The New York Mets did what they did all season. They followed inexplicably dropping consecutive series to the Chicago Cubs and Colorado Rockies by sweeping the Philadelphia Phillies at home. At this point, the unexpected has become the expected.
Putting the consistent inconsistency aside, we are starting to see some very positive signs emerge. More than anything, we should be focusing on that rather than the day-to-day results. After all, if certain things are working well for the Mets, the wins are going to come.
First and foremost, the rotation is starting to look like what we hoped it would be. Over his last four starts, Max Scherzer is 4-0 with a 1.08 ERA while striking out 28 and walking just four over 25 innings.
Kodai Senga has become unhittable at home. In his five Citi Field starts, he is 3-1 with a 1.20 ERA, 0.933 WHIP, 4.2 BB/9, and an incredible 11.4 K/9. As we saw with Noah Syndergaard‘s rookie year, the home/road splits will eventually translate to Senga being able to be a great pitcher on the road. It just takes a little time.
With the exception of his Coors Field start and the start against the Tampa Bay Rays, Justin Verlander has largely been good. We also see José Quintana is on a path to get back on the mound. Overall, that’s four strong starters that becomes five with Carlos Carrasco pitching 6+ innings while allowing just one earned in each of his last two starts.
Offensively, Pete Alonso is chasing 60 and looks primed to be the first non-steroid National League player to hit that mark. Francisco Álvarez has been great at the plate and may be better defensively. Brandon Nimmo is having an All-Star caliber season (again).
Francisco Lindor is playing Gold Glove defense and has been hitting for power. We also have to remember with his struggles he’s a second half hitter. Jeff McNeil has struggled, but he too is at a point in the season where he usually takes off.
Where things are really promising is the older core from last season finding their games again. Since May 9, Starling Marte is hitting .288/.342/.356 and has stolen 16 bases this season. Since May 14, Mark Canha is hitting 333/.442/.556. Eduardo Escobar has thrived in a part-time role hitting .400/.442/.700 since April 20.
That’s not to say there hasn’t been any issues. Brett Baty is struggling at the plate hitting .200/.286/.400 since May 14, but he continues to play good defense with a 1 OAA. Since May 1, Daniel Vogelbach is hitting .170/.310/.254. With both to those players struggling, it is strange to see how infrequently Mark Vientos plays.
The bullpen doesn’t go that deep, but David Robertson has been a great anchor. You can rely on Drew Smith to be a bridge. However, Brooks Raley and Adam Ottavino are too important to be as shaky as they are.
That brings us to the Mets biggest issue – Buck Showalter. He’s managing like it’s 1988, and he does bizarre things like ignoring the numbers, batting Álvarez ninth, and shoe-horning Vogelbach into the lineup. He’s just never playing Vientos at this point treating him as a strict platoon player.
However, despite Buck (yes, despite him), the Mets are 30-27 just 3.5 games back of the Atlanta Braves. The Braves are 9-13 over their last 22 games. It’s allowed the Mets to get back into the NL East race.
The Mets are also currently the second Wild Card. They’re trailing the Arizona Diamondbacks/Los Angeles Dodgers by four games, but they have a one game lead over the Pittsburgh Pirates and Miami Marlins, who are currently tied for the last Wild Card spot.
Of course, the standings right now don’t mean anything. We can just pinpoint the Mets last two seasons to illustrate that point. Rather, it just shows the Mets are in a great position to make a run. With the starting pitching emerging, their top hitters slugging, and the rest of the roster ready to break out, the Mets are poised to have a great summer, and hopefully, an even better October.
The danger with calling up Mark Vientos was that Buck Showalter was not going to play him. That is just Showalter’s instincts when it comes to young players. While veterans need not have to produce to keep a roster spot, young players have to go above and beyond to earn playing time.
When Brett Baty was first called up, he was immediately put into a platoon at third base with Eduardo Escobar. What was bizarre about that was Baty was called up to the majors specifically because of Escobar’s struggles. Baty has since played his way out of the platoon.
For two years running, the Mets said when Francisco Álvarez was called up to the majors, he was going to be the primary catcher. However, when Álvarez was called up after the Omar Narváez injury, Showalter first made Álvarez the back-up to Tomás Nido.
Eventually, Nido’s struggles and eye issues forced him to the IL, and now Álvarez is the primary catcher. However, even with Álvarez being the Mets best hitter for over a month now, he still bats ninth.
