1. The Starting Pitching
With the Mets having Jacob deGrom going in this series, we knew the Mets were going to get at least one really good start. What we did not know was the team was going to get three. In the entire four game series, Mets starters would surrender just five earned runs in a combined 24.0 innings pitched.
In his first start of the season, Seth Lugo allowed no runs over four innings. Zack Wheeler allowed two runs over six innings (both runs charged to him after he departed in the seventh). Steven Matz allowed two runs over seven. In another incredible performance, deGrom allowed just one over seven, striking out 13.
Overall, this is part of a very good run for Mets starters who have posted a 2.48 ERA over a 16-game stretch. If you are looking for hope in what has been a difficult stretch, it’s this right there. As this rotation yields fewer runs and pitches deeper into games, there is still a chance the Mets will turn things around.
2. Cavalry on the Way
When Todd Frazier went on the disabled list, the Mets were 18-15. Since that time, the club has gone 9-15. While many will argue you can’t pin things on the loss of just one player, consider in his absence, Mets third baseman have hit .222/.283/.289 (63 wRC+). Adding Frazier back is going to be a real difference maker in the lineup.
It should also help to have Anthony Swarzak come off the disabled list. Aside from the team wanting to him to be a key arm down in the bullpen to pitch in the late innings, more than anything, this team needed a fresh arm down there that can take the burden off of Lugo, Robert Gsellman, and Paul Sewald.
With Frazier and Swarzak returning, the Mets are addressing two real needs at an important juncture of the season. Hopefully, both are ready to take off and run from first pitch on Tuesday.
3. Mets Are Still In It
Looking at the standings, the Mets are seven games back of the Braves (six in the loss column) for the division, and they are 5.5 games back of the second Wild Card (five in the loss column).
In the worldview of the National League East this past weekend, Jake Arrieta flipped out at a Phillies team who scored just one run this weekend, and it was on his homer. The Washington Nationals scored just seven runs in a series they lost to the Braves.
Speaking of the Nationals, reports are not good for Daniel Murphy, and that would be a blow to an already struggling lineup.
Put another way, the teams ahead of the Mets are still beatable, and it’s quite possible a young Braves team regresses to the mean and comes back to the pack after the injury to Ronald Acuna Jr. If so, a Mets team that is suddenly getting healthy and are getting much improved starting pitching could be well poised to quickly make up those deficits.
1. What Is Sandy Doing?
In a year of puzzling to odd to just plain bad decisions, Sandy Alderson might’ve outdone himself.
After P.J. Conlon‘s start in the second half of a doubleheader, the Mets made a series of moves designed to add some fresh arms to the bullpen.
One of those moves was to call-up Scott Copeland, but for that to happen, the Mets needed to clear space on the 40-man roster. In the ensuing series of moves, one of the moves made to do that was for the Mets to designate Conlon for assignment.
After Copeland pitched 1.1 scoreless for the only game he was active, he would be designated for assignment, so the Mets could call up Jose Lobaton and his -0.6 WAR.
As if this wasn’t bad enough, one of the impetus for calling up Lobaton was so the Mets could get Kevin Plawecki‘s bat in against LHP. In his career, he’s hit .194/.281/.287 off left-handed pitching.
It gets better.
The Lobaton call-up left the Mets with just three available relievers on Friday’s game which is why you saw Paul Sewald instead of one of the bullpen’s better arms. Sewald would surrender a 2-run lead lose that game.
Even better, a Mets team looking for a second lefty in the bullpen, even before Jerry Blevins‘s struggles, Conlon was claimed by the Dodgers on the same day Buddy Baumann took the loss by allowing four earned runs in the 14th inning.
This is the epitome of roster mismanagement, and it needs to be reviewed before assigning blame to anyone, which is something the Mets were all but happy to do this past week.
2. Bad Fundies
While Mickey Callaway might have been wrong singling out Michael Conforto for his overthrow of a cut-off man while refusing to name other players who have committed far worse mental and physical errors, Callaway was right about one thing – this Mets team is playing bad baseball fundamentally.
What is all the more puzzling is how this team failed to improve in this area after it was cited.
Yesterday, Jay Bruce let a second baseman call him off on a shallow fly ball. If Bruce had fielded that ball, the runner doesn’t even dare to go home, but with Luis Guillorme fielding it with his momentum going towards the outfield, the runner was able to make the dash home for the second run of a game the Mets lost 2-0.
Also, while it was a bit of a fluke play, Matz did readily admit he doesn’t normally pay attention to the runner at third. So yes, the Cubs made a great play and really took advantage of what the other 28 baseball teams probably do in that same exact spot. Still, it’s odd Matz isn’t paying attention to runners, and more than that, it’s strange his catcher, Kevin Plawecki, who should know this about his pitcher, isn’t alert enough to stop that play from happening.
Really, these are just the two more recent examples. There are many, many more all Mets fans could cite having watched this team play.
3. Subway Series Obsession
Last year, reports indicated the Mets did not accept trade offers from the Yankees for Lucas Duda, Neil Walker, and Bruce partially because they did not want to see those players hitting homers against the Mets in the Subway Series. Instead, the Mets accepted a collection of right-handed relievers and some payroll relief.
This year, the Mets are aligning their rotation so Noah Syndergaard, their second best starting pitcher, pitches against the Yankees in the Subway Series instead of holding him back a day or two to pitch against the first place Braves.
In other reports, the Mets are considering having Yoenis Cespedes skip a rehab assignment and return straight to the Mets lineup. With the Mets obsession with it, you can be assured the Subway Series is playing a part in that decision.
Sooner or later, the entire Mets organization is going to have to realize the Mets play in the National League East, and the Yankees play in the American League East. Maybe once they do that, they will begin to make decisions better geared towards winning the division instead of collecting that phantom Mayor’s Trophy.