Steven Matz

Luis Rojas Not To Blame For 2021 Season

One day, you’re in first place, and you’re a potential NL Manager of the Year. The next, your team is eliminated from postseason contention with no hope of having a .500 record.

That’s the type of year it has been for Luis Rojas and the New York Mets. As is standard, when a team falls short, the manager faces scrutiny.

It comes with the territory. Obviously, Rojas hasn’t been perfect. Assuredly, he’s made bad decisions, and there are times you wonder what in the world he’s doing.

Go pinpoint your most maddening moment. Make it out to be more than it is. Throw a few more moments on there. Magnify that.

Guess what? That’s not the reason the 2021 Mets didn’t make the postseason. It’s far from it.

In fact, for a while, Rojas was one of the things ruse was right about the Mets. At least, that was the narrative. In the end, blaming or crediting Rojas was just that – narrative.

The truth of the matter is it all fell apart. It wasn’t all at once, but rather in pieces. Marcus Stroman and Taijuan Walker were the only two starters to last the year with Stroman the only one to have sustained success into the second half.

Offensively, the Mets went with Chili Davis only to utilize advanced data which runs counter-intuitive to what Davis does. We saw the offense have a big letdown.

Francisco Lindor had a slow start. Michael Conforto dealt with COVID and a career worst year. That’s the tip of the iceberg with everyone not named Brandon Nimmo and maybe Pete Alonso having poor to flat out bad years.

Speaking of Nimmo, there were just so many injuries. So, so, so many injuries. When players like Jose Peraza and Jordan Yamamoto were injured, you saw the backups to the backups get hurt.

For his part, Rojas listened to the workload management rules. The front office specifically said it was the player’s fault they got hurt.

That brings us in a roundabout way to a big part of the issue. With last year being a COVID impacted year, depth was more important than ever. For some reason, the front office was cavalier with it.

Steven Matz was traded for two relievers who had little impact and another flipped for the poor performing Khalil Lee. They also made odds unforced errors like designating Johneshwy Fargas for assignment. For our mental health, we probably should’ve dwell too much on Jerad Eickhoff pitching in five games.

Fact of that matter is if Jacob deGrom was healthy, much of this season goes much differently. If the Mets hitters were just a reasonable facsimile of their career stats, the season is far different.

For that matter, if the front office looked at the roster problems and attacked them at the trade deadline, things go differently. At the end of the day, this was a first place team at the trade deadline, and the organization opted to fight another day.

In what way is all of this Rojas’ fault? The simple truth is it isn’t.

We can and should have the debate over whether Rojas is the right man for the job. Realistically speaking, he’s only had one year at the helm, and in that time, he’s shown good and bad.

The issue for any pure novice manager is whether he can grow. No one knows that yet. No one.

What we do know is the Mets shown they can win and fall apart with Rojas at the helm. Both instances were entirely tied to the strength of the roster. That brings us to the front office.

In the end, feel however you want about Rojas. It doesn’t matter because he’s not the reason the Mets disappointed this year. He may eventually be the fall guy but things aren’t magically improving because there’s another manager. The only way that happens is if the roster improves.

20/20 Hindsight: Mets Beat Another Good Team

The Toronto Blue Jays of Buffalo came to Citi Field, and like usual, the New York Mets took the series:

1. Luis Guillorme is an absolute magician on the field. That tag between the legs was next level genius.

2. Guillorme also has .417 OBP and 121 OPS+. How he doesn’t play everyday, even when everyone is healthy, is just bizarre.

3. One of the reason the Mets are good is Tomas Nido. On Sunday, he was flashing his cannon picking off one runner and throwing out another. He could start for half the teams in the league.

4. Luis Rojas gets maligned for some reason, but his opting to pinch hit an ailing Jeff McNeil for Nido resulted in a game winning double. Most managers don’t pinch hit for their catcher, especially in the sixth inning.

5. It was absolutely right to pull Tylor Megill. He’s a rookie who threw zero innings in a game last year. You need to keep him going to the finish line and we’ll beyond.

6. Megill has been great, and at this rate, while there are bound to be tough games and setbacks, we should expect him to continue to improve.

7. Keeping Rich Hill in for the sixth was probably the wrong move. At this point in his career, he’s a five and fly. That said, you understand pushing him with the doubleheader and the lack of starters. It’s a marathon, not a sprint.

