Mets Game 115: Loss To Nationals

Nationals 5 Mets 3

Tough loss for the Metsies, as they drop down to 7 games below .500 and 9 games behind the first-place Nationals. Was it really just a week ago that Mets fans were starting to whisper the words “wild card?”

Mets Game Notes

Can’t blame this one on Jacob deGrom, who pitched another strong ballgame. It wasn’t spectacular, but gee whiz, it was certainly good enough — 3 earned runs on 7 hits and one walk in 6 innings pitched.

Jordan Zimmerman was just as good, however, so it was a battle of the bullpens.

There was talk by the SNY booth that one of the reasons deGrom might have been removed was because the Mets need to limit his innings. I can’t believe this is happening, and at some point I’ll address this in more detail. Bottom line is this: limiting innings is an illogical and arbitrary decision with zero scientific basis. I am aware of a sportswriter’s theory that has been cited from time to time but I’ve yet to see any hard fact or research proving that limiting a pitcher’s innings has anything to do with preventing injury. If someone out there knows of something that I haven’t seen, please point me to it — and make certain it is a document published in the scientific community, not some layman’s causality story that uses hand-picked examples that coincidentally fit a theory.

Why the Mets lost this game can be pointed directly to one play that occurred in the fourth inning. With lead-footed Adam LaRoche on second base, Ian Desmond lined a single to left-center. Juan Lagares allowed Eric Young, Jr. to scoop up the ball, and once Nats third-base coach Bob Henley (no relation to Don) saw that, he sent LaRoche home, who was just about to round third base. Young nonchalantly tossed the ball in to shortstop Wilmer Flores, who fervently fired to home a moment too late to put out the plodding LaRoche. In the process, Desmond advanced to second base, though that wound up being irrelevant. If Lagares picks up that ball and fires home, there’s a darn good chance that Henley holds LaRoche. If Young picks up the ball and fires home, instead of to Flores, there’s an outstanding chance that LaRoche is out by five feet. I’m not sure if Young was conceding the run, or if he didn’t expect LaRoche to head home, but he clearly wasn’t trying to put out LaRoche. Had LaRoche not scored, the Mets win this game 3-2 in regulation. #littlethings

Young did hit a sac fly in the top of the seventh to somewhat absolve himself (but not really). More importantly was the play just before Young’s fly — a wild pitch by Drew Storen that skipped by Washington catcher Jose Lobaton. It was a difficult pitch to handle because it didn’t reach the plate, and Lobaton attempted to glove it as an infielder might. If you have been a loyal MetsToday visitor, you may know the golden rule I teach catchers: NEVER try to glove the ball! Why? Because what usually happens is what happened to Lobaton — the ball gets away from you. Lobaton had a chance to block the ball had he moved his hands toward the ball, but fired them down to the ground, and allowed his body to follow behind his hands in an attempt to absorb and stop the ball with his upper body. He moved his hands properly, but instead of following behind them with the rest of his body, he rose up like an infielder and tried to stab at the ball with his glove. The ball got by and the runners moved up to second and third, creating the sacrifice fly situation. If Lobaton keeps the ball in front of him, maybe the runners don’t move up, Young’s fly is a harmless out number two, and Curtis Granderson‘s RBI single makes the score 3-2 instead of 3-3. #littlethings

On his 27th birthday, Kirk Nieuwenhuis had a pinch-hit single, scored the tying run, and made two brilliant, diving catches in extras — one of which was a game-saver, and both of which would’ve made both Ron Swoboda and Tommie Agee proud. It’s funny, during my entire amateur baseball career, whenever a fielder made a remarkable play, someone/everyone on the opposing team would yell “happy birthday!” In this case, it was appropriate.

Bryce Harper‘s game-winning blast was the fourth time that Carlos Torres allowed a homerun in his last five outings. I guess both Harper and LaRoche are out of their slumps now.

By the way, did Gary and Ron really think that Harper was going to bunt in that situation?

