Mets Game 90: Loss to Nationals

Nationals 5 Mets 4

Late-inning dramatics are entertaining, for sure. But if they don’t result in a win, well … what value do they have, other than entertainment?

Mets Game Notes

This was a very quick, fairly unremarkable game for eight innings. The feeling was: “ugh, the Mets are not doing anything tonight, and in a few moments it will all be over.” Then Jordany Valdespin blasted a three-run homer, and the game became must-see TV.

For the next hour or so, we were treated to genuinely awesome, edge-of-your-seat entertainment. The ending, though, was not favorable to the Mets fan. That’s baseball.

If there’s a bright side, it’s that Jonathon Niese walked away with a no-decision instead of a loss. He performed well on paper, allowing only one run on three hits in seven innings, striking out eight and walking none. As well as the results turned out, I didn’t love the process; but, I’m a nitpicker, and as a huge fan of Niese I always wish he’d be a little better — kind of like an overbearing parent. Yes, Niese got swings and misses. Yes, 77% of his pitches were strikes. The results were there, no question. What I didn’t necessarily love was his arm angle and release point, which seems to be sinking lower and lower with each start. Niese attained several high strikes — both looking and swinging — on pitches where his hand was under the baseball and his arm was just about sidearm at release. I think the location surprised the Nationals hitters, but over the long haul, if he continues to do this, hitters will look up in the zone and wallop those pitches. More importantly, there is concern that such an angle puts significant pressure on the elbow; it’s next to impossible to follow through with the hand pronated from a sidearm delivery, so the elbow ligaments are not completely “released” during follow-through, so they remain tense and tight after release. We watched a similar pattern of gradually lowering arm angle from another lefty pitcher for the Mets who enjoyed good results — Oliver Perez. I’m not saying Niese is going to be as bad as Ollie, but there is enough of a mechanical comparison to make me worry that Jon is damaging his arm to the point where it will eventually affect his velocity, location, and performance.

If you didn’t watch this game, I sincerely apologize, for it was such an emotionally draining rollercoaster ride that I don’t have the energy to recount the blow by blow. Here is the gist: the Mets squandered multiple opportunities to crack Nationals starter Ross Detwiler; it seemed that every time I blinked, they rapped another hit off of him. But every potential rally was crushed by a double play and/or a weak popup, and/or a well-hit ball that went right at someone. Then, Valdespin hit a game-changing homer that should have sent the momentum to the Mets, but Bobby Parnell shat the bed. Parnell threw something like 8 consecutive curveballs — partially because that strategy was working, but also because both he and Josh Thole lost confidence in his fastball. And that’s a major problem when your fastball touches triple digits.

As admirable as was the Mets’ tenacity, the Nats showed just a bit more — enough to win the ballgame.

Bryce Harper is the real deal. I sincerely hope he remains healthy and doesn’t have a Todd Marinovich-like crack-up, because he is a joy to watch. His swing is perfect, he hustles like crazy, his aggressiveness is inspiring, and he shows no fear. Oh, to be 19 again!

Don’t look now, but Daniel Murphy is taking full swings again. Nice to see, as his “stick the bat out and just make contact” approach isn’t going to produce enough offense to make up for his underwhelming defense. Unless he hits about .380, which ain’t happening.

Josh Edgin is establishing himself as a LOOGY — which means, he can’t be trusted against righties.

Remember when Tim Byrdak was unhittable?

I didn’t like the intentional walks issued to Ryan Zimmerman and Ian Desmond to load the bases after Harper’s triple in the tenth. First, I never like intentional walks. Second, I don’t like putting the pitcher into a situation where he has zero room for error. Although it did result in a force-out at home, and the strategy had no impact on the game-ending wild pitch, I still hate when a pitcher has no leeway — it really limits what he can do against a hitter.

Jason Bay does not look well. He has very little confidence; he looks meek at the plate. He needs to go, and I mean that in the nicest, most respectful way — he’s failed for too long here, and needs a clean slate to succeed again. Failing time and time again in New York only piles on the weight of his struggle.

I’m torn on Valdespin. On the one hand, he has a flair for the dramatic, and has provided excitement and color that is otherwise nonexistent on this fairly boring Mets club. At the same time, I didn’t love his hot-dogging lack of hustle on a ball that wasn’t definitely a home run. When Reggie Jackson hot-dogged a dinger, it was a 450-foot moon shot. You can’t Cadillac around the bases on a 371-foot fly that doesn’t even clear the wall.

If nothing else, Murphy and Valdespin may have great careers as pinch-hitters.

Interesting to see Pedro Beato in that fateful spot instead of Jon Rauch. My guess is that Rauch was being saved as the next “closer”; i.e., he would be the man to preserve the lead if the Nats where held scoreless and the Mets went ahead again. But that’s just a guess. I’m curious to know what thoughts went into that decision by Terry Collins. Does he believe that Beato is more of a swing-and-miss guy? In complete honesty, I’m not second-guessing this decision — I’m genuinely interested in the thought process.

Who is this Tyler Moore character?

Next Mets Game

The Mets and Nationals play again on Wednesday evening at 7:00 p.m. Chris Young climbs the hill to face Jordan Zimmerman.

