Zack Wheeler

Wheeler Loses Due To Poor Defense, Worse Offense

Watching the game tonight, it is really difficult to assess how well Zack Wheeler performed.  On the one hand, he was executing his pitches as well as he ever has, and yet he earned the loss against a bad Marlins team.

Actually, there is a debate how much he “earned” that loss.  Really, there was just one hiccup for him, and that was in the second inning when the Marlins scored all three of their runs.

The first run was on Wheeler, who allowed three straight hard hit balls by Brian Anderson (double), Derek Dietrich, and Miguel Rojas.  After that, it’s hard to pin anything else on him.  Caleb Smith popped up a sacrifice bunt attempt, which Jose Reyes fielded on hop, looked at every single base, and then threw the ball in the dirt thereby loading the bases.

It was an awful play by Reyes, but it was a ball Asdrubal Cabrera should have been able to field.   J.T. Realmuto hit a two out two RBI single Cabrera deflected into center.

That three run lead was brutal because as Keith Hernandez and Ron Darling kept opining, Smith was dealing for the Marlins.  That is a plausible explanation considering Smith entered the game striking out 12 batters per nine.    However, it needs to be noted the Mets bats are really awful against left-handed batters.  Tonight, was no exception as Smith allowed one run on three hits over 6.2 innings.

The one run he allowed was in the bottom of the second, and it started with a Jose Bautista double.  Speaking of Bautista, he was signed just before the game, and he was put in the starting lineup ahead of Jay Bruce, and he played left field.  After the predictable Reyes out, Bautista moved to third, and he scored on a Tomas Nido sacrifice fly.

The Mets really wouldn’t get another rally started until the eighth.  Adrian Gonzalez led off the inning with a double, and later than inning Brandon Nimmo earned a one out walk.  The rally would falter there as Cabrera would hit into an inning ending 4-6-3 double play.

While disappointing, that rally was too little too late anyway.  In the top of the inning, Derek Dietrich hit a two run homer off AJ Ramos to expand the Marlins lead to 5-1.  That would be the final score on a deeply disappointing day.

Game Notes: Reyes made two errors in the game, and he now has three hits and two errors on the month.  Devin Mesoraco did not start after getting hit on the elbow with an errant swing last night.  He did pinch hit in the seventh and flew out.

Everything But the Game Was A Wash Out

Over in Washington, D.C., even though the Nationals and Yankees were facing even more pressure than the Mets and Blue Jays to get their game in, they postponed the roughly game and a half they had to play.  Perhaps both teams were aware they had important players they did not want to see get hurt, and it was better to do this another day.

Not the Mets.

Despite torrential rains, the Mets decided to play.  Despite a rain delay which required the grounds crew to empty the coffers of diamond dust to eliminate the standing puddles on the infield, the umpires decided to let these two teams play.

Actually, check that, it was the Blue Jays who played a game.  The Mets were there to get drowned.

For Zack Wheeler things started well enough.  Sure, he didn’t get an 0-2 pitch quite up and in enough to Justin Smoak, but other than that, Wheeler was good over the first three innings.  In that time, he had struck out six while allowing just the one homer.

Then came the inane rain delay precipitated by J.A. Happ not liking how he landed on the mound.  The umpires did the right thing delaying the game to get the field in playing condition.  It would have been a better thing to call the game because that field was dangerous.

And yes, someone did get hurt.  Juan Lagares went back on a ball, and his foot hit the wall causing a sprained toe.  Maybe if the ground conditions were better, he gets back to the ball quicker, and doesn’t need to jump.  Maybe in better conditions, he’s better able to plant and go up.  Or knowing Lagares, maybe he gets hurt anyway.

Fact remains, he got hurt in nearly unplayable playing conditions.  That’s not okay, and the Mets and MLB should be forced to answer to that.

They won’t much like how right now Mickey Callaway and Dave Eiland are not yet being taken to task for what is going on with this pitching staff.

Yes, we know there were problems with these pitchers, but they knew the job when they took it on.  It would have been unfair to expect 2015 results from each of these pitchers, but it was fair to expect a progression based on what we saw last year.  We haven’t.

That includes Wheeler falling apart after that lengthy rain delay.  He began the fourth and fifth yielding lead-off walks.  He got through the fourth allowing a two run homer to Teoscar Hernandez.  He wouldn’t get an out in the fifth leading Callaway to go to his bullpen.

While the Blue Jays, who play their home games in a retractable roof, were not bothered by the conditions, the Mets couldn’t manage.

