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Mets listless in loss to Marlins as they go RISP-less, and Happy Keith Hernandez Day!
The Mets went 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position and stranded ten runners on Friday
What’s Up with the Mets? ⚾
The Mets lost to the Marlins by a score of 5-2 on Friday night at Citi Field (Box)
The Mets were able to put together just five hits on the night, although all five of their hits were for extra bases
Eduardo Escobar had a rough night, leaving seven runners on-base all by himself with two strikeouts while going 0-for-4 at the plate
The Mets were trailing 2-1 in the eighth, but Drew Smith allowed a two-run home run to Garrett Cooper and Joely Rodriguez allowed a run in the ninth
Chris Bassitt pitched into the seventh inning for the Mets in his return from the injured list - he allowed two runs and lowered his ERA to 3.94 for the year despite taking the loss
Overall, the Mets went 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position and stranded ten runners on-base
Injury Updates 🏥
Jacob deGrom (stress reaction in scapula) threw 36 pitches and allowed three hits while striking out six batters over three shutout innings against Daytona for the St. Lucie Mets on Friday night - he hit 101 mph on the radar gun
Who’s Hot 🔥
Brandon Nimmo extended his hitting streak to five games on Friday - he is 8-for-21 with a double, three home runs and eight RBI during that span. His home run on Friday was the first home run he has hit at Citi Field since last September
Chris Bassitt has thrown four straight quality starts, the longest such stretch of his career. He is 2-2 with a 2.60 ERA over 27.2 IP during that span
Francisco Lindor’s 14 home runs before the All-Star break are tied for the most in his career
Today’s Game 🗓
Match-up: Mets (52-32) vs. Marlins (40-42)
Where: Citi Field, Flushing, New York
Starters: RHP Carlos Carrasco (9-4, 4.64 ERA) vs LHP Braxton Garrett (1-3, 4.25 ERA)
When: 4:10 PM EDT
Where to Watch: SNY
Mets to retire Keith Hernandez's no. 17 today
The Mets will retire Keith Hernandez’s no. 17 before their game against the Marlins today at Citi Field.
Hernandez joins Tom Seaver (#41 in 1988), Mike Piazza (#31 in 2016) and Jerry Koosman (#36 in 2021) as the only players to have their numbers retired by the Mets to-date. The Mets retired Gil Hodges’ no. 14 in 1973, and Casey Stengel’s no. 37 in 1965.
In seven years with the Mets between 1983-1989, Hernandez hit .297/.387/.429. He was an All-Star in 1984, 1986 and 1987, won six gold gloves at first base with the Mets 1983-1988 (11 straight overall from 1978-1988) while leading the National League in fielding percentage in 1985 and 1986.
He ranks fourth in club history in on-base percentage (.387) and 10th in RBI (468). In May, 1987, then Mets manager Davey Johnson named Hernandez along with Gary Carter as the first captains in club history.
Hernandez was acquired by the Mets on June 15, 1983 from the Cardinals in exchange for pitchers Neil Allen and Rick Ownbey. He has served as a broadcaster for the club since 1999 including the last 16 seasons with SNY.
This has been a long time coming for both Keith and the club. He has been in the team’s hall of fame for 25 years, he has been a part of the team’s fabric - be it on the field, as a special instructor, or as a broadcaster - for nearly 40 years, and he truly became the back bone of their magical run to their 1986 World Championship. He was more than a clutch hitter, more than a perennial gold glove winner. Those are the statistical triumphs. It was his personality, his guile, grit, intensity, and the lessons he imparted on the young players from Dwight Gooden, Darryl Strawberry, to Jesse Orosco and Kevin Mitchell, serving as the glue to make their storied run up the Canyon of Heroes a reality for the franchise.
Simply put, without Keith, there is no Carter, and without Keith and Carter, there likely is no championship.
The Mets ask that fans be in their seats for the start of the ceremony by 3:00 PM today.
Is it time for the Mets to make changes?📝
Friday’s game for the Mets pretty much summed up the last month’s worth of problems for them at the plate.
The club went 0-for-7 at the plate and stranded seven runners on-base overall. All five of their hits were for extra-bases, two of which were home runs.
Yet, the Mets managed just two runs against the Marlins in what was a listless loss despite a strong effort from Chris Bassitt on the mound, who made his return from the COVID-19 injured list while delivering 6.1 IP solid innings on the mound.
But there’s more than meets the eye in that 0-for-7 with RISP, as aggravating as that number alone is.
The Mets 7-9 hitters - Dominic Smith, Eduardo Escobar, and Tomás Nido - combined to strand 12 runners on-base in their plate appearances. Those numbers ultimately don’t count in the final number of runners left on-base, but they unquestionably tell a problematic story about the bottom of this lineup for the Mets.
Smith was the designated hitter, Escobar the third baseman and Nido obviously the catcher in Friday night’s configuration. The club’s designated hitters have produced a .695 OPS this season, their third basemen .641, and their catchers .502.
And they just so happened to be hitting back-to-back-to-back in last night’s lineup.
