Mets Game 18: Loss to Dodgers

Dodgers 7 Mets 2

Had Don Mattingly given Mark Ellis the day off, the Mets might have won this ballgame. Ellis was a one-man wrecking crew, hurting the Mets both figuratively and literally.

Mets Game Notes

Veteran middle infielder Ellis had four hits, including two homers, drove in four, and pelted Jonathon Niese‘s ankle with a hard-hit grounder.

A bizarre ballgame. It seemed as though the Mets were in big trouble, as Clayton Kershaw was mowing them down and Jonathon Niese was knocked out of the game by a Mark Ellis line drive to his right leg. Then out of nowhere, with two outs and none on in the bottom of the third, the presence of Robert Carson in the batter’s box confounded Kershaw. I’m guessing the Mets have a witch doctor of some sort in their dugout, because Kershaw completely and mysteriously lost his command — not unlike Jayson Werth mysteriously losing his mind on a 3-0 count on Sunday. Kershaw walked Carson — he of 15 plate appearances in 7 minor league seasons and standing in the box the very first time in his young big-league career. How Kershaw managed to throw one ball to Carson, much less four, is a riddle known only by the Great Sphinx of Giza. Yet, it happened, and the walk put Kershaw out of sorts, as he then walked Ruben Tejada and allowed RBI singles to David Wright and Daniel Murphy. And just like that, despite losing Niese in the top of the frame, the Mets were in position to make a game of it.

For the next three innings, it appeared as though the Mets might just pull this one out. Carson and Scott Atchison allowed one run and Kershaw was out of the game after only five innings and 111 pitches. All things considered, a great position for the Mets. However, Brandon Lyon‘s perfect season was blemished, as he allowed three earned runs in the 7th — hey, he couldn’t go the entire year with a 0.00 ERA, could he? If there was any hope still held by optimistic Mets fans, Josh Edgin chased it away for good by giving up another two in the 8th.

After this latest appearance, and the toll on the bullpen in this game, I can’t imagine Edgin being in Flushing by game time on Wednesday. It’s clear that Edgin needs to go down to the minors and figure things out, and the Mets need a fresh arm after 6 2/3 innings of bullpen work. I suppose you can hope that Matt Harvey spins a complete game shutout, but is that fair?

As has been the case since spring training, Edgin’s pitches have no, um, edge. His arm angle is low three-quarter to sidearm, so everything is on one flat plane, his command is poor, and his pitches have little variance in speed. To succeed as a pitcher at any level, once must have downward movement, and/or overpowering velocity, and/or be able to change speeds, and be able to consistently hit specific spots. Edgin is not doing any of these things, which makes retiring the best hitters on the planet a challenge.

Juan Lagares made his MLB debut and collected his first big-league hit, a single off of Paco Rodriguez. Nearly as impressive was breaking up his first big-league double play attempt a few minutes later. He went in hard and clean and sent Mark Ellis into a pommel horse hop. Nice to see. Will Lagares be a big-time hitter? Hard to tell, but I think his stride is a little too long, especially for someone who isn’t known to be a homerun hitter.

Lagares’ presence is mildly surprising, considering that Marlon Byrd has started off hot and management seemed so hot on giving Collin Cowgill a fair shot. However, Cowgill is below the Mendoza Line and seems to think there’s a law against allowing a pitch to pass him. But he does have boundless energy and a lot of spunk! I do realize that the Dodgers scheduled three lefthanded starters for this series, but if Lagares isn’t starting any of the three, I don’t completely “get” his promotion. Will Lagares come in when LA brings in a LOOGY? I guess? This may have been more about sending Kirk Nieuwenhuis down than needing an extra RH bat.

Just when we think Lucas Duda is figuring it out, he strikes out three times. His brother in bash Ike Davis was given the night off, until the 27th out — which he executed via the strikeout as well.

The Mets managed four hits in the ballgame. Four. Kershaw left the game after five frames. The Mets had one baserunner after Kershaw exited. Really?

Hey, Jeurys Familia gave the Mets 1 1/3 innings of shutout relief. So there’s a bright spot in the evening.

On a side note, for those who felt the Mets’ starting pitching was a strength when it consisted of Johan Santana, Shaun Marcum, Matt Harvey, Jon Niese, and Matt Harvey — the Dodgers went into spring training with 10 starting pitchers, and only three are still standing. Actually, it’s four, but Ted Lilly doesn’t really count, because he’s not physically ready to pitch but the Dodgers have no choice but to press him into duty. If you think losing Santana and Marcum makes the Mets snakebit, consider the Dodgers have lost Chad Billingsley, Chris Capuano, Zack Greinke, and Lilly — and they traded Aaron Harang at a time they thought they had a surplus.

Next Mets Game

Wednesday is Matt Harvey night, with Dodgers pitcher Ted Lilly invited to the festivities, which begin at 7:10 p.m.

