On July 29, 2015, word spread like wild fire through Citi Field. The New York Mets had executed a trade which could help the team make the postseason and possibly win their first World Series in nearly 30 years. Wilmer Flores was in tears, and Carlos Gomez was packing for his flight to New York while Zack Wheeler continued his rehab from Tommy John surgery.
As soon as the game was over, we discovered the trade was nixed because Gomez apparently had a hip issue. While fans were angry over the mayhem which ensued from another PR disaster from the Mets organization, Wheeler was relieved. In fact, Wheeler would pick up the phone to call Sandy Alderson to tell him that he wanted to remain a part of the Mets organization.
Fast forward four years, and Wheeler is once again on the trade block. Unlike 2015, there is no keeping him around for him to remain a part of the Mets going forward. He is going to be a free agent after the season is over, and based upon the Mets payroll and willingness to spend, it would seem like this is definitively his last season in Queens. Given that fact, a Mets team with the second worst record in the National League needs to trade him to recoup what they can to at least revamp the team for 2020 and beyond.
The plans to trade him were dealt a huge blow when Wheeler landed on the Injured List.
Initially, the Mets characterized it as shoulder fatigue or a dead arm. In those cases, you just need a brief rest, and you should be fine. The Mets downplaying it took an interesting twist when Wheeler got to talk about it. He made things sound much worse calling it an impingement and saying the MRI was “pretty much clean.”
He also backtracked a bit on the Mets statements Wheeler should be ready to go as soon as his IL stint is over saying he isn’t sure when he can return. Although, he did say he wants to be back on the mound as soon as possible.
With Wheeler’s ill timed IL stint, there is now a question if the Mets could get a sufficient enough return to move him. Despite what some will tell you, it would be absolutely worth giving him a qualifying offer. If he rejects it, and he should, the Mets could get a decent comp pick in what should be a loaded draft. All told, this means the Mets may not be in a position to trade him for a lower return because of this IL stint.
As a result, it means medicals may once again prevent Wheeler from being traded away from the Mets. This makes Wheeler the man nearly impossible for the Mets to trade. If he is offered the qualifying offer, and he accepts, we should see another year of Wheeler because, again, he is the man the Mets are incapable of trading.
All jokes aside, Wheeler is a good pitcher who still has potential. We also know he is a very good second half pitcher having a better second half ERA than Jacob deGrom last year. With this second half schedule and the deep draft upcoming, maybe it’s not the worst thing in the world to keep Wheeler. Of course, that is only coming from it from a perspective of the anticipated return possibly being diminished now.
With Zack Wheeler landing on the IL, the Mets needed to start Steven Matz a day sooner than the Mets had wanted. The bad news was the Twins were hitting rockets off of him all night. The good news is he would get some help by the outfield defense:
Crash Conforto. 👀 pic.twitter.com/pbBfG7TPTJ
— New York Mets (@Mets) July 17, 2019
That catch would not be Michael Conforto‘s lone contribution to the game. He was 4-for-4 at the plate with a key RBI.
The Mets initially took a 2-0 lead against Michael Pineda and the Twins due to some terrible defense. Jeff McNeil and Conforto led off the game with back-to-back singles. They then moved up a base on a Jason Castro passed ball.
A Robinson Cano sacrifice fly made it 1-0. A Pineda wild pitch advanced Conforto to third allowing him to score when Jonathan Schoop made a throwing error on a Wilson Ramos ground ball. After the inning, you wondered how the Mets only had two runs after that comedy of errors.
You were also wondering when the Twins were going to get to Matz who was not sharp.
The first run would come off a Schoop third inning lead off homer. The tying run came in the fourth.
After an Eddie Rosario leadoff single, C.J. Cron hit an opposite field double. Even with the Mets leaving second vacant and no one getting a ball thrown to second immediately, Rosario stayed put. He’d score on a Max Kepler RBI groundout.
To his credit, Matz bore down. He fooled Miguel Sano with a changeup to get a strikeout. He’d intentionally walk Schoop to pitch to Castro. On a 1-2 pitch, Schoop broke for second. As noted by Ron Darling, the Mets rarely throw through in those spots. They did tonight, and they got Schoop before Cron could even think about heading home.
Matz, who was limited to 80 pitches due to his temporary move to the bullpen, was done after four. In some ways, he was lucky to leave after allowing just two earned on somehow just five hits. Then again, he did bear down when needed. It nothing else, it was a step forward.
