Churve your enthusiasm
A loss presents some questions to ponder
After taking the first two games of the series, the Mets lost to the Padres 7-3 yesterday, in a game they actually led until a disastrous — and instructive — 7th inning (much more on this below).
We’ll catch you up on all the day’s news, and preview the upcoming four-game set against the surprisingly strong Cubs.
But first, let’s recap yesterday's action.
by Blake Zeff
⚾️ IN SHORT: The Mets wasted five strong innings from the rapidly improving Joey Lucchesi and a two-run homer from José Peraza, to lose 7-3 when Jeurys Familia walked the ballpark and Jacob Barnes couldn’t keep the ball in it.
🔑 KEY MOMENT: The obvious one here is when Fernando Tatis, Jr. crushed a Barnes meatball with two outs in the 7th for a grand slam to turn a 2-2 game into a demoralizing 6-2 deficit.
BUT: One could argue the real turning point came a batter prior, when Luis Rojas elected to keep a clearly exhausted Familia in the game to face Tommy Pham with the bases loaded and a 2-1 Mets lead. Familia had already thrown 37 pitches, worked 1.2 innings and had walked two in the frame, including the previous hitter. Sure enough, he went on to walk Pham on four pitches (none particularly close) with two outs, to knot the game at 2. Then Barnes came in and served up salami (more on the nightmarish 7th in a minute).
❶ LUCCHESI STRONG AGAIN: Given his poor start this season, you can understand why the Mets did not have a lot of faith in Joey Lucchesi in April or parts of May. But he’s now strung together four straight impressive outings — after a homer to Pham to start yesterday’s game, he threw five scoreless innings, and struck out 5 of his last 6. He looked particularly sharp in his later innings.
DILEMMA: The Mets are going to need to decide whether they will continue to insist on limiting the lefty to 4-5 innings and/or 2 times through a lineup per outing. That rule might work when you have a well-rested bullpen, but on days like yesterday where Edwin Diaz, Miguel Castro, Seth Lugo and Aaron Loup were unavailable, the quick hook seemed questionable at the time, and ended up backfiring on the manager.
QUOTE: Said Lucchesi after the game, “I want to pitch as long as I can. I only threw 72 pitches. I’m not tired. I wasn’t tired at the time. I told them I wanted to keep going, but you’ve got to respect the manager’s decision. That’s all I can do. I told them I want to keep pitching, but I guess I’ve got to keep showing them I can get through the order three times, and I can pitch, man.”
❷ DEPLETED BENCH: Not only were the club’s four top relievers unavailable, outfield standout Billy McKinney continued to sit due to a sore knee and Jonathan Villar was a late scratch due to family issues. As a result, the Mets’ lineup featured a number of subs (and subs to subs), and lacked firepower off the bench.
ANOTHER QUESTION: If McKinney’s injury persists and Luis Guillorme and Villar are available at 2B and 3B, it raises the question of whether Jeff McNeil might get some reps in the outfield upon his expected return next week. In the meantime, Mason Williams starts in CF, moving Kevin Pillar to RF. (Rojas said last night that McKinney could be back as soon as today, so perhaps this will be rendered moot.)
BULLPEN TAXED: The relief corps being depleted was particularly problematic, as it led directly to the 7th inning meltdown. The reason Rojas stayed with Familia as long as he did was the lack of available depth in the pen. However, he still could have pulled the wild reliever a batter sooner, and/or chosen someone other than Barnes to replace him (maybe Drew Smith?), or relied on the pen for fewer outs by keeping Lucchesi in longer.
❸ FRANCISCO RAKING: Mets fans are starting to see what Francisco Lindor can do up close. The shortstop lined two ropes, one for a double in the 4th and another for a single in the 6th. However, he was stranded both times in a game where the Mets’ middle of the lineup struggled with men on base (Pete Alonso whiffed both times Lindor reached base, as he was clearly trying too hard to crush the ball off his nemesis Chris Paddack and deposit it into a local auto body shop outside the stadium).
🧑🏫 SOUND SMART: Lucchesi’s five-inning outing was his longest as a Met. Over his last four starts, the southpaw has a 1.56 ERA, 19 strikeouts and 4 walks in 17.1 innings.
😱 SOUND SURPRISED: Tomás Nido played third base for the first time in his professional career yesterday. He shifted over to third when James McCann entered the game to catch. Presumably, the idea was to keep Nido in the game in case McCann got hurt and the Mets needed Nido to catch again.
🗓 NEXT UP: Cubs
⏭ The Mets welcome the surprising Cubs to town tonight to play four. They are currently 38-27, tied for first place in the NL Central with Milwaukee. They just completed a three-game sweep of the Cardinals at Wrigley, improving their home record to 24-10—second best to the Mets at 17-6. The North Siders are now 16-2 against the Cardinals (5-1), Padres (5-1), Dodgers (3-0) and Mets (3-0) this season. Chicago carries a five-game winning streak into Citi Field, during which its pitching staff has allowed nine total runs (five coming in one game).
