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.
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.
JUICED BALL HR OF THE NIGHT pic.twitter.com/uGxSYEHKSb
— Dylan Hornik (@_Hornik_) August 11, 2020
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.
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.
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.
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.
Brandon Workman, who really labored yesterday and nearly blew the save, came on to try to get another save tonight.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Luis Rojas and the Mets had done nearly everything right, and they were one strike away from going to 2-0 on the season.
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.
9th inning. 2 outs. Full count.⁰⁰
— Atlanta Braves (@Braves) July 25, 2020
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.
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.
Brodie Van Wagenen said he had this aggressive draft strategy in mind when he traded away prospects.
— Tim Healey (@timbhealey) June 30, 2020
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.
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.
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.
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.
Both pitchers lost it in the seventh.
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.