There were plenty of reasons to fire Mickey Callaway if you wanted. In fact, his incident with Tim Healey in and of itself was grounds for firing. To the extent it was Callaway and not the front office making some of those curious moves, you certainly have further justification.
However, what you really can’t do is pin the Mets failures to make the postseason at Callaway’s lap, which is what firing him does. That was all the more the case when Brodie Van Wagenen was trying to spin the 2019 season as a positive, including but not limited to noting Edwin Diaz had 26 saves.
Before proceeding, some background is necessary here.
By and large, the Mets were seen as a third or fourth place team in the division with around 85 wins. For example, ZiPS predicted the Mets would finish the year 87-75 in a three way tie for second place in the division. Looking at the 2019 season, the Mets Pythagorean was 86-76, and it just so happened, that was the Mets final record as they finished in third place in the division.
To that extend, the Mets neither over nor underachieved. Rather, you could argue they performed as expected. Of course, lost in that was all that happened during the season.
Pete Alonso had a season greater than anyone could’ve imagined. Jeff McNeil was an All-Star. Amed Rosario figured things out in the second half. The Mets got more production from J.D. Davis and Dominic Smith than they could’ve reasonably expected.
Looking at that alone, you would say the Mets should’ve finished much better than they did. After all, when you are getting that level of production from your young players, the Mets should have been in the Braves position. They would fall far short of that.
There were many reasons for that. Brandon Nimmo would miss over three months of the season. Jed Lowrie would record no hits in only nine pinch hitting attempts. Robinson Cano had an injury plagued year, and when he did play he was not up to his typical standards. Aside from Seth Lugo, the bullpen was mainly a mess. Noah Syndergaard would struggle with the new ball and the new catcher.
The Syndergaard point brings up another interesting point. All the moves Van Wagenen made this offseason proved to be a downgrade from what was already on the team.
Ramos’ 1.4 fWAR was lower than Travis d’Arnaud‘s 1.6. Another interesting note is d’Arnaud would have a 107 OPS+ with the Rays, which is the same Ramos would have with the Mets the whole year. The Mets would cut d’Arnaud after one horrible game leaving the Mets with Tomas Nido as the backup for the full season. He’d have a -0.5 fWAR, which is lower than both d’Arnaud and Kevin Plawecki (0.2).
Cano’s 0.3 WAR was lower than McNeil’s 5.0. Worse yet, it was only 0.1 higher than Justin Dunn‘s 0.2 in four games with the Mariners this year. In fact, Dunn’s 0.2 WAR was much higher than Diaz’s -0.6. Things get worse when you consider Anthony Swarzak had a 0.0 WAR.
Long story short, the Mets would have been better off in 2019 if this trade was never made. What makes this all the more scary is this was supposed to be the year the Mets benefited most. Things are going to get much worse as Jarred Kelenic continues his way to the majors.
Now, people will want to say not all of Van Wagenen’s moves were bad with Davis being held up as the ideal. On that note, Davis was terrible in the field. Among players with at least 550 innings in left, his -11 DRS was the worst in the National League. Among third baseman with at least 200 innings, his -9 DRS was the third worst in all of baseball.
All told, Davis had a 1.0 WAR on the season. That’s just 0.2 higher than Wilmer Flores despite his having played 51 more games. All told, the Mets would have been better off keeping Flores over trading for Davis and signing Lowrie. It would have been a much better allocation of resources than what Van Wagenen actually did.
Beyond all of that, the Mets had players like Aaron Altherr, Keon Broxton, and Carlos Gomez serve as outfield depth. They’d cycle through relievers like Tim Peterson, Stephen Nogosek, Hector Santiago, Brooks Pounders, and the like all season rather than adding that one other arm the bullpen needed. That would make Jeurys Familia‘s season long struggles and Justin Wilson‘s needing to be limited all the worse.
In the end, you can see all the good mitigated against all the bad. In fact, you could argue given all that happened, the Mets probably could’ve been worse than their third place finish. This is all to say the Mets probably did about as well as could have been expected.
That brings us back to Callaway.
Given the Mets did not underachieve, you have a difficult basis to fire him. If you want to argue a better manager could have gotten more from this team, you certainly have a point. If that is the case, the Mets have to now go out and get that guy. That means you hire Joe Girardi or maybe Buck Showalter or Dusty Baker.
