Make no mistake, Steven Matz was an unmitigated disaster in 2020. He had a very good start on the second day of the season, but he just kept getting worse and worse.
He had a 44 ERA+ and a 7.76 FIP. He allowed 4.1 homers per nine. His 9.68 ERA was unseemly.
Under no circumstances would you tender a pitcher like him a contract. You non-tender him and make decisions from there. However, the Mets are not really in a position to non-tender him, and aside from that, it would be unwise to non-tender him.
For starters, the free agent starting pitching market is a mess. Beyond Marcus Stroman and Trevor Bauer, the pitchers available are really not guaranteed to be any better than what Matz could give you on what will essentially be a one year deal.
As an organization, you’re in a better position to take a pitcher you know and work with him than go with another pitcher and start from square one. On that note, the Mets should be better equipped to get Matz right.
Entering next season, Steve Cohen has promised to beef up the Mets analytics departments and to upgrade the Mets technology. This means Jeremy Hefner, Jeremy Accardo, and even Phil Regan have more at their disposal to get Matz pitching to how we know he can.
We’ve seen that Matz not too long ago. In the second half of the 2019 season, he seemingly turned the corner.
While working with Regan and Accardo, Matz finished the season going 6-4 with a 3.46 ERA over his final 13 starts. This wasn’t a complete anomaly for Matz. At different points of his career, he’s shown this ability.
Matz was this good in 2015 through the first half of 2017. Again, he had a strong first half in 2018.
There’s a lot you can take away from this. It’s certainly possible injuries took their toll. Maybe, even to this point, he’s battling inconsistency. It’s also possible the Mets increasingly worse defense have had an impact on him. There’s many possible theories and explanations which can be proffered.
Lost in any of them is Matz is a good pitcher who has shown the ability to be a quality Major League starter. For a brief moment, it did appear as if 2020 was going to be the year he took his game to the next level.
During Spring Training, there were reports of his having increased velocity and being ahead of where he’s been in previous seasons.
The first thing Luis Rojas mentioned about Steven Matz's performance in Camp: his increased velocity.
Said he's been mid-to-upper 90s with really good velo differential on his curveball.
"I was pumped," Rojas said.
— Jacob Resnick (@Jacob_Resnick) July 21, 2020
The best pitcher in baseball, Jacob deGrom, was impressed with Matz before the 2020 started saying Matz was pitching “maybe the best I’ve seen him in a long time.” (William Bradford Davis, New York Daily News). He also said of Matz, “I think the upside’s unbelievable.”
That’s the real issue with Matz – the upside is there. It’s incumbent on them to unlock it.
Again, based on the free agent market, there’s not a definitive better option. Also, due to Brodie Van Wagenen’s stripping the Mets pitching depth for no good reason, there’s no one coming through the Mets pipeline to help in 2021.
That leaves keeping Matz as a necessity. They need to figure him out, or possibly, make him a left-handed Seth Lugo in the bullpen. With the state Van Wagenen will be leaving the Mets, that’s it.
Matz is a real asset. With Cohen, they’ll have the people and technology in place to help Matz take his game to the next level. With Sandy Alderson, they have the people in place who were able to help get consistent performances from Matz.
In the end, the Mets need Matz. They should be preparing to tender him a deal and set him up for his best season yet. If for no other reason, there’s really no better option available.
Could you believe all the things the Mets needed to happen for them to make the postseason actually happened? It literally had a less than 2% chance of happening at one point, but it did happen!
Actually, no, that’s not entirely correct. The Mets making the postseason was contingent on them winning out. The Mets didn’t do that part. In fact, they lost their last three, four of five, and seven of their last 10.
By losing their last three games, they finished in last place in the NL East. To add insult to injury, they got completely blown out in the final game of the season.
While it’s terrible having to watch the Mets lose a game like this, there is solace in the fact this is the last game of the Wilpon era. For all they put this fanbase through for nearly two decades, their lasting memory as majority owners is getting their doors blown off with their team being completely embarrassed.
Yes, the Mets will lose games like this is the future. It’s unavoidable. That said, we’ve just seen the last time the Wilpons get to react to this kind of loss. Actually, that time has already passed. Now, they just have to watch and be powerless to do anything about it.
Now, Mets fans have an owner with actual resources to operate a baseball team. He’s hired someone who knows what he’s doing, and he’s going to show both Jeff Wilpon and Brodie Van Wagenen the door, which will make the Mets infinitely better.
As Brandon Nimmo said before the game, “I’m glad that somebody who is a lifelong Mets fan is going to end up owning the team.” We all feel the same way.
