Travis d’Arnaud

Mets Need A Long Man In The Bullpen

There are many problems with the Mets bullpen this year.  One of the most understated is the complete and utter lack of a long man in the bullpen for much of the season.  This has led to Terry Collins needing to trotting out a series of relievers whenever a starter can’t go deep into games.  It has led to Collins pushing relievers past their breaking points.

This has saw Hansel Robles completely break down to the point where he’s not even an effective Triple-A reliever.  Collins stretched Josh Smoker to the point where he first was sent down to the minors, and then to the point where he landed on the Disabled List.  With Smoker gone, Paul Sewald seems to be the guy who gets stretched out for three innings despite his being a 1-2 inning closer in most of his time in the minor leagues.

Doing that means Smoker and Sewald, two pitchers who should have been establishing themselves as late inning relievers this season, have been bounced around in their roles.  We have seen uneven performances from them this year to the point where the Mets really don’t know what they have in either pitcher.  More to the point, it has led to Neil Ramirez pitching in important spots.

The latest example was on Tuesday.  The Mets were riding high after a sweep of the Giants, and the team was in a soft part of the schedule where they could have reasonably been at or even over .500 going into the All Star Break.  At that point, who knows?

And this Mets team looked resilient last night.  Robert Gsellman went down in the top of the fourth.  Sewald came on and gave the team three good innings they desperately needed.  Travis d’Arnaud had two RBI, including a solo home run, to tie the game at 3-3 entering the bottom of the seventh.  With Sewald, one of the better relievers on the team, no longer available, Collins went with Ramirez.  To the surprise of no one, Ramirez would earn the loss.

Why was he and his demonic 6.66 ERA even an option?  Ultimately, it is because of the Mets refusal to carry a long man in the bullpen.  Instead, the team would rather carry a group of pitchers who ideally should be limited to two innings or less that can post high strikeout numbers.

Why couldn’t the Mets carry Tyler Pill as the long reliever.  Sure, he was predictably lackluster, but that is a significant upgrade from Ramirez being an abject disaster. While it is a small sample size, there are indications Pill could be useful as a long man.  In this three games, the first time through the lineup teams are only hitting .250/.296/.292 off of him.  Extrapolating this out, this means Pill could be good to keep the Mets into a game for about three innings.

This could led to the Mets turning the game over to their best relievers late in the game.  Instead, the Mets would rather pitch their pitchers past their breaking points.  They would rather pitch Ramirez in important spots.  While there are many things you can pinpoint for the Mets failures this season, it’s the lack of a long man in the bullpen needs to be front and center.

Matz Picks Up A Grandy Win

Another Steven Matz start and another seven innings. Since coming off the Disabled List, Matz has pitched seven innings in three of his four starts. Tonight might’ve been the best start of the lot. 

Matz pitched seven shut out innings befuddling the Marlins. No Marlins player would even make it to third base.  He pitched mainly to contact, weak contact, which permitted him to once again go deep in the game. Over the seven innings, he needed just 110 pitches. 

His final line was seven innings, six hits, no runs, one walk, and four strikeouts. 

And Matz would get the win in this game with some help of some veterans looking to boost their trade value. 

Curtis Granderson was great just like he’s been all June. In fact, he’s been among the top three hitters in the majors during the Month of June. 

To start the game, Granderson battled back from a 1-2 count to draw a nine pitch walk against Marlins starter Jeff LockeAsdrubal Cabrera followed with a home run:

He’s been much better since moving to second base. 

The rally continued with a Jay Bruce single and a Travis d’Arnaud two out walk. In what might’ve been his best game of the season Jose Reyes delivered with an RBI single making it 3-1. 

Overall, Reyes was 3-4 with a double and an RBI. With his seventh inning single, he passed Ed Kranepool for second on the Mets all-time hit list. 

The Mets offense would go silent from there until the Marlins brought Dustin McGowan into the game. d’Arnaud got it started with an RBI single, and he’d go to third on the aforementioned Reyes single. If that ball does not hit McGowan, Reyes has an RBI. 

