-back big hits.

That gave the Mets a 4-3 lead with the other non-Ramos run coming off a Jeff McNeil pinch hit homer in the seventh. McNeil sat after struggling the past few days with a sore wrist. Taking his spot stop the lineup was Amed Rosario, who continued to hit well with a 3-for-4 night with a walk and a stolen base.

Up until the homers, the Mets trailed 3-1 in Stroman’s debut.

As noted, Ramos was not helping him at all. The combination of Ramos and a stingy home plate umpire led to a 35 pitch first inning. In that inning, he allowed a run to score before he got an out, and he walked in a run. Things would’ve been worse if Stroman wasn’t a Gold Glover on the mound:

Stroman did well to settle in until the fifth. In that inning, he’d leave with one out and runners on the corners. With his being on a pitch limit due to a prolonged time between starts resulting from the trade, he was done, and Luis Avila came in. He’d walk a batter and hit another to force home a run.

Surprisingly, Jacob Rhame kept the Mets in the game pitching 1.1 scoreless. There was also scoreless frames from Justin Wilson and Seth Lugo. It was setting up for an interesting ninth with a struggling Edwin Diaz to get the save in a one run game.

That trepidation fell by the wayside with Ramos hitting a bases clearing double in the eighth giving the Mets a 7-3 lead. It was Ramos’ first six RBI game of his career, and it was his first 3 RBI game since May 25.

As it turns out, the Mets needed the insurance with Diaz allowing a two run homer to Starling Marte in the ninth. Diaz settled back in and got the final outs to preserve the 7-5 win.

The Mets are back to two under .500 as a result of a huge come from behind victory. They need to keep this up as they’re nearing a return to Citi for a huge homestand.

Game Notes: Dilson Herrera left the game early in Syracuse. Mets claimed Donnie Hart off waivers prior to the game.

20/20 Hindsight: Mets Wash Away White Sox

Well, now the Mets are just two games under .500, and they are four games back of the second Wild Card. They are now heading to Pittsburgh, a team they just swept, to try to get over .500 and make further headway in the Wild Card race:

1. You know things are going well when Robinson Cano powers the offense, Amed Rosario is playing Gold Glove level defense, Wilson Ramos wasn’t the worst defensive catcher, and Jeurys Familia was pitching a clean inning.

2. If you didn’t believe in the Mets chances, seeing Pete Alonso‘s LFGM Tweet, you see the players believe. If the players believe, there is a real chance this could happen.

3. This is not paid advertising, but with Alonso’s statement, you should consider buying one of the new LFGM t-shirts from Athlete Logos. On a personal note, I have used Athlete Logos for personal projects, and he has done a great job. Seriously, why have you not bought a shirt yet?

4. Now that things are going well again, we hear from Brodie Van Wagenen. This should surprise no one as he was taking victory laps after his big moves in the offseason, and he was nowhere to be seen when the Mets were struggling, and everyone was demanding answers. What makes his suddenly speaking again all the worse was his Tweet was a clear rip-off of Alonso’s. At this point, just let the players be front and center and go hiding like you did previously.

5. As noted yesterday, Jacob deGrom is pitching like he did last year, and suddenly, he is right near the top of the Cy Young race. With Max Scherzer hurt, deGrom can very well pass him over the next month.

6. Noah Syndergaard has four straight outings of seven plus innings with eight plus strikeouts. Just like deGrom is in his Cy Young form, Syndergaard is in his 2016 form.

7. Remember Syndergaard once said the Mets are a second half team. He’s backing up that statement by pitching like the best pitcher in baseball lately. Seeing him pitch like this you have to be happy the Mets did not trade him. Seeing him pitch, you really have to wonder why the Mets aren’t considering giving him a contract extension, especially with him wanting to be here.

8. Speaking of being happy a player who wants to be here wasn’t traded, Zack Wheeler was great yesterday. There are parameters for a contract extension for him with Nathan Eovaldi being a really good comparison. With the threat of the qualifying offer, you would think the Mets have leverage to get something done here.

9. With the Mets not selling, there was a legitimate case to be made the Mets should have added a reliever. While the Mets didn’t directly do that, by replacing Jason Vargas with Marcus Stroman in the rotation, the Mets did just that. With the pitching staff going 6-7 innings or more every night there is less of a need for your bullpen every night.

