Mets Game 116: Loss To Dodgers

Dodgers 4 Mets 2

Not even the mighty Mets can dodge the Los Angeles steamroller.

Mets Game Notes

Jenrry Mejia was effective the first two times through the Los Angeles lineup, but the third time was no charm for the young righthander. I know I’m sounding like a broken record, but again I saw a Mets pitcher’s success at least somewhat reliant on an over-aggressive group of hitters. Was Mejia’s stuff that good, or were the Dodgers swinging wildly? Really hard to say, but it began with the very first batter Mejia faced — Carl Crawford, who, leading off with a 2-1 advantage, took a terrible, rusty-gate-looking swing at a pitch that may or may not have been a strike on the outside corner, rolled over it, and grounded weakly to second base. If the pitch was a great change-up, I might understand, but it was a 93-MPH fastball — what was Crawford doing with that pitch? As the leadoff man in the inning, his goal is to reach first base, and he was in a hitter’s count, so he should’ve been looking first for a pitch he could handle really well, and letting it go if it wasn’t “his pitch” or the specific location he was sitting on. Crawford is no slugger, and he’s a spray hitter, so I’m not sure why he would’ve been sitting inside to pull and gotten fooled by the movement of the pitch, nor would it make sense that he’d try to pull an outside pitch. Most of the rest of the Dodgers’ lineup followed suit with aggressive approaches, and as a result, Mejia’s strike count was high and his pitch count low — he threw only 64 pitches through the first five innings, 45 for strikes. Los Angeles hitters swung at about a dozen or so pitches out of the strike zone, usually biting on the slider, in their first two turns against him. The third time, though, a few hitters made an adjustment and made contact (or better contact). Interestingly, the Dodgers weren’t any more patient during their third at-bat — rather, it seemed they were catching on to the movement of Mejia’s pitches.

Mejia’s line might’ve looked better if he had any help from his defense. I counted about 5 Mets errors — 3 in the fateful and ugly sixth inning alone — yet, only a “1” appears in the final boxscore. Remarkable.

The SNY broadcast booth and a few bloggers who shall remain nameless pointed to the “terrible” ball/strike calling by home plate umpire Chad Fairchild as a reason the Mets lost the game — harping specifically on a third-strike call on Juan Lagares with the bases loaded in the seventh inning. Well, a couple things there … first, it was only the second out of the inning, so there was still a chance to do something but Daniel Murphy flew out. Second, if the pitch was called a strike, then it was too close to take — especially with runners on base. With no one on base, maybe the hitter should be looking for a walk. With runners on, in a one-run game, you want to be driving the ball somewhere and chasing them home. Normally, Lagares is an aggressive hitter, but I suppose the Mets are trying to tone that down. Bottom line is he should be swinging there. Oh, and third — the pitch was a strike. As in, it was in the strike zone. It was really, really, close, but it was there — on the black, three feet high. It might not have looked that way on TV because the center-field camera is slightly off-center, so you’re not getting a true read on balls crossing the plate. Don’t believe me? Check the Strike Zone Tool on BrooksBaseball.net — a neat tool that shows the exact location of every ball and strike call. Even if that pitch WAS a bad call, I still think Lagares should be swinging. Too close to take, especially considering the situation.

What more is there to say? Mejia pitched well enough to win, but the defense was shoddy and the Mets left 9 men on base.

Yasiel Puig swings at everything, and he’s scary — even though all he did in this game was hit a sacrifice fly. He’s what would happen if Vladimir Guerrero and Bo Jackson had a baby.

Sorry for the delay in posting. My eyes shut a few minutes before the last pitch and I had to write this during my lunchtime break.

Next Mets Game

Mets and Dodgers do it again at the ungodly hour of 10:10 PM. Really? These games can’t be scheduled at say, 6:00 PM local time? Everyone in LA gets off work around 3 o’clock anyway. Sheesh. Matt Harvey faces Hyun-Jin Ryu.

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 August 13, 2013 at 1:43 pm
    Last night’s game was the stuff that DVR’s made for.

    No need for aggravation that late in the evening, and:

    – An early 2-run lead, giving way to
    – Murphy’s display at 2B (no errors charged, on either play – poor Jenrry)
    – Lagares unleashing a pretty good throw, to have Flores not come up w/the pick (tough trampoline hop, late)
    – The home plate ump spazzing out during Lagares’ AB w/the sacks full – and Collins taking it in the keister
    – Horrendous sac bunt attempts by Mejia – not backing up on plays in the field; AND
    – a late NICK PUNTO (of all hitters) HR….being greeted at the end of the dugout by Danny DeVito….double-vomit

    ………all would have been enough to provide more than enough for my liking.

