Guillermo Heredia

Credit To Trevor Williams

Look, this New York Mets loss was a nightmare. Tylor Megill went from dominating and accumulating nine hitless innings to leaving the bases loaded for Adam Ottavino.

When that nightmare sixth inning was over seven runs had scored. Really, the less said about that nightmare of an inning, the better.

Overall, just about the only positive which came out of this game was Luis Guillorme hitting his first homer of the season. It was his first homer at Citi Field since that dramatic pinch hit homer against the Washington Nationals.

He hit it where not even Guillermo Heredia couldn’t rob him the way he robbed Jeff McNeil. That was back when it was a game.

It was just one of those nightmare games. Still, in this nightmare was one Mets performance meriting recognition.

Trevor Williams had not pitched in over a week. In fact, each of his four appearances this season have been about a week apart.

As a result, Williams has not been able to get in any sort of rhythm. Clearly, his role has changed to mop up reliever. That role requires the pitcher to wear one and save the rest of the bullpen.

It’s a thankless job and task.

Things weren’t immediately smooth for Williams. When he entered, he walked the first batter he saw before allowing a single and RBI groundout.

After that, things improved. More than that, he ate up the innings the Mets desperately needed from him.

Williams would pitch 3.2 innings allowing three earned on three hits and one walk. The big hit against him was a two run homer by Heredia in the eighth.

Despite that, we saw Williams strike out six. He had a stretch where he retired six in a row, and he retired the last five batters he faced.

All told, he showed something. He looked like the pitcher who pitched well for the Mets after the trade when the Mets moved him to the bullpen.

Overall, this was a very bad game. That said, Williams did the thankless job of eating innings. In the process, he showed the Mets he may be ready for a bigger role. That’s at least something to take away from this mess.

Michael Conforto Saves Edwin Diaz

The Mets entered the bottom of the ninth up 2-1. Tylor Megill was terrific over 5.1 with little run support. Jeurys Familia got out of a big jam. Brandon Drury had a huge go-ahead pinch hit homer.

Luis Rojas gave Edwin Diaz the ball in the ninth. This wasn’t quite a must win game, but it’s one the Mets really needed to keep control over the division.

In 2019, Diaz was Armando Benitez like in these big spots. While Diaz was great in the first half, and arguably should’ve been an All-Star, we’ve seen that Jekyll/Hyde closer return.

When Diaz allowed a ground rule double to Abraham Almonte, you could sense the panic amongst Mets fans. After a Guillermo Heredia fly out, Ehire Adrianza ripped a single to right field.

Atlanta Braves third base coach Ron Washington waiver Almonte home, and Michael Conforto unleashed a perfect throw home:

James McCann fielded it, and he laid down the tag as the ball snowconed on him. Almonte would’ve been safe 9,999 times out of 10,000, but this was that one time eliciting the double, “He’s out!” from Gary Cohen.

Conforto, who has struggled all year, did everything right. He charged the ball, and he unleashed a strong accurate throw, something which used to be a hallmark from him. McCann got it and laid down a great tag.

Not only did the play save the game, it might’ve saved Diaz. He settled down to record the save. That’s even with Pablo Sandoval ripping an opposite field liner which looked to be a game tying double until Kevin Pillar tracked it down.

Instead of talking about the blown save, and worrying if the roof was caving in, we’re talking about a great throw by Conforto. These are the plays which makes seasons like this one special. It’s plays like this which could help these players turn things around.

Nothing Luis Guillorme Could Do

When Michael Conforto drove home Francisco Lindor in the top of the first, it wasn’t hyperbolic to think it was game over. Jacob deGrom was on the mound, and one run is all he needs.

That was except for tonight. In inexplicable fashion, deGrom surrendered more runs than he had in either the month of April or May.

Somehow Ehire Adrianza led off the bottom of the first with a triple. After he was singled home, to the astonishment of everyone, Austin Riley homered off of deGrom making it a 3-1 game.

At that moment, deGrom’s ERA finally creeped over 1.00. It didn’t stay that way for long, even on a night where deGrom’s velocity occasionally (and purposefully?) dipped.

