Most of us know better than to judge pitchers by their win totals. At the same time, we want to see pitchers, especially starters, get rewarded if they pitch well with the W. That’s what made Jacob deGrom’s season last year frustrating. It was the best pitching performance by a Mets hurler in a generation but it wasn’t until very late in the year when he clinched a winning record.

In 23 of his 32 starts last year, deGrom allowed two runs or fewer, with 18 of those being zero or one run. And he picked up right where he left off last year in his first game of 2019, as he did not allow a run. But this dominant pitching isn’t new. Instead, it’s a continuation of what he’s done since making the majors in 2014. Here are his year by year numbers in runs allowed:

Year Games 0 R 1 R 2 R
2014 22 5 5 3
2015 30 9 5 8
2016 24 4 7 3
2017 31 3 8 5
2018 32 8 10 5
2019 1 1 0 0
Totals 140 30 35 24

It’s hard to say which one is more impressive. In 21% of his career starts, deGrom has not allowed a run. In 46% of his games he’s allowed no more than one run. And in 64% of his appearances, he’s allowed two runs or fewer. And this isn’t the deadball 1960s. The NL has averaged 4.33 runs per game in deGrom’s career.

That’s a total of 89 games in his career where deGrom has allowed two runs or fewer. How many of those should he have won? Then you figure he should have won a decent amount of games where he allowed three runs and a handful of games where he gave up four or more. Max Scherzer has a 2.79 ERA since deGrom’s rookie season of 2014 and he’s won 86 of his 165 starts or 52% of the time. Meanwhile, deGrom has a lifetime ERA of 2.65 and has won 56 of his 140 starts or 40% of the time. If deGrom amassed wins at Scherzer’s rate, he’d have 73 wins or 17 more than he actually does.

MUSINGS AROUND MICKEY’S MOVES – After Opening Day, there was a huge story over at MetsBlog, praising Mickey Callaway for the moves he made. That was far from the only place as, among others, he received props in the comments section on our Gut Reaction. And without a doubt, he had a better day in the dugout than his counterpart, Dave Martinez. But if it’s newsworthy to congratulate Callaway for his performance when he does well, shouldn’t it stand to reason that he should be at least questioned when his moves are less than stellar?

In a tie game in the seventh inning, he brought in Justin Wilson, who’s either his fourth or fifth-best reliever, depending on how you feel about Robert Gsellman. Wilson was great, so if you’re an “end justifies the means” kind of guy, you give him high marks. But if you’re a process guy, it has to at least make you go hmmm. Then with a four-run lead, he brings in Jeurys Familia, who’s likely his second-best reliever. An error put Familia in trouble so Callaway went to the pen to bring in Seth Lugo. Martinez put up his best pinch-hitter, lefty Matt Adams, who proceeded to hit the first pitch to the wall. The move to go to the lefty hitter was somewhat predictable. Shouldn’t lefty specialist Luis Avilan been ready to come into the game?

Then in the ninth the Mets extended their lead to seven runs. It was the perfect situation to get low leverage reliever Tim Peterson into the game. Instead, Lugo was sent out for the ninth in a move that felt like it was designed to get him a cheap save. The Mets’ defense let Lugo down and with good fielding he would have closed out the game with a DP and a strikeout. But they didn’t get the DP and Lugo was left in the game to throw 40 pitches before he was finally yanked. And he wasn’t removed until it was another save situation. Now Lugo won’t be available for Sunday and both Familia and Edwin Diaz have appeared in both games. It’s hard to look at this and say it was a good game for Callaway.

UPCOMING INJURY-RELATED TRANSACTIONS – With both Todd Frazier and Jed Lowrie beginning the year on the Injury List, both Pete Alonso and Dominic Smith started the year in the majors, which is something few saw happening when Spring Training began. Frazier seems to be ahead of Lowrie in his recovery and will likely be back after he gets to play a few minor league rehab games. The question becomes who goes once Frazier returns. We know it won’t be Alonso. And Smith seems to have Callaway’s trust as a late inning defensive replacement, having done that in both of the games so far this season. The other candidates would be J.D. Davis and Luis Guillorme. The latter figures to be safe until Lowrie returns. Will the Mets value Davis’ ability to play both 1B and 3B or will that be redundant once Frazier returns? And will Frazier also make Smith less valuable than Guillorme once Lowrie returns? It will be curious to see how the Mets play this.

HERE’S TO YOU MR. ROBINSON, WITHIN REASON – The hitting star of the opening game was Robinson Cano, who gave the Mets the early lead with a first inning homer and who also drove in the game’s only other run with an opposite field single against a lefty specialist. He also participated in a key defensive play, making a throw home to nail a baserunner who made a poor decision to try to score. The throw home was one that most other competent MLB second baseman would have made. But to hear people talk about it, you’d think that Cano came up with a cure for cancer. It was his unique veteran experience which allowed him to make this awesome play and just another example of what a great leader he is.

