Just when you got good vibes going with the New York Mets winning six in a row to open July, they enter the All Star Break losing two in a row. The Saturday loss wasn’t that bad as you knew it was going to be a tough game.
The Mets started David Peterson, who battled and kept the Mets in the game. They had Pete Alonso and Francisco Alvarez up as the tying run in the ninth, but Josh Hader was better. You tip your cap and move onto the next game.
The next game was the real problem.
After what seemed like a resurgence, Max Scherzer again wasn’t good. The struggling Manny Machado tagged him with a three run homer in the first inning. This wouldn’t prove to be one of those get the ace early because he’ll shut you down moments because Machado would hit a two run homer against Scherzer in the fifth.
The Mets offense sputtered, and this time Joe Musgrove didn’t need an oil slick on his ears to do it.
Tommy Pham went down with an injury. Buck Showalter made sure to bat one of his old Baltimore Orioles, DJ Stewart, above Alvarez and Brett Baty. Really, no one was particularly good on the day, and Brandon Nimmo continues to be mired in an 0-for-20 stretch. He’s also 3-for-30 in July.
To a certain extent, these last two games might have caused fans needless hand-wringing. We did get a little excited with the winning streak, especially with it coming against good teams. We thought there might be a glimmer of hope that the Mets were getting back into the race. With the way the starting pitching was going, there was good reason for it.
As it stands now, the Mets are 18.5 games back of the Atlanta Braves. They are also seven games back in the Wild Card. They trail five teams for that last Wild Card spot including the San Diego Padres who leaped ahead of the Mets after this series.
It’s too much to say this series ended the season. After all, their putrid June probably did that. Rather, this might’ve just been another nail in the coffin. No, it’s not over, and we have seen stranger things happen (1973, 2016). However, it is a series like this that should have us temper our expectations until further notice.
Right now, the New York Mets are 34-40. They’ve recently lost a home series to the St. Louis Cardinals. Good luck finding hope for this season.
The Mets are 13.5 games behind the Atlanta Braves in the NL East. They’re seven games back in the Wild Card.
Only the St. Louis Cardinals, Washington Nationals, and Colorado Rockies have a worse record than the Mets. The Mets have lost a series to all three of those teams.
Mark Canha and Tommy Pham are playing well lately. They give a team a veteran bat and presence. Daniel Vogelbach is hot of late, so you can hope he can keep it going until another GM is dumb enough to trade for him.
Point is there are assets, and there could be teams looking to trade sooner rather than later. After all, teams like San Diego and Seattle are always desperate to make a trade.
For various reasons, the Mets just shouldn’t expect much in return. We’re not talking about game changing players, and Billy Eppler is the Mets GM. Maybe if Steve Cohen eats some money, they can maximize the returns.
In reality, you’re not doing this for the lottery ticket prospect. Mostly, you’re doing it for the prospects and young players who are here.
Mark Vientos should at least be the DH. Ronny Mauricio should now get the call-up to play whatever position he is going to play. You need them to get acclimated to the majors and be ready to take on a big role in 2024.
You need to let David Peterson finish the season in the rotation. It’s time to see if he can be a fifth starter, reliever, or look to cut bait. After all, they’re effectively doing that already with Tylor Megill (he’s really a reliever).
Maybe take a glance at Luke Ritter. Sure, he’s an older prospect with very little Triple-A experience, but he’s breaking out this season. After all, what do you have to lose? Games? They’re doing that already.
Mets have to find out about these young players. They need to make it beyond impossible for Buck Showalter to sit them.
Maybe they surprise you like the Cincinnati Reds are surprising everyone. Likely, they won’t, and the Mets will falter. However, it’s better to falter with young players getting experience than watching this.
It’s time to start selling.
It had gotten to the point where it was no longer whispers. It was now fair to question if Max Scherzer was no longer a top of the rotation type starter.
Pick your reason. Pitch clock. With the ejection, maybe more scrutiny with his hands. Injures. Certainly, age.
