There’s a lot of blame directed at Luis Rojas for another brutal New York Mets loss in September. Absolutely, there were some questionable moves.
Marcus Stroman was lifted after six great innings despite being at 89 pitches. On a day when Seth Lugo was unavailable, Aaron Loup, Trevor May, and Edwin Diaz didn’t go multiple innings. There were also pinch hitting decisions.
Putting aside the fact the pitching increasingly looks scripted like with Kevin Cash and Blake Snell in the 2020 World Series, the real issue is this roster. It was a roster largely unaddressed at the trade deadline.
This was a team which had zero hits from innings 2-8 until Javier Báez‘s clutch game tying homer. Yes, he was a trade deadline acquisition, and he’s been great.
— New York Mets (@Mets) September 15, 2021
However, that’s one, and with all apologies to Trevor Williams, really, the only player the Mets added at the deadline. A team in first place didn’t feel terribly compelled to go for it.
The days of the 40 man September rosters are no more. With all due respect, these are three players who should not be rostered at this point in the season. It’s inexcusable for a front office to let this happen.
Rojas did all he could to stop the game from getting to this point. However, you can only avoid the bottom of your roster for so long. Eventually, they’re going to get to play and impact a game and a season.
Ultimately, that’s what happened last night. Instead of asking why Rojas used those players when he did, we should be asking why are these players even here.
After Taijuan Walker struggled allowing five runs in the second, he’d actually settle in and give the Mets six innings giving them a chance to win the game. You won’t hear Luis Rojas get credit for sticking by Walker because he’s just become a punching bag.
Keeping in Walker, who’d actually have an RBI single, helped the Mets get into a position to win the game. After a surprise James McCann two run homer, the Mets would take a lead heading into the seventh.
Seth Lugo shut the New York Yankees down in the seventh with just seven pitches. The Mets added an insurance run in the bottom of the inning carrying a 7-5 lead into the eighth.
The Mets would blow it, and for some reason, fans want to say it’s all Rojas’ fault.
It didn’t matter to them Lugo has not been good in a second inning of work this year. The hard hit balls off of him also didn’t matter. He needed to stay in the game.
It didn’t matter Trevor May has been great lately allowing just one run in his last 10 appearances. Apparently, Judge, one of the best players in all of baseball, only could’ve hit a homer off May in that spot to tie the game. (Never mind the second inning homer).
The Yankees take the lead on a wild throw! pic.twitter.com/dqZicSAQGz
— FOX Sports: MLB (@MLBONFOX) September 12, 2021
It’s odd Rojas would order Báez to throw the ball away allowing the go-ahead run to score. That’s doubly irresponsible after Rojas apparently told May to surrender a homer to Judge.
The Mets would have their chances to reclaim the lead. In the bottom half of the inning, there were two on and two out. Pete Alonso gave one a ride which fell near the warning track for the final out of the inning.
The final backbreaker was in the ninth. With a runner on second and one out, Kevin Pillar struck out. That’s where Rojas struck again.
The pitch went to the backstop. Instead of breaking immediately Pillar hesitated. That hesitation, clearly ordered by Rojas, cost Pillar the chance to reach first safety.
You can’t help but wonder if McCann’s fly ball to end the game could’ve scored by tying run. We’ll ever know.
What we do know is one of the Mets better relievers, who has pitched extraordinarily well lately, chose a bad time to have a bad outing. Baez threw a ball away. Pillar didn’t immediately break for first.
Like it or not, this one was simply on the players for not executing. It happens. Unfortunately, it just means the Mets are a day closer to the end of the season and possibly a day closer to Rojas being the fall guy.
Game Notes: The Mets wore special alternates with no pinstripes and New York in the Tiffany font. They once again wore the First Responder caps.
This is the way it works with Carlos Carrasco. He struggles in the first, and he shuts the opponent down after that. That’s what happened again in his start against the Miami Marlins.
— New York Mets (@Mets) September 2, 2021
In the fourth, we’d see Francisco Lindor put his stamp on the game.
