Going into Tuesday’s game, Jason Vargas had a 16.20 ERA and a 5.40 HR/9. Luis Castillo had a 7.01 ERA and a 1.82 HR/9. Great American Ball Park allows almost 10% more home runs than the average ballpark. The Mets and Reds combined for 15 extra base hits Monday night, including seven home runs. All the ingredients were in place for a real laser show.
Vargas certainly got that memo, as Cincinnati rolled through him for the get-go. The Reds had three hits, two runs and a hit batter before Vargas recorded an out in the first inning, and they added two more runs in the bottom of the third. Surprisingly, nothing left the yard, but batters were hitting everything Vargas dished out hard. He departed after four innings in a 4-0 whole, an outing that actually lowered his ERA to 6.75.
Castillo, meanwhile, saw that memo and decided to shred it. Whatever mechanical tweak he made in his last start carried over, and the Mets were totally flummoxed by his fastball-changeup combination. Amed Rosario had the Mets’ first hit with two outs in the fifth, and that was the only baserunner they managed for the first five innings.
Things at least got a bit interesting in the sixth, when Wilmer Flores hit a solo home run to cut the Read lead to 4-1. Three batters later, Castillo was oddly pulled after only 81 pitches, and the Mets went to work against Amir Garrett with two out and two on. Jay Bruce and Adrian Gonzalez walked to force in a run, but Mickey Callaway made a very odd decision to pinch hit with Brandon Nimmo against a lefty despite having three right-handed bats (Juan Lagares, Devin Mesoraco and Jose Lobaton) on the bench.
Missing that opportunity stung, but in the end, it didn’t really matter. Hansel Robles came in with a runner on third and one out in the bottom of the seventh and promptly served up two singles, a walk and a home run that stretched the Reds’ lead to 7-2. And, because it’s the Mets, Robles finished his outing by getting injured fielding a bunt, forcing Paul Sewald into the game after throwing 28 pitches in 1.2 innings Monday (it only took him five pitches to get through 1.1 innings Tuesday, so it could have been worse).
The Mets put together another threat in the top of the eighth, but Gonzalez hit into another one of those inexplicable double plays where you realize he has less foot speed than your average cheese sandwich, and the Mets didn’t score. A Lagares single in the ninth led to nothing, and the Mets lost 7-2. It has been almost a month since the Mets won back-to-back games (April 11 and 12), and their record now sits at 18-16.
Thoughts from the game
Wow, almost like the Mets didn’t adequately address their pitching staff last season. Maybe when your starters have a 4.43 ERA (11th worst in the majors) and your bullpen’s ERA is pushing four, you should do more than add a pop-up reliever and a 35-year-old starter with a career ERA of 4.25. Just a thought.
With Todd Frazier out, there is no reason why Wilmer Flores should not be starting every day. Instead, Mickey Callaway turned to Jose Reyes and his .128/.171/.205 batting line to fill in. Hopefully that decision won’t stick, because a decent proportion of the Met fan population will blow several gaskets if they have to sit through two or three weeks of Reyes playing everyday when younger, better, more interesting options abound.
Other Mets news
The big news of the day was the Matt Harvey trade, of course. After drawing comparisons to Tom Seaver early in his career, Harvey was shipped off to the same team as The Franchise, as the Mets sent him to Cincinnati in exchange for catcher Devin Mesoraco. The Reds will be paying the remainder of Mesoraco’s salary while the Mets pick up the rest of Harvey’s, essentially reallocating those funds to a lottery ticket in an area of extreme need. Objectively, this is a great return. It’d be tough for Matt Harvey to have less value at this point, and the Mets some help for a catching tandem that has hit .164/.247/.233 since Kevin Plawecki and Travis d’Arnaud went down in early April.
That’s not to say that Devin Mesoraco will for sure be the answer. Over the past three seasons, he’s has been healthy for all of 95 games, compiling -0.6 WARP. The upside is his 2014 season, when Mesoraco was an All Star and posted a .273/.359/.534 line en route to 4.9 WARP. The litany of injuries (both hip labrums, left shoulder labrum, left foot fracture) have sapped his framing ability, but he’s not a total disaster behind the plate, and even a little bit of competency with the bat would make him an upgrade. If you’re feeling optimistic, people around the Reds supposedly think he’s healthy for the first time in years, for whatever that’s worth.
As stated earlier, Todd Frazier was placed on the 10-day DL after fighting through a hamstring injury for the last couple of weeks. Luis Guillorme will reportedly be called up to add some extra infield depth, with Tomas Nido expected to head back to the minors. P.J. Conlon was also optioned back to Triple-A, with Corey Oswalt being recalled to give the Mets bullpen a bit of extra depth.
Photo credit: Aaron Doster – USA Today Sports