Mets Game 50: Loss To Pirates

Pirates 5 Mets 3

Jacob deGrom pitched well enough to earn his first Major League win. However, the Mets offense didn’t hit well enough, nor did the Mets bullpen pitch well enough, to support him.

Mets Game Notes

Jacob deGrom hurled yet another game which was worthy of a win, but, alas, there is more to earning a win than simply pitching well — unfortunately, a starting pitcher cannot have much effect on the game after he’s been removed and is sitting in the dugout. And not for nuthin’, but he’s been hitting .800 so far a big leaguer, making the other eight guys in the lineup look foolish.

Though deGrom shut out the Pirates through 6 2/3 innings, and has put up great numbers in his brief MLB stint, I’m not yet ready to proclaim him the next Matt Harvey — nor the next Dillon Gee, for that matter. He struggled throughout the afternoon, getting into trouble and then working out of it. Was it because he’s a battler, or because the Bucs are as futile on offense as the Mets? Hard to determine, but one has to consider that Pittsburgh’s record is startlingly similar to the Mets’ — and why is that? Could it be because they’re not getting big hits in big situations? I haven’t seen enough of the Pirates to know for sure. Maybe it was a combination of deGrom’s ability to battle and inefficiency by the Pittsburgh Lumber Company.

There wasn’t a clean inning for either side until deGrom set down the Pirates 1-2-3 in the top of the sixth.

It’s still early, but my initial comp for deGrom is Mike Leake.

Tough call on Russell Martin in the fifth inning, who, after replay review by the umpires, decided that he had illegally blocked the plate on a throw from foul territory off the third base line. I’m not sure where Martin was supposed to be set up in that situation — was he supposed to be outside and to the left of the baseline? I guess so, but I wonder if that play has ever been considered or practiced. Apparently, what hurt Martin was his leg dropping down in front of the plate, but it seemed like he was doing that in order to catch the throw — and, to me, it looked like he was giving Juan Lagares an inside lane to run. But, maybe not — this new interpretation of the rule is confounding, and it may cause more injuries than it prevents, because neither the catchers nor the runners are quite sure what they’re allowed to do.

For the record, I think Lagares might have snuck his hand under Martin and touched the plate before being tagged — but that wasn’t the reason the call was overturned.

Ironically, had the throw from the outfield gone straight to home in the first place, it might have beaten Jacob deGrom and prevented the first Mets run from scoring (and, the second, because presumably, Lagares would have stopped at third). It was hard to tell, though, because the SNY camera direction was more focused on getting close-ups of the right fielder and runners than on viewing development of the play.

Nice to hear the crowd welcome Ike Davis with warm cheers rather than boos. I don’t like booing, unless it’s in response to a player not giving 100% effort. Davis never lacked for effort, he simply wasn’t very good.

Great to see Bobby Abreu producing with the bat as a 40-year-old. Without him swinging his hot stick, the Mets might be in last place, instead of last place. Well, I guess if he keeps hitting, maybe the Mets can deal him at the deadline to a contender for an A-ball pitcher with high upside.

Speaking of Abreu in right field, I wonder if Curtis Granderson, Chris Young, Matt den Dekker, Eric Campbell, or Kirk Nieuwenhuis (for that matter) would have caught the line drive off the bat of Jose Tabata in the 8th? Or would each of those young men allowed the ball to bounce off their shoe top, as was Abreu’s fate?

How did Granderson not throw out Neil Walker at home in the top of the ninth? He was charging the ball and picked it up about 110, maybe 120 feet from home plate as Walker was rounding third — with all of Granderson’s momentum going home, and being that close, Walker should’ve been out by fifteen feet. Maybe Grandy didn’t get a good grip on the ball? Also, not sure what Jose Valverde was doing backing up only about five feet behind catcher Juan Centeno. Kids, if you are the pitcher and backing up home, you need to give yourself plenty of room behind the catcher — at least 10-15 feet — because you don’t know where an overthrow may wind up and so you have to give yourself depth for extended range.

Lucas Duda hit a bomb to lead off the bottom of the ninth. Any Mets fans wonder why he was able to do that, but couldn’t get a bloop single in one of the last 38 times he came to the plate with RISP and the Mets either tied or behind by one? What’s the secret to comedy? Timing.

Gaby Sanchez still loves hitting against the Mets, eh?