The Wilpons being gone wasn’t the only highlight of the day. Luis Guillorme sports an incredible fu manchu, and he was 2-for-3 with a double, walk, and run.
Pete Alonso was also great hitting two homers. It was fun seeing fan favorites perform this way. It’s even better when it leads to a Mets win. But that didn’t happen.
Instead, we saw the Mets lose just like Jeff Wilpon did. Now, (we ,@6$!@)see him go witwell is as
No, the Mets have not been eliminated from the postseason . . . yet. Sadly, even with some things breaking their way, they couldn’t take advantage:
2. Again, putting deGrom up against pitchers not pitching in the NL or AL East is absurd as NL Central and West pitchers face completely different competition.
3. On that note, the level of competition the two pitchers have faced is completely different with Bauer dominating some of the absolute worst offensive teams in the game.
4. You do have to wonder how different things would be with deGrom’s campaign and really this entire Mets season of Wilson Ramos was capable of tagging a guy at home plate.
5. Edwin Diaz finally has more saves than blown saves this year.
6. Mets continue to be the Mets first announcing Michael Conforto was getting a day off for a must win game and then finally admitting he had a hamstring issue.
7. Conforto’s chances of signing an extension increased not just with Steve Cohen buying the Mets, but also with Sandy Alderson returning to the organization.
8. Should Conforto sign an extension, he’s going to knock David Wright off the top of the Mets all-time leaderboards.
9. It’s a shame Conforto broke down and Dominic Smith went in a slump for the final last ditch push. It’s a downright shame no one was really able to pick them up like they picked up the team this season.
10. Between J.D. Davis batting second or third despite his not hitting and Michael Wacha making starts despite his having no business pitching another inning for this team, it’s clear Brodie Van Wagenen decided to make this season about showcasing his acquisitions in the hopes of getting a new job.
11. Steven Matz went from breaking out in the second half last year to a great Spring Training to maybe pitching his way to a non-tender.
12. Matz is a clear example of a guy Jeff Wilpon would instruct dropped from his team with him being shocked the player succeeded away from the team. For some reason, despite this having happened continuously, there is still a contingent of Mets fans who still defend the team on this type of dumb decisions.
13. Ultimately, the juiced ball last year and the abbreviated 60 game season have made it near impossible to have a real evaluation and analysis of players.
14. Speaking of which, it was great to see Pete Alonso remind us how great he can be. The question is if he can be that over a 162 game season without the juiced ball. There are many indicators which suggest he can, but we still don’t know.
15. The Rays showed the Mets all the things this organization has flat out ignored with defense and good base running actually matter, and the end game isn’t to collect a bunch of bats to plug and play regardless of fit.
16. Again, we see in this series Seth Lugo can be a starter. However, the bullpen is a flat out mess without him.
17. Fortunately, the Mets have the deep pockets of Steve Cohen, and the beginnings of the right front office to address not only the bullpen, but also catcher, third, center, and the rotation.
18. It looks like Alderson is going to get his chance to do what he wanted to do when he took over the Mets. Essentially, that’s exactly what the Dodgers did.
19. After these last four games, it’s good riddance to the Wilpons. That’s both with the Mets and the horrendous SNY they created.
20. There’s no more fitting end to the Wilpon era than the team finishing below .500 despite having a top offense, the best pitcher in baseball, and an expanded postseason.
Much of the reason why the 2020 Mets are going to miss the postseason is Pete Alonso having a sophomore slump. In fact, it’s been worse than anyone could’ve imagined.
Entering last night’s game, he was teetering at the Mendoza Line, and he was at a -0.7 WAR. During this time, he went from fan proclaimed future captain to people worrying if he could ever return to his 2019 Rookie of the Year record setting form. Last night, we saw a hint he could return to that form.
The key to that was in the fourth when he hit an opposite field home run off of Blake Snell to give the Mets a 2-1 lead:
— New York Mets (@Mets) September 23, 2020
We haven’t seen much of Alonso driving the ball the other way like he did much of last year. Harkening back to last year, he drove the ball with authority to all fields. That was the essence of his power and production.
Now, the home run numbers have essentially been there with all of Alonso’s struggles. After all, he was 13 homers so far this year which is a near 40 homer pace. With respect to Alonso, the singles and doubles haven’t been.
One did last night when Alonso singled home Dominic Smith to increase the Mets lead to 3-1. Coupled with an RBI groundout in the eighth, he had three RBI on the night. More impressively, he drove in a run in three separate plate appearances.