That RBI would go to T.J. Rivera with his RBI groundout. It appeared to be a sure fire double play ball, but at the last second, it took a strange hop on Marlins shortstop JT Riddle

After a Matz sacrifice bunt, the Marlins brought in the left-handed Justin Nicolino to face Granderson. Granderson responded by hitting a bomb:

This was the third straight game Granderson hit a home run. 

The Mets would build on this 6-0 lead in the eighth. Brandon Nimmo continued his terrific work as a pinch hitter delivering a two out RBI single giving the Mets an 8-0 lead. That’s a lead not even this Mets bullpen could blow. 

Mets are back on track for at least one day, and they look to take the series tomorrow. 

Game Notes: Robert Gsellman was put on the DL, and Matt Reynolds was called-up to take his place on the roster. Reynolds came on for defense for Cabrera in the eighth. 

Lucas Duda Is Better Than You Believe

With the Mets announcement of selling, we have officially begun the silly season of people proposing ridiculous trade rumors.  However, that isn’t limited to fans like you and I.  That goes to people who are actually paid to write about baseball, and those that are paid to talk about it on the air.  The first doozy came from Mark Feinstand of MLB.com who wrote the Mets should trade Lucas Duda to the New York Yankees for Austin RomineShockingly, instead of being met with derision, Evan Roberts was right on board with this one.

How can anyone be on board with that trade?

Since becoming the Mets everyday first baseman, Duda is a .247/.347/.484 hitter who has averaged 28 homers and 83 RBI in the seasons he was able to play a full season.  This year, Duda is hitting .251/.362/.553 with 13 homers and 29 RBI in 53 games.  That’s a 40 HR and 89 RBI pace.

Since 2014, Duda is eighth among first baseman with a 129 wRC+.  Considering Edwin Encarnacion has been a DH more than 1B over that time, Duda is really seventh.  If you focus on his two full seasons of 2014 and 2015, Duda has a 134 wRC+, which would rank him seventh.  Again, if you view Encarnacion as a DH, Duda is sixth.  And with Duda’s stats this year, it looks like he’s back to that 2014-2015 form.

Sure, Duda can be prone to bouts of streakiness (like any other player), and he had one bad throw in the 2015 World Series.  That doesn’t detract from the fact Duda’s in the upper echelon of Major League first baseman.

His return should be much more than a career backup catcher like Romine.  Think about it. Romine’s career numbers are .219/.268/.342, but he is better this year hitting .268/.305/.423.  Sorry, those are Rene Rivera‘s numbers.  Romine is a career .224/.258/.325 hitter who is hitting .231/.262/.314 this year.

How can anyone believe Duda is worth a player worse than Rene Rivera?  The same Rivera who the Mets signed prior to the 2016 season because he was released by the Tampa Bay Rays after Spring Training.  And by the way for all the hand wringing over Travis d’Arnaud‘s arm, d’Arnaud has thrown out to 22% of base stealers in his career to Romine’s 21%.  At this point, you could even argue you would rather have Kevin Plawecki over Romine.

And yet, people believe Duda isn’t good enough to fetch more than a backup catcher . . . a bad one at that.  They say that despite the Yankees, Astros, Angels, Twins, Royals, and possibly other teams being in the market for a 1B/DH.

There is going to be a point where Duda is no longer the Mets first baseman.  He is going to go to another place where the fans are going to appreciate him for getting on base even when he’s cold at the plate.  They’re going to be in awe of a 30 home run caliber bat.  He’s going to play a good first base.

All the while, Mets fans will be bending over backwards to say no one could have expected this.  It’s just another case of Justin Turner and Daniel Murphy.  In reality, they’ll be wrong.  Duda was this good when he was in New York, but you just failed to appreciate him.

Seen This Loss Too Many Times This Year

The Mets fought hard to get back into this game.  In the end, it was the usual culprits that would let the Mets down – injuries, defense, and the bullpen. 

After Curtis Granderson led off the game with a home run off Dan StrailyRobert Gsellman would just give the lead back. 

