We all want to see starting pitchers for the Mets go deep into games. It’s my opinion that when you’re not a slave to pitch counts, that you can get more from starters. Friday night was a great illustration of this, as Buck Showalter let Justin Verlander, who was pitching well, go another inning. But Saturday afternoon showed the flip side of this strategy.

Tylor Megill was very lucky with all of the baserunners he allowed not to have given up a run thru five innings and 92 pitches. Where Verlander had been mostly good on Friday, Megill had been more than a little lucky. Showalter sent him out for the sixth inning and he gave up a double and a walk to the first two batters he faced. After getting an out, Showalter brought on Brooks Raley, as a lefty was due up.

But here’s the thing – a lefty was due up first in the inning. And Megill gave up a double to him. If Showalter had gone to Raley to start the inning, rather than bringing him on with two runners on base, perhaps the Blue Jays don’t score the tying run. Relievers pitch better with clean innings and Showalter missed an opportunity to give Raley a clean inning because he was trying to nurse his starter thru another inning, despite the starter not pitching particularly well.

And Showalter did that because he essentially has faith in only four of the eight relievers on the team. After a good start, Jeff Brigham has allowed 5 ER in his last 7.1 IP. Tommy Hunter has a 6.00 ERA and four times has given up multiple runs in an outing. Dominic Leone has given up runs in four of his 11 appearances. In his last seven games, Stephen Nogosek has allowed 13 runs in 12.1 IP. It’s tough to blame Showalter for not having faith in that quartet.

This falls directly on Billy Eppler, who spent the offseason hoarding relievers with options, rather than relievers with talent. Absolutely, the injury to Edwin Diaz has been a big factor. But if the Mets didn’t essentially punt three reliever spots in the offseason before Diaz got hurt, they’d be in a better spot today with their bullpen. Eppler’s bullpen strategy has backfired the last two years and the Mets seriously need to reevaluate how they assemble their pen for next offseason.

DAY AFTER DAY – A buddy of mine in high school had perfect attendance, something of which he was very proud. It seemed a big deal over nothing to me. Buck Showalter likes playing his stars every day, which seems less than ideal to me. Pete Alonso, Francisco Lindor and Jeff McNeil have played all 59 games and Brandon Nimmo has played 58. Alonso and Lindor seem to be running on fumes and could use a day off.

From 2006-2008, the Mets got great health from Carlos Beltran, Carlos Delgado, Jose Reyes and David Wright. That quartet played in 1,833 out of 1,944 games, which meant they were on the field 94.3% of the time. All four spent time on the then-called DL in 2009, with only Wright playing more than half the season. Delgado was done after a 2010 injury and the other three battled injuries the rest of their careers. Let’s hope Showalter’s iron men fare better than the stars from 15 years ago did.

SCHERZER SHOWS HE’S STILL GOT IT – In his last season before joining the Mets, Max Scherzer was dealt mid-season to the Dodgers. In 11 games with Los Angeles, he was 7-0 with a 1.98 ERA. Scherzer had an 11-game stretch for the Mets last year where he was 4-2 with a 1.63 ERA. And it appears he is on his way to another extended stretch of great pitching. In his last four games, Scherzer is 3-0 with a 1.08 ERA and the Mets have won all four games he’s started. He may not be able to blow people away like he did when he was younger. But Scherzer has 28 Ks in 25 IP with a 7.0 K/BB ratio and he has a terrific 0.800 WHIP in that span.

WHAT’S THE CATCH? – The Mets are going to have to decide if they’re going to buck conventional wisdom and carry three catchers once Omar Narvaez is activated, which should happen in a matter of days. My take is that three catchers is a good thing to have in general. But does it make sense for the 2023 Mets? Can this team, which is struggling to score runs outside of Colorado, really carry Tomas Nido and his .278 OPS? What’s the benefit? Typically, one of the advantages of carrying three catchers is it lets you use a catcher as a pinch-hitter, or pinch-hit for the catcher, in spots where you normally wouldn’t. But you wouldn’t use Nido to pinch-hit and with Francisco Alvarez around, you’re typically not pinch-hitting for him.

