Wilmer Flores

Seen This Loss Too Many Times This Year

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In A Cabrera Second, Mets Bats Come Alive

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

The team jumped all over Giants starter Ty Blach.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1.  They Can’t Pitch

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

2.  The Defense Is Terrible

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

3.  They’re Always Injured

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

4.  They’re Under-Performing

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mets More Concerned With Puig Than Playing Good Baseball

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Eight Players The Mets Should Protect

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

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

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

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

1. RHP Noah Syndergaard

Arbitration Eligible: 2018
Free Agent: 2022

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

2.  LF Michael Conforto

Arbitration Eligible: 2019
Free Agent: 2022

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

3. LF Yoenis Cespedes

Remaining Contract: 3 years $87.5 million

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

4.  RHP Jacob deGrom

Free Agent: 2021

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

5.  LHP Steven Matz

Arbitration Eligible: 2019
Free Agent: 2022

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

6. RHP Jeurys Familia

Free Agent: 2019

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

7.  C Travis d’Arnaud

Free Agent: 2020

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

8.  3B David Wright

Remaining Contract: 3 years $47 million

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

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

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

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

Sandy Didn’t Want To Call-Up Michael Conforto Either

Back in 2015, the New York Mets season was falling apart at the seams.  The Mets needed offense, and the fans wanted Michael Conforto.  Scouts and talent evaluators said the Mets 2014 first round draft pick was ready, but the Mets consistently insisted Conforto wasn’t ready.

Instead of Conforto, the Mets trotted out people who weren’t good and weren’t ready.  The Mets were happy trotting out John Mayberry, Kirk Nieuwenhuis, and Darrell Ceciliani in the outfield.  Briefly, the Mets would even try Eric Campbell in left field.  For the most part, the Mets mostly stuck with a clearly injured and hobbled Michael Cuddyer in left field.  He fell apart in June hitting just .211/.237/.311 in 25 games.

Finally, both Cuddyer and the Mets both had enough, Cuddyer would go the Disabled List, and Conforto would finally get called-up to the majors.  At that time, the Mets had lost two in a row and five of their last seven.  For a team that once had a 4.5 game lead in the division, they would fall to three games back.

It turns out Conforto was indeed ready.  He would play 56 games hitting .270/.335/.506 with 14 doubles nine homers, and 26 RBI.  He was a big part of the Mets turn-arond with the team having been 10 games over .500 in the games he played.  He was also a big part of the Mets postseason run.  He hit three homers in the postseason including two in Game Four of the World Series.

It’s possible Conforto needed every bit the time he had in Double-A.  Maybe the extra time he spent in Doube-A put him in position to succeed when he came to the majors.  It’s also likely Conforto was ready well before the Mets did what they didn’t want to do when they called him up.  Fact is, we’ll never know.  The only thing we do know is Conforto was very good when he was called up to the majors, and he has an important part of the Mets success in 2015.

The Mets are in the same exact situation in 2017.

The team has seen Asdrubal Cabrera struggled offensively and defensively, and he has landed on the Disabled List twice.  His primary back-up, Jose Reyes, has statistically been the worst infielder in the major leagues this year, and he appears to be getting worse.  Now, Neil Walker has suffered an injury that will keep him on the Disabled List for an extended time frame.

Unlike 2015, the real issue for this Mets team is defense.  As a team, the Mets rank last in the majors with a -13 DRS, and it is not likely to improve.  Reyes is not only struggling offensively, but he is struggling defensively as well.  The other players on the roster aren’t much better.

The Mets took the starting shortstop position away from Wilmer Flores for a reason.  The Mets also transitioned T.J. Rivera from shortstop to other positions because he couldn’t handle the position defensively.  Same goes for Gavin Cecchini who is now a second baseman.  Matt Reynolds is actually a good defensive shortstop, but he can’t hit enough to play everyday.

Like in 2015, the fans are clamoring for the Mets top prospect, and like in 2015, everyone but Sandy Alderson seems to believe he’s ready.  In 65 games for Las Vegas, he’s hitting .336/.378/.500 with 15 doubles, four triples, seven homers, 47 RBI, and 12 stolen bases.  Based on the offensive statistics, he seems ready, but that’s not an in depth analysis.  Truth is considering the hitting environment that is the Pacific Coast League, we probably don’t know how much improvement a player is making until they get to the majors.