But make no mistake here. By firing Callaway, the Mets are essentially pinpointing him as the reason why this team missed the postseason. In the end, if the Mets are going to sell everyone Callaway was the problem, the next manager is going to have to take the Mets to the postseason. That is the bar which has now been set.
If the Mets don’t make the postseason, then we’ll know what we have known since Spring Training. The Mets weren’t good enough not because of their manager. No, they weren’t good enough because the Wilpons didn’t invest enough money into this team, and the General Manager they hired failed to assemble the roster good enough to back up the “Come get us!” hype.
Now that the Mets postseason hopes are officially over, there will come a time to write post mortems to assess all that went wrong and how the Mets could improve in the future.
Before doing that, we should first acknowledge these Mets players fought tooth and nail giving all they could give to help make an improbable run. What we would discover is this is a tough and very likeable group who deserves our gratitude.
Pete Alonso – for having perhaps the greatest rookie season in MLB history while being just a good person.
Aaron Altherr – his RBI double and scoring later in the game proved to be the winning run in a game against the Pirates as the team looked to turn their season around.
Luis Avilan – limited LHB to a .104/.189/.188 batting line making him an exceptional LOOGY, perhaps the last true LOOGY with the incoming MLB rule changes.
Brad Brach – came to the Mets like he always wanted, and he helped stabilize a bullpen which desperately needed his help.
Keon Broxton – had a go-ahead RBI against the Nationals in April helping the Mets get off to another great start.
Robinson Cano – returned from what should’ve been a season ending injury to do all he could to help get this team into the postseason.
Michael Conforto – reminded us how great he is when he is healthy. Yes, great.
Travis d’Arnaud – came back too soon, never complained, and he left the Mets with pride and dignity after a good Mets career.
J.D. Davis – had a season better than anyone could’ve imagined with a number of big hits. More than that, he became a fan favorite as he was a player who clearly loved being a part of this team.
Rajai Davis – the lifelong Mets fan came home, and he would deliver two absolutely huge pinch hits to keep the Mets afloat at times they needed them.
Jacob deGrom – we are experiencing greatness everytime he takes the mound, and at some point we will need to begin having Hall of Fame conversations about him.
Edwin Diaz – there was a real dignity with him when he faced the media everytime he struggled. He made no excuses, and he put the work in to try to get back to where he was in Seattle. From what we’ve seen, he will get back there next year.
Jeurys Familia – you have to say something about someone who loved being a Mets player, and he came back to be a part of another winning team. Hopefully, that will be next year.
Chris Flexen – reinvented himself as a reliever who showed potential with the ability to strike out batters.
Wilmer Font – showed the Mets real value as a reliever before he was inexplicably designated for assignment.
Todd Frazier – provided this team with real leadership and defense, and he had a number of hot stretches which helped the Mets get back into it.
Drew Gagnon – for a month stretch from late April to late May he was an extremely reliable reliever.
Carlos Gomez – came back to the Mets and started the fun “Ye! Ye! Ye!” rallying cry.
Robert Gsellman – before he began to breakdown due to overuse, he was putting together a really good season out of the bullpen.
Luis Guillorme – when he finally got his chance, he proved himself showing this team he needs to be a part of the future. His pinch hit homer was one of the biggest hits of the season.
Sam Haggerty – like Eric Young in 2015, he was a weapon as a pinch runner.
Donnie Hart – albeit in just one appearance, he’s one of the few pitchers in Mets history who has never allowed a run.
Adeiny Hechavarria – showed surprising power and helped keep the Mets going in May.
Juan Lagares – at the end, he reminded us of how great a fielder he can be, and he had one last hurrah with his first two home rungame.
Walker Lockett – his start in San Francisco was the lone win in what was otherwise a lost series.
Jed Lowrie – despite suffering significant injuries, he pushed onward to make himself a viable pinch hitting option.
Seth Lugo – he has been absolutely great, and he has kept an otherwise struggling bullpen afloat.
Steven Matz – for the second straight year, Matz made 30 starts, and he made huge strides forward with a big second half and being dominant at home.
Chris Mazza – a 29 year old rookie is a feel good story, and he had quite the debut against a very good Braves lineup.
Jeff McNeil – proved last year was no fluke, and his versatility allowed the team to get the most out of the roster.
Tomas Nido – was a terrific defensive catcher and framer who helped get the most out of the starters and help them get their minds straight.
