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.
In a nine year Major League career, Craig Kimbrel has saved 333 games, which is the 14th most all-time. His career 1.91 ERA and 211 ERA+ is the best all-time for a reliever. He is a seven time All-Star, and he has finished in the Top 10 in Cy Young voting in five of his nine seasons. How Kimbrel performs during this next contract will go a very long way in determining whether or not he goes to the Baseball Hall of Fame when he retires.
With the Hall of Fame on the line and with his being an elite closer for NINE SEASONS, you can understand why Kimbrel would insist on remaining a closer. While there are no public statements confirming this is Kimbrel’s hold-up, there have been a number of outlets who have drawn the inference.
According to recent reports, the Mets are not willing to have Kimbrel pitch the ningth. To put it as simply as it can be put, if the only hold-up with Kimbrel right now is he wants to close, the Mets as an organization are stupid for letting that be a hold-up.
No, this is not an indictment whatsoever on Edwin Diaz. So far this season, Diaz has been everything the Mets could have possibly asked him to be. He is a perfect 7-for-7 in save opportunities with a 16.4 K/9. His 11th inning save against the Phillies where he mowed down Bryce Harper, Rhys Hoskins, and J.T. Realmuto on 11 pitches was awe inspiring.
Understandably, you want to have a pitcher like Diaz closing out games in the ninth. However, you also want a closer like Kimbrel closing out games in the ninth. What you don’t want is the current state of the Mets bullpen.
What is not great is the rest of the Mets bullpen. So far, Jeurys Familia has been a massive disappointment. We have also seen some unexpected struggles from Seth Lugo. In the long run, both pitchers should be fine, and with Justin Wilson and Robert Gsellman, the Mets do have the pieces for a good bullpen.
Still, there are major issues in the bullpen. Luis Avilan has been used as more of a mop up reliever than a LOOGY, and frankly, there is no way he is going to succeed in that role. Worse than that, the Mets have had a revolving door this year of Tim Peterson, Drew Gagnon, Paul Sewald, Jacob Rhame, and Corey Oswalt for the last spot in the bullpen.
Realistically speaking, the Mets cannot expect any of those pitchers to truly succeed at the Major League level. Exacerbating a very soft spot in the bullpen is the fact the Mets entered the season with just four MLB caliber starting pitchers in their rotation. As a result, at least every fifth day, the Mets are going to need to get some quality innings from their worst relievers. Put another way, the Mets can ill afford to have a weak spot in the bullpen when they have a glaring hole in the rotation.
That hole in the bullpen can be repaired with Kimbrel. Moreover, if you put Kimbrel in the ninth inning, him and Diaz pitching the final two innings makes every game a seven inning game for the Mets. The tandem would combine to make the best 8-9 combination in Major League history.
Really, there is no good explanation to not give Kimbrel the ninth. While you could argue the Mets did not give up Jarred Kelenic and Justin Dunn to have Diaz as a set-up man, the obvious counter-argument is the Mets did not give up those players to have relievers like Rhame derail games and ultimately the season. Additionally, with how great a pitcher he has been, no one should expect Diaz to falter in the eighth.
Overall, when you break it down, if the ninth inning is a breaking point for Kimbrel, just give it to him. He has the resume to justify such a demand, and really, he has the ability to not come to the Mets. Worse yet, he could go to Philadelphia to stick it to the Mets.
Of course, that would be the ultimate irony. The Mets gave up Kelenic to keep Diaz away from the Phillies, but they weren’t willing to have the best bullpen situation in Major League history to keep him away from Philadelphia.
The Mets finished their first homestand of the season going 2-3, and now they are embark on a brutal road trip taking them through Atlanta, Philadelphia, and St. Louis. Here are some observations before the Mets set off for that trip:
- Jacob deGrom just didn’t have it. It was bound to happen, but it was still startling to see.
