Seth Lugo

Rajai Davis Keeps Mets Season Alive

Both Jacob deGrom and Hyun-Jin Ryu were great pitching seven scoreless. On the night, deGrom struck out eight compared to Ryu’s six. On the flip side, Ryu’s two hits allowed were one fewer than deGrom’s.

In all, this game did little to separate these two pitchers in the Cy Young voting, especially with both getting no decisions. With respect to deGrom, that should shock no one.

While the Cy Young is of importance, that’s not where the Mets concern now lies. No, it’s the Wild Card. The Mets entered tonight’s game three back, and the Pirates essentially no showed against the Cubs again making this a must win if there ever was one.

Knowing that, Mickey Callaway double switched J.D. Davis out of the game and brought in Brandon Nimmo and Seth Lugo in the hopes Lugo would go two innings. Even with Lugo striking out the side in the eighth, he wouldn’t.

The reason is the Mets put together a rally by taking advantage of the Dodgers plunking both Todd Frazier and Nimmo. The other thing the Mets took advantage of was the Dodgers bullpen as it was Joe Kelly who hit Frazier and Julio Urias who hit Nimmo.

With there being two outs and an opportunity to not just get out of the inning but also get Lugo out of the game, Urias pitched around Amed Rosario to force the Mets to go to a pinch hitter to get Lugo out of the game.

It should be noted here Michael Conforto did not start the game against the tough lefty. During this inning, Callaway had let Juan Lagares bat for himself against Kelly. While that decision might’ve seemed odd, it seemed like it was about to pay off for Callaway.

Except, he didn’t go to Conforto with the left-handed Urias on the mound. No, he went to Rajai Davis. While many first guessed this move, Davis, who was actually batting for the spot in the lineup held by the other right-handed hitting outfielder named Davis, made Callaway look smart:

That bases clearing double gave the Mets a 3-0 lead. After Justin Wilson pitched a perfect ninth, the Mets had a 3-0 win thereby staying alive in the Wild Card race.

Game Notes: Sam Haggerty scored the go-ahead run. He had pinch run for Frazier in the eighth.

Simply Amazin Podcast Appearance (I Didn’t Hear No Bell)

On Thursday, I had the privilege of being to be invited on the Simply Amazin‘ Podcast. On the podcast, I mentioned Wilson RamosTomas NidoRene RiveraPete AlonsoGerson BautistaJarred KelenicJeff McNeilRobinson CanoEdwin DiazJeurys FamiliaBrad BrachDaniel ZamoraSeth LugoRobert GsellmanJ.D. DavisDominic SmithNoah SyndergaardSteven MatzMarcus StromanLuis SantanaKeon BroxtonFelix ValerioJuan LagaresLuis GuillormePaul SewaldLuis Avilan, and others.

20/20 Hindsight: Mets Giving It All They Have

The Mets have swept the Arizona Diamondbacks, and once again they are back in the thick of the Wild Card race after having played their way out of it. This has been one of the most mercurial seasons in team history setting forth what should be a fun emotional roller coaster ride over the final 16 games.

1. If you want to get off to a great start, there is no better way to accomplish that than starting with Jacob deGrom. He proved that by going seven innings of shut out ball. When you follow that up with Seth Lugo for two innings, there is no team in baseball that has a chance.

2. To put into perspective how incredible deGrom’s season was last year, he may be the leader in the clubhouse for the 2019 National League Cy Young award, and his ERA this year is a full run higher than it was last year.

3. In terms of this year’s Cy Young Award, tonight will be the second time over his last three starts where he faces off against another Cy Young leader. He pitched better than Max Scherzer the last time out, and this time he is facing off against Hyun-Jin Ryu, who has not been the same pitcher he was in the first half.

4. It is not just deGrom who is pitching great for the Mets lately. Zack Wheeler has three straight starts of 7.0 innings and just one earned. It might’ve taken a little more time than expected, but second half Wheeler finally arrived, and it could not have happened at a better time.

5. As good as deGrom and Wheeler are going, that is nothing compared to Steven Matz at Citi Field. This year, he is 7-1 with a 1.94 ERA at home. This is part of his pitching very well in the second half with a 2.52 ERA limiting opposing batters to a .227/.281/.364 batting line.

6. Then Marcus Stroman followed this trio with his best start in a Mets uniform. With him keeping the ball on the ground, you got a glimpse on just the pitcher the Mets thought they were going to get when they traded for him.

