21 Jump Street
Mets break out of funk on Roberto Clemente Day
It’s amazing how something that seemed so impossible on three consecutive nights could look so easy on the next night.
The Mets finally broke out of their stupor, plating seven runs and receiving three hits and four RBIs from their designated hitter position. What a difference it makes when your DH doesn’t hit like a pitcher!
On a night both teams wore #21 to commemorate Roberto Clemente, Puerto Rican native Francisco Lindor hit a home run, setting the single-season record for homers by a Mets shortstop (24), while also extending his career high in RBIs (94).
“It’s special. It’s great,” Lindor said of celebrating Clemente. “A day like today where we’re remembering him and honoring him, that I was able to do one of the many things he did — and come up with the ‘W.’ I’m sure he’s happy.”
Atlanta was idle, so the Mets gained a half game in the standings. The two teams are now tied in the loss column, but New York has a full-game lead since they have two more wins. The Braves return home from their west-coast trip to play a three-game series with the Phillies this weekend. Ten of Atlanta’s next 13 games are against the Phillies and Mets.
In an announcement two years in the making, Sandy Alderson will step down as president of the Mets when the team finds his replacement. He will remain with the organization as a special advisor to the owner. I will talk about this and more in a bit.
But first, let’s discuss a few key takeaways from last night’s win.
▼ IN SHORT: Carlos Carrasco used his split-change to work around some command issues, Francisco Lindor properly honored his hero with a home run and the Mets steamrolled to a 7–1 victory in the first of four games against the Pirates [Box Score].
🍎 BOUNCE BACK: It’s been a strange season for Carlos Carrasco. At times, he has been arguably one of the Mets’ most consistent pitchers, going through July allowing only three runs while pitching into the sixth inning (or later) in each of his five starts. There have also been some hiccups along the way, including his outing against Washington earlier this month, or in April against St. Louis, or the other four times he gave up at least five runs.
Last night, it looked like it could go the wrong way early. Carrasco struggled with his command and gave up hits in each of the first four innings. But his split-change guided him home. He threw it 41 times and generated 14 swing and misses. He only got one swinging strike on the 63 other pitches he tossed.
In the end, he struck out a season high 11 hitters. That’s the most K’s he has racked up since 2020. Importantly, he crossed the 100-pitch threshold (104) to finish six innings and give the middle of the bullpen a needed rest.
Wrapped around an oblique injury and a poor outing that was made worse by poor defense behind him earlier in the month, Carrasco is 7–2 with a 2.12 ERA over his last 11 starts.
🐣 FIRST HIT: Pinch-hitting for Daniel Vogelbach (who actually broke out with two hits and 3 RBIs) against lefty Eric Stout, Mark Vientos recorded his first major-league hit and made it count, driving a run home in the process. He smoked the ball 108.5 MPH off the bat, opposite field.
The Mets have desperately been looking for production from the DH position, and they got it last night. Ironically, Showalter originally wanted Lindor to DH, but because of the special night, Lindor wanted to be on the field.
You could argue pulling Vogelbach in the fourth inning of a game he was finally hitting the ball was a questionable decision, even for a righty (Vientos would go on to strike out in his next two at-bats); but both players contributed, which could carry some positive vibes moving forward.
“I always say the first one is the hardest one, so I can take a deep breath now and just play baseball,” Vientos said after the game, via SNY: “I’m going to be honest with you, I probably didn’t hear anything. I was super locked in in trying to get that first one out of the way.”
In a perfect world, Sandy Alderson would already be working in the role he will eventually take on as advisor to the owner.
That’s not how things worked out. Once the hirings of Jared Porter and Zack Scott blew up in their faces, and after failing to attract a new president of baseball operations, Alderson was forced to take on a hybrid role, as both team president (more business focused) and lead baseball decision-maker.
The announcement that the 74-year-old Alderson will step down as team president means the club is comfortable with the front office they have built under GM Billy Eppler and they are ready to fill the expansive role of team president while they continue to search for the right candidate to take over as president of baseball operations.
