Seth Lugo

Mets Bullpen Somehow Holds On To Beat Twins

With Zack Wheeler landing on the IL, the Mets needed to start Steven Matz a day sooner than the Mets had wanted. The bad news was the Twins were hitting rockets off of him all night. The good news is he would get some help by the outfield defense:

That catch would not be Michael Conforto‘s lone contribution to the game. He was 4-for-4 at the plate with a key RBI.

The Mets initially took a 2-0 lead against Michael Pineda and the Twins due to some terrible defense. Jeff McNeil and Conforto led off the game with back-to-back singles. They then moved up a base on a Jason Castro passed ball.

A Robinson Cano sacrifice fly made it 1-0. A Pineda wild pitch advanced Conforto to third allowing him to score when Jonathan Schoop made a throwing error on a Wilson Ramos ground ball. After the inning, you wondered how the Mets only had two runs after that comedy of errors.

You were also wondering when the Twins were going to get to Matz who was not sharp.

The first run would come off a Schoop third inning lead off homer. The tying run came in the fourth.

After an Eddie Rosario leadoff single, C.J. Cron hit an opposite field double. Even with the Mets leaving second vacant and no one getting a ball thrown to second immediately, Rosario stayed put. He’d score on a Max Kepler RBI groundout.

To his credit, Matz bore down. He fooled Miguel Sano with a changeup to get a strikeout. He’d intentionally walk Schoop to pitch to Castro. On a 1-2 pitch, Schoop broke for second. As noted by Ron Darling, the Mets rarely throw through in those spots. They did tonight, and they got Schoop before Cron could even think about heading home.

Matz, who was limited to 80 pitches due to his temporary move to the bullpen, was done after four. In some ways, he was lucky to leave after allowing just two earned on somehow just five hits. Then again, he did bear down when needed. It nothing else, it was a step forward.

The Mets took the lead in the fifth on a rally started on a one out Amed Rosario double. He’d score on a Conforto two out RBI single.

The Mets would have a chance to build on this lead in the eighth, but they would absolutely squander it. After a Conforto one out single, Pete Alonso walked. This time, it was a Mitch Garver passed ball moving the runners up a base.

Conforto broke on the Cano grounder, and he was dead to rights. He had a half hearted attempt to get into a run down, but there was no use. On the play, Alonso had a TOOBLAN needlessly breaking for third and getting thrown out to end the jam. It was a rare double play where Cano hit a grounder, didn’t run it out, and he was the only one safe on the play.

Fortunately, the Mets inability to add insurance runs didn’t hurt them as their bullpen was good enough.

In the fifth, after Robert Gsellman got himself into a jam, Luis Avilan came on to bail him out. After Avilan walked Sano with two outs in the sixth, Jeurys Familia got Schoop to ground out. Justin Wilson and Seth Lugo pitched back-to-back scoreless innings to put the game in Edwin Diaz‘s hands.

It wasn’t easy.

After he made quick work of Sano, he was 0-2 on Schoop. Schoop hurt himself on a swing, and the pick hitter Luis Arraez had a great at-bat to earn a walk. Garver then ripped a single to left to put the tying run on second.

After a Jorge Polanco fly out, Marwin Gonzalez hit a dribbler to third which Todd Frazier had no option to eat. Diaz’s former teammate Nelson Cruz came up with the bases loaded, and he worked the count full. After a foul ball, Frazier was able to make a play on a foul out.

Suddenly, the Mets bullpen is getting big outs, and the Mets are winning three straight on the road. It’s too early to get excited, but it’s not too early to notice.

Game Notes: Jacob Rhame, who has a two game suspension pending appeal was called up to take Wheeler’s spot on the roster.

Biggest Reason Mets Can’t Trade Syndergaard

After discussing it most of the offseason, the Mets are once again in a position where they are talking with teams about Noah Syndergaard. There are smart teams with interesting farm systems interested in the Mets starter. Depending on the packages offered, the Mets could be very tempted to move Syndergaard.

They shouldn’t.

One of the arguments you hear from some circles is you shouldn’t trade him because his value is at a nadir. With Syndergaard having a career worst ERA, ERA+, FIP, HR/9, BB/9, K/9, and K/BB, this is absolutely true. Seeing studies and Syndergaard’s comments, it is possible these results are reflective of the new ball. The Mets having a National League worst defense doesn’t help either.

Reasonably speaking, you could anticipate Syndergaard to rebound and led the Mets back to contention in 2020. If you trade him, it’s difficult to imagine the Mets contending anytime soon.

