Max Scherzer flopped as the offense was stunned in a blowout loss to the Padres
Max Scherzer allowed four home runs to the Padres on Friday night at Citi Field
What’s Up with the Mets? 🚩
The Mets were blown out by the Padres 7-1 in game one of their National League Wild Card Series — they face elimination tonight in Game 2 (box)
Max Scherzer was shelled for four home runs equating to seven runs in only 4.2 IP on Friday night - it was the most runs he has given up in any of his 27 career Postseason appearances and the most runs a Mets pitcher has ever given up in a Postseason game
Starling Marte and Eduardo Escobar provided the bulk of the meager offense for the Mets - Marte had two singles and stole two bases and Escobar doubled and homered for the only Met run on the night
The Mets have lost four straight postseason games dating back to game four of the 2015 World Series, all at home
The Mets bullpen provided the only shining light on the night - they combined for 4.1 IP of scoreless relief
Match-up: Mets (0-1) vs Padres (1-0)
Where: Citi Field — Flushing, New York
Starters: RHP Jacob DeGrom (5-4, 3.08 ERA) vs. LHP Blake Snell (8-10, 3.38 ERA)
When: 7:30 PM EDT
Where to Watch: ESPN
Where have you gone, Max Scherzer? 📝
That was over seemingly before it started.
Before anyone could even sit down at the ballpark and take that first sip of their playoff beer, Max Scherzer allowed a dunker of a single to Jurickson Profar and then a booming two-out, two-run home run the other way from Josh Bell, the start of what proved to be an utter ambush of Scherzer.
Just like that, it was 2-0, although it did seem like it was an eight-run home run after the Mets had two opportunities to crack Yu Darvish in the two innings which followed. They had a runner at third and less than two outs in the first inning, but Pete Alonso took a fastball down the middle for strike three, which more or less ended that pursuit. Then in the second inning, with the same situation in front of them, Eduardo Escobar struck out and that threat seemingly died on the table.
The first two innings of the game had a scary resemblance to what was on display in Atlanta last weekend. Poor at-bats, poor pitch recognition, and a sheer lack of execution when the opportunity arose.
That was pretty much that for the Met offense, aside from a nice night from Eduardo Escobar at the plate who continued his strong stretch since September. It was also encouraging to see Starling Marte actually look like Starling Marte, broken finger and all. He reached base twice and stole of the Mets three bases on the night.
For context, the Mets hadn’t stolen a single base in their last 11 games leading up to the Wild Card series.
Yu Darvish put up his third spotless seven inning shutdown performance of the Mets and second at Citi Field this season. To his credit, he dazzled with his assortment of breaking balls and changing eye levels on the Mets. They were befuddled and frankly, looked confused and bewildered at the plate, something the Mets were hoping Scherzer would be able to do to the Padres as well.
Speaking of Scherzer…
The only thing I can really say about Max Scherzer’s pitching performance yesterday and in his last two starts in general is, that’s not Max Scherzer.
He insisted after the game (as expected) he feels fine and that he couldn’t locate his fastball. Yeah, that was obviously evident, but if he really is healthy, where was the location on his slider, and where has his cutter been? He hardly throws that pitch anymore and that’s a huge part of the repertoire that makes him the pitcher he is, especially to left-handed hitters, that which crushed him for three of the four home runs he allowed on Friday night.
This is an extension of a seriously disturbing trend for Scherzer. He has now allowed seven home runs in his last 16.1 IP. He has gotten crushed, and Max Scherzer simply doesn’t get crushed, at least not like this.
Whatever the case is, this game - and his last against the Braves a week ago - hung squarely on his shoulders. It’s for these two games why the Mets signed him to begin with - he’s here to deliver and deliver when it matters most, whether it’s to win a game to give the Mets control of their destiny in the division or win the first game of a playoff series or the last. And in the end, he just hasn’t been there for them when it’s mattered the most.
I don’t have to tell you this, because you already know after last week’s performance and this week’s performance, but Scherzer has failed them at the most inopportune time. He has helped to pitch them out of winning the division and now has put the Mets up against the wall, forcing them to use Jacob deGrom today (hard to believe this could be his last start as a Met) with hopes he can pass the baton to Chris Bassitt tomorrow.