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. mic July 18, 2012 at 1:56 am
    from metszilla;- The most notable of the bad pitches was Beato’s wild pitch which gave the Nationals the win, when Beato had a 1-2 count on Tyler Moore. But that pitch was only the most notable because it ended the game. The biggest pitch of the game, in my estimation, was the fastball that Parnell through to Danny Espinosa in the ninth inning, which Espinosa immediately shot back up the middle to tie the game. The problem with that pitch? Location…………….
  2. SiddFinch July 18, 2012 at 1:58 am
    The sad fact is the Nats are for real and worse yet a couple of years ahead in their progress. They have the potential to dominate the NL East for years. Let’s hope Wheeler, Harvey, Nimmo, Flores, et al live up to theirs or else we’ll be like Roosevelt chasing Washington for the next decade.
  3. wohjr July 18, 2012 at 2:05 am
    Ok, so a few things:

    1) I did not show up to watch until the 8th– just in time to see another terrible 1b call go against the mets. Honestly, my grandmother could call these plays correctly because you go off the sound– foot on base vs. ball in glove. To see 2 egregious botches in the last week (admittedly this was not as bad as vs. ATL) makes me think you are right, Joe, about the demonstrative “safe” arm motion by the runners is making the ump call ’em out. But I can see it much more with the uppity rook vadly– torres as a vet shouldn’t be hazed by the umps like that right???? Total BS

    2) Bobby was throwing the curves, which I like– but every pitch is away, away, away. Honestly, with 99 cheese how can you not come up and in on one??? It is crazy– is that Thole setting up away or does it come from the dugout?

    3) At this point what has Bay done to be inserted immediately in OF? He does look more competent than Duda on fielding fly balls so that’s good. But why wouldn’t you leave him in AAA until he hits, say, 5 HR and 10 doubles? A real major leaguer should be able to do that in short order. And he still gets paid. Is this ever done– setting specific production goals before recalling struggling vets? I know why the Mets aren’t doing it with bay– because he wouldn’t hit even those numbers by the end of the season.

    Free Jordannnnny

    • wohjr July 18, 2012 at 2:08 am
      this ship be sinkin
    • wohjr July 18, 2012 at 2:08 am
      And is it just me or has byrdak been foul since the chicken?
  4. DaveSchneck July 18, 2012 at 6:47 am
    It’s July, time once again for the Mets to change the Tom Petty rally cry tune from the 1st half’s “Running Down a Dream” to the 2nd half’s “Free Falling”. This game was eerily like the one earlier this year when Spin kept botching grounders right at him, and this season is eerily similar to the previous 3, unfortunately.
  5. Walnutz15 July 18, 2012 at 7:14 am
    I just have to laugh, considering everything that I actually like about the Mets (player and performance-wise **cough** Valdespin **cough**) — doesn’t even last for more than a half-inning, before it enters into the blatantly-obvious “has needed fixing for months” portion of the program.

    They don’t even let you enjoy a moment like Valdespin’s for more than a few minutes, literally — before you have to put up with “No Stones” Bobby Parnell blowing another one.

    I was just talking about him before play started up again; citing how he needed to step it up – without anyone else to turn to….and how I wanted another legitimate reliever (specifically, Huston Street).

    A couple of days ago, I wouldn’t have tried to take anything away from the job Parnell’d done. He’d done relatively well this year.

    That being said — it’s a miserable sad-state of affairs when you’re looking at him as your “best” option coming out of the bullpen.

    I actually made it a point in one of my previous posts here to cite “hopefully, Parnell’s up to the task of continuing to contribute” — simply because it’s a time where you absolutely need him to come through when asked.

    Right on cue, he hasn’t…..multiple times.

    As a guy who’s NEVER been strong on the actual mental aspect of pitching – I view him as one of the single biggest reasons why we do absolutely need to grab a legit back-end arm.

    Rauch and Francisco aren’t going to be making miraculous turn-arounds — IMHO, they both stink and don’t deserve to be paid anywhere near the $$ they do — and Parnell isn’t going to become some kind of high-leverage guy, past the 7th inning.

    This is obvious by now……even more-so when you realize he doesn’t have much of a repertoire.

    Once again, the Mets wanna hang around, they grab another reliever – at this point. It’s the VERY LEAST you can do, Mr. Alderson.

    It’s already started to fade.

  6. NormE July 18, 2012 at 7:20 am
    “what value do they have, other than entertainment?”

    Isn’t entertainment the reason we spend our money/time on an elected activity?
    The game was exciting. Yes, it would have been nice to win, but we were entertained—even though the entertainment was largely due to some very poor bullpen work by both teams.

    I was not happy with the decision to lift Ramon Ramirez after two outs so Josh Edgin could be brought in to face a left-handed batter. Davey Johnson simply switched hitters to negate the move. It led to the second run. This was not the place for a loogy!

    • Joe Janish July 18, 2012 at 8:34 am
      “Isn’t entertainment the reason we spend our money/time on an elected activity?
      The game was exciting. Yes, it would have been nice to win, but we were entertained—even though the entertainment was largely due to some very poor bullpen work by both teams.”