Looking at 2020 first, it’s hard to imagine the Mets having that one year turnaround. With Syndergaard traded and Zack Wheeler gone either via trade or free agency, the Mets have two spots to fill in the rotation. That becomes three when Jason Vargas‘ option is declined. Even assuming Anthony Kay is ready to begin the year in the rotation, the Mets still have two spots to fill in the rotation.

Given the Mets budget and historical unwillingness to spend big on starting pitchers on the free agent market, it is difficult to believe the team could build a starting rotation good enough to win in 2020. Theoretically, the Mets could fill in the rotation by making Robert Gsellman and Seth Lugo starters again. However, this makes an already terrible bullpen worse, and you will likely be dealing with innings limits.

Long story short, if the Mets trade Syndergaard they will not be able to build the type of pitching staff which would let them compete in 2020. This means the Mets will have to look towards 2021. Notably, Michael Conforto and Steven Matz will be free agents after the completion of that season.

Given the uncertainty of the readiness of David Peterson and/or Franklyn Kilome to join the rotation by then, there is doubt whether the Mets pitching staff would be ready to compete by then. While this is happening, the Mets will be in year three of Robinson Cano‘s contract. That’s a consideration which needs to be accounted for when analyzing the Mets ability to compete in 2020 or 2021.

Realistically speaking, depending on the return the Mets receive for Syndergaard, the team will not be in a position to really compete again until 2022 at the earliest. With that being the scenario, the Mets should also be looking to trade Conforto for a big return as well because the team is not going to win before he becomes a free agent.

By that 2022 season, you will have wasted the first three years of Pete Alonso‘s and Jeff McNeil‘s careers, and they will be arbitration eligible. It will be the same situation for other cost controlled assets like Lugo and Edwin Diaz. This coupled with Cano’s big contract will once again infringe on the Mets payroll flexibility.

Therefore, the Mets ability to win in 2022 will hinge on what the Mets bring aboard in moving Syndergaard and maybe Conforto. It will depend on how quickly players like Mark Vientos, Shervyen Newton, Ronny MauricioFrancisco Alvarez and Brett Baty can develop to help the team. While you can be high on them now, it is a completely different situation to count on them to develop in time to make you a winner.

That is the situation you are in if you trade Syndergaard now. You are beginning the dismantling the core to try to compete three years from now. If the prospects don’t develop the way you intended, or players get hurt, everything falls apart. As an organization, you have to ask yourself if that is really worth it when the team is really just a center fielder and 1-2 bullpen arms away from contending next year.

When you look at it through the prism of when the Mets could actually be in a window to contend again, the team cannot trade Syndergaard now. That is, unless, the team either starts spending now, or Brodie Van Wagenen proves himself to be much more adept at trades than he did last offseason. We shouldn’t be hopeful on either development happening.

Mets Fans Have Reason Other Than Van Wagenen To Cheer

True to his word, Brodie Van Wagenen say with The 7 Line for today’s game against the Yankees. It was a bold move because this is a Mets team nine games under .500 with every move he made this offseason blowing up.

In fact, all the players Van Wagenen acquired this offseason have accumulated a -1.7 WAR. Meanwhile, by and large, the prospects they traded are performing well.

Given all of that, you’d think Van Wagenen could be booed. At a minimum, you’d think they wouldn’t celebrate him. You’d be wrong. Very wrong.

They cheered a man who acquired J.D. Davis. In the second, Davis threw to the wrong base on a Gleyber Torres RBI single allowing Edwin Encarnacion to go from first to third unchallenged.

Later that inning, opposing pitcher James Paxton came up with runners at the corners with one out, and he laid down the safety squeeze. It was an excellent bunt which hugged the third base line.

Wilson Ramos, a catcher Mets pitchers are increasingly demanding not to have behind the plate, and who was signed because Van Wagenen didn’t go the extra mile to get Yasmani Grandal, picked up the ball. He would spin and throw without looking Encarnacion back.

With Zack Wheeler slipping on the play, and Ramos failing to execute fundamentals, Encarnacion scored without a challenge.

It’s a shame for Wheeler because he was very good tonight. Those three singles were three of five hits he allowed all night. In total, he’d last 6.1 innings allowing just those two earned while walking one and striking out eight.

Despite pitching well, he wouldn’t get the win. It was no matter to Van Wagenen who loved every minute of the Mets losing 2-0.

In the second, Torres flat out robbed Michael Conforto of an RBI base hit instead starting an inning ending double play. Conforto wouldn’t be robbed when he ended a rally with another 4-6-3 double play. The latter ended a sixth inning rally.

For his part, Wheeler popped up two bunts hurting the Mets chances. Between that, the defense, and getting squeezed by the home plate umpire, it was not Wheeler’s night.

Still, he wouldn’t take the loss.

