Admittedly, this is beating a dead horse, a horse deader than Jose Reyes‘ ability to contribute to a Major League team, but if you are going to complain about something, you need to present solutions. After all, what is the good in saying Reyes should be released if you are not prepared to suggest improvements?
As much as I like to joke about it, no, David Wright would not be an improvement over Reyes right now, even if the argument could sadly be made. Jokes aside, there are plenty of better options available to the Mets over what Reyes is giving the team right now and in the future:
MLB Stats: .400/.400/.500, 2B, RBI
MiLB Stats: .300/.394/.433, 7 2B, 3B, HR, 15 RBI, 2 SB, CS
The main thing Guillorme brings to the table is great middle infield defense. Even if his ability to drive the ball will remind you of Luis Castillo, he does have the ability to give you a good at-bat and get on base. At a minimum, since getting called-up, he has show he is not over-matched, and he is ready right now to contribute as a utility player for the Mets right now.
MiLB Stats: .274/.350/.500, 7 2B, 4 3B, 6 HR, 24 RBI, SB
The immediate reaction whenever Kelly is mentioned is he is a Four-A player because he has a MLB career stat line of .211/.297/.340. Even if you’re right, it bears mentioning this would be a huge upgrade over Reyes’ current stats. More than that, Kelly is a versatile player and switch hitter who can play all four infield positions and can handle both corner outfield spots. And for the knocks against him, he is .255/.351/.340 against left-handed pitching.
MLB Stats: .154/.214/.179, 2B, RBI
MiLB Stats: .257/.333/371, 4 2B, 6 RBI
Nido would mean carrying three catchers and pressing Wilmer Flores to become a backup at short as well. Given Reyes’ -15 DRS at short last year, Flores is not a dropoff defensively. Nido’s presence on the roster would accomplish a few things. First, you can give Noah Syndergaard his own personal catcher, which may not be a bad thing given the challenges catching Syndergaard possesses. Second, having Nido would free up both Devin Mesoraco and Kevin Plawecki for more pinch hitting attempts. Third, Nido would allow the Mets to take it easier on Mesoraco, who has an extensive injury history, and it permits the team to not over rely on Plawecki, who is still not quite established as a major leaguer. However, you would ideally keep Nido in the minors once Plawecki returns to give him the regular at-bats he needs to improve offensively.
MiLB Stats: .294/.342/.468, 11 2B, 3B, 2 HR, 9 RBI, SB, CS
After a lost season last year, Cecchini worked on a number of things in the offseason, and he is back to being the player he was just two years ago. However, this is more on the long-term view as Cecchini has not played since May 9th when he fouled a ball off his foot.
MiLB Stats: .328/.403/.715, 11 2B, 3 3B, 12 HR, 31 RBI, SB
For all the clamoring over Peter Alonso, many are overlooking his teammate McNeil, who has recently surpassed Alonso in doubles, homers, SLG, and OPS. The 26 year old is healthy after a few injury riddled seasons, and he’s flat out raking. With him mashing right-handed pitching, he would be a good platoon partner for Wilmer Flores in Todd Frazier‘s absence. However, ideally, you’d like to keep him in Double-A longer, and you would want to see him in Triple-A before rushing him to the majors, especially when there are more than sufficient options ahead of him.
In complete fairness, Phillip Evans, who has not gotten a hit in seven at-bats and was not great in Las Vegas was not mentioned. Also not mentioned is T.J. Rivera because no one can be quite sure when he will be ready to return to playing after his Tommy John surgery. Really, the Mets need Rivera to return as soon as he can because he would be the best possible internal addition to the Mets bench.
Before this series against the Diamondbacks, much of the discussion surrounding this Mets team was about what was wrong with this team. There were many, many answers, but two of the more surprising ones were Amed Rosario and Noah Syndergaard.
With Rosario, he was struggling at the plate. He was swinging at too much, and he was not hitting for any power whatsoever. This also prevented him from using his game breaking speed, and when he tried, he was inevitably caught stealing.
With respect to Syndergaard, he hasn’t been bad, but he hasn’t been Thor. Considering how this team and pitching staff has been assembled, for this team to have a shot at competing, they needed Thor to be Thor. Yesterday, Syndergaard made a huge step getting back to that point.