That brings us back to Vientos.
Vientos was called up because Daniel Vogelbach was not hitting for power, and he was slumping. Tommy Pham was not getting it done either from the DH spot. Mostly, the Mets needed more power in their lineup. Given the power display Vientos was exhibiting in Triple-A coupled with him dramatically cutting down on the strikeouts, the Mets were almost forced to call him up.
When he was first called up, it looked genius. Vientos would homer off of Ryan Thompson to tie the game and spark what would be the Mets best win of the season. Notably, Vientos was just one of four players over the past three seasons to homer off of Thompson’s slider:
Good thing they didn’t call up Mark Vientos sooner.
— Mike Mayer (@mikemayer22) May 18, 2023
Even with the homer, the Mets would not get him back into the lineup. He sat against the right-handed Taj Bradley. However, he would get into the lineup again against the right-handed Cal Quantrill. In that game, Vientos came up with the big base hit off Emmanuel Clase in the 10th to pull the Mets within a run.
For Vientos, that was two games played with two big hits producing an RBI. Despite that, he would not appear in the lineup until two games later. Being fair here, one of the games he missed the first half of a doubleheader. Still, after two big hits, Showalter’s inclination was to sit Vientos for two straight games.
Vientos struggled against Shane Bieber, who was excellent over eight innings. Then again, the Mets lineup only produced two runs on seven hits for the day.
Vientos would start at DH in the first game of the series against the Chicago Cubs with Drew Smyly taking the mound. After going 0-for-2 with two strikeouts, Showalter pinch hit Vogelbach for Vientos when the right-handed Jeremiah Estrada relieved Smyly.
When Showalter pinch hit for Vientos, there were runners on first and second with one out. Vogelbach flied out with Francisco Lindor and Alonso moving up. You’ll note when Starling Marte, the Mets worst hitter this season, came to the plate, Showalter did not use Jeff McNeil to pinch hit for him. Instead, he left Marte in to ground out killing the Mets chances of getting back into that game.
With Marcus Stroman taking the hill, Vientos was again on the bench in favor of Vogelbach. Vogelbach was 0-for-3 with a strikeout. Again, Vogelbach had the type of performance which led to Vientos getting called up.
Taking all into account, here is where we are. Vientos was impactful the first two games but has not been since. He is struggling with sporadic playing time going 2-for-13 at the plate with a homer and two RBI (65 wRC+).
Vientos is not producing enough at the moment. He has also been taken out the rhythm he was in Triple-A with the sporadic playing time he has had. Put the blame where you want it, but the end result is Vientos not playing frequently and not producing the way he did even when he was first called-up.
One thing that has been abundantly clear is the New York Mets lineup isn’t working. Even going back to last season, Buck Showalter never truly maximized his lineup. That should change now, especially since Showalter can’t justify many of his decisions.
That’s not to say Showalter has been completely inflexible. To be fair, he did drop down Starling Marte in the lineup due to his early season struggles. On that point, Marte never should have been batting second. As we have seen, from a Sabermetric/analytical standpoint, your best hitter should bat second.
Instead, Showalter treated it like a second lead-off hitter. That never really worked last season, and it is time to see Pete Alonso, Jeff McNeil, or Brandon Nimmo bat second. If players like Aaron Judge and Mike Trout bat second, the Mets can put their top hitter there.
Since the start of last season, those are the Mets top three hitters. Alonso has a 141 wRC+. McNeil is behind him with a 136, and Nimmo has a 132. The Mets could easily justify batting anyone one of them second in their lineup.
Before getting to that point, the Mets do have to wrestle with who leads off. Part of the issue there is while Nimmo seems like the obvious candidate, the waters do get muddied a bit when looking at the numbers.
In his career, McNeil has been at his best batting lead-off (131 wRC+), his four games in the clean-up spot (144 wRC+), or towards the bottom of the lineup. He has been his weakest batting second (115 wRC+) and fifth (104 wRC+). While we can and should look towards analytics, we should also take into account where players thrive and meld the two.
On that front, Francisco Lindor has been at his best when batting lead-off (123 wRC+) or fifth in the lineup (183 wRC+) in his career. The caveat there is he’s hit fifth only once, so that should really be disregarded. Really, Lindor has spent his career in the top third of the lineup, and it is clear he’s a much better hitter when leading off.