Now, I’m not saying there is a better configuration for these three by any means. Nido in particular is just as big of a problem at the plate as James McCann, but since Nido is the superior defensive player, he is the better option for them behind the plate. And the answer to their catching problem is Francisco Álvarez, who won’t be in play until he puts together a long and successful stretch at Triple-A.
As for the DH conundrum, the Mets don’t really have an alternative to Smith to be their designated hitter against right-handed pitching. They could opt for JD Davis as a full-time DH but aside from his big night on Thursday, it hasn’t exactly been pretty for him overall this season (although he has produced a .780 OPS as a designated hitter in 140 plate appearances this season).
As for Escobar, it’s been a troublesome season for him from the left side of the plate, and those struggles were on full display on Friday with a miserable night against the Marlins pitching staff.
His night started with a strikeout to end the second inning to strand two runners. Then with runners at the corners and one out, he struck out again (Nido followed suit with a strikeout of his own to end the inning). Then in the eighth inning, he flew out to center to strand the bases loaded.
Yeah, that’s a really, really rough night.
Escobar simply has not been able to get his season on the rails, and the Mets are in a really tough spot with their spiritual leader in the clubhouse. He’s hitting .218/.276/.386 for the year, although he is hitting .273/.313/.534 against left-handed pitching which is far better than the .195/.260/.322 line he’s produced against right-handed pitching.
The problem is, the bulk of the at-bats come against right-handed pitching.
He appears to be behind a lot of fastballs from the left-side of the plate. He is swinging under a lot of balls, and just isn’t making a lot of good contact when he doesn’t miss as a result. He is seriously struggling against fastballs and sliders in particular, and there really doesn’t appear to be a lot of tough luck built into his rough season, either.
So what can the Mets do?
They could stick with Escobar for now and hope he can figure this all out. But that has to happen fast.
There are a couple of immediate alternatives, none of which are solutions, however.
They could install JD Davis at third base, but that’s not really an option. First off, Escobar has been competent against left-handed pitching, so installing a pure right-handed bat to replace him seems somewhat counter-intuitive. Second, Davis’ defense at that position is a severe downgrade to that of Escobar.
They could consider moving Jeff McNeil to third base and installing Luis Guillorme as a true, everyday second baseman. But that’s probably not in the cards either considering McNeil has historically struggled at third over longer periods of exposure at that position.
There is, of course, Mark Vientos at Triple-A.
Vientos, 22, is the Mets fifth-best prospect according to MLB.com. He has produced an .831 OPS in 227 at-bats for the Syracuse Mets this year with 15 home runs and 41 RBI. One concern of course are the strikeouts - he has fanned 31.2 percent of the time this season, which works against the Mets’ contact-oriented approach at the Major League level.
Still, it might make sense to consider Vientos now.
For starters, his performance warrants a look at the big league level. They are in need of a right-handed power bat, and while there would likely be growing pains with Vientos, his presence would at least offer better lineup balance, something they’re looking for as the trade deadline approaches.
And speaking of the trade deadline, Vientos would buy them time at a minimum to assess the market and see if Vientos can be a part of the solution in 2022 at the same time.
Look, this isn’t a “Mark Vientos is a savior” campaign by any means. But part of what has troubled the Mets are their glaring holes at the aforementioned three positions and if they aren’t interested in giving Vientos a look right now, than they at least need to figure out how to better fit the puzzle pieces they do have and soon. That includes shuffling the deck at the bottom of the order to prevent these holes from hitting back-to-back-to-back in the lineup on a routine basis, at a minimum.
In other words, no matter what, it’s time for the Mets to make some changes.
Down on the Farm 🌾
Francisco Álvarez (C, No. 1 Prospect, Triple-A): 1-for-3, 2B
Carlos Cortes (OF, No. 15 Prospect, Double-A): 2-for-4, 2 K
Keyshawn Askew (LHP, Low-A): 4.2 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 9 K
Nic Gaddis (3B, Single-A): 3-for-3, HR, 2 RBI
Around the League 🚩
The Braves routed the Nationals 12-2, pulling back to 2.5 games behind the Mets in the NL East
The Phillies shutout the Cardinals 2-0 in St. Louis - they are now seven games behind the Mets in the NL East
The Orioles enjoyed their third walk-off win this week on Friday, plating three runs against the Angels to comeback and win 5-4
The Yankees scored four runs in the top of the first inning against the Red Sox at Fenway thanks in part to a three-run home run from Josh Donaldson - that sent then on their way to a 12-5 rout of their rival
Luis Castillo fired seven strong innings for the Reds, lowering his ERA to 2.92 for the year in a 2-1 win over the Rays
Kris Bryant hit two home runs in the Rockies’ 6-5 over the Diamondbacks
Rangers C Mitch Garver will miss the rest of the season after undergoing surgery to repair the flexor tendon in his elbow (Athletic)
With about two weeks to go before the deadline, MLB and the MLBPA are far apart on an agreement for an international draft (Athletic)