Travis d’Arnaud

deGrom Can’t Beat Giants, Umpire, and His Catcher

With each start he makes, it becomes readily apparent if Jacob deGrom wins the Cy Young this season, he is going to do so with the lowest win total ever compiled by a starting pitcher.  Looking at his stats, you really have no idea how he could be just 8-8.  However, if you watched yesterday’s game, you know exactly why his record is that poor.

To no one’s surprise, deGrom began the game matching zeros with Madison Bumgarner in the first two innings.  However, the Giants would break through in the third.

After Steven Duggar earned a leadoff walk, he would steal second.  Devin Mesoraco would get out of his croutch slower than an old man reaching for a walker, and he would make a lollipop throw to second Travis d’Arnaud thought was bad.  Duggar found himself on third after a Joe Panik groundout, and he would score when Mesoraco just missed a pitch, which would go back to the backstop.

Now, Home Plate Umpire Tony Randazzo was horrendous on the day, but despite Mesoraco’s complaints otherwise, Evan Longoria did not foul tip that ball.  No, Mesoraco, who is showing himself to be a really poor catcher, flat out missed it.  Mesoraco also failed to frame any number of pitches which would aid Randazzo in being a horrendous umpire.

The key call came in the fourth inning.  With two outs and a runner on, deGrom threw an 0-2 pitch which led everyone in the ballpark to believe Nick Hundley just struck out looking:

Perhaps because he was frustrated, deGrom would walk Hundley, and then he would allow an RBI double to Bumgarner.  At that point, it was 2-0 Giants, and with Bumgarner pitching, there was little to no hope the Mets would win this one.

Overall, this was an off-day for deGrom as he needed 108 pitches to get through six innings, and he would have a season high four walks.  Of course, these struggles are indicative of just how great deGrom has been all season.  In fact, a struggling deGrom limited the Giants to two runs (one earned) on four hits while he striking out 10.

As good as he was, Bumgarner was more dominant against a Mets lineup which featured Jeff McNeil batting sixth and Michael Conforto batting eighth.

The Mets would not even threaten Bumgarner until the fourth.  There were two and two out, and McNeil hit a hard liner, but it was right at Panik.

It seemed as if the Mets may finally break through and get deGrom off the hook in the seventh.  Todd Frazier led off the inning with a homer making him the first ever Met to homer off Bumgarner at Citi Field.  Jose Bautista would get hit by a pitch, and McNeil would single.  The rally would sputter as Kevin Plawecki, who had come on for an injured Mesoarco in the sixth, hit into a 6-4-3 double play.

That brought up Conforto.  He battled back from 1-2 to draw a full count in a nine pitch at-bat.  On the ninth pitch, Bumgarner beat Conforto inside with a well placed fastball to end the rally. Given how Gary Cohen, Keith Hernandez, and Ron Darling were harping on the false narrative Bumgarner ruined Conforto’s 2016 season, we should see more of the same for any poor play Conforto makes the rest of the year.

In the bottom of the ninth, the Mets had a chance to rally back from 3-1 against Tony Watson, who they had already gotten to in the series.  The only problem was Tony Randazzo wasn’t going to have any of it.

It appeared Wilmer Flores drew a four pitch walk to start the ninth.  Instead, Randazzo called an obvious ball a strike.  Flores then went the other way as he has been doing so well lately only to line it directly at Panik.  Like with deGrom earlier in the game, Flores had some choice remarks for Randazzo, who, again, was terrible.

The game would come down to McNeil, who both Randazzo and the third base umpire ruled did not check his swing leading the Mets and perhaps more importantly deGrom to a loss.  Looking at this game, you really see just how much deGrom has working against him as he tries to win games.  Ultimately, if he does not win the Cy Young, there should be a line of people offering apologies.  On that line, we should see Mesoraco and Randazzo.

Game Notes: Dominic Smith sat against Bumgarner the day after hitting a home run.  The Mets are now 19-41 in games Mesoraco has played.

Mets Players Weekend Nickname Alternates

Last year, Player’s weekend was a hit as fans got to see their favorite players wear fun jerseys featuring their nicknames on the back of their jerseys.  Believe it or not, some of those were nicknames were rejected for various reasons.