    Hope they shake the jetlag (I’ll give them the “benefit of a doubt” – even though it’s less than an hour from AZ to LA) off tonight, and give the Dodgers a series.

    Nice job by Mejia on the hill, though – would be nice to see him be healthy for next season and take the bull by the horns to further solidify this rotation.

    However, last night’s definitely a prime example of what we’ve brought up about him so many times in the past — him being a “pitcher” and not much else on the field. That’ll have to change if he wants to maximize chances to win games…..can’t be handing opportunities over to/back to the opposition, especially when it’s by your own doing – coupled with the mistakes your teammates have made behind you.

    Funny to listen to the postgame commentary……Hernandez claimed, not only that:

    – Crawford’s ball was “hard-hit” – on the one that Murphy botched.

    Really?

    I saw one off the end of the bat, that rolled up the middle…..ball’s “hard hit” and Murph doesn’t even have a chance to keep it on the infield dirt.

    He did, for the bobble/smothering – and again, to not get a grip on it to throw. (Maybe it was better that he didn’t field it cleanly, as that had a vintage Murph “blind-airmail throw” feel to it. Probably would have wound up in the 1st row of the stands.)

    But also:

    – Juan Lagares’ throw from CF to 3B was a “poor” one.

    I saw a pretty good one, especially based upon where he was initially positioned….strong throw combined with a late bad hop-up on Flores; with no Mejia to back him up.

    Not exactly sure where Mejia was, but that’s not the first (or last) time we will be (or have) spoken about that. Lotta enthusiasm for him as an unexpected contributor, but he’s going to have to be better in many other unspoken aspects of the game at the Big League-level.

    • Joe Janish August 13, 2013 at 3:04 pm
      I’m with you on the error calls not made, especially with Murphy. I swear he makes two errors a game. Crawford’s dribbler might’ve been considered “hard-hit” if he were facing my 12U kids. Isn’t it why they’re called “Big Leaguers” — because they are the best of the best and should be able to make “Big League” plays?

      My only disagreement with your comments is in regard to the home plate umpire. His calls were fine and his strike zone consistent — the issue is with the position of the CF camera. That third strike was borderline, but it was a strike per FOX TRAK and Pitchf/x. But besides his call, why the heck isn’t Lagares swinging there?

      Agreed on Mejia’s complete disregard to anything other than pitching the ball to the catcher. He doesn’t hold runners, doesn’t bunt, doesn’t field very well, and often is is in the wrong place (or not moving at all) when throws are coming in from the outfield. On that play in particular, he was backing up home plate — I’ll give him a pass because it’s fair to think the throw would be going home there, and at least he was trying.

      As for seeing Mejia in the healthy, don’t count on it. He supinates his hand on nearly every pitch he throws — which is why he gets that crazy cut-like action on the fastball. His delivery reminds me somewhat of Carlos Marmol, in fact. That supination combined with his over-rotation and arm behind the body will result in more arm problems going forward. Expect him to have chronic elbow issues and probably more shoulder issues sooner rather than later. It’s a shame, really, because these issues can be fixed and he can still be effective.

      Sure, there’s an argument that the cutting action is effective, but a) you can get similar or same or better cutting action using pressure points and/or finishing with a pronated hand (see: Mo Rivera); and b) continuing to throw this way WILL cause pain in the arm, which WILL cause dangerous compensation adjustments to delivery, which WILL result in gradual decrease in velocity and command as well as injury. Again, I point to Marmol as an example.

  2. Izzy August 13, 2013 at 4:14 pm
    The blasting of Mejia for covering home vice third is ridiculous. How is he supposed to know which base Lagares is throwing to? But he should be blasted forthe horrendous bunt effort in the second. They had their favorite ex Marlin pitcher on the ropes and he (Mejiia) kept LA in the game. As for the called third striike. This is what Met management wants. Players who will gladly take a called thirs strike to stay in that minute strike zone they preach to the players. Looking at other Latinaos go quickly into the Collins/Alderson doghouse, Lagares is keeping quiet and becoming a lesser ball player all in the name of keeping the old farts off his back.
  3. TexasGusCC August 13, 2013 at 6:20 pm
    I agree that the Mejia bunt attempt in the second was one of the top three plays of the game. It could have been at least another run more. Concerning Murphy’s defense and even offense, he is not the player I remember. He seems dazed out there, often lacking the enthusiasm he used to have. I’m not talking Valdespin-like, but he used to have a look about him of intensity. I don’t see that.
    I was watching the SNY feed on the MLB package, and after the strikeout my computer froze. I rebooted to Vin Scully saying the pitch “looked outside”. I checked Brooksbaseball this morning, but it only had Belosario’s first 8 pitches; he threw 10 pitches. I want to see the tenth.
    • Joe Janish August 14, 2013 at 1:28 am
      I think Murphy’s spirit may have been broken with the DL of Wright. Though in my opinion, his enthusiasm has often been his downfall, as it can lead him to trying to do too much. I’m not one to temper enthusiasm — ever. Rather, I wish he would channel it toward more positive efforts. But agreed — Murphy is looking like he’s going through the motions, or flummoxed. Perhaps it’s his so-so hitting flowing into the rest of his game, combined with the dog days of August.

