I must admit, after the weekend series against Colorado, I was still holding out hope. There’s enough baseball left for anything to happen. However, it’s time to accept the facts, the main being that this Mets team just isn’t equipped to rattle off the 10 or 15 wins needed to thrust themselves back into contention.
The Mets dropped last night’s effort against the St. Louis Cardinals. Surprisingly, the game seemed to be within reach almost all night, but the Amazins dug themselves into a hole and couldn’t fight their way out of it. It’s a bit ironic as Monday night seemed like a microcosm of the 2017 season. Like it or not, it’s time to shift all of our focus to July 31 and pray that Sandy Alderson and the Mets’ brain trust sell off the right guys to reload this team for 2018.
Have We Already Seen the Best of Wheeler?
When the Mets acquired Zack Wheeler from San Francisco, it was easy to foresee him and Matt Harvey forming a tenacious one-two punch at the front of the Mets’ starting rotation. Now, it’s hard to picture him being any more valuable than a No. 4 or 5 starter. Injuries are tough. They can leave even the most talented players in ruins and unfortunately for Wheeler, it seems that his two-year absence stemming from Tommy John surgery has robbed him of his potential. Wheeler cruised through the first four innings last night and ran into trouble when he began to lose his command in the fifth. A Jedd Gyorko lineout helped him escape a bases-loaded jam, but it’s important to note that he got himself into that jam by walking the bases full. By the time the sixth inning rolled around, the Mets’ 1-0 advantage quickly dissipated. Two singles, a Paul DeJong home run, and an Adam Wainwright double ended Wheeler’s night, and, to his dismay, his bullpen counterparts failed to stop the bleeding. Given the lack of depth the Mets have to deal with due to injuries, Wheeler is in no danger of losing his job, but if he fails to put together a decent stretch to finish out 2017, he may write his way out of this team’s future plans.
Paul DeJong: Newly Crowned Met Killer
When the Cardinals first called up Paul DeJong in May, I knew I would rue the day he faced the Mets. That’s actually a lie. Until two weeks ago, I barely know DeJong existed. Then, he decided to homer in three consecutive games against the Mets, something only the great Albert Pujols accomplished in a Cardinals uniform. Monday night, he did something no Cardinal has ever done: he homered in his fourth consecutive game against the Mets. The early impressions of the 23-year-old have been solid: a .302 batting average with 9 home runs and 20 RBIs, but he seems to take things to a whole new level when facing the Mets. You can go right ahead and put him on your dart board along with Chipper Jones, Daniel Murphy, and our other favorite Met killers. The sad part, of course, is that it’s only been four games.
I’d also like to note that just the sight of Adam Wainwright still makes me angry, so you can imagine how losing to him must make me feel.
A Weird and Wild Sixth Inning
When Wheeler fell apart in the sixth, it was hard not to feel like this game was over. After a T.J. Rivera groundout, Lucas Duda made it interesting by launching a moonshot home run over the bullpens. This is when things got weird. The next at-bat, Jose Reyes laced a ball into the right-center gap. With no hesitation out of the box, Reyes bolted towards second. Dexter Fowler and rookie Magneuris Sierra converged on the ball and by some weird twist of fate, the ball was kicked around, allowing Reyes to take a turn and head for third. Sierra then proceeded to make one of the worst throws I have seen, and Reyes rounded third and scored on a Little League home run. Travis d’Arnaud stepped to the plate following Reyes and laced the first pitch he saw into center field. From the roar of the crowd, it felt like he may have put one into the gap. Fowler glided over to make the routine catch, but his nonchalant attitude came back to bite when the ball kicked off his glove and d’Arnaud ended up on second. Unfortunately, the Mets couldn’t find a way to score d’Arnaud after a pinch hit ground out by Wilmer Flores and lineout to the pitcher off the bat of Michael Conforto.
Jose Reyes is No Longer Asleep At the Wheel
I’m not going to be one of those people who get too excited over a hot streak from Jose Reyes. This doesn’t change the fact that he is a shell of the player that he once was, but he’s finally started producing. In the month of July, Reyes is posting a .395/.400/.737 clip, a mindblowing improvement over his season-long line of .226/.291/.389. Reyes coming alive is a major key to the Mets being successful, but this was something that this ball club needed two months ago. At best, a hot July may attract a suitor for the 34-year-old shortstop. It may even have the potential to write Reyes back into the Mets’ future plans. Regardless of what happens, it’s nice to see Reyes actually being a productive member of this lineup.
Mixed Feelings on the Bullpen
With a chance to keep the game at 3-1, the Mets’ bullpen faltered. Josh Edgin came in to face Matt Carpenter and gave him a free pass. Hansel Robles followed and surrendered a three-run home run to Tommy Pham on his second pitch since being recalled from Las Vegas. With that being said, the bullpen did live up to expectations in the seventh, eighth, and ninth innings as Paul Sewald, Jerry Blevins, and Erik Goeddel combined for three scoreless innings. When it comes down to it, I guess you could say Terry deployed the wrong guys for the situations. It’s good to see that not all is lost when it comes to this club’s late relief options.
An Almost Rally in the Ninth
Down 6-3, the Mets opened the ninth with Curtis Granderson pinch-hitting for Erik Goeddel. Granderson walked and put the Mets a step closer to bringing the tying run to the plate. Conforto hit a hard liner off of Brett Cecil, but baseball is a cruel game and sometimes when you hit the ball hard, you hit it straight at the right fielder. Asdrubal Cabrera followed and lined a single into left center, pushing Grandy to third. At this point, the Mets were exactly in the position they wanted to be. Yoenis Cespedes stepped to the plate, trying to shake an 0-for-4 night and with a very good chance to do so against the left-hander Cecil. Things got even better when Cecil tossed three pitches outside and Ces had a 3-0 count to work with. Chasing that game-tying dinger, Cespedes swung 3-0 and grounded the ball to short, resulting in a game-ending double play. Following the game, Cespedes bolted from the clubhouse before reporters were allowed in, expressing zero desire to discuss the heartbreaking ninth inning.
The Mets continue their four-game series with the Cardinals at Citi Field on Tuesday at 7 p.m. with Rafael Montero facing Michael Wacha.
Photo credit: Brad Penner – USA Today Sports