Travis d’Arnaud

Van Wagenen’s Handling Of d’Aranud, Vargas Is Wrong

There is no escaping the fact Jason Vargas is not a Major League caliber staring pitcher anymore. Since the 2017 All Star Break, he has a 6.14 ERA, and opposing batters are hitting .286/.356/.511. This year, he is 1-1 with a 7.20 ERA, 1.933 WHIP, and a 5.4 BB/9 while averaging 3.1 innings per start.

The only time Vargas was able to go five innings was against the Marlins in pitcher friendly Marlins Park. It should be noted as a team the Marlins have a 69 wRC+ making them one of the worst offenses in all of baseball. Even with a start against the Marlins, opposing batters are hitting .313/.405/.563 off of Vargas.

Vargas is hurting the Mets chances of winning the games he starts, and he is hurting the team’s chances of winning subsequent games because his starts are taxing the bullpen. Fortunately for the Mets, there was a rare April solution.

Gio Gonzalez, who has pitched well in his career at Citi Field, was available. At this point in his career, Gonzalez is not much more than a five inning pitcher. However, when he is used properly, we have seen he can still be a solid piece of a starting rotation. Gonzalez being available was nothing short of a godsend.

However, the Mets didn’t see it as such. For some reason, the Mets remain resolute keeping Vargas in the rotation. It should be noted here Vargas’ former agent is current Mets General Manager Brodie Van Wagenen. It is certainly fair to ask why that matters. We see why it matters with the Mets handling of Travis d’Arnaud.

On Saturday, d’Arnaud had just about the worst game we have ever seen from a Mets catcher. That game put him in the Mackey Sasser/Choo-Choo Coleman category. It was that painful to watch. Even when he did something right like finally getting a hit, he blew it by getting thrown out trying to stretch a single into a double.

In 10 games, d’Arnaud was hitting just .087/.160/.087. Through it all, d’Arnaud’s main calling card has been his pitch framing. Not this year. So far, he has a -0.2 FRAA. When d’Arnaud can’t frame, and he can’t hit, you could understand the Mets wanting to designate him for assignment even if he was needlessly rushed back from injury, and he wasn’t given nearly sufficient time to establish himself.

Overall, the Mets decision to promote Tomas Nido and designate d’Arnaud was a sound decision. The Mets have gone into the season preaching they were going to carry their 25 best players, and they were going to do what it takes to win now.

It’s just odd to see how this philosophy applies to a backup catcher and not a fifth starter. It’s odd how this applies to a player who plays just once a week as opposed to a pitcher who is supposed to pitch every fifth day. It’s odd when you consider Vargas’ starts have much more of a negative and lasting impact on the pitching staff than d’Arnaud has.

When you look at everything, you realize d’Arnaud was a scapegoat for a team which has fallen to .500. More than that, you see a General Manager imposing different standards as to what is acceptable for his former clients than for players who have had different representation.

In the end, you can more than justify designating d’Arnaud for assignment. However, there is no way you can possibly justify how Vargas is getting preferential treatment.

Winter Is Here

You’d think on Game of Thrones night, the Mets wouldn’t throw a Lannister who was killed by a dragon. But that was fiction, and this is the Mets.

Instead of a dragon getting Noah Syndergaard, it was a mixture of defense, bad luck, and eventually, just poor pitching.

In the first, Pete Alonso and Jeff McNeil tried to get cute and pick Lorenzo Cain off second after a Mike Moustakas groundout. Instead of an out, Alonso threw the ball into the now vacated left field to allow Cain to score easily.

In the third, he’s load the bases and allow Eric Thames to hit a two RBI single before inducing an inning ending double play.

The Mets got one back in the bottom of the inning. After getting on base via a HBP, McNeil would eventually find himself on third. With the shift on with Michael Conforto at the plate, McNeil was well down the line potentially causing a distraction. Not only would Brandon Woodruff lose Conforto walking him, but Yasmani Grandal whiffed (ruled a wild pitch) on ball four allowing McNeil to score.

Syndergaard gave it right back and then some allowing homers to both Ben Gamel (who has 13 homers in a four year career) and Christian Yelich (first on the road this year).

With this poor five inning outing behind him, Syndergaard now has three consecutive poor five inning starts, and his ERA is now 6.35.

The Mets did come close to getting Syndergaard off the hook. In the seventh inning, the first five Mets would reach base with Travis d’Arnaud making the lone out trying to stretch a single into a double.