I could talk about Jose Valverde, but what’s the point? He’s been released, after all, so why discuss a problem that has been removed from the club? I must say, though, that it’s interesting to see someone anointed “closer” (if only for the afternoon) released immediately after an outing (for the second time in a month, no less). I only have experience coaching at the amateur level, but what we’ve done is this: the best pitcher on the team who is not a starter, is the closer. MLB is a bit more complicated, I supposed, but I still don’t understand allowing someone to close who is less than one of your very best pitchers. But then, maybe the Mets believed Valverde was one of their very best pitchers? In which case, this season may turn out to be much longer than it’s already shaping up to be.

If you care to hear my opinion, Jeurys Familia should have been the Mets closer on Monday, and should be the Mets closer whenever Jenrry Mejia is unavailable. Thoughts?

As long as we’re not talking about Valverde, I suppose we shouldn’t discuss the Mets’ hitting approach, either, since hitting coach Dave Hudgens was fired immediately after the ballgame, and replaced by longtime organization man Lamar Johnson. Ironically, it was Johnson, Wally Backman, and George Greer who promised to get Ike Davis “right,” and got Davis hitting in AAA, around this time last year.

Weird that both Valverde and Hudgens were cut loose within minutes of the end of the ballgame. I suppose the decisions had already been made, and Sandy Alderson was merely waiting for the “right” time.

Whatever it’s worth, Mets hitters saw 120 pitches, while the Bucs batters saw 195.

Next Mets Game

The Mets and Bucs square off again on Tuesday night at 7:10 PM. Jonathon Niese faces Edinson Volquez.

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. meticated May 26, 2014 at 11:58 pm
    huh…i asked for something impactful and it happened?…okay, then trade for Mike Trout and Yasiel Puig…give them 23 players in return…
  2. The King May 27, 2014 at 12:11 am
    No point beating the dead horses, I agree, although there is room to criticize those in management who thought those dead horses were still alive. I think Lagares’s hand beat the tag but, more important, why is he sliding headfirst into the catcher?

    This team’s fundies are about the worst I can remember. Management isn’t up to fixing these problems. Nor is ownership.

    But Hudgens says it’s our fault because we boo an inferior product. Amazin’.

  3. david May 27, 2014 at 2:38 am
    Joe, you came up with a nice combo of Scott Rice and Carlos Torres as our 8th inning guy about a month ago. I expect it has to do with Rice’s sliders from the left and Torres’ cutters from the right flummoxing the batters. Odd that TC brought in Valverde instead of Torres in the 8th. I look forward to your considered comments about Management’s apparent and new willingness to address problems quick smart. I, for one, am in favor as long as we don’t throw the baby out with the bath water. Neither of these moves comes close to that analogy and I am slowly beginning to kindle the flame of hope that comes with seeing parts of the master plan comnig together, ie. the young pitching, your comments notwithstanding.
    • Joe Janish May 27, 2014 at 11:40 pm
      Forget Valverde AND Torres — why wasn’t Familia in there for the 8th?
  4. argonbunnies May 27, 2014 at 2:54 am
    Although I rarely see Collins make a brilliant in-game move, I don’t see too many really awful ones either, at least relative to other Mets managers in my time as a fan.

    However, bringing Familia in for one batter and batting him 9th was incredibly stupid. Flores, batting 7th, had made the last out of the previous inning. With a 7th inning lead, any manager who’s paying attention should know to double-switch in Tejada, the superior fielder, to the #9 spot and let Familia hit 7th. Then, you have the option, if Familia looks good (and he did, fanning the NL MVP on a wicked slider), to leave Jeurys in the game.

    Being unaware that Sanchez would face Rice is likewise unforgivable — forcing the Pirates to spend an extra hitter (Sanchez for Ike) is no advantage at all unless you’re playing for 10+ innings, and letting Rice face two righties is an unforgivable way to manage the 8th inning with a 2-run lead. Righties destroy Rice. How about a little bit of the creativity Terry shows when it’s forced on him by necessity — how about handing the last 6 outs to Torres, the best remaining pitcher in the ‘pen?

    There was no need to let Valverde anywhere near this game, there was no need to let Rice face anyone other than Alvarez, and there was no need for the Mets to lose this game.

    • DaveSchneck May 27, 2014 at 8:58 am
      I have not been in the Collins must go camp, but he has been exceptionally poor this season, especially in May, and the mistakes you pointed out are simply not acceptable. I know Alderson has given him ground beef, not steak, but that is no excuse for these poor moves.

