Steven Matz

Nationals Annual Beat-Down Of Mets Continues

It seems at least once a year the Washington Nationals just embarrass the Mets. While much has changed in this COVID19 world, apparently, this tradition has survived.

Simply put, Steven Matz was terrible. Somehow, Paul Sewald was worse. Chasen Shreve wasn’t exactly sterling, but he looked like Cy Young compared to those two.

To fully put this debacle into perspective, with all due respect to Drew Smith, Luis Guillorme was the Mets best pitcher of the night.

Brandon Nimmo had a rough night in the outfield. He didn’t make an error, but he didn’t get to a lot of balls. He wasn’t the only one off during the Nationals 16-4 thrashing of a the Mets.

The Nationals hit four homers with two of them coming from former Met Asdrubal Cabrera. That included a true juiced ball homer.

You may remember Cabrera from his stint with the Mets. If not, you may remember him as the guy Brodie Van Wagenen didn’t give a courtesy call to when he instead opted to sign his former client Jed Lowrie, who had a busted knee.

Lowrie gave the Mets nine pinch hit attempts, and Cabrera helped the Nationals win the World Series. He also helped destroy the Mets tonight. So, thanks for that Brodie.

Really, the less said about this debacle, the better. It’s time to turn the page and just try to figure out how to piece together a starting rotation. Again, thanks for that Brodie.

Game Notes: J.D. Davis‘ hitting streak ended. Ali Sanchez made his MLB debut hitting into a double play in his only PA.

Vazquez Beats Matz

Larry Jones. Pat Burrell. Willie Harris. Willie Stargell. Mets killers all.

Apparently, Christian Vazquez now belongs on this list.

After an impressive first start of the season, Steven Matz was good again tonight. Good, not great, and that was because of Vazquez.

Over his 5.1 innings, Matz allowed three runs on eight hits. All three of those runs came on Vazquez homers.

The first homer came in the top of the second. Matt settled in, and the Mets would get him a lead. In the third, Jeff McNeil hit a bases loaded two RBI single. The Mets only had one out, but failed to push across another run. It would cost them.

In the fourth, Matz had one of his moments of old. Xander Bogaerts led off the inning with a slow roller down the third base line. McNeil had little choice but to eat it. Matz was visibility frustrated by getting beat on a slow dribbler off a good pitch.

Like we’ve seen in the past with him, he can let the emotions get the better of him. He’d leave a fastball up and over the middle of the plate, and Vazquez would hit his second homer of the game giving the Red Sox a 3-2 lead.

Vazquez really just wore out the Mets in this four game two city set. He was 4-for-12 with three homers and four RBI. All three of his homers came over the last two games.

It wasn’t just his work at the plate. He was also terrific behind the plate. He worked well with Martin Perez. On that note, Perez allowed just two runs on two hits and four walks over 5.1 innings.

Vazquez would also throw out one of the two stolen base attempts against him.

Back to Perez, he was good but very wild walking four. Even with those four walks, the Mets really only got something started in the third against Perez.

Fortunately, the Mets bullpen was great with Drew Smith pitching 1.2 scoreless with two strikeouts. Jeurys Familia has his turbo sinker working striking out two in a 1-2-3 eighth. That gave the Mets a chance.

They got a rally started too. After Pete Alonso was plunked by Matt Barnes. He’d then go from first to third on a single putting runners at the corners with one out.

Michael Conforto came up with a chance, but he had a terrible at-bat. He was uncomfortable with many check swings, and he’d just get overpowered when he struck out. As good as Conforto was to start he year, he’s been that bad the last two games.

Yoenis Cespedes had a hard fought at-bat where he drew a walk loading the bases. That put the game in Andres Gimenez‘s hands. How the Mets got here was an interesting story.

Despite not really preparing for the season and missing Summer Camp, the Mets activated Brian Dozier. Not only was he activated, but he’d also be thrust into the starting lineup.

Dozier was 0-for-2 with a GIDP. With the Red Sox pitching the right-handed Heath Hembree, Luis Rojas sent Robinson Cano to the plate. After Cano’s lead-off single, Rojas sent Gimenez in to pinch run for Cano. Gimenez would steal a base, but he’d get stranded.

That meant Gimenez was up in the Dozier/Cano spot in the eighth. Unlike yesterday when he tripled, he rolled over one for the inning ending groundout.

In the ninth, the Mets brought in Edwin Diaz who loaded the bases with no outs. He’d strike out Rafael Devers and on a 3-2 pitch, he’d plunk Jose Peraza to force in a run.