Brandon Nimmo led off the fourth with an infield single. He went to second when Isan Diaz threw it away. Lindor drove home Nimmo with an RBI double and moved to third on a fielder’s choice. That put him in position to score when he induced Alcantara to balk.
Francisco Lindor is really good at thispic.twitter.com/mssjOn9eWj
— SNY (@SNYtv) September 3, 2021
This speaks to how bizarre the game was from a defensive standpoint. There were just a number a terrific defensive plays. However, there were also a number of errors and miscues. By some miracle, there were no unearned runs in the game.
Case-in-point, in the fifth, Jorge Alfaro reached on a Villar error. He took off on a pitch which Bryan De La Cruz lined to right. Javier Báez brilliant deked Alfaro allowing Michael Conforto to easily throw him out at first.
You don't see a 9⃣-3⃣ double play everyday. 🧐 pic.twitter.com/y5ISbRBXlg
— New York Mets (@Mets) September 3, 2021
We saw that in the sixth. Mets killer Miguel Rojas, who opened the game with a homer, hit a lead-off single, and he moved to second on an error from Carrasco. After a one walk, Luis Rojas brought in Aaron Loup.
While he’s been the Mets best reliever, Loup just didn’t have it. He’d walk back-to-back batters to force home the tying run. He’s dig down to get out of the inning, but the damage was done.
After Jeurys Familia pitched a scoreless seventh, he was in line for the win. They’d get it for him giving him a team high nine wins.
Rojas went to his bench to have Dominic Smith pinch hit. Smith sat because he’s been struggling and due to his best 0-for-9 off Alcantara. After he ripped a double off Jesus Aguilar‘s glove, he’s now 1-for-10.
— New York Mets (@Mets) September 3, 2021
If Aguilar didn’t touch it, the ball probably goes foul. However, he did, and in a fitting fashion, the go-ahead run scored on an almost play.
The Mets made good on that 4-3 lead. First, it was Trevor May in the eighth. May did all he could do that inning including trying to dive to catch a foul ball.
Trevor May deserves a tweet just for the effort… 🔥 pic.twitter.com/jNteyyWUPO
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) September 3, 2021
In the ninth, Edwin Diaz continued his recent stretch of dominance. He struck out two in a perfect inning saving the sloppy 4-3 win featuring seven errors and a number of misplays.
Game Notes: Brad Hand was claimed off waivers. As it happened after August 31, he will not be postseason eligible. Khalil Lee was sent down for Yennsy Diaz. Like Lee briefly was, Albert Almora is a September call-up.
For the first time in the second half, and the first time in nearly two months, the New York Mets swept an opponent. It couldn’t have come at a better time.
He had shut down the Nationals for four innings before getting in trouble in the fifth. In that inning, the Nationals had runners at the corners with one out. With the Mets only having a 2-0 lead, Luis Rojas tabbed Seth Lugo.
Lugo, who hasn’t been great inheriting runners this year allowed a sacrifice fly pulling the Nationals to 2-1. The Mets would get than run back and then some on a Jonathan Villar two run homer in the sixth.
JONATHAN VILLAR WITH THE INSURANCE RUNS! THE METS LEAD 4-1 pic.twitter.com/ssJeFmTx5Y
— SNY (@SNYtv) August 12, 2021
While May has been great in the second half of the season, he didn’t have it in this save opportunity. He loaded the bases with one out leading Rojas to tab closer of yore Jeurys Familia.
This was one of those frustrating Familia blown saves of yore. First, he had a wild pitch scoring run. Truth be told James McCann should’ve had a better effort blocking that ball.
Familia navigated his way through the inning to keep it tied into the bottom of the seventh. After McNeil grounded out, Pete Alonso ended the game.
— New York Mets (@Mets) August 12, 2021
Back when the Mets suffered a brutal loss, Alonso told fans they shouldn’t believe. They should know. Seeing this fame, Alonso gave the Mets reason to know they’re making the playoffs.