      Agreed, Valverde should have been released a week ago. Rice is a one batter pitcher (at best) being routinely misused. This is costing games, even if the offense is mostly to blame.

      Ending on a positive note, deGrom is now hitting .800. He is one a one man mission against adulterated league baseball. Keep it up, Jacob!!!

      • Victor Chu May 28, 2014 at 10:23 am
        Dave — are you the same Dave Schneck that played for the Mets in the early 70’s?

        Joe — I’m glad somebody else noticed that Lucas Duda can hit a bomb with no one on or when the game is not close, but I have to think that he has one of the worse batting averages of all-time with RISP … nevermind the fact that it’s likely that almost everyone else on the team also has a poor batting average with RISP this year. Duda is just NOT a clutch player. Not saying that Ike Davis has done all that well either since 2012, but I just don’t think Duda is the answer or even a stopgap at 1B. And, I know it’s only been 2 months, but despite Ike’s strikeout with the bases loaded last night, he is having a “better” year that Duda so far. I know you’re not a big fan of Ike’s, but I still think the Mets gave up on Ike too early … or, at least Ike is the “lesser of the two problem childs at 1B” … other than that, thanks for your insightful commentary!

        • Joe Janish May 28, 2014 at 12:06 pm
          If the choice were up to me, and I had to make a choice, I would have also kept Duda, if only because he seems to have a more balanced and controlled swing compared to Davis. I also didn’t think Davis was going to find his stroke while in the Mets org — he needed a fresh start. He may well hit 50 homers in Pittsburgh, but that wouldn’t change my mind about his needing a new environment.

          Funny, Duda is actually hitting about 20 points higher with RISP – but that’s still only .257. Just as concerning — he’s hitting .163 at Citi Field.

          Thanks for your comment, Victor!

        • Victor Chu May 28, 2014 at 1:15 pm
          Thanks for your further follow-up, Joe. I agree with you on the swing of Duda, but I am very surprised to see that Duda is hitting “that well” with RISP. Are you sure that’s not a typo ?!?!? 🙂

          It just seems like in clutch situations, Duda (more often than not) does not come through, and that every home run (except the two he hit during the game after he was given the full-time 1B position) has often been a little too late or meaningless (like the one he hit the 9th inning recently with no one out and no one on and the Mets down by 3 runs), and especially last year, when he hit 15 HRs but only had 33 RBIs. That said, I just looked at, and the “Clutch Stats” for 2014 suggest that he hits between .105 (when the game is tied) and .225 (when they are behind by no more than 2 runs), depending on the clutch situation – also, he is hitting .214 with RISP and 2 outs. However, when the Mets are behind by more than 4 runs or ahead in the game, Lucas is hitting .286 to .333! This proves that baseball is such a mental game.

          And, in 2013, his BA with RISP was a paltry .145!!!

          Finally, while Duda’s defense has been adequate for the position, I still like Ike’s glove better despite a drop in his defensive performance since 2012.

          I hear what you’re saying about how a change of scenery will likely help Ike, but I just didn’t want to give up my Ike t-shirt!

          Thanks again, Joe.

        • Joe Janish May 28, 2014 at 9:13 pm
          Well, 1 out of 4 times is not coming through more often than not, so your eyes aren’t lying to you.

          As for his higher average when Mets are behind by 4 runs or ahead in the game, yes, some of that is mental, but some of that is also the approach of the opposing pitcher. When a game is out of hand, especially when a team is far ahead, pitchers tend to be more aggressive in throwing strikes and putting the ball over the middle of the plate, so that has something to do with the higher numbers as well.

        • Victor Chu May 29, 2014 at 9:32 am
          Thanks again, Joe.

          Isn’t it funny that I pick on Lucas and he bashes a “meaningful” 2 run homer last night?

          But, to your point, the opposing pitcher may have just pitched differently behind 3 runs … still, I found it a meaningful HR since I think it gave Familia the extra cushion he needed to relax and throw a (relatively) clean 9th inning.

  5. argonbunnies May 27, 2014 at 3:12 am
    Joe, Granderson didn’t throw out Walker because Grandy has an incredibly weak arm. It’s been on display all season. Not that it should have mattered — den Dekker should have been in the game for Abreu. If Matt’s in RF he catches Tabata’s liner, and if Matt’s in LF (with Grandy moving to RF) he throws out Walker.

