Final Scores (For both pathetic games): Pirates 3, Mets 1
Yesterday, the Mets disproved the popular notion that doubleheaders are fun. They are in fact sad.
Game 1: It was literally the exact same story in both games. Steven Matz battled. In the first inning, he gave up a leadoff triple to Josh Harrison, and Harrison wound up scoring on an RBI single by David Freese. After giving up back to back singles to start the third inning, Matz got a strikeout, and then got Jung Ho Kang to hit into a double play. In the 5th inning, Josh Harrison hit a leadoff single and stole second base. Then Andrew McCutchen drove him in to make it 2-0. But Matz managed to wiggle out of that inning and limited the damage. He admitted he had nothing in this game, but he still went 5 innings and gave up only 2 runs while striking out 8.
Steven’s performance on the mound just didn’t matter. The Mets had no offense to speak of. Jon Niese shut them down over 7 scoreless innings. They loaded the bases with two out in the fourth inning and Michael Conforto struck out. He’s been awful lately. It’s bad. Steven Matz tripled with one out in the 5th inning, and the Mets couldn’t get him home. What a joke. Curtis Granderson hit a solo home run in the 8th inning. I’d like to celebrate it, but Grandy has been terrible. He’s batting .200. It’s a problem.
Game 2: Jacob deGrom experienced the exact same lack of support in game 2. He battled through 6 innings and gave up 3 runs with 9 strikeouts. He gave up a single to Jordy Mercer in the second inning and then a double to Sean Rodriguez. Cole Figueroa followed that with an RBI ground out. Chris Stewart then singled on an infield ground ball that was deflected by Asdrubal Cabrera. That run made it 2-0. The game felt over as soon as the Pirates took the lead. That’s just the way it is with the Mets offense lately. DeGrom gave up a fifth inning RBI double to John Jaso that made it 3-1. Jacob pitched fine. The Mets just can’t score. They had four damn hits. Kevin Plawecki hit an RBI single in the fifth inning. They had no other opportunities. Everyone is either injured or ice cold.
Déjà Vu Kinda: I cannot believe the 2016 Mets regular season is 2015 Déjà vu all over again. Well it’s kind of Déjà vu. It’s the same in the sense that we are decimated by injuries and the offense is historically incompetent. The difference is last year before the season, I said with confidence “umm hello, we need an impact bat. Why didn’t we get one?” I knew and most fans knew that without that bat we’d be screwed. And of course as soon as we landed one the season took off. This spring training, I said “umm hello, we can’t depend on David Wright and Travis d’Arnaud for anything at all. They are hurt every season. And we have no backup for Lucas Duda so he better not get hurt.” I think those things were fairly obvious before the season started. The problem is the impact bat solution was fairly straightforward and the solution for injury prone regulars is not straightforward at all. As much as depth is important, it’s challenging to build a team through external acquisitions where you carry extremely talented replacements for key regulars. The primary way to account for the injury prone regulars problem is by having a stacked farm system with a bunch of internal solutions. It’s a major luxury and not many teams have it.
We’ve Got Nothing: To further emphasize that point, all you need to do is look at the Cubs. Outfielder Jorge Soler just got hurt for them and they put him on the DL. So what are they going to do? They are dipping into their farm system and calling up Albert Almora another top 100 prospect who plays the outfield. When the Mets dip into their farm system their fingers wind up in an ice cold bowl of Soup. The point is, the only real way to prepare for injuries to regulars you depend on like Wright and d’Arnaud is by having big time minor league talent at Triple-A. The Mets unfortunately lack position players at Triple-A in areas of need. Dilson Herrera is a top second base prospect. The Mets can’t squeeze him in to help. Period. There’s no where to put him. Same goes with Brandon Nimmo. He’s crushing it right now in Vegas. He’s an outfielder. There’s no room at the inn folks. I guess we could bench Granderson considering he’s batting .200. But there’s no chance that happens. The season will be up in flames in late August before the Mets consider benching an outfielder that helped get them to the World Series and makes 15+ million dollars. The Mets may need to find a way to turn Brandon Nimmo or Dilson Herrera into players that fill positions of need. I don’t want to trade them and the front office probably won’t because they don’t live in Panic City like I do. But there’s no room for these guys right now, and we need help.
Let’s Put This To Bed: In April/May when the Mets had that stretch where they led the league in home runs, fans were panicking that the Mets were dependent on the home run. An equal number of fans were calling these fans out for being idiots, and they were regularly reminding everyone that home runs are the best method of scoring in baseball (like that takes a goddamn rocket scientist to figure out). Well now we can see what the Mets real problems are. The Mets offensive struggles are due to injury and the lack of any quality depth. They have nothing to do with a dependence on the home run. That being said, even when the Mets were hitting lots of home runs, they still ranked very low in overall runs scored. In conclusion, you can hit a lot of home runs as a team while simultaneously having a fundamentally flawed offense that lacks quality depth and the ability to consistently score runs. The Mets are living proof of that right now.
Shut Up About Conforto: Michael Conforto is in a slump, and this isn’t about him facing left-handed pitching. The guy is a young player, and he’s slumping. Period. He’ll turn it around. It may take him a while. He’s super young and growing pains were bound to happen. This is baseball.
My Thumb: Juan Lagares said it will probably be a couple more days before he tries to swing. He added that surgery is not a definite plan even after the season. At this point, I’m just going to add a daily reminder to all my posts that playing short handed is dumb.
Bastard: Antonio Bastardo surrendered a solo blast to Jordy Mercer in the bottom of the 6th inning of game 1 of the doubleheader. He now has a 4.13 ERA. I think we’re starting to see why the Pirates didn’t have a tribute video for his return to PNC Park. I think we’re starting to see why he was sitting on the free agent scrap heap late in the offseason. Meanwhile Tyler Clippard is dominating in Arizona. Ehh Eric Campbell, Ty Kelly, Antonio Bastardo. Juan Uribe, Kelly Johnson, Tyler Clippard. Tomato, Tomahto.
The Pitchers Are Better Again: When Matz hit that triple in game 1, I imagined Eric “Taxi Squad” Campbell watching it from his hotel room and realizing he should probably just stay there for game 2. Remember last season when our pitchers were objectively better hitters than our top backup position players for like two months? Well it’s happening again.
The Plan: What’s the plan? The plan is to batten down the hatches and wait out this offensive funk until fresh supplies arrive. Yoenis Cespedes, Michael Conforto, Asdrubal Cabrera, and hopefully Curtis Granderson won’t be in funks forever. We have a lot of injuries, but these veterans must perform. They will eventually. Until then, we watch these awful games and survive off of Spam and cans of beans (James Loney and Wilmer Flores). The ship will be righted. I think.
Today: Wow we really can’t beat the Pirates. They swept us last season, it feels like they are going to do the same thing in this series. It’s okay. Let’s take a deep breath. We still hold a wild card spot. We still get to play the NL Least all the time. We’ll just keep beating the bad NL East teams and hopefully at some point we can beat some other teams. Any team other than the Phillies, Marlins, and Braves will do. Noah Syndergaard faces top Pirates pitching prospect Jameson Taillon today. I picked up Taillon in fantasy for next week. I’m expecting the Mets to get shutout as are all residents of Panic City. Poor Thor. Can we get him a run or two?