Wilson Ramos

Good Matz And Competent Defense Return

Recently, the Mets pitchers have been struggling mightily. While the pitchers have their own share of the blame, part of their struggles have emanated from just horrific defense behind them.

The Mets defense has been the worst in the NL with a -22 DRS. It should come as no surprise the Mets have the worst BABIP and LOB%.

Well, now with Todd Frazier coming off the IL, the defense was improved dramatically. Other improvements today was Luis Guillorme at short over the sick Amed Rosario. In addition to that, the Mets best defender, Juan Lagares, was patrolling center.

Between a much better defense and some VERY questionable ball/strike calls, Steven Matz was very good tonight. In six innings, he allowed just one earned on three hits with two walks and six strikeouts.

This start was another good start for Matz making that four good starts and one putrid one. Essentially, if Matz gets at least one out, he’s going to have a good start this year.

He really wasn’t in trouble all night, and the only run came off a Rhys Hoskins fourth inning homer. That was not enough for the Phillies to overcome their then 2-0 deficit or beat the Mets.

In the third, Brandon Nimmo got it started with a single, and he’d score on an impressive double by Pete Alonso.

Wilson Ramos increased that lead to 2-0 with an RBI single scoring Alonso. Interesting thing with Ramos is he’s only hitting with runners on base.

Jeff McNeil made it 3-1 with an impressive shot off Jake Arrieta in the fifth.

Things did not go well for the Phillies past that point, and that was partially because Bryce Harper was ejected in the fourth for arguing (going ballistic) over balls and strikes.

In the seventh, the wheels came off for the Phillies.

Lagares got the rally started with a single leading off the inning, and Mickey Callaway then sent Robinson Cano to pinch hit for Seth Lugo, who had a scoreless seventh.

What’s interesting here is Cano didn’t start the game after getting hit on the hand yesterday. Really, it was fair to question if this was a deke to get a favorable pitching matchup. If so, Gabe Kapler took the bait and sent in Jose Alvarez to pitch, and Callaway countered with J.D. Davis.

Davis would hit what should have been a sure-fire double play ball, but Cesar Hernandez threw it away. The ever hustling Lagares made it to third. As the inning continued the Phillies bullpen unraveled a bit.

McNeil was hit by a pitch to load the bases. Juan Nicasio came on for Alvarez, and he hit Alonso to force home a run. Michael Conforto then made it 5-1 Mets with a sacrifice fly.

Jeurys Familia and Edwin Diaz took care of the Phillies in relatively short order to preserve the 5-1 Mets win. It was as easy a win as the Mets have had all year, and it’s a win where the Mets looked like a much better team than they have recently.

Better defense will do that for you.

Game Notes: Justin Wilson went on the IL with a sore elbow. He was replaced on the roster by Guillorme. Paul Sewald, not Jacob Rhame, was sent down to make room for Frazier. With the win, Matz snapped a 14 game winless streak at Citi Field.

20/20 Hindsight: Did Cardinals Expose Mets?

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

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

Mets Win Despite Vargas And Bullpen Restrictions

With Jason Vargas taking the mound, Robinson Cano chose a good game to break out.

His two out first inning double off Adam Wainwright helped set up a two run rally. He scored on a Wilson Ramos RBI single, and Michael Conforto (who walked) scored on a J.D. Davis RBI double.

In the second, Cano had another hard hit ball off Wainwright. This time it was an RBI single which scored Juan Lagares. With that, through two, by some miracle, the Mets were up 2-0.

Really, once again, Vargas wasn’t good. He was helped by the wind blowing in, and he somehow navigated through three walks, three hits, and an Amed Rosario error over four.

Surprisingly, the only Cardinals run off Vargas was a Jose Martinez fourth inning solo shot.

With Vargas going just four and Wainwright going just three, this became a battle on the bullpens, and the Mets bullpen did what it needed to do. That doesn’t mean it was easy.

Entering the bottom of the sixth, the Mets had a 5-1 lead because of a fourth inning rally and Pete Alonso annihilating a Ryan Helsley pitch:

The Mets would every single one of those runs. First, in his second inning of work, Seth Lugo allowed a two run shot to Lane Thomas.

After needing just seven pitches to mow down the Cardinals in the seventh. Jeurys Familia began the eighth. He was chased after allowing a one out double to Yadier Molina.

