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Mets relinquish lead in the NL East with a loss littered with missed opportunities, questionable decisions
Mets grounded into two inning-ending double plays to squash rallies, and the bullpen let the game get away late
What’s Up with the Mets? ⚾
The Mets lost a lackluster game to the Marlins by a score of 6-3 in Miami on Friday night (Box)
David Peterson started for the Mets and he was mostly ineffective over 3.2 IP, allowing five hits and two walks and three runs to come across before Buck Showalter pulled the plug
With the Mets down 4-3 in the eighth inning, Showalter once again decided to use Joely Rodriguez, and the decision burned him again when Rodriguez allowed a two-run home run to Charles Leblanc, essentially putting an end to the Mets night
Both Jeff McNeil (third inning) and Francisco Lindor (seventh inning) grounded into inning ending double plays to squash run-scoring opportunities for the Mets
For the first time since April 11, the Mets are no longer in sole possession of first place
Injury Updates 🏥
Tylor Megill (shoulder strain) could be activated next weekend - he struck out one in a scoreless inning for Triple-A Syracuse on Friday
Luis Guillorme (oblique strain) went 2-for-3 with a walk, RBI and run scored for Triple-A Syracuse
Starling Marte (fractured finger) remained active but not available for the Mets in Miami on Friday night. It is not clear whether he will go on the injured list
The Pennant Race 🏁
NL East deficit: 1/2 game
Win the National League East: 54.2 percent ⬇️
Clinch a first round bye: 54.1 percent ⬇️
Win the World Series: 13.9 percent ⬇️
Today’s Game 🗓
Match-up: Mets (87-52) @ Marlins (57-80)
Where: loanDepot Park — Miami, Florida
Starters: RHP Carlos Carrasco (13-6, 3.91 ERA) vs. RHP Pablo López (8-9, 3.66 ERA)
When: 6:10 PM EDT
Where to Watch: WPIX
At some point, someone needs to tell the Mets they’re in a pennant race… 📝
Before I starting writing today’s story, I looked up the word “urgency” in the dictionary.
(actually, I did a bing search for the word - its too dark and early to go rummaging through the house to find where the book is. I know, that’s sad.)
This is what I got.
It’s the essence of these two definitions which have been running through my mind since last Saturday while watching the Mets as they’ve seen both the number of games remaining and their lead in the National League East disappear. That’s because it’s that essence which appears to be sorely lacking with the club from top to bottom since that night.
The Mets - who entered play just 1/2 game up on the ridiculously hot Braves for the lead in the NL East - had started a mediocre 3-3 against what was statistically the softest schedule for any team down the stretch of the season from September 3 to the end of the season.
It started with a troubling series loss to the Nationals last weekend during which they were outscored 14-2 in the final two games with lackluster play and an absent offense telling the tale. That disturbing trend bled into Tuesday night’s series opener (which had been delayed by a day due to rain, affording the Mets a chance to breathe and get people some rest) when the lackluster play continued and resulted in an ugly 8-2 loss to the Pirates. That three game losing streak was sloppy and the quality and level of their play lacked either of those two definitions above of the word, “urgency.”
The Mets did pick up the pieces in their doubleheader against the Pirates, however. They got stellar starting pitching from Chris Bassitt and Jacob deGrom and outscored the Bucs 15-1 in a sweep that gave them a badly needed series win. In between, the Mets both managed and played with a level of urgency not seen since their thrilling series win against the Dodgers last week.
But after another off-day on Thursday seemingly came a regression in both the quality and urgency of their play and in-game decision making. David Peterson struggled for the Mets early, and Mets manager Buck Showalter made the correct decision to lift him after 3.2 IP with three runs allowed.
Moments before, however, with a run in and the Mets trailing 2-1, the Mets squandered one of their two big opportunities on the night when Jeff McNeil grounded into a 3-6-1 double play to end the threat.
The Mets found themselves trailing 4-1 but Pete Alonso gave the Mets a pulse with a seventh inning two-run home run, seemingly sparking the Mets as they would then load the bases with one out for Francisco Lindor.
But after Lindor fell behind 0-2 on a non-competitive swing on a cutter from Steven Okert, he grounded into a killer 6-4-3 double play to end the threat and seemingly shut off the Mets offense once again.
But as bad as that sequence and result was for Lindor and the Mets, it got worse from there as Showalter - for whatever reason once again - decided to inject Joely Rodriguez into this one-run game close and late.
And, Rodriguez made Buck pay the price for that decision once again.
Recall in the series at Yankee Stadium, Buck did exactly the same thing. In the seventh inning on August 23 with the score tied 2-2, Rodriguez entered the game in the seventh inning and in what seemed like a blink of an eye, the Mets were trailing 4-2 and that was that. It happened again in their series against the Dodgers last week when he was put into a 3-3 game in the seventh inning of game 1 and proceeded to allow two hits, a walk and the deciding run to come across.
