Metrospective 7/2/2024: It's Never Easy (2024)

Metrospective 7/2/2024: It's Never Easy (1)

In today’s newsletter: The offense bails out the bullpen (again), an injury scare for a regular, and a much-awaited call-up.

Living On The Edge

Two things can be true at the same time. One, the Mets are playing really fun baseball right now and do look like a team that can contend for a playoff spot in a crowded National League. Two, due to the Edwin Díaz suspension, a rash of injuries and general ineffectiveness, the bullpen is so bad that waiting any longer to address it could dash those playoff dreams.

The Mets’ 9-7 win over the Nationals in 10 innings on Monday night — a day after they lost in extras to the Astros — was a perfect representation of this team’s situation right now. After a sluggish start, the offense came back to tie and take a late lead but some shaky relief work — and an unusual defensive misplay — allowed Washington tie it up and force a 10th inning in which the Mets, for a change, posted a crooked number.

Somehow, a six-run cushion almost wasn’t enough as the combination of Tyler Jay and Reed Garrett nearly blew it for what would have been the new worst loss of the season. Even though the Mets held on to get back to .500 and climb to within 1.5 games of the third Wild Card, it was the kind of win that feels a bit fluky. It’s clear that reinforcements are needed right now.

With how MacKenzie Gore was pitching for Washington, it seemed as if the Mets would never get a lead in this one. Relying heavily on his hard four-seamer, especially up in the zone, he struck out eight batters in 5 2/3 innings and, outside of a a little jam in the 4th, he pretty much cruised through his start.

Washington manager Dave Martinez did the Mets a huge favor in the 6th, taking out Gore at 104 pitches with two outs and Harrison Bader on second after he singled and stole a base. Gore tried to talk himself into getting a shot at Mark Vientos but Martinez brought in Derek Law. Vientos greeted Law with a hard-hit RBI single to left that cut the deficit to one. Law should have gotten out of the inning the next at-bat when Tyrone Taylor smoked a groundball right at shortstop CJ Abrams. However, it totally ate Abrams up and gave the Mets runners on the corners.

Francisco Álvarez made the Nationals pay for the error, jumping on the first pitch he saw, a high cutter, and drove it into the left-center gap to score Vientos and Taylor. 3-2, New York.

Outside of a two-run 3rd inning — in which he walked Abrams and then allowed three singles in a row — David Peterson was able to pitch pretty well, getting the Nationals to mostly keep the ball on the ground. Without his swing-and-miss stuff, Peterson gave up seven hits but only walked one. He cruised through the 6th and got one out in the 7th before he was lifted for Dedniel Nuñez.

It remains to be seen if Peterson will keep his rotation spot when Scott and Senga (and even maybe José Buttó) return. He has acquitted himself well lately and once again gave the Mets a chance to win.

Nuñez got through the 7th and retired the first two batters in the 8th. Then, he walked Jesse Winker after getting ahead 0-2 — a few borderline calls didn’t go his way — and gave up the tying run when Joey Meneses hit a blooper to right that fell in front of Taylor. It should have just been a single but the ball appeared to take a weird hop and skipped by Taylor, letting Winker score easily. It was ruled a double but was a play that needs to be made.

The Mets went quietly in top of the 9th before disaster nearly struck in the bottom of the frame. Washington top prospect James Wood — making his MLB debut — hit a swinging bunt in between the mound and home to lead off the inning which Jake Diekman fired way wide of Pete Alonso at first, gifting the Nationals a runner on second with no outs. He came back to get back-to-back groundouts from Keibert Ruiz and Luis García Jr. and then barely escaped a loss when Taylor made a nice reaching play on a Jacob Young line drive.

Copying what the Astros did to Matt Festa in the 11th inning on Sunday, the Mets torched Hunter Harvey and then Jordan Weems in the 10th. J.D. Martinez, struggling through an 0-for-12 slump, fell behind 0-2 with Lindor on second and Bader on first. Then, Harvey gifted him a splitter with enough height that Martinez was able to drill it 420 feet to straightaway center for a three-run blast.