For example, Brandon Nimmo wanted to use his Twitter handle, You Found Nimmo, but MLB was afraid of copyright issues.  When it came to Kyle Seager, he wanted to go with “Corey’s Better.”  With that rejected, he paid homage to his brother Corey Seager by merely noting on his jersey he was “Corey’s Brother.”

Well, the Mets officially approved Player’s Weekend nicknames and jerseys have been released.  However, as noted with Nimmo, there were other names the players wanted which were rejected by MLB:

Tyler BashlorMickey, I’m Available To Pitch

Jose BautistaTrade Value Going, Going, Gone!

Jerry BlevinsOne Magic LOOGY

Jay BruceJason Bay

Michael Conforto – Shouldering The Load

Travis d’Arnaud – d’L

Jacob deGromFewest Wins 4 Cy Young Winner

Phillip EvansDFA TBA

Wilmer Flores – 👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻

Todd Frazier Regrets, I’ve Joined The Mets

Robert GsellmanDon’t Care What You Think

Luis GuillormeAssistant to the Regional Manager

Austin Jackson2019 Opening Day CF

Juan LagaresOut For The Season

Seth Lugo – Quarterrican (That’s perfection; you don’t mess with that)

Steven MatzNot So Strong Island

Jeff McNeil2B/3B/OF

Devin Mesoraco – Harvey’s Better

Brandon Nimmo – Don’t Worry, Be Happy

Corey OswaltVargas (figured it was the only way he would get a start)

Kevin Plawecki – Plawful

Jose ReyesMelaza Virus

Jacob RhameStay (Refers to his roster spot and glasses)

Amed Rosario – Mentor Wanted

Paul Sewald AAAAll Star

Dominic SmithWaist And Future Gone

Drew SmithMickey, I’m Available To Pitch (Yes, it’s a repeat of Bashlor.  They’re trying to prove a point.)

Anthony SwarzakStill Just One Good Season

Noah Syndergaard 60’6″ Away

Jason Vargas$16 Million Dollar Man

Bobby Wahl After All, I’m Your . . .

Zack WheelerFinally Good

David Wright – Hurts Here Doc

Thank You Jeurys Familia

When looking at the 2015 Mets, none of it was possible, none of it, without Jeurys Familia.

After an impressive rookie campaign, Familia was pressed into closer duty because Jenrry Mejia got hurt in his first appearance of the season (he’d get suspended later). Familia was great in the role at a time the Mets desperately needed it.

With injuries to players like David Wright, Travis d’Arnaud, and Michael Cuddyer injured or on the DL, the Mets offense was horrendous. Complicating matters was the lack of a bridge to Familia.

This led to Familia going to the whip more than any other closer. He pitched more innings and finished more games more than any other closer. It proved to be good practice for the postseason.

In that epic five game series, Familia cane up huge.

He went 1.1 innings to preserve the Jacob deGrom Game One gem. He would join deGrom and Daniel Murphy as a Game 5 hero by sending the Mets to the NLCS with a six out save.

He once again helped the Mets set the tone in Game One of the NLCS. He took over for Matt Harvey in the eighth, and he would pitch the final 1.1 innings to earn the save.

Familia would not just save three of the four games of the Mets sweep of the Cubs, he would save five of the Mets seven postseason victories leading up to the World Series.

In doing so, Familia had a 0.00 ERA, 0.414 WHIP, and batters were hitting just .065/.121/.065 against him.

Like the regular season, the Mets handed him zero margin of error, and he was dominant carrying the Mets to the precipice of the promised land.

Unfortunately, Alex Gordon guessed right, Daniel Murphy had one go under his glove, and Lucas Duda threw one away.

Coupled with Conor Gillaspie in next year’s National League Wild Card Game, a narrative was born. It was a narrative not befitting a closer with a 2.30 ERA with a and a 0.638 WHIP.

Lost in all of that is just how dominant Familia was as a Met.

In 2015-2016, no closer pitched more than Familia. He was the leader in appearances, innings, games finished, and saves. Stretching back to 2014, there was only one other reliever with more innings pitched than him.

Looking at it, it’s flat out bizarre Familia’s name never really was mentioned as among the elite closers in the game. Fact is, Familia not only belonged in that group, but considering his workload and ability to navigate through that margin of error, you could make an argument he was the best closer in the game.

