Oh boy have the Mets been bad. After finally climbing the hill back to .500, the Mets dropped seven straight to fall 8.5 games back in the division. Matt Harvey has been awful, Robert Gsellman looks like he’s pitching hurt, and Tommy Milone has been underwhelming. The only two bright spots in the rotation, Zack Wheeler and Jacob deGrom, have both struggled in their last couple outings.
On the plus side, the Angels were coming into town. While the team from Los Angeles (Anaheim? Los Angeles?) came into the game over .500, their offense is thin and their rotation is thinner. In addition to getting a rare chance to witness the greatness of Mike Trout in person, facing Ricky Nolasco with Jacob deGrom on the mound offered a great chance for the Mets to end their skid.
Things got off to a less than ideal start for deGrom, who walked Cameron Maybin on four pitches. Maybin promptly made a baserunning blunder, taking off from first before deGrom even started his windup, and the Mets were gifted an out. deGrom settled down from there, working around a two-out single from Mike Trout to keep the Angels off the board.
In the bottom half, the Mets quickly backed up their ace. Michael Conforto led off with a sinking line drive that Maybin misplayed into a single in left field. Jose Reyes then dropped down a bunt that should have been a sacrifice, but Angels first baseman C.J. Cron misstepped around the bag and everyone reached safely. Three batters later, Curtis Granderson drove in Conforto with an RBI ground rule double, and the Mets had a 1-0 lead thanks to an unearned run.
For the next five innings, deGrom looked like the ace he is. He struck out seven Angels, allowing only one hit and two walks (one of them an intentional pass to Mike Trout). Unlike his last few starts, deGrom commanded his fastball and showed excellent depth on his sliders. The Angels have an admittedly shallow lineup, particularly with Albert Pujols on the bench, but it was a promising performance from the one Met ace performing up to expectations.
In the bottom of the sixth, the Mets were able to add some insurance. Neil Walker singled to lead off the inning before Granderson and Wilmer Flores both hit loud fly balls that died on the warning track. Walker was able to tag up and go to second on Flores’ fly out and Rene Rivera extended his hitting streak to eleven games with an RBI single, giving the Mets a 2-1 lead.
Of course, the game (and one of my recaps) wouldn’t be complete without some highly questionable managing from Terry Collins. deGrom came back out for the top of the seventh and immediately gave up a leadoff double to Andrelton Simmons while complaining of an issue on his ring finger. He then walked and hit the next two batters as his command evaporated and his breaking pitches noticeably flattened. Collins was asleep at the wheel though, and refused to go to the bullpen.
Thankfully, deGrom managed to muddle his way out of the bases loaded jam, striking out Danny Espinosa, inducing a weak line drive out from Ben Revere (with some help from Jose Reyes), and getting a soft fly ball to right from Cameron Maybin. A Met starter recorded an out in the seventh for the first time in 18 games, and another Terry Collins blunder went unpunished.
The rest of the game went relatively smoothly. Conforto led off the bottom of the seventh with another opposite field home run off a lefty (he can’t hit lefties though) to add some additional insurance. Jerry Blevins and Paul Sewald worked around a pair of singles in the eighth, and, after a quiet bottom half, Addison Reed worked a clean ninth inning to record the save and snap the Mets’ seven game skid.
Thoughts from the Game
My rant on Collins aside, this was easily one of the better Met games of the last two weeks. Seeing the one Met ace left standing perform like he was expected to was fantastic after weeks of poor pitching, and watching Conforto continue to thrive is a joy (despite a bit of a recent skid, his 174 wRC+ ranks 9th among qualified batters). Sewald has also impressed, with a strikeout-to-walk ratio of almost ten to one, an ERA below three, and a FIP below two. This level of excellence is unlikely to continue (though who knows with the Mets and their magic with middling relievers in recent years) but for now the Mets will take any pitching help they can get.
Other Met News
The Mets held a press conference today to mostly regurgitate old information; the pitching is bad and disappointing, and Amed Rosario and Dominic Smith won’t be debuting any time soon. Sandy Alderson did mention that some of the Mets medical protocols had been altered, but that the team had reached no major conclusions about their medical practices as a whole.
Photo credit: Anthony Gruppuso – USA Today Sports