The Mets swept the Nationals like they should. Now, they’re in second place with things getting more interesting in the NL East. Now, it’s time to step up and win.
Game Notes: Williams was called up as the 27th man.
The New York Mets began the suspended game down 3-1. Rich Hill volunteered to pitch earlier than his spot because the Mets needed a starter. He’d be far from the only person who stepped up on the day.
Now, while Hill stepped up, he wasn’t great. The deficit grew to 4-1 in the second when Victor Robles hit an RBI double.
Then, something happened to the Mets offense. That something was Joe Ross. As fans, we tend to focus on the Mets killers of the world, but we overlook the Rosses of the world who just wilt when they see the orange and blue.
Brandon Nimmo awoke the offense with a leadoff double in the third. That led to the dreaded bases loaded no outs situation. Michael Conforto got the Mets past the mental hurdle of never scoring with an RBI groundout. This sparked a three run inning tying the score at 4-4.
It was the first time in a week the Mets scored more than three and just the second time all month. Whether it was Ross or not, the Mets offense seemed to be clicking.
They needed it to because Hill ran out of gas in the fifth. After allowing the first two to reach, he allowed a Luis Garcia two RBI double putting the Nationals up 6-4. That’s when the Mets went to the bullpen to ask Jeurys Familia to stop the bleeding.
Familia didn’t exactly do that. The first batter he faced, Riley Adams, drove home Garcia with an RBI single. After a sacrifice bunt, he was in scoring position. That set the stage for Jeff McNeil to save the game.
In what was a flashback, Alcidies Escobar, a 2015 Kansas City Royal, was up against Familia with the opportunity to end the game. He’d rip a liner, but McNeil got higher than we’ve ever seen him robbing an RBI base hit and ending the inning.
— SNY (@SNYtv) August 11, 2021
The Mets then started chipping away at that lead. In the bottom of the inning, McNeil drew a leadoff walk, and he was still there with two outs. On a 3-2 pitch, a clearly hobbled McNeil was running when Conforto ripped an RBI single through the shift.
The Mets have sliced a run off of the lead. pic.twitter.com/H1QBJNocxG
— SNY (@SNYtv) August 11, 2021
Thanks to a double clutch from Carter Kieboom on the relay McNeil scored easily. Conforto tried to advance on the throw, but he was caught in a run down easily making the last out.
Gabe Klobosits relieved Ross to start the seventh. Nimmo would led off the inning with a single. Two batter last later, Pete Alonso came sooo close to giving the Mets the lead. Instead, it was an RBI double pulling the Mets within a run.
Pete was thiiiiiiiis close to tying the game
But it's an RBI double 🙌 pic.twitter.com/HpvsSJtg3f
— SNY (@SNYtv) August 11, 2021
While the Mets wouldn’t get the lead there, they finally would in the eighth. With a runner on second, Jonathan Villar was up there hybrid bunting, that is, he was up to sacrifice, but he always bunts to get a base hit.
That always puts extra pressure on the defense, especially with his speed. Nationals pitcher Mason Thompson fielded it rather cleanly and easily, but he appeared to rush the throw leading him to throw it away. The tying run scored, and Villar was in scoring position.
The Mets have tied the game!! pic.twitter.com/njP49RumzQ
— SNY (@SNYtv) August 11, 2021
Later in the inning, we’d see pinch hitting extraordinaire Brandon Drury. For some reason, just like Matt Franco in 1999, some pinch hitters just get locked in at the plate. That’s been Drury this year, and he delivered again with a go-ahead RBI single through a drawn-in infield.
— New York Mets (@Mets) August 11, 2021
Astonishingly, that was the first Mets lead in 43 innings. Somehow that seems impossible. Then again, the Mets have been terrible of late losing four straight and nine of 10.
The Mets got to this point not just due to the offense but the bullpen as well. Familia, Miguel Castro, Drew Smith, and Trevor May combined to pitch four scoreless allowing just the two hits. They walked none and struck out two.
While the Mets were armed with the lead heading into the ninth, they weren’t out of the woods. The very mercurial and rusty Edwin Diaz was coming in for the save, and the first batter he’d face was Juan Soto.