7. On Stroman, you see the impact a catcher can have on a pitcher. With the Blue Jays, Stroman had a 44.2 GB%, but when Wilson Ramos was catching him, it went down to 44.2 percent. Yesterday, the Diamondbacks only got the ball in the air 40.7 percent of the time.

8. This is another reason why we should note Noah Syndergaard‘s objections over Ramos are fact based. Even if it’s not, there is clearly a psychological impact upon him. Really, if the Mets are interested in winning, they would pair Syndergaard up with Tomas Nido or Rene Rivera.

9. What was surprising was seeing Nido homer yesterday. That wasn’t as surprising as Juan Lagares having a two home run game. We had Gary Cohen’s voice cracking as evidence of that. It was a great moment for Lagares who has been a good Met likely playing his final games in a Mets uniform.

10. Homers were a theme in this series with the Mets setting a team record hitting five homers in two straight games. They also set team records for homers at home in a season (114) and homers in a series (13). What is really surprising about this stretch is while everyone went homer happy, Pete Alonso didn’t hit one over the final two games.

11. Alonso is struggling now in an 0-for-12 stretch with seven strikeouts. Things must be getting to him as he took time to go into the clubhouse and shave his mustache mid-game. Unfortunately, it didn’t work, and it may get worse with the Dodgers coming into town with Ryu, Clayton Kershaw, and Walker Buehler.

12. Of course, it was not all bad news with Alonso. He had a two home run game to surge to the Major League home run lead. However, that was nothing compared to his getting first responder cleats for the entire team. That was an incredible move which not only shows character, but it also shows he gets it.

13. The fact Alonso was forced to go that route is because yet again Major League Baseball refused to permit the Mets to wear the first responder caps. They did it while touting Sammy Sosa running with the American flag, and Mike Piazza hitting that homer.

14. They also sell special 9/11 patched caps. That’s Major League Baseball for you. They won’t let players do the right thing because it would interfere with their ability to profit off of a tragedy were many Americans lost their lives, and they continue to do suffering from 9/11 related illnesses.

15. It was not only special to see all the Mets wearing them, but specifically the local Mets like Matz, Stroman, Todd Frazier, Rajai Davis, Joe Panik, and Brad Brach. On that note, Matz pitched six shutout innings, and Frazier would homer wearing those cleats.

16. Matz wearing them was reminiscent of John Franco wearing an FDNY cap in the Mets first game post 9/11. With respect to Matz, he has undertaken charitable work to help those first responders, and due to his efforts he has been a Roberto Clemente Award nominee for the second straight year.

17. On Frazier, he his red hot right now. He has hit three homers over two straight games, and he is playing his usual good defense at third. He is getting hot just at the right time because the Mets need their absolute best from everyone right now.

18. That is something which has made this Mets team really special. They are all giving what they could give. Robinson Cano is playing as much as his leg would allow, and based upon what we heard from Mickey Callaway, J.D. Davis is doing the same. Brandon Nimmo has returned from a potentially season ending injury to play great. Brach is dealing with a shoulder injury, and Justin Wilson has an elbow issue. Right now, everyone is giving this team what they can. That deserves the fans’ love and admiration.

19. We’re also seeing players doing all they can to come back. Dominic Smith is hitting off a tee and running. Robert Gsellman is throwing on the side. They are both doing this despite both having suffered what really was season ending injuries. Again, say what you will about this team, but this is a special group of players.

20. The 1999 Mets overcame a two game deficit over the final three games of the season to force a one game playoff. This team has 16 games. Anything is possible.

Mets Two Back Not Seven Ahead With 17 To Play

In 2007, the Mets were seven games ahead with 17 games to play. We all know that season ended with Tom Glavine melting down against the Florida Marlins. That humiliating collapse is not a good memory for Mets fans, but it should serve as a reminder that anything can happen.

There are better and more positive stories in Mets history on this point.

The 1969 Mets entered September five games back of the Cubs, and they’d go 24-8 to finish the season and win the division going away en route to winning one of the more unlikely championships in professional sports history.

In 1973, the Mets entered September 4.5 games of the Cardinals and Pirates. The “Ya Gotta Believe” Mets pulled it off with a 82-79 record. They’d then push off one dynasty another year by beating the Big Red Machine in the NLCS, and they’d come within one game of knocking off another.