Next Mets Game

The Mets move on to Philadelphia to phace the Phillies phor a phour-game series beginning on Phriday night. It’s a rematch of Bartolo Colon and A.J. Burnett. Game time is seven-oh-phive.

Joe Janish began MetsToday in 2005 to provide the unique perspective of a high-level player and coach -- he earned NCAA D-1 All-American honors as a catcher and coached several players who went on to play pro ball. As a result his posts often include mechanical evaluations, scout-like analysis, and opinions that go beyond the numbers. Follow Joe's baseball tips on Twitter at @onbaseball and at the On Baseball Google Plus page.
  1. Walnutz15 August 8, 2014 at 8:56 am
    “By the way, did Gary and Ron really think that Harper was going to bunt in that situation?”

    Ehh, your mind’s gotta start playin’ tricks on you, after so many years of following sub-.500 baseball.

    It’s pretty telling when Gary Cohen gets excited by a non-weak David Wright swing; as evidenced by the routine play that was made on one of his line drives to CF in the later innings. Mr. Cohen sounded like someone dumped cold water down his pants, as the ball started to settle nicely into Denard Span’s glove.

    Nice job by the bullpen yesterday, but part of me wonders if Collins actually had to burn through seven (7) relief pitchers past deGrom.

    It’s really ridiculous, especially when your offense is giving off no indication whatsoever – that they’re going to get on base, let alone do something toward putting a go-ahead run on the board.

    FYI – the “pissed off” swing from Bryce Harper in the preceding AB – leading to one of the hardest hit singles I’ve seen in weeks……was a pretty good indication that he was going for broke in extra frames. Unfortunately, for Torres…..we’ve settled nicely into the “overworked early, paying for it in the Dog Days” session of the program.

    Oh ,well.

    At least Nieuwenhuis made the length of the game bearable to watch.

  2. DanB August 8, 2014 at 12:22 pm
    walnutz made a good point about the “overworked early” bullpen. Will the Met bullpen start breaking down, leading to an end of the season team slump?
    Also, if Syndergaard doesn’t get promoted this year, will he be held back next year until after June? It will be a good sign of how cheap the Mets are. I mean we all know they are cheap, nut this would be an all time low.
    • Joe Janish August 8, 2014 at 1:06 pm
      Re: bullpen and end of season slump, have we yet seen a Terry Collins team finish strong? Not just in Flushing, but in California, Houston, or Japan? Nope.

      So should we expect anything different this year?

      Syndegaard won’t be promoted this year. I wouldn’t get too excited about him starting the year with the Mets next year. But it’s not just about the $, it’s whether he’ll be healthy AND ready. He hasn’t shown to be either this year.

      Of course, he may not even be property of the Mets in 2015. Maybe they’ll trade him for Tulo.

      • Walnutz15 August 8, 2014 at 2:02 pm
        Supposedly, the Cubs had 2 scouts watching him last night. Expect the “Starlin Castro” talk to be there all winter.
      • Yeats August 8, 2014 at 2:02 pm
        “Re: bullpen and end of season slump, have we yet seen a Terry Collins team finish strong? Not just in Flushing, but in California, Houston, or Japan? Nope.”

        Dunno about TC’s tenure with other teams, but has he finished a season with the Mets while having his best players available (Wright, Harvey, Byrd, Beltran)? Nope.

        • Joe Janish August 8, 2014 at 5:09 pm
          Well, you can check Baseball-Reference and/or read this:

          As for not having his best players, that’s a weak excuse. Has Joe Girardi had his best players this year? Injuries and players traded away are part of the game, every team suffers them.

          It’s either a REMARKABLE coincidence that Collins’ teams have always finished with fizzle rather than sizzle, or he’s doing something that creates the situation.

        • Yeats August 8, 2014 at 7:22 pm
          On thin teams (like the Mets), the loss of a “star” player is more impactful than on deeper teams like the Yankees. Also, the Yanks have had the good fortune of having the David Robertson to Mariano endgame.