Brandon Nimmo – came back from a bulging disc in his neck to pick up where he left off last year. His enthusiasm and love of baseball is always a breath of fresh air.
Stephen Nogosek – put together a great year in the minors to get to the majors.
Corey Oswalt – strong year in Triple-A giving the Mets real rotation depth going forward.
Joe Panik – came back home to New York to help keep the team afloat at the time the Mets were in desperate need for a second baseman, and he performed quite well.
Tim Peterson – earned his way onto the Opening Day roster,and he’d pitch fairly well in his limited opportunities.
Brooks Pounders – six of his seven outings were really good.
Wilson Ramos – turned what was going to be an awful year around with a great August, and his ability to frame the high pitch proved to be a real help to deGrom.
Jacob Rhame – before landing on the IL to end the year, he was showing glimpses of being the type of arm who could be a useful part of the bullpen going forward.
Rene Rivera – brought back warm memories from the 2016 season with him combining with Syndergaard to dominate the Nationals.
Amed Rosario – he made a fools out of people who didn’t believe in his work ethic and talent by showing he is going to be an impact player on both sides of the ball in the future.
Hector Santiago – picked up a big win in extra innings against the Tigers.
Paul Sewald – despite being an afterthought, he once again proved he was a Major League caliber reliever, and he would finally get that first win which proved to be so elusive for him.
Dominic Smith – despite his being maligned and dropped down the depth chart, he would get healthy, and he would show everyone just how good a player he is, and he showed himself to be a great teammate more interested in how he could help the team than his role.
Marcus Stroman – the man was born to pitch on the biggest stage, and he would show it to us. A full year of him is going to be a thrill.
Jason Vargas – he really helped the Mets Wild Card hopes by bombing with the Phillies.
Zack Wheeler – he desperately wanted to be a part of a Mets postseason push, and he not only got that chance, but he would be great down the stretch.
Justin Wilson – he put the elbow problems aside, and he had just a terrific year out of the bullpen.
Daniel Zamora – 13 of his 16 appearances were scoreless, and with his splits, he showed the Mets he could be a modern LOOGY with the changing bullpen rules.
Overall, while you may hate what Brodie Van Wagenen has done as the General Manager, and you can hate the Wilpons for not being invested in this team, you simply have to love each and every one of these players for all they gave this team. We should appreciate them for fighting to the finish and giving us hope for next year.
The New York Mets completely blew it last night. Behind that loss was a a number of players failing. Todd Frazier couldn’t get a hit in two key RBI situations. Steven Matz allowed a grand slam. Brad Brach failed to cover first in time. There’s obviously more.
Behind the players failing was a number of questionable to flat out indefensible decisions from Mickey Callaway.
Callaway should not have let Matz face Jorge Alfaro. With the team having zero margin for error, you cannot use Walker Lockett under any circumstance. There’s no saving the top arms in the bullpen to fight for another day because if you lose, there isn’t going to be another day.
There were other decisions like not starting Brandon Nimmo or allowing Michael Conforto to bat against Brian Moran. You could also question using Rajai Davis as a pinch hitter in the sixth over Nimmo. To be fair, these decisions were mitigated by Juan Lagares going 1-for-3 with a run and a walk, and Amed Rosario hitting a grand slam.
The pinch hitting decisions were mitigated by the actual options available. Tomas Nido and Rene Rivera are not good hitters. Jed Lowrie hasn’t had a hit in his limited pinch hitting appearances, and he has just one right-handed at-bat all year. That’s it for the right-handed bench options against the left-handed pitching the Marlins had out there in the form of Caleb Smith and Moran.
It certainly makes you question why the Mets never made a roster move to add Dilson Herrera to the roster. After all, they lost Eric Hanhold so they can have Chris Mazza and Donnie Hart on the roster, neither of whom have pitched one meaningful inning in September.
Taking that into consideration, you have to look at the bullpen again. Seth Lugo and Justin Wilson are the only reliable arms down there. You can trust Brach against right-handed batters but not left, and vice versa for Luis Avilan. After that, it’s a straight roll of the dice. Sadly, it’s a heavily weighted pair of dice putting the odds stacked against the Mets.
Look at those ERAs again. Lockett wasn’t even the worst ERA available in the bullpen last night. He wasn’t the only one with an ERA over 5.00. In fact, taking away the top two relievers, there were only three relievers with an ERA under that mark, and one of those, Hart, has only pitched 1.0 innings.