As we know, recent history hasn’t been as kind. The 1998 Mets entered September just one game out of the Wild Card. On September 21, they were one game up in the race only to lose their final five games including getting swept by the Braves. What made that all the more difficult was they only needed to win just one game to tie the Cubs and Giants for what was then the only Wild Card spot.

In 1999, it did seem like there was going to be another collapse with the Mets losing seven straight in October, and they’d lose five of six to the Braves with Chipper Jones telling Mets fans to get their Yankees jerseys out of the closet. They’d get some help sweeping the Pirates to over come the two game deficit with three games remaining in the season before Al Leiter‘s one hitter propelled them to the NLDS.

Heading to the future, the Mets collapsed in 2007, and they did it again in 2008 with Jerry Manuel going to Scott Schoeneweis to end the season. There were bleak times ahead before the 2015 and 2016 season. In terms of 2016, it was a somewhat similar situation to this year where a down National League allowed the Mets to linger in the race.

It should be noted that 2016 team was just 1.5 games back of he St. Louis Cardinals for the second Wild Card. It was not the five game deficit this Mets team faced. In any event, that whole run left a bitter taste as Jeurys Familia allowed a three run homer to Conor Gillaspie to end that season.

Overall, it has been quite a mixed bag for the Mets in these late September Wild Card races. We’ve seen them collapse in 1998 and 2007. We have seen them force a one game playoff in 1999 and go on a magical run. Under a different system in 2016, they got to that game, but they couldn’t win it.

No matter how you break it down, there is one theme for all of those years – the Mets had a chance. As we have seen you have a chance even if you are down seven games with 17 remaining. You can look at that all as a negative all you want. That’s your prerogative.

However, this Mets team has Jacob deGrom, Zack Wheeler, and Steven Matz pitching great. Seth Lugo is the best reliever in baseball. Pete Alonso, Jeff McNeil, and Michael Conforto have played great all year, and Todd Frazier seems to be getting hot at the right time. There are so many more positives behind these players.

At the end of the day, there is legitimate reason for hope. As long as there is hope, there is every reason to believe the Mets can pull this off. We should all be excited at the opportunity before this team.

LETS GO METS!

Jacob deGrom And Seth Lugo Were Unstoppable

If you want to win a game, the best possible formula is Jacob deGrom and Seth Lugo. Tonight, that’s what the Mets had, and it led to a separately needed win against a Diamondbacks team ahead of the Mets in the Wild Card standings.

For his part, deGrom was great furthering cementing his Cy Young case. His final line was 7.0 innings, three hits, one run, one earned, one walk, and 11 strikeouts. That one? Well, that was courtesy of our old “Friend” Wilmer Flores.

But that wasn’t as damaging as a homer as a run against deGrom would normally be as deGrom actually received run support tonight. In fact, two of the three runs scored for him came off the bat of Pete Alonso who hit his 46th and 47th homers of the year.

The other run came courtesy of an Amed Rosario RBI single in the fourth scoring Wilson Ramos. What made that interesting is Ramos had reached on a double against the shift. That shift was an unorthodox two outfielder shift. Presumably, this was implemented in response to Ramos’ ground ball rates, and yet, his hitting the ball up the middle was an automatic double.

Going back to deGrom, what makes him so impressive is how he is dominant no matter what part of the game. He rips through the order the first, second, and third time through. The lineup turns over a fourth time just briefly. He gets the bad and good hitters. For example, he struck out Ketel Marte three times.

Another note here is deGrom controls all parts of the plate. He gets batters out north, east, south, and west. While we’ve seen his recent rise to dominance correlate to pitching up in the zone, he did it working the lower half tonight.

If a team thought they’d get a respite when he leaves a game, they’d be wrong as Lugo followed him to pitch the final two innings. The fresh Lugo was economical striking out four of the six batters he faced needing just 21 pitches to earn his fifth save of the year.

With the win, the Mets gained a game on both the Diamondbacks and Phillies. It’s still an uphill climb, but the Mets are still alive.

Game Notes: Alonso surpassed Darryl Strawberry and some other guy by reaching base safely for a 34th consecutive game.

Seth Lugo Watched On As The Mets Bullpen Melted Down

On Friday night, the Mets led 4-2 heading into the ninth inning. Mickey Callaway then sent Edwin Diaz out there to earn the save. In the offseason and April, this would’ve seemed like a no-brainer. However, not hasn’t been the case all year. Everyone has lost faith in him.