In the eighth, Pete Alonso hustled hard out of the box, and he was able to take advantage of a D.J. LeMahieu throwing error. Then, Davis was able to take advantage of Aaron Hicks playing well out of position in right center. Hicks got a great jump, but his dive wouldn’t be enough. Davis doubled scoring Alonso to tie the game.

After Robinson Cano was intentionally walked (your guess is as good as mine), Ramos singled to load the bases. The Yankees pulled Adam Ottavino to bring in Zack Britton to pitch to Conforto. There would be no inning ending double play this time as Conforto hit a two run double over Brett Gardner‘s head to give the Mets a 4-2 lead.

This put Seth Lugo in line for the win with Edwin Diaz coming in for the ninth for the save.

Things didn’t start well when Diaz was slow covering first and couldn’t catch an Alonso throw on what was a Didi Gregorius leadoff single. Fortunately, Diaz settled down to get the next three out to preserve the win.

Gardner foul tipped a ball after a long at-bat. It popped out of Ramos’ glove, and he caught it with his hand. It was the type of ending this bullpen deserves.

The Mets pulled out an unlikely win with their bullpen standing strong. They now have as many saves as blown saves on the season. They snapped the Yankees streak of 31 consecutive games with a homer. For one night at least, everything went according to plan.

Well, partially according to plan anyway. In the end, a win is a win, and you take them, especially with the season the Mets are having.

Game Notes: Steven Matz will be moved to the bullpen until the All Star Break. He will join Justin Wilson, Jeurys Familia, and Luis Avilan were all activated from the IL.

20/20 Hindsight: Mets Ruin Everything

No one expected the Mets to sweep the Braves and perhaps get their fans excited again. Honestly, a series win seemed out of the question. The only thing up for debate was how well the Mets would have the 1969 World Series. As Del Preston would say, “That’s a whole other story all together.”

1. If you are going to hold a ceremony and an in memorium video, you actually need to make sure the players in the video are actually dead. Jim Gosger and Jesse Hudson are very much alive. Also, when you apologize for saying they were dead, you need to spell their names correctly. The fact the Mets screwed both of these things up speaks to their level of organizational incompetence.

2. Other than that inexcusably botched situation, the ceremony was great, and that partially because of Howie Rose. It was great seeing Bud Harrelson, and it was amazing to hear after all these years someone like Jerry Koosman can get recognized for what he did for this franchise. Ed Kranepool‘s speech was perfect.

3. There was a bit of melancholy with the event as this is likely the last time there will be such an event, and we are already at a point where Tom Seaver is unable to attend events. The same happening to his 1986 team is not that far off either.

4. An incredible fact is Koosman was on the mound when the last out of the 1969 World Series was recorded. He was traded for Jesse Orosco, who was on the mound when the last out of the 1986 World Series was recorded.

5. Pete Alonso, Jacob deGrom, and Jeff McNeil were all very deserving All-Stars. It is amazing to see the Mets have their most All-Stars in three years, and it is all the more amazing to see this is the first time the Mets have had multiple position players since 2010.

6. Alonso is the fourth Mets rookie to be an All Star, and he is the first Mets position player. There may not be many things to get excited about for the rest of the season but seeing Alonso in the Home Run Derby is going to be one of them.

7. Reports were McNeil was sitting in his locker well after the game distraught after the loss on Saturday. He responded by not just going 3-for-5, but he would also deliver the go-ahead hit in the eighth. That’s a special player and a winning one at that.

8. This is a reminder Brodie Van Wagenen was gift wrapped a core of McNeil, Michael Conforto, Brandon Nimmo, Amed Rosario, deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Zack Wheeler, Steven Matz, Seth Lugo, and Robert Gsellman. The farm system had Alonso, Justin Dunn, Anthony Kay, David Peterson, Jarred Kelenic, and other high end prospects. To be nine games under .500 and closer to the last place Marlins than a postseason spot is gross incompetence.

9. Fans criticizing that core deserve this season. By and large, they have not been and really are not the problem. Sure, we can pinpoint things here and there like Rosario’s defense or Gsellman’s inconsistencies in the bullpen, but overall, you would have to be completely incompetent to screw this up, and that is before you consider Todd Frazier‘s season and Dominic Smith‘s resurgence.

10. This is an ill timed three game blip for Lugo, who has been otherwise excellent as a reliever of the Mets. This team really needs to get him a break and stop pushing him for multiple innings. Not every situation calls for it.

11. Matz also has to be better. He has completely fallen apart of late, and it is costing the team games. You can’t have a bad bullpen with both Matz and Jason Vargas not giving you length. It just doesn’t work.

