Although the Mets dropped the first two games in Milwaukee, they appeared to stabilize themselves on Sunday when they gained a 7-1 advantage behind big hits by Michael Conforto and Neil Walker. That lead was not destined to hold up, though, as Jacob deGrom and the New York bullpen completely collapsed while giving up 10 runs in Milwaukee’s final three turns at bat. It was so bad that the Brewers didn’t even need a ninth-inning walk-off to finish the comeback.
With the Mets’ starting pitching in tatters and their bullpen looking even more exhausted than usual, the team once again has plenty of doubters aboard its anti-bandwagon. And considering all the talent on the disabled list, it’s hard to predict if things will get better or worse from here. Terry Collins is quickly running out of things to tell the media, even burning through two metaphors at once on Sunday afternoon.
“We have a clubhouse full of veterans, they’ve all been through a game like this, they’ve all been through a series like this. You have to rise out of the ashes and get back on the horse.’’
So are the Mets a phoenix or a cowboy? Maybe a phoenix that is also a cowboy? Either way, we’re hoping they rise out of the horse and get back on the ashes this week.
Speaking of Phoenix, that is where the Mets will be playing some baseball over the next three days. This road trip is off to a horrendous start, but Conforto doesn’t seem to mind too much. He fell a single short of the cycle on Sunday and is hitting .343./430/.686 in a year that many skeptics thought he would spend in Las Vegas.
The funny thing is that the whole offense hasn’t been awful during this four-game losing streak. If the bullpen was just mediocre, New York might have split those games, but we’ll get to the relievers later. For now, know that Walker had multiple hits and at least one extra base knock in all three games at Miller Park. He’s officially heated up and ready to rock. It also doesn’t hurt that Rene Rivera has hit in eight straight games. He’s not supposed to be a factor on offense, but his .728 OPS (even if it’s completely driven by his .413 BABIP) is more than acceptable for the bottom of the lineup.
Paul Goldschmidt might be the only All-Star in Arizona’s lineup, but pretty much every regular for the team has an OPS above .780. That may be an arbitrary mark, but it goes to show how balanced the Diamondbacks are, even if they get a little help from their home ballpark. How much of the success is sustainable, though? Key role players like Brandon Drury, Chris Owings, and Jake Lamb are striking out too much to keep going on with their sexy on-base percentages, but these Snakes still boast a good bit of power. Yasmany Tomas has a higher walk rate than both Drury and Owings, but his OBP hovers around .300 because of his average BABIP.
The good news for the Diamondbacks is that even if they stop getting on base so often, they’ll still be one of the most versatile offenses in the National League due to their power and speed combination. The team has 49 home runs, just like the Mets, but it also is tied for the senior circuit lead with 40 stolen bases. A lot of that is thanks to the surprisingly swift Goldschmidt, but also A.J. Pollock, who is off to a nice start after missing almost all of 2016 with an elbow injury. He’s one of the better contact hitters in Arizona’s lineup, and he could have another 20/40 campaign once his power perks up.
Monday, May 15: Zack Godley
Important stats: 12.0 IP, 12 K, 4 BB, 1 HR, 2.25 ERA, 3.08 FIP, 1.00 WHIP
Favorite pitches: sinker (93 mph), curveball (83 mph), four-seam fastball (92 mph), changeup (84 mph)
Godley has done most of his work with Triple-A Reno this season, but he has a chance to stay in the big leagues for a while now that Shelby Miller is out for the year with Tommy John surgery. So far, the Tennessee alumnus has been more than adequate, and he’s coming off of seven innings of one-run ball against Detroit. Against the Mets last year, Godley was almost as good, allowing two runs in seven-and-one-third innings. His ability to get ground balls should continue to serve him well at a venue like Chase Field that allows a lot of home runs.
Mets starter, Zack Wheeler: With Matt Harvey and Robert Gsellman unable to keep opponents off the scoreboard, Wheeler is suddenly one of New York’s most effective starters. In fact, he’s allowed two runs or fewer in three of his last four starts thanks to an incredible 56-percent ground ball rate. The Georgia native will need to continue getting the worm-burners to be successful, especially if he keeps walking batters the way he has lately. Wheeler has eight in his last 10 innings pitched.