For his part, Nimmo has a 135 wRC+ as a leadoff hitter. He’s got better numbers in other spots in the lineup, but there’s nothing close to an appreciable sample size to derive anything of it. This is where the Mets conundrum is. They have three players who thrive batting leadoff, but only one of them can fill that spot.
The question is how exactly do you balance that out keeping in mind this is all before you account for players like Francisco Álvarez, Brett Baty, and Mark Vientos.
Going back to Alonso for a moment, he has a 135 wRC+ batting clean-up. However, he has a 149 wRC+ batting second and a 151 wRC+ batting fifth. He’s very good batting third hitting third.
So going through the numbers, here is what we know. Nimmo has the best wRC+ as a lead-off hitter, but Lindor has the biggest drop-off from the lead-off to other spots in the lineup. Alonso can hit basically anywhere. Going deeper, over the past month, Álvarez has been the Mets best hitter with a 162 wRC+. Put another way, he’s arrived.
Basically, there’s a lot going on with the Mets lineup, but one thing we know is Álvarez batting last is something that needs to change immediately. We also know base stealing is easier with the closer base paths, and Lindor is their best base stealer out of their top hitters. Taking everything into account, perhaps the Mets can roll with something like this:
- Lindor, SS
- Alonso, 1B
- McNeil, 2B
- Álvarez, C
- Nimmo, CF
- Vientos, 3B
- Baty, LF
- Marte, RF
- Vogelbach/Escobar/Canha DH
Another interesting look is:
- McNeil, 2B
- Nimmo, CF
- Alonso, 1B
- Lindor, SS
- Álvarez, C
- Baty, LF
- Vientos, 3B
- Vogelbach/Escobar/Canha, DH
- Marte, RF
If that is too radical, the other option the Mets have in play is:
- Nimmo, CF
- Lindor, SS
- McNeil, LF
- Alonso, 1B
- Baty, 3B
- Vientos, DH
- Escobar, 2B
- Marte, RF
The second is the more likely scenario given the manager. However, it is still a major change. The biggest is acknowledging Álvarez is one of the Mets top hitters and needs to be recognized as such.
The other interesting part of the lineup is Marte ninth. This is a page out of Bobby Valentine‘s playbook when he would bat Roger Cedeño ninth in interleague games to give the Mets a leadoff hitter at the bottom of the lineup.
In the end, this is a balancing of what the players are comfortable doing with optimizing the lineup analytically. The Mets seem to be doing better with their top four batters rearranged, and if that is the case, the Mets can roll with that. However, the lower five needs radical reconstruction starting with batting Álvarez fifth.
That last part should be the easy part. Time will tell if Showalter sees it that way.
The New York Mets finished April with a 15-12 record three games behind the Atlanta Braves for first place in the National League East. Even for the Mets, there was a lot to digest:
1. David Cone made it clear Max Scherzer wasn’t cheating, and Scherzer is owed an apology from Major League Baseball. The Mets do as well for the extra toll it took on their rotation.
2. Jacob deGrom‘s continued injuries are sad, and we should all want the best for him. However, no one should be using that as justification for the Mets letting him go to Texas when Justin Verlander has yet to throw a pitch for the Mets.
3. David Peterson pitched himself out of the rotation, and it’s not clear where the Mets go from here with him. He’s in Triple-A where he belongs for the time being. In the long term, the Mets need to figure out if he’s salvageable as a starter, needs to be their Trevor Williams, or perhaps their next Seth Lugo.
4. David Robertson has more than taken over for Edwin Díaz. The issue is the rest of the bullpen continues to fluctuate between injured, ineffective, and lights out. Really, game-to-game, the Mets have no consistency down there other than Robertson.
5. The youth movement has begun with Brett Baty, and we see Francisco Álvarez has been forcing the issue (surprisingly with his defense). At some point, the Mets are going to have to just give the DH job to Mark Vientos because he has been annihilating the baseball.
6. Buck Showalter seems content to stick with his veterans, and if that continues in the long run, it is going to be a problem. Given how young players were the key to his success in Baltimore, it is flat out crazy to see how he hasn’t involved from the instincts which doomed him with the New York Yankees, Arizona Diamondbacks, and Texas Rangers.
7. Pete Alonso has been nearly everything you could ask from him to start this season. In fact, he’s even back to playing good defense at first base.
