Mets waste a stellar performance from Max Scherzer, but a bigger picture remains
The Mets went 0-for-8 with RISP on Tuesday - they’re hitting .191 with RISP since June 12
What’s Up with the Mets? ⚾
The Mets lost in a walk-off to the Reds by a score of 1-0 in Cincinnati on Tuesday (box)
Max Scherzer was dominant over six innings in his long-awaited return to the Mets - he struck out 11 batters over six scoreless innings and lowered his ERA to 2.26 for the year.
The Mets scattered just six singles against the Reds pitching staff which has the worst team ERA in the sport (5.46)
The Mets went 0-for-8 with runners in scoring position on Tuesday
The Mets are are 7-8 over their last 15 games, having scored 3.1 runs per game during that span
RHP Taijuan Walker would be interested in discussing a long-term contract with the Mets (MLB.com)
The Mets recently signed former first-round draft pick Deven Marrero to a minor league contract and assigned him to Triple-A Syracuse - they’ve also signed LHP Gregori Louis, and RHP’s Michael Krauza, Francisco Mercado, and Cristofer Gómez to minor league contracts
Roster Moves 📰
RHP Max Scherzer activated from the injured list
LHP Chasen Shreve designated for assignment
Today’s Game 🗓
Match-up: Mets (50-31) vs. Reds (28-52)
Where: Great American Ballpark — Cincinnati, OH
Starters: LHP David Peterson (5-1, 3.24 ERA) vs RHP Graham Ashcraft (4-2, 4.53 ERA)
When: 6:40 PM EDT
Where to Watch: SNY
Despite an aggravating loss, Max Scherzer provides hope the Mets need in the second half… 📝
When it comes to sports, I’m not one to re-open old wounds (maybe except when it comes to the Jets).
But Tuesday night’s loss felt a whole lot like the wasted opportunities the Mets had in 2021 to pad or protect their division lead thanks to what has become a dormant offense. They looked lost and confused against rookie LHP Nick Lodolo, who sucked them up like a Dyson vacuum cleaner over 4.2 IP before the bullpen came in and shut the Mets completely down over the next 4.1 IP.
It’s worth mentioning the Reds team ERA is 5.46, the worst in baseball.
And for the Mets to waste a stellar return from Max Scherzer, a day the club has been waiting for and needed for the better part of two months, and a game in which he fanned 11 over six scoreless innings just feels like a sucker punch.
There’s been a lot of talk around their lack of production from the designated hitter, catcher and third base spots in the lineup. And yes, they’re all issues (specifically, the Mets don’t have a catcher with an OPS over .500). But simply put, the Mets aren’t scoring enough runs anymore - they’re averaging 3.6 runs per game since June 12.
Much of that can be attributed to the club hitting just .191 with runners in scoring position, the fourth-worst mark in that span, a span of 20 games. They’ve seen their team average dip to .259 with two outs and runners in scoring position, and .269 overall thanks to this recent 20-game stretch.
Yes, the Mets have faced quality pitching with the Astros and Marlins during this stretch but they’ve also dealt with the Rangers, Angels and now the Reds.
The truth is, there was only so long the club could rely on that knack for driving in runs with two outs.
The problem the Mets have is there are no quick fixes coming. They’ll have Travis Jankowski back soon who will add an element of speed and defense into the equation, but that’s not going to transform the offense and lift them from the malaise they’re in. The solution lies from within - they need to get more mobile on the bases and become less station-to-station, utilizing the speed they have between Starling Marte, Brandon Nimmo and Francisco Lindor specifically to help get them back to manufacturing runs and scoring in different ways, the way they did over the first 60+ games of the season.
Even as the trade deadline draws closer, it’s hard to see a lot of transformational players becoming available at prices clubs can digest. That has a lot to do with the extra playoff spot the middle tier of teams being one hot stretch away from playoff position. The bottom tier in the game is smaller than it ever has been as a result, and with no August trade waivers anymore, prices in the trade market will be sky high in all probability. There are rentals like Trey Mancini and Josh Bell who seem like obvious trade candidates, both of which would help solve their issues with their designated hitter and provide solid infield depth. But they’re only complimentary pieces and pieces to help lengthen a lineup, not pieces that will carry an offense during tough stretches.
So, it’s up to Lindor. It’s up to Eduardo Escobar, and it’s up to one of these catchers to find their way to help get this train of bats back on the rails.
Shifting to the good news of the night, which of course was Scherzer. He was incredible on Tuesday and deserved far better than the no-decision on his ledger. He induced 15 swings and misses among the 36 pitches the Reds swung at against him last night, a rate of 42 percent.
Despite a truly aggravating loss, it would be foolish to take the eye off the bigger picture here. Even if the Mets are slumping they’re going to win more often than not when Scherzer, Jacob deGrom or whoever throws a game like he did last night. He demonstrated he was 100 percent healthy, his stamina wasn’t an issue, and that he really didn’t miss a beat despite being on the shelf for the last seven weeks or so. He touched 97 mph with his fastball and just tantalized the Reds offense over his six innings, allowing just two harmless singles along the way.
I noted last night Scherzer is one of the only pitchers I can ever remember where opposing hitters appear to be late on his off-speed pitches. He has such an assortment of fastballs and off-speed pitches and throws them in any count and in any situation at that. He’s a powerful, fearless magician out there and as usual, was must-see TV last night not just because he was returning from injury, but just because Scherzer is awesome, he’s fun to watch, and any pitcher can learn the art of pitching merely by sitting down for a couple of hours and watching one of the game’s masters at work.
He’s one of the great spectacles of the game and is remarkable to watch. He alone transforms the Mets from a good team into a great team. Just imagine what a healthy and agile deGrom can do for an already great team.
They just need to get him back and the offense out of this slump.
Down on the Farm 🌾
All Mets affiliates were off on Tuesday.
Around the League 🚩
Kris Bryant hit his first home run with the Rockies in their 5-2 loss to the Dodgers
The Dodgers lost Chris Taylor to a fractured foot - his timeline for a return is not yet known
The Braves rolled to another win over the Cardinals in Atlanta - they now sit just 2.5 games behind the Mets in the NL East
The Phillies blew out the Nationals 11-0 in Philadelphia thanks in part to two home runs from Kyle Schwarber - they are now seven games behind the Mets in the NL East
The Red Sox designated former Met RHP Hansel Robles for assignment (Boston Sports Journal)
RHP Jameson Taillon allowed five runs in his return to Pittsburgh as the Yankees dropped a 5-2 contest at PNC Park