8. Pete Alonso has been a monster, and he’s stepped up big time in Francisco Lindor‘s absence. He won’t win it, but he should get some down ballot MVP votes.

9. J.D. Davis again showed he can’t play third. If you continue playing that glove while relying on a 30.8 K% and .526 BABIP, you’re going to get burned.

10. At the trade deadline, the Mets should call the Cleveland Indians and ask what they want for Jose Ramirez, and then, they should say, “Yes!”

11. Fans who don’t think Kris Bryant and Josh Donaldson are significant upgrades over Davis are just embarrassing themselves.

12. Taijuan Walker has struggled out of the break. He’ll be fine.

13. Maybe Michael Conforto won’t be any good this year. Aside from one outburst in Cincinnati, he’s been bad all year.

14. Brandon Nimmo has been terrific this year, and the Mets should be talking extension with him.

15. Mets really need bullpen help at the trade deadline. While you can count on their top guys, they don’t have depth. With the doubleheaders and just four starters, they’re going to get taxed more.

16. Dominic Smith has continued his resurgence, and quietly, he’s at a 0 DRS in left (even if OAA paints a much different picture).

17. Steven Matz once again proved he can pitch in New York. It was nice seeing him treated well by Mets fans. It’s a shame he still isn’t with the team. They needed him this year.

18. Aaron Loup continues to be phenomenal. When he pitches this way in the postseason, they’ll write ballads about him.

19. Seth Lugo has been good and effective, but he hasn’t been Seth Lugo yet.

20. The Mets seem to have the division wrapped up heading into the deadline with the NL East teams really in position to sell. They need to get healthy, and they can’t let anyone try to make things interesting.

Pete Alonso Powers Tylor Megill’s First Career Win

Steven Matz was once in this position. On the mound at Citi Field getting his first MLB hit and win. Except, those days are gone now.

Instead Matz was squaring off against the Mets. He was trying to keep Tylor Megill winless. He gave it his best shot, but he fell short.

Matz wasn’t successful for three reasons. First and foremost, Megill was really good. For the second straight start, he pitched six innings. For the second straight start, he had his best career start.

This start was far more impressive than his last. It’s not just because of the two hits and one walk while striking out five. It was because of the strength of the Toronto Blue Jays lineup.

Keep in mind, after Bo Bichette stole second in the first, no other Blue Jay would get into scoring position against Megill. Of course, there was some clutch defense.

Matz also had a strong start against his hometown team. Ironically, the only problem with his start was his start. Mets fans are all too familiar with that.

  • Matz walked Brandon Nimmo to start the first. Then, Pete Alonso hit a homer giving the Mets a 2-0 lead.
  • https://twitter.com/mets/status/1418715090069737475?s=21
  • Past that, there wasn’t any offense from either side. That wasn’t until Alonso again homered in the eighth. This one was an impressive shot to the second deck.

    This 3-0 lead stood because the Mets bullpen was strong. Seth Lugo and Trevor May each pitched a scoreless inning. Edwin Diaz, who blew three consecutive saves, would not blow this one.

    Diaz was hit hard, but they were at em balls. These meant instead of extra base hits Mets cruised to victory hete and look to continue winning.

    Game Notes: Jeff McNeil was held out of the lineup due to muscle weakness. The Mets acquired Rich Hill in a trade with the Tampa Bay Rays.

    20/20 Hindsight: Mets Blow Opportunity To Bury Nationals

    The New York Mets had an opportunity to effectively end the Washington Nationals season. Instead, they lost three of four:

    1. The Mets have been bad on the road. They’re actually 94 season loss pace (.421 winning percentage) on the road. That needs to change.

    2. David Peterson took another step back, but as is par for the course, he’ll stay in the rotation due to injuries.

    3. Joey Lucchesi had another strong start, but now, he’s down with elbow inflammation. With this stretch of games and the Mets pitching depth, this could be a devastating injury.

    4. The whole bench mob thing has been fun, but the Mets showed how much they need their top guys back. Jeff McNeil coming back now couldn’t have come at a better time.

    5. For as obsessed as the Washington Nationals social media team is with Francisco Lindor, he certainly shut them up with a huge game.

    6. Luis Guillorme may not be hitting the ball, but he’s finding a way on base. It’ll be interesting to see what that means going forward with McNeil returning and Jonathan Villar slumping.