8. Brandon Nimmo has responded to signing that massive contract by arguably being the best player in baseball to start the season. This will be the first season he is an All-Star, and we should seem him get some MVP consideration should he stay healthy.
9. It’s been an uneasy start for Francisco Lindor, but he has been phenomenal defensively. Just remember with him, May is typically the month he breaks out in a season, so we should be in for a treat.
10. The way Daniel Vogelbach has started the season he is going to give the Mets reason to follow Daniel Murphy, who is off to a hot start with the Long Island Ducks. Better yet, we may see Vientos here sooner rather than later. Really, at some point, Vogelbach has to hit for some power.
11. Whatever the Mets thinking was on Tommy Pham, it was wrong. Moreover, it was wrong to build outfield depth with players 34 and older (aside from Nimmo). That goes double when you consider the Mets have zero Major League ready outfield depth in Syracuse.
12. Jeff McNeil surprisingly got off to a very slow start. However, he has been really strong the past two weeks, and he appears poised to have another very good season for the Mets.
13. McNeil needs to be more of a table setter. The Mets going with Starling Marte batting second just isn’t working. He’s making weak contact, and he’s just not getting on base enough. McNeil isn’t a five hitter. Again, Showalter needs to stop with the deference to veterans and start looking to win games.
14. Give Eduardo Escobar all the credit in the world. He lost his job, and he responded by being an amazing teammate and mentor. While his production may not be what the Mets wanted it to be when they signed him, the signing has paid off tenfold with his leadership and clubhouse presence.
15. Increasingly, Mark Canha looks done, at least as an everyday player. There needs to be a rotation with him and Luis Guillorme playing until the Mets figure out what they want to do with Ronny Mauricio. On Mauricio, so long as Showalter is loathe to play the young players, you simply cannot call him up.
16. There is an ace somewhere inside Kodai Senga. We saw it in Japan, and we have seen glimpses of it here. However, if he is going to continue to walk the ballpark, he is going to be a borderline MLB starter. That is a huge problem for the Mets with much of their success being tied into how good or bad he performs.
17. Every year, Drew Smith seems to be performing worse than what his actual numbers are. Part of that is his walk rate is too high.
18. Tomás Nido‘s defensive metrics are surprisingly poor. Part of that may be the difficulties in catching Senga. If not, the Mets are in trouble when their defensive specialist behind the plate isn’t performing.
19. The biggest takeaway from April is the Mets appear to be a postseason team with part of that being because it is an expanded postseason format. Keep in mind, while their record now may not be awe inspiring, they are still on a 90 win pace.
20. It needs to be repeated over and over again. The Mets need to go with their younger and more productive players. If Showalter is going to stand in the way of that, the Mets need to find someone who won’t. It’s just that simple.
The New York Mets have had too many starting pitching injuries to start the season. In fact, at the moment, Kodai Senga is all that remains from their projected Opening Day rotation.
Justin Verlander and José Quintana started the year on the IL. Verlander is missing over a month, and Quintana is out until around the All-Star Break if not longer. Carlos Carrasco has an elbow injury, and there is a very real possibility he could be done for the season if not for his career.
Max Scherzer needed to have an extra day before his last start, and then he was suspended. Our good friend David Cone would show why the suspension was garbage, but nevertheless, Scherzer was suspended for 10 games.
David Cone's Rosin Experiment. pic.twitter.com/ZI5CnAkZ1C
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) April 24, 2023
As we know, this has pushed David Peterson and Tylor Megill into the rotation. That wasn’t a big deal as both were good starters for the Mets 101 team last season. Joey Lucchesi also had a history of being a capable Major League starter, so while the Mets may not have wanted him in the rotation, his needing to start wasn’t an issue.
The issue was with José Butto being pushed into the rotation.
Last season, Butto was thrust into the rotation, and the results were ugly. In his lone start, he last just four innings allowing seven runs to the Philadelphia Phillies. Alec Bohm really got the best of him hitting two homers. After that game, there were many who unfairly said he was a bust and would never be a Major League starter.
Fast forward to this year, and Butto was again starting games for the Mets. That is something no one wanted, but this time, Butto has fared far better than anyone would have expected.
Through two starts, Butto has pitched 9 2/3 innings allowing three earned runs. Per Baseball Savant, batters are not hitting him hard at all, and they’re having difficulty squaring the ball up on him.