Considering in his last start Happ allowed seven runs in 3.1 innings, his two hit seven inning effort made the Mets offense all the more embarrassing.  It gets worse when you consider one of those two hits was a Luis Guillorme infield single.

Perhaps, that is also a reflection of the 4-9 hitters having all spent time in Las Vegas over the past year.  It’s also an indication Michael Conforto is not Conforto anymore.  With each passing day, we get closer and closer to asking the question about whether this is shoulder related.

In the end, there were really no positives until there were two outs in the ninth.  That’s when Brandon Nimmo battled back from down 0-2 in the count to hit an opposite field home run.  Really, this team needs a lot more Nimmo than whatever it is this team has right now.

That was once again clear after this 12-1 loss.

Game Notes: Guillorme became the first Met since Steven Matz to being his MLB career going 3-3.

Explaining Harvey Trade To A 2013 Mets Fan

Back in 2013, the Cincinnati Reds had their second consecutive 90 win season.  Unfortunately for them, they were not able to make the postseason like they were the previous year when they were bounced from the NLDS by the San Francisco Giants.  Due to a number of factors, there was an open question after that season how long the Reds could keep this core group together.

At the same time, the New York Mets finished the season in third place in the National League East with a 74-88 record.  In that season, the team saw a rejuvenated David Wright, and Matt Harveywas the talk of the town, at least until he needed Tommy John surgery.

Using that all as a backdrop, imagine explaining to a person from 2013 how the Harvey deal went down . . .

2013: So, wait, you’re telling me, Harvey and Dilson Herrera are both members of the Reds organization? What did we get for them?  Joey Votto?

2018: Well, no . . .

2013: So wait, tell me which Reds are members of the Mets now.

2018: The Mets have Jay Bruce, Todd Frazier, and Devin Mesoraco, but . . .

2013: Wait, the Mets have Frazier, Wright, Ike Davis, and Lucas Duda?

2018: Well, no, not exactly.

2013: I’m guessing Davis never got over the Valley Fever.

2018: While I’m not sure if it was Valley Fever, Davis is no longer in the majors.  In fact, he’s trying to pitch now.

2013: PITCH?!?!?!

2018: Yup.

2013: And I’m guessing despite the team shoving him down our throats, I’m assuming Duda never panned out.

2018: Actually, he became a 30 home run hitter.

2013: Really, so if that’s the case, why are the Mets looking to move him off first?  Do they really think he can play the outfield?  He was dreadful out there.

2018: No, no, no, no.  Duda signed as a free agent with the Royals.

2013: Ok, so the Mets got Frazier to play first.

2018: No, they signed him to play third.

2013: So, Wright is playing first.

2018: About that . . .

2013: Francesca always yammered on and on about how he belongs at third because of his arm.  Honestly, I can’t believe the Mets listened to that blowhard.  Speaking of which, I’m sure he gloated about that for at least a week.

2018: Believe it or not, Francesca was retired when the Mets got Frazier.

2013: SERIOUSLY!

2018: Yup.

2013: With Francesca retired, who is now on during the drive home?

2018: It’s a long story, but it’s Francesa.  He unretired.

2013: Of course he did.  And he’s probably telling us all the time how Wright shouldn’t be compared to Derek Jeter because Wright hasn’t won, and Jeter does everything perfect.

2018: Believe it or not, Jeter owns the Marlins.

2013: Like, he’s still playing, and he won the World Series MVP?

2018: No, he’s actually a part owner of the Marlins.

2013: The media must love him and the Marlins now.

2018: People think Jeter is a prick now.  He fired a cancer patient while he was in the hospital.

2013:  SERIOUSLY!

2018: Oh yeah, he’s alienated everyone, including their biggest fan, Marlins Man.

2013: What’s a Marlins Man?

2018: It’s this guy who goes across the country sitting behind home plate of every nationally televised game while wearing an orange Marlins jersey.

2013:  That’s a thing?

2018: For a while now.

2013: So let me get this straight.  In the future, Jeter owns the Marlins.  Francesca pretends to be Brett Favre.  There is some guy who is a celebrity because he’s rich and wears an orange Marlins jersey, and the Mets displaced Wright in favor of Frazier.

2018: I hate to tell you this, but Wright’s career is done.

2013: With the Mets?  I knew the Wilpons wouldn’t pay him.  Where did he go?  Please don’t tell me he’s a Yankee.

2018: No, Wright’s baseball career.  It’s over.

2013:  Shut up.  He would be just, what, 34?

2018: He’s 35.

2013: So, what?  He’s the Mets Don Mattingly?

2018: Yes.

2013: No.