    7. Guess Kyle Schwarber got his revenge for the 2015 NLDS.

    8. You can criticize Luis Rojas here and there, but bringing Edwin Diaz into a scoreless game in the ninth isn’t one of those times. It doesn’t matter who he’s relieving.

    9. Take it for the little it’s worth, but Pete Alonso is a step behind where he was last year when everyone thought he had a disappointing season.

    10. Sean Reid-Foley finally had a bad game. The key now is for it to be an isolated incident.

    11. The other part of the Steven Matz trade, Yennsy Diaz looked very impressive. It’ll be interesting to see if he gets more of a look.

    12. It doesn’t matter how good Reid-Foley and Diaz are looking, with the Mets starters dropping like flies, the Mets really needed Matz this year. Yes, that’s even with his hitting the IL himself.

    13. If all the doctors say he’s good to go, and Jacob deGrom feels good, then let him pitch. We’ll all still be nervous, but that’s not a good reason to skip a start.

    14. After Bob Brenly mocked Marcus Stroman‘s du-rag, not only didn’t the Arizona Diamondbacks opt to not discipline him, but they then went on to lose 17 straight.

    15. Hopefully, Steve Cohen seeking out to talk with Stroman is just laying the ground stages for an extension. Stroman has been great, and he’s built for New York.

    16. While the weekend was lost, something good came out of it when Cohen stated his willingness to blow past the luxury tax. That’s a very nice change of pace.

    17. If this now classifies as a bad start for Taijuan Walker, he’s an even better signing than we all thought.

    18. The Mets two main issues in this series were bullpen and offense. The bullpen will get rest soon, and offensive reinforcements are on the way. The Mets will be fine.

    19. The Mets may regret not mercy killing the Nationals when they have starting pitching available. Seeing how stubborn they are, they moved closer to not selling.

    20. The Mets have a four game set against the Atlanta Braves, and they lead them by five games in the division. They can’t afford a repeat of what happened in Washington.

    20/20 Hindsight: Mets Swept Up In Rays

    The New York Mets went to Tampa Bay flying high, and now, their winning streak is over, and they over wounded . . . literally. It was about as bad a weekend as they’ve had all season:

    1. For all the talk of depth, it is very difficult to overcome the loss of Michael Conforto, Jeff McNeil, and Brandon Nimmo. Those are arguably your three best hitters.

    2. The Mets “Bench Mob” has done their job, but you do wonder how long they can hold on as the regulars are injured and don’t appear set to get back to their healthy forms soon.

    3. In terms of injuries, Marcus Stroman hasn’t been the same since his hamstring issues.

    4. With Joey Lucchesi struggling in his current role, the Mets have to question what exactly he is. Is he a starter which gives you maybe four innings? Is he a long reliever? Seriously, what is he?

    5. You really do have to question why Lucchesi is constantly allowed to fail when the Mets could just call-up Jordan Yamamoto. Seriously, he can’t be any worse.

    6. Again, the Mets trading Steven Matz has come back to bite them. They simply didn’t have the rotation depth to just part with a legitimate starter.

    7. David Peterson had a great start just when he needed to have a great start. That said, he needs to get through the bottom third of that Rays lineup unscathed.

    8. This isn’t the postseason. You simply cannot have relievers warming up all the time. Teams need to navigate a 162 game schedule, and that is made all the more complicated by last year’s shortened season.

    9. Not every loss is Luis Rojas‘ fault, and that loss was certainly not on Rojas. The Mets ran into Tyler Glasnow, they didn’t hit with runners in scoring position, and then their bullpen didn’t perform up to standards.

    10. Just like Peterson had to get through the bottom of that lineup, Trevor May has to get out Manuel Margot in that spot. Margot is terrible against right-handed pitching, and he is terrible with two outs and runners in scoring position.

    11. With Jacob deGrom going down, the Mets are in danger of running through their bullpen depth by the end of May.

    12. At some point, James McCann is going to have to do something. His offense hasn’t come along, and even worse, his framing numbers have been terrible. Maybe, this is his year of adjustment, or maybe, he needs more rest than he’s getting. Whatever it is, with all the Mets injuries, the team needs him to figure it out now.

    13. While he’s played a flashy third base, Jonathan Villar has been predictably poor over there. So far, he has a -2 DRS and a -1 OAA. It’s hard to see how he keeps playing everyday when J.D. Davis is ready to return.