Diaz made quick work of Soto striking him out on four pitches. With Soto down, it was effectively game over at that point. Diaz hit the easy save, and the Mets finally won a game.
This is what we envisioned the Mets offense can and should be. There are reasons why he saw it happened with Ross being one of them.
There was also Nimmo being a table setter. McNeil was spraying the ball, and Alonso’s talk about the process produced tangible results.
Mix in Conforto getting further away from COVID and returning to form with some luck, which is always needed, and you get a huge Mets win. The key now is to build off of this.
Game Notes: The second game of the doubleheader was rained out. The Mets signed Josh Reddick to a minor league deal.
When making decisions at the trade deadline, it is not just about where your team is in the standings. It is also about where you are at as an organization. Right now, the Mets are 4.0 games up on the Atlanta Braves and Philadelphia Phillies, two teams who are under .500. As for the organization, well, they are in a much more tenuous spot.
After this season, Michael Conforto, Jeurys Familia, Rich Hill, Aaron Loup, Marcus Stroman, Noah Syndergaard, and Jonathan Villar will be free agents. After the following season, Edwin Diaz, Seth Lugo, Trevor May, Brandon Nimmo, and Kevin Pillar will be free agents. Jacob deGrom can also opt out of his contract, and Taijuan Walker can decline his player option.
Focusing more narrowly, after two years, the Mets could lose 2/3 of their outfield and 4/5 of their starting rotation. They can also lose four key set-up men as well as their closer. Put another way, this team is on the precipice of losing very important pieces of a team which is going to take it to the postseason this year.
Now, this is certainly a much different proposition with Steve Cohen at the helm than it was with the Wilpons. There is an implicit trust Cohen will continue trying to win. However, as we know, you’re not always successful identifying who to keep and who to let go as well as who the right replacements are.
When we look back to the early 90s, the Mets were coming off their best stretch in Mets history. They made the right decision letting Gary Carter and Keith Hernandez go. However, they made some bad calls like thinking Vince Coleman could replace Darryl Strawberry. They over relied on their belief Kevin Elster, Dave Magadan, and Gregg Jefferies could be first division starters. Of course, there was also the Worst Team Money Could Buy.
All told, when the Mets switched from build around a core to replacing and altering the core, things fell apart. We can look at other points in Mets history when that happened. It happened again when the Mets passed on Alex Rodriguez as part of a calamitous offseason after the 2000 pennant. The 2009 Mets made the mistake of keeping Oliver Perez. The 2017 Mets got their money tied up in Neil Walker, and they saw Robert Gsellman and Lugo couldn’t hang as starters for a full season.
In some ways, that leads us to now. The Mets have extremely important decisions to make on who stays and who goes. They need to see who the correct replacements are. From what we’ve see from this front office, we should have faith they are up to the task. That said, we all had very well placed faith in Frank Cashen, and he blew it up.
Seeing where the Mets are, the best decision they can make right now is to absolutely go for it. Yes, that may very well require overpaying for players and rentals. Back in 2015, that didn’t make much sense. It was year one of contending for a young core who was cost controlled. Their decisions, including letting Daniel Murphy walk, turned it into a two year window. That window slammed shut without a World Series.
Right now, the Mets window is definitely open, but it’s being propped open. Without the right options, this window can slam shut after this year. It may well be that after the 2022 season. The Mets definitely need to keep this possibility in mind as they look to add at the trade deadline.
Players like Kris Bryant and Trevor Story dramatically changes the fortunes of this team. The same can be said for a player like Jose Ramirez. It may hurt to overpay for Max Scherzer or another top of the line starter, but imagine a two headed monster of deGrom and Scherzer (and having deGrom insurance) as the Mets look to win a World Series.
Ultimately, the Mets are going to see radical changes to this roster over the next few years. They’re in first place now with a team capable of winning a World Series. They need to make sure they do everything they need to do to get that World Series, or they may be ruing the missed chance for a team in transition over the next few years.