From that point, deGrom was a man on a mission. He’d put up six scoreless after that recording 12 of his 14 strikeouts. Fortunately, he’d get a no decision for his effort.

For that, he can pretty much thank only Dominic Smith. While the Mets offense was sputtering again, Smith had a two home run game sending this guy tied into the bottom of the ninth.

Luis Rojas tabbed Seth Lugo to pitch the inning. The decision was the right one, but sometimes the right decisions don’t work. For Lugo, the problems started when he threw away a ball on a ball hit by Guillermo Heredia. Just like that, it was a single and an error putting the leadoff man on second.

A Pablo Sandoval fielder’s choice put Heredia on third, and Lugo struck out Kevan Smith. After intentionally walking Ronald Acuña, Lugo faced Ender Inciarte. Inciarte battled, and the umpire completely missed the 3-2 pitch meaning the bases were loaded instead of the inning being over.

That brought Freddie Freeman to the plate. There was some second guessing as to why Lugo instead of Aaron Loup here, but Lugo is the team’s best reliever, and he gets LHB out. If not for bad luck, Lugo gets out of the inning.

If it doesn’t hit Lugo’s foot, it goes to the 10th. There were many saying Luis Guillorme should’ve gone to third, but given how he was heading away from the base, and it was Acuña running, he’s not beating him to the bag. Really, the throw was the only play.

Said another way, once it hit Lugo, the game was over. It’s shouldn’t have come to that with the umpire blowing a call in the Inciarte AB. More than that, the Mets needed someone other than Smith hitting.

Jacob deGrom Was Great And Healthy

For the faint of heart, Jacob deGrom took the mound against the Atlanta Braves. Despite everyone signing off on his starting, and deGrom saying he was good to go, people were nervous.

As it turns out, it was the Atlanta Braves who should’ve been nervous as deGrom was deGrom. As is usual, he had the look of a perfect game. Speaking of look, deGrom was the first pitcher checked for sticky substances as per MLB protocols.

The Braves didn’t get a base runner until the third when deGrom seemed to lose focus and walk the opposing pitcher, Kyle Muller. The Braves wouldn’t get a hit until the fifth. Part of the reason was deGrom’s pitching, and as it turns out, his defense.

Things did get a little dicey there. deGrom walked Guillermo Heredia on four pitches. Two pitches later, Kevan Smith hit a fly ball to deep left center. There was a miscommunication of sorts between Dominic Smith and Albert Almora Jr. leading to the ball to drop.

Fortunately for the Mets, it went over the wall for an automatic double. If not, chances are Heredia scores there. Pablo Sandoval popped out to end the inning and the Braves only chance against deGrom.

At that time, the Mets lead 1-0 due to the legs of Jonathan Villar.

After leading off the bottom of the first with a walk, he went to second when Francisco Lindor tried to push a bunt through the shift. It was ruled a sacrifice. After Villar advanced on a Smith fly out, he scored on a Muller wild pitch.

It was that way until the bottom of the fifth. Unfortunately, the rally was started when Braves reliever Shane Greene plunked Tomas Nido. It looked to come off his wrist, and it knocked Nido out of the game.

We’d see deGrom come out of the game next, but that was for a pinch hitter. Jeff McNeil was activated off the IL, and he hit a single off the first pitch he saw. After a Villar single, the bases were loaded with two outs.

Greene fell behind Lindor 3-0, and Lindor jumped on the pitch but he flew out to shallow right. With the Braves bringing in the left-handed Sean Newcomb to face Smith. The move backfired as Smith hit a bases clearing double to give the Mets a 4-0 lead.

After the inning, Smith took over at first with the Mets double switching Pete Alonso out of the game. It appeared to be a move to get Seth Lugo to finish the final two innings.

That plan went by the wayside in what was a screwy inning. Initially, it seemed Lugo hit Ronald Acuña Jr. with a 1-2 pitch. After Acuña was awarded first, the Mets asked for replay.

Not only did the pitch not hit Acuña, but it hit the knob of his bat. With James McCann securing the foul tip, it went from the lead-off hitter reaching to a strikeout. The replay and subsequent discussion took time which Gary Cohen later suggested threw Lugo off a bit.