Put aside for a moment the Mets entered the season with Tim Peterson in the bullpen putting the team 1-2 relievers short to start the season. At the trade deadline, the Mets went out and got Marcus Stroman, and they didn’t back it up with another move. Sure, they got Brach, but he fell into their laps. It wasn’t a proactive move on the Mets part.
The bench has always been an issue too. We have seen the Mets cycle through Aaron Altherr, Keon Broxton, Carlos Gomez, Adeiny Hechavarria, and Ruben Tejada while rage cutting Travis d’Arnaud. Again, the Mets did little to address this at the trade deadline with Joe Panik falling into their laps like Brach did.
This team was ill constructed from the get-go, and for some reason when the Mets doubled down at the trade deadline, they did nothing to fix their two biggest problems – the bench and the bullpen.
Now, it’s possible a very good manager like Terry Francona or Bruce Bochy could’ve navigated their way around these problems, but we know Callaway couldn’t. The Mets knowing that and handing him a roster which feeds into his deficiencies as a manager makes what Brodie Van Wagenen did all the worse.
So, yes, Callaway screwed up yesterday, and he has screwed up in other spots. But make no mistake, this was largely the result of the roster he was given. For that, Brodie Van Wagenen should shoulder the blame he was absolutely unwilling to accept earlier in the year.
Noah Syndergaard pitched perfectly well. Through four, he allowed just one hit. It’s the fifth where he got into trouble allowing back-to-back doubles to Meibrys Viloria and Nicky Lopez in what was a two run fifth for the Royals.
Before that fifth, Syndergaard appeared poised to shut out the Royals. It’s what the Mets needed to because the Mets couldn’t do anything against Mike Montgomery and the Royals bullpen, which is bizarre considering Montgomery entered the game with a 5.19 ERA, and the Royals bullpen had a 4.68 ERA.
After that third inning, the Mets offense could only muster two hits and one walk with no runners reaching scoring position. With the exception of Amed Rosario and J.D. Davis, each of whom were 2-for-4, it seemed no one brought their bats without them from Atlanta to Kansas City.
Like last night, Diaz walked the first batter he faced, Brett Phillips, forcing in a run. He then allowed an RBI single to Bubba Starling. By some miracle, a Ryan O’Hearn long fly went just foul. If not, it would’ve been the 8-1 it was for a moment before the replay overturned the grand slam.
After O’Hearn then struck out in that at-bat, Vitoria hit into an inning ending double play. We could say it kept things to a manageable three run deficit, but who are we kidding?
Not even when the Mets loaded the bases in the ninth with Rosario up could you have had faith. His game inning fielder’s choice confirmed that.
It was an inexcusable performance against a very bad 43-78, sorry 44-78, Royals team. Syndergaard took the loss for the penalty of only going six snapping his six start streak of pitching 7.0+ innings.
But hey, when you need to make it up to Ruben Tejada for missing the rest of the 2015 postseason, you have to do it even if it means DHing your best infield defender. Maybe now that the Mets took this loss, he can be designated for assignment for literally anyone else in Syracuse.
Game Notes: After allowing four homers last night, Drew Gagnon was optioned back to Syracuse, and the Mets selected the contract of Paul Sewald. To make room for Sewald on the 40 man roster, Tim Peterson was designated for assignment.
Before the game last night, the Mets fired pitching coach Dave Eiland and bullpen coach Chuck Hernandez because somehow they were not able to make a bullpen full of names like Drew Gagnon, Tim Peterson, Jacob Rhame, Hector Santiago, and whatever else Triple to Four-A relievers Brodie Van Wagenen supplied to create a viable bullpen.
This meant Phil Regan was once again a Major League pitching coach, and we saw the return of Ricky Bones as the bullpen coach. Their first duty was to make Walker Lockett a viable starter in a game against the Chicago Cubs. It worked for exactly two innings.
Entering the bottom of the third, the Mets had a 3-0 lead. The first run came when Carlos Gomez killed a rally by grounding into a double play with the bases loaded and no outs. The other two came against another epic Pete Alonso homer. It would prove to not be nearly enough.