12. Chris Mazza was a great story. He is a 29 year old rookie who was rewarded for his perseverance. It is a shame another bullpen meltdown cost him his first win. That said, win or no win, this will go down as one of the better moments in the majors this season.

13. With the way the bullpen continues to meltdown, it’s almost as if this was a talent issue and it had nothing at all to do with Dave Eiland or Chuck Hernandez.

14. Frazier continues to show he’s a good player with real value to this team. The Mets were right to stick by him, and he is at a minimum going to fetch something for the Mets at the trade deadline.

15. Speaking of the trade deadline, there is still too much talent here to tear things down. The top two starters are still in tact, and there is talent to build a good bullpen in 2020. The team also now has All-Star caliber players in Alonso, McNeil, Conforto, and depending on how he returns from injury, Nimmo. They’re all young and cheap. Add in Robinson Cano‘s contract, and you have little choice but to try again.

16. On that front, the Mets should be trying to get Marcus Stroman. Not only is he a top level pitcher with another year of control, but by obtaining him, the team could then get a little more in return for Wheeler as there will be more competitors for his services.

17. Seeing the Mets players last night, this isn’t a team who has completely given up. They’re still playing like they have a shot. As fans, we know they don’t, but there is just something about watching how hard this team plays that sucks you in every so often. Of course, then the team is forced to go to the bullpen.

18. Seeing how the Mets botched the 1969 ceremony a bit, you do wonder what the Mets should do about next year with the 2000 team. You could make the argument the Mets shouldn’t be celebrating not winning titles, especially when they lose to the Yankees. Still, those players are still beloved by this fan base.

19. With that in mind, perhaps it is really time for the Mets to do an Old Timer’s Day. Seeing the fans come out of the 1969 team and seeing how many beloved former players there are, you could hold this day, and it should be a near guarantee to sell out.

20. For all those killing Dolan and the Knicks over Durant going to the Nets, go ahead, but remember, it’s the Wilpons who remain the worst owners in sports.

Appearance On A Metsian Podcast

On Thursday, I had the honor and the privilege of being a guest on A Metsian Podcast. It was a lot of fun and cathartic, and I would hope you would all take a listen by clicking on the link provided.

I’m not sure if this is a reason to entice you to listen, but during the course of the podcast, I personally mentioned or discussed the following Mets players: Tom SeaverJeff McNeil, Pete Alonso, Michael Conforto, Cliff Floyd, Nolan Ryan, Aaron Sele, Jason Vargas, Edwin Diaz, Robinson Cano, Roberto Alomar, Juan Samuel, Jim Fregosi, Bret Saberhagen, Vince Coleman, Noah Syndergaard, Chris Flexen, Paul Sewald, Sean Gilmartin, Darren Oliver, Pat Mahomes, Eric HanholdSteve VillinesCorey OswaltJacob RhameHansel Robles, Stephen NogosekSeth LugoRobert GsellmanDarryl Strawberry, and others. This list is off the top of my head.

Looking at that list, maybe that’s why they haven’t brought me back after my last appearance three years ago when I went on a Daniel Murphy rant.

 

20/20 Hindsight: Mets Bullpen Saved Someone’s Season

The Mets went to Philadelphia to take on a wounded Phillies team who was aboslutely reeling. You knew after this series one of these two teams would still be standing, and the other will look like their past offseason was all for naught. Well, the Mets bullpen would make sure that would happen:

1. As noted by Michael Mayer, the last time a team blew five games where they led by at least two runs was the 2011 Mets. No, not the last time the Mets did it – the last time anyone did it. The closer that year was Francisco Rodriguez with Pedro Beato, Bobby Parnell, and Jason Isringhausen serving as setup men. Prior to this season, no one was saying “Come get us!”

2. We can talk about different parts of this Mets team getting exposed, but no one was more exposed than Brodie Van Wagenen. He mismanaged the “crisis” with Mickey Callaway and Jason Vargas. The media reported his involvement in game decisions like removing Jacob deGrom from a game. There were reports it was more than that as well.

4. This debacle is reminiscent of the 1993 Mets with Vince Coleman throwing fireworks at fans and Bret Saberhagen dousing reporters in bleach. What’s the common denominator between those two Mets teams? The Wilpons.

5. It was good for the Wilpons to take nine years to finally do the right thing by honoring Tom Seaver. Of course, they waited so long Seaver is now suffering from dementia so he cannot travel for these honors, and he may also not have the mental faculties to enjoy the honors being bestowed upon him.

6. The article by Wallace Matthews of Yahoo is completely ridiculous. Not only does he call Vargas the team’s most reliable starter, but he gets a chance to speak with Jeff Wilpon. With that access, he talks about the incident with Tim Healey instead of literally anything else. Honestly, if Jeff wants to talk about that, don’t bother. It’s a waste of time.