At first, it didn’t seem that way. Syndergaard got himself into a bit of trouble in the first, but he managed his way out of it. He would not be as lucky in the second allowing back-to-back hits to Jarrod Dyson and Nick Ahmed, i.e. the soft spot of the Diamondbacks lineup, before yielding an RBI groundout to Jeff Mathis to give the Diamondbacks an early 1-0 lead.
Through those first two innings, he had thrown 44 pitches, and it looked like it was going to be another one of those short five inning starts Syndergaard has made this year.
Then, something clicked . . . finally, and it began with a 1-2-3 third, and it also helped that Syndergaard got some help in the fifth.
After Mathis led off the inning reaching on a Wilmer Flores error, Buchholz sacrificed him to second. David Peralta hit what initially looked like an RBI single, but Jay Bruce made a perfect throw to nail Mathis at the plate.
This was really the last time all game the Diamondbacks threatened. Part of the reason for that is in the sixth Syndergaard actually picked Paul Goldschmidt off of first:
#Dbacks challenge call that Paul Goldschmidt is out at 2B in the 6th; call stands, runner is out.
— MLB Replay (@MLBReplays) May 20, 2018
Syndergaard’s final line was a very Thor like 7.0 innings, six hits, one run, one earned, on walk, and seven strikeouts.
The only problem is with the Mets offense being stymied by a Clay Buchholz, who had not pitched in over a year, and the strong Diamondbacks bullpen, Syndergaard was not in line for the win.
Fortunately, he was not in line for a loss because in the sixth inning, Rosario hit his first home run of the year off of Buchholz to tie the score at 1-1:
1️⃣ swing, 1️⃣ run from #️⃣1️⃣. pic.twitter.com/D4rpKaMIJ8
— New York Mets (@Mets) May 20, 2018
In the seventh inning, it was apparent Syndergaard was done for the day, and with two quick outs, it seemed as if he was destined for a no decision. However, Tomas Nido, who took the place of the recently designated for assignment Jose Lobaton, singled to allow Mickey Callaway to use Asdrubal Cabrera to pinch hit. Like he has done all season, he delivered hitting a go-ahead two run homer off Jorge De La Rosa.
Then, Rosario is what might have been his best game in a Mets uniform, followed with his second homer of the game to give the Mets a 4-1 lead:
— New York Mets (@Mets) May 20, 2018
For Rosario, this would be his first two run homer game of his career. It was also a big step forward after his making incremental steps forward over the past few weeks. If he really takes off now, the sky is the limit for this Mets team.
With that, the Mets have their first three game home sweep of the season, and they have their first series win at home since the April 13-15 series against the Brewers. They are now back on track and once again ahead of the Nationals. Things are once again looking much better.
Game Notes: Luis Guillorme went 0-4 snapping a 13 game hitting streak he had combined between the majors and Triple-A.
Well, just when you think things can’t get worse, you’re reminded this is the Mets. Perhaps the biggest punchline of this season, maybe the past decade, was how the Mets BATTED OUT OF ORDER IN THE FIRST INNING!
Can someone send this down to the third base dugout? https://t.co/htjvJss5k1
— Cincinnati Reds (@Reds) May 9, 2018
Basically, the Mets skipped Asdrubal Cabrera, and Wilmer Flores took his spot striking out. Cabrera, who was supposed to bat second, came up third and doubled. That’s when Reds manager Jim Riggleman pointed out to the umpires the Mets were batting out of order.
Cabrera’s double was erased from the record books, and Jay Bruce, whose turn it was actually to bat, was ruled out.
Aside from making Mickey Callaway and bench coach Gary Disarcina looking completely incompetent, it really hurt the Mets because this game would prove to be a pitcher’s duel between Zack Wheeler and Sal Romano.
For his part, Wheeler was brilliant, and it was one of the better starts in his Mets career. Over six innings, he limited to the Reds to just one run on four hits and three walks while he struck out seven. He would only really face trouble in the first and the sixth. He got out of the jam easily in the first, but he would not be able to escape the sixth.
