The Mets looked to stay above .500 with Zack Wheeler on the mound against the Cubs, while Tyler Chatwood, owner of an 8.38 BB/9 and a K/BB below one (and, somehow a 4.10 ERA), took the mound for Chicago. Most importantly, Brandon Nimmo was still in the lineup, leading off with Jose Bautista on the bench.
This was, essentially, a carbon copy of recent games for the Mets. Wheeler got off to an excellent start, holding the Cubs off the board for the first six innings. Nimmo launched a two-run home run in the third to give the Mets a 2-0 lead. Instead of adding on, the Mets let Chatwood off the hook again and again, stranding baserunners in the first, fifth and sixth, while also gifting the Cubs an out when Nimmo was caught stealing.
Late in the game, everything unraveled. In a desperate moved designed to relieve an overworked, terrible bullpen, Mickey Callaway left Wheeler in the game to start the seventh. He promptly gave up two singles without recording an out, then was pulled. Paul Sewald gave up a sacrifice fly, an RBI double and an RBI single that turned a 2-0 lead into a 3-2 deficit.
Mickey made the same mistake in the eighth, again leaving a pitcher in when he shouldn’t. Sewald recorded two outs after a leadoff single, but then allowed another single and a three-run home run to Kyle Schwarber. That was pretty much the dagger – the Mets managed to score two in the bottom of the eighth on a single from Adrian Gonzalez, but the Cubs got one of those back in the ninth. Jose Reyes walked to leadoff the ninth against Brandon Morrow but the next three Mets were retired in short order to finish the 7-4 loss.
Thoughts from the Game
A list of disappointing facts, for your viewing displeasure:
- The Cubs walked the leadoff batter five times this game; only one of them scored.
- Mets starters have left the last six games with the game tied. The Mets are 2-4 in those games.
- The Mets are below .500 for the first time this season.
- The Mets are now 6 games behind the Braves for first place in the division on June 1.
- After being one of the league’s best over the first two weeks of the season, the Mets bullpen now has the fifth-worst FIP in the league.
- Jay Bruce left the game in the fourth with lower back discomfort; that leaves a starting outfield of Jose Bautista, Michael Conforto and Brandon Nimmo.
- Since starting 11-1, the Mets are 16-27
- Nimmo isn’t on the Mets’ All Star ballet, because ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
With those generalities out of the way, let’s dive into the Mets’ pitching staff for a moment. Callaway has gradually slipped into many Terry-esque habits, but one of the things he’s done well is recognize when his starters are burned. Yesterday, he went full Terry, twice trying to stretch pitchers beyond what they should be asked.
At the same time, Callaway’s hand is being forced by the Mets’ terrible mismanagement of the pitching staff. Why Tim Peterson remains on the team with Drew Smith and Eric Hanhold in the minors is baffling. Why the Mets stressed the bullpen by giving a start to P.J. Conlon instead of Nabil Crismatt is also puzzling. My personal bugaboo has been leaving Stephen Villines in High-A with a 15:1 K:BB ratio instead of challenging him in the upper minors and finding out if he’s an arm that can be cycled up to the majors. Pitching depth is not this team’s strength, but the arms they have could be utilized so much more effectively if they’d call up the right ones.
After the game, Callaway held a team meeting, and while he can be somewhat defended for his pitching decisions, there’s no defending the comments he made. Callaway threw Michael Conforto under the bus for not hitting a cutoff man, then later mentioned that the team is paying Yoenis Cespedes a lot of money to produce. That’s ludicrous and unacceptable. Michael Conforto missing a cutoff man doesn’t lead to the bullpen giving up seven runs. As for Cespedes, the Mets have pushed him through injuries for two years, which has almost certainly contributed to his now chronic hip problems. That Callaway is expressing this sort of frustration openly is a clear signal that this is the attitude of higher-ups in the front office, which in turn is a clear sign that they’ve learned absolutely nothing. It’s just more of the same Metsian dysfunction.
Other Mets News
After running a three-man bench due to a brutally overworked bullpen, the Mets recalled Jose Lobaton and DFA’d Scott Copeland. This is a puzzling move, as a four-man bench with three catchers is a very weird configuration. Apparently, the Mets plan to use Kevin Plawecki at first base to get some right-handed bats into the bat against lefties.
Simply put, this plan is ludicrous. Plawecki has a career TAv of .251. That’s bad for a catcher, let alone a first baseman. Further, Peter Alonso is hitting .337/.459/.624 with 14 HR in Double-A. He’s probably not ready and his defense is probably really bad, but Alonso at least offers the upside of being a competent (and possibly even better) bat at first. It’s just the latest in a season of sub-optimal roster decisions from the Mets.