However, the Mets don’t need Rosario for his offense even if anything else is likely better than what Reyes is providing.  No, the Mets need him for his defense, and the Mets need him sooner rather than later.

After losing last night’s game, the Mets are five games under .500, and they are 10.5 games back in the division.  Like in 2015, the Mets promising season is falling apart.  Instead of the team calling up the player who could help address the team’s needs, they are being stubborn in insisting the top prospect isn’t ready.  They are once again letting the season slip away.  Unlike 2015, things are much more dire.

Sure, the Mets could be right in saying Rosario isn’t ready.  After all, it is very well likely they know more than anyone about where Rosario stands in his development.  Maybe, just maybe, the Mets know what they’re doing, and when they finally bring Rosario up to the majors, he will have the success and impact Conforto did in 2015.

Hopefully, there is still a season to salvage whenever the Mets get around to calling up Rosario.

Mets Squandering Chances In Game . . . East

There’s one fatal flaw if the strategy against the Nationals is to get into their bullpen – you have to actually get into their bullpen. With how dominant Max Scherzer has been against the Mets, and how dominant he’s been this year, that wasn’t happening tonight. 

That’s not to say the Mets didn’t have their chances. The Mets grounding into three double plays only confirms the Mets had their chances. Like all double plays, these were back breakers. 

In the second, Mets had first and second with no outs and a chance to take the lead. Travis d’Arnaud grounded into the double play. The Mets wouldn’t score when Jose Reyes flew out to end the threat. 

The following inning, Steven Matz tried to help his own cause with a lead-off single, but he was erased when Michael Conforto grounded into the double play. The shock here was that entering tonight’s game, Conforto actually hit Scherzer well going 6-15 with three homers off him. Tonight, Conforto was 0-3 with a walk and two strikeouts. 

Finally in the sixth, the Mets had runners on first and second with one out. That rally ended with Wilmer Flores grounding into the inning ending double play. It was the latest sign Flores is cold. After scorching through May and earning a starting job, Flores is 2-19. 

The squandered opportunities cost the Mets. It put Matz, who was making his second start off the Disabled List, in the unenviable position of having to be perfect. Unfortunately, Matz was just good. 

While he generally kept the Nationals off the basepaths, he was victimized by the long ball. Matt Wieters and Michael Taylor went back-to-back to start the third. In the sixth, Anthony Rendon hit an opposite field two run homer that just cleared the wall. 

With that, the Nationals were up 4-0 and in position to win despite the Matz pitching fairly well. His final line was seven innings, eight hits, four runs, four earned, no walks, and four strikeouts. 

With Dusty Baker understandably not wanting to go to his bullpen, a tiring Scherzer pitched the eighth. Things got a little interesting with Reyes leading off the inning with a homer, and Curtis Granderson sending one to the wall in his pinch hitting appearance. 

This is where Scherzer showed how great he is. He was clearly on fumes, but he bore down. He made quick work of Conforto before entering a battle with Yoenis Cespedes. Despite Scherzer quickly getting up 1-2 in the count, Cespedes fouled off a number of pitches, and the count would go full. On the 11th pitch, Scherzer finally got his strikeout. 

Still, it was within striking distance at 4-1. That’s when the Mets defense blew their chances. 

Taylor led off the inning with a well placed bunt single. Flores made a nice play, but with his arm, he had no shot at Taylor. Same went for d’Arnaud when Taylor stole second.  Taylor was certainly helped by Fernando Salas not even bothering to hold him on. 

Despite all of that, the Mets had a chance to get out of the ninth inning unscathed. There were runners at the corners with one out, and Brian Goodwin hit a tailor made double play ball.  For some reason, T.J. Rivera lollipopped it over to Reyes, who had no shot to get the speedy Goodwin. 

After a Bryce Harper single, Ryan Zimmerman hit a single to left. Goodwin seemed like he would score with ease, and for some reason, Harper headed to third. Cespedes made a one hop throw to third Flores could not field. It at least appeared if Flores fielded it cleanly, Harper would’ve been out before Goodwin scored thereby negating the run. 

It didn’t happen that way and because official scorers do that the do, Cespedes was charged with the error despite his heads-up play and good throw. 

Then Terry Collins does what he does best. He made a questionable move. 

After walking Daniel Murphy intentionally to load the bases, Collins brought in Neil Ramirez and his 7.3 BB/9 into the game. To a surprise to no one, Ramirez walked in a run to make it 7-1. 

