Mets Game 98: Loss to Nationals

Nationals 5 Mets 2

What was bad, has gone to worse.

Mets Game Notes

Jeremy Hefner held his own, allowing two runs on six hits and two walks in six innings, striking out seven in a 110-pitch effort. He pitched well enough to win, but, unfortunately, his team was facing Stephen Strasburg AND he had the luck of having the Mets bullpen behind him.

Strasburg was impressive, though a shade below dominating. His 95-97 MPH fastball was at times very well placed, at other times, very hittable. His curve is absolutely deadly, and reminds me of Nolan Ryan‘s yellow hammer — too hard to even think about hitting. Considering that he’s coming off TJ surgery, I’d like to see him use his change-up more often, as it less stressful than the other two pitches and nearly as effective. Right now he is on the cusp of reaching the level of a healthy Josh Johnson.

As has been the case oftentimes this season, the Mets flashed iron glovework. Daniel Murphy made an error on a routine grounder that luckily didn’t result in a run, and his miscue-mate Josh Thole dropped the ball on a play at the plate that did result in a run.

More egregious errors were made by Thole that didn’t show up in the boxscore: his continued habit of jerking / “framing” pitches (which cause him to lose strikes) and a conflict with Tim Byrdak. I’m not sure if ALL of the pitches are called by the dugout or by Thole, but either way, it was clear that Thole and Byrdak were not on the same page; heck, they weren’t even reading the same book. The discomfort between the two came to a head when Thole threw down the sign for a fastball when Byrdak wanted a breaking pitch. Byrdak grooved it and Adam LaRoche destroyed it, sending it to Shea Bridge.

As it turned out, the call came from the bench, which begs the question: do all calls come from the bench? If they do, wow, that speaks volumes about what the coaching staff / Mets organization thinks of Thole. It also explains why Thole is a follower instead of a leader on the field.

Ironically, the LOOGY Byrdak retired the two righthanded hitters he faced, and allowed a walk and a homer to the two lefties.

Mysterious pitch behind Roger Bernadina‘s head from the hand of Hefner, who otherwise had very good command. Did his cleat get stuck in the dirt, or did it have something to do with Bernadina’s spike job on Ruben Tejada in game one? Hmmm …

Lots of lazy plays and lackadaisical effort in this afternoon ballgame — even the usually hard-playing David Wright was guilty of snoozing when he didn’t move from the batter’s box on a dropped third strike.

BTW, this innings limit for Strasburg is absolutely ludicrous and defies logic. An inning can be three pitches or 43 pitches — so how can it possibly be used to measure a pitcher’s load? Yet another example of rockheads instead of qualified scientists making multi-million-dollar decisions in MLB.

The Mets are now 11.5 games out of first place, and three losses away from last place.

Next Mets Game

The Mets can’t escape Flushing fast enough, but their upcoming road trip is far from a cake walk. They start in Arizona to face the Diamondbacks in a 9:40 p.m. EST game on Thursday evening, sending Matt Harvey to the mound against Wade Miley.

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 July 26, 2012 at 7:27 am
    RE: Laziness

    100%, Joseph.

    Thole was having a rough day, even prior to becoming the “middleman” for Byrdak v. Warthen – on the LaRoche rocket launched-HR.

    Think it’s saying a lot about our catching situation. He’s not even calling games, late – in addition to having defensive lapses behind the dish.

    2 plays yesterday showed me that he didn’t want to be there:

    – 1 where he flat-out “lazed” on a pitch by Hefner, where it nicked off his glove — almost standing — allowing Lombardozzi to get a big-time delayed jump to third. Luckily for Thole, Wright made a nice play — and kept the tag on, as his hand came off the base…..and Lombardozzi was called out.

    – The other at the plate, where it makes me wonder how spooked he is now, from these concussions he’s suffered through the years.

    We’re also making a “change for the sake of it”, with Nickeas going down for the bad-for-possibly-worse Rob Johnson.

    I’ve said it a lot the past handful of seasons, they’d better come up with some kind of solution to this catching debacle over the winter.

    Back onto the pitch-calling: this has been a problem with Thole forever. If Warthen’s still calling pitches, then it’s doubtful that the Mets will ever trust him to on his own.

    Remember, all we ever heard about from Pelfrey was that he had trouble working with Thole….which is why we’d see him throwing so much to a guy like Rod Barajas or Henry Blanco when they were here.

    This team is way down in the septic tank right now.

    Lost in this was a quality start from Jeremy Hefner, keeping the club in a ballgame vs. Strasburg and the 1st place Nats. A couple of mistakes, but only 2 ER in 6 innings of work.

    As I said amidst all of the Harvey-Gate whining, not sure what more fans would want from a 5th starter.

    • Joe Janish July 26, 2012 at 8:37 am
      There are so many things wrong with the game being called from the bench that I may have to turn it into its own post.

      From what I’ve seen of Johnson this year, he’s the best all-around MLB catcher in the Mets organization – which speaks more to the Mets’ issue at the position than it does to Johnson’s skill set. I think they left him down in AAA to provide stability and direction to their young guns — the “Crash Davis” example, in my mind, makes sense and is more than a movie character. Harvey, Familia, etc. weren’t going to learn much from Nickeas, who is merely a competent minor league catcher. Now that Harvey is up, it makes sense to have him pitch to Johnson.

      • Steve S. July 26, 2012 at 9:43 am
        Good points. And Johnson couldn’t possibly hit as poorly as did Nickeas.
  2. Joe July 27, 2012 at 9:06 am
    Hefner held his own — he got around one error (two outs) but not a third (one out) and almost held serve over six.

    The guy looks to me as a serviceable spot starter and it sort of annoyed me that when that role came up, he was put a level below Batista repeatedly. Could be a #5 on some team possibly. He has had one bad start plus couldn’t handle coming back after a rain delay.

    The Mets had some decent starting pitching even over their losing streak — Niese, Young and here Hefner each gave them some good performances.