    Of course the Mets don’t win low-scoring games when they’re not hitting homers — they don’t shorten their swings or steal or hit and run or play their best defenders or use their best relievers in key spots. With it clearly being the deGrom show early on, I was rooting for Jacob to steal second. He was the only one performing well, and I wouldn’t have blamed him for trying to make something happen. Cumpton paid him no attention; with a walking lead, I bet he could have made it.

    I don’t see the comparison to Leake, a strike-thrower with below-average velocity.

    • Joe Janish May 27, 2014 at 12:39 pm
      I didn’t realize Grandy’s arm was that bad. I mean, it’s Eric Young bad (pick Sr. or Jr.).

      deGrom’s arsenal and attitude remind me of Leake — pretty much relying on a sinker and mixing in a decent curve, decent slider, and decent change-up. No one pitch is outstanding, they’re all pretty average, but he uses them all and mixes them up. deGrom has been walking too many batters, but eventually I see him as a strike-thrower with average velocity. I would say deGrom reminds me of Gee but Gee tends to throw more change-ups, and Gee’s breaking pitches come and go.

      • argonbunnies May 27, 2014 at 3:33 pm
        Fair enough. Perhaps I was focusing too much on the fact that deGrom occasionally hit 95. He threw a handful of sharp breaking balls and darting change-ups too. I guess a Leake style of weak contact rather than Ks is plausible, but for the moment I see deGrom’s ceiling as a bit higher. Or lower — I wouldn’t assume he’ll ever have Leake’s control, though we can hope.
        • Joe Janish May 27, 2014 at 11:46 pm
          Easy now re: deGrom’s ceiling — he’s only pitched three ballgames, and two of them against not-so-great lineups.

          I get you on the velocity, but, looking at his mechanics, and knowing he already has one TJ surgery in his rearview window, I’m expecting the velocity to gradually drop down into the high 80s / low 90s — much like Jon Niese has deteriorated (and most MLB pitchers deteriorate due to flawed mechanics and incorrect recovery programs). deGrom’s breaking pitches, to me, are used, controlled, and move similarly to Leake’s. There something about the way he carries himself, too, that reminds me of Leake — not sure what. I’ve always liked Leake a little more than I probably should, probably because he’s a competitor like Gee.

  6. argonbunnies May 27, 2014 at 3:13 am
    As for Martin blocking the plate, I think it was much fuss over nothing. All Martin has to do is set up on the foul side of the line to give Alvarez an easy target. If Alvarez hits him, then Larages goes for the 1B side of the plate, and Martin applies a sweep tag. This is not some freakish perversion of the game, it’s a play we already see all the time. If Alvarez’s throw is into the runner, then Martin does what he has to do to field the throw, and the rules absolve him of fault.

    But no, Martin chose to ignore the rules and plant his body directly in front of the plate when awaiting the throw, and so he appropriately paid the price.

    If Lagares is out on the play, then the lesson Juan learns is that he should run over the catcher next time. This, of course, would defeat the purpose of the rule. I thought everything worked out the way it should have (except for the umpires needing replay to spot the obstruction — they should have seen it right away themselves).

    • Joe Janish May 27, 2014 at 12:30 pm
      I don’t think it was that cut-and-dried, and I don’t think Martin was “ignoring the rules.”

      You’re describing the play the way it was portrayed on the TV screen, which captured only the moment that Martin was in front of the plate and about to receive the ball, and from a perspective that assumes Martin knew from the beginning of the play that he’d be receiving the ball from foul territory.

      When you look at the play from the beginning — meaning, from the time the ball was hit, it’s a different story. The ball’s hit to the outfield, Martin is assuming position for a play at the plate with deGrom running from second base. I’m not sure how he set up because I didn’t see a camera angle showing the entire play, but it’s possible Martin set up in front of the plate, facing the mound, and giving the runner a lane to the left. But instead of the ball going to home, it goes to third base, and wild. Now Martin — within the space of a second or two — has to reset himself on the other side of the plate. For a full 89 1/2 feet, Lagares had a clear lane to home plate — it was only when Martin dropped his shin guard down a few inches in front of home plate that it was no longer clear. What he did was really no different from a second baseman/shortstop taking a throw on a steal, except they don’t have a shin guard to drop down. Was Martin supposed to catch the ball like a right-handed first baseman would receive a pickoff throw? Catch out in front and then swipe back? That doesn’t make much sense, either.