2018:   He is.  Back in 2015, when the Mets went to the World Series

2013: THE METS WENT TO THE WORLD SERIES?!?!?!?!?

2018: They did.

2013: Wow, Terry Collins must’ve really turned things around with better players.

2018: Let’s not get too ahead of ourselves here.

2013: Sorry, you were saying about Wright.

2018: Anyway, Wright was diagnosed with spinal stenosis.  He was actually able to play in the World Series, but after that point his career was essentially over.

2013: That’s the most depressing thing I’ve ever heard.

2018: Well, it gets worse.

2013: How could it get worse?

2018: Well aside from the Mets losing the 2015 World Series –

2013: Oh, they lost?  To who?

2018: The Royals.

2013:  HOW!  THEY ALWAYS SUCK!

2018: Well, for two years they didn’t, and they were helped along by some really bad decisions by Collins in that World Series, including leaving Harvey out too long.

2013: Let me guess.  Hurt again.

2018: Thoracic Outlet Syndrome, but not because of that.  At least, I don’t think.

2013: Thor – what?

2018: No, not Noah Syndergaard.  Thoracic Outlet Syndrome.

2013: Wait, Syndergaard calls himself Thor.

2018: Yeah, and he picks fights with Mr. Met on Twitter.

2013: I thought Mr. Met doesn’t talk.

2018: Yeah, it’s this whole thing.  You know what.  Nevermind, it’s even dumber when you explain it.

2013: Fine, what’s the deal with Harvey again?

2018: Thoracic Outlet Syndrome.  At best it’s a shoulder condition that changes your career.  For some, it ends it.  Remember Josh Beckett?

2013: Yeah, he was bad last year.

2018: That’s why.

2013: So wait, the Mets went to a World Series with an injured Harvey and Wright?

2018: Well, Harvey wasn’t injured yet.

2013: But now he is.  Well, I got to give it to Sandy.  He was able to turn Harvey and Herrera into Bruce, Frazier, and Mesoraco, who was a promising catcher.

2018: Well, the Mets did use Herrera to get Bruce.  Frazier was a free agent, and the Mets used Harvey to get Mesoraco.

2013: Wow, that was one first round draft pick which really must’ve worked out for the Reds.  You’d hope for more for Harvey, but still, you have to give Sandy credit for getting a young impressive catcher for Harvey before Harvey broke down.

2018: Oh, Mesoraco is broken down himself.  He’s had shoulder and hip issues.  He can’t play everyday, and he’s been hovering around the Mendoza line for years.

2013: So, let me get this straight.

2018: Go ahead.

2013:  Wright is broken.  Harvey is broken.  They also got Mesoraco, who is also broken. Ike is both broken and a  pitcher.

2018: Pretty much.

2013: Well, I guess with the Mets still making the World Series in 2015, Zack Wheeler and Rafael Montero must’ve panned out, so I guess there is at least some positives.

2018: You know what?  I think that’s enough for right now.

Embarrassing: Batting Out of Order AND Mets Losing Series To Reds

Well, just when you think things can’t get worse, you’re reminded this is the Mets.  Perhaps the biggest punchline of this season, maybe the past decade, was how the Mets BATTED OUT OF ORDER IN THE FIRST INNING!

Basically, the Mets skipped Asdrubal Cabrera, and Wilmer Flores took his spot striking out.  Cabrera, who was supposed to bat second, came up third and doubled.  That’s when Reds manager Jim Riggleman pointed out to the umpires the Mets were batting out of order.

Cabrera’s double was erased from the record books, and Jay Bruce, whose turn it was actually to bat, was ruled out.

Aside from making Mickey Callaway and bench coach Gary Disarcina looking completely incompetent, it really hurt the Mets because this game would prove to be a pitcher’s duel between Zack Wheeler and Sal Romano.

For his part, Wheeler was brilliant, and it was one of the better starts in his Mets career.  Over six innings, he limited to the Reds to just one run on four hits and three walks while he struck out seven.  He would only really face trouble in the first and the sixth.  He got out of the jam easily in the first, but he would not be able to escape the sixth.

The sixth inning Reds rally started with a leadoff walk to Jesse Winker.  He’d come around to score after a Jose Peraza bunt single.  You could get on Wilmer Flores all you like, but he had no shot on this, and really no one does whenever Peraza lays one down as he is the Major League leader in bunt hits with six.

Joey Votto would follow with an RBI single, and the Mets and Wheeler were teetering.  While it was not pretty, Wheeler deserves credit for buckling down and getting the last three outs of that inning without allowing another run.

