Mets melted away like liquid metal in Atlanta as the division title all but slips away
The Mets recorded seven runs and four extra base hits as the Braves swept them out of Atlanta
What’s Up with the Mets? ⚾
The Mets were swept by the Braves, losing on Sunday night 5-3 while effectively ending the race in the National League East (box)
RHP Chris Bassitt was ineffective over 2.2 IP, allowing four runs and three walks before being lifted for Trevor May
The Mets managed just four baserunners after the third inning on Sunday, going 1-for-6 with runners in scoring position while stranding nine runners on-base
The Mets bullpen did perform well on Sunday night - they allowed just a run over 5.1 IP
New York will be eliminated from the divisional race with one loss or one Braves win over the final three games of the season
Who’s Hot 🔥
Jeff McNeil has an eight-game hitting streak, during which he is hitting .486 with a double and two RBI. He is hitting .326 for the season, just one point behind Freddie Freeman for the National League lead
Today’s Game 🗓
Match-up: Mets (98-61) vs Nationals (55-104)
Where: Citi Field — Flushing, NY
Starters: RHP Carlos Carrasco (15-7, 3.95 ERA) vs. RHP Cory Abbott (0-4, 5.11 ERA)
When: 7:10 PM EDT
Where to Watch: SNY
The Mets have beaten themselves in the NL East in more ways than one… 📝
by Michael Baron
For the better part of 13 years, whether it’s been writing for SNY, the site here or on MLB, on Twitter, at the stadium, at the airport, gas station or the store, while on a beach somewhere on this planet, or even when my friend the mail man comes and delivers the mail, I have served you as that bartender in the Mets community you have come to talk with and have a drink or ten when the going got rough with the Mets. You all have aired it out, rationally or otherwise, and I have listened and offered any kind of hope or resolve I could think of in response to the club’s poor play, misfortunes, or their self-inflicted wounds either on or off the field. Putting drink after drink on the bar for you while trying to find hope amidst the dysfunction, chaos and often hopelessness the Mets have given you.
After all, I do remember the glory days of the Mets fondly while having lived through and experienced the entirety of the Mets dysfunctional world from Bobby Bonilla to the bleach and firecrackers, from the Bobby V name calling to the pot and from the cross-country managerial firing to the Madoff nonsense and from the full-frontal exposures post-game and dildos in the clubhouse.
(I could go on, but I won’t)
And all of the in-season meltdowns in between. Year after year after year after year.
Specifically, I have seen how the House of Horrors any stadium the Braves call home can be for the Mets in any given late September/late October game. Too often has this franchise gone to Atlanta with a season on the line or something meaningful to play for this time of year and come out on the other end a crumbled team. If you’re old(ish) like me, you’ll recall the House of Horrors for the Mets formerly known as Turner Field in south Atlanta, a place the Mets seemingly were intimidated by when simply pulling up to the ballpark on the team bus. 1998, 1999, 2000 and 2001 all come to mind when I think of that old ballpark, a place the Mets spent year after year melting down to the Braves like liquid metal.
In fact, the way the Mets have played over the last five days in particular (minus Wednesday of course, but only by a centimeter thanks to Eduardo Escobar) is akin to what nearly happened to them in 1999 when they had lost eight of nine games in a row down the stretch, five of which were against the Braves, and that nearly crumbled all that the team had accomplished to get into playoff position. The ball looked like a pea to that Met offense as it does to this Met offense.
The difference of course is this Mets team is in the tournament (go figure, because it doesn’t seem like it right now), whereas that Met team needed both wins and luck just to get to a game 163 against the Reds.
But it’s that dark history that left me worried about this series heading into Friday’s game. After all, if there’s a worst case scenario, it always seems to unfold with the Mets in Atlanta and that’s precisely what happened to them this weekend.
As a fan, I am right there with you all right now. This series was as big as it could possibly be for the Mets this weekend. All they really needed was to win one game.
One damn game.
And it seemed like a slam dunk, right?
They had Jacob deGrom and Max Scherzer going at the Braves right out of the gate. The two-headed monster Steve Cohen, Billy Eppler and Sandy Alderson all built ten months ago for games and moments just like this - to play and win meaningful games in both the regular season and the playoffs. And their safety net was to be Chris Bassitt who has proven to be a relentless bulldog in his own right and a steady and stable force that neither deGrom or Scherzer could be this year thanks to injuries.
One win at a minimum and checking the box to get the tiebreaker and come home no worse than tied for the division lead seemed like it should’ve been in the bag.
Maybe that was the problem.
The best work came from deGrom, who could merely deliver a quality start despite 11 strikeouts on Friday night thanks to the three solo home runs he allowed. Max Scherzer was not Max Scherzer on Saturday - he allowed four runs over 5.2 IP, including two solo home runs himself. Then there was Bassitt who didn’t even make it out of the third inning thanks to a bout of wildness and being victimized by the long ball himself.
In the end, that trio gave the Mets 14.1 IP in the three games and allowed 11 runs, five of which came via the long ball with three of those coming from Dansby Swanson, the clear heir apparent to Freddie Freeman and Chipper Jones In a long line of Mets September killers in Atlanta.
But honestly, while the performances of deGrom, Scherzer, and Bassitt (who I should point out combined to make $85.3 million this year) probably wasn’t even the worst part of the weekend. Although, it was really bad.