      If you follow the link in the post, it takes you to Lagares’ at-bat vs. Belasario, and pitch #8 is the one you want to check. And/or, go on your MLB gameday package, to the archives, and pick the LA feed to see FOX TRAK. The pitch was a strike. And if you checked the entire Brooks Baseball map, you would see that every one of Fairchild’s strike calls were inside the strike zone map. He called a pretty damn good, consistent game.

      • Walnutz15 August 14, 2013 at 8:10 am
        My issue w/the Lagares AB wasn’t so much the called 3rd strike (which I wouldn’t have been happy w/getting banged-out on, fwiw) – but definitely more to do w/the checked-swing that got called against him.

        In any event, they left 18 men on base…..

        Izzy – if you couldn’t see that they had no shot at the plate on that, due to Lagares’ initial positioning…..then I don’t know what to tell ya.

        Mejia should have picked up on it, as well – and went straight for the 3rd base line. He’s not a ballplayer, and will be a “thrower” who (hopefuly) stays healthy enough to develop into a pitcher for us one day.

        As I always say, I have no clue how this guy was a “SS”….as he seems to have no clue when it comes to playing the game, aside from hurling the ball.

  4. argonbunnies August 14, 2013 at 2:57 am
    The CF camera is off-center toward LF so you can see a RH pitcher’s face and a LH pitcher’s back instead of vice versa. This makes the strike zone appear to be farther to the left of your screen than it really is. To a RH batter, a pitch on the inside edge looks inside, and a pitch on the outside edge looks like it’s well over the plate. This is true for almost every broadcast and ballpark in the NL.

    Nice as it is to have Brooks, Pitch F/X, Fox Tracks etc. estimating pitch locations for us, these are estimates (as made obvious by the fact that the “baseball” in the Pitch F/X graphic is 5 inches wide). Estimation is the best that equipment can do and over the course of thousands of pitches, it’s just fine. But for analyzing one pitch, we have the luxury or using our eyes.

    To our eyes, the ball was outside. It nearly touched the line of the LH batter’s box. Factor in the off-center camera, it’s more outside. Factor in that Fairchild had yet to call a pitch that far outside a ball, and it’s definitely outside.

    Lagares can’t hit that pitch. If he swings and misses, all we’d be talking about is his youthful impatience. If he walks to drive in the tying run, and then Murph’s fly ball gives us the lead, we’d all be praising his gritty AB. Taking that pitch was absolutely the right call, and no one should be second-guessing Juan, especially not his manager (bloggers of course can say what they like). If you’re down by 3 with two outs and the pitcher behind you, different story, but that was not the case.

    • Joe Janish August 15, 2013 at 12:45 am
      Well, you and I will have to agree to disagree on this one. First off, don’t say “to our eyes” because then you’re including me, and I watched that effing pitch sixteen times and saw it run back over the edge of the plate from the crappy CF camera position. Secondly, if it was close enough for a MLB umpire to call it a strike, then it was close enough to swing. Third, we have different philosophies when it comes to hitting approach. I believe that when there are runners in scoring position, the batter should be looking to swing the bat and drive the runners home. With two strikes and RISP, the hitter can’t strike out looking — he just can’t. If it were a slider bounced in the dirt, OK, that’s being too aggressive or not understanding the strike zone. But if it’s a pitch that’s between letter and waist high, and on the edge of the plate? That should be one of the easiest pitches to hit in that situation — even if it IS out of the strike zone, the way Lagares dives over the plate, he should be able to handle it well. Strangely enough, I was looking at Lagares’ strike zone heat map and that exact pitch is his vulnerability — though, it’s based on a tiny sample.

      BTW, I’m not sure how the strike zone charts work but I was under the impression there was some kind of fancy electronics involved. If it’s based on the human eye then we may as well throw all the data out the window. Can a stathead or someone with spare time to search on Google please speak up?

  5. Joe August 15, 2013 at 11:59 am
    “close enough for a MLB umpire to call it a strike, then it was close enough to swing”

    because they never really mess up calls even if that wasn’t one of them (it was a mess up imho, how humble it is)?

    Umps must be like the pope on doctrine.