Freddie Freeman walked, and then Ozzie Albies hit a two run homer to pull the Braves to within 4-2. Lugo rebounded from there, and Edwin Diaz mowed down the Braves in order for his 15th save of the season.

All-in-all, this was a great first game of the doubleheader. deGrom was great, healthy, and he set more records. The Mets got a big hit with insurance runs. Ultimately, they got the 4-2 win.

Game Notes: deGrom has 12 straight starts allowing one run or fewer. He also has 30 consecutive shut out innings.

Mets Bullpen Too Exhausted To Hold On

For a while, it seemed like David Peterson was going to have to make a 1-0 lead last. After all, this is a depleted offensive team. However, it’s about as resilient a team as we’ve ever seen.

The Mets had a 1-0 lead due to Jonathan Villar hitting a solo homer off of Charlie Morton in the fourth.

At that point, Peterson was completely and utterly dominating the Braves. He had struck out five and faced the minimum through four.

Unfortunately, it unraveled for him in the fifth, and it happened rather unexpectedly. Austin Riley had hit a one out double, but he then got Dansby Swanson to ground out.

Peterson then plunked William Contreras. Guillermo Heredia hit an RBI single tying the score. The opposing pitcher, Morton, gave the Braves a 2-1 lead with an RBI single. Ronald Acuña then drew a walk.

The walk should’ve loaded the bases except it got away from James McCann. It was ruled a wild pitch, but McCann should’ve had it. Braves had a 3-1 lead.

Surprisingly, that wasn’t the final straw. The final straw was a Freddie Freeman who singled to load the bases.

Drew Smith came on to relieve Peterson, and he got the Mets out of the inning. Smith would give a fatigued Mets bullpen 1.1 shut out innings.

One key moment in that sixth inning was the Braves pinch hit for Morton. That meant he was out of the game, and A.J. Minter was entering the game. Minter is wild and always primed to implode.

After two quick outs, Minter threw one away on what should’ve been scored a Dominic Smith infield single. Whatever the case, he was on second with two outs.

Minter then completely lost the strike zone walking McCann on four straight pitches. After falling behind 1-0, he tried a get me over fastball which Jose Peraza drilled for an RBI double.

The Mets went to Tomas Nido to pinch hit for Smith, and the Braves went to Luke Jackson. Nido got the better of Jackson with a go-ahead two RBI single giving the Mets a 4-3 lead.

It’s important to remember this bullpen is on fumes with all the bullpen games and short starts. In the seventh that meant a tired Miguel Castro. Castro got through the inning unscathed with the help of another phenomenal defensive play in right by Lee.

Unfortunately, there was no magic in the eighth for Aaron Loup in the eighth. Loup allowed three straight hits tying the score at 4-4. Luis Rojas then went to Jacob Barnes to try to get out of the jam.

Barnes entered with runners on first and second with no outs. Heredia couldn’t get the bunt down and then struck out.

Swanson tried to steal third, and he was gunned down by McCann. Barnes then completed the Houdini act when he struck out Ehire Adrianza to end the inning.

For a brief moment, it seemed for the second straight night the Mets would have some ninth inning magic.

Cameron Maybin, in his Mets debut, reached on a wild strike three, stole second, and went to third on a wild pitch. He was there with only one out. He’d stay there as McCann popped out, and Peraza hit a weak line out to end the inning.

Somewhat surprisingly, Trevor May was warming, but Rojas opted for Barnes for a second inning over May on a third straight day. Acuña had gone hitless in the series, but he hit the first pitch he saw from Barnes for a walk-off homer.

The Mets showed a lot of heart and magic to pull out two wins in this series. The fact they were even this close to a sweep speaks highly of everyone on this team.

Game Notes: Khalil Lee has begun his career with seven straight strikeouts.

Mets Win Game And Lose Two More

With all the New York Mets players on the IL, it should come as no shock another injury happened tonight. This time it was Taijuan Walker.

You can see Walker lost velocity, and he again just outright refused to try at the plate. Despite that, all the Atlanta Braves could muster off of him was a Max Fried single.