After a Jean Segura one out single, J.T. Realmuto homered to tie the game. It was the 14th homer he allowed all year, which is just one fewer than he had allowed over the previous two seasons combined. It was the latest down point in a series of down points. In a bit of irony, he’d get the win because of the Mets two out rally culminating in a Pete Alonso walk-of win.

On Saturday, the Mets were tied 4-4 heading into the sixth inning. After Paul Sewald allowed a leadoff double to Rhys Hoskins. After a sacrifice bunt, Luis Avilan came in and had perhaps his worst outing of the season allowing an RBI single to Phil Gosselin before allowing a two run homer to Maikel Franco. Why Avilan was left in to face Franco is anyone’s guess.

With the Mets rallying back in the sixth to make this a 7-6 game, Callaway turned to Justin Wilson, his second best reliever, to start the inning. For the first time since he came off the IL, Wilson didn’t have it. When he didn’t have it with Scott Kingery hitting a two run homer off of him, Tyler Bashlor came in to relieve him.

For his part, Bashlor would walk Sean Rodriguez and allow a double to Franco. Then, for reasons which confounded everyone, Andrew Knapp and his career .219/.329/.322 batting line was intentionally walked to allow Bashlor to face Bryce Harper, who was pinch hitting for reliever Mike Morin.

Bashlor, and his MLB career 4.6 BB/9, which includes a 6.6 this year, was allowed to face Harper with the bases loaded. You could see the walk coming a mile away, and arguably, the walk, driving home the Phillies 10th run of the game, could be argued to be a much better outcome than what could’ve happened if Harper made contact.

With the season on the line, and in the highest leveraged situations the Mets faced all year, the bullpen gave up six runs over two innings. That was after Diaz blew the lead on Friday night. While the bullpen melted down in those two games, Mets fans watched on bewildered and horrified. Do you know who else was watching on?

Seth Lugo.

Somehow, in the latest in a series of the Mets biggest series of the season, Lugo didn’t throw one pitch. Not one. If memory serves, he didn’t even soft tossing let alone warm up in any of those games. Potentially, the Mets chances at winning a Wild Card went by the wayside while the team’s best reliever watched it happen.

As horrible as we all feel, you could only imagine how Brad Brach felt. Remember, he was a member of that 2016 Orioles team who lost to the Blue Jays in 11 innings as Zack Britton, clearly the best reliever in the game that year, never entered the game. At some point, you have to wonder if he was having flashbacks.

With respect to Lugo, it should be remembered he threw two innings on Thursday. That was a day game after a night game, and in that night game, he threw an inning. That’s three innings over a 24 hour period. That’s a lot for a reliever with known UCL issues. It’s a lot for a reliever the Mets have been careful in trying to get him rest so as to not burn him out or injure him.

What we don’t know is whether he was unable to rebound after throwing those three innings. We also don’t know if Callaway was waiting for a late inning situation on Sunday which never presented itself. No matter what the case, the only thing we know is with the season on the line Lugo didn’t throw a pitch. If there is no injury issues, and there very well may be, that’s inexcusable.

The only thing more inexcusable than that is the fact that the Mets do not have another arm who could get a key out or pitch a scoreless frame in those three key innings.

20/20 Hindsight: Mets Blow It Against Phillies

The New York Mets had another golden opportunity to make headway in the Wild Card race, and once again, they failed. Instead of taking control of their destiny, they have lost two out of three propelling the Phillies and not the Mets forward:

1. To a certain extent, it would be better if the other Wild Card teams would just put the Mets out of their misery. They’re not, and we’re all hanging on desperately hoping they’ll find their way to the Wild Card Game.

2. Mickey Callaway was terrible in this series. You can’t let Tomas Nido bat knowing you’re pulling Marcus Stroman. You can’t let Luis Avilan face Maikel Franco. Intentionally walking Andrew Knapp makes little to no sense. His decision making in those three instances was just ugly.

3. Really, Callaway put the Mets in a position to fail, and like when Franco predictably homered off of Avilan, the Mets did fail. However, it should be noted it was the players failures before and after the decisions which magnified the simply awful decisions Callaway made.

4. J.D. Davis has to catch that ball, and Stroman has to pick him up. Even with that ridiculous error, there is no reason that had to become a four run inning except for the Phillies hitting Stroman quite hard.