    14. Who knows how long he can keep it up, but Patrick Mazeika is becoming the fell good story of the season. When he finally gets his first hit, it’s a homer.

    15. Fair or not, the Mets need more from Pete Alonso, Dominic Smith, and Francisco Lindor. They’re good enough to carry this offense with the other injuries.

    16. Alonso has hit a lot of special homers in his young career, but homering in his hometown had to mean a little bit more to him. Hopefully, that homer sparks a hot streak at the plate which this team so desperately needs.

    17. It’s insane to think Jose Peraza has been this good so far. Right now, the Mets have no other option than to just see how long he rides this wave.

    18. The Mets are fortunate the NL East can’t get out of their own way right now. They get swept by the Rays, and they still stay in first place.

    19. For all the criticism over Lindor and the ratcoon joke, Joe Girardi outright refused to answer questions about his issues with Jean Segura. While some may want to think that’s the better way of handling it, it’s hard to see how that helps brings the team together and fire up the fanbase like the ratcoon joke did.

    20. Injured or not, the Mets begin an important stretch with series on the road against the Atlanta Braves and Miami Marlins. Fortunately, they’re going to put their best foot forward with Taijuan Walker on the mound.

     

    Game Recaps

    Mets Lost Due to Glasnow and Clutch Rays Hitting

    Joey Lucchesi Beings Bullpen Game Implosion

    Mets Banged Up

    20/20 Hindsight: Mets Not Offensive In Cardinals Split

    The New York Mets traveled to St. Louis for a four game set with the Cardinals. How they got there was strange even for Mets standards:

    1. Fly Chili Davis out to St. Louis. Fire him after scoring five runs (and losing). The same offensive ineptitude continues.

    2. Being fair, it’s going to take more than a series to fix Davis impact. Regardless, the Mets handling of his firing was garbage.

    3. At least Francisco Lindor snapped his 0-for-26 streak. His only longer streak was 2018 when he had his best ever offensive season.

    4. Even with his struggles, Lindor has walked more than he’s struck out.

    5. Speaking of walks, Michael Conforto walked six times in this series. It’s another indication just how much he’s locked in at the plate.

    6. Taijuan Walker was completely locked in with the best non Jacob deGrom start of the year.

    7. Walker again appears to be the steal of the offseason.

    8. It’s way too soon to panic about deGrom. He knows his body, and he opted to be precautious. If he says he’s ready to go again soon, we can trust him.

    9. Carlos Carrasco is a bigger issue. The team may not want to call it a setback, but it was.

    10. Carrasco is emblematic of a larger issue. The Mets didn’t build sufficient starting pitching depth, and right now, they don’t have a fifth starter. It’s another reason why when with Sean Reid-Foley‘s early season success, the Steven Matz trade made little sense.

    11. For some bizarre reason, the Mets have a lot more trust and faith in Joey Lucchesi than Jordan Yamamoto. That’s even with Yamamoto performing better against the Cardinals than Lucchesi.

    12. Marcus Stroman is a warrior. He was willing to take the ball on short rest with a hamstring injury, and he performed well in a snakebitten start.

    13. It seemed all Kevin Pillar needed to get going was to get some playing time. He’s really stepped up in Brandon Nimmo‘s absence.

    14. With Trevor May and Aaron Loup putting their poor first appearances behind them, the Mets bullpen has been unstoppable, and that’s before Seth Lugo returns from injury.

    15. Tomas Nido is having a great season. In limited duty, he has hit and framed well. If he keeps this up, he may soon put pressure on James McCann to get some more playing time.

    16. In addition to his hitting again, Jeff McNeil has certainly looked very good at second. It’s early but that 3 DRS is a great mark.

    17. It’s incredible to think Albert Pujols was released. On that note, and to a lesser extent, the Mets face a similar dilemma with Robinson Cano next year.

    18. It’s way too soon to seriously suggest Luis Rojas is on the hot seat. The Mets are fine, and they’ll soon start putting distances between themselves and the rest of the NL East.

    19. The state of umpiring is at its worst. We saw it when they had no idea as to the rules about use of an interpreter. By the way, just allow a player to use an interpreter.

    20. Not sure how they’re going to handle the vaccinated/non-vaccinated and other issues, but it will be great to see large crowds at games again.

