Robinson Cano

20/20 Hindsight: Mets Beat Phillies

After a tough road trip, the Mets returned home, and they looked like a much better team. They would win what became a contentious series, but they couldn’t complete the sweep:

  1. It’s beyond absurd the Mets believe Gio Gonzalez was just a marginal upgrade over Jason Vargas. It’s more absurd they not only wouldn’t guarantee a spot in the rotation to a pitcher they thought was better, but they also let $2 million stand in the way.
  2. Once again, the Mets were only “all-in” when it came to Pete Alonso on the Opening Day roster.
  3. So far, Alonso has gone 3-for-17!against the Phillies with two doubles. Let’s hope this is a strange blip instead of the Phillies figuring something out other teams can catch up on.
  4. Zack Wheeler was great becoming one of a few pitchers to throw 100 MPH and have an exit velocity of 100+ MPH in a game.
  5. Oh, and he struck out 11 while walking none. This was case in point why we should not overreact to slow starts.
  6. On the topic of not overreacting to slow starts, Robinson Cano is raking going 8-for-16 with two doubles and a homer in his last four games.
  7. While Mickey Callaway and his intellect and acumen are very unfairly maligned he used Cano perfectly as a decoy to get the matchup he wanted in Tuesday’s game.
  1. Todd Frazier and Luis Guillorme gave the Mets significantly better defense, and they provided some key hits.
  2. Two days off didn’t help Amed Rosario. You have to wonder how much longer the Mets can deal with him not hitting or fielding, especially with Guillorme looking good in this series.
  3. It was always interesting how there were two different sets of rules as to handle Rosario’s and Dominic Smith‘s struggles. Those separate rules may have led to neither being the player they thought they could be for the Mets.
  4. Seeing Rosario’s struggles and the defense in general, you see how much the Mets miss Tim Teufel. You should also question how much of a positive impact Gary Disarcina has had.
  5. The Mets replay process needs to be better. Dom held the bag and saved Rosario from an error . . . if the play was called properly and/or the Mets challenged the play.
  6. There was zero reason to demote Paul Sewald, who was pitching well, for Jacob Rhame, who was not pitching well in Syracuse.
  7. That move may have led to what has becoming a fractured Phillies team, and it galvanized them when Rhame, intentionally or not, threw two high and in to Rhys Hoskins.
  8. Hoskins got the perfect revenge hitting a homer off Rhame, and then he had a home run trot which made Darryl Strawberry‘s look like he was faster than Usain Bolt.
  9. Bryce Harper has very good stats for the Phillies so far, but he’s going to have to be better than what he was in this series if the Phillies are going to have a chance.
  10. Jeff McNeil is in a slump. His GIDP stopped whatever chance the Mets had at a comeback. He’s also three for his last 17
  11. Speaking of McNeil, the Mets getting plunked, especially on the hand, is getting ridiculous. The pitchers retaliating should not be an issue, but they can’t do what Rhame did.
  12. After the game Marc Malusis commented the Mets started things. Of course this completely overlooks the Phillies hitting three Mets and Drew Anderson going up and in on Michael Conforto multiple times.
  13. This is Example 1,693,085 why SNY is unwatchable aside from Mets games.

Ironically Vargas Loses In His Best Start

The spotlight was on Jason Vargas. The Mets really didn’t pursue Gio Gonzalez. They believed Gonzalez wasn’t really an upgrade, and they were not giving Gonzalez a spot in the rotation.

So, there was Vargas taking the mound against a Phillies team still angry about Jacob Rhame busting Rhys Hoskins up and in twice last night.

Right away, it appeared as if things were going to be ugly. J.T. Realmuto hit a one out double, and he scored on a Bryce Harper RBI double giving the Phillies a 1-0 lead. After the double, Hoskins walked, but the rally sputtered.

That’s the way it would go for the Phillies against Vargas.

In the second, after Sean Rodriguez reached on an Amed Rosario error (coupled with a puzzling no challenge from the Mets after replays showed Dominic Smith held the bag), the Phillies rally sputtered with them bunting twice in a row. The first was understandable with Vince Velasquez laying down a sac bunt, Roman Quinn ran into his own bunted ball.

In the third, after a lead-off walk, Vargas got the next three out. That includes a Harper strikeout. On Harper, after that double, he was really bad tonight striking out three times.

In the fifth, Vargas was lifted after 89 pitches leaving Seth Lugo to get him out of the jam.

Vargas’ final line was 4.2 innings, three hits, run, earned run, two walks, HBP, and four strikeouts. Now, it was a much better start than most accepted, but no, pitching fewer than five innings (again) is unacceptable.

