One day, you’re in first place, and you’re a potential NL Manager of the Year. The next, your team is eliminated from postseason contention with no hope of having a .500 record.
That’s the type of year it has been for Luis Rojas and the New York Mets. As is standard, when a team falls short, the manager faces scrutiny.
It comes with the territory. Obviously, Rojas hasn’t been perfect. Assuredly, he’s made bad decisions, and there are times you wonder what in the world he’s doing.
Go pinpoint your most maddening moment. Make it out to be more than it is. Throw a few more moments on there. Magnify that.
Guess what? That’s not the reason the 2021 Mets didn’t make the postseason. It’s far from it.
In fact, for a while, Rojas was one of the things ruse was right about the Mets. At least, that was the narrative. In the end, blaming or crediting Rojas was just that – narrative.
The truth of the matter is it all fell apart. It wasn’t all at once, but rather in pieces. Marcus Stroman and Taijuan Walker were the only two starters to last the year with Stroman the only one to have sustained success into the second half.
Offensively, the Mets went with Chili Davis only to utilize advanced data which runs counter-intuitive to what Davis does. We saw the offense have a big letdown.
Francisco Lindor had a slow start. Michael Conforto dealt with COVID and a career worst year. That’s the tip of the iceberg with everyone not named Brandon Nimmo and maybe Pete Alonso having poor to flat out bad years.
For his part, Rojas listened to the workload management rules. The front office specifically said it was the player’s fault they got hurt.
That brings us in a roundabout way to a big part of the issue. With last year being a COVID impacted year, depth was more important than ever. For some reason, the front office was cavalier with it.
Steven Matz was traded for two relievers who had little impact and another flipped for the poor performing Khalil Lee. They also made odds unforced errors like designating Johneshwy Fargas for assignment. For our mental health, we probably should’ve dwell too much on Jerad Eickhoff pitching in five games.
Fact of that matter is if Jacob deGrom was healthy, much of this season goes much differently. If the Mets hitters were just a reasonable facsimile of their career stats, the season is far different.
For that matter, if the front office looked at the roster problems and attacked them at the trade deadline, things go differently. At the end of the day, this was a first place team at the trade deadline, and the organization opted to fight another day.
In what way is all of this Rojas’ fault? The simple truth is it isn’t.
We can and should have the debate over whether Rojas is the right man for the job. Realistically speaking, he’s only had one year at the helm, and in that time, he’s shown good and bad.
The issue for any pure novice manager is whether he can grow. No one knows that yet. No one.
What we do know is the Mets shown they can win and fall apart with Rojas at the helm. Both instances were entirely tied to the strength of the roster. That brings us to the front office.
In the end, feel however you want about Rojas. It doesn’t matter because he’s not the reason the Mets disappointed this year. He may eventually be the fall guy but things aren’t magically improving because there’s another manager. The only way that happens is if the roster improves.
By no means is it fair to suggest the New York Mets and their players were throwing the game. Certainly, there was nothing Jerad Eickhoff wanted more than to have a strong start.
In many ways, this was the future of Eickhoff’s MLB career. He had already been DFA’d multiple times this season with no one willing to pick him up. That meant he was there for a Mets team desperate for a pitcher.
There’s no doubt the Mets were overturning every stone they could. After all, they just pulled the trigger on a trade for Rich Hill. Clearly, they wanted better than Eickhoff, but they just couldn’t find it.
It was a disaster for Eickhoff. He joined Pat Mahomes as the only Mets starter to walk five and all 10 ER. It was just that bad over his 3.2 innings.
Luis Rojas and the Mets were clearly asking him to wear one in what was a thinly veiled attempt to punt the game from a starting pitching standpoint. As noted, Eickhoff could only give them 3.2 innings.
Eickhoff left the mound to a chorus of boos. It’s unfortunate that’s the way he goes out. Certainly, he will be DFA’d in short order, and with the trade deadline this week and Carlos Carrasco due to come off the IL on Friday, there’s no way Eickhoff pitches for the Mets again.
To their credit, the Mets tried to make a game of it. Jeff McNeil‘s two run homer in the fifth not only extended his hitting streak to 14 games, but it pulled the Mets to within 10-3.
That was certainly the case when Diaz allowed a homer to Austin Riley, a player who is absolutely killing the Mets, hit a two run homer in the sixth. That made a prayer of coming back seven runs back against a bad Braves bullpen, an unrealistic nine run deficit.