With respect to d’Arnaud this was definitely the low point of the season for him. In addition to getting thrown out, he struggled behind the plate. He had a passed ball, and he allowed three wild pitches. He would nail Cain trying to steal a base, but on a Grandal attempt, d’Arnaud tried to be Benito Santiago. Instead, he dropped to his knees and threw the ball into center.

Against Alex Wilson, Amed Rosario hit alead-off homer. After d’Arnaud was nailed at second, Dominic Smith pinch hit for the pitcher’s spot, and he drew a walk.

Then Craig Counsell did something a little curious. With three of the next four batters being left-handed, he went to his LOOGY Alex Claudio. After a McNeil infield single, Alonso made Counsell pay for his decision.

That three run homer pulled the Mets to within one.

The problem for the Mets is Jeurys Familia would give half of the runs back.

After walking Gamel to start the inning, he allowed hits to Cain and Yelich to make it 7-5 Brewers. Cain would then put on a base running display.

With Moustakas at the plate, Familia would throw a pitch off target and in the dirt. d’Arnaud would knock it down, but Cain got a good read and easily took third. In the same at-bat, Moustakas hit a ball back to Familia, who booted it. Cain read the play and scored leaving the only play to first.

The Mets didn’t let the inning get them down. Instead, they went to work against Jeremy Jeffress. The first three Mets reached, and the Mets pulled within 8-6 when Rosario singled home J.D. Davis. With Todd Frazier being announced as the pinch hitter for Ramos, Counsell went to Josh Hader to get the six out save.

Hader made quick work of Frazier, Wilson Ramos (pinch hitting for Familia)), and McNeil striking them all out. Because Counsell does not have the same inane rules for Hader as Mickey Callaway has for Edwin Diaz, Hader stayed on in the ninth.

Hader would strike out five of the six Mets he faced needing just 20 pitches to do it. His save would push the Mets to .500. Who knows where the Mets will be after Gio Gonzalez takes the mound for the Brewers tomorrow.

Game Notes: McNeil hit leadoff, and Brandon Nimmo hit sixth. Drew Gagnon was called up and Corey Oswalt was sent down to provide the bullpen with some depth.

20/20 Hindsight: Did Cardinals Expose Mets?

After losing two out of three to the Cardinals, the Mets have lost six of their last eight games, and they are now just one game over .500. In the series and this bad stretch as a whole, we are starting to see some troubling patterns emerge:

  1. This Mets team was supposedly all-in, and Brodie Van Wagenen had a “Come get us!” bravado. Somehow, this led to Jason Vargas and Chris Flexen starting in back-to-back games. The season isn’t even a month old, and the Mets complete lack of pitching depth is already getting exposed.
  2. There is no good explanation why the Mets would have Jacob deGrom skip a precautionary MRI when he landed on the disabled list due to an elbow injury.
  3. Moreover, in a game against a team the Mets may very well be competing for a Wild Card spot this season, the Mets threw Flexen, Luis Avilan, Jacob Rhame, and Paul Sewald.
  4. If Avilan is not going to be used as a LOOGY but instead as a mop up reliever, you have to question why he is even on this roster.
  5. At some point you do have to question if this is really a bad team. Through 21 games, the team has a -19 run differential. The only team with a worse run differential in the National League is the Marlins.
  6. Again, the defense the Mets put behind their pitching is embarrassing. Their -22 DRS is the worst in the National League, and the combination of Amed Rosario and J.D. Davis form the worst left side of the infield in the majors by a pretty healthy margin.
  7. With respect to Rosario, at some point we have to question if this is who he is. He’s not making real progress in any parts of his game, and it’s getting to the point where he is hurting the Mets (again) on both sides of the ball.
  8. It is possible Rosario could use a day off. However, the short sighted Mets decided Luis Guillorme again did not merit a fair opportunity and instead chose to carry a string of Four-A relievers. So in addition to no pitching depth, the Mets have no shortstop depth.
  9. On Davis, there is no way you want him in the outfield. He’s slower than Freddie Freeman, Hanley Ramirez, and Jay Bruce among others.
  10. Davis’ inability to play third and the fact he can’t hit the fastball (.167), you cannot continue to play him once Todd Frazier is up. Sure, he had one or two nice games, but you cannot let small sample size successes blur the picture, especially when his defense is killing the Mets out there.
  11. If you look at Noah Syndergaard‘s advanced numbers, he’s the same pitcher he has always been. The biggest issue for him has been the defense. When the ball is in play, it’s a hit as evidenced by his .346 BABIP against (he’s at .311 for his career) and his 50.6% strand rate (career 73.7%).
  12. Really, Syndergaard has been unlucky because the fielding behind him is putrid. Hence, he has a 2.92 FIP.
  13. On the subject of Syndergaard, narratives are just tiresome. For example, when Syndergaard is bad in Philadelphia, not one word is said about Wilson Ramos‘ catching, but when it’s Travis d’Arnaud, we hear trumped up charges saying he’s not a good catcher or game caller. In the end, it’s confirmation bias.
  14. With respect to d’Arnaud, it’s clear he wasn’t yet ready to return. Certainly, you have to question why they rushed him back when the team was winning, and Tomas Nido was doing a quality job in the games he played.
  15. Robert Gsellman has been terrific of late. Not only did he bail the Mets out of that eighth inning jam, but he also pitched three innings to save the bullpen yesterday. If the Mets aren’t going to do the right thing and sign Gio Gonzalez or Dallas Keuchel, it may be time to start stretching him out to replace Vargas in the rotation.
  16. Good for Pete Alonso to respond to his first slump by mashing the ball against the Cardinals. Also, you have to love him talking his way into the lineup a day after having to leave the game with his getting hit by a pitch on the hand.
  17. The umpires handling of Robinson Cano getting hit on the hand was embarrassing for baseball and the umpires. There was no way he swung, and when you make a call that egregious, you cannot throw out Mickey Callaway.
  18. We are seeing Jeff McNeil in his first real slump as a Major Leaguer. In the series, he was 1-f0r-11. It will be interesting to see if the Cardinals discovered something other teams could emulate, or if St. Louis is just a terrible place where good things go to die.
  19. With all the troubles the Mets are having right now, Keon Broxton is getting saved from the spotlight, which is good for him because he has been terrible.
  20. If the only impediment to signing Craig Kimbrel is he wants to close, the Mets are even dumber than you could have imagined for wanting to have Rhame on the roster just so they could have Edwin Diaz close.