The sixth inning Reds rally started with a leadoff walk to Jesse Winker. He’d come around to score after a Jose Peraza bunt single. You could get on Wilmer Flores all you like, but he had no shot on this, and really no one does whenever Peraza lays one down as he is the Major League leader in bunt hits with six.
Joey Votto would follow with an RBI single, and the Mets and Wheeler were teetering. While it was not pretty, Wheeler deserves credit for buckling down and getting the last three outs of that inning without allowing another run.
Unfortunately, that rally tied the score 1-1 because the Mets just blew opportunity after opportunity after opportunity.
After the aforementioned blunder in the first inning, Michael Conforto hit a one out double that Adrian Gonzalez could not score. They stood idly by as Wheeler struck out, and Amed Rosario grounded out to the catcher.
In the third, the Mets did actually score. Brandon Nimmo hit a leadoff triple, and with the team hitting in the correct batting order, Cabrera drove him home with an RBI groundout.
In the fifth, the Mets had runners at first and second with one out only to see Cabrera and Flores come up short. From there, the Mets would little to nothing at the plate, which coupled with some strong work out of the bullpen from Robert Gsellman and Seth Lugo, both of whom have had recent multiple inning relief appearances, bore down and pitched a scoreless seventh through ninth.
At this point, it is important to note the Mets had called up Corey Oswalt to help out with an overworked bullpen. They did this despite his being on three days rest yesterday. As a result, the Mets called up a guy they would be hesitant to use making calling him up in the first place a complete waste of transaction.
As a result, in the tenth inning, Callaway went with AJ Ramos for his second straight game and third time in four days. Callaway went with Ramos instead of going with Jeurys Familia, who was presumably being saved for a save situation. This is a far departure from Callaway’s overtures early in the season when he said he was going to use his best reliever in the highest leverage situations.
Well, that save situation Callaway was waiting for never materialized as Adam Duvall hit a walk off homer off Ramos.
As a result, the Mets dropped to 18-17 after losing a series to the worst team in the National League. This is a far cry from the who went 12-2 and were world beaters. Now, they are just getting beaten up by the world.
Game Notes: Luis Guillorme was called-up from Tripe-A, and Tomas Nido was sent down. Guillorme would not appear in the game. Devin Mesoraco started his first game for the Mets, and he was 0-4 with two strikeouts.
Back on April 11th, which was the last day the Mets would have either Travis d’Arnaud or Kevin Plawecki, the Mets would beat the Miami Marlins to improve to a National League best 10-1. At that time, one of the driving forces for the Mets incredible start was their pitching.
In the ensuing 21 games with Jose Lobaton and Tomas Nido behind the plate, the Mets have gone 7-14. In that time, one of the main culprits has been how poorly the Mets pitching staff has performed. In fact, the Mets team ERA has ballooned from 2.47 to 4.21. The once dominant bullpen now has a 3.89 ERA.
There are many possible causes for this. Certainly, you could expect some regression to the mean after a fast start. Moreover, there is something to be said about how Mickey Callaway has used his bullpen. There are many reasons you can cite, but one which should not be overlooked is pitch framing, especially with the drop-off we have seen since the injuries. Here are the catchers’ respective RAAs:
Really, Lobaton is the worst of the group, and yet, somehow, in the absence of Plawecki and d’Arnaud, he is getting the bulk of the playing time. You could almost understand it if he was hitting, but Lobaton is hitting .163/.265/.256, and no, there’s not much upside with him as he is coming off a .170/.248/.277 year and is a .216/.294/.321 hitter.
Whatever it is too, Lobaton is just not working well with this Mets pitching staff. Remember, he was the catcher when the Mets bullpen completely collapsed against the Washington Nationals. During his time, we have seen the ERAs of almost every Mets pitcher rise.
For example, Steven Matz struggled mightily in his three starts with Lobaton. In those three starts, Matz averaged 4.0 innings per start, had a 6.39 ERA, and opposing batters hit .239/.333/.478 off of him. Short sample size for sure, and it may be a coincidence Matz had his best start since July of last year with Nido behind the plate.
It could also be the result of pitch framing. Certainly, the ability to get the extra strike and/or make sure a strike is called a strike is of vital importance. It is the difference between getting ahead in the count to set the batter up to make an out and making sure you get your pitches more over the plate so you don’t walk batters. The more you have to pitch over the plate, the worse a pitcher is going to fare.