The Mets took the lead in the fifth on a rally started on a one out Amed Rosario double. He’d score on a Conforto two out RBI single.
The Mets would have a chance to build on this lead in the eighth, but they would absolutely squander it. After a Conforto one out single, Pete Alonso walked. This time, it was a Mitch Garver passed ball moving the runners up a base.
Conforto broke on the Cano grounder, and he was dead to rights. He had a half hearted attempt to get into a run down, but there was no use. On the play, Alonso had a TOOBLAN needlessly breaking for third and getting thrown out to end the jam. It was a rare double play where Cano hit a grounder, didn’t run it out, and he was the only one safe on the play.
Fortunately, the Mets inability to add insurance runs didn’t hurt them as their bullpen was good enough.
In the fifth, after Robert Gsellman got himself into a jam, Luis Avilan came on to bail him out. After Avilan walked Sano with two outs in the sixth, Jeurys Familia got Schoop to ground out. Justin Wilson and Seth Lugo pitched back-to-back scoreless innings to put the game in Edwin Diaz‘s hands.
It wasn’t easy.
After he made quick work of Sano, he was 0-2 on Schoop. Schoop hurt himself on a swing, and the pick hitter Luis Arraez had a great at-bat to earn a walk. Garver then ripped a single to left to put the tying run on second.
After a Jorge Polanco fly out, Marwin Gonzalez hit a dribbler to third which Todd Frazier had no option to eat. Diaz’s former teammate Nelson Cruz came up with the bases loaded, and he worked the count full. After a foul ball, Frazier was able to make a play on a foul out.
Suddenly, the Mets bullpen is getting big outs, and the Mets are winning three straight on the road. It’s too early to get excited, but it’s not too early to notice.
For the second time this year, I was privileged to be invited to be a guest on A Metsian Podcast. What made this appearance all the more entertaining was I was on at the same time as The Coop and Metstradamus.
Off the top of my head, players I specifically mentioned included Pete Alonso, Jacob deGrom, Jeff McNeil, Edwin Diaz, Noah Syndergaard, J.D. Davis, Anthony Kay, Wilson Ramos, Zack Wheeler, Todd Frazier, Craig Kimbrel, Jason Vargas, Tomas Nido, Scott Kazmir, Victor Zambrano, and more.
I hope you enjoy listening to it as much as I enjoyed participating.
The Mets begin the second half of the season 10 games under .500 and 13.5 games back of the Braves for the division. They are only six games ahead of the Marlins for the worst record in the National League and seven games behind the second Wild Card with nine teams ahead of them. Suffice it to say, things are bleak, and the Mets are going to be in a position to sell rentals like Zack Wheeler, Todd Frazier, and Jason Vargas.
Still, being Mets fans, we have examples in team history where they have overcome long odds like these to reach the postseason. The 1973 Mets entered the All Star Break nine games under .500 and six games out of first place. Even more recently, the 2016 Mets entered the All Star Break six games out of first place. That team would be two games under .500 and 5.5 games out of a postseason spot on August 19th. They would finish the season on a tear and claim the top Wild Card.
Based on history, we can see there is always a chance. The question now is do the 2019 Mets actually have a chance. Looking at everything, you could paint a scenario where they do.
The first thing to look at is the Mets schedule. Right now, the Mets have six games against the Phillies and three against the Nationals. With both teams currently having a Wild Card spot, this gives the Mets a chance to get closer in the Wild Card race by beating their direct competition.
Beyond the head-to-head match-ups, the Mets do have a weak second half schedule. Right off the bat is a 10 game road trip featuring three against the last place Marlins and four against the last place Giants. In fact, the Mets have 18 games remaining against teams who are currently in last place.
Looking further, 36 of the Mets remaining 72 games are against teams with a .500 record or worse. That’s half of their games. So far this year, the Mets have fared well in those games. In their 21 games against second division clubs, they are 13-8 (.619). Now, to make up the deficits, the Mets are going to have to play at a higher clip than that. It’s certainly possible, especially with 11 of those 36 games coming against teams currently 20+ games under .500.
The Mets also have six more games at home than they do on the road. This is an important point because the Mets have actually played over .500 at home with a .548 winning percentage.
That schedule certainly lines up well for the Mets to have a big second half for a second year in a row. Remember, last year, the Mets were eight games over .500 in the second half last year, and as Noah Syndergaard will tell you, the Mets are a second half team.
