'Lights out': Mets lead in the NL East is gone as we're starting from scratch
The Mets suffered their third straight blowout loss to a last place team. Plus, a breakdown of how they lost their 10.5 game lead in the NL East.
Just Mets on Playback 📺
Our next live watch-along will take place tonight as the Mets try to get back on track with Jacob deGrom on the mound at 6:35 PM EDT! Watch the entire game and interact with hosts Rich MacLeod and Andrew Claudio live on Playback!
What’s Up with the Mets? 👎🏼
The Mets were routed again on Tuesday night, this time by a score of 8-2 to the Pirates at PNC Park, relinquishing sole possession of first place in the National League East for the first time since April 11 (Box)
Taijuan Walker started for the Mets and while dealing with a blister, allowed four earned runs in five innings - his second half ERA is up to 6.25.
While Mychal Givens gave the Mets a scoreless sixth inning, Bryan Montes de Oca and Tommy Hunter combined to allow four more runs to put the game out of reach
The Mets scattered just six singles around a two-run home run from Brandon Nimmo in the seventh inning
The Mets have been outscored 22-4 in the last three games by the Nationals and Pirates
Injury Updates 🏥
Starling Marte (hand injury) is awaiting the opinion of a hand specialist following an x-ray on his right hand. He was hit by a pitch in the first inning on Tuesday
Luis Guillorme (groin strain) went 1-for-4 for Triple-A Syracuse on Tuesday in the first game of his rehab assignment
Max Scherzer (fatigue on side) has gone on the injured list and is expected to miss one to two starts
The Pennant Race 🏁
Magic Number to win the NL East: 2️⃣7️⃣
NL East lead: 0️⃣ games
Win the National League East: 61.3 percent ⬇️
Clinch a first round bye: 61 percent ⬇️
Win the World Series: 15.1 percent ⬇️
Today’s Games 🗓
Match-up: Mets (85-51) vs. Pirates (50-84)
Where: PNC Park — Pittsburgh, PA
Starters: RHP Chris Bassitt (12-7, 3.32 ERA) vs. RHP Duane Underwood Jr. (1-5, 4.60 ERA)
When: 12:35 PM EDT
Where to Watch: SNY
Starters: RHP Jacob deGrom (4-1, 1.98 ERA) vs. TBD
When: 6:35 PM EDT
Where to Watch: SNY, Playback
The anatomy of losing a 10.5 game lead… 📝
Written by Rich MacLeod
“Lights out.” Those were the words of SNY play-by-play broadcaster Gary Cohen as Oneil Cruz’s home run reached the waters of the Allegheny River, putting the Mets in an 8-2 hole against the last-place Pirates.
For the Mets it marked their third consecutive blowout loss against a last place team, a mini-streak in which they’ve been outscored 22-4 by the Nationals and Pirates. It also ended a 149-day streak of the Mets being alone in first place, as the Braves won their sixth straight game to pull them into a deadlock atop the NL East.
Once up 10.5 games on Atlanta entering June and with a seven-game lead less than a month ago, the reset button has been pushed as the Mets lead has evaporated. Here’s a look at the elements that made this possible…
Pete Alonso is floundering
Over his last 27 games, the Mets’ one-time MVP candidate has been letting his team down dramatically. Since August 8th, Pete Alonso is hitting .188/.261/.297 with just three home runs, five total extra-base hits, 11 RBI, 22 strikeouts, five ground ball double plays, a 57 wRC+ and a .558 OPS.
Non-coincidentally, that is the exact 27-game stretch in which the Mets have squandered what was a seven-game lead over the Braves following a series in which they took four of five from Atlanta in early August.
It’s hard to blame one single player for the offensive failings of an entire unit but this team is built around Alonso being a force in the middle of their lineup. As Alonso goes, so goes the offense and right now, it isn’t going anywhere but down.
The Mets need their home grown star to get his act together and figure things out fast, or else things may not get better any time soon.
No one else is hitting, either
This offensive blackout is not solely on the shoulders of Alonso, though — no one is hitting well for this team.
Over their last 24 games, the Mets are averaging just 3.5 runs per game, have scored two runs or less 13 times (they’re 2-11 in those games) and are 12-12 overall. As a team, they’re slugging a measly .374 in that time span while averaging less than a home run per game.
This has been a team-wide ice cold streak at the worst possible time, and it can no longer be blamed on enhanced competition when you’ve been shut down by Germán Márquez, Patrick Corbin, Eric Fedde and Mitch Keller over the course of 10 days.
We’ve already talked about Alonso, but it’s more than just him. Francisco Lindor stepped up big against the Dodgers but he’s otherwise had a tough go of things over his last 15 games (.511 OPS). The trade deadline acquisitions have either stopped hitting in the cases of Daniel Vogelbach (.319 OPS over his last 10 games) and Tyler Naquin (.091/.143/.091 over his last 18 games) or have never hit from the beginning in the case of Darin Ruf (.451 OPS since being acquired by the Mets). And, of course, this team is still getting absolutely nothing out of the catching position as James McCann and Tomás Nido are a combined 15-for-70 (.214) with no home runs since August 8th.