- Anyone who even suggests deGrom’s struggles were related to Travis d’Arnaud behind the plate simply doesn’t know anything about baseball. It wasn’t d’Arnaud who caused the chilly weather, nor was it the weather which caused deGrom to miss his pitches by a foot.
- Baseball is funny sometimes. After thorough research shows Citi Field suppresses exit velocities, the ball was flying out of Citi Field. Of course, when you have power hitters like Pete Alonso and Michael Conforto that will happen anyway.
- In one series, Mitch Garver went from a nameless guy to the second coming of Mike Piazza.
- Jason Vargas was terrible, and it is simply inexcusable he was not so much as challenged for the fifth starter spot.
- The Mets have gotten away with calling up Alonso saying every game matters while carrying Vargas as the fifth starter and having Tim Peterson in the bullpen. Why do fans just let the Mets get away with pushing narratives like this?
- The booing of Brandon Nimmo and d’Arnaud was embarrassing. Mets fans should be better than that.
- And just like that, in his last three games, Nimmo is 4-for-10, with two doubles, a homer, three RBI, a walk, and a HBP.
- What the Mets did to Corey Oswalt is inexcusable. He effectively lost a year getting jerked around by the team, and the first chance this new regime gets, they call him up on three days rest to sit in the bullpen.
- Oswalt should be making Vargas’ start this Saturday, and if he doesn’t the Mets cannot pitch Oswalt until then because they may need him to piggyback that start.
- These two games were miserable creating difficult pitching situations. It led to deGrom’s struggles, and it likely led to Jeurys Familia‘s, but that’s now two bad outings from him. Too soon to overreact, but not too soon to take notice.
- After J.D. Davis‘ two home run game, he’s back to being Davis. He his 42.9% of his balls on the ground, and he has hit 45.8% on the ground this year. His inability to make a play at third led to Familia getting in trouble, and he almost botched a double play only to be saved by Luis Guillorme making an amazing turn.
- With Todd Frazier getting a rehab start at SS, it would seem Guillorme will be the odd man out, which is a shame because he’s doing everything he could do to stay. It’s at the point where he’s having to wear batting gloves because he has blisters from all his extra batting practice. He’s also been really good in the field.
- When you have players fighting this hard to stay in the majors, you will get the best results not just from them, but also from the players they are pushing. We are seeing some of that with this team.
- Robinson Cano has a knack for the moment with two big home runs already and a walk yesterday. That said, his overall body of work has not been good. He may be a slow starter, but he has never been this slow. It’s something worth monitoring with his age, PED suspension, and the Mets history on this front (Roberto Alomar).
- Mets are going to regret waking up the Nationals. They went from a team in trouble to a team who took consecutive road series from the red hot Mets and Phillies.
- There may be some holes and warning signs with Alonso here and there, including his having difficulty on two grounders this series, but pointing them out would be being a killjoy. So far, Alonso has been great, and the only things people should point out is how great he has been.
- We should not care what his final stat line said. Noah Syndergaard was dominant yesterday, and when you consider how everyone else pitched, he looked all the more so. Really, if not for some poor defense, he gets through the eighth unscathed.
- Good for Jay Bruce hitting seven homers so far this season and helping the Mariners to a 12-2 start. He gave the Mets everything he had, and it was not his fault it was a poor fit.
- In waht was promised to be a tight NL East, we have the Mets, Braves, and Phillies tied atop the division with a 7-4 record with the Nationals right behind them at 6-5.
There were many reasons why the Mets lost this game. For his part, Noah Syndergaard would blame the travel schedule which had them playing a night game last night and a 1:00 P.M. start tonight, which does seem like it was avoidable.
If fact, it was with Major League Baseball giving the Mets the option to start at 4:00 with the Mets passing at the opportunity.
There was the fact the Mets were facing Stephen Strasburg, a very good pitcher having a very good day. It certainly didn’t help the Mets were 0-for-3 with RISP and left seven runners on base.