That is partially the result of how their players perform. Syndergaard’s career second half ERA is 38 points lower, Jacob deGrom‘s K/BB improves considerably in the second half, and Steven Matz strikes out 1.4 batters more per nine. Michael Conforto‘s second half career OPS is 65 points higher, and Robinson Cano‘s is 55 points higher.
Speaking of Cano, the Mets have had a number of under-performing players who had an opportunity to clear their heads and fix things for the second half. The Mets will be a significantly better team with Cano returning or coming much closer to career averages. The same can be said of Edwin Diaz and Jeurys Familia.
There is also the chance the Mets finally get that Amed Rosario breakout. The Mets could also potentially get help from a rookie like Anthony Kay. Overall, for the Mets to have any shot, they need players like this to raise their games with the veterans stepping up their performances. With that schedule, maybe, must maybe, the Mets could contend in the second half.
However, this is asking a lot. In addition to everyone stepping up, the Mets need Pete Alonso, Jeff McNeil, and Dominic Smith to keep up a very high level of performance. If they want to contend, they will have to hang onto Wheeler, which given their place in the standings is flat out irresponsible.
All things considered it is fun to imagine, but the chances of it all happening are remote. Really, the best we can hope for is Brodie Van Wagenen executing smart deadline deals with Jed Lowrie and Brandon Nimmo healing and being ready to put forth strong 2020 campaigns.
After discussing it most of the offseason, the Mets are once again in a position where they are talking with teams about Noah Syndergaard. There are smart teams with interesting farm systems interested in the Mets starter. Depending on the packages offered, the Mets could be very tempted to move Syndergaard.
One of the arguments you hear from some circles is you shouldn’t trade him because his value is at a nadir. With Syndergaard having a career worst ERA, ERA+, FIP, HR/9, BB/9, K/9, and K/BB, this is absolutely true. Seeing studies and Syndergaard’s comments, it is possible these results are reflective of the new ball. The Mets having a National League worst defense doesn’t help either.
Reasonably speaking, you could anticipate Syndergaard to rebound and led the Mets back to contention in 2020. If you trade him, it’s difficult to imagine the Mets contending anytime soon.
Looking at 2020 first, it’s hard to imagine the Mets having that one year turnaround. With Syndergaard traded and Zack Wheeler gone either via trade or free agency, the Mets have two spots to fill in the rotation. That becomes three when Jason Vargas‘ option is declined. Even assuming Anthony Kay is ready to begin the year in the rotation, the Mets still have two spots to fill in the rotation.
Given the Mets budget and historical unwillingness to spend big on starting pitchers on the free agent market, it is difficult to believe the team could build a starting rotation good enough to win in 2020. Theoretically, the Mets could fill in the rotation by making Robert Gsellman and Seth Lugo starters again. However, this makes an already terrible bullpen worse, and you will likely be dealing with innings limits.
Long story short, if the Mets trade Syndergaard they will not be able to build the type of pitching staff which would let them compete in 2020. This means the Mets will have to look towards 2021. Notably, Michael Conforto and Steven Matz will be free agents after the completion of that season.
Given the uncertainty of the readiness of David Peterson and/or Franklyn Kilome to join the rotation by then, there is doubt whether the Mets pitching staff would be ready to compete by then. While this is happening, the Mets will be in year three of Robinson Cano‘s contract. That’s a consideration which needs to be accounted for when analyzing the Mets ability to compete in 2020 or 2021.
Realistically speaking, depending on the return the Mets receive for Syndergaard, the team will not be in a position to really compete again until 2022 at the earliest. With that being the scenario, the Mets should also be looking to trade Conforto for a big return as well because the team is not going to win before he becomes a free agent.
By that 2022 season, you will have wasted the first three years of Pete Alonso‘s and Jeff McNeil‘s careers, and they will be arbitration eligible. It will be the same situation for other cost controlled assets like Lugo and Edwin Diaz. This coupled with Cano’s big contract will once again infringe on the Mets payroll flexibility.
Therefore, the Mets ability to win in 2022 will hinge on what the Mets bring aboard in moving Syndergaard and maybe Conforto. It will depend on how quickly players like Mark Vientos, Shervyen Newton, Ronny Mauricio, Francisco Alvarez and Brett Baty can develop to help the team. While you can be high on them now, it is a completely different situation to count on them to develop in time to make you a winner.
