Mets Game 16: Loss to Nationals

Nationals 7 Mets 6

Mets hang tough but wind up on the wrong side of a seesaw battle on a dog day afternoon.

Mets Game Notes

It was “Bark in the Park” and it looked as though the hounds might have outnumbered the humans at a sparsely stocked Citi Field.

Gio Gonzalez was cruising early, then had a meltdown in the bottom of the fourth as the Mets scored five runs in a 22-minute half-inning. I’ve seen Gonzalez go through this before — he completely loses his release point, and can’t recover. It’s reminiscent of Oliver Perez‘s glory days, when Ollie would look unhittable and then, out of nowhere, unable to throw a strike. Gonzalez has done a much better job of minimizing those meltdowns, but they do emanate from a similar origin. Like Perez, Gonzalez over-rotates during his leg lift, which requires his body to correct itself unnaturally in order to remain efficient and consistent. Unfortunately for pitchers, 99% of coaches at every level believe that velocity comes from hip rotation. The truth is much more complicated, but because of this myth, we have thousands of pitchers who resemble discus throwers and put themselves into an impossibly inefficient position to throw strikes. In any case, Gonzalez fell into a rut of opening too early or releasing too late, and it nearly cost the Nationals the ballgame.

Lucky for the Nats, the Mets had the grand idea of backing up Jeremy Hefner with their other BP pitcher Aaron Laffey. Given a 5-3 lead, Laffey got two quick outs in the top of the fifth, then walked Jayson Werth and allowed a double to Bryce Harper. He stunned Adam LaRoche with an 88-MPH fastball on the outside part of the plate, and thought he might sneak another one by him in the same spot. Well, that strategy generally doesn’t work against MLB hitters, and LaRoche responded by depositing the pitch over the center field fence to send the Nats ahead of the Mets.

The Mets came back to tie it up in the seventh on a John Buck double, but the lead lasted only one pitch into the top of the 8th, when Bryce Harper put the Nats back on top with a solo shot (his second of the game) onto Shea Bridge off Josh Edgin.

Edgin was often “under” the ball, meaning, his hand was at the side or below the ball at release. Additionally, his elbow was low, as his arm angle dropped to low three-quarters and almost sidearm. It’s hard to get any kind of downward movement with that kind of arm action, and as a result Edgin’s pitches were flat and moving on a lateral plane. He could get away with that against lefthanded hitters, but eventually, righties will eat him up.

No homeruns by the bash brothers, though Lucas Duda did walk two times. Ike Davis went 0-for-4 with 3 strikeouts. Duda has a .491 OBP; maybe he should be leading off.

David Wright hit his league-leading third triple of the year, but was thrown out at home on a Marlon Byrd grounder in that fateful fourth frame.

Next Mets Game

The rubber match begins at 1:10 p.m. on Sunday afternoon. Dillon Gee takes the mound against 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. AC Wayne April 21, 2013 at 12:29 am
    David Wright’s post-game comments said it all, the offense was able to score five runs on Gio in the fourth. The Mets BP was unable to put up zeros. A couple more of these types of losses and the Mets will have a mutiny on their hands. The offense has done their job and then some. In terms of their pitching, it’s Harvey/Niese and pray for a miracle. We may have to go to Plan C, as in “C”ollin McHugh.
  2. Micalpalyn April 21, 2013 at 6:46 am
    Joe: why is it that just when you think someone has risen thru the ranks to become a piece of the puzzle they slip and create an abcess? I hope edgin can be corrected because we have all seen him develop and contribute and would like to see him complete the journey to be a solid ML’er.

    also looking forward to you dissecting the rotation and probable options. Aaron Laffey is not an option. Gee is not healthy yet and needs to get his health & confidence back….in Vegas. Zach has hand or finger issues. That leaves Colin and montero as the best options not in NY.

    • Joe Janish April 21, 2013 at 9:37 pm
      The fact that the fan base was excited about the farm system producing a LOOGY should say it all.
  3. Dan B April 21, 2013 at 8:20 am
    Joe, you made a casual reference to the attendance but it may become the most important number in the box score as the year goes on. It will have more affect on the long term future of this team then who is our Plan C starting pitcher in a season that was long ago punted. It is a race to see if the Wilpons can bail water fast enough to prevent the ship from completely sinking. I am just counting the days until someone other then Jeff Wilpons is in charge.
    • Joe Janish April 21, 2013 at 9:11 am
      Yeah, I’m keeping an eye on the crowd size (as opposed to reported attendance figures) as I agree it’s going to be an issue.

      But I’m glad you’re counting days rather than holding your breath, as it seems nothing can displace the ownership.

      • Dan B April 21, 2013 at 3:17 pm
        It’s no coincidence that the two worse periods in Mets history were while under the leadership of the owner’s offspring.
  4. DaveSchneck April 21, 2013 at 11:02 am
    Like Dan, I would roll out the red carpet for new ownership. But, like you, I know it’s not happening. I see the just DFA’d Laffey. I have nothing against him and admire the fact that he was able to get to the bigs, but he had to go, as do others. This pen is a train wreck, partly because of the lack of starters depth, mostly because the GM didn’t do jack in the offseason to improve it. I just hope that Alderson’s mismanagement doesn’t result in damage to any young arms. If Gee doesn’t turn it around, and Marcum doesn’t get here and contribute, my motto will be “Niese and Harvey and skip the next three”.
  5. DaveSchneck April 21, 2013 at 11:19 am
    On a slightly unrelated topic, the kid Montero won again last night at AA. In 4 starts, he is 3-0 win a 1.59 ERA. His line is tremendous, in 22.2 innings, only 15 hits, only 1 hr, and he has 27Ks to 1 BB. That K/BB rate is sick. I know A is far from the majors, but he is probably better than half of the guys on the Met staff right now, and we may see him in Flushing before Wheeler.
    • Joe Janish April 21, 2013 at 9:36 pm
      Everyone was buzzing about Montero in spring training, but what I saw of him, he didn’t seem all that. He looked like he had big league stuff, but nothing to get excited about; to me his ceiling is middle relief. Still, what choice do the Mets have but to give him a shot? Though I imagine they’ll have Collin McHugh throw BP for a few outings before promoting Montero.
  6. Dan B April 21, 2013 at 11:25 am
    Sorry Dave but you to keep working on it. “Niese and Harvey and skip the next three” doesn’t rhyme. It has to rhym.
    • argonbunnies April 21, 2013 at 2:48 pm
      Does anything rhyme with Harvey? Larvae, maybe?

      “Harvey and Niese and fetch your fleece” would have worked on the road trip…

    • DaveSchneck April 21, 2013 at 8:39 pm
      Yeah, that was a stretch. Perhaps I should have typed Niese and Harveeeee, and skip the next three. Only if Gee was better than Niese, I may have something. Then again, I was about as good in Lit as Alderson is building bullpens.
  7. Quinn April 21, 2013 at 11:42 am
    Former Met first round picks Humber and Kazmir go a combined 3 2/3 innings and give up 14 ER. Gentleman I found out why the Mets are in an abysmal state now!
  8. Mic April 22, 2013 at 7:36 am
    You forgot Pelfrey.