After all that, the 3-0 lead became a 7-3 deficit, and it looked like Pittsburgh all over again. In actuality, it was, but it was like the series finale.
Michael Conforto got the comeback started with a two run homer in the fourth.
— New York Mets (@Mets) July 20, 2021
— New York Mets (@Mets) July 20, 2021
It was a brand new game, and it would stay tied into the seventh. Miguel Castro departed with one on and two out. He didn’t get out of the inning as J.D. Davis had his typical difficulty getting the ball out of his glove thereby costing the Mets of any chance to get an inning ending double play.
At that point, Nido had a double and an RBI. James McCann had been scuffling amidst an 0-for-11 streak. Naturally, when Jauss tabbed McCann to pinch hit for Nido, he hit a go–ahead two run homer.
That shouldn’t been enough for a 9-8 win. The problem was for the first time in his career, Edwin Diaz would blow three straight saves.
Part of that was Diaz walking Kyle Farmer to start the inning. The other part was Jauss unnecessarily having Diaz pitch to Winker. Predictably, Winker hit the game tying single to tie the game at 9-9.
In extra innings, the took advantage of the dumb gimmick when McCann singled home the go-ahead run. Remarkably, the ball double tapped his bat on the singles. It was 10-9 heading into the bottom of the inning.
With all the bullpen usage, the Mets opted for Anthony Banda for the save. It didn’t go well. Two batters into the inning, there were runners on first and second with Tyler Naquin driving home the tying run.
After that, Jose Peraza made an impact against his former team starting the around the horn double play on Eugenio Suarez‘s grounder. He’d then get the put out on the ensuring Shogo Akiyama grounder to send the game to the 11th.
Brandon Nimmo led off the 11th putting runners at the corners. After a poor Alonso at-bat, McNeil delivered the go-ahead single giving the Mets an 11-10 lead.
For some reason, with Banda of all people up, the Mets put the contact play on. The end result was Nimmo getting nailed at home. Fortunately, the Mets weren’t done as Kevin Pillar and Conforto would go back-to-back.
— New York Mets (@Mets) July 20, 2021
That 15-10 lead was enough for even Banda. Although, he did test that allowing back-to-back one out singles pulling the Reds to within 15-11.
With that, May saved hid second in a row and third of the season. That’s a testament to the never give up mentality of this never give up clubhouse.
Game Notes: Mets are 177-0 all-time when scoring at least 12 runs. Johneshwy Fargas was designated for assignment. Travis Blankenhorn was optioned to Syracuse. Eickhoff and Stephen Nogosek were called up.
If you thought blowing a 6-0 lead entering the bottom of the eighth was bad, Taijuan Walker only lasted one-third of an inning. In that one-third, he allowed SIX runs.
The key moment of the inning was a Kevin Newman hit ball Walker tried to touch foul. Instead, the umps called it fair. While Walker argued, and J.D. Davis aimlessly walked towards the third base coaches box not even pretending to care to make a play, the Pirates scored three runs to take a commanding 6-0 first inning lead.
Luis Rojas has been ejected from the game after 3 runs scored on this ground ball up the third base line: pic.twitter.com/dDECsIlOpt
— SNY (@SNYtv) July 18, 2021
Luis Rojas argued the play as vociferously as we’ve ever seen him argue with an umpire. Between that and a bump, he’d get tossed.
Walker departed as well. He’d be replaced by Drew Smith. Over 2.2 scoreless innings, Smith gave the bullpen some much needed length, and he kept the Mets in position to get back into the game.
The Mets would do that. First, it was a Dominic Smith two out RBI single making it 6-1. In the ensuing inning, Travis Blankenhorn came up to pinch hit for Smith, and he hit his first Major League homer.
— New York Mets (@Mets) July 18, 2021
Suddenly, it was 6-4 in the fourth. That meant the Mets were back in the game. They’d stay in the game because the bullpen was phenomenal.