In the bottom of the first, the Marlins had runners on first and second with two outs, but Gsellman couldn’t come up with that big pitch to get out of the inning. Justin Bour singled to tie the game, and Martin Prado doubled to give the Marlins a 3-1 lead. 

It was one of those nights where you knew Gsellman probably wasn’t long for the game. You’d be right, but not for the reason you’d expect. 

In the fourth, Lucas Duda got a rally started with a one out double, and it appeared as if the Mets would strand him there. Travis d’Arnaud came up with the big two out RBI single pulling the Mets within one. 

Then came the Gsellman injury. Gsellman would ground out to the pitcher. On the play, he’d vacillate between jogging and busting it. It led to a leg injury. Rather go on a rant here about another injury, it’s best to leave it to Ron Darling:

This led to Paul Sewald getting thrown into the game. He did a great job pitching three scoreless innings keeping the Mets in the game. It allowed d’Arnaud to tie the game with a solo shot off Kyle Barraclough

The hit got the Mets going, and it seemed as if the Mets might take the lead. Brandon Nimmo worked out a pinch hit walk, and Granderson smoked a grounder up the middle. 

That’s when JT Riddle made a phenomenal play on the Granderson grounder to get a 6-6-3 inning ending double play. 

With the game tied at 3-3 heading into the bottom of the seventh, Terry Collins went to Neil Ramirez and his 6.66 ERA. You knew nothing good would come of this. 

Ramirez would issue a leadoff walk to J.T. Realmuto, and Riddle would smoke a grounder towards Duda. It was difficult, but Duda needs to make that play. The ball hit off his glove setting up first and third with no outs. 
Like all Mets fans, Collins had enough of Ramirez and went to Jerry Blevins, who has pitched poor of late, to pitch to Ichiro Suzuki

Being the wily veteran with 3,049 career hits entering the game, Ichiro knew just where to hit it – right by Wilmer Flores, who went in the completely wrong direction:

From there, Blevins walked Giancarlo Stanton to get to the left-handed Christian Yelich.  The move didn’t work as Yelich hit a two run single giving the Marlins a 6-3 lead. 

This loss was the same loss that we’ve been seeing all season long. This is the same loss that has derailed the Mets season. 

Game Notes: Michael Conforto was not available to pinch hit after getting hit on the wrist in Sunday’s game. Erik Goeddel pitched 1.2 scoreless. He has three scoreless innings in three appearances this year. 

In A Cabrera Second, Mets Bats Come Alive

After having the tar beaten out of them by the Nationals and Dodgers, the Mets finally found a team worse than them. 

The team jumped all over Giants starter Ty Blach.

Curtis Granderson led off his third straight game with a hit.  This time it wasn’t a homer. He’d move to third on an Asdrubal Cabrera single. Cabrera’s hit was only a single because Brandon Belt tracked down the bloop hit and threw out Cabrera trying to stretch the single into a double. For a player that did not want to be at second today, Belt granted him his wish. 

Granderson would score on a Wilmer Flores two out RBI single. Unlike the past two games, the Mets would win a game they had a 1-0 lead after the top of the first. The main reason for that was the Mets bats exploded in the top of the second. 

The rally started with a Lucas Duda lead-off double, and he’d score on a Seth Lugo RBI double. After a wild pitch, Granderson hit a sacrifice fly to make it 3-1. 

After Cabrera singled, Yoenis Cespedes would hit his third home run since coming off the disabled list:

The rally didn’t end there. Flores, Michael Conforto, and Travis d’Arnaud hit consecutive doubles to give the Mets a 7-1 lead. 

With that lead in hand, Lugo was cruising. Through the first five innings, he had just allowed one run, and he was making quick and efficient work of the Giants. 

His lead would grow to 10-1 in the sixth. Cespedes hit an RBI double scoring Granderson. Flores hit a sacrifice fly scoring Cabrera, and Conforto hit a two out RBI single scoring Cespedes. 

After another long inning, Lugo struggled. After having thrown just 59 pitches through the fifth, his pitch count would escalate to 95, and he still didn’t get out of the inning. 

