Before yesterday’s game, the Mets designated Tyler Bashlor for assignment to add David Peterson to the 30 man roster. With the Mets needing a starter and Peterson not on the 30 or 40 yet, the Mets needed to make this move to add him. Looking at the Mets roster, you can certainly make the case Bashlor was the player who should have been designated for assignment.
However, with all that is happening right now, it is fair to ask whether the Mets did the right thing by designating Bashlor for assignment.
Baseball is a business, and there are always tough decisions to make. The Mets made one of them, and on paper, it made sense. However, when you look at what is happening with the Miami Marlins, you do wonder if morally it was the right move to put Bashlor in a precarious situation.
The Miami Marlins have seen over half their roster test positive for COVID19. This has put the Marlins in a precarious spot as they don’t know when their players will be able to return to play. As such, they are in the position where they basically have to go out and claim nearly every player who is put on waivers. With one of the things the Marlins desperately need is pitching, Bashlor may soon have to make a decision.
If the Marlins claim Bashlor, he is going to have to decide between going to a Marlins team we all know is infected with COVID19 or opting out of the season. If he opts out for the season, there is a possibility his MLB career is over, which is something players like Brock Holt have spoken about when begrudgingly deciding to play.
That is an awful situation for a player. On the one hand, he may have to pick playing for a team and exposing himself to a virus which has created long term health issues for other player. On the other, his career, the thing he has worked for his entire life, could be gone. It’s why we see players like Chase d’Arnaud sending out tweets saying he is available to play.
Need a super utility player @Marlins ? https://t.co/06oRWWBeTB
— Chase d'Arnaud (@chasedarnaud) July 29, 2020
In the end, Bashlor may have a decision to make. Maybe for him it is an easy one to make. Maybe, it isn’t. Where his mind is doesn’t necessarily change the fact having to choose between health and a career is a very difficult decision, and you don’t want to have to see people grapple with a decision like that.
You have to assume general managers across baseball are aware of this. When Bashlor was released, Brodie Van Wagenen had to know he was potentially sending him to the largest COVID19 hotbed in not just Major League Baseball, but also the country. You’d like to think Van Wagnenen at least struggled with the decision.
In the end, designating a player like Bashlor for assignment was the right thing to do in terms of baseball. In terms of what is ethical and moral, it is a real gray area which honestly probably does not have a definitive right or wrong answer.
After all, by designating Bashlor for assignment, he is being given the opportunity to go somewhere else to have a chance to play and succeed. That aspect cannot be ignored. For that matter, the pandemic cannot be ignored either, and as we are seeing with the Marlins, this pandemic doesn’t care if this is your chance to prove yourself. It just infects you.
That leaves the rest of baseball wondering if it is worth being on the same field as you. The Washington Nationals voted to not play the Marlins. Soon, Bashlor may have to decide if he wants to pitch for the Marlins or go home, possibly forever.
That’s the situation the Mets have put him in by designating him for assignment. That’s why it is at least fair to ask whether the team should’ve considered the ramifications of their decision and whether they should have kept him for those very reasons.
Let’s call it what it is. Rob Manfred and Major League Baseball sought to kill the Major League draft not because of the COVID19 pandemic. No, he used it as a ruse to facilitate his plan to contract minor league baseball.
Remember, Baseball America first reported Manfred’s plans to contract 42 minor league teams in November. That plan included reducing the draft to 20 rounds, and it was going to be pushed back from June to August. There was also going to be a limit of 150-200 minor leaguers for each organization. Currently, there is no limit.
By and through these plans, short season ball is going to be effectively eliminated. In terms of the Mets, that means no more Kingsport Mets, and it means the Brooklyn Cyclones will have to pay a fee in the ballpark from $8 – $12 million dollars to move from the New York-Penn League to Double-A.
That also effectively puts the Binghamton Rumble Ponies in limbo. Actually, that’s not entirely true. The Rumble Ponies have already been pegged as one of the 42 teams subject to contraction. It is something they are fighting fiercely.
One of the key elements to having no short-season ball is to not accumulate a larger number of minor league players. With fewer minor leaguers, you do not have enough players for leagues like the Appalachian, Gulf Coast, New York-Penn, and other leagues. By moving the draft back to August, you no longer have the need to have a league for college and high school players to get some playing time in before the end of the year.
This is exactly what Major League Baseball is doing a year earlier, and they are using the COVID19 pandemic as an excuse. They’ll say they didn’t have an opportunity to scout players who are entering this year’s draft due to high school and collegiate years being shut down, but that’s a lie. Major League Baseball has been well aware of those players they were going to draft, and they have been scouting them for years.