Equally as unacceptable was the Mets offense. That’s usually the case when you’re shut out.

In addition to the poor offense, we unfortunately saw the poor defense return, and it wasn’t all Rosario. That included what would become a Robinson Cano harmless error.

In the eighth, the defense abandoned Robert Gsellman. Hoskins hit a gapper, which he turned into a triple partially because Brandon Nimmo dove and missed, and Michael Conforto had difficulty picking up the ball. That led to an RBI single expanding the Phillies lead to 2-0.

The Phillies continued to rally. Now, with the score 3-0 and runners at the corners Roman Quinn laid down a bunt. Dominic Smith pounced with the intent of getting the out at home. However, he had no shot at the speedy Cesar Hernandez, and his indecision led to Quinn reaching safety.

To add insult to injury, Rhame would pitch the ninth, and Hoskins would get his revenge:

After Rhame allowed three in the ninth, the Phillies won 6-0. This means the Mets didn’t get the statement making sweep they wanted. Of course, that’s what happens when you have a starter who can’t go five.

Game Notes: With a 1-for-4 and a rally killing double play, Jeff McNeil is slumping. He’s now just four for his last 21

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.

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.

20/20 Hindsight: Mets Losing Division Games

The Mets followed splitting with the Braves by losing two of three to the Phillies. As a result, the Mets have lost four of their last five – all of them in the division. Here are some observations from the disappointing series.

  1. Noah Syndergaard‘s peripherals are fine, and in the long run, he’s going to have Thor like numbers.
  1. What killed Thor and continues to kill the Mets pitching is a National League worst defense.
  2. J.D. Davis has been the worst infielder in all of baseball, and with his sprint speeds, he would be terrible in LF. In the long run, he really serves no purpose in this Mets team.
  3. It’s bizarre the Mets would let Davis Be this bad at third, continue to trot him out there, and not even allow a more physically fit and athletic Dominic Smith an opportunity to prove himself in left field.
  4. Amed Rosario continues to hurt this team with bad defense (worst SS in the NL) and his poor plate discipline. Fortunately for him and unfortunately for the Mets, Andres Gimenez has gotten off to a brutally slow start in Binghamton.
  5. So far Wilson Ramos is killing the Mets. By DRS, he’s the worst catcher in the NL, and he’s become a glorified singles hitter with a 58.3% ground ball rate.
  6. Not one Mets everyday infielder has a positive DRS.
  7. Keon Broxton needs to be better. He has a 47 wRC+, and we saw him overpowered by a 94 MPH fastball over the heart of the plate to end the game. He’s also a -1 DRS in the outfield.
  8. Juan Lagares has been better every which way than Broxton, and as a result, he needs to get the bulk of playing time in center.
  9. With neither Broxton nor Lagares hitting, the Mets need to keep Jeff McNeil in left field, especially since that’s his ultimate destination when Todd Frazier and/or Jed Lowrie return.
  10. Mets desperately need Frazier’s glove. Not only will it give the Mets at least one plus defender on the field, but it will also allow Rosario to not have to cover nearly as much ground.
  11. With Frazier finally hitting the ball yesterday, he should be called up and immediately inserted into the starting lineup.
  12. Jeff McNeil is turning into a modern day Ichiro Suzuki. This is not hyperbole. When you break down the numbers, he should be regressing. Instead, he continuously adapts his approach and has incredible contact skills.
  1. You knew sooner or later Steven Matz was going to lay an egg, and boy did he. One thing to note here is he was this bad his first start of the 2016 season. He responded to that by putting up nine straight starts allowing two earned or less.
  1. So much for Zack Wheeler‘s second half being a fluke.
  1. To acquire Edwin Diaz, the Mets gave up two top 100 prospects (Jarred Kelenic and Justin Dunn), and they took on $100 million of Robinson Cano‘s onerous contract. So naturally, when the game is on the line, they won’t use him.
  2. With the Mets limiting to Diaz to just the ninth, we once again learn the Mets statements about every game mattering only applied to Pete Alonso.
  1. Good for Brodie Van Wagenen for taking the bullet on Diaz’s usage. He made the call, and he stood there like a man to defend himself. Also, good job by Mickey Callaway not throwing everyone under the bus and whining about the restrictions.
  1. Sometimes, you should just appreciate a player for what they do well. Paul Sewald went out there twice and ate up innings to help save that bullpen. Considering how well he handles that role, he has a spot in this bullpen.
  2. On that note, great job by Drew Gagnon pitching 5.1 innings on three days rest. Should Jason Vargas fail again on Friday, Gagnon has earned the first shot to replace him in the rotation.