Syndergaard had some bad luck. We was squeezed in the second leading to two walks and actually a wild pitch and run bunted home. Certainly, it was an odd box score with the Nationals having a run and no hits for the first five innings.
It looked just as odd when the Nationals had two runs on one hit with Victor Robles leading off the sixth with a solo homer.
There were certainly a number of factors at play. Unfortunately, Mickey Callaway was also a factor with his decision making in the seventh inning being a key factor.
In the seventh, the Mets had Strasburg on the ropes after a pair of two out singles from Jeff McNeil and Amed Rosario. With Juan Lagares due up and the left-handed Matt Grace warming in the bullpen, Callaway had a key decision to make.
With Strasburg at 108 pitches, he might’ve been coming out of the game anyway. Perhaps, things would be different if the Mets stuck with Lagares or pinch hit Luis Guillorme.
It should be noted last year batters hit .271/.322/.436 in their third plate appearance against Strasburg.
It should also be noted in a very small sample size, Guillorme has been a good pinch hitter (3-11, 2B, RBI, 4 BB). Of course, that’s if the Nationals didn’t take Strasburg out of the game.
Callaway opted to go with Smith to force Grace into the game. Apparently, Callaway did this to get the matchup he wanted, which for some reason was J.D. Davis. The only acceptable explanations for this decision were: (1) Callaway has not watched one minute of Mets baseball this season; (2) Jim Riggleman was goading Jim into it so he could take over as manager at some point this year; or (3) Brodie Van Wagenen was holding his family hostage forcing Callaway to use Davis.
Given the options, Davis was probably the last option you wanted to see there. Even if the Mets were inclined to burn their best pinch hitter (which is bizarre in its own right), Davis was the absolute wrong choice as he’s done nothing to show he’s even as good as former whipping boy Eric Campbell (Campbell has a much higher OPS+).
If you take into account Lagares was out of the game, Keon Broxton is a .252/.357/.445 hitter off left-handed pitching, and the Mets needed someone to come play center with Lagares gone. Of course, sticking with Smith was also a viable option.
Instead, Callaway went with Davis who struck out looking.
That situation was created because Callaway opted to bring in Seth Lugo to pitch the ninth despite his being ill recently and has had diminished velocity lately. With his UCL issues, we can only hope this a combination of illness and fatigue from over-use.
Callaway’s treatment of Lugo is at Terry Collins levels. Remember, Collins was the pitcher who disregarded pitcher health and used them dangerously. It would have an impact and eventually lead the end of the careers of Tim Byrdak, Scott Rice, and Jim Henderson.
Right now, the Mets are winning and off to their second hot start with Callaway at the helm. However, it looks like Callaway is regressing, and if he continues to do so, we may see him continue to put the Mets in disadvantageous situations.
No matter how good things are for the Mets, it appears like the Marlins are always there to ruin things. There are awful memories stemming from Tom Glavine, Scott Schoeneweis, and even Duaner Sanchez‘s cab ride. No matter how good things are, it seems like Miami is there to screw things up for the Mets.
To matters worse yesterday, the Marlins were starting Caleb Smith, who has pitched very well against the Mets.
Things did not start out well yesterday with Smith striking out Amed Rosario, Pete Alonso, and Robinson Cano to start the game. Then, in the bottom of the first, Wilson Ramos botched catching a third strike allowing Miguel Rojas to reach. One bad pitch from Steven Matz later in the inning, and Starlin Castro would make it 2-0.
What was interesting about McNeil hitting the double was he got the hit off the left-handed pitcher Smith a day after being benched against Patrick Corbin. There were a few reasons for this including his historic performance against left-handed pitching and the Mets apparently wanting to get J.D. Davis into the lineup. You really have to wonder why that is.
It’s true Davis did hit his second double of the season, and that lead-off double in the fourth led to the Mets tying the game against the Marlins (scored off a wild pitch). However, when you look at his performance thus far, he is very much the same player who struggled in his limited Major League appearances with the Astros.