Unfortunately, that rally tied the score 1-1 because the Mets just blew opportunity after opportunity after opportunity.

After the aforementioned blunder in the first inning, Michael Conforto hit a one out double that Adrian Gonzalez could not score.  They stood idly by as Wheeler struck out, and Amed Rosario grounded out to the catcher.

In the third, the Mets did actually score.  Brandon Nimmo hit a leadoff triple, and with the team hitting in the correct batting order, Cabrera drove him home with an RBI groundout.

In the fifth, the Mets had runners at first and second with one out only to see Cabrera and Flores come up short. From there, the Mets would little to nothing at the plate, which coupled with some strong work out of the bullpen from Robert Gsellman and Seth Lugo, both of whom have had recent multiple inning relief appearances, bore down and pitched a scoreless seventh through ninth.

At this point, it is important to note the Mets had called up Corey Oswalt to help out with an overworked bullpen.  They did this despite his being on three days rest yesterday.  As a result, the Mets called up a guy they would be hesitant to use making calling him up in the first place a complete waste of transaction.

As a result, in the tenth inning, Callaway went with AJ Ramos for his second straight game and third time in four days.  Callaway went with Ramos instead of going with Jeurys Familia, who was presumably being saved for a save situation.  This is a far departure from Callaway’s overtures early in the season when he said he was going to use his best reliever in the highest leverage situations.

Well, that save situation Callaway was waiting for never materialized as Adam Duvall hit a walk off homer off Ramos.

As a result, the Mets dropped to 18-17 after losing a series to the worst team in the National League.  This is a far cry from the who went 12-2 and were world beaters.  Now, they are just getting beaten up by the world.

Game Notes: Luis Guillorme was called-up from Tripe-A, and Tomas Nido was sent down.  Guillorme would not appear in the game.  Devin Mesoraco started his first game for the Mets, and he was 0-4 with two strikeouts.

Post-Harvey Mets Rally Late And Still Come Up Short

Before the game, it was announced Matt Harvey refused an assignment to the minors, and in response the Mets designated him for assignment effectively ending his Mets career.  This may have been a long time coming, and arguably, you could see Harvey being scapegoated for a Mets team that has struggled since it’s incredible 12-2 start.

Well, Harvey might be gone, but the Mets problems still remain.

Zack Wheeler, who allowed five first inning runs is still inconsistent.  Michael Conforto is not hitting for any power, and really, he isn’t even getting on base anymore going 0-5with the golden sombrero.  Jay Bruce, for that matter, isn’t hitting for any power either.  Maybe there was an impact on Jose Lobaton, who was 1-4, and Amed Rosario, who was 2-4 with an RBI, but probably not.

No, we wouldn’t see Jose Reyes or Adrian Gonzalez bat, both of whom have been utterly terrible, and we did not see Jason Vargas, who by comparison made Harvey look like the 2013 version, and we’ll see what Steven Matz contributes tomorrow.

Overriding point is the Mets problems are still present even with Harvey gone because as bad as Harvey was pitching, he was probably fourth or fifth on lower on the tiers of what is actually wrong with this Mets team.

On the bright side, Bruce played first allowing Brandon Nimmo to hit leadoff going 1-4 with a walk.  Of course, he drew a walk.  He also scored on the Asdrubal Cabrera home run.  That provided a jolt that lasted until Charlie Blackmon hit a homer in the top of the second.

As bad as the five run first was or the Blackmon homer was, it was the Josh Thole-esque Tony Wolters hitting one to the top deck off Wheeler that was the worst.

By the time the Mets awoke, it was too late.  Todd Frazier‘s eighth inning two run homer made it 8-4. A ninth inning rally with Rosario knocking in Wilmer Flores, who hit a pinch hit double, made it 8-5   This led to Wade Davis coming into the game to close it out . . . just like he did in Game 5 of the World Series.

He allowed a Cabrera RBI triple and subsequently a Frazier RBI single to pull the Mets to withing 8-7.  It ended there as Conforto struck out to end the game.  Again, somehow Harvey being released didn’t fix him.

Starting tomorrow, it seems like the Mets are going to have to focus on the things that are actually wrong with the team.  Seeing how Reyes was re-signed in the offseason, no one should hold their breath.

Game Notes: With Harvey gone, Jerry Blevins and his 6.43 ERA is the worst ERA in the Mets bullpen.

 

Mets Blogger Roundtable: Are the Mets for Real?