Whatever the case, Scherzer wasn’t the pitcher this year he was in his career. He wasn’t even close to the pitcher he was until his last few starts of last year.
Through his first 10 starts, he was 5-2 with a 4.45 ERA, 1.235 WHIP, 2.2 BB/9, and a 9.5 K/9. His FIP was 4.36.
There have been some glimpses of the Scherzer of his prime. Mostly, he’s had some unexpectedly poor starts getting hit harder than he ever has been. His pitches are a hair slower.
All told, Scherzer has not been Scherzer. At least, he wasn’t that until his start against the reigning World Series Champion Houston Astros.
Scherzer was effective and economical. It’s a big reason why he was able to go eight innings throwing only 91 pitches.
Scherzer struck out eight and only allowed one earned on four hits and a walk. The Astros were completely dominated.
There are some caveats here. The Astros are in a stretch where they played 23 games over 24 days. Yordan Álvarez is on the IL.
Make all the excuses you want to make. None of those excuses made Scherzer fix his slider. That slider was nearly unhittable as evidenced by the Astros meager display.
More than anything, the Mets needed that. It’s been their vaunted rotation that has let them down this year. In many ways, Scherzer is the poster boy for that.
He could also be the poster boy for a Mets resurgence. If Scherzer is the pitcher he was against the Astros, the Mets are formidable again.
We can buy Scherzer turning his season around and being the pitcher he was against the Astros because he has been that pitcher in his career. That was the pitcher the Mets signed and built their World Series aspirations around.
The Mets needed Scherzer to be great against the Astros. He was. Now, they just need him to be Scherzer for the rest of the season.
For the second time this season, a New York Mets pitcher was thrown out of a game for having an illegal substance on their hands. Both times, there was an MLB official involved.
With Max Scherzer, he was told to clean his hands because of the rosin residue. He would wash his hands in the presence of an MLB official. When Scherzer returned to the game, he would be thrown out for having an illegal stick substance on his hand.
What was interesting with Scherzer was David Cone did an experiment on Sunday Night Baseball which effectively exonerated Scherzer. In essence, he showed how what Scherzer claimed was absolutely true, and yet, Scherzer was still suspended.
In the opener of the Subway Series, the umpires did a check of Drew Smith before the top of the seventh. Umpire Bill Miller determined Smith’s hands were too sticky and ejected him from the game. After the game, Miller would say he didn’t know what the substance was, just that Smith’s hands were too sticky.
Ron Darling was frustrated asking for a standard to be put in place. This might be more fantasy than reality. It’s really difficult to adopt a uniform standard, and that is part of the shortsightedness of MLB implementing this rule.
However, that’s not the most troubling part of all of this. The most troubling part is an MLB official did not find Smith’s hands sticky in a post-ejection inspection.
Drew Smith says he had an MLB official check his hands in the tunnel after his ejection.
He says the official laughed and said there was "nothing there." pic.twitter.com/Vc1AfdCxA3
— SNY (@SNYtv) June 14, 2023
Now, there is the caveat here that either Smith or the MLB official was not exactly being truthful. That said, it is alarming Smith was told there was nothing there after he was ejected. If the timeline of events are correct, Smith would not have even had an opportunity to clean his hands before this post-ejection suspension.
With Scherzer, an MLB official supervised and approved the hand washing. With Smith, an MLB official said there was nothing on Smith’s hands.
Of course, the obvious point here is that there is an MLB official right there. Why is that official not performing these substance checks?
The MLB official has the opportunity to see if there is anything illicit happening. The MLB official can easily check hands before or after an inning without any of the theater we see now. For a league hyper focused on pace of play, it would also make the game move just that much quicker.
We can also get more checks with that official able to do it each and every inning. Yes, that would also mean a need for an official in the bullpen. With Major League Baseball having record revenues that should not be an issue at all.