This led to the Mets bringing in Paul Sewald. Sewald kept the Mets within 4-2 by striking out Kevin Pillar and getting J.D. Martinez to fly out to end the inning.

Brandon Workman, who really labored yesterday and nearly blew the save, came on to try to get another save tonight.

After Wilson Ramos inexplicably swung at the first pitch and grounded out, Nimmo singled. After Amed Rosario struck out, the game was in Alonso’s hands.

Alonso swung at a 2-2 pitch well out of the zone to strike out and end the game. The Mets turned what should’ve been a series sweep with two flat out ugly loses at home, and they fell back under .500.

Game Notes: Dozier replaced Eduardo Nunez, who was placed on the IL. Daniel Zamora was recalled, and Hunter Strickland was designated for assignment. Despite having a 22 game on base streak, Brandon Nimmo continues to bat ninth.

20/20 Hindsight: Mets Blew Opening Series

Baseball is finally back, and the Mets offense looked like they haven’t played a game since September losing 2/3 to the Braves.

1. Jacob deGrom is still the best pitcher on that planet.

2. And Seth Lugo is still the best reliever.

3. Yoenis Cespedes homering on Opening Day to help give the Mets a 1-0 victory may be the highlight of the season . . . especially if the backend of the rotation will be this bad.

4. Mets two best hitters so far this year are Brandon Nimmo and Michael Conforto, and it’s quite likely it stays that way.

5. With the exception of the Braves offense going bezerk yesterday, it appears the juiced ball is gone. That’s going to be a problem for some of the Mets hitters who relied upon it.

6. If J.D. Davis is in the lineup for his bat, he has to hit, or at least have more hits than Jake Marisnick does in part time duty.

7. That goes double when his defense is that bad. It’s already turned a single into a double and an out into a game altering RBI double.

8. No, you don’t want to overreact to a slow start, but remember a three game set is the equivalent of eight games. That’s over a week of the season.

9. On that note, Porcello was bad last year, and Davis was extraordinarily lucky with his hitting a juiced ball. These two are more than worth monitoring and having a short leash.

10. As for Porcello, he’s locked in the rotation because the Mets have no starting pitching depth. That, and there’s no way the Mets bench him and his prorated $10 million.

11. One of these days, Corey Oswalt will be given a legitimate opportunity to succeed. Last night, being rushed to warm up and brought into the middle of an inning when he was supposed to be preparing to start on Tuesday isn’t remotely giving him a fair shake.

12. Aside from Oswalt imploding, the Mets bullpen looked really good with Jeurys Familia rediscovering his power sinker.

13. Early on, it looks like Justin Wilson is going to be a reliever Luis Rojas really trusts. With the way he pitched last year, and his first two performances this year, you can’t blame him.

14. One nit to pick with Rojas is he needs some consistency. You can’t let Wilson Ramos run the bases with three catchers but pinch run for Cespedes with two outs and a runner on first. It doesn’t make sense to make wholesale defensive changes and leave Dominic Smith on the bench.

15. On that point, use Tomas Nido or Rene Rivera with Edwin Diaz. For a multitude of reasons, the Diaz/Ramos pairing just is not working.

16. Diaz’s stuff has looked great. However, that was a bad pitch to Marcell Ozuna. He threw five straight pitches to that side of the plate, and the previous day he went there to strike Ozuna out. Ozuna couldn’t have had a better idea what that pitch was going to be even if he was a Houston Astro.

17. That spoiled a GREAT start from Steven Matz who has seemingly taken another step forward from his second half turnaround. That added velocity and improved change makes him a legit number two instead of the one he is on paper.

18. Mets are going nowhere if Marcus Stroman‘s injury is serious.

19. We have seen Travis d’Arnaud and Tyler Flowers miss this series with COVID19 symptoms. Marlins catcher Jorge Alfaro tested positive along with some teammates. It appears with catchers unable to socially distance during games, they are the players facing the brunt of the COVID19 risks.

20. It’s great having baseball back even with the universal DH and extra inning rules bastardizing the game. On the later, with all four extra inning games ending in the 10th, Rob Manfred may really push for that rule to stay. Naturally, the universal DH fans who love gimmicks to produce offense must love that.

Game Recaps

Yo! Mets Baseball Is Back

Mets Didn’t Edwin Game Diaz Blew

Pin Tonight’s Blowout Loss on Brodie Van Wagenen

Mets Didn’t Edwin Game Diaz Blew

Luis Rojas and the Mets had done nearly everything right, and they were one strike away from going to 2-0 on the season.

