It’s always tough to lose but the way the Mets have been defeated the past two nights approaches soul-crushing territory. Two nights ago it was lose the lead in the ninth, take the lead in the 15th and lose the game in the bottom of the inning. Last night it was take a shutout into the ninth and then give up two runs to lose the game. To the woeful Marlins, who were playing without their only star.
Monday night’s game especially drove home a point I had been thinking about recently. It seems to me on a gut level that the Mets have done an okay job against a team’s starting pitcher but were producing horribly once they got into the other team’s bullpen. That night the Mets scored two runs in four innings against the starter and one run in 11 innings against the relievers
This is not an easy thing to look up, as Baseball-Reference seemingly did not have this split on a team-wide level. What they do have are team-wide splits for times facing an opponent in a game. So far in 2013, the NL average the first time facing a SP is a .705 OPS. The second time is a .706 OPS and the third time is a .736 OPS. In 2012, those numbers were .694, .732 and .777, respectively.
So far in 2013, the Mets are 8th in the NL in OPS against a SP the first time they face him. The second time through they jump up to sixth and the third time, their .877 OPS against a SP is the third-best mark in the league.
However, against relief pitchers, it’s a different story. The first time batting against a reliever, the Mets’ OPS drops to .651 – 10th in the league and 28 points behind the ninth-place squad. And if a relief pitcher stays in to face the Mets a second time, the team OPS drops to .423, the 11th-worst mark in the loop.
Here are their splits in this overall category:
Versus SP – .255/.329/.406
Versus RP — .199/.279/.361
Three players for the Mets are performing well against relievers – David Wright (.829 OPS), Lucas Duda (.862 OPS) and Daniel Murphy (.920 OPS). Every other player with more than 1 AB has a .669 or lower OPS.
John Buck and Ruben Tejada have the most PA against relievers (38) and their OPS numbers are .644 and .587, respectively. Next up is Ike Davis with 37 PA and a .556 OPS. On the plus side, Davis is drawing walks and hitting for power but he has just 4 H in 32 ABs.
With two of those hits as HR, Davis has a microscopic .133 BABIP against relievers. The knee-jerk reaction is to say that there’s no way he can continue to be that unlucky and that he’s due for regression. But it’s likely that the majority of the relievers that Davis is facing are LHP with big breaking balls that Davis chases out of the zone. In limited action against southpaws this year, Davis has a .394 OPS. Until he changes his approach, it seems optimistic to expect much better results.
So, the data confirms the gut – the Mets are struggling against opponents’ bullpens. Their isolated OBP and SLG numbers are okay; it’s just that they can’t hit. Without doing more digging – specifically to find out how much of this is due to the platoon advantage – it’s hard to say how much of this is bad luck that is due for regression. In the meantime, we just have to hope that today’s the day the Mets feast on another team’s bullpen.