In the bottom of the third, the only out Lockett would get was on a sacrifice bunt by the opposing pitcher Tyler Chatwood. It was an ugly six run inning which included five hits, two walks, and just further ugly play behind the plate by Wilson Ramos with a passed ball and wild pitch. At that point, it was 6-3 Cubs with the Mets having no real shot at a comeback.
The final score was 7-4 because Javier Baez homered off Robert Gsellman in the seventh, and Todd Frazier homered in the ninth off Adbert Alzolay. Speaking of Alzolay for a second, he was absolutely electric when he piggybacked this start allowing just that homer to Frazier while walking two and striking out five.
When you looked at these teams, you saw the Cubs as the team with a stable organization who was willing to spend and had a stable plan. When the Cubs needed to win a World Series, they hired Theo Epstein and not a former agent who was way in over his head. This is how you get the Cubs winning 90+ games every year, and you have the Mets falling apart since 2015.
Game Notes: New pitching coach Phil Regan is 82 years old. To put in perspective how old he is, he pitched against Ted Williams, and he was teammates with Hall of Famers like Sandy Koufax and Al Kaline. Another interesting note is he was part of the 1969 Cubs team who lost the division to the Miracle Mets.
The Mets and Yankees had their first doubleheader since 2008, which was also their first doubleheader in one ballpark since the inception of the Subway Series. The Mets walked out of Yankee Stadium with a split, and they are still one game under .500. How that happened was quite eventful:
1. The Subway Series needs to stop. The Mets get four games against the Yankees while the teams they are fighting against for the division or Wild Card don’t have the same four tough games locked into their schedule all year. I don’t care how much fun it is, it is putting the Mets at a competitive disadvantage.
2. We can and should talk about payroll disparity and ownership commitment when it comes to why the Mets are the Mets and the Yankees are the Yankees. However, it’s more than that. The Yankees got Luke Voit and IFA money for essentially nothing while the Mets traded three prospects for J.D. Davis.
3. Speaking of Davis, it’s inexcusable hes’ one of three players who started both ends of the doubleheader in the field. Really, the team needs to stop trying to make this ill-advise trade work and instead focus on making decisions to help this team win games.
4. The Mets defense was terrible in the first game. Amed Rosario missed first. Todd Frazier threw one away. J.D. Davis couldn’t get to anything because he was sitting in the front row of the bleachers to make up for his lack of range. Overall, this is a terrible defensive club with a National League worst -51 DRS.
5. With respect to the poor defense, Juan Lagares is a -2 DRS in center, which seems unfathomable. However, if you look at the new stat called jump, Lagares is not getting the same read on the ball as he did over the previous two years. Who knows why that is, but until he figures it out, he’s borderline unplayable at this point.
6. Zack Wheeler needs to be better than this. Yes, the defense behind him was atrocious, but he wasn’t much better. It was not the defense who served up the homers to Gio Urshela or Luke Voit. Overall, his peripherals show he’s better than this, and he has shown himself to be a second half pitcher. You just wish he would get to being the second half Wheeler sooner rather than later.
7. Yankee Stadium is a real joke where pop flies to the infield in other parks go out. That said, Pete Alonso‘s homer in the second game of the doubleheader would have left Yosemite.
8. Alonso is becoming way too much of an all or nothing guy. Since May 1, he’s hitting .224/.300/.560 with 13 of his 30 hits being homers. He has also struck out 26 percent of the time while walking six percent of the time. As the season progresses, he looks more and more like this type of a hitter than he does the guy who set the world ablaze in April.
9. Alonso’s being in the top five in All Star voting is fun. We should celebrate that. However, it’s bizarre Mets fans are only rushing to help him when Michael Conforto and Jeff McNeil have been so good all year.
10. As noted previously, McNeil is hitting like Ichiro Suzuki. This shouldn’t be sustainable, but yet, it has been. Hat tip to Jerry Beach, a man whose taste in television shows is as excellent as his taste in managers is poor, for saying McNeil is like Wade Boggs after Gare tried to say McNeil wasn’t Boggs.
11. As much as I adore Gary, Keith, and Ron, they need to stop talking about the advanced stats, especially since they clearly don’t fully understand it, and they are mostly doing it to disparage them. Case in point was Gare saying how the shift only affects ground balls.
12. Jeurys Familia has been looking much more like Familia. He now has three consecutive completely dominating innings/appearances. We are getting closer and closer to trusting him in pressure situations again. And the Mets should if everything is ironed out as this looks more like a mechanical issue than a mental one.
