So, I’ve been pretty busy lately with a new job and finals for school, so I haven’t had a chance to do weekly reviews for games or anything. Which I mean is a good thing because the Mets have completely imploded and went from 1st place to 4th place in the NL East in recent weeks. But, part of being a journalist is writing about everything…even the miserably depressing things. But I’m going to do something different this week, I’m not going to do a weekly review, instead I’m going to cover a number of things that have happened since my last post. Without further ado, it’s time to get sad about the Mets.
So, let’s start off with the biggest thing to happen in the Mets organization in recent weeks and that’s everything surrounding Matt Harvey. Let’s go back to the beginning of the season with Matt. He had a promising start going 5 scoreless innings against the Phillies with 5 strikeouts and things looked like Harvey might be on track for a good season. His next time out he was taxed for 4 runs over 5 innings against the Nationals and another 4 over 5 his next time out against the Brewers. Things really went sour for Harvey when he made what would end up being his final start as a New York Met against the Atlanta Braves. He gave up 6 runs over 6 innings. With Jason Vargas nearing a return, someone was going to be moved to the bullpen and all signs pointed to Harvey. Harvey was asked about it and his reply was “I’m a starter, I’ve always been a starter.” But the problem with that statement is just because you’re a starter, doesn’t mean you’re a good starter. Yes, Matt has always been a starter and he was very dominant in 2013 and 2015 but since then he’s been a train wreck. Despite him feeling like he didn’t belong in the bullpen, the call was made for him to be moved to the bullpen to make room in the rotation for Vargas. Matt wasn’t going to spend the rest of his career in the bullpen, he was being moved there so he could hopefully work on some stuff and get back in the rotation eventually. But he was clearly unhappy with the decision as he sat in the bullpen with a smug look on his face. His first relief appearance was against the Cardinals where he pitched 2 innings and gave up the go-ahead run in a tie game. After the game, Matt was approached by the media and he refused to speak to them. This left rookie catcher Tomas Nido to speak to the media which was a poor move on Harvey’s end. But he dug himself deeper into a hole the next day when he was approached by the media again. He told them that he had nothing to say to them and when asked why he said, “Because I don’t fu**ing want to.” Being frustrated with your position is fine but you don’t take it out on guys who are just doing their jobs. When you play in New York, you know what you’re getting into. You know the media is going to be all over you and you’ve got to deal with it. Many other players have dealt with it, but Matt clearly could not. His next relief appearance was in San Diego where he gave up a run during 1 inning of work. He had a scoreless relief outing against San Diego 2 days later though and felt inclined to speak to the media. He admitted he was frustrated but was focused on being a guy they could call on in a big spot and eventually get back into the rotation. Great, it was good to hear that from Matt. His next outing though was a disaster. He was called in after Vargas got destroyed by the Braves and this could have been Harvey’s moment to get back into the rotation or at least get closer to it. Vargas gave up 6 runs over 4.2 innings and Harvey gave up 5 over 2 innings. It was a disaster. The next day, Harvey was asked to take a minor league assignment, which he declined and was then DFA’d by the team. Harvey going to the minors would have been a smart choice on his part honestly. Cliff Lee and Roy Halladay both did the same thing to rebuild their careers and that’s what Mickey Callaway was hoping for. But Matt Harvey didn’t want anyone’s help and as a result, he pitched himself out of New York. The Mets had 7 days to trade Harvey or release him from his contract and during a 3-game series with the Reds, they traded Harvey to the Reds for catcher Devin Mesoraco and cash considerations. It was actually a really good move for the Mets, they needed an established catcher and Mesoraco is a former all-star who has potential to be great if he can steer clear from injuries that have plagued him in the past. Matt Harvey pitched his first game for the Reds as a starter against the Dodgers and went 5 scoreless innings but was taxed for 3 runs over 4 innings against the Giants during his next start. It’ll be interesting to see what the Reds do with Matt Harvey, he had a good start against LA, but they’ve been a pretty awful team recently and Matt still looks like he doesn’t have the stuff to be a starter. But with a team in last place and no real hope in being a winning team, I don’t think they’re too concerned with Harvey. Nonetheless, he’s out of the Mets hands and is no longer their problem. I personally could not be happier that Matt is gone from the team. I tried giving Matt the benefit of the doubt and if his attitude wasn’t so terrible, I wouldn’t have minded his poor performances as much. But the poor attitude, the partying, the controversy, it’s too much to look past and he has no place on the Mets as far as I’m concerned.
