MLB: New York Mets at Milwaukee Brewers

Game recap May 13: Ugly in pink

What Happened, In One Implosion: The Mets gave up a season-high eight runs in the fifth as part of an 11-4 loss to the Brewers. Mets starters now have an MLB-worst 5.13 ERA.

Every time I watch Robert Gsellman, I look for signs that he’ll regress to the mean. The young right-hander entered Saturday with the second worst strand rate in the National League at 57.1 percent, compared to a league average of 73 percent. Strand rate is one of those stats that does a lot looking back to see why a pitcher has an unusually high or low ERA, but it has relatively low correlation with future performance.

To make things worse, Gsellman entered Saturday with the fifth-highest batting average on balls in play (out of 59 pitchers with 30 or more innings pitched) and the tenth-worst home runs per fly ball rate. There are certainly red flags in Gsellman’s stat profile too, like his low strikeout rate, which predict struggles in the future. It doesn’t looks like Gsellman will meet some of the lofty preseason expectations unless he improves his play. On the other hand, people who pitch like he has this year usually perform like back-of-the-rotation starters instead of people who need to be demoted to AAA as soon as possible.

Gsellman had another awful outing Saturday night. He gave up a run in the first, then an unearned run in the second. After a quick third, Gsellman loaded the bases in the fourth. The wheels fell off in the fifth inning. A single, a walk, and two more singles closed the book on Gsellman: 25 batters faced and 12 reached base. It looks like he’s losing confidence and starting to nibble at opposing batters instead of attacking them.

Hansel Robles had been the Mets’ most reliable reliever over the last few weeks, but he was the Met who regressed to the mean in short order. Keon Broxton drove the first pitch to the wall to give Milwaukee a 5-4 lead. Jesus Aguilar pulled another centered fastball for two more runs. Robles finally got two outs, with a walk in between, then surrendered an upper deck homer to Travis Shaw. The home run didn’t kill the rally – Domingo Santana followed up with a single. Then he killed the rally trying to steal a base while up 10-4.

The fifth inning meltdown was a clear missed opportunity for the Mets to take advantage of Milwaukee’s struggling young right-hander. Zach Davies is a soft-tosser who entered Saturday with a ballooning walk rate. The Mets got to him early with an RBI double from Kevin Plawecki and an RBI grounder from Gsellman. Neil Walker homered to give the Mets a 4-1 lead headed in to the bottom of the fifth, but the Mets’ bats largely went to sleep after falling behind.

Center Field Shuffle: Curtis Granderson started in center field and went 1-for-3 and was replaced by Juan Lagares, who came in for a double switch when Robles entered. Since the game was becoming a blowout, Terry Collins gave Lagares one at-bat before putting Jose Reyes in center for his first outfield appearance. Reyes didn’t get any opportunities in the outfield though. Asdrubal Cabrera winced in pain after swinging the bat in the seventh (he’ll miss Sunday’s finale after re-aggravating his thumb), so Reyes moved to shortstop in the bottom of the inning. Michael Conforto moved to center – the fourth center fielder of the night – and T.J. Rivera got his first big league exposure in left field.

Familia Update: The Mets announced Jeurys Familia should be able to start throwing again in six weeks and will be able to pitch competitively in three to four months on this timetable, so he could be back this season.

Nats Pay Harper: The Washington Nationals announced that they agreed to a one-year, $21.65 million contract for Bryce Harper in 2018. The deal covers Harper’s last arbitration year, but doesn’t stall the impending free agent frenzy. Harper will set a record for highest paid arbitration-eligible player, passing David Price’s $19.75 million.

What’s Next? It’s Mother’s Day, so I’d like to thank my mother for raising me as a baseball fan. I love you, mom!

Photo credit: Jeff Hanisch – USA Today Sports

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