The Mets started 12-2, and it seemed like they could do no wrong.  That was until a complete bullpen eighth inning meltdown against the Nationals.  Since that point, the Mets have gone 5-9, and they have fallen to second place in the division.  With that as the backdrop, we turned to the Mets Blogger Roundtable to ask if Mickey Callaway‘s Mets team is for real:

Becky (Blue Seat Blogs)

We’re already seeing the Mets falling back to earth, and there was never any question that they would lose more than 15 games this year. The positive is that they have a core that’s skilled, and a new manager who will hopefully find ways to adapt and keep the room positive throughout the highs and lows of a season.

Roger Cormier (Good Fundies)

What *is* reality anyway? We are all one big consciousness agreeing upon a never ending list of rules and quibbling over interpretations of shared perceptions, right? That’s what I learned in third grade from the bus driver who smelled weird. If the reality of the situation is I am being asked if the Mets are as good as they were when they started 11-1, then no, they are not “for real.” They have been the fourth-luckiest team in all of baseball while the Nationals have been the most unlucky. We aren’t going to cry over Bryce Harper‘s misfortune (the Vegas native should be aware of streaks of bad luck at the very least anecdotally). We will cry over the Mets though. Yet we shouldn’t; they  just have to play .500 ball from their 13th to 162nd game to hit lucky number 86 wins. They uh, haven’t played over .500 ball since that time but I guessed they would make the wild card game five weeks ago, so I might as well keep my chips on 86.

Michael Ganci (Daily Stache)

Right now I want to jump off of my seat in section 509.

Editor’s Note: this response was sent during the game after we learned about deGrom’s elbow.

Mark Healey (Gotham Baseball)

Yes, but they have holes to fix and this passive approach to every situation is part of the problem.

Joe Maracic (Loud Egg)

Greg Prince (Faith and Fear in Flushing)

Are the Mets for real in the sense that they have a genuine chance to end the season where they ended April, in first place? Based on what we’ve seen…sure, why not? I’d hate to think they’re pulling the cap down over our eyes.

Are the Mets for real in the sense that I’m supremely confident they won’t fall out of the race altogether after a while? That’s what the rest of the schedule is for: to find out.

But overall I feel pretty good about this team. The next 130+ games are always the hardest.

Caveat: All of the above is up for grabs in light of the uncertainty surrounding Jacob deGrom.

Tim Ryder (MMO & FOB)

I think the Mets’ start is most-definitely indicative of the potential of this team moving forward through the season.

The inevitably-oncoming adage of “Jake and Thor, then pray for it to pour” that was true for most of the first month of the season seems to be slowly fading away.

After the inconsistencies of Steven Matz and Zack Wheeler over their first few starts, as well as the banishing of Matt Harvey to the bullpen and the alarming start to Jason Vargas’ second stint with the Mets, things have started to look up lately.

If Wheeler can be effective (read: keep his pitches low), his stuff alone places him among the upper-crust of middle-of-the-rotation starting pitchers in the NL, and the same goes for Matz.

If Vargas has shown anything over his career, he’s proven to be the model of mediocre-but-efficient consistency, and that’s all the team really needs out of him.

I think this offense is truly one of the more-dangerous groups we’ve seen here since the days of Carlos Beltran/David Wright/Carlos Delgado, and I mean that. The recent upticks in production for Jay Bruce and Adrian Gonzalez are promising.

The incredible starts of Juan Lagares and Brandon Nimmo are even more exciting, but we, of course, must be wary of Newton’s Law of Physics in their cases.

The Mets’ bullpen has, for the most part, been the strength of this team and will continue to be, in my opinion. AJ Ramos looks to have found his groove and Robert Gsellman is absolutely thriving in his new role. Even Seth Lugo, who may not be adapting as easily as Gsellman has, has had some success and only figures to get more comfortable as time goes on. And, to be honest, Harvey could come to be a key cog in the relief corps once he gets a feel for things.

James Schapiro (Shea Bridge Report

Are the Mets for real? It’s hard to say, but what’s becoming clear is that this season certainly won’t be easy. We got off to a hot start with Yoenis Cespedes, Michael Conforto, and Bruce all slumping, and you have to think we’ll get more from all of them going forward — but we’ll also presumably see regression from Todd Frazier and Asdrubal Cabrera, and the pitching has gone downhill fast since the first few turns through the rotation. Now deGrom is hurt too…if our starters besides Thor are a failed Harvey, a failed Matz, an inconsistent Wheeler, and an unimpressive Jason Vargas, there’s only so much room to get wins with that kind of rotation. Sure, things could turn out well — anything can happen. But as I said, the only thing that’s clear is that it certainly won’t be easy.