What they missed is the opportunity to see them grow or regress. Keep in mind, they have no issue using their big money on those draft picks as the first five picks receive the largest bonuses. This was more about cost control by prorating bonuses paid to minor leaguers over a few years, by capping the bonuses given to now undrafted players, and by taking a step forward in eliminating a significant portion of the minor leagues.
To show you how short-sighted this plan is look at the New York Mets roster by where they were drafted:
- Stephen Nogosek 6th
- Jacob Rhame 6th
- Dellin Betances 8th
- Tomas Nido 8th
- Jacob deGrom 9th
- Luis Guillorme 1oth
- Paul Sewald 10th
- Tyler Bashlor 11th
- Jeff McNeil 12th
- Robert Gsellman 13th
- Seth Lugo 34th
- Daniel Zamora 40th
- Brad Brach 42nd
Think about that for a second. Under this plan, the reigning two-time Cy Young award winner who has established himself as the best pitcher in baseball would not get drafted in 2020. Looking further, under Manfred’s master plan, Mike Piazza, one of two Mets in the Hall of Fame, would never have been drafted, and it is questionable if he ever would have received an opportunity due to the cap on minor league players.
Looking at this plan and agreement, there is one glaring omission. In addition to deferring payments to 2020 draftees, there was no provision in this agreement to pay minor league players their 2020 salary. On that note, both Rob Manfred and Tony Clark should be ashamed of themselves.
Really, this entire agreement is an embarassment for baseball. The sport needed better leadership than what they are providing, and worse yet, the commissioner is taking advantage of global pandemic to take away money and jobs from players and minor league employees.
With the Mets protecting Andres Gimenez, Jordan Humphreys, Ali Sanchez, and Thomas Szapucki from the Rule 5 Draft, the 40 man roster is completely full. With the Mets needing to address a number of areas of this team, this means ever trade, waiver claim, and free agent signing is going to require a player coming off the 40 man roster.
Obviously, Drew Gagnon was the first casualty, but he is not going to be the last. Here is a look at some of the other players sitting on the bubble:
2019 MLB Stats: 0-3, 6.95 ERA, 24 G, 22.0 IP, 1.727 WHIP, 7.0 BB/9, 8.2 K/9
The success Bashlor has had in the minors has not translated at all to the majors. In fact, his control issues have only been magnified, and he has not been able to blow his fastball by anyone. This left him hittable, and he has been hit hard.
2019 Stats: 11 G, 4 PA, 0 H, 0 BB, 3 K
Haggerty was a September call-up with the Mets looking to add some late game speed as they were making a push for the Wild Card. With the current roster crunch, the Mets are too heavy on infielders. With Luis Guillorme firmly establishing himself as a Major League caliber utility player, Haggerty’s spot is all the more tenuous, and he’s very likely the first position player designated for assignment in the event a non-catcher is signed.
2019 Stats: 0-3, 6.59 ERA, 9 G, GS, 13.2 IP, 2.049 WHIP, 8.6 BB/9, 6.6 K/9
After struggling as a two pitch starter in his brief Major League appearances, Flexen was finally moved to the bullpen where he had fleeting success. You could argue with his stuff he could succeed next year in a bullpen role, but it’s very possible the Mets don’t see that happening as he was not called up last September. His being out of options may only accelerate a DFA decision.
2018 MiLB Stats: 4-9, 4.18 ERA, 26 GS, 140.0 IP, 1.343 WHIP, 3.9 BB/9, 8.0 K/9
Kilome is a promising prospect who has control issues and is coming off Tommy John surgery. So far, the Mets have indicated things are going well in his rehab, and he should be ready to pitch early in the 2019 season. That said, if he has a setback, he could be moved off the roster in short order.
2019 MLB Stats: 1-1, 5.51 ERA, 9 G, 16.1 IP, 1.592 WHIP, 2.8 BB/9, 6.1 K/9
Mazza was a 29 year old rookie who finally made his debut with the Mets last year. While he was on the September roster, he did not pitch in a meaningful game although he did pick up his first Major League win on the final game of the season.
2019 Stats: .191/.231/.316, 5 2B, 4 HR, 14 RBI
Nido got his chance to be a defensive minded back-up, and he worked well with pitchers like Noah Syndergaard. Still, he effectively hit like a pitcher at the plate, and his framing numbers, albeit good, were not at the point where you could justify keeping him in the Majors with the way he hit. With him being out of options, and the Mets looking to upgrade, he has the most tenuous spot on the 4o man roster.