Arrieta Was Just Better Than Wheeler

The Mets-Phillies season series began with Noah Syndergaard and Aaron Nola, which is about as good as a pitching match-up as you could possibly get. When you have a match-up like that, you are naturally going to overlook the match-up of Zack Wheeler and Jake Arrieta. While overlooked, this pitching match-up did not disappoint like Syndergaard and Nola.

For his part, Wheeler was good, but not quite great. With the umpire squeezing him a bit, he got into trouble in the second loading the bases with one out. He did well to limit the damage to just a sacrifice fly by Maikel Franco. It should be noted on the sacrifice fly, Keon Broxton made just a horrible throw to the plate almost lobbing it on the run instead of doing a full crow hop. This is noteworthy because with his momentum heading towards the plate, he had a real shot at J.T. Realmuto.

In fifth and sixth, it wasn’t a rally, but rather the long ball. In those innings, Wheeler allowed solo shots to Scott Kingery, who just killed the Mets in this series, and Cesar Hernandez.

Overall, with the Mets bullpen a bit depleted, partially due to Steven Matz giving the team no outs yesterday, Wheeler pushed himself, and he pitched seven innings allowing just the three runs while walking three and striking out five. This was the type of effort the Mets needed to win the marathon, but it was not good enough to win the game.

The reason is Arrieta was great. He overpowered the Mets lineup and induced a number of weak grounders. Really, Arrieta was not in any trouble until the seventh, and the trouble started with a Michael Conforto lead-off homer.

Conforto’s homer woke up the Mets offense a bit. J.D. Davis hit a single, but the effort was for naught as Travis d’Arnaud hit into an inning ending double play. Arrieta would benefit from the double play again in the eighth as a Jeff McNeil double play erased Dominic Smith from the basepaths.

In the ninth, the Phillies would not let Arrieta try to get out of more trouble. Part of the reason for that is Pete Alonso hit a single off of him. As the ninth unfolded, you started to believe the Phillies made a mistake.

The left-handed Adam Morgan got Conforto to fly out (which was deep enough to advance Alonso), but he then plunked Robinson Cano. Hector Neris come on, and he struck out Davis before allowing Amed Rosario to hit an infield RBI single. Neris then hit Wilson Ramos, who was pinch hitting for d’Arnaud.

In an impressive at-bat, Broxton laid off some tough pitches to work the count full, but in the end he would strike out as he couldn’t hit a 94 MPH fastball over the middle of the plate. With that, the Mets lost the series against the Phillies, and they have now lost four of their last five games, all of them divisional road games. As if things weren’t tough enough, they now travel to St. Louis to have Jason Vargas start in place of a sick Jacob deGrom.

This is how 10-8 looks worse than it actually is.

Game Notes: McNeil was 2-for-4, and his multi-hit game streak now stands at six.

Phillies 14 – Mets Who Cares

In Major League history, there have been five starters who have faced eight batters and retired none. Three of those pitchers were Mets first round picks. Paul Wilson, Bobby Jones, and now Steven Matz.

For Matz, it was a combination of things including poor defense. Specifically, Amed Rosario had two first inning errors.

The errors hurt, but it didn’t cause Matz to walk three batters. After a Maikel Franco homer, Matz was pulled for Drew Gagnon.

The poor defense continued after Matz departed the game. Jeff McNeil completely botched a ball which was ruled a double for Andrew McCutchen.

Things were so poor defensively in the eighth inning even Keon Broxton completely lost one in the lights. That was also ruled a double. This time for Andrew Knapp.

All in all, the Mets were beaten badly. In the 14-3 win, the Phillies had two separate batters with five RBI – J.T. Realmuto and Scott Kingery.

As bad as that was, a resurgent Brandon Nimmo left the game with what was characterized as a neck injury. We will see.

While this was mostly a lost game, the Mets had some highlights. Despite being on three days rest, Gagnon pitched 5.1 innings to help save the bullpen. He was better than what his final line suggested, especially when you consider three of the earned runs against him came in his fifth inning of work when he was likely completely gassed.

Paul Sewald also did his part pitching 2.2 scoreless. Their combined work really helped save the Mets pen, and unfortunately, their reward will likely to be sent down to permit the Mets to get two new fresh arms up into the pen.

Jeff McNeil continued to hit, Robinson Cano started to hit, and Wilson Ramos hit his first homer as a Met. Other than that, this game was terrible.