This was the player Alonso was last year. This is what the Mets need from Alonso the rest of the way this year and in each of the ensuing years. Seeing him do it last night begs the question why he hasn’t previously done it. Alonso has a theory:
Pete Alonso cites his .215 BABIP and 88.5-mph average exit velocity as evidence that he's been more unlucky than anything this season: pic.twitter.com/F1EZ3X6Ijk
— Anthony DiComo (@AnthonyDiComo) September 23, 2020
Alonso definitely has a point. He’s still hitting the ball hard, and his BABIP does indicate an extraordinary amount of bad luck. That’s part of what happens with this 60 game season.
Your failures are magnified. The stats are skewed in polar opposite directions. You didn’t have the normal ebb and flow of a season of sufficient time to ramp up for the reboot.
There’s also the small matter of the 2019 juiced ball which seems to be gone. That could be part of the reason why we see Alonso’s hard hit percentage and barrel rates drop quite a bit with his whiff percentage trending in the wrong direction.
Overall, this has been a rough year for us all, Alonso included. He has five more games to continue to try to remind us why he was great last year and can be in the future. If he goes on the type of tear we know he can, maybe, just maybe, the Mets can win out and shock us all.
Game Notes: Robinson Cano and Guillermo Heredia also homered. Seth Lugo picked up the win after allowed two runs (one earned) off four hits and one walk over 6.1 innings while striking out seven. Edwin Diaz picked up the save and now has more saves than blown saves this year.
Well, the Mets took two out of three from the Phillies. As a result, the Mets next series actually matters. So there’s that. Here’s some more:
1. This is just the third series the Mets have won all year and the first against a team other than the Miami Marlins.
3. The deGrom start was a tough one because it probably cost him the Cy Young, which will also hinder his Hall of Fame chances.
5. As far as the starting pitching, we haven’t seen much of a tangible impact from new pitching coach Jeremy Hefner, but we have seen him help relievers with pitch utilization and locations.
6. That’s not to say the bullpen has been good because it hasn’t. However, they came up big in a series when deGrom and Lugo didn’t pitch five innings combined.
7. There’s a lot to unwrap from Lugo’s start including how the Phillies hit four homers off of him and his decreased velocity as a starter. While this bears mentioning, we need to see more before drawing any conclusions.
8. Lugo even being in the rotation is another indication of just how awful a job Brodie Van Wagenen has done and just how much he has stripped the Mets of quality rotation depth.
10. Articles trying to explain why Steve Cohen’s money may not matter and why he won’t spend right away are trying to be a little too cute and are very disingenuous in their premises.
11. Also, Cohen is getting approved because he’s going to be the wealthiest owner in the game, and he bought the Mets for more than any North American sports team has ever sold. People telling you his approval is because of the respect Fred Wilpon has in the game are embarrassing themselves.
12. Wilson Ramos has seemingly struggled more than anyone being separated from his family. It’s a real shame he has dealt with these issues.
13. Its a good thing J.D. Davis had that big game on Wednesday because he’s been basically terrible since August 1 costing the Mets games with his ground balls and glove.
14. Over the last month, Davis is hitting .253/.360/.411, and Jeff McNeil is hitting .360/.442/.584. Naturally, McNeil bats seventh and Davis third. It’s because it’s not about winning, but rather about Van Wagenen.
15. With Davis and Pete Alonso struggling, at some point the uncomfortable conversation needs to happen about how much the juiced ball impacted their 2019 production.
16. Anyone calling Brandon Nimmo a fourth outfielder doesn’t know anything about baseball.
17. With Dellin Betances likely exercising his $6 million player option, and the Mets having to buy out Ramos for $1.5 million and Robinson Chirinos for $2.5, the Wilpons have left a nice $10 million tab for Cohen.
18. The extra postseason spots made sense in a 60 game season, but it will be a disaster going forward. So naturally, Rob Manfred wants it.
19. Looking through the years, under this new proposed format, you’re going to get under .500 teams in the postseason on a routine basis. That’s bad for the sport.
20. The Mets have to play the best baseball they possibly can to even have a chance. Given the matchups against the Braves and Rays, their chances aren’t good, but we’re Mets fans, so we’re going to watch and hold out hope.
For a second straight game, a Mets starter didn’t see the third inning, and for the second straight game, the Mets made an improbable comeback.
At least for tonight, Harper owned Lugo homering off of him again in the second inning. Gregorius then knocked out Lugo with an RBI single.
It was 6-3 Phillies, and it was in the hands of the Mets bullpen. Starting with Erasmo Ramirez, they were brilliant. He and Chasen Shreve would each pitch 2.1 scoreless before handing the ball to Jeurys Familia who pitched 1.1 scoreless.