Mets Daddy

Initially, I had a long piece detailing how much the lineup and the pitching staff could benefit from Kevin Plawecki‘s return.  How even with the inability to hit for power right now, Conforto is playing a good outfield and getting on base.  How when you look deeper into the farm, you see Gavin Cecchini and Peter Alonso getting off to terrific starts making you wonder “What if . . . .”

None of that matters if deGrom is injured like he was in 2016 or Syndergaard was in 2017.

This is not to say his having a serious injury ends the Mets season.  Rather, it means the season needs a miracle.  In 2016, the Mets got that out of Lugo and Gsellman.  Maybe the Mets get that this year out of some group that includes Harvey, Matz, Corey Oswalt, or Chris Flexen.

Maybe . . . .

Personally, I’d like to thank everyone for being able to respond to this roundtable.  It was all the more impressive when you consider how panic striken we were collectively as a fanbase when deGrom left the game last night.  We do know when that news finally breaks, there will be some terrific things written about deGrom and the Mets.  Some of the best things will be written by the people in this roundtable, and I hope you will visit their sites.

That is except for Becky.  She is currently a free agent and needs a home to write about the Mets.  Hopefully, someone will soon jump in and find a home for her terrific work.

deGrom Hurt, More Than This Game May Be Lost

Through the first four innings, Jacob deGrom was pitching like the ace we know he is.  After a tough loss, and with first place in the balance, he was as great as he has ever been.  Through the first four innings, deGrom had walked none, allowed just two hits, and he struck out six.

He then went into the tunnel into the clubhouse.  He was done for the day with a hyper-extended elbow.  Based upon the ensuing MRI, he may be gone longer than that.  If deGrom is gone, the Mets will have lost much more than a 7-0 game.

Look, we can get into Tom GlavineGreg MadduxJohn Smoltz 1999 strike zone Sean Newcomb was getting from Home Plate Umpire Lance Barrett.  The Mets were clearly irritated by it, and we even saw Todd Frazier say something about umpiring in general after the game.

We can delve into Paul Sewald and Robert Gsellman struggled out of the bullpen really for the first time all season long.

We can even wonder how in the word Wilmer Flores forgot to do the one thing in baseball he is actually good at doing – hitting left-handed pitching.

Really, right now, none of this matters.  As it stood, this pitching staff needed at least one more starter, and that was assuming Jason Vargas will get better and Zack Wheeler won’t turn back into the guy who forced the Mets to put him in Triple-A to start the season.

Sure, the Mets are just a half game back, and it is possible Matt Harvey, Seth Lugo, and/or Corey Oswalt step up here.  We saw something like that happen in 2016 when Lugo and Gsellman performed a miracle over the last month of the season.

Maybe it’s being a little overly dramatic, but after what we saw with Noah Syndergaard‘s injury last year, and how the energy from the team and the ballpark flat-line after deGrom left the game, it’s very possible the Mets need a miracle.

I guess it’s times like these we all channel our inner Tug McGraw and say, “Ya Gotta Believe”

Game Notes: AJ Ramos now has a five appearance stretch without issuing a walk. There was a delay in the game because Yoenis Cespedes‘ necklace broke, and they had to get the diamonds off the diamond.

Gonzalez Rejuvenated in San Diego

One of the most interesting phenomena in sports is how when an aging player returns to his old stomping grounds, sometimes he is just able to turn back the clock.  As Mets fans, we saw this in 2006 when Mike Piazza had a two home run game against Pedro Martinez.  Yesterday, we saw Adrian Gonzalez have one of those days.

It’s been bad for Gonzalez of late, really bad.  He’s been mired in a 1-17 stretch with no extra base hits.  Going back a little further, over his last 10 games, he’s hitting .121/.205/.212.

Things have been so bad Wilmer Flores got the previous two starts at first base.  Yes, the Padres were starting left-handed pitchers both days, but Gonzalez has killed Clayton Richard.  However, when you’re hitting like he’s been hitting, you’re not going to get into the lineup.  You’re also going to hear about the Mets planning to move Jay Bruce to first base.  This meant if Gonzalez was going to do anything to stop it all from happening, he was going to have to do it now.

That seventh inning three run homer was needed because it helped put what was a close game away.  Instead of a tight 4-2 game with Mickey Callaway having to use his best relievers, it was a 7-2 laugher allowing Callaway to get work for guys like Matt Harvey.

It was all part of a great day for Gonzalez.  Overall, he was 3-6 with a run, double, homer, and five RBI.  He would have had an even better day had Franchy Cordero not robbed him of another double earlier in the game.