It was a combination of the Giants batters being more patient and Lugo issuing two of his three walks on the night. 

He loaded the bases with one out, and Brandon Crawford tattooed one that became a sacrifice fly. 

Lugo issued another walk to re-load the bases, and Gorkys Hernandez followed with a two RBI single. At that point, Terry Collins had little choice but to go to his bullpen. Paul Sewald came on and got the out to keep the score at 10-4. 

From there, Duda continued his monster night at the plate. He hit a seventh inning homer, and he nearly missed another in the ninth. Overall, he was 3-5 with with two runs, two doubles, a homer, and an RBI. 

In addition to Duda, Cespedes also went 3-5. Cespedes was also amazing falling a triple short of the cycle. With the sac fly, Flores was 3-4. Overall, the only Mets batter without a hit was Jose Reyes who walked twice. 

Cabrera should also be signaled out for having a good game. Despite all the pregame hysteria over his move to second base, he came to play. He was 3-6 with two runs. He was flawless in the field even turning a double play. Perhaps if he had played this well all year, the Mets never would’ve had the inking to move him to second. 

This was more than enough for Jerry BlevinsErik Goeddel, and Addison Reed to close it on out. Each pitched a scoreless inning to secure the Mets first win in over a week. 

Game Notes: Before the game, Cabrera demanded the Mets trade him for the team’s decision to play him at second base. Sandy Alderson said Cabrera’s option would not be picked up.  Gavin Cecchini was sent down to Triple-A to make room for Cabrera on the roster. 

Mets Should Be Angry They’re Terrible, Not at Puig Homers

Yesterday, the Mets lost their cool with Yasiel Puig‘s home run trot.  Wilmer Flores had something to say to him as he passed first base.  Travis d’Arnaud said something as Puig crossed home plate.  Between innings, Yoenis Cespedes and Jose Reyes pulled Puig aside to talk with him about the incident.  Jay Bruce voiced his displeasure with Puig in a post-game interview.  That’s where we are this season.
Cespedes and Reyes, two players known for their on field celebrations, are talking to another player about how he acts on the field.  More than that, it’s bizarre that a Mets team who has played terrible baseball this year is going to go out there and tell another player how the game should be played.  Instead of Puig, maybe the Mets players should be focusing on their own issues:

1.  They Can’t Pitch

The Mets have a team 5.05 ERA, which is the worst ERA the Mets have had since the 1962 Mets.  It doesn’t matter Matt Harvey, Noah Syndergaard, Seth Lugo, and Steven Matz have been injured this year.  That ERA is just inexcusable.  There was still enough talent on this roster that an ERA that high should never be that possible.  Certainly, there is no reason why this pitching staff should be in the same conversation as the worst baseball team in history.

2.  The Defense Is Terrible

The team -9 DRS and team -7.3 UZR ranks 21st in baseball.  Their -14 DRS at the shortstop position is the worst in baseball, and the -6.0 UZR is ranked 27th.  At third base, the Mets -7 DRS is 27th and -4.8 UZR is 26th.  Behind those numbers, Asdrubal Cabrera has no range anymore.  Travis d’Arnaud is having difficulty throwing out base stealers.  Flores and T.J. Rivera have once again showed they are bats without a position.  Overall, it’s ugly, and they are not helping their pitching staff.

3.  They’re Always Injured

Of all the position players on the Opening Day roster, Michael Conforto, Bruce, and Reyes are the only ones who have not spent time on the Disabled List.  For his part, Conforto is playing through back issues, and his play has dipped in June.  The only two pitchers in the starting rotation from the famed seven deep group who haven’t been on the Disabled List are deGrom and Gsellman, both of whom are coming off of offseason surgeries.  In the bullpen, the Mets have seen Jeurys Familia go down with an injury, and Terry Collins pitched Josh Smoker into one.  If the Mets want to be angry, be angry with their trainers, physicians, and maybe even themselves for how they prepare.