    Game Recaps

    Mets Front Office Hurts Mets Chances Of Winning

    Mets Split Bizarre Doubleheader

    Taijuan Walker’s Brilliance Offsets Mets Inept Offense

    Marcus Stroman Will Be Fine, Michael Conforto?

    It was just one of those days for Marcus Stroman. You got that sense from the jump.

    Josh Harrison singled to start the game, and he’d go to third on a Michael Conforto error. Yes, the ball took a strange almost non-hop, but you have to keep that ball in front of you. Instead, Harrison was on third, and he’d score on a Yadiel Hernandez sacrifice fly.

    Unfortunately, that wasn’t the last Conforto misstep. In the second, Stroman got himself into some trouble. He issued a pair of one out walks before striking out Andrew Stevenson. To get out of the inning, he needed to retire Joe Ross.

    Ross singled, and there could have been a play at the plate. However, in what is a dangerous pattern early in the season, Conforto made a really poor throw home. As a result, the Nationals led 2-0.

    The issue with Stroman on the day was he was leaving the pitches over the plate, and as a result, he was getting hit fairly hard. The movement was there, but the location wasn’t. When all was said and done, he lasted just four innings after allowing five runs (four earned) on eight hits and two walks.

    The Mets should’ve had a chance to get Stroman off the hook, but it was more of the same. Conforto had the two defensive miscues, and he lined out hard to end the first with runners on first and second.

    There was some measure of redemption for Conforto in the bottom of the fourth when he hit his first homer of the season:

    It was 5-1 entering the top of the fifth. No matter how much the Mets offense has struggled, that’s not an onerous lead with Ross and the Nationals bullpen.

    The problem is Stephen Tarpley wasn’t great, and that’s being kind. He walked two, allowed a hit to Kyle Schwarber, and then he hit Alex Avila to force home a run. At that point, it was 6-1, and Luis Rojas went to Robert Gsellman.

    Gsellman did all he could to get out of the jam, but he still allowed a run. That was on a Stevenson fielder’s choice. Still, it was impressive for Gsellman to limit the damage to one run.

    This was a positive step after Gsellman’s rough appearance against the Cubs. In fact, it was a really important appearance for Gsellman. Not only did he limit the damage in the inning, but he also pitched three scoreless innings.

    That was an indication as to what Gsellman could do to help this team. It also saved the bullpen, which was all the more important after Mets starters failed to pitch more than four innings in Chicago.

    On the bright side, aside from Tarpley, the bullpen was really good. Gsellman (3.0), Jacob Barnes (1.0), and Jeurys Familia combined to shut out the Nationals over five innings while allowing one hit, walking one, and striking out three.

    The larger issue was Conforto. After that homer, he went back to struggling again.

    After Pete Alonso was hit by a pitch to start the sixth, Conforto hit into a double play. In the eighth, runners were on first and second with two outs, and Conforto struck out looking on a pitch over the middle.

    Now, Conforto should not be solely blamed for the loss. The Mets had six total hits with Conforto’s homer being one of them. That said his defense continues to be a problem, and he’s leaving small villages on the basepaths.

    In the end, the Mets aren’t playing well. Given all that’s happened, it’s understandable. The fact that they’re struggling, and they’re .500 is a phenomenal sign. Just imagine how much better they’ll be when Conforto picks things up again.

    Game Notes: Dellin Betances was transferred to the 60 day IL. With Stroman losing, he was unable to keep pace with Steven Matz, who is now the Major League wins leader.

    20/20 Hindsight: Mets On Rocky Mountain High

    The New York Mets flew into Colorado, and they were greeted with snow. That meant another postponement and another doubleheader to the schedule. It just seems like this is the way 2021 is going to go:

    1. Marcus Stroman has been nothing short of phenomenal. He’s fielding his position better than anyone, and he’s 3-0 with a 0.90 ERA. He’s been better than expected, which is saying something.

    2. As great as Stroman has been, Jacob deGrom is still the best pitcher on the planet. His striking out 14 and nine in a row once again put him on the precipice of Tom Seaver‘s level. That’s a testament to how great he is.

    3. One remarkable thing is through the first seven years of their careers, deGrom has a better ERA+ than Seaver, and seeing the way he has started this year, it will continue through their first eight seasons. Of course, Seaver threw a lot more innings.