Cano deserves all the credit for his hitting exploits in the game. But it’s embarrassing to watch people trip all over themselves to praise him for anything remotely positive that he does. It’s reminiscent of how the fans and media treated Richie Hebner in the first half of 1979 in an effort to convince Hebner that New York wasn’t such a bad place to be. Cano wants to be here; let’s treat him accordingly.

IN PRAISE OF AN EX MANAGERDusty Baker is rarely thought of as one of the best managers in recent history but you’ll forgive me if that’s where he rates in my mind. He’s taken four different franchises to the playoffs and in 22 years leading teams, he’s amassed an 1863-1636 record for a .532 winning percentage. Over a lengthy MLB managerial career, Baker averages 86 wins a season. He won 90 or more games in five of his last six years on the bench but wasn’t brought back by two different clubs. The Reds went from 90 wins in Baker’s last season to 76 without him while the Nationals went from 97 wins in Baker’s last year to 82 wins without him.

Since 2010, Baker has a 41-24 record against the Mets. The year before he arrived in Cincinnati, the Reds went 2-5 against the Mets. The year after Baker left, Cincinnati won just two of six games against New York. It was more of the same in Washington. The Mets went 11-8 against the Nats the year before Baker took over and again won 11 of 19 games after Baker was replaced. But the two years Baker was in DC, his squad went 25-13 against the Mets. With two wins this season, the Mets have now won seven of their last nine games against the Nationals, something that would have been unthinkable if Baker was still running things there. As a Mets fan, thanks for running him out of town, Washington.

15 comments on “The incredible Jacob deGrom, Mickey Callaway’s moves, what’s missing in DC

  • David Klein

    Had no issue with going with Wilson is the seventh he’s better than Gsellman and others and I thought it was the right decision as he’s at worst the teams fourth best reliever. I thought pulling Familia was a weird decision but the worst one was sending Lugo back out there and in the ninth and having a guy with a bad elbow throw 40 pitches in an inning, which was insanity. Mickey is not Jerry Manuel or Terry Collins level dumb but he’s still dumb nonetheless. I will give him credit for hitting Alonso second though.

  • LongTimeFan1

    Absolute lunacy how Callaway utilized Lugo – bordering on abuse this early in the season and especially with a pitcher who has elbow ligament tear. It’s like Callaway had a plan to use Lugo in 8th and 9th and wasn’t going to deviate unless hell froze over.

    After 40-something pitches he had to pull him but leaving him in when he was obviously fatigued and ineffective was some of the worst decision-making I’ve ever seen.

    Worse yet, either Eiland and/or Riggleman approved – or not – and we don’t know and probably won’t what they thought or the feedback they gave Callaway while Lugo pitched.

  • Pete from NJ

    Callaway’s past career as a pitching coach is puzzling. He should know better. Can we have a tired and overused bullpen in April?

    I liked your Dusty Baker view. If I recall correctly, he got fired for not advancing the Nationals further in the playoffs. “Thanks Washington.”

    I also have been mulling the roster moves when the two injured players return. Guillorme, certainly moves to AAA, but I see Dom Smith joining him. Am I wrong to say the team is stronger with Smith/Guillorme as opposed to Lowerie/Frazier?

    • Bugsy

      Dusty Baker has often been criticized for his in game strategy, which is always an easy target and which is usually done by people who don’t have the same information , knowledge or experience that the manager has.
      The bottom line with dusty is that despite his many apparent mistakes in the post season (including against the mets when he managed SF)
      He has had winners everywhere he’s gone, and usually done better than both his predecessors and successors.

      The nationals had matt williams, a disaster, before dusty, and now have dave martinez, who seems to be in way over his head.

    • Brian Joura

      I don’t think either move is an obvious one. If I was making the call, I’d send Davis out when Frazier returned because I value having a backup SS on the roster. But you can make a case that Davis’ ability to provide the longball off the bench has more value than a guy who you hope plays once a month.

  • TJ

    Agree on the Lugo usage. Way too many pitches, no excuse for that.

    Rearding Dusty Baker, all he does is win. As a Met fan, I was very unhappy when the Nats hired him, and very relieved (but perplexed) when they let him go after two division championships.