Despite the Nationals bullpen being bad, they’re not six runs in the ninth inning bad. The real shame is the Nationals bullpen pitched as expected with Jay Bruce greeting Shawn Kelley with a lead-off home run in the ninth to make it 7-2. The Mets would get no closer. 

The Mets have had two cracks at the Nationals to help them make some headway in the National League East. They responded by playing some of their worst baseball this month. They were not fundamentally sound, nor were they smart. They didn’t effectively work counts to get into that bullpen, and they played poor defense. 

The most the Mets can hope for now is a split. If they continue playing like this, it won’t happen. 

Game Notes: Mets pitchers have allowed 13 home runs over the last four games. Brandon Nimmo and Matt Reynolds were called up, but they did not play. 

Five Mets Not Alive

Through the first four innings, this was a game. The Nationals got to Robert Gsellman, but the damage wasn’t as bad as it could have been. 

He made two mistakes. The first Bryce Harper hit for a long first inning home run. The second was a Matt Wieters fourth inning double. He came home to score on a Gio Gonzalez single. That’s problematic because Gonzalez is terrific at Citi Field. 

He was again tonight. The Mets had just one hit through the first three innings, and he looked like he was going to make that 2-0 lead stick. 

Still it was only 2-0 because in the third inning, Juan Lagares nailed Harper at the plate:

In the fourth, Yoenis Cespedes and Jay Bruce hit back-to-back one out doubles to bring the Mets within 2-1. Considering how terrible the Nationals bullpen has been, that isn’t a bad position for the Mets.  If they kept it close, you had to like their chances. 

The Mets didn’t keep it close as the Nationals went to work in the fifth inning. 

Daniel Murphy continued to torture the Mets hitting a two run triple with a ball Lucas Duda couldn’t knock down and Jay Bruce couldn’t pick up. Murphy then scored on an Anthony Rendon single that tipped Lagares glove as he dove for it. The Nationals capped off the inning with a Michael Taylor homer. 

At that point, it was 7-1 Nationals. The only thing left was to add some injury to insult. 

Because this is the Mets that happened. On Lagares’ dive, he broke his left thumb, the same one he injured last year. 

It really just kept getting better and better. With Gary, Keith, and Ron discussing Amed RosarioWilmer Flores made an error. With all the injuries the Mets have had, there was a Hospital for Special Surgery advertisement behind home plate. I

After that, there was insult to injury. Rafael Montero came on in the sixth, and he dominated the Nationals. He had three straight 1-2-3 innings, and he struck out three batters. 

All the Mets had to do was keep it close, and they couldn’t do that. The Wilmer Flores homer off Joe Blanton was a stark reminder of that. 

But no, the Mets lost to the Nationals, and they lost badly. With Lagares getting hurt and Neil Walker and Matt Harvey landing on the DL, it’s once again hard to see how things are going to get better.

Game Notes: Rene Rivera hit an opposite field homer in the fifth. Gavin Cecchini struck out in his pinch hitting attempt. Matt Reynolds was scratched from the Vegas lineup meaning he’s likely ticketed for the Mets. 

PSA: Jose Reyes Is A Bad Baseball Player

There are times a manager is stuck playing a player because he doesn’t have a better option.  There are times when a manager is stuck playing a player because that player has a big contract, and the team wants to try to extract as much value from the player as they can.  There are other times when you play a player because you legitimately believe that player will improve.

Then there is Terry Collins continuously putting Jose Reyes in the lineup.

You cannot possibly justify putting Reyes in the lineup now.  In his first 58 games this year, Reyes is hitting .186/.261/.294 with nine doubles, two triples, three homers, 18 RBI, and nine stolen bases.  Among Major League third baseman, Reyes has the lowest batting average and slugging.  He also has the second worst on base percentage.  His -1.1 WAR is the second worst in the majors among third baseman, and it is the third worst among major league infielders.  Overall, he’s a bad hitter.

You can’t even argue Reyes is hot.  He is current two for his last 30, and he hasn’t had an extra base hit in over two weeks.  You could call it a funk, but look at his numbers for the season.  This is who Reyes is now.

He’s also not much of a fielder.  In 270 innings at third, he has posted a -4 DRS and a -2.2 UZR.  It’s a short sample size for sure, but it lines up with the numbers he posted in 427 innings at third last year when he had a -6 DRS and a -2.5 UZR.