4.  They’re Under-Performing

So far this season, the Mets have had 13 position players with at least 100 plate appearances.  Only five of them have an OPS+ over 100.  Cespedes is the only player with a .300 batting average.  Conforto is the only one with a .400 OBP.  Aside from Cespedes, each player has had one month where they have been in a deep slump.

Other than Addison Reed and Jerry Blevins, no Mets pitcher who has thrown at least 15 innings has an ERA below 3.29, and that ERA belongs to Syndergaard.  After him the lowest ERA on the team is 3.94.  There are five pitchers who have an ERA over 6.00 and seven with an ERA over 5.0

We can get on Collins for his bizarre managing decisions all we want, and they are quite justified.  Still, Collins is not to blame for these players under-performing.  That’s on all of them.

5.  They’re Not Showing Up For The Big Games

It’s easy to forget, but the Mets were on the precipice of being relevant in the National League East and Wild Card races.  They had back-to-back four game sets against the Nationals, who were reeling with their terrible bullpen, and the Dodgers, who have had injury issues of their own.  Instead of taking control of their destiny and making themselves relevant, the Mets fell flat on their faces.  In the seven games thus far, they have allowed 14 homers and have been outscored 53-22.  It is one thing lost six of seven.  It is a whole other thing to be dominated by teams the Mets believed they were better than entering the season.

If the Mets want to be angry with anyone, they should be angry with themselves.  They are allowing the homers.  They are the ones who are getting their doors blown off on a nightly basis.  They are the ones who have taken a promising season and made it a disaster.

For once, Collins had it right when he said, “We’ve got bigger problems than somebody’s home run trot right now.” (Anthony DiComo, mlb.com).  Maybe instead of focusing on Puig, the Mets should be focusing on those bigger problems.

Mets More Concerned With Puig Than Playing Good Baseball

It was too good to be true. With the left-hander Rich Hill starting for the Dodgers, and with Michael Conforto‘s cold streak, Curtis Granderson got the start in center. On the second pitch of the game, he would give the Mets the lead:

It was Granderson’s 19th lead-off homer with the Mets putting him back in a tie with Jose Reyes for the Mets all-time record. 

After a scoreless first, the Mets would have their first lead in the series. As we all know at this point, it was too good to last. 

Tyler Pill would surrender the lead in the third with some help from his defense. After a lead-off walk to Joc Pederson, T.J. Rivera threw one away to set up runners at second and third with no outs. To his credit, Pill limited the damage to one run on a Hill sacrifice fly. 
Surprisingly, despite the Dodgers having scored a run, Pill still had a no-hitter going.  That came crashing down in the fourth. 

Starting with Cody Bellinger, the Dodgers just teed off on Pill. Bellinger ripped a ball to right field, and he tested Jay Bruce‘s arm. Bruce threw the ball away, and no one from the Mets over shifted infield bothered to cover third thereby just giving the base to him. 

Bellinger scored on a Logan Forsythe double. After Pederson was intentionally walked, Yasiel Puig hit a three run homer he quite admired:

Wilmer Flores had something to say about it. Travis d’Arnaud said something to him. Between innings, Cespedes and Reyes talked with him. 
The Mets are out there playing as poorly as you can making mental mistakes all over, not hitting with runners in scoring position, and getting their doors blown off on a nightly basis, but they’re going to talk to Puig about playing the right way?  Ok. 

In some ways, it should have never come to this point. In the top of the fourth, the Mets had bases loaded with no outs with a chance to take a big lead. Instead, Hill would strike out Reyes, Gavin Cecchini, and Pill to get out of the inning. 

Pill didn’t seem to have the same issue as his teammates did decking to plunk Puig in the sixth. Maybe it was because Pill was too worried about how poor he was pitching.  His final line was six innings (career high), five hits, six runs, five earned, three walks, and six strikeouts. 

Conspicuously absent in that line was a hit by pitch. For some, it was much ado about nothing. For others, it was a sign this team had no fight left. 

In any event, a Yasmani Grandal sixth inning and eighth inning home run to make it 7-1. Neil Ramirez in his second inning of work would throw gasoline on the fire allowing two runs before handing the ball to Erik Goeddel. Goeddel would get out of the jam leaving the score at 8-1. 