With Gonzalez front and center, this was really a day when a lot of beleaguered Mets got healthy.  Jose Reyes contributed going 2-5 with three runs, a homer, RBI, walk, and a stolen base.  Tomas Nido was 2-5 with a run, RBI, and a walk.  And Harvey would pitch a scoreless ninth, even if he did allow a hard hit double to Eric Hosmer.  Really, that’s the last time I want to ever put Harvey’s name, double, and a 2015 Royal in the same sentence.

Going with the rejuvenation theme, Zack Wheeler was good, which was needed from a Mets rotation still trying to figure out who can be an effective third starter in this rotation.

He battled most of the afternoon, and he did not get a 1-2-3 inning until the fifth, his last inning of work.  That said, what impressed you most about this start was how Wheeler found that extra something at times when he’s usually lost it.  Wheeler ended a rally in the first by striking out Freddy Galvis.  He helped curb a third inning rally limiting the damage to two runs by striking out Carlos Asuaje.  After Manuel Margot‘s two out single, stolen base, and advancing to third on a throwing error, Wheeler struck out Hosmer.

Overall, Wheeler had nine strikeouts, but what was really remarkable was how he got them at key moments when he needed a strikeout.  That hasn’t always been his M.O., and it’s a real positive step going forward for him.

Even with his start and with Gonzalez turning back the clock was how the Mets offense put five spots on the board in consecutive innings.  It was a full on onslaught by a Mets offense which saw every starting position player register two hits.  Even Brandon Nimmo, who came on for Yoenis Cespedes, would register two hits.  In addition to Gonzalez, Reyes and Todd Frazier would homer.  The sum total of this barrage was a 14-2 Mets win marking the first ever time the Mets have scored double digits at Petco Park.

Of course with this being the Mets, not everything could be a positive.  Cespedes, who has been torrid of late, had to come out of the game after executing a double steal with Bruce.  In what was his second stolen base of the inning, Cespedes jammed his thumb.  The good news is the x-rays were negative.  The bad news is Cespedes believes he can’t play over the next three days, and that’s with the Braves coming to town.

Still, things could have been a lot worse with Cespedes, and with the Mets going to Petco, a place where they had only previously won one series, things could have gone a lot worse there.  All in all, this was a good series where the Mets got back on track.

Game Notes: Paul Sewald recorded his first hold of the season.  He initially came on to relieve Wheeler when it was a two run game.  He now has a 1.98 ERA on the season.

Mets Spahn And Sain And Pray for Rain

Back in 1948, Gerald Hern of The Boston Post penned a poem, which was shortened, and the words have forever lived on in baseball lore: “Spahn and Sain and Pray for Rain.”

The reason for the poem was not so much a reflection on the Boston Braves staff as a whole, but more of a reflection of the greatness that was Johnny Sain and Warren Spahn.  Both pitchers were aces, and any manager in their right mind would want them pitching more frequently than the rest of their rotation.  And that’s basically what happened with Sain making 39 starts and three relief appearances and Spahn making 35 starts and one relief appearance.

The Braves followed that plan to win the 1948 National League pennant.

Now, in 2018, you have to wonder if the Mets should follow that plan with their own version of Spahn and Sain with Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard.

With deGrom and Syndergaard, the Mets have two aces and Cy Young contenders atop their rotation.  After that, at best, you have question marks.

Matt Harvey has been removed from the rotation, and so far, he can’t figure things out in the bullpen.  Steven Matz has been struggling just to get into the fifth inning.  Zack Wheeler had a Spring Training so poor he began the year in the minors, and after two strong starts for the Mets this year, he reminded you of that guy again in his last start.  Finally, Jason Vargas, the guy who was supposed to be an innings eater, got lit up by the worst hitting team in baseball in the ultimate pitchers park.

Seeing what has happened to the once vaunted Mets rotation, they are now in Spahn and Sain territory.  The question is what should the quip be.  Here are some ideas.

  • Thor and Jake and Pray for an Earthquake
  • Jake and Thor and Can’t Watch Anymore
  • Jake and Thor and the Revolving Door
  • Thor and Jake and Oh for God’s Sake
  • Thor and Jake And Who is on the Take?
  • Jake and Syndergaard Followed By Batters Going Yard
  • Thor and deGrom And The Rest Bomb

Personally, I like the first one as it encapsulates both an event which would cause a game cancellation, and it also conveys the disaster the third, fourth, fifth, and now sixth starters have been to start the season.

