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Brewers 8, Mets 6: Fernan-D'oh!

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I'd like to say I'm surprised that Fernando Nieve tanked hard tonight, but he's a pretty bad pitcher and bad pitchers have a tendency to, you know, pitch badly. Ike Davis and the Mets' bats tried valiantly to dig out of the massive hole Nieve dug for them, but ultimately fell a bit short in the end.

I get why the Mets thought starting Nieve wasn't a terrible idea. He appeared to be a fairly credible starter in 2009 before a quad injury sidelined him for the last two-plus months of the season. His 2.95 ERA was a mirage cleverly constructed by a ridiculously high LOB% (85.3%) and an unusually low-for-Nieve HR/FB of 7.7%. Basically, he stranded an abnormally large proportion of runners he allowed to reach base base and he kept the ball in the park more often than he had in the past. If those don't sound like bad things it's because they're not. At least, they're not bad things when our only concern is with the past. Unfortunately, good luck in the past often portends bad luck in the future, and when you have walk and strikeout rates like Nieve had last year (5.65 K/9, 4.66 BB/9) the tide of regression is merciless and unrelenting.

So while I understand why someone might think Nieve was a good starter, I certainly don't (and didn't) agree with that assessment, not that anybody asked me. But who's to say the decision to start him had anything to do with how Nieve performed last year? All of the evidence suggests that the Mets generally think Nieve is a good pitcher, as Jerry Manuel has called his name twice for every three games the Mets have played. This is despite his super-5.00 ERA as a reliever and a strikeout-to-walk ratio of just 1.06.

Those arguing for Oliver Perez to start this game got their wish two innings after Nieve took the ball. While Perez was better than Nieve (three runs allowed versus five for Nieve in two innings apiece), he wasn't good (or even decent) by any objective measure. The gruesome twosome conspired to help the Brewers put eight runs on the board through the first four innings. To the credit of the Mets' offense, the deficit was just 7-6 after Ike Davis's three-run home run in the top of the fourth, but Perez allowed that eighth run in the bottom half of the inning and the Mets were held off the board the rest of the way.

The Mets have an off day next Thursday so they could conceivably skip Nieve's next turn and then wait to make a decision for their June 9 game in San Diego. The best available choice would probably be Raul Valdes, who has 33 strikeouts and 10 walks in 28.1 innings as a reliever. He threw 80 pitches in relief of John Maine on 5/20 and another 57 on 5/25 against the Phillies. Speaking of, two-thirds of the Mets' gains from sweeping the Phillies last week have been undone these past two days, capped off by the Nieve/Perez hack job in Milwaukee and Roy Halladay's perfect game in Miami. The Mets are four games back in the NL East with three teams in front of them.

The Mets look to avoid the sweep when R.A. Dickey takes on Randy Wolf at 2:10pm on Sunday.

Poem by Howard Megdal

Nieve starts, but results don't change
Though Ike Davis homer gets Mets within range
While the first four innings featured runs galore
Both bullpens decided: there would be no more
Mets consider road triumph a sin
Perhaps team needs some Shake Shack to win?

SB Nation Coverage

* Traditional Recap
* Boxscore
* Amazin' Avenue Gamethread
* Brew Crew Ball Gamethread

Win Probability Added

Big winners: Jose Reyes, +14.0% WPA, Jeff Francoeur, +8.8% WPA
Big losers: Fernando Nieve, -37.3% WPA, Oliver Perez, -17.5% WPA
Teh aw3s0mest play: Davis three-run home run in fourth, +19.1% WPA
Teh sux0rest play: Hart grand slam in first, -30.8% WPA
Total pitcher WPA: -44.3% WPA
Total batter WPA: -5.7% WPA
GWRBI!: Corey Hart

Game Thread Roll Call

Nice job by freakystyley; his effort in the game thread embiggens us all.

Num Name # of Posts
1 freakystyley 184
2 astromets 174
3 KeithsMoustache 137
4 Syler 88
5 sj10689 84
6 Brian. 75
7 Jadden Hopkins 70
8 David, the Mets fan from Queens 65
9 Hoyadestroya85 60
10 Michkin 48