5. Going to Davis for a second, defense matters, and you can’t keep putting him in the field if you really want to win. That is all the more the case when Brandon Nimmo is back and playing great. Really, you can’t have someone with a -8 DRS over 474.0 innings out there. It’s irresponsible.

6. Noah Syndergaard needs to be better. Under no circumstances can he surrender a 3-0 lead in that spot. He’s a big time pitcher who tries to back it up with his talk and swagger. Big time pitchers don’t lay an egg like he did with the season on the line. He’s better than that.

7. Also, pinch hitting for Syndergaard was the right move. He can slam his helmet all he wants. He deserved to be lifted from that game, and Todd Frazier gave that team a much better chance to score with the bases loaded and two outs. Neither player delivered when they needed it most, which was a theme this weekend.

8. One of the reasons why the Mets didn’t win was Pete Alonso and Michael Conforto came up well short. Each came up two times in the late innings as the tying run. They couldn’t get the key hit or even draw a walk. When you boil it all down, even taking into account Callaway’s terrible decision making, that’s why they lost.

9. On the bright side with Alonso, his bases loaded walk winning Friday night’s game was a real sign of maturity. He was clearly amped up for that at-bat, and while he ran the count full swinging at some pitches he probably shouldn’t have, he did take the one he needed to take to draw the walk to win the game.

10. The bigger problem with the Mets is this bullpen. The one day Justin Wilson doesn’t have it, and the Mets don’t have someone to pick him up. When you dig deeper, it’s very likely Paul Sewald is the third or fourth most reliable reliever out of the bullpen. That can’t happen.

11. Speaking of the bullpen, you can’t have a series like this and not have Seth Lugo not throw one pitch. Not one. Unless he is hurt, that’s inexcusable, especially with the season on the line yesterday.

12. In terms of Lugo, at some point the Mets need to begin contemplating shutting him down for the year. If you are not going to win this year, you should not be wasting his innings. In all likelihood, that decision will likely be fueled by how the Mets do in this upcoming series against the Diamondbacks.

13. Seeing all that Brodie Van Wagenen did this past offseason, he deserves to watch the Diamondbacks pass them in the Wild Card standings led by a Wilmer Flores who he did not want on the team.

14. On that note, while Stroman was struggling, Anthony Kay had a strong Major League debut against the Rays. His eight strikeouts was a Blue Jays debut record. It should also be noted in that game Travis d’Arnaud would drive home the go-ahead run for the Rays.

15. In Seattle, Justin Dunn was called up. That means Jarred Kelenic remains the only first round draft pick made by Sandy Alderson who has not made it to the majors. Sandy really acquired about built up the young talent in the Mets system.Of course, Van Wagenen couldn’t wait to get rid of them in one bad trade after another.

16. When you boil it all down, the issue isn’t Callaway or the bullpen or the depth. The issue is Van Wagenen. As one noted on this site, Van Wagenen mortgaged the future and ruined the payroll flexibility to build the fourth best team in this division. Seeing how he’s operated the team and how the Wilpons continue to operate this team, Major League Baseball needs to intervene. At a time with their being concerned about attendance and ratings, they cannot possibly let a team in the largest media market in the world continue operating this way. It’s not good for the game.

17. What is good for the game is Nimmo. He’s always enthusiastic on the field, and as we saw this weekend, he can come up big when the Mets need him. Since he came off the IL, he walked nine times in 22 plate appearances. He drove in a run and found a way on base with the game on the line. He’s been great . . . just like he was last year.

18. Credit is due to Amed Rosario. He made a great play in the hole on Friday to turn what could’ve been a Rhys Hoskins RBI single into an inning ending double play. He was also 3-for-5 yesterday getting on base twice in the late innings starting what should’ve been run scoring rallies. If you want to take some solace in this series and season, Rosario’s growth is the biggest takeaway.

19. Mets fans won’t want to hear this, but Edwin Diaz is THIS CLOSE to figuring it out. He has struck out 12 out of the last 20 batters he has faced. That shows he is getting back to what he was last year with the Mariners. Of course, he still has allowed too many big homers, and even if he is starting to figure it out, it appears to be too little too late.

20. On that front, thanks to the Brewers this weekend, the Mets are still alive. Until such time as the odds become impossible, the Mets have a chance especially since they have Jacob deGrom and a host of other very good players. As long as the Mets have a pulse, and seeing how they continued to fight back in this series, they do, we should continue to believe.

