MLB: New York Mets at Pittsburgh Pirates

Game Recap May 27: Edge of collapse

Mets News

It’s news when the Mets win a game, as they did Friday night behind the second-best pitcher in the National League by 2017 WARP. Jacob deGrom’s 2.64 Wins Above Replacement Player through his first 10 starts exceeds that of every other starter except the Nationals’ Max Scherzer, at 2.80. By Deserved Run Average, deGrom’s 1.78 ranks first in the NL and fourth in all of baseball, behind only Chrises Sale and Archer, and Dallas Keuchel. This (obv) is not to say that deGrom is better than Clayton Kershaw or Max Scherzer or Madison Bumgarner. Still, he’s *been* better this year, and that counts for a lot.

There’s a painful flip side to quoting deGrom’s exceptional performance to date. It’s something Mets fans subjected to watching Demoted Rafael Montero, Staff Ace Adam Wilk, and Injured Waiver Bait Tommy Milone already know — or at least can intuit. The pitching staff as a whole has produced 1.88 WARP, 10th from the bottom in all MLB. Doing the math … we can do the math, this is a BP site … reveals that the Mets’ pitching staff sans deGrom has been three-quarters of a run below replacement level.

But it’s actually worse than that. Noah Syndergaard’s 3.29 ERA in 27.3 pre-injury innings was worth a full 1.0 WARP. It’s unlikely Thor will add to that total until August, if at all. As awful as Matt Harvey’s looked this season, he’s at least eaten 50 innings on his way to half a win above replacement value. Some say last night’s starter, Zack Wheeler, is in the midst of a solid comeback year. His eight starts on the year have been worth a total of 0.31 WARP. I guess that’s “solid” in light of his 0.0 WARP over the prior 28 months. No other Mets starter is in the black: Milone, Montero, and Robert Gsellman have combined for -1.86 WARP. Take out deGrom and this pitching staff looks like a disaster.

The optimistic Mets fan will assert that Steven Matz and Seth Lugo are on out on rehab assignments and nearing their return. Gsellman can’t possibly be this bad; the pitching staff must improve. Then again, there’s a reason “optimistic Mets fan” feels like an oxymoron. One of those reasons is the medical staff. Word came down during last night’s game that Yoenis Cespedes experienced soreness in his right quad while running the bases on Thursday. He’ll be shut down for a couple days and resume taking batting practice on Tuesday.

MEANWHILE, the Mets metsed another one. Choose a Mets meme: Pitcher can’t go deep? No clutch hitting? Bullpen overuse and ultimate failure? Yes.


Cluster luck describes the phenomenon that an offense which goes single-double-home run will score more than another offense that, like the Mets did in their first at-bat last night, goes home run-single-double. Jay Bruce started the scoring with a majestic shot off of Gerrit Cole, but the inning felt disappointing when the following Neil Walker single and Lucas Duda double went for naught. A Travis d’Arnaud single plated Curtis Granderson after his leadoff triple in the second, though the run expectancy table says the runner-on-third, no-out scenario is typically worth 1.35 runs. The fourth inning was more of the same. d’Arnaud hit a 415-foot screamer into the center field bushes, then Michael Conforto singled and Jose Reyes doubled. Eight hits in four innings, but only three runs.

Cluster luck isn’t predictive. Just because the Mets didn’t score more than three runs in the first four innings doesn’t mean they couldn’t, or won’t the next time they have five extra-base hits through four. But it was more of the same in the fifth inning. Lucas Duda practically hit the ball out of PNC Park, then Granderson walked and d’Arnaud doubled. Terry Collins never thought about pinch-hitting for Wheeler, who struck out, leaving two runners in scoring position. That made 10 hits in five innings, seven of which were doubles, triples, or dingers. But the Mets only had four runs to show for it.

There’s cluster luck, and then there’s just plain luck. As always, Wheeler didn’t pitch into the seventh inning. So Jerry Blevins made his league-leading 27th appearance, and Fernando Salas and Addison Reed made their 26th. Accepted wisdom states that you can’t use today’s coddled relief pitchers in 55 percent of your team’s games. Yet for all the injuries to Thor, Matz, Lugo, and Familia, none of them appear linked to overuse. The Mets might have some magic bullpen pixie dust to keep their relievers healthy. It’s lucky that these guys have stayed upright all year. Although, as intrepid Mets blogger Jason Fry pointed out on Twitter, we might be joking about the guy who’s fallen 55 percent of the way off a building and says so far, so good.

Whether the relievers have stayed both healthy and effective is another question. Salas has a 5.73 ERA and Reed has blown two of his last four save opportunities, including last night’s. Reed’s now given up four runs over his last 7 2/3 innings. Maybe a bad stretch, maybe a sign that the pixie dust is running out. Good thing the Mets just promoted Tyler Pill, seven-year career minor leaguer, to make his MLB debut in extra innings against the heart of the Pirates’ order. (Set aside, as Terry did, that Pill is/was supposed to start on Tuesday.)

Pill did not inspire confidence. He only retired the first batter he faced, Gregory Polanco, because Juan Lagares has regained the range and instincts that make him one of the best center fielders in baseball. Pill then gave up single, HBP, BB before getting Gift Ngoepe to pop to right. With the bases loaded and two out, Pill departed and Josh Edgin made his 24th appearance of the season, the seventh Met hurler of the evening. With the left-on-left advantage against John Jaso, Edgin fell behind 2-0 and fought back to 3-2. After Jaso fouled off the seventh and eighth pitches of the at-bat, he lined a single to right to walk the Pirates off.

Look on the bright side. At least Paul Sewald and Josh Smoker will be rested coming into today’s game.

Social Media



You turn on SNY for the Mets game and see it’s showing boxing. Okay, you say, the game must be on PIX. Nope: Seinfeld. Then you feel the pit grow in your belly. It’s a FOX game. No Gary, Keith, and Ron. Instead, Kenny Albert and A.J. Pierzynski. And you sigh, because Pierzynski’s first tidbit of #analysis is that the Mets’ key to the game is Wheeler pitching seven innings. Wheeler has done that once all year. Does anybody supervise these former-player color-commentators?


Flipping channels won’t be necessary to find tonight’s game. ESPN is the only place Sunday Night Baseball is broadcast. PECOTA projected tonight’s starters for ERAs of 3.68 (Matt Harvey) and 4.31 (Tyler Glasnow). Instead, they’re at 5.36 and 6.69, respectively. Not nice.

Photo Credit: Charles LeClaire – USA TODAY Sports


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2 comments on “Game Recap May 27: Edge of collapse”

For Cespedes, it’s the same right quad that has affected him since before the All-Star break last season. The Mets did some extra medical tests on him after this current left hamstring injury, but I’m not sure if the tests checked his right quad.

Scott D Simon

My concern is that even if the medical staff tested Cespedes’s quad, it wasn’t for pain or range of movement but rather the New York State Regents exam in home economics.

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