          IMO, TC is an “average” manager, while Joe Girardi is a very good manager. I think this year has been TC’s worst as a Met.

          I look at the rosters from 2011-2014, and I do not see teams that are .500 caliber.

          That said, it would be their cause immensely this year if there wasn’t so much suckage at 3B.

          Last year: the Mets lost Wright (having a good year) for the last 1/3 of the season. Matt Harvey for the last 1/4. Gaping holes at SS and 1B all year. Marlon Byrd traded in August. Who played OF? So a team who had been .500-ish most of the year tanked after those personnel losses. Is that a surprise? Water finding its level?

  3. Craig August 8, 2014 at 3:55 pm
    Every year Collins and Warthen over work one or more pitchers, because they are effective, to the point of surgery or retirement, i.e., Pedro Feliciano, Scott Rice, and now Carlos Torres [and others over the last 4 years].

    Collins also never plans to have pitchers available in the event of extra innings, burn through them early and pray. He has never been a manager that knows how to use a bullpen effectively.

    Why all the hype over Tulo and Cargo? I wouldn’t trade for either player… 1) Since Tulo signed his massive long term contract he has been on the DL every year at least once, if not more. No team will ever get their monies worth out of him. Not that he isn’t a solid player, when healthy. 2)Cargo is another that gets hurt often and demands top dollar. No thank you on both. The Mets have players they can develop or trade for a young player with power abilities.

    I for one am against massive contracts of 10 mil or more per year and of more than 4-5 years in duration. No matter how good a player is he cannot justify earning millions of dollars per game. Just my personal opinion. Salary caps are needed before salaries get even more outrageous

    I can remember driving from Western Mass to Shea Stadium [about 4 hours] with my wife and 4 children for about a hundred dollars per trip including tickets [my memory could be tad off here]. I can’t imagine what it would cost me today, although my children are all grown.

    • Craig August 8, 2014 at 4:01 pm
      Trips to Shea in the late ’80s and early ’90s.
    • Joe Janish August 8, 2014 at 5:13 pm
      Good luck finding an AVAILABLE young talent who is in the midst of a cheap contract and has no flaws. Those players aren’t traded away from teams.

      Even better luck getting or holding on to a valuable asset for less than $10M per year and a 4-5-year commitment. This is the reality of MLB, and while I agree with you 100%, if a team doesn’t shell out the dough and take the long-term risk, they’re going to lose their best players, because someone else will pony up the dollars and years.

      • Craig August 8, 2014 at 5:56 pm
        Joe, your quite right, and I knew so as I wrote it. Just ignoring reality for a short time. How much money does a person need to live on?

        I am a medical shut-in living on $17 grand a year. I am not complaining, I pretty much have everything I need. The American way is to acquire more than one needs and spend the rest of their lives paying for it. Hence the huge gap between the top 1% and the rest of American society.

        Owners throw money at players as if they were indestructible or machines that never break down. When does the madness end? I know, never.

        One other complaint. I paid $195 for subscription to MLB’s TV rights through my cable subscriber. Last week when the two pitchers were pitching no hitters through 5 innings the game wasn’t being broadcast because the Yankee-Red Sox game was running over. Usually they switch the game to another channel. This time they didn’t and I had to wait until the top of the fifth to watch the game. For the money I paid I don’t expect to miss a single pitch, never mind 4 1/2 innings or half a game!!

        ok, I’ve vented.

  4. mckeeganson August 8, 2014 at 6:12 pm
    It’s about damn time. Anyone who has watched Kirk play even a couple games this year, can clearly see that he has more tools than the Young’s combined. Does he strikeout too much? sure, but who on this team doesn’t? and unlike Eric Young, and Tejada he actually has some pop to boot. It’s hard to believe how little he’s played this year with how bad the other options have been. I feel the same way ab Campbell. They should platoon the rest of the way until den decker is promoted.