    4. It was nice to see deGrom get picked up by his offense for once. It was also great to see Francisco Lindor deliver his first game winning RBI as a member of the Mets. Certainly, it will be the first of many.

    5. Lindor’s enthusiasm out there is only matched by Stroman’s. When you have these two players out there, it makes the Mets not just more likeable but more exciting to watch.

    6. While Lindor and James McCann have not hit yet the way we expect them to hit, their defense has been terrific. Case in point was McCann gunning down Trevor Story to end the game with an exceptional tag from Lindor.

    7. The defense still hasn’t been there from Michael Conforto who has had a misplay and a poor throw on Saturday. On the bright side, he has started hitting again.

    8. Pete Alonso has started picking it up. He has been hitting it hard all year, and at least in Coors Field, his rockets were finding holes.

    9. The best way to describe how great Brandon Nimmo has been to start the season is a 1-for-4 day is an off-day. After all, it was the first time all season he only reached base fewer than two times.

    10. It looks like it just might be one of those hard luck years for Jeff McNeil as not matter how much he hits it hard, it is just going to find someone.

    11. While we can expect the bat to turn around, we don’t know when his glove will. He made an error which almost cost the Mets the win. While it is still early, he is at a -1 OAA. He’s generally better than that, so it is still too early to be concerned.

    12. That said, the Mets best defensive alignment is still with McNeil at third and Luis Guillorme at second. That is something to keep in mind when the Mets continue to run out ground ball pitcher after ground ball pitcher.

    13. Speaking of Guillorme, despite his playing very well to start the season, it appears with J.D. Davis activated off the IL, he’ll never play again. That is all the more baffling considering the Mets have all of these ground ball pitchers, and Guillorme is a flat out better player.

    14. There was far too much of an overreaction to Luis Rojas going to Robert Gsellman and Jacob Barnes in the second game of the doubleheader. The Mets simply cannot keep going to Trevor May and Miguel Castro every day. They are going to burn out, and then you’re stuck with Barnes trying to hold leads.

    15. The bigger issue was Barnes making the roster in the first place. The Mets had better options, and they eschewed them to carry him on the roster. Case-in-point, it appears Joey Lucchesi is probably better suited to the bullpen, which would have allowed them to carry Jordan Yamamoto.

    16. Speaking of Mets pitching decisions, Steven Matz has been phenomenal to start the season. Trading him was a completely unforced error. Hopefully, it will not cost them at some point this season. And yes, he would have been successful with the Mets this year.

    17. Seeing all that has transpired, it is hard to believe Sandy Alderson still has a job with the Mets. Perhaps, Steve Cohen is allowing the organizational review to complete before taking action. Until that time, Cohen at least deserves the benefit of the doubt.

    18. On that topic, we are three weeks into the season, and Mickey Callaway is still employed by the Los Angeles Angels.

    19. So far, Edwin Diaz has been really good. If so, that is great news for the Mets and their chances of winning the division.

    20. Jonathan Villar hitting a pinch hit RBI double driving home pinch runner Albert Almora speaks to the depth the Mets have built. If they continue getting contributions from their entire roster like the way they are right now, this is going to be a truly special season.

    Bad Offseason To Be A Mets Fan

    After the Mets signed Jonathan Villar to a free agent deal, the Mets were forced to make a move with the 40 man roster. They opted to designate Brad Brach for assignment.

    Brach grew up a Mets fan. In fact, he loved the Mets so much he went to Game 3 of the World Series as a fan despite being a member of the Baltimore Orioles at the time. Brach would say seeing David Wright homering in that game was one of his favorite moments.

    Speaking of Wright, he was also a huge Mets fan growing up. Like Brach, he’s also not a part of the organization. While Wright was a part of the front office with the Wilpons, he’s not right now as his contract with the team expired.

    As if that’s not bad enough, it appears his number 5 was given to Albert Almora. You’d have to assume this was a mistake, and yet, there it is. Not only is his role gone but apparently so is his number. On the former, the door could be open for Wright to have a role with the team in 2021.

    The same can not be said for Wright’s former teammate Steven Matz. The Long Island native grew up a Mets fan. What was once a fairy tale with his grandfather literally jumping for joy ended with him being traded for the Toronto Blue Jays.

    It could be worse. Rick Porcello grew up a Mets fan, and when he hit free agency for the first time, he actually took less money to fulfill his childhood dream to pitch for the Mets. What ensued was a career worst season.

