Mets Game 106: Loss To Marlins

Marlins 3 Mets 0

In baseball, like at a singles bar, it is impossible to win if you don’t score.

Mets Game Notes

Once again, Matt Harvey proves fallible, or human — whichever criticism you prefer. He pitched really well until the sixth inning, and even then, he didn’t pitch poorly — he merely broke, as humans are wont to do. During the first few frames, Harvey seemed to be toying with the Marlins hitters; he looked almost bored with their ineptitude against him. Harvey had less than his best stuff, but that’s irrelevant with him — he still is able to pick apart hitters by piercing the very edges of each quadrant of the strike zone, at varied speeds, and with both straight and breaking balls. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: he’s fun to watch, in the same way Tom Seaver, Roy Oswalt, Dave Stieb, and Roy Halladay were fun to watch — power pitchers who pitched with the precision, craftiness, and competitiveness more usually associated with puff-ballers. Those pitchers — like Harvey — didn’t over-power hitters with brute force the way guys like Nolan Ryan, J.R. Richard, and Randy Johnson did. You know what I mean?

It was interesting to watch the overall approach of the Miami hitters from game one through game four of this series. In the opener, against Zack Wheeler, the Fish were overly aggressive, committing quickly, looking to jump on the first pitch they could reach. Gradually, though, that approach changed and they became slightly more patient, slightly more selective. Why? Hard to say. Maybe they’d heard (from Terry Collins?) that Wheeler threw 85-90% fastballs, and were looking to jump on him early. Maybe their hitting coach sat them down after game one and read them the riot act. Maybe they adjusted their game based on the man on the mound. Maybe it had something to do with familiarity. I have no idea — I only know, for certain, that they looked slightly smarter as the series wore on.

Though the only run the Marlins needed was the first, it seemed that the turning point in the game came when Donovan Solano battled Harvey through what felt like a 30-pitch at-bat in the sixth, before slashing a two-run single. Once that ball was lined into right field, it was like air coming out of the balloon.

It was mentioned during the telecast that Collins was looking to push Harvey’s pitch count higher, due to the fact that the rotation is now going with six starters and therefore Harvey has an extra day of rest. I’m not sure what to make of this. They’re going to the 6-man rotation to “protect” Harvey and Wheeler, by staying within a predetermined innings limit for the season, but they’re going to push the pitch count higher? How does that make sense? The “protection” — presumably — is to control the repetition of throwing, isn’t it? But repetitions per inning vary, so counting innings is more or less meaningless. You need to count the actual repetitions — i.e., the pitches thrown. And by the way, this should include EVERY SINGLE TIME a pitcher throws a ball — including warm-ups, bullpens, throwing to bases, etc. I’m not saying that pushing a pitcher to, say, 110 to 120 pitches is a bad idea. Rather, I’m questioning the logic of an innings limit vs. pitch counts. What’s behind these limitations? Where is the science? And if there is science involved, is it flawed, because, for example, no one is counting the warmup throws, long tosses, etc.?

Shame on me for not knowing New Rochelle native Tom Koehler, who does NOT sell faucets. He seems to be Miami’s version of Jeremy Hefner or Dillon Gee — a late-blooming non-prospect who fought his way to the big leagues. Except, he has surprising velocity, humming in the 94-MPH range.

The Mets had several chances to score runs, but squandered every opportunity. In the initial inning, they had a two-out rally, but Ike Davis struck out to end the inning. Then in the third, the Mets loaded the bases with two out and Davis fouled out on a weak popup to third baseman Ed Lucas. However, the SNY crew pointed out that Davis was fouling off pitches with two strikes that he was missing prior to his demotion, so there’s hope. Baby steps.

Was anyone else just a little surprised that Steve Cishek didn’t blow the save?

Next Mets Game

The Mets open a series in Flushing against the Kansas City Royals on Friday night at 7:10 PM. Dillon Gee goes against Wade Davis.

I may or may not be writing post-games this weekend — I’m traveling to Cincinnati on Friday to watch two teams involved what some people call a “pennant race.” I’ll try to watch the Mets games as well and post, but can’t promise anything.

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. friend August 2, 2013 at 9:06 am
    “this should include EVERY SINGLE TIME a pitcher throws a ball — including warm-ups, bullpens, throwing to bases, etc.”

    Yes. How analytically blind it is that intentional walks and pitch-outs should be counted, but not these above examples!

  2. Izzy August 2, 2013 at 9:10 am
    Has a 6 man rotation ever proved to be of benefit? I remember two Met cases and both being disasters. Valentine went to it when they brought in Kenny Rodgers in ’99 and the then Randolph (or maybe Manuel) went to it when they brought Pedro off the DL down the stretch because he “needed” more rest between starts. I’m sure other teams have gone to it as well. So when has it been benefiicial. The line from the MET BS machine about allowing kids to finish the season is irrelevant. If they sit 10 days or not is hogwash in a meaningless season. Shutting down or 6 man rotation both make for less starts and why have guys develop a routine they aren’t going to follow in the future.
    • 3D August 2, 2013 at 10:32 am
      > Has a 6 man rotation ever proved to be of
      > benefit? I remember two Met cases and
      > both being disasters. Valentine went to it
      > when they brought in Kenny Rodgers in
      > ’99

      That was most definitely not a disaster. Rogers was really great with the Mets in the regular season and stabilized their rotation which had been up and down all season.

      You’re probably just projecting that one bad inning he had to end the season onto his regular season performance. He was really good.