That is the situation you are in if you trade Syndergaard now. You are beginning the dismantling the core to try to compete three years from now. If the prospects don’t develop the way you intended, or players get hurt, everything falls apart. As an organization, you have to ask yourself if that is really worth it when the team is really just a center fielder and 1-2 bullpen arms away from contending next year.
When you look at it through the prism of when the Mets could actually be in a window to contend again, the team cannot trade Syndergaard now. That is, unless, the team either starts spending now, or Brodie Van Wagenen proves himself to be much more adept at trades than he did last offseason. We shouldn’t be hopeful on either development happening.
When the signing happened, it seemed like the Mets made the right decision in signing Wilson Ramos to a two year deal. Ramos was coming off a year with a 131 wRC+, and he was comfortable in the National League East. With the state of catching in the majors, Ramos was that rare impact bat behind the plate, and the Mets were getting him on a short-term deal.
If we are being honest, the Ramos signing has not worked out well for the Mets.
At the time Dave Eiland and Chuck Hernandez were fired, Matt Ehalt of Yahoo reported Ramos was “causing frustration.” It should be noted at the time of this report, Tomas Nido had already become Jacob deGrom‘s de facto personal catcher. Ramos has caught deGrom since, but for the most part, it has predominantly been Nido catching deGrom.
As reported by Joel Sherman and Mike Puma of the New York Post, the Mets have also opted to make Nido the personal catcher for Noah Syndergaard. Unlike with deGrom, the Mets admitted this was the case when Mickey Callaway saying, “With what we’re trying to do with Syndergaard, keeping the ball down, [Nido] is a good complementary catcher for him. He receives the ball down better, so it’s something we have to continue to do.”
With the Mets top two starters having Nido as their personal catcher, the Mets have gone from having Ramos as their starter to creating a time share behind the plate. This has been the result of a number of factors.
First and foremost, Nido is the superior defensive catcher. For example, Ramos leads the Majors in passed balls, and Mets pitchers have 17 wild pitches with him behind the plate. On more than one occasion, you were left wondering about Ramos’ effort level or technique on balls in the dirt.
From a pitch framing perspective, Baseball Prospectus rates Nido as the 27th best pitch framer. Of the top 30, he has the second fewest chances. Ramos is ranked 85th. This is something Callaway had eluded to when speaking about Nido becoming Syndergaard’s personal catcher.
The main issue with Ramos isn’t his catching, it’s his bat. On the surface, he seems fine with a 103 wRC+ which ranks as the fourth best among qualified catchers. That’s even above J.T. Realmuto, who was a top Mets trade target this offseason. When you expand the search to catchers with 150 plate appearances, Ramos’ wRC+ ranks 14th.
While ranking well among catchers, this is not the 130 wRC+ catcher the Mets signed this offseason. It’s not a bat sufficient enough to carry his poor defense behind the plate. There are some warning signs this can get worse with the 31 year old having a career worst GB% and GB/FB ratio with his worst ISO in four years.
Fact is the Ramos signing has not panned out, and the signs indicate there may not be any improvement next year. If the opportunity presents itself, the Mets should push to move him at the trade deadline. Of course, that is easier said than done with many of the postseason contenders being either fairly set at catcher, being near their luxury tax thresholds, or both.
Still, if the opportunity presents itself, the Mets should make the move. It will give the team an extended look at Nido behind the plate while also possibly getting a look at Ali Sanchez, who is Rule 5 eligible, as a defensive backup. It would also given them an opportunity to pursue Yasmani Grandal in the offseason.
Grandal appears to be the one who got away. So far this season, Grandal has been the top catcher in baseball as rated by fWAR, and he is second according to wRC+. As Grandal recently said, “You never know, you have another offseason in which it could happen. Everything happens for a reason. I believe in that. I am here because that didn’t happen. It was crazy. [The Mets] were definitely the front-runner. They were pushing really hard. We were just too far apart.” (Joel Sherman, New York Post).
If the Mets can move Ramos at the trade deadline, that’s $11.75 million off next year’s budget. With Todd Frazier, Juan Lagares, and Zack Wheeler being impending free agents, and presuming Jason Vargas‘ option is declined, along with other expiring deals, there will be an approximately $21 million more coming off the books. That is more than enough payroll room to push the reset button on the Ramos decision to bring in Grandal this coming offseason.