    Now, he’s a free agent, and at the moment, it seems like no one has any interest in him. That puts him in the same situation as Brach.

    Two lifelong Mets fans who dreamed of pitching for the Mets only for it to all go wrong. Now, they’re looking for a new place to play because the place they wanted to play more than anywhere doesn’t want them.

    All told, that just sums up just how bad of an offseason for a player to be a Mets fan. If you grew up a Mets fan, there just doesn’t seem to be a spot for you with the Mets in 2021 or beyond.

    Rick Porcello Reunion With Mets Makes Sense

    After needlessly trading Steven Matz to the Toronto Blue Jays an missing out on Trevor Bauer, the Mets are left looking for a depth starting pitcher. Ideally, they want a pitcher who can both allow them to have David Peterson start the year in Triple-A and push Joey Lucchesi when Noah Syndergaard is ready to return to the rotation.

    There are still a few options available. There is James Paxton who is coming back from injury and seems eternally injury prone. There is also Taijuan Walker who has had poor velocity and spin on his pitches. The Mets are also talking with Jake Arrieta who has not been the same since leaving the Chicago Cubs.

    Seeing the lengths to which the Mets are going to find that one extra starter, you do wonder how long it will take before they consider bringing back Rick Porcello. While it may not be a popular decision, it would be a decision that would make a lot of sense for the Mets.

    Let’s get the obvious out of the way – Porcello was bad in 2020. In 12 starts, Porcello was 1-7 with a 5.64 ERA and a 1.508 WHIP. He had a career worst 75 ERA+, and he allowed a 11.3 hits per nine. By nearly every measure, this was the worst season of Porcello’s career, and for many, this happening with Porcello being 31 was an indication he was effectively done being a Major League caliber starting pitcher.

    Before addressing that, we should consider his August 5 start. In that game, Porcello earned his one and only win as a member of the Mets. Over seven innings, he would allow one earned on five hits while walking none and striking out four. Aside from his winning that game, there was something else unique and important about that game. In that game, the Mets had Luis Guillorme and Andres Gimenez up the middle, and they were flashing the leather.

    That game was an important reminder Porcello is a sinkerball pitcher who pitches to contact. Really, he wasn’t a different pitcher in that game as he was in most of the season. The real difference was the defense behind him.

    Again, the Mets defense was terrible in most of 2020. In fact, their -22 DRS was the fifth worst in the majors. That’s one of the reasons why Mets pitchers had a .316 BABIP which was the fourth worst in the majors. All told, the Mets defense was horrible, and it severely impacted not just their pitching, but it really derailed their season. It’s at this point we should revisit Porcello’s 2020 season.

    Despite the poor results, Porcello had a 3.33 FIP which is indicative of him pitching SIGNIFICANTLY better than his final 2020 results indicated. Over at Baseball Savant, Porcello posted very good exit velocity numbers and was middle of the pack in terms of hard hit rate. Despite that, he yielded an absurdly high .373 BABIP, which was not just the worst of his career by a preposterous margin, but it was also well above his .308 career mark.

    Keep in mind, Porcello generated the weakest contact he ever has in his career, and he did that in what was a Mets schedule facing a number of very good offensive teams. He also had the best HR/9 and HR/FB rate of his career. All told, there was absolutely no reason why Porcello should have had a poor year. He induced weak contact, and he was keeping the ball in the ballpark.

    Well, no reason except for the atrocious Mets defense. Keep in mind most of the batted balls against him went to the left side of the Mets infield. As we know, that defense has been significantly improved with the addition of Francisco Lindor‘s Gold Glove caliber defense at shortstop, and it will be further improve by having literally anyone other than J.D. Davis at third base.

    Suddenly, not matter who is on the mound, those soft balls hit on the left side of the infield will be the sure outs they should have been. Also, those 50/50 balls will suddenly turn in the Mets favor. Maybe, just maybe, they will start getting to some of those balls few teams could ever turn into outs. Put another way, this is now a Mets team built to allow Porcello to be a successful starter.

    Keeping in mind Porcello grew up a Mets fan and would be driven for redemption, a reunion could make a lot of sense. This is a Mets team built for him defensively, and this is a rotation in need of just one more starter to sure it up. All told, the Mets should now be looking towards Porcello instead of considering the likes of Arrieta.