Grandy would hit an RBI double in the ninth to make it 8-2. That’s how it would end. 

With that, the Mets are nine games under .500 for the first time this season.  As bad as that is, things are really about to get worse than it already is. 

Game Recap: Mets 5.01 ERA entering the game is the highest ERA the Mets have had this late in the season since 1962. After offseason elbow surgery, this was Goeddel’s first major league appearance this season. 

Eight Players The Mets Should Protect

With the NHL having their expansion draft tonight, each of the pre-existing 31 teams will sit and wait to see which one of their players will be selected to became an inaugural member of the Vegas Golden Knights.  With the Golden Knights being required to select one player from each NHL team, each franchise is going to see a player depart their franchise.

Occasionally, there have been discussions MLB will expand.  Whenever that happens, each MLB team will have to go through the same exercise each NHL team just did.  If that were to happen, it would be interesting to see exactly who each MLB team would protect.

In terms of the NHL draft, teams can protect somewhere between eight to 11 skaters and one goaltender depending on who the team decides to protect.  Given an NHL has a maximum roster size of 23 players, the 8 – 11 paradigm is a good framework for a potential MLB expansion draft.

Assuming MLB lands upon eight players, it would be interesting to see who the Mets decided to protect.  Now, where the Mets are lucky is players with less than two service years are automatically protected.  As such, Amed Rosario, Dominic Smith, Seth Lugo, Robert Gsellman, and any other young player you would consider protecting are already protected.  With that in mind, here are the eight players the Mets should protect should such a draft take place:

1. RHP Noah Syndergaard

Arbitration Eligible: 2018
Free Agent: 2022

Last year, Syndergaard emerged as the ace of the Mets staff with a repertoire that has never been seen by a Major League Starting pitcher.  He has a fastball that tops off at 100 MPH and a slider that he can throw in the mid 90s.  He also has a swagger on the mound, and he gets up for the biggest games.  Again, like Cespedes, this is a no-brainer even with his lat injury this year.

2.  LF Michael Conforto

Arbitration Eligible: 2019
Free Agent: 2022

Conforto has been around for only three years, but it has been a whirlwind.  In 2015, he was a budding superstar.  In 2016, he had a wrist injury, struggled, and was demoted to Triple-A multiple times.  In 2017, he has emerged as an All Star.  Even with a rough June, there’s reason to believe in Conforto being a budding superstar, including but not limited to his ability to hit left-handed pitching.  Conforto is a foundation piece and should be the Mets right fielder for decades.

3. LF Yoenis Cespedes

Remaining Contract: 3 years $87.5 million

Given the fact players with no trade clauses must be protected in an expansion draft, the Mets would be required to protect Cespedes.  Even if that wasn’t the case, the Mets need to protect Cespedes.  He’s been a superstar with the Mets hitting .286/.354/.565 with 56 homers and 146 RBI since joining the team.  More than that, he puts fans in the seats.  You have to protect him at all costs.

4.  RHP Jacob deGrom

Free Agent: 2021

After an injury riddled year, and some ups and downs this year, deGrom has rediscovered himself, and he’s back to pitching like an ace.  That is evident with his being the National League Pitcher of the Week last week.  We also saw what deGrom was made of during the 2015 NLCS when he outpitched both Clayton Kershaw and Zack GreinkeThere are only a handful of the pitchers on the planet that can do that, and when you have one of them, you don’t let them go.

5.  LHP Steven Matz

Arbitration Eligible: 2019
Free Agent: 2022

When Matz is healthy, he has the potential to be an ace.  Before his bone spur issues arose in late June last year, Matz was 11-3 with a 2.58 ERA, 1.167 WHIP, and an 8.9 K/9.  In his return from season ending surgery, he has pitched well lasting seven innings in both of his starts.  Overall, when he’s healthy, he’s terrific, and he’s not someone you part with so easily.