Overall, there were many things which went wrong this past offseason, but the more you look at it, Ramos has been one of the bigger missteps, especially when you consider how the Mets best pitchers no longer want to pitch to him. Based upon his track record, they will like pitching to Grandal, and the Mets will enjoy his bat in the lineup. As a result, the Mets need to push to trade Ramos at the deadline.
The New York Mets came into this season with bravado declaring they were the best team in baseball, and they challenged baseball to “Come get us.” Well, the Mets are 10 games under .500 with the second worst record in the National League:
1. As previously noted, Sandy Alderson left behind a solid young core, a farm system loaded with talent, and payroll flexibility. It’s been less than one year into his tenure, and Brodie Van Wagenen has completely botched all of it.
2. The Mets also continued to completely botch handling injuries. The team never gave Brandon Nimmo the requisite time to heal, and now he’s seeing David Wright‘s doctor. Michael Conforto‘s recent struggles have been at the same time he has been dealing with a back issue. Of course, he’s not on the IL.
3. Pete Alonso has been better than anyone could have ever expected. His winning the Home Run Derby is probably the best moment from this season.
4. Jeff McNeil is proving his rookie year was no fluke, and he’s much more than just a second baseman. He’s been able to be a good defender across the infield, and he is showing an Ichiro Suzuki like ability to hit it where they ain’t. That makes him a rare and exceptionally skilled player.
5. One of the best surprises to the season has been Dominic Smith getting treatment for his sleep apnea and becoming the player he was expected to be. His 152 OPS+ is the second best on the team. More than that, his friendship with Alonso has been endearing.
6. The bad defense is killing this team. Notably, Jacob deGrom and Zack Wheeler are in the top 20 in FIP, and Noah Syndergaard is 35th. They are pitching like top of the rotation starters with only deGrom having results near that.
7. Another issue on that front is Wilson Ramos, who with each passing day is frustrating Mets pitchers. We are already at the point were deGrom and Syndergaard want to pitch to Tomas Nido instead. This would make you think the team should push to trade Ramos and push reset on their decision not to go the extra mile on Yasmani Grandal.
8. The bullpen has been beyond terrible, and it is the result of poor pitching, bad framing, awful defense, and just having bad players. To put it in perspective, among Mets relievers with more than two appearances, Paul Sewald has the second best ERA among relievers on the team.
9. You know things are really bad defensively when Juan Lagares has a -6 DRS. In addition to his struggles, Amed Rosario has been the worst defender in the majors. With J.D. Davis having a -9 DRS, the Mets are the National League team with multiple players in the bottom 15 in DRS.
10. Once healthy, Todd Frazier has been everything the Mets could have hoped. He’s a plus defender at third base, and he is hitting well while serving as a good veteran presence in the clubhouse. You have to move him at the deadline, but that doesn’t mean he wont’ be missed from this team.
11. The Mets could and probably should replace Mickey Callaway with Joe Girardi if for no other reason than Girardi being an exceptional manager. That said, Callaway has done well here to keep things stable and his players playing hard despite an inept front office and a bullpen melting down nearly daily.
12. It’s bizarre to think about but so much has gone right for the Mets. Conforto picked up where he left off last year. Alonso, McNeil, and Smith have been great. Nido has been an exceptional defensive catcher. Frazier has been resurgent. The top of the rotation has good peripherals. All in all, this tells you just what a bad job Van Wagenen has done.
13. There are no good answers on what to do with Steven Matz. He struggled in the rotation, and he is not well suited to the bullpen. The hope is he figures it out because the Mets have no other choice with Wheeler as good as gone, and Jason Vargas‘ inability to consistently go five meaning they have to decline his option.
14. Other than Mets games, SNY has become completely unwatchable. Of course, many Mets games delve into the point of being unwatchable, so . . . .
15. In many ways, Alonso is too good to be true. He’s a hard worker, great teammate, an All-Star, and he’s playing at an MVP level in the first half of the season. If nothing else, Sandy Alderson left behind a very likeable group of players who are easy to root for even if the ownership and front office are horrible.
16. The Mets being willing to sell tickets for the rest of the year at 80% off shows you that a boycott will never work. Ticket revenues are just not a big line item for teams, and that’s why even if you stay away the Mets are going to earn a lot of money.
17. It’s difficult to imagine a time when Mets fans have been angrier than this. The Wilpons do need to be careful here because angry quickly becomes apathy, which means people staying away from the ballpark. If nothing else, that makes the Mets irrelevant, and it’s embarrassing to them.