Arrieta Was Just Better Than Wheeler

The Mets-Phillies season series began with Noah Syndergaard and Aaron Nola, which is about as good as a pitching match-up as you could possibly get. When you have a match-up like that, you are naturally going to overlook the match-up of Zack Wheeler and Jake Arrieta. While overlooked, this pitching match-up did not disappoint like Syndergaard and Nola.

For his part, Wheeler was good, but not quite great. With the umpire squeezing him a bit, he got into trouble in the second loading the bases with one out. He did well to limit the damage to just a sacrifice fly by Maikel Franco. It should be noted on the sacrifice fly, Keon Broxton made just a horrible throw to the plate almost lobbing it on the run instead of doing a full crow hop. This is noteworthy because with his momentum heading towards the plate, he had a real shot at J.T. Realmuto.

In fifth and sixth, it wasn’t a rally, but rather the long ball. In those innings, Wheeler allowed solo shots to Scott Kingery, who just killed the Mets in this series, and Cesar Hernandez.

Overall, with the Mets bullpen a bit depleted, partially due to Steven Matz giving the team no outs yesterday, Wheeler pushed himself, and he pitched seven innings allowing just the three runs while walking three and striking out five. This was the type of effort the Mets needed to win the marathon, but it was not good enough to win the game.

The reason is Arrieta was great. He overpowered the Mets lineup and induced a number of weak grounders. Really, Arrieta was not in any trouble until the seventh, and the trouble started with a Michael Conforto lead-off homer.

Conforto’s homer woke up the Mets offense a bit. J.D. Davis hit a single, but the effort was for naught as Travis d’Arnaud hit into an inning ending double play. Arrieta would benefit from the double play again in the eighth as a Jeff McNeil double play erased Dominic Smith from the basepaths.

In the ninth, the Phillies would not let Arrieta try to get out of more trouble. Part of the reason for that is Pete Alonso hit a single off of him. As the ninth unfolded, you started to believe the Phillies made a mistake.

The left-handed Adam Morgan got Conforto to fly out (which was deep enough to advance Alonso), but he then plunked Robinson Cano. Hector Neris come on, and he struck out Davis before allowing Amed Rosario to hit an infield RBI single. Neris then hit Wilson Ramos, who was pinch hitting for d’Arnaud.