While he had the double, Davis again continued to struggle in the field. He would lollypop two throws to second with one of those throws putting Cano in position to get blown up. He cost Juan Lagares an assist when he failed to catch a ball and tag out Rosell Herrera. He also couldn’t field a ball off Castro’s bat leading to a run being scored.
With the Mets trading Luis Santana, Ross Adolph, and Scott Manea, they gave up a lot for Davis, so apparently they are going to force this work, at least until Todd Frazier or Jed Lowrie return. It’s at the point where he is playing more than Keon Broxton and Lagares, and as we have seen, he has hit clean-up twice with him hitting ahead of hitters like Conforto and Ramos.
Davis playing third nearly cost the Mets this game too. His weak throw to Cano on a Herrera grounder prevented the team from turning a double play. As noted, he couldn’t field Lagares’ throw when Herrera froze on a Brian Anderson liner. He then didn’t have the range to get a Castro hit.
This gave the Marlins a 3-2 lead, and it put Steven Matz in a position to take the loss.
With respect to Matz, he shook off the first inning, and he would pitch pretty well. Over 5.2 innings, he allowed three runs (one earned) on six hits with no walks and three strikeouts. If not for shoddy defense, he may have shut out the Marlins, and he might have been able to get through the sixth. Overall, he was not great, but he was certainly good enough to beat the Marlins (or even a Major League team).
While Lagares was not able to make a difference in the field (thanks to Davis), he would actually make a difference at the plate. The Marlins brought in the right-handed Tyler Kinley to face him, and Lagares would launch his first home run of the season:
— New York Mets (@Mets) April 2, 2019
Tim Peterson stepped up pitching 1.2 scoreless. His performance not only allowed the Mets to tie the score, but it would save a bullpen which had started to accumulate some innings. This and the scoreless inning from Jeurys Familia was exactly what this bullpen needed, and it was what the team needed to try to win the game. They would thanks to a big ninth inning rally against Drew Steckenrider.
The rally started with Dominic Smith pinch hit single. In not too surprising fashion, the Mets opted to have Lagares even though there’s more than enough evidence to suggest it’s the wrong play. Fortunately, the Mets were bailed out as Steckenrider would hit Lagares with the pitch (x-rays on the finger were negative), and the umpires would completely miss Lagares failing to pull back the bunt in time.
After Brandon Nimmo struck out (he’s really struggling), Rosario would come up huge with the go-ahead RBI single giving the Mets a 4-3 lead. Speaking of huge, Alonso would follow with his first career homer:
— New York Mets (@Mets) April 2, 2019
Alonso absolutely destroyed that pitch. The 444 homer had a 112.8 exit velocity. The homer gave the Mets a 7-3 lead meaning the warmed up Edwin Diaz was entering the game in a non-save situation.
Perhaps it was just yesterday, but we saw Diaz is like most closers where his focus is not quite what it is in a save situation. He’d load the bases to start the ninth before unleashing some filthy sliders to strike out Jorge Alfaro, the evil Peter O’Brien, and JT Riddle to end the game.
If you want to harp, there was a lot not to like. Davis was poor, and the Mets defense failed Matz. This was a battle against a clearly inferior team. However, at the end of the day, the Mets got the win, which is what matters most.
Game Notes: Smith has been off to a terrific start in his own right hitting .500/.600/.500 earning him the start in today’s series finale against Jose Urena.
For this season, there is going to be a new feature after every series wraps up called “20/20 Hindsight.” Essentially, the concept is to look back at a series, and make 20 quick observations about the state of the Mets. This can include both things which directly affect the Mets and those which circumstantially affect the Mets. Without further ado, here is the initial 20/20:
- With Jacob deGrom opening the season with six shutout innings, he’s continued his streak of consecutive starts with three earned or fewer and is one off Bob Gibson‘s Major League record for consecutive quality starts. Sooner or later, the conversation with deGrom is going to focus on his being an all-time great pitcher.