      • Izzy August 2, 2013 at 12:43 pm
        Actually 3D, I am not projecting. The 99 team folded about as badly as the teams of Willie/Jerry/Omar but was lucky enough to be given a second chance and Al Leiter saved them in a one game playoff. Even if my recollection is failed, the team did not perform any better witha 6 man rotation, and limped thru September, indicating the 6 man rotation did nothing to benefit the team.
    • crozier August 2, 2013 at 5:47 pm
      This sounds eerily like the hand-wringing that took place when clubs moved to a five-man rotation, from four. Remember?

      The game is changing. There are many things I don’t like about it, inclusive of the additional wild card, daily inter-league play, lefty-righty switches, 90-second pauses between every freaking pitch, the extinction of the “long reliever,” the elimination of the Game Winning RBI (okay, joking on that one), blah blah blah.

      The six-man rotation is bad, the six-man rotation isn’t bad, whatever. In today’s game of talent spread too thin and .480 teams in legitimate competition for the playoffs, it probably won’t make any difference.

  3. DaveSchneck August 2, 2013 at 9:37 am
    Good point, the management of young pitching at times is a head scratcher. With all they slicing and dicing of everything that occurs in a baseball game, it strikes me that somewhere someone keep tracks of every throw a pitcher makes, and at least attempts to separate those made “under duress” (tight games, high pitch count innings, extreme weather, having the Mets offense and defense behind you..oh, wait, that would mean every throw) vs. others. Maybe teams are doing this but keeping quiet. I sure hope so.

    I agree with Izzy about the 6 man not being a good idea. I can cut them some slack when they have no off days for 3 weeks, so a guy is going every 6th calendar day as if there is an offday, but outside of that, they just as soon should skip a guy. It seems better to disturb the routine of one rather than 6.

  4. crozier August 2, 2013 at 10:49 am
    The lack of support for Harvey is painful, and can’t be shrugged off with the “opposing clubs put their best against him” argument. Last I checked, Koehler was no ace, and neither were a number of others pitted against him.

    Mets are now 12-10 when Harvey pitches; disgraceful even in considering their team record. By comparison, they’re 6-2 when Wheeler pitches; a much smaller sample size, sure, but irritating regardless.

  5. hart August 2, 2013 at 2:47 pm
    Forgve me if this already has been covered, but was there any reaction to Alderson’s quote in the Post yesterday that the Met outfield has emerged as perhaps the most productive in baseball? Really??? I’ve been somewhat forgiving of this guy because of his thankless role as a shill for the Wilpons, but this statement is troubling: either it accurately reflects his state of mind, which is delusional, or he thinks we’re all morons.
    • crozier August 2, 2013 at 5:38 pm
      Over the past month or so, it’s actually almost, sort of true, according to Fangraphs WAR – primarily due to runs saved by the defense. But that’s just one way of looking at things, and regardless, Alderson invites ridicule by making it.

      Had he said he had the most IMPROVED outfield in baseball, relative to the time when he made his “what outfield?” crack, people wouldn’t be jumping all over him. Because really, the outfield is about (caution: estimation) 1045% improved since April.

      Seriously, the Mets have a respectable outfield, and it would have benefited Lagares, Young, and Byrd for Alderson to say exactly that, instead of baiting his audience with hyperbole.

  6. NormE August 2, 2013 at 5:25 pm
    He’s just looking for cover to fend off any criticism for not upgrading before the trade deadline. To give him his due, the outfield today does look better than it looked prior to the start of the season—-but certainly not the most productive in MLB.
    • DaveSchneck August 3, 2013 at 12:59 pm
      This is where Alderson still doesn’t get it. Perhaps you should be the GM. Your description of the current outfield play is a lot more accurate and palatable.
      • NormE August 3, 2013 at 3:39 pm
        I’d gladly take the job as long as you, Argon, Crozier and Texas Gus are included as asst. GMs.
  7. Hobie August 2, 2013 at 6:05 pm
    Re: the outfield, it’s been a month. Even Dan Murphy can look productive for one hot month.
  8. TexasGusCC August 3, 2013 at 12:53 am
    Since there won’t be recaps this weekend, I’ll post here. How about that lineup for the Royals? ABOUT TIME!
  9. argonbunnies August 3, 2013 at 5:17 am
    Something went wrong in the 6th. Every pitch after Stanton was either a perfect pitch, a ball, or a ball that got hammered because it had to be a perfect pitch but wasn’t.

    Harvey’s change-up is a good chase pitch, not a pitch to throw when he needed a strike to Morrison. It was way too fat, and Morrison did exactly what you’d expect with it. (Of course the Mets don’t move infielders based on pitch selection, so Turner was nowhere near the hole.)

    Solano had proven he could fight off the fastball in and the slider away, but he wasn’t exactly laying off anything tempting. A curve over the middle in the dirt would have got him chasing. A neck-high fastball over the middle too.

    I’m picking on these choices because they represent the only opportunity for improvement. Harvey’s stuff and command is so good that when he gives up 3 runs to a weak Marlins lineup (despite handling Stanton!), you have to look to what he threw when. Plan A against Solano was fine, but Harvey needed a Plan B when it didn’t work. Plan A against Morrison was basically terrible. Any pitch would have been better than a get-me-over change-up.

    With better battle plans, this could have been a 3-hit shutout heading into the 7th. (Not to mention a season ERA of 2.03; and Harvey’s stats and Cy candidacy are about all I have to root for this season.)

  10. argonbunnies August 3, 2013 at 5:21 am
    After Collins’ quote about leaving it up to Wright to not hurt himself… if I were a betting man, I would have bet everything I owned on an injury… and now I’d be rich! (Unless the odds-makers also could predict the obvious…)