In an impressive at-bat, Broxton laid off some tough pitches to work the count full, but in the end he would strike out as he couldn’t hit a 94 MPH fastball over the middle of the plate. With that, the Mets lost the series against the Phillies, and they have now lost four of their last five games, all of them divisional road games. As if things weren’t tough enough, they now travel to St. Louis to have Jason Vargas start in place of a sick Jacob deGrom.

This is how 10-8 looks worse than it actually is.

Game Notes: McNeil was 2-for-4, and his multi-hit game streak now stands at six.

20/20 Hindsight: Mets Waste Another Opportunity

The Mets went to Atlanta in first place, and they leave a half-game back. At one point, it didn’t seem like it was going to be the case, but that is how it proved to shake out. There were a number of reasons why:

  1. The Mets had the Braves on their heels, and they were in a position for a statement making four game sweep. Instead, they walk away with a split. The biggest reason why is they started Jason Vargas.
  2. The Mets need to give Corey Oswalt an opportunity to succeed. They had him rush to be ready to relieve on three days rests, and they instead had him on extended rest. They then decide to have him rush his warm-ups to enter a game with runners on base. How did they think his outing on Saturday was going to go.
  3. The Mets have to make a decision once and for all with the fifth starter spot. Enough of these half measures. It’s either Vargas or an open try out. You can’t keep pushing Vargas back and putting more pressure on the rest of the rotation. It’s still April, and the Mets are running their rotation like it’s late September and there’s a postseason spot on the line.
  4. Dave Eiland said it well when he said no one can succeed with how the Mets are handling Vargas. If the team doesn’t trust him, name Oswalt or Chris Flexen the fifth starter or sign Dallas Keuchel. If they do trust him, keep him in the rotation on regular rest. Overall, don’t make things worse than they already are.
  5. If the Padres get Keuchel on top of signing Manny Machado and having Fernando Tatis Jr. being the season in the majors, the Padres will be everything Brodie Van Wagenen has purported the Mets to be.
  6. The Mets sold us they needed Pete Alonso on the Opening Day roster to win the division. In that time, they won eight games. With their starting Vargas, they gave one of those wins back, and Vargas (or the fifth starters spot) has at least 28 starts to go.
  7. Just as we all expected, Steven Matz has been the best pitcher in the Mets rotation. If he continues to be so, he’s going to help overcome a lot of the problems created by the fifth starter spot.
  8. Zack Wheeler and Brandon Nimmo showed in Atlanta we should not overreact to slow starts from people who have historically performed. That is something to remember as Robinson Cano is hitting .183 with a -0.3 WAR.
  9. Michael Conforto is playing like an MVP candidate. Mets should be looking to lock him up, and don’t play the Scott Boras card. The Nationals locked up Stephen Strasburg. It may be an uphill climb, but it is possible if you have the will.
  10. With Jacob deGrom struggling with Wilson Ramos behind the plate, we can probably put to rest the insane notion deGrom’s last start was attributable to Travis d’Arnaud.
  11. The biggest warning sign with deGrom is batters hitting the long ball against him again. It may be just a slight adjustment, but he needs to find a way to keep the ball in the ballpark again. On the other hand, deGrom is striking out batters more than he ever has (14.7 K/9).
  12. Ramos really needs to step up his game. He’s been quite poor behind the plate with very poor pitch framing and balls getting by him. While he’s hitting, he’s bound to regress as he’s hitting for no power, and he’s hitting the ball on the ground.
  13. While J.D. Davis hit that homer, his defense is hurting the team. Yesterday, his inability to make a play on an Ender Inciarte infield single helped drive up deGrom’s pitch count, and it led to deGrom not being able to have the pitcher lead off the top of the third. These little things always look large.
  14. Mets defense is the worst in the National League, and Davis leads the way with a -5 DRS. This is why when Todd Frazier is ready, the team should give consideration to keeping Luis Guillorme up. Another reason why is Amed Rosario (-3 DRS) has not played a particularly good shortstop.
  15. If Frazier was smart, he would not come up one second before he was ready. He can ill afford another injury plagued year, and with the team’s depth, if he doesn’t get off to a hot start, he may never get off the bench.
  16. It’s odd how quiet things are surrounding Jed Lowrie.
  17. Sometimes we over focus on what guys are instead of understanding their roles. Paul Sewald is well suited for mop up duty and for eating up innings. The 1.1 innings he gave yesterday helped save the pen a bit.
  18. The Mets offense is humming, but there are some warning signs. Alonso is striking out 30.6% of the time. Jeff McNeil has a .439 BABIP. Ramos has a 64.1% ground ball rate. Who knows what to make of Rosario yet?
  19. The Mets have missed an opportunity in the past two division series losing a series to the Nationals at home and missing a chance to win or sweep a four game set against the Braves.
  20. With Tiger Woods winning The Masters, the Game of Thrones premiere, and the extensive Hank Aaron interview during the game, the Mets were a complete afterthought yesterday, which is a shame because that was a first place Mets team playing a bitter rival.