— New York Mets (@Mets) July 18, 2021
Just like that, it was a one run game. After Jeurys Familia pitched an adventurous yet scoreless eighth, the Mets had a chance. Those chances improved when Smith hit a lead-off single. Then, Michael Conforto had his biggest hit of the year.
— JoseShoulders7 (@JoseShoulders7) July 18, 2021
Conforto has been heating up of late, and we’ve seen him hit for power again. When he hits like this, no deficit is insurmountable, even a 6-0 first inning one.
This was a game where we saw how special and resilient this Mets team is. They responded to a 6-0 first inning deficit with 8.1 scoreless. Wins like these makes you believe they can win the World Series.
Jacob deGrom was perfect through three striking out eight of the nine batters he faced. In a two run second, deGrom drove in his sixth run of the year.
Yet again, this had the aura of a special night. Could this be the Mets first perfect game? Could deGrom pass Tom Seaver‘s 10 in a row. Would he surpass Max Scherzer, Kerry Wood, and Roger Clemens for the most strikeouts in a game.
As deGrom left the mound after the third, the answer was none of the above. Instead of history, a very clearly frustrated and upset deGrom left the game.
While in previous starts, it was a flexor tendon or other hopefully innocuous issues, this time it was a shoulder. While it may be nothing, the shoulder strikes fear into the heart into every fan.
This is why the Mets victory was as anticlimactic as they come. It’s a shame because a lot of good happened.
— New York Mets (@Mets) June 17, 2021
Francisco Lindor was the latest Met to draw a bases loaded walk. Overall, the Mets scored in four consecutive innings.
Sean Reid-Foley surrendered a homer to Anthony Rizzo, but, until the ninth, that was it for a Mets staff who struck out 15 in this game. Three of those strikeouts came from Trevor May, who bounced back nicely by striking out the side in the eighth.
With that, the Mets won 6-3. That’s great and all, but the real issue on everyone’s mind is deGrom and his shoulder.
Game Notes: Mets pitching staff has struck out 15+ in consecutive games and has more 15 strikeout games than any other team. Miguel Castro had a scoreless inning in his first appearance since he injured his neck.
Every so often you’re reminded why the New York Mets have been so haphazard with their treatment of David Peterson. The talent is so tantalizing, and he can give you the occasional gem. Tonight was one of those nights.
He completely and utterly dominated the Chicago Cubs. For the first time in his career, he pitched six shut out innings. He only allowed one hit, but with it coming in the third, he went flirting with a no-hitter.
The singer and slider were working. Overall, Peterson walked two, allowed the one hit, and he had three strikeouts. Giving the night he had, and the season he’s had, Luis Rojas didn’t push him to go through the lineup a third time, and he got him out feeling good about the start.
He’d also leave with the lead putting him in position for his second win of the season.
For the first 3.2 innings, Jake Arrieta was relatively in control. Then, it quickly and suddenly unraveled for him.
With two out and one on, Billy McKinney drew a walk. James McCann then opened the scoring with an RBI single. On the play, Jake Marisnick‘s throw to the plate for past Willson Contreras allowing McKinney and McCann to advance. Both would score easily on Kevin Pillar‘s two RBI double giving the Mets a 3-0 lead.
— New York Mets (@Mets) June 15, 2021
That lead grew to 4-0 when Dominic Smith hit a homer to dead center off Arrieta in the fifth.
Entering the sixth, Tommy Nance relieved Arrieta, and he lost control. In walking back-to-back hitters, he threw five straight balls. Brandon Drury then pinch hit for Peterson, and he hit a pinch hit RBI single giving the Mets a 5-0 lead.
Things would get interesting from there. Trevor May entered his first game in a week, and he wasn’t sharp. In fact, he’d allow back-to-back homers to Anthony Rizzo and Patrick Wisdom cutting the Mets lead to 5-2.
Aaron Loup then entered the game with two outs, and he gave the Mets four outs to set up the save opportunity. Edwin Diaz would get that save opportunity, and he’d lock it down for his 13th save of the season.
This was another win where the Mets beat another .500 team. More than that, they have a winning record in June.