Their pitching kept the Mets in the game, and it gave them a chance to comeback against what has been a terrible Phillies bullpen.
While the Mets weren’t able to put up more runs off Aaron Nola from the second through fifth, they made him work. He ran out of gas in the sixth, and that Mets took advantage starting with a Pete Alonso one out homer:
— New York Mets (@Mets) September 18, 2020
Jeff McNeil walked leading to the Phillies going to their bullpen. Andres Gimenez walked, and after Luis Guillorme lined out, it was up to Brandon Nimmo. He tied the score on what is arguably the biggest hit of his career . . . up until that point.
— New York Mets (@Mets) September 18, 2020
Instead, Wilson walked the bases loaded. Due to the three batter rule, the Mets couldn’t even contemplate lifting him. Fortunately for the Mets, Wilson retired Gregorius to end the inning.
After escalating the jam, it was time for Nimmo to come up huge again. This time, it was a go-ahead homer with a rare pimping of the homer from Nimmo:
— New York Mets (@Mets) September 18, 2020
That ninth inning leadoff homer off Brandon Workman sparked the Mets offense like Alonso’s did in the sixth. It was a four run ninth with Smith tripling in Michael Conforto, and Cano hitting a two run homer.
While not a save situation, the Mets went to Edwin Diaz. Diaz would make it interesting by loading the bases and bringing the tying run to the plate. Diaz, who was pitching three days in a row, got McCutheon to ground out to end the game.
With that, the Mets have won a series against a team other than the Marlins this year. They’re alive and ready to fight another day as the schedule gets insanely difficult now.
Game Notes: Wilson earned the win.
As of this morning, the New York Mets are 22-27. That puts them 6.5 behind the Atlanta Braves for the division. That means they’re effectively eliminated from the NL East race.
However, due to the expanded postseason format, they’re only three games out in the loss column for the last Wild Card spot. With 11 games remaining in the season, there’s a chance.
However, when you break it down, it’s a very unrealistic chance.
First and foremost, you’re asking this Mets team to go on a run. We’re nearly 2/3 through the season, and the Mets have only won two series all season. Both series have come against the Miami Marlins, and that season series is over.
After today’s game against the Philadelphia Phillies, the Mets remaining opponents are the Braves (third best team in the NL) Tampa Bay Rays (second best team in the AL), and the Washington Nationals.
Asking for the 8-2 stretch against that schedule is a big ask. It’s also a big ask to ask the Mets to leapfrog four teams in the process.
Keep in mind, the St. Louis Cardinals and Milwaukee Brewers, two teams ahead of the Mets, play each other five more times this season.
In the West, the San Francisco Giants and Colorado Rockies, two teams ahead of the Mets, play each other four times.
That means during those games the Mets are not going to make ground on at least half the field. It also means when they lose, they’re losing ground to half the field.
Couple that with Jacob deGrom dealing with a hamstring spasm. Beyond that spasm not making it possible for deGrom to make multiple short rest starts to help push the Mets over the top, the Mets can’t be sure what deGrom can give them in the event he can pitch.
After deGrom, the Mets are really only guaranteed five good innings from Seth Lugo. Past Lugo, the rotation is a complete and utter mess to the point not even the Mets seem to know who is going to start for them the rest of the way.
So, yes, mathematically, the Mets can still make the postseason. However, when you break it down, even if they put up a completely improbable 10 game winning streak, chances are they’re missing the postseason.
If you ever wanted the perfect encapsulation of what it means to be a Mets fan and the Wilpon Era has been, this was the series for you:
1. Amed Rosario takes first with two outs in the ninth after a wild pitch on strike three. He got picked off first.
2. That’s being a Mets fan. There’s a near miracle which gives you hope, and it’s followed with a massive blunder which leaves you completely befuddled.
3. Speaking of befuddled, how does Wilson Ramos swing at ball three against a reliever who can’t find the strike zone? That double play helped cost the game more than Rosario getting picked off.
5. It seems Rojas hasn’t found that balance of when to push a starter or go to the bullpen. It at least seems his decision comes back to bite the Mets no matter what.
6. Of course, that’s a larger sign of how bad the Mets rotation has been and just how bad the Mets bullpen is without Lugo.
7. Speaking of the state of the Mets pitching, Jeff McNeil apparently left the game to go to the bathroom.
8. At that point in the game, he had scored the Mets only run, and well, it seems the runs went with them.
9. Dominic Smith continues to be great this year. Not bad for a guy the team didn’t realize was one of the best players on the team.
10. Speaking of players the Mets thought were better than Smith, J.D. Davis has a .780 OPS and dropping, and he still can’t play third.