18. When you look around baseball, there are players like Hansel Robles, Travis d’Arnaud, Justin Turner, and Daniel Murphy; players who this franchise needlessly gave up on. This screams to an internal scouting problem which has been around for far too long.
19. Andy Martino is just the worst. He champions Chase Utley. He doesn’t want Alonso, a player he wanted to begin the year in the minors, to get $1 million for winning the Home Run Derby, and because of optics, he wants it all to go to charity. The charities Alonso selected weren’t enough for him. He constantly trolls the fanbase while carrying water for the Wilpons. There is nothing redeemable about him as a reporter/analyst. In an ideal world, Martino would not longer be with SNY, and he will be left to once again stalk Richard Simmons.
20. Being Mets fans, there is always hope for a second half run like we saw in 1973. If it happened once, it can happen again. With the Mets second half schedule, it’s possible. Just don’t count on it.
The Subway Series is over, and the big moments remaining in the Mets season appear to be over as well:
1. Mets fans who cheered Brodie Van Wagenen and chanted his name for attending a game he committed to attend deserve this season.
2. It’s funny, Mets fans will boo Robinson Cano when he’s 400 feet away, but they won’t when Van Wagenen is there.
4. On Vargas, the nonsense calling him an ace needs to stop. First, the Mets still have Jacob deGrom. Second, he’s failed to go five innings in 42.3% of his starts. Finally, he has just three quality starts in 14 starts (21.4%).
5. This is the time of the year Wheeler gets going. He limited the Yankees to two earned on one walk and five hits over 6.1 innings while striking out eight.
6. Over Wheeler’s last three starts, he has three quality starts and a 1.86 ERA. The team who gets him at the trade deadline is going to be very happy.
7. Wheeler was a bit snake bit by bad defense. J.D. Davis doesn’t have the range or instincts for LF as evidenced by balls dropping in front of him and his throwing to the wrong base. Also, Wilson Ramos has to look the runner back.
8. Honestly, no one could have predicted the Ramos signing going this poorly. Not only is he experiencing a power outage, but we also see deGrom and now Noah Syndergaard wanting to pitch to Tomas Nido.
9. While you couldn’t have imagined things going that poorly, many did say the Mets needed to go the extra mile for Yasmani Grandal, a catcher who just so happens to be the best in the game right now.
11. Just like when they activated Yoenis Cespedes to DH last year, it was just predictable the team would activate all of their relievers before the Subway Series.
12. Wilmer Font getting knocked around a bit putting the game out of reach is a reminder the bullpen is/was an arm or two short even when everyone is healthy.
13. That arm can’t be Steven Matz. As previously noted, the Mets don’t have anywhere near the organizational depth or financial wherewithal to make him a reliever
14. All players have slumps, but some, like Michael Conforto, are treated more harshly by fans than others. Then, when he delivers a go-ahead double, everyone remembers how great he is.
15. There is way too much talent for the Mets to have the second worst record in the NL, but they do thanks to an incompetent GM who was cheered.
16. Say all you want about the Knicks whiffing on Durant and calling off a meeting with Kawhi. Dolan is still not a worse owner than the Wilpons. Not even close.
17. It’s going to be fun to see the Pete Alonso in the Home Run Derby.
20. Have a healthy and safe Fourth of July.
Seeing how Steven Matz has struggles of late, the Mets were wise to put him in the bullpen until the All-Star Break. If nothing else, you don’t want a pitcher with a 7.36 ERA in June getting another start if you can avoid it. Preferably, you’d like to get him straightened out.
This is an opportunity for Matz. He has a chance to work on things. With his coming out of the bullpen one area he can work in is doing better the first time through the lineup. In his career, batters are hitting .260/.334/.453 off of him. That’s worse than his second and third time through the lineup.
That’s even more pronounced with him with batters hitting .298/.374/.645 the first time through the lineup. That’s a large reason why he has an 11.40 first inning ERA which drops precipitously to 1.20 in the second inning.
For Matz to be an effective starter again, he’s going to have to figure out these issues. More than that, the Mets need him to figure things out because they don’t have a Plan B.
It is expected Zack Wheeler‘s days as a Met are numbered. He’s a pending free agent, and short of an extension (don’t hold your breath), the Mets will be moving him at the trade deadline. Fifth starter Jason Vargas has an $8 million team option. Between his behavior and complete inability to routinely go five innings, the Mets are likely to and should decline his option.