7. Jeff Wilpon’s silence on the state of this team and the continual inept way it is run from a number of facets should be met by fans with silence. We could call to organize a boycott or something, but in reality, the team being this soul crushingly bad is going to keep the fans away anyway. When that happens, Jeff’s silence will be met with silence.

8. Worse than that, Jay Bruce gets a key pinch hit home run and a walk off double, Robinson Cano has multiple 0-for-5’s, and Edwin Diaz blows a save. Right there, his biggest move completely busted. Actually, that’s not fair, it was a bust long before that.

9. So much for scapegoating Dave Eiland and Chuck Hernandez because the Mets bullpen imploded in the four game set. Worse yet, these were games the Mets absolutely should have won:

10. What Dominic Smith has done this season has been nothing short of remarkable. This team needs to be smart and really look at him in left field for the rest of the year to determine if he can be a long term solution there. If nothing else, the Mets need as many cheap bats as they can get.

11. Amed Rosario has had a number of peaks and valleys, and recently, this has been a bit of a peak. Over his last 11 games, he is hitting .342/.366/.500 with four stolen bases in as many attempts. Ultimately, there still remains hope for him.

12. The Mets need to figure out what to do with Cano, and they need to figure it out sooner rather than later. Realistically speaking, he needs to be moved to a less demanding position like third base and get some days off. As each day passes, it’s clear he can’t play second everyday.

13. Moving Cano to third solves the problem there, and it allows the team to move Jeff McNeil back to second base. This should clear that spot for Smith and hopefully Brandon Nimmo if his injury proves to not be career altering.

14. Speaking of Nimmo, only the Mets could take a talented fan favorite player like him, have him get to an All Star level, and then do all they can to completely ruin him. It’s a not so fun pattern with this team.

15. Todd Frazier has done a lot to help this team and build his trade value. The problem is he’s still a rental who is not really getting you something in return. Really, if you want to make a difference at the deadline, you need to trade major pieces, but with the young talent so close, you can’t do that either.

16. Michael Conforto continues to show himself to be both a great and underappreciated player. He should be an All Star this season. If he isn’t, it’s because this team stinks, and the organization can’t be bothered to promote it’s most talented and perhaps best position player.

17. Chris Mazza getting called up at 29 years old is a feel good story. It’s a feel good story just like Tyler Pill and Drew Gagnon was before him. He should enjoy the moment, but we shouldn’t be expecting anything from him.

18. Chris Flexen looks like a real weapon in the bullpen. Brooks Pounders may become that as well. The optimistic Mets fans could look at them joining Seth Lugo and Robert Gsellman in front of Diaz, who really cannot be this bad next year, to become a formidable bullpen. As Mets fans, we should know better than to hope.

19. Callaway does sound ridiculous when he says the Mets are so close, but he’s not wrong. This team continues to fight and play hard. If they had even a capable bullpen, they’d be in a much better position. If fact, this is the only team in baseball with more blown saves (20) than saves (18). If you just take back half of those blown saves, the Mets are 47-35, which puts them a game out of first place.

20. Short of honoring the 1969 Mets this weekend, and maybe sometime late in the season to see if Pete Alonso breaks some home run records, there is zero reason to go see the Mets at Citi Field other than your love of the Mets and baseball. The latter is why the Wilpons have us and will never sell the team.

20/20 Hindsight: Mets Lose Cool And Opportunity

Well, it’s not the Mets unless they do something completely bizarre while also completely blowing an opportunity. Still, this seemed like a new one for the Mets:

1. First things first, we should be talking about Pete Alonso. He already broke Darryl Strawberry‘s rookie home run record, and he now has his sights set on the single season record shared by Carlos Beltran and Todd Hundley. He also has his sights on the single season extra base hit mark (80) shared by Beltran and Howard Johnson.

2. What Alonso is doing this year is truly special, and more than anything he needs to be commended. He also needs to be commended for responding for a subpar May with a big June. More than the homers or anything else, that’s special.

3. Of course, we are not talking about Alonso because Mickey Callaway blew up at a Tim Healey of Newsday, and Jason Vargas challenged him to a fight while needing to be held back by Carlos Gomez and an injured Noah Syndergaard.

4. Callaway completely and utterly overreacted to Healey, and as the manager, he can’t do that. There’s no excuses even if the media is out there gunning for his job. As for Vargas, well, it is good to see this team is willing to fight for him, but needing to be held back is taking it way too far.

5. After the incident, the media members took their rounds discussing the altercation. The most eye opening statements came from Mike Puma of the New York Post who said Callaway is a puppet just following orders, inclusive of the bullpen. He also said he thinks Callaway was trying to get fired.

