It’s been a while since I’ve written one of these. The distraction of starting a Ph.D. and moving back to my native NYC has been rather nice, giving me a multitude of excuses to duck out on watching a bad Mets team drag the corpse of their season across the finish line. It’s always worth it to tune in at the end of the season though, just to listen to GKR for a couple more hours before the long offseason begins.
To the game itself. Matt Harvey toed the mound as the Mets started a three-game set in Miami, their last trip south of Philadelphia for the season. Opposing him was Dan Straily, the Marlins’ return in the soon-to-be-infamous Luis Castillo trade with the Reds this past offseason. To make a bad game worse, Amed Rosario was scratched with an upset stomach, giving us an extra dose of a Cabrera-Reyes-Cecchini infield. This season really can’t end soon enough.
The Mets seemed primed to jump out to an early lead against Straily, with Nori Aoki singling and Jose Reyes walking to start the first inning. Both runners would be stranded, however, as Asdrubal Cabrera and Travis d’Arnaud struck out, sandwiching a line out from Dom Smith. That missed opportunity immediately became irksome, as a couple of soft ground ball hits and a line drive from Justin Bour drove in a run for the Marlins in the bottom half of the inning to put the Mets in an early 1-0 hole.
Harvey was able to dance around more trouble in the second, stranding two runners who reached on softly hit ground balls up the middle. He wasn’t as lucky in the third, however. Giancarlo Stanton started the inning with a three-pitch walk, and Bour followed two batters later with a screaming line drive double to put runners on a second and third with one out. A wild pitch to Brian Anderson pushed Stanton across the plate, and an intentional walk and another infield single loaded the bases for Dan Straily with two outs. Harvey was able to stop the damage, but was up to 54 pitches and seven hits allowed (four of them very soft, two of them extremely hard) through three innings.
After stranding a plethora of baserunners through the first three innings, the Mets finally generated a response in the top of the fourth. Brandon Nimmo worked a walk (what else is new) before Juan Lagares grounded into a fielder’s choice and stole second base, putting a runner on second with two outs. Gavin Cecchini followed that up with a ground ball single up the middle to drive in Lagares, cutting the Miami lead to 2-1.
Harvey and the Mets gave that run and more right back. Dee Gordon led off the bottom of the fourth with a bunt single, then stole second. Harvey then yanked a fastball into Tomas Talis, putting runners on first and second with none out for Stanton. I’m sure you’ve already guessed how that turned out, as Stanton vaporized a flat fastball in the middle of the plate for a three-run home run that landed in the back right of the home run monstrosity in center field. The homer was Stanton’s 55th on the season, and it gave the Marlins a 5-1 lead. It was also the longest home run at a 17 degree launch angle or lower ever tracked by Statcast, travelling 455 feet.
The fifth inning started just as poorly for Harvey, as he allowed a flair single to Ichiro Suzuki and a ground ball single to Mike Aviles. That would chase him from the game, as the pitcher who used to be the Mets’ next best hope lasted only 4+ innings, the seventh straight start in which he went five innings or fewer. He allowed 12 hits, and, while there was certainly some bad luck in there (three infield hits, two dribblers into the outfield, and a flair that dropped) he also gave up plenty of rockets. Harvey’s stuff is still flat and his command is still spotty. On the bright side, he seems to have recovered at least one of the ticks he lost, but that’s really reaching for positives.
Tommy Milone entered in relief and retired Christian Yelich (pinch hitting for Dan Straily) on a weak dribbler in front of home plate. Dee Gordon made that out irrelevant, lining a triple into the right-center field gap to push the Marlins lead to 7-1. All seven of those runs were charged to Harvey, ballooning his ERA on the season to an almost inconceivable 6.59.
Milone walked Tomas Telis before being replaced by Hansel Robles. Robles’s results weren’t any better, as he allowed RBI singles Stanton and Ozuna. Brian Anderson then lined the second two-run triple of the inning for the Marlins before scoring on an RBI single from Suzuki. Erik Goeddel entered and finally stopped the bleeding, but the Marlins had turned things into a laugher, leading 12-1.
The rest of the game was fairly mundane. Chris Flexen tossed a scoreless inning with two strikeouts in relief. Jacob Rhame gave up a home run on the second pitch he threw, walked a batter, and struck out one in an inning of work. Jaime Callahan added a clean inning in the eighth. Meanwhile, the Met offense didn’t score, going quietly into the night in a 13-1 loss. At 65-85, they remain in line for the fifth pick in the draft.
Thoughts from the Game
Time to twist the knife of a lost season and another brutal loss a bit more. Eleven years ago last night, Jose Reyes and David Wright danced in the clubhouse and smoke cigars on the field as they clinched the NL East title. I don’t mean to re-write the eulogy for the 2006 Mets for the three millionth time, but it’s a sobering reminder of how far away the current iteration of the Mets are from getting back to that level.
I also want to share a pessimistic bet I’ve made with a couple friends. Nori Aoki is a marginally useful extra outfielder, and honestly not the worst option as a reserve on a good team. He’s also performed quite well since joining the Mets on September 2, running a 119 wRC+ in his very brief tenure. However, it should be very clear that Nori Aoki has no business being a starting outfielder at this point of his career, and if the Mets try to sell him as such (or even as a short term replacement should Michael Conforto’s return from shoulder surgery be delayed at all) it will be an abject disaster for 2018.
Other Mets News
Noah Syndergaard pitched a simulated game in front of the major league coaches in Miami today, facing a handful of live hitters. There’s a chance Thor gets back in a major league game this season, even if it’s just as a reliever, but it’s nice to see the Mets being extra cautious with one of their players for once.
Photo credit: Steve Mitchell – USA Today Sports