Fast forward to last night. It was 4-3 in the seventh inning against the Marlins in a game - like a lot of others as of late - which was winnable for the Mets despite the night-long uphill battle from behind. The Mets bullpen was generally rested with Thursday’s off-day and given the date on the calendar and their lead in the division, which was once 10.5 games, having shrunk to a measly 1/2 game, one would think a decision which represented more urgency would’ve been made in this game.
But no, Buck put his faith in Rodriguez in the eighth, who entered the game with a 5.61 ERA in his previous 28 outings with 16 walks in 25.2 IP during that span. I’ll spare you the details, but he allowed a two-run home run to Charles LeBlanc, a single and two walks before Buck finally pulled the plug and injected Edwin Díaz in the game, presumably to get him work at that point considering it was 6-3 when it was all said and done.
Here’s the stink of it - where was Edwin Díaz to start the inning? Or Adam Ottavino?
I thought it was for games like this on days like this in the baseball calendar why the Mets were being so conservative with their entire pitching staff early in the season.
It isn’t June anymore.
Look - the Mets offense has really staggered over the last three weeks. They’re scoring under four runs per game, have scored five runs or more in just seven of their last 24 contests, Alonso and Lindor have combined for 19 RBI in 25 games since August 14. It’s a major problem and maybe the Mets didn’t have another rally in them anyway last night.
But between willfully playing short with an imbalanced roster in a pennant race (Starling Marte was active again but not available, and that hurt them last night when Buck was forced to keep Tyler Naquin in against Okert in the eighth), using their secondary relievers when every pitch carries significance, especially when the offense is struggling, it almost seems as though the Mets would merely be satisfied winning the wild card in an effort to keep everyone sharp.
I don’t know if that’s true, of course. I am simply trying to understand why with expanded rosters and a healthy, right-handed power hitter available to them at Triple-A why they wouldn’t at least bring him here as a power option off the bench (I’m talking about Mark Vientos, by the way). Why would they play short at all and handicap their ability to strengthen their posture late in a game? And why on earth would they choose to go with their secondary relievers in the last third of a one-run game with a rested bullpen, again?
In the end, if the Mets are going to lose, they should lose with the best possible players on the field, especially this time of year. And on Friday night, that simply wasn’t the case. Nor was it the case last Saturday night against the Nationals when Adonis Medina entered the ninth inning with the Mets trailing 2-1.
Here’s the deal. If the Mets don’t win the division, I as a fan will be disappointed. They have ruled the National League all year along with the Dodgers, sat atop the National League East for the duration more or less, made signature statements in key series against the Braves, Dodgers, Phillies and Yankees, and demonstrated their strength against the upper echelon of the sport. There is no reason why the Mets should play it safe in an effort to save the strength of their pitching staff or use their pieces conservatively just because they have a playoff spot more or less locked up.
Why? Because winning the National League East gets that team a first round bye, allowing that team to avoid a three-game wild card series, get their players rested and healthy and align their championship-caliber top of the rotation appropriately for either the Padres or the Cardinals.
Who is to say the Mets would even get to the Division Series in that scenario?
I hope that’s wrong - I’ll happily take the loss if that’s the case. But these decisions aren’t one-offs these days. The urgency is lacking, both on the field and off of it.
Down on the Farm 🌾
Mark Vientos (3B, No. 7 Prospect, Triple-A): 2-for-5, HR, RBI
Ronny Mauricio (SS, No. 6 Prospect, Double-A): 2-for-4, HR, 2 RBI
Alex Ramirez (OF, No. 4 Prospect, Single-A): 2-for-4, 2B, BB, RBI
Around the League 🚩
The Braves took over sole possession of the NL East with a 6-4 win over the Mariners on the strength of four home runs
The Rays closed to within 3.5 games of the Yankees with a 4-2 win in the Bronx - both Wander Franco and Randy Arozarana doubled and drove in two runs a piece in the win
Mike Trout homered in his fifth-straight game on Friday night, but the Angels lost their second straight game, this time 4-3 to the Astros
CJ Cron hit a 504 foot home run in a wild 13-10 win for the Rockies over the Diamondbacks in Denver
The Padres edged the Dodgers 5-4 with a walk-off win at rainy Petco Park on Friday - they maintained a 1/2 game lead over the Phillies for the second wild card spot, who also won 5-3 over the Nationals in Philadelphia
MLB announced a series of rule changes for the 2023 season including an enforced pitch clock, bigger bases, defensive shift and restrictions/limitations. Read the release here