Mets Game 118: Loss To Phillies

Phillies 7 Mets 6

I wouldn’t have believed it had I not seen it.

Mets Game Notes

And I nearly didn’t see it. Zack Wheeler was dominating a Phillies team that was clearly tired, worn, and looking to get the game over with before it even started. Once the Mets lead swelled to 6-1, I started getting ready for a big bike ride.

Then, the Phillies scored two in the bottom of the sixth. And two more in the seventh. I set my helmet aside and watched the Mets bullpen completely crap the bed. Terry Collins left Wheeler — and Vic Black — in one or two batters too many, and didn’t leave Josh Edgin in long enough (nor did he bring him in soon enough). Vic Black performed exactly opposite of Keith Hernandez‘s glowing introductory remarks — almost as if on cue. The win was still in place when Jenrry Mejia entered a clear ninth inning. Mejia managed only two outs as the Phillies finished off a rally that overcame a five-run deficit. Ouch.

What’s wrong with Mejia? Maybe it’s the calf thing? Maybe it was the overuse in the first half? Maybe the scouting reports are catching up to him? Who knows?

In Vic Black’s defense, he wasn’t helped by the defense. Wilmer Flores flubbed a play that could’ve been the third out of the inning; instead, it was an infield single for Ben Revere. A good MLB shortstop probably makes that play, but Flores is a below-average MLB shortstop. From there, the inning ran away from Black.

Probably, A.J. Burnett is the worst pitcher in the National League right now. That’s a good thing for Kyle Kendrick, who is not only awful, but gets little help in the field — especially on a day game after a long night game. Or, maybe it’s just that so many hitters hit the ball so hard off of Kendrick on a consistent basis, a few are bound to be misplayed by the defenders.

Though, there was at least one exception — when Ben Revere made a spectacular catch to rob Matt den Dekker of a 3rd-inning birthday present. Unfortunately for Kendrick and the Phillies, that one big play wasn’t enough to make up for the ineptitude of Domonic Brown, who allowed a fly ball to bounce off his shoetop. Not since the days of Lonnie Smith and Jose Canseco patrolling left field have I seen an outfielder get handcuffed by a fly ball, but Brown did it. What the heck is wrong with him this year? Is he injured? On drugs? I understand that the big offensive numbers he put up in 2013 was due mainly to a red-hot May and June, but even without the power production, Brown always appeared to be a standout, “toolsy” athlete. Right now he looks completely lost.

Back to den Dekker for a moment — he is not the same hitter we saw in past years, and his swing has definitely shortened. I like the way his hands look — they’re in a strong, balanced position in the middle of his body as he waits for the pitcher, he has a short take-back, and his hands are going directly toward the ball when he swings. No more big loop, which means he has much more time to decide whether to swing and a better chance of making hard contact. I’m excited to see how he does over the final two months of this season.

Strangely enough, after den Dekker’s single in the ninth, Keith Hernandez said, “I always liked his swing …” Um, Keith, it’s completely different now. Aw, why should I pick on Keith? He was otherwise his usual entertaining self.

Speaking of that single, it was followed by den Dekker ending the inning on a caught stealing. No criticism of den Dekker, it was a good risk to take at that point in the game and he got a good jump — and, he would’ve been safe had he not overslid the bag. What I want to point out was the great job Jimmy Rollins did in keeping his glove on den Dekker until den Dekker’s slid beyond the bag and didn’t remain in contact with it. Too often times I see infielders apply a tag and then raise their glove to show the umpire that the ball is still in their glove. That’s completely unnecessary, illogical, and it prevents the infielder from getting outs the way Rollins did in that situation. Kiddies: keep that glove planted on the runner until the umpire makes a call. In fact, it’s OK to apply a bit of pressure to a runner’s body part (be it a foot or hand) to “help” it lose contact with the bag. #littlethings

Like Gary Cohen, I thought for a moment that the Mets were going to “Dick WilliamsChase Utley and fake the intentional walk with a full count and surprise him with a strike. They were not, though, and Utley was absolutely ready just in case they did. Just before that pitch, it looked like Utley had been struck out looking on a fastball on the outside edge of the plate, but it was called ball three, and Marlon Byrd stole second on the pitch, setting up the intentional walk. Should it have been called strike three? Maybe.