That leaves two spots to fill in the rotation. If you move Matz out of the rotation, that’s three. The Mets don’t have the organizational depth to handle that.
Anthony Kay may or may not be ready, and he’s not yet in a position to be penciled into the rotation. David Peterson is further away than Kay. Mets haven’t seen enough from Corey Oswalt, and they’ve seen less from Walker Lockett. There are few and far between rotation options past them.
There are interesting free agent options, but the Mets do not operate with the type of payroll which would permit them to sign three quality starters. Based upon last offseason, the last thing you want is for Van Wagenen to swing a trade to fill out the rotation.
No, the Mets need Matz in the rotation if for no other reason than the team has no other options, and they have limited resources. Putting Matz in the bullpen may prove to be the smart move because it could help him figure out how to better handle batters the first time through the lineup. However, even if he thrives there the Mets cannot make this a permanent move.
That is, unless, they’re going to finally step up and act like a big market team. If that’s the case, all bets are off. Of course, we know that isn’t happening, so Matz must stay in the rotation.
True to his word, Brodie Van Wagenen say with The 7 Line for today’s game against the Yankees. It was a bold move because this is a Mets team nine games under .500 with every move he made this offseason blowing up.
In fact, all the players Van Wagenen acquired this offseason have accumulated a -1.7 WAR. Meanwhile, by and large, the prospects they traded are performing well.
Given all of that, you’d think Van Wagenen could be booed. At a minimum, you’d think they wouldn’t celebrate him. You’d be wrong. Very wrong.
Chants of “Brodie, Brodie, Brodie.” #mets
— Zach Braziller (@NYPost_Brazille) July 2, 2019
Later that inning, opposing pitcher James Paxton came up with runners at the corners with one out, and he laid down the safety squeeze. It was an excellent bunt which hugged the third base line.
Wilson Ramos, a catcher Mets pitchers are increasingly demanding not to have behind the plate, and who was signed because Van Wagenen didn’t go the extra mile to get Yasmani Grandal, picked up the ball. He would spin and throw without looking Encarnacion back.
With Zack Wheeler slipping on the play, and Ramos failing to execute fundamentals, Encarnacion scored without a challenge.
It’s a shame for Wheeler because he was very good tonight. Those three singles were three of five hits he allowed all night. In total, he’d last 6.1 innings allowing just those two earned while walking one and striking out eight.
Despite pitching well, he wouldn’t get the win. It was no matter to Van Wagenen who loved every minute of the Mets losing 2-0.
Brodie said experience was "awesome." Loved it. Was all positive. #mets
— Zach Braziller (@NYPost_Brazille) July 3, 2019
In the second, Torres flat out robbed Michael Conforto of an RBI base hit instead starting an inning ending double play. Conforto wouldn’t be robbed when he ended a rally with another 4-6-3 double play. The latter ended a sixth inning rally.
For his part, Wheeler popped up two bunts hurting the Mets chances. Between that, the defense, and getting squeezed by the home plate umpire, it was not Wheeler’s night.
Still, he wouldn’t take the loss.
In the eighth, Pete Alonso hustled hard out of the box, and he was able to take advantage of a D.J. LeMahieu throwing error. Then, Davis was able to take advantage of Aaron Hicks playing well out of position in right center. Hicks got a great jump, but his dive wouldn’t be enough. Davis doubled scoring Alonso to tie the game.
After Robinson Cano was intentionally walked (your guess is as good as mine), Ramos singled to load the bases. The Yankees pulled Adam Ottavino to bring in Zack Britton to pitch to Conforto. There would be no inning ending double play this time as Conforto hit a two run double over Brett Gardner‘s head to give the Mets a 4-2 lead.
Things didn’t start well when Diaz was slow covering first and couldn’t catch an Alonso throw on what was a Didi Gregorius leadoff single. Fortunately, Diaz settled down to get the next three out to preserve the win.
Gardner foul tipped a ball after a long at-bat. It popped out of Ramos’ glove, and he caught it with his hand. It was the type of ending this bullpen deserves.
The Mets pulled out an unlikely win with their bullpen standing strong. They now have as many saves as blown saves on the season. They snapped the Yankees streak of 31 consecutive games with a homer. For one night at least, everything went according to plan.
Well, partially according to plan anyway. In the end, a win is a win, and you take them, especially with the season the Mets are having.