10. The pitching staff really has been great lately with them having the best ERA in the National League since July, and the best pitching staff in all of baseball since the All-Star Break. This is the result of the starters going deeper into games. This is a replication of the plan in 2015 which served the team quite well.

11. It also works well when Seth Lugo pitches like the best reliever in the game. That should surprise no one because he is that. There is no reliever more versatile and smart. Recently, he has pitched multiple innings, earned a save, and came in to face one batter to get the Mets out of a bases loaded jam.

12. On the pitching front, Mike Petriello of MLB.com points out just how much Ramos’ inability to frame the low pitches has hurt a Mets team heavily reliant on sliders and sinkers. That may be a reason why Syndergaard has thrived with Tomas Nido behind the plate. On that front, the Mets may want to consider pairing Stroman with Nido too.

13. Howie Rose made an interesting comparison between Edwin Diaz and Tug McGraw yesterday noting like Diaz, McGraw really struggled up until August of that 1973 season. On August 1, McGraw had a 5.77 ERA. From August 1 until the end of the season, he had a 1.65 ERA for a Mets team which made a miracle run.

14. For Diaz, it is time he turns things around. He has a 5.14 ERA, and he has allowed a run in three straight games with a homer in two of his last three games. On the home run front, he has allowed more homers than he did last year, and he is one off of a career worst.

15. Michael Conforto has been great. He had key walks leading to runs in tight games, and when he came up with the Mets needing insurance runs he delivered including his massive 11th inning homer. Yesterday, he had his hitting streak snapped, but he still contributed with a great sliding catch.

16. Jeff McNeil had a great catch of his own flying into the netting in the right field corner to make a catch. Even with his defense, he needs a day to rest what his an ailing wrist. Lately, he has been struggling at the plate. Over his last seven games, he is hitting .174/.240/.435.

17. The Mets are still winning with McNeil and Alonso struggling because everyone around them has picked it up. That includes Rosario who is really breaking out in every aspect of his game. That also includes Conforto who seems to have shaken off the effects of his concussion. There is also Todd Frazier, who has been much better of late.

18. One interesting development of late is the Mets going to Aaron Altherr over Juan Lagares for a late inning defensive replacement. Prior to this year, it would have seemed to be insane, but this year, it looks like the right move.

19. I’m still laughing over this deGrom quote I saw on MMO: “I would’ve hated to see anybody go. We’re staying together and that says they believe in us and hopefully we can keep the ball rolling.” Apparently, deGrom didn’t think Vargas was anybody.

20. The last time the Mets tried to make a run like this was 2016 with Asdrubal Cabrera being the bat who helped push them into the top Wild Card spot. With Cabrera now available, the Mets should really consider bringing him back to be a big bat off the bench.

Things Getting Wild For Mets

Things are going real well for the Mets right now. Actually, that’s an understatement. Take today’s game for example.

Suddenly, Amed Rosario is not just playing well at shortstop. Now, he’s starting to look like a Gold Glover:

He wasn’t the only one out there with web gems. In fact, despite the Mets being a terrible defensive team most of the year, they’d get great defensive plays from Michael Conforto and Jeff McNeil:

If that wasn’t shocking enough, Robinson Cano powered the Mets offense. After a 2-for-30 stretch, he homered in the second, and he’d hit an RBI double in the sixth.

In that sixth inning, Wilson Ramos would hit an RBI single, and in a twist of irony, Welington Castillo‘s inability to field a throw home from Leury Garcia let the originally non-hustling Cano score as well on the play.

When Ramos isn’t the catcher botching plays at the plate, things are really going the Mets way.

Another thing going the Mets way was Zack Wheeler. The Mets looked brilliant not trading him when he came out looking like he had no-hit stuff. It wouldn’t be until two outs in the fifth until the White Sox got a hit.

In total, Wheeler only allowed four hits, and no White Sox player would advance past first with him on the mound. His final line would be 7.0 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 7 K. Despite his only throwing 88 pitches, Wheeler was lifted because he just came off the IL with the tired arm. If not, he might’ve gone the distance.

Wheeler leaving after seven provided what might’ve been the biggest shock of all. Jeurys Familia would pitch a clean ninth to preserve a 4-0 win.

As you can see in this game, things are looking really good with the Mets right now. They’ve won seven straight, and they’re back to just two games under .500. They’re also just 4.0 games back in the Wild Card race.

Game Notes: Once again, it was Aaron Altherr and not Juan Lagares who came in for late inning defense.