Steven Matz was brilliant over six innings allowing just a homer to Adam Duvall. It was only one of the two hits he allowed while he struck out seven.

He got a lead in the fifth on a rally started by the same Michael Conforto we’re all told can’t hit lefties hit a double off Braves left-handed starter Max Fried. Conforto scored on an Amed Rosario RBI triple, and Rosario scored on a Jeff McNeil sacrifice fly.

Jeurys Familia was great out of the bullpen flashing the same power sinker which made him a great closer. Dellin Betances had a rocky debut for the Mets, but it didn’t hurt that Mets for a few reasons.

First, Rojas went to Justin Wilson to face Matt Adams. When Adams singled, it didn’t score a run because in the top of the eighth, Rojas brought in Jake Marisnick for defense. If that’s Brandon Nimmo in center, Adams single goes for extra bases and ties the score. Instead, the Mets got out of the inning with the lead.

Now, there were some questionable decisions. After Wilson Ramos led off the seventh with a single, Rojas didn’t pinch run for him even with the Mets having three catchers. Ramos was stranded at third (even if his speed wasn’t really the reason).

What made that interesting was in the eighth with two outs Rojas did pinch run Eduardo Nunez for Yoenis Cespedes. Nunez would steal second, but he would be stranded there. He was stranded there because in his first MLB at-bat Andres Gimenez.

Gimenez was brought in for defense for Robinson Cano even with Cano due up fourth. It’s not a bad decision, but you do wonder why not Luis Guillorme there when he had a good year last year, especially in those spots.

Despite all that, the Mets had a 2-1 lead in the ninth, and Edwin Diaz was looking great. He got the first two Braves out with ease, and he was 3-2 with Marcell Ozuna before making an okay pitch.

For those defending the pitch, EVERY PITCH OF THE AT-BAT WAS ON THE OUTSIDE CORNER. Ozuna knew exactly the location allowing him the advantage of knowing to go the other way. You go belt high to a batter knowing the location, bad things are going to happen.

In the bottom of the ninth, the Mets had runners on first and second with one out, but neither Nimmo (who batted ninth) nor McNeil could drive in the game winning run.

In the tenth, we saw that ridiculous new rule putting a runner put on second to start the inning. That runner scored immediately when Hunter Strickland allowed an RBI single to Dansby Swanson. Strickland wasn’t good at all. By the time he allowed a RBI double to William Contreras, the Braves fourth string catcher, it was 5-2.

Honestly, when you look at this game, Diaz was not the only player to blow it.

Nimmo and McNeil twice had runners in scoring position in the late innings, and they failed to deliver the needed insurance run. They also failed to capitalize in the bottom of the 10th.

The Mets loaded the bases with no outs against Luke Jackson in his second inning of work. Instead of Cespedes up, it was Nunez, who hit a shallow fly. Dominic Smith pinch hit for Gimenez and hit a sacrifice fly pulling the Mets to within 5-3.

That would be the final score with Ramos, who was not pinch run for, grounding out to end the game. That groundout came on the heels of some interesting (if not questionable) decisions. It came on the heels of a number of blown chances.

In a normal season, a loss like this feels devastating. In a season where a game is equivalent to 2.7 games, it may actually be devastating.

Game Notes: Last year, Diaz had a 13.50 ERA with zero days of rest, and he had a 6.14 ERA pitching to Ramos. J.D. Davis has started the year 0-for-6 with two strikeouts.

Mets Suffering From Brodie Van Wagenen Decimating Mets Pitching Depth

When Brodie Van Wagenen took over as the Mets General Manager, he was gifted an organization with great pitching depth. It was more than just reigning Cy Young winner Jacob deGrom. It was a rotation so deep, Steven Matz was a fifth starter.

Behind them was an upcoming group of starters at or near top 100 rankings. Of note, Justin Dunn and Anthony Kay were first round picks putting it together and putting themselves in a position to be Major League ready starters sooner rather than later. Notably, both made their Major League debuts last year.

Now, Matz has gone from fifth starter to the Mets second starter, and the Mets rotation currently goes just three deep. How the Mets got here is purely on Van Wagenen’s shoulders.

Some of this was Van Wagenen’s hubris. He was all too willing to trade top prospects close to the Majors and continue with thin pitching depth. It was something the Mets got away with last year with Mickey Callaway who seemed to have a knack for keeping starters healthy. Of course, Van Wagenen couldn’t wait to fire him.

On the top prospects Van Wagenen traded away, he was all too cavalier about it. In fact, he said he was comfortable doing so because he was confident he’d draft well.