Ultimately, with Lobaton behind the plate, nearly all of the Mets pitchers are struggling. There are many reasons why with his pitch framing chief among them. Until Plawecki is ready to return, at a minimum, Nido has to become the primary catcher. Ideally, Sandy Alderson is trying to make a move for a catcher even if if means grabbing Miguel Montero off the scrap heap.
No matter what, the only thing that is clear is Lobaton cannot be the starting catcher anymore.
Up until that point, the Mets catching situation was actually one of the bright spots to what was a great start to the season. The combination of Plawecki and Travis d’Arnaud combined to hit .229/.341/.343 with six runs, a double, a homer, and four RBI. While they were catching, the Mets pitching staff had a 2.47 ERA, 3.2 BB/9, and a 9.9 K/9.
Since d’Arnaud opted to have Tommy John surgery and Plawecki’s hand has taken longer to heal than expected, things have gone quite differently for this Mets team with the new catching tandem of Jose Lobaton and Tomas Nido.
Whereas the Plawecki/d’Arnaud tandem was at least passable offensively, Lobaton/Nido have not. Combined, Lobaton and Nido have hit .164/.269/.218 with a double, triple, and four RBI.
While we should be cautioned not to rely upon things like catcher ERA or results in small sample sizes, the Mets pitching staff has had a 5.30 ERA. Surprisingly, the walks have come slightly down to a 3.0 BB/9 while the strikeouts have remained at a 9.9 K/9.
More troubling, the Mets who got off to a 10-1 start have gone 7-9 with their new catching duo.
There are many reasons for the difference in records including a natural regression from a team that started the season 10-1. Really, no one believed the Mets were going to go 147-15 for the full season.
And the catching situation has nothing to do with Amed Rosario regressing, Michael Conforto not hitting for power, or Adrian Gonzalez not contributing anywhere near what the Mets expected. Still, these catchers are part of a black hole the Mets have in the bottom of their lineup.
The Mets have also had two bad bullpen meltdowns with Lobaton behind the plate. The first one was the Nationals six run 8th inning. It was a complete meltdown, and no one quite knew how to stop it from happening. Not Mickey Callaway. Not Dave Eiland. Not Lobaton.
The second one, much smaller in scale was the Mets blowing a 3-0 lead to the Braves. Lobaton was on for the two run eighth, and Nido was there for the two run ninth.
Maybe these meltdowns were coincidences. It’s possible Matt Harvey would have regressed the way he has anyway. We’ve seen enough of Steven Matz to know we don’t know what he’s going to provide. AJ Ramos and Jerry Blevins always had difficulty with walks. The list goes on and on.
Whatever the case, the one thing that is apparent, even if this stretch is not completely the fault of either Lobaton or Nido, the Mets miss their catchers. Unfortunately, d’Arnaud is gone for the season, and he may never suit up for the Mets again. As for Plawecki, he’s still a few weeks away. Seeing how the Mets are performing in his absence, he cannot get back here soon enough.
One of the most interesting phenomena in sports is how when an aging player returns to his old stomping grounds, sometimes he is just able to turn back the clock. As Mets fans, we saw this in 2006 when Mike Piazza had a two home run game against Pedro Martinez. Yesterday, we saw Adrian Gonzalez have one of those days.
It’s been bad for Gonzalez of late, really bad. He’s been mired in a 1-17 stretch with no extra base hits. Going back a little further, over his last 10 games, he’s hitting .121/.205/.212.
Things have been so bad Wilmer Flores got the previous two starts at first base. Yes, the Padres were starting left-handed pitchers both days, but Gonzalez has killed Clayton Richard. However, when you’re hitting like he’s been hitting, you’re not going to get into the lineup. You’re also going to hear about the Mets planning to move Jay Bruce to first base. This meant if Gonzalez was going to do anything to stop it all from happening, he was going to have to do it now.
— New York Mets (@Mets) April 29, 2018
That seventh inning three run homer was needed because it helped put what was a close game away. Instead of a tight 4-2 game with Mickey Callaway having to use his best relievers, it was a 7-2 laugher allowing Callaway to get work for guys like Matt Harvey.
