What You Need to Know: June 25

The Mets entered this week with a 30-38 record, but they played like a 38-30 team on Monday night. Jacob deGrom shut down the Rockies over eight characteristically excellent innings, striking out seven and allowing one run. Then the Mets offense exploded, scoring twelve times. Brandon Nimmo began the game with an inside-the-park homer, hit another homer in the seventh, and tallied four hits overall. His ninth-inning single brought Amed Rosario home for the 12th run.

The rest of the week wasn’t as great. Although the Mets mustered eight runs on Tuesday night, Jason Vargas pitched atrociously enough to sink the game. “It’s frustrating,” he said afterwards. “You get rolling in a good direction, and then you have something like this happen.” Rinse and repeat on Wednesday. The Mets scored eight runs, but Seth Lugo and Robert Gsellman couldn’t get the job done. Lugo was especially hurt by Todd Frazier’s throwing error and Devin Mesoraco’s passed ball in the second inning, while Gsellman hung a changeup to Rockies’ third baseman Ryan McMahon.

To round out the week, the Mets dropped three home games to the Dodgers. Jacob deGrom faced Clayton Kershaw on Saturday night and the Mets’ world-beater allowed three runs over six innings, and Kershaw was shaky in his return from the disabled list. Neither starter lived up expectations. Their mediocrity was overshadowed, though, by Gsellman’s horrific performance. The normally-reliable reliever gave up five runs in two innings, including a late-game grand slam by Matt Kemp. He now has a 4.20 ERA and 1.27 WHIP.

The fewer words written about Sunday’s game, the better. Let’s just say that Jerry Blevins allowed back-to-back home runs to open the game, the Dodgers hit five more homers in total and Brandon Nimmo exited with a sore right pinkie. This was the Mets’ sixth straight loss, bringing them to 13 games below .500. The only positive is that Nimmo’s X-rays were negative.

An Ignominious Farewell

The Mets signed Hansel Robles in 2008 as an international free agent. Seven years later, he debuted against the New York Yankees, when the hard-throwing righty gave up a hit to A-Rod, loading the bases, and then retired Brian McCann and Carlos Beltrán. He ended up having a strong rookie season for the Mets, and his sophomore year was similarly promising, as he recorded 9.8 strikeouts per nine with a 3.56 FIP.

Robles, though, has become a shadow of his former self. Both his walk rate and home run rate have increased, and he’s allowed 11 runs in less than 20 innings this year. The Mets dumped their longtime pitcher on Friday for roster space, replacing him immediately with up-and-coming reliever Drew Smith, who pitched a scoreless relief inning on Saturday. Robles will swap blue and orange for red and white — the colors of the Los Angeles Angels.

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Robles’s 1.4 homers allowed per nine innings is the second worst in Mets history. He was only outdone by Pedro Astacio.

Optimism Abounds

I actually have some good Mets-related news! Earlier this year, the Mets selected outfielder Jarred Kelenic sixth overall in the amateur draft. The Wisconsin native was their highest pick in fourteen years, and many considered him the best prep bat available. “We felt very comfortable selecting a player this high in the Draft who has tremendous makeup, passion for the game, intensity for the game,” said Mets amateur scouting director Mark Tutula.

Kelenic made his professional debut on Saturday for the Gulf Coast League Mets. Batting third as the designated hitter, he went 3-4 with a triple and two runs scored. It’s true, of course, that Kelenic may take several years to reach the big leagues. But how exciting is it to have a highly touted outfield prospect?

Quick Hits

  • This Forbes article about Mets players “purportedly playing defense” is pretty clever. As a central New Jerseyan, I particularly liked the lede comparing them to Grounds for Sculpture statues. Author Tom Van Riper references legit stats like defensive efficiency, total zone rating, and wins above replacement to emphasize how bad Mets defenders are.
  • Last year, the Mets traded Lucas Duda to the Rays in exchange for righty pitcher Drew Smith. The 24 year-old now has a 3.00 ERA and 1.20 WHIP with 28 strikeouts in 30 innings at Triple-A Las Vegas and the Mets rewarded him with a call-up
  • Jason Vargas was placed on the 10-day DL with a strained right calf. He was scheduled to pitch on Sunday, so the Mets called up Chris Flexen to take his spot. You may remember Flexen from last season: he made 14 appearances, recording a 53 ERA+ and only 36 strikeouts in 48 innings. Flexen hasn’t been much better this year for the Las Vegas 51s.
  • Citing Amed Rosario’s offensive struggles, the Mets will now bench him in favor of Jose Reyes. The 35 year-old accused domestic abuser is batting .180/.270/.247 with seven errors in 52 games this season. But hey — he’s hit well in recent weeks! So the Mets will continue ignoring his shameful history, praising his performances and labeling him a “mentor.”

Photo credit: Andy Marlin – USA Today Sports

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