2019 Stats: 0-1, 10.80 ERA, 7 G, 6.2 IP, 2.100 WHIP, 2.7 BB/9, 8.1 K/9
Nogosek seemed to turn a corner getting his control under wraps in Syracuse, but those issues would resurface in his brief Major League appearances. There is promise in his arm, but his control issues may eventually make him expendable.
2019 Stats: 0-1, 12.15 ERA, 2 G, 6.2 IP, 2.250 WHIP, 8.1 BB/9, 6.8 K/9
Oswalt was added to the 40 man roster to protect him from the Rule 5 Draft after he was the 2017 Eastern League Pitcher of the Year. Since that time, he has struggled, and it was partially the result of how the team left him sitting dormant for stretches and asking him to pitch on very short rest. He also dealt with some nagging injuries last year. In July and August, when he was healthy and finally giving a stretch of starts, he pitched well posting a 1.98 ERA in 10 starts which will probably save his spot on the 40 man roster. Still, with his not getting a September call-up, it’s not a guarantee.
2019 Stats: 1-1, 4.58 ERA, 17 G, SV, 19.2 IP, 1.068 WHIP, 1.4 BB/9, 10.1 K/9
Last year, Sewald was designated for assignment, and yet again, despite the odds, he pitched his way back to the Majors. In fact, at the end of the year, he was arguably the most reliable right-handed reliever in the Mets bullpen not named Seth Lugo. He has a low walk rate, good strikeout rate, and had a better FIP than ERA. One thing which may save him is his still having a Major League option remaining.
2019 Stats: 0-1, 5.19 ERA, 17 G, 8.2 IP, 1.731 WHIP, 5.2 BB/9, 8.3 K/9
Zamora is an interesting case. In his career, he has posted reverse splits, but he has a very good K/BB ratio against LHB flashing a wipeout slider. With MLB enacting rules effectively eliminating the LOOGY role, a pitcher like Zamora could actually have increased value, but for that to happen, he needs to harness himself better. Fortunately, he has options remaining.
Now that the Mets postseason hopes are officially over, there will come a time to write post mortems to assess all that went wrong and how the Mets could improve in the future.
Before doing that, we should first acknowledge these Mets players fought tooth and nail giving all they could give to help make an improbable run. What we would discover is this is a tough and very likeable group who deserves our gratitude.
Pete Alonso – for having perhaps the greatest rookie season in MLB history while being just a good person.
Aaron Altherr – his RBI double and scoring later in the game proved to be the winning run in a game against the Pirates as the team looked to turn their season around.
Luis Avilan – limited LHB to a .104/.189/.188 batting line making him an exceptional LOOGY, perhaps the last true LOOGY with the incoming MLB rule changes.
Tyler Bashlor – had a seven game scoreless streak in May and another four game one from June to July where he picked up his first hold.
Brad Brach – came to the Mets like he always wanted, and he helped stabilize a bullpen which desperately needed his help.
Keon Broxton – had a go-ahead RBI against the Nationals in April helping the Mets get off to another great start.
Robinson Cano – returned from what should’ve been a season ending injury to do all he could to help get this team into the postseason.
Michael Conforto – reminded us how great he is when he is healthy. Yes, great.
Travis d’Arnaud – came back too soon, never complained, and he left the Mets with pride and dignity after a good Mets career.
J.D. Davis – had a season better than anyone could’ve imagined with a number of big hits. More than that, he became a fan favorite as he was a player who clearly loved being a part of this team.
Rajai Davis – the lifelong Mets fan came home, and he would deliver two absolutely huge pinch hits to keep the Mets afloat at times they needed them.
Jacob deGrom – we are experiencing greatness everytime he takes the mound, and at some point we will need to begin having Hall of Fame conversations about him.
Edwin Diaz – there was a real dignity with him when he faced the media everytime he struggled. He made no excuses, and he put the work in to try to get back to where he was in Seattle. From what we’ve seen, he will get back there next year.
Jeurys Familia – you have to say something about someone who loved being a Mets player, and he came back to be a part of another winning team. Hopefully, that will be next year.
Chris Flexen – reinvented himself as a reliever who showed potential with the ability to strike out batters.
Wilmer Font – showed the Mets real value as a reliever before he was inexplicably designated for assignment.
Todd Frazier – provided this team with real leadership and defense, and he had a number of hot stretches which helped the Mets get back into it.
Drew Gagnon – for a month stretch from late April to late May he was an extremely reliable reliever.
