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deGrom one and done, LOBsters everywhere as Mets lose

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Jacob deGrom’s return from the DL was an abbreviated one and the Mets offense went 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position.

MLB: New York Mets at Philadelphia Phillies Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

The Mets disappointed mothers everywhere today, as they dropped the final game of this rain-shortened series against the Philadelphia Phillies 4-2 after yet another rain delay to start off the afternoon. Jacob deGrom took the mound for the first time since hitting the DL with a hyperextended elbow and his start did not go how he and the Mets would have hoped. But it was really the lack of hitting with runners in scoring position that doomed the Mets this afternoon.

LOSE, 4-2

The Mets made Aaron Nola work in the first inning. The Phillies put a shift on against Brandon Nimmo to lead off the game and Nimmo took advantage, placing a bunt down the third base line for an easy single. Asdrubal Cabrera then followed that up with a single up the middle to put two men on with no one out. Yoenis Cespedes then struck out, but Adrian Gonzalez managed to work out a walk to load the bases. But as would be the theme all afternoon, the Mets failed to capitalize on the opportunity. Wilmer Flores struck out swinging and Michael Conforto bounced out to first base to end the threat.

Uncharacteristically, Jacob deGrom walked three batters in a row to start his day and then had to forge a true act of sorcery to escape the jam. He threw 24 pitches before retiring a batter, but struck out Rhys Hoskins swinging for the first out. Not only did deGrom put in the work on the mound to get out of the inning, he also made a nice play, fielding a high bouncer off the bat of Carlos Santana and whipping it home for the force out. deGrom saved his best pitch for last; on his 45th pitch of the inning he threw a positively nasty 90 mph slider to strike out Maikel Franco to finally end the inning. It was the most pitches thrown in a scoreless, hitless inning since 2001, mostly thanks to the twenty foul balls hit by the Phillies in a single inning, which also feels historic. Watching this outing made me more convinced than ever that Jacob deGrom is indeed a wizard and if I ever have the chance to meet him in person, I will ask him why I have not yet received my Hogwarts letter after years of waiting.

Considering the one hour rain delay to start the game and the fact that deGrom had to throw so many pitches under duress in his first start back from injury, Mickey Callaway decided that deGrom’s day was done after his one marathon inning of work, probably rightly so. If nothing else, deGrom’s scoreless streak stays in tact at 19 13 innings, a career high. He has not allowed a run since April 16th against the Nationals.

Luis Guillorme pinch hit for deGrom in the top of the second and recorded his first major league hit—a bloop into shallow center field with one out. Amed Rosario then hit a dribbler in front of the plate that advanced Guillorme to second base, but Brandon Nimmo grounded out to first to end the inning.

Robert Gsellman was asked to do the heavy lifting with deGrom’s early exit and got the job done, despite not having his best stuff. He worked around a single and a walk to throw a scoreless second. He induced a 6-4-3 double play to end the third after allowing a double and another walk. He was assisted by yet another double play on a nice play by Devin Mesoraco, who snatched a bouncing bunt off the bat of Nola out of the air bare-handed and whipped it to second base to get the out. The Phillies struggled themselves with runners in scoring position this afternoon, going just 1-for-10. But the one was enough.

Through five innings, the Mets had six hits off Aaron Nola, but no runs to show for it. This was partially thanks to some double plays of their own, one from Devin Mesoraco in the fourth—an unlucky liner into the glove of Kingery, who doubled off Conforto at first—and one from Cabrera in the fifth. Amed Rosario was also caught stealing in the fifth, continuing to show that his base-stealing capabilities still leave a lot to be desired, despite his raw speed.

Paul Sewald came in to pitch the fifth inning and threw a relatively quick frame, working around an Odubel Herrera single. The Mets finally broke through against Nola in the top of the sixth in the form of a solo shot by Yoenis Cespedes that put the Mets ahead 1-0. It was just the third home run Nola had given up all season. The Mets continued to build off of the home run; Adrian Gonzalez whacked the ninth pitch of his at-bat to right field for a single. Wilmer Flores followed that up with a single of his own, putting runners on first and second with nobody out. But once again, the Mets failed to get it done. Michael Conforto struck out looking and Mesoraco hit into his second double play of the afternoon, ending the Mets’ chances of putting up a crooked number to shift the momentum of the game.