With Utley red-hot on this Sunday afternoon and Howard not the hitter he once was, the intentional walk was the right call. However, Howard must’ve taken it personally, and possibly sharpened his focus just a notch.

Lucas Duda and Travis d’Arnaud hit back-to-back homers in the fifth. If these two guys can keep doing what they’re doing, and keep doing it in 2015, the Mets might not need to make a big splash in the offseason for a big bat. That’s assuming there’s any money to make a big splash.

Oops! Seems Terry Collins and Jenrry Mejia don’t have their stories straight. During the postgame, Collins said that Mejia told him he was completely healthy, and that nothing physical was bothering him. Minutes later, Mejia told reporters that not only is his calf bothering him, but also his back, as well as the fact he was diagnosed with a hernia about three weeks ago. Oh, and he’s not telling “anyone” because he wants to keep pitching through the end of the season. Huh. Well. Huh. Hmm. I wonder if Mejia is aware that Terry Collins has SNY at home, as well as a DVR, and there’s a slight possibility that either Collins, or maybe his wife or a close friend, MIGHT have heard Mejia’s comments, and MIGHT relay that information to Collins.

Next Mets Game

The phinal game of this phour game series between the Mets and Phillies happens on Monday aphternoon beginning at 1:05 PM. Jonathon Niese faces David Buchanan.

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. Tommy2cat August 10, 2014 at 6:49 pm
    Can we declare the Wilmer Flores experiment over now? lmao. Likable kid; awkward in the field & looks like he’s on stilts at the plate. Would like to see some knee flexion so he uses his legs more.

    Much more optimistic about MDD. den Dekker appears very comfortable in the field and at the plate. He’s now the proud owner of a nice, short stroke and a very smooth swing.

    I can tolerate Ruben in the 8th slot until Sandy can snooker Elvis Andrus from the Rangers.

    As for the Phillies comeback win, hey – stuff happens. Rollins 15-pitch at bat was problematic & wore down Wheeler’s tread-ware. We need Ruben in the middle infield.

    • Walnutz15 August 11, 2014 at 8:17 am
      RE: Wilmer – what are you gonna do? – Let the kid play and see what he brings to the table. He’s looked competent enough defensively at points, and yesterday was the first time where you felt it genuinely “cost” them.

      I’m not even someone who’d consider him a viable “option” for any prolonged exposure to the position – but like others have said………it’s worth using the time between now and the end of 2014 to see what he can bring to the table, whether proving some kind of competence at SS – or to get him extended reps at the plate vs. Major League pitching.

      They’re not gonna do it at 2B for Murphy, and unless Wright’s hurt – or needs to sit on the D.L. for a couple of weeks…..3B is out as well.

      No harm in having him continue to take starts at SS over Tejada. At least you get some facts sorted out, and not wonder like the Mets always seem to do with certain players until they’re cast off.

      • Joe Janish August 11, 2014 at 9:50 am
        C’mon, nutz, you want to give games away by playing Flores at SS? The Mets are right in the middle of the Wild Card hunt!
        • Walnutz15 August 11, 2014 at 10:20 am
          LOL – I’m just wondering what people actually want to see.

          The Mets are going nowhere. So, let’s keep spinning the wheels with the same cast of characters (Tejada at SS) – in lieu of even giving a kid like Flores some semblance of regular playing time?

          Does not compute; and will be even furthered by the time some of these pitchers hit the proverbial brick wall. It’s all gonna be tailored back, whether from the rotation – or the bullpen (Mejia, Familiar, insert any of the other younger/unproven names who’ve never pitched a full big league season).

          Buddy Carlyle?
          Dana Eveland?

          Josh Edgin — who was warmed up by our genius manager, but not brought in to pitch to Utley, somehow….lol

          At least Montero’s been brought up while we hold our collective breaths on the MRI of Mr. deGrom.

          Don’t get me wrong, there have been some nice developments so far in 2014……….but let’s see some guys put together a full Major League season’s worth of results, before walking post-season and taking over the town (like so many delusional fans were – not even a month ago).

          Hell, we’re still waiting on Jon Niese to do that – and he’s been pitching here since 2008.