My expectation is that the Mets will indeed carry a third catcher, at least for a little bit. When Narvaez is activated, they can send Mark Vientos back to Triple-A. Nido is out of options and the club believes it would lose him if they tried to pass him thru waivers. That’s probably true. Still, the question remains if losing Nido is a bad thing. Nobody in the history of the game has been so good defensively to make up for a (-21) OPS+.

RUN FOR YOUR LIFE IF YOU CAN – For years, I’ve made fun of Mets fans who called for the team to use or trade for speed guys. It brings a smile to my face recalling put downs made for Eric Young Jr. and Mallex Smith. So, it’s a weird position for me to suggest that the 2023 Mets should run more. No, they don’t need to trade for anyone to accomplish this. They just need to be more aggressive with the players they already have.

As a team, the Mets have swiped 42 bases and have only been caught six times, for an 87.5% success rate. There’s no one “break-even” point for stolen bases for all situations. But if there was one, it wouldn’t be this high. The Mets only have one true base stealer with Starling Marte and he has 17 steals in 20 attempts. He could run more – assuming he gets on base – but so, too, could McNeil and Nimmo. Shoot, Alonso stole a base Saturday. The new rules make stolen bases easier and there’s no reason the Mets shouldn’t look to be more aggressive here.

15 comments on “Relievers force Buck Showalter to push starters, days off for Alonso and Lindor, the incredible Max Scherzer

  • BoomBoom

    All the relievers in the world aren’t going to help if this offense can’t score more than 1 or 2 runs a night. Boy when this team slumps it’s a full collective implosion.

  • MikeW

    Even with Diaz, I was not happy with the makeup of the bullpen. To win a championship, you need a lot more than three or four decent relievers.

    • Metsense

      Narvaez should replace Nido and risk losing him. Maybe some team will take him on waivers and pay his salary like the Giants did for Sanchez. The Mets have an experienced catcher in Perez in AAA and he hits just like Nido.
      Every player should should get a off day once a week. No one should seven days a week. It is physically and emotionally draining. The baseball schedule has build in days off. There are 9x when a team plays more than seven days without a day off. So 153 games should be the 153 games for a player starting.

  • T.J.

    The pen is on Eppler, Diaz injury or not. That said he needs to get kudos for Robertson and Raley, at least so far. I am not one for dealing prospects for pen arms, but the online chatter about a trade centered around Parada for the Reds’ Diaz and those years of control is very intriguing if possible.

    Nido is a home grown player and seems to be a great guy that teammates and pitchers like, but he has to be the odd man out now, especially given that Alvarez is defensively capable at a minimum and here to stay barring something extraordinary. The Mets cannot afford his bat in any way shape or form.

    Lack of rest is on Buck. Last year, the Mets, and especially their top players, looked very tired the final week and in the wild card series. He gave Nimmo from off fielding inexplicably in Colorado yet runs Lindor and Alonso into the ground. This is Terry Collins-like. Is he that worried about the team at this point?

    • Brian Joura

      I agree with your 2nd and 3rd graphs.

      My thought is the bullpen needs at least one and likely two new arms. But they don’t need to be at the top of the pecking order. The Mets need relievers that Showalter feels confident using in the sixth and seventh innings of close games, like Mychal Givens last year. Givens had the misfortune of hitting his “every reliever has at least one” rough streak right after being acquired. But in his last 12 outings he had a 1.23 ERA with a 1.159 WHIP. I’m not opposed to trading Parada but I don’t like trading top prospects for relievers and we should be able to get the arms the club needs while still holding onto the team’s top 10 prospect like they did a year ago.