13. The Mets bullpen has too many bottom feeders in it. At most, you can have one of Wilmer Font, Drew Gagnon, Tim Peterson, or Hector Santiago. You cannot have four of them. That’s how you start burning out productive arms in the pen and putting games way out of reach.
14. Yesterday, Brandon Nimmo, Robinson Cano, and Justin Wilson played in a rehab game in Syracuse. The team needs all three of them back as soon as possible to help this team go on a run, but the team cannot bring them back until each one of these players is fully healthy and ready to contribute.
15. Somehow, someway, Jason Vargas escaped the third allowing just three runs, and he got out of the fourth unscathed. When all was said and done, he had a quality start and a win. That’s a big credit to him.
16. Right now, Vargas is on one of the better stretches in his career. He pitched well against two good offensive teams, and he flat out dominated a terrible Giants team. The .286 BABIP and 83.3 LOB% would indicate this is not at all sustainable. That said, Vargas is getting results, so you might as well ride this out as far as this takes you.
17. Wilson Ramos seems to be doing with the extra days off here and there. Starting in May, he played less frequently, and he started to become much more productive. When Tomas Nido hits like he did in the first game of the doubleheader, the plan to get the over 30 and injury prone Ramos more rest becomes a more viable solution.
18. Speaking of back-up catchers, good for Travis d’Arnaud for turning things around with the Rays. In addition to catching, he’s also working out at other spots in the diamond. This is what the Mets should have done with him. Instead, they rushed him up way too soon, and they then DFA’d him in a complete overreaction.
19. There was a real fear this team was going to repeat it’s horrendous June of last year. So far, the Mets are 4-4 this month meaning they are just one short of the total win total from June 2018. While things could be better, things could also be a lot worse.
20. Mickey Callaway said about the team how he believes once this team gets back to .500 they are going to take off. With Nimmo, Cano, and Wilson in Syracuse and as Syndergaard puts it, the Mets are a second half team, it’s hard not to believe him.
Right now, the Mets outfield depth is a mess. Michael Conforto suffered a concussion, and while early indications are positive, no one can be quite sure when he will return. Jeff McNeil has been dealing with an abdominal issue. Keon Broxton was designated for assignment, and now, Brandon Nimmo was placed on the IL with a neck injury he’s been dealing with all season.
Due to that situation, the Mets needed to call up another outfielder. The problem there was with the 40 man roster full someone was going to have to be designated for assignment. That person wound up being Paul Sewald.
Assuredly, the reaction from most Mets fans is who cares, or that Sewald stinks, and he should have been designated for assignment long ago. With Sewald going 107 Major League appearances without a win and his having a career 5.18 ERA, you could understand the point. However, that point misses the overall point. Sewald had actual value and use to this Mets team.
So far this year, Sewald has made four appearances. Three of those appearances were for more than three outs. Yes, the Mets lost by a heavy margin in each of those games, and that is part of the reason why it was Sewald who pitched. It also underscores Sewald’s value to this Mets team. He is the pitcher who is able to come in and absorb innings saving the rest of the bullpen in these blowouts.
Last year, Sewald pitched multiple innings in 18 of his first 32 appearances. Overall in his career, he has pitched multiple innings in 30 percent of his relief appearances. When Sewald has been on the roster, this means he is the one who gets the brunt of the mop up work thereby leaving Seth Lugo and Robert Gsellman to perform their multiple inning magic on another day.
And after Sewald mops things up, with his options, the team can just send him to Syracuse for another reliever. This matters, and it helps teams win.
More than what he does well, Sewald is just better than the pitchers the Mets kept over him. As previously explained, he has been a better and more effective Major League reliever than Jacob Rhame. Tim Peterson has a worse Major League ERA, FIP, H/9, K/9, and K/BB. Ryan O’Rourke has always had control issues as exemplified by his walking three of the six batters he faced this year. Clearly, Sewald has been better than these pitchers in his career.
In the end, that may be what matters most. The Mets had options upon whom to designate for assignment (or in Rhame’s case, release) with the aforementioned four relievers being the most likely targets. When boiling it all down, the Mets opted to remove the most effective reliever who also happened to be the one reliever who the organization could consistently rely upon to save the bullpen by going multiple innings in his relief appearances.
Yes, Peterson would be designated for assignment after the Mets claimed Aaron Altherr, but that is also besides the point. The point here is the thought process and manner of dealing and operating.