So, we talked about Matt losing his spot in the rotation in favor of the returning Jason Vargas, but Vargas has been as bad, if not worse than Harvey since returning to the Mets. Vargas has made 3 starts for the Mets so far since returning and each one has been disastrous. His first start came against the San Diego Padres where he gave up 9 runs off 9 hits in 3.2 innings. He walked 3 in the process and looked lost on the mound. Vargas had only pitched a handful of Spring Training games before getting injured and then pitched one rehab game before making a Major League start and it was possible that it was just a rushed return that caused the poor performance. His next time out was against the Atlanta Braves and he gave up 11 hits and 6 runs over 4.2 innings. It was troubling to see and left a lot of Mets fans, myself included very worried about the future of the starting rotation. His most recent start was against the Cincinnati Reds. The Reds are an awful team and it was hopefully a chance for Vargas to bounce back and get some work in. Instead he was taxed for 6 hits and 4 runs over 4 innings. Vargas will likely make his next start against Miami when the fish come to Citi Field. Postponed games and off days gave the Mets the chance to skip his last start which was good and hopefully gives Vargas time to get comfortable on the mound and be an effective 5th starter for the team. Vargas had a good 1st half of the season last year for the Royals and led the American League in the wins but his 2nd half was not good at all and hopefully he can channel his first half stuff and help get the Mets some wins. If Vargas cannot get back on track, I don’t know what they do with him contract wise since he’s signed to 2 years, but the Mets do have 2 very reliable arms in their bullpen that could be brought back as starters. Seth Lugo and Robert Gsellman are both guys who have been good starters in the past and I think if push came to shove, the Mets would look to their bullpen to find a starter to replace Vargas. Lugo and Gsellman have both been good out of the bullpen but I think Gsellman a little more than Lugo and I think Lugo would fit well in the rotation. If they didn’t want to bring either of them out of the bullpen, they could always look to Corey Oswalt as a possible solution. But hopefully the Mets can stick to their original plans and look to Vargas to be a reliable starter.
Zack Wheeler and Steven Matz
So, it’s time to talk about the other guys in the rotation. Syndergaard and deGrom are doing just fine despite deGrom’s hyperextended elbow and Syndergaard not hitting his stride just yet. Matz and Wheeler are still questionable arms in the rotation, but they’ve been looking more promising as of late. Wheeler has had some really good starts this season and some really bad starts as well. Right now, he has a 5.92 ERA and a 2-3 record for the 2018 season. He went 5 innings only allowing 2 runs against the Padres and struck out 9 in the process. The next time out though he gave up 8 runs against the Rockies over 6 innings. He bounced back in his next start against the Reds where he went 6 innings, giving up 1 run and striking out 7. His most recent start is a questionable one. He started against the Blue Jays on a rainy day and looked great in the first few innings despite a home run to Smoak in the 1st. After the top of the 3rd inning though, the rain started coming down heavier and when J.A. Happ slipped on the mound, there was question of whether or not the game would be delayed or not. The crew chief decided not to delay the game but instead take 17 minutes to pour diamond dry on the field. This meant Wheeler had not thrown a pitch in close to 40 minutes by the time he took the mound again and he was not the same pitcher and he didn’t come back out for the 5th. It was pretty annoying to see Wheeler look so good only to have his start ruined by the rain and the lack of a definitive decision by the umpires. Had Callaway known that his pitcher would be sat for over a half hour, he could have had him keeping his arm warm by throwing the ball around or other exercises. But instead no one knew how long the delay would last and so while Happ was able to keep his arm loose, Wheeler was not, and it cost him. But Wheeler has been looking better on the mound and when he’s good, he’s good. If he can have more outings like the ones he had against the Padres and Reds, he can be an effective starter for the Mets. Steven Matz has been struggling early on in the season but as of late has looked like the Matz we’re used to seeing. His past 2 starts have been really good, and he pitched past the 5th inning for the first time against the Rockies where he went 6 innings, allowing only 3 hits and 1 run. His next start was against the Phillies where he went 5 innings and allowed 5 hits and 1 run. He did walk 4 which ultimately kept him from pitching longer but other than that, it was good to see Matz staying composed on the mound and not letting the pressure get to him. If Matz and Wheeler can both keep doing what they’ve been doing, the Mets only have 1 spot in their rotation to worry about and that’s Vargas.
Ugh, the offense. The offense has been so sporadic recently that it actually brings pain to my body. The Mets are a homerun hitting team but only have 39 homeruns this season. This would be okay if they were scoring runs other ways, but they’re not. And they have 162 RBIs. Nobody in the lineup has been consistent other than Cabrera and Lagares (who is now out for the season with a toe injury.) Cespedes is now on the Disabled list with a hip problem, Conforto is just starting to heat up after a very cold start to the season, Bruce has been in and out of slumping, Flores has been in a slump, Rosario is just starting to get hot again, Nimmo is good when he gets playing time, but overall the offense has been god awful. It’s very strange that the team went from being 11 and 1 on the season to being in 4th place with a 19 and 20 record and barely scoring runs. The Mets have scratched out 39 runs in May thus far but have been shut out 3 times and just avoided being shut out yesterday with a 9th inning home run by Nimmo to put something on the board. They’ve lost 10 of their last 13 games and while some of the blame is on the pitching, a lot of it falls on the nonexistent offense who haven’t been able to help the team avoid losses that they should be able to overcome. Mesoraco has been a pleasant surprise to the lineup and given some life to the tail end of it which is good to see. But as a team they need to get it together. You can’t rely on the same 2 or 3 guys to score your runs. There needs to be more situational hitting and they can’t keep leaving guys on base. There really aren’t any excuses for the lack of offense honestly. This team has all the potential in the world, but they just don’t look like they care. They strike out and no one looks like they care, they lose games and they’re all chipper and Callaway has a bunch of excuses as to why they lost. That’s not what should be happening. I’m not saying that they’re content with losing, but they’re definitely not playing like they want to get back in 1st place. The bats need to come alive and come alive soon if this team hopes to have any success.
I think I’ve covered the main focal points of the Mets in the past few weeks. I’m hopefully going to have another article posted next week. It might not be a full week recap but hopefully something similar to this or a week in review of some sort. I will be working a lot this week though, so it might be posted a little later than usual. Continue to follow the twitter and check the site for updates and thank you for the support.