Mets Game 33: Loss to Pirates

Pirates 11 Mets 2

Not a great day for Jonathon Niese nor the Mets.

Mets Game Notes

For the second straight start, Niese was awful and unable to complete five innings. It was the fourth time in eight starts that Niese pitched five innings or less, and the third time he completed less than five. Reportedly, he’s suffering from back stiffness of some sort; could that be part of his problem? Absolutely. Can pitching through a back problem potentially damage other parts of his body, such as his arm? Absolutely. Should the Mets pull him from his next start if he continues to have back issues? Ideally, yes, but the problem is, who will take his spot? Collin McHugh?

As has been the case all year, Niese’s arm angle was lower than it should be, he threw from various arm angles, did not repeat his mechanics, and often telegraphed his pitches. For example, on the curveball he slows down his motion just a hair and tilts his shoulders slightly back toward second base. His fastball is completely flat — moving on one plane. His cutter wasn’t terribly effective. I didn’t notice the change-up. The curve, as mentioned, was telegraphed and it was hanging.

Though Mets pitching allowed a dozen runs, it didn’t much matter, since the offense managed to plate just a pair. They had 7 hits and 2 walks and struck out 16 times. SIXTEEN TIMES! For those who missed the game, Nolan Ryan did not come out of retirement to pitch in this ballgame. The Mets hitters K’d 16 times against the likes of Tony Watson, Justin Wilson, Bryan Morris, and Francico Liriano, who was making his first start of the season. And no, I’ve never heard of Watson, Wilson, or Morris, either.

Robert Carson — er, I mean, “Rob” Carson — seems like a nice guy, fun guy, and great teammate. Thus far, though, he’s not shown to be a very good pitcher. He gave up a run in his two-inning appearance, which seems to be his modus operandi — he’s allowed at least one run in four of his six appearances. My guess is he’s on the way down to the minors very soon.

Daniel Murphy had another oh-fer and is now down to .258. He’s pulling off the ball on every swing — just watch his head move up and turn down the first base line (and watch his front shoulder and hips follow, opening up too soon). When he does make contact, it’s the Rod Carew-style wave; it kind of resembles a tennis player trying to drop the ball just over the net. Further, Murphy’s body language is awful, and the look on his face screams confusion and lack of confidence. He expresses complete cluelessness and negativity.

Speaking of slumps, remember when John Buck resembled Babe Ruth? He’s now down to .228 with a .262 OBP. He does have ten homers, though.

In a pinch-hitting appearance, Jordany Valdespin was drilled in the right arm. Purposely? I’m thinking yeah. My guess is the Pirates didn’t take kindly to ‘spin’s showboating in Friday night’s contest. And you know what? I don’t necessarily blame them. I do like to see ballplayers express themselves, I love to see them showing they love the game, and I don’t see anything wrong with showing emotion while playing. But ‘spin’s actions sometimes go over the line, toward hot-dogging — some of his antics remind me of Tito Fuentes and Willie Montanez. Fuentes and Montanez added color to the game, and it was refreshing, but both established themselves as everyday, solid ballplayers who were maybe a tick below All-Star status in their primes, and hung around the big leagues for 13-14 years. What, exactly has Valdespin done in his brief MLB career to earn the right to watch homeruns like Reggie Jackson? I think that’s what gets under the skin of opponents (and teammates) — the fact that ‘spin has yet to really do anything substantial as a big leaguer. Sure, he has a handful of dramatic late-inning blasts, but otherwise, what’s he done? He’s a .240 hitter with an OBP under .300, and he has yet to crack the everyday lineup of team that is among the five or six worst in the league. Again, I enjoy expression and color in the game — and I think we need more of it. But, how about at least establishing yourself as an everyday ballplayer and performing well over a sustained period of time before waltzing around like you own the league?

Next Mets Game

It’s Matt Harvey Day and Mother’s Day as the Mets and Pirates play their final game of the series on Sunday afternoon at 1:10 p.m. The Bucs offer Jeanmar Gomez as the sacrificial lamb to god-beast Harvey.

Mets 2013 Games

About the Author

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.

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