 

Resilient Mets Win Behind Resurgent Cespedes, Bruce

If you were paying attention before the game, there was a stir over a contrived controversy featuring Yoenis Cespedes.  No, it was not the typical contrived Cespedes controversies with his golf, cars, or his hat being backwards.  No, this one was the utterly false claim that somehow Mets fans are irritated with or hate Cespedes.  Today, Cespedes set out and showed why such claims are utterly preposterous:

If you think he took out a month’s worth of frustrations and completely demolished that ball, you would be right:

The Mets really needed that homer too because the Mets have not been playing their best baseball of late, and they were not really getting anything going against Cardinals starter Luke Weaver to that point, and Zack Wheeler was struggling.

Wheeler’s day started with his allowing a Tommy Pham two run homer in the first.  He would never quite settle in with his not registering one 1-2-3 inning in the game.  While he dodged troubled in the second and third, the Cardinals got to him again in the fourth with Kolten Wong‘s second double the day scoring a run, and Weaver delivering an RBI single of his own to give the Cardinals a 4-1 lead.

The Mets lone run had come off a complete Marcell Ozuna misplay in left on what was scored a Jay Bruce RBI triple.  The Mets continued rallying from there, but they were not able to score another run in that second inning.  The seminal play was an Adrian Gonzalez hot shot Wong made a great play on which kept the slow and injured Bruce at third.

Really, the Mets looked dead in the water until there were two outs in the top of the fifth, and Weaver lost the strike zone.  He walked Wilmer Flores and Michael Conforto on eight straight balls until the aforementioned Cespedes homer.

With Wheeler lifted after four uninspiring innings, this put the game in new reliever Matt Harvey‘s hands.

In the fifth, he was victimized a bit by Bruce’s complete and utterly lack of speed.  Dexter Fowler hit what should have been a single, but with Bruce’s speed, he made it an easy double.  That allowed Fowler to score easily on the subsequent Paul DeJong double. Likely, Fowler doesn’t score from first on the De Jong double.  Still, Harvey did allow back-to-back well struck balls which broke the 4-4 tie.

Overall, Harvey pitched fairly well out of the bullpen.  In his two innings, he allowed one earned on two hits with one walk while striking out two.  Tomas Nido was helping him get those extra calls, and Harvey had better velocity than we have seen of late:

All in all, it was a positive outing for Harvey was in line for the loss partially because Mickey Callaway has been making some odd decisions of late and because of Bruce’s speed.  Really, Bruce’s speed cost the Mets at least two runs tonight – when he couldn’t even score on the Wong play and his allowing Fowler to get into scoring position.

As for Callaway, in the top of the 7th, Callaway used Juan Lagares instead of Brandon Nimmo as a pinch hitter.  Considering Nimmo’s OBP and Jordan Hicks‘ 6.2 BB/9 this year, you might as well of put Nimmo on first to start the inning.  Instead Callaway went with his best defensive outfielder who struggles historically against right-handed pitching.

Still, even with the Bruce speed issues and Callaway’s curious decision making, this is a resilient Mets team.

Paul Sewald kept the Mets in the game with a scoreless seventh, and the Mets offense went to work against Hicks in the eighth.

Todd Frazier started the inning with a four pitch walk, and he went first to third on a Bruce single which snuck just past Jose Martinez.  A Gonzalez sacrifice fly would tie the game up at 5-5.  Unfortunately, that was where the rally would end.  Luke Gregerson came on and struck out Amed Rosario and got Nido to fly out to get out of the jam.

This would be the second time the weak bottom of the lineup prevented the Mets from cashing in on an opportunity, and it was another instance where you were left wondering why Callaway didn’t bring Nimmo into the game to take full advantage of a key opportunity.

Again, even with that, Sewald was great out of the Mets bullpen again.  He had two scoreless innings keeping the Mets in the game.

Robert Gsellman would make things really interesting in the ninth by first walking Matt Carpenter, and then allowing a bloop single to Pham.  However, he would send the game into extras by first striking out Martinez and then inducing Ozuna to hit into the inning ending 5-4-3 double play.

That play loomed large as Bruce would hit a go-ahead homer in the top of the 10th off Matthew Bowman.  Inexplicably, Mike Matheny challenged whether Bruce touched first base, which only served to give Jeurys Familia more time to warm up in the bullpen.  The well warmed up Familia came on to blow through the Cardinals for his ninth save of the year.

With some questionable decisions and calls, the Mets are back to their winning ways.  They won mostly because this is a resilient club with every member of this team summoning something each night to help deliver a win.

GAME NOTES: This was the first time all season the Mets wore a blue alternate jersey.  Mets are now 3-0 in extra inning games.