It was all part of a great day for Gonzalez. Overall, he was 3-6 with a run, double, homer, and five RBI. He would have had an even better day had Franchy Cordero not robbed him of another double earlier in the game.
With Gonzalez front and center, this was really a day when a lot of beleaguered Mets got healthy. Jose Reyes contributed going 2-5 with three runs, a homer, RBI, walk, and a stolen base. Tomas Nido was 2-5 with a run, RBI, and a walk. And Harvey would pitch a scoreless ninth, even if he did allow a hard hit double to Eric Hosmer. Really, that’s the last time I want to ever put Harvey’s name, double, and a 2015 Royal in the same sentence.
Going with the rejuvenation theme, Zack Wheeler was good, which was needed from a Mets rotation still trying to figure out who can be an effective third starter in this rotation.
He battled most of the afternoon, and he did not get a 1-2-3 inning until the fifth, his last inning of work. That said, what impressed you most about this start was how Wheeler found that extra something at times when he’s usually lost it. Wheeler ended a rally in the first by striking out Freddy Galvis. He helped curb a third inning rally limiting the damage to two runs by striking out Carlos Asuaje. After Manuel Margot‘s two out single, stolen base, and advancing to third on a throwing error, Wheeler struck out Hosmer.
Overall, Wheeler had nine strikeouts, but what was really remarkable was how he got them at key moments when he needed a strikeout. That hasn’t always been his M.O., and it’s a real positive step going forward for him.
Even with his start and with Gonzalez turning back the clock was how the Mets offense put five spots on the board in consecutive innings. It was a full on onslaught by a Mets offense which saw every starting position player register two hits. Even Brandon Nimmo, who came on for Yoenis Cespedes, would register two hits. In addition to Gonzalez, Reyes and Todd Frazier would homer. The sum total of this barrage was a 14-2 Mets win marking the first ever time the Mets have scored double digits at Petco Park.
Of course with this being the Mets, not everything could be a positive. Cespedes, who has been torrid of late, had to come out of the game after executing a double steal with Bruce. In what was his second stolen base of the inning, Cespedes jammed his thumb. The good news is the x-rays were negative. The bad news is Cespedes believes he can’t play over the next three days, and that’s with the Braves coming to town.
Still, things could have been a lot worse with Cespedes, and with the Mets going to Petco, a place where they had only previously won one series, things could have gone a lot worse there. All in all, this was a good series where the Mets got back on track.
Game Notes: Paul Sewald recorded his first hold of the season. He initially came on to relieve Wheeler when it was a two run game. He now has a 1.98 ERA on the season.
If you were paying attention before the game, there was a stir over a contrived controversy featuring Yoenis Cespedes. No, it was not the typical contrived Cespedes controversies with his golf, cars, or his hat being backwards. No, this one was the utterly false claim that somehow Mets fans are irritated with or hate Cespedes. Today, Cespedes set out and showed why such claims are utterly preposterous:
I think he played golf yesterday pic.twitter.com/Evp7wNzN7G
— Good Fundies is short for Good Fundamentals (@goodfundies) April 25, 2018
If you think he took out a month’s worth of frustrations and completely demolished that ball, you would be right:
How hard and how far?
115.1 mph, 463 feet. pic.twitter.com/KhniTFcOXL
— David Adler (@_dadler) April 25, 2018
The Mets really needed that homer too because the Mets have not been playing their best baseball of late, and they were not really getting anything going against Cardinals starter Luke Weaver to that point, and Zack Wheeler was struggling.
Wheeler’s day started with his allowing a Tommy Pham two run homer in the first. He would never quite settle in with his not registering one 1-2-3 inning in the game. While he dodged troubled in the second and third, the Cardinals got to him again in the fourth with Kolten Wong‘s second double the day scoring a run, and Weaver delivering an RBI single of his own to give the Cardinals a 4-1 lead.
The Mets lone run had come off a complete Marcell Ozuna misplay in left on what was scored a Jay Bruce RBI triple. The Mets continued rallying from there, but they were not able to score another run in that second inning. The seminal play was an Adrian Gonzalez hot shot Wong made a great play on which kept the slow and injured Bruce at third.