Brandon Drury hit a window dressing two run homer to make it 12-5, but this was a game the Mets blew by not having a legitimate Major League starter. We can debate what the Mets should or should not have done, but in reality, there was no one on this roster to put the Mets in position to win.
For the Mets, they still lead the division by 3.5 games. Ultimately, they’ll be fine with getting two starters back and the trade deadline.
Unfortunately, for Eickhoff, this may be it. Certainly, someone could grab him as minor league depth. It’s just hard to imagine he’s going to get a real chance to start in the majors again.
Robert Stock was recalled, and he lasted all of one inning before leaving the game with an injury. That meant the New York Mets bullpen effectively needed to pitch the entire game.
What did the Mets in this game more than anything with hitting with runners in scoring position. That problem reared it’s ugly head again with the Mets going 0-for-7 stranding nine runners.
— New York Mets (@Mets) July 21, 2021
On the downside, the Mets couldn’t take full advantage of their opportunities.
In the seventh, Jonathan Villar and Dominic Smith walked to start the inning. Villar would score from second on a Joey Votto missed catch error. However, the Mets couldn’t take full advantage as Jeff McNeil hit into an inning ending double play.
In the eighth. .Guillorme was stranded at second. Smith drew a leadoff walk in the ninth, but he wouldn’t advance.
In the end, it was a hard fought 4-3 loss. It shouldn’t have been this close, but the pitching held up. The only issue now is can it hold up again.
After all that, the 3-0 lead became a 7-3 deficit, and it looked like Pittsburgh all over again. In actuality, it was, but it was like the series finale.
Michael Conforto got the comeback started with a two run homer in the fourth.
— New York Mets (@Mets) July 20, 2021
— New York Mets (@Mets) July 20, 2021
It was a brand new game, and it would stay tied into the seventh. Miguel Castro departed with one on and two out. He didn’t get out of the inning as J.D. Davis had his typical difficulty getting the ball out of his glove thereby costing the Mets of any chance to get an inning ending double play.
At that point, Nido had a double and an RBI. James McCann had been scuffling amidst an 0-for-11 streak. Naturally, when Jauss tabbed McCann to pinch hit for Nido, he hit a go–ahead two run homer.
That shouldn’t been enough for a 9-8 win. The problem was for the first time in his career, Edwin Diaz would blow three straight saves.
Part of that was Diaz walking Kyle Farmer to start the inning. The other part was Jauss unnecessarily having Diaz pitch to Winker. Predictably, Winker hit the game tying single to tie the game at 9-9.
In extra innings, the took advantage of the dumb gimmick when McCann singled home the go-ahead run. Remarkably, the ball double tapped his bat on the singles. It was 10-9 heading into the bottom of the inning.
With all the bullpen usage, the Mets opted for Anthony Banda for the save. It didn’t go well. Two batters into the inning, there were runners on first and second with Tyler Naquin driving home the tying run.
After that, Jose Peraza made an impact against his former team starting the around the horn double play on Eugenio Suarez‘s grounder. He’d then get the put out on the ensuring Shogo Akiyama grounder to send the game to the 11th.
Brandon Nimmo led off the 11th putting runners at the corners. After a poor Alonso at-bat, McNeil delivered the go-ahead single giving the Mets an 11-10 lead.
For some reason, with Banda of all people up, the Mets put the contact play on. The end result was Nimmo getting nailed at home. Fortunately, the Mets weren’t done as Kevin Pillar and Conforto would go back-to-back.
— New York Mets (@Mets) July 20, 2021
That 15-10 lead was enough for even Banda. Although, he did test that allowing back-to-back one out singles pulling the Reds to within 15-11.
With that, May saved hid second in a row and third of the season. That’s a testament to the never give up mentality of this never give up clubhouse.
Game Notes: Mets are 177-0 all-time when scoring at least 12 runs. Johneshwy Fargas was designated for assignment. Travis Blankenhorn was optioned to Syracuse. Eickhoff and Stephen Nogosek were called up.
The Washington Nationals are clicking offensively, so Jerad Eickhoff is just about the last pitcher you’d want to send to the mound to face them.
The Nationals hit four homers off of him including two from Kyle Schwarber, who is suddenly becoming a very annoying Mets killer. Just like that, it was 5-0 Nationals through six.
The problem is the Mets offense did nothing. That was until Luis Guillorme, who keeps finding a way on base, would single and go to second on an error. With two outs in the seventh, Jeff McNeil hit a single to finally get the Mets on the board.