      I would have liked to have seen the entire play from an aerial view / Goodrich blimp perspective, or, at least, a wide angle from behind home plate (i.e., from the seats that are always empty). I’m not sure how much time Martin had to get over to the other side of home plate, and have to think about giving the runner a lane on the inside, rather than outside, and, to complicate matters, you have a runner who is rounding third, in foul territory as he’s naturally rounding the bag — what is he supposed to do? Change his course and run inside the baseline?

      Technically, because the shin guard was dropped down, it’s against the rule. But I don’t believe what he did was against the spirit of the rule, which is to keep both players safe. I also don’t believe he was actively/purposely ignoring the rule — I think Martin simply reacted. I would be stunned if any MLB catcher practiced / learned a way to execute a tag play, adhering to the new rule, on a throw from 3B foul territory.

      • argonbunnies May 27, 2014 at 3:11 pm
        I saw a shot on TV of Alvarez picking up the ball and turning toward home for the throw. In that same shot, at the bottom of the screen, I saw Martin standing directly in between 3rd and home, with home plate visible between his legs. I based my impression of the play on that shot. “Slide between my legs” is not “giving the runner a lane”.

        I’m sure you’re correct about it being a reaction play rather than an intentional rule-flouting, but that’s the purpose of rules, right? To get people to do something other than what’s their instinctive reaction. You achieve that with incentives, like calling the runner safe when the catcher blocks him. Martin will learn from that, and we’re one step closer to baseball without dangerous home plate collisions. I just don’t see an adjustment period as something to be feared.

        • Joe Janish May 28, 2014 at 12:00 am
          Well, we’ll agree to disagree on the new rules preventing injuries. They’re still going to happen, probably at the same rate as before, which wasn’t, to me, enough frequency to warrant a reinterpretation of the rules. The rule was all about Buster Posey doing a crappy job of receiving a throw combined with a bit of bad luck — and, ironically, he had given the runner a clear lane. It still ticks me off that Mike Matheny was so vocal about the rule re-interpretation, and seen as a reason to change the language, when his concussions resulted from foul tips. Maybe the rule book should have been changed to ban batters from hitting foul tips?

          We all the time see players at other positions blocking the base without the ball. It’s against the rules, but it’s never called. When are umpires going to enforce catchers leaving the catcher’s box too early on intentional walks? When will they enforce the 12-second rule for batters playing around with their batting gloves between pitches? How about batters who make no attempt to get out of the way of pitches and are HBP?

          The rule was fine before — it was a matter of enforcing it, and catchers taking the risk of going against it. With all the
          new flowery language, all it’s done is create confusion. I don’t see it preventing inevitable fluke injuries.

  7. Walnutz15 May 27, 2014 at 8:09 am
    Hey, we can always talk about Syndergaard’s injury……:::crickets:::

    I’m fed up to my eyeballs with this organization. The owners, the execs who were put in charge to lie and make up stories for them, the coaching staff that sucks, and the players that absolutely suck even worse.


    Only a matter of time before a guy goes, when his “pupils” refer to Yankee BP drills as a possible way to turn things around. As soon as I saw the Kevin Long net drill hit the media wire last week, I was hoping it’d (FINALLY) come to this.

    Good riddance, Dave. Hope you enjoyed collecting free checks for the past handful of years —- should really shut your pie hole about “fan booing”, considering there are small, polite sects of ticket-holders these days — in contrast to when the Mets actually mattered and people cared about the baseball being played.


    Hilarious………not even 2 weeks ago:

    “You go back and look over the last 10 appearances for Kyle versus somebody like let’s say Valverde, there’s no real comparison,” Alderson said. “So we had to make a choice. So it’s unfortunate that Kyle has decided to elect free agency because I think we would have liked to have had him at Las Vegas. That was his choice.”

    Could have very easily been Valverde over Farnsworth……, really – this was just another of the “only a matter of time” topics surrounding this roster.

    Not that it will happen, because the Mets love digging band-aids off inch by painful inch (and dollar by stinking dollar, literally) —– but I’m praying that Collins and his band of merry morons joins Hudgens soon.

    Clowns. But really, typical of the Met circus.

  8. DanB May 27, 2014 at 10:39 am
    Just like I asked the other day if it was Collins making decissions about who starts or whether it was the front office, I also wonder if it was Hudgens encouraging players to look for a walk first before thinking about getting a hit or if it was the front office encouraging them and the Hudgens firing was just an attempt to appease fans. I am reminded of the scene in Moneyball where the gm encourages hitters to take more pitches. In the mean time, players keep falling behind in counts and strike out because they only get one good swing at a pitch.