In his time with the Mets, he set the single season saves record. Despite closing for fewer seasons than anyone else in the top 5, Familia is third all-time in Mets history in saves.

Even with Familia being unfairly blamed for the Mets coming up short in 2015 and 2016, the Mets come nowhere near either postseason without Familia. Certainly, 2015, seemingly the one nice thing Mets fans seemed to have since Citi Field opened, isn’t even a figment in anyone’s imagination without Familia.

Over the past couple of years, we saw cracks in Familia from workload and hone issues. His absence was felt in a bullpen that has largely been a disaster in his absence.

Looking back at it, Familia was a great Met who helped deliver some of the best moments in Mets history in nearly three decades. His dominance in the back end of the pen will be missed.

Overall, thank you to Familia for the run and best of luck to you in Oakland.

Kevin Plawecki Better Than You Think

For some reasons, Mets fans become fixated on players from other teams, and there is a constant call for the team to acquire those players at all cost. In recent years, one of those players has been Jonathan Lucroy.

Last night, Lucroy made Luis Castillo‘s gaffe not even worth mentioning. In the bottom of the 11th with one out and runners at first and second, Alex Bregman hit a ball right in front of home plate. Lucroy pouned on it, missed the tag, dropped the ball, and then threw it into Bregman’s back. As the ball rolled into right field, Kyle Tucker scored the winning run.

No, it’s not fair to judge Lucroy from one play, but it does merit looking a little deeper into his stats. On the season, Lucroy is hitting .245/.298/.318. Since 2017, he’s hitting .257/.328/.352 with a 79 wRC+.

Simply put, Lucroy isn’t the player Mets fans think he is, not anymore. The same rings true for Kevin Plawecki.

In 2015 and 2016, Plawecki just was not a good baseball player. Rushed to the majors due to Travis d’Arnaud injuries, Plawecki hit .211/.287/.285 in the two year stretch which equated to a 59 wRC+.

If you want to expand it further to the first two months of the 2017 season where he was again thrown into the majors due to a d’Arnaud injury, Plawecki started his career hitting .206/.282/.272 with a 55 wRC+.

At 26 years old, Mets fans had seen more than enough, and they were not only too happy to label him a bust, but they have also been quite upfront about being done with him.

Well, after being sent down in May 2017, Plawecki FINALLY received consistent playing time, and he got to put the work in at Triple-A he needed to do for the past two-and-a-half years. The guy who couldn’t hit was suddenly hitting .338/.386/.529 since his demotion. With Rene Rivera being released, it was as good a time as ever to see if Plawecki was for real.

Well, since August 19, 2017, his first game since being recalled again, Plawecki has been hitting .256/.378/.417. Really, this is much improved from his play to start his career. Digging deeper into the numbers, he’s been much more impressive than you could actually believe.

In this time frame, Plawecki ranks third in wRC+ among catchers. That puts him ahead of catchers like Buster Posey, J.T. Realmuto, and Gary Sanchez.

Now, you may believe each one of the aforementioned catchers are better than Plawecki, and when you assert that belief, there are going to be very few if anyone who dares contradict you. However, making this argument completely misses the point.

The point is Plawecki is continually showing himself to no longer the catcher from 2015 to the first few months of 2017 who had no business being in the Major Leagues. Regardless of where you want to rank him among MLB catchers, one thing is increasingly clear – Plawecki has the bat to play the position.

Also, given his historical pitch framing numbers, he has the ability to be an everyday catcher at the Major League level. Saying differently ignores the progress he has made over the past year and asserts personal biases built up after the terrible start to his career.

 

Cabrera Fell Back to Earth

After his epic run at the end of the 2015 season, it is understandable how many view Yoenis Cespedes as the driving force of this Mets team.  However, if you look at the past few seasons, the person who has really been at the forefront of the Mets peaks and valleys has been Asdrubal Cabrera.

Looking over the past few seasons, Cabrera never really did get the credit Cespedes received for his propelling the Mets to the postseason in 2016.  Consider from August 19th until the end of the 2016 season, he hit .345/.406/.635 with 11 doubles, a triple, 10 homers, and 29 RBI.  Really, looking at that decimated team who was looking for an everyday second baseman at they entered September, it was Cabrera who carried that team to the postseason.