Walker was out after three with what was classified as left side tightness. Whatever the case, the Mets came off a bullpen game in the Rays series, they’re having one tomorrow, and they needed bullpen help tonight.

Sean Reid-Foley came up huge. When the Mets needed a break, and they needed to keep up with Fried, he pitched three perfect innings. He’d be awarded his first Major League win for his efforts.

But sadly, that wouldn’t be the story of the night.

The Mets had a chance to take the lead in the sixth after consecutive two out hits by Kevin Pillar and Jonathan Villar. Pillar doubled, and seemed seconds away from scoring on a Villar single, but Dansby Swanson made a diving play to keep it in the infield.

They’d be stranded as Jose Peraza lined out. The Mets rallied and cashed-in in the seventh.

As noted by Gary Cohen, Mets catchers had not doubled prior to this game. Naturally, Tomas Nido would double to lead off the inning. Fried then left the game with an apparent injury, and he was replaced by Jacob Webb.

That’s when everything changed.

James McCann, who has struggled mightily all year, entered the game to pinch hit for Reid-Foley. He delivered with a go-ahead RBI double.

Johneshwy Fargas sacrificed. Francisco Lindor walked and stole a base. Pete Alonso struck out, and Dominic Smith was intentionally walked to load the bases. That’s when Pillar would come up and suffer one of the worst HBP you’ll ever see.

Blood was gushing all over. Somehow, he was able to get off the field on his own power. With the shock of the moment, and the need to clean all the blood from the field, there was a long pause.

The Braves did the right thing lifting Webb from the game. He was clearly distraught and needed to come out of the game. This wasn’t Roger Clemens. It was a mistake, and you couldn’t help but feel for him too.

That said, just to remind you why you hate the Braves and while the whole organization is trash, they did the dance cam during the delay:

That gruesome moment gave the Mets a 2-0 lead. After Jeurys Familia pitched a perfect seventh, the Mets tacked on an insurance run against this bad Braves bullpen.

Nido had his first MLB three hit game, which included his one out eighth inning single. After Jake Hager pinch hit for Familia and struck out, Fargas came up.

Fargas had his first MLB hit which went from a single to an RBI double because the hurt Ronald Acuña couldn’t stop and pivot to field the ball.

Trevor May came on for the eighth, and he just didn’t seem to have it again. He’d allow a homer to Austin Riley to break the shutout. Things would get very dicey.

Guillermo Heredia doubled, and after a May wild pitch, he was on third with two outs. He’d stay there as Ehire Adrianza lined out to Peraza to end the inning.

That meant Edwin Diaz would get the ball with a 3-1 lead. He’d yield a walk, but he’d get the job done earning the save.

Unfortunately, that’s not quite the focus. The focus is Pillar’s health, and after that, it’s just trying to figure out who in the world could possibly be the next man up.

Game Notes: Fargas made his MLB debut playing center and batting ninth. Khalil Lee made his debut entering as a pinch runner for Pillar.

Making Sense Of Mets Signing Kevin Pillar

When you look at the New York Mets 40 man roster, Albert Almora was probably the only player you trusted playing center field. Unfortunately, even with his success working with Chili Davis in the past, he really didn’t have a sufficiently good enough bat to stick in the lineup. That made Almora good depth, especially with his having a minor league option.

It appears Almora is going to use that option this year with the Mets signing Kevin Pillar.

Pillar, 32, used to be one of the best defensive center fielders in the game even if he didn’t have the Gold Gloves to show for it. In fact, from 2015 – 2017, Pillar only trailed Kevin Kiermaier in terms of DRS among center fielders. He had accumulated the sixth highest WAR among all Major Leaguers during this stretch.

After that, Pillar’s defense took a nosedive. From 2018 – 2020, Pillar has a -14 DRS. Essentially, he transitioned from Gold Glove caliber to a player who needs to move to a corner outfield position. To be fair, OAA has painted a slightly different picture with Pillar posting a -1 OAA over that stretch.

Regardless of whether you trust DRS or OAA, it should be clear Pillar’s days of being a defensive replacement are all but over. He no longer has the glove to be that late inning defensive replacement, and truth be told, Brandon Nimmo has posted not too different defensive numbers. In fact, over the last three years, Nimmo has a -11 DRS and -2 OAA albeit in fewer innings.