Taylor doubled and, with two outs, Álvarez made a bid for a homer of his own that was a few inches from leaving the yard. It caromed off the wall and bounced far enough away from Lane Thomas in right field to let the Mets’ backstop scamper to third for his first MLB triple. Then, José Iglesias had what seemed to be the back-bracker as he smashing a two-run blast of his own to center off Weems. Iglesias’ first Mets longball made it a 9-3 game.

Of course, it wouldn’t be a 2024 Mets game without some stress as the Nationals got it to within 9-6 against Jay in what was supposed to be a mop-up appearance. The journeyman lefty had trouble putting hitters away so Carlos Mendoza turned to Garrett for the final out. Ruiz singled on the second pitch he saw, putting the tying run on base and bringing up García Jr. as the winning run. There was no devastating collapse in the cards on Monday, though, as Garrett bounced back to strike García Jr. with a hard splitter, earning his fourth save.

What To Note

  • It’s tough to figure out Peterson. After striking out 14 batters against the Rangers and Yankees, he only had two Ks against the Nationals as he put together almost the exact same line he did in Washington on June 4th. Overall, the 3.51 ERA through six starts is something the Mets surely will take but it feels a bit like smoke and mirrors considering that he isn’t missing many bats. So far, Peterson basically has either been a groundball pitcher who can keep his pitch count low by keeping the ball down or a strikeout guy who nibbles as he tries to get batters to chase. He probably needs to pick a lane.

  • The bullpen, oof. Nuñez was good and even though Diekman is an adventure when he tries to throw to bases, he got the job done too. Jay almost blew a huge lead and Garrett tried to help him before he was able to slam the door shut. When you have a six-run lead, you should be able to use a guy from out of Triple-A to get three outs. I’m sure the Mets will have some fresh arms up from Syracuse tomorrow but it’s clear that an out-of-organization move needs to be made with Díaz and Sean Reid-Foley each still a few days away from returning.

  • There are not enough good things to say about Vientos and Álvarez who were right in the middle of the Mets’ comeback in the 6th. They’re both batting over .300 with .900+ OPSs and continue to get big hits with runners in scoring position. It is so awesome seeing them thrive together.

  • Special shoutouts to Bader (two hits/two runs/two steals), Iglesias (he started a gorgeous double play early and added two critical insurance runs with the homer) and Martinez (the go-ahead bomb). Martinez has cooled off a bit lately so maybe his homer can get him back on track.

  • Good for Taylor. His miscue in the 7th would have been dissected at length had the Mets lost this game. Instead, we can focus on how he made a game-saving catch in the 9th and was the catalyst for a few tack-on runs in the 10th. He’ll keep getting starts for as long as Marte is out.

  • Scary news with Brandon Nimmo who didn’t play on Monday after he slipped in his hotel room on Sunday night and cut his head. He spent much of yesterday in the hospital getting tests but he did not have a concussion. Nimmo — who had an awesome June — should be back in the lineup today but if he’s still not feeling 100%, there’s no reason for him to be rushed back.

  • Christian Scott is set to return to the bigs. He’ll start for the Mets on Wednesday after spending all of June with Syracuse. He made four starts in Triple-A and gave up a run in each of them, albeit going no more than five innings in every appearance. The Mets wanted to conserve his innings a bit so he threw 81 pitches or fewer each time out. Scott was very impressive in his first MLB cameo — five starts, 3.90 ERA, just six walks in 27 2/3 innings — and, now, he’ll slot into a rotation desperately needing some length and consistency.

  • In another promising rotation development, Kodai Senga will make a rehab start for Brooklyn tomorrow. The expectation is that he’ll go around 40 pitches in his first competitive start since last season.

Looking Ahead

These teams will do it again tonight at 6:45 p.m. on SNY in another southpaw showdown between Sean Manaea and DJ Herz.

Manaea is coming off five scoreless innings against Yankees but has thrown fewer than six frames in each of his last seven starts. Herz made his MLB debut against the Mets a month ago and has struggled in his last two outings, failing to get out of the 4th inning each time.

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Metrospective 7/2/2024: It's Never Easy (2024)

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