  • NYM6986

    Good observations. You are spot on about Cano and him throwing home to accomplish the double play. So many are making this out to be extraordinary when in fact a seasoned player would already have that option in his mind before the pitch was thrown. If Robles breaks for home immediately they don’t get him and Cano knew he could not throw to first to complete the DP that way. Chalk this all up to the type of player we got. Nice to see small ball in play today with no HRs. It vastly increases our chance of winning games.
    Looking forward to Frazure’s return as he is a stronger player than Davis. Prob Guiilome goes when Lowrie returns. Both are much stronger bench players then what will be leaving and who in their right mind would take McNeil or Alonso off the field even after just two games. Going for the sweep with Wheels. One game at a time!

  • Chris F

    Agree on Baker. Completely. He’s a winner. But given that he’s a pure “feel” guy, Im surprised in your assessment!

    As for Cano. Weve seem many a met in recent years where that would have been an epic fail. Throw over the catcher. try to double off and throw wildly to 1B, bobble the throw to 2B and get no one. Was it the best play of all times? No. But thats exactly the kind of play we hadn’t made in years on an instinctive basis. You might label that as a move competent players make, but it shows you how long we have been incompetent. I like the notion we can expect such plays to be made. This has been one the worst defensive teams in baseball for many years, and it killed us in key situations. It would be nice if that was a thing in the past.

    Oh Mickey you’re so fine, you’re so fine, you blow my mind, hey Mickey! Im gonna try to armchair quarterback the bull pen less this year. We always look at things from the face value of the game, with just a few percentage of inside team knowledge. The moves looked deliberate. Unusual from our “outsiders” perspective for sure. I think “The Mick” will have a much better season.

    • Brian Joura

      “Feel” is like “sense of humor.” Everyone thinks they have a good one but it’s a whole lot rarer than that. Baker wouldn’t be my first choice to manage a team but you’d be a fool not to notice how good teams follow him around

      Since 2010, three guys have played at least 1,000 innings at 2B for the Mets – Murphy, Walker and Cabrera. I bet all three of those make the throw home. Maybe Murphy’s throw sails over the catcher’s head but Walker and Cabrera both had good arms and I’d wager they’d make the play.

  • Metsense

    I agree with Chris F on the Cano assessment. Spot on.
    Lugo should have entered in the 7th of a tied game with the expectation to pitch the 8th also (he would have been batting 5th in the 8th but the Mets rallied so he would have been pinched hit).In the 8th,with a four run, non-hold situation, there should have been a second tier reliever ,like Wilson, in the game not a first tier reliever, like Familia.
    If Frazier comes back first I would send JD Davis down if he has options. (?) If not then send Guillorme down.
    Baker was a strong personality and probably rubbed the front offices the wrong way (similar to Davey Johnson).
    First Series win and I’m getting greedy hoping for a sweep.

    • Brian Joura

      Yeah, I think Lugo in the 7th, Wilson in the 8th once the lead went to four runs and Peterson in the ninth with a seven-run lead would have been the way to go.

  • José

    I’m really surprised that such a savvy group of enthusiasts still buy into the “he’s a winner” paradigm.

    I assert that the Dustman has been lucky in the teams with which he has been provided. He endlessly displayed the fatal flaw of utilizing players with mediocre OBPs is the critical first and second positions in the lineup. And I see no evidence of above average managerial choices at the high leverage points of the game.

    Bottom line is the Duster is undeniably one of the old-school dinosaur managers who couldn’t adapt to the modern metric-driven form of baseball. And I can fall back on the “old-school” claim that his inability to win the top prize demonstrates that he wasn’t that good.

    What I’d like to see an objective analysis which takes into account the quality of teams with which he’s been provided. Until then, it’s just old-school conjecture

    • David Klein

      Agree 100% Jose great post.

      • Chris F

        Objective:

        He’s taken four different franchises to the playoffs and in 22 years leading teams, he’s amassed an 1863-1636 record for a .532 winning percentage. Over a lengthy MLB managerial career, Baker averages 86 wins a season. He won 90 or more games in five of his last six years on the bench but wasn’t brought back by two different clubs. The Reds went from 90 wins in Baker’s last season to 76 without him while the Nationals went from 97 wins in Baker’s last year to 82 wins without him.

        He’s forgotten more baseball than the collective wisdom of every page of Fangraphs and BBref combined.

        • TexasGusCC

          ^

          I think we need to give props when due, and we should stop finding reasons to poo poo good accomplishments. This goes for Cano as well. If Robles breaks for the plate, McNeil may throw home as he looked Robles back. Props to Cano for being heads up and monitoring the situation and taking the easier out rather than throwing to first to complete a risky DP to get out of the inning. So, he takes the more sure out of a rookie making a baserunning mistake. Why is that so shrugged off? Do we know that other second basemen wouldn’t try to turn the DP as is textbook to get out of the inning, rather than abandon conventional wisdom and throw to the plate? Was it a great play? No. Was it a heady play? Definitely. I agree with Chris, we need more thinkers like a Cano on the field.

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