6. RHP Jeurys Familia

Free Agent: 2019

When you consider the Mets bullpen is in shambles, and they are going to have to rebuild it in totality, the Mets need to keep Familia at all costs.  It is also important to keep in mind that despite his injury this year, Familia has been an absolute work horse for the Mets with his making the most appearances out of the bullpen and pitching the most innings from 2014 – 2016.  If the medical reports are promising, there is every reason to believe Familia can return to being that pitcher again.

7.  C Travis d’Arnaud

Free Agent: 2020

There is every reason to leave him unprotected.  He has regressed in most aspects of his game, and he had yet another stint on the Disabled List this year.  Still, d’Arnaud is a good pitch framer, who still has offensive upside.  Before injuring his wrist, d’Arnaud was hitting .270/.357/.541.  While his stats have dropped precipitously, his .223 BABIP suggests d’Arnaud is due.  More than that, there’s really no better options available.  The catching across Major League Baseball is on a downturn, and you need someone to bridge the gap until Tomas Nido is ready.

8.  3B David Wright

Remaining Contract: 3 years $47 million

As noted above with Cespedes, the Mets would have to protect Wright due to his no trade clause.  Even without it, there is a case for keeping Wright.  Wright is the team captain, and he is the guy you want leaving an impression on Rosario and Smith when they get to the majors.  His contract is insured, so if he can’t play, you can reallocate the money.  More to the point, could you possibly imagine Wright in another uniform?  Me neither.  Is this all a stretch?  Sure, but fact is Wright will remain with the Mets until he finally decides it’s over.

As with any decision like this, there were hard choices.  Matt Harvey has been a cornerstone of the Mets rebuild, but his injuries and impending free agency, you’d be forced to expose him.  Zack Wheeler has had a strong return from the Disabled List, but even before he was injured, he was 18-16 with a 3.50 ERA, 1.339 WHIP, and a 100 ERA+ in 49 career starts.  In 2017, he has not appeared to be more than that.  That coupled with the rise of Gsellman and Lugo as well as other pitchers in the Mets farm system, you could very well expose Wheeler.

Overall, the hypothetical player that would get taken from the Mets roster would be damaging.  That includes Juan Lagares, who is a Gold Glover that showed some promise this year, but still has a terrible contract.  That also includes Wilmer Flores who still doesn’t quite have a position.

With all that said, it does speak to the talent Sandy Alderson has brought to this organization that the Mets could lose one of the aforementioned players and still have a team that could compete for a World Series next year.

What Is There To Even Sell?

After getting outclassed by the Washington Nationals, the Mets are now six games under .500, and they are 10.5 games back in the division.  Things are bleaker in the Wild Card race.  The Mets are now 12 games out of the second Wild Card spot.  One of the teams they are trailing are the defending World Series champion Chicago Cubs.  While it may be too early on July 20th to say the season is over, realistically speaking, the Mets really need to consider selling.

Aside from Michael Conforto, Yoenis Cespedes, and the core group of starting pitchers, the Mets should look to sell everyone on the major league roster.  The problem is why would anyone want what the Mets are selling?

Travis d’Arnaud has had another injury this year and has regressed in all aspects of his game.  His backup, Rene Rivera has been hitting .162/.205/.297 over his last 10 games.  With Rivera, this isn’t too far from what he’s been his entire career.

Across the infield, the situation is no better.  Lucas Duda has had his typical hot and cold season with him hitting .175/.283/.375 over the past two weeks.  It also doesn’t help that he struggles against left-handed pitching.

Just as Neil Walker was playing great again, he suffered a tear in his hamstring, and he will not be able to come back from the disabled list until after the All Star Break.  That leaves little time for him to get back into form before the trade deadline assuming he is even able to return by then.

Asdrubal Cabrera is having a terrible season.  He has twice landed on the disabled list with a thumb injury.  His already poor range has been further limited.  While he’s always been a second-half hitter, his stats this season lag behind last year’s first half stats.

Flat out, Jose Reyes has been the worst infielder in the major leagues.  With his poor defense, he is little more than a pinch runner.

