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.
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.