- Seeing deGrom, Max Scherzer, and Aaron Nola pitch great on Opening Day, this is already shaping up to be a fun and exciting race for not just the National League East but also the National League Cy Young.
- Pete Alonso has so far been everything the Mets touted him to be. After going 0-for-3 against Scherzer, he was 6-for-9 with a run, two walks, three doubles, and three RBI.
- Noah Syndergaard and Zack Wheeler do not pitch well at Nationals Park. Syndergaard is still winless there, and Wheeler has a 4.24 ERA and a 1.441 WHIP at the park.
- The Nationals bullpen is once again terrible highlighted by Trevor Rosenthal and his INF ERA after failing to get an out in two appearances.
- While we focus on the NL East aces, we already see the division being loaded with MVP candidates including Robinson Cano, Michael Conforto, Bryce Harper, Anthony Rendon, and Trea Turner. With respect to Turner, he single-handedly beat the Mets on Sunday.
- It wasn’t a popular decision, but Mickey Callaway made the right decision sitting Jeff McNeil on Sunday. In addition to McNeil having durability issues in his professional career, he only hit .255/.331/.390 off left-handed pitchers in the minors last year. Don’t let Patrick Corbin foul him up when he is going good.
- McNeil has been off to a hot start picking up where he left off in 2018. If he keeps this up, he’s going to cost at least one of Todd Frazier or Jed Lowrie a job (whenever they can return to the lineup).
- The Mets quickly showed they are not going to be neutralized by left-handed pitching whether that is in the form of a Corbin or a LOOGY like Tony Sipp. So far, Cano and Conforto have combined to hit 6-f0r-16 against left-handed pitching.
- It was shocking to see Stephen Strasburg look like a shell of his former self. A guy who lived at 98+ MPH is now in the 93 MPH range. That follows a trend of diminished velocity from him last season. Nationals need him to be great to win, and he didn’t look like he’s up to the task.
- J.D. Davis made some flashy plays at third which overshadowed his lack or range at the position, and his error on a routine play on Saturday, set-up the bullpen machinations which partially attributed to Sunday’s loss.
- Callaway had some bad luck on the reliever front. He got trapped looking to ride Seth Lugo to easily close out a seven run lead in the ninth, and he looked bad not having someone ready in time. On Sunday, he tried to do the right thing by double switching Tim Peterson into the game, but the rally took him out and left Callaway looking to get two innings out of Justin Wilson.
- While he was trapped in those two games, Callaway’s use of his bullpen remains to be an issue dating back to last season. Given his experience as a pitching coach, his troubles handling a bullpen is particularly odd.
- Callaway also has to let go of the manager fear of not removing a starting catcher from the game. On Saturday, Wilson Ramos was on third in a tie game in the eighth inning. With speedy runners on the bench, he should have been substituted out of the game for a runner.
- It’s odd Luis Guillorme has not seen any game action yet, especially when the Mets have opted for late inning defense in their games.
- It’s still very early for Brandon Nimmo, but his striking out in half of his plate attempts is problematic. On the bright side, he got off the snide with a single against the left-handed Corbin.
- Keon Broxton showed he has to play against left-handed pitching. In his lone start, he was 2-2 with a walk off Corbin with a stolen base. For his career, he hits .242/.357/.445 off lefties.
- Phillies sweeping the Braves was certainly eye opening, but we should take into account Jake Arrieta walked six against a fairly aggressive Braves lineup, and Nick Pivetta couldn’t even get out of the fifth.
- Dominic Smith has gotten off to a good start in his own right going 1-for-3 with a run, walk, and two RBI on top of being a defensive substitution. His start makes you wonder if he should start seeing some outfield time to occasionally fit him into the lineup.
- The Mets being the best Opening Day team in Major League history is perfect for a team who continuously builds up Mets fans hope only to quickly dash them. Hopefully, this is more like 2006 than it is just about every other year in Mets history.