As the 2018 season began, it was once again Cabrera who was the driving force of this Mets team.

In April, Cabrera hit .340/.393/.580 with nine doubles, five homers, and 17 RBI.  For a Mets team who was in first place, Cabrera was in the all too early conversation for National League MVP.

That’s not a stretch either as Cabrera’s hot bat masked much of what was wrong with the Mets.  The Mets were winning despite Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard being the only Mets starters who would give the team credible starts.  Amed Rosario was struggling along with Cespedes, Jay Bruce, and countless other Mets.  The teams two catchers, Travis d’Arnaud and Kevin Plawecki went down with injuries, and they were replaced by an underwhelming duo of Jose Lobaton and Tomas Nido.

Through all of it, Cabrera got big hit after big hit after big hit, and the Mets were 17-9, and they led the Braves by 1.5 games in the National League East, and they lead the Nationals by 4.5 games.

Since that time, we have seen Cabrera get nicked up on more than one occasion, have seen his play fall off of a cliff, and we have seen the Mets go 10-21 while plummeting to fourth in the standings.

Since May 1st, Cabrera is hitting .252/.282/.445 with six doubles, a triple, five homers, and 17 RBI.  These are more befitting a hitter towards the end of the lineup than the second place hitter Cabrera has been for this team.

Cabrera isn’t just struggling at the plate.  He’s struggling mightily in the field as well.  In fact, with a -11 DRS, Cabrera is the worst defensive second baseman in all of baseball.  Expanding the worldview a bit more, Cabrera’s -11 DRS ranks worst among all Major League infielders.

Simply put, Cabrera is not hitting or fielding right now.  In a season where the was the driving force who bailed the Mets out of a number of situations, he has become one of the many liabilities on this team.

No, the current state of the Mets cannot be pinned on Cabrera. There are far more issues than his recent play.  However, when he struggles like this, with Cespedes on the disabled list, and Michael Conforto still trying to get back to form, you no longer have a bat in the lineup who can carry this Mets team and help mask some of those other issues.

The Mets Hate The Irish

Well, maybe hate isn’t the right word, but it could be fair to say that Irish Mets fans do not get the same amount of respect that other Mets fans of different nationalities receive.  Certainly, there is enough evidence to suggest this is the case.  For example, there is the Mets Irish Heritage Night at Citi Field on Friday, August 3rd, which comes complete with this t-shirt:

Well, there is a lot wrong with this.  First and foremost, that’s a four leaf clover, not a shamrock.  Really, it takes a simple Google search to realize the four leaf clover is not an Irish symbol.  The shamrock, which has deeper religious meanings to Irish Catholics is an official symbol of Ireland.

But don’t worry, you won’t see a lot of these t-shirts strewn about Citi Field that day because this is a special giveaway you can only obtain if you purchase a ticket through the website and get a special voucher.  Otherwise, you and everyone else parading through the ballpark will be donning your 70s style New York Mets t-shirt.

This goes much further than just their refusal to get a basic symbol of Ireland correct.

Are you one of the many Irish Mets fans who have an apostrophe in your name?  Do you want to get a personalized jersey for you or your kids?  Not happening as the Mets and MLB will not personalize jerseys with an apostrophe, which is really bizarre when you consider the Mets have a Travis d’Arnaud, who is a player with an apostrophe in his name.

If you want to dig deeper, you will remember the Mets outright refusal to bring back 2015 NLCS MVP Daniel Murphy, and their choosing to DFA Irish born P.J. Conlon instead of Jose Reyes, who has been the worst player in baseball this year, or Marcos Molina, who has regressed in every areas of his game this year and has just one option remaining after this season.

Overall, you can be sure the Mets will say they don’t hate the Irish.  That may be true, but on the same hand, they treat them with such little regard that they get their symbols wrong, and they don’t produce fan gear with apostrophes.  For some reason, because this is against the Irish, it will be okay and overlooked.

Catching Competition Begins Anew

As the Mets opened the 2018 season, there was supposed to be a catching competition, or at least a time sharing between Kevin Plawecki and Travis d’Arnaud.  This situation was created because both catchers had failed to do anything to truly claim the job as their own, but they had shown flashes which gave your confidence either or both could figure it out this year.