Ultimately, even if fans want to be dismissive of Sewald and the decision, this was a mistake. Worse yet, it was an unforced error. While we may not know the full impact of such a decision, it will have some negative impact on the Mets, no matter how small. Still, even if you don’t believe that, we should still wonder about the poor decision making process which led to keeping three inferior relievers over Sewald.
Well, if you missed yesterday’s game against the Nationals, you were lucky because apparently today was the matinee of that game. While not quite Jacob deGrom and Max Scherzer, Steven Matz and Stephen Strasburg proved to be capable understudies.
For the most part, Strasburg kept what was a woeful Mets lineup at bay. He’d keep the Mets off the board completely through four, but the Mets would get to him in the fifth. Carlos Gomez hit a leadoff single, and he’d steal second and move to third with no outs as Yan Gomes, who had a nightmare of a game, threw the ball into center.
Carlos Gomez on losing his shoe:
“My left foot is smaller than the right, so I had to tie that left shoe really tight. And when I ran, I went too fast.”pic.twitter.com/C7ReRRKvpX
— Anthony DiComo (@AnthonyDiComo) May 23, 2019
The play was made all the more fun by Gomez’s shoe coming off between second and third. To his credit Strasburg limited the damage to just one run which came off a Juan Lagares sacrifice fly.
Again, it was Gomes who hurt Strasburg in the sixth. After J.D. Davis singled and Strasburg hit Todd Frazier with a pitch, Strasburg would throw one in the dirt. While it was ruled a wild pitch, it was one Gomes should have had. This meant instead of having the double play in order with one out, the sudden ground ball hitting specialist Wilson Ramos would have an RBI chance.
Ramos would deliver with an RBI single scoring Davis, and Pete Alonso would make it 3-0 on a sacrifice fly. After the inning, Strasburg was done having struck out five Mets with only two of the three runs allowed being earned.
With the way Matz was cruising, you would think that was a sufficient enough lead. Certainly, it seemed that way with how Matz’s curveball was unhittable and his Houdini act. He was in trouble in the first and second with first and third with out one. Both times, he induced an inning ending double play. First, it was Howie Kendrick. Then, it was Gomes, who again, had a horrible day.
In the third, the Nationals had the bases loaded, but they couldn’t score as Anthony Rendon struck out looking at a curveball. It was one of a career high 27 curveballs Matz would throw with 16 of them being called strikes. Matz would not have one 1-2-3 inning all day, but it seemed like it wouldn’t matter as the Nationals kept shooting themselves in the foot and Matz would unleash a curve when needed.
That was until the sixth. Juan Soto hit a lead-off double, and he would score on what was a Brian Dozier infield single. On the play, Adeiny Hechavarria would throw the ball away. Dozier got greedy trying to go first to third on the play as he sought to take advantage on what he thought was Matz not paying attention to him at second. This led to an easy 1-5 put out.
With the way this game was going and how the Nationals season has been going, you sensed a team at its boiling point. We’d see them unleash their fury in the top of the eighth when Kendrick was called on a check swing Home Plate Umpire Bruce Dreckman called himself. Kendrick complained and was tossed. Then Nationals manager Dave Martinez had himself an old fashioned ejection:
Dave Martinez got his money's worth pic.twitter.com/Xr5vDcP2uQ
— SNY (@SNYtv) May 23, 2019
The narrative will be this fired the Nationals up. Seeing them tee off on Robert Gsellman, maybe that’s true. For example, it did seem to wake up Gomes. He came up with runners at the corners with two out. Gomes’ double pulled the Nationals within one and put runners at second and third.
Now, it should be mentioned yesterday, the Mets have changed their stance. Mickey Callaway can now use Edwin Diaz for more than three outs. Callaway said Diaz being dry humped yesterday and pitched the previous two days. It should also be noted with all the injuries Ryan O’Rourke was called up. That meant the Mets had three lefties in the pen at their disposal. Instead, Callaway stuck with Gsellman, who admittedly has good numbers against left-handed batters.
The decision cost the Mets as Gerardo Parra hit a two RBI single giving the Nationals a 4-3 lead. Typically, you would believe this to be a back breaking hit which would have sent the Mets into a loss. Then again, this is the Nationals bullpen, who would need to significantly improve to be classified as terrible.