Yep, it was the offense.
The Mets scored seven runs in the three games. They had four extra base hits. It seemed like they were down 0-2 or 1-2 in every plate appearance. There was next to no solid contact, and for a team which has become notorious for working deep counts and fouling off pitchers to grind pitchers away, this club drew four walks in 27 innings this series. They needed three hits for every run thanks to not having any sort of extra-base power in large measure and that’s just not going to cut it at the plate. They were nodding at umpires on balls well in the strike zone, taking hittable pitches in the middle of the zone and flat out waiting for things to happen for them rather than creating their opportunities, which is precisely what the Braves did against the Mets.
The only word I can think of to describe their work at the plate this weekend is incompetent.
Simply put, the Mets didn’t show up. From Jacob deGrom on down to the manager, from the offense to the rotation to the bullpen, this club simply did not show up to win the division this weekend, and deservingly lost it with what was truly an embarrassing performance.
This isn’t about one player’s performance either positive or negative - it was a collective failure on the part of the entire roster over these past three games. As we always say, it’s about the name on the front of the jersey.
The thing is, it fits the club’s history against the Braves like a damn glove.
I do believe there is a lot that led to this meltdown this weekend. It’s not as simple as the Mets simply playing badly and falling down the stairs in Atlanta for what seems like the umpteenth time in the last 25 years.
I’ll start with their play in September. Remember that “soft schedule” the Mets had last month and how it was the easiest schedule for any club in baseball?
In that time, they’ve been swept at home by the Cubs and lost two of three to the Nationals, which account for five of the eight losses they incurred against those clubs plus the Marlins, A’s and Pirates. Certainly, they were not bad against the latter three but in the end 6-8 against those five teams kept the Braves in the hunt for the division amidst their own struggles. That play alone doesn’t make them deserving of a division title.
Just think about what 8-6 or even 7-7 might have meant for the Mets this weekend?
Note to self - don’t ever use the phrase, “soft schedule” again.
But wait, there’s more.
Lets go back to the trade deadline when the Mets were in need of a right-handed power threat which could help mitigate what was (and still is) a serious problem against left-handed pitching.
Instead of pursuing a well-rounded fix, they decided to play the margins and stat play their problems by getting three players who do one or two things well - Daniel Vogelbach, Tyler Naquin, and Darin Ruf.
I could get into the shortcomings and struggles of all three, but you know how well they’ve played. But that isn’t even the biggest problem with the strategy.
First off, two of those hitters are left-handed, not right-handed. And those two hitters are ineffective against left-handed pitchers. So, ok, enter Ruf who was supposed to be the card Buck Showalter played in those spots.
Obviously, that hasn’t worked out and he isn’t even here anymore.
But here’s the thing. The Mets knew the Braves weren’t going away, even though they got way too over-confident after they won four of five against them at Citi Field in early August.
The Braves are their direct competition and have the ability to throw one left-handed reliever after the next against them. So how do Vogelbach and Naquin run counter to that strategy, exactly? How were they supposed to help the Mets in those situations? Was Ruf going to come here and just hit a home run every time an opposing team put in a left-handed reliever or started a tough lefty against them?
Look at Sunday night alone.
With Vogelbach coming up in the fifth inning, Braves manager Brian Snitker decided to lift Charlie Morton and throw play right into the Mets weakness by inserting LHP Dylan Lee. That forced Buck to take Vogelbach out since he can’t hit lefties (something they knew when they acquired him in July). But because Ruf has been ineffective all around and isn’t even here anymore, Buck had to turn to Francisco Álvarez, who was completely unprepared for that spot. And later, when Snitker threw another left-handed reliever at the Mets in AJ Minter, Buck was forced to use another rookie in Mark Vientos and another rookie who was completely unprepared for that spot.
The acquisitions at the trade deadline ran counter to the Braves attack. In fact, Vogelbach and Naquin feed into Atlanta’s strength. In a matter of three innings on Sunday that reared its ugly head. And that was just yesterday.
So, as you can see it was a confluence of self-inflicted wounds which have left the Mets sitting two games out of first place with three games to go and no tiebreaker. Again, one damn game is all the Mets needed to win, and quite honestly, they weren’t even close to getting just that one win this weekend.
So, now they’re left to prepare for either the Padres or the Phillies for a weekend series at Citi Field instead of the first round bye and a path to the NLCS which didn’t have the Dodgers in their way.
Indeed, their road to a World Championship just got far more treacherous thanks to really their own doing. They beat themselves in more ways than one to get to this spot.
And in the end, the Mets have been outclassed and outfoxed by the Braves yet again. And the proof is simply in the display on the field this past weekend.
I think I will join you on the other side of the bar for a drink today.
Around the League 🚩
The Phillies blew out the Nationals for the second straight game while the Brewers lost to the Marlins again, reducing Philadelphia’s magic number to two
Yankees OF Aaron Judge did not homer in the club’s final home series of the regular season, leaving him tied for the AL record (61), as the club lost to the Orioles
The Guardians won their 90th game of the season on the back of two three-run home runs vs the Royals
Former Mets prospect RHP Simeon Woods Richardson made his MLB debut for the Twins, going five innings and allowing three runs (two earned) in the club’s 5-2 loss to the Tigers