Mets Game 34: Loss To Cubs

Cubs 2 Mets 1

Not even the Dark Knight could stop the slide.

Mets Game Notes

Matt Harvey did all he could do to prevent the Mets from losing the series — or did he?

Harvey spun seven scoreless innings before handing over the game to lesser mortals. But he struck out twice in three at-bats and went hitless. He didn’t pitch well in his last start because of too much rest, so perhaps his inability to provide offense was due to being dropped to the bottom spot of the batting order? Superheroes are more sensitive than people realize.

Why, exactly, was Harvey removed from the game after dominating the Cubs through seven frames? I’d love to know. He threw exactly 100 pitches, which is a magical number to mere mortals, for reasons unfounded. Well, that’s not entirely true … there are statistics suggesting that a starting pitcher’s effectiveness reduces precipitously after pitch #100. But those findings are based on the statistics gathered from ALL starting pitchers — humans included. Does it make sense to apply universal research to an elite starter such as Harvey? On a night when he is mowing down hitters and showing no signs of fatigue? Are the Mets doling out insurance policies or trying to win ballgames?

Or perhaps Harvey was removed to “save his arm,” based on the theory that a pitcher has only so many pitches in his arm, or “bullets,” before his arm breaks down. This universal theory that is pervasive throughout MLB and championed by hardheaded dinosaurs such as Sandy Alderson is completely preposterous and lives despite zero proof supporting it. At least the previous hypothesis — that of effectiveness waning after 100 pitches — has data backing it up. If there is research to the contrary — if there is a legitimate, science-based report somewhere that says pitchers break down specifically due to throwing a certain amount of pitches, please point me to it. The only science gathered and proven I’ve found that is related to pitch counts is a set of rules called “rest and recovery guidelines” — which, ironically, almost no MLB starting pitcher follows.

Beyond the mystery of removing Matt Harvey from the ballgame, there is the matter of the Mets not scoring many runs lately. I’ve said it before and will say it again: welcome back to the 1970s. Tom Seaver, Jerry Koosman, Jon Matlack would pitch brilliantly, only to lose 1-0, 2-1, or 3-2. Do you know Koosman once had a 3.49 ERA and led the league in strikeouts per nine innings, yet lost 20 games? That was when John Milner‘s 15 homers per season earned him the nickname “Little Hammer” because his power resembled that of Henry Aaron. And when Dave Kingman was a god (when he was in the mood). Maybe the returns of David Wright and Travis d’Arnaud will turn the Mets offense into a 6-run-per-game juggernaut, but somehow, I doubt it.

I never, ever like intentionally walking the bases loaded, yet managers do it in the bottom of the ninth to make sure everyone knows that they know it’s the bottom of the ninth and the score is tied. Is it better to show the world you’re paying attention, or to win the game? What sense does it make to give the pitcher absolutely no margin for error? Ask Kenny Rogers, he’ll tell ya.

Daniel Murphy collected two more hits against the dumbfounding shift. And he continues to run like his hair is on fire, but got away with it on this particular evening. Does that make it “good baserunning” or “lucky”?

How did the Mets load the bases with no outs in the initial inning and not score a run? A potential story for Ripley’s Believe It Or Not museum.

Next Mets Game

Cubs go for the sweep on Thursday afternoon at 2:20 PM. Jon Niese faces Travis Wood. Maybe Niese should bat third.

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 May 14, 2015 at 12:12 pm
    It’s almost as if Murph knew he needed to make up for not taking 2nd base as the trailer, the previous night — by “Murphing it up” on the taking of 3rd. Heads-up play there, but it didn’t lead to anything….as he was stranded, regardless.

    ……..and looked like he ran wildly-enough to nearly hurt himself in the process. LOL

    He made a couple of nice plays at 3rd, so it wasn’t all bewilderingly head-shaking. *wink*

    Terry Collins is mint. Don’t think I’ve agreed with about 99% of his managerial moves over the past 5 seasons – and that’s pretty impressive, in of itself.

    Watching him bunt with Flores in the 9th, to get Plawecki and Nieuwenhuis up w/RISP after him was just another in the long line of “TERRYBALL” moments we’ve seen through the years.

    Not that he’s even on the Nats’ major league roster, but it’d figure that the year I wished we could get a better look at den Dekker would result in, not only some opportunities for him to play CF (w/Lagares hurt) – but with Blevins being on the shelf only weeks after becoming a Met.

    Nieuwenhuis looks pretty lost again, and it’s doubtful he’ll ever contribute to a level worth keeping him past — last year, really — lol.

    Sending Torres out there for the 9th, and then asking Familia to work out of the bases loaded, 0 out jam?


    Time to start hitting………..and if not, then you’d better start doing the little things right (like Harvey not getting a bunt down good enough to move the runner over/actually run down the line to not get doubled up).

    1 run or less in 5 of their last 10 —– and 3 runs or less in 12 of their last 15 ain’t gonna help the pitching, whether it’s the guy starting the contest —— or any of the ones being asked to keep it close during the later innings.

  2. Extragooey May 14, 2015 at 12:33 pm
    The 100 pitch mark is the way the game is managed now. Sure, you can go a little over and a little under, but that’s the magic number. Whether there is any correlation with injury, i have no idea. But it is the way it is done so to criticize Collins for doing it is just second guessing after the fact. If Harvey had started the 8th, gave up the tying run, there would be people second guessing Collins for leaving him in.

    Daniel Murphy plays the ball 100% instinctively in my opinion. It’s responsible for the whole spectrum of plays that Murphy gives us, bad to good. He will give up runs, but he will produce them as well with his style. At the end, the pluses don’t add up to more than the negatives in my opinion.

    I never like the walking the bases loaded strategy either. I cannot find any advanced analysis on that strategy. If anyone has a link to any research on that, please post it. I understand the idea behind it. The runner on third already has a great chance of scoring. To balance that out a little, walk the bases loaded for a force at every base. The problem is now you are introducing a new factor, the next walk forces the winning run in. This puts added pressure on the pitcher throughout the at bat. It just seems like too many games end with the pitcher walking in the winning run.

  3. Walnutz15 May 14, 2015 at 12:43 pm
    “At the end, the pluses don’t add up to more than the negatives in my opinion.”

    Same deal here.