Wander Suero would come on to hold the lead, and right off the bat, it looked like history was going to repeat itself when Dominic Smith led off the inning with a pinch hit double. For a second, it seemed he would be stranded there as Alonso and Frazier would strike out back-to-back. For some reason, the Nationals would then decide to put the g0-ahead run on base to face Gomez. That would prove to be a huge mistake:
Carlos Go-Ahead. 🔥🔥🔥 pic.twitter.com/OEeEHO6EB4
— New York Mets (@Mets) May 23, 2019
After that homer, the Mets were up 6-4, and finally, we would see Diaz for the save. After a 1-2-3 ninth with two strikeouts and Rendon doing his best Robinson Cano impersonation, the Mets had a four game sweep, and they are now within a game of .500. This also means the Mets are now within one game of being taken seriously again.
Chris Paddack came into this start upset he lost out on Rookie of the Month honors to Pete Alonso. He was not just vocal about his displeasure, but he also threw down the gauntlet without being disrespectful of Alonso. That said, Paddack felt he had something to prove, and he set out to do it.
Just based on tonight, he made his case. He overpowered Alonso in Alonso’s first at-bat. Overall, Alonso was 0-for-3 with two strikeouts and a pop out against Paddack. To be fair to Alonso, he wasn’t the only Met to struggle against Paddack.
Paddack struck out 11 Mets and allowed just four hits over 7.2 innings. He was as dominant as you get, and he wasn’t really challenged all night. Seeing how feckless the Mets offense was, you could tell this was a Jacob deGrom start.
With there being no rain delay (although there was the rare threat of rain in San Diego), deGrom was great. Really, the only Padres batter who could touch him was Hunter Renfroe, who followed hitting a walk off grand slam against Kenley Jansen last night by going 2-for-3 with a double and homer off deGrom.
With the way the Mets offense has been of late, Renfroe’s fifth inning homer was effectively the game clinching run. His seventh inning double set up a Ty France sacrifice fly giving the Padres a 2-0 lead.
From there, Justin Wilson made his first appearance since being activated off the IL, and he would allow two runs in the eighth, all with two outs. At 4-0, there was zero chance of a Mets comeback win.
In total, the Mets were challenged today by Paddack, and they shrunk from the challenge. Maybe it was the travel. More likely, this is now a bad hitting club whose approach under Chili Davis is really not working right now. After all, that’s seven runs over six games.
Last night, Drew Gagnon absolutely bailed out the Mets. He took the ball in a bases loaded situation, and he got out of the jam. He then navigated through the 10th allowing Pete Alonso to deliver his first career walk-off RBI.
This was not the first time Gagnon impressed out of the bullpen. Back when Steven Matz couldn’t get an out against the Phillies, it was Gagnon who took it on the chin. Despite being on short rest, he pitched 5.1 innings. Yes, he would allow five earned, but three of those came after he was gassed and frankly pushed too far.
That’s been what we have seen from Gagnon in the Majors. In short spurts, he has been fine. When he has been pushed past two innings, he has not been nearly as effective. We saw that in his only start in the Majors, and we saw it in Philadelphia. But in those shorter stints, Gagnon has really showed something.
Last year, he made four relief appearances. In those relief appearances, he allowed one earned in 7.1 innings. His ERA this year may be 6.75, but he has pitched better than that. While it’s always a dangerous game to do this in evaluation, if you eliminate that one-third of an inning, his ERA would drop to a more impressive 2.70.
This is another way of saying Gagnon may prove to be something if he is used properly. As a long man or a short reliever, he could be effective. Since coming to the Mets organization, he throws strikes. He has struck out nearly a batter an inning. With the sinking action on his pitches, he has relatively low home run rates. Overall, while an opponent can beat him, Gagnon is typically not going to beat himself.
That hasn’t been the case for the Mets other options. We have seen Jacob Rhame, Tim Peterson, and Paul Sewald struggle at the Major League level. Tyler Bashlor and Eric Hanhold have yet to establish themselves. Considering the options at hand, the Mets would have to come up with a long list of excuses before sending him back down for one of these relievers.
After all, we have seen this happen in year’s past for the Mets. Pat Mahomes came up huge in 1999. The same happened with Sean Gilmartin in 2015. If given an opportunity, Gagnon may prove to be the 2019 version of that. It’s time the Mets found out if he has what it takes to be just that.