In the outfield, Curtis Granderson has shaken off his cold start, and he has been much better of late.  However, he’s still hitting .212/.302/.396, and he’s still 36 years old.  If a team were interested in Juan Lagares and his Gold Glove defense, that opportunity has passed with Lagares’ thumb injury.

Outside of Addison Reed and Jerry Blevins, the bullpen has been mostly terrible.  Josh Edgin has had a nice season there, but 30 year old LOOGYs hardly fetch a large haul at the trade deadline.  And for what it’s worth, the Mets still have years of control over Edgin.  He’s more valuable to the team as a pitcher than a trade asset.

Certainly, if the Mets were interested in moving Blevins, many teams would be interested in the LOOGY.  With his outstanding season, he’s probably going to get a larger return than your standard LOOGY, which still won’t be a prospect who will be a major piece of the future.

No, the only two players really capable of that are Reed and Jay Bruce.  With respect to Bruce, the bar has been set fairly high for his return.  Last year, the Mets traded Dilson Herrera, who was seen as an important part of the Mets future, and Max Wotell, who is an interesting left-handed pitching prospect.  If the Mets can match or come near that, they’ve done well.  The problem is Bruce is now a pending free agent making that kind of a return all the more unlikely.

Based on last year’s trade deadline, the Mets can legitimately ask for the moon for Reed.  He’s been great as a Met, and he’s been great this year.  He’s a great eighth inning reliever, and this year, he is showing he can replicate that success as a closer.  At the trade deadline, everyone is looking for relief help meaning everyone should be looking at Reed.

And the Mets better maximize that return because looking at the team as a whole, the Mets aren’t likely to get a whole lot back at the trade deadline.  Certainly, it will be paltry compared to the Yankees haul last year.  The sad part is if these players were playing better, the Mets return might’ve surpassed that.  Then again, if these players were playing that well, we wouldn’t be talking about selling at the trade deadline.

A Better Father’s Day

Last year, new dad Jacob deGrom got the Father’s Day start against the Braves, and he took the loss.  However, you could say it was a great day for deGrom because his son was in attendance at the game.  This is the same son who had breathing issues after he was born earlier that year.  To that end, it was a pretty great Father’s Day for deGrom.

This year was even better.

With his son in attendance, deGrom had one of his best games as a major leaguer.  In fact, it if wasn’t for a Wilmer Flores error leading to a first inning unearned run, deGrom might have pulled off the Jerry Koosman.

For eight innings, deGrom dominated a Nationals lineup that has the highest slugging percentage in the National League and has scored the second most runs in the league.  In fact, if it wasn’t for Travis d’Arnaud‘s inability to throw out Trea Turner (4-4 in stolen base attempts), no National would have reached third base after the first inning.  Overall, deGrom pitched eight innings making it the first time in his career he has pitched eight innings in consecutive starts.  His final line was eight innings, three hits, one unearned run, two walks, and six strikeouts.

As if that wasn’t good enough, deGrom helped his own cause hitting his first ever major league home run:

For an extra added touch, deGrom used David Wright‘s bat to hit that home run, so in some small way, Wright has had a contribution this season.

After the home run, the Mets offense came alive against Joe Ross.  In the fourth, d’Arnaud delivered with an RBI single scoring Lucas Duda sending T.J. Rivera to third base.  Michael Conforto hit a two out infield single allowing Rivera to score putting the Mets up 3-1.

It was part of a big day for Conforto who finally seemed to get his bat going again.  On the afternoon, he was 2-3 with a walk and two RBI.  The second RBI came in the sixth inning when he singled home d’Arnaud.  What was impressive about both of Conforto’s RBI was they were both with two outs.

After Curtis Granderson‘s RBI single scoring Jay Bruce in the seventh, the Mets were up 5-1, and there was no real chance they were going to lose this one.  Still, it might have been too little too late for this Mets team that is now six games under .500 and 10.5 games in the division.

Game Notes: Mets moved Flores to second and Rivera to third to try to help Flores defensively and to help him get going again at the plate.  Mets begin a 10 game road trip, and they get to face Clayton Kershaw in the first game of the road trip.