Really, the Mets looked dead in the water until there were two outs in the top of the fifth, and Weaver lost the strike zone. He walked Wilmer Flores and Michael Conforto on eight straight balls until the aforementioned Cespedes homer.
With Wheeler lifted after four uninspiring innings, this put the game in new reliever Matt Harvey‘s hands.
In the fifth, he was victimized a bit by Bruce’s complete and utterly lack of speed. Dexter Fowler hit what should have been a single, but with Bruce’s speed, he made it an easy double. That allowed Fowler to score easily on the subsequent Paul DeJong double. Likely, Fowler doesn’t score from first on the De Jong double. Still, Harvey did allow back-to-back well struck balls which broke the 4-4 tie.
Overall, Harvey pitched fairly well out of the bullpen. In his two innings, he allowed one earned on two hits with one walk while striking out two. Tomas Nido was helping him get those extra calls, and Harvey had better velocity than we have seen of late:
Matt Harvey's first relief outing is in the books:
— Anthony DiComo (@AnthonyDiComo) April 25, 2018
All in all, it was a positive outing for Harvey was in line for the loss partially because Mickey Callaway has been making some odd decisions of late and because of Bruce’s speed. Really, Bruce’s speed cost the Mets at least two runs tonight – when he couldn’t even score on the Wong play and his allowing Fowler to get into scoring position.
As for Callaway, in the top of the 7th, Callaway used Juan Lagares instead of Brandon Nimmo as a pinch hitter. Considering Nimmo’s OBP and Jordan Hicks‘ 6.2 BB/9 this year, you might as well of put Nimmo on first to start the inning. Instead Callaway went with his best defensive outfielder who struggles historically against right-handed pitching.
Still, even with the Bruce speed issues and Callaway’s curious decision making, this is a resilient Mets team.
Paul Sewald kept the Mets in the game with a scoreless seventh, and the Mets offense went to work against Hicks in the eighth.
Todd Frazier started the inning with a four pitch walk, and he went first to third on a Bruce single which snuck just past Jose Martinez. A Gonzalez sacrifice fly would tie the game up at 5-5. Unfortunately, that was where the rally would end. Luke Gregerson came on and struck out Amed Rosario and got Nido to fly out to get out of the jam.
This would be the second time the weak bottom of the lineup prevented the Mets from cashing in on an opportunity, and it was another instance where you were left wondering why Callaway didn’t bring Nimmo into the game to take full advantage of a key opportunity.
Again, even with that, Sewald was great out of the Mets bullpen again. He had two scoreless innings keeping the Mets in the game.
Robert Gsellman would make things really interesting in the ninth by first walking Matt Carpenter, and then allowing a bloop single to Pham. However, he would send the game into extras by first striking out Martinez and then inducing Ozuna to hit into the inning ending 5-4-3 double play.
That play loomed large as Bruce would hit a go-ahead homer in the top of the 10th off Matthew Bowman. Inexplicably, Mike Matheny challenged whether Bruce touched first base, which only served to give Jeurys Familia more time to warm up in the bullpen. The well warmed up Familia came on to blow through the Cardinals for his ninth save of the year.
With some questionable decisions and calls, the Mets are back to their winning ways. They won mostly because this is a resilient club with every member of this team summoning something each night to help deliver a win.
GAME NOTES: This was the first time all season the Mets wore a blue alternate jersey. Mets are now 3-0 in extra inning games.
Last night, Matt Harvey had another low moment in his Mets career. Really after Terry Collins went to the mound in Game 5 of the 2015 World Series, it has been nothing but low moments for Harvey. He’s was diagnosed with Thoracic Outlet Syndrome, forever complained about his mechanics, and he had stress reactions from being rushed back to the rotation.
Now, this was supposed to be the year Harvey turned it around. He had Mickey Callaway and Dave Eiland there to help get him back on track. He is also a pending free agent, and the assumption always is Scott Boras free agents always have their best years in their contract walk years.
In his first start of the season, there was a real glimmer of hope. In five innings, Harvey limited what is a pretty decent Phillies lineup to one hit over five scoreless innings while striking out five and walking one. He focused more on locating than blowing it by batters. Really, this is what everyone agrees Harvey needs to be now, and he looked great doing it.