Of course, it’s not all good news. Butto’s control has been poor, and that’s probably being kind. He’s walked 10 over 9 2/3 innings. That’s more than a walk per inning.
Forget about his 2.79 ERA being unsustainable with those many walks. It’s a flat out recipe for disaster. That goes double when he’s recorded only three strikeouts.
However, he’s getting away with it. There are some good reasons for it. There’s the aforementioned weak contact against him.
There’s also the 57.6% ground ball rate. Weak ground balls are easy outs for an infield with Francisco Lindor and Jeff McNeil. That’ll get you out of a lot of jams.
The other answer is Butto has faced bad teams in the Oakland Athletics and Washington Nationals. Assuredly, he’d get roughed up by better teams, but he pitched passably against the opponents he had to face.
We can dismiss what he’s done. He’s been five and fly against bad teams. That’s only part of the picture.
He’s also eaten up 9 2/3 innings which could’ve been put on the bullpen. That will help the Mets in the long run. It makes what he did far more important than many realize.
In the end, Butto looks like he still has work to do before he’s Major League ready. In the interim, he’s better than when we last saw him, and he still made a positive contribution to the team. Credit to him for stepping up.
As usual, the New York Mets went to Milwaukee and forgot how to play baseball. It always happens:
1. Since 2016, the Mets are 3-18 at whatever they’re calling Miller Park now. It’s at the point where the 1986 Mets in their prime couldn’t beat a Milwaukee t-ball team if it is played in that ballpark.
2. The Mets lost a game 10-0 and the next one 9-0. That’s something the 1962 or 1993 Mets did. That should tell you how bad the series was.
3. Keith Hernandez on a hot mic double guessing Buck Showalter for the insanely bad decision of sending Carlos Carrasco for another inning spoke for all Mets fans.
4. Carrasco getting a pitch clock violation before he threw a pitch tells you how well he’s adapting to it.
5. Showalter saving Adam Ottavino for the Brewers best left-handed hitters and burning David Robertson before that is simply incompetent managing. Robertson is great against left-handed batters, and Ottavino got hit hard by them last year.
6. With all that is going on with the Mets are the present, Showalter cannot afford these unforced errors. More to the point, the whole premise for hiring him was he doesn’t make these egregious mistakes because he knows more than us all.
7. If the issue for Pete Alonso was the bat handle, the Mets shouldn’t let him near anything other than the axe handle again.
8. It was a real positive to see Brandon Nimmo, Francisco Lindor, and Jeff McNeil get three hit games. All three have been struggling in their own right, and they all need to break out of their early season slumps.
9. Whatever is going on with Max Scherzer, he needs to figure it out. It’s not just the three homers on three pitches. He is becoming susceptible to the big inning, and the strikeout numbers are down. If he’s not an ace, the Mets are in trouble.
10. Luis Guillorme does what he does. He had a good game at the plate, and he was very good defensively. He also stepped up and pitched a scoreless inning when the Mets really needed to save the bullpen. He is much better than people want to give him credit.
11. Mark Canha had one big game in Miami. Aside from that, he has been terrible at the plate, and we know he hasn’t been great in the outfield. His days as a starter should be numbered.
12. Of all the issues we see with Eduardo Escobar, perhaps the most troubling is his sprint speed is way down. Perhaps, that is because he hasn’t had any reason to sprint this season.
13. The Mets did have a bright spot in the series with John Curtiss and Dennis Santana. Hopefully, they can be this reliable all season long.
14. Omar Narváez will be missed. He had an excellent start to the season, but now, they Mets are going to be without him for two months. This should be the start of the Francisco Álvarez Era.
15. If not for the Brett Baty thumb injury, you have to imagine he would have been here this weekend. The Mets already need him. You can say the same for Mark Vientos, but there’s no obvious spot on the roster for him right now.
16. After all we saw in Milwaukee, the Mets were smart to delay the season opener a day. The team was in shambles and needed a rest. It sucks for the fans, but we are more interested in wins than anything else . . . or at least we should be.
17. Flat out, the Mets did not look good in this series. They were completely outplayed by a mediocre Brewers squad. The hope is that it is just that ballpark.
18. After the home opening series against the Miami Marlins, things get more difficult for the Mets. If they continue playing this way, changes will need to come sooner rather than later.