With the left-handed Dexter Fowler due up, Mickey Callaway went to Justin Wilson, who wasn’t sharp, nor was his defense. Fowler grounded it to third. Despite already playing the line, Davis had to dive for the ball. Despite not having a play, he made an awful throw to first which Alonso was lucky to keep nearby. While lucky, he couldn’t prevent Fowler from going to second or Molina from scoring to make it 5-4.

After a Kolten Wong walk, the Cardinals had runners on first and second with one out. Due to Brodie Van Wagenen’s Diaz Dictate, Callaway couldn’t go to his best reliever. With Callaway using Lugo in the fifth and sixth, he couldn’t go to his second best reliever.

This meant once again, with the game on the line Callaway had to go to Robert Gsellman. This time, Gsellman got out of the jam by getting Jedd Gyorko to pop out and Matt Carpenter to ground out.

Now, things were far from easy for Edwin Diaz in the ninth. He needed McNeil to rob Paul DeJong of an extra base hit.

Even with the help, Diaz would white knuckle this one as the Cardinals rallied with two outs. Marcell Ozuna walked, and Martinez hit a single to set up runners at the corners. With Molina at the plate, Mets fans were justifiably nervous, but those concerns were assuaged as Molina lined out to Lagares to end the game.

With that, the Mets bullpen made a game closer than it needed. Van Wagenen hamstrung his manager, and Callaway didn’t properly align the relievers he was permitted to use prior to the ninth in the highest leverage situations. Despite all that, the Mets improbably won on a day Vargas started.

Game Notes: Jacob deGrom was placed in the IL with a not yet specified elbow injury. He will have an MRI on Monday. After six consecutive multi-hit games, McNeil was 0-5.

20/20 Hindsight: Mets Losing Division Games

The Mets followed splitting with the Braves by losing two of three to the Phillies. As a result, the Mets have lost four of their last five – all of them in the division. Here are some observations from the disappointing series.

  1. Noah Syndergaard‘s peripherals are fine, and in the long run, he’s going to have Thor like numbers.
  1. What killed Thor and continues to kill the Mets pitching is a National League worst defense.
  2. J.D. Davis has been the worst infielder in all of baseball, and with his sprint speeds, he would be terrible in LF. In the long run, he really serves no purpose in this Mets team.
  3. It’s bizarre the Mets would let Davis Be this bad at third, continue to trot him out there, and not even allow a more physically fit and athletic Dominic Smith an opportunity to prove himself in left field.
  4. Amed Rosario continues to hurt this team with bad defense (worst SS in the NL) and his poor plate discipline. Fortunately for him and unfortunately for the Mets, Andres Gimenez has gotten off to a brutally slow start in Binghamton.
  5. So far Wilson Ramos is killing the Mets. By DRS, he’s the worst catcher in the NL, and he’s become a glorified singles hitter with a 58.3% ground ball rate.
  6. Not one Mets everyday infielder has a positive DRS.
  7. Keon Broxton needs to be better. He has a 47 wRC+, and we saw him overpowered by a 94 MPH fastball over the heart of the plate to end the game. He’s also a -1 DRS in the outfield.
  8. Juan Lagares has been better every which way than Broxton, and as a result, he needs to get the bulk of playing time in center.
  9. With neither Broxton nor Lagares hitting, the Mets need to keep Jeff McNeil in left field, especially since that’s his ultimate destination when Todd Frazier and/or Jed Lowrie return.
  10. Mets desperately need Frazier’s glove. Not only will it give the Mets at least one plus defender on the field, but it will also allow Rosario to not have to cover nearly as much ground.
  11. With Frazier finally hitting the ball yesterday, he should be called up and immediately inserted into the starting lineup.
  12. Jeff McNeil is turning into a modern day Ichiro Suzuki. This is not hyperbole. When you break down the numbers, he should be regressing. Instead, he continuously adapts his approach and has incredible contact skills.
  1. You knew sooner or later Steven Matz was going to lay an egg, and boy did he. One thing to note here is he was this bad his first start of the 2016 season. He responded to that by putting up nine straight starts allowing two earned or less.
  1. So much for Zack Wheeler‘s second half being a fluke.
  1. To acquire Edwin Diaz, the Mets gave up two top 100 prospects (Jarred Kelenic and Justin Dunn), and they took on $100 million of Robinson Cano‘s onerous contract. So naturally, when the game is on the line, they won’t use him.
  2. With the Mets limiting to Diaz to just the ninth, we once again learn the Mets statements about every game mattering only applied to Pete Alonso.
  1. Good for Brodie Van Wagenen for taking the bullet on Diaz’s usage. He made the call, and he stood there like a man to defend himself. Also, good job by Mickey Callaway not throwing everyone under the bus and whining about the restrictions.
  1. Sometimes, you should just appreciate a player for what they do well. Paul Sewald went out there twice and ate up innings to help save that bullpen. Considering how well he handles that role, he has a spot in this bullpen.
  2. On that note, great job by Drew Gagnon pitching 5.1 innings on three days rest. Should Jason Vargas fail again on Friday, Gagnon has earned the first shot to replace him in the rotation.

