After scoring just a single run in the first game of the doubleheader, the Mets duplicated the dubious feat, striking out 14 times in game two. Pirates 3, Mets 1.
Discussion and Analysis
Without David Wright, Travis d’Arnaud and Lucas Duda, the Mets’ offense has been bad.
HOW BAD IS IT?
In the 16 games since May 20, the last time Duda played, the Mets have averaged just 3.1 runs per game. For reference, the 2016 Atlanta Braves — the worst offense in modern MLB history! — are scoring 3.1 runs per game on the season. Over the last 10 contests, the Mets have scored a mere 2.3 runs per game. Counting their last 27 innings, the Mets have two runs and 13 hits. They went down 1-2-3 in 11 of the doubleheader’s 18 innings.
WHY IS IT SO BAD?
Michael Conforto accumulated 174 at-bats last year in his rookie season and hit .270/.335/.506. That was enough to earn several Rookie of the Year votes. This season, in 174 at-bats before yesterday, Conforto was at .247/.318/.466 — and .160/.220/.310 since May 1. Over that same span, Curtis Granderson has hit .179/.271/.368 and Asdrubal Cabrera is at .246/.298/.385. Yoenis Cespedes is three for his last 34 (.088).
WHAT CAN BE DONE?
My BP – Mets colleagues and I made some suggestions here. But Conforto/Cespedes/Granderson/Cabrera aren’t going anywhere, particularly given Juan Lagares’s torn thumb ligament and the lack of infield depth. When a team is missing three starting position players and four of the remaining five aren’t performing, there’s little to be done but hope for better days or make an emergency trade for a bigger bat than James Loney’s.
Juan Nicasio retired the first 12 Mets, seven of those by strikeout. Neil Walker led off the fifth with a single up the middle, but James Loney erased the baserunner by immediately grounding into a 4-6-3 double play. That baserunner probably would have scored on Michael Conforto’s powerful double to center, his 13th of the season. After Wilmer Flores walked, Kevin Plawecki hit a first-pitch fastball up the middle to score Conforto. And the Mets did not score ever again.
Following Granderson’s leadoff walk in the sixth, Clint Hurdle pulled Nicasio after only 89 pitches and despite holding a 3-1 lead. That was Hurdle showing his sabermetric cred — Nicasio was facing the Mets’ lineup for the third time. Reliever Jared Hughes came in and immediately got Asdrubal Cabrera to ground into a double play. That the Pirates’ bullpen allowed just one baserunner in four innings of work reinforced the Pirates’ educated decision to give their starting pitcher the quick hook.
Last night, Jacob deGrom struck out seven through the first four innings. including five in a row between the third and fourth innings. deGrom entered the game having pitched seven innings without a pitcher-win in back-to-back starts. Speaking of non-predictive stats, deGrom earned a Quality Start against the Pirates, throwing 6 innings and allowing three runs. A Quality Start and $2.75 will get you a ride home on the 7 train. The better news for Mets fans is that deGrom looked like his 2015 self, striking out nine without a single walk.
In the bottom of the second against deGrom, Jordy Mercer singled between James Loney and first base, then Sean Rodriguez doubled between Wilmer Flores and third base. Sabermetric hero Cole Figueroa weakly grounded to second to plate the game’s first run. Chris Stewart topped another weak ground ball to shortstop. Asdrubal Cabrera figured he had to bare-hand the ball to retire Stewart, but he was unable to do so, and Rodriguez trotted home.
With one out in the bottom of the fifth against deGrom, Chris Stewart lined a single over short. Nicasio showed bunt then swung away, slapping a comebacker. deGrom tried to stab the ball behind his back, but instead knocked it toward the shortstop area vacated by Cabrera tracking the ball toward second base. John Jaso then doubled to center to score Stewart. deGrom got a huge strikeout of Andrew McCutchen, his eighth of the night, on a sharp slider. deGrom then used the James Loney BABIP suppressor to escape further damage on Gregory Polanco’s smash in the hole between first and second.
Aside from Jaso’s double, deGrom held the Pirates to mostly weak contact; Pittsburgh’s runs resulted from bad luck and bad timing more than bad pitching. But a bad offense can’t overcome a three-run deficit. It’s painful to watch.
The #Mets lead the NL in home runs and are 13th in runs scored, which sounds like a magic trick.
— Joe Sheehan (@joe_sheehan) June 8, 2016
“[The Mets are] last in singles, they’re last in productive outs, they’re last in infield hits. When they don’t hit home runs, it’s hard to score.” — Gary
“Battle of the hair between Jake and Jaso.” “I think Jake’s got him by a mile.” — Ron, then Gary
“We watch SNY a lot … Keith, Ron and Gary do a good job.” — Neil Walker’s dad, Tom, a pitcher on the Gary Carter Montreal Expos in the 1970s, and who choked up a bit when talking about the late Roberto Clemente
With a chance to ruin the second top pitching prospect’s major-league debut in as many weeks (having dominated Julio Urias on May 27), the Mets and Noah Syndergaard face Jameson Taillon tonight in the final game of the series. Let’s hope highly-touted rookies are slump-busters.
Photo credit: Charles LeClaire – USA Today Sports