Carlos Gomez – came back to the Mets and started the fun “Ye! Ye! Ye!” rallying cry.
Robert Gsellman – before he began to breakdown due to overuse, he was putting together a really good season out of the bullpen.
Luis Guillorme – when he finally got his chance, he proved himself showing this team he needs to be a part of the future. His pinch hit homer was one of the biggest hits of the season.
Sam Haggerty – like Eric Young in 2015, he was a weapon as a pinch runner.
Donnie Hart – albeit in just one appearance, he’s one of the few pitchers in Mets history who has never allowed a run.
Adeiny Hechavarria – showed surprising power and helped keep the Mets going in May.
Juan Lagares – at the end, he reminded us of how great a fielder he can be, and he had one last hurrah with his first two home rungame.
Walker Lockett – his start in San Francisco was the lone win in what was otherwise a lost series.
Jed Lowrie – despite suffering significant injuries, he pushed onward to make himself a viable pinch hitting option.
Seth Lugo – he has been absolutely great, and he has kept an otherwise struggling bullpen afloat.
Steven Matz – for the second straight year, Matz made 30 starts, and he made huge strides forward with a big second half and being dominant at home.
Chris Mazza – a 29 year old rookie is a feel good story, and he had quite the debut against a very good Braves lineup.
Jeff McNeil – proved last year was no fluke, and his versatility allowed the team to get the most out of the roster.
Tomas Nido – was a terrific defensive catcher and framer who helped get the most out of the starters and help them get their minds straight.
Brandon Nimmo – came back from a bulging disc in his neck to pick up where he left off last year. His enthusiasm and love of baseball is always a breath of fresh air.
Stephen Nogosek – put together a great year in the minors to get to the majors.
Ryan O’Rourke – in his low moment, he gave us real human insight into what it was like being cut from a team.
Corey Oswalt – strong year in Triple-A giving the Mets real rotation depth going forward.
Joe Panik – came back home to New York to help keep the team afloat at the time the Mets were in desperate need for a second baseman, and he performed quite well.
Tim Peterson – earned his way onto the Opening Day roster,and he’d pitch fairly well in his limited opportunities.
Brooks Pounders – six of his seven outings were really good.
Wilson Ramos – turned what was going to be an awful year around with a great August, and his ability to frame the high pitch proved to be a real help to deGrom.
Jacob Rhame – before landing on the IL to end the year, he was showing glimpses of being the type of arm who could be a useful part of the bullpen going forward.
Rene Rivera – brought back warm memories from the 2016 season with him combining with Syndergaard to dominate the Nationals.
Amed Rosario – he made a fools out of people who didn’t believe in his work ethic and talent by showing he is going to be an impact player on both sides of the ball in the future.
Hector Santiago – picked up a big win in extra innings against the Tigers.
Paul Sewald – despite being an afterthought, he once again proved he was a Major League caliber reliever, and he would finally get that first win which proved to be so elusive for him.
Dominic Smith – despite his being maligned and dropped down the depth chart, he would get healthy, and he would show everyone just how good a player he is, and he showed himself to be a great teammate more interested in how he could help the team than his role.
Marcus Stroman – the man was born to pitch on the biggest stage, and he would show it to us. A full year of him is going to be a thrill.
Noah Syndergaard – with Nido and Rivera, he showed he’s a Cy Young caliber pitcher, and he has time and again said he wants to be a real part of this team going forward.
Ruben Tejada – there’s a poetic justice in his playing in 2019 and Chase Utley not.
Jason Vargas – he really helped the Mets Wild Card hopes by bombing with the Phillies.
Zack Wheeler – he desperately wanted to be a part of a Mets postseason push, and he not only got that chance, but he would be great down the stretch.
Justin Wilson – he put the elbow problems aside, and he had just a terrific year out of the bullpen.
Daniel Zamora – 13 of his 16 appearances were scoreless, and with his splits, he showed the Mets he could be a modern LOOGY with the changing bullpen rules.
Overall, while you may hate what Brodie Van Wagenen has done as the General Manager, and you can hate the Wilpons for not being invested in this team, you simply have to love each and every one of these players for all they gave this team. We should appreciate them for fighting to the finish and giving us hope for next year.
The New York Mets completely blew it last night. Behind that loss was a a number of players failing. Todd Frazier couldn’t get a hit in two key RBI situations. Steven Matz allowed a grand slam. Brad Brach failed to cover first in time. There’s obviously more.
Behind the players failing was a number of questionable to flat out indefensible decisions from Mickey Callaway.