Arrieta Was Just Better Than Wheeler

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Phillies 14 – Mets Who Cares

In Major League history, there have been five starters who have faced eight batters and retired none. Three of those pitchers were Mets first round picks. Paul Wilson, Bobby Jones, and now Steven Matz.

For Matz, it was a combination of things including poor defense. Specifically, Amed Rosario had two first inning errors.

The errors hurt, but it didn’t cause Matz to walk three batters. After a Maikel Franco homer, Matz was pulled for Drew Gagnon.

The poor defense continued after Matz departed the game. Jeff McNeil completely botched a ball which was ruled a double for Andrew McCutchen.

Things were so poor defensively in the eighth inning even Keon Broxton completely lost one in the lights. That was also ruled a double. This time for Andrew Knapp.

All in all, the Mets were beaten badly. In the 14-3 win, the Phillies had two separate batters with five RBI – J.T. Realmuto and Scott Kingery.

As bad as that was, a resurgent Brandon Nimmo left the game with what was characterized as a neck injury. We will see.

While this was mostly a lost game, the Mets had some highlights. Despite being on three days rest, Gagnon pitched 5.1 innings to help save the bullpen. He was better than what his final line suggested, especially when you consider three of the earned runs against him came in his fifth inning of work when he was likely completely gassed.

Paul Sewald also did his part pitching 2.2 scoreless. Their combined work really helped save the Mets pen, and unfortunately, their reward will likely to be sent down to permit the Mets to get two new fresh arms up into the pen.

Jeff McNeil continued to hit, Robinson Cano started to hit, and Wilson Ramos hit his first homer as a Met. Other than that, this game was terrible.

Game Notes: All but one Mets game this year has gone beyond three hours.

20/20 Hindsight: Mets Waste Another Opportunity

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

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

Mets Walk To Victory Over Twins

Through the first four innings, the Mets could not buy a hit against Jake Odorizzi. Then after a Jeff McNeil one out single in the fifth, the Twins could not get a batter out.

The Twins went through three pitchers, and they allowed six runs on two hits. It could have been worse for them if not fog McNeil having the TOOBLAN of TOOBLANs.

Odorizzi threw a pitch to the backstop while Syndergaard was at the plate. With it being a fastball, it sprung right back to Mitch Garver. With Garver getting to it quickly, McNeil froze directly between third and home. He stood there as Garver got it to Odorizzi making it easy for the Twins to get the out when McNeil opted to go back to third.

Fortunately, with the Twins being incapable of throwing a strike, the rally would not die there.

That five run lead was more than enough for Syndergaard, who was dominant until the top of eighth. By that time, the Mets were already going to their bench with Keon Broxton and Luis Guillorme entering into the game in the seventh as pinch runners. Both would score in a three run inning giving the Mets a 9-1 lead.

Syndergaard’s final line would not prove to be as impressive as his outing. With the Twins starting the eighth with five straight hits off him and Jeurys Familia, he would allow four runs on five hits with no walks and seven strikeouts in seven plus innings.

That eighth inning was getting out of hand with Familia loading the bases before getting a ground ball from Willians Astudillo. Even with the Davis bobble, the Mets were able to turn two because of Guillorme’s lightning quick turn at second.

With Guillorme helping limit the damage, the Mets escaped the top of the eighth with a 9-5 lead.

That doesn’t mean the Mets bullpen was out of trouble. In the ninth, Edwin Diaz allowed his first run as a Met when Garver homered off of him. Diaz would then get out of the inning securing the Mets 9-6 win.

The Mets ended their first homestead of the season 2-3, and they now head on a tough road trip taking them through Atlanta, Philadelphia, and St. Louis. At least they’re starting that trip coming off a win.

Game Notes: Alonso had his first hitless start, but he still reached base with two walks.

