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Mets bullpen falters after Matz goes deep

At least Aaron Nola’s ERA rose.

New York Mets v Philadelphia Phillies Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

For the first time in twenty-two years, the Mets lost a game when their starting pitcher went deep. Steven Matz put them on the board early with his second home run of the year, but the bullpen fell apart in the sixth and the Mets fell to the Phillies 5-2.

It was a historic home run for Matz who became the third pitcher in Mets’ history to hit a home run in back-to-back starts. He joins both Ron Darling and Tom Seaver as the only other starters to accomplish that feat, and Darling was the last one to do it in 1989.

The home run was also important to his teammate Jacob deGrom, who is battling Aaron Nola in the Cy Young race. Nola picked up nine strikeouts in this start but both Matz and Dominic Smith raised his ERA to 2.44. Smith drove in Brandon Nimmo in the fourth to bring home the second run against the Phillies’ ace. Nola did not make it out of the sixth inning. He gave up six hits, walked two, and did not get a quality start.

As for Matz, despite his heroics at the bat, he was erratic on the mound. He loaded the bases with three walks in the first but was able to pitch out of it. He also had runners on the next two innings but never gave in to the Phillies’ offense. He spectacularly ended his outing when he caught a line drive off the bat of Roman Quinn behind his back and threw to first to complete the double play. All told it was not his best outing since he walked five batters and only lasted five innings, but he did enough to keep the Phillies off the board.

The same could not be said for the bullpen. It was odd that Mickey Callaway went to Jerry Blevins in the sixth. The lineup was already filled with almost all right-handed bats since Matz got the start, so Blevins came in to face the heart of the Philadelphia lineup that was filled with righties. Carlos Santana is a switch hitter but he does have better numbers against southpaws this season.

Santana worked a walk and then Blevins hit Aaron Altherr with a pitch. That was it for Blevins and Drew Smith entered. He gave up a single, a double, and a home run without recording out and the Phillies were ahead 5-2. Anthony Swarzak entered and finally ended the inning but the damage had been done.

Tyler Bashlor and Jacob Rhame pitched behind Swarzak and were both solid in their appearances. However, this whole season the Mets have been plagued by a bad bullpen and it is now becoming increasingly apparent they can not count on their internal options. They should invest in this area in the offseason, but only time will tell if they actually go in that direction.

The Mets had their chance to blow the game open in the top of the sixth when they loaded the bases and Nola was out of the game. Wilmer Flores came up as a pinch hitter and struck out to end the rally.

That was it for the offense. Only Todd Frazier reached base after the sixth when he walked in the eighth inning.

After Matz’s heroics it was a bit of a let down that they lost this game, but with the Mets officially eliminated from playoff contention, and with very little left to play for, getting to Aaron Nola was a win.

The Mets had already wrapped up a winning record against the Phillies for the seventh straight year, so in a lost season this loss was not the most catastrophic, just slightly annoying.

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What’s WPA?

Big winners: Steven Matz +29%, Dominic Smith +11.2%
Big losers: Drew Smith -50%, Jerry Blevins -15.1%
Teh aw3s0mest play: Dominic Smith double in fourth
Teh sux0rest play: Wilson Ramos RBI single in sixth
Total pitcher WPA: -32.2%
Total batter WPA: -17.8%
GWRBI!: Jorge Alfaro