Bullpen and defensive miscues hand Mets first loss, Carlos Carrasco was solid, and the duality of Buck Showalter
The Mets collapsed late on Sunday, failing to secure a four-game sweep
What’s Up with the Mets? ⚾️
The Mets dropped the final game of their four-game series against the Nationals by a score of 4-2 (box)
The Mets held a 2-1 lead in the eighth inning, but defensive mistakes by Pete Alonso and questionable bullpen usage by Mets manager Buck Showalter opened the floodgates for Washington
Despite the frustrating loss, RHP Carlos Carrasco looked good in his first start of the 2022 season, allowing just a run over 5 2/3 IP with five strikeouts
Carrasco’s pitch selection was dramatically different from when he pitched through pain last season (NY Post)
The Mets struggled with runners in scoring position in the final two games of this series, going 2-for-18 in such situations with 17 runners left on-base
Mark Canha continues to impress. He went 3-for-4 at the plate and drove in one of the Mets two runs on the day. He has started off the year red-hot, getting seven hits in ten at bats. He came over with the reputation of being a good on-base guy and so far he is paying dividends
Francisco Lindor hit his first home run of the year that tied the game at one apiece in the fourth. He also walked and stole a base which was encouraging to see after he got hit in the face earlier in the series
Jeff McNeil picked up another hit and a walk as he looks to put last season’s struggles behind him
Today’s Game 🗓
Match-up: Mets (3-1) vs. Phillies (2-1)
Where: Citizens Bank Park — Philadelphia, PA
Starters: Taijuan Walker (0-0, 0.00 ERA) vs. Ranger Suarez (0-0, 0.00 ERA)
When: 6:45 PM EDT
Where to Watch: SNY
The Duality of Buck Showalter 📝
For the first three games of the series, manager Buck Showalter was universally praised by both the players and fans for how he reacted to his players repeatedly getting beaned. He was the first to charge out of the dugout after Francisco Lindor went down which led to both benches clearing.
Lindor appreciated his team sticking up for him and said the gesture made him proud to be a New York Met, which was a refreshing change since pride and New York Mets usually did not go hand-in-hand during the leaner Wilpon years.
After the beaning incident and subsequent hostilities, former Oriole Adam Jones tweeted “Buck don’t like them high and tights on his players. He protected us the same way. Don’t expect anything less @Mets."
From that small sampling it would appear that Showalter will be a manager who has his players’ backs and won’t be afraid to stick up for them when the need arises, which given the rumors of the clubhouse issues last season, should go a long way if this team wants to be successful this year.
But Sunday wasn’t one of the manager’s finest days at the helm. Just after the beloved trio of Gary, Keith, and Ron were talking in the broadcast booth about how Buck Showalter’s attention to detail is off the charts and how he always plans ahead, the game unraveled for the Mets.
The offense had a tough afternoon in the cool and blustery conditions at Nationals Park on Sunday, but were to start a rally in seventh with a walk and a bunt single. The Nationals then turned to LHP Sean Doolittle with Brandon Nimmo, Francisco Lindor, and Robinson Canó coming up. Showalter stuck with his left handed batters instead of countering with JD Davis.
Davis had an injury plagued season last year but he excelled of the bench, . hitting .429/.455/.571 in twenty-one at bats as a pinch hitter in 2021 and was in an ideal matchup against a left-handed reliever. Showalter could have also opted for Starling Marte who was on the bench as well, but neither came in to bat against Doolittle in the seventh, and the rally quickly ended.
Next came the manager’s bullpen usage. Showalter became infamous in 2016 for never turning to elite closer Zack Britton in the Wild Card game and now in 2022 the Mets encountered his first questionable bullpen decisions that cost them a game.
With a slim one-run lead, he turned to Chasen Shreve who had not yet appeared in a game this season. Shreve did his job in the sixth and seventh, but Showalter pushed him into the eighth where he immediately gave up a hit. Trevor May had been warming up earlier in the game but he sat down and instead Trevor Williams came in, the other pitcher who had yet to appear in a game. Things unraveled pretty quickly after Pete Alonso made two costly defensive miscues that played a role in the go-ahead runs scoring.
After the game, Showalter revealed he did not want to use his high end relievers again, especially this early in the season, and he wanted to get Shreve and Williams in a game.
“We’re too early in the season to be throwing guys three out of four days,” Showalter explained afterwards. “We said the whole offseason with the lockout and everything, we are going to be careful. That is why we’re spreading it around.”
Seemingly every decision Showalter made in the late innings was the wrong one - that’s bound to happen over the course of a long season. But while not wanting to burn through the bullpen this early in the season is admirable, he needs to come up with a better strategy than simply wanting to get guys in the game, especially with an expanded roster full of additional pitchers.
Of course, if not for Alonso’s late defensive miscues, maybe the Mets would’ve escaped the Showalter’s high-wire act with the bullpen. Hopefully this was just an aberration and not a habit that continues throughout the year.
Around the League 🚩
LHP Blake Snell was scratched from his start for the Padres with left adductor tightness (MLB.com)
Reds top prospect Hunter Greene dazzled in his Major League debut on the mound for Cincinnati
The Phillies dropped their final game of the series against the Athletics
The Red Sox extended RHP Garrett Whitlock for four years on a deal worth around $19 million (ESPN)
As a gesture of goodwill towards the players, commissioner Rob Manfred gifted the players Bose headphones (ESPN)