Game Notes: All but one Mets game this year has gone beyond three hours.

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.

20/20 Hindsight: Mets Waste Another Opportunity

The Mets went to Atlanta in first place, and they leave a half-game back. At one point, it didn’t seem like it was going to be the case, but that is how it proved to shake out. There were a number of reasons why:

  1. The Mets had the Braves on their heels, and they were in a position for a statement making four game sweep. Instead, they walk away with a split. The biggest reason why is they started Jason Vargas.
  2. The Mets need to give Corey Oswalt an opportunity to succeed. They had him rush to be ready to relieve on three days rests, and they instead had him on extended rest. They then decide to have him rush his warm-ups to enter a game with runners on base. How did they think his outing on Saturday was going to go.
  3. The Mets have to make a decision once and for all with the fifth starter spot. Enough of these half measures. It’s either Vargas or an open try out. You can’t keep pushing Vargas back and putting more pressure on the rest of the rotation. It’s still April, and the Mets are running their rotation like it’s late September and there’s a postseason spot on the line.
  4. Dave Eiland said it well when he said no one can succeed with how the Mets are handling Vargas. If the team doesn’t trust him, name Oswalt or Chris Flexen the fifth starter or sign Dallas Keuchel. If they do trust him, keep him in the rotation on regular rest. Overall, don’t make things worse than they already are.
  5. If the Padres get Keuchel on top of signing Manny Machado and having Fernando Tatis Jr. being the season in the majors, the Padres will be everything Brodie Van Wagenen has purported the Mets to be.
  6. The Mets sold us they needed Pete Alonso on the Opening Day roster to win the division. In that time, they won eight games. With their starting Vargas, they gave one of those wins back, and Vargas (or the fifth starters spot) has at least 28 starts to go.
  7. Just as we all expected, Steven Matz has been the best pitcher in the Mets rotation. If he continues to be so, he’s going to help overcome a lot of the problems created by the fifth starter spot.
  8. Zack Wheeler and Brandon Nimmo showed in Atlanta we should not overreact to slow starts from people who have historically performed. That is something to remember as Robinson Cano is hitting .183 with a -0.3 WAR.
  9. Michael Conforto is playing like an MVP candidate. Mets should be looking to lock him up, and don’t play the Scott Boras card. The Nationals locked up Stephen Strasburg. It may be an uphill climb, but it is possible if you have the will.
  10. With Jacob deGrom struggling with Wilson Ramos behind the plate, we can probably put to rest the insane notion deGrom’s last start was attributable to Travis d’Arnaud.
  11. The biggest warning sign with deGrom is batters hitting the long ball against him again. It may be just a slight adjustment, but he needs to find a way to keep the ball in the ballpark again. On the other hand, deGrom is striking out batters more than he ever has (14.7 K/9).
  12. Ramos really needs to step up his game. He’s been quite poor behind the plate with very poor pitch framing and balls getting by him. While he’s hitting, he’s bound to regress as he’s hitting for no power, and he’s hitting the ball on the ground.
  13. While J.D. Davis hit that homer, his defense is hurting the team. Yesterday, his inability to make a play on an Ender Inciarte infield single helped drive up deGrom’s pitch count, and it led to deGrom not being able to have the pitcher lead off the top of the third. These little things always look large.
  14. Mets defense is the worst in the National League, and Davis leads the way with a -5 DRS. This is why when Todd Frazier is ready, the team should give consideration to keeping Luis Guillorme up. Another reason why is Amed Rosario (-3 DRS) has not played a particularly good shortstop.
  15. If Frazier was smart, he would not come up one second before he was ready. He can ill afford another injury plagued year, and with the team’s depth, if he doesn’t get off to a hot start, he may never get off the bench.
  16. It’s odd how quiet things are surrounding Jed Lowrie.
  17. Sometimes we over focus on what guys are instead of understanding their roles. Paul Sewald is well suited for mop up duty and for eating up innings. The 1.1 innings he gave yesterday helped save the pen a bit.
  18. The Mets offense is humming, but there are some warning signs. Alonso is striking out 30.6% of the time. Jeff McNeil has a .439 BABIP. Ramos has a 64.1% ground ball rate. Who knows what to make of Rosario yet?
  19. The Mets have missed an opportunity in the past two division series losing a series to the Nationals at home and missing a chance to win or sweep a four game set against the Braves.
  20. With Tiger Woods winning The Masters, the Game of Thrones premiere, and the extensive Hank Aaron interview during the game, the Mets were a complete afterthought yesterday, which is a shame because that was a first place Mets team playing a bitter rival.