Looking at it that way, you could question what role Pillar would play. To that end, the answer very clearly could be as a platoon bat. In fact, over the past three years, Pillar has a 105 wRC+ against left-handed pitching. Over the past two years, that number is a 119 wRC+.

Of course, the problem is that’s not necessarily an upgrade for the Mets. Over the past three years, Michael Conforto has a 112 wRC+ against left-handed pitching. Nimmo has a 126, and Dominic Smith has a 128. That makes all three of the projected Mets Opening Day outfield as better hitters against left-handed pitching.

That said, Pillar is still a better option that players like Almora, Guillermo Heredia, and Mallex Smith. You can trust Pillar a lot more defensively than Jose Martinez. Really, when you break it down, Pillar provides good depth at all three outfield positions, and he gives the Mets some late inning pinch hitting and double switch opportunities.

Pillar is also a solid hedge against injuries. On that front, teams are going from 60 games to 162. There is likely going to be more attrition than we see over the course of a typical season. We will likely see some more injuries, and we almost assuredly going to see players need to take off more days than they usually would.

Undoubtedly, Pillar has improved the Mets depth. He’s a player you can trust in the starting lineup for extended stretches, and he pushes Almora to the minors. He is a late inning defensive replacement for a team starting a first baseman in left field, and he is a good pinch hitting option against left-handed pitching. All told, while not awe inspiring, this is a move which makes sense and makes the Mets better.



Kiké Hernandez Good Fit For Mets

As the New York Mets continue to build their roster, one area they need to address is depth a versatility. Case in point, Guillermo Heredia, a player with a career 84 wRC+ and -7 DRS in center is slated to be the team’s fourth outfielder.

There’s also J.D. Davis who can’t play a defensive position. That really leaves Luis Guillorme as the only real capable MLB utility player on the roster, and he’s just an infielder.

Looking at the free agent list, one name which really stands out is Enrique Hernandez. He’s a very versatile player who is a right-handed bat which can compliment a very heavy left-hand hitting Mets roster.

Hernandez has been a good to adequate defender across the diamond. In 2020, he played every position but third recording a 0 OAA at each position. In fact, he’s never been worse than a -3 OAA at any position in his career.

What really stands out is his good he’s been at second and center. At second, he has a career 2 OAA and an 18 DRS. In center, he has a career 4 OAA and 4 DRS. That also happens to be two big areas of need.

With center, Hernandez can be a late inning defensive replacement there. He can also be that at second for Jeff McNeil thereby allowing McNeil to move to third. Of course, this assumes the Mets don’t add new starters at these positions.

Even if they do, Hernandez can still serve as a defensive replacement. Moreover, with no DH in the NL, Hernandez is a strong option to double switch into games. Really, he plays seven defensive positions, and he’s quite good in the outfield and second.

On that note, Hernandez isn’t the strongest hitter. He has a career 99 wRC+. That’s been dragged down by consecutive sub 90 wRC+ seasons.

Still, Hernandez has traditionally hit left-handed pitchers well. Since 2015, he’s posted a 122 wRC+ against them. That’s one of the reasons Dave Roberts controversially started him against David Price in Game 5 of the 2018 World Series.

Whatever the impetus was for that decision, it’s apparent Hernandez can hit left-handed pitching, and he’s a good defender. With his versatility, he can platoon in center with Brandon Nimmo or with McNeil at second.

Hernandez is a player you can trust starting for small stretches in case of injury. He’s also accustomed to producing with irregular playing time. He can give you very good defense and hit left-handed pitching.

Overall, Hernandez just complements this Mets roster. He provides a balance to a team which is left-handed hitting friendly, and he’s a good defensive player across the diamond. As a result, the Mets should strongly consider him.

Pete Alonso Returns

Much of the reason why the 2020 Mets are going to miss the postseason is Pete Alonso having a sophomore slump. In fact, it’s been worse than anyone could’ve imagined.