Pete Alonso Literally Walks It Off

Sometimes, one bad decision or call can change the reflection of an entire game. We saw that happen in the fifth inning.

Up until that point, the Mets were leading 2-0. The first run came when Jeff McNeil singled home Todd Frazier in the second. The Mets might’ve done more damage, but that inning ended on a strike ’em out-throw ’em out double play with McNeil getting thrown out at second.

That 1-0 lead grew to 2-0 when Michael Conforto hit his career best 29th homer off Phillies starter Zach Eflin in the fourth. Those are all the runs Elfin would allow in his five innings of work.

At that time, Steven Matz was cruising. He limited the Phillies to two hits over the first four innings. He was in trouble once in the third when he allowed a double to Jean Segura, and he’d hit Bryce Harper in the hand. With one out, he’d get the ground ball, but it was in the hole. It didn’t matter as Amed Rosario got to the Rhys Hoskins grounder to start the inning ending double play.

It looked like nothing could stop Matz. As it turned out, Fieldin Culbrith stood in the way with a bad (non-reviewable) call.

That foul ball was ruled a Segura double. He’d then score on a J.T. Realmuto RBI double. Matz escaped that jam, but he wouldn’t escape the one in the sixth.

After Hoskins walked to lead off the inning, he’d move to second on a fielder’s choice. With Matz not paying attention, Hoskins would steal third.

At that time, there was a base open with noted Mets killer Maikel Franco at the plate. Instead of walking him to set up a better matchup, Mickey Callaway made the very curious move of letting Matz pitch to him. It didn’t end well as Franco hit the game tying RBI single.

After a Jose Pirela single and Phil Gosselin being announced as the pinch hitter, Callaway made the unorthodox move of going to his LOOGY Luis Avilan to ensure Gabe Kapler wouldn’t go to hit potent left-handed bats on the bench (Jay Bruce, Corey Dickerson) wouldn’t come up.

Avilan was careful throwing nothing but change-ups, but he’d walk Gosselin to load the bases. This led to Brad Brach coming into the game to face Segura. Despite his dealing with a shoulder injury, he’d not only get Segura out, but he’d also pitch a scoreless seventh as well.

After Justin Wilson pitched a scoreless eighth, the Mets would finally rally in the bottom of the eighth after being stymied by the Phillies bullpen for two innings.

The rally started with Frazier drawing a leadoff walk against Blake Parker. With Frazier being the go-ahead run, Callaway went to his bench and pinch ran the fast Sam Haggerty. He then made the odd decision of using Luis Guillorme as a pinch hitter to sacrifice Haggerty over. Guillorme wanted to do more with his bunt, and he almost got a base hit as he seemingly purposefully popped it over the charging Hoskins.

In any event, it got the sacrifice part of the job done. After McNeil walked, Kapler played games trying to get Hector Neris more time. Kapler did get more time for Neris, but apparently, it wasn’t enough time with Pete Alonso delivering the go-ahead RBI single.

On the play, it should be noted Haggerty scored easily despite the hard hit ball and Dickerson’s strong arm. In some ways, pinch running Haggerty bought the Mets a run. An insurance run would score on a Wilson Ramos RBI single.

Now, it should be noted Seth Lugo was unavailable. Wilson has elbow issues and was pinch hit for in the eighth. That meant Edwin Diaz.

For a brief moment, Diaz looked electric striking out Logan Morrison. Then, it was a Segura single and no-doubter Realmuto game tying homer. Diaz would strike out the final two batters, but it was too little too late as he blew his seventh save and his second straight save opportunity.

This is a good time to remember just how resilient this Mets team is. After Mike Morin got two quick outs, the hand changed when Juan Lagares hit a 1-2 pitch for a single. J.D. Davis then hit a 3-2 pitch for a single setting up runners at the corners for McNeil.

Kapler went to his bullpen yet again bringing in Nick Vincent. It would prove to be a huge mistake. The moment was way too big for Vincent who first hit McNeil before being wild against Alonso. Honestly, if Alonso doesn’t go out of the zone, it’s not a full count. Ultimately, it didn’t matter as Alonso would draw the bases loaded walk to literally give the Mets a walk-off 5-4 win.

Once again, the Mets backs were against the walls. They were delivered a guy punch. Like all season long, they didn’t go down. Rather, they staggered, delivered the knockout blow themselves, and they live to fight another day.