Callaway should not have let Matz face Jorge Alfaro. With the team having zero margin for error, you cannot use Walker Lockett under any circumstance. There’s no saving the top arms in the bullpen to fight for another day because if you lose, there isn’t going to be another day.
There were other decisions like not starting Brandon Nimmo or allowing Michael Conforto to bat against Brian Moran. You could also question using Rajai Davis as a pinch hitter in the sixth over Nimmo. To be fair, these decisions were mitigated by Juan Lagares going 1-for-3 with a run and a walk, and Amed Rosario hitting a grand slam.
The pinch hitting decisions were mitigated by the actual options available. Tomas Nido and Rene Rivera are not good hitters. Jed Lowrie hasn’t had a hit in his limited pinch hitting appearances, and he has just one right-handed at-bat all year. That’s it for the right-handed bench options against the left-handed pitching the Marlins had out there in the form of Caleb Smith and Moran.
It certainly makes you question why the Mets never made a roster move to add Dilson Herrera to the roster. After all, they lost Eric Hanhold so they can have Chris Mazza and Donnie Hart on the roster, neither of whom have pitched one meaningful inning in September.
Taking that into consideration, you have to look at the bullpen again. Seth Lugo and Justin Wilson are the only reliable arms down there. You can trust Brach against right-handed batters but not left, and vice versa for Luis Avilan. After that, it’s a straight roll of the dice. Sadly, it’s a heavily weighted pair of dice putting the odds stacked against the Mets.
Look at those ERAs again. Lockett wasn’t even the worst ERA available in the bullpen last night. He wasn’t the only one with an ERA over 5.00. In fact, taking away the top two relievers, there were only three relievers with an ERA under that mark, and one of those, Hart, has only pitched 1.0 innings.
Put aside for a moment the Mets entered the season with Tim Peterson in the bullpen putting the team 1-2 relievers short to start the season. At the trade deadline, the Mets went out and got Marcus Stroman, and they didn’t back it up with another move. Sure, they got Brach, but he fell into their laps. It wasn’t a proactive move on the Mets part.
The bench has always been an issue too. We have seen the Mets cycle through Aaron Altherr, Keon Broxton, Carlos Gomez, Adeiny Hechavarria, and Ruben Tejada while rage cutting Travis d’Arnaud. Again, the Mets did little to address this at the trade deadline with Joe Panik falling into their laps like Brach did.
This team was ill constructed from the get-go, and for some reason when the Mets doubled down at the trade deadline, they did nothing to fix their two biggest problems – the bench and the bullpen.
Now, it’s possible a very good manager like Terry Francona or Bruce Bochy could’ve navigated their way around these problems, but we know Callaway couldn’t. The Mets knowing that and handing him a roster which feeds into his deficiencies as a manager makes what Brodie Van Wagenen did all the worse.
So, yes, Callaway screwed up yesterday, and he has screwed up in other spots. But make no mistake, this was largely the result of the roster he was given. For that, Brodie Van Wagenen should shoulder the blame he was absolutely unwilling to accept earlier in the year.
On Friday night, the Mets led 4-2 heading into the ninth inning. Mickey Callaway then sent Edwin Diaz out there to earn the save. In the offseason and April, this would’ve seemed like a no-brainer. However, not hasn’t been the case all year. Everyone has lost faith in him.
After a Jean Segura one out single, J.T. Realmuto homered to tie the game. It was the 14th homer he allowed all year, which is just one fewer than he had allowed over the previous two seasons combined. It was the latest down point in a series of down points. In a bit of irony, he’d get the win because of the Mets two out rally culminating in a Pete Alonso walk-of win.
On Saturday, the Mets were tied 4-4 heading into the sixth inning. After Paul Sewald allowed a leadoff double to Rhys Hoskins. After a sacrifice bunt, Luis Avilan came in and had perhaps his worst outing of the season allowing an RBI single to Phil Gosselin before allowing a two run homer to Maikel Franco. Why Avilan was left in to face Franco is anyone’s guess.
With the Mets rallying back in the sixth to make this a 7-6 game, Callaway turned to Justin Wilson, his second best reliever, to start the inning. For the first time since he came off the IL, Wilson didn’t have it. When he didn’t have it with Scott Kingery hitting a two run homer off of him, Tyler Bashlor came in to relieve him.
For his part, Bashlor would walk Sean Rodriguez and allow a double to Franco. Then, for reasons which confounded everyone, Andrew Knapp and his career .219/.329/.322 batting line was intentionally walked to allow Bashlor to face Bryce Harper, who was pinch hitting for reliever Mike Morin.