It’s not like Collins is stuck playing Reyes.  First and foremost, Reyes is making the major league minimum, and he is going to be a free agent after the season.  There’s no need to try to save any face by playing Reyes.  Also, there is a much better option.

Wilmer Flores is in the middle of a career year.  He’s hitting .326/.349/.507 with eight doubles, a triple, five homers, 18 RBI, and a stolen base.  He’s not the platoon bat he once was either.  Against right-handed pitching this year, Flores is hitting .298/.327/.462 with six doubles, a triple, five homers, and 14 RBI.  Since May 1st, Flores is hitting .366/.398/.573 off of right-handed pitching.

In essence, Flores is not just the Mets best choice at third base.  Right now, Flores is the best hitter in the Mets lineup.  Sure, he will likely be supplanted by another player on the roster.  However, that player is likely to be Michael Conforto or Yoenis Cespedes.  It’s not going to be Reyes.

By the way, if you are interested in fielding your best defensive infield, Flores still needs to play ahead of Reyes.  In 197.1 innings at third this year, Flores has a 1 DRS and a -2.3 UZR.  No, those aren’t great numbers, but they are better numbers than Reyes is posting.

Overall, there is absolutely no reason why Reyes is in the starting lineup.  Frankly, you could argue the Mets should have kept Sean Gilmartin and designated Reyes for assignment.  At the very least, that would have kept T.J. Rivera, who is having a much better season than Reyes, on the roster.

But no, Reyes has been in the starting lineup for four straight games and five out of the last six games while appearing in all six games.  That’s more than any other infielder on the roster.  It needs to stop, and it needs to stop now.  Unfortuantely, with Reyes’ sizzling hot 1-4 with an RBI last night, it’s not likely Collins will reduce his playing time.

Editor’s Note: This was first published on MMO.

Mets Turning Things Completely Around

This should have been a great game that got you more excited about this team. It was the fourth win in a row. Instead of the wins coming against the lowly Braves, this win came against the reigning World Series Champion Chicago Cubs. (It’s still weird to type that). 

This win started with Jacob deGrom, who must’ve fixed whatever mechanical flaw he had because he was dominant. He would become the fourth straight Mets starter that pitched into the seventh inning and the third straight to pitch seven innings. 

Actually, deGrom was better than that pitching a complete game. This made him the first Met to pitch a complete game since deGrom did it last July against the Phillies. His final line was nine innings, five hits, one run, one earned, four walks, and five strikeouts. 

In the game, the only Cub to get to him was Addison Russell who hit an opposite field home run in the seventh. Other than Russell, no Cub reached third base against deGrom. A big reason for that was the Mets turning four double plays behind deGrom. 

That wasn’t the only support deGrom received from his middle infield. Asdrubal Cabrera hit two homers off Cubs starter John Lackey:

The other two Mets runs would come off a Jay Bruce two run homer in the third. Bruce would double in the sixth putting him on a pace for 84 extra base hits, which would be a Mets single season record. 

In the bottom of the eighth, the Mets tacked on two runs against the Cubs bullpen. The inning started with a Bruce single off Brian Duensing, and he moved to second when Cabrera tried to bunt his way on with one out. 

Joe Maddon brought in Felix Pena who couldn’t navigate the Cubs out of the inning. He first allowed a Travis d’Arnaud RBI double and then a Reyes RBI single. With that, the Mets were up 6-1 giving deGrom a huge margin in the ninth. 
Overall, despite Terry Collins inane decision to start Jose Reyes over Wilmer Flores, it was a great game for the Mets. 

That is except for the injuries. Michael Conforto missed the game with what was described as a stiff back due to the flight from Atlanta. Considering the Mets recent history with back injuries, we should all wait with baited breath until he is reinserted into the lineup. 

Conforto was the lesser of the two injuries. Yoenis Cespedes left the game in the sixth with that was described as a left heel injury. It should be noted Cespedes just came off the Disabled List with a left quad issue, and he said he was still not 100%. 

These injury issues put a damper on an otherwise terrific win. Still, as long as the Mets starters keep pitching this way, the Mets are going to win a lot of games. 

Game Notes: Paul Sewald was warming in the bullpen should deGrom get in trouble in the ninth. This was deGrom’s second career complete game.