Pete. ? pic.twitter.com/5c8W4jcFpn
— New York Mets (@Mets) June 29, 2021
Billy ? pic.twitter.com/lqZyhv5ITT
— New York Mets (@Mets) June 29, 2021
That’s where the Mets scoring ended. The rally was all for naught as Miguel Castro imploded in the eighth allowing a three run homer to Ryan Zimmerman. Yes, there were defensive gaffes and the like, bit a one run game became an 8-4 loss.
Right now, when it comes to the Mets offense, it’s a conundrum. If you’re glass half-full, you see a team poised on breaking out and who battles back. If you’re glass half-empty, you see an offense who doesn’t show up when needed.
Regardless of how you see things, this offense can and should be better, and the Mets are going to need it to be through this stretch of games into the break.
With Marcus Stroman leaving the game with a hip injury, the Mets already thin pitching depth might’ve suffered another blow. These injuries have led to selecting the contracts of MLB retread Jerad Eickhoff and a promising prospect Tylor Megill, who really isn’t ready.
As is always the case, this has led to the bring back Bartolo Colon nonsense. Yes, it’s nonsense, and this time it was Howie Rose asking Mets GM Zack Scott about it. Hopefully, it was tongue-in-cheek:
— SNY Mets (@SNY_Mets) June 22, 2021
Just so we’re clear. Colon last pitched in the majors as a 45 year old in 2018. In 24 starts and four relief appearances for the Texas Rangers, he was dreadful going 7-12 with a 5.78 ERA, 82 ERA+, and a 5.47 FIP.
There is zero chance three years later he’s any good. It doesn’t matter how many nonsense workout videos you see or his fooling semipro players. He’s terrible, and he’s going to be terrible.
For all intents and purposes, the nostalgia aspect doesn’t make all that much sense. He was an okay pitcher with the Mets who was horrid in big spots in the World Series. There was also the matter of his refusing to pay child support. Really, he wasn’t the lovable guy some make him out to be.
Colon pitched better than expected when he was with the Mets. He hit a homer. He made some great defensive plays. He made an All-Star team, and he helped drag the 2016 Mets to the postseason.
Enjoy those memories. However, that’s all they are memories because there’s no clinic in Germany, and MLB testing has gotten much better meaning there’s no Fountain of Youth this time.
Instead, let’s enjoy Megill’s debut, hope Corey Oswalt gets stretched out, see if Thomas Szapucki can put it together, and wait to see if Carlos Carrasco can return soon. If not, let’s see what trades this front office can swing in the event any starters need to miss any more time. Really, just anything other than Colon.
The New York Mets entered the game with Jonathan Villar and Tomas Nido unavailable. Brandon Drury was sent down to Syracuse, and Patrick Mazeika was recalled. However, Syracuse was shut down for the day due to COVID.
The Mets had a doubleheader yesterday, and they have a planned bullpen day tomorrow. The absolute last thing this team needed was another injury. That goes double for a starter.
Well, Marcus Stroman had to leave the game with a left hip problem while facing the lead-off batter in the second inning.
Marcus Stroman has exited tonight's start vs. the Braves in the 2nd inning
Yennsy Diaz is coming on to pitch. pic.twitter.com/uIbdFmTRvC
— SNY (@SNYtv) June 22, 2021
This meant Yennsy Diaz, who pitched 2.1 innings three days ago, was needed to give the Mets multiple innings. Put another way, they needed him to come up huge.
Well, that’s the way his outing started. After loading the bases with no outs, and a mound visit from Francisco Lindor, Diaz would strike out the next three batters to escape the jam. That’s made all the more impressive by his striking out Ronald Acuña to end the inning.
With the shift, Jeff McNeil opted to field the ground ball on the shortstop side of second instead of letting Lindor field it.
McNeil initially tried to out race Almonte to second, but he couldn’t. Instead, he got Riley out at first. What might’ve been an inning ending double play was just one out. On the very next pitch, Dansby Swanson hit a three run homer.
That’s all the runs the Braves needed. That’s because of a mixture of Charlie Morton being great and the Mets offense being dreadful. After all, the Mets have been shut out in consecutive games and in three of their last seven.
With the injuries, the Mets resorted to having David Peterson and Jerad Eickhoff pinch hit. You may want to attribute that to the offensive problems, but Eickhoff had the Mets only hit off Morton. After that fifth inning single, the Mets didn’t get another hit until James McCann doubled with two outs in the ninth.
Really, about the only bright spot was the bullpen. Over eight innings, they allowed just the three runs. The big hero was Aaron Loup who came up big by pitching three scoreless.