Game Notes: Diaz has allowed 14 homers, and Cano has hit 11. Diaz “earned” the win, his second of the year.

20/20 Hindsight: Mets Still Alive

On the one hand, the Mets took two out of three, which is a good result against the Nationals as they push for a Wild Card. On the other hand, there was an absolutely brutal loss in that mix making this result feel worse than anticipated:

1. It is high time Mickey Callaway gets credit for keeping this team together. There have been a number of absolutely brutal losses and each time the team picks itself up and surprises us. There are a number of things you can point to that you don’t like with Callaway. However, the way he manages that clubhouse appears to be truly special.

2. Getting back to that bullpen meltdown, that was arguably the worst regular season loss between games 1 – 161 in team history. The least said about it the better. Honestly, if you want to dwell on it, you can go here or here, but there needs to be no more focus on that.

3. Robinson Cano showed no ill effects of the hamstring going 3-for-4 with a walk, homer, and two RBI. The Mets need him to be just like this, which coincidentally is just how Moises Alou was in 2007.

4. Just to outline the job Brodie Van Wagenen did this past offseason, Edwin Diaz has allowed more homers (13) than Cano has hit this year (11).

5. On that front, the Mets have still gotten nothing from Jed Lowrie, who has requested to continue his rehab assignment, one which has not gone well at all. After playing seven innings in the field on August 31, he has DHed twice, had a day off, and played just five innings in the field. This is shaping up to be one of the worst signings in Mets history.

6. Brandon Nimmo is not only back, but he is in mid-season form drawing six walks in 12 plate appearances. He also has a double and a homer. This is exactly what he did last year when he was the second best hitter in the National League. It may be time to put him back atop the lineup.

7. It was a shame to see Wilson Ramos‘ hitting streak end with Howie Kendrick playing the role of Ken Keltner.

8. Pete Alonso‘s 45 homers are the most in a player’s first season. Of note, Mark McGwire and Aaron Judge had cups of coffee previous to their full first season. On the subject of Alonso and Judge, Alonso is on pace to tie his 52 homer mark.

9. There were two completely shocking things from Juan Lagares yesterday – an error and a homer to dead center.

10. With Hyun-Jin Ryu‘s regression, and with Jacob deGrom out-pitching Max Scherzer, this Cy Young race is in a dead heat, and you can make the argument deGrom is in the lead albeit very slightly.

11. After struggling since his return from the IL, Jeff McNeil has been himself again going 5-f0r-14 in the series with two homers and seven RBI.

12. There is something special when you watch a player like Zack Wheeler struggle so much on the mound only to allow one run over five innings. The way he fought when the Mets needed him to fight like that to get the team back on the winning track.

13. Jeurys Familia has been horrible his past two outings presenting what is probably the low point of his season, which is truly saying something. The only thing worse than Familia is the Mets other right-handed relief options not named Seth Lugo in the bullpen.

14. Lugo continues to be great, and he bailed the Mets out by going two innings a game after he pitched. It’s scary to think where this team would be without him.

15. At the moment, Lugo, Justin Wilson, and Luis Avilan are about the only reliable arms in the bullpen. In terms of Lugo and Wilson, they both have elbow issues, and the Mets need to be careful with them. In case there is a postseason, they need to keep them fresh. They also need to keep them healthy for 2020.

16. We see Asdrubal Cabrera still has that clutch gene going 4-f0r-12 in this series with a double, homer, and four RBI. The Mets did well getting Joe Panik, but you wonder how things would have been different had Van Wagenen not decided to sign his own former client who has not played a game this year.

17. Mets are 10 games over .500 at home, and 17 of their final 23 games are at home. Their six road games come against the Rockies and Reds. Looking at this schedule, there is the potential for a lot of wins on the schedule.

18. In order for the Mets to get into the postseason, they are going to have to have no more missteps, and they are going to have to beat the Dodgers and Braves at home. Keep in mind, if the Mets do have the luck to make it to the postseason, they are going to have to do this in October as well.

19. Robert Gsellman is trying to get back this year from a torn lat by throwing yesterday. With no real opportunity for a rehab assignment, you do have to wonder just how much of a chance he is going to get to come back. That said, given the state of the bullpen, you might as well throw him out there when he’s finally ready.

20. All told, somehow the Mets are still alive even with the chances being fleeting. Lets just enjoy this ride for as long as it lasts, and who knows, maybe they will pull it out.