6. On that front, it’s bizarre how the media believes Callaway is a puppet making no decisions, and yet, they want him fired, and they’re not pursuing the answers to the questions they want answered. As a fan, we don’t know anything because it’s not at all being reported.

7. With respect to the blown game, Seth Lugo was pushed too far. He needed to be pulled after the 20 pitch seventh. He didn’t have it, and you got a clean inning out of him. Going beyond that was too greedy. Normally, this is where you criticize Callaway, but after Puma’s comments, who knows anymore?

8. On the bullpen, Brooks Pounders, Chris Flexen, Wilmer Font, and Stephen Nogosek combined to pitch eight scoreless innings in the series. That is a huge accomplishment, especially with the Cubs having the fourth best offense in the National League.

9. While you may want to attribute some of this to Phil Regan, as well as Edwin Diaz‘s clean inning, it would be surprising if this was all because of his working with the staff over a few days and not just things Dave Eiland had been working on with them.

10. With respect to Eiland and Chuck Hernandez, they join Travis d’Arnaud and Keon Broxton as scapegoats for an ill conceived roster. We will see how much further the scapegoating goes as the season progresses. What makes the scapegoating even worse was Brodie Van Wagenen’s refusal to accept any personal responsibility for the failures of the team. That’s callow especially when you’re firing two people.

11. One of the interesting tidbits which emerged after Eiland’s firing was how the pitching staff was frustrated with Wilson Ramos. The pitch framing stats shows part of the reason. You also see it when he seemingly doesn’t even bother on some passed balls and wild pitches. If he’s going to be this way behind the plate, he needs to hit much more than he is.

12. While respect to Zack Wheeler, this is the time of the year he typically turns things around. July is his second best month of his career, and his second half ERA is more than a full run lower than his first half ERA. With the way things are going, it seems like the has time to really raise his trade value.

13. Going back to Diaz, we already know how he’s used it dictated by the front office. Once again Callaway was left holding the bag while the reporters did not ask the specific question whether he was allowed to use Diaz for more than four outs. If you think Callaway is a puppet, the questions need to be asked accordingly.

14. Too much was made of Sunday’s lineup. Players need days off, and Cole Hamels was going. In addition to that, the Mets had Jacob deGrom. You can fly with the defense first lineup in these situations, especially if the team is just going to blow the lead in his starts anyway.

15. Jeff McNeil continues to show just how valuable he is. He played three positions well, hit a homer, and he deked Anthony Rizzo into a TOOBLAN to get Lugo out of a jam. This guy is a real baseball player who is not getting nearly enough attention.

16. The fact McNeil and Michael Conforto were not in the top 20 in outfield voting was a really bad job by Mets fans. On the topic of Conforto, he is as unappreciated a player as there is in baseball and really among this fanbase.

17. Todd Frazier went from a .164/.179/.291 batting line to a .267/.357/.453 batting line with a 1.3 WAR. That is a remarkable turnaround, and it is one of the few things which has kept this team (barely) afloat.

18. With respect to Frazier his throwing his bat in disgust on a homer shows how much the ball is juiced as well as what happens when the ball is blowing out in Wrigley.

19. It’s funny how completely in disarray the Mets have been before and after Sandy Alderson. Say what you want about Sandy, but he was able to control message, deflect attention, and he was able to make the Mets seem like a well run organization. Now that he’s gone, the team looks like a Mickey Mouse operation all over again.

20. The real problem with this team is Jeff Wilpon. Instead of calls for Callaway’s head, we need to have more and more articles and media attention criticizing him. If the attention is on Callaway for following orders, all you’re doing is throwing jabs at Jeff’s designated punching bag.

Ill Conceived Mets Outfield Provides Win

This was about as bad a mix as you could get for the Mets. Jason Vargas, a fly ball pitcher, was starting in Wrigley. To make matters worse, the Mets opted to make this the day they broke out the Dominic SmithMichael ConfortoJeff McNeil outfield alignment.

On the outfield alignment, while it was a bad decision to play those three players out of position, they played well out there making all the plays. That includes those hit to the ivy:

It would get better later.

While the outfield got off to a good start the Mets didn’t. For a second day in a row, the Mets scored a run while ending a rally by hitting into a bases loaded double play. Today, that cake courtesy of Smith.

In the bottom of the second, the Mets paid for the transgression by losing the lead right away in the bottom of the second.

The trouble started when Vargas walked the leadoff batter Javier Baez, and it got worse when J.D. Davis completely botched a routine ball at third. After David Bote reached on the error, he stole second putting runners at second and third with one out.