19. This id David Peterson’s chance. He can’t blow it like he did in this series.
20. That final game of the series is what gives you hope. As we saw last year, when Lindor and Alonso are hitting, everything is fine. You’d like to believe after last season, Billy Eppler would’ve tried harder to ease Lindor’s and Alonso’s burden.
We have been waiting all season for Pete Alonso and Francisco Lindor to start hitting. As we saw last season, when they hit, this is a completely different lineup.
Lindor got things going right away with an RBI double. With Alonso switching back to the old axe handle bat, he would have a two homer game. For a Mets team that had not scored in over 20 innings, the six runs felt like 30, and it was a game where the Mets pitching staff had to lock down the win.
HE DID IT AGAIN! 🐻❄️ pic.twitter.com/v0xQS8vp8f
— New York Mets (@Mets) April 5, 2023
The Mets would not win because their pitching staff was quite bad in the game. We probably shouldn’t have expected otherwise because they were very bad all series long.
David Peterson was handed a 1-0 lead before he threw a pitch. He would allow four runs in the second. Alonso hit his first homer of the game tying the game at four in the third. Alonso hit his second homer of the game in the fifth giving the Mets a 6-4 lead, and Peterson couldn’t handle that lead.
Peterson walked Yelich to start the inning, and Buck Showalter brought on Drew Smith. He had a bad inning culminating in Jesse Winker‘s game tying two RBI double. That was two leads the Mets handed their pitching staff, and the pitching staff gave the leads away.
Fortunately, John Curtiss would step up and give the Mets two much needed scoreless innings. Then, Showalter did something only Showalter could do. He used David Robertson for the bottom of the Milwaukee Brewers lineup and saved Adam Ottavino for the top of the lineup in the eighth.
Ottavino would face Garrett Mitchell to start the ninth, and Mitchell would end the game with a walk-off solo homer. To a certain extent, you have to wonder what exactly was Showalter thinking.
With a pinch hitter in Mitchell looming to start the ninth, the Brewers had three left-handed batters set to start the inning. After the pinch hitter, the switch hitting Willy Adames would hit from the left side followed by Yelich.
While you may want to say, well Ottavino was great last year, left-handed batters still hit .301/.358/.480 off of him last year. Left-handed batters hit .168/.293/.257 off of Robertson last year. It would be hard to believe this information has elluded Showalter, and yet, with full knowledge of the situation, he saved Ottavino to face the Brewers best left-handed batters.
Yes, the Mets offense did nothing aside from Alonso and Lindor. Peterson was bad, and Smith faltered. All of that said, the manager failed the team and set them up to fail. With the Mets playing the way they have in this series, they predictably failed.
Well, the New York Mets are being railroaded by the Milwaukee Brewers. They followed a 10-0 loss with a 9-0 loss. To some extent, this should come as no surprise as the Mets always falter in whatever the Brewers are calling that ballpark now.
Carlos Carrasco was annihilated in his first start of the season. While we cannot say that was expected, it may not have fully come as a surprise. At the moment, it is wait and see with him on whether he can handle the pitch clock.
The much bigger issue is Max Scherzer. He cruise in his Opening Day start until the Miami Marlins tagged him for three runs in the sixth. That was capped off by Garrett Cooper. Whatever, it was one bad inning, and he looked good otherwise.
That was the way his second start of the season against the Brewers seemed to be going. He struggled in the first allowing a two RBI double to Brian Anderson. It was 2-0 Brewers, but Scherzer seemed to settle in from there shutting down the Brewers offense over the next four innings.
Then, in the sixth, Scherzer imploded. On three straight pitches, we saw Rowdy Tellez, Anderson, and Garrett Mitchell. Again, on THREE STRAIGHT PITCHES.
BACK TO BACK TO BACK!#ThisIsMyCrew | @GarretMitchell5 pic.twitter.com/M3UJ5OiP4l
— Milwaukee Brewers (@Brewers) April 5, 2023
It is difficult to understand what is going on with Scherzer. His velocity is down, but it’s not really down. For example, he averaged 94 MPH with his four seamer last year, and he is at 93.3 MPH this season. It’s the same with all of his pitches.
After the game, Scherzer doesn’t think it’s stuff, but rather, location. Buck Showalter seemed to think it was the same thing. Whatever the case, there is something not clicking with Scherzer, and the Mets desperately need him to figure it out.