Bashlor, and his MLB career 4.6 BB/9, which includes a 6.6 this year, was allowed to face Harper with the bases loaded. You could see the walk coming a mile away, and arguably, the walk, driving home the Phillies 10th run of the game, could be argued to be a much better outcome than what could’ve happened if Harper made contact.
With the season on the line, and in the highest leveraged situations the Mets faced all year, the bullpen gave up six runs over two innings. That was after Diaz blew the lead on Friday night. While the bullpen melted down in those two games, Mets fans watched on bewildered and horrified. Do you know who else was watching on?
Somehow, in the latest in a series of the Mets biggest series of the season, Lugo didn’t throw one pitch. Not one. If memory serves, he didn’t even soft tossing let alone warm up in any of those games. Potentially, the Mets chances at winning a Wild Card went by the wayside while the team’s best reliever watched it happen.
As horrible as we all feel, you could only imagine how Brad Brach felt. Remember, he was a member of that 2016 Orioles team who lost to the Blue Jays in 11 innings as Zack Britton, clearly the best reliever in the game that year, never entered the game. At some point, you have to wonder if he was having flashbacks.
With respect to Lugo, it should be remembered he threw two innings on Thursday. That was a day game after a night game, and in that night game, he threw an inning. That’s three innings over a 24 hour period. That’s a lot for a reliever with known UCL issues. It’s a lot for a reliever the Mets have been careful in trying to get him rest so as to not burn him out or injure him.
What we don’t know is whether he was unable to rebound after throwing those three innings. We also don’t know if Callaway was waiting for a late inning situation on Sunday which never presented itself. No matter what the case, the only thing we know is with the season on the line Lugo didn’t throw a pitch. If there is no injury issues, and there very well may be, that’s inexcusable.
The only thing more inexcusable than that is the fact that the Mets do not have another arm who could get a key out or pitch a scoreless frame in those three key innings.
For most the season, the Mets have been cycling through relievers trying to find the right fit for the last spot in the bullpen. Their inability to find the right fit has cost them a few games in what has been a very critical stretch of the season.
Chris Mazza couldn’t hold down a lead in San Francisco. Tyler Bashlor put a winnable game out of reach in Pittsburgh. That’s just two recent games, and there are countless others. As a result of different relievers failing, the Mets continue to cycle through them trying to find the right fit. Part of this process is the Mets having traded away Wilmer Font and releasing Hector Santiago. The team has also designated five different relievers for assignment. Still, there are some interesting options available.
Chris Flexen has made the transition to the bullpen this year after having struggled as a starter. In his brief five game stint as a pure reliever in the Mets bullpen, Flexen allowed two runs on four hits in 6.1 innings pitched. After one poor outing against the Braves, he was sent back down to Triple-A.
Since being sent down to Syracuse, Flexen has had a 6.94 ERA in 11 appearances, but six of those appearances were scoreless. Perhaps more important that the results is Flexen’s control. The pitcher who has always had issues with control threw 68 percent of his pitches for strikes resulting in his striking out struck out 12 (9.2 K/9) with just one walk in 11.2 inning pitched. If Flexen is able to sustain this level of control, he could be a real improvement in the bullpen.
Looking deeper at the 40 man roster, Eric Hanhold has had a 1.47 ERA since June 20. Over that stretch, he is 2-0 with two saves, and he is holding opposing batters to a .203/.282/.313 batting line. This recent run led to his being promoted again to Triple-A Syracuse. His second stint in Syracuse is going better than his first with him allowing just one earned over 4.0 innings.
In terms of his stuff, Matt Eddy of Baseball America said Hanhold “has a potent power fastball-slider mix that could play in a high-leverage role.” For Hanhold, he doesn’t need to be that yet. Rather, the Mets just need another reliable arm, and he certainly has the stuff to fulfill that role.
Like Flexen and Hanhold, Brooks Pounders has had success for the Mets at the Major League level. In his seven appearances for the Mets in June, he was 1-0 with a 6.14 ERA, 1.500 WHIP, 2.5 BB/9, and a 6.1 K/9. Looking deeper into those appearances, Pounders had six scoreless appearances.
His lone blow-up was his June 24 appearance against the Phillies. Notably, four of the five runs he allowed was in his second inning of work. Part of the focus on that appearance should include his rebounding three days later against the same Phillies team with a scoreless appearance. Looking at that, you could make the argument he should be recalled now. The argument against that is his struggles in Syracuse once he was sent down. In 10 appearances since his demotion, he has a 7.82 ERA allowing batters to hit .310/.410/.528 off of him.