          ………………..tired of hearing crap from guys like that, when it comes to “fan support” etc. —- show us you can put up with a full season before you ask diehard fans of 35+ years (and obviously, more – when it comes to some here who are older) to.

    • Eric Schwartz August 11, 2014 at 11:11 pm
      How many of these Mets’ minor-league shortstops have you heard of?

      Matt Reynolds at Las Vegas, batting .340 for the year (first half at Binghamton)
      TJ Rivera at Binghamton, batting .340
      Dilson Herrera at Binghamton (play both ss and 2B), batting .340.

      Before the Mets trade for a shortstop, I would like to see what these guys can do.

  2. crozier August 11, 2014 at 12:59 am
    This has been my issue with everyone who wants Tejada out of the lineup – the Mets pitchers induce ground balls, obviously; how else could a tandem of Tejada and Murphy be in the upper third of the league in DPs turned? And how can Flores’ bat be expected to make up for the number of ground balls he fields inadequately? Imagine if you put a lead-gloved slugger in for Lagares – who would stand for that when the Mets live and die by the close game?

    No, Tejada isn’t the long-term answer, but I’d sure want him out there over Flores if I were pitching.

    • Walnutz15 August 11, 2014 at 8:22 am
      “No, Tejada isn’t the long-term answer, but I’d sure want him out there over Flores if I were pitching.”

      Totally agree with the statement, as it’s the truth. However, a team like the Mets needs to admit that they’re still in fact-finding mode……and are the 77-78 win team they realistically were prior to Game 1 of 162 – and not anywhere near the “90 win” in-house objective they liked to unrealistically tout.

      Things like this are the reason why Melvin Mora’s aren’t ever given prolonged exposure to a position with the organization – for half seasons of Mike Bordick. Yes, it “solidified” the position at the time of contention — but this club is going nowhere and needs to see where – not only Flores – but guys like Nieuwenhuis and den Dekker (not getting any younger) fit in on the Major League roster.

      ……………or at least increase their potential trade value.

      Tejada is what he is.

  3. Walnutz15 August 11, 2014 at 8:17 am
    All things Mejia, from yesterday.

    My general stance?

    – the Mets coaching staff is still out of touch with the health of their players (held off on ripping Collins for this when asked about Wright’s health – and saying “I don’t know. We don’t talk about it” last week), and
    – Met players are still dopey enough to go out and push themselves for weeks at a clip, “hurt” (provided he actually is – and it’s not an excuse for poor performance)

    ……………….both angles are pretty concerning.

    Adam Rubin ? @AdamRubinESPN

    Terry Collins believes Jenrry Mejia’s calf, while not 100%, is not a factor in rough patch. Maybe hitting a wall affecting pitch quality.

    5:15 PM – 10 Aug 2014

    Mike Vorkunov @Mike_Vorkunov

    Mejia says he has a “little bit of a hernia” but wants to keep pitching. Has had it for 3 weeks #mets

    5:30 PM – 10 Aug 2014

    Adam Rubin ? @AdamRubinESPN

    Jenrry Mejia has hernia. Wants to finish season before considering surgery.

    5:31 PM – 10 Aug 2014

    Hey! – remember Tim Byrdak?

    Tim Byrdak @Givemethelefty

    Dear Mr Mejia. I pitched with sports hernia in 2010, results will not get better because you won’t be able to finish your pitches#justssayin

    5:45 PM – 10 Aug 2014 Wisconsin, USA, United States

    Mike Vorkunov @Mike_Vorkunov

    Doctors told Mejia to speak up if he feels too much pain but “I’m gonna keep pitching.” He’ll take meds & push surgery till offseason #mets

    6:06 PM – 10 Aug 2014

  4. Jon C August 11, 2014 at 8:27 am
    joe, I was interested to read what you would say about the IBB to Utley

    To me, if you have two strikes on the batter already, why not throw a real pitch? You can always choose to throw a ball, but at least make the batter (and umpire!) work for it. If the issue is being “worried” about missing over the plate or a ball getting away from the catcher, well, if you can’t trust your best relief pitcher to throw a ball, maybe its not the right job for him.

    • Joe Janish August 11, 2014 at 9:55 am
      I’m positive that Jenrry Mejia can’t be trusted to throw a ball in that situation. He can BARELY be trusted to throw an intentional ball!

