Aftermath: Game #29 - Mets vs Diamondbacks

If this was supposed to be a statement series for the Mets, then I guess the Mets are saying, "We're good enough to hang with the best pitchers on the best team in the league. And our bullpen is kinda iffy." We'll talk about the former first because I like to get the good news out of the way before before turning my attention to the morosity.

By almost any measure, the Diamondbacks are the best team in the National League right now. They have the best run differential by far, a terrific starting rotation (that's about to add Max Scherzer to its ranks tomorrow), an incredible core of young position players, and a surprisingly effective bullpen. Their skipper won manager of the year last season, they have a progressive young general manager, and they have all of the pieces in place to remain a National League stalwart for the foreseeable future. The Mets had plenty of question marks heading into this series, but they came in and played two-and-a-half very good games and managed to come away with a series victory.

They roughed up a hobbled Micah Owings on Friday and had Johan Santana going for them against Dan Haren on Sunday, winning the bookends against two pretty tough pitchers. They even managed to keep themselves in the game against Brandon Webb on Saturday before Duaner Sanchez's meltdown put things out of reach. Ironically, the worst thing to happen to the Mets this weekend may have been the injury to Orlando Hudson, whose absence opened the door for Augie Ojeda's six-RBI game in Arizon's only win. Mind you, this is the same Augie Ojeda who had 45 RBIs in his 582 career plate appearances prior to Saturday.

As for the bullpen, despite a team reliever ERA of 3.56 (5th in the NL), the relief corps is not without its share of problems. Billy Wagner has been ridiculously good, and has turned out to be a remarkable free agent signing despite his mysterious and quite possibly dubious injury problems at the end of last season. Other than Wagner, there's very little dependability in the 'pen. Their overall performance has been pretty good, and Pedro Feliciano has been good in astonishingly limited action, but there's nobody else out there that I have tremendous confidence in right now.

Aaron Heilman has a very strong track record, but he looked feeble and peckish through the first five weeks of the season. Scott Schoeneweis has been surprisingly effective, but hasn't even thrown ten innings this season. Joe Smith has been pretty good, too, but has lately been prone to spurts of dominance punctuated by fits of crappiness. Sanchez had been good until his barf-worthy outing this weekend, and Jorge Sosa, team leader in wins with four, is, well, Jorge Sosa.

I guess morose was a little heavy-handed. There are definitely some nice pieces there to complement Wagner, but the lynchpin has to be Heilman. I still don't know what to expect out of Sanchez in the long-term; aside from his recent outing he has shown solid control and very nice break on his off-speed pitches. His fastball has been in the high-eighties for the most part, but with a little conditioning he should be able to keep it in the low-nineties with good consistency. I still feel like he's as likely to pitch a 1-2-3 inning as have his arm fall off entirely. Heilman's fall from grace has been disturbing, and his lack of control and proclivity for coughing up homeruns of late have made him impossible to turn to in high-leverage situations. If he is maskig some injury then he needs to fess up so he can take some time off and come back to help the team. If he's just got a case of the yips, well, get over it son; this team needs you.

And... yay! Win Probability Added graphs are back!

Mr. Met: Johan Santana, +27.8%
Mr. Regret: Luis Castillo, -11.0%
(Non-)Clutchiest Plate Appearance: Carlos Delgado fielder's choice/error, +19.4%
(Non-)Clutchiest Pitch: Mark Reynolds RBI single off of Joe Smith, -22.2%
WPA by Offense: +19.9%
WPA by Pitchers: +12.3%
WPA by Opponent: +17.8%

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