Still, this was a 3-0 loss where the Mets lost another pitcher and could only muster two hits. They’ve missed a chance to really deliver a blow to the Braves chances of winning the division, and according to what happens tomorrow, they may be giving the Braves new life.
Game Notes: Michael Conforto was going to be activated off the IL, but the Mets opted to wait another day.
It was Jerad Eickhoff facing off against Ian Anderson, so naturally, this was a pitcher’s duel. That’s nothing to say against Anderson, who has been very good in his brief career. Rather, it’s noteworthy when Eickhoff hasn’t pitched in the majors in two years.
While not flawless, it was a good start for Eickhoff. He’d pitch four scoreless innings allowing three hits and three walks while striking out three. Understandably, Luis Rojas and the Mets didn’t have him face the order a third time.
That’s all the Braves needed entering the seventh because of the Mets poor base running. It was almost indescribably bad.
In the second, Pete Alonso was running on the 3-2 pitch, and he thought he could beat Acuña’s arm. He couldn’t as Acuña’s throw was perfect and nailed Alonso at third.
With the Mets offense sputtering, they didn’t get another rally going until the sixth. That started with a Jonathan Villar one out double against Anderson. Of course, because this is the Mets, Villar came out of the game with an injury.
Jose Peraza pinch ran for Villar and for reasons that defy logic he took off for third on a Francisco Lindor grounder to his right. After Swanson easily nailed Peraza, Lindor would make matters worse. With Jeff McNeil up, Lindor broke for second. Anderson threw over leading to Lindor getting caught stealing easily.
Then, Luis Rojas made a monumentally dumb move. The slow footed Alonso was the tying run, and yet, somehow, Rojas opts to pinch run Albert Almora for Smith. There’s no good explanation why you don’t look to do all you can do to try to ensure you get the tying run.
After James McCann was plunked the bases were loaded, and Kevin Pillar was up. Pillar ripped a liner, but it was right at Riley. Riley snagged it, and he was initially ruled to beat Alonso back to the bag for a game ending double play.
As it turned out, it was a blown call overturned on replay. That’s fortunate as Rojas’ mistake didn’t cost him and the Mets there.
Whatever the case, it didn’t matter as Brandon Drury popped out to end the inning. With that, the Mets ran themselves out of innings and the game. That’s the biggest reason for this split doubleheader.
Game Notes: Joey Lucchesi has a torn UCL. Jeurys Familia was placed on the IL with a hip impingement. Robert Gsellman is on the IL with a lat injury. Stephen Tarpley was the 27th man for the doubleheader. Yennsy Diaz was recalled. Mason Williams was designated for assignment.
The New York Mets went to the desert, and it was the Arizona Diamondbacks who came up dry. While the Diamondbacks did push the Mets, the Mets took this series:
2. Brenly should forever keep Tom Seaver‘s name out of his mouth. He should not be sullying the name of a great man and best right handed pitcher in the post World War II era.
4. Holding back Seth Lugo from a save opportunity when you’ve already used Edwin Diaz and Miguel Castro because you want to ease him back from his injury is all well and good. However, you just can’t follow that up by trying to throw him two innings in his first appearance back. That’s a contradictory and dumb position.
5. Diaz is just a different pitcher than he has ever been. He’s able to go back-to-back days now with no issue. He’s shaking off blown saves. He’s having consecutive good years. There is not enough superlatives you can throw his way right now. He really deserves credit for how much he’s improved.
6. On that note, Jeurys Familia resurrecting his career has been perhaps the biggest key to this bullpen being this good.
7. It looks like that stint at first base was great for James McCann. He’s continued hitting well, and as we’re seeing, he seems to thrive on the platoon role. Fortunately for the Mets, Tomas Nido has taken his game to a new level to make this a tenable plan.
8. Between McCann hitting again and Francisco Lindor having figured things out, perhaps we can stop passing judgments on two months. Clearly, these two needed to settle into a new city with a new coaching staff. And yes, it helps them and everyone that the team replaced Chili Davis.
9. For those who haven’t noticed, Lindor is a truly great player. Look at what he’s doing. He’s top five in the majors in OAA, and over the past month, he has a .758 OPS. Remember, that includes a period when he was in a deep slump. By September, we’re all going to laugh at the panic some people showed over his start.
10. This team is clicking with the return of Pete Alonso. His presence in the lineup seems to have taken pressure off of everyone, and frankly, it helps that he returned to the lineup in peak Alonso form.
11. There is no one tougher than Kevin Pillar. Not only did he return from that fastball to the face and surgery to replace multiple facial fractures, but he’s picked right up where he left off.
