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.