      I’m not sure what other Mets pitchers could be trusted to throw a ball in that spot. Not Familia nor Black, either.

  5. chris August 11, 2014 at 9:51 am
    I think the bullpen has run into a wall. Am I mistaken or weren’t Famliia and Mejia starters through the minors? Pitching a whole season as a relief combo was bound to catch up with them, but hopefully it is a good learning experience for next season.

    Nothing against Young or Tejada, but I am glad to see Kirk, MdD, and Wilmer playing. The season is over and since the team isn’t contending for a title, I would rather see how these guys look over an extended period. Young was a gamble that didn’t work and Tejada will still be there to play mediocre baseball later if necessary. MdD, Flores and Kirk may turn into the basis for next years team, or they may end up MiLB flotsam, but at least we will know. It’s not like we are risking exposing players that other GM’s are beating down the door for.

    • Joe Janish August 11, 2014 at 9:59 am
      I think Mejia and Familia are being exposed for what they are: young, inexperienced pitchers who display great stuff, but might not yet be ready for prime-time. Both need more polish and consistency, and that’s supposed to happen in the minors. But the Mets had a need for big arms in the ‘pen, so here they are.

      In their relief roles this year, they’ve been somewhat mismanaged in terms of rest and recovery. But ironically, their rest and recovery periods would have been even more poorly managed as starters, because no MLB starter gets enough recovery time.

      • chris August 11, 2014 at 10:45 am
        Understood, and I defer to your expertise here, but it is one thing to be overused in a role you are accustomed to, as opposed to being overused in a new role. I don’t think they were mentally or physically prepared to pitch everyday, even if the other option was similarly challenging.

        I haven’t seen any conclusive studies regarding the success of pitchers brought up too early, so I suppose there wasn’t much harm in letting them figure it out on the big stage. I feel more confident heading into next season knowing they have the tools to do the job then wondering about someone I have never seen get out a MLB hitter.

        • Joe Janish August 11, 2014 at 2:01 pm
          I don’t know that many pitchers truly know how to physically prepare for a season, regardless of what role it is and/or if they’re switching from one role to another. I hear silly things like relievers who are transitioning into starters doing endurance running to “prepare” for example. And most professional throwing programs are more harmful than helpful, particularly those for starters.

          As for mental prep, that’s a valid point worth discussing. Going from a routine of one day on, four days off is much, much different from needing to be “on” nearly every day. I don’t know very much about psychology but I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that relieving is more stressful and mentally taxing than starting. Maybe Mejia and Familia are mentally fatigued at this point.

          But, if relief will be the role going forward, how does one prepare for the grind of a full season in the bullpen? Is it something that can be trained for, or is it something a person is either “built for” or not? I have no idea.

  6. Bat August 11, 2014 at 1:28 pm
    I don’t agree with this statement:

    I think Mejia and Familia are being exposed for what they are: young, inexperienced pitchers who display great stuff, but might not yet be ready for prime-time. Both need more polish and consistency, and that’s supposed to happen in the minors. But the Mets had a need for big arms in the ‘pen, so here they are.

    Sometimes there is still stuff to learn once you get to the majors and again since the Mets are going nowhere I see no issue with them plying (and polishing) their trade in the majors. They aren’t perfect, that’s for sure, but they were awfully good for more than two consecutive months.

    I do agree with this:

    In their relief roles this year, they’ve been somewhat mismanaged in terms of rest and recovery. But ironically, their rest and recovery periods would have been even more poorly managed as starters, because no MLB starter gets enough recovery time.

    Flores is not a major league SS, but I see no issue with playing him there through the end of 2014 with Tejada as a late inning defensive replacement and spot starter so we see if Flores can hit. Then maybe if he hits you play Flores at 2B next year and trade Murphy or trade Flores to a team that needs a 3B. But as I’ve said literally 20 times, we know what Tejada is – a weak OBP guy with the worst slugging percentage in the majors who is at best average defensively. And please don’t tell me that his OBP is fairly good. It is only fairly good because of a bunch of intentional walks opposing teams provide to reach the pitcher.