Sewald looked less sharp in his second inning of work. Carlos Santana narrowly missed a home run, hitting a shot deep to right field to lead off the inning that ended up bouncing off of the top of the padding on the wall for a double. Maikel Franco then flew out to shallow left field for the first out. Scott Kingery worked out a walk, but Sewald struck out Jorge Alfaro looking for the second out. The Phillies then pinch hit the lefty Nick Williams for Aaron Nola. Mickey Callaway had Jerry Blevins warm in the bullpen, but chose to stick with Sewald against Williams and was punished for the decision. Williams smashed a three run homer to put the Phillies ahead 3-1. The decision to stick with Sewald was certainly not an easy or a straightforward one. Jerry Blevins has not been as effective this year as he has in years past and Sewald has actually fared better against lefty hitters this season than Blevins. However, Sewald has been shouldering a heavy workload of late and one is left to wonder why Blevins was warming if he was not going to face Williams in that spot.

The Mets did scratch back for one run in the seventh. Dominic Smith pinch hit to lead off the inning, but struck out swinging, which likely closes the book on his very short stint in the big leagues this time around. Brandon Nimmo then dumped a bloop single down the left field line. Asdrubal Cabrera drove him in with a double to bring the Mets within a run.

A.J. Ramos, who seems to flash his best stuff when not tasked with a lead, worked a scoreless seventh that culminated in a strikeout of Rhys Hoskins on a nasty slider. Adrian Gonzalez led off the bottom of the seventh with a hard hit shot up the middle off Seranthony Dominguez that was snagged by Scott Kingery, positioned perfectly to play it. Dominguez then hit Wilmer Flores with a pinch and Flores was promptly replaced on the base paths by Jose Reyes. However, Conforto and Mesoraco both struck out swinging, adding to the LOBster count. Conforto did have a base hit today, but he and Mesoraco combined to leave ten men on base on the afternoon.

In another unconventional bullpen move, Mickey Callaway turned to Jeurys Familia to pitch the eighth inning down one run. Familia unfortunately did not have a good outing and gave up a solo home run to Carlos Santana to lead off the inning, providing the Phillies with an insurance run. He got Scott Kingery to pop out, but then surrendered walk to Maikel Franco and a single to Jorge Alfaro. However, Familia limited the damage, striking out the pinch hitter Pedro Florimon and retiring Odubel Herrera on a line out to left field.

In the opposite dugout, Gabe Kapler went with an unconventional bullpen decision of his own, turning to Edubray Ramos to shut the door rather than his closer Hector Neris, who has perhaps fallen slightly out of favor after blowing the save in Friday night’s game. Neris was warming in the bullpen, though, in case he was needed. He was not needed, as it turns out, and Kapler’s decision worked out. Things got slightly dicey for Ramos, who walked Brandon Nimmo on four pitches to put a man on with two outs. This was probably something Ramos did not want to do, as his old nemesis Asdrubal Cabrera—who hit the famous walk-off home run off Ramos two years ago—strode to the plate as the Mets’ last hope. This time the comeback miracle was not to be, however. Cabrera flew out to deep left field to end the game.

The Mets once again failed to win two games in a row, a feat they have not achieved since their 11-1 start, which is the only thing keeping them afloat at this point. Yoenis Cespedes continues to play through his quad issue and was tested today in two moments that made me want to cover my eyes. Cespedes had to book it down the line in the third inning on a liner dropped by Maikel Franco to secure a hit and it was obvious to anyone watching that it was an uncomfortable experience for him. His quad was tested again in the field in the bottom of the sixth inning when Maikel Franco hit a bloop to shallow left right after the Santana solo shot that Cespedes came sprinting in to grab at his shoe tops to keep the inning from spiraling out of control for Familia. It is clear that Cespedes should be on the disabled list. But when the Mets continue to have games like this—where Cespedes and Cabrera account for all of the Mets’ run production and the team fails over and over again with runners in scoring position—it makes the decision to rest Cespedes more difficult for the Mets than it should be. And so it goes.

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Win Probability Added

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What’s WPA?

Big winners: Robert Gsellman, +16.8% WPA
Big losers: Paul Sewald, -35% WPA, Devin Mesoraco, -26.8% WPA
Teh aw3s0mest play: Yoenis Cespedes’ solo home run, +15.9% WPA
Teh sux0rest play: Paul Sewald gives up a three-run homer to Nick Williams, -43.7% WPA
Total pitcher WPA: -14.7% WPA
Total batter WPA: -35.3% WPA
GWRBI!: Nick Williams