Since then, he hasn’t been quite as good. Against the Nationals, he fooled no one allowing four runs on nine hits and one walk in five innings, and he only struck out two. That said, Harvey did keep the Mets in the game. That’s something he has failed to do in his two subsequent starts.
The worst of which being last night with the Braves tattooing Harvey in two separate innings to score six runs.
Even with that, if you wanted to find a silver lining, it was there for you as Harvey retired 11 of the last 12 Braves he faced. After the adversity of the first and third innings, he didn’t meldown. He refocused, and he at least got the Mets through the sixth inning. If you wanted to justify giving him another start, you had it right there.
As it stands anyway, it does not seem like Jason Vargas is going to be ready in five days. Corey Oswalt was held out of his last start with an illness meaning he’s no longer lined up for Harvey’s next start, and it’s not likely Chris Flexen is going to be lined up for Harvey’s next start either.
With the Mets in the midst of 10 straight games without an off day, and the team playing 15 games over the next 16 days, including stops at Atlanta, St. Louis, and San Diego, they should avoid using Robert Gsellman or Seth Lugo for a spot start. The bullpen has issues of its own with the team twice needing to go into the minors to get a fresh arm, and after Gerson Bautista‘s performance last night, they may need to do it again. The bullpen issues need not be exacerbated for the sake of one start.
Really, all signs indicate Harvey should probably get just one more start. However, if that does happen Jose Lobaton cannot be the one who catches him.
In the two starts they have been paired, Harvey has an 8.18 ERA and batters are hitting .348/.367/.630 off of him. Contrast that to the 3.60 ERA and .250/.302/.375 batting line opposing batters have off of him when d’Arnaud caught him.
Maybe it’s just the reflection of small sample sizes. Maybe its’ the difference in opponents. Maybe Harvey doesn’t jive well with Lobaton, or maybe Harvey needs a good pitch framer to get those borderline strikes to ensure he doesn’t have to pitch closer to the strike and hitting zone.
Whatever the case, we’ve seen a glimmer of hope with Harvey. The team needs one more start out of him before Vargas returns. You’ve invested so much into him the past few seasons. Give him one last chance with the best chance to succeed with Tomas Nido behind the plate.
If that doesn’t work, you can honestly say you’ve tried all you can do, and it’s time to discuss bullpen, minors, or releasing him. But before you do that, just give him one last start with every chance for him to succeed.
In the top of the first, the Nationals quickly loaded the bases against Zack Wheeler with one out. This is normally where Wheeler would implode, and based off of what happened last night, you’d think this was a spot where the Nationals would jump right out and put up a crooked number on the board.
Instead, Wheeler induced Moises Sierra to hit into the inning ending 6-4-3 double play.
What this told us about the Mets was this was not a completed deflated team. They still had fight in them despite last night’s horrendous loss. So, yes the fight was there. The question was if the execution would be there to pull out a win.
As far as the Nationals were concerned the theme of the nights would be soft hits. They’d use them to set up a Bryce Harper sacrifice fly in the third, and they’d use them to score two runs off Wheeler in the fourth to give the Nationals a 3-0 lead.
By that time, you were left wondering if the Mets had a rally in them. They would in the bottom of the fifth with a leadoff single from Wheeler of all people.
Wheeler quickly found himself on third after an Amed Rosario double, which might have been a triple had Wheeler not been ahead of him on the basepaths. Asdrubal Cabrera followed with a sacrifice fly. With Michael Taylor overthrowing the cutoff man, Rosario moved to third allowing him to score on the subsequent Yoenis Cespedes RBI groundout.
That pulled the Mets to within 3-2. The Mets would have their chances to take the lead, but they couldn’t get out of their own way.
In the sixth, the Mets had runners at the corners after back-to-back one out singles from Juan Lagares and Tomas Nido. For reasons that defy all logic, Mickey Callaway decided to pinch hit Jose Reyes instead of using Michael Conforto, Brandon Nimmo, Adrian Gonzalez, or even the newly called-up reliever Gerson Bautista. If you thought Callaway had a rough night last night, he showed he learned nothing.