    • Joe Janish August 11, 2014 at 2:23 pm
      Well, I think that learning to throw intentional bases on balls, fielding one’s position, and throwing to bases are basic skills that should be learned in the minors. Familia and Mejia are terrible at all three.

      I also think that much of their early success was in part due to their mystery. Only a handful of hitters have faced Mejia and Familia more than 4 times in their MLB careers, and most hitters outside the NL East have faced them only once or twice. Without question, both pitchers have the kind of stuff that can make a hitter uncomfortable, but I’m not yet convinced they have enough fastball command and consistent secondary stuff to keep hitters uncomfortable over the long haul. I could be wrong.

      Agreed on Flores / Tejada.

  7. Bat August 11, 2014 at 5:25 pm
    Joe, we often disagree on stuff but you make a very fair point in the first paragraph of the comment above by citing examples of three very specific skills at which Mejia and Familia are poor and that should have been learned in the minors.

    I can’t argue and you are right.

    There is stuff that needs to be learned once you get to The Show, but those things certainly aren’t in that class. This kind of stuff should be close to perfected by the time you reach the Big Time.

    Thank you.

    • Joe Janish August 12, 2014 at 1:39 pm


  8. John Autin August 11, 2014 at 5:45 pm
    I agree with giving Flores an extended look at SS. So far, he’s looked *awful* there — I’ve yet to see him throw without double-clutching, or hit Duda above thigh-high. There might be some jitters involved, and it’s worth finding out for sure what he can do. But I’ll be shocked if he can make it at SS.
  9. chris August 11, 2014 at 6:51 pm
    I don’t know where to post this, but the deGrom and Familia situations have me back into freak out mode regarding this club. It remains to be seen what happens with deGrom, but the rash of UCL issues across MLB, but particularly the Mets, needs to be addressed now! I know this is a drum you like to beat Joe, but it really is out of hand.

    TC on Familia drives me bananas for another reason. He was quoted as “”he doctors have said he can pitch, As long as his arm feels fine, he can pitch. … R.A. Dickey won a Cy Young with a hernia.”

    No. Not all hernias are the same. Just because a soft(er) tossing knuckle baller was able to pitch with an injury that can be a lot of different things doesn’t mean a completely different pitcher can. Does he not think pain or adjustments from the hernia are going to affect the arm motion if Familia starts having to compensate? These guys are so clueless it makes me want to give up.

    • chris August 11, 2014 at 6:52 pm
      Whoops, I meant Mejia.
    • Joe Janish August 12, 2014 at 1:38 pm
      I thought “freak out mode” was the modus operandi of every Mets fan.

      This are the facts:

      1. ALL MLB pitchers and pitching coaches break scientifically researched and proven recovery guidelines.

      2. NO MLB pitching coaches have an advanced degree in kinesiology, therefore none can identify or correct flaws in pitching mechanics.

      3. MOST MLB pitchers have at least correctable one flaw in their mechanics that will eventually lead to injury (but only a handful go to an expert to have it corrected).

      4. MANY MLB pitchers include dangerous lengths of “long toss” that put undue strain on the elbow in particular.

      5. A number of MLB pitchers include dangerous and harmful training methods such as throwing weighted balls.

      Now, understanding that the above five facts exist, and compounding it with the inability of the Mets franchise to properly manage medical issues (going back about ten years now), your best bet is to keep low expectations of Mets pitchers’ health.

      Zack Wheeler and Noah Syndergaard, for example, are on speedy course toward major arm injuries. Jon Niese is already there, and at age 27 is throwing 87-88 MPH when he used to reach 93. Mejia is pitching through a variety of injuries, and using dangerous mechanics to do so. Matt Harvey’s rehab schedule has been grossly mismanaged. Steven Matz is pitching with the same mechanics that led to his first TJ surgery. Vic Black ends every throwing session by tossing a ball to the scoreboard, 250-300 feet away. The list goes on … and on … and on …

      Bottom line, until something drastic changes in the way MLB and the Mets manage pitchers and pitching injuries, expect to see the epidemic of injuries and surgeries continue, and probably increase. The only thing MLB does is monitor innings and pitch counts (which they call “doing everything we can to keep pitchers safe”), and neither have anything to do with the injuries that are occurring, and recurring.