Remember, the Mets plan on winning the World Series was having Scherzer and Justin Verlander atop their rotation. Well, Scherzer is allowing an unprecedented amount of homers for him, and Verlander is on the IL. The Mets can’t win if they can’t pitch like the future Hall of Famers they are.
That goes double when you consider the Mets offense. With them not scoring runs and the pitching staff acting like a windwill, this is literally the worst the Mets have ever looked in their history.
The #Mets have not scored a run and allowed 9+ runs in back-to-back games for the first time in franchise history.@Metsmerized
— Mathew Brownstein (@MBrownstein89) April 5, 2023
They haven’t scored a run in their past 20 innings. Keep in mind, both Brandon Nimmo and Jeff McNeil had three hit games. Really, when you look at it, it is the same issue. There is no power in the lineup. In fact, the Mets have the lowest slugging in the majors to start the season. Only the Washington Nationals and Toronto Blue Jays have hit fewer homers.
Pete Alonso looks lost at the plate with the new rules. Francisco Lindor is fighting it like he did his first year with the Mets. Eduardo Escobar looks done. After that outburst in the last two games against the Marlins, Mark Canha‘s bat looks slow again. The problems are across the board.
You could say call up Brett Baty, but he just re-injured his thumb. Francisco Álvarez and Mark Vientos are hitting, but they have defensive question marks along with no real spot for them to play on this team.
Look, it is just two bad games. They could happen at any point in the season. In fact, if this happened in July during the Mets 101 win season last year, no one would’ve batted an eye. Chances are, this is a blip.
However, to some extent, this does at least look like the Mets could be in some trouble. The pitch clock seems to be impacting this team more than most. Again, this is probably a complete overreaction, and yet, in some ways, it feels like this isn’t
Bottom first, bases loaded, two outs. Kodai Senga is on the verge of getting out of a bases loaded no out jam when Jon Berti hits a tailing line drive down the line. Instead of emptying the bases, Starling Marte races over and makes the catch to end the inning.
That right there is why the New York Mets have been off to a good start to the 2023 season. In a year which is supposed to be defined by more hits as a result of the shift ban, the Mets have been playing stellar defense. That is especially true up the middle with Francisco Lindor and Jeff McNeil.
While we know there is far too small of a sample size to adjudge defense, we see Lindor and McNeil have been making all of the plays. In terms of McNeil, per Baseball Savant, he has an 86% success rate on fielding plays. That is a 3% success added rate on plays.
That was no more true than the play he made in Miami. After a ground ball got through Pete Alonso, McNeil responded by making the sliding catch and nailing the speedy Berti at home. That play was named the inaugural Play of the Week from MLB for the 2023 season.
Jeff McNeil flashed the leather to secure 2023's first Play of the Week presented by @Chevrolet. pic.twitter.com/o6o0r2ceRf
— MLB (@MLB) April 3, 2023
This should come as no surprise for McNeil. Last season, McNeil posted a 7 OAA as a second baseman. That rated him as the second best defensive second baseman in the National League.
As good as McNeil has been, Lindor has been even better. So far this season, he has an astounding 93% success rate on plays. That gives him an impressive 8% success rate added on plays.
Prior to this season, Lindor has been a proponent of banning the shift. Part of the reason was to permit him to be the shortstop he can be. Last season, he told Sports Illustrated, “Let me do me. Let me make the crazy play. Let me be like, ‘O.K., he’s going to pull the ball. I can’t be on that side of the base.’ So as the pitch goes, I run on the other side of the base—pow!—and make the play.”
He’s already put together a number of highlights this season. There was the leaping grab to rob Jorge Soler of extra bases. There was the double play started when he went up the middle and flipped the ball to McNeil. The play everyone seems to be talking about to start the season was his going into the hole to rob Bryan De La Cruz of an RBI single.
Tylor Megill will have things he'd like to clean up from this start, but he held the Marlins to two runs and is departing with a lead.
5 IP, 6 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 7 K, 92 pitches.
Francisco Lindor's excellent play on Megill's last pitch saved two runs.
Mets 4, Marlins 2 after five. pic.twitter.com/cIs4Uz60yv
— Anthony DiComo (@AnthonyDiComo) April 1, 2023
Lindor has always been a great defender. He has already won two Gold Gloves and a Platinum Glove. Since his first full season in 2016, he leads all MLB shortstops with a 117 OAA. However, so far this season, it just seems Lindor is playing at another level. In fact, we even see it on the plays he doesn’t make.