  • Name

    I’ll disagree about the iron men being tired. With games being 30 mins shorter this year, one would expect it to be much less taxing to play everyday than in years past. That’s on average about 15 mins less of standing out in the field per day, plus less time standing on bases as a baserunner, the time saved on feet is probably near 20% compared to the past prior years.
    15 mins x 162 games is about 40 hours, or about 32 games. So playing all 162 games this year is nearly the equivalent playing in 130 last year.

    • Brian Joura

      I appreciate the math that went into this but I’m not sure the need for an off day can be calculated by the time on the field alone.

      • Name

        If Alonso and lindor can play 160 pre 2023 then to suggest that playing everyday in today’s game is ‘tiring’ or running on fumes is just conjecture to me.

        You might make a case for McNeil or Nimmo who don’t have that history, but if Buck is wanting to push them, then this would be the ideal year to do it.

        • Brian Joura

          You’re doubling down on your theory without any additional evidence.

          You’ve done nothing to show that the reason players get tired is exclusively because of physical issues and not mental issues.
          Additionally, you’re claiming all of the physical issues is time spent during the game on the field and not what they actually do in the game besides standing or what they do in preparation for playing and probably other things that I’m not even thinking of this second.

          A manager can get a reliever up multiple times during a game and finally bring him in after throwing 60 pitches warming up. He may only throw 7 pitches in the game but that doesn’t mean he’s ready to pitch the next two games, too.

          • Name

            And what evidence do you have to support the claim that the players are tired? And at what level would you not consider them ‘tired’? One game off every 10 games, 20 games or 30 games???

            Frankly no one can know unless the players are asked, and even then you don’t know of they are lying. And if you’re bringing the mental aspect of it into question, well there’s no way at all to measure that.

            I don’t know why you wouldn’t just operate under the assumption that if they’re out there, they can handle it as it’s impossible to measure if days off help or hurt a players performance.

            But I can objectively say that the effort required this year is significantly less than in prior year, and a reasonable causation is that they are less tired and it’s easier to play everyday

            • Brian Joura

              My opinion that Lindor and others need time off is the quality of their ABs. Lindor is 3-32 with 10 Ks – he’s never had an 8-game stretch this bad since joining the Mets, not even in the first 7 weeks of 2021 when he was in the running for worst player in the game. You can say that’s random luck. I’m saying when a player of his skill level performs this poorly then something is up.

              In your second graph, you say, “no one can know.” And there we agree.

              Why don’t I operate under the assumption that if they’re out there they can handle it? Because of the macho nature of professional athletes, who are taught an early age that they’re special and that if they can walk, they can play.

              As for effort – you’re again assuming that all fatigue is physical and that the only effort that matters is the actual minutes spent between the white lines while the game’s being played. Unless you bring something new to the table, there’s no point continuing this because I find your conjecture unconvincing.

              • Name

                I feel like we’re talking about two different topics because my original comment was about the physical aspect of the game, not the mental part of the game. Of course the mental part of the game has nothing to do with how long the games are.

                Alonso and Nimmo aren’t having problems with the mental side and with the shorter games should be fine physically so i see no reason why you are lumping them with Lindor as “running on fumes”.

            • Brian Joura

              Purely anecdotal but noteworthy

              “Meanwhile, Lindor wants to keep playing through the struggles. He said that because of the pace of games, he expects to be more tired after this season than any other.”


              • Name

                If Lindor is saying this, then Buck needs to take notice and starting subbing him out of the lineup.

                But this may only be a Lindor-only problem, and the other guys aren’t affect by the pace of play, then there’s no reason why they can’t continue to be iron men and play everyday.

  • Metsense

    The middle inning relief corp of Brigham, Leone, Hunter and Nogosek aren’t reliable in a one run game or a tie game. They do miss Trevor Williams. When Quintana is ready, then Megill could take the role of long reliever. Before the trading deadline, they should obtain two relief pitchers equal or better than Drew Smith. That should have been done by Epler in the past off season.

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