And what this has done to the rotation if they can somehow win this series for the Division Series is another story.
Now, if there is something wrong with Scherzer, whether it’s the oblique or a part of the recovery process he hasn’t reached which is limiting his ability to command or even throw his pitches, then he probably shouldn’t be out there. This isn’t one of those “70 percent of Scherzer is better than anyone else” because this isn’t 70 percent of Scherzer.
Again, Scherzer doesn’t get crushed in the manner the Braves and Padres have crushed him in the last week. It was the fourth time in his last eight starts Scherzer has allowed four or more runs. He has a 4.18 ERA in 47.1 IP during that span, having allowed nine home runs over those eight starts.
There was more evidence of something being amiss with Scherzer.
While he said after the game he didn’t have his good fastball, it was in the fifth inning when he faced Ha-Seong Kim and allowed an opposite field single on a slider, a guy who really struggles to hit fastballs 95 mph and higher. But after Scherzer threw him a first-pitch fastball, he went with four straight sliders which played into Kim’s bat speed, and the result was a single which started the end of Scherzer’s night.
Since when does Scherzer do hitters a favor?
Since deGrom came back from the injured list in early August, the Mets are 10-11 in starts made by both he and Scherzer, including last night. That’s not exactly what they or the Mets signed up for when they inked Scherzer last fall. The Mets are only going to go as far as Scherzer and deGrom take them this fall, and the formula the Mets have dreamt about and literally banked on has failed them in the last week.
It’s now up to deGrom to deliver for the Mets and get this series to tomorrow. The Mets were perhaps hoping they could keep him out of this game and this series as a whole, instead saving him for a game one start against the Dodgers in Los Angeles on Tuesday.
But now they’re in survival mode, merely hoping they get a game on Sunday night against the Padres. They’re in dire need of a shutdown performance from deGrom now, with hopes the offense can score enough runs against Blake Snell later tonight.
But for that to happen, the Mets will need to resemble the team they had for the first 130 games of the season, and less like the one which succumbed to the pressure of the moment in Atlanta last weekend.
The October Chase 🏆
The Phillies came back to score six runs in the top of the ninth to leapfrog the Cardinals and win 6-3 in game one of their Wild Card series in St. Louis
The Guardians quickly won the first game of their Wild Card series against the Rays 2-1 thanks to a two-run home run from José Ramirez and a stellar performance on the mound from Shane Bieber
The Mariners jumped on the Blue Jays for three runs in the first inning en route to a 4-0 shutout at the Rogers Centre - Luis Castillo pitched 7.1 shutout innings for the win
Mr Baron, I do have great respect for your writing and insight, so please do not take the issue below personally
the thought of pushing Jake back to game 3 was completely arrogant, ill conceived and nonsensical. In the postseason, worrying about what will happen in a series you have not yet qualified for is absurd. Every game should be treated as if it is the last game of the year, even more so in a two of three.
The only move was to pitch the pitchers that give the team the largest chance of winning the next game. Nothing else matters.
Worrying about how the rotation will work in the next series has no meaning whatsoever, as several other MLB managers in this season's post have made clear. Only Buck is worried about a series the team has not qualified for. this is a flaw in Buck, and yes, I am brining up Britton and 2014. That was the same MO - worry about the future, forget the present.
This is how Buck managed all year, and it hurt in 3 specific games in September:
2 against the Pirates and the 1st Brave game in Atlanta; with small 1-2 run deficits, Buck punted on those games to worry about the future. It did not help.
The Mets have been an RISP and score runner from 3rd with < 2 out choke for the last month, and it has not been good for most of the year. It was good early, but the 2nd half and especially September and October have been disasters from an RISP perspective
I live and die for this team, respect what Buck has done for the team defensively, but his strategy of worrying about the future backfired, though of course I would do anything for us to win these next two games. But this constant lament about pushing your best pitcher back a game willl be seen for what it was - a huge mistake.