      You make a fair point. There is probably a better way for me to state my argument, because yes, entertainment is the most basic reason we spend our money/time watching baseball games. But, the point I failed to include is that we invest our time in the hopes that the entertainment results in an outcome that leaves us satisfied or fulfilled.

      Hmm … I’m feeling a post brewing here …

      • NormE July 18, 2012 at 11:23 am
        Well put! The satisfaction or fulfillment factor is important.
  7. Izzy July 18, 2012 at 7:43 am
    I had no problem with them walking Zimmerman as he has been hot for the last month, but Desmond. It was a pure stats don’t lie move ignoring the fact that Desmond hasn’t been playing because he’s been having Oblique problems. Nobody even knows if he can take a full swing, but by the book all the time piss poor philosophy said walk him because it was automatic in 1935. As for Norm’s comments about lifting Ramirez, agree completely. its a totally senseless move to make a pitching change when the guy gets the first two guys out easily. Does Coillins thinkk Johnson is too dumb to have a book as well???
    • Walnutz15 July 18, 2012 at 8:12 am
      With you, 100%
    • Joe Janish July 18, 2012 at 8:23 am
      Desmond’s oblique issue is one of those little details that got lost in the panic of that final inning. You’re right — we don’t know if Desmond can swing a bat. If he was forced to swing, maybe he can’t get around on a 93-MPH fastball. Or maybe he does, and injures himself worse, and sends him off the field for the rest of the series. Not that you wish for those things, but if the Nats lost their HR leader and starting shortstop for a while, it wouldn’t be the worst thing for the Mets.
    • DaveSchneck July 18, 2012 at 8:44 am
      Two excellent points. I like him, but Collins has been as lousy as the pen lately.
    • NormE July 18, 2012 at 11:27 am
      Izzy, great point on Desmond.
  8. James July 18, 2012 at 8:01 am
    The Mets suck. Parnell sucks. Beato sucks. This will be true until they solve their 3 biggest problems, 7th inning pitching, 8th inning pitching and 9th inning pitching. There is no practical difference between this team and the 1962 mets if you could predict the outcome in advance.
  9. Micalpalyn July 18, 2012 at 9:17 am
    Conspiracy theory?

    – Thole has been exhaustively berated throughout his career, specifically here under the Janish Microscope.
    Is it coincidental that 4 of 5 runs score AFTER Thole enters the game. That Thole has pitchers throwing right down the plate because they cant get close calls if he is behind the dish…..hmmmm

    – Collins: The pennant chase is in HIS head. As a senior coach, who is HE playing? He berates Kirk and Duda, and drops them. But WHO is he playing? Torres and Bay….are their Stats/ play better than Duda Kirk’s or Jordy’s …..NOT!! If we are going to run out of speed (and I dont think we will) … I’d rather it be with Kirk, Duda, Van Dekker, Jordy and Baxter.

    -Conspiracy? IF…JUST IF ….we suck for another week, then we can trade Francisco, Bay, Torres, Duda ? Murphy, Rauch, Santana, Byrdak…..and hopefully get a free pass from the press for bowing out gracefully and saying it was fun, lets wait till next yr.

  10. hart July 18, 2012 at 11:10 am
    Joe- I had a similar question to that posed by wohjr above about Thole setting up outside. For whatever reason, Parnell rarely busts batters inside with his fastball to make them uncomfortable, so even when he spots his fastball well outside, batters seem confident enough to move into the pitch and line it. When Thole sets up way-the-hell outside like that, you know the fastball away is coming, and there’s zero fear of getting busted in. Batters aren’t supposed to peak, but they have to sense that, don’t they? So why set up like that? Couldn’t he just stay centered to the plate and give a slightly outside target?
    • Walnutz15 July 18, 2012 at 11:22 am
      Agreed, whole-heartedly.

      Aside from his very obvious pitch-selection problems (Thole’s not a great catcher, sure) – Parnell’s never been the type to come in and “own” the plate.

      This is why so many hitters are comfortable against a 101 mph fastball……there’s absolutely no fear of being pitched to, inside.

      Watch Bobby Parnell pitch, and you see a guy scared of pitching anywhere middle-in, let alone – high and tight. It’s a damn shame.

      ………and again, makes me wonder what kind of message Dan Warthen’s been preaching to him about pitching.

      He pretty much sucks at it……and to my eye, our pitching coach has always been a problem with younger guys needing to take the next step as Major League pitchers.

      The biggest part of it is on Parnell’s right arm, and head — with the other snippet being (for me, at least), Warthen’s “tutelage”.

      [Ricky Bones is out there working with the ‘pen, as well — and while the bullpen largely stinks on ice……I’d expect him to have Parnell “pitching” more than throwing.]

      If you’re not convincing Parnell to pitch to his strengths by now……I’d consider a 101 mph fastball, that can be busted inside one, his biggest…..then I’m not even sure what can be said for him.

      Obviously, you’d like for him to mix it up with an actual repertoire….but again, we’re in his 5th (FIFTH) year with the Mets.

      That he played right into a strength of Danny Espinosa last night……ahead in a count.

      Absolutely maddening.