They miss Luis Guillorme
The loss of Luis Guillorme to the injured list seems to have a direct correlation with the Mets’ big-time struggles of late.
Prior to Guillorme going down on the IL on August 14th, the Mets were averaging 4.8 runs per game over the course of the 2022 season; that’s a 115-game sample size! Since losing Guillorme, however, the Mets are averaging just 3.6 runs per game over their last 21.
Not only does Guillorme provide tremendous bat-to-ball skills at the plate and a stellar glove anywhere he plays in the field, but he had also moved into a platoon at third base in which he was taking a majority of the playing time away from Eduardo Escobar, who has vastly underperformed what the Mets were expecting of him when signing him this past winter.
Since Guillorme went down, Mets third baseman are hitting .206/.267/.397 with an 87 wRC+.
Buck Showalter is using his bullpen with no urgency
While the majority of the issues with this team’s performance have been all about the offense, there have been several questionable bullpen decisions of late.
In Tuesday night’s game against the Pirates, a game the Mets really needed to find a way to win, Buck Showalter opted to keep Bryce Montes de Oca on the mound for a second frame, in his second career game, in the 8th inning of a two-run game. While the Mets do have a doubleheader looming today, the club also had a fully rested bullpen after a rain-out on Monday and no need for their A relievers in either game over the weekend.
This has become somewhat of a trend for Showalter recently, as he also went to Adonis Medina trailing 2-1 in the 9th inning on Saturday (he allowed five runs in that inning to let the game get away) and Joely Rodríguez in a tie game vs the Dodgers last Tuesday (he allowed three-of-four left-handed hitters to reach base and gave up the go-ahead run).
Often times this season, the Mets have been managing for tomorrow and it has often worked out in their favor as the club was clearly trying to save their bullets for the stretch run. Well, we’re in the stretch run now. If you’re still saving your best relievers for situations where you’re only in the lead, what happens when the leads are harder and harder to come by and those 2-1 deficits keep turning into laughers?
There’s still 26 games remaining and plenty of time for the Mets to turn things around, but there are less and less tomorrows available. The manager needs to start making decisions with a little more urgency.
The Braves never lose
The other big thing here – one of the biggest – is that the Braves simply never effing lose.
No other division has a second-place… well, now tied for first-place team, as good as this one and the Mets would be running away with the NL East if this were nearly any other season over the last 15-20 years. But that has not been the case here.
Since June 1st, the Mets are 51-34 (that’s a 97-win pace) and have lost 10.5 games in the standings. That is absolutely ridiculous, and it’s because the Braves have gone 62-24, which is an outrageous 116-win pace. For over three months now, Atlanta has played on a pace that would match the Yankees from earlier this season and the greatest regular season team in baseball history, the 2001 Seattle Mariners.
The Mets were even able to re-establish a bigger lead against Atlanta less than a month ago, building a seven-game lead against the Braves after winning four-of-five games against them at Citi Field. Yet, despite going 14-11 since then, the Mets have also lost all seven games of that lead.
Throughout this entire stretch, the Mets have had absolutely zero breathing room. No margin for error. No support. Nothing.
Do they need to be playing better? Absolutely. But are they also completely snakebitten to have had a season this incredible but still be deadlocked in the final weeks of this season? You’re damn right.
It’s been a hard thing to parse in my mind. This has been the best Mets team of my lifetime, they’re on-pace to win their most games since the 1986 championship season, and I feel as if I haven’t been able to fully enjoy the ride because I’ve spent the last three months looking over my shoulder at the Atlanta Braves charge up the standings.
Well, look over our shoulders no more as the Braves are here, neck-and-neck with the Mets with one month to go.
The lead is gone, and the pennant race is on.
Down on the Farm 🌾
Dominic Smith (1B, Triple-A): 2-for-4, HR, RBI
Wyatt Young (2B, Double-A): 3-for-5, 2B, HR, 3 RBI, 2 R
Shervyen Newton (SS, Single-A): 2-for-4, HR, 3 RBI, R
Around the League 🚩
The Braves won a thriller out in Oakland 10-9 for their sixth win in a row, and have now tied the Mets for first place in the NL East
The Rays pulled to within 4.5 games of the Yankees in the AL East with an 8-4 win over the Red Sox - Randy Arozarena homered, drove in three runs and scored three runs for the Rays
The Padres rallied down 5-0 to win a 6-5 nail biter against the Diamondbacks
The Phillies walked off the Marlins 3-2 thanks to a Jean Segura RBI single in the ninth inning
Fernando Tatís Jr - currently serving a PED suspension - underwent shoulder surgery this week