12. The Mets have had a number of injuries, but if the hamstring lingers, none might be more impactful than Jonathan Villar. Villar has been able to hold down third base with all the injuries, and while his numbers and propensity to get picked off leave something to be desired, he does find a way to have an impact on games. The Mets are going to miss him.
13. The J.D. Davis injury is getting increasingly worrisome. It seems like he just has set back after set back. You really just have to wonder if the Mets are really missing a significant injury here.
14. The fact the Mets have a 4.5 game lead over the Atlanta Braves, the largest in baseball, is impressive. The fact the Mets have that lead allows them to hold their cards and wait for Michael Conforto, Jeff McNeil, and Brandon Nimmo to return at their own pace. Of course, the pitching being so dominant allows that as well.
16. Because baseball is stupid, you have to guess Joey Lucchesi or David Peterson gets one before deGrom even though neither pitcher really belongs in the starting rotation right now. Injuries have really helped keep them here.
17. The Mets really need to decide if they want Peterson to be Mike Pelfrey, or if they want to try to give someone else a shot while he goes to Syracuse to develop like he needs.
18. For those saying the Mets need Pelfrey, the team can certainly figure it out. After all, they have Lugo, Robert Gsellman, and Sean Reid-Foley who can give you multiple innings consistently out of the bullpen. They also have Jerad Eickhoff, Corey Oswalt, and Thomas Szapucki to plug into the rotation. Really, there are options, and they need to do something.
19. Speaking of Gsellman, those 3.2 innings were phenomenal, and it speaks to his being back to being the pitcher the Mets thought he was when he was first called up in 2016.
20. May was right. That game winning hit by Josh Reddick was foul. Really, this just highlights the absurdity of the replay system where there aren’t cameras down the lines to ensure we get calls like that absolutely correct. Then again, this is baseball under Manfred, so why should we expect any different?
At some point, the New York Mets need to determine what they want David Peterson to be. Do they want more of the same, or do they want to have him develop to become what they thought they were getting when the organization made him their first round pick (20th overall) in the 2017 draft.
More than that, they may need to ask how having Peterson in the majors is helping anyone. His start in the series finale against the Arizona Diamondbacks indicated no one is.
After being staked to a 4-0 lead before he threw a pitch, Peterson imploded in the bottom of the first.
It was 2-0 before he recorded an out. After 35 pitches, there were only one out, and it was a tie game. At that point, Peterson needed to be relieved by Robert Gsellman.
Yes, Madison Bumgarner would knock in the go-ahead run, but Gsellman stepped up big time. He’d pitch 3.2 innings to help save the bullpen and allow the Mets to win the game.
This was Peterson’s 10th start of the season, and it was the fifth time he failed to pitch at least five innings. It was the sixth time he failed to go past five. It was also the third time he failed to go even four innings.
Taking it all into account, Peterson has been wholly unreliable. You don’t know what you’re getting from him start to start, and you don’t know when the implosion will invariably happen.
Before this start, the numbers were poor. He had a 4.63 FIP and a 79 ERA+. What’s scary is that’s with him getting some luck with a .290 BABIP.
Delving deeper, there are bigger problems. Looking at Baseball Savant, he doesn’t have much velocity or spin. Taking that into account, we probably shouldn’t be surprised he’s getting hit very hard.
This isn’t just this year. Yes, Peterson’s ERA and WHIP were better last year, but it was all an illusion. Peterson still had a 4.52 FIP, a poor K/BB, and he was getting hit hard. He was just extraordinarily lucky with a .233 BABIP.
Really, when you break this all down, Peterson wasn’t ready last year, and he shouldn’t have been pushed again this year. He needed more time to work on things, but the Mets short-sightedness interfered.
Now, we all know the counter-arguments. Carlos Carrasco and Noah Syndergaard aren’t close to returning. Thomas Szapucki probably isn’t ready. No one trusts or wants to trust Jerad Eickhoff or Corey Oswalt.
The excuses goes on and on. However, when having those discussions, the focus needs to boil down to what Peterson is.
There needs to be a realization Peterson doesn’t give the Mets what they need at least half the time. It’s probably less than that, and based on what we’ve seen lately, that may be an optimistic view of things.
No matter what you think of the plan beyond Peterson, we should be able to agree he’s not really ready for the majors. Therein lies the problem, and that’s why he should be sent down.
In the end, that’ll help him develop more than he can right now. That’s what the Mets need from Peterson. The 2021 innings can come from a minor affiliate. This is what will be best for him, and that means it’s what’ll be best for the Mets.