Tuesday, May 16: Zack Greinke
Important stats: 51.2 IP, 58 K, 9 BB, 7 HR, 2.79 ERA, 3.04 FIP, 1.03 WHIP
Favorite pitches: four-seam fastball (90 mph), slider (84 mph), two-seam fastball (90 mph), changeup (87 mph), curveball (75 mph)
Hey look, another guy named Zack. This one might be the best of the bunch, and I’m sure Arizona fans are thrilled that he’s finally pitching the way they thought he would when the franchise gave him a massive contract before the 2016 season. Last year was one of the worst Greinke has had since breaking in with Kansas City in 2004, but now he’s on pace for a career-high strikeout rate while also being very stingy with walks. During his last two outings against Colorado and Pittsburgh, Greinke had 15 strikeouts and one walk with three runs allowed in 18 innings.
Mets starter, Tommy Milone: Milone did everything the Mets hoped he would do in his orange-and-blue debut. The southpaw from Southern California showed off a sharp changeup while allowing two runs in five innings and giving his new team a chance to win the game. That chance ended up going to waste, but the good news is that the Milone experience was a lot more pleasant than Rafael Montero. With another solid performance on Tuesday, Milone could stick in the rotation until Steven Matz or Seth Lugo return.
Wednesday, May 17: Patrick Corbin
Important stats: 45.1 IP, 36 K, 14 BB, 6 HR, 4.17 ERA, 4.13 FIP, 1.39 WHIP
Favorite pitches: four-seam fastball (92 mph), slider (81 mph), two-seam fastball (92 mph), changeup (85 mph)
With a 3.60 ERA and excellent control in the second half of the 2015 campaign, Corbin looked like he was back on the path to stardom that was temporarily derailed by his 2014 Tommy John surgery. However, 2016 saw the lefty struggle with walks and allow bushels of home run before he was shifted to the bullpen in August. He’s back in the rotation for 2017, and everything was going according to plan before he was rocked for eight runs in Denver nine days ago. Corbin followed that up with a disappointing outing against Pittsburgh, but the Mets will offer another chance for him to show off his potential.
Mets starter, Matt Harvey: Harvey is also trying to get his once-promising career back on track, but last Friday brought with it another disappointing performance. For the third straight start, Harvey allowed at least five runs while failing to finish the sixth inning. At least he struck out six batters in this one, but he also surrendered five walks and a ridiculous three home runs. You know something’s not right when Eric Sogard and Orlando Arcia hit back-to-back jumbos off of you.
Do we really need to talk about the Mets’ bullpen right now? Pretty much everyone who we thought was gaining some momentum as a reliable relief arm got blasted in Milwaukee. Hansel Robles hadn’t given up a run in 12 appearances before letting in four on Friday night, and then Fernando Salas gave up a pair on Sunday after he appeared to be getting his act together. Even so, we’d all be in a better mood right now if Addison Reed hadn’t give up his fifth home run in just 18.2 innings this year. The bullpen is in dire straits right now, so don’t be surprised to see Paul Sewald pitch an important inning or two since he struck out four batters with no walks in three innings over the weekend.
If the bullpen does somehow continue to get worse, the Mets might be able to steal a game or two anyway because Arizona’s relief pitchers aren’t reminding anyone of Mariano Rivera. The club brought in Fernando Rodney on a free agent deal to close games, and all he’s done is allow 15 runs in 13.2 innings. It’s kind of a miracle that he has nine saves this year. At least Diamondbacks manager Torey Lovullo has more reliable veterans like J.J. Hoover and Jorge De La Rosa to turn to in high-leverage spots. The best guy in the bullpen, though, might be former rotation member Archie Bradley. With his 1.45 ERA and 25 strikeouts in 18.2 frames, he’s a top candidate to replace Rodney as closer.
Prediction: Mets win one of three.
How will the Mets fare this week in Arizona?
This poll is closed
Strike back with a serpent sweep!
Win two of three.
Win one of three.
Lost in the desert like a tumbleweed.