On the stolen base, Tomas Nido made a terrible throw and almost hit a ducking Vargas in the face. It was one of two stolen bases the Phillies had with both throws being poor. It just must be something to do with being a Mets catcher.

The Cubs plated their first run without a hit on an RBI groundout. The second came on a Yu Darvish RBI single giving the Cubs a 2-1 lead. It was the seventh hit of Darvish’s career, and he would be 2-for-2 off Vargas.

While the Mets lost the lead, they remain a resilient team as evidenced by McNeil hitting a two run homer to give the Mets a lead in the top of the third:

That lead lasted until the bottom of the fifth when Addison Russell hit a go-ahead two run homer. Things then get dicey when the lineup flipped over. Kris Bryant doubled, and in a weird course of events Anthony Rizzo struck out.

Initially, Rizzo was seemingly ruled not to swing, but for some reason, he also wasn’t awarded first on a ball that hit him. That’s when Vargas flipped, and he actually got the third base umpire (who upon further review ruled dead ball and not no swing) and home plate umpire to get everything squared away. In the end, Rizzo was ruled to have struck out.

After the delay, Vargas was at 104 pitches, so Mickey Callaway brought in Brooks Pounders to face Baez. Pounders got the Mets out of the jam and put himself in line for the win.

With Vargas departing, he has now had 10 straight starts allowing three earned or less. The problem is he’s only pitched 5+ innings in only half those starts putting pressure on a bad bullpen. Fortunately, the Mets were up to the task shutting out the Cubs for 4.1 innings.

The Mets would even take a late lead in this game and hold onto it. The outfield would again be the driving force.

In the sixth, Conforto hit his 15th homer of the year to tie the score at 4-4. Then in the seventh, McNeil did what he needed to do to get the lead hitting a two out RBI single scoring Adeiny Hechavarria.

On the play, McNeil was thrown out trying to go to second. On the one hand, it seemed like Hechavarria was scoring anyway. On the other, the play killed the chance of the lead growing with Pete Alonso due up.

This put the game in Seth Lugo‘s hands. After an 11 pitch seventh, he came back out for the eighth. Things didn’t go as smooth.

Willson Contreras hit a two out single to left. McNeil, who had replaced Smith in left when Juan Lagares came into the game for defense, appeared to deke Rizzo. Deke or no deke, Rizzo cannot be heading to third in that spot. He got into a rundown thereby ending the rally and the Cubs last chance to tie the game.

The reason is Edwin Diaz looked like Diaz again. Maybe it was his working with Phil Regan, or maybe it was some rest or just some luck. Whatever the case, it was great seeing the Mets bullpen do it’s job again and put the Mets back in the win column.

Game Notes: As noted by MMO‘s Michael Mayer, Lugo has a 0.38 ERA over his last 23.2 innings pitched. The Mets have no finalists in the All Star voting.

Braves Destroy Horrid Mets Defense And Bullpen

Brodie Van Wagenen built a poor defensive club with a bullpen that was an arm or two short. When you do that, you’re not beating average teams like the Cardinals, and you’re not beating good teams like the Braves.

When you get injuries and poor performances from the bullpen, you’re not beating anyone on the road, which is why the Mets have the most road losses in the National League.

Zack Wheeler was decent for four allowing two runs only for the National League worst defense to destroy his and the Mets chances of winning the game.

The Mets got misplays from Jeff McNeil, Pete Alonso, and Wilson Ramos, the latter of which who appeared to not even bother on the tough balls in the dirt. The embarrassingly poor defense and defensive effort took a 2-2 game and made it 5-2.

If you had a glimmer of hope after the Robinson Cano sixth inning homer, the Mets bullpen made sure to destroy those delusions of grandeur.

Jeurys Familia loaded the bases while recording just one out in the seventh causing Mickey Callaway to go to Drew Gagnon to put out the fire. Sadly, Gagnon decided to use a mixture of gasoline and kerosene to try to put out that fire.

By the time he was done, the 5-3 deficit grew to 12-3. Three of the runs were charged to Familia and four were charged to Gagnon. At the end, who cares? Every reliever not named Seth Lugo is pitching extremely poorly. The defense is worse than that.

You can tell yourself the Mets competed with the Braves for most of this game, and that they tied the score off Mike Soroka and his 1.92 ERA. It doesn’t matter because this bullpen is non-competitive.

Game Notes: Wheeler has a .323 batting average with a .828 OPS.