🤼 MATCHUP: The Mets get another chance to see veteran right-hander Jake Arrieta (5-6, 4.97 ERA) tonight, after he held them to one run over 5 in April. Despite starting hot, the former Cy Young Award winner self-destructed to the tune of an 8.28 ERA over his last six starts, before holding the Padres to one run over five innings last week. He’ll face David Peterson (1-5, 6.32 ERA), who needs a good start, after several rough ones. Peterson’s spot in the rotation could be in trouble… but with the Mets set to play a punishing schedule leading up to the All-Star break, they may need to add starters, not subtract them.
📈 STANDINGS: With yesterday’s loss, the Mets fall to 32-25, and three games ahead of the second-place Phillies (32-31), who beat the hapless Yankees again.
🥴 PHEW: While Mets fans will understandably continue to hold their collective breath on the health of Jacob deGrom after he left Friday night’s incredible start with right flexor tendinitis, he is apparently still on track to pitch on Wednesday against the Cubs.
👍 "He gave me a thumbs-up earlier saying that everything is progressing the same with his in-between-starts routine," Rojas told reporters yesterday.
🍎 REHAB START: Jeff McNeil went 0-2 and played five innings at second base during his rehab start with High-A Brooklyn. If all goes well, he should be back with the Mets in a week. Meanwhile, Michael Conforto has started running and is supposedly a week behind McNeil.
🚶♂️ ONE STEP FORWARD: Right-hander Dellin Betances made his first rehab assignment with Low-A St. Lucie on Sunday, pitching a scoreless inning, while striking out two and walking one. His fastball reached 94 MPH.
⚾️ REMEMBER HIM? Early-season Cult hero Patrick Mazeika hit his first Triple-A home run and collected three hits on Sunday. He is now batting a respectable .282/.317/.436 with Syracuse.
🎟 METS TICKETS: Starting today (through Friday), the Mets are offering a 25% discount on tickets for all remaining home games (excluding the Subway Series). Enter the promo code "Dad" when checking out at Mets.com to activate the discount.
🧔♂️REID-FOLEY: Cult hero and effective long reliever Sean Reid-Foley could be returning, to spell the over-used bullpen. A source tells Anthony DiComo that the squatting biker lookalike has been asked to meet the team in Queens, suggesting he could be recalled from AAA.
📚 ON THIS DATE:
🎶 METS FIX SPECIAL: Walk-Up Songs!
Back by popular demand, here is an updated, refreshed list of walk-up songs for the Mets’ positional players. (Note: several players use different songs for different at-bats, so we picked the song that is played first in the game.)
⚾️ The Phillies beat the Yankees 7-0 to complete a weekend sweep that put them over .500 for the first time in a month.
⚾️ Carlos Rodón of the White Sox came close to becoming the first pitcher to complete multiple no-hitters in the same season since Max Scherzer in 2015. He lost his second no-hit bid in the seventh inning, on a one-out double to Eric Haase.
⚾️ Blue Jays LHP Steven Matz was placed on the COVID-related IL. Matz is 7-3 this season with a 4.26 ERA after beating the Red Sox on Saturday.
🔗 Mets ace Jacob deGrom is going where few have gone before. Can his body survive?, by Rustin Dodd, The Athletic ($): “Imagine for a moment an alternate universe, one where Jacob deGrom is not the best pitcher in the world; where he is not threatening to erase Bob Gibson from the record books; where his ERA through 10 starts (0.56) is not the lowest since earned runs became a stat in both leagues; where he is not the first pitcher since 1901 to strike out more than 100 hitters and allow 26 or fewer hits in any 10-game span; where his WHIP (0.53) is not the lowest by any pitcher through 10 games since the mound was placed 60 feet, 6 inches from the plate in 1893; where a joyous Friday night at Citi Field was not interrupted by the sound of three ominous words: right flexor tendinitis.”
🔗 Marcus Stroman showing Mets he's a keeper with impressive outings, by David Lennon, Newsday, “To recap, Stroman has now held the Padres to one earned run over 13 innings and struck out 15 over that span in beating them twice in a week. And as much as he demoralized the Padres, the closer-to-capacity crowd at Citi Field (25,463) danced right along with Stroman, with every shimmy, K-strut and mound hop. The self-styled Stroman considers himself a big-stage performer, and he’s lived up to that billing through the first 10 weeks of this season.”
🔗 Luis Rojas’ ‘tough’ day shades of infamous Mets moment, by Joel Sherman, NY Post: “Unfortunately for the Mets — even while winning this “series” four games to three over the Padres — the last of these encounters had commonality with Nov. 1, 2015: A Mets manager ignored an ominous walk and stuck with a pitcher too long. Eric Hosmer was on third base. Jeurys Familia was on the mound. And from that point it all went horribly wrong for the Mets.”
And we leave you with this glorious bat flip from top prospect Francisco Álvarez after his clutch home run on Saturday.
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