11. On the topic of ill conceived Brodie Van Wagenen trades, one poor appearance for Anthony Kay doesn’t suddenly make Kay bad (he isn’t), the Marcus Stroman trade good (it wasn’t), or Simeon Woods Richardson not a key part of the deal (he was).
12. Brandon Nimmo is a good hitter who can play a good corner outfield. He should not be the 2021 center fielder. In fact, he shouldn’t be that in 2020.
14. Again, Jacob deGrom showed he’s the best pitcher in baseball, and he’s nearing towards locking down his third straight Cy Young.
15. Even with deGrom having another historical great year, the Mets rotation is historically bad and are challenging the 1962 Mets for the worst starting rotation ERA in team history.
16. The Mets have legitimate candidates for Cy Young (deGrom), MVP (Michael Conforto), and Rookie of the Year (Andres Gimenez). Despite that, odds are they won’t finish above .500 or compete for a postseason spot.
17. When does Brodie Van Wagenen collect his Executive of the Year award?
18. Mets will be promoting the team being just three games back despite all that’s gone wrong on the final game of the season.
19. Steve Cohen is almost complete in his purchase of the Mets. This means the Wilpons will not win a World Series as majority owners of the team.
20. MLB finally did the right thing allowing the players to wear the first responder caps again. Everyone involved in making that happen, including Jeff Wilpon, should be commended.
Mets are down 3-2 with two outs in the top of the ninth. Blue Jays closer Rafael Dolis struck out Amed Rosario, but the ball got away from Alejandro Kirk allowing Rosario to reach first without a throw.
Dolis was wild, and Jeff McNeil, arguably the Mets hottest hitter, was at the plate. Dolis’ first pitch was in the dirt, but Rosario didn’t take his chance to challenge Kirk by taking off for second.
Next thing you know, Dolis threw over to first. The umpire initially called Rosario safe, but upon video review, it was overturned.
— MLB Replays (@MLBReplays) September 13, 2020
Rosario was out, and the game was over.
The team went from getting a gift allowing Rosario to reach to watching him excusably get picked off. That marred an otherwise good day at the plate with him going 3-for-4 with a double.
That’s what it’s like watching the Mets this year. We keep telling ourselves they’re still in it only for something completely stupid to come along and end the game.
That’s just the perfect way to end the game. It’s been better way to describe the Wilpon ownership of the team.
This wasn’t your typical Mets script. This is a team who finds a way to get close enough to just rip your heart out. Tonight, they were doing that to the Orioles instead of their fans.
For a while, it seemed there was no shot for the Mets to win this one as the Orioles were teeing off on Rick Porcello. At one point, they were 9-for-15 off Porcello, and seemingly the only way for the Mets to record an out was to throw out a runner looking to stretch a single into a double as Michael Conforto did to Chance Sisco to lead off the second.
The score would be 6-3 heading into the bottom of the fifth after McNeil and DJ Stewart traded a pair of homers. In the bottom of the fifth, Conforto would ignite the Mets with a solo homer.
— New York Mets (@Mets) September 10, 2020
The rally didn’t end with the homer. Later in the inning, Cano snapped out of his slump to hit an RBI single to pull the Mets to within 6-5. That’s when the Mets defense would shine and keep the Mets in the game.
The first came from McNeil who robbed Jose Iglesias of an extra base hit:
— New York Mets (@Mets) September 10, 2020
Even though that was the second out and there was no one on, Jared Hughes had trouble getting out of that inning. He’d load the bases, and Luis Rojas would bring in the struggling Justin Wilson to face Rio Ruiz. For a moment, it looked like Ruiz hit a bases clearing double:
— New York Mets (@Mets) September 10, 2020
After those pair of great defensive plays, the Mets would get the big hits they needed. First, it was Andres Gimenez tying the game in the bottom of the sixth with his second career homer:
— New York Mets (@Mets) September 10, 2020
Then, it was Pete Alonso hitting his 11th homer of the year in the bottom of the eighth to give the Mets a 7-6 lead.
— New York Mets (@Mets) September 10, 2020
Being the Mets, they weren’t quite out of the woods yet. Edwin Diaz allowed a lead-off single, and for a moment, it looked like the first two would reach. That was until Luis Guillorme, who was brought in for defense, made another great defensive play.
HUGE play by Luis Guillorme to get the out 🙌 pic.twitter.com/aGR5nh97Ny
— SNY (@SNYtv) September 10, 2020
Diaz retired the last two to earn his third save of the year. It was a dramatic and needed win to help keep the Mets postseason hopes alive.