The end result would be the promise of a more unified standard for ballparks because you get the same person checking every time, and that person can be trained specifically for this one area. You also get more testing resulting in the appearance of a fairer game with less foreign substances. Moreover, you get the game moving slightly quicker by ending the umpires periodic checks.
Really, there is no reason why this isn’t happening. At a minimum, you take away the ability for players to claim the MLB official cleared them creating less drama and frustration with the sport. Overall, you’re just making the game better.
The first Subway Series was 1997, and it had all of New York enthralled. There was the upstart New York Mets led by Lance Johnson, Bernard Gilkey, and Todd Hundley, against the defending World Series champion New York Yankees.
The first Subway Series did something rare in sports. It exceeded the hype. Dave Mlicki is still a Mets legend for the complete game shutout to open the series culminated with striking out Derek Jeter to end the game.
The Mets would spoil a David Cone no-hit bid in the series finale and almost pull out a win. While the concept of the Mets and Yankees being rivals was a bit forced at the outset, we did see the beginnings of a rivalry.
The rivalry reached its apex in the 2000 World Series and with all the drama surrounding Mike Piazza and Roger Clemens. There was a lot more to it like former Mets greats like Cone, Dwight Gooden, and Darryl Strawberry returning to Shea.
Mostly, it was Bobby Valentine who knew the Mets underdog status. He embraced it, and he treated those games like they were must win. Typically, they were for him as it was usually a marker for how the Mets were performing that season.
Since 2000, we have seen the series go through ebbs and flows. There have been moments like the Luis Castillo dropped fly ball or Carlos Delgado‘s power display. Of course, there was the Shawn Estes/Clemens drama.
All that said, this series has never been the same since 2000. In reality, this series has never been at a lower point than it is right now.
The Yankees are in third place and nine games back of the Tampa Bay Rays, but they do have a half-game lead in the Wild Card race. The Mets are in fourth place, are four games under .500, and they trail by three games in the Wild Card race.
The Yankees are without Aaron Judge. The Mets are without Pete Alonso. The ticket prices are through the roof, and Citi Field still has not sold out the game. It’s also a two game set making the possibility of the teams walking away with a somewhat uninteresting split.
On the bright side, we are going to see Gerrit Cole, Max Scherzer, and Justin Verlander. The Baby Mets of Francisco Álvarez, Brett Baty, and Mark Vientos will get their first taste of this series, and more importantly, put their stamp on this series.
We may very well see competitive games with a number of storylines emerge. However, in the past, the storylines were already written because of all the intrigue surrounding the series. That intrigue is seemingly gone for now.
Everywhere you look, the sky is falling for the New York Mets. They lost seven in a row before winning a game, and then they promptly lost again making them losers in seven of eight.
They’ve lost 11 series this season after losing 11 all of last season. They are four games under .500. Pete Alonso is on the IL. Who knows what to believe with Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander anymore. Buck Showalter has been bad and completely out of touch.
Guess what? Despite all of that, the Mets are only three games out in the Wild Card race. That’s not remotely insurmountable for this team. While we’re understandably focused on the negatives, there are plenty of positives happening with the team right now.
Mark Canha has completely turned his season around. Since May 14, he is hitting .300/.400/.467 with four doubles, two homers, and 11 RBI.
Tommy Pham has done the same. Since May 17 he is hitting .333/.392/.711 with six doubles, one triple, three homers, and 13 RBI.
Eduardo Escobar‘s resurgence has been oft discussed. Since May 12, he is hitting .378/.425/.487 with a double, homer, and five RBI.
Of course, all of this pales in comparison to what Francisco Álvarez is doing. He’s playing like an All-Star and Rookie of the Year candidate. On the season, he has a 128 wRC+. He’s sixth among all rookies in fWAR, and he is a top five catcher in all of baseball.
Francisco Lindor is a second-half player, and he seems primed to be just that for the Mets again this season. Since June 4, he is hitting .250/.357/.542 with a double, two homers, and three RBI while playing Gold Glove defense.