“For me personally and for the organization, it’s the right time for this transition,” Alderson said in a statement. “We are having a successful season, we have made several key additions to our senior leadership team, and we have built a strong and forward-thinking culture. When the time comes, I am looking forward to continuing to support Steve, Alex and the organization in a new role.”
The Mets have already started to interviewing candidates to replace Alderson, per Andy Martino of SNY. Martino notes they are focused on finding someone to act like Randy Levine with the Yankees, which is a different role than president of baseball operations (i.e. a David Stearns type).
Some more news and notes from yesterday…
🤞 STILL RECOVERING: Starling Marte probably own’t return to the team “very soon,” according to Ken Rosenthal. He is eligible to come off the IL on Saturday, but it’s unlikely he will be ready to play that quickly.
During last night’s FOX telecast, Rosenthal said, “[Marte] said he is still in pain and it particularly bothers him when he is throwing. It’s a broken finger, it’s not a displaced. And they don’t want to get to the point where they rush him back and it gets displaced and they lose him for a longer period of time.”
🔷 BULLPEN ROLE: With Max Scherzer expected to return to the rotation on Monday, the Mets will move David Peterson to the bullpen, giving them another lefty alongside Joely Rodríguez.
“How is Pete going to respond?” Showalter said to reporters. “If he throws 18 pitches to three hitters, is he going to be able to scratch his rear the next day? I don’t know.”
🍎 BACK AT CITI FIELD: Carlos Beltrán returned to Citi Field for the first time since he was fired as manager in January 2020. He was at the ballpark to celebrate the life of Roberto Clemente.
“It’s not weird at all. I was invited to participate, so I’m here,” Beltran told the NY Post. “There’s nothing to reflect [on]. I didn’t really do much that year. What happened, happened. In life, you have to move on.”
🚜 DOWN ON THE FARM: The St. Lucie Mets clinched the Florida State League East Division last night and will play in the Championship Series.
💉 VAX STATUS: In the slim chance the Mets play the Blue Jays in the World Series, Jon Heyman reports the Amazins still have “multiple stars” who are not vaccinated. This could obviously impact the ability of those players to play in Toronto, but we will worry about that if we somehow get there.
♻️ TRADE DEADLINE APPROACH: Raise your hand if you remain critical of Billy Eppler’s approach at the trade deadline (🙋♂️). The outcome suggests the Mets were overcautious in trading even a middle-level prospect to acquire needed bullpen help (and perhaps a better bat than Vogelbach, Ruf or Naquin).
In a piece reflecting on the trade deadline, Joel Sherman of the NY Post writes, “[The Mets] had offers out that included prospects from their internal top 10 and top five. But Eppler said the club was not going to trade a top-seven prospect for a rental player who would be a free agent after this season.”
🔗 MUST READ: The inside story of the Mets’ fateful trade-deadline decisions, by Joel Sherman, NY Post (Sherman does a great job detailing the Mets’ strategy at the deadline in context with their vision for building a perennial contender).
🗓 UP NEXT: The Mets continue their four-game set with the Pirates over the weekend. Taijuan Walker, Chris Bassitt and Jacob deGrom will each take their turn in the rotation, before Max Scherzer is eligible to return from the IL and will likely take the ball on Monday against the Brewers in Milwaukee.
🔗 Prognosticating paydays for Jacob deGrom, Edwin Diaz in free agency, by Jon Heyman, NY Post: “One salary expert predicted Jacob deGrom would receive multiple two-year, $40 million-per-year offers, making the opt-out worthwhile. He would likely want more years, but the expert predicted the salary would drop for teams willing to go three years or more.”
🔗 Sandy Alderson’s decision to step back a sign of stability in Mets front office, by Tim Britton, The Athletic ($): “The kind of stability the Mets have now in their front office seemed unattainable 10 months ago, when they were floundering in a search for a top baseball executive for the second consecutive winter. It’s a testament to the work that Eppler has done since landing that job and to the work the Mets have done on the field that the organization feels in such a better place now. Alderson has been less visible on the baseball side of the organization this season, serving in a role much closer to the one originally outlined for him by Cohen.”
And we close this one out with Gary Cohen’s appearance on The Mets Pod earlier this week…
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