Mickey Callaway Managed The Ninth Inning Correctly

The New York Met did not lose last night’s game because of Mickey Callaway. They lost the game because the Mets bullpen could not hold a six run lead in the ninth inning. That’s not on the manager, and if you think it was, honestly, you are going to blame him for anything that goes wrong.

Sure, the Mets could have left Seth Lugo in the game and had a much smoother finish. However, by pulling Lugo, you save him to pitch today in what should have been an opportunity for a sweep. Again, this was a six run lead with the bottom of the Nationals linuep. If you can’t trust the rest of your bullpen to hold that lead, you’re not winning any games from here on out.

Callaway brought in Paul Sewald. Since he was called back up on August 20, he had allowed one earned run over 7.1 innings with 13 strikeouts and one walk. In his last appearance against the Phillies, he came into the game with two outs and the tying run on second, and he would get J.T. Realmuto to pop out to end the inning. As it stands, Sewald has become the Mets most reliable right-handed reliever not named Lugo.

Sewald just didn’t have it. With Anthony Rendon coming up and Juan Soto on deck, the Nationals had a run home with runners at the corners. At this point, it should be noted Brad Brach has allowed at least one run in three of his last six outings. Jeurys Familia had just blown the Phillies game, and he has not been good all year. At this point, it was very reasonable to give Sewald one more batter.

After Rendon’s RBI single, Callaway went and brought in Luis Avilan to face Soto. Entering last night’s game, left-handed batters were 2-for-38 off Avilan. Again, Avilan had allowed TWO HITS ALL YEAR to left-handed batters. TWO. He is exactly the guy you want in that situation to face Soto.

Again, he didn’t get the job done allowing a single to load the bases.

Now, the Nationals were going to pinch hit Ryan Zimmerman for Matt Adams with Avilan on the mound, and Kurt Suzuki was on deck. Before commenting this was a spot for Justin Wilson consider the splits Zimmerman and Suzuki had.

  • vs. LHP
    • Zimmerman .382/.417/.559
    • Suzuki .349/.373/.587
  • vs. RHP
    • Zimmerman .195/.280/.356
    • Suzuki .237/.308/.439

Look at those splits. You bring in the right-handed pitcher to face them. This was the exact situation you bring in Edwin Diaz, who just so happens to be the pitcher Brodie Van Wagenen traded Jarred Kelenic and Justin Dunn while taking on $100 million of Robinson Cano‘s contract to acquire.

If you’ll remember, when Familia was blowing the game against the Phillies, people were screaming Callaway should have brought in Diaz. The narrative then was Diaz had figured out his slider after working with Jacob deGrom, and he was much better. After all, he had struck out six of the last eight batters he had faced. He also had a streak where he allowed runs in just one of his past eight appearances.

You could argue for Wilson. However, Zimmerman and Suzuki annihilate left-handed pitching. Absolutely, destroys them. Chances are if you are blaming Callaway for not using him, you’d blame him for his ignoring the splits if Zimmerman and Suzuki beat him. Diaz was hot, and it had been argued Diaz figured it out. Also, just like Sewald and Avilan, this was a spot Diaz has to succeed.

Zimmerman doubled. Suzuki walked it off. That’s seven runs in one-third of an inning.

To recount, Callaway made the right move lifting Lugo to have him available for today’s game. By doing that, he could get an inning from him instead of having to use one of the guys who can’t get the job done. He went to Sewald, who has been great lately. He then went to Avilan who had allowed two hits to left-handed batters all year. He then went to the guy the Mets mortgaged the farm and payroll flexibility to close out games. That same guy had been really good entering yesterday’s game.

Ultimately, the Mets lost this game because of the inexcusable performance of three relievers who had been very good of late. This wasn’t on Callaway. Not everything is. As for his postgame comments, who cares? They’re meaningless. What matters is how he handles that clubhouse. We’ll see that in today’s game.

Overall, Callaway made the right moves. Sure, you could argue for Wilson or to stick with Lugo, and if they do that, maybe they win last night. However, at some point, you have to go to relievers not named Wilson or Lugo, and they need to succeed. That’s the case all the more with Wilson and Lugo each having elbow issues.

If no one other than Wilson and Lugo can’t get the job done, blame the relievers who can’t hold a six run lead. Blame the General Manager who assembled this disaster of a bullpen. At some point, Callaway has to use these guys, and a six run lead in the ninth was the right spot. He’s not to blame for it.