Mets Sunday Brunch 4/16/17: You Gotta Protect The Pitchers, but Where is the Offense When You Need It?

By Paul DiSclafani

When Steve Carlton, all those many years ago, struck out 19 Mets and lost a game, the natural first question would be – How?  You would think that if you could get 19 of 27 outs without anyone putting the ball in play for those AB’s, that would be a formula for success, right?

Sprinkled in between those 19 K’s were nine hits and four walks, and the Mets cobbled together a 4-3 win.  Did I mention that Ron Swoboda hit two, two-run home runs?

Last night, Jacob deGrom tied a career high 13 strikeouts in his seven innings of work against the Marlins, leaving the bullpen to protect a 4-2 Mets lead.  DeGrom‘s only transgressions were the back-to-back solo home runs he allowed in the second inning to Justin Bour and Marcel Ozuma.

In three starts this year, deGrom has three no-decisions to go with a 1.89 ERA.

For the second consecutive night, the bullpen was not up to the task.  Fernando Salas, who has now appeared in eight of the Mets first 11 games hadn’t allowed a run in his previous seven appearances, including pitching two innings in the Mets crazy 9-8, 16-inning win on Thursday.  He allowed back-to-back home runs, turning an impressive performance by deGrom into just a footnote as the Marlins turned those four home runs into a 5-4 win.  Christian Yelich hit a 2-run home run after Salas issued a 2-out walk to Miguel Rojas to tie the game and then Giancarlo Stanton hit a moonshot on a 3-2 pitch to give the Marlins the lead, 5-4.

Who do you want to blame, Salas?  I bet you weren’t complaining when he got the first two outs of the inning.  Should we blame manager Terry Collins for going to Salas again?  Should we blame Collins for not letting deGrom come out for the eighth inning?  How about the Mets hitters?

In the first inning, after taking a 1-0 lead on Neil Walker’s RBI double, the Mets had runners on second and third against Adam Conley, then Granderson jumped on the first pitch for a line drive out that ended the inning.  The Mets didn’t get another hit until the seventh inning, when Walker reached on a bunt single.

The night before, a 3-2 loss in the ninth inning against reliever Josh Edgins, wasted another good effort by Noah Syndergaard.  Why Edgin in the ninth inning of a tied game is a question for another night.  It was the offensive effort that failed in this game too.

In the second inning, down a run 1-0, the Mets loaded the bases against Edison Volquez with two outs on consecutive walks to Jose Reyes, batting seventh and Noah Syndergaard, batting eighth.  That brought up Rene Rivera, who got ahead 2-0 an inexplicitly swung at the next pitch, ending the inning with a fly out.

The next inning, still trailing 1-0, the Mets loaded the bases against Volquez again, this time with only one out on two walks and a hit.  That brought up Michael Conforto who watched two of the first three pitches from Volquez bounce in the dirt, getting ahead in the count 3-0.  When asked by Gary Cohen if he would give Conforto the hit sign, Keith Hernandez said, “Absolutely, Volquez is all over the place.”

Conforto then reached for an outside fastball and hit a fly ball to Center that tied the game 1-1. But effectively snuffed out a big inning as Wilmer Flores, after getting ahead 2-0, grounded weakly back to the pitcher.

Here’s my two cents:

It’s 11 games into the season, there are still 151 games to go.  I understand that a win in April is just as important as a win in September.  But pitching is way more fragile than hitting and a win in September to get you over .500 doesn’t mean anything in a Division like this unless you want to fight for a one-game Wild-Card playoff all year.  Of course, when you miss the playoffs by two or three games, these are the games you look back on and lament.

This team has an offensive problem and a fielding problem.  They are not built for manufacturing runs.  There is no speed on the bases and no creativity.  Only bombs and more bombs.

I would describe their outfield as “plodding” to say the least.  And do we really need five outfielders?  The Mets dressed just 11 bench players and one of them was a second catcher.

Because they must protect those surgically repaired arms, they need to bring them along slowly and therefore, the bullpen is going to get a lot or work.  A lot of bullpen work means a lot of pitchers in the bullpen, meaning not a lot of bats left on the bench.

Maybe at this point, if we can’t get our starters into the seventh inning, we should be protecting our bullpen arms and not using everyone every night?  Can’t we find someone who can finish an entire inning or two out of the bullpen?  Maybe early April games shouldn’t be used for one batter match-ups?

Your offense is what it is at this point.  There is no help on the horizon.  Therefore, they need to better manage their bullpen or this is going to be a very long season.

THIS AND THAT

Do we need to worry about Syndergaard’s fingers?  Blisters first, and now broken fingernails? … Quirky schedule has the Mets playing only the NL East the first 24 games, including the Washington Nationals six times.  The Nats come to Citi Field this weekend.  B then, the Mets (7-5) will have played 16 games against the three teams that are supposed to be the bottom feeders of the Division:  The Phillies, Braves and Marlins.  Except those teams have won five of their 12 games against the Mets so far … A quick look at the standings show the Mets at 7-5 and only three other teams with eight wins.  The “worst” team in the league is the St. Louis Cardinals, who at 3-8 trail the Division leading Cincinnati Reds (8-4) by 4.5 games.  How long is that going to last? … Mets starters deGrom (0-0), Syndergaard (1-0) and Matt Harvey (2-0) have made eight starts and had five no-decisions.  They have allowed a combined 10 earned runs in 50 innings.  That is going to get awful annoying as the season goes along…

Paul DiSclafani is a featured writer on “A View From The Bench”, which has been recognized by Major League baseball as one of the top 100 blog sites.

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