After a month of futility, the Mets found themselves in another good patch, having won four straight games and facing the lowly Marlins again on Tuesday night. Even better, the Marlin killer Zack Wheeler (3-1, 2.85 ERA career against Miami) was on the mound, though he’s much less effective at home (8-18 5.31 ERA at home). Still, an anemic Marlin lineup offered a good chance for Wheeler to get back on track.
Wheeler wasn’t the biggest story of the night, but we’ll get to that later. For now, the Mets set to work taking down Caleb Smith and the Marlins to push their winning streak to five games.
Good-against-the-Marlins Wheeler beat out bad-at-home Wheeler, and he put together a very solid start. His only real trouble came in the second, where he gave up an earned run on a couple hard hits and a seeing-eye ground ball up the middle. Jose Reyes then made a terrible error, hesitating when he had an easy play at second on a bunt, then throwing low to first to load the bases. Another ground ball single lead to two more runs, these unearned, and put the Mets in a 3-0 hole.
Wheeler prevented further damage, preventing Reyes’ error from turning into a true disaster. He worked around another throwing error from Reyes in the fifth, keeping the Marlins off the board despite being burdened with runners at the corners. He finished his outing after six innings, striking out nine and walking none while giving up just the one earned run on nine hits. The Mets offense couldn’t do much to back Wheeler unfortunately. Jose Bautista, making his Mets debut, score the only run in the second after doubling and coming home on a sacrifice fly from Tomas Nido.
Robert Gsellman and AJ Ramos got in the game after Wheeler, and both looked tired. Gsellman escaped the seventh unscathed, but Ramos served up a two-run bomb to Derek Dietrich that put the Mets in a four-run hole. That home run was ultimately a moot point, as the Mets didn’t score again. Asdrubal Cabrera grounding into a double play in the eighth inning with runners on the corners and one out was the dagger, squandering their last best chance before three batters were retired in six pitches by Brad Zeigler in the ninth.
With the loss, the four game winning streak is snapped and the Mets’ record drops to 24-20. Some credit certainly goes to Marlins’ starter Caleb Smith, who had good command and went after hitters. The offense for the Mets is a concern, however, particularly against lefties with Brandon Nimmo and Michael Conforto playing such critical roles. This tweet from Rich MacLeod sums things up nicely:
The Marlins have the worst team ERA in the National League. The #Mets have scored 3 runs against them in 2 games.
— Rich MacLeod (@richmacleod) May 23, 2018
Thoughts from the Game
Mickey Callaway’s bullpen usage early in the season was a strong part of his game, as he rotated through everyone in his bullpen and didn’t lean too heavily on any particular arms. Over the last month, however, he’s slipped into a Terry-ism, utilizing the same relievers again and again while leaving some guys in the back end of the bullpen unused. Jacob Rhame, Chris Flexen and Corey Oswalt have seen much less action than the core pitchers, and that’s starting to hurt – Gsellman and Ramos have both been used heavily of late, and both looked gassed last night. The Mets are currently in the front third of a brutal stretch of 18 games in 17 days, and Callaway will have to go back to using all the tools at his disposal if the bullpen is to survive.
Reyes continues to be a disaster for this team. He had two errors Tuesday, and a 1-for-3 performance with a walk raised his season line to a whopping .145/.203/.200 with miserable defense. I really want to know what sort of kompromat Reyes has on the front office, because at this point there’s little to no reason behind his presence on this roster. Luis Guillorme, Philip Evans, Jeff McNeil, and possibly even Ty Kelly and Gavin Cecchini would be upgrades on both sides of the ball right now, and for a team with a margin as narrow as the Mets, every bit of value counts.
Other Mets News
The big news of the day of course was the Mets’ signing of Jose Bautista. Bautista, picked up then immediately placed back on the scrap heap by the Braves earlier this season, took a flight from Tampa around 3 p.m. and made it into the lineup in time to go 1-for-3 with a double and a pair of strikeouts. On the surface, the signing makes sense given the Mets’ paper thin outfield depth chart and even thinner list of right handed bats.
Somewhat problematically for that justification, Jose Bautista is terrible. He hasn’t had a meanigfully above replacement season since 2015, and his 2017 was straight up disastrous. He can’t play the outfield, certainly can’t play at third base and, at 37 years old, probably isn’t getting much of what he’s lost with the bat back. The Mets farm is thin, but there are easily four or five more youthful options that could come up, play bad corner outfield defense, and offer more upside with the bat (McNeil, Evans, even Dom Smith come to mind).
If the Mets had a track record of bringing in wild card vets, giving them a chance, then cutting bait when they’re bad, I don’t think any fan would object to this signing. The Mets do exactly the opposite of that however, exemplified by Jose Reyes and, to a lesser degree, Adrian Gonzalez. Bringing in Bautista will more than likely do nothing but block younger options like Brandon Nimmo and Wilmer Flores from playing time, rob us of the chance to see intriguing players from the farm system and make the team worse in both the short and long term. Unfortunately, it’s just par for the course with this front office.
Photo credit: Noah K. Murray – USA Today Sports