The stuff that doesn't show up in the box score…
This throw attempting to catch Christian Yelich stealing second base sails into center field but Francisco Lindor convinces Yelich that he has the ball so Christian stays put. Base saved. pic.twitter.com/j5tqjahvj0
— Codify (@CodifyBaseball) April 3, 2023
Omar Narváez threw the ball away on a Christian Yelich stolen base attempt. Lindor deked Yelich into staying at second base instead of going to third. The play saved Narváez from an error, and to this point in the season, the Mets still have not committed an error.
The defense from Lindor has been noticeable to start the season. Showalter said after the April 1 game, “He has taken his defensive game to another level. He is moving his feet really well. He is anticipating things.”
Overall, the Mets might’ve entered the season with the best up the middle infield defense in the majors. Seeing the way McNeil and Lindor have started the season, they are taking their defense to another level. We are also seeing it rub off on their teammates as they are making strong defensive plays.
As we saw in 1999, you can have a special season led by great defense. Lindor and McNeil seemed poised to make this a year just like that.
EDITOR’S NOTE: This post was first published on MMO.
The New York Mets played their opening series of the season, and they took 3/4 games. All-in-all, not a bad start to the season:
1. The Mets defense was exceptional to start the season. Jeff McNeil and Francisco Lindor appear on their way to having Gold Glove caliber years, and Starling Marte might’ve made the most important play of all.
2. Kodai Senga‘s ghost splitter was all; the more impressive in game action recording all eight strikeouts on the pitch. It’s also a good thing it really took him just one inning to fully acclimate.
3. It took Lindor three games last season before he started hitting, and he would have a great year. Nothing to be concerned about his slow start to the season.
4. Brandon Nimmo is back to walking a lot, which means his OBP should be through the roof this season.
5. Justin Verlander and Jose Quintana are out, but it appears David Peterson and Tylor Megill are up to the task much like they were all of last season.
6. Eduardo Escobar has really struggled to start the year. With the start Brett Baty is off to in Triple-A, we are going to hear the calls for him sooner rather than later.
7. If Baty is not called up within the next week, the Mets are going to forfeit the chance to get an extra first round pick and international bonus pool money. This seems like a dubious decision to say the least.
8. Mark Canha‘s and Tommy Pham‘s bat looked very slow to start the season, but they turned it on the last two games. At least with Sandy Alcantara and Jesus Luzardo, you still have to wonder if velocity will be an issue for Canha, but for now, he seems like he will be productive.
9. The only Mets reliever to allow a run is John Curtiss, who was on the bubble to even make the team. For now, it seems like the Mets bullpen will be fine without Edwin Díaz.
10. Way too much was made by some people over Max Scherzer allowing three runs. He was completely dominant over the first five innings, and he had one bad inning. He will be fine and pitch like an ace again this season.
11. It seems like something that only happens to the Mets, but somehow poor defenders like Garrett Cooper and Jorge Soler looked like Keith Hernandez and Roberto Clemente in the field this past series.
12. Jeff McNeil hit a lot of balls hard right at someone. Not what you expected to see with the elimination of the shift.
13. The games did move much faster, but there is still going to be some issues to be ironed out. For example, McNeil getting assessed a strike because of Pete Alonso at first base. After the game, MLB admitted a strike should not have been assessed against McNeil.
14. Any Mets fans rejoicing in Jacob deGrom and Chris Bassitt struggling is an outright fool. First, they did nothing to the Mets. Second, it meant you enjoyed the Philadelphia Phillies and St. Louis Cardinals offense going off. Nothing says I’m a Mets fan more than rooting for the Phillies and Cardinals.
15. We knew the bases being closer together meant not only more stolen bases but more opportunities to take an extra base. We didn’t know that meant Daniel Vogelbach going first to third and scoring on shallow sacrifice flies.
16. Jazz Chisholm Jr.was not good at all in center for the Miami Marlins. That is going to be an issue for that team all season.
17. Omar Narváez. has looked PHENOMENAL in all aspects of the game so far. If he is going to be this good, the Mets are a different level team than originally anticipated.
18. Dennis Santana might’ve been a find for the Mets.
19. Alonso was safe at first base.
20. This was a good start for the Mets. They took three out of four, and their best players haven’t quite gotten going just yet. Hopefully, this is a sign we are in for a special 2023.