Mets Could Have Five All Stars

The New York Mets have been making a push for fans to elect their players as All-Stars. At first, it started with Pete Alonso and only recently it was grown to include Jeff McNeil and Michael Conforto. These are three Mets who are putting together strong cases to be All Stars, and they are three of five Mets who could be legitimately named All Stars this year:

Pete Alonso

Traditional Stats: .258/.339/.598, 13 2B, 2 3B, 22 HR, 49 RBI
Advanced Stats: 2.4 bWAR, 2.2 fWAR, 150 OPS+, 145 wRC+

Any other year and Alonso would be a no-doubt All-Star. Currently, he’s tied for second in the league in homers, and he is seventh in RBI, sixth in slugging, and tenth in OPS in conjunction with being in the mix on advanced metrics leaderboards. The problem for Alonso is first base in the National League is extremely deep this year with Max Muncy, Freddie Freeman, and Josh Bell having a higher WAR and Bell, Freeman, and Anthony Rizzo having a higher wRC+.

It is a difficult race, but Alonso has a legitimate shot to be an All Star, especially when you take injuries into account. No matter what the case, at a minimum, Alonso should be taking part in the All Star festivities as part of the Home Run Derby.

Michael Conforto

Traditional Stats: .258/.383/.507, 13 2B, 13 HR, 32 RBI, 4 SB
Advanced Stats: 1.9 bWAR, 2.0 fWAR, 142 OPS+, 138 wRC+

While he’s mostly overlooked, Conforto probably represents the Mets best shot as an All Star because he’s one of the best at his position. Currently, Conforto ranks sixth among National League outfielders in WAR and seventh in wRC+. Also, by DRS, Conforto rates as the fourth best defensive right fielder.

While he’s deserving, Conforto has real impediments to his induction. There’s players with name recognition like Charlie Blackmon or Bryce Harper or players who could be a team’s lone All Star like Brian Anderson of the Marlins. Even if they are impediments, they are not more deserving.

Jacob deGrom

Traditional Stats: 3-6, 3.38 ERA, 1.125 WHIP, 2.2 BB/9, 11.1 K/9
Advanced Stats: 2.3 bWAR, 2.3 fWAR, 118 ERA+, 3.09 FIP

Let’s get the obvious out of the way and point out deGrom hasn’t been the deGrom of last year, but that alone does not mean he’s not a worthy All-Star. While he’s had a “down year,” deGrom is still third in the National League in strikeouts and K/9, and he’s seventh in K/BB (5.1) and FIP. Another note, deGrom is also fifth in the league in fWAR.

When you break it all down, deGrom’s tough stretch fueled by illness and injuries have his stats a little off from what we anticipated. That said, breaking down the numbers more deGrom should absolutely be an All-Star this year as he is still one of the best pitchers in the league.

Seth Lugo

Traditional Stats: 3-0, 2.43 ERA, 0.930 WHIP, 1.9 BB/9, 11.6 K/9
Advanced Stats: 0.6 bWAR, 0.8 fWAR, 166 ERA+, 2.64 FIP

As baseball heads towards these multi-innings relievers, pitchers like Lugo have become more valuable, and in recent years, we have begun seeing more set-up men be included on the All-Star teams over closers who simply accumulate saves. Ultimately, the question with Lugo is just how far is the modern game willing to go to acknowledge pitchers like him.

When comparing Lugo to other National League relievers, you see he is near at in the top 10 in many categories including important ones like innings, K/9, K/BB, FIP, WHIP, and fWAR. In fact, he ranks eighth among all National League relievers in strikeouts. Now that he’s healthy, we should see him advance higher on each of these lists and continue to strengthen his case.

Jeff McNeil

Traditional Stats: .337/.408/.467, 15 2B, 3B, 3 HR, 20 RBI, 4 CS
Advanced Stats: 2.2 bWAR, 1.5 fWAR, 140 OPS+, 139 wRC+

The problem with evaluatin McNeil is you don’t know where to put him. Is he an outfielder? Second Baseman? Third Baseman? Looking at the positive DRS he has at each of those positions, the answer is clearly yes to each. When looking at it that way, you realize what McNeil really is is a baseball player, a very good baseball player.

He’s third in the league in batting average, fourth in OBP, 10th in OPS+, eighth in HBP (8), and 14th in wRC+. When you look at these and other numbers, you realize it doesn’t matter where he plays. What matters is he does play, and in fact, his ability to play three positions well makes him extremely valuable. IF we look at him as a baseball player, he is definitely one of the best players in the National League, and you are going to need a really good argument to keep him off the All-Star team.

Overall, the Mets should have at least two All-Stars, and realistically speaking the maximum they would have is three. It would seem likely deGrom and one of McNeil or Conforto makes the team with Alonso joining them as part of the Home Run Derby. At least that’s what the analysis says. As we know, who is and who is not an All-Star sometimes makes zero sense, so we just have to sit and wait and hope one of the deserving Mets will not be a snub.