Then, in one week, both players would suffer injuries.  With respect to d’Arnaud, it was a season ending injury requiring Tommy John surgery.  For Plawecki, it was a broken hand resulting from getting hit by a Tayron Guerrero fastball.

From there, the Mets had to turn to the tandem of Tomas Nido and Jose Lobaton.  Neither one of these players would Wally Pipp Plawecki as they and the Mets struggled.  With their play behind the plate, and with Plawecki not healing as quick as the team hoped, it was time to do something drastic.

That drastic move came from Matt Harvey being designated for assignment.  Now, Harvey was not designated for assignment as a means to get a catcher.  However, when he was designated, and the Mets having a small window to get a deal done, the team did all they could do to land a catcher.

The end result was Reds backup catcher and former All Star Devin Mesoraco.

After the injuries and hitting .195/.291/.318 in 316 plate attempts between 2015 and the trade, Mesoraco and the remainder of his $13.1 million salary was more than expendable for the Reds.  In many ways, getting a broken down player who could no replicate his prior success due to extensive injuries was the perfect return for Harvey.

In some ways,. Mesoraco has revitalized the Mets.  He has worked well with the pitching staff, and he has hit again.  In 15 games with the Mets, Mesoraco is hiting .261/.358/.630 with two doubles, five homers, and 10 RBI.  During telecasts, we hear Keith Hernandez dropping Mike Piazza comparisons on him.  Yes, it’s related to his back swing, but the way he has slugged in a Mets uniform, the comparisons are apt.

With Mesoraco’s emergence, things are murky again for Plawecki.  While he has not hit for power so far his year, he was handling the staff quite well before his injury, and he was getting on base with a .455 OBP.

Certainly, both catchers have made a case for why they should be the primary or starting catcher with Mesoraco likely ahead.  Yesterday, in both games of the doubleheader, both catchers made their claim for the spot.

In the first game, Mesoraco was 2-3 with two runs, a homer, and two RBI.  His homer should have proven to be a go-ahead game winning homer in the top of the ninth.

In the second game, Plawecki was 3-4 with two runs, an RBI, and a walk.  He also reached on an error meaning he reached safely in all five of his plate appearances.

There are many other factors at play including how comfortable the pitching staff is with each catcher and certainly Noah Syndergaard‘s seeming need to have a personal catcher.  Through all the stats, there is one interesting consideration.  In games Mesoraco starts, the Mets are 6-6 as opposed to being 7-1 in games Plawecki starts.

Right now, with the Mets trying to figure out the infield, bench, and back end of the starting rotation, the catching situation presents a welcome “problem” for Mickey Callaway and his staff.  Fortunately, the Mets have two good options back there – two options who have raised their game with the prospect of competition.

Let the best catcher win.

Mets Blogger Roundtable: Should Beltran’s Number Have Been Re-Issued?

The New York Mets organization has been quite reticent to retire their best player’s jersey numbers.  From a player perspective, hat is an honor which has been bestowed upon just Tom Seaver and Mike Piazza, two players who just so happen to be Hall of Famers who have worn a Mets cap on their Hall of Fame plaque.

With respect to Piazza, once he departed via free agency, the team did not reissue his No. 31.  Instead, like what we now see with Gary Carter‘s No. 8 and Keith Hernandez‘s No. 17, the number was taken out of circulation.  Unlike Carter and Hernandez, the Mets retired Piazza’s number.

What is interesting is Carlos Beltran is seen by most as a sure fire Hall of Famer, and it is eminently possible he enters the Hall wearing a Mets cap.  Given precedent, you would think the number would be reserved for future retirement.  Instead, it has been reissued to Val Pascucci, Fred Lewis, Travis d’Arnaud, Bob Geren, Matt Reynolds, and finally Luis Guillorme.

In this latest edition of the Mets Blogger Roundtable, we ask the question about whether the Mets should have treated Beltran’s number like the Mets greats before him, or whether there is no issue with 15 being given to other players:

Metstradamus (Metstradamus Blog)

No uniform number discussion is important to me until 8 goes on the wall.

Joe Maracic (Loud Egg)

I could go either way about retiring Beltran’s number but have to agree with Metstradamus’ excellent point. Let’s wait for 8.