The Mets are in this race even with them faltering of late. They have an owner able to take on payroll to make a run. Mostly, you can argue, the Mets have everything right where they want them seeing how the Atlanta Braves and Philadelphia Phillies were in similar situations in recent years only to make a charge to the World Series.
The Mets dreams of winning a World Series isn’t over. They are very much alive and in postseason contention. They just need to hang in there.
The absolute last thing the New York Mets needed was for Pete Alonso to hit the IL. He was on pace for a historic 60 homer season, and he was the Mets best player so far this season. Really, outside of him, Francisco Álvarez, and Brandon Nimmo, the Mets players have truly under-performed.
That said, the Mets did score 10 runs in the series finale against the Atlanta Braves proving they can score runs without Alonso. They just need other players to pick up the slack. Honestly, the Mets do have the talent to do that.
First and foremost, the Mets need Francisco Lindor to be more of an offensive threat. For much of last season, it was him and Alonso carrying the Mets offense. This year, he’s just at a 100 wRC+. The good news is this is the point of the year where Lindor typically takes off, and he’s right on schedule with a four game hitting streak.
In addition to Lindor, Jeff McNeil has to snap out of this funk he’s been all year. It seemed like the shift rules could help him chase history. Instead, he’s having one of his worst seasons mostly driven by an inability to hit on the road. He was last year’s batting champ. He needs to get much closer to that for the Mets to have a chance.
Brett Baty was supposed to be the solution at third. Instead, he has been mired in a deep slump for other a month. He’s really struggling hitting breaking pitches, and he’s pounding the ball into the ground. He’s coming off a two hit game, so maybe, there’s some hope for him still.
Buck Showalter has used every excuse not to play Mark Vientos, but now, it seems like he is out of excuses. Against the Atlanta Braves, we saw a rusty player who went from hot to fighting it. With Alonso out, Vientos can now finally get enough games to get into a groove and establish himself as a bona fide Major League power hitter.
These are all possibilities, and if these players can get going, the Mets will be fine offensively even without Alonso. However, that’s not going to be the biggest issue.
Mostly, the Mets need Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander to figure it out right now. This team is three games under .500 and in fourth place in the NL East. Much of that is because their co-aces have been more like deuces. They’ve been inconsistent and unreliable, and all we hear is that they are so close, blah, blah, blah.
Well, time is up with them. They need to finally deliver. We know the bullpen is unreliable and not going to get better. The Mets need length and quality innings from their starters. That starts with Scherzer and Verlander.
Finally, we go to Showalter. Look, at this point, he’s done enough to get fired by the team. He may treat this injury as an excuse for more Daniel Vogelbach and Mark Canha at first. He can’t. If he does, the Mets are sunk.
In the end, there are just a few Mets who have not under-performed. To a certain extent, that is actually good news. After all, that means if the Mets best players start performing, this team can start rolling off wins. Of course, the manager needs to let that happen, and the players need to start doing that now.
They have no other choice.
This probably should be the last straw for Buck Showalter. Every single time you think things can’t get worse, it gets worse.
It all started going bad in Atlanta last year. The Mets needed to win just one game to win the division. Instead, they were swept to complete a historic collapse.
The Mets followed that with a loss in the Wild Card Series. In the decisive Game 3, Showalter waited too long to have Joe Musgrove’s ears inspected, and he looked weak doing it.
This Mets team was supposed to be an NL East contender. At the moment, they’re 30-33 sitting in fourth place 8.5 games out of first place.
The season has hopefully reached its nadir as the Mets got swept by the Atlanta Braves. It marked the first time in Mets history where they lost three straight games they led by three runs.
This just feels like the final straw for a souring fanbase. The fanbase was souring well before this senseless quote.
There should be fingers pointed in many different directions, but usually, in these circumstances, it’s the manager who goes.