20/20 Hindsight: Mets Blow Chance Against Nationals

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

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

20/20 Hindsight: First Place Mets Sweep Marlins

After the Mets swept the Marlins, they’re now 5-1 and in first place as they come home for their home opener. Here’s the 20/20 observations from the last series:

  1. When Pedro Martinez compared Jacob deGrom to himself, you got the perfect comparison to just how dominant deGrom is right now. Although we can be sure the Dodger loving Wilpons think Sandy Koufax (either way you take it).
  2. With deGrom pitching great with Wilson Ramos on Opening Day and Tomas Nido yesterday, we’re seeing giving any credit to Devin Mesoraco was nonsense. Moreover, we’re seeing how better catchers help produce better results.
  1. In addition to their producing well on the field so far, it’s great to see Pete Alonso and Dominic Smith cheering for one another. Since late last year, and perhaps before that, they were adversaries as far as the future of first base was concerned. They rose above it to show they’re better people than they are players.
  2. While we believe Juan Lagares‘ extension was a mistake, there’s no doubt he impacts the game when he’s on the field. In the series, we saw him hit a game tying homer, and with his hustle, he reached base even on outs. He’s already at a 1 DRS, and he’s flashing his arm again. He’s potentially a difference maker.
  3. When the Mets traded Ross Adolph, Scott Manea, and Luis Santana, they paid a hefty price for J.D. Davis. It’s becoming increasingly clear, he’s not going to hit well or play good defense. As a result, each game the Mets force him into the lineup only serves to make a bad situation worse.
  4. On Davis, do yourself a favor and don’t look at the Astros 1B/DH situation.
  5. While it was nice to see Luis Guillorme finally get into a game, he needs to see more action, especially with Davis playing his way to a demotion.
  6. It’s very cool to see Yoenis Cespedes‘ brother Yoelkis regarded as one of the top Cuban prospects available. Here’s hoping the Mets can find a way to add him to the organization.
  7. The schadenfreude seeing the Yankees follow a Mets-like offseason with a series of Metsian injuries (CC Sabathia, Luis Severino, Dellin Betances, Didi Gregorius, Giancarlo Stanton, Miguel Andujar, Troy Tulowitzki, Jacoby Ellsbury) is off the charts.
  8. With respect to Brandon Nimmo, it was shocking to see him not get a day after getting hit on the hand. Even if he was alright, with him scuffling, it made sense to give him the extra day.
  9. Mickey Callaway‘s handling of the bullpen in the series was both bad and dangerous. He pushed a Luis Avilan, a LOOGY with a history of shoulder injuries, to try to pitch two innings. He also pushed Seth Lugo to try almost 40 pitches despite his being ill. That’s how you make two laughers nail biters.
  10. That said, Robert Gsellman needs to be better. It was his performance which led to Callaway needing to turn to Edwin Diaz for the save.
  11. Even with the struggles from the rest of the pen, the Mets are more than alright with Diaz, Jeurys Familia, and Justin Wilson ready to go 7-8-9 to close out a win.
  12. If the Mets can’t trust Jason Vargas to go more than five innings against the worst team in baseball when the bullpen is short, why is he in the rotation, especially when Dallas Keuchel is still a free agent.
  13. With the Mets not trusting Vargas, we need to keep a close eye on Anthony Kay who impressed in Spring Training and will be the Opening Day starter for Binghamton today.
  14. It was hard to tell on TV, but with a large contingent of Mets fans at Marlins Park, is booing Peter O’Brien still going to be a thing.
  15. Umpire Ron Kulpa’s behavior was unnecessarily confrontational and unbefitting to the impartiality and temperance we should expect from an umpire. A.J. Hinch was right to confront him, and now it’s time for MLB to confront and potentially begin to suspend umpires who behave this way.
  16. With respect to Ron Darling‘s book, former teammates Dwight Gooden, Kevin Mitchell, and Darryl Strawberry defending Lenny Dykstra doesn’t mean Darling is lying. There’s a lot of room between those players not hearing something and it actually happening even if Oil Can Boyd said he didn’t hear anything.
  17. More troubling than the Darling/Dykstra controversy is Darling saying Bob Murphy would pass out drunk in the clubhouse and saying Gary Carter tried to stuff the All-Star ballots. Dykstra is a man who is all too eager to defend himself. Dead men like Murphy and Carter can’t.
  18. It’s going to be sad to not hear David Wright‘s name announced with the team on Opening Day. It’s not too similar from 2006 when we didn’t hear Mike Piazza‘s name. Hopefully, this will be like 2006 in more ways than one.