Entering last night’s game, he was teetering at the Mendoza Line, and he was at a -0.7 WAR. During this time, he went from fan proclaimed future captain to people worrying if he could ever return to his 2019 Rookie of the Year record setting form. Last night, we saw a hint he could return to that form.

The key to that was in the fourth when he hit an opposite field home run off of Blake Snell to give the Mets a 2-1 lead:

We haven’t seen much of Alonso driving the ball the other way like he did much of last year. Harkening back to last year, he drove the ball with authority to all fields. That was the essence of his power and production.

Now, the home run numbers have essentially been there with all of Alonso’s struggles. After all, he was 13 homers so far this year which is a near 40 homer pace. With respect to Alonso, the singles and doubles haven’t been.

One did last night when Alonso singled home Dominic Smith to increase the Mets lead to 3-1. Coupled with an RBI groundout in the eighth, he had three RBI on the night. More impressively, he drove in a run in three separate plate appearances.

This was the player Alonso was last year. This is what the Mets need from Alonso the rest of the way this year and in each of the ensuing years. Seeing him do it last night begs the question why he hasn’t previously done it. Alonso has a theory:

Alonso definitely has a point. He’s still hitting the ball hard, and his BABIP does indicate an extraordinary amount of bad luck. That’s part of what happens with this 60 game season.

Your failures are magnified. The stats are skewed in polar opposite directions. You didn’t have the normal ebb and flow of a season of sufficient time to ramp up for the reboot.

There’s also the small matter of the 2019 juiced ball which seems to be gone. That could be part of the reason why we see Alonso’s hard hit percentage and barrel rates drop quite a bit with his whiff percentage trending in the wrong direction.

Overall, this has been a rough year for us all, Alonso included. He has five more games to continue to try to remind us why he was great last year and can be in the future. If he goes on the type of tear we know he can, maybe, just maybe, the Mets can win out and shock us all.

Game Notes: Robinson Cano and Guillermo Heredia also homered. Seth Lugo picked up the win after allowed two runs (one earned) off four hits and one walk over 6.1 innings while striking out seven. Edwin Diaz picked up the save and now has more saves than blown saves this year.

No Rays Of Hope Left After This Mets Loss

Well, if the miracles were going to happen, it needed to start tonight. Fortunately, Jacob deGrom was on the mound. Unfortunately, the Mets are still the Mets.

It started with Michael Conforto going from routine day off in a must win game to having hamstring tightness. Then, it was the Mets calling up Guillermo Heredia to replace the yet again injured Jake Marisnick while leaving Luis Guillorme in Brooklyn. Finally, it was the game.

The run in the second inning never should have scored against deGrom.

After deGrom issued a rare leadoff walk to Nate Lowe, Joey Wendle doubled. On the play, Lowe overran third and was dead to rights. However, that mattered little as Amed Rosario flat out dropped the relay throw. That allowed Lowe to not only retreat back safely but also to score on the ensuing Manuel Margot sacrifice fly.

That meant it was 2-0 Rays and not 1-0 Rays when Lowe homered off deGrom in the fourth.

The real shame is deGrom was otherwise phenomenal striking out 14 Rays. He rose to the occasion to keep the Mets in the game and the season. That included his working around a Wilson Ramos passed ball putting Lowe on third with one out in the sixth.

It didn’t matter as the Mets offense was stymied by the bullpenning Rays. The Mets were limited to just four hits and could only muster a two out rally in the fifth.

In that fifth inning, Heredia drew a two out walk. The bases were loaded after a Ramos single, and Brandon Nimmo was hit by a pitch.

Jeff McNeil came through with what should’ve been a game tying single. However, Willy Adames made a great sliding play up the middle to smother the ball. It was still an RBI single, but it was 2-1 instead of 2-2.

That was magnified when J.D. Davis lined out to end the inning. Overall, Davis was 0-for-3 with two strikeouts and a walk dropping his plummeting OPS to .777.

After Davis failed to deliver there, the Mets didn’t get another hit. In the end, the Mets went down weakly in this 2-1 loss and have now lost three out of four to all but destroy their postseason chances.

Game Notes: deGrom became the first Mets pitcher since Dwight Gooden in 1985 to strike out 14 twice in a season.