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. argonbunnies April 24, 2013 at 6:14 am
    The more Ruben Tejada fouls off tough pitches, then also fouls off pitches down the middle, the more he reminds me of Alex Cora.

    As a free swinger with no pop, Lagares doesn’t interest me. Giving Kirk regular AAA ABs is definitely a good call. Maybe the front office shares my low expectations for Juan and is putting him in the majors as a reward for playing well, but putting him on the bench because they have no real use for him. Still, even with low expectations, ya gotta give the kid a chance to keep developing, right?

    Duda looked okay against Kershaw, who struck him out with some truly nasty pitches, but the AB against Wall was poor. Mailing it in down 5 with 3 outs to go? I dunno.

    I was not impressed with Buck’s pitch calling. Tended to hang out on one side of the plate to most hitters. Kept calling for Lyon’s 3rd and 4th pitches, over and over, to the same batter. Yeah, any pitch could be a hanger, but throwing Ellis 4 sliders seems to defeat the purpose of having a varied arsenal and a sharp curveball.

    Familia seemed to be doing the John Maine thing, fastballs sailing up and to his arm side. At least his velocity was good. Slider looks nice, but hitters were able to lay off it, making me wonder if he telegraphs it. Change-up looked terrible to me.

    Carson‘s name changed again. I first heard of him as Bobby, then for a long time it was Robert, and now it’s just Rob. Perhaps he’s looking for that Joey Belle magic… His stuff and location looked solid to me, but hitters didn’t seem to have much trouble with him. They took good swings and made hard outs. I remember that happening last year too.

    Despite having an off night, Kershaw was fun to watch. I never realized how much of his effectiveness comes from a deceptive motion. He was throwing 2-0 and 3-1 fastballs by people despite the radar gun saying 92 mph. Got to be some funk going on there. Either that or Buck is muscling up and trying to do too much.

    Wright‘s still using the ugly arm-wavey swing, but it’s not as pronounced as it sometimes gets, so maybe he’s sticking with a swing in between the good one from early 2012 and the awful one from late 2012. That’s about how he hit in 2010, right? The results were good power numbers, and easy strikeouts if you knew how to pitch him. More abysmal scouting by the opposition; no one remembers that he’s toast on fastballs and sliders away.

  2. Izzy April 24, 2013 at 7:19 am
    Marlon Byrd hot?????? The guy is ripping at a 241 clip. The Met propaganda machine must have had success if the standard for hot is 241. If you’re gonna pick up a cheater, at least get one whose good at it, and the game as well.
  3. Dan B April 24, 2013 at 9:41 am
    In this outfield, .241 is scorching hot. I hate to say I told you so, but I had Kirk pegged as the first outfielder demoted in the over/under section though I do root for him. I hope he makes the adjustments.
    • Walnutz15 April 24, 2013 at 10:36 am
      Realistically speaking, Nieuwenhuis should have been left behind from the get-go. His making the club out of ST was nothing more than a disservice to him, IMHO.

      Not that I think he’s much more than he’s shown us, anyway.

  4. DaveSchneck April 24, 2013 at 10:14 am
    Kirk needs ABs, so better off playing in Vegas than sitting in Flushing (except on his wallet). Byrd is barely serviceable. Cowgill has zero walks in 42 ABs; that is just unacceptable unless he is hitting .350 or slugging .600. Edgin is lost and needs to go down too. Collins really has limited options across the board. I guess I’ll just be happy that the Niese injury appears to be minor.
  5. Joe April 24, 2013 at 1:09 pm
    Tell ya what. Kershaw, who looked early on like he would throw another complete game, will be out after five. You will get six innings out of uh your “starter” (by committee) and be tied 2-2 with one of your consistent pitchers up next. You will have a two out rally started by a pitcher with the same MLB plate appearances as yours truly. Take it?

    Oh well. This is another one where the Mets looked like they had a chance and they blew it. April was supposed to be the easy month, right? Well, they are .500.

    BTW, hear where Darling dissed 42? Said “as a baseball guy” you knew it was something of a Hollywood job, fictionalized. Huh. Dekker on Twitter, a baseball guy, loved it.

  6. Gabriel Pena April 24, 2013 at 1:31 pm
    Hi Joe. I have been a follower of your posts for over a year now and I really enjoy your analysis. I am not convinced Niese is a No. 1 starter, he is strking out less and walking more and it seems he does not leap into the bona fide starter most of fans are waiting. Which makes me wonder how come your analysis of Niese’s arm angle is not being take into consideration by him or Warthen? Is he unable to adjust his arm angle? Is he hessitant of doing so because he has had “success”?

    What kind of return would the Mets get for Niese? I believe the Mets should sell high before he hits a wall.

    I live in Dom. Rep and ESPN (spanish) broadcasted the game. One of the narrator said Daniel Murphy is one of the best hitters of the league today. Your thoughts?

    What would be the ideal outfield for the Mets right now? There are too many pieces and it seems management is doing trial and error.