Mets Game 83: Loss To Braves

Braves 5 Mets 3

Three errors in one inning lead to four runs — and that’s the ballgame, folks.

Mets Game Notes

Jeurys Familia got the easy double-play grounder he needed to get out of trouble in the 8th — it was a simple bouncer right back to Familia. All he had to do was turn, set, and throw to second base. Instead, he hesitated, then spiked a sinker into the ground and the floodgates opened.

It’s remarkable that a pitcher can get this far — meaning, all the way to the Major Leagues — and have trouble throwing to bases. Familia is not the only one — certainly not the only one on the Mets, and certainly not the only one in MLB. I just don’t get it — high school kids can throw to bases, college kids throw to bases in their sleep, so what’s happening at the pro levels? What the eff is happening in the minor leagues? Pitchers do thousands of “PFP” (pitchers’ fielding practice) drills during spring training, but I guess they stop once the season starts. If so, why? Pitchers don’t do much of anything in between appearances — heck, we know they’re not taking batting practice. I guess there are a ton of pro pitchers who are scratch golfers and kick-ass poker players; what else are they doing with their downtime?

Familia, by the way, expended 29 pitches in his two-third of an inning. That means he requires a minimum of one full day off the mound, and shouldn’t be available on Tuesday. The other three Mets relievers were far below the 27-pitch maximum for pitching without rest.

I guess you could say Zack Wheeler pitched well, considering he allowed only one run in 6 1/3 innings of work. However, he threw way too many pitches, especially early in the game — he was averaging 21 pitches per inning through the first four frames. Wheeler struggled mightily with his command (5 walks), and was helped by the Braves batters, who were hacking seemingly without thought or plan, and, as usual, doing a lot of swinging and missing. Just about every Brave swings with a vicious uppercut on every pitch — it has to be some kind of philosophy or intention, because everyone looks like Dave Kingman going for the downs, regardless of situation, count, etc.

Alex Wood has some scary mechanics — he starts out completely out of balance, looking like he’s trying to cheat in a limbo dance to get under the bar, he opens up his front side too early, and his arm is far behind the rest of his body, most easily seen on the pitches that went up and away to the right-handed hitters. I expect him to injure his arm at some point, likely sooner rather than later.

Speaking of mechanics, in the first inning, SNY showed a slow-mo of Wheeler’s delivery, and Keith Hernandez pointed out that Wheeler’s right knee came very close to hitting the dirt, describing it as “… what they used to call ‘drop and drive’.” The most telling part of this diatribe was Keith and Gary Cohen going on to recall Tom Seaver and Jerry Koosman doing the same thing (Seaver getting his knee dirty, in fact), and Keith saying, “… it always looked like when you were hitting that they were pitching uphill.” YES!!! You’re exactly right, Keith — they WERE pitching uphill. I point this out as a teaching moment: kids, don’t try to drop your back knee to the ground and get it dirty, because all you’ll do is fight gravity and wind up pitching “uphill” instead of using the slope of the mound and pitch downhill. The “drop and drive” method is completely, absolutely ineffective — I don’t care how many wins or strikeouts Tom Seaver or Kooz had; in fact, both would’ve been even better if they didn’t use that ridiculously illogical style. Both pitchers succeeded IN SPITE OF their drop and drive motions — they were both remarkable athletes, and sometimes, athleticism can overcome inefficient style. In fact, we’ve seen it all the time with horrific catching mechanics (Johnny Bench is a prime example) — but that’s a whole ‘nuther can of worms. Bottom line is this: steer clear of “drop and drive,” as it can only make your job more difficult and provides no upside.

On the bright side, both Curtis Granderson and Travis d’Arnaud remain hot. I know Granderson was oh-fer-Pittsburgh, but he hit the ball on the nose and hard several times.

Kudos to NJ native and St. Joe’s of Montvale alum Tommy La Stella, who had the big hit in the 8th to tie the game. For those wondering, no, La Stella is not the first St. Joe’s grad to make it to MLB — that would be Irish Baseball Hall of Fame inductee John Flaherty, a contemporary / rival of mine back in the day.

Speaking of La Stella, we mentioned him briefly back in April; ironically, it was in another recap of a game started by Zack Wheeler.

Next Mets Game

Mets and Braves do it again at 7:10 PM on Tuesday night. Daisuke Matsuzaka and Mike Minor are the scheduled starters.

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 July 1, 2014 at 8:09 am
    Could take your first 2 paragraphs and apply them directly to Mr. Mejia. Fundamentals are at an all-time low within the game, at this point.

    Thanks for the recap. Didn’t watch a second of the game, and really – had no idea who they were playing.