Admittedly, it’s not likely Showalter is fired. Same goes for Billy Eppler. At least not yet. However, that doesn’t mean the Mets shouldn’t do it.
At the moment, their hopes like with their young players. However, Showalter is reticent to fully deploy them, and we see him trying to hold them back. It’s really time for him to go.
Part of the issue is hiring interim managers is messy. You can’t conduct a full search. Oft times, you’re hiring a coach from a failed staff or shoe-horning a guy atop an existing staff.
If the Mets were to fire Showalter, they should consider hiring Carlos Beltrán as the interim manager.
Beltrán is already with the organization. He’s a name who could excite the fanbase and bring some juice to the team.
In the past, Beltrán was definitively not the guy. However, due to current circumstances, he could be exactly what the Mets need.
With much of the Mets hopes tied to Álvarez, Brett Baty, and Vientos, we should remember Beltrán mentored David Wright and Jose Reyes. He is also well aware of what Francisco Lindor is going through this year.
There’s a lot he knows. There’s so much more he doesn’t. It’s a free try for the Mets to see if he can. If he can’t, the season is teetering on lost anyway, and that’s with a manager who has done this for 22 years.
There’s also the karma of giving Beltrán the job after it was wrongly and needlessly taken away from him. If there’s any org that needs good karma right now, it’s the Mets.
Ultimately, this will not happen. Not now. Perhaps not ever.
Just because it won’t doesn’t mean it shouldn’t. We can dicker over Beltrán or the next guy (Eric Chávez?), but what is becoming incredibly clear is the Mets need a change. Showalter needs a change.
If the Mets do pull the trigger and fire Showalter, it will be a decision we can be proud of.
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.
There is just so much to talk about with the New York Mets at the moment. On the good, we have Pete Alonso on pace for 60 home runs, and Francisco Álvarez increasingly looks like a lock for the National League Rookie of the Year.
Buck Showalter can’t seem to help himself. He threw Mark Vientos into a platoon for no good reason. Daniel Vogelbach looks done, and Tommy Pham may just be pushing past Vogelbach as the player to keep.
While the focus is everywhere and anywhere, we all seem to overlook just how good of a season Brandon Nimmo is having. Nimmo was out there in the last game to remind us how good and important he is:
Another phenomenal play from Brandon Nimmo in CF. pic.twitter.com/Nx83lPEDtB
— Steve Gelbs (@SteveGelbs) May 31, 2023
Nimmo made yet another great defensive play in center. That play was important too because his robbing Nick Castellanos of a home run kept the game tied at zero in what would eventually be a 2-0 Mets win. Considering it was a deep dive to left for Castellanos, we probably also avoided something horrible happening.
Defensively, Nimmo has been very good for a few seasons now. This year, Nimmo has a 2 OAA which ranks sixth in the National League. Since the start of last season, Nimmo has a 6 OAA which rates him as the sixth best in the National League.
Offensively, Nimmo has a 134 wRC+. That rates as the 33rd best in all of baseball. Among center fielders, Nimmo behind just Aaron Judge and Mike Trout. Of course, Nimmo rates ahead of both of them defensively. He’s also much closer to them as an overall player as you may think.
Nimmo’s 2.0 fWAR trails Judge’s 2.9, but it is ahead of Trout’s 1.9. Like with wRC+, they are the top three center fielders in the game. Overall, Nimmo’s 2.0 fWAR is tied for 14th overall. That rates him as the fourth best NL outfielder. That should mean he’s an All-Star, but every year, he just seems to get overlooked.
In terms of bWAR, Nimmo’s 1.7 is second on the New York Mets only to Alonso. It rates him as 34th overall and 15th among outfielders. He’s eighth among center fielders and third among NL center fielders.
Overall, Nimmo is having another great year, and he should be an All-Star for the first time in his career. Of course, he may not be as people tend to overlook all the great things he does. After all, with everything going on with the Mets, we tend to have our focus in other directions even if we need to take time to acknowledge Nimmo.