Now, Van Wagenen has done well with the drafts. However, it needs to be noted, especially now, Matthew Allan, Josh Wolf, and J.T. Ginn are nowhere near being ready to help this team win now.

Speaking of win-now, the Mets just let Zack Wheeler go to the Phillies even though Wheeler wanted to stay and would’ve signed at a discount. Instead, he signed that discounted deal with the Phillies. To make matters worse, Van Wagenen went out of his way to slight and further motivate Wheeler.

Van Wagenen’s master plan was to instead sign Rick Porcello and Michael Wacha. Porcello is coming off a year where he had the worst ERA in the AL. Wacha has a bum shoulder and a three year decline in FIP, BB/9, K/9, and K/BB.

Again, Van Wagenen’s plan was to dismantle the Mets group of aces and near aces with Major League ready first round picks and replace that with well below average starters in the name of . . . depth. While it’s a sick joke, it wasn’t intended to be funny.

Sure, you can argue injuries hit this rotation. Noah Syndergaard needing Tommy John couldn’t be foreseen. Marcus Stroman tearing his hamstring was bad luck. Conversely, that’s exactly why you hold onto your starting pitching depth, and it’s why you hold onto your top end starters instead of letting them go to a division rival.

These problems have been compounded by the bullpen injuries. This means the Mets are down to three viable starters and no one to fill-in those middle innings when the dubious fourth and fifth starters can’t go deep into games.

However, Van Wagenen will tell us it’s alright because he built depth (he didn’t), and he had a draft strategy (leaving the team with no real MLB ready starters in the minors). Suddenly, the Mets went from a team so needed a couple of tweaks to be a true World Series contender to a team who may now just be the fourth best in the division.

If the Mets fall short this year, make no mistake, it’s all on Van Wagenen and his complete and utter short-sightedness on how he has handled the Mets pitching depth.

Simulated Recap: Matz And Mets Bullpen Shredded

This game was tied at 3-3 in the fourth. Michael Conforto has a first inning RBI single. Robinson Cano had a third inning RBI double, and he scored later that inning.

Steven Matz allowed two more runs in the fourth before getting the hook. Any chances the Mets might’ve had of coming back to get Matz off the hook were dashed when the Phillies knocked around Justin Wilson in the eighth and Dellin Betances in the ninth.

That made the 7-3 game an ugly 11-3 loss.

Simulated Recap: Eight Isn’t Great

The Cubs jumped all over Steven Matz scoring three runs in the first with a Kris Bryant RBI double, Willson Contreras RBI ground out, and Kyle Schwarber RBI single.

Matz wouldn’t survive the fourth, and the Mets offense couldn’t muster anything against Jose Quintana and the Cubs bullpen.

In the end, the Mets only had five hits which was fewer than the Cubs eight runs in the Mets 8-0 loss.

Simulated Recap: Mets Don’t Respond Enough

Steven Matz allowed two runs in the fourth and one in the fifth. Each time the Cardinals scored, the Mets did as well, but they didn’t score enough.

After the Cardinals scored two in the fourth, Yoenis Cespedes homered to pull the Mets to within one. After the Cardinals scored in the fifth, the Mets loaded the bases with one out.

The Mets only run that inning was a Jeff McNeil sacrifice fly against winning pitcher Carlos Martinez. With the Mets unable to further cash-in there or put more runs on the board, they’d lose 3-2.

Simulated Recap: Cano Homers Twice To Beat Nationals

For the first six innings, this was a pitcher’s duel between Steven Matz and Stephen Strasburg with the Mets having a 1-0 lead with Robinson Cano hitting a solo homer in the second.

Both pitchers lost it in the seventh.

In that inning, Cano had an RBI single chasing Strasburg. Yoenis Cespedes then hit a three run homer off Daniel Hudson increasing the Mets lead to 5-0.

After an Eric Thames two run homer, Matz was lifted. The Nationals pulled within one when Robert Gsellman allowed two runs.

Cano homered for the second time in the game in the eighth. That three run homer put the Mets up 8-4. That would be the final score with Matz picking up the win. Dellin Betances earned the save.

Simulated Recap: Bellinger Ruins Matz’s Birthday

The Mets had this one. With Jake Marisnick, Brandon Nimmo, and Pete Alonso homering, the Mets had a 5-3 lead, and it looked like Steven Matz was going to get the win on his birthday.

Then, in the eighth, Cody Bellinger hit a three run homer off Dellin Betances. With that, the Mets 5-3 lead turned into a 6-5 loss.