  2. DaveSchneck July 1, 2014 at 8:28 am
    I echo what Nutz said above. Thanks. After Campbell booted the grounder, I couldn’t take any more. #Fundies #littlethings #alltimelow. Brutal loss in what looks to be another lost season. Wheels was definitely better than last outing, but he is far from a finished product. GK noted that he has the 2nd highest pitch per inning avg in baseball, and he reminds me of John Maine with all the foul balls. Meaningful games in July? Maybe just another two if they don’t find a way to beat the Bravos…Washington is off to the races.
  3. Chris B July 1, 2014 at 1:53 pm

    I’m about to give up and I’m fed up. This is rockbottom for a Mets fan. Didn’t Sandy fume last year when he said he has “to watch this team too.” Well…what is he doing during working hours??? I work 8-5, so should he, fix this mess, with either internal or external options. I don’t care if they come from AAA, AA, or A ball, the other teams are not afraid to rush prospects. Where is Nimmo, Plawecki, Cecchini, Dykstra, Matz, Leathersich, etc.? Is Syndergarrd for real or not? Why is CY taking up space int he outfield when Captain Kirk has been hitting?

    I feel like the last 5 years are on replay. Nothing changes with this team. When the pitching is on, no hitting. The Mets hit, bullpen or fielding lets them down. I could almost sense that Familia was going to implode after the first guy got on and then the grounder too him. I had flashbacks. Can they score more than 2-3 runs a game?

    And I don’t buy the excuse that because they should wait until 2015 because Harvey is out. Harvey plays every 5 days, the Mets need to win on the other 4 as well to be successful too.

    I want the Mets to be like the Cards, or Giants, or Tigers, or any of the teams that put in the effort to be successful. And I blame Sandy squarely for this… you can win with a $90mil ballclub. Look at the past few champs (excl last year’s Sox). We weren’t winning when the Wilpons were spending more last decade. Enough of this garbage!

    • DaveSchneck July 1, 2014 at 4:12 pm
      Just cue up the Sonny and Cher before each game, a la Groundhog Day. That and an adult beverage may take the edge off.
  4. argonbunnies July 1, 2014 at 3:20 pm
    I’m going to have to disagree about Seaver.

    Maybe he would have had less risk of injury with different mechanics, but he never actually did get injured, so perhaps he settled on conditioning appropriate to the drop and drive style.

    To say a first ballot Hall of Famer would have been “even better” had he changed something is utter nonsense. If you invent a fictional pitcher, the odds of that pitcher matching Seaver’s career have to be less than one in a million, even if that fictional pitcher is “Tom Seaver with a different motion”. There are tons of “remarkable athletes” who never get MLB hitters out.

    I suspect that “pitching uphill” wasn’t the easiest thing for batters to hit — if nothing else, because they didn’t see it all the time.

    When trying to evaluate what make Clayton Kershaw so effective, one analyst looked at his fastball and noted that the velocity is nothing special, the overall movement is nothing special, and he does a good job locating it but not good enough to account for the pitch’s success. The two theories for this were: (1) what movement there is occurs late, and (2) his unusual motion gives hitters trouble seeing and timing the ball.

    If it’s even possible that you can take a slightly above-average fastball and turn yourself into Clayton Kershaw with an odd pause and a front shoulder lift, I wouldn’t assume that “throw like everyone else” is always worth it. I think guys like Seaver and Kershaw are exceptional because they can do what others can’t, not because they do what everyone else does, but better. Most of the dominant pitchers I’ve seen had something unusual about their deliveries. Some of them would probably hold up under kinesiologic examination, but others definitely would not.

    I certainly agree with you that young pitchers shouldn’t try to copy a motion that kinesiology says is unsound! But “Seaver would have been better with a different motion” is the kind of know-it-all hubris that makes it even easier for the establishment to discard minority opinions.

    • Joe Janish July 1, 2014 at 6:10 pm
      It’s “utter nonsense” to believe that someone who was amazing could have been better if he’d been more efficient in his delivery?

      OK, we’ll have to agree to disagree on this one. It’s like saying that if a 57 Chevy was built more aerodynamically and with less weight, it couldn’t have been any faster.

      Seaver didn’t have to completely overhaul his mechanics to be more efficient — there were only minor flaws, that, if corrected, would’ve allowed him to throw a few MPH faster, take less toll on his arm, and increased his already pinpoint control. If it’s “utter nonsense” or “know it all hubris” to think Seaver couldn’t have been better, then again, we’ll have to agree to disagree. He was great, but no one is perfect.

      • argonbunnies July 2, 2014 at 6:18 pm
        I know nothing about cars, but yes, I would consider it hubris to state “just make a ’57 Chevy lighter and it’ll be faster”, because I don’t have confidence in my ability to anticipate what other results a lighter weight would produce. Similarly, I can’t safely say whether Seaver’s high fastball would have been as hard for batters to hit if delivered in a more traditional manner. “More efficient in his delivery” is huge, but it’s not the only thing that matters.

        I’m curious, what are your thoughts on Kerhsaw’s delivery?