This past weekend the Mets lost two out of three to the division rival Nationals. The Nationals won game one of the series 5-2, thanks to some shaky defense by the Mets and a poor start by Jonathan Niese, which saw the Mets go down 5-0 after three innings. The Mets did make things interesting in the ninth, when Daniel Murphy hit a ball that Jayson Werth caught at the top of the wall for the final out of the game with the tying runs on base. The Mets took game two of the series on Saturday, thanks to a solid outing from Bartolo Colon (8 inn, 2 runs, 5 hits, 5 SO) and the return of Juan Lagares (2-4, HR, 3 RBI, and a HR saving catch) to the lineup. In the rubber game, Zach Wheeler continued to struggle on the mound, as the Nationals won game three of the series, 6-3, behind 4 RBIs from Met killer Wilson Ramos ( 7 HRs and 29 RBIs in 32 games against the Mets).
Here are some general thoughts from what I saw in this series from the Mets:
Terry Collins: For the most part, I have been a supporter of Terry Collins and how he has managed the Mets the last couple of seasons. This week, though, I do not understand what Collins is trying to do. First, he sits Lagares for 4 of the first 5 games of the week, then inserts him in the lineup and watches Lagares steal the show, only to say that Lagares may not play everyday. Then he states that Ruben Tejada really stepped his game up in the last week or so and will likely see the majority of the playing time at shortstop going forward over Wilmer Flores. Look, I get that Wilmer Flores is likely not an everyday shortstop in the major leagues, specifically on the defensive side. However, Tejada has been given enough of an opportunity to show what he can do, and he is not a starting shortstop in the major leagues. He made a costly error in Sunday’s game that cost the Mets two unearned runs and he can’t hit. He is batting .185 with a .309 OBP on the year, and he is 3 for his last 21 (.143) at the plate, though Collins says that he is swinging the bat really well. Terry, it is time to play Lagares everyday and let’s give Wilmer Flores the next ten games at shortstop and see if he can get in a rhythm at the plate and add a boost to the lineup.
Juan Lagares (Series: 3-8, HR, 4 RBI, 1 Run, 1 BB, and this amazing catch): I know I have mentioned him already, but after not starting the first game of the series, Lagares looked like one of the best players on the field. If he can keep hitting, he has the opportunity to become one of the more complete players in all of the National League. This weekend showed just a glimpse of that with the way he swung the bat and how he played defensively in centerfield.
Zach Wheeler (Series: 0-1, 6 IP, 5 R, 3 ER, 2 BB, 5 SO) Wheeler continued to struggle on the mound, as he was not able to command any of his off speed pitches. He did a decent job of fastball location, but when you can’t get much else over the plate, big league hitters will just sit on the fastball. I think Wheeler will figure it out, as most young pitches (minus Matt Harvey, Jose Fernandez, and a few others) go through growing pains. Hopefully this is just part of the process and Wheeler will figure it out soon.
Eric Young Jr. (Series: 1-13, 2B, RBI, BB, 3 SO) Terry Collins insists on playing Young Jr. everyday because when he gets on base, he scores runs. Well, that may be the case, but the problem is Young Jr. does not get on base enough. After his rough series against the Nationals, Young Jr. is hitting .221 with a .310 OBP. That is not going to cut it out of the leadoff spot. It is time to start platooning him with Chris Young, getting both players 3-4 starts a week, and riding whoever gets hot.
The Little Things: The Mets really struggled playing defense and made mistakes on the base paths this weekend in D.C. On Friday, Eric Young Jr. missed a cutoff man allowing two runners to move up an extra base. In the same inning, the Mets were not able to turn a potential inning ending double play, which allowed another run to score. On Sunday, Murphy was caught too far off of third base, killing a potential rally. Reuben Tejada messed up a back hand, allowing two runs to later score when the inning should have been over, and Juan Centeno was thrown out at second trying to advance on a throw while also struggling behind the plate. If the Mets are going to win games, they have to do the little things because they do not have the ability to make up for mistakes by hitting the three run home run.
All in all, it was a disappointing weekend for the Mets. After taking the first two from the Yankees in the beginning of the week, it looked like the Mets were about to go on one of those streaks, winning 8 out 10 or 9 out 12. Instead, reality struck hard when they returned to Citi Field and didn’t scores run in the final two games against the Yanks. Then, with an opportunity to win a series against a Nationals team who has owned the Mets (going into the series, they had won eight in a row), they were unable to do so thanks to some costly mistakes. When the Nationals are without three of their best bats in Harper, Zimmerman, and LaRoche, and you miss Strasburg’s turn in the rotation, you have to win the series if you are going to compete in the division. The Mets showed that they are just not ready to be a serious contender to the likes of the Nationals and Braves in the National League East.
Looking Ahead: The Mets have the day off on today. After today, the Mets play 20 straight days, including the next nine at home against the Dodgers, Diamondbacks, and Pirates before heading out on the road. The first three of the nine games at home will be against the Dodgers, a team that is not quite living up to their large payroll and expectations, but is still a very talented team. With the likes of Puig, Kemp, Ramirez, Gonzalez, Greinke, and Eithier, it will be a tough test for the Mets.
Pitching Match-Ups vs. Dodgers
NYM Montero (0-1, 4.50) vs. LAD Beckett (1-1, 2.38)
NYM deGrom (0-1, 1.29) vs. LAD Ryu (3-2, 3.00)
NYM Niese (2-3, 2.54) vs. LAD Greinke (7-1, 2.03)