Reyes struck out in an ugly at-bat against Gio Gonzalez, and Rosario followed with a weak pop out in foul territory to end the inning.
In the seventh, runners were once again on the corners with one out. This time it was due to a Wilmer Flores and Cespedes single. They’d be stranded when Todd Frazier had an ugly strikeout, and Jay Bruce got rung up on a pitch on what the umpire believed was the inside corner. Bruce disagreed.
In the eighth, it was a two out rally that sputtered out after a Conforto walk and Rosario single. Brandon Kintzler would completely overmatch Cabrera to strike him out for the final out of the inning.
While the Mets were failing to cash in on rallies going 0-9 with RISP, the Nationals were tacking on runs to give themselves some breathing room. They’d push a run across in the seventh and eighth, both against Robert Gsellman expanding their lead to 5-2.
The run in the eighth was a little troubling. Michael Taylor singled and stole second. On the stolen base, Nido’s throw was there by Rosario whiffed on the tag. Later in the inning, Pedro Severino hit the ball directly to the drawn in Rosario, who froze thereby allowing Taylor to score easily.
In the end, the Mets lost this game not because they didn’t have fight after last night’s loss. No, they lost it because they didn’t execute against a Nationals team they breathed new life into. As a result, the Mets have now lost their first series of the year and are now looking to prevent getting swept.
Game Notes: Bautista made his MLB debut in the ninth walking one, allowing a hit, and striking out on in a scoreless inning.
Due to a family event, I was unable to use the Mets tickets I had originally purchased for the game. Considering it was me who scheduled the family event, it was REALLY poor planning on my part, except for one thing . . . .
With the exception of one of my uncles, an uncle who harbors no ill-will towards the National League team, we are all Mets fans.
We are all split on football and hockey. Generally speaking, we all prefer NCAA basketball to the NBA, with us each having our own colleges we support.
Despite the many differences we have as a family, it is our being Mets fans that bind us. Perhaps more than the blood itself.
So, when you have a group of us together, if there is a television around, any and all family occasions will eventually turn into us sitting there watching and rooting for the Mets. Yesterday was no exception.
We talked about what a great and underrated pickup Todd Frazier was when he delivered an RBI single in the first.
This led to a discussion as to what exactly the Mets should be doing about the cdatching situation. Some wanted J.T. Realmuto. Others, myself included, wanted the Mets to go with the catcher who would get the most out of this pitching staff. Regardless, we all debated what the Marlins would want for Realmuto presuming the discussions would start with Justin Dunn and Peter Alonso.
We marveled at just how dominant Noah Syndergaard was with him finally returning to form early this season with his striking out 11. We also groaned in that sixth inning when the Brewers plated two unearned runs on an Amed Rosario throwing error.
My family had smiles bigger than the one on Brandon Nimmo‘s face when he hit a game tying homer in the bottom of that inning. All right, almost as big a smile.
We got nervous and held on for dear life as AJ Ramos had one of those heart in your throat innings, and he was not helped by Jose Lobaton. To a man, we agreed wild pitch or not, your catcher has to get that. Regardless, Ramos got out of the inning with some help from Jerry Blevins.
Surprisingly, no one seemed that nervous about Hansel Robles anymore. Sure, he may not have been everyone’s first choice, but there was a calm believing he could get the job done. For Robles, that must’ve been a different feeling from past years.
And in my family, we are smart baseball fans, so there was no waiting for Jeurys Familia to lose the game in the ninth. We’re better than that, and with his stretch, I hope all Mets fans are getting to that point as well.
Finally, like Citi Field and wherever you were, we cheered and celebrated when Wilmer Flores hit the walk off homer.
Did I get to go to the Mets game yesterday? No, I didn’t. However, one of the reasons we go to games is to sit in the stands and have a shared experience. Considering I watched yesterday with my family, and it was bitterly cold yesterday, I think watching it from an Italian restaurant a state away was probably a much better experience.
The next experience will hopefully be the group of us at Citi Field as we look to recreate one of our old traditions. Hope to see you all there.
Game Notes: Wilmer’s second career walk-off happened against the very same Brewers team he was supposed to be traded to back in 2015.