Looking beyond the 40 man roster, there are some choices, but each of those options has their own limitations. The Mets are also further hampered by the fact Ryley Gilliam is on the injured list since July 12.
Perhaps the top option from players not on the 40 man roster is Paul Sewald. Sewald was on the 40 man roster earlier this year, and he pitched well in his four appearances in the Majors this year. In his 38 appearances for Syracuse, Sewald is 3-3 with a 3.61 ERA, 1.437 WHIP, 2.5 BB/9, and an 8.7 K/9. Overall, in terms of Sewald, he is not the most exciting of choices. However, it should be noted he has shown a knack at the Major League level to be a good long man who can both eat up innings and keep the Mets in games. Given the other Mets relievers failures on that front, Sewald’s ability should not be discounted.
The other reliever not on the 40 man roster who stands out is Steve Villines. This year, Villines has dominated Double-A with a 1.11 ERA in 22 appearances. However, he has struggled in Triple-A Syracuse with a 6.75 ERA, 1.938 WHIP, and a 1.50 K/BB in 13 appearances.
Two things to keep in mind with Villines. First, the sidewinder has fared well against right-handed batters limiting them to a .245/.286/.309 batting line. However, he has struggled against left-handed batters with them hitting .253/.371/.437 batting line. With those splits, you could see the Mets benefiting from pairing him with Luis Avilan much like the 2006 Mets did with Chad Bradford and Pedro Feliciano.
The one caution the Mets should have with Villines is his walk rate has increased and strikeout rate has decreased as he has progressed to each level of the minors. With the aforementioned 1.50 K/BB in Syracuse, it should give the Mets pause before promoting him to the Majors in the middle of a chase for the Wild Card.
Overall, it would appear the Mets best options at the moment are Flexen or Hanhold. That is at least the case while Jacob Rhame is on the Injured List. In the end, it may just be the case the Mets need to actually pick a reliever and let them work closely with Mickey Callaway, Phil Regan, and Ricky Bones to figure things out at the Major League level to permit them an opportunity improve and contribute at the Major League level.
While the Mets did not make a trade to improve their bullpen at the trade deadline, they did improve the bullpen by adding Marcus Stroman. Much like in 2015, the Mets are relying upon their starters going deep into games thereby requiring less from their bullpen. When that happens, a bullpen which only needs to use pitchers like Seth Lugo, Edwin Diaz, Justin Wilson, and Robert Gsellman suddenly looks very good.
Then, there is Friday night in Pittsburgh. With Steven Matz only lasting 3.2 innings, the Mets had to go to the part of the bullpen they have not had to in a while. It eventually caught up with the Mets with Tyler Bashlor allowing three earned over 1.1 innings putting a winnable game out of reach.
With the Mets cycling through relievers like Bashlor, Jacob Rhame (10 day IL), Chris Mazza, Stephen Nogosek, and others, it is clear the team is at least a bullpen arm short, and they are attempting to cycle through these pitchers until one sticks. So far, that hasn’t happened, and it is time for the Mets to make a real move. There are some free agent options available.
Brad Brach was recently designated for assignment by the Chicago Cubs in a season where he has gone 4-3, 6.13 ERA, 1.765 WHIP, 6.4 BB/9, and a 10.2 K/9. After seeing his ERA jump in each of the two seasons since his 2016 All-Star season, Brach has put up a career worst 6.13 ERA and a 6.4 BB/9. Beyond the walk rate, opponents have been hitting the ball harder against him, and as a result, he has a high .375 BABIP.
Conversely, he also has the best K/9 since 2016 and the best K% since 2017. Baseball Savant indicates he is above league average in fastball velocity, K%, and xSLB. All told, he still has Major League talent. With Phil Regan and Mickey Callaway, it would be well worth signing a pitcher the Mets have actively pursued over the past few seasons.
Another veteran pitcher who is available as a free agent is Cody Allen. Allen is available because the Los Angeles Angles released him on June 18, and he was released by the Minnesota Twins on July 31 after pitching to a 3.38 ERA with a 1.500 WHIP and 1.40 K/BB for Triple-A Rochester.
The season had gotten off to a good start with Allen converting four save chances to begin the season. Since that time, he has an 8.10 ERA in the Majors. One of the possible reasons for his struggles is his losing fastball velocity. Another reason may be his over reliance on the curveball. While it has been a good pitch for him, he has thrown it with much more frequency with worse results. To be fair, the same can be said for his fastball. Ultimately, with Allen, this is now two straight down years for him, and really, this could just be a sign he is no longer the same pitcher he was for Cleveland.