Michael Baron (MLB)

I’m wishy washy on this subject regarding Beltran. He is the best center fielder they ever had, and easily among the top 10 players they’ve ever had. But he doesn’t identify with the base that way – people connect Beltran with that Adam Wainwright curveball in 2006. So if the Mets were to unofficially retire Beltran’s number by no longer issuing it, that could generate a negative discussion which, to be honest is avoidable and unnecessary. The team knows that and is obviously very sensitive to negative press and discussions, so it might actually be best to remain at a status quo on this. But ask me tomorrow and I might feel a bit different.

Ed Leyro (Studious Metsimus)

As great as Beltran was as a Met, the only way it’ll be taken out of circulation is if he goes into the Hall of Fame with a Mets cap on his plaque. Keith Hernandez was a team captain and, like Beltran, was a top hitter and fielder. But his No. 17 was given to the likes of Graeme Lloyd and Jose Lima. If Hernandez, who was more beloved as a Met than Beltran ever was, can’t get his number out of circulation, then Beltran won’t either.

Greg Prince (Faith and Fear in Flushing)

Let’s keep getting some use out of 15. Maybe Luis Guillorme will make us want to retire it twice.

Tim Ryder (MMO & FOB)

As much as I loved watching Beltran with the Mets and the countless times I’ve defended him for looking at strike one, two, and three in Game 7 (three of the nastiest pitches I’ve ever seen to this day), I personally do not retire his 15 or even take it out of circulation. When he gets into Cooperstown, which he will, if they stick a Mets hat on his head, I think at that point they have to retire it. Until then, if it were up to me, I say no.. He was successful everywhere else he went. That’s hallowed ground for this organization. Until David Wright‘s #5 gets a spot up there, no one else from that era should.

Dilip Srindhar (MMO & MMN)

Yes. Carlos Beltran is very deserving of this honor. Beltran from 2005-2011 hit .282/.369/.508 with a 130 OPS+. To put this into perspective, Mike Piazza hit .289/.367/.534 with a 133 OPS+ from 1999-2005. Also add on that Beltran was an elite defensive CF during most of his Mets career. Beltran seems quite likely to enter the Hall-of-Fame as a Met. Beltran is an all-time Met and deserves the respect that the others before him have received. The Mets retire very few numbers and there is no reason Carlos Beltran shouldn’t be next along with David Wright. There has been some tension with the Mets and their fans against Carlos Beltran the few years. But fans have started to realize how great and impactful of a player he was and hopefully the Mets do too.

Mets Daddy

The biggest issue with the Mets not taking out of circulation is like many things with the Wilpon family, it has the stench of being personal.  It’s why we saw the team have a patch for Rusty Staub but not former owner Nelson Doubleday, a man who owned the team during the franchise’s greatest run.

The decision reeks of pettiness related to Beltran striking out in the 2006 NLCS and for his going against team advice to have career saving knee surgery.

Honestly, I’m not sure the team ever considered taking his number out of circulation, and if the topic was raised, it was quickly dismissed.

When Beltran does get inducted ino the Hall of Fame, I seriously doubt we see the Mets replicate the Yankees efforts to heal old wounds like we saw when Dave Winfield was inducted, and in the event Beltran does opt to wear a Mets cap on his Hall of Fame plaque, part of me doubts the Mets take the next step in deciding to retire his number.

One thing I don’t doubt is the terrific writing from the people who participate in this Roundtable.  I encourage you to take the time to read what they’ve written about Beltran, Carter, and a host of all other Mets topics.

 

 

Pitch Framing Data Underlines Mets Pitching And Catching Woes

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.

Over the Mets first 11 games, the Mets pitching staff had a 2.47 ERA. Robert Gsellman was quickly becoming a dominant weapon, and Seth Lugo was drawing early season comparisons to Andrew Miller.

In that fateful game, Tayron Guerrero broke Plawecki’s hand. Unsurprisingly, d’Arnaud was already on the disabled list with a torn UCL requiring season ending Tommy John surgery.

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:

d’Arnaud 2.0
Nido 0.9
Plawecki -0.4
Lobaton -1.3

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.

Mets Desperately Need Plawecki Back

On April 11th, the New York Mets were soaring at 10-1, and they lost their second catcher when Kevin Plawecki was hit on the hand by a Tayron Guerrero pitch.

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.