Mets Get What They Deserve In Starting Vargas

For all the talk about every game counts, Jason Vargas entered the season as the unchallenged fifth starter. Somehow, he’s failed to clear the subterranean bar set for him this season with tonight being his worst performance.

Vargas lasted just one-third of an inning allowing four earned on two hits and three walks. Now, you may want to say two of those runs were scored after he left the game, but that would be wrong considering he needed 36 pitches to get just one out.

This put the game in Corey Oswalt‘s hands to salvage.

While Oswalt did get out of the inning, the Braves got to him as well scoring four runs off him in the second. To be fair to Oswalt, just like all of last year, the Mets once again put him in a position to fail.

Oswalt was called up earlier in the week to be prepared to make a relief appearance on just three days rest. Then, after the team didn’t pitch him, they had him trying to stay sharp on what was now extended rest. Finally, they asked a starter to hurry up and loosen up to enter a game with runners in scoring position. This is not how you handle or develop pitchers.

Partially because of the Mets being stubborn and plain stupid in trusting Vargas as the fifth starter and partially due to their mishandling of Oswalt, they’d lost what was a winnable game.

Like Vargas, Braves starter Sean Newcomb was bad. After escaping the first inning due to a questionable base running decision by Pete Alonso, he was bad and would not escape the second.

Travis d’Arnaud got the rally started with his first hit since coming off the IL. He and Keon Broxton would score on a Juan Lagares RBI double. Oswalt would help himself and tie the score with a sacrifice fly.

After the aforementioned bad top of the third for Oswalt, the Mets were chasing the Braves all night. The key difference between the Mets and Braves was while the Mets messed around with Oswalt, the Braves had Touki Touissaint. Touissaint was very good for the Braves stabilizing the game and saving their bullpen.

This meant even though Chad Sabodka was shaky in the final two innings, the Braves still had plenty of cushion in what would become an 11-7 Braves.

As if this were not enough, Ron Darling announced he needs to take a leave of absence to have surgery to remove a mass in his chest. More than anything that happened on the field, this was the absolute worst development of the day. Thoughts and prayers go to Darling for a speedy recovery.

Game Notes: Oswalt became the first Mets pitcher since John Maine in 2007 to have a sacrifice fly and a sacrifice bunt. Mickey Callaway was ejected in the first for arguing balls and strikes.

20/20 Hindsight: Mets Split Up The Twins

The Mets finished their first homestand of the season going 2-3, and now they are embark on a brutal road trip taking them through Atlanta, Philadelphia, and St. Louis. Here are some observations before the Mets set off for that trip:

  1. Jacob deGrom just didn’t have it. It was bound to happen, but it was still startling to see.
  2. Anyone who even suggests deGrom’s struggles were related to Travis d’Arnaud behind the plate simply doesn’t know anything about baseball. It wasn’t d’Arnaud who caused the chilly weather, nor was it the weather which caused deGrom to miss his pitches by a foot.
  3. Baseball is funny sometimes. After thorough research shows Citi Field suppresses exit velocities, the ball was flying out of Citi Field. Of course, when you have power hitters like Pete Alonso and Michael Conforto that will happen anyway.
  4. In one series, Mitch Garver went from a nameless guy to the second coming of Mike Piazza.
  5. Jason Vargas was terrible, and it is simply inexcusable he was not so much as challenged for the fifth starter spot.
  6. The Mets have gotten away with calling up Alonso saying every game matters while carrying Vargas as the fifth starter and having Tim Peterson in the bullpen. Why do fans just let the Mets get away with pushing narratives like this?
  7. The booing of Brandon Nimmo and d’Arnaud was embarrassing. Mets fans should be better than that.
  8. And just like that, in his last three games, Nimmo is 4-for-10, with two doubles, a homer, three RBI, a walk, and a HBP.
  9. What the Mets did to Corey Oswalt is inexcusable. He effectively lost a year getting jerked around by the team, and the first chance this new regime gets, they call him up on three days rest to sit in the bullpen.
  10. Oswalt should be making Vargas’ start this Saturday, and if he doesn’t the Mets cannot pitch Oswalt until then because they may need him to piggyback that start.
  11. These two games were miserable creating difficult pitching situations. It led to deGrom’s struggles, and it likely led to Jeurys Familia‘s, but that’s now two bad outings from him. Too soon to overreact, but not too soon to take notice.
  12. After J.D. Davis‘ two home run game, he’s back to being Davis. He his 42.9% of his balls on the ground, and he has hit 45.8% on the ground this year. His inability to make a play at third led to Familia getting in trouble, and he almost botched a double play only to be saved by Luis Guillorme making an amazing turn.
  13. With Todd Frazier getting a rehab start at SS, it would seem Guillorme will be the odd man out, which is a shame because he’s doing everything he could do to stay. It’s at the point where he’s having to wear batting gloves because he has blisters from all his extra batting practice. He’s also been really good in the field.
  14. When you have players fighting this hard to stay in the majors, you will get the best results not just from them, but also from the players they are pushing. We are seeing some of that with this team.
  15. Robinson Cano has a knack for the moment with two big home runs already and a walk yesterday. That said, his overall body of work has not been good. He may be a slow starter, but he has never been this slow. It’s something worth monitoring with his age, PED suspension, and the Mets history on this front (Roberto Alomar).
  16. Mets are going to regret waking up the Nationals. They went from a team in trouble to a team who took consecutive road series from the red hot Mets and Phillies.
  17. There may be some holes and warning signs with Alonso here and there, including his having difficulty on two grounders this series, but pointing them out would be being a killjoy. So far, Alonso has been great, and the only things people should point out is how great he has been.
  18. We should not care what his final stat line said. Noah Syndergaard was dominant yesterday, and when you consider how everyone else pitched, he looked all the more so. Really, if not for some poor defense, he gets through the eighth unscathed.
  19. Good for Jay Bruce hitting seven homers so far this season and helping the Mariners to a 12-2 start. He gave the Mets everything he had, and it was not his fault it was a poor fit.
  20. In waht was promised to be a tight NL East, we have the Mets, Braves, and Phillies tied atop the division with a 7-4 record with the Nationals right behind them at 6-5.

deGrom Was At His Best With d’Arnaud

Since Jacob deGrom burst onto the scene in 2014, he has emerged as easily one of the five best pitchers in Mets history, and he is arguably third behind just Tom Seaver and Dwight Gooden (although Jerry Koosman would like a word here). Going through his career, there are a number of signature performances from deGrom, but as we sort through them all, there are two games which should stand as his signature performances.

The first is Game 1 of the 2015 NLDS. In that game, deGrom out-pitched Clayton Kershaw. In his seven shutout innings, he allowed just one walk and five hits while striking out 13 batters. It was as dominant a postseason performance any Mets pitcher has ever had.

That game set the Mets on a path which had them winning the pennant that year. Of course, they do not win the pennant if deGrom does not survive and get the Mets in position to win Game 5 of that series.

It seemed deGrom was in trouble all six of the innings he pitched that night. What’s insane to think about is deGrom did not have a 1-2-3 inning that game until the sixth. Worse yet, in each of the first five innings, the Dodgers had a runner in scoring position with less than two outs.

Despite all of that, deGrom somehow managed to keep the game tied going into the seventh inning setting the stage for Daniel Murphy‘s homer, Noah Syndergaard coming out of the bullpen throwing 100 MPH, and Jeurys Familia with the six out save.

While deGrom had an all-time Cy Young winning season last year, arguably, the 2015 NLDS was deGrom at his best. One night he went out there, and he just dominated the Dodgers. The next, he used guile to get through that lineup to pick up the win. That series was everything you think of when you think of deGrom, and it happened in the postseason.

His catcher in that series? Travis d’Arnaud.

It’s easy to forget, but d’Arnaud has caught deGrom, and he has caught him well. It was d’Arnaud behind the plate when deGrom emerged from seemingly out of nowhere to win the 2014 Rookie of the Year. It was d’Arnaud behind the plate in the 2015 postseason. It was d’Arnaud behind the plate when deGrom was coming back from ulnar transposition surgery.

There are many reasons why d’Arnaud has caught deGrom well. First and foremost, deGrom is a great pitcher. As we have seen this season, deGrom can pitch great to Wilson Ramos and to Tomas Nido. Second, d’Arnaud has proven himself to be an excellent pitch framer, which allows an already lethal pitcher like deGrom ramp up his game to an unfair level.

Overall, d’Arnaud is a very good receiver who has a rapport with these Mets pitchers. If he didn’t, the Mets would have non-tendered him and kept the much cheaper Kevin Plawecki this past offseason, or they would have stuck with Devin Mesoraco. That goes double considering d’Arnaud was coming off Tommy John surgery.

Overall, the point is deGrom is great because he is great, and as we have seen time and time again, he’s even better with a catcher behind the plate who can steal those extra strikes for him. Ultimately, this is why we have seen deGrom at his best with d’Arnaud behind the plate.

deGrom Wasn’t Close To Being deGrom

This was supposed to be Jason Vargas‘ start, but he’s so terrible the Mets opted to skip his start. The game was supposed to start a half hour earlier than it did, but the wet weather pushed it back a half hour. Really, there was every indication things were not going to go well.

Still, you couldn’t quite be prepared for what happened to Jacob deGrom. To put it in perspective, he had as many strikeouts as homers allowed.

The first homer was a solo shot by Mitch Garver in the second. Considering Garver entered the game with seven career homers and a .405 SLG, his homer to dead center should’ve been a sign.

After that came what by deGrom’s standards was a disastrous third. Jorge Polanco tripled and scored on a wild pitch. Eddie Rosario hit a two run homer, and Garver hit a homer in as many innings.

When all was said and done, deGrom allowed four runs in the third. It was the first time he allowed four runs in a game since April 10th last year. His allowing the four runs snapped his MLB record starts allowing three runs or fewer and leaves him tied with Bob Gibson for most consecutive quality starts.

As if that wasn’t bad enough, deGrom went out and got touched up for another run in the fourth.

Whether it was the weather, delay, or something else, deGrom really didn’t have it. He was missing his spots by a healthy margin. He didn’t have his velocity, and he didn’t have the movement on his breaking pitches.

For a moment, it looked like the Mets might actually bail him out as the ball was flying out of Citi Field.

Brandon Nimmo and Michael Conforto homered off Twins starter Kyle Gibson in the third. That combined with an Amed Rosario RBI double in the second, it was 5-3.

In the fifth, the Mets really had their shot. After loading the bases with two outs, Twins manager Rocco Baldelli went to his bullpen. Trevor Hildenberger would get Jeff McNeil to fly out to end that threat.

From there, the Mets were just playing catch-up.

Seth Lugo, who was in this game for some reason, allowed a homer to Jonathan Schoop in what was Lugo’s second inning of work. Perhaps Mickey Callaway felt Lugo’s arm was feeling too good lately.

Like Conforto, Pete Alonso homered in his third straight game. That seventh inning homer pulled the Mets to within 7-4.

Unfortunately, Alonso gave that run right back with an error in the eighth. With Byron Buxton on second after a leadoff double against Robert Gsellman, Alonso allowed a Edhire Adrianza grounder go right through his legs.

Sure, Alonso shouldn’t have been trying to backhand it, but we shouldn’t overstate one misplay in a lost game, especially when this was Alonso’s first error.

After that error, Rosario hit his second homer of the game expanding the Twins lead from an10-4.game

Vargas would finally pitch in the ninth, and he was greeted by a Rosario double, Garver single, Jason Castro single, and Schoop homer before he recorded an out. And just like that, a 10-4 game became 14-4.

Things got a little interesting in the ninth with Alonso hitting his second homer and the Mets plating four, but it was still 14-8 when all was said and done.

That’s basically how this miserable game went. It’s too soon to react to this, but the Mets have now lost three of four at home.

Game Notes: Alonso is the first Mets rookie to homer in three straight games since Benny Agbayani. Agbayani did that twice in 1999. Travis d’Arnaud made strong throws behind the plate throwing out one of the two attempted base stealers.

20/20 Hindsight: Mets Blow Chance Against Nationals

After coming in red-hot after going 5-1 on the road to open the season, the Mets had their first series at home, and while they returned to Citi Field, their momentum did not. While it is waaaaaaay to soon to look at these things, the Mets are now 0.5 games back of the Phillies. Here are some observations from the Mets home opening series:

  1. Noah Syndergaard seems to be a spokesman of sorts for this team airing their grievances publicly. Look it anyone is going to be the bad guy, Syndergaard is well suited for it because: (1) the fans are going to love him regardless; and (2) he seems to have the do not care what you think personality to make it work.
  2. Not only did MLB mishandle this by having the Mets play a night game, but they also had a drug test after the game. Considering there were only 7,486 at that game, I cannot imagine attendance was the reason for the later start time.
  3. If the rumors were true, the Mets are absolutely idiots for starting that game at 1:00 P.M. instead of 4:00 P.M. Those three extra hours matter, especially when a player like Robinson Cano has completely forgotten how to transverse New York after signing with the Mariners after the 2013 season.
  4. The Nationals came into this series under .500 with an already beleaguered Dave Martinez, a more beleaguered bullpen, and arguably their best player, Trea Turner, on the disabled list. This was a very wounded team who was primed to be knocked down a peg or two and possibly sent into turmoil. It may still be just April, but the Mets missed a big opportunity here.
  5. The two home run game from J.D. Davis was great to see as was his reaching base safely five consecutive times. However, we are going to need to see a lot more of that before we believe he has finally figured things out.
  6. As we saw from Davis’ two home run game, April is the time for overreaction, and we are seeing that with Zack Wheeler‘s tough start. One thing to keep in mind here is Wheeler has always gotten better as the season progresses.  For example, his career April ERA is 4.95, and his career August ERA is 2.30. Lets give this a month or two before we decided last year’s second half was a blip.
  7. It seems like Steven Matz figured something out in the bottom of the second against the Nationals. If so, watch out, he’s going to have a breakout season.
  8. The Mets have gone from Jason Vargas not needing any competition during Spring Training to only trusting him for five innings in a hitter’s park against the worst team in the National League to skipping his start. It’s not even the middle of April, and the Mets have completely bungled their fifth starter situation.
  9. Perhaps this is an overreaction, but Robert Gsellman has not proven to be that late inning relief ace the Mets imagined him to be. With the Vargas situation, perhaps the Mets should consider sending him down to Syracuse to lengthen him out to rejoin the rotation while making Vargas the long man in the bullpen.
  10. Even with Jeurys Familia‘s blow-up where he allowed his first homer at Citi Field since Conor Gillaspie, and he allowed two homers in an appearance for the first time in his career, he’s been fine.
  11. While there has been justifiable hand-wringing over just how poorly this bullpen has been performing, we are seeing Justin Wilson-Familia-Edwin Diaz turn into a formidable 7-8-9 combination.
  12. Thankfully, Seth Lugo was back to himself Sunday throwing 96 MPH and striking out the side. Overall, he’s very tempting to use, but Mickey Callaway has to be much more judicious in his usage of him.
  13. With the Mets being a starter short and one to two arms short in the bullpen, just a subtle reminder Dallas Keuchel and Craig Kimbrel are still free agents. And for a GM who traded away Jarred Kelenic, Justin Dunn, Gerson Bautista, Ross Adolph, Luis Santana, Scott Manea, Bobby Wahl, Adam Hill, and Felix Valerio, we do not need to hear about giving up a draft pick.
  14. Michael Conforto looks like a real MVP candidate.
  15. Brandon Nimmo is going to be fine. Whether it was an injury or something else, he will get back to being Nimmo. We saw that with his double yesterday.
  16. For all of his prodigious power, and how he already looks like a veteran out there, the one thing which really stands out with Pete Alonso is how great a teammate he is. It is utterly stunning to believe a player with less than 10 games under his belt may already be the glue guy in the clubhouse. Speaking of Alonso, while everyone was celebrating the opposite field hitting, it was nice to see the Mets start hitting for power again.
  17. The Mets signed Wilson Ramos for his bat. We are seeing that with his lackluster pitch framing and how he couldn’t locate a ball which was right behind him allowing a runner to score from second.
  18. It was great to see Travis d’Arnaud return. He’s been an under-appreciated player because he has not been exactly what he was supposed to be, but he is good behind the plate. Sooner or later, his pitch framing is going to really help this team.
  19. On the one hand, all of Callaway’s double switching is maddening because it is partially the reason why this bullpen is so taxed. On the other hand, it is proving to be an adept way to get everyone into the game and having them getting enough reps to contribute when called upon. Ultimately, Callaway just needs to find a way to better handle this bullpen.
  20. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. The Mets sell out when they have these bobble head days. For the life of me, I do not understand how it makes sense to send kids home upset and to ruin their experience at the park by not having enough bobble heads for everyone. This a sponsored giveaway, and they are cheap to make. The mid market Brewers have figured this out, and they order enough so they can donate the extras after the game. Seems like it’s better to have everyone walking out with a Jacob deGrom and Todd Frazier bobble head this weekend than having sad little kids, which is never good for business.