The hope with Allen is reuniting with Callaway would pay off dividends. Similarly, there may be hope an Addison Reed return to New York would work out well for both sides.
Reed was released by the Twins before throwing a pitch for the team this year. In total, he only made five appearances for Triple-A Rochester during a rehab assignment for a left (non-pitching) thumb sprain. He was shelled over those five appearances allowing eight runs over 5.0 innings. Since being released on May 21, he has not signed with another team.
With Reed, he had not been the same pitcher with the Twins than he was with the Mets. There are a number of reasons including his losing about two MPH off of his fastball making him more hittable. Given the state of the Mets bullpen and depth, it may be well worth bringing him back to the organization on a minor league deal and seeing how he performs in Syracuse.
In the end, the Mets external options are extremely limited. Given how the internal options have performed, it may be well worth claiming Brach and having him work with Callaway and Regan. With his strikeout rate, he could well be worth a flyer. The same can be said with Reed on a minor league deal. Overall, with the performances from the pitchers the Mets are willing to pitch, these players present not just a current upgrade, but also more upside than what we’ve seen.
The Mets came into Pittsburgh having won seven in a row, a streak which included a sweep of the Pirates. On the mound was Steven Matz, who had pitched a complete game shutout against the Pirates his last game out.
When Jeff McNeil and Pete Alonso doubled in the first to give the Mets a 1-0 lead, you had the distinct impression this was going to be the eighth straight win. After a Wilson Ramos RBI groundout scoring Alonso, it was 2-0.
The issue with Matz is always the first inning, but not tonight. It was a quick 1-2-3 inning. Over the first three, he had allowed just one hit with four strikeouts. He was looking like he did when he dominated the Pirates in his last start, and with J.D. Davis‘ third inning RBI double, the Mets had a 3-0 lead.
The wheels completely fell off in the fourth with Matz allowing a leadoff walk to Bryan Reynolds before allowing four straight hits. The big hit was a Melky Cabrera two RBI double giving the Pirates a 4-3 lead. The bleeding didn’t stop there with Matz allowing five in the inning before getting pulled for Robert Gsellman.
Gsellman pitched well and kept the Mets in the game with 2.1 scoreless. With Gsellman coming into the game in the fourth., the depth of the Mets bullpen would be taxed.
The Mets are still very much alive in that Work Cad face. For them to stay alive, they need to first win tomorrow and again on Sunday.
When the Mets season was on the line, and they still had a legitimate chance to make a run to get back into contention, Robinson Cano was 3-for-15 in the series against the Giants with no RBI, and he was 3 for his last 21. In the Mets 100th game of the season, when the team is nine games under .500 and basically forced to sell at the deadline, Cano finally showed up:
And now that’s number 320!
Canó hits another 2-run home run for his 3rd of the night and now the Mets lead 5-0!!#ItsOuttaHere @RobinsonCano#RaiseTheApple pic.twitter.com/pmGcZ9lfFn
— Brad B ⚾️ (@celeBRADtion) July 24, 2019
Cano joined Kirk Nieuwenhuis and Lucas Duda as the only Mets to hit three homers in a home game. That may the best way to summarize this season. It took Cano 100 games to equal Kirk Nieuwenhuis.
Cano hitting these homers overshadowed what was supposed to be Round 2 between Pete Alonso and Chris Paddack. In the first matchup, Paddack threw his three fastest pitches of the year to Alonso striking him out two times. This matchup was a relative dud with Alonso going 0-1 with a walk off Paddack.
With Jason Vargas pitching well with six shut out one hit innings, the Mets were up 5-0 after seven and should’ve ended the game without drama.
Robert Gsellman has to rescue Tyler Bashlor from a seventh inning jam, and he’d allow a run in the eighth. In the ninth, Justin Wilson would walk the only two batters he faced pressing Edwin Diaz into the game for a save opportunity.
Diaz would make things interesting allowing an RBI double to Fernando Tatis, Jr. making it 5-2. Diaz wouldn’t let it get past that point shutting the door and earning his 22nd save of the year.
On the day, Cano provided the margin, and Diaz shut the door. One hundred games later we finally see how Brodie Van Wagenen drew things